Politics::Election2008 Category

Too tired and on the verge of getting sick, so no actual writing tonight, but here are a few links of interest from hither and yon:

Steve Lackmeyer raises a concern for "Lost Bricktown," the part of Oklahoma City's warehouse district west of the Santa Fe tracks that escaped 1960s urban renewal. These surviving buildings may be doomed by Core to Shore, and these most vulnerable buildings are slated to be the last to be covered by a historical survey of downtown architecture and may be gone by the time the survey gets around to them. Pictures here.

Chicago-based blogger Anne Leary, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at last year's RNC, had an interesting encounter with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist and pal of Barack Obama, at the Starbucks at Reagan National Airport. Apparently prompted by Anne's statement that she was a conservative blogger, Ayers told her that he wrote Dreams of My Father, Barack Obama's autobiography, at Michelle Obama's request. In a more recent post she rounds up some of the reaction. Was he pulling her leg? Christopher Andersen's new book on the Obamas' marriage reports that Ayers took Obama's notes and tapes and turned them into the book.

Tulsa Chigger offers a platform for public education reform in Tulsa and salutes the announcement that charter school founder Janet Barresi is running for State Superintendent.

Ephemeral Isle has a birthday salute to Le Corbusier. And there's a link to this interesting BBC story on how central heating has changed family life, not necessarily for the better.

Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, has a mayor named Peter Davies who ran on an anti-political-correctness platform. He is canceling funding for the gay rights parade ("I don't see why council taxpayers should pay to celebrate anyone's sexuality"), ended the town's sister cities relationships ("just for people to fly off and have a binge at the council's expense"), asked to reduce the number of councilors from 63 to 21, saving £800,000 a year, got rid of the mayoral limousine, cut his own salary by more than half, and cut council tax by 3 percent. All that in his first week in office. (The Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster has just under 300,000 residents, somewhat smaller than the City of Tulsa.) By the way, Doncaster uses a limited form of instant runoff voting that has voters mark their second preference. If no candidate receives a majority all but the top two candidates are eliminated and their votes redistributed according to second preference. Not the ideal, but better than no runoff at all. Telegraph blogger Gerald Warner writes of Davies:

Davies, the father of Tory MP Philip Davies, is one of just 11 directly elected mayors and he is enjoying increasing media exposure because of his outrageous agenda which, against all the tenets of consensual British politics, consists of doing what the public wants.

You may be feeling disorientated, overcome by a surreal sensation, on hearing such extraordinary, unprecedented views. They are the almost forgotten, forcibly extinguished voice of sanity which most people had thought forever excised from British politics. These policies are common sense, which is something we have not experienced in any council chamber, still less the House of Commons, in decades. The establishment is moving heaven and earth to discredit and obstruct Davies. He is that ultimate embarrassment: the boy who reveals that the Emperor has no clothes.

arugulance.jpgI seem to have started something.

I made up a punny word for the headline of a 2007 blog post on Barack Obama's lament, at an Iowa campaign appearance, about the high price of arugula at Whole Foods Market. A few other bloggers, including Michelle Malkin and see-dubya, picked up on it. (The graphic at right is by michellemalkin.com reader Tennyson.)

The word in question -- "arugulance" -- appears to have gained some degree of popular acceptance. Barry Popik, the pop-culture etymologist who searched out the origins of New York City's "Big Apple" nickname, has traced the term from its origins to the present. It appeared in a headline over Maureen Dowd's April 18, 2009, column: "The Aura of Arugulance." The copy editor appears to have pulled it from San Francisco restaurateur Alice Palmer's quote in the story about being derided as a food snob: "I'm just put into that arugulance place. I own a fancy restaurant. I own an expensive restaurant. I never thought of it as fancy. People don't know we're supporting 85 farms and ranches and all of that." It's interesting that she uses the term without defining it, suggesting that she doesn't perceive "arugulance" as an obscure word.

A day later, Josh Friedland at The Food Section offered a definition of "arugulance":

a·ru·gu·lance (noun): a (perceived) attitude of superiority and snobbery manifested in an appetite for pricey -- yet delicious -- peppery greens.

On April 20, an alternative definition was offered by Isaac Seliger at Grant Writing Confidential:

Ordinarily, I don't read [Maureen Dowd's] column, as she is usually even too cynical for a inherently cynical and grizzled grant writer like me. This time, however, the headline caught my eye because it used the term "arugulance," which I learned is shorthand for the arrogance of the grow local/buy local/shop at Whole Paycheck movement.

The next day, Urban Mennonite called "arugulance" "one of five words with which I am newly in love."

An October 2008 entry on Target Rich Environment about Philadelphia talk radio host Michael Smerconish takes Smerconish's unfamiliarity with "arugulance" as an indicator of the host's lack of contact with conservative thought:

He's embraced the Huffington Post and other left-of-center sources for some time, and seemingly ignores all voices on the right (for example, when a caller a few months ago brought up Obama's "arrugulance," Smercommie had no idea what he was talking about).

The blogger takes it for granted that by sometime in early 2008, arugulance is already in common use on the conservative side of the blogosphere. michellemalkin.com's link in April 2008 seems to have launched the term's currency among conservatives.

It would be interesting to know the path the word took to get from Michelle Malkin and her readers to Alice Palmer. Like an underground stream, it disappeared for some distance before re-emerging. At some point it must have crossed the conservative-liberal linguistic divide. Or it may be that a lover of wordplay in Palmer's circle of acquaintances independently coined the term.

"Arugulance" won't have the impact of "blogosphere," but it fills a niche.

Change? Not so much

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Hot Air has a clip of President-elect Obama's press confference, in which he was asked about the number of retreads from the Clinton administration that he's appointing to his own cabinet:

[Obama] has The Vision. It's just that The Vision happens to involve lots and lots of Clinton appointees, with an occasional Bush appointee and negligent Wall Street supervisor tossed in.

Victor Davis Hanson at NRO:

We should all let President-elect Obama have some honeymoon time, but that said, so far the sudden cessation in 'hope and change' that became part of the American mindset for two years is surreal, and one of the most remarkable developments in recent American political history. Obama's Clintonite appointments, his reliance on those well-known DC fixtures credentialed by Ivy League Law Schools, and his apparent backtracking on radical tax hikes on the "wealthy", instantaneous shut-down of Gitmo, prompt withdrawal from Iraq, and repeal of anti-terror legislation seem to have delighted conservatives, relieved that the Daily Kos and Huffington Post are not calling the shots. But two minor points, it is still November, not late January. So no one knows anything yet and we should suspend judgement, despite the FDR and Lincoln daily comparisons.

Second, if we should see in January that the government really does not want to evict Khalid Sheik Mohammed & co. from Guantanamo, and does want to stay in Iraq until 2011 to finish up, and does want to let the present tax code ride for a bit, and does want to leave most Bush-enacted homeland security measures in place, then Obama has not merely embarrassed his hard-left base, but has terribly humiliated the media as well.

(Via Ace.)

Harry Payne on NRO:

Now we know why Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is on President-elect Barack Obama's economic policy team. Judging by Obama's Saturday economic address, he plans to address the nation's ills with the same inept policies Granholm has championed for the last six years here in Michigan....

The result has been a Michigan economy that has drowned under Granholm's watch, with unemployment tripling to a nation-leading 9.3 percent at the same time that Michigan's debilitating economic fundamentals -- high taxes and overgenerous concessions to organized labor -- have gone unaddressed. Granholm, however, has missed few opportunities for photo ops touting the companies that have benefiited from her tax handouts or her road-construction spending.

And she has landed a key position in Obama's transition team, where she and the president-elect apparently agree that Granholmnomics is America's future.

(Via Ace.)

From the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire:

During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Obama economic adviser William Daley suggested that the incoming administration would reconsider whether to quickly increase taxes for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year.

Daly, who was commerce secretary under former President Bill Clinton and is the brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daly, said it looks "more likely than not" that Obama would not seek legislation to repeal President George W. Bush's cut in the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans before it is scheduled to expire after the 2010 tax year. Bush cut the top rate to 35% from 39.6% in 2001.

Obama had promised to restore the top tax rate to its earlier level, while cutting taxes for the middle class.

Via Drew M. at Ace of Spades HQ, who writes:

Apparently it turns out raising taxes is bad for the economy. Who knew?

...it's funny how the facts of life are slapping The One in the face so soon after the election. It's almost as if a lot of what he said was just crap to get dumb people to vote for him.

Robert Stacy McCain predicts fallout:

Obama gained his margin of victory in large measure by enlisting the support of the disengaged, the disaffected and those too young to know better. Voters under 30 -- who weren't yet in high school when Bill Clinton was elected -- went for Obama by a 2-to-1 margin. Many of these young Obama supporters will be among the first to feel the shock of discovering how wide is the chasm that separates their Hope from any Change that Obama can actually accomplish.

Already, their disillusionment is beginning, the Internet rumbling with discontent as Obama staffs his administration with Washington insiders, Clinton cronies and even, perhaps, Hillary Clinton herself. Many more will be disheartened to discover that there is no magic in Obama's economic plan, a patchwork of warmed-over Keynesian "pump-priming" claptrap as stale as the memory of Hubert Humphrey.

Exactly how soon will the disappointments become sufficient to begin turning former believers into ex-Democrats? It's hard to tell. But it is nonetheless certain that many who voted for Obama will either stay home on Election Day 2010 or vote Republican, and still more will defect by 2012. And unless Obama starts making Peggy Joseph's mortgage and car payments, even she may eventually abandon Hope.

From Mark Evanier:

Didn't some of us vote for Barack Obama in the primaries because we didn't want Hillary Clinton managing U.S. foreign affairs?

Today at 11:30, at the Summit Club in the Bank of America Building downtown (6th and Boulder -- the Fourth National Bank building for us old-timers), pollster Pat McFerron, Matt Pinnell of the Oklahoma Republican Party, and I will discuss the election results.

Lunch is $18.00 for members and $20 for non-members. Membership is $25 for the year. Free parking in the Bank of America building garage.

Catching up with links -- I had two pieces in last week's Urban Tulsa Weekly.

My Cityscope column dealt with E-Tickets -- why the Tulsa Police Department needs the electronic citation system advocated by Councilor John Eagleton, and what's the hold up to getting it funded.

Here are some earlier stories about E-Tickets:

Also in last week's issue was a feature story with my post-election analysis, covering the Tulsa County Commission District 2 race, the Republican successes in the State Legislature and Corporation Commission, and the re-election of Sen. Jim Inhofe (while noting the strange undervote in the U. S. Senate race) and Congressman John Sullivan. I took a look at the swath of counties, stretching from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma, that gave more votes to the Republican presidential nominee this year than in 2004, and noted the connection to the lands of Ulster-Americans, aka the Scotch-Irish. I closed by suggesting that Republicans may want to adapt the British Conservative Party's Campaign North, their successful effort to rebuild their party in the north of England, where they had been nearly wiped out by the Labour Party.

A few links related to that last point:

On election day, a documentary crew interviewed people who had just voted for Barack Obama to get a sense of what messages about the candidates had reached them. The video revealed that these voters had heard plenty about Sarah Palin's wardrobe and her daughter's out-of-wedlock pregnancy, but they were unaware of even more embarrassing or damaging information about Obama or running mate Joe Biden. The voters, who were "chosen for their apparent intelligence/verbal abilities and willingness to express their opinions to a large audience," were read statements and asked to identify to which one of the four presidential and vice-presidential nominees the statement pertained.

The video quiz was followed up with a scientific poll by the Zogby organization, asking the same questions of 512 Obama voters nationwide. Only 2.4% correctly answered at least 11 of the 12 multiple choice questions.

The interviews and polling data are research for a documentary, "How Obama Got Elected." Click that link to learn more and keep track of the project's progress.

(Via Wizbang.)

My election day

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In case you were wondering:

6:00 am -- Up after a night of tossing and turning, during which I dream of total on-air collapse: I don't get my database stuff finished, I can't keep up with the precincts as they come in, I have nothing coherent to say.

6:20 am -- I call in to the KRMG Morning News for a preview of election night coverage. Not one of my better interviews. As soon as I hang up, I notice that I'm sitting slumped over -- not good. I guess I've lost the knack of being "up" and "on," as I used to have to be every Tuesday morning on KFAQ.

8:00 am -- I deliver my daughter to school. I scratch my neck and discover that, although I put on Lectric Shave before I left, I had forgotten to shave. I head home to get my electric razor, use it, and take it with me for a touch up in the late afternoon.

8:15 am -- Work. Try, try, try to focus, focus, focus. Fail.

12:50 pm -- I take the afternoon off, leave work, and head to my precinct to vote.

1:05 pm -- No line at the polls as such. Three people are already voting, another one or two come in behind me. My two ballots are counted as numbers 1085 and 1086, cast just after the midpoint of election day.

1:20 pm -- Drop off watch at the On the Spot shop in Promenade; have lunch in the food court while they put in a new battery. For the first time since I used to sing with Coventry Chorale, I have to think: What can I eat that will (1) not come back to haunt me five hours from now, (2) not gum up my voice, and (3) give me enough energy to get through the day? I opt for kung pao and bourbon chicken over noodles.

2:00 pm -- At the Coffee House on Cherry Street, I'm working as fast as I can to finish up the Microsoft Access entry form, queries, and reports that I'll use to help me compare precinct results to previous elections. I've already imported results from the 2004 elections, the 2006 Mayor's race, the 2006 Third Penny, and the 2007 River Tax vote. I have three hours to learn and use some unfamiliar Access features. I've used Access plenty in the past to create and query databases, but I usually export the data and parse it through Perl or manipulate it in Excel to see percentages and do comparisons. Tonight I won't have the time for that, so I need reports that will instantly tell me what I need to know.

As I'm testing my queries, it becomes clear that Sen. Tom Coburn's 2004 election will be the clearest benchmark for Sally Bell's chances. Coburn lost County Commission District 2, but not by much, largely because of crossover voters in the Midtown Money Belt, who tend to prefer a Democrat who's one of their own (Brad Carson lived in Maple Ridge before moving to Claremore to run for Congress) over a populist Republican. Bell would need to outperform Coburn, holding on to Republicans outside of Midtown and picking up enough anti-tax Democrats to make up for the loss of the Money Belt Republicans to Karen Keith.

5:30 pm -- A quick stop at the 11th and Utica QT for a bottle of Coke Zero and a couple of pepperoni and sausage stuffed breadsticks, which I fail to notice are behind the "Still cooking" sign. (Ewwww.) My wife happens to be at one of the gas pumps, filling up before she picks up our daughter from her piano lesson. I say hi to her and the two boys. They'll go to the Republican watch party for a couple of hours while I'm broadcasting. (Later in the evening, I'll get a text message from my wife saying that the kids are pretty upset over the election results. The 12-year-old has become a Mark Levin fan -- he downloads his free podcasts to his iPod every night.)

5:45 pm -- After choking down two slightly doughy and lukewarm breadsticks, I arrive in the News on 6 lot. I'm let in along with the Mazzio's delivery guys, which means the breadsticks were totally unnecessary. I find my spot, unpack my laptop, and begin to get situated. Steve Schroeder, the news operations manager for KOTV, gets me set up with their result tracking software and looks for some headphones so I can hear the feed from KRMG. I grab a couple of pieces of pizza.

6:00 pm -- KRMG coverage begins. I open the chatroom. Still no headphones, so I try to listen online. I keep an eye on a couple of news sites for early results from the East Coast.

6:31 pm -- I'm all wired up and ready to go. Spend the rest of the hour in the chat room and watching early returns. I see Terry Hood and Scott Thompson zip by in my peripheral vision as they go to and from the studio to do their local segments.

7:16 pm -- The first batch of precinct results are handed to me. News on 6 staff are taking calls from runners in the field, writing down results on paper, then entering them into the tracking system. Once they're in the tracking system, however, you can't get the individual precinct data back out, and that's what I need. So Gary Kruse collects the processed precinct sheets and brings them to me, where I enter them into my Access database. Last Friday, when I came by to check things out, I got a copy of the precinct sheet from Steve, so I laid out the entry form identically to the sheet to make it easy to enter and doublecheck the data.

Every half hour, after the national segment with ABC Radio, Joe Kelley does a brief segment each with me, Elaine Dodd at the Democratic watch party at the TWU hall, and Don Burdick at the Republican watch party at the Crowne Plaza. I'm impressed with both Don and Elaine, who manage to say something interesting and new during each break. Joe does a great job of directing traffic and keeping the broadcast moving. Never a dull moment.

(I'm still amused to hear Elaine talking up Karen Keith, when you know that Karen will put another county tax on the ballot of the sort Elaine and I have joined together to fight in the past. And if I hear Elaine say that Oklahoma is "ruby red" one more time....)

There's no music in the background at the Democratic party, but when Joe cuts to Don, you can hear the Rockin' Acoustic Circus playing their blend of bluegrass, country, and western swing.

My Access reports work as hoped. Early on I can see that Sally Bell is lagging Coburn's 2004 performance by 5 to 6 percent -- not a good sign. Good numbers for her in Jenks and Glenpool and some Sand Springs precincts, but not good enough. The street tax report shows me that both taxes are passing in every City Council district, a clear sign that both measures will win big. If a tax is passing by a slim margin in east and north Tulsa, it's passing with at least 60% citywide. I'm also watching the result tracking program for the statewide and legislative races.

When I'm not on the air, I'm entering data as fast as I can, using a numeric keypad I bought last week. Sheets are piling up, but I sort them to get the precincts in CCD 2, Senate 37, and the City of Tulsa entered first. (It's quickly apparent that Dan Newberry has blown Nancy Riley clean out of the water.)

At one point (about 9?) the control room calls to ask if I have data on the Rogers County races. There's nothing in the results tracking software, so I call and let them know. A few minutes later I find some results and call back, but I missed the window -- they've gone back to national coverage. I post the results in the chat room -- a good thing, because, when I finally get the chance to talk about the results, I can't find the original webpage among all the tabs I had open, so I have to resort to what I posted. It was my only real bobble of the night, thankfully.

I am rooted to my chair from about 6:30 until about 10:40, either chatting online, entering data, or talking on air. My final slot comes around 10:30, delayed because of McCain's concession speech. I keep entering data while I'm waiting for my turn. The final slot is a chance to mention any story that we've overlooked, so I congratulate Dana Murphy for an apparent and long-overdue victory in her race for Corporation Commission.

Thus ends my first paid radio gig. I stuck around a bit longer to finish entering the last few sheets as I listened to Obama's victory speech. In the end, the KRMG/KOTV team's runners had fetched results from 215 of 267 precincts in Tulsa County -- pretty impressive. I close out the message board -- "Everyone out of the pool!"

11:05 pm -- I'm packed up, and ready to head out the door. I head over to the Crowne Plaza to meet up with the remnants of the Republican watch party. I hang out for a couple of hours, as we rehash the results, swap campaign stories, toast the humiliating defeat of Georgetown Georgianna, and watch anxiously to see if Minnesota really is crazy enough to elect Stuart Smalley to the U. S. Senate.

1:00 am -- Off to the house. Everyone is asleep. I spend another hour checking e-mail and doing a little websurfing. In bed a bit after 2:00 am.

The national outcome and the county commission race were disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. The state results were encouraging. From a personal perspective, as a lifelong news junkie and radio wannabe, I thoroughly enjoyed spending election night in a newsroom with a stack of results to analyze and a chance to talk politics on the radio.

One-man global content provider Mark Steyn says we haven't been fighting the war for hearts and minds:

It was in many ways the final battle in a war the Republican Party didn't even bother fighting -- the "long march through the institutions." While the Senator certainly enjoyed the patronage of the Chicago machine, he is not primarily a political figure.... He emerged rather from all the cultural turf the GOP largely abandoned during its 30-year winning streak at the ballot box, and his victory demonstrates the folly of assuming that folks will continue to pull the lever for guys with an R after their name every other November even as all the other institutions in society become de facto liberal one-party states.

....Go into almost any American grade-school and stroll the corridors: you'll find the walls lined with Sharpie-bright supersized touchy-feely abstractions: "RESPECT," "DREAM," "TOGETHER," "DIVERSITY." By contrast, Mister Maverick talked of "reaching across the aisle" and ending "earmarks," which may sound heroic in Washington but ring shriveled and reductive to anyone who's not obsessed with legislative process. This dead language embodied the narrow sliver of turf on which he was fighting, while Obama was bestriding the broader cultural space. Republicans need to start their own long march back through all the institutions they ceded. Otherwise, the default mode of this society will be liberal, and what's left of the Republican party will be reduced (as in other parts of the west) to begging the electorate for the occasional opportunity to prove it can run the liberal state just as well as liberals can.

The latter being the fate of, e.g., the Conservative Party in the UK.

On The Corner, Steyn raises a related point

Acorn is still a disgusting organization and Obama's fundraising fraud is still outrageous. But nobody wants to hear that now. The problem for us is more basic - the Dems control the language on such issues ("count every vote", etc), and they're much better at demonizing. Why did McCain talk about Ayers but not even mention Wright? Because he was terrified someone would point a finger and cry "Racist!" And in four years' time the Democrats' media-cultural-organizational advantage on such subjects will likely be even greater.

From Sen. Tom Coburn's office today. Pay special attention to the bits I highlighted:

On November 4, the American people had the opportunity to choose between two candidates with the character and temperament to be not just good presidents but great presidents. John McCain ran the best campaign he could in a very difficult environment and he showed the country, once again, with his moving and gracious concession speech, what it means for a statesman and leader to put the interests of America and the next generation ahead of his own self-interest.

Barack Obama's election last night was an historic victory not for any party or ideology but for America's aspiration to be a country where anything is possible, and where all men are created equal. His election also was a victory for democracy. Even if many Americans don't like the electoral results, his campaign proved that when the American people are inspired and mobilize they can seize the reins of government and demand change.

Our president-elect offered an olive branch to Republicans last night to "heal the divides that have held back progress." We would be wise to accept his offer, roll up our sleeves and work together on areas where we can agree. The unmistakable mandate everyone in public office can take from this election is that it's time to define a "new kind of politics" with our actions, not just our words. The space between the parties is a vast frontier of consensus and possibility. The American people have always called this area "common sense." It's time for elected officials to put aside their careerist aspirations in service to this ideal.

Conservatives should be reassured that our president-elect did not seek an ideological mandate in this election, nor did he receive one. The failure of the Republican Party in this election does not represent the failure of conservatism, but of the big government Republicanism that took over our party in 1996. Had the Republican Party not governed as the party of socialism-lite for the past 12 years, our candidates' concerns about the excessive spending on the other side would have had more relevance.

Republican efforts to build a governing majority through spending and earmarks have ended in disgrace. The Republican Party can either restore its identity as the party of limited government or go the way of the Whigs. When Republicans decide to come home to the timeless conservatism present at our founding, the conservatism of Abraham Lincoln - which our president-elect graciously acknowledged last night - and the conservatism of Ronald Reagan that won the Cold War and led to unprecedented prosperity, they know where to find us.

Post-dated to remain at the top through Election Day; revised for the final day of voting. Skip down for new entries.

Even if you live in a solidly Republican or Democrat state, you can still make a difference in the outcome of the presidential race. You can also make a difference in close down-ballot races where you live. Your help is needed anytime today or tomorrow, until the polls close.

You can make phone calls to undecided voters in swing states on behalf of the McCain-Palin campaign. Most mobile phone plans make it as cheap to call cross-country as to call someone in your own hometown. Even taking 20 minutes to call 20 voters can make an impact.

Gabriel Malor has some good, practical advice for callers -- it'll help you be more comfortable, confident, and effective in talking to voters (or their answering machines). The keys: Fit the script to your personality, identify yourself by name and as a volunteer, smile and sit up straight, or better yet stand up, to put energy in your voice.

There's still a need here for helpers in Tulsa County, too. While McCain & Palin, Inhofe, and Sullivan appear to be in good shape (although we'd like to see them win by big margins), Tulsa County will be key to electing the eminently qualified Dana Murphy to the Corporation Commission, giving Republicans control of the State Senate, expanding the GOP majority in the State House, and electing the only candidate for Tulsa County Commission who has promised not to try to raise your taxes, Sally Bell. There's growing enthusiasm for the McCain-Palin ticket, but some Republican voters need to an extra reminder to vote. Here in Tulsa you can call 918-344-6566 to volunteer to help get out the vote.

Election day links

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Tune in tonight to News Talk 740 KRMG starting at 6 to hear my analysis of the precinct-by-precinct results as they come it from across Tulsa County.

Bloggers from coast to coast (and beyond) are writing about the election.

Let's begin with a prayer for the day and for the nation, from the 1928 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, courtesy of see-dubya:

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

see-dubya has further thoughts worth reading about Obama and his vow to "fundamentally transform" the United States of America.

(Silly me, I thought he was supposed to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, not remodel it.)

Michelle Malkin has a list of Senate, House, and Governor races to watch, along with important ballot initiatives dealing with racial preferences, wind power, marriage, and abortion. We'll find out tonight whether Taxachusetts will vote to phase out their personal income tax.

Eric G of the Tygrrrr Express has wise words for both nominees in the form of open letters to both John McCain and Barack Obama.

Mark Steyn says to expect dire rumors claiming to be exit poll leaks. Ignore them (and the exit poll results, which in years past have wildly overestimate Democratic support), vote anyway, and wait for the real returns to come in before drawing conclusions. Wizbang supplies a McCain campaign memo about exit poll results in previous elections.

Political numbers-cruncher Sean Malstrom says Obama's late visits to Iowa mean he's toast. The travel patterns of the presidential campaigns reveal a much different view of the race, based on the two campaigns' internal polling, compared to the public polls. Malstrom has some interesting observations on how the Obama campaign has used friendly media to push the inevitability message, going all the way back to the primaries. He also demolishes the core assumptions of the supposedly neutral polling analysis websites. He explains why Pennsylvania is going red and explains why people in that highly unionized state lie to pollsters.

Election Journal is watching voter fraud and irregularity issues across the country. They have this remarkable report that the publisher of the Kansas City Star is registered to vote in Missouri and Kansas.

At Ace's place, Slublog gives the number to report voter fraud, irregularities, or suspicious behavior.

866-976-VOTE

American Thinker has a great analogy piece about a job interview: "Would You Hire This Man?" (Hat tip to Tyson Wynn.)

Tulsa Chiggers sounds the battle cry for the District 2 Tulsa County Commission race: "Remember Bell's!"

Finally, a couple of reminders of God's sovereignty in all things, including elections. From Southern Baptist pastor Tyson Wynn:

What we do know is this: Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords regardless of who resides on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Capitol City. Christianity flourished under Nero, and it can flourish under the worst the world can throw at us now. To be brutally honest, a little persecution can sometimes be good for genuine faith. As Christian citizens, we can never give up the fight for influence in the political realm, but we must recommit ourselves to the personal salvation of lost souls. When God changes hearts, He changes motives and ideals. People with changed hearts, motives, and ideals tend to elect better representatives. We look forward to the Government of Christ, of which there will be no end. And we're thankful that there will always be an end to the government we elect here below.

Steve Kellmeyer has a guest post at Dawn Eden's place titled "Catholics: Be joyful!", but all Christians should take what he says to heart. He begins with the Apostle Paul's command in I Thessalonians:

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."--1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We don't have to be happy, we do have to be joyful.

Being happy is being comfortable, healthy and well-fed.
Being joyful is knowing that God's plan is being worked out,
and our obedience and submission to it contributes to His glory.

He concludes with the ancient hymn, Te Deum laudamus (We praise Thee, O God), an anthem of God's glory and sovereignty which concludes with a prayer for His protection of His people.

People ask me how they should vote tomorrow. Here's the short version:

Vote for all the REPUBLICANS.
Vote FOR all the State Questions.
Vote AGAINST all the judges.

On the street tax, I plan to vote FOR the sales tax extension (Prop. 1) and AGAINST the general obligation bond issue (Prop. 2). The sales tax extension includes money (not as much as I'd like) for paving, and the sales tax allows some flexibility, so that the City Council could (via the Brown Ordinance process) move some non-street projects to a later time while moving paving earlier. This approach also avoids raising overall tax rates and leaves the door open to implement the Yazel plan to reduce the dedicated property taxes for overfunded agencies and make that money available for more immediate public purposes.

Some links to my columns on the candidates and ballot items:

My debate with Elaine Dodd, in which we discuss the races for President, U. S. Senate, the 1st Congressional District, the County Commission race, and the Senate District 27 race (I'm supporting McCain, Inhofe, Sullivan, Bell, and Newberry, respectively.)
Dana Murphy for Corporation Commissioner.
Sally Bell for Tulsa County Commissioner, District 2.
State questions and judicial retention ballot
Street tax (October 15)
Street tax (October 29)

Scroll down the home page for more commentary on the election.

Here's some information about voting, with links to the Tulsa County Election Board website, a precinct locator, sample ballots, and how to do early voting (you have until 6 p.m. Monday for that).

Here's the League of Women Voters Tulsa website, with links to voting information and (in PDF format) their voter's guide to the candidates and ballot issues.

Here's the Oklahomans for Life website and their compilation of candidate responses to their survey.

Here's the Oklahoma Family Policy Council website and their compilation of candidate responses to their survey.

Fearing an election-losing gaffe, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama today banned himself from talking to the press about substantive issues until after the election. Previously, his vice presidential running mate Joe Biden and his wife Michelle Obama were muzzled to prevent more campaign damage.

Should I hold my breath waiting for Peggy Noonan, Christopher Buckley, Rod Dreher, Kathleen Parker, et al., to express outrage or "deep concern" at Obama's refusal/inability to face tough questions?

"Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." -- Barack Obama to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, January 2008, at about 40 minutes, 30 seconds into the video.

From a January 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board:

Let me sort of describe my overall policy.

What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.

The only thing I've said with respect to coal, I haven't been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.

It's just that it will bankrupt them.

It will also bankrupt the coal mining and processing companies in America and the people who work for them. It will make the United States more dependent on foreign sources of energy, and it will make all energy more expensive. That's already on its way for Oklahoma consumers, since Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners Jim Roth and Jeff Cloud voted to kill the Red Rock coal-fired electricity plant that had been proposed by PSO and OG+E.

One of Roth's supporters, commenting on my UTW column about the Corporation Commission race, wrote that Roth was going to focus on getting Oklahomans to reduce their own usage, rather than making electricity more available and less expensive.

Jim Roth, in his official statement for voting against the Red Rock coal-fired power plant, stated that he deemed it important to first address energy demand before continuing to increase energy supply, especially when in costs billions of rate-payers money. He soon initiated a demand-side management program to help us all lower our energy use.

Oklahoma currently ranks 47th in promoting energy conservation and efficiency. This proves we have much room to progress and improve in our energy use practices and behaviors. The OCC is currently completing their demand-side management (DSM) collaboration. It's main goal is to offset our excessive energy demand by improving efficiency in our homes and businesses, somewhat negating the NEED for another plant, a plant that would be fueled with dirty coal from Wyoming.

Along with cleaner air and water and lower monthly utility bills, these demand-side management programs are a great source of local green-job creation.

In fact, Roth and Cloud's vote against the Red Rock plant will cost ratepayers billions of dollars in the aggregate.

Worse yet, Oklahoma loses a selling point for attracting industry to the state: Plentiful and relatively inexpensive electricity.

"Local green-job creation," which would involve selling energy-saving devices to Oklahomans, and thus sending money from Oklahomans to the out-of-state or out-of-country manufacturers of those devices, can't hold a candle to manufacturing plants or massive server farms providing goods and services to the rest of the world and bringing money to Oklahoma as payroll.

Whatever Obama gives you with his ever-dwindling middle-class tax cut, he will take away through higher energy costs. Whatever Jim Roth is saving you by counting paperclips, he's costing you far more in higher energy costs and lost job opportunities.

Audio of Obama from his January interview, after the jump.

Even if you live in a solidly Republican or Democrat state, you can still make a difference in the outcome of the presidential race. You can also make a difference in close down-ballot races where you live.

Volunteers are still needed to distribute Republican campaign literature around Tulsa County on Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. You'll be hanging bags of campaign flyers on doorknobs, so it's great for shy people. Call 918-344-6566 to volunteer.

You can make phone calls to undecided voters in swing states on behalf of the McCain-Palin campaign. Most mobile phone plans make it as cheap to call cross-country as to call someone in your own hometown. Even taking 20 minutes to call 20 voters can make an impact.

Gabriel Malor has been making calls, and he has some good, practical advice to pass along:

Get the names and numbers from the McCain/Palin website. Call in between loads of laundry. Call while you're waiting for dinner to be done. Call after you put the tot down for her afternoon nap. Do what I did and call while you're blogging....

Don't worry about the self-important, low-level RNC dweeb insisting that the script is sacred. It's stilted and unwieldy. Nobody talks like the provided script and people react less warmly if they can hear you reading. Memorize, simplify, don't read it; just talk.

Tell them your first name and say you are a volunteer.

On demeanor, courtesy of RayJ:

Smile when you talk. Even if they can't see you they can tell.

Several folks also suggested standing up while making the calls.

I had never heard that last idea, but it makes sense. It allows you to put more energy into your voice.

If you can travel to a swing state at your own expense, the McCain-Palin campaign is looking for volunteers to be deployed.

The McCain-Palin campaign is also putting together election monitoring teams to watch for vote fraud:

Citizens from across the nation will join us in ensuring this year's election is conducted fairly and transparently. They will perform critical tasks at the heart of the election process, including serving as election monitors, helping in election response centers, and as members of legal response teams. They will include both lawyers and concerned citizens who want to safeguard the integrity of American elections.

Closer to home, every campaign will be doing last-minute canvassing this weekend, and the Oklahoma Republican Party will be working hard to get every Republican voter to the polls. Here in Tulsa you can call 918-344-6566 to volunteer to help get out the vote.

(Campaigns: If you've got a specific need for help, e-mail me with the details, and I'll add them here.)

In my column endorsing Dana Murphy in the short-term Corporation Commission race, I wrote about the mutual back-scratching relationship between Chesapeake Energy head Aubrey McClendon and Corporation Commission seat-warmer Jim Roth.

1. McClendon helped Roth get elected to the Oklahoma County Commission.

2. Roth built a bridge in the middle of nowhere that boosted the value of McClendon's tree farm land near Arcadia.

3. Not only that, but Roth offered to write a nice letter to the the people of Washington State, to let them know that McClendon and his fellow basketball team owner Clay Bennett were really not mean to gay people, because they were nice to him and his gay partner. And Roth did write that letter, which was published in the Seattle Times.

(Roth wrote that McClendon supported anti-gay-marriage campaign activities not because he had anything against homosexuals, but because he wanted to drive up Republican turnout for the sake of the energy industry.)

4. Then a former Democratic state chairman, Pat Hall, worked to get Gov. Brad Henry to appoint Roth to the Corporation Commission. Pat Hall is now a Chesapeake lobbyist.

5. When Chesapeake wanted to kill plans by PSO and OG+E to build a new coal-fired electric plant at Red Rock, Roth obliged, costing ratepayers billions in higher energy bills.

6. McClendon serves as Roth's campaign chairman and is reported to have raised over $100,000 for Roth's re-election.

KOKH in Oklahoma City has a report (video at link) summarizing most of the above points, but adding a couple of significant details concerning Roth's "Bridge to McClendon's Tree Farm." Roth's predecessor on the Oklahoma County Commission, Beverley Hodges, had been approached about building the bridge over a steak dinner, but she refused, saying it wasn't a priority. (Imagine having a county commissioner with the guts to say no to a guy with deep pockets. Vote for Sally Bell on Tuesday, and we won't have to imagine.) Roth beat Hodges when she ran for re-election in 2002.

And a farmer who owned land adjacent to the bridge said that Roth told him to sell an easement to the county for $200 / acre or else face condemnation.

Mike McCarville has more.

UPDATE: KOKH has part 2 of the story, detailing Jim Roth's hypocrisy on the bridge to nowhere issue. Each of the three Oklahoma County Commissioners -- Roth, Brent Rinehart, and Stan Inman -- had a bridge he wanted to build in a remote area of his district. Roth called Rinehart's bridge unethical, because it was near the property of one of his contributors. At the same time, Roth pushed for his bridge for the benefit of his benefactor, Aubrey McClendon.

By the way, the "commentator" at the end of the story, Bobby Stem, is a lobbyist, so you'd expect him to downplay the impact that a major contributor and fundraiser would have on a public official's decisions.

AND MORE: Jim Roth is downplaying his homosexuality here in Oklahoma, but he's using it to raise money nationwide from gay rights groups. Watch as Roth dodges a college student's question about his out-of-state donors:

From an e-mail from NYU:

A research team from the Psychology Department at New York University, headed by Professor Yaacov Trope and supported by the National Science Foundation, is investigating the cognitive causes of voting behavior, political preferences, and candidate evaluations throughout the course of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. This stage of the study focuses on the information people use to inform evaluations during the last few weeks before the election. They seek respondents of all political leanings from all over the country (and from the rest of the world) to complete a 15-minute questionnaire, the responses to which will be completely anonymous.

I've participated already. If you'd like to participate, follow this link.

A selection of links and excerpts:

CBS News gives Obama-TV a reality check:

Without question, the Barack Obama infomercial served as a very slick and powerful recitation of the biggest promises he's made as a presidential candidate. But the very bigness of his ideas is the problem: he seems blind to the concept his numbers don't add up.

Palestra's coverage of voter fraud in Ohio and the out-of-state Obama campaign workers who have registered and voted in that state. Two college women are doing the reporting the mainstream media can't be bothered to do.

Los Angeles Times still won't release the videotape of Obama speaking at the 2003 farewell dinner for his longtime friend, Palestinian terrorism apologist Rashid Khalidi. A Times spokesman says releasing the tape might put the source in jeopardy. If the tape poses enough of a threat to someone that he might retaliate against the tape's source, all the more reason we need to see it before election day.

Martin Kramer explains why Obama's connection to Khalidi matters:

Obama and Khalidi (and their wives) became friends in the 1990s, when Obama began to teach at the University of Chicago, where Khalidi also taught. In 2003, Khalidi accepted the Edward Said Professorship of Arab Studies at Columbia; the videotaped event was his Chicago farewell party. The Los Angeles Times, which refuses to release the tape (and which endorsed Obama on October 19) reported last spring that Obama praised Khalidi's "consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases." Other speakers reportedly said incendiary things against Israel. Whether or how Obama reacted, only the videotape might tell.

That Obama spoke on this important occasion suggests that his attachment to Khalidi wasn't a superficial acquaintance. As Obama admits, the two had many "conversations" over dinner at the Khalidis' home, and these may well have constituted Obama's primer on the Middle East. Yet Obama has given no account of these conversations, even as he has repeatedly emphasized other ones which would seem far less significant.

A commenter on the Crunchy Con blog, a Univ. of Chicago student during Obama' time there as a professor, defends the Marxist label for Obama:

I never took Prof. Obama's classes, but I had both friends who did and friends who were tuned in to the reputation/scholarship/ideology of the various professors much better than I was. When he was running for Senate, one of my most thoughtful friends told me, without a hint of irony, that Obama was essentially a socialist; another friend, a rather liberal Jew, actually volunteered for the Ryan campaign (till it imploded) because what he could gather of Obama's position on Israel at the time scared the hell out of him....

I have no doubt that Obama is a man of personal integrity, at least as politicians go, and I have no desire to besmirch his character. But his associations, his instincts, and his positions on the issues (at least until he positioned himself for national office) mark him as the most left-wing major-party presidential candidate perhaps in American history. There's just no getting round that fact.

Stanley Kurtz continues his careful, scholarly investigation into Obama's political history with Obama's membership in and endorsement by the socialist New Party:

The New Party had members, and Barack Obama was one of them. That is what contemporaneous documents tell us, and that is the reasonable inference to be made from the requirement that endorsed candidates sign a contract of party support. We know that Obama was a close ally, supporter, and even funder of key New Party figures....

All of this matters, not because of some simplistic associational "gotcha," but because Obama's still somewhat mysterious ideology, as revealed in that 2001 radio interview, is greatly illuminated by his New Party ties. The New Party advocated gradual, but radical economic change, arguably socialist, but in any case heavily redistributive, all swathed in the soothing vocabulary of traditional American democracy, and grounded in the hope that the reach of groups like ACORN could one day be multiplied many times over. This, I'd wager, is what Barack Obama believed when he was endorsed by the New Party in 1996, what he believed when he spoke of "major redistributive change" on the radio in 2001, and what he hopes to accomplish (over time) should he become president of the United States in 2009.

Bill Sammon points to Obama's autobiographical accounts of seeking out radical leftist friends and associates:

But Obama himself acknowledges that he was drawn to socialists and even Marxists as a college student. He continued to associate with Marxists later in life, even choosing to launch his political career in the living room of a self-described Marxist, William Ayers, in 1995, when Obama was 34....

Obama supporters point out that plenty of Americans flirt with radical ideologies in college, only to join the political mainstream later in life. But Obama, who made a point of noting how "carefully" he chose his friends in college, also chose to launch his political career in the Chicago living room of Ayers, a domestic terrorist who in 2002 proclaimed: "I am a Marxist."

Also present at that meeting was Ayers' wife, fellow terrorist Bernardine Dohrn, who once gave a speech extolling socialism, communism and "Marxism-Leninism."

Kyle-Anne Shiver at American Thinker reminds us what's so alluring -- and so dangerous -- about socialism (hat tip to Tyson Wynn):

A great many Americans -- perhaps even a majority -- seem poised to hand over vast amounts of their hard-earned money and their hard-won liberties to the promised "collective redemption" being offered by Barack Obama and his socialist band of "progressives" in Congress. With the votes of nanny-state supporters from all classes among us, their utopian dreams will be put to the test on our own ground and the reach of our federal government will be expanded drastically according to their plans....

One of the simplest realities of life is that the person who pays the bill is the one who makes the decisions. When that person is you, you decide. When the payer is a state collective, the collective decides. And you obey....

So, Obama got his ideas by palling around with radical communist revolutionaries of the 60s. Obama chose these radicals as mentors and friends. Obama's own parents were from the same mold as well. Happy socialists all.

John McCain spent a good deal of his adult life with radical socialists too. Five and a half years to be precise. Only McCain got his education on the merits of communism from inside one of their "utopian" cells under force.

Shiver includes this brilliant quote from C. S. Lewis:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.


Michael Spencer considers his options in the voting booth:

As an evangelical, I'm interested in a lot of issues. But I also want someone who will simply run the country as a conservative with conservative principles.

I just don't buy John McCain as a conservative. I don't trust him to run his presidency from conservative principles.

So is Obama so bad, so potentially radical, so secretly corrupt, so inexperienced and so ambitious that I should vote for McCain anyway?

Maybe. The Chosen One frightens me. All the signals I look for are deeply negative. I don't see personal integrity. I hear manipulative rhetoric. I hear a lot of lies about personal associations. I see little respect for individualism. I hear a lot of serious flirtation with socialism and Marxism. I hear rookie arrogance on foreign policy. I hear promises we can't afford and a complete dedication to the use of racial politics to accumulate and use power. I feel a distressing lack of seriousness about the presidency and nothing that impresses me as statesmanship.

I see charisma, intellect, opportunism, a lack of candor and a vast ocean of manipulative rhetoric.

Finally, long-time newspaperman Michael Malone is trying to understand why so many of his colleagues are so obviously "in the tank" for Obama. He concludes with a fascinating but plausible theory. He looks not to the reporters, but to the editors, who may think they have found a way to keep their jobs in the face of their industry's decline:

Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power ... only to discover that you're presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn't have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you'll lose your job before you cross that finish line, 10 years hence, of retirement and a pension....

With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it's all for the good of the country ...

(Via Pretty Numbers.)

All you folks who have been asking me about the state questions and the judicial retention ballot -- here you go. My extra piece in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly is about Oklahoma's four state questions and retention votes for some of our supreme court and appeals court judges. In a nutshell, vote yes on all the state questions, and vote no on all the judges, particularly Civil Appeals Court Judge Jane Wiseman.

The Cityscope column proper is about the City of Tulsa street tax again, with a summary of the responses I received from the Tulsa Public Works Department, a summary of the case the Papa Bear proponents are making against the Mama Bear plan, and how County Assessor Ken Yazel's proposal fits in with all this.

New city reporter Brandon Honig debuts in the current issue, with a solid story about the Tulsa Development Authority and its problems with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. And Natasha Ball has a lovely story about the Remingtons, a couple who adopted a family of five siblings early this year.

Later, I'll add links to this entry to background info on the judges and state questions. But this'll have to do for now.

Former State Rep. Mark Liotta, currently studying for a graduate degree, is inspired by the redistributive agenda of The One, and he takes it one step beyond:

As is usually the case, I think of a good argument after class as I am driving home. In tonight's discussion of the supposed flaws in our global economy, the serious question was asked and discussed "well, what's wrong with wealth redistribution?". Some of you probably saw my jaw hit the floor. I apologize for my reaction, but I was surprised. So I tried to think of an example of wealth redistribution that we all might relate to.

At least half of the class is working very hard and deserve an "A". The rest of us have busy lives or just aren't putting in the effort, so we are working toward a "C".

Some would argue this is fair, but is it really equitable?

You "A" students certainly deserve your grade, but you really don't need an A, do you? While the rest of us "C" students, we really need at least a "B" in graduate school.

Now who's to blame for this inequity?

I would suggest the culprit is our professor. Isn't he the one who created this system that assigns grades based on effort? Shame on this grades dictatorship that does not ensure an equality of outcomes. Surely you and I could have created a system that "spreads the wealth around" and allows us to receive an equal grade with little or no effort.

In the spirit of redistribution of wealth, I propose that those of you with A's have some of your grade redistributed to those of us with C's. Now everyone will have B's. No one excels, but no one fails, either.

Now we have equity, but is that really fair?

I know this example isn't original to me, but I thought it was appropriate to our class and our times. Show me the flaw in my logic and I'll buy your lunch. And I am a free capitalist, so if I buy your lunch, it's MY money, and I will decide how to spend it on you, not you, and not the government.

MORE: Another take, via Tulsa City Councilor Rick Westcott, from Augusta Chronicle cartoonist Rick McKee (click for the full-size image on the Chronicle's website):

McKee-20081023-CampaignRedistribution.jpg

Just how in the tank is CNN for Barack Obama?

I was grabbing a late lunch at McDonald's and caught some of Rick Sanchez on CNN.

Sanchez introduced a quote by CNN commentator David Gergen (a man as squishy as the first diaper change of the day) ridiculing Joe the Plumber for making some remarks about US policy toward Israel. Rather than let the audience hear what Mr. Wurzelbacher had to say -- you know, "we report, you decide" -- Sanchez let the audience hear Squishy Dave express astonishment at the very idea that someone like Wurzelbacher would express an opinion on such an issue. For the record, here's what happened:

Wurzelbacher was hitting the campaign trail on behalf of McCain for the first time, joining former Rep. Rob Portman on a GOP bus tour through Ohio.

At a stop in Columbus, he fielded the question on Israel from a self-identified Jewish senior citizen.

The questioner said he was "concerned" with Barack Obama's associations and "It's my belief that a vote for Obama is a vote for the death to Israel."

Wurzelbacher responded: "I do know that."

The questioner then complained about Obama's tax policies and reiterated his Israel comment.

"Well, you know what, I'll actually go ahead and agree with you on that one," Wurzelbacher said. "You know ... no, I agree with ya.'"

Wearing an obnoxious smirk, Sanchez told the audience that because Joe Wurzelbacher ("Joe the Plumber") had now thrust himself into the public eye, by doing interviews and making public appearances in support of John McCain, roto-rooting into his private affairs by the mainstream media (and, one assumes, Ohio public officials) was retroactively justified. He then ran through the canonical list of misleading factoids intended to distract from Obama's answer to the question Wurzelbacher asked when Obama wandered into his driveway.

Never, at any time in this segment, did Sanchez remind the audience what Barack Obama said to Joe the Plumber that created a national stir: "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." Who Joe Wurzelbacher is doesn't change what Obama said.

Here's the sequence of events, Rick, in case you've forgotten:


  1. Obama, out campaigning, approaches Wurzelbacher, who was out in his yard.

  2. Wurzelbacher asks a question about Obama's tax policy.

  3. Obama gives his "spread the wealth around" reply.

  4. Obama's answer gets national attention.

  5. Obama operatives and the mainstream media (I repeat myself) begin to "vet" Wurzelbacher.

  6. After being kicked around by the Left, Wurzelbacher decides to support McCain.

  7. Wurzelbacher campaigns for McCain in Ohio.

Chicago public radio station WBEZ has posted MP3s of then State Sen. Barack Obama's appearance on four editions of their public affairs program Odyssey. This includes several controversial remarks by Obama, frequently heard over the past few days, about flaws in the U. S. Constitution and how to bring about "economic justice" and "redistributive change." At the link above, you can also click to listen to the original Real Audio files.

Wealth_Spread_220.jpgI applaud WBEZ for making this information more easily available. Obama has such a thin paper trail, these discussions provide valuable insight into his ideology, his understanding of the proper role of government.

(I also applaud them for keeping seven-year old archives of programs available to the public. Too often, radio and TV stations purge their online archives after a change in website structure or a change in on-air personnel, and valuable historical material is lost.)

Several comments on the above post called for WBEZ to demand, under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), that YouTube take down the videos containing excerpts from the show. Acting program director Steve Edwards explained why they declined to do this:

Some of you have inquired as to why we didn't request a takedown notice for the YouTube video. Here's the deal: As an organization we strive to be an impeccable source of independent, unbiased news and information. While our audio content in this case was excerpted and repackaged in way that wasn't in keeping with our own editorial standards, the source audio was available to others on the web and its use in this case was within generally acceptable fair use provisions. Thus, we didn't have any clear legal claim to intervene one way or the other. And more importantly, to do so would have been tantamount to intervening on behalf of the Obama campaign. To take actions that could be construed as helping either campaign (Obama's or McCain's) is contrary to our own standards of reporting in an unbiased and independent manner. Instead, we believed the best approach was simply to make available the original source of the audio - in its entirety - for others to listen to themselves and to decide what Senator Obama said and meant.

Good on WBEZ.

(You can read my comments on Obama's January 18, 2001, Odyssey appearance -- with the discussion of "redistributive change" -- here. Image above is from The People's Cube.)

Ace has some helpful things to say (sprinkled as always with words that would make a sailor blush, so be advised) about the Republican Party's failures to plug in effectively to what the conservative blogosphere has to offer. He wants to get bloggers engaged in candidate recruitment, finding non-traditional candidates -- retired military, doctors, farmers, teachers, businessmen -- encouraging them to run and helping to connect them to the resources they need to run and win.

The Democrats have their recruitment pipeline-- lawyers, bureaucrats. The GOP has a much bigger and better talent pool, but we don't exploit it.

I'm not sure why. I think it's because so many people assume, "Gee, I could never do that."

Well, of course you could. If the Democrats can put up one hack lawyer after another, why isn't a Master Sergeant war hero a good candidate?

We need an army of Sarah Palins in 2010.

Look at Joe the Plumber. Pretty sharp guy. pretty likable. He doesn't have the alleged credentials to be a Congressmen -- by which I mean he's not a hack trial lawyer or sub-bureaucrat at the Department of Cutting Checks for People Who Don't Work. So what? He's got what it takes -- he's bright, politically interested, presentable, and, if he does decide to run, backed by a major political party.

I think an awful lot of people fit this profile.

Especially military men and women.

For God's sakes, guys: You know you have a better than even chance of winning just by showing up?

Think about it as just a slightly distasteful new tour of service. One one hand, you'll be surrounded by mutants and halfwits. On the other hand, no one will be shooting at you and there will be lots of free barbecue and (weak) chicken cordon blue.

That is, by the way, how the Oklahoma Republican Party, under Chairman Gary Jones' leadership, has succeeded in winning legislative seats in traditionally Democratic rural/small town districts. They found Republicans who were known as community leaders, not political figures, and gave them the training and access to the campaign support network they needed for a successful run. As a result, Republicans control the State House and are poised to take over the State Senate.

Ace wants to be able to call attention to and rally support for candidates in key congressional races, but for that to happen, the GOP should keep conservative bloggers in the loop and actually solicit our ideas:

Not to overstate my importance, but the internet is a huge fundraising and name-recognition machine. Honestly, the GOP should have us on conference calls every week.

Not for [b.s.] getting-the-message out. They do that. And we do get the message out.

But to be more involved in this. As in, making some decisions and offering input.

Personally the prospect of yet another conference call where I get the talking points I already knew (based on common sense) and was already getting out anyway isn't all that appealing.

Ace links to John Hawkins of Right Wing News, who writes that Republican operatives don't get what blogs could do for them:

The bad news is that the Republican Party looks at bloggers solely as an alternative means to get their message out. In other words, there's a completely non-functional top down organizational structure. It's non-functional because the Republican Party organizations and pols issue talking points and press releases, most of which are of no interest to bloggers, and they are largely ignored. In other words, they spend most of their time issuing unheeded orders to people who, by and large, think they're incompetent and aren't inclined to pay much attention to what they say....

That's a real shame because had they listened to bloggers, most of the big political snafus of the last four years could have been avoided. However, they pay zero attention to things they're told by bloggers, even on the rare occasions when they ask what we think.

Just to give you an example of what I'm talking about, here's a generic conversation, some variation of which I've had with different congressional aides at least half-a-dozen times over the last four years.

Anonymous Aide: Hawkins, I want to ask your advice.
John Hawkins: Shoot.
Anonymous Aide: We're thinking about doing idea x.
John Hawkins: Are you out of your mind? That's going to be a disaster!
Anonymous Aide: Well, they've already decided to do it. How do we sell it to the bloggers?
John Hawkins: You're asking me whether you should put mayonnaise or mustard on a sh*t sandwich. I can give you some advice, but it's not going to go over well no matter how you spin it.

Inevitably, it doesn't sell -- which cuts to the heart of the problem the GOP has with bloggers: they need to have conversations with bloggers instead of just viewing us as another part of the message machine....

What the GOP needs to realize is that bloggers, some of the better ones anyway, tend to have their fingers on the pulse of conservatism.... The Republican Party should pick up the phone and call Erick Erickson, Ace, or Michelle Malkin and ask them what the conservative reaction is going to be BEFORE the GOP makes yet another blunder instead of trying to do damage control afterwards. It would make a lot more sense.

Hawkins has much more worth pondering about how the left and right sides of the blogosphere compare in presence and enthusiasm -- and how the left has overtaken the right over the last few years -- why conservative bloggers are bad at fundraising and generating online activity, and how conservative old media institutions and donors could help grow a conservative blogosphere.

It just hit me tonight.

If the Democratic nominee were Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, Charles Rangel, or any other left-wing congressman from a left-leaning part of the country, he or she wouldn't stand a chance, not even in a bad year for Republicans. These politicians have never had to moderate their views to win election, the way their brethren in the rural south or west have. However freaky-left they want to be, their constituencies are just as far out there.

Obama_RedArmy.gifBarack Obama is cut from the same cloth. All of his close friends and mentors have been far-left radicals. He won a state senate seat in a heavily Democratic area (eliminating his opponents from the ballot), then swept to a U. S. Senate victory after his primary and general election opponents were driven out of the race by embarrassing and appalling revelations about their private lives. Obama has never before had to compete for the votes of moderate to conservative voters.

Obama is farther left than George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, John Kerry, and Al Gore, all of whom were too far left for a majority of the national electorate.

So why is Obama succeeding where Pelosi et al. would have failed? Let's assume that the media would have been just as in the tank for another Democratic nominee. Where's the difference?

(1) No paper trail. His lack of legislative accomplishments works to his advantage here, as any substantive legislative achievement would almost certainly have been abhorrent in the eyes of middle America.

(2) His cool demeanor and professorial tone of voice doesn't set off alarm bells the way the shrill and strident tones of a typical left-wing moonbat does. The ideas are the same, but the delivery is smoother.

The poster above, and the skinny piggy bank poster below are from The People's Cube, a website that had its origins in the Communists for Kerry movement of 2004, a satirical look at the similarities between left-wing American policies and those of the former Soviet Union.

Google loves me, which is nice, but sometimes Google loves me too much.

I received word from the Tulsa County Election Board that voters were finding (via Google) my 2004 pre-election entry about early voting. Some of these voters didn't notice the date on the entry and came to the conclusion that early voting was possible today. Not so.

(These must be the same folks who forward e-mails which warn of something bad happening "tomorrow" or "next Monday," and they never look for a date when the original message was sent.)

Here's a repeat of that entry, but updated for 2008:

You can go here to look at a sample ballot for your precinct. Each ballot will be double-sided. The front will vary based on the which legislative and county commission district a precinct is in. The back of the ballot will have the state questions and judicial retention questions and will be the same in every precinct statewide. A separate ballot will be given to residents in the City of Tulsa, containing the two street funding propositions, one for a sales tax and one for a

Don't know your precinct? Go to the precinct locator, enter your address, and you'll be shown the precinct number, all the applicable district numbers, a picture of the polling place, a link to a MapQuest map of the polling place's location, and a number to call if you run into problems.

You can vote "absentee in person" at the County Election Board HQ at 555 N. Denver, this Friday, October 31, 2008, from 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday, November 1, 2008, from 8 am to 1 pm, and Monday, November 3, 2008, 8 am to 6 pm. (Every county election board in Oklahoma offers the same early voting hours.)

(Now if we could just have past election results online, I'd be thrilled.)

You may have already heard the promos, but in case you haven't:

I'll be part of News Talk 740 KRMG's election night coverage, keeping an eye on local races and on listener comments submitted via Internet chat on KRMG.com. Joe Kelley will anchor the coverage, Elaine Dodd and Don Burdick will provide updates from the watch parties, and I'll be in studio monitoring precinct-by-precinct results as they come in, looking for an early read on the trends.

KRMG's coverage begins at 6 pm. I'll miss being at the GOP watch party, but I'm excited to be a part of KRMG's election night team.

Obama's answer to Joe Wurzelbacher was no fluke. He's been talking about "spread[ing] the wealth around" for a long time.

On January 18, 2001, then Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama participated in a panel discussion on civil rights and constitutional law on Odyssey, a public affairs program on Chicago public radio station WBEZ.

The discussion deals with Supreme Court intervention in legislative acts. Obama had some interesting things to say about the court and redistribution of wealth. The Power Line news forum has the transcript and the link to a YouTube video embedding the key quotes.

OBAMA: If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I'd be okay.

But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can't do to you, it says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn't shifted. One of the I think tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributed change and in some ways we still suffer from that.

Support Class Envy!It's clear that in Obama's mind, the civil rights movement was right to work to "bring about redistributed change"; their mistake was to expect the court to do that, rather than pursuing "political and community organizing and activities on the ground" to accomplish it through the legislative branch.

He's not explicit about it, but it appears he thinks it's a deficiency that the Warren court didn't interpret the Constitution as saying "what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf."

The lead-in to that quote was another panelist talking about using the "due process" clause to pursue redistribution of wealth through the courts. It comes at about 39 minutes into the program.

Later in the program, a caller asks Obama to expand on his point about the Warren court and "redistributive change":

MODERATOR: Let's talk with Karen. Good morning, Karen, you're on Chicago Public Radio.

KAREN: Hi. The gentleman made the point that the Warren court wasn't terribly radical with economic changes. My question is, is it too late for that kind of reparative work economically and is that that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place - the court - or would it be legislation at this point?

OBAMA: Maybe I'm showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn't structured that way.

You just look at very rare examples during the desegregation era the court was willing to for example order changes that cost money to a local school district. The court was very uncomfortable with it. It was very hard to manage, it was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time.

The court's just not very good at it and politically it's very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally. Any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts.

Obama's comments on the Bush v. Gore case are interesting, too. He suggests, admiringly, that the Florida court acted in that case much like the Warren court had in the 1960s in the way they interpreted the state's election laws.

(Via Ace of Spades HQ, where you can watch a YouTube video with the key excerpts.)

MORE: The Daily Telegraph has an apt summary: "Although his remarks were heavily analytical and academic, he spoke warmly of the notion of redistributing wealth, suggesting that there were other vehicles than the courts to achieve it."

According to an interview in the Alva Review-Courier, Sen. Jim Inhofe had a run-in 25 years ago with the organization at the center of a nationwide voter fraud scandal.

It was 25 years ago, and there were ACORN protesters on then-Mayor Jim Inhofe's front lawn. The protest had to do with housing for Cuban refugees. The protesters were threatening his wife and children.

He told them, "Get off my property or I'll kill you all." They split.

Clarity of intention, clarity of expression: More reasons why Oklahomans love Jim Inhofe.

Via Ace, whose commenters are appreciative:

"I already sent him campaign money. Looks like I'll need to check the deep recesses of the couch again."

"I think most of us Oklahomans might wonder why he warned them first."

"Elegant in its simplicity and clarity."

"We are going to need a bunch of guys like this, guys with a lot of intestinal fortitude, in the next session of Congress."

"Inhofe knows global warming is b---s---. Not afraid to cap a few ACORN a--h---s. Why isn't this man running for President with Sarah?"

"I have 'Inhofe' and 'Coburn' tattooed on my knuckles, right and left, respectively. Scares the bejeezus out of
potential attackers."

"Eloquent and to the point. He would make a great Secretary of State in a McCain administration. That could be his first speech to the United Nations. 'Get off my property or I'll kill you all.'"

"Sometime in the 90's... Inhofe dead-sticked a landing in his private plane after, get this... prop fell off."

See-Dubya wrote:

"When I was still in diapers, I was out campaigning for that man. Umm, I mean before 2002. He ran for governor once, or maybe state Senate, long time ago." (Inhofe was the Republican nominee for governor in 1974, his first statewide race. He was a State Senator before that.)

This is not an original thought. I know I've seen a form of this question asked, more than once, on some blog somewhere.

We know that Barack Obama has had among his close associates and mentors a number of radical leftists: His father, his stepfather, his father-figure mentor "Frank" in Hawaii, his roommate at Columbia, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers (who babysat his children, arranged for his job with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and very possibly ghost-wrote his first memoir) -- the list goes on and on.

So here's my question: Is there any conservative close friend or mentor or teacher in Barack Obama's history to act as a counterweight, to temper the influence of all these socialist father figures? Any influence in the direction of the benefits of capitalism, the disasters wrought by central control, the importance of the liberties that evolved through the English common law and became our founding principles?

We know he can discuss Niebuhr at the drop of a hat. Is he conversant with Adam Smith? Milton Friedman? Friederich Hayek? Has he read de Tocqueville?

Much has been written about presumed lack of intellectual curiosity on the part of Sarah Palin. Has Obama had the intellectual curiosity to explore conservative thought? Has he been open to understanding the equally authentically African-American but very different experiences of Clarence Thomas?

Leaving aside the realm of the intellect, what about experience that might temper his redistributionist proclivities? Obama has spent his entire professional life as a community agitator, an attorney, or a politician. Has he ever been closely connected with someone who owned and operated a small business or a farm? Is there a "Joe the Plumber" anywhere in his experience? Has he been close to anyone who has built a business from scratch, using hard work, ingenuity, and ambition to grow it and become successful? Has he been close to someone whose ambitions have been stymied by burdensome government?

Finally, is there anything or anyone in Obama's experience that attaches him emotionally to this country? All of his close associates are disaffected, alienated, even hostile to America as it is. He chose to detach himself from the "middleclassness" of his "typical white" grandparents and to attach himself to the grievance industry. Is there any heretofore unknown mentor or close friend whose influence on Obama would temper or moderate the influence of his known associates?

Christopher Buckley has written glowingly about Obama's intellect. Intellect by itself is nothing without the raw materials of facts and ideas and first principles which intellect processes to come to conclusions. Is there anything of a conservative or traditionalist nature in Obama's inner repository?

Is there anything in his formative influences, anything ingrained into his temperament, that would act as an internal brake against radical policies?

"When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." - Barack Obama

Congressional Democrats agree:

Powerful House Democrats are eyeing proposals to overhaul the nation's $3 trillion 401(k) system, including the elimination of most of the $80 billion in annual tax breaks that 401(k) investors receive.

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-California, and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, are looking at redirecting those tax breaks to a new system of guaranteed retirement accounts to which all workers would be obliged to contribute.

A plan by Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic-policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, contains elements that are being considered. She testified last week before Miller's Education and Labor Committee on her proposal....

Under Ghilarducci's plan, all workers would receive a $600 annual inflation-adjusted subsidy from the U.S. government but would be required to invest 5 percent of their pay into a guaranteed retirement account administered by the Social Security Administration. The money in turn would be invested in special government bonds that would pay 3 percent a year, adjusted for inflation.

So, while the Republicans proposed allowing workers to invest a portion of their Social Security contributions in the market, with the potential of higher returns on investment over the long haul, the Democrats want to force workers to invest a portion of their 401(k)s into government accounts with no potential for higher returns.

I found this via James Taranto's Best of the Web. (Taranto was on the Pat Campbell Show this morning).

Ghilarducci outlined her plan last year in a paper for the left-liberal Economic Policy Institute, in which she acknowledges that her plan would amount to a tax increase on workers making more than $75,000--considerably less than the $250,000 Barack Obama has said would be his tax-hike cutoff. In addition, workers would be able to pass on only half of their account balances to their heirs; presumably the government would seize the remaining half. (Under current law, 401(k) balances are fully heritable, although they are subject to the income tax.)

Do you really want to turn this sort of thinking loose on Washington with no check, no balance?

RELATED: A friend sends along a "friend of a friend" anecdote:

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference--just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient needed money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

Steve Roemerman has a detailed report from Tuesday night's debate between Tulsa County Commission District 2 candidates Sally Bell (R) and Karen Keith (D).

Steve reports that Keith claimed the sad state of Tulsa streets was because of "failed tax initiatives." I challenge Karen Keith to name one street-related tax initiative (general obligation bond issue or sales tax) that has failed in the last quarter-century in Tulsa.

My column in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly further explores the contrasting political philosophies of Karen Keith and Sally Bell.

The County Commission race was also a topic of conversation in my debate with former Tulsa County Democratic Party chairman Elaine Dodd, the cover story in this week's UTW. We also chatted about the presidential, U. S. Senate, and U. S. House races, and the State Senate District 37 race between incumbent Republican-turned-Democrat Nancy Riley and Republican challenger Dan Newberry.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission Republican nominee Dana Murphy responded today to attack ads from her Democratic opponent, appointed incumbent Jim Roth. Murphy reminded voters about Roth's cozy relationship with the head of a major energy company regulated by the OCC.

Jim Roth is a desperate, frightened man. As almost half of Oklahomans know, divorce is an ugly, horrible thing and sadly, it brings out the absolute worst in people. My opponent is bringing up allegations against me from a 15 year old divorce case because he cannot match my qualifications for this job.

Let's set the record straight once and for all. I have never been charged with or convicted of forgery or any other crime. Period.

These last minute smear tactics are reminiscent of the schoolyard bully ambushing kids on the playground.

The people of Oklahoma deserve better.

This smear campaign is costing big bucks.

The real question here is where are the hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from that are being used to smear me? From campaign contributions by powerful special interest groups outside and inside the State who want their lapdog at the Commission looking out for their interests, not the interests of all Oklahomans.

Roth has proven to be that lap dog.

Roth is panicked because this is the best job that he has ever had. He has no place else to go. When he loses this election, it will only be a matter of time before he has a job with one of those special interest groups contributing the big bucks to support his campaign.

It is not a coincidence that Jim Roth has as his campaign chair, a man who received amazing benefits as a result of his contributions.

First, the Red Rock Power Plant decision. That was a done deal as soon as Roth was appointed to the OCC.

Second, when a tree farm (owned by Aubrey McClendon in Arcadia) needed a road and a bridge, it was Roth who made sure it was paid for by taxpayers.

The list of favors for special interests goes on and on.

I have the education, the experience and the qualifications earned during a 15-year career in the oil and gas industry and almost six years as a Law Judge at the Corporation Commission. I have forgotten more about the oil and gas industry than he will ever know and Jim Roth knows it. His special interest supporters know it too and they are scared to death.

My only special interest group is everyday Oklahomans who need a watchdog on the Commission, not a lapdog.

There are 12 days left in this election, I have run a clean campaign focused on the issues and my qualifications for office.

I see no reason to change that strategy.

If Mr. Roth wants to run a dirty campaign, wallow in the mud and sling it - that's his choice.

Mr. Roth's mudslinging has given Oklahomans a clearcut choice as to who they want for Corporation Commissioner.

They can have someone like him, a mudslinging bureaucratic lapdog or they can have me, someone who shares their conservative Oklahoma values and has the experience and qualifications to do the best job for all Oklahomans at the Corporation Commission."

(Via McCarville.)

MORE: Jenn of Green Country Values analyzes Roth's out-of-state political contributions and has the latest on the billions of dollars that Roth's decisions have cost Oklahoma utility ratepayers.

Sen. Joe Biden has predicted that the callow youth at the top of his ticket would be tested by a "generated" international crisis, which, just as John F. Kennedy, whose obvious weakness gave Khrushchev the all-clear to wall off Berlin and plant missiles in Cuba, did, Obama will royally screw up.

(As Rush Limbaugh was saying today, isn't the whole world supposed to love us again if we elect Obama? Why should anyone expect him to be challenged by the bad guys, since there aren't any bad guys in the world, just people who are understandably enraged that America has yet to overthrow Chimpy McBushitler?)

Biden mentioned four or five scenarios, which inspired Gov. Sarah Palin to imagine what those five crises might be:

(Video after the jump.)

This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, I return to the topic of the November 4 City of Tulsa street sales tax and bond issue vote, raising some questions I hope can be convincingly answered between now and election day.

In an extra op-ed, I explain why voters of all political orientations should choose the eminently qualified Dana Murphy for the two-year term seat on the Corporation Commission over appointed incumbent Jim Roth, whose personal connections and campaign finances indicate a far-too-cozy relationship with Chesapeake Energy, one of the businesses he regulates. For good measure, here's my editorial endorsing Dana Murphy in the Republican primary.

Okie ACORN

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Until recently, Democratic 1st District Congressional nominee Georgianna Oliver proudly boasted the endorsement of ACORN, the left-wing organization in the news recently in connection with fraudulent voter registration activities in numerous swing states. It was the top of her "professional endorsements" page. Mad Okie noticed that that endorsement had vanished for some reason, but he was able to capture a screenshot from Google's cache. He was also able to capture the PDF directly from the website before it was removed from the oliverforcongress.com website, a brief, unsigned and undated memo on ACORN VOTES letterhead from Patricia Walker, "North Tulsa Chapter Chairperson, ACORN Votes." The PDF file has a creation date of September 16.

The Red Dirt Report recently received an exclusive peek at an abandoned ACORN office in southern Oklahoma City:

Left hurriedly and in a shambles, the small office, coated in a layer of plaster dust, still housed computers, documents, registration forms, I-9 employment info and boxes with an IRS return address and others with a return address for an ACORN office in New Orleans.

The person working at this office, Adam Carter, had reportedly skipped town in June, according to the landlord. and in August, an ACORN representative from Tulsa came down and took more items, leaving behind what was found by Red Dirt Report. ACORN never fulfilled it's year lease for the property and never paid a dime in rent. The landlord told Red Dirt Report that the ACORN workers seemed to attract trouble and that there was something not quite right about what they were doing. The landlord also said that the aforementioned Tulsa ACORN worker, named "Brittany," said ACORN didn't have any money to pay for the rent and that Carter had depleted the South Oklahoma City ACORN account....

In fact, the evidence discovered in the abandoned office on South Robinson revealed maps of Oklahoma City broken down in House districts. Districts where a Republican won, but just barely, were highlighted. Papers related to the 2006 election results for Oklahoma were also noted.

Oklahoma City radio station KTOK reported Thursday on ACORN's brief tenure in Oklahoma City, where they attempted to get taxpayer funding for their activities:

The city received a request for the HUD money from a Matthew Eaton who represented ACORN. Internet searches reveal a Matt Eaton is the South West Development Coordinator for ACORN who described himself as an experienced grant writer and resource development coordinator. He also claimed to be 'well versed in various forms of fund raising. "I aspire to help raise enough money so ACORN offices in the Southwest will be able to establish Tax Access and Benefit Centers in each of its neighborhood locations and to register 300,000 new voters," wrote Eaton in a website description of himself and his goals.

But less than a year after asking for the HUD money,Eaton and the ACORN office in Oklahoma City were history. The city denied the funding request and other neighborhood agencies indicated they too had similar 'empty' relationships with ACORN. A spokeswoman of one such group said when they asked an ACORN official about the group's funding, they were told it could not be discussed.

(Via Green Country Values.)

MORE: In 2007, ACORN was found to have submitted more than 1,700 fraudulent voter registrations in King Co., Washington.

RottenACORN.com has a list and map of fraud prosecutions involving ACORN. They seem to be fond of swing states.

Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit provides a "complete guide to ACORN voter fraud" on Pajamas Media.

At a campaign stop in Ohio, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called for the Obama-Biden campaign to disclose all communications between that campaign and ACORN. Hoft notes:

Barack Obama worked as a former trainer with the scandal-plagued ACORN organization. He also has a long history with the Far Left group and the group has canvassed for him this year. He represented ACORN in court. And, Obama donated $800,000 to the radical group just this year for their get out the vote efforts.

Earlier this week Palin told Obama to rein in this group of radical supporters.

In response, the Obama campaign is trying to pressure the FBI into dropping its investigation into voter fraud. The McCain campaign has fired back:

After a week of shifting stories and clumsy corrections regarding Barack Obama's connections to ACORN, the Obama campaign resorted to their now-customary heavy handed tactic of attempting to criminalize political discourse. Today's outrageous letter to Attorney General Mukasey and Special Prosecutor Dannehy at the Justice Department asking for a special prosecutor to investigate Senator McCain and Governor Palin's public statements about ACORN's record of fraudulent voter registrations (including in this week's Presidential debate) is absurd. It is a typical time-worn Washington attempt to criminalize political differences. For someone who promises 'change,' it is certainly only more of the same.

The letter's request that the Department of Justice investigate 'recent partisan Republican activities throughout the country' is almost a parody of the Obama campaign's attempt to intimidate their political opponents. In case Sen. Obama's lawyer did not notice, we are in the midst of a political campaign, not a coronation, and the alleged criminal activity he calls 'recent partisan Republican activities' are what the rest of us call campaign speeches and debates. All of this is unfortunately reminiscent of the Obama campaign's recent creation of a 'truth squad' of Missouri prosecutors and sheriffs to 'target' people who criticize Sen. Obama. Rest assured that, despite these threats, the McCain-Palin campaign will continue to address the serious issue of voter registration fraud by ACORN and other partisan groups, and compliance by states with the Help America Vote Act's requirement of matching new voter registrations with state data bases to prevent voter fraud.

If you'd like to help the rest of America see this ad -- on TV, not just the Internet -- so they can understand the role that Barack Obama and congressional Democrats played in the mortgage meltdown, please contribute to the American Issues Project

Hat tip to Ace, who urges conservatives to give to 527s who will spotlight the financial crisis.

McCain has been too gentlemanly to lay the blame for the crisis where it belongs. He was right on this issue, and he deserves credit for sounding the alarm when it mattered. Obama put a (metaphorical) pillow over his head to muffle the alarm (stuffed with all the -- metaphorical -- Benjamins he got from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), then rolled over and went back to sleep, only to call attention to the smoky smell when the roof was fully engulfed in flames. (Via Ace, again.)

If McCain and the RNC won't make the case, we should be giving money to organizations that will.

Over at Tyson Wynn's place. I'm working, but I'll chime in as I'm able.

The downtown Tulsa Kiwanis Club is hosting a debate between the candidates for District 2 Tulsa County Commissioner today beginning at 12:15. Republican Sally Bell will face Democrat Karen Keith. KRMG's Joe Kelley will moderate the debate, and it will be cybercast live online at krmg.com. It will also be broadcast over the airwaves tonight at 6:00 on 740 KRMG.

(Post time tweaked to keep this at the top of the blog until this evening.)

UPDATE: KRMG has posted audio of the debate in four segments.

A Photoshopped image purporting to be Sarah Palin's SAT report is circulating amongst the moonbats tonight. It was posted on Gawker, but Rick Paulas, Gawker's art director, has spotted several telltale signs of fakery, including the impossible variations in baselines and too-perfect kerning for the impact printers that generated SAT reports back in the early '80s.

One glaring indication of forgery: SAT scores all ended in zero in the early '80s. Scores like 416 and 425 were impossible.

The template for the forgery? Conservative, pro-life blogger Dawn Eden's SAT report, which she posted online four years ago. The faked Palin report cuts off at exactly the same vertical point, and the same scanning artifacts can be seen around the pre-printed letters and shading on both images. "Max Torque," on the Straight Dope message board has the... straight dope:

Now, compare that picture with the supposed "Palin results". Interesting, eh? First, the scanned copies are at exactly the same angle, not perfectly square with the scanner's edge. The "blocked out" bits for both copies are identical: look at the "telephone number" space, for example. The remaining dot clutter is absolutely identical in both images. The dates are identical, except that "85" was changed to "82". Interesting that the "report date" of both tests would be March 23rd; in 1985, the date on the real results form, that was a Saturday, which is a typical day for SAT testing. In 1982, the date on Palin's photoshopped form, March 23rd was a Tuesday. And the real form has the same 5-3-3-1-2-3 that appears on the altered form, in precisely the same spots in the boxes.

A few things are covered over and the form in general is blurred up some to make it look "authentic" or something, but seriously, I think this is the original scan that someone altered. Take a closer look, see if you agree. And I say all of this as someone who couldn't possibly dislike Sarah Palin any more than I already do.

(Via Ace of Spades HQ.)

Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for Oklahoma residents to register to vote for the November 4 general election. While the election board will accept registration forms by mail that have been postmarked by today, the safest way to be sure that you will get to vote on November 4 is to go to your county election board and register in person before 5 p.m.

The Tulsa County Election Board is located at 555 N. Denver Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103. The phone number is 918-596-5780.

The Oklahoma State Election Board website has a complete list of county election boards, with the phone number, address, and hours of operation for each. Please note that election boards in some rural counties close as early as 1:30 p.m.

UPDATE: Tulsa County Election Board will stay open until midnight tonight to accept last-minute registrations.

Here's the video of KJRH's debate between U. S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and his challenger State Sen. Andrew Rice, from last night. Russ McCaskey moderated with Joe Kelley of KRMG, Wayne Greene of the Tulsa World, and Karen Larsen of KJRH on the panel.

Family therapist Bowden McElroy brings his professional perspective to the bailout:

Think of our Representatives and Senators as parents and the executives of AIG as errant children. Years of poor decision-making calls for a natural and logical consequence. Instead we reward poor behavior. This article (AIG Executives Blow $440,000 After Getting Bailout) shows how little the men and women on Capitol Hill understand about motivating people to change. All we've taught the movers and shakers of our economy is that lousy business practices carry no consequences to them. Assuming legislation is passed to prevent these kind of problems from happening again, this country's top financial executives will simply find new ways to make poor decisions: what do they have to lose? We've just told them if you're big enough, the politicians will make sure nothing bad ever happens to you.

Read the whole thing.

I'm over at Tyson Wynn's place liveblogging the presidential debate with Tyson Wynn and Jenn Sierra.

This CNN investigative report shows that Barack Obama has had a long and close political relationship with unrepentant former domestic terrorist and ongoing radical William Ayres, much closer than the Obama campaign spin will acknowledge.

Ayres was responsible for bringing the Annenberg Challenge grant for schools to Chicago; Obama was made chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which steered money to organizations run by Ayres and his wife Bernardine Dohrn. In 1995, Ayers organized and hosted Obama's first political fundraiser at his home. Contrary to Obama campaign claims, it was Ayers who organized the event, not State Sen. Alice Palmer, Obama's predecessor.

This comment at Hot AIr by rvastar proposes the sort of speech John McCain might give to explain the relevance of Obama's ties to Ayers and other radicals to the present economic mess. It's a good summary of what has been uncovered about the Ayers/Obama relationship:

My friends, as we try to provide you with more information about Sen. Obama's dubious ties to the likes of unrepentent domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, and radical Leftist groups like ACORN, it is inevitable that his defenders will attempt to deflect your attention away from these relationships by stating that these are just smears, an attempt to distract you from the overwhelming issue that is front and center in the minds of all Americans - the economy. But this is most certainly not the case, since we believe that that these relationships - along with many others - provide clear examples of the dangers an Obama presidency poses to this country's future economic well-being.

The overall health of the US economy is a complicated balancing act between private-sector freedom and govt oversight. As our nation's current financial crisis is clearly illustrating, govt policies can - for good or for bad - have enormous effects on our financial markets. With this in mind, we need elected officials who have a clear understanding of how their political ideology and policies will interact with and effect our financial system; and not just in the short term of a year...or two years...or 10 year, but as regards the long-term effects that their ideology and policies will have on our country. We need officials with a keen respect for using the power of govt, as well as taxpayers' money, in responsible and beneficial ways that will promote our economic well-being for generations to come.

Which brings us to the topic of Sen. Obama's long relationship with Bill Ayers. Now, let me be absolutely clear about something before the media spin even begins - no one is claiming that Sen. Obama is a terrorist. And no one is claiming that Sen. Obama condones or is an apologist for terrorism, whether it be domestic or international, past or present. But what we are claiming is that Sen. Obama shares certain radically Leftist views with Bill Ayers and that those shared radical views found the two of them affiliated with and working with one another for the better part of ten years.

In 1995, Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn - herself, a convicted terrorist - hosted Sen. Obama's political "coming out" party in their own living room. Also, Bill Ayers was a co-founder of an organization called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation whose primary goal was the advancement and promotion of a radically Leftist educational agenda in the Chicago school system. Ayers was instrumental in getting Sen. Obama appointed as the Chairman of the CAC in 1995, despite the fact that corporate presidents were sitting board members of the CAC and Sen. Obama was a relatively young, inexperienced associate lawyer in Chicago.

So, what was it - exactly - that the CAC did? It provided funds to Chicago-area schools under the stipulation that said schools partner with CAC-approved "community organizations" like ACORN and the Developing Communities Project, both radical Leftist groups who were determined to push a radical educational agenda on both students and teachers. so in the end, what were the final results of Sen. Obama's 5-year tenure as Chairman of the CAC? According to the CAC's own report before the organization disbanded: "There were no statistically significant differences in student achievement between Annenberg schools and demographically similar non-Annenberg schools. This indicates that there was no Annenberg effect on achievement." In other words, the result was nothing - nothing at all; unless you count the more than $100+ million in taxpayer money that was spent in funding the CAC's efforts at indoctrinating children and teachers into a radical political ideology.

And there, in that last point, is the relevant truth. The primary purpose of this money wasn't to improve students reading comprehension or math scores; it wasn't meant to provide them with occupational training or more individualized attention; in other words, the money wasn't meant to prepare students with the type of solid, fact-based educational experience that the future health of our country's economy is dependent on. The primary purpose of the over $100 million of taxpayer money that was spent was to support an effort at indoctrinating Chicago's children into the same far-left political ideology that Bill Ayers espouses - namely, that US is an evil country, with an evil history, and that it needs to be torn-apart at the seams so that it can be reorganized into a socialist paradise.

And Sen. Barack Obama worked with this man and the CAC in order to achieve this goal in the Chicago school system.

Now, does $100 million spent on this sort of nonsense bring to mind the phrase "sound economic principles"? Do Sen. Obama's radical attempts at turning our nation's school systems into political indoctrination centers sound like the activities of a man who has this country's economic best interest at heart? It most certainly does not, as it sounds to me like Sen. Obama is man who cares more about spreading his radical political views to our nation's children than he does about preparing them for their future roles as the stewards of our economic future.

But if that doesn't convince you, let's talk about another - more direct - example of Sen. Obama's lack of judgement when it comes to the stability and prosperity of our nation's economy. Let's talk about his role as a "leadership trainer" with ACORN, and how the very "training" he provided this group is directly tied to the current financial meltdown that our country is enduring...

MORE: Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, fought for and ultimately gained access to the records of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and he has written several articles on what he learned about Barack Obama and his radical friends.

STILL MORE: ACORN's Las Vegas office raided in voter fraud investigation:

Bob Walsh, spokesman for the Nevada secretary of state's office, told FOXNews.com the raid was prompted by ongoing complaints about "erroneous" registration information being submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also called ACORN.

The group was submitting the information through a voter sign-up drive known as Project Vote.

"Some of them used nonexistent names, some of them used false addresses and some of them were duplicates of previously filed applications," Walsh said, describing the complaints, which largely came from the registrar in Clark County, Nev.

Secretary of State Ross Miller said the fraudulent registrations included forms for the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys football team.

"Tony Romo is not registered to vote in the state of Nevada, and anybody trying to pose as Terrell Owens won't be able to cast a ballot on Nov. 4," Miller said....

But it's not the first time ACORN's been under investigation for registration irregularities. The raid is the latest of at least nine investigations into possible fraudulent voter registration forms submitted by ACORN -- the probes have involved ACORN workers in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Indiana and other states.

In 2006, ACORN also committed what Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed called the "worse case of election fraud" in the state's history.

In the case, ACORN submitted just over 1,800 new voter registration forms, and all but six of the 1,800 names were fake.

More recently, 27,000 registrations handled by the group from January to July 2008 "went into limbo because they were incomplete, inaccurate, or fraudulent," said James Terry, chief public advocate at the Consumers Rights League.


Why are Asian investors keeping their money in America? According to Asia Times columnist Spengler, it's because of Sarah Palin.

Or rather, it's because of a political culture that allows concerned citizens like Palin to emerge to challenge and expose corruption.

You need to read the whole thing. There are too many quotes worth requoting here. There is so much more to the success of America and the rest of the Anglosphere than the governmental structures that are common to democracies. There are legal and cultural traditions that create a level of trust and self-determination.

A selection of the best quotes:

What does America have that Asia doesn't have? The answer is, Sarah Palin - not Sarah Palin the vice presidential candidate, but Sarah Palin the "hockey mom" turned small-town mayor and reforming Alaska governor. All the PhDs and MBAs in the world can't make a capital market work, but ordinary people like Sarah Palin can. Laws depend on the will of the people to enforce them. It is the initiative of ordinary people that makes America's political system the world's most reliable.

America is the heir to a long tradition of Anglo-Saxon law that began with jury trial and the Magna Carta and continued through the English Revolution of the 17th century and the American Revolution of the 18th. Ordinary people like Palin are the bearers of this tradition....

Palin really did take on the American oil companies and turn the scoundrels out of office. Her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, appointed her to the state oil and gas commission in the apparent belief that a small-town mayor and former beauty queen would rubber-stamp corrupt deals between the state and the Big Oil companies.

Shades of Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Palin ran against Murkowski and took his job. That does not qualify her to be president, to be sure, but it does show cunning and strength of character. Palin is qualified for high office by temperament if not by education, and is preferable to candidates whose education has made no improvement on their characters....

One doesn't see demonstrations by wronged peasants in the small towns of America. There never were peasants - American farmers always were entrepreneurs - and the locals avenge injury by taking over their local governments, which have sufficient authority to make a difference. At the capillary level, school boards, the Parent Teachers' Association, self-administered religious organizations and volunteer organizations incubate a political class entirely different from anything to be found in Asia. There are tens of thousands of Sarah Palins lurking in the minor leagues of American politics, and they are the guarantors of market probity....

It is true that Asian economies depend on American consumers and an American recession is bad for Asian currencies. But why don't Asians consume what they produce at home? The trouble is that rich Asians don't lend to poor Asians in their own countries. Capital markets don't work in the developing world because it is too easy to steal money. Subprime mortgages in the US have suffered from poor documentation. What kind of documentation does one encounter in countries where everyone from the clerk at the records office to the secretary who hands you a form requires a small bribe? America is litigious to a fault, but its courts are fair and hard to corrupt.

Asians are reluctant to lend money to each other under the circumstances; they would rather lend money in places where a hockey mom can get involved in local politics and, on encountering graft and corruption, run a successful campaign to turn the scoundrels out. You do not need PhDs and MBAs for that. You need ordinary people who care sufficiently about the places in which they live to take control of their own towns and states when required. And, yes, it doesn't hurt if they own guns.

I was also intrigued by this aside (emphasis added):

China's 30 million students of classical piano are one of the two great popular movements in the world today: the other is the House Church movement in Chinese Christianity. Children who play hockey will grow up to get coffee for children who study piano. As a pool of talent, nothing compares with the educated segment of the East Asian population that has embraced and mastered Western culture.

It's a bit startling to these American eyes to see two Chinese trends described as "the two great popular movements in the world today," but as a Christian, I'm gladdened to read that the Chinese House Church is one of those two movements.

(Via Crunchy Con.)

Via Mister Snitch, I came across this detailed, link-heavy blog post about Sarah Palin's political career, beginning with her first race for City Council in 1992, and including her 2004 decision to quit a plum $118,000 a year seat on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after the Attorney General and Governor not only ignored her concerns about corruption on the AOGCC, but also, in the case of the AG, threatened her with prosecution if she blew the whistle:

Why do I mention Palin's apolitical roots? Because they help explain three things about her that become important later. One, how she's been able to stay grounded to have a normal, non-political person's reactions to the kinds of things politicians get inured to seeing. Two, why her views on reform, corruption and waste were not a pre-designed program but the evolving product of those reactions kicking in over time in response to things she observed first-hand. And three, how she was able to make the most important decision of her political career - to walk away from it all on principle with the significant chance that she was ending her career in politics.

On a related note, I enjoyed SNL's opening sketch, which was, as expected, a spoof of Thursday's Palin-Biden debate. Unlike the real Gwen Ifill, the fictional Ms. Ifill (played by the lovely Queen Latifah) made an opening disclosure about her upcoming book about the "Age of Obama."

I was also pleased that the SNL writers captured a moment that struck me as one of the biggest surprises in the debate: Biden saying, "Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple." Compressing the exchange slightly, the writers came close to quoting Biden's comments verbatim. I haven't seen much discussion of this in the blogosphere, so it's nice to see that I wasn't the only one who was surprised by his blunt embrace of his radical position on this issue.

Oklahomans for Life, the organization that advocates at the State Capitol for the sanctity of human life, has published the responses to its survey of candidates for the November 4 general election in the October 2008 issue of its newsletter. There are separate surveys for federal and state candidates; both surveys ask about concrete policies and bills that are likely to come before Congress and the Oklahoma Legislature. Topics include abortion and abortion funding, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia. The federal survey includes a couple of questions about rationing of federally-funded medical care:

10) Some hospitals have implemented formal policies authorizing denial of lifesaving medical treatment against the will of a patient or the patient's family if an ethics committee thinks the patient's quality of life is unacceptable, even though the patient and family disagree. The federal Patient Self-Determination Act currently requires health care facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid to ask patients on admission whether they have an advance directive indicating their desire to receive or refuse lifesaving treatment under certain circumstances. Would you support preventing involuntary denial of lifesaving medical treatment by amending the Patient Self-Determination Act to provide that if failure to comply with a patient's or surrogate's choice for life-saving treatment would in reasonable medical judgment be likely to result in or hasten the patient's death, a health care provider unwilling to respect the choice for life-saving treatment must allow the patient to be transferred to a willing provider and must provide the treatment pending transfer?

11) Would you vote against any bill that imposes price controls or otherwise limits the right of older Americans who choose to do so to add their own funds on top of the government contribution in order to obtain Medicare health insurance that is less likely to ration medical treatment and prescription drugs?

The same issue of the newsletter includes a response by OfL director Tony Lauinger to Jerry Riley, husband of State Sen. Nancy Riley (D-SD37), who took exception to OfL's characterization of Sen. Riley's voting record. Lauinger points out that the votes a legislator casts trumps the position a legislator claims, and Nancy Riley's two no votes on SB 714 in 2007 made the difference in the legislature's attempt to override Gov . Brad Henry's veto. Lauinger reminds that Sen. Riley's votes on SB 714 contradicted her responses to the Oklahomans for Life survey in 2000 and 2004 (as a Republican candidate for State Senate) and in 2006 (as a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor).

Lauinger's letter addresses the matter of the rape and incest exception, and why the consistent pro-life position permits abortion only when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. (Riley cited the lack of a rape and incest exception as the reason for her opposition to SB 714, but she failed to offer such an exception as an amendment, either in her committee or in the Senate as a whole.)

Ethel Waters, the revered African-American vocalist of blues and spirituals, had occasion near the end of her life to recount its beginning: "My father raped my mother when she was twelve years old, and today they've named a park for me in Chester, Pennsylvania." Recounted in her autobiography, His Eye is on the Sparrow, her life is but one of many of children conceived in rape who went on to make great contributions to this world.

She might wonder how it makes sense, in logic or in law, to execute a child for the crime of his or her father? Abortion does not erase the trauma of a rape. Abortion compounds the first tragedy with a second tragedy - one for which the woman herself is responsible.

It is not valid to assume the best thing for a victim of rape or incest is to abort her baby. For society, abortion might seem to "solve the problem." But for the woman herself, it does not. Abortion often leads to psychological anguish and emotional devastation. Britain's Royal College of Psychiatry issued a warning in March that women may be at risk of mental health breakdowns if they have abortions. They advised that women should not have an abortion until they are counseled about the possible risk to their mental health.

There are more than one million unborn babies being killed by abortion in our country every year. One could rely on the absence of a rape exception as an excuse for opposing all manner of bills that seek to reduce abortions and save the babies we can. Or one could support these reasonable, modest regulations which, while not making abortion illegal, at least give some unborn children - and their mothers - a chance to avoid catastrophe.

That's why Nancy's votes against SB 714 were so disappointing. When the opportunity to help these babies came, she didn't give the benefit of the doubt to life.

Earlier this evening, Tyson Wynn interviewed me and Jason Carini of Oklahomans for Responsible Government about tonight's vice presidential debate between Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware). Click that link to listen and download the podcast.

I thought Palin did a wonderful job and clearly came out the winner. She was effective at explaining John McCain's platform, defending her own record, and going on the attack against the policies and experience of the Obama-Biden ticket. Biden made some statements tonight that are going to require some explaining and backtracking from Barack Obama's campaign.

Good blog commentary elsewhere:

Here are Michelle Malkin's live blogging and post debate recap entries.

John Mark Reynolds has been doing a fine job of rebutting the panicky anti-Palinites on the right. Here's his live-blog of the debate and his wrapup post.

Punchy cons

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I've been following the anti-Sarah Palin tirades coming from a handful of conservative pundits who are embarrassed by her interview with Katie Couric. One of those is Rod Dreher, whose string of anti-Palin posts has won him interviews on Good Morning America and Larry King Live. In a recent entry Dreher blasts Palin for failing to come up with a response to Couric's question about Supreme Court decisions other than Roe that she didn't like.

I posted the following comment (slightly amplified for clarity):

When I heard the interview clip, I was annoyed that Palin couldn't come up with the name of another case that she didn't like.

Then I asked myself the same question. I drew a blank. And even though I've blogged about Kelo extensively, and even though I write a weekly column that deals with urban development, I didn't think of it until about 10 minutes later. Had I been the subject of the interview, 10 minutes later would have been too late. "Oh, by the way, Katie, I just thought of another court case I don't like." Katie would have already been through three more subjects by then. Once you're off-balance in that way, you're not going to get back in the groove. At least in Jeopardy, you get several questions in the same category and a chance to get your memory going in that direction.

On the subject of the Couric interview, Rod reminds me of an armchair Jeopardy player. It's really easy, when you're in your La-Z-Boy eating cheese doodles, to get all the answers right and to belittle the contestant who is having a bad day and freezes up in front of all the world and Alex Trebek.

CBS is taking this one bad day and spreading it out over two weeks, making it look like a long series of bad days. Non-panicky bloggers should have realized that after the first segment was rough, the rest of them would have been, too. It's all part of the same interview, and if you'd seen it all on a single day, I think it would have created a different impression.

If you're not familiar with the magic of television, I suppose you might be surprised and outraged that, gee whiz, Palin's interview isn't going any better than the day before or last week.

Further thoughts: I have been interviewed hundreds of times, mostly early in the morning when I'm at my worst. The best interviews were when I knew in advance what topic was going to be discussed and had a chance to think about the key points I wanted to get across. The worst interviews involved a question out of left field, and I had to vamp while coming up with a reasonable sounding answer. I hated getting questions that begin with "What is your favorite..." or "Can you name two or three..." and the worst -- which Katie Couric has used repeatedly in her Palin interview -- is "Besides the thing you just mentioned, name another...." In other words, stop thinking about what you were just talking about and immediately start thinking about something else.

I thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed by G. W. Schulz, who profiled me for Urban Tulsa Weekly back in July 2005. But one question he asked threw me for a loop. It wasn't a gotcha question. It was quite reasonable:

But when asked in person what stories from the Bible influenced him at a young age, he seems at a loss--either because there's so much to consider, or because, like many bloggers, he better excels at writing fluid, delicately crafted sentences, taking time to insure proper diction, tense and grammar.

In retrospect, a good answer would have been, "I grew up in an environment saturated with Scripture, and asking which Bible stories influenced me is like asking a plant which drops of water were most helpful in its growth and development." Instead, I tried to answer the question exactly as posed.

Another question consistently sent me groping for words, even though I'd almost always get this question right at the end of my weekly updates on KFAQ: "What's on BatesLine today?" or some variation thereof. Almost invariably when I was prepared to plug the site, we'd run out of time before I had the chance.

Within the last year or so, I addressed the City Council on some topic. I delivered a fairly coherent argument and did so forcefully, I thought. As I started back to my seat, Councilor John Eagleton asked me to return to the microphone to answer a few questions. I don't remember the specifics, but one of the questions discombobulated me. We were on the same side of the issue at hand, and Eagleton wasn't trying to throw me off, but he managed to ask me a question which required me to shift mental gears faster than my brain wanted to do.

I am not a dunce or intellectually incurious, although if you judged me the way that Dreher and his fellow punchy cons are judging Palin, you might jump to that conclusion. Most of the time I manage to be articulate, even when speaking extemporaneously or when asked an unexpected question. But sometimes I have bad moments on good days, and sometimes I have completely bad days, when I can't shift gears as fast as I need to.

Sarah Palin, who defeated a sitting governor in her own party's primary and went on to beat a former governor in the general election, had a bad hour or so in an interview with Katie Couric, a bad hour that has been stretched out by CBS editing into a week or so. CBS has succeeded in inducing panic in a few conservative Chicken Littles. If I were one of them, I'd be embarrassed at being so easily manipulated by an organization with a clear agenda to defeat conservatism by any means necessary.

I don't expect these observations will win me a slot on Larry King Live.

MORE:

Here's video of Palin's 2006 general election debate with former two-term Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles:

My wife, Mikki, wanted me to write something about why the mainstream media hates Sarah Palin. I thought what she wrote herself put it pretty well, so here it is:

Why does the MSM hate Palin?

She is the antithesis of "Sex in the City" and "Desperate Housewives." Our media lives with and idolizes the titillating adventure and mystery of glamour and pathos, mystery and deceit... revolving spouses - or "partners". The messages from this type of shows is - discard the old problem - person, job, house, and start over. Don't bother learning lessons from poor decision-making or childish behavior, just see if the same mistakes will work better on the next unsuspecting victim.

Sarah Palin comes from a culture foreign to the MSM. Her salary doesn't match Wall Street. She fired a cook, although a busy working mom might actually find one quite helpful in a family of that size. I suspect she and her husband want the kids to grow up learning to work and take responsibility for themselves as well. She is still married to her first husband and decided to continue a pregnancy with a special needs child. Apparently, Sarah Palin doesn't expect her life to be "a bowl of cherries." I am sure that their marriage hasn't been perfect, and they didn't expect it to be. That is probably why they are still married.

This is the difference between our candidates. Sarah Palin is NOT a whiner. She does not expect the "SUPER SANTA = BIG GOVERNMENT = WHITE KNIGHT" to ride in and save the day. She expects government to stop penalizing hard working people and allow us to get our work done! She is Main Street America. Why was the media so amazed at her popularity? They have never met her before. The rest of us live in her neighborhood, and consider her a good neighbor, with values that we can trust.

That last sentence in the second paragraph seems to be the same message we're getting from the bailout backers.

Yesterday with Hugh Hewitt, Gov. Palin did her first talk radio interview since her nomination. Here's a link to the podcast and transcript. This podcast of the full hour includes a segment with NRO's Campaign Spot blogger Jim Geraghty, who gives a point by point commentary on Palin's remarks.

MORE: Guess who wrote a book? Gwen Ifill of PBS, moderator of tomorrow night's vice presidential debate, has a book coming out on January 20, 2009 -- Inauguration Day. It's called Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. I'd say a book with the phrase "Age of Obama" in the title is headed to the bestseller list if Obama and Biden win. If McCain and Palin win it's going straight to the remainder bin, next to Dow 36,000. This goes beyond ideological bias to an actual conflict of interest between Ifill's responsibility to be impartial as moderator and the desire of her and her publisher to see her book sell well.

Don Danz traces the roots of the current upheaval in the mortgage industry back to Jimmy Carter's Community Reinvestment Act ("it wasn't the worst piece of needless economic legislation the Democrats had ever hobbled the American people with but, rather, simply a foundation on which bad policy could be built"), CRA changes approved by Bill Clinton and the Democrat-controlled 103rd Congress, requiring lenders to loosen their mortgage underwriting criteria, and Democratic resistance to mortgage industry reforms proposed by George W. Bush in 2003 and John McCain in 2005.

Don also explains why Barack Obama was one of the politicians most generously funded by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- second only to Sen. Christopher "Countrywide" Dodd (D-ConnMan).

Now, why would these lending institutions spend such a disproportionate amount of money on a baby Senator? Because they knew it was money well spent and it all goes back to Obama's days as a community rabble-rouser, I mean, "organizer." The original lobbyists for passage of the CRA were hardcore leftists who supported the Carter administration and were often rewarded for their support with government grants and programs like the CRA that they personally benefited from. These included various "community organizations" such as "ACORN" (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). As mentioned above, it is groups like ACORN which, for a handsome fee, provide the bogus "credit-counseling" to poor borrowers to qualify for loans instead of actually having a way of paying back the loan.

Neighborhood organizations, like ACORN, also benefit themselves from the CRA through a process of legalized extortion. The CRA is enforced by four different federal government bureaucracies: the Federal Reserve, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The law is set up so that any new branch creation, branch expansion or bank merger can be postponed or prohibited by any of these four bureaucracies if a CRA "protest" is issued by a community organization. The delays and expenses associated with such a protest can cost banks huge sums of money, and the community organization not only understand this perfectly well, but count on it. The community organizations use the threat of protests to get the banks to give them millions of dollars in "donations" (read that as bribes) as well as promising to make a certain amount of bad loans in their communities. With his history as a "community organizer," the lobbyists for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac knew Senator Obama was a good buy for their money.

I received a note today from Oklahoma Republican Party chairman Gary Jones, passing along the word that the Republican National Committee is correcting Oklahoma's vote in the official record of the roll call for the Republican presidential nomination. As BatesLine reported the night of the roll call, Sen. Jim Inhofe was cut off before he could report Oklahoma's vote as 39 for Sen. John McCain and 2 for Rep. Ron Paul. The secretary recorded 41 Oklahoma votes for McCain, and attempts to get the attention of the chairman to make a correction were unsuccessful.

Jones continued to pursue the matter, out of respect for two unbound Oklahoma delegates, elected at the 2nd Congressional District Convention, originally bound to but released by Mike Huckabee, and their desire to have their votes count for their chosen candidate.

Tom Josefiak of the RNC legal department sent the following e-mail to Jones on Friday, September 19:

Just want to confirm to you that the official GOP Convention delegate vote tally for the State of Oklahoma now reads:

"Oklahoma 41 votes, 39 for John McCain, 2 for Ron Paul". The Official Proceedings of the 2008 Convention ("The Green Book") will reflect those numbers.

Gary Jones deserves a great deal of credit for pursuing this, especially since some of Paul's most outspoken Oklahoma fans denounced him and made his job rather unpleasant this year. The vote didn't change the outcome, but Gary saw it as a matter of fairness.

A call to vote

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From a grateful Dawn Summers:

I live in the greatest country in the world.

I was born to immigrants and was raised by a single mother earning less than twenty thousand dollars a year. Yet, I was able to graduate from one of the best private schools in New York, have college and doctoral level degrees from the best universities in the world, and own property in New York City....

My country doesn't force me to put on a uniform and take up arms in her defense. America does not ask me to pledge my loyalty, though I would do so happily and would volunteer to police the strict enforcement of such a pledge from my fellow Americans. With extreme prejudice
.
America does not limit the number of children I can have or force me to use my talents to win gold medals.

America does not even ask that I respect her leaders or learn her history - again, all of which I generally try to do.

Heck, America, does not even require that you be American to let you enjoy all of these things. That is how awesome America is.

So, you'd think that when a country as great as mine is, that asks as little as mine does, puts the question of who will run our nation and direct our great country's future before the people every two years that we, its citizens, would happily say "hey, no problem, America. It's the least I can do," and take our educated, fed, entertained, free bottoms down to our local polling places and pick a half dozen or so names on a ballot.

Read the whole thing.

In addition to all the writing I did for BatesLine during the Republican National Convention, I managed to turn out three pieces for this week's issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly:

The cover story about the upcoming PLANiTULSA citywide planning workshops. The folks at the City of Tulsa Planning Department and Fregonese Associates were very helpful as I put this story together. I had a copy not only of the publicity materials but the instructions for the facilitators -- the volunteers at each table who answer questions and keep the mapping process on pace to finish within the alloted time. From those instructions, I tried to put together a vivid description of what workshop participants will experience. My feeling is that the more you know about what will happen, the better prepared you'll be to participate fully and advocate effectively for your ideas for Tulsa's future.

I spoke to Theron Warlick, one of the City of Tulsa planners assigned to PLANiTULSA, and he told me that about 500 people had already signed up, with about a week and a half to go. Mayor Bill LaFortune's 2002 Vision Summit drew about 1100.

If you haven't signed up yet, visit PLANiTULSA.org and register online.

Also this week, I have a story about the the Republican National Convention as seen through the eyes of Tulsans who attended the convention.

The week before, I spoke to Jackie Tomsovic, a first-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and covered the surprising political resurrection of former Gov. David Walters, co-chairman of the Democrats' convention rules committee.

My column this week relates both to St. Paul and to planning. During my visit, I tried to learn what I could about how the city handles planning and zoning, river development, downtown, and affordable housing. I wound up with far more material than I could use on all of the above topics. I chose to focus on the way St. Paul connects citizens and neighborhoods with city government, using 19 independent, non-profit "district planning councils."

MORE: Here's a video of planner John Fregonese's presentation at the TulsaNow forum on July 15. He speaks about planning concepts, demographic trends, and the results of the planning team's survey of a thousand Tulsans.

(The embedded video was making this page load slowly, so if you want to watch it, visit the PLANiTULSA channel on blip.tv.)

Blogger lunch at Babani's

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I mentioned a lunch for bloggers on Wednesday of the Republican National Convention. It was organized by HotAir's Ed Morrissey, sponsored by Verizon, and held at Babani's, a Kurdish restaurant in downtown St. Paul. The food was delicious and plentiful, and my taste buds wanted more of it than my stomach, already full from a breakfast with the Oklahoma delegation and a blogger brunch, could handle.

During the lunch, we heard the inspiring story of Babani's owner, Rodwan Nakshabandi -- his conscription into the Iraqi Army, fleeing the country following Gulf War I and Saddam's attacks on Kurdistan, making his way to the US, and finally settling in St. Paul and opening this restaurant. Ed's entry from the luncheon includes video by Danny Glover of Rodwan's story as told by Joe Repya (Lt. Col., U. S. Army, Retired), along with a transcript. Here's a bit of it:

In 2003, prior to the start of the Iraq war Rodwan was a frequent guest on talk radio, but only under an assumed name and never mentioning his restaurant in fear for the life of his mother and other family members in Mosul, Iraq. Rodwan wants all Americans to know how grateful the Iraqi Kurdish people are to the United States and George W. Bush for liberating them from the tyranny of Saddam Hussain. Last year Rodwan took his family back to Iraq for the first time to visit relatives he had not seen since 1991. His love for America is great, but his heart still remains with his Kurdish heritage.

The video also includes remarks by Nakshabandi and by Jon Henke of New Media Strategies, and some photos of the food at the very end.

By now you've heard about the KFOR-SurveyUSA poll of 652 likely Oklahoma voters from September 5-7. The poll shows Republicans with substantial leads in statewide races:

President: McCain/Palin over Obama/Biden, 65% to 32%.
Senator: Jim Inhofe over Andrew Rice and Stephen Wallace, 56% to 34% to 6%.
Corporation Commissioner (long term): Jeff Cloud over Charles Gray, 52% to 34%.
Corporation Commissioner (short term): Dana Murphy over Jim Roth, 54% to 36%.

The links above will take you to the crosstabs for each poll, showing how the candidates when the sample is broken down by race, gender, party affiliation, age, education, ideology, church attendance, income, and abortion views.

Keeping in mind that the smaller the subsample, the bigger the margin of error, it's still striking that McCain has the support of 42% of Oklahoma Democrats.

I'm happy to see my friend Dana Murphy doing so well. She is the most qualified candidate for Corporation Commissioner that I have ever seen on the ballot. If Oklahoma voters can look beyond party affiliation, she ought to win by a landslide.

I asked Tulsa-area delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention to share memorable moments from the convention for an Urban Tulsa Weekly story. Some stories came in after my deadline that are too good not to share, so I'm going to be publishing them here.

Delegate Cheryl Medlock heads up the After Five Republican Women's Club and represents Tulsa County on the Republican 1st District Committee. (She's also married to that radio guy.) Cheryl told me about a tribute to Cindy McCain which gave her a glimpse into the personality and character of the prospective First Lady as well as her vice presidential counterpart, Todd Palin, who has been dubbed by his wife the "First Dude of Alaska."

We were pleasantly surprised by an appearance by Todd Palin. You can see that he is just a "regular guy". He was brief in his remarks and was humorous. He mentioned that he was still on his job the week before, working shift work. He also mentioned that if he had a crystal ball a few years ago, that would have been his opportunity to steer Sarah away from getting involved in the PTA!

Cindy McCain has struck me as an ice princess-type person, but this lunch really opened my eyes to her warmness and generosity. Her medical missions with Operation Smile was obviously a hands-on endeavor for her. She was in scrubs, hair pushed back in a band, no makeup and holding babies.

While at the lunch, Debbie House, GOP County Chair in Payne County, approached Mrs. McCain for a photo. Debbie, a hairdresser, told her that she needed to study how she had her hair because she will be asked often to replicate the hair style for her clients. Cindy McCain was very gracious and allowed photos of her hair and had one taken with Debbie.

(Please note that the chairman of the Payne County Republican Party is not a J. R. Ewing-type oil mogul, not a banker, not a lawyer, but a beauty shop owner who cares enough about public policy to serve as a party chairman and to pay her own way to a national convention. David Holt has more about Debbie House.)

Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal describes in depth how Sarah Palin, first as an oil and gas commissioner and then as Governor, busted up an insider sweetheart deal involving a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48. Here's the heart of the story:

And so it came as no surprise in 2004 when former Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski made clear he'd be working exclusively with three North Slope producers--ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP--to build a $25 billion pipeline to move natural gas to the lower 48. The trio had informed their political vassals that they alone would build this project (they weren't selling their gas to outsiders) and that they expected the state to reward them. Mr. Murkowski disappeared into smoky backrooms to work out the details. He refused to release information on the negotiations. When Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin suggested terms of the contract were illegal, he was fired.

What Mr. Murkowski did do publicly was instruct his statehouse to change the oil and gas tax structure (taxes being a primary way Alaskans realize their oil revenue). Later, citizens would discover this was groundwork for Mr. Murkowski's pipeline contract--which would lock in that oil-requested tax package for up to 40 years, provide a $4 billion state investment, and relinquish most oversight.

Enter Mrs. Palin. The former mayor of Wasilla had been appointed by Mr. Murkowski in 2003 to the state oil and gas regulatory agency. She'd had the temerity to blow the whistle on fellow GOP Commissioner Randy Ruedrich for refusing to disclose energy dealings. Mr. Murkowski and GOP Attorney General Gregg Renkes closed ranks around Mr. Ruedrich--who also chaired the state GOP. Mrs. Palin resigned. Having thus offended the entire old boy network, she challenged the governor for his seat.

Mrs. Palin ran against the secret deal, and vowed to put the pipeline back out for competitive, transparent, bidding. She railed against cozy politics. Mr. Murkowski ran on his unpopular pipeline deal. The oil industry warned the state would never get its project without his leadership. Mrs. Palin walloped him in the primary and won office in late 2006. Around this time, news broke of a federal probe that would show oil executives had bribed lawmakers to support the Murkowski tax changes.

Among Mrs. Palin's first acts was to reinstate Mr. Irwin. By February 2007 she'd released her requirements for pipeline bidding. They were stricter, and included only a $500 million state incentive. By May a cowed state house--reeling from scandal--passed her legislation.

The producers warned they would not bid, nor would anyone else. Five groups submitted proposals. A few months before the legislature awarded its license to TransCanada this July, Conoco and BP suddenly announced they'd be building their own pipeline with no state inducements whatsoever. They'd suddenly found the money.

Mrs. Palin has meanwhile passed an ethics law. She's tightened up oil oversight. She forced the legislature to rewrite the oil tax law. That new law raised taxes on the industry, for which Mrs. Palin is now taking some knocks, but the political background here is crucial.

I'm excited at the thought of having this kind of energy and passion for what's right at work on behalf the entire nation, not just Alaska. I'm hopeful that Palin's actions in this case become a model for politicians of every level, ever party, in every part of the country. If this kind of reform can launch Palin to the second highest office in the land, perhaps aspiring pols will decided that busting up the Good Ol' Boys is a better strategy for advancement than becoming one of them.

Splitting my time between experiencing the Republican National Convention and writing about it, I didn't get around to linking my new blog acquaintances until last night, and I'm only now getting around to linking the Oklahoma delegates who were there and blogging. Although the party's over, it's worth going back to read what the convention was like from a delegate's perspective. There is a lot more going on than you see on TV every evening from 8 to 10.

The Oklahoma Gazette had two Republican delegates blogging about their convention experiences: 4th District Republican Chairman Steve Fair and Jason Reese. Steve also cross-posted his write-ups, plus more content, at his own site, Fair and Biased.

Steve has some great write-ups of the breakfast speakers the Oklahoma delegates heard. Here's a bit from U. S. Rep. Tom Cole's Thursday breakfast talk:

[Cole] said Palin's speech reminded him of the country music song written by Tom T. Hall called Harper Valley PTA. It was a major hit single for country songstress Jeannie C. Riley in 1968, which is probably before most of the people in the room. The song tells the story of a junior high student who is sent home with a note to her single mother from the PTA of the school decrying her behavior by small-town standards. The mother decides to speak to a meeting of the PTA where she addresses various episodes of misbehavior on the part of several of its members, concluding, "This is just a little Peyton Placce/And you're all Harper Valley hypocrites." Cole was complimentary of all his congressional colleagues.

David Holt blogged the convention for the Oklahoman. Early on, David wrote a nuts-and-bolts description of the convention. Page through his posts, and you'll find brief profiles of several members of the Oklahoma delegation. This one, about alternate Cheryl Demarest, suggests that friendliness can be an effective economic development tool for our state's small towns:

The Demarests moved from Long Island, NY to Talihina in 1999. They had no connection to the town or the state, but just wanted a place that was friendly to home schooling. They discovered Talihina while checking out Poteau. They were amazed that everyone in Talihina waved as they drove by.

Robert is a printing consultant and Cheryl is starting a real estate firm. And when they discovered they couldn't get reliable and affordable Internet access in Talihina, they didn't call the government and complain, they just started their own Internet Service Provider.

While Sarah Palin was speaking to the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, Michelle Obama was hitting two Hollywood fundraisers, giving subtly different messages to different audiences.

Patrick Range McDonald of LA Weekly, who covered the events as the designated pool reporter. Here's his description of the first stop of the night:

Dressed in a purple tank top with a purple floral skirt and black high heels, Obama first addressed a largely gay and lesbian audience at the home of Bryan Lourd, managing partner of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and Bruce Bozzi, Lourd's companion. The event was described by the Obama campaign as an "LGBT Reception."

Approximately 300 donors attended the fund raiser, which took place in the wealthy, Los Angeles neighborhood of Holmby Hills. Minimum contribution for a guest was $1,000 to get through the door. Supporters who raised $25,000 were given access to a VIP room, where Obama met with them and briefly spoke. All money went to the Obama Victory Fund.

Speaking at the fundraiser, Mrs. Obama insinuated that she doesn't think Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is very bright:

Obama then moved on to politics, where she first brought up her husband's vice-presidential choice. "I think it was a really good pick--Senator Joe Biden," she said, and later added, "People say they have amazing chemistry, and it's true."

Obama continued with talk about Biden when she said, "What you learn about Barack from his choice is that he's not afraid of smart people." The crowd softly chuckled.

Later, she spoke about gay rights:

Mindful of the audience in front of her, she then touched up gay and lesbian issues. "In a world as it should be," Obama said, "we repeal laws like DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" She also said an Obama Administration would "recognize" gay adoption rights. Both lines received loud applause.

Later that evening she spoke at a fundraiser at the home of Samuel L. Jackson:

Located in the gated community of Beverly Park Estates South in the city of Beverly Hills, approximately 300 people attended the event. Minimum contribution for a guest was $2,300, with VIP access for supporters who raised $25,000. All money went to the Obama Victory Fund.

Another star-studded crowd was on hand. Among the celebrities were actor Denzel Washington, actress and singer Barbra Streisand, actor and Streisand's husband, James Brolin, former Lakers star Magic Johnson, actress Scarlett Johansson, actor Ryan Reynolds, and former California governor Gray Davis. Guests gathered poolside in the backyard of Jackson's home and drank red and white wine. Golden shallot pancakes with brie and fig preserves and grilled vegetable torte bites with roasted pepper sauce were served. Bread & Butter Catering provided the food at both fund raisers.

Even in front of a presumably gay-friendly, left-wing Hollywood audience, part of her earlier remarks were omitted from the second appearance:

Obama did not mention anything about gay issues, but much of the rest of the speech was the same.

(Via Wilshire and Washington, Variety's blog on the "intersection of entertainment and politics.)

Fred Davis in the spotlight

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Fred Davis, Jim Inhofe at the Republican National Convention, by Michael Bates

I had been hearing about this famous/infamous ad-man for years, a native Tulsan and the nephew of Sen. Jim Inhofe, but I had never met him and had no idea what he looked like until I was on the convention floor Wednesday night and spotted Neil Munro of the National Journal next to the Oklahoma delegation. (Neil, Stephen Spruiell of National Review, Kate Hunter of Congressional Quarterly, and I comprised the entire press corps covering the Committee on Rules and Order of Business last Friday.)

I went over to say hello, and Neil called my attention to someone with luxuriantly flowing blond hair standing behind the delegation, next to Inhofe. He told me it was Fred Davis, McCain's attack ad man.

Neil had a profile of Davis in Tuesday's convention edition of National Journal:

Television ads are the background rhythm of a presidential campaign, and Republican Sen. John McCain's drummer -- ad man Fred Davis -- is already accelerating the beat and playing his signature riffs.

He has in the works a television ad that contrasts Democratic nominee Barack Obama's life as a politician in Chicago with that of his half-brother in Kenya, who lives in a shack on an unpaved street. Davis, chairman of Strategic Perception, McCain's advertising firm, said that the images are meant as a sharp-edged counterpoint to a theme in Obama's acceptance speech last week, in which he declared, "I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper."...

Davis sketched out his advertising strategy for a breakfast at the Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel recently, revving up the crowd with a selection of his past spots and an anti-Obama ad that was pulled before it could be run. The ad portrayed an Obama supporter in Texas being asked to cite an Obama accomplishment; he remains open-mouthed and silent for several seconds -- as if to suggest that he could think of nothing Obama had ever done.

Ultimately, the ad was discarded because it also showed a similarly nonplussed Democratic legislator who has since died. "There's plenty more in the can, soon to come," Davis promised.

MORE: Here's a 2006 National Journal Q&A with Davis, in which he talks about his first major race, his uncle's 1994 run for Senate. I don't recall Inhofe being as much of an underdog as Davis suggests, but I could be misremembering. That was a big year for Republicans across the board and a near sweep of statewide offices in Oklahoma.

And a couple of weeks ago, Townhall's Matt Lewis had this:

I'm hearing that tensions were high recently when veteran actor Robert Duvall was taping a voice-over for a video to be played during the Republican National Convention. Apparently, the veteran actor objected to the direction he was receiving from Republican media guru Fred Davis. According to my sources, Duvall said something along the lines of: "F-you Fred! If Scorsese couldn't give me direction, what the hell makes you think you can?" Though this blow-up is actually recorded on tape, my guess is it's in everyone's best interest for this to not leak out ...

If memory serves, Davis was responsible for Bob Sullivan's attack ads in his 2006 Republican Governor's campaign against Ernest Istook. Here's the one featuring Gailard Sartain:

Here are links to and a few notes about the bloggers I had the pleasure of meeting this week at the Republican National Convention. (If I met you but left out your name below, it's because I didn't get your business card. Drop a reminder to me at blog at batesline dot com.)

* Anne Leary, the BackyardConservative, from the Chicago 'burbs: Here Anne has posted some great photos from the last day of the convention, and she tells of her brushes with greatness.

* Skye, a conservative Democrat from Philadelphia, who blogs at Midnight Blue, Flopping Aces, and Right Wing News: Skye's latest has video of Barack Obama gaffe-ing his way across Pennsylvania.

Here's a video conversation between Anne and Skye.

* Chad Everson of Grizzly Groundswell and Socialist Squirrel. Grizzly Groundswell is a conservative blog community.

* Stix of Stix Blog: Stix has photos of several of our fellow bloggers at Centerfield, the Minneapolis warehouse district bar where he and several others stayed during the convention. (Unfortunately, I had to miss the Wednesday night party there. I stuck around the Xcel Center for the roll call, then posted about the problem with Oklahoma's votes and uploaded video, and I didn't get out of the Media Filing Center until 1:30 a.m.)

* Eric of The Tygrrrr Express: Eric had an interesting run-in with some Code Pinkos:

When they complained about a police state and overaggressive police tactics, I set them straight.

I told them:

"I can prove you are wrong in 60 seconds. You claim the police use excessive force. I know this is wrong because I begged them to do it and they wouldn't. I asked those cops (pointing towards them) to use tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons. I wanted Kent State 2008. They said no because we live in a democracy. So sorry to disappoint you, but as badly as you want it, you will not be savagely beaten. Now be quiet before I come back tomorrow with a razor and shave you all under your armpits."

Sadly enough the police would not let me do that either.

Eric also believes that Sarah Palin is the Second Coming of Margaret Thatcher.

Skye has posted some video of Eric conversing with a Code Pinko and a "Paulbot."

* Katherine Morrison from New Hampshire, of PurplePeopleVote and Blogs4McCain: Here's her summary of Day 2, which had the theme of service.

* Bill Smith of the ARRA News Service, a conservative Arkansas blog, and Let's Get This Right, a conservative blog community: Here's an interview between Bill and the aforementioned Katherine Morrison, who talks about what brought her to the convention:

I have a brother who moved to the St. Paul area and I wanted to visit him, my sister-in-law and their children. I am also a blogger and applied for press credentials as an Independent. And the RNC granted them. So, I took vacation and paid my way here. I have meet bloggers of all types: republicans, libertarians, democrats, independents and some from other countries.

* "CyberPastor" Ed Boston of Do the Right Thing.

* The Lady Logician of Ladies Logic: Here are her photos of the wide variety of Wednesday afternoon protesters, and here are her initial reflections following McCain's speech:

Senator McCain's intro video was very informative and I loved the self deprecating humor that was interlaced in with some very serious subject matters. At one point, in a section where it talked about all of the different names that Senator McCain had been called, as the narrator said, "He has even been called," the camera cut to Senator McCain's 96-year-old mother saying, "Mama's boy".

* Fausta of Fausta's blog: Here's her encounter with a couple of P.O.ed PUMAs for Palin:

Staunch Hillary supporters with a long history of activism, they headed to Denver. Bettyjean [Kling] purchased a 27′ RV and drove to Denver with her friend Robin Robinson as part of the "300″ to get Hillary a nomination and roll call at the Democratic National Convention last week.

They had worked on the Hillary campaign for months, Bettyjean in Pennsylvania and Robin in Delaware, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

But once they got to Denver they found delegates who told them that they were bein pressured to vote for Obama, and who were being told that they would never have a future in politics if they didn't. "Their arms were twisted", said Bettyjean....

Robin and Bettyjean were bitterly disappointed. When they heard that Sarah Palin was going to be the Vice-Presidential candidate, "our spirits rose and we headed to St. Paul."

* Lance Burri, who is, according to his business card, "the widest read, most influential conservative columnist ever to emerge from Greater Metropolitan Baraboo. East side. North of the river. Ever." Lance also blogs at Badger Blog Alliance, where he posted this account of the blogger lunch at Babani's Kurdish Restaurant, complete with a mouthwatering photo, plus video of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Frank Luntz at Wednesday's blogger brunch, and of former Sen. Fred Thompson from Tuesday's brunch.

* Dan Blatt, the western correspondent for GayPatriot, which calls itself "the internet home for American gay conservatives": Dan notes that the theme of gratitude provided bookends to McCain's speech:

At the beginning, he acknowledged his rivals for the Republican nomination and expressed his gratitude to the president and his family. He concluded by acknowledging his fellow POW Bob Craner, telling us how that good man "saved" him.

Maybe I read too much into this, but it says a lot of a man that he frames this speech by acknowledging how much he owes to others, showing how grateful he is for their love, their inspiration, their support, their compassion. He knows, more, he recognizes what he owes to others. For no one who has achieved any measure of success in any given endeavor could have accomplished anything without the support of others.

Devoting so much time in a speech of this significance suggests a certain humility, something we don't see in many politicians, particularly this election cycle.

* MarathonPundit, who recounts a conversation with a British press journalist who regarded his assignment to cover the RNC as "punishment."

I also met (briefly) A-list bloggers Scott Ott of the family-friendly satire site Scrappleface (who was surprisingly tall and whose face did not at all resemble scrapple), Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, and former (?) blogger and rising conservative star Mary Katherine Ham.

MORE: Skye and Marathon Pundit were interviewed by Al Jazeera during the convention.

From Sen. John McCain's acceptance speech in St. Paul tonight:

Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.

When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.

Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I'm President, they will.

(Crossposted at Choice Remarks.)

McCain's remarks, quoted above, brought the delegates to their feet with loud cheers several times.

School choice received many prime-time mentions from the podium of the Republican National Convention this week.

GOPAC Chairman Michael Steele:

Some just talk about change, but John McCain believes the resiliency of the American people is the real source of the change America needs; and that means putting country first.

So, do you want to put your country first? Then let's change the way we educate our kids.

Let's empower those whose minds are shackled by a poor education with real choices in where they go to school....

John McCain knows we must empower working families and stand with them against the erosion of our constitutional rights, the corruption of our school systems, the weakening of our families and the taking of human life - born and unborn.

Mitt Romney:

Opportunity expands when there is excellence and choice in education, when taxes are lowered, when every citizen has affordable, portable health insurance, and when constitutional freedoms are preserved.

Rudy Giuliani:

And as we look to the future never let us forget that - when we are at our best - we are the party that expands Freedom. We began as a party dedicated to freeing people from slavery ... And we are still the party that is willing to fight for freedom at home and around the world. We are the party that wants to expand individual freedom and economic freedom ... because we believe that the secret of America's success is not central government, it is self-government. We are the party that believes in giving workers the right to work. The party that believes parents should choose where their children go to school.

From the 2008 Republican platform about Washington, D. C.:

Washington should be made a model city. Two major Republican initiatives -- a first-time D.C. homebuyers credit and a landmark school choice initiative -- have pointed the way toward a civic resurgence, and a third piece of GOP legislation now guarantees young D.C. residents significant assistance in affording higher education.

From the education section of the platform.

Parents should be able to decide the learning environment that is best for their child. We support choice in education for all families, especially those with children trapped in dangerous and failing schools, whether through charter schools, vouchers or tax credits for attending faith-based or other nonpublic schools, or the option of home schooling.

I was sitting down in the Media Filing Center to begin to clear out some of by back blog, but as I sat down a convention staffer brought by Texas Congressman Michael Burgess. Burgess was here to talk about health care policy. He is an obstetrician and gynecologist, and in 2002 he succeeded Dick Armey in the 26th District, located in the northern part of the DFW Metroplex.

I'm in a rush to post, so I can go out on the floor for Tom Cole's speech (rescheduled from Monday), but in a nutshell, Burgess said that McCain's plan builds on the employer-funded insurance that serves 160 million Americans, but removes tax-code discrimination against those who purchase insurance individually. McCain's approach would make employer-funded premiums taxable, but there would be a $5,000 tax credit per family. So if you're employer pays, say $10,000 a year, for your health insurance and you're in the 25% tax bracket, your taxes would go down by $2,500 ($2,500 taxes on the employer-funded premiums, minus the $5,000 credit. If you're in the 10% bracket with the same plan, you'd be ahead by $4,000 under this plan. That net gain could be used to fund a Health Savings Account to cover out of pocket expenses or even to pay for an individually-owned plan.

McCain also wants to create greater choice for insurance buyers, so they can choose the right plan for the right cost from a coast-to-coast selection of companies, rather than being stuck with higher costs in their own states, driven by legislative coverage mandates.

The McCain team is also working on a guaranteed access provision to protect people with pre-existing conditions or in fragile health.

Burgess said that liability reform in Texas has made a huge difference in medical liability insurance costs. Overall cost of the plan he had as an obstetrician dropped by 22% after the passage of Proposition 12 in 2003. He said that this modest change in liability laws freed up non-profit hospitals to spend more on nurses, capital equipment, and other improvements to patient care, using money that used to go to insurance premiums.

There was a question about House's shortened schedule this fall. The House has less than 20 legislative days remaining. Burgess said that House Democrats are all running against President Bush, so House leadership doesn't want to give him the photo op of signing meaningful legislation.

Burgess said there is unlikely to be a lame-duck session, unless Obama wins. In that case, Congress may go ahead and act on a free trade agreement with Colombia, so that Bush can sign it, and it won't be waiting on Obama's desk when he's sworn in.

Obamphaloskepsis

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Sarah Palin's speech was a big hit with the delegates. A couple of lines painted Democratic nominee Barack Obama as something of a navel gazer:

But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate....

My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of "personal discovery."...

It was exciting but exhausting to be on the floor for nearly the whole evening. I caught a couple of interesting moments, on video, and took a bunch of photos.

IMG_0444

In the media filing center, I had the pleasure of sitting next to KAL, cartoonist for The Economist, watching him work on his latest set of convention cartoons. Here's yesterday's collection:

But I've written all I can for tonight. See you in the morning.

I stayed around after the speeches ended for the roll call of the states -- the actual, required vote on who will be the Republican Party's presidential nominee. Arizona passed first time around, and everyone from Nebraska on through the end of the alphabet passed, so that Arizona could put its senator over the top.

I caught an interesting conversation between Sen. Jim Inhofe, who was to announce Oklahoma's vote, State Chairman Gary Jones, and two 2nd District delegates, Paul Clayton of McAlester and Robert Demarest of Talihina, about their intention to abstain.

Some background: The 2nd District voted for Mike Huckabee in the primary, but Huckabee released his delegates. Two of the delegates elected by the 2nd District Convention were supporters of Congressman Ron Paul. Freed from the legal obligation to vote for Huckabee, they wanted to cast their votes for Paul, but thinking that they couldn't vote for anyone whose name had not been placed in nomination, they wanted to abstain.

Inhofe and Jones told them that they were free to vote for whomever they wished. I interviewed Demarest and Clayton briefly after their conversation with Inhofe and Jones. I apologize for the weird angles, but I had to stand too close to them to get a decent two-shot.

Later they told me that they did intend to vote for Sarah Palin during the vice presidential roll call.

When Oklahoma finally got the chance to vote, after McCain's majority was assured, the delegation's chairman and Oklahoma's departing National Committeeman, Lynn Windel, yielded the floor to Inhofe, who began his spiel. When he said the phrase "war hero of all war heros, John McCain," the convention secretary, perhaps not paying close attention, assumed she heard the vote, and announced, "Oklahoma, 41 votes for John McCain." Inhofe attempted to correct the secretary and go on, but as soon as the secretary spoke, Inhofe's mike was cut.

There was some minor commotion as the roll call continued, but in the end Oklahoma's vote was recorded as 41 for McCain, even though the state's vote was never announced. Delegates began filtering toward the exits. Chairman John Boehner never asked for corrections, but he did announce, "Seeing that there are no states that wish to change their vote...." before saying that McCain received all but 7 votes -- 5 for Paul, 2 (from Utah) for Mitt Romney.

As they say on The Daily Show, and now, your moment of zen:

California Congressman Kevin McCarthy roped in political focus group maven Frank Luntz to take about four minutes to answer a few blogger questions at the end of today's RedState.com / Google blogger brunch on the 22nd floor of the St. Paul Crowne Plaza hotel. He spoke about swing voter reaction to Sarah Palin's personality, experience, and issues and also fired off a few pointed one-liners at Hillary and Bill Clinton and Joe Biden.

About a vice presidential debate between Palin and Biden:

Biden's awesome. The key to the debate between Biden and Palin is to have it completely open, because Joe Biden for the first 90 seconds is as good as it gets. Always makes a stupid comment at about 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

About Bill Clinton:

Bill Clinton was a great speaker because he felt your pain. He caused your pain, but at list he felt it while he was causing it.

About Hillary Clinton:

The great thing about this election is that she's finally done. Of all the places she could have chosen to live, she chose Chappaqua, Indian for "separate bedrooms."

In a 5 min. interview with BatesLine, Muskogee Mayor John Tyler Hammons, a delegate to the Republican National Convention and at 19 years, 364 days old America's youngest mayor, talks about trying to meet Rudy Giuliani, how he became interested in politics, the challenges of serving as mayor, and the amount of worldwide media attention focused on him this week.

(The embed doesn't seem to be working, so here's a link to the video's page.)

My tank is full

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I've spent all morning and the beginning of the afternoon eating and listening. I've finally had the time to stop taking in and starting processing and writing about what I've seen and heard.

First stop was a joint breakfast of the Oklahoma and Louisiana delegations, way the heck out in Brooklyn Center, northwest of Minneapolis. J. C. Watts was the guest speaker. If the audio is audible, I'll post it later this evening.

Then I drove into St. Paul, for an 11 o'clock RedState.com/Google blogger brunch. Tony Lauinger from Oklahomans for Life rode along with me -- he was headed to a "Catholics for McCain" event not far from the brunch.

Today's blogger brunch featured a Q&A with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, U. S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy from California (not the guy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and UHF), and a surprise appearance by pollster Frank Luntz.

At the brunch I heard about a lunch organized by Hot Air's Ed Morrissey at a Kurdish restaurant, Babani's. I hadn't gotten the invite and therefore hadn't RSVPed, but I decided to tag along anyway. We heard some brief remarks, but mostly it was a chance to chat with the other bloggers. I shared a table with Fausta, Dan Blatt, and one of Dan's readers who lives here in the Twin Cities area.

One of the topics of conversation was how poorly organized the RNC had been in dealing with bloggers this year. Four years ago, there was a Bloggers' Corner near radio row, which gave bloggers easy access to the eminentoes coming and going for talk radio interviews. Convention staff brought elected officials and other special guests around to be interviewed by the bloggers. There were fewer bloggers in 2004, but they all knew who the others were. This time there are many more, but word about special events for bloggers isn't getting around. I was especially chagrined to hear today about an incredible Pajamas Media party last night at James Lileks' palatial Jasperwood estate. Granted, if they had had a full list of convention bloggers, they might not have invited all of us, but then again they might have.

At the moment I'm back in Dunn Bros. Coffee, sitting next to Adam C. from RedState.com, a Tulsa native. (Here's his latest post, about a poll showing Gov. Sarah Palin with stratospheric approval ratings in Alaska.) Once I get back to the convention hall, I plan to upload more video, audio, and photos. You can see my pictures, up through last night, on my Flickr page. There are some good shots of Fred Thompson, George H. W. and Barbara Bush, and a number of Oklahoma officials and delegates, such as Muskogee Mayor John Tyler Hammons, America's youngest mayor, being interviewed here by MTV News.

Muskogee Mayor John Tyler Hammons at the 2008 Republican National Convention

You can hear more of my take on last night's proceedings on the WynnCast and in an interview with the KRMG Morning News team.

MORE: Here's a slideshow which includes photos of my conversation with KRMG's Joe Kelley and Rick Couri.

Day 1 and 2 roundup

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Just a few notes on what happened today and yesterday:

I had a terrific time at a National Review event. It was fun to spot such luminaries as former Education Secretary Bill Bennett and former U. N. Ambassador John Bolton. It was even more fun to talk politics with NR staffers and other guests. Being in a room of people who can discuss politics passionately and intelligently is heavenly.

After the party, I headed back up Cathedral Hill to where I'd parked the car. The time passed quickly (despite my tweed jacket, my heavy laptop backpack, and the unusually warm evening) because I was on the Wynncast, being Wynnterviewed by Claremore bloggers Tyson and Jeanne Wynn -- two more folks who can discuss politics with passion and intelligence. You can listen to the latest Wynncast at this link.

Back down the hill today to stroll past the Fox News outdoor set, where Sen. Joe Lieberman was being interviewed. I did some work on an upcoming Urban Tulsa Weekly story at a Dunn Bros. Coffee at 5th & Wabasha, located on the ground floor of a nicely disguised parking garage and sharing space with an opticians' shop. It was an interesting arrangement. They also had a coffee and snacks cart out on the sidewalk for express service. I was sad to notice that despite the extended hours that many of these shops are offering during the convention, most places in the western part of downtown seem to close early under normal circumstances.

Dunn Bros. had become a sort of alternative media filing center. I met Britten Chase, the Oregon editor for The Politicker, a national collection of state-focused political websites. During a later writing session, I was sitting near a reporter for CBS Radio News, who was phoning in periodically about complaints by protesters that undercover cops were the ones getting violent during their marches. Other folks with notepads and microphones and cameras were typing intently on their laptops.

While there I did phone interviews with Oklahoma U. S. Rep. Tom Cole, who is also chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who is head of the Republican Mayors' Association. More about that in a later entry.

I did more writing and had something to eat in a sad little food court in the Fifth Street Center. The sign on the street door said they'd be open until late. When I got upstairs, most of the places were already closed. I walked around the corner and found a local Mexican fast food place and a McDonald's still open.

I decided to take the skyway back toward the convention center. The skyway -- at least in parts -- is like walking down an indoor Main Street. In the Town Square shopping center, I was excited to come across a little shop that sells Discovery Toys. The shop had everything some fun and wonderful educational toys, and they're currently on offer for at least a 20% discount. The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you're here at the convention and need something fun to take home to the kids, you need to stop by. (You can also find this Discovery Toys consultant, Bobbie Collins, online.)

I made it back to the convention center about 5:30. I marveled at how much quicker it was to get into the Xcel Center than it was to get into Madison Square Garden four years ago. I've never had to wait in a long line, and tonight, I was arriving not long before the gavel.

The accommodations for the press are much better than I had feared, after I'd read Ed Morrissey's Hot Air post about the cost of Internet access for media. The media filing center is open to everyone -- periodical press, daily papers, radio, and bloggers. We've got fairly high speed wired access, sponsored by AT&T -- I was getting about 2 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. There are lockers -- bring your own lock -- where you can lock up your stuff if you don't care to lug it around.

Near the lockers I found a bunch of the bloggers whom I met at the RedState.com brunch, including Skye of Midnight Blue (who requested and got a nice photo with me at the brunch). I was also invited to spend a few minutes on Grizzly Groundswell's BlogTalkRadio show tonight.

On the way to the convention floor, in hopes of getting a media floor pass, I came across 740 KRMG's booth on radio row and saw Joe Kelley, Rick Couri, and their producer for the week, KRMG program director Drew Anderssen. They've been doing a live special edition each evening of the convention, as well as an extended morning show from 5 to 9. They were in Denver, too. You can find KRMG's convention website here, with audio and video, and their revised convention schedule here.

I'm going to stop now -- will add more about my time on the floor of the convention in a later entry. Time for another climb up the hill and another edition of the Wynncast.

National Review's Stephen Spruiell is over in Minneapolis at the Target Center, covering Ron Paul's counter-convention.

Spruiell writes that one speaker's attack on his employer was a crowd-pleaser:

Another prompted loud applause for calling for the rejection of "the redefinition of conservatism that began with Bill Buckley and National Review," adding, "To break with statism is to break once and for all with the Buckleyite right-wing."

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse "The Body" Ventura spoke at the event. Turns out he's a Troofer, and he's threatening to run for President in 2012.

As Ventura continued to "ask questions" about what really happened on 9/11, a vocal contingent in the crowd (coming from all parts of the arena) took to chanting, "9/11 was an inside job." At one point, it got so loud that Ventura had to pause for a few moments before going on. Many in the crowd were applauding Ventura throughout his discussion of 9/11, but some were sitting stone-faced, looking on with dismay.

Stay tuned to The Corner for more transmissions from Planet Paul.

Fred! * 2

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This morning I attended a "Blogger Brunch" sponsored by RedState.com and Google. The guest speaker was my pick in the presidential primaries, former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee.

The event was on the 22nd floor of the Crowne Plaza, which provides breathtaking views up and down the Mississippi River and up the hills to the State Capitol and the Cathedral. It's a beautiful city, and September is just about the best time of year to be here.

On the elevator ride up, I saw political pundit and Beltway Boy Fred Barnes. Someone else in the elevator used to go to the same church as Barnes -- the historic Falls Church -- an evangelical Anglican parish that has broken away from the liberal mainline denomination. It was encouraging to hear their conversation about the new parishes being planted by the Falls Church around the Washington area. It's nice, too, to know there are committed evangelicals like Barnes with a prominent voice in the Washington commentariat.

Google provided a terrific spread. One odd thing --- an oversight by the catering staff, I'm guessing -- they had a tray with smoked salmon, capers, onions, and all the fixings one associates with lox and bagels, only there were no bagels. I guess this was the Atkins version.

There was only one face in the room familiar to me: J. P. Duffy, an ORU grad who had worked on John Sullivan's early campaigns for Congress. J. P. is the Media Director for the Family Research Council. (I met one of his colleagues, Tom McClusky, at last night's National Review party.)

I met a lot of bloggers -- from Arkansas, New Hampshire, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Maryland, and Minnesota, among other places -- got cards from several, and I will add links to their blogs later. I was surprised by the number of people who reacted to the name "BatesLine" as if it were familiar.

Our speaker was stuck in traffic and arrived at about 10:30. As soon as Thompson arrived he was introduced and launched into his brief speech, followed by some Q&A.

(I tried to record his speech on my Sony recorder, but at some point in the speech, the Energizer rechargeable gave out, despite having recharged it last night. I give up on Energizer. I have had too many missed moments thanks to Energizer. Duracell only from now on. Duracell has never let me down. I'm sure other bloggers will post video and audio, and I will add links later.)

In his appearance at the brunch, Thompson displayed all the strengths -- and weaknesses -- of his run for president. This was my first time to see him in person, so now I can better appreciate the observations of those who saw him on the campaign trail. I say "see him in person" because I didn't have the chance to meet him. He departed immediately after the Q&A and didn't hang around to shake hands.

The physical set-up -- obviously not under his control -- was great for being able to see and hear him, but it also created an awkward distance between Thompson and the audience. He stood in an elevated area at the center of this top-floor restaurant, while the bloggers were at tables nearer the windows and several feet below.

But of course, conservative grassroots bloggers backed Thompson for the substance of his platform, not for his outgoing personality. The same common sense, "first principles" conservatism that drove his campaign were at the heart of his remarks. That same approach to conservatism is at the heart of his newly launched political action committee.

Here are a few quotes I managed to jot down on my old fashioned notepad:

What he learned during his presidential campaign: "Never underestimate John McCain."

On the Democrats' choice of Barack Obama in light of the international situation -- he mentioned tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and China's military buildup among other crises: "This is no time to turn the keys to the car over to a 14 year old in heavy traffic."

On McCain's choice of Sarah Palin: "She's the kind of public servant we claim we want... They're going to Washington and take it by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shaking."

On mainstream media coverage of the presidential campaign: "It has been generally poor up until now, and now it's abysmal."

On the alleged experience gap between Palin and Joe Biden: "You don't get experience by being in the Senate....[Palin] doesn't have experience making the wrong decisions about Iraq [referring to Biden's proposal to partition the country into three ethnic-religious enclaves]. She doesn't have experience being wrong about the surge."

I didn't write down a direct quote on this, but he was asked about whether he'd be open to serving in a McCain cabinet. Thompson said it would be presumptuous for him to answer that question, and there are family considerations that would have to be weighed if such an offer were to be made.

More notes from other bloggers:

Shay at Booker Rising liveblogged the speech and has more quotes and photos of the event.

PA Watercooler elaborated on Thompson's comments about Senate experience: "As a veteran of the Senate, Mr Thompson did not give rave reviews to foreign policy or domestic security exposure... saying that it was mostly about deal making and bringing back pork to the home state."

Doc's Political Parlor weighs in.

MORE: Here are video excerpts, via NewsBusters.

The convention was called to order long enough for the presentation of colors, Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem, invocation, reading of the official call for the convention, and approval of the permanent convention committees. Once those committees were officially approved, the committees, which had conducted their business provisionally last week, met to ratify their work as official committees.

At the moment, delegates are milling about, and we're waiting for all the committees to complete their work, at which point the convention will reconvene and the delegates will be asked to approve the committee reports.

The rules committee meeting lasted about 20 minutes, most of which was spent on the invocation, pledge of allegiance, and roll call. We were near section 117, crammed into a temporary room, surrounded by thin, 8-foot-tall cubicle walls which made it nearly impossible to hear. The committee ratified the rules report unanimously.

I was unable to find Bettye Fine Collins, the committee member from Alabama who was circulating a minority-report petition, protesting the plan to appoint an extraordinary between-conventions commission on the primary process and calendar. I heard from several members who had signed it that they did not believe it had received sufficient signatures -- 28 were needed.

It's 4:18, and the convention is back in session, and the chairman of the credentials committee is giving his report. There were contests in Massachusetts, Washington, and Nevada. The challenged Massachusetts delegate (from the 4th CD, I think I heard) was not seated. The Washington delegation was seated. Regarding Nevada, the chairman said an "equitable resolution was reached" allowing Nevada to have its entire delegation seated.

4:22: Alec Poitevint is presenting the rules committee report. Passed by voice vote. No minority report was presented.

4:25: Committee on permanent organization now making its report, naming the permanent convention chairman (U. S. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio) and other officers.

Watch this space for updates.

Convention about to begin

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Some links as we get ready for the abbreviated opening session of the Republican National Convention, beginning at 2:30:

RedState's Adam C has a nice summary of "Minnesota Nice" and the political profile of the Land o' Lakes -- the state that has the longest streak of voting Democratic in presidential elections (thanks to native son Walter Mondale), but still sees Republican success at the state and local level.

NRO's Stephen Spruiell reviews the 2008 Republican platform and finds another indication (along with the Palin pick) that McCain is wisely handling his differences with party conservatives:

The new platform is distinctly different from the two adopted during the candidacies of George W. Bush, which were constructed to essentially mirror his positions. The 2000 and 2004 platforms made exceptions for Bush in areas where he strayed from traditionally conservative principles. By contrast, the 2008 platform accommodates McCain's maverick positions on issues like immigration and climate change without accepting his views as the official positions of the Republican party....

Conservatives should be grateful that the McCain campaign took a different approach to this year's platform. The committee finalized the document on Wednesday night, well before the McCain campaign picked conservative Alaskan governor Sarah Palin. But both the principled platform and the Palin pick illustrate that McCain knows and respects his limits with the base. In the last week, McCain has twice given conservatives something to cheer for.

(Here is a link to the 67-page report of the platform committee to the 2008 Republican National Convention.)

Someone from the PBS News Hour came by and gave me a combination pen and flash drive to promote their website. News Hour also is providing a Flickr feed and a Twitter feed of their convention coverage.

On my way down to the Xcel Center from Cathedral Hill, I came across a rally of about 50 red-shirted folks gathered around the Grand Army of the Republic monument, carrying American flags and placards saying:

"Support our troops AND their mission!"

"VICTORY over Terrorism -- Let Our Soldiers WIN!"

"Home of the FREE because of the BRAVE"

"Some HEROES wear capes. Mine wear COMBAT BOOTS."

and the classic:

"How about rooting for our side for a change, you moonbats?"

The rally in support of the troops began at 10 a.m., as anti-war protesters gathered a few blocks away at the Minnesota State Capitol for a protest march down to the Xcel Center.

The familes' rally was organized by Families United for our Troops and Their Mission. Marrilee Carlson, the president of the group, led the event, which began with the National Anthem, sung a capella with a few notes on the trumpet, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Marilee Carlson is a Gold Star mom -- the mother of Army Sergeant Michael "Shrek" Carlson:

During a night mission, his platoon was assigned to cordon off and take out of commission, two bomb-making factories. As the Bradley they were driving was going over a culvert in the roadway, the culvert gave way and the vehicle rolled over backwards into the water. Seven soldiers were in the Bradley; five died, including Michael. A rescue unit was able to save two other soldiers, in large part because before he died, Michael was able to partly pry open the hatch in the vehicle.

Mrs. Carlson read from a "credo" that her son wrote while in high school:

When I am on my deathbed, what am I going to look back on? Will it be thirty years of fighting crime and protecting the country of all enemies, foreign and domestic? I want my life to account for something... I only have so much time. I want to be good at life; I want to be known as the best of the best at my job. I want people to need me, to count on me... I want to fight for something, be part of something that is greater than myself. I want to be a soldier...

Here are some of Mrs. Carlson's remarks:

Gold Star mom Debbie Lee spoke about her son, Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Alan Lee, a Navy Seal killed in Iraq just over two years ago. Mark was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor, and Purple Heart:

Lee, 28, was killed Aug. 2 in a fierce firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi, Iraq. An aviation ordinanceman and a member of a Coronado, Calif.-based SEAL team, Lee was one of the first members of the elite group to be killed in Iraq.

U.S. Navy officers told Debbie Lee that her son died after single-handedly holding off enemy fighters as his team rescued a wounded soldier from a rooftop. During the two-hour battle, Marc Lee fired 100 rounds against insurgents, they told her.

A base in Iraq is named in Lee's memory.

Mrs. Lee read from her son's last e-mail from Iraq, a meditation on the nature of glory, self-sacrifice, and generosity:

It is not unknown to most of us that the rest of the world looks at us with doubt towards our humanity and morals. I am not here to preach or to say look at me, because I am just as at fault as the next person. I find that being here makes me realize the great country we have and the obligation we have to keep it that way.

The 4th has just come and gone and I received many emails thanking me for helping keep America great and free. I take no credit for the career path I have chosen; I can only give it to those of you who are reading this, because each one of you has contributed to me and who I am.

However what I do over here is only a small percent of what keeps our country great. I think the truth to our greatness is each other. Purity, morals and kindness, passed down to each generation through example. So to all my family and friends, do me a favor and pass on the kindness, the love, the precious gift of human life to each other so that when your children come into contact with a great conflict that we are now faced with here in Iraq, that they are people of humanity, of pure motives, of compassion. This is our real part to keep America free!

Here are some of Mrs. Lee's remarks:

Mrs. Lee said that God redeployed Marc to heaven, because he'd "successfully completed his mission," but she told the families that they are only halfway through their deployment, and they have a job to do -- to stand for the troops, to write their congressmen, to write letters to the editor, to let their friends and neighbors know what's really going on in Iraq. She spoke of her visit to Iraq, and the Iraqis she met who expressed gratitude for America's presence.

A special surprise speaker emerged a few minutes later. Actor Jon Voight addressed the families. He recalled with regret his anti-Vietnam War activities and expressed thanks for living long enough to change his ways, while saluting the troops who made such a difference in such a short time on this earth.

I said in a little op-ed in the Washington Times, that the great patriotism that is represented by our troops and this generation of young people is really lifting our nation altogether. And thank God for them, for your children and what they have meant to all of us, to fix our minds in the proper direction....

I'm 69 years old. I've had a lot of life. I've needed a lot of life to get my priorities straight.... I got a little wayward at the end of the '60s, with celebrity -- it does something to your mind. It drops your IQ.... It distracts you from the truth.... I got into this antiwar stuff in the late '60s and early '70s, and I pray to God everyday that he would forgive me for that nonsense....

I am in awe of the young people who stand for this country....

Here are Voight's remarks:

MORE: Families United also rallied across from an antiwar protest in Denver a week ago. Looking at the Left has photos.

I was having lunch and writing outside The Bad Waitress, a cafe at 26th & Nicollet in Minneapolis, when the wind blew the umbrella down on my head. There's still a strong wind blowing outside here in the Twin Cities, but it's nothing compared to what's about to hit the other end of the Mississippi River.

Earlier this afternoon, the Republican National Convention media office announced that Monday's convention proceedings will be limited to the bare minimum required to establish the convention and lay the ground work for the official nomination of John McCain and Sarah Palin for president and vice president.

At the recommendation of Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican National Convention announced substantial changes to the convention's program and actions being taken to help with Hurricane Gustav relief efforts. On Monday, all program activities beyond the official business that must be conducted in accordance with party rules will be cancelled. Among the other actions announced today are the formation of the Affected States Working Group, the establishment of an Affected States Information Center, and the chartering of a DC-9 to transport affected delegates.

Rick Davis, campaign manager for John McCain 2008, announced that the upcoming Republican National Nominating Convention is making serious revisions to the convention program and surrounding activities. Davis said, "We are deeply concerned about the safety and welfare of the residents of the Gulf State region. Our top priority is to assist those who will be affected by Hurricane Gustav. This is not a time for politics or celebration; it is a time for us to come together as Americans and assist the residents of the Gulf States."

Davis also discussed what the changes in the program will mean for the nomination process. "In order for the Republican Party to officially exist and for Senator McCain to qualify for the ballot, we are - by law - required to conduct specific official business. At this point, our program on Monday has been scaled back and will only include what party rules governing the nomination of our candidates for president and vice president require. We will perform the official business as required. In addition, we have set aside time to make delegates and Americans watching our proceedings at home aware of what they can do to assist in relief efforts designed to help those who will be affected by Hurricane Gustav."

Davis concluded: "At some point between Monday and Thursday evening, we will convene once again to complete the activities needed to qualify Senator McCain and Governor Palin for the ballot in all 50 states. Beyond that, all we can say is that we will monitor what is happening and make decisions about other convention business as details become available."...

The convention program has been altered in response to the situation developing in the Gulf States region. However, the convention will still take place. According to party rules, it is necessary for the convention to proceed in order to ensure that the party is able to place its candidates' names on the ballot in November.

On November 9, 2007, pursuant to the rules adopted at the 2004 National Republican Convention, the party issued the call for its convention. The call requires that the convention meet on Sept. 1, 2008. The session must be convened no earlier than 9 a.m. and no later than 7 p.m. Under the current party rules, this is the only method by which the party may select a candidate for President and Vice President.

This raises some interesting questions about the necessity and duration of national party conventions. Their four-day length is a relic of a time when delegates actually had decisions to make and time to deliberate them.

Friday's Republican National Convention rules committee meeting heralded major changes in the way Republicans will select a presidential nominee in years to come, although exactly what those changes may be are yet to be determined. The primary process was one of several thorny issues debated in a six-hour meeting by pairs of representatives from each state and territory.

Several attempts have been made in the past to reform the primary process, to address front-loading and to have a process long enough that the flaws of a candidate have time to surface. Such a proposal would normally pass through the permanent Republican National Committee (RNC) rules subcommittee, then through the RNC as a whole, then through the convention rules committee, then through the convention as a whole.

Reform proposals in the past have been killed by the presumptive nominee's campaign team, either at the RNC stage or the convention rules committee stage. This is for two reasons: (1) The nominee wants to avoid any substantive debate at the convention, because it keeps the convention from being a coherent, four-day infomercial for the nominee and his platform. (2) Any modification to the primary calendar is bound to make some states very unhappy, and some of those unhappy states may be swing states. Better to punt the problem down the road.

The Democrats are doing just that. Their rules committee, co-chaired by former Oklahoma Gov. David Walters, recommended the establishment of a "Democratic Change Commission" which will examine the primary schedule (and how schedule violations are enforced), the role of superdelegates, and the conduct of caucuses (caucus presidential preference votes are binding in the Democratic Party). The committee will be appointed by the DNC chairman, will convene in early 2009, and will submit a report back to the DNC by the end of the year. The DNC will then debate whether to adopt the plan for the 2012 election cycle. The plan was approved by the Democratic delegates last week in Denver.

That approach has not been an option for Republicans, as only the quadrennial convention has the power under the party rules to change the rules. This year, however, the rules committee approved, with the blessing of the McCain campaign, an amendment that authorizes a commission to study the primary schedule and to report back to the RNC by the summer of 2010. The RNC would then be authorized to vote up or down on the recommendation (no amendments), and if it passes by a two-thirds margin, it becomes a part of the rules. This approach is similar to that used for military base closures -- the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission makes a recommendation and Congress votes up or down on the recommendation as a whole.

This commission proposal will come before the convention for approval on Monday embedded in the rules committee report. The rules report is usually accepted, without debate, by a voice vote of the delegates. Blink, and you'll miss it.

This commission proposal is a major departure from Republican tradition, which holds that only the convention can change the rules, a fact often repeated by the rules committee veterans who opposed the change.

The composition of the RNC is very different from that of the national convention. Every state and territory has three members on the RNC -- chairman, national committeeman, national committeewoman. The size of the delegations to the national convention are weighted by population and by the state party's success in winning support for Republican candidates. This makes the national convention far more representative of the party as a whole, while the RNC gives undue influence to officials from unsuccessful, small-state party organizations. Texas, Massachusetts, and the Northern Marianas are all equal on the RNC. An RNC vote on the commission proposal which weighted votes in accordance with national convention delegate strength would be more representative of party sentiment.

A long-time RNC member told me that the two-thirds hurdle would be easily surmounted by a commission report with powerful backing. Assuming a Republican is in the White House, the President has only to send one of his minions to the RNC with the message, "The President wants this approved," and two-thirds of the RNC members will fall right in line. (Think back to the RNC's approval of Mel Martinez as chairman.)

Commission opponent Morton Blackwell from Virginia said during the rules committee debate that the Democratic "flexibility" on rules leads to intraparty struggles that purport to be about high-minded principle but are, in reality, about prospective presidential candidates trying to gain an advantage. And as we saw last week, even when Democrats change their rules late in the game, they still don't enforce them -- Michigan and Florida delegates were seated at the convention.

I'm told that the commission proposal was not approved by the RNC's permanent rules committee or by the RNC as a whole. Instead, it was brought as a floor amendment on Friday by Ron Kaufman, the RNC committeeman and rules committee member from Massachusetts. RNC members who might have opposed the idea didn't know about it in time to alert their convention rules committee members or to organize opposition in advance of the committee meeting.

There were enough dissenters on this issue that there may be a minority report, which would be presented to the convention for a vote prior to the majority report. Bettye Fine Collins, a rules committee member from Alabama, was circulating a minority report petition, which would needed 28 signatures to meet the 25% requirement to be presented to the convention. I heard tonight that she had 26, but the number slipped to 25. It's likely that pressure is being applied to rules committee members behind the scenes to keep this issue off the floor.

Even if the minority report gets the signatures, there's no guarantee that it will get a hearing or that it will be handled in accordance with parliamentary procedure, which would require the delegates to deal with the report of a committee minority before they address the majority's committee report. The most important work of a convention happens in the first few hours on Monday afternoon, when the credentials, rules, and platform committee reports are heard. The chair rushes through the agenda as quickly as possible, while the delegates are still dazzled at being on the floor of the convention. If some attentive delegate were to try to raise a point of order, the only chance of getting a hearing is if someone turns on the delegation's microphone.

Expect this major change to fly through right under the radar on Monday.

Minor changes to the primary calendar

The rules committee made changes to the primary calendar over and above the creation of the commission. The recommendation from the RNC to the rules committee would have put the official primary start date on the first Tuesday in March, except for New Hampshire and South Carolina, which would have been allowed to hold a primary as early as the first Tuesday in February.

The change would have penalized more than 20 states which had moved their primaries into February. Committee members from two of those Tsunami Tuesday states, Oklahoma chairman Gary Jones and Tennessee national committeeman John Ryder, proposed a simple amendment to move those dates back by a month. The amendment passed, but a later amendment adjusted the exception to make the third Tuesday in January the earliest primary date for New Hampshire and South Carolina.

These calendar changes would be superseded by anything that the primary process commission comes up with, assuming the RNC votes to approve it.

There was an interesting proposal to discourage but allow February primaries and to help lengthen the primary season by making it harder for one candidate to roll up a huge lead during that month. Under the proposal, primaries held before the first Tuesday in March would have to allocate delegates proportionally -- no "winner-take-all." The motion failed overwhelmingly. Opponents argued that the national party shouldn't impose proportional representation on the state parties.

Military participation in delegate selection

A proposal to guarantee members of the military the right to participate in the delegate selection process drew opposition from rules committee members concerned about logistics and legal exposure. Military personnel are already guaranteed the right to vote in a presidential primary, and most states have special provisions for getting absentee ballots to and from military personnel stationed overseas.

Caucuses and conventions are a different matter. With few exceptions, Republicans don't do anything meaningful to bind delegates at their precinct caucuses. They may hold a straw poll, as they do in Iowa, and the results may boost the profile and fundraising efforts of the straw poll winner, but the straw poll results have no bearing on who is elected to represent the state at the national convention and which presidential candidate those national delegates will support. A small number of Republican caucus/convention states do bind delegates based on a precinct caucus straw poll -- Kansas and Montana come to mind.

(The Democrats are different. Presidential preference polls conducted at precinct caucuses are considered a "first determining step" toward binding delegates to presidential candidates, and the delegates to the next step in the process -- county or state conventions -- are allocated in proportion to the support for each candidate at the precinct level.)

Even though caucuses and conventions rarely bind delegates, they still, in most states, play a role in determining who will represent the state at the national convention, where delegates not only vote for a presidential and vice presidential nominee, but for the rules that will govern the party for the next four years. (In a few states, like Illinois, primary voters vote directly for delegates and alternates.) Because the caucuses and conventions are part of the "process... for selecting delegates," simply giving the military the ability to cast an absentee ballot in a straw poll or a presidential primary is not sufficient to meet the requirement in the proposed rule.

For example, Oklahoma binds its delegates based on the statewide and congressional district primary vote. This year, Mike Huckabee won two congressional districts and six delegates, while John McCain won three districts and the statewide vote to get 32 delegates.

Although all these delegates were bound to McCain or Huckabee, there was still a mighty struggle at each of the congressional district conventions and the state convention as Ron Paul supporters tried to elect delegates from among their number in hopes of influencing the platform, rules, VP selection, and possibly even the presidential nomination itself. (See my April 16 Urban Tulsa Weekly column, "Paul Plot," but please note that since that column was published, I have resigned from both the state and county GOP executive committees and no longer hold any party offices.)

The delegates to Oklahoma's district and state conventions were chosen at the county conventions, and the county delegates were chosen at the precinct caucuses.

So the process of selecting delegates and alternates in nearly every state involves face-to-face meetings in living rooms, school auditoriums, and convention halls. How, practically, do you include active-duty military stationed half a world away in making these decisions?

Two solutions come to mind that would allow greater military participation in the process while meeting the logistical concerns of party officials' concerns. Here's the original language of the proposed amendment:

Any process authorized or implemented by a state party for selecting delegates and alternates or for binding the presidential preference of such delegates shall guarantee the right to vote in that process, by absentee ballot, of individuals who are serving in the United States Armed Forces.

One way to allow military participation while retaining the face-to-face qualities of caucuses and conventions would be to authorize a "Republicans Deployed" delegation at the national convention. The members would be selected at caucuses held at bases around the world.

There may be problems with this idea. Active-duty military aren't free to come and go as they please, so it might not be possible for the delegates elected by Republicans Deployed to travel to the national convention. I also don't know to what extent active-duty military can participate in partisan political activity, beyond casting a ballot. Do we really want soldiers at a forward base in Afghanistan arguing with each other over a platform plank or who gets to be chairman?

Another approach would avoid those obstacles: While a deployed soldier or sailor wouldn't be able to attend a precinct caucus or a district convention back home, he could be allowed to vote in elections for delegate and alternate. This would require candidates for delegate and alternate to file well in advance of the district or state convention, rather than filing the morning of the convention as is sometimes done, so that absentee ballots could be sent to deployed members of the military who request them.

How would runoffs be handled? The same way states like Arkansas are already handling military votes in state primary runoff elections: With "instant runoff" ballots, where voters rank their preferences. In Oklahoma's 1st Congressional District, we've been using that voting technique to elect delegates and alternates since 2000.

Given the hour they had to deal with the issue, the rules committee only managed to come up with a compromise that turned the "shall" to a "may" and added a few more qualifiers:

Any process authorized or implemented by a state party for selecting delegates and alternates or for binding the presidential preference of such delegates may use every means practicable, in the sole discretion of the state party, to encourage active military personnel the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

The compromise satisfied state party leaders, concerned about how to implement the proposed mandate, and McCain campaign officials, who wanted to avoid the embarrassment of the appearance of a rules committee vote against our troops overseas, but it did nothing to address the original concern.

In its one-day meeting, the rules committee simply doesn't have enough time to work through a four-year backlog of reform ideas. But meeting longer than a day has its own problems. Many committee members are ordinary delegates, elected by the members of their state delegations, who take extra days off from work and pay for some extra pre-convention days in a hotel so they can participate.

There's no doubt that the rules of the Republican Party are in need of review and reform. There has to be a better way than, on the one hand, handing the issue over to an unelected commission and, on the other hand, restricting debate and discussion to one day every four years.

MORE: National Review's Stephen Spruiell covered the rules committee meeting and posted several entries in NRO's "The Corner" regarding the debate over military participation in delegate selection: post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4.

For my liveblogging notes from the committee meeting see these entries:

Rules committee: A Republican commission on the primary/caucus process
Rules committee: Palin applause, long-distance caucusing
Rules committee: Primary calendar changes
Rules committee: Palin buzz

You may also be interested in my coverage of the 2004 convention -- scroll down to read my posts about that year's rules committee deliberations.

There. I had that headline ready to go, and by golly, I'm going to use it. (Dawn Summers already won the Sarah Palin punny headline contest: "Palin Comparison.")

I was excited this morning to hear the buzz about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as I hadn't been hearing her name in the last week or so. Palin is both a good choice and a brilliant political move.

As a political move, choosing Palin helps McCain reach out to independent voters and Democrats. Some, particularly Hillary PUMAs, will like her because she's female. Others will appreciate her hard work in rooting out political corruption in Alaska. It warmed my heart to hear her say the phrase "good ol' boy network."

At the same time, Palin fires up the conservative base. Time magazine has posted a McCain campaign report that they raised $3 million between when the announcement was made and 6 pm today. She's a hunter, she's a homeschooler, she supports domestic oil exploration. She's pro-life -- not just a theoretical pro-lifer, but one who chose life when she learned her fifth child, a son, would have Down Syndrome.

My only worry was how well she'll make the jump from small-state politics to the national stage, but when I think of the depth of corruption she had to face in the Alaska government, I think she's ready for anything. True, she was a beauty queen, but she knows how to throw an elbow under the basket, too.

Other reactions:

Rod Dreher: "Whatever crossover appeal the Palin pick may or may not have, McCain has just energized the base going into his convention -- and, I think, beyond. Next week in St. Paul is going to be a lot different than a lot of us thought it would be."

Dustbury has a photo of her as a high school basketball player who led her team to the state championship.

MORE: My friend David Russ from Coral Ridge Ministries let me know about a three-minute "Learn2Discern" video they did recently about two families who chose life for their unborn children who had Down Syndrome. One of those families is the Palin family.


Everything stopped here at the Rules Committee meeting as we watched Fox News coverage of John McCain's introduction of his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Much enthusiasm here.

Following Palin's speech, we recessed for lunch, allegedly until 12:20, but it's 12:47 and only now are most of the committee officials back on the dais.

The issue on the floor before the VP announcement was the following amendment to Rule 15:

Any process authorized or implemented by a state party for selecting delegates and alternates or for binding the presidential preference of such delegates shall guarantee the right to vote in that process, by absentee ballot, of individuals who are serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Now that we're back in session (12:50), the committeewoman from Alabama is proposing a substitute amendment:

Any process authorized or implemented by a state party for selecting delegates and alternates or for binding the presidential preference of such delegates may use every means practicable, in the sole discretion of the state party, to encourage active military personnel the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

This seems to satisfy everyone. State party officials were concerned about how you include someone who has been deployed in a caucus, where meeting face-to-face is the whole point. And if you can't accommodate them, what kind of legal and credential challenges are likely to occur? McCain officials will be happy that there won't be a vote on record rejecting a rules amendment about expanding military participation in the political process.

The motion passed overwhelmingly, and we're moving on to other amendments to Rule 15.

Oklahoma GOP chairman Gary Jones along with Mr. Ryder of Tennessee (didn't catch his first name) succeeded, by a vote of 67-31, in passing an amendment to a change to the primary calendar proposed by the Republican National Committee. The RNC proposal would have allowed only New Hampshire and South Carolina to hold primaries prior to the first Tuesday in March. Jones pointed out that this would put many states which are currently in compliance out of compliance. The two committee members from Michigan, one of whom is a state senator, spoke to the difficulty of negotiating with a legislature under mixed control to change the primary date. Under Jones's amendment, NH & SC can go any time after the first Tuesday in January; everyone else can go from the first Tuesday in February onward.

We've had the call to order by Chairman Alec Poitevint, the invocation and pledge of allegiance here at the Republican National Convention Rules Committee meeting. Gary Jones and Mary Rumph are here representing Oklahoma. (I was pleased to see that conservative activist icon Morton Blackwell is here again, representing Virginia.)

I'm hearing a lot of buzz about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as McCain's pick for VP. We'll see. The chairman of the Rules Committee said that they'll halt the meeting and let everyone watch McCain's announcement in Dayton when it happens.

There was a minor delay in being admitted. The communications staff hadn't showed up with the press credentials list yet, but they let me show my convention credential letter and signed me in.

There are six big screen TVs hanging above the room, showing the chairman or whoever is speaking. Media and guests are segregated from the committee by a three-foot-high blue curtain running the width of the room. Two thirds of the press/guest area is roped off as "McCain Staff Seating" -- at least 100 chairs, although only nine people are sitting there. About 12 people are over in the remaining third of the media/guest area. I don't see anyone else who looks like media.

The room is lit brightly, as they're recording the meeting with four cameras.

They are going section by section, and then rule by rule, asking for committee amendments to the rules. Most are technical in nature -- a comma here or there. If someone has an amendment to a rule, they're to speak up when the applicable rule is called.

We have our first amendment, from Louisiana, to rule number 5, and from Kentucky to rule 7, and Louisiana again to rule 9, to Massachusetts to rule 11. That's all for the first section. They will deal with this section before moving on to the next.

There will be a proposal relating to the primary schedule, setting a March start date for all but New Hampshire and South Carolina. (In the Republican system, national delegates don't get bound until district or state conventions, so precinct caucuses aren't considered "the first determining step" as it is for the Democrats.) Oklahoma GOP Chairman Gary Jones, who is also a member of the rules committee, is concerned that states who moved their primaries to February under the current rules, as Oklahoma did, will be penalized, as it would be up to the legislature to adjust the date.

LINKS: Here are the rules as adopted by the 2004 Republican National Convention..

UPDATE: As of 9:39, Rules 1-9 and Rule 11 have been closed to further amendment. Only two amendments from the floor were successful. An amendment by Mary Rumph of Oklahoma and seconded by Morton Blackwell of Virginia, requiring RNC subcommittee meetings to open with an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance, passed by about a two-thirds margin. The only objection came from an Indiana RNC member who thought it was superfluous, as every RNC subcommittee meeting she'd ever attended has opened in that way. A technical correction to rule 7 (adding a comma to terminate a dependent clause) was passed as well.

Rules committee preview

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This morning I'll be in attendance at the 2008 Republican National Convention rules committee meeting. Back in April the Republican National Committee's rules committee endorsed a new primary schedule for 2012. The schedule would formally recognize the first-in-the-nation status of Iowa and New Hampshire, with South Carolina and Nevada permitted to follow closely thereafter. The remaining states would be grouped into four "pods," one of which is specifically for small states and territories. Each of the four pods would be given a starting date for their contests, and the pods would rotate position with each presidential election.

The full Republican National Committee should have considered the issue at their meeting earlier this week. That body and the convention rules committee are both dominated by small states, which have an equal vote in those bodies to large, heavily Republican states. Stay tuned to this blog all day Friday for the latest developments.

"No, no, no!"

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Am I the only one who, when Barack Obama concluded his acceptance speech with the words, "God bless the United States of America," mentally heard his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, loudly contradict that sentiment?

Live from Lamoni

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I'm on my way north to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. I stayed last night in Lamoni, Iowa, just north of the Missouri border. I've been spending most of the morning writing at the Linden Street Coffee House, a very comfortable place in the downtown of this small college town.

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As I worked, I was overhearing an Obama campaign intern and his supervisor looking at how to generate voter lists for grassroots campaigning. Both Iowa and Missouri are key swing states; Missouri is considered a bellwether -- almost always the candidate who wins Missouri wins the White House.

MORE: If you're headed down I-35 and need a coffee break, I heartily recommend Linden Street Coffee House, which is about 2 miles west of the interstate on US 69 (South). During Graceland College's school year, it's open from 7 am 'til midnight most days. (It opens at noon on Sundays, stays open until 1 am on Friday and Saturday nights.) Summer hours are 8 am to 9 pm most days, noon to five on Sunday.

I learned about Linden Street via IndieCoffeeShops.com.

John Hart, communications director for Sen. Tom Coburn, released this statement earlier this afternoon:

Dr. Coburn is honored to have the opportunity to speak at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night, September 2. Dr. Coburn was invited to speak early in the process but wasn't listed on the initial schedule because he was working to resolve scheduling conflicts surrounding a family wedding. Although the program has not been finalized, his remarks will likely focus on earmarks, wasteful spending and the need for real reform in Washington.

After the RNC released their initial list of speakers yesterday, Club for Growth expressed disappointment that prominent fiscal conservatives, active in the battle against government waste, were left off of the list. Coburn was one of several Republican elected officials mentioned in the Club for Growth's statement:

With the recent publication of the GOP Convention lineup, the Club for Growth was disappointed to see the absence of the party's most steadfast elected economic conservatives.

With the Republican Party's brand in shambles, it is important for the Party to showcase those leaders who are currently in office fighting to preserve the limited-government, free-market principles the GOP used to stand for.

In the Senate, Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint have waged a two-man war on wasteful spending. In the House of Representatives, conservative leaders like Jeff Flake (AZ-06), John Shadegg (AZ-03), Jeb Hensarling (TX-05), Mike Pence (IN-06), and Paul Ryan (WI-01) have never wavered in their commitment to free-market principles and have been major players in the Republican Study Committee. And of all the Republican governors in the country, Mark Sanford of South Carolina has the strongest record of fighting for limited government and economic freedom.

Michael Steele, former Lt. Governor of Maryland and currently chairman of GOPAC, was on the Chris Medlock show on Tuesday lamenting the fact that Republican ideas were polling well, but the Republican "brand" wasn't. The GOP needs to send the message that the earmarkers and appropriators are on their way out (e.g. Ted Stevens and Don Young of Alaska) and fiscal conservatives are rising in prominence and influence.

See below for information about BatesLine's coverage of the national conventions.

I just got this by e-mail, the initial list of speakers for the four days of the Republican National Convention. I'm not sure why this isn't posted on the official convention website, where I could just link to it, but it isn't, so here's the whole thing:

For Immediate Release Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Contact: Joanna Burgos
(651) 467-2728

"Country First": 2008 Republican National Convention to Highlight
Service, Reform, Prosperity and Peace
Convention Announces Program Themes and Speaker Lineup

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The 2008 Republican National Convention today announced the themes and preliminary lineup of speakers for the program of events that will run Sept. 1-4. The convention's overall theme, "Country First," reflects John McCain's remarkable record of leadership and service to America. Each day of proceedings will center on a touchstone theme that has defined John McCain's life and will be central to his vision for leading our nation forward as president.

"Our convention will showcase a cross-section of leaders who will highlight John McCain's long commitment to putting our country first -- before self-interest or politics," said McCain 2008 Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker. "The speakers will address John McCain's unmatched record of service and sacrifice for America, and his vision for moving our nation forward to keep us safe and get our economy back on track."

The roster of speakers announced today includes John McCain, Mrs. Cindy McCain, 10 current and former Republican governors, five current and former U.S. Senators and two well-respected businesswomen. Their remarks will echo the themes that have been selected for each of the convention's four days: service, reform, prosperity and peace.

"We are excited to announce this slate of speakers, each of whom shares John McCain's love of country and commitment to serving a cause greater than one's own self-interest. Their remarks will be a testament to Senator McCain's unparalleled record of service and sacrifice for America and his readiness to lead as commander in chief and move America forward," said Maria Cino, president and CEO of the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The program of events is as follows:

Monday, Sept. 1
Service

"Love of country, my friends, is another way of saying love of your fellow countryman."
--Sen. John McCain

John McCain's commitment to his fellow Americans, a commitment forged in service to his country, is one of the defining hallmarks of his life. Monday's events will highlight John McCain's record of service and sacrifice and reflect his commitment to serving a cause greater than one's own self-interest.

Speakers will include:

* U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.)
* Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Calif.)
* Vice President Richard B. Cheney
* First Lady Laura Bush
* President George W. Bush

Tuesday, Sept. 2
Reform

"If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you are disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and correct them."
--Sen. John McCain

John McCain's life is a testament to the fundamental truth that every American can be a force for change. A restless reformer who has dedicated his career to taking on special interests and the status quo, John McCain will deliver the right kind of change and reform to meet the great challenges of our time. On Tuesday, the convention program will underscore his vision of a government that is transparent, principled and worthy of the American people it serves.

Speakers will include:

* Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani
* Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.)
* Former Gov. Tom Ridge (Pa.)
* Gov. Sarah Palin (Alaska)
* Gov. Jon Huntsman (Utah)
* Rosario Marin, California Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency and former Treasurer of the United States
* Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.)
* Gov. Linda Lingle (Hawaii)
* Former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (Md.)

Wednesday, Sept. 3
Prosperity

"America's best days are still to come."
--Sen. John McCain

The American story is one of perseverance. Even in the face of tough times, the ingenuity and spirit of the American people has ushered in a new era of prosperity. Wednesday's program will focus on John McCain's plans to get our economy back on track and continue our long tradition of meeting the challenges we face and using our prosperity to help others. The day will conclude with an address by the vice presidential nominee.

Speakers will include:

* U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.)
* Meg Whitman, National Co-Chair for McCain 2008 and former President and CEO of eBay
* Carly Fiorina, Victory '08 Chairman for the Republican National Committee and former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co.
* Former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.)
* Mrs. Cindy McCain
* Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.)
* Republican Party's Vice Presidential Nominee

Thursday, Sept. 4
Peace

"Our next president will have a mandate to build an enduring global peace on the foundations of freedom, security, opportunity, prosperity, and hope."
--Sen. John McCain

John McCain understands the challenges that America faces in the world and the sacrifice necessary to defend our freedom in a way that few others can fathom. Thursday's events will reflect his vision of an America in pursuit of peace and seen as a beacon of goodwill and hope throughout the world. The evening will close with John McCain accepting the Republican Party's nomination for the Presidency of the United States.

Speakers will include:

* Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Minn.)
* Gov. Charlie Crist (Fla.)
* U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.)
* U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez (Fla.)
* John McCain

In the coming days, the 2008 Republican National Convention will announce additional speakers and program details.

About the Republican National Convention

The 2008 Republican National Convention will be held at Saint Paul's Xcel Energy Center from Sept. 1-4, 2008. Approximately 45,000 delegates, alternate delegates, volunteers, members of the media and other guests are expected to attend the convention. Minneapolis-Saint Paul is expected to receive an estimated $150-$160 million positive economic boost from the four-day event. For more information about the 2008 Republican National Convention, please visit our website at www.GOPConvention2008.com and join our social network sites on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

It's hard not to look at the list of speakers as the VP short-list, particularly as you get later in the week.

Yesterday the Democrats released their list of speakers for next week's convention. While nearly all of the Republican speakers are elected officials, the Democratic list includes heads of key Democrat constituencies: the heads of the AFL-CIO, the Illinois SEIU, two biggest teacher's unions (the NEA and the AFT); the head of Planned Parenthood of America and NARAL Pro-Choice America (née the National Abortion Rights Action League).

By the way, I will be traveling to St. Paul to cover the Republican National Convention for UTW and this blog. Four years ago I went to the RNC as a delegate; this year I'm going as a credentialed member of the media. You can expect to see new blog posts several times a day during the convention, as well as articles in the following week's addition of UTW. At least one blog post each day will include multimedia -- video and audio of interviews with nationally prominent political and media folks as well as members of Oklahoma's delegation.

It's a great opportunity to advertise on BatesLine, because the number of page views tends to go up the more frequently I post; readers check back more often and have more chances to see your ad. (8,000 page views is typical for a weekday, but it nearly doubles when I'm covering fast-breaking developments.)

I also received credentials for the DNC, but budgetary constraints preclude attending both conventions. (It's one thing to be able to write about politics; it's another to track down freelance opportunities to sell that writing.) I will still be writing a story for UTW about the Tulsa Democrats who are going as delegates, and of course I will be commenting here on the proceedings. If you're going to Denver for the convention, I would love to hear about your convention experience and your thoughts as events unfold -- drop me a line at blog at batesline dot com and let me know how to keep in touch with you.

The New York Sun reports that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has confirmed that the Illinois Born-Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA), which, as an Illinois State Senator and committee chairman, Obama voted to kill, had the same language as the federal bill which Obama claims he would have supported. The federal BAIPA passed the U. S. Senate by a 98-0 vote in 2002. The Illinois bill was killed in the Health and Human Services Committee after it was amended to include the same "neutrality clause" contained in the federal law.

Sen. Obama appears not to have gotten the memo from his campaign staff:

The dispute flared again last week when a leading opponent of legalized abortion, the National Right to Life Committee, posted records from the Illinois Legislature showing that Mr. Obama, while chairman of a Senate committee, in 2003, voted against a "Born Alive" bill that contained nearly identical language to the federal bill that passed unanimously, including the provision limiting its scope.

The group says the documents prove Mr. Obama misrepresented his record.

Indeed, Mr. Obama appeared to misstate his position in the CBN interview on Saturday when he said the federal version he supported "was not the bill that was presented at the state level."

His campaign yesterday acknowledged that he had voted against an identical bill in the state Senate, and a spokesman, Hari Sevugan, said the senator and other lawmakers had concerns that even as worded, the legislation could have undermined existing Illinois abortion law. Those concerns did not exist for the federal bill, because there is no federal abortion law.

Sevugan's statement makes the eleventh reason Obama or his surrogates have given for his vote against protection for infants who survive an attempted abortion.

Jill Stanek, the Illinois nurse who pushed for the bill because she witnessed infants being shelved to die after surviving an abortion, writes:

While the Obama campaign tonight finally admitted Obama has misrepresented his Born Alive vote all these years, it had the audacity to offer a ludicrous excuse, an excuse Obama himself contradicted only 24 hours ago, as he has for years, that "I would have been completely in, fully in support of the federal bill that everybody supported."

(Hat tip: Dawn Eden.)

MORE: Via Kevin McCullough, Rick Warren wasn't satisfied with Barack Obama's "above my pay grade" answer to Warren's question, "At what point does a baby get human rights?"

No. I think he needed to be more specific on that. I happen to disagree with Barack on that. Like I said, he's a friend. But to me, I would not want to die and get before God one day and go, 'Oh, sorry, I didn't take the time to figure out' because if I was wrong then it had severe implications to my leadership if I had the ability to do something about it. He should either say, 'No scientifically, I do not believe it's a human being until X' or whatever it is or to say, 'Yes, I believe it is a human being at X point,' whether it's conception or anything else. But to just say 'I don't know' on the most divisive issue in America is not a clear enough answer for me.

Warren also challenges the notion that evangelicals are leaving behind the issue of the sanctity of human life:

That's why to say that evangelicals are a monolith is a myth, but the other thing is that you've been hearing a lot of the press talk about 'Well, evangelicals are changing, they're now interested in poverty and disease and illiteracy, and all the stuff I've been talking about for five years now. And I have been seeding that into the evangelical movement and it's getting picked up and a lot of people are talking about doing humanitarian efforts. But I really think it's wishful thinking on a lot of people who think they're going to drop the other issues. They're not leaving pro-life, I'm just trying to expand the agenda....

Don Surber says "above my pay grade" was a "staff sergeant's answer to a general's question."

Not only that, it's a staff sergeant's answer to a "Why?" question. The staff sergeant would be able to answer a "When?" question. "Above my pay grade" means the establishment of that policy was made by a Higher Authority; I can't change it, but I can tell you what it is, and I can carry it out. That makes me wonder just what Higher Authority set the policy that Barack Obama is following. I'm pretty sure that on this issue, for Obama, the Higher Authority isn't the God addressed in Psalm 139.

STILL MORE: Get Religion is a blog that examines the mainstream media's coverage of religion. Terry Mattingly notices that Warren asked Obama a political/legal question regarding recognition of human rights; Obama's defenders in the commentariat are treating it as a moral/religious question.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, when he is crowned in two weeks as the Democratic presidential nominee, will be distinguished as the first major party nominee to oppose restrictions on infanticide.

Before Obama came to the U. S. Senate, that body approved the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA), legislation that affirmed the personhood of any baby that managed to be born alive in the process of an abortion. Surely even a supporter of abortion rights would acknowledge that once a baby is alive and separate from its mother, the only rights that matter are the baby's rights.

You might call it the Gianna Jessen bill. Jessen survived an attempted saline abortion. Once she was born, no further attempts were made to kill her, and she received medical treatment (the attempted abortion left her with cerebral palsy and other medical problems) and ultimately was adopted. But not all abortion survivors receive the same respect. Babies who survive abortions are sometimes denied medical treatment and left to starve to death.

Jill Stanek was a labor and delivery nurse in an Illinois hospital when she discovered that unwanted babies who survived abortion were being left to die in the hospital's soiled utility room. When the hospital refused to correct the situation, she took it public and began advocating for state and federal laws to protect babies who survived abortion.

When BAIPA came before the U. S. Senate in 2002, before Obama came to that body, the bill passed 98-0. Not even the most ardent abortion advocates opposed the bill.

The Illinois version came through the legislature when Barack Obama was serving as a state senator and as chairman of the Illinois State Senate's Health and Human Services Committee. It never reached the floor, because Obama and his fellow Democrats killed it in his committee.

Obama has tried to explain his vote by saying that the bill considered in Illinois didn't have a key clause that was present in the federal BAIPA bill. But researchers have found records from Obama's committee that show the two bills were nearly identical, and in fact he voted to amend the bill to include that key clause, before voting to kill the bill entirely.

Jill Stanek has a summary of Obama's involvement in killing the Illinois bill.

New documents just obtained by NRLC, and linked below, prove that Senator [Barack] Obama has for the past four years blatantly misrepresented his actions on the [Illinois] Born-Alive Infants Protection bill.

Summary and comment by NRLC spokesman Douglas Johnson:

Newly obtained documents prove that in 2003, Barack Obama, as chairman of an IL state Senate committee, voted down a bill to protect live-born survivors of abortion - even after the panel had amended the bill to contain verbatim language, copied from a federal bill passed by Congress without objection in 2002, explicitly foreclosing any impact on abortion. Obama's legislative actions in 2003 - denying effective protection even to babies born alive during abortions - were contrary to the position taken on the same language by even the most liberal members of Congress. The bill Obama killed was virtually identical to the federal bill that even NARAL ultimately did not oppose....

Documents obtained by NRLC now demonstrate conclusively that Obama's entire defense is based on a brazen factual misrepresentation.

The documents prove that in March 2003, state Senator Obama, then the chairman of the IL state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, presided over a committee meeting in which the "neutrality clause" (copied verbatim from the federal bill) was added to the state BAIPA, with Obama voting in support of adding the revision. Yet, immediately afterwards, Obama led the committee Democrats in voting against the amended bill, and it was killed, 6-4.

The bill that Chairman Obama killed, as amended, was virtually identical to the federal law; the only remaining differences were on minor points of bill-drafting style.

Via Dawn Eden, who asks pro-life bloggers to call attention to the story, since the mainstream media probably won't. Ed Morrissey has more at Hot Air.

You'll notice a new advertiser atop the right-hand sidebar. Congressman John Sullivan is calling on 1st District voters to sign his petition asking the House Democratic leadership to schedule a vote on an "all of the above" energy policy, to include exploration within the U. S. as well as the pursuit of alternative energy sources. Click the ad to read the petition and to sign it if you like.

You have probably heard that the Democratic leadership of the House went into recess last week without allowing a vote on a bill that would permit drilling on the outer continental shelf and in a tiny portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Republican congressmen are staging a "speak-in" on the floor of the House, even though the C-SPAN cameras are off, to protest this move. A discharge petition is being circulated which would allow the bill to be debated openly and voted on.

Conservation, better urban design that facilitates conservation, and alternative energy sources are important, but in the meantime we still depend on petroleum, and we need to make use of our own petroleum reserves. I've signed the petition, and I hope you will, too. (Click the ad on the right to tell them that BatesLine sent you.)

MORE: Congressman Sullivan was on the Chris Medlock show yesterday talking about energy policy and his "all of the above" petition and taking calls from listeners. Click the link to listen to the podcast; the Sullivan interview starts about halfway through. They also discuss Sullivan's bill to address eminent domain abuse.

Tomnibus

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Scroll down for an update to this entry.

Robert N. Going likes what he sees in Oklahoma's junior senator:

I think I have a new hero, a United States Senator who believes in requiring politicians to justify their spending of your tax dollars, who kept his term limit pledge when he went to Congress, who intends to do the same in the Senate, doesn't ask for or get earmarks, is beholden to no one and votes his conscience, Senator Doctor Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

The man has tied the Senate in knots by following their rules. He's put holds on every questionable bill he can get his hands on. See David Keene's background piece in The Hill.

At the time Keene wrote, he fully expected that the good old boys of both parties would squash Coburn like a bug when the "Coburn Omnibus Bill" (designed to logroll enough pet projects to guarantee 60 votes) came to the floor. Lo and behold, the Republicans stuck together and only 52 Senators voted "Aye".

What Going and other limited-government conservatives love about Dr. Tom are the very qualities that frustrate his colleagues:

Tom Coburn's Senate colleagues don't know quite what to make of the doctor from Oklahoma. Many of them find him personally likable, but they can't understand why he seems to want to change the way the exclusive club to which they all belong has been doing business for so long.

And what's worse, they have no way of controlling the man. Coburn (R) left the House in 2000 after three terms there because he had voluntarily term-limited himself, and he says that he'll retire from the Senate after two terms there to go back to practicing medicine in Oklahoma. What that means, of course, is that he won't be around quite long enough to chair an important committee even if the GOP should retake the Senate at some point -- and that, therefore, he doesn't have to watch his manners lest party leaders squelch his ambitions.

Moreover, since he finds earmarks morally objectionable, his colleagues can't control him by cutting off funds for a library or parking garage back home and instead have to either confront his arguments or find a way around him. That was a lot easier in the House because there isn't all that much a lone congressman can do to derail spending programs there, but the Senate actually empowers folks like Coburn, who are willing to forsake the comity of the club and rely on the body's rules to get their way.

We need more people like Coburn in government, people who aren't bound by ambition or fear or social ties from doing what's right. If District 2 voters have the good sense to elect Sally Bell to the County Commission, we'll be closer to that goal here in Tulsa County.

Watch Sen. Coburn's blog to follow his crusade against indefensible federal spending.

MORE: Via Jill Stanek, The Hill reports that the Senate Ethics committee is pressuring Coburn over continuing to deliver babies pro bono. The pretext is that, now that the formerly public Muskogee Regional Medical Center is a private institution, Coburn delivering babies there constitutes an endorsement of that particular hospital.

Coburn spokesman John Hart agreed to discuss the issue only after The Hill contacted his office several times over the past two weeks. He called the Ethics panel's logic "absurd" and its argument "inane."

"Just as parents don't choose him hoping to sway his vote, parents don't choose to receive his services at a particular hospital because Dr. Coburn has somehow endorsed that hospital because he is a senator," Hart said in a statement e-mailed to The Hill. "The committee has shown us zero empirical evidence to back up its flimsy claim.

"Has Sen. Leahy provided an improper endorsement to Warner Brothers for appearing in Batman?" Hart asked. "Will millions of Americans now see Batman not because it features stars like Christian Bale or the late Heath Ledger, but because Patrick Leahy, a distinguished United States senator, has offered his illustrious endorsement to this motion picture?

"If Sen. Coburn can only deliver babies for free at a public hospital, shouldn't Sen. Leahy only be allowed to donate his notable thespian skills to a public entity like PBS?"...

Hart estimates that Coburn has delivered dozens of babies since last receiving an ultimatum from the Ethics panel in 2005. Coburn has received no compensation for his work and paid "tens of thousands of dollars" out of his own pocket for medical malpractice insurance and other costs related to his medical practice, Hart said.

Other physicians in the Senate, such as former Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a heart surgeon, voluntarily gave up their medical practices when they joined the Senate.

Coburn, however, wants to remain a true citizen-legislator and has long argued that the Senate should allow him to keep serving his patients because he plans to return to the practice when he leaves the Senate in 2016, consistent with his pledge to serve only two terms. He would like to keep up his medical skills if he is going to continue being able to earn a living in his chosen profession.

Frist, by contrast, had no plans to return to his practice when he retired from the Senate. ...

"The parents of babies Dr. Coburn delivers don't choose him hoping to sway his vote, and they never have," Hart said. "In the 10 years Dr. Coburn has provided free healthcare to his neighbors while serving in Congress, the Ethics Committee has never pointed to a single conflict of interest. No lobbyist or any individual has ever attempted to infiltrate his medical office under the guise of an invasive medical exam to discuss Senate business."

Coburn's work as an obstetrician was controversial during his House career, but the House allowed him to continue to practice and make enough money to cover his medical bills. When he joined the Senate, the Ethics Committee issued him a letter prohibiting him from practicing medicine.

Hart also made note of the timing of the press's interest in this story. The Ethics Committee sent a memo to Coburn in May, but it has only become public in the past two weeks during the battle over the Tomnibus bill.

Stanek writes, "Were Tom Coburn aborting babies free instead of delivering them free, there would be no investigation; there would be an awards ceremony. This is ridiculous on so many levels, not the least of which is the Democrats' disregard for the poor, unless they control the dole so as to get the credit."

Most elections I'm used to a mixed bag of results -- some encouraging, some discouraging. Once in a great while -- 1980, 1994 come to mind -- everything goes the way I hope.

This comes close to being one of those nights.

82% of Republican voters said yes to Sally Bell and "enough already" to County Commissioner Randi Miller. While I expected a win, my guess was 57%. There's a certain constituency who will vote for the incumbent no matter what. Bell's win is certainly due to disgust with Miller, but the size of the win demonstrates that voters see Bell as a credible prospect for County Commission. That ought to help her raise money and volunteers for the November general election, which will be tough, but it's looking more and more feasible.

We're nearly at 100% of the vote, and it looks like Dana Murphy has won a close Republican primary against State Rep. Rob Johnson for the right to challenge appointed Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth, a Democrat. Dana is a wonderful person, she is extremely qualified for this job, and she has the integrity to do the right thing regardless of the pressure from special interests. A cynic would say that combination is political poison, but it's nice to see a good guy finish first for once. Again, it'll be tough to beat an incumbent, but Murphy is more qualified than Roth for the job (she worked for the OCC for five years, he's been there less than one), and she has been in three statewide elections. Roth has never run statewide.

In District 35, we're headed for a runoff, as expected, between Cason Carter and Gary Stanislawski. There's only a 268 vote gap between the two -- Carter 44%, Stanislawski 40%. It's likely that Jeff Applekamp and Janet Sullivan took more support from Stanislawski than from Carter -- Applekamp comes from the southern end of the district, and Sullivan, like Stanislawski, attends Victory Christian Center.

No surprises in the Republican primaries for U. S. Senate and the First Congressional District: Jim Inhofe and John Sullivan prevailed easily over perennial candidates.

I was surprised that the anointed Democratic challengers to Inhofe and Sullivan won by relatively slim margins over very underfunded opponents. Georgianna Oliver beat Mark Manley by only 55% to 45%, and Democratic turnout in the 1st District was half of the Republican turnout, which reveals a lack of enthusiasm for the recently relocated Mrs. Oliver. State Sen. Andrew Rice managed less than 60% against a perennial candidate.

I was pleased, but not at all surprised, to see Dan Newberry win his Senate District 37 primary by such a large margin. He's been walking the district for a year or more. He's got a good headstart on reclaiming the district for the Republican Party.

John Trebilcock won over his primary challenger by a two-to-one margin. I'm told the over-the-top attacks by his opponent turned off a lot of voters.

Elsewhere in Oklahoma, the Chambers of Commerce and the old Cargill machine attempted to defeat State Reps. Randy Terrill and Mike Reynolds. Terrill won renomination with 75% of the vote. Reynolds's race was closer -- 55-45. Disgraced former Speaker Lance Cargill was a consultant to his opponent's campaign.

In Oklahoma County, District 2 County Commissioner Brent Rinehart got a bigger percentage of the vote than Randi Miller -- all of 21%, and that in the face of financial scandal and national notoriety for his amateurish cartoon campaign piece. But he still lost big, and Brian Maughan came close to winning outright with 47% of the vote. Maughan will face J. D. Johnston in a runoff. I know Brian through state Republican Party events, and I'm happy to see him well on his way to a seat on the County Commission.

My take on the two Northside Democratic House primaries: All of the candidates are pretty far to my left on state issues, none of them are pro-life, and none of them will have a Republican opponent in the fall, so in a sense, it doesn't matter who wins. But Christie Breedlove, running in HD 72, has been a tireless worker for Roscoe Turner, one of the good guys on the City Council, and we're often on the same side of local issues, so I'm happy to see her move forward to a runoff.

I was also happy to see Jabar Shumate prevail in a tough primary against Kevin Matthews in HD 73. Nothing against Matthews, but I appreciated Shumate and Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre taking the political risk to support the New Hope Scholarship program, which would have given partial tax credits for donations to scholarship funds to pay for at-risk students to attend private schools. It was a modest school choice bill, but one opposed by a core Democrat constituency -- the teacher's union and other elements of the education establishment -- so Shumate and Eason-McIntyre deserve praise for putting their constituents' best interests above political expedience.

It's just really nice to know that I don't have to take down any yard signs tomorrow, because all my candidates made it to the next round.

MORE:

I thought I heard a big flushing sound yesterday.

Irritated Tulsan has a career possibility for the soon to be former commissioner.

740 KRMG's Joe Kelley has video of the real reason Randi lost in a landslide.

Michelle is OK with low voter turnout, and she has some advice for John Trebilcock's opponent:

John Newhouse found out tonight that you should run on something besides a mistake your opponent made over a year ago, and has asked forgiveness for. Trebilcock won with about 65%.

This post will remain at the top of the blog until the polls close.

I'll have five choices on my ballot in the 2008 Oklahoma primary election; here's how I plan to mark it:

U. S. Senator: Sen. Jim Inhofe
U. S. Representative, District 1: Rep. John Sullivan
Corporation Commissioner, Short Term: Dana Murphy
State Senator, District 35: Gary Stanislawski
Tulsa County Commissioner, District 2: Sally Bell

If you're a Republican in Senate District 37, I encourage you to vote for Dan Newberry, a solid conservative and a hard-working campaigner. I think he has the best shot at recapturing the seat for the GOP in November.

If I lived in House District 98, I'd be voting for John Trebilcock. John has hit a few bumps in the road, but he's been a solid legislator, and I appreciate his courage in standing up to the Cargill machine at the Capitol.

Here are some links that may be helpful as you go to vote:

Oklahoma State Election Board website
Complete list of candidates for state and federal office
Unofficial election results

Oklahoma Ethics Commission
OEC public disclosure system
Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports and data

Tulsa County Election Board website
Complete list of Tulsa County candidates
Precinct locator
Sample ballots by party and precinct

League of Women Voters Tulsa 2008 election information and voters' guide
Oklahomans for Life candidate survey

MORE: Irritated Tulsan has a motivational poster for voters in County Commission District 2. (Also, he reports that Yaw Eno has been cut down in its prime.)

Gary Stanislawski is not at all bothered that his principal rival in the SD 35 Senate race received a certain endorsement:

StanislawskiNotEndorsed.png

The Whirled editorial board endorsed former City Councilor Cason Carter.

Stanislawski, a financial planner and Jenks school board member, has been endorsed by incumbent Sen. Jim Williamson, who is leaving the legislature because of term limits, and by the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly. Stanislawski is an ORU alumnus, an active member and sometime Sunday School teacher and officer at Victory Christian Church, and served 8 years in the US Air Force.

Here's what I had to say about Mr. Carter about a year ago, right after the vote on buying One Technology Center as a new City Hall:

Taylor's over-the-top speech should have been greeted with howls of derision. Some councilor should have told her, "Madame Mayor, come back to talk to us when you can do so without insulting our intelligence."

Taylor claimed that the consolidation of city government offices at OTC would be the "key that will unlock the revitalization of downtown."

Four years ago, we were told that the new downtown sports arena was going to be the key to revitalizing downtown. Before that, we were told that the key was the Inner Dispersal Loop, the Williams Center, the Civic Center, putting the pedestrian mall in, and taking the pedestrian mall out.

It's as if we have a junk drawer full of house keys, skeleton keys, car keys, diary keys, piano keys, and plastic baby toy keys, and our civic leaders are trying them at random until they find one that works.

Taylor also told the Council that the OTC purchase would accomplish "transformation for our souls." I kid you not -- she really said that. Maybe it's because OTC looks like a crystal. Or perhaps Taylor has been reading The Secret.

Our current City Hall is ugly, and moving to OTC would give a boost to the Blue Dome District, but the deal isn't all that. Only the very gullible would buy the fake-it-'til-you-make-it hucksterism in Taylor's claim that going into debt to buy OTC would "change the trajectory" of our city.

And speaking of Cason Carter, he too professed faith in the transformational power of One Technology Center. I'm not sure whether he said that because he truly believes it or because he was trying to please Mayor Mommy by echoing her words.

Carter plans to run for State Senate District 35 next year, but anyone who spouts such nonsense doesn't have any business handling taxpayer dollars at City Hall, much less the bigger bucks at the State Capitol.

Cason is intelligent, a likable guy, and conservative on social issues. Many people I respect are supporting him. But he played it safe during his two years on the Council, taking care never to offend people who might be able to finance his next step up the political ladder. If someone isn't willing to take political risks and offend powerful special interests at City Hall, it's hard to believe he'll suddenly develop that level of courage at a higher level of government.

DISCLOSURE: Early in the campaign, having already decided by process of elimination that I would not be supporting Mr. Carter or Mr. Applekamp, I did some paid computer work for the Stanislawski campaign. This blog entry is at my own initiative, prompted only by a mention of the flyer on Chris Medlock's show. (Medlock was endorsed by the Whirled in his first State House run in 1994, which he lost to Fred Perry, another conservative who was proud not to be endorsed by the Whirled.)

MORE: This endorsement won't help Cason in Brookside:

"As a private developer looking to invest in Tulsa, Cason Carter was extremely helpful. He put me in contact with neighborhood leaders and was able to help facilitate a project that will be a great benefit for Tulsa."

John Gilbert
Senior Vice President Bomasada Group, Inc.

This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is mainly devoted to an endorsement of Edmond attorney/geologist Dana Murphy for the two-year term on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Murphy is running against State Rep. Rob Johnson in the Republican primary, and the primary winner will face Jim Roth, who was appointed by Gov. Brad Henry to fill the vacancy left by Denise Bode's resignation.

Dana Murphy (danamurphy.com) served for five years as an administrative law judge for the OCC, presiding over more than 5,000 cases, weighing evidence and testimony and making judgments, and acting as a gatekeeper over the issues that would be decided by the three commissioners. If elected, Murphy would have no need for on-the-job training.

In addition to her time at the OCC, Murphy has worked as a petroleum geologist and an oil and gas attorney. She did her undergraduate work in geology at OSU then went on to get a law degree at Oklahoma City University....

I first got to know Dana Murphy during the 2002 campaign. Impressed by her credentials, I was glad to have the chance to serve in a very minor role on her team. I became even more impressed by her character, as I saw how graciously she dealt with slimy attack ads and a slim runoff defeat.

I'm proud to call Dana a friend, and in the intervening years, I've come to have an even greater appreciation for her character....

It's just under two weeks until the state primary election, and a number of organizations are out to help you make up your mind by asking candidates for their positions on key issues.

Oklahomans for Life has responses from state and federal candidates to a 12-question survey dealing with the issues of abortion and euthanasia, and in ways that are likely to come before Congress and the State Legislature.

It's disappointing that so few Democratic candidates bothered to respond to Oklahomans for Life. The usual excuse is that the survey responses will be used against them by Republican opponents, but that doesn't explain why Democrats don't respond even when no Republicans are running -- e.g. House Districts 72 and 73.


Via Green Country Values, I learned that the Oklahoma Publishing Company, which publishes the Oklahoman, has launched a website with information on elections for federal and state offices called ElectOK.com. Enter your address, and get a list of federal and state races on your ballot, with a page for each candidate to outline a platform, and post blog entries, photos, and video. As far as I can tell, it's a free opportunity for candidates to reach the voters.

At the bottom of the "about" page is an informative disclaimer that spells out OPUBCO's wide reach:

ElectOK is a product of OPUBCO Communications Group, a division of The Oklahoma Publishing Company, a 104-year-old privately held corporation based in Oklahoma City, with current interests in media, hospitality, minerals, communications, technology, securities and real estate development, among other ventures. OPUBCO Communications Group publishes a statewide daily newspaper, The Oklahoman, with distribution in all 77 Oklahoma counties. In addition to The Oklahoman, and the state's most trafficked local websites, including NewsOK.com, Wimgo.com, JobsOK.com, HomesOK.com, CarsOK.com and BedlamNation.com, OPUBCO Communications Group owns and operates The Oklahoman Direct, the largest full-scale standard direct mail provider in Oklahoma. OPUBCO Communications Group is also the publisher of many free distribution publications and magazines including: LOOKatOKC, a young reader tabloid; Viva Oklahoma!, a Spanish-language news tabloid; Make and Model, a car buyers guide; Central Oklahoma Homes Magazine, an upscale homebuilders magazine; HomesOK Extra, a real estate tabloid; JobsOK Extra, a recruitment tabloid; and most recently Recreational Rides, a monthly niche product that focuses on outdoor recreation.

(Wouldn't it be interesting to know details on, e.g., OPUBCO's involvement in real estate development? And whether that affects the Oklahoman's coverage of, e.g., zoning issues?)

In 2002, Gary Jones, a Certified Public Accountant, ran for State Auditor. He received 48.5% of the vote, losing to Jeff McMahan, a man with no education in accounting, by about 30,000 votes. We now know that Jeff McMahan won that election in part because of massive amounts of illegal campaign money, including $157,882 from Steve Phipps, a business partner with Gene Stipe in abstract companies regulated by the State Auditor's office.

In 2006, Jones ran again, receiving almost exactly the same share of the vote. In the weeks leading up to the election, Jones not only called into question McMahan's competence, but he began to sketch out the connections between McMahan, Steve Phipps, Gene Stipe, Francis Stipe, a dog food factory, and grants and loans orchestrated by certain Democratic legislators. It was a complicated story, too complicated to convey to the voters in a way that had impact. (As in 2002, Jones didn't have any coattails from the top of the Republican ticket.)

Jones continued to follow the money, and eventually the Feds did, too. McMahan and his wife, Lori, were convicted in federal court for bribe-taking and conspiracy. The shady dealings that Jones had uncovered were confirmed by Phipps's testimony and affirmed by the jury.

Jones's tenacity in pursuing corruption in state government, at the risk of being accused of sour grapes or obsession, is just the quality we need in a State Auditor.

I've read comments here and there that Jones is a party hack, because he's served for several years as chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. Chairing a political party is a tough, thankless job, and it's unfair to dismiss someone who has been willing to serve in that role as a "hack."

I remember when Jones first decided to run for chairman. Chad Alexander had resigned following the disappointing 2002 results. As a statewide candidate, Jones, from rural Comanche County, saw how the city-oriented Republican Party had failed to connect with rural voters, despite the conservative values that they share with the GOP. His motivation for seeking the chairmanship was to fix that, and the increasing success of the party in electing legislative and county officials in once-solid-Democrat districts is testimony to his success.

After winning election to a full term as chairman in 2003 and then re-election in 2005, Jones stepped aside to again pursue the State Auditor's Office. Many Republicans, disappointed with the performance of his successor, Tom Daxon, urged him to seek the chairmanship again, and he defeated Daxon at the 2007 state convention.

Gary's bluntness, persistence, and analytical skills have been a great help to the GOP, but those qualities would be put to even better use in the pursuit of waste and fraud in state government. By appointing Gary Jones to fill the vacancy left by McMahan, Gov. Brad Henry would be proclaiming that the era of insider dealing, bribery, and corruption is over in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma State Election Board yesterday voted 3-0 to deny a challenge to the candidacy of Dana Murphy for Corporation Commissioner. The challenge had been filed by Rob Johnson, Murphy's Republican opponent, on the grounds that Murphy's filing papers were invalid. At the direction of the State Election Board Secretary, Murphy had signed her name as she wished it to appear on the ballot. (She had signed her name the way she normally would on legal papers, with her middle initial.)

Johnson did not appear at the hearing.

In her press release, Murphy addresses another attack launched against her by Johnson:

Republican Corporation Commission candidate Dana Murphy was vindicated by the State Election Board's ruling on Monday morning striking down opponent Rob Johnson's challenge to keep her name from appearing on the ballot.

"This is a victory for common sense government and the people of Oklahoma," said Murphy. "This challenge over such a trivial issue as amending my name to appear on ballot as Dana Murphy instead of Dana L. Murphy is an example of wasting taxpayer money and the Election Board's time. It is disappointing that my opponent would stoop to such political pettiness."

"I trust Oklahoma voters not to be tricked by such political gamesmanship and that they will look at a person's true qualifications and commitment for the job. Instead of touting any meaningful qualifications of his own for this office, he seems to spend his time trying to smear me in the press."

While Murphy has been traveling around the state talking about her exemplary qualifications for a seat on the Corporation Commission and her vision for Oklahoma, opponent Johnson and his campaign aide Trebor Worthen, have resorted to the slimiest of tactics, bringing up Murphy's 1993 divorce.

"They have attempted to use divorce filings from one of the saddest times in my life to contend I'm unethical or worse. I have never been convicted of any of the crimes or unethical acts Worthen and Johnson claim. There is nothing in my divorce decree or any other court decisions that proves their claims," said Murphy.

"As anyone impacted by a difficult divorce or lawsuit understands, what is alleged in various pleadings and what is ultimately ruled on by a judge in a final order are often worlds apart. If Johnson cannot tell the difference between allegations made in a case and evidence needed to prove a case, he clearly didn't learn much in law school nor is he prepared to deal with the complex decisions on utility rate cases or oil and gas cases or other Commission cases."

Murphy challenges Johnson to stop hiding behind his consultants' statements and campaign propaganda and debate the issue at hand--serving on the Corporation Commission.

"In the legislature, laws are passed by a large group, but a Corporation Commissioner stands out as one among three for every decision made. Voters and reporters should be asking him, and any other candidates, what qualifications, experience and attributes make them the candidate best prepared to serve all Oklahomans," she said.

"I will debate Rob Johnson any time and place on the important issues at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission affecting Oklahomans," said Murphy. "I look forward to public opportunities to allow the voters to directly compare our credentials and experience for this very important job."

"My record speaks for itself. I've spent my entire adult life getting the education, developing the skills and gaining the experience and knowledge needed to serve as your Corporation Commissioner. I am the best qualified candidate, Democrat or Republican."

In addition to hearing over 5,000 cases as an administrative law judge at the Commission, Murphy has also testified as a geological witness and presented cases as an attorney before the Commission. Murphy is a fifth generation Oklahoman and currently runs a successful oil and gas law practice in Edmond.

The same attack regarding her divorce filings was attempted by her Republican opponents when she ran for Corporation Commissioner in 2002. There was nothing to it then, and there still isn't.

Lawrence Spivak, who founded 'Meet the Press,' told me before he died that the job of the host is to learn as much as you can about your guest's positions and take the other side. And to do that in a persistent and civil way. And that's what I try to do every Sunday. -- Tim Russert, in a 2007 interview with Time.

Tim Russert, NBC newsman and host of Meet the Press since 1991, died suddenly today of a heart attack, age 58. His willingness to ask tough questions (politely) of anyone on any side of an issue will be missed.

Dawn Summers writes:

I loved him when I was younger because he was an openly devout Catholic in the public eye, which was rare for anyone but Kennedys, and all the rarer for a broadcast journalist. During the "Election 2000″ I never missed Meet the Press, not ever....

I've grumbled at him in recent months for what I thought was unfair Clinton bashing, but I cannot imagine the next four months of "Election 2008″ without him. Heaven help those who are left with George Stephanopoulos to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Commenter Rawlins at Crunchy Con:

Tim Russert always managed to make journalism seem fair, literate but not elite, manly (if you're a man and he was and I am), important, even elegant. How I cannot imagine. It's just that when you contrast him with the others on Sunday morning news network TV, you got George Stephanopoulos who always seems slick but a pinch oily...and Chris Wallace who feels oily and a pinch slick. Then there are the other network guys....... Couric, Gibson. Williams being the best but there too, no Tim Russert.

I loved Tim Russert's apparent love for his Dad. His book regarding is required reading for men who need to learn what it is to be a role model. Even as a non-Dad. To bear the thought of facing this fall's election without Tim Russert is like having potted ham at Thanksgiving. I don't mean to lionize the guy, but this one really was an example of all-America at its best....

MORE: In the Wall Street Journal, Bernard Goldberg writes that Russert's perspective on media bias set him apart from most of his colleagues:

Tim was a big proponent of diversity, but he wanted to go further than the usual stuff. "I am for having women in the newsroom and minorities in the newsroom -- I'm all for it. It opens up our eyes and gives us different perspectives. But just as well, let's have people with military experience; let's have people from all walks of life, people from the top-echelon schools but also people from junior colleges and the so-called middling schools -- that's the pageantry of America . . . You need cultural diversity, you need ideological diversity. You need it."

Tim understood that without that kind of diversity, journalism would be in trouble. He knew it wasn't good for journalism or America if almost all the people reporting the news lived and worked in the same bubble.

"There's a potential cultural bias. And I think it's very real and very important to recognize and to deal with," he told me. "Because of backgrounds and training you come to issues with a preconceived notion or a preordained view on subjects like abortion, gun control, campaign finance. I think many journalists growing up in the '60s and the '70s have to be very careful about attitudes toward government, attitudes toward the military, attitudes toward authority. It doesn't mean there's a rightness or a wrongness. It means you have to constantly check yourself."

"Why the closed-mindedness when the subject comes around to media bias?" I asked him.

"That, to me, is totally contrary to who we're supposed to be as journalists. . . . If someone suggested there was an anti-black bias, an anti-gay bias, an anti-American bias, we'd sit up and say, 'Let's talk about this, let's tackle it.' Well, if there's a liberal bias or a cultural bias we have to sit up and tackle it and discuss it. We have got to be open to these things."

But there are times when an American journalist has to be biased:

We ended our conversation that day with an exchange about the criticism he took from some on the political left for wearing a red, white and blue ribbon on his lapel when he interviewed Vice President Dick Cheney on Sept. 16, 2001. He told me a good friend of his died at the World Trade Center on 9/11, and that the friend's family had asked if he would wear the ribbon, "and I never thought for a second about it."

"I want a debate about national security and who defines national security," he said. "I understand all that. But in the end, you have to make judgments, and on that day I made a judgment that five days after the most horrific event of my lifetime and of my journalistic career, that for me to say to the country I too am part of this, I too have experienced this gut-wrenching pain and agony, and I too have enormous remorse and sympathy, with not only the people who died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in the field in Pennsylvania, but all of us -- we're in this together. This isn't covering Democrats and Republicans or the Bills versus the Redskins; this is us. The Taliban doesn't believe in the First Amendment."

"But what about those who say journalists shouldn't wear red, white and blue ribbons, that by doing that somehow you're taking the government's side in some debate or another," I asked him.

"It is imperative," he told me, "that we never suggest that there's a moral equivalency between the United States of America and the terrorists. Period. I'll believe that until the day I die."

ONE MORE: From the New Yorker:

With the help of his staff, Russert was especially good at arming himself for an interview by compiling a politician's previous statements in all their contradictions. Google was his tool and Gotcha his game. But it was Gotcha at its highest form. Russert's gift was to employ his bluff, nice-guy, good-son Irish Catholic upstate persona ("Go Bills!") to offset the avidity with which he would trip up his interlocutors. Arianna Huffington, who once called Russert a "conventional wisdom zombie," was among the many critics who pressed him to go much further, but Russert, more than anyone with a remotely equivalent job, did not back off easily, whether it was with Dick Cheney, in 2002, peddling nonsense about Iraq or with Al Gore, in 2000, trying to ease his way out of a line of questioning on abortion:

RUSSERT: When do you think life begins?

GORE: I favor the Roe vs. Wade approach, but let me just say, Tim, I did--

RUSSERT: Which is what? When does life begin?

GORE: Let me just say, I did change my position on the issue of federal funding and I changed it because I came to understand more from women--women think about this differently than men.

RUSSERT: But you were calling fetuses innocent human life, and now you don't believe life begins at conception. I'm just trying to find out, when do you believe life begins?

GORE: Well, look, the Roe vs. Wade decision proposes an answer to that question--

RUSSERT: Which is?

This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly I considered Oklahoma's just-concluded legislative filing period and the decline in number of candidates filing, explaining the deterrents to running for state legislature.

Steve Fair, a Republican Party official in southwestern Oklahoma, wondered about a related topic, the early departure of many House Republicans:

Why are so many Oklahoma GOP House members leaving office before they are termed out? There are a variety of reasons, but here is my "spin" on why a record number of Republican members are bailing in 2008.

Some Oklahoma House Republican members are leaving because they are young and ambitious. They are chasing the dollar or the next rung on the political ladder. Those members have never been dedicated to helping Oklahoma move forward and their departure will not leave a ripple in the political pond. Their selfishness and "me first" attitudes have not endeared them to the GOP grassroots or to Oklahoma voters as a whole. That may partially account for their early departures, but a more likely factor will be their own selfish interests. Twenty years from now their impact in the legislature will be little more than a notation in the Oklahoma Political Almanac. They ran for office because it looks good on their resume. They could care less about the issues or the average Oklahoman- it's all about them.

Other members are leaving because they have become disgusted with the process. After serving in the minority for the early part of their tenure in the House, optimism was high in 2004 when the GOP gained a majority. These "gray hairs" thought they would be called upon for advice and counsel, but instead many were passed over for newly elected, younger, more aggressive members. The new leadership rebuffed their experience and ability to work across the aisle with their Democrat counterparts in a gracious manner.

The situational ethics practiced by the new "principled" leadership was inconsistent with what was being press released to the public. The older members concerns on how business was being conducted was ignored and berated. The new GOP mandate was not working for the benefit of Oklahoma, but staying in power and increasing the number of "R"s. Any and all campaign methods- right or wrong- was on the table, if it won elections. Seeing no real difference in the policies and actions of the new GOP leadership and the old Democrat leadership, these members opted to leave early. Their departure is not a positive one and their experience will be missed.

He doesn't use the name "Lance Cargill," but the former Speaker and his posse fit the description of the young, aggressive, and ambitious. The Republican caucus and the House as a whole are better off without them.

At the end of my column, I wrote, "Even if we don't raise their pay, we ought to pay our respects to those who are willing to serve us in the legislature. When a candidate comes knocking on your door this summer and fall, give him or her a few minutes of your time, listen, ask questions, and treat the candidate with kindness and respect. It's the least you can do for someone willing to make personal sacrifices for the sake of serving you at the state Capitol."

Fair says that in exchange for their hard work, candidates should be able to expect from the voters engagement in the process, attention to the issues, civility, and the absence of vandalism, harassment, and dirty tricks. Fair points the finger at inattentive voters for the influence of money in politics (emphasis added):

Money and media have always driven politics but in the past twenty-five years that has escalated to new heights. It's not uncommon to see Oklahoma state legislative candidates now raise and spend six figures to run for an office that pays $38,500 annually. Some blame the big donors, the Political Action Committees, the lobbyists, and special interest groups for the infusion of money into the process, but are they really to blame? The real culprit is the average citizen and/or voter who for a variety of reasons have stopped taking equity in his government. Indifference or only causal knowledge of what is going on in your government leads to "defining" by candidates- both of themselves and their opponents. Elections are now won on popularity and not on issues.

In a survey conducted by Harvard University, one candidate describes campaigning in the 21st century like this. "I've been actively involved in politics for over 19 years now. I've even run for public office. Getting voters to even pay attention to government for 5 minutes is a struggle. Most citizens get their information from either sound bites from the propaganda machine that some people still naively refer to as the media and others get it twisted from others without checking the facts. Dealing with the average voter is like dealing with a dyslexic hyperactive kid on drugs." In the same survey, a voter says the greatest cause for voter apathy is people feel politicians promise the world and then forget their promises once elected to office. That's why it's important to know the facts and not just base your vote on a clever jingle, logo or commercial.

So says the presumptive Republican nominee for President in his first general election ad:

RELATED: U.S.News and World Report has posted John McCain's first-hand account of his 5 years as a prisoner of war, originally published in its May 14, 1973, issue, just two months after he regained his freedom.

On page 14 of 17, McCain describes the use of high-level antiwar statements by the North Vietnamese government to torment their American prisoners.

This was the most effective propaganda they had to use against us--speeches and statements by men who were generally respected in the United States.

They used Senator Fulbright a great deal, and Senator Brooke. Ted Kennedy was quoted again and again, as was Averell Harriman. Clark Clifford was another favorite, right after he had been Secretary of Defense under President Johnson.

When Ramsey Clark came over they thought that was a great coup for their cause.

He gave Richard Nixon credit for decisive but unpopular actions that brought the North Vietnamese government to the negotiating table in October 1972, leading to a cease-fire and the release of POWs:

I admire President Nixon's courage. There may be criticism of him in certain areas--Watergate, for example. But he had to take the most unpopular decisions that I could imagine--the mining, the blockade, the bombing. I know it was very, very difficult for him to do that, but that was the thing that ended the war. I think the reason he understood this is that he has a long background in dealing with these people. He knows how to use the carrot and the stick. Obviously, his trip to China and the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with Russia were based on the fact that we're stronger than the Communists, so they were willing to negotiate. Force is what they understand. And that's why it is difficult for me to understand now, when everybody knows that the bombing finally got a cease-fire agreement, why people are still criticizing his foreign policy--for example, the bombing in Cambodia.

Speaking of mocking climate change alarmists, Oklahoma voters couldn't do better than to re-elect global warming skeptic Jim Inhofe to the U. S. Senate. His first TV commercial doesn't deal with the issue, except indirectly by celebrating Inhofe's renowned stubbornness and how that quality has served the interests of Oklahoma taxpayers:

I don't know for sure, but I suspect the road he's walking down at the end of the ad is the abandoned, two-mile-long section at the western end of the Will Rogers Turnpike, which was rerouted several years ago to connect with the Creek Turnpike.

Just received this press release from Dana Murphy, candidate for the unexpired term on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Murphy is by far the most qualified candidate in the race, by virtue of her service as an administrative law judge at the OCC and her training as a petroleum geologist and an attorney working on oil and gas matters. Her primary opponent is challenging her filing on some very slender grounds.

Note the reference in the next to last paragraph to campaign consultant Fount Holland. We've noted Holland's unfair political attacks on Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris; Holland was the consultant for Harris's opponent Brett Swab. I am sad to see Holland again using his considerable skills against a solid conservative and highly qualified Republican candidate for office.

(Oklahoma City, OK) Oklahoma Corporation Commission candidate Dana Murphy says the attempt by Rob Johnson and his campaign consultants to challenge her filing for office is nothing more than a desperate attempt to create something out of nothing.

"Rob Johnson and his consultants are grasping at straws because he can't challenge my qualifications. If you watch the video of my filing, you will clearly hear the Election Board clerk ask me if I wanted to be listed as 'Dana L. Murphy' or 'Dana Murphy'. I advised him 'Dana Murphy', he requested that I sign 'Dana Murphy' and I did. The Election Board clerk then scratched out the 'Dana L. Murphy' signature."

Murphy also stated that "In addition to this clarification, he also requested that I add either short or long term with the Commission office to the form and I added short term."

Murphy believes this ploy is just more evidence of the lackluster campaign on the part of Rob Johnson. "He has no hands-on, working experience at the Commission and little, if any, knowledge and background in matters regularly decided by the Commission affecting Oklahomans every day."

Conversely, Murphy possesses the best qualifications of any candidate for this office. She spent almost six years as an Administrative Law Judge at the Commission hearing over 5,000 cases; she owns her own energy law practice and she worked as a geologist in the oil patch for ten years. Murphy has also represented clients before the Commission and testified as an expert geological witness in cases at the Commission.

"Johnson's only apparent claim to fame is that he is a two term state legislator and worked as a congressional aide/gopher. His campaign is already stalling. This is his feeble attempt to cloud the fact that he has no qualifications for this office."

Murphy believes this to be a diversionary tactic used by Johnson's consultants before and currently in use in other races. Johnson, his consultant Fount Holland and former Representative Trebor Worthen, who is working on his campaign, are no strangers to controversy and the use of old guard politician "smoke and mirrors" tactics.

"For me, it's about serving my fellow Oklahomans. They deserve the very best," added Murphy. "What our state doesn't need is more self serving politicians who are more interested in serving themselves than serving our state."

For what it's worth: While we lost massive tree limbs during last Sunday's hurricane-force winds, our Dana Murphy yard sign stayed in place. I've known Dana for six years, and that's an apt metaphor for her character.

UPDATE 2008/06/09: The press release mentions video of the filing. This 12 minute report shows each of the three candidates filing and then speaking to reporters -- first Rob Johnson, then appointed incumbent Jim Roth, then (about eight minutes in) Dana Murphy, showing the interaction with the election board clerk that the press release mentions.

Shirley Bassey and the Propellerheads provide the classy soundtrack for this See-Dubya-produced video:

But I'm thinking I've heard this song before.

Flip-flopping anti-war Ivy-league snob with a lovable (not) wife, who wants to appease Iran (or does he now?), and who has tight, deep connections to the anti-American radicals sixties and seventies?

(Gotta love the growl in Shirley's voice when she sings "history repeating".)

We're now five hours away from the close of Oklahoma's filing period for the 2008 elections, and I'm still seeing way too many seats with unchallenged Democrats; for example, 2nd District Congressman Dan Boren, and Tulsa-area State Reps. Jeannie McDaniel (HD 78) and Eric Proctor (HD 77).

A couple of months ago, as youthful and not-so-youthful Ron Paul supporters were seeking to become delegates to the Republican National Convention, they asserted that they were engaged with the Republican Party for the long haul, and some expressed interest in seeking state and local office. I heard rumors that one young Ron Paul supporter planned to challenge Lucky Lamons in HD 66, but I haven't seen his name on the list of candidates yet.

So far, I've only noticed two RP backers who have filed for office, and both of them have been engaged in the political process for many years. Dr. Mike Ritze, a Broken Arrow physician whose "US out of UN! UN out of US!" sign graced 101st Street for many years, is running for HD 80, a seat being vacated by Ron Peterson. Ritze was chairman of the Tulsa County Republican Party from (if memory serves) 1991 to 1993. And Sally Bell is challenging Randi Miller in the primary for the Tulsa County Commission District 2 seat.

So where are all the young activists who were energized by Ron Paul's presidential run? Challenging a Democratic incumbent would give them a platform to air their issues and an opportunity to build valuable campaign experience, name recognition for future campaigns, and credibility with Republican old-timers. And there's always the possibility that, catching a secure incumbent off-guard, they might win.

Rather than composing a 1000-word comment complaining about this blog entry, why not spend the hour and a half to drive to the State Capitol to throw your hat in the ring?

UPDATE: Gary Casey, 32, has filed to challenge Democratic State Sen. Tom Adelson (SD 33). Casey sought to be a delegate at the 1st District Republican Convention and through the State Executive Committee. Of the Ron Paul supporters seeking to be a delegate, he was one of the most well-received by the non-Ron Paul supporters. I'm happy to see Gary taking up this tough challenge.

UPDATE 2: No RP connection, as far as I know, but Jay Matlock, who sought the Republican nomination for Tulsa City Council District 4, has filed to run against Democratic State Rep. Jeannie McDaniel (HD 78). This would be a better fit for Matlock; his motivating issue was education, and he can do more about that in the State House than he could have in the City Council.

UPDATE 3: Nathan Dahm, 25, a Ron Paul supporter who has commented here on occasion (and at length), has filed for the open HD 75 seat. And Les White, 34, a leading Paul organizer in Oklahoma, has filed for the HD 45 seat in Norman. And "Orat" has posted a 170-word complaint about this blog entry.

U. S. Rep. John Sullivan drew one opponent in the first day of filing: Georgianna W. Oliver, 41, 1244 E. 26th St, a Democrat. You haven't heard of her, but I'm told that she has the money to self-finance a campaign.

Any time I wonder about someone with a D after their name on the ballot, I visit the OKDemocrat forum to see what the scuttlebutt is. Apparently, she goes by the nickname Buffy, and she hasn't lived in Oklahoma for a long time, and perhaps has never been a 1st District resident. Here's what one OKDemocrat user, andypot, has to say:

I remember Georgianna "Tankersley" White Back in the Day - we were Jr. Aides on "The Hill"...Tankersley was an LA on Congressman Bill Brewster's staff & me on Synar's. She was quite the rising star: Like a female LBJ. She was an OSU grad and Sapulpa Chieftain moved to the Big City. She liked to drop a lotta names of the rich and/or powerful at OSU or wherever she went. She of course took that instinct with her to the congressional staff. Georgianna had the rep of doing "anything to get ahead" including being a [word that looks like an anagram for "self-starter"?] to get to the top.

Don't go screaming carpetbagger just yet. If you're gonna raise hell about G. Buffy Tankersley White Ridenhour Oliver, then NY Sen. H.R. Clinton shoulda run in Arkansas. Buffy's been a registered voter in Tulsa County for 4.5 months. According to Federal election law Ms. Oliver can run for Congress anywhere she wants, by Gawd! Running for state or county office is another matter and that's why "Tankersley" declined The Tulsa Country Club's invite to run against Randi Miller or for the State Senator in South Tulsa. The real question is why? Georgianna has a very ill, elderly hub who is gettin' treatment at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Treatment Center in Houston. She's also the non-baby momma of a young Russian boy. Shouldn't Buffy be Takin' Care of Bidnez at the hospital beside hubby instead of gallivantin' around CD1 makin' trouble for Sully? How's about bein' a PTA volly at some high dollar private school that young Ivan attends rather than goin' to Demo political functions? Otherwise Buffy, bombs away.

(The "Tulsa Country Club" is a reference to the local wealthy Democratic establishment.)

It's filing period in Oklahoma, today, Tuesday, and Wednesday, for state legislature, congressional offices, county offices, and two seats on the Corporation Commission -- a regular election to a full six-year term (Jeff Cloud, elected in 2002, is the incumbent), and a special to fill the unexpired term of Denise Bode (incumbent Jim Roth was appointed by Brad Henry to fill the term).

This page on the election board website will show filings for everything except county offices. Highlights so far:

Sen. Jim Inhofe drew his expected Democratic opponent, Andrew Rice, plus two primary opponents, perennial candidate Evelyn Rogers from Tulsa (following in her mother Tennie Rogers's footsteps) and Dennis Lopez from Thackerville.

Three of our five congressmen have drawn one opposite-party opponent apiece, but none have drawn primary opposition. Dan Boren (D-CD 2) and Tom Cole (R-CD 4) are so far unopposed.

Filings for legislature are pretty thin. Judy Eason McIntyre (D-SD 11), Tom Adelson (D-SD 33) and Brian Crain (R-SD 39) are unopposed so far. No one has yet filed to replace term limited Jim Williamson (R-SD 35), although several candidates have declared. No one has filed in SD 25 either, although incumbent Republican Mike Mazzei is expected to do so. In SD 37, Nancy Riley, who ran as a Republican last time and changed parties two years ago after running for Lt. Governor as a Republican, is running as a Democrat. Former City Council aide Jan Megee has filed as a Republican to oppose her. (Republican Dan Newberry is also expected to file.)

In Tulsa area State House seats, Republicans Sue Tibbs, Rex Duncan, Pam Peterson, Fred Jordan, Ron Peters, Dan Sullivan, and John Wright, and Democrats Lucky Lamons, Eric Proctor, and Jeannie McDaniel are so far unopposed. Only one candidate has so far filed to replace Ron Peterson in HD 80, in southeast Tulsa County: Dr. Mike Ritze, a former Tulsa County Republican chairman (c. 1991). It's a heavily Republican seat and was hotly contested last time the seat was open.

Republican Speaker Chris Benge has drawn a primary opponent, Brian Jackson, 25. Owasso Republican first-termer David Derby was rumored to be stepping down, but he filed for re-election, along with two primary opponents. Two Republicans have filed to replace departing Republican Dennis Adkins in HD 75, Greg Chapman and Dan Kirby. Weldon Watson (R-HD 79) has drawn a Democratic opponent, Chad Hawkins. Incumbent John Trebilcock (R-HD 98) will be opposed by Democrat Greg Frederick, 32.

Democrat Jabar Shumate will face Tulsa Fire Department Administrative Chief Kevin Matthews in north Tulsa's HD 73. Shumate has been one of the strongest supporters of school choice measures in the Democratic caucus.

Two Democrats, Christie Breedlove and John Slater, have already filed for HD 72, Darrell Gilbert's open north Tulsa seat, and it's expected to draw several more. But a strong Republican candidate, Mary Nichols, 59, has filed -- the first time in about a decade that the GOP has contested the seat. Perennial mayoral candidate Lawrence Kirkpatrick will be on the ballot as an independent.

The Club for Growth's 2007 congressional ratings are out, and Oklahoma Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe and 1st District Congressman John Sullivan were named as Defenders of Economic Freedom for scoring above 90%.

Coburn had a 97, just behind S.C. Sen. Jim DeMint, who had the only 100. Coburn was tied for second with N.C. Sen. Richard Burr. Inhofe's 91 had him ranked fifth in the Senate. Arizona's John Kyl and Nevada's John Ensign were the other two Senate Defenders, Republicans all.

In the House, Sullivan scored a 95, putting him in a three-way tie for 20th with Randy Neugebauer of Texas and Eric Cantor of Virginia. 49 House members scored 90 or better, all of them Republicans.

The highest ranking Democrats were Rep. Nick Lampson of Texas, ranked 193rd with 26%, and Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, ranked 47th with 21%.

The lowest ranking Republicans were Rep. John McHugh of N.Y., close to the median score with 15%, ranked 217th, and Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, ranked 66th with 12%.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton flunked out -- goose eggs for both of them. Ron Paul scored 80. John McCain scored a 94, but isn't ranked because he didn't cast enough votes on the specified issues.

The scorecards list the specific votes that were counted. Here is the Club for Growth House Scorecard and the Club for Growth Senate Scorecard. This entry explains how the rankings were calculated.

A commenter on my brief summary of the Oklahoma Republican State Convention took issue with my account and helpfully provided a link to another, written by a Ron Paul supporter, on a site called "coup by memo". (It's unclear if the commenter is the author of this other webpage.) This other report is wrong in nearly every respect, but it was interesting to explore the rest of the website and learn about the values held by some members of the Liberty Values Coalition. (I will address that in a later entry.)

I can't speak to what occurred during the morning session, as I was in and out of the convention hall, waiting for my chance to work with credentials committee chairman Pam Pollard to get the tally spreadsheet set up. (During the afternoon voting, I sat at a laptop and entered numbers in an Excel spreadsheet as the roll call of counties was read.) Because of this, I was able to see up close what was happening during the credentials process, and why it took so long.

The check-in process went on at least 40 minutes longer than scheduled to accommodate the huge crowd. There were a number of people who were somehow left off of the list of delegates submitted by their county party chairman and so weren't in the database when they went to check in. The credentials committee acts as an appeals board for cases like these. Of the more than 1000 delegates, about two dozen were added by this process.

Once this was done, Pam Pollard went to the podium to read the preliminary credentials report, county-by-county: How many authorized delegates (based on a formula established in the permanent state party rules), how many delegates had signed in, and the maximum number of votes. That last number is the minimum of the number of authorized delegates and twice the number who signed in. In other words, the number of people (warm bodies, if you will) is weighted to match the authorized vote count, with a maximum weight of 2.

For example, consider a county that has 15 authorized votes:

  • If 45 people sign in, each of those 45 people count as 1/3 vote, for a total of 15 votes.
  • If 20 people sign in, each of those 20 people count as 3/4 vote, for a total of 15 votes.
  • If 15 people sign in, each of those 15 people count as exactly 1 vote, for a total of 15 votes.
  • If 9 people sign in, each of those 9 people count as exactly 5/3 vote, for a total of 15 votes.
  • If 5 people sign in, each of those 5 people count as exactly 2 votes, for a total of 10 votes.
  • If 2 people sign in, each of those 2 people count as exactly 2 votes, for a total of 4 votes.

At the end of Pam's report (it was about 11 a.m. at this point), those county chairman who wished to challenge the preliminary report went to the sign-in area. I saw about two dozen people lined up. The main problem was that some people who had signed in and received their credentials (a pre-printed badge and a button with the county's name) weren't showing up in the database as checked in. The problem was operator error -- a box wasn't checked by the clerks. This affected about 40 people.

In the meantime, I'm told that parliamentarian State Rep. John Wright ruled that it was permissible for business to proceed following the preliminary acceptance of the credentials report, and so the permanent convention organization was approved and the rules were debated and approved before the recess for lunch.

The claim that there were 500 more delegates present after lunch is based on (at best) misinterpretation of what was happening. The room was as full before lunch as after. There was no credentials activity during lunch, except to distribute ballots to the county chairmen and to get me set up to keep score.

At roughly 11, the total number of delegates (warm bodies) that had signed in was reported to the convention as 1003, according to my notes. That was the preliminary report I mentioned earlier.

The total number of raw votes cast in the three roll call votes was 1050 in the up-or-down vote on the Executive Committee delegate slate, 1032 in the National Committeewoman election, and 1035 in the National Committeeman election. That's the actual number of ballots submitted by delegates to their county chairmen during the roll call votes. So it appears that about 50 delegates were added after the preliminary credentials report, and nearly all of these had actually signed in and received credentials; they just weren't noted in the database has having checked in and so weren't included in the initial count.

The confusion of Mr. or Ms. coup-by-memo may be that the total for each roll call vote was announced as the weighted total -- the weighting being done in accordance with the process above as specified by the rules. Someone new to the process might have assumed there were suddenly 500 more delegates than before.

On whether to approve the Executive Committee delegate slate, the raw vote (number of warm bodies on each side) was yes 700, no 350. The weighted vote was yes 1105.5, no 554.5.

On the National Committeewoman vote, the raw vote was Carolyn McLarty 718, Denise Engle 314. The weighted vote was McLarty 1152.7, Engle 499.3.

On the National Committeeman vote, the raw vote was James Dunn 520, Steve Curry 515. The weighted vote was Dunn 833.6, Curry 824.4.

(Note that in each case, there is an almost identical proportion for raw and weighted, which you would expect. Mathematically, the only way the weighted vote would skew significantly from the raw vote is if many counties with roughly half their authorized delegates present voted differently from the general trend of the convention.)

Coming up next, probably tomorrow, a look at the values associated with the Liberty Values Coalition, and a comparison of their slate to the Executive Committee's slate.

P.S. I neglected to mention in the earlier entry: Tulsa County was the largest delegation present, and we had nearly as many delegates as we were authorized.

One other note: We finished just slightly after our hard-cutoff time of 3:00 p.m. The hotel gave us a few minutes of grace, and as soon as we adjourned they opened up the walls to the other half of the ballroom and began blaring music to get us out. They had to set up for an event at 7 p.m.: Vince Gill was giving a private performance to a SemGroup event.

The 2008 Oklahoma Republican State Convention adjourned about an hour ago, having completed its agenda, electing a slate of 23 delegates and 23 alternates, 2 presidential elector nominees, a national committeewoman, and a national committeeman.

The convention approved the rules recommended by the convention rules committee, approved the slate of delegates and alternates nominated by the State Executive Committee (of which I am a member), and the two elector nominees recommended by the State Executive Committee. The convention elected James Dunn, the 2006 nominee for Attorney General, and retired Woodward veterinarian Carolyn McLarty to the Republican National Convention. (Incumbents Lynn Windel and Bunny Chambers stepped aside after 12 years.)

A group calling themselves the Liberty Values Coalition -- an alliance of Ron Paul supporters, paleoconservatives, and conspiracy theorists, with a number of long-time party activists who, for one reason or another, are disaffected with party leadership -- attempted to get one of their own elected as convention chairman, attempted to defeat the proposed rules, and attempted to defeat the Executive Committee slate, failing in each case. The group distributed a proposed slate which mixed selected members of the Executive Committee slate with a number of Ron Paul supporters.

Former National Committeewoman Mary Rumph was one of those nominated for delegate on the Executive Committee slate who was also listed on the Liberty Values Coalition flyer. When she told the convention that her name was appropriated by the LVC without her consent, the loud and long applause told the story: The "non-Pauls" had the majority at the convention.

More later.

Michelle Malkin links to reports in the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Reno Gazette-Journal that chaos reigned at Saturday's Nevada Republican State Convention in Reno. Proposed rules of procedure were overturned by a two-thirds majority led by Ron Paul supporters. The Paulites also managed to pass their platform, according to the Review-Journal:

The party passed a 20-plank platform that stresses "a literal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution" and calls for the repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and the Patriot Act as well as withdrawal from the United Nations and North American Free Trade Agreement.

After 10 hours in session, the convention's lease on the facility ran out and party officials suspended proceedings to a later date. While votes had already been cast, but not counted, for the three delegates from each of three congressional districts, no ballots had been cast for the state's 22 member at-large delegation.

Here's what I gather had happened: The proposed rules would have pitted pre-submitted slates of national delegates against each other. The Ron Paul people, plus some sympathetic non-Paul delegates, wanted to open nominations to anyone who wanted to run that day. They wound up with over 200 candidates for 31 slots.

How the heck do you efficiently conduct an election with 200 candidates and 31 seats to be filled?

I suppose you could have a ballot the size of a bedsheet and use preferential balloting, but it took us long enough at the district convention to count ballots for about 25 candidates for three delegate slots and a similar number for three alternate slots.

The only method that makes sense to me is you allow full slates to be nominated with a substantial number of signatures required for nomination. The voters then pick one slate or another, with one or more runoffs if no slate gets a majority.

At least one non-Paul delegate suspected the whole point of the maneuver was to stretch the process out as long as possible until only the most fanatical were still standing:

"The Ron Paul contingent constantly nitpicks and delays things on purpose so that all the old people leave and they can take over," said Eric Tolkien of Reno.

The Gazette-Journal story describes the Paul group's organization:

Paul, who came in second in the Nevada caucuses, actively worked to ensure his supporters attended both the county and state conventions.

His contingent came to the state convention prepared for battle. They had a row of printers to print ballots for their supporters to the national convention. They set up a communications network using text messages to cell phones to make sure everyone voted correctly on motions that would benefit their effort. And they scoured the rules for opportunities to level the playing field.

Both Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, who won the caucus straw poll earlier in the year, addressed the convention.

MORE: Reno Gazette-Journal political reporter Anjeanette Damon live-blogged the convention on her Inside Nevada Politics blog. And here is a Ron Paul supporter's account of the day.

AND MORE straight from the horse's mouth -- State Sen. Bob Beers, the convention chairman, explains why the convention was recessed. This will ring true for anyone who has been involved in the nuts and bolts of running a convention.

Early in the day, the state delegates voted to depart from the way the Nevada GOP has elected national delegates for the 15 or so years I have been involved. Instead of short voice votes, the delegates wanted two separate and lengthy election processes: first, dividing the state delegates by our three congressional district, then having each third separately elect three national delegates each; second, an at-large election of 22 delegates from a list of candidates that would combine those who had applied through normal channels and those who self-nominated themselves from the convention floor. Many people who had gone through the normal channels also self-nominated themselves from the floor.

By 6pm last night:

  • we were overtime on our contract for our convention space
  • we were paying our stagehands and audio-video technicians overtime
  • our volunteers running the convention (myself included) had already put in a 12-hour day
  • only two of the three congressional district elections had been counted. The third (and largest) was about half-way done
  • our rough calculations on how long it would take to compile the results of the upcoming 22-person ballot were l-o-n-g based on the three-person ballot taking as long as it had
  • The convention secretary and party secretary (all volunteers) had compiled the 200 or so self-nomination candidates into their computer, but had not started figuring out who was on both lists and needed to be consolidated for the final, master ballot
  • Delegates, frustrated that our 5pm end time had been missed, with no end in sight, had left and were continuing to leave to execute their travel plans.

So we made the decision to temporarily stop the convention and resume it at a later date.

My column in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly is about the continuing push by the Ron Paul campaign to try to win the Republican presidential nomination for the Texas congressman, despite his failure to get above 3 to 7 percent in any primary election this year. The column explains how they plan to accomplish that goal and examines how they've implemented the plan so far in Oklahoma's delegate selection process.

It's interesting to read the comments, 13 so far, all of them from Ron Paul supporters. Although I tried to maintain a neutral tone, while explaining the antagonism between the Paul people and the mainstream conservative activists who constitute the core of the Republican grassroots, the comments accuse me of bashing, smearing, and slurring.

In the story I referred to ronpaulexposed.blogspot.com. You will also be interested in the Become a Delegate or Ron Paul Will Not Be President webpage, and the National DVDs For Delegates Project Meetup group:

Between now and mid-August, we will create, manufacture, and distribute a series of four DVDs to the mailing addresses of all identified Delegates and Alternates to the 2008 GOP Convention in Saint Paul.

This project will utilize the best of existing redistributable video content, and may require the creation of select new content.

Our goal is to use this opportunity to communicate important information to GOP Delegates. We will share media containing perspectives new to most delegates, media blacked out by the 5 mega-corporations who currently ignore the Ron Paul Constitutional Message from their news and other media coverage.

ELSEWHERE ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Columnist and mega-blogger Michelle Malkin linked earlier this week to a BatesLine entry from last August about Barack Obama's attempt to commiserate with Iowa voters about the price of an upscale leafy substance. One of Michelle's commenters, named Tennyson, has photoshopped a very funny revolutionary-style poster featuring Obama and some arugula. Click that link to see it.

Earlier in April See-Dubya had a post at Michelle's blog about other "Obamessiah Fancy Foodie Follies." And when George Will calls you a snob -- George Will! -- you're missing the common touch.

Here's what the junior senator from Illinois said, in response to a question from ABC's George Stephanopoulos during tonight's debate (click here to see the full transcript):

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator, if you get the nomination, you'll have to -- (applause) -- (inaudible).

I want to give Senator Clinton a chance to respond, but first a follow-up on this issue, the general theme of patriotism in your relationships. A gentleman named William Ayers, he was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol and other buildings. He's never apologized for that. And in fact, on 9/11 he was quoted in The New York Times saying, "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough."

An early organizing meeting for your state senate campaign was held at his house, and your campaign has said you are friendly. Can you explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?

SEN. OBAMA: George, but this is an example of what I'm talking about.

This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.

And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense, George.

The fact is, is that I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions.

Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn's statements? Because I certainly don't agree with those either.

So this kind of game, in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, is somehow -- somehow their ideas could be attributed to me -- I think the American people are smarter than that. They're not going to suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn't.

Coburn got a lot of flack for some of the offhand comments he made during his 2004 Senate run, but I believe his friend and colleague from Illinois has surpassed him in the last seven days.

(Via TulsaNow's public forum.)

MORE: Coburn responds: "'Barack Obama is my friend,' said Coburn, when asked if he was offended by Obama's comment. 'We're not all necessarily happy with everything we say.'"

This recent Red State Update had me almost rolling on the floor. They've overdubbed the clip of Bill Richardson with Barack Obama, when he announced his support for the Illinois senator and related his awkward conversation with Hillary Clinton about his endorsement of Obama. The revoiced Richardson has a childlike simplicity and throws out non-sequiturs left and right, reminiscent of Danny DeVito's character Owen in Throw Momma from the Train.

The part that had me laughing to the point of tears is toward the end, when Richardson tells about his phone call with "Mean Pants Lady."

"And I think that any speculation on a vice presidential pick is premature. It's premature to speculate..."

"An egg is a premature chicken."

"Uh huh, OK, technically, Bill, I think that..."

"Hueeeeevos Rancheeeeeros."

"Mm-hmm. Allllll right...."

FIXED the missing close angle bracket on an object tag which was flummoxing IE 7.0. Thanks to Michelle for pointing it out. I'm amazed that none of the other browsers seemed bothered by it.

Paul plot

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John McCain has enough delegates to win the Republican nomination on the first ballot. All other candidates have either withdrawn or suspended their campaigns, conceding to McCain.

That appears to be the case, based on primary results and on the rules, which vary from state to state, that allocate delegates based on the primary results. But some hardcore Ron Paul supporters don't see it that way. They still have hope of getting the nomination for "the only man who can save America," and they have a strategy for making it happen.

You see, in Oklahoma and in many other states, there's no connection between the primary vote and the selection of the men and women who will go to the national convention as delegates and alternates. State law requires that our delegates vote at the national convention for the candidate supported by a plurality of primary voters in the state or in each congressional district. Based on that law, six members of the Oklahoma delegation are bound to Mike Huckabee and 32 are bound to John McCain.

But the campaigns don't select the delegates who will cast those votes. The delegates and alternates are elected by the five congressional district conventions (3 delegates and 3 alternates each) and the state convention (on May 3, electing 23 delegates and 23 alternates). For example, if I ran for delegate in this Saturday's 1st Congressional District Convention and was elected, I would be bound to vote for Mike Huckabee at the national convention even though I had been a Fred Thompson supporter. If Huckabee formally withdrew and released his delegates, he would encourage his delegates to rally around McCain, but I would be free to vote for Thompson, myself, or anyone else.

The Ron Paul plan is to exploit this situation by flooding these conventions, being stealthy about their intentions, running for delegate positions but not identifying themselves as Ron Paul supporters. They will try to elect their people to uncommitted seats (principally in caucus states) or to delegate positions that are bound to candidates that have withdrawn or suspended their campaigns. In some states they will seek to alter the party rules so that all delegates are unbound, notwithstanding the primary result, then elect their people to the delegate positions. In other states, the delegates will be unbound if no candidate has a majority on the first ballot at the convention. If they can break off enough delegates from McCain using these strategies to deny him a majority on the first ballot, many more delegates will be released to vote for whomever they wish. This web page, "Ron Paul will STILL win, the GOP can't possibly STOP US ALL!" lines out the strategy:

So, lets lay it out REALLY simple. How can YOU become a delegate? FIRST thing you need to do right NOW is to call your local county GOP, pay up your dues ($25/yr for me), and tell them that you want to become a delegate. Tell them that the reason you want to is because you don't want to see either Hillary or Obama as your president. The last thing you want to do is mention Dr. Paul. If you have to LIE, tell them you support McCain, then if you make it to state just say you changed your mind! Be cordial, and ask also if there is any way you can help or volunteer. My last meetup group was VERY informative. It was explained to me that the GOP is just a SHELL of itself. The APATHY of the voting process in many states has taken it's toll on the Republican Party. What this means is that voter apathy, while once thought of as our biggest obstacle, is now our ACE IN THE HOLE my fellow revolutionaries! We can TAKE OVER the Republican Party, quite easily, and UN-BIND the delegates in our respective states (this is one of the policies that delegates vote on) and nominate Dr. Paul at the Republican National Convention!

A reader has forwarded to me a link to a site called Ron Paul Exposed, with a list of the members of the Oklahoma Ron Paul Meetup group and excerpts from some of the group's chats about convention strategy. So far the Ron Paul people have dominated two congressional district conventions here in Oklahoma, getting several of their people elected as delegates and alternates to the national convention.

Remember that Paul only received 3.34% of the vote in the presidential preference primary. He received about 20% of the vote in a straw poll taken during the Tulsa County precinct caucuses. His supporters will succeed in getting elected as delegates only if the non-Ron Paul supporters don't bother to show up at the convention, assuming that this year's conventions will be like past years'.

Less than 5% of Republican primary voters nationwide supported Paul. It would take years, probably decades, of concerted effort to transform public opinion to line up with his views. Paul's supporters should run for office, volunteer for campaigns and to man party headquarters, and otherwise participate in public life. They should ally with other political groups when a common goal can be found. It took 16 years for conservatives to get from Barry Goldwater's landslide defeat to Ronald Reagan's landslide victory and even then Reagan's ability to change Washington was limited.

Ron Paul's supporters are welcome to participate in the convention process. If they do so in a constructive and open way, they can have an influence on the future direction of the party. If they instead use stealth and deception, they will fail and in the process demolish any possibility of building coalitions and moving incrementally toward the kind of changes they seek.

Larry David, a lefty (but the comedic genius behind Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm), reacts to the Hillary Clinton "3 a.m." ad:

I watched, transfixed, as she took the 3 a.m. call...and I was afraid...very afraid. Suddenly, I realized the last thing this country needs is that woman anywhere near a phone. I don't care if it's 3 a.m. or 10 p.m. or any other time. I don't want her talking to Putin, I don't want her talking to Kim Jong Il, I don't want her talking to my nephew. She needs a long rest. She needs to put on a sarong and some sun block and get away from things for a while, a nice beach somewhere -- somewhere far away, where there are...no phones.

(Hat tip: Joe Kelley.)

Local angle: David suggests Obama run an ad featuring "a montage of Clinton's Sybillish personalities that have surfaced during the campaign," and he illustrates the point with a montage of scary Hillary pictures assembled by Tulsa's own Don Danz of danzfamily.com.

Evidently a lot of folks share David's trepidation about Hillary picking up the Hotline in the middle of the night. Here's the ad, with focus group reactions from Hillary supporters, Obama supporters, and undecideds. Watch what happens when Hillary appears on screen:

(Via Hot Air.)

Obama akbar!

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There is no God but Obama and Mrs. Obama is his prophet!

michelleobama.jpg

(AP photo from April 16, 2007, found at Salon.)

From the First Lady aspirant's recent speech at UCLA:

Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

You have to stay at the seat at the table of democracy with a man like Barack Obama not just on Tuesday but in a year from now, in four years from now, in eight years from now, you will have to be engaged.

Jim Geraghty reacts:

Does anybody on the left side of the aisle find this rhetoric a little creepy? Isn't this describing an authoritarian presidency way beyond anything George W. Bush has done or proposed?

Do the powers of the presidency really encompass everything Michelle says Obama wants and plans to do? Based on this rhetoric, isn't he actually running for messiah?

Here's the non-sailor-blush-inducing part of Ace's reply:

Pardon the overstatement, but this is creepy stuff, suggesting, as it does, that your lives are now required to have meaning and purpose -- and that the government will be providing that meaning and purpose to you.

Via See-Dubya, who says it gets weirder:

But that's not what got some people I know fired up. My dad called me from Oklahoma last night to ask if I'd seen the Obamessiah's victory speech. I hadn't--still haven't--but the laid-back See-Dad was seriously freaked, noting that the rhetoric and atmosphere was "like a Nazi rally", "full-bore socialism", "like Stalin", and the guy kept it up for 45 minutes like Castro. And as soon as it was over a family friend, a cattleman of some means and again, a calm demeanor, had called him to ask "Did you see that?"

Donkey songs

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This Hillary jingle seems to have zoomed straight out of the '70s. Kept expecting to see little pre-op Michael Jackson spinning and strutting with Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon.

As Democratic presidential fan jingles go, I still rather listen to (and watch!) Super Obama Girl:

(For all her super power, Super Obama Girl wasn't able to zip over to her polling place on Super Tuesday.)

Actually, this might be the best Democratic presidential music video: Christmas with Mike Gravel. (And he's still in the race!) (Mild language warning.)

One more, from the makers of Super Obama Girl. This makes John McCain look kind of lovable:

Potomac Primary

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Tomorrow, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia will vote in a sort of regional presidential primary -- very handy for the campaigns, who will be able to maximize the value of ad time purchased on Washington television. On the Republican side, Virginia and DC are winner-take-all, awarding 63 and 16 delegates respectively. Maryland is winner-take-all by congressional district: 3 delegates for winning each of eight congressional districts, and 13 statewide delegates. The RNC members for all three jurisdictions, who are ex officio national convention delegates, will be bound to the winner of their respective jurisdictions.

Virginia has an open primary. Will centrist, Independent types, John McCain's electoral bread and butter, decide the Republican primary is all but over and decide to use their influence in the Hillary-Obama war? Will that allow Huckabee to sneak in and take Virginia?

Maryland and DC have systems much like Oklahoma's -- they have closed primaries, the registration books close a few weeks before the election, and there are restrictions on when you can change parties.

John McCain, by my estimate, has only 683 delegates bound to vote for him. Including tomorrow's delegates at stake, there remain only 725 bindable delegates to be allocated. He will need to win 70% of those remaining delegates in order to be guaranteed the nomination.

Last Saturday, Mike Huckabee was the only delegate winner, taking the 36 Kansas delegates at stake. The Washington event was a non-binding straw poll.

Huckabee might have won 20 more in the Louisiana primary, but he fell short of the required 50% of the vote. That means all of Louisiana's delegates will be elected at Saturday's state convention. They will not be bound in any way, but the state convention will likely choose national delegates based on presidential preference. Which candidate the state convention is likely to support is unclear, as the bulk of the delegates to the state convention were elected on a "pro-family, pro-life" uncommitted slate.

MORE: Jim Geraghty links to a good explanation of the actual process in Saturday's Washington State precinct caucuses and why the reported straw poll results are meaningless in determining the makeup of the state's delegation to St. Paul. What the Sound Politics blogger says about the Washington caucuses is true in other caucus states where non-binding straw polls have been taken, such as Iowa, Maine, Nevada, and Minnesota.

Just heard it again on Fox News: Karl Rove stated earlier in the week that Mike Huckabee would have to win 85% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination. I'm not sure how Rove came up with that number, but I looked through the remaining contests at thegreenpapers.com. Including today's events in Kansas and Louisiana, there are only 781 delegates remaining that will be bound to any candidate. John McCain currently has 683 delegates. McCain will have to win 72% of the remaining delegates that could be bound to a candidate in order to go into the convention with a sure majority.

The 608 unbound delegates will have been elected in caucuses and conventions and are more likely to reflect the GOP grassroots distaste for McCain's record. If Huckabee can win about 600 delegates, things could be interesting in St. Paul.

Kansas Republicans held their presidential caucuses today. The event might be better described as a party-run primary.

At the Iowa, Maine, and Nevada caucuses, a straw poll was taken, a "winner" was declared, but in fact no national convention delegates were bound to support any candidate. The process of selecting national convention delegates in those states will involve county, district, and state conventions, and at each phase, it will be up to those voting to decide whether presidential preference will play any part in their choice of delegates to represent their state in St. Paul in September.

But in Kansas, as in North Dakota and Montana on Tuesday, the results of the poll of caucus-goers will bind the national convention delegates to support a certain candidate. The winner in each congressional district will win three delegates, and the winner statewide, if he has also won two of the four CDs, will win all the at-large delegates, including the three national committee members. While the CD delegates would have been awarded to the top vote-getter, even if that person had less than 50%, the 24 statewide delegates would only be bound to a candidate winning a true majority; otherwise they would be uncommitted at the national convention.

The official website for the Kansas Republican caucuses now has the final results: Huckabee won all four CDs, ranging from 53% to 67%, with just shy of 60% statewide. McCain's best performance was 27% in the 3rd CD, his worst was 18% in the fourth, mirroring Huckabee's weakest and strongest showings. So Huckabee will have all 36 Kansas delegates at the national convention. The results then:

Huckabee, 11,627, 59.6%
McCain, 4,587, 23.5%
Paul, 2,182, 11.1%
Romney, 653, 3.3%
Keyes, 288, 1.4%
Uncommitted, 84, 0.4%
Thompson, 61, 0.3%

The BatesLine Strict-Constructionist Delegate Count now has:

McCain 683
Huckabee 194
Romney 143
Paul 11
Uncommitted 12

This is subject to revision, as many of the Tsunami Tuesday states allocate delegates proportionally and by congressional district, and congressional district results have been hard to find. It has also been hard to find specifics on the method by which proportional delegates would be allocated in each state.

I have put the 12 national delegates elected at the Wyoming county conventions in the uncommitted column. 8 county conventions elected a Romney supporter, 3 elected a Thompson supporter, and 1 elected a Hunter supporter. These delegates were always free to change their minds, and now that the three candidates are out of the race, they are no longer bound even by the declarations of support made at the county conventions. The formally bound primary delegates won by Romney are still in his column since he has officially only suspended his campaign and has not released them.

Given the result in Kansas, it's reasonable to wonder what might have happened in two neighboring states, Missouri and Oklahoma, had Romney not been in the race. Huckabee might have won 90 delegates that instead wound up in McCain's column.

Louisiana's primary today will allocate 20 delegates, but only if a candidate receives a true majority of the statewide vote. Otherwise those 20 delegates will be uncommitted. There are 24 more national delegates to be selected at next Saturday's state convention. The delegates to the state convention were elected at district conventions on January 22, and a majority of those elected were from a pro-family, uncommitted slate. Some of those uncommitted state delegates have announced for McCain, but there has been some controversy.

The Washington caucuses today will not result in any national delegates being bound to a presidential candidate. As in Iowa, Maine, and Nevada, the real delegate decisions won't be made until a state convention in May. A primary on Feb. 19 will allocate 19 delegates, one to the winner of each CD, and 10 allocated proportionately statewide.

UPDATE: Here's video of Sen. Tom Coburn introducing John McCain:

Here's the transcript. From Coburn's office:

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn's speech at CPAC

February 7, 2008

As prepared for delivery

I'm honored by the invitation to be here today. I want to thank each of you for your devotion to our country, and for the sacrifices you have made to participate in this event.

I have the privilege today to say a few words about John McCain, a man of rare courage and character, who I believe is uniquely equipped to lead our nation through the difficult challenges ahead.

As conservatives, I know that most of us are sick and tired of politicians who tell us what we want to hear then govern in the opposite way. We won't have that problem with John McCain. He may not always tell us what we want to hear, but he will say what he means and do what he says.

John McCain has the unique blend of character, guts, and experience to tackle the two greatest challenges facing our country - radical Islamic extremism and the looming financial catastrophe that will hit our economy when the Baby Boomers retire.

The fact is, we haven't had a president over the last eight years who had the guts to take on the excesses of a Republican and Democrat Congress. Our government wastes $200 billion every year. Every year. John McCain will lead a top down review of everything government does and actually cut wasteful and duplicative spending. If we don't elect a president who will challenge the excesses of Congress we will wreck our economy. John McCain will heed Will Durant's warning that, "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within."

I trust John McCain because he possesses the rarest virtue in politics upon which all else depends - courage. He has risked his political life during this presidential campaign. In defense of the unpopular surge in Iraq, John McCain said, "I'd rather lose the presidency than lose the war." John McCain may win the presidency precisely because he was willing to let it go in service to his country.

Courage matters most in Washington, especially when dealing with Congress. Just as no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, no presidential agenda - however conservative - survives contact with Congress. John McCain has the courage, grit and conviction to tell Congress no and fight for the reforms we need to secure our future.

Maybe it's John McCain's disregard for his own personal political safety and the opinions of other politicians that led an appropriator to say the thought of McCain presidency sends chills down their spine. Anything that sends a chill down the spines of big spenders in Congress should warm the heart of every American taxpayer.

Other critics have said that John McCain stood in the way of the conservative GOP agenda. But, as conservatives, we have to look at the whole picture. In fact, due to a failure of leadership in Congress, I'm not sure we've had a comprehensive GOP conservative agenda since 1995.

Was the Bridge to Nowhere and an explosion of earmarks part of the GOP conservative agenda? John McCain was one of only 11 Republicans who supported me in my fight to kill the Bridge to Nowhere. Most Republicans were marching off the bridge we were trying to de-fund. What John McCain's record tells me is that we won't have to wait until the last year of his presidency to see him pick a fight with Congress over wasteful Washington spending. John McCain will declare war on pork - the gateway drug to spending addiction in Congress - on day one. There will be no earmarks for teapot museums, First Lady Libraries and taxpayer-funded hippie flashbacks in a McCain administration.

The new prescription drug entitlement our party leadership pushed on us was part of the GOP agenda but it wasn't part of the conservative agenda. John McCain had the foresight to vote against Medicare Part D, the largest entitlement expansion since Lyndon Johnson, when many Republicans were AWOL. John McCain believes Congress should keep the promises it has already made before making new promises it can't keep. He also has the most comprehensive and conservative health care reform plan of any candidate. John McCain will fight the government-run, universally-controlled health plans supported by Clinton and Obama with common sense, free-market principles that work.

Even if John McCain has taken some positions we don't like as conservative, I don't believe you can ignore the fact that he took many bold stands against the Big Government Republican agenda that destroyed our majority. When most Republicans were trying to build a governing majority through pork - and were growing the government faster than the Democrats who came before us - John McCain was pushing the party in the opposite direction on key issues.

Let me touch on some other issues.

On judges, I wouldn't have endorsed John McCain if I wasn't confident he will nominate judges like the ones he has voted to confirm in the Senate: Bork, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. I also know that he shares my desire to see the Senate approve conservative judges now.

On immigration, John McCain was trying to solve a problem which, incidentally, hasn't improved much. He listened and learned and decided the facts were on our side. He doesn't have a secret plan to enact blanket amnesty as president. And, if he did, he knows I'd kill it.

McCain-Feingold misdiagnosed the real problem as too much money to politicians rather than politicians whose votes are for sale. Even though I disagreed with McCain-Feingold, John McCain's desire to tackle corruption in the congressional neighborhood was correct. The source of Washington's corruption isn't K Street; it's Congress' lack of restraint, and John McCain has taken bold steps to tackle that problem at its source.

Still, I have to say that the concerns I hear about John McCain pale in comparison to the two greatest challenges facing our country - terrorism and a Congress that refuses to correct our unsustainable fiscal course. If we get all of those other issues right but those two issues wrong we won't survive as a nation. John McCain's record on the issues that are paramount to our future is a record conservatives can support. John McCain also has a conservative record on what is arguably the transcendent social issue of our time: the sanctity of life. He has been pro-life for 24 years and has record that matches his principles.

And, on national security, John McCain is by far the most qualified candidate on either side. He will meet not only the security challenges we know about but, more importantly, those we don't know about. Tyrants and terrorists will think twice about challenging the United States with John McCain in the White House.

Is John McCain perfect? No. Will we disagree with him sometimes? Yes. But, elections are about choices. I'd be happy to debate anyone who thinks staying home or supporting Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is a better choice for our future than John McCain.

Now, I'd ask you to welcome the person who is best equipped to talk about his own record and vision for the future, the next President of the United State, John McCain.

I trust Tom Coburn to have the right motivations, and he knows John McCain from working side-by-side with him. I wouldn't expect Coburn to be swayed by personal or social considerations. Still, it's possible Coburn is overlooking some facts that might change his perspective. What do you think?

So far this evening, all but three of my predictions have been borne out: McCain won in Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, New York. Huckabee won in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Romney won in Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, and Utah. (Romney appears to have also won non-binding straw polls at caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota.)

McCain appears to have won by a very slim margin in winner-take-all Missouri. With 3355 of 3371 precincts reporting according to the Missouri elections website, McCain has an 8,000-vote lead. In percentages, McCain 32.9, Huckabee 31.6, Romney 29.3. Talk about a situation that cries out for Instant Runoff Voting! Suppose the other 9 candidates had not been on the ballot -- depending on where their voters went, you could have had any possible order of finish among the top three.

McCain also won here in Oklahoma, 36.7% to 33.4% for Huckabee and 24.78% for Romney with 2194 of 2220 precincts reporting. It's close enough that it's possible that Huckabee won one or two of the congressional districts, but we can't tell because, unusually, the Oklahoma State Election Board has only posted statewide totals. Normally they show returns by county, which lets you know which parts of the state have reported and which have yet to come in.

At this point, I'd like to say, "See, I told you so." Huckabee had the best shot of beating McCain here. He had a base from which to start, while Romney had been in single digits here until Thompson left the race. Romney was not going to be able to peel off enthusiastic supporters who had been with Huckabee since before Iowa.

The national conservative commentariat boosted Romney's numbers in the South with the mantra, "A vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain," but only enough to make it close for Huckabee where he won and to cost him Missouri and Oklahoma.

Here's how effective that slogan was: Someone I know who lives in Arkansas and who is a Huckabee fan and supporter wrote to say she'd voted for Romney because "a vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain." Huckabee won Arkansas with over 60% of the vote.

Someone who heard me on the radio Tuesday morning, whom I won't embarrass by naming -- although I reserve the right to publish, with name and e-mail address, any especially funny hate mail you send me -- wrote me this note about my explanation of the state-by-state situation and the importance of tactical voting:

Your logic for voting for Huckebee makes about as much sense as voting for Satin. I have been an avid listener of KFAQ for years now and have always agreed with you but after hearing the crap I heard this morning from both you and Chris Medlock appalled me as a conservative. Yeah, let's give as many delegates to Huckebee, the candidate that has a snow balls chance in hell of winning the nomination!! You should be encouraging voters to vote for the only candidate that has a chance of winning the nomination! Instead you & Chris encourage the voters to vote for the likes of Huckebee and give all the delegates from OK to Huckebee instead of rallying behind a candidate that has a true chance of beating McCain. I am seriously thinking of turning my radio off in the morning to KFAQ and go back to 740 at least while the morning show is on!!!!!! Because after the CRAP I heard this morning it makes me really question listening to KFAQ's morning show!!!

You might want to read the below transcript from Rush Limbaugh - YOU and CHRIS could learn something from HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow!!!!!111!!eleventyone!! I'd vote for satin, but only if silk wasn't also on the ballot.

I wrote back:

In my opinion, Romney has too much ground to make up in order to win in Oklahoma. The latest SurveyUSA poll, taken over the weekend, had McCain at 37, Huckabee at 32, and Romney far back at 23. So Huckabee only needs to make up 5 points to win Oklahoma and deny those delegates to McCain, while Romney would have to make up 14 points. Huckabee has a certain core support in the state which has been fairly constant, and while Romney has gained some ground since Thompson left the race, I don't think he's likely to cut into Huckabee's base enough to overtake McCain. Instead, Romney would just succeed in splitting the conservative vote and letting McCain squeak by with a tiny plurality.

That SurveyUSA poll was almost dead on. Locally-based Sooner Poll, which had McCain at 41 and Huckabee and Romney far back at 19 and 17, needs to recalibrate.

Another oddity about the Oklahoma vote -- John Edwards gets 10%. Dissatisfaction with the field? Are these DINOs who always vote for the GOP candidate in November?

California polls haven't been closed long. Nearly all of the delegates will be allocated based on congressional district results, but so far, McCain is leading in every single district. What's curious is that Giuliani is winning 10 to 15% of the vote in nearly every district. Most likely this is an artifact of early voting. Remember that Giuliani was leading here until he dropped out after Florida. Here's another case where Instant Runoff Voting would have helped; it would have allowed early voters who liked Giuliani to still have a say in the choice between McCain and Romney.

There are a few California districts -- and it's early yet -- where Huckabee may have cost Romney some delegates.

One more thing about Oklahoma: I read on NRO's Corner that the South's support for Huckabee is because of a large number of evangelicals who could never vote for a Mormon. It's worth pointing out that just two years ago, Oklahoma Republicans gave a Mormon the nomination for governor, with a clear majority of the vote in a race against two well-qualified opponents (one an evangelical and one a Catholic). The difference between Ernest Istook and Mitt Romney for Oklahoma conservatives: Istook was a consistent conservative from his days in talk radio to his years in Congress. There were no flip-flops or conveniently-timed conversions.

On the second ballot at the Republican state convention, Mike Huckabee was awarded the 18 West Virginia national convention delegates at stake today.

Here's the first ballot result:

Mitt Romney had 464 votes (41%)
Mike Huckabee had 375 votes (33%)
John McCain had 176 votes (16%)
Ron Paul had 118 votes (10%)

Convention rules allowed only the top three vote getters to move forward, so Paul was eliminated. The second ballot result:

Mitt Romney has 521 votes
Mike Huckabee has 567 votes
John McCain has 12 votes

It's surprising that McCain's supporters defected to other candidates, rather than sticking with their man through a second round. Had no one received a majority on the second ballot, the top two would have gone on to a third round.

So the first item in my rosy scenario has come true. The next waypoint is Georgia, where polls close at 6 p.m. Central, and where the latest poll has Huckabee and McCain tied at 32% each, with Romney close behind at 29%.

The last poll taken in Oklahoma before today's primary was done over the weekend. SurveyUSA interviewed 445 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters on Feb. 2 and 3, with all surveys completed before the Super Bowl kickoff.

The percentages: McCain 37, Huckabee 32, Romney 23, Paul 3, Other 2, Undecided 2. McCain's support remained level from the previous week's SurveyUSA poll, Huckabee gained 4 points, and Romney gained 4, while Paul lost 3. Huckabee leads McCain by three points among voters under 50 (49% of the overall sample), but trails McCain by seven points among voters over 50. Huckabee's strongest group is voters 35-49 -- he leads McCain by 8 points. McCain does best among voters over 65. Of self-described conservatives (68% of the sample), Huckabee had 37%, McCain 29%, Romney 28%.

What this seems to show is movement toward Huckabee, who is firmly in second place, nine points ahead of Romney, and Huckabee appears to be the only candidate with a chance of overtaking John McCain and winning Oklahoma. As I explained earlier, Oklahoma Republicans who want anyone other than McCain to be our nominee are best served by casting a tactical vote for Huckabee. These new poll numbers confirm that judgment.

Final polls elsewhere show a tightening of the race in the five other southern states. Huckabee leads in Alabama, is tied with McCain in Georgia, and is two points behind McCain in Missouri and Tennessee. Huckabee should have no trouble winning his home state of Arkansas.

In the South at least, a vote for Romney is a vote for McCain to sew up the nomination today. A vote for Huckabee is a vote to keep the door open for anyone but McCain to emerge as the nominee.

SurveyUSA also polled Oklahoma Democrats: Clinton 54, Obama 27, other 15, undecided 3. Hillary Clinton leads in every category. The only place it's close is among 18-34 year olds, where she has only a four-point lead over Barack Obama.

A friend asked me about the candidates for Office 3 on the Tulsa Technology Center board and for Union Public Schools, specifically about their party registration and background. School board races are non-partisan, but party registration is a piece of information that some voters like to have.

You may also want to look over the complete questionnaire responses submitted to the Tulsa World and the League of Women Voters (400 KB PDF).

Bea Cramer, the incumbent, is the only Republican running for the Tulsa Tech seat. Tim Bradley and Mitchell Garrett are Democrats. Garrett, son of Muskogee trial lawyer David Garrett, parachuted into House District 23 to run against State Rep. Sue Tibbs in 2004. During that election campaign Mitchell Garrett was simultaneously registered as a voter in both Tulsa and Muskogee Counties.

The incumbent for Union Public Schools Office 3 filed for re-election, but Jim Williams announced on January 24 that he was withdrawing his candidacy. His name will still appear on the ballot. The only other candidate is Albert Shults, a Republican. The choice for voters in the Union district is to elect Shults or to let the other board members pick a replacement for Williams. If Williams is re-elected, he would presumably resign, with the vacancy to be filled by the board.

In Broken Arrow, both Keven Rondot (the incumbent, appointed to an unexpired term about a year ago) and Shari Wilkins are registered Republicans.

In Glenpool, the incumbent, Michael J. Thompson is a Democrat; Kenneth Ball is a Republican.

In Jenks, Joseph Hidy, the incumbent, and Kanna Adams, are both Republicans.

In Liberty, Richard L. Moore, Jr., the incumbent, is a Republican, and Billie Blackburn is a Democrat.

In Sperry, Tim Teel, the incumbent, and Derrell Morrow are both Republicans.

In Tulsa, Radious Y. Guess and Brian T. Hunt are both Republicans. (No incumbent -- it's an open seat.)

Tsunami Tuesday guide

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I don't do predictions, but I will set out a rosy scenario: If John McCain is to be stopped from all but clinching the nomination, the following is the way the evening would need to unfold.

All times Central. Delegate numbers will differ from what you see elsewhere, because I only include delegates who will be elected or bound by tomorrow's events. In many states with binding primaries, the state's three RNC members are not bound to any candidate. I am relying on the excellent The Green Papers website, along with state election board and state Republican party websites, for information on rules, delegate counts, and poll-closing times.

Going into Tuesday:

The BatesLine Strict-Constructionist Delegate Count has McCain with 86 delegates, Romney with 32, Huckabee with 13, Thompson 3, and Hunter 1. That accounts for primaries in NH, MI, SC, and FL, and the Wyoming county conventions which elected 12 delegates. I don't make any estimates based on the straw polls taken at the Iowa, Nevada, or Maine caucuses; the real decisions about national delegates won't be made until later stages of the process and will be influenced by what happens between now and then.

Sometime during the day:

West Virginia state convention (official website): It's only for 18 delegates, but this could be the most fun event of the entire day. The state party designed a process that got thousands of West Virginia Republicans to register and vote for state delegates online and got the attention of the major candidates. Huckabee, Romney, and Paul are all showing up to speak; former La. Gov. Buddy Roemer will speak on McCain's behalf. Over a thousand delegates have been certified; most were selected earlier this month by Internet voting. The candidates for state delegate identified themselves by their presidential preference. Elected officials and members of county and state executive committees make up the rest of the convention.

If no one has a majority after the first ballot, the top three will go on to the second ballot. If no one gets a majority again, a third ballot between the top two will decide the winner of all 18 delegates. (A later primary will choose 9 more delegates.) As of January 18, before Thompson and Giuliani left the race, 520 were uncommitted, Romney 184, Huckabee 132, Thompson 103, Paul 68, Giuliani 41, McCain 12, Hunter 4. It's wide open, and it may come down to how well the candidates connect with the delegates in their speeches. For that reason, I'll predict that Huckabee will win. Huckabee 18.

6:00 p.m.

Georgia primary: 33 statewide delegates (including 3 RNC members who are bound to the statewide winner), 39 congressional district delegates. Winner-take-all by congressional district and statewide. Huckabee wins statewide, but by a very close margin, taking 9 of 13 CDs, losing 3 CDs to McCain and one to Romney. Huckabee 60, McCain 9, Romney 3.

7:00 p.m.

Alabama primary: 24 statewide delegates, 21 congressional district delegates (3 each for seven districts). Proportional allocation with a 15% threshold. Breaking 50% wins all the delegates. Huckabee wins, but close enough that McCain takes a couple of congressional districts. Romney gets a proportion of the statewide delegates. Huckabee 23, McCain 16, Romney 6.

Connecticut primary: 27 delegates, winner-take-all. McCain 27.

Delaware primary: 18 delegates, winner-take-all. McCain 18.

Illinois primary: 57 congressional district delegates, with each district having 2, 3, or 4 delegates depending on how strongly they supported Bush in 2004. Ignore the statewide "beauty contest" vote. Voters will vote directly for delegates and alternates; each delegate candidate's presidential preference is listed on the ballot. Effectively this will be winner-take-all by congressional district. McCain wins statewide, but Romney wins several CDs downstate. McCain 33, Romney 24.

Massachusetts primary: 10 statewide delegates, 30 congressional district delegates (3 each for ten districts). Proportional allocation with a 15% threshold. Romney wins. Romney 27, McCain 13.

Missouri primary: 58 delegates, winner-take-all. Huckabee 58.

New Jersey primary: 52 delegates, winner-take-all. McCain 52.

Oklahoma primary: 23 statewide delegates, 15 congressional district delegates. Winner-take-all by congressional district and statewide. Huckabee wins statewide, but by a very close margin, winning CDs 1, 2, and 3. CDs 4 and 5 go to McCain. Huckabee 32, McCain 6.

Tennessee primary: 25 statewide delegates, 27 congressional district delegates (3 each for nine districts). Proportional allocation with a 20% threshold. Breaking 66% wins all the delegates. The ballot is daunting (PDF sample here of the ballot Instapundit will see in Knox County) -- you cast your presidential preference, then you vote for 12 statewide delegates and three congressional district delegates. Order of finish among delegates for a certain candidate determines who gets to go to St Paul. For example, if Huckabee gets 55% of the vote in a congressional district, the top two vote-getting Huckabee delegates in that CD are elected to go to the RNC. Huckabee wins, but everybody gets some delegates. Huckabee 27, McCain 16, Romney 9.

7:30 p.m.

Arkansas primary: 19 statewide delegates, 12 congressional district delegates (3 each for four districts). Proportional allocation with a 10% threshold. Breaking 50% wins all the delegates. Huckabee wins and breaks 50% in each of the congressional districts. Huckabee 31.

8:00 p.m.

New York primary: 87 delegates, winner-take-all. McCain 87.

9:00 p.m.

Arizona primary: 50 delegates, winner-take-all. McCain 50.

Utah primary: 36 delegates, winner-take-all. One of Romney's three home states. Romney 36.

10:00 p.m.

California primary: 11 statewide delegates, 159 congressional district delegates. Winner-take-all by congressional district and statewide. Romney wins, but McCain takes 20 congressional districts, winning heavily Democratic districts that don't contribute as much to the statewide total. Romney 110, McCain 60.

Montana presidential preference caucus: 25 delegates are at stake. Each county will hold a caucus. State, county, and local elected officials, and state, county, and precinct party officials will be the only eligible voters. The precinct party officials were elected at precinct caucuses back in December. Each county caucus will take a presidential preference vote toward the end of their meeting. Montana's delegates will be bound to the candidate with the most votes statewide. Caucus times vary, but all the results ought to be in by 10 p.m. our time. Romney should win this one. Romney 25.

North Dakota presidential preference caucus: 26 delegates are at stake. Polls will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. local time. Results are due in to state HQ by 10 p.m. Central. If someone gets two-thirds of the vote, they get all the delegates. Otherwise, delegates are allocated proportionately with a 15% threshold. No absentee ballots. (Sorry, Julie.) No polling. I'm guessing that Romney will win this one, but the other two will pick up delegates as well. Romney 12, McCain 9, Huckabee 5.

Other events:

Alaska Republican district conventions: Electing delegates to the state convention. No national delegates will be chosen and no straw poll will be taken, as far as I can find.

Colorado Republican precinct caucuses: A straw poll will be taken, but no national delegates will be chosen or allocated. Delegates will be elected to the county assemblies and district conventions, but they aren't likely to be selected based on presidential preference.

Minnesota Republican precinct caucuses: A straw poll will be taken, but no national delegates will be chosen or allocated. Delegates will be elected to the equivalent of county conventions, but they aren't likely to be selected based on presidential preference.

Bottom line:

In this admittedly rosy scenario, which requires anti-McCain forces to coalesce around the strongest alternative in each state, Huckabee would win 7 states, McCain 6, and Romney 5, but McCain would win 396 delegates, Huckabee 254, and Romney 252. McCain is doing best in winner-take-all states; Huckabee and Romney's best states have some degree of proportionality. This would bring the totals up to McCain 482, Romney 284, Huckabee 267.

If instead voters jump on McCain's bandwagon, he could easily win 12 of the 18 contests, and come away with over 600 delegates.

Bill Quick has the compiled the "List of Infamy" -- ten specific problems with John McCain's record, with links to backup material. Quick includes the McCain-Feingold bill against freedom of political speech, the McCain-Kennedy bill in support of open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens, McCain's attack on the veterans who served with John Kerry and exposed inconsistencies and misrepresentations in his account of his war record, his support for constitutional rights for enemy combatants, and his flirtations with leaving the Republican Party and handing control of the U. S. Senate over to left wing extremists.

If you're persuaded that Republicans should make the effort to deny John McCain the nomination, here's how to do it and how you can help.

MORE: Charlie Meadows of Oklahoma Conservative PAC, a Ron Paul supporter, had this say about strategic voting on Tuesday:

Let me say this. If you just can't bring yourself to vote for Ron Paul but you don't want to see John McCain win the delegates from Oklahoma, I would suggest you cast a strategic vote. Mike Huckabee started out with a large polling lead in Oklahoma. In recent weeks, McCain has closed the gap. For whatever reason, Romney just hasn't sparked much interest among Oklahomans.

Therefore, if stopping McCain is your highest priority, you should vote for Huckabee. The natural inclination to stop McCain would be to vote for Romney as the liberal media has succeeded in creating the perception, if not reality, that the race is coming down to two candidates, McCain (their pick) and Romney. However, Romney is too far behind in Oklahoma to overtake McCain, so a vote for Romney helps McCain as the two front runners in Oklahoma are he and Huckabee.

If you want to help Mike Huckabee in Oklahoma and other Southern states where he has the best chance to win and deny those delegates to John McCain, you can sign up as a "Huckabee Ranger" and make phone calls to voters in those key states. (I don't know if Mitt Romney has a similar program. I suspect he can afford paid phone calls to voters.)

Before heading off to the symphony, I was on the air once again with Elvis Polo for the first hour of his 6 to 9 pm Saturday night show on 1170 KFAQ, talking about the presidential race and Tsunami Tuesday, which includes Oklahoma's primary.

Elvis asked me if John McCain will have the nomination sewn up when Tuesday's results are counted. I said that there was still a way to stop his momentum and keep open the possibility of Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, or even -- if no one has a majority of delegates going into the convention -- someone else being the Republican nominee. But it will require some strategic thinking by the Republicans who vote on Tuesday.

It comes down to this: If you don't want McCain to be the nominee, you need to vote for the non-McCain candidate who has the best poll numbers in your state.

The people who are saying a vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain are wrong. That's only true in the states where Huckabee is in third place. In Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee, a vote for Romney would effectively be a vote to hand McCain the nomination on Tuesday.

In many of the states that are voting Tuesday, the poll numbers break down like this:

McCain - 35
2nd place candidate - 25
3rd place candidate - 15
Ron Paul - 5
Voters who can't support McCain but can't figure who to vote for - 20

The tricky thing is that Huckabee is that second place candidate in the Southern states and Romney is that second place candidate in the west and northeast.

Here's the problem: If a majority of voters in that undecided anti-McCain category move toward the 3rd place candidate, McCain wins with 35% of the vote. For example, assume that 20% breaks 11% for the 3rd place candidate and 9% for the 2nd place candidate:

McCain - 35
2nd place candidate - 34
3rd place candidate - 26
Ron Paul - 5

If that sort of thing happens in state after state on Tsunami Tuesday, McCain would manage a near sweep despite the fact that there are two Republican voters who don't want him as president for every one that does. The low winning percentage won't fit into a headline or a soundbite, and the TV networks would oversimplify the situation into a won-lost record. Romney and Huckabee would be practically finished, and McCain would be the nominee presumptive.

If instead, that 20% block of anti-McCain voters vote strategically for the second place candidate -- Huckabee in some states, Romney in others -- McCain would win only a state or two, and the rest would be split between the other two candidates. No one would come out of Tsunami Tuesday an overwhelming lead in the delegate count. The campaign would continue, with the possibility of new candidates entering later primaries and no one having a majority of delegates going into the Republican National Convention.

The most recent Oklahoma poll, done about a week ago by Survey USA, had McCain moving into the lead, Huckabee about where he had been two weeks earlier, and Romney moving up from single digits.

McCain 37
Huckabee 28
Romney 19
Giuliani 6
Paul 6
Other/Undecided 5

A look at the details shows that Romney's support is softest -- 48% say they could change their minds -- with McCain next at 42% and Huckabee at 39%. Huckabee's numbers have been pretty stable, suggesting that his supporters decided sometime ago, while Romney's backers in Oklahoma have only recently and reluctantly made him their choice. It seems possible for Huckabee to catch McCain here; Romney would have a much steeper hill to climb.

Here's the bottom line for Oklahoma voters:

If you're an Oklahoma Republican and want Mike Huckabee to have a chance at the nomination, vote for Huckabee. You won't be accidentally helping McCain.

If you're an Oklahoma Republican and want Mitt Romney to have a chance at the nomination, vote for Huckabee, even if you don't particularly like Huckabee. Huckabee has the best shot at denying McCain the delegates and the win here in Oklahoma and thus at slowing McCain's national momentum, which would give Romney the opportunity to fight on.

If you're an Oklahoma Republican and you don't like anyone left in the race -- this is my category --vote for Huckabee. Denying McCain a win here helps to stop his momentum and leaves the door open for a new candidate to be chosen at the convention.

Now all this second-guessing and predicting what your fellow voters will do would be unnecessary if we had a sensible voting system like Instant Runoff Voting, where you could vote your conscience secure in the knowledge that your vote will not inadvertently help your least preferred candidate. Using proportional delegate allocation, where you don't have to finish first to gain delegates, would be another way to make the delegate allocation more closely reflect the opinions of the voters.

An article by Newsweek science writer Sharon Begley points to a voting methods demonstration on the American Statistical Association website where you can vote by the traditional method (pick your favorite), by the approval method (check all candidates that are acceptable), and by the instant runoff method (rank the candidates in order). The election method used affects the order of finish. Begley writes:

For anyone who believes in democracy, this is a little disturbing. What it means is that "election outcomes can more accurately reflect the choice of an election rule than the voters' wishes," writes mathematician Donald Saari of the University of California, Irvine. One candidate could win with some rules and lose with others. In fact, as mathematicians analyze voting systems, they are turning up other oddities that can yield a "winner" who does not reflect the will of even a plurality, much less a majority. The discoveries are especially relevant this year. "The severity of the problem escalates with the number of candidates," notes Saari, and one thing this primary season has is a lot of still-viable candidates.

One of the most surprising aberrations mathematicians have found comes in a four-way race. There, of course, one candidate wins a plurality and another comes in last. Saari examines what happens if the third-place candidate drops out and, in the next round of voting, people have the same ordered preference as before (A is the first choice of the most, followed by B, then D).

She then presents a four-candidate scenario where one candidate dropping out completely inverts the order of finish using the traditional single-preference, first-past-the-post voting system.

While we can hope that the Republican convention rules committee will pass improvements to this system this fall, it will come too late for this campaign season.

However much they stink, the rules are what they are, and if you're an Oklahoman who doesn't want one of the least conservative Republicans in the Senate to get the nomination, you need to vote for Mike Huckabee on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Numbers USA, the anti-amnesty organization, explains when to vote for Romney and when to vote for Huckabee in order to cast an anti-McCain vote in each of Tuesday's states. The only disagreement with my list is Georgia, where more recent polling shows Huckabee, not Romney, in second place.

"I'll rely on people to judge me by the company that I keep." -- John McCain, January 30, 2008

I'd hope that, whatever one's opinion on how to deal with illegal immigration, all Americans would agree that the goal is that people coming to live in this country would become fully connected with the American language and culture and to think of themselves as Americans first.

Juan Hernandez doesn't agree. He holds dual citizenship in Mexico and the United States -- he was born in Texas -- and he served in the government of Mexican President Vicente Fox as a cabinet official, head of the President's Office for Mexicans Abroad. He is an advocate for a free flow of people across the US-Mexico border. He is an advocate for keeping Mexicans in the United States from "going native," from assimilating. Instead, Hernandez wants Mexican-Americans -- whether new immigrants or in the US for generations as citizens -- to continue to see themselves as Mexicans first and to retain a closer emotional, linguistic, and, most of all, financial bond to the country of their ancestors rather than the country where they have made their home.

John McCain has chosen Dr. Hernandez to be his director of Hispanic outreach.

Here's a montage of Dr. Hernandez's TV appearances which will give you a sense of the man and his views.

An interview of Hernandez by Michelle Malkin was excerpted in the above video. You can see the entire segment on this Hot Air entry. And here's an entry specifically on Hernandez turning a blind eye to identity theft. And here's more about Hernandez from Michelle Malkin's blog.

McCain claims that he learned his lesson after the conservative grassroots rose up last year to defeat his McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill. But the company he keeps with Dr. Juan Hernandez suggests otherwise.

On Tuesday, I'm voting for whichever candidate has a shot at finishing first in Oklahoma ahead of John McCain. (At the moment, that appears to be Mike Huckabee.) I want to stop his momentum toward the nomination. Part of it is that I don't want anyone to steamroll to a majority of delegates by finishing first with only 35% of the vote in a bunch of states. Part of it is that none of the remaining candidates are consistent conservatives, and I'd like to give the delegates at the national convention the chance to come up with a better choice.

There are plenty of reasons to admire John McCain, both for his military service and his service in Congress. He is solid on the War on Terror. From a conservative perspective, he would still be a better pick for President than whoever the Democrats nominate. But there are plenty of reasons why a McCain presidency would be the worst of any realistic option remaining to Republican primary voters. Between now and Tuesday I'll post some of those reasons here. Here's the first one:

In 2001, when the GOP was hanging by a thread to a majority in the Senate, John McCain negotiated with Senate Democratic leaders about leaving the Republican Party and organizing with the Democrats, giving the Democrats the majority and putting key Senate committee chairmanships in the hands of extreme left-wingers. (Via Ace of Spades HQ.)

At Tuesday's Republican caucuses in Tulsa County, a straw poll was taken. Here are the results:


Governor Mike Huckabee 28%
Governor Mitt Romney 27%
Congressman Ron Paul 25%
Senator John McCain 13%
Mayor Rudy Guiliani 4%
Congressman Tom Tancredo 1%
Congresman Duncan Hunter 1%
Alan Keyes .5%
Senator Fred Thompson .5%

You might notice that Congressman Paul had a strong showing of supporters at caucuses across the county -- more about that later.

The caucuses also selected delegates to the Tulsa County Convention on Feb. 23 and considered resolutions for the party platform. Note that the allocation of Oklahoma's delegates to the National Convention to presidential candidates is entirely dependent on the results of next Tuesday's primary.

Survey USA has a new tracking poll of 502 Oklahoma Republicans from Sunday which shows John McCain with 37%, Mike Huckabee with 28%, and Mitt Romney with 19%. That's an 11 point boost for Romney, a gain of 8 points for McCain, but a drop of only 3 points for Huckabee. Part of what we're seeing is the redistribution of Fred Thompson's 13% in the previous Survey USA poll from January 11-13. Giuliani's numbers also dropped from 11% to 6% -- I'd guess most of that went to McCain. The pollsters warn that Florida results today "can and will color what happens in Oklahoma and the other states voting on February 5. Expect further buffeting in future SurveyUSA tracking polls."

Keep an eye on the RealClearPolitics poll page for the Oklahoma Republican primary to see how the race develops.

Survey USA also polled Oklahoma Democrats -- Clinton leads with Edwards in second place. Clinton's margin has narrowed slightly in the last two weeks.

From a story in The Hill, about the possibility that John Edwards could be a kingmaker at the Democratic convention:

At the Democratic convention this August, delegates will be allowed to vote freely even if they are already pledged to a candidate, [Georgetown professor Stephen] Wayne explained. But he expected that Edwards's delegates would do his bidding.

Wayne said that Edwards's delegates have been "hand-picked" because of their loyalty.

"That loyalty would probably extend to the convention, though Democrats have a rule that would not impose loyalty," he explained.

Wayne, however, predicted that either Clinton or Obama would probably wrap up the nomination before the convention, but conceded "anything is possible."

If it's true that Democratic delegates aren't formally pledged to a candidate, that's news to me. In 1980, when Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter, Kennedy tried unsuccessfully to get a convention rule modified (rule 16(c), if memory serves) so that delegates were free to vote their conscience regardless of which candidate they had been bound to support.

Can anyone confirm whether Prof. Wayne is correct?

UPDATE: recyclemichael provides a link to this MyDD article, which cites specific party rules that seem to prove the point. And that article links to this August 12, 1980 New York Times article about Kennedy's rules maneuver at the 1980 convention. My memory was a bit off -- it was rule F(3)(c):

The rule that took force as a result of the vote reads as follows: F. Voting 3) Roll-Call Votes: (c) All delegates to the National Convention shall be bound to vote for the Presidential candidate whom they were elected to support for at least the first convention ballot, unless released in writing by the Presidential candidate. Delegates who seek to violate this rule may be replaced with an alternate of the same Presidential preference by the Presidential candidate or that candidate's authorized representative(s) at any time up to and including the Presidential balloting at the national convention.

Jackie Broyles is heartbroken, but Dunlap is determined to "take Fred Thompson and make Fred Thompson-aid":

You can bid on Jackie's painting of Fred on eBay. Don't miss the Q&A.

"Don't you want to see an old man's searing pain turned into a colorful conversation piece?"

Farewell, Fred

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It's official:

Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people.

James Taranto provides the traditional Bye-Ku:

They called him "tortoise"
But now the man with no hair
Has got out of ours

(That page has links to earlier Bye-Kus, and this page has Bye-Kus from 2004.)

For all the talk about lethargy and fire in the belly, what really seemed to be missing from the Thompson campaign was effective organization. Even for something as small scale as a race for City Council, you need someone with organizational skills and preferably some past campaign experience -- some idea of what needs to happen and when. There also has to be effective communication and coordination, and all this needs to be handled by someone other than the candidate, so that the candidate can focus on raising funds and meeting voters.

Supporters of Thompson are offering up numerous anecdotes that confirm that impression of the Fred 08 campaign. Fred had plenty of admirers who offered skills, time, and access to publicity, but the campaign had no effective means of harnessing all that good will.

See-Dubya:

I sent off a resume to the campaign in, oh, seems like about May, and never heard from them. Not even a thanks for your interest. I'd like to think there were a couple of things on my resume that would have caught their eye, and I was ready to move out of California (no great loss) but whatever. Obviously it didn't dampen my convictions that Fred was the right guy. Two weeks ago I was contacted about volunteering in California--speaking to media, that kind of thing--and I responded I'd be happy to. Nothing. Crickets.

Bryan Preston:

Early in the Fred Phenomenon I tried and tried and tried to lock in a sit-down with Fred to talk to Michelle on camera. This was last spring and summer, before his official announcement that he was even jumping in, when he lived in McLean, VA and wasn't running around the country campaigning. We were offering time here on Hot Air to make his case and show his stuff. But we could never get a straight answer out of the campaign. And this was in spite of the fact that I was promised more than once that we would get an interview, it was just a question of timing and logistics. It wasn't a case of getting the runaround. It just, from the outside, felt like there were an awful lot of moving parts that hadn't been attached to a functional machine yet.

It's surprising to me that the Thompson campaign never held (as far as I know) a teleconference to keep supportive bloggers in the loop -- many other campaigns have.

During the three-day filing period for the Oklahoma primary back in December, I became concerned when, at the end of the second day, Thompson's name wasn't on the list of candidates who had filed. I wanted to make sure the deadline hadn't escaped the campaign's attention, so I decided to call someone.

I went to the fred08.com website and could not find any contact information for a national campaign office. There were campaign offices listed for Iowa and New Hampshire, so I called the New Hampshire office. The apathetic-sounding young man on the phone said that the office's director was out, didn't know when he would be back, and not to worry, he was sure that the campaign knew about the situation and would take care of it.

I got better results when I called the Iowa office and spoke to a young woman who happened to be a native Tulsan. She promised to make some calls and to get back to me -- and she actually did. An e-mail to Steven Smith, who ran the Blogs for Fred mailing list, also got a quick response -- the campaign had filed already but had just learned that there was a problem with the paperwork.

At a Christmas reception I ran into a prominent Republican activist who had signed on early as a point of contact for the campaign in Oklahoma. I asked him how things were going and he gave me a kind of disgruntled shrug. He was hearing crickets, too.

About a week and a half ago I was contacted by Jamison Faught of the Muskogee County Republican Club. They were putting on a presidential forum, with representatives speaking on behalf of the Republican candidates. I was asked if I could show up that night to speak on Fred's behalf. Jamison told me that he had asked the Thompson campaign a month earlier to line up a speaker, and they contacted him the day before the forum to tell him they couldn't get anyone to do it. So Jamison took it upon himself to contact me and some other known Thompson supporters in Oklahoma to see if someone could step in at the last minute.

Remember that Thompson had been endorsed by Sen. Jim Inhofe, Congressman John Sullivan, Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud, former GOP state chairman Steve Edwards, and KFAQ morning hosts Gwen Freeman and Chris Medlock. Other activists and bloggers had announced their support for him. I'm amazed that the campaign did not have a list of available surrogates and well-connected activists to contact when opportunities like this arose. Not that I'm anything special, but I can string a few sentences together, and I have a means for getting information out. Within a few days of receiving a request for a speaker, Fred's supporters in Oklahoma should have heard from the campaign asking if we knew of anyone who could speak on his behalf at this event.

Steve Largent's 2002 campaign for governor had a similar problem. The professional campaign folks didn't seem to know what to do with the grassroots types who wanted to help Steve get elected. Contrast that with the Tom Coburn campaign two years later, which was very effective in leveraging grassroots support.

If any campaign should have been a model for Thompson, it was Coburn's successful campaign for Senate. Coburn entered the race reluctantly and late, in response to a great deal of encouragement from activists who were less than enthused about Kirk Humphreys. I wish I'd thought to make that point to someone in the campaign last summer, but I'm not sure I could have found the right person to carry that message where it needed to go.

For most of Fred's supporters (but not for all) the campaign's failure to plug us in effectively didn't dampen our desire to see him get elected. Thompson holds the right positions on nearly all the issues, and those positions have a solid underpinning in sound principle. Even when he's wrong on an issue, it's a difference of opinion on the application of a principle, not on the principle itself.

I'm sorry he's dropping out. He's still on the Oklahoma ballot, and I may still vote for him, but that will depend on how Florida affects the race. If a tactical vote for a different candidate can deprive the post-Florida front-runner of some delegates and momentum, I'll do that, as I think an open convention would be the best outcome for the Republicans this year.

MORE: Dan Paden weighs his options and settles on Huckabee.

Ace agrees about the core of Fred's appeal and tells Romney what he will have to do to pick up those voters:

A lot of former Fred supporters, and possible Romney supporters generally, acknowledge that Romney says mostly the right things. The trouble is, he seems to offer these glibly as crowd-pleasing platitudes, and they're not sure if he actually believes them.

Fred, I think, had a lot of enthusiasm because he didn't just say the right thing, he gave the right reason for believing the right thing (and the right subsidiary reason for believing the right reason). His conservatism, to many, was deeper. He didn't just have the conservative answer, but the underlying conservative assumptions supporting that answer.

If Mitt wants to seal the deal with a lot of conservatives out there, he'll offer a "What I Believe" type internet address, maybe 15 or even 20 minutes long, explaining his thinking. Not just the surface conservative conclusions, but the underlying conservative thinking. Heartfelt and inartful (not so much smiling, few applause lines, generally stodgy and somewhat wonky (at least in broad principles, not techno-wonky) and designed to appeal to conservative political geeks, not a general audience) would be the right tone.

Ace also has this intriguing entry on the "Dark Star" effect in political reporting: A reporter is made privy to a rumor about a candidate, believable but not substantial enough to report. He lets his colleagues in on the rumor, and it necessarily affects their attitude toward and coverage of the subject of the rumor, just as a large but invisible object like a black hole or dark star bends gravity. The effect can only be seen indirectly:

But the press also seems to suffer from the non-political bias of thinking they know more than they actually know, behaving as if a fact is "confirmed" when it hasn't been confirmed at all. And they don't actually print these Phantom Facts, knowing there's no actual confirmation of them -- technically abiding by the rules of journalism. But then they shape their coverage to reflect these unconfirmed Phantom Facts, putting these little nuggets of non-information out there through slant and angle.

Wouldn't it be far more honest to admit to this stuff right up front? Is it more "fair" or "honest" for the press to keep the rumors and beliefs secret from the public (and immune to refutation) while allowing these exact same rumors and beliefs to shape, distort, and (mis)inform its actual published news product?

"Immune to refutation" is key -- if the rumor isn't public, how can a candidate effectively rebut or refute it?

The rumor in Thompson's case is this, according to Fox News' Carl Cameron:

Back in March of 07 at the CPAC convention in DC several former Fred Thompson Congressional staffers told me Fred Thompson was thinking about a run. Some of his Tennessee cronies had been talking him up too.

I reported first that he was eyeing a White House bid. At the time several insiders told me OFF THE RECORD that it was largely a trial ballon to guage his popularity and float his name as a possible vice presidential nominee. I was sworn to silence.

Those insiders have now lifted the conditions on our conversations. From March to August of 07 through postponed announcement days, staff changes, firings, resignations and general disarray the Thompson camp was stunned by the incredibly positive response and didn't really know how to manage it. The trial balloon soared mighty high and he found himself being dragged into a race that he was not even sure how to run.

State of the race

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Moxie is puzzled:

I'm having a tough time understanding exactly WHO is voting in the Republican primaries and caucuses. Because it should be Republicans.

How is it that McCain, Romney and Huckabee keep winning, when good, solid conservatives like Duncan Hunter, Fred "sleepy" Thompson and RUDY barely register?

I wouldn't count Rudy as a good, solid conservative, but still, she has a point.

We haven't had one primary yet in which only registered Republicans are allowed to vote.

New Hampshire has registration by party, but allowed independents ("undeclared voters") to vote in either primary.

Michigan and South Carolina don't have registration by party. Michigan's Democratic primary was meaningless, so Democrats would have been tempted to vote in the Republican primary. South Carolina's Democratic primary isn't until next Saturday, so centrists may have decided to go ahead and vote in the Republican primary.

Florida's is the first primary where you must be a registered Republican to vote in the Republican primary.

Tonight's result is interesting because it appears that McCain and Huckabee each won three of South Carolina's six congressional districts. Huckabee won everything north of I-20 toward the mountains; McCain won everything to the south toward the ocean.

South Carolina is winner-take-all by congressional district. It is also one of the states that has been penalized with the loss of half its delegates for going too early, but it's not clear whether the lost delegates will be taken from the statewide delegates or from the congressional district delegates. If it's the former, then Huckabee wins 9 delegates and McCain wins 15. If it's the latter, then Huckabee wins 3 and McCain wins 21. I'm going to bet that the former method is used, but it may depend on which candidate has the most supporters in the state's Republican hierarchy.

CNN is keeping a delegate count and they are kind enough to show their work, detailing which delegates come from which states. I think they're wrong, however, in estimating the makeup of Iowa and Nevada delegations based on straw poll results at their caucuses. The preferences of the actual delegates elected to the convention won't be determined until those delegates are elected in April (for Nevada) and June (for Iowa).

An accurate delegate count should only include those delegates who are bound by primary results plus the announced preferences of delegates who have already been elected to go to the national convention. That means delegates bound by the New Hampshire, Michigan, and South Carolina primaries, plus the announced (but unbound) preferences of the 12 national delegates elected by Wyoming's county conventions two weeks ago, plus any announced (but unbound) preferences of Republican National Committee members who are national convention delegates ex officio.

NH: McCain 7, Romney 4, Huckabee 1
MI: Romney 20, McCain 7, Huckabee 3
SC: McCain 15, Huckabee 9

So that's McCain 29, Romney 24, Huckabee 13.

Add in the
Wyoming results: 9 of the delegates elected at their county conventions said they support Romney, 3 said they support Thompson, and 1 said he supports Hunter. They are free to change their minds between now and the national convention in September, and they may well do so. Adding them in anyway, we get to Romney 33, McCain 29, Huckabee 13, Thompson 3, Hunter 1.

CNN says they've surveyed RNC members and 6 support Romney, 3 support Huckabee, and 1 supports Giuliani. They are free to change their minds before the convention.

I wonder if CNN is only surveying RNC members who have already been re-elected. Two of Oklahoma's three RNC members won't be running for re-election; their replacements will be elected in May at the state convention.

Still, counting those in, we end up at Romney 39, McCain 29, Huckabee 16, Thompson 3, Hunter 1, Giuliani 1. 1,191 is how many you need to be nominated.

So McCain leads in terms of bound delegates, Romney leads when you include elected, unbound delegates who have announced a preference.

Florida's 57 delegates will go to the candidate with the highest vote total -- winner-take-all statewide.

On February 5, here's how it breaks down. (Delegates bound by the primary vote listed in parentheses. * means RNC members are bound.)

Winner-take-all, statewide: Arizona (50), Connecticut (27), Delaware (24*), Montana (25*), Missouri (58*), New Jersey (52*), New York (87), Utah (36*), West Virginia (18)

Winner-take-all, statewide and by congressional district: California (170), Georgia (72), Oklahoma (38)

Proportional allocation: Alabama (45), Arkansas (31), Massachusetts (40), North Dakota (26*), Tennessee (40)

Elected, but unbound: Illinois (57)

Montana and West Virginia are odd cases. Montana holds county conventions involving about 2,000 party officials statewide. A presidential preference poll will be taken and the winner will control all 25 delegates. West Virginia is holding a state convention. A roll call will be taken and if no one has 50% or more, they hold a second ballot with the top three candidates, and if necessary hold a third ballot with the top two. The candidate that prevails takes 18 delegates. Nine more will be allocated in the May primary.

Illinois has a "beauty contest" primary, but voters also elect national delegates, whose presidential preferences will be listed on the ballot. It appears that, like the Wyoming delegates, presidential preference may help a delegate get elected, but he isn't bound to stay with that preference at the convention.

So that's 812 more delegates bound and another 57 elected but not bound on Super Duper Tuesday.

Earlier tonight, Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes interviewed Sen. Fred Thompson on their Fox News program. Hannity kept coming back to horse-race type questions and to the baseless allegation that Thompson, in taking on Mike Huckabee during last Thursday's debate, was only acting as a stalking horse for John McCain.

Hannity asked three times, in one form or another, whether Thompson would now "go after McCain," who is leading in the South Carolina polls. Each time, Thompson replied that he already has been drawing distinctions between his positions and McCain's, had done so during Thursday's debate, and would continue to do so. He pointed out that Huckabee had been in the lead before Thursday and so that's where he focused his attention, but not exclusively. Thompson's response was clear, and it debunked the idea that he was somehow in cahoots with McCain.

Just a few minutes ago, at about 11:30 central, Hannity was interviewing Newt Gingrich, and Hannity said that he'd asked Thompson three times if he was going to go after McCain, but Thompson didn't answer the question.

I can't find video of either interview yet, but I'm sure they'll be posted, and I'll add links here when they are available. In the meantime, Hot Air has video of Thompson from Fox News (you know, Hannity's channel) and a transcript of his conversation with Glenn Beck, both from earlier today, making it clear where he thinks McCain is wrong on the issues.

If Hannity had been watching his own network, he wouldn't have badgered Thompson for no good reason or gone on to mischaracterize the interview.

I've become accustomed to checking RealClearPolitics every day for the latest polling numbers for key early primary states, and as a Fred Thompson supporter, I was anxious to see the impact of his stellar performance at last Thursday night's Fox News debate on the South Carolina polling numbers.

All other signs say that it made a difference. The campaign met and far exceeded its fundraising goal to pay for TV, radio, and voter contact efforts in South Carolina. (They've upped the goal twice and need $75,000 to meet that third goal of $1,000,000 raised in a week.) There are reports of standing-room-only crowds and people being turned away from his campaign appearances. Hundreds of supporters have come to the state on their own dime to volunteer for Fred.

But we haven't seen the polls change because there hasn't been any polling in South Carolina since the January 10 debate. Not a single poll. Michigan has had six polling firms -- three national and three in-state -- in the field with surveys since January 10. Florida, whose primary is still two weeks away, has had two polls in the field since Thursday.

Because South Carolina is a winner-take-all primary by congressional district, perceptions of a candidate's chances will have an impact on voter decisions. Many voters will limit their decision to those candidates who are within striking distance of first place, to have a chance at impacting who receives the state's delegates. Polls showing a post-debate Thompson surge would help persuade voters who like him on the issues that he has a chance of winning.

Is there really no polling going on in South Carolina? Are poll results being withheld for some reason? Or is there some truth to Scott Ott's latest satirical news story?

UPDATE: As a couple of commenters note, Rasmussen has new numbers for South Carolina showing Fred Thompson gaining and Mike Huckabee falling back, both in a virtual tie for second with Mitt Romney and far behind John McCain.

Also, Survey USA has polled Oklahoma about our February 5 primary. Click the links to see the Republican results and the Democratic results, including crosstabs. A couple of things stand out -- the Thompson gender gap, softness of Huckabee's support, and the difference in Huckabee's support between western and eastern Oklahoma. (Hat tip: The McCarville Report.)

Mitt Romney cliche count

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From last night's Late Night with David Letterman:

(Via Hot Air.)

I received an urgent e-mail from Jamison Faught of the Muskogee County Republican Club. They're holding a presidential forum tonight, with a supporter of each Republican presidential candidate speaking for 10 minutes on the candidates behalf. He'd like to have a speaker there to represent Fred Thompson, and he contacted me to see if I could help. I can't make it, so I'm throwing the appeal out to you -- if you'd be willing to speak on Fred's behalf, and can be at Jasper's restaurant at 1702 W Okmulgee St. in Muskogee at 7 p.m. tonight, please call Jamison Faught at [redacted] ASAP.

UPDATE: Richard Engle, an Oklahoman and president of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, will be speaking on Thompson's behalf.

(Faught told me that he asked the Thompson campaign a month ago for a speaker, but only yesterday did they notify him that they couldn't find anyone, which raises this nagging question: Shouldn't the Thompson campaign have known that Engle, a fairly prominent activist in his role as head of the "GOP wing of the Republican Party," was one of their supporters and notified him -- and me, and other Oklahomans who signed up as Friends of Fred on the website -- that there was need for a speaker?)

... or the Oaxaca caucuses.

Bill Richardson, D-Mexico?

Photo by Tulsa County GOP Vice Chairman Frazier Henke.

(If you don't get the joke, look at the text that C-SPAN posted under Richardson's name. The mistake remained uncorrected for the full length of Richardson's concession speech to his supporters.)

Tonight Fred Thompson was on Fox News on "The O'Reilly Factor," and he spoke about national security, the situation in Pakistan, and why he's the only consistent conservative in the race.

Today on his program, Rush Limbaugh asked conservative evangelicals to consider Fred Thompson:

My question for you evangelicals is this. If you're looking for a real conservative, why are you supporting Huckabee? He's completely discredited himself. What about Fred Thompson?

Thompson has the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee PAC, which is making an independent mailing to voters in South Carolina in support of his candidacy.

And in a new video on the Fred '08 website, Thompson talks about moving on to campaign in South Carolina and gives a brief outline of the principles at the heart of his platform.

Even if you're not in an early primary state, there are several ways you can help the Fred Thompson campaign. The campaign is halfway to its goal of raising $540,000 dollars by Friday to fund ads in South Carolina. You can help by making a contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more.

Even if you can't contribute financially, the campaign would like Thompson supporters to sign up as "Friends of Fred" -- they'd like to enroll 50,000 new members by Friday.

If you're already a Friend of Fred, the campaign is asking you to help make phone calls to prospective voters in early primary states. There's a big push tomorrow to make calls into South Carolina between 5 and 9 p.m. Eastern time (4 to 8 p.m. Central).

Sorry, Rudy: If an immigration reform bill allows illegal aliens to stay in the country and become citizens, it's amnesty, even if they have to pay a financial penalty. Fred Thompson spells it out in last night's WMUR-Facebook-ABC debate:

(Here's a transcript of the ABC Democrat debate. Here's a transcript of the ABC Republican debate.)

Earlier today on NBC's Today Show, Thompson responded to yet another stupid "when ya gonna drop out" question by refocusing on his key issues -- addressing the threat of terrorism and the looming entitlement crisis. When reporter Lester Holt pressed, Thompson took a shot at the mainstream media for uncritically broadcasting a rumor of his impending withdrawal, a rumor that likely was started by a campaign that stood to benefit by knocking Fred down by a few points.

FRED THOMPSON: I'm not going to engage in that -- further beating the process issue to death. We're talking about the future of our country here and the fact that our worst enemies are trying to get their hands on nuclear weapons and we're bankrupting the next generation. That's what I'm talking about. The rest is all speculation and I don't engage in it.

HOLT: It's a fair point you make; you don't engage in it. But you were the victim of some rumors on this subject of your viability and questions if you would drop out. How much did that hurt you?

THOMPSON: Well let's think about that. It did hurt me, and the media lapped it up. It was put out by another campaign; made no sense at all.

HOLT: Which campaign?

THOMPSON: A few days before the election and made no sense at all, and I was coming strong, and the media took it up, and spread the rumor, and probably cost me two or three points in Iowa. So the lesson there is not, you know, politicians being politicians. The lesson there is that the news media really ought to check these stories out and come to me, and ask me, and take my word for it.

One commenter at the previous link wrote, "I would consider voting for Fred just for the entertainment value of watching him spend four years slapping around the drooling half-wits in the MSM."

By the way, Fred Thompson is in second place in the delegate count. Yesterday, twelve Republican county conventions in Wyoming elected the first twelve delegates to the Republican National Convention. The voters in these county conventions were the committeeman and committeewoman for each precinct, plus delegates selected by precinct meetings in December.

Eight counties elected a Mitt Romney supporter to represent them in the Twin Cities, three counties elected a Fred Thompson supporter as delegate, and one county chose a Duncan Hunter supporter. Two more delegates will be elected at the Republican state convention on May 31.

One delegate-electing county (Laramie) also elected an alternate delegate, and the eleven counties that didn't elect delegates each elected an alternate. Of the twelve alternates, five support Romney, one each support Thompson, McCain, and Hunter, and four are uncommitted. An alternate only gets to vote at the national convention if his corresponding delegate is unavailable.

The Wyoming delegates are not bound to stay with their announced preference, unlike many states (e.g. Oklahoma) where delegates are bound to support a candidate based on the primary election result. Nevertheless, the candidates for national delegate announced their presidential preference in their speeches to the county conventions, which undoubtedly influenced the result.

No national delegates were selected at Iowa's caucuses on Thursday, and the results of the Republican straw poll will likely bear no resemblance to the preferences of the 37 national delegates who will be elected at the Iowa state convention on June 14.

(A tip of the hat and a deep bow to The Green Papers, a website which has, since its founding in 1999, devoted itself to providing the nitty-gritty details about the process that the mainstream media glosses over.)

Getting closer to fulfilling a new year's resolution to get a link to my weekly column posted here in a timely fashion: This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is an overview of all the elections Tulsans will be voting in this year. Here are the key dates; read the story for more background on each of the races:

January 14, 15, 16: Filing for Tulsa City Council and City Auditor.

February 5: election for school board, Tulsa Technology board, and presidential preference primary. Filing was in December.

March 4: City of Tulsa primary.

April 1: City of Tulsa general election, including charter amendments. Tulsa Technology Center board runoff, if needed. (No Tulsa County school board race drew more than two candidates, so all of those races will be settled on February 5.

June 2, 3, 4: Filing period for federal, state, and county offices.

July 29: Primary for federal, state, and county offices.

August 26: Runoff for federal, state, and county offices.

November 4: General election for federal, state, and county offices.


Romney ad, vapid and creepy at the same time:

Via Ross Douthat, who writes:

With five or so hours to go till the Iowa Caucuses, Mitt Romney has to be judged the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, but it's awfully hard to find anyone not named Hugh Hewitt who seems excited about the prospect. More than enough ink has been spilled on how his political inauthenticity, his consultant-ish pursuit of ideological correctness, has undermined any excitement surrounding his candidacy, replacing it with the resigned, "he's the best we can do" thinking that undergirds the NR endorsement and others like it. (David Brooks' column this weekend offers, I think, the last word on the subject.) For my part, though, the most alienating and off-putting quality of the Romney campaign hasn't been what's he's said, but how he's said it - the words he's chosen and the tone he's employed, which have made following the Romney campaign the equivalent of listening to nails drawn across a chalkboard.

Lest you think that was just an artifact of filming an ad, I experienced the same creepy feeling watching Romney's post-caucus interview on Fox News.

Meanwhile, Ed Rollins, a political adviser to Mike Huckabee, did his boss no favors, first by talking within eavesdropping distance of a reporter for Townhall.com:

At a hole-in-the wall Des Moines eatery, Mike Huckabee's campaign chairman loudly bashed their top rival presidential candidate Mitt Romney and made several predictions to two national television reporters....

-He distinctly talked about going negative in South Carolina and told someone on the phone to "put some good in there if you have to, with the bad. Do what you gotta do."

-Rollins let the f-bomb fly twice and told his blonde female dining companion a joke about flying the Confederate flag in the South Carolina state capitol.

-Rollins indicated several times their campaign was the victim of "dirty tricks" and that they were being unfairly outspent.

Then by showing his posterior to Chris Wallace on Fox News:

Note to Ed: Your team won tonight.

Some notes from tonight's Iowa coverage:

Republican results are here on iowagop.net, which features an interactive map showing results by county. If their server is swamped, try the Washington Post site instead. You can find Democratic statewide results here at iowacaucusresults.com. The site also has precinct results by county for each precinct.

I've been flipping back and forth between C-SPAN and C-SPAN2, showing a Democratic and Republican caucus respectively. To C-SPAN's credit, they're showing the whole caucus including the non-presidential bits -- such as platform debates and officer elections.

The beginning of the C-SPAN-televised Republican meeting in Carroll, Iowa, featured speeches by local Republicans on behalf of individual candidates. A young law student supporting McCain gave the most eloquent speech. The local chairman spoke for Romney, but his speech was faint praise -- Romney made things a little better in Taxachusetts. No one spoke for Huckabee -- would he have finished first if someone had? Thompson was represented by a young man who said The totals for the four Carroll, Iowa, Republican wards that were meeting together: McCain 95, Romney 74, Huckabee 67, Thompson 46, Paul 23, Giuliani 22, Keyes 2, Hunter 0

The GOP meeting is over, but a small number of Democrats in Des Moines Precinct 53 have stayed around after the presidential vote to debate platform resolutions. A white female college student, an Obama supporter, is arguing for a resolution that affirmative action should be based on income, not race, or else it's eliminated altogether. She says it's wrong that she should be ineligible for certain full-ride scholarships at her school just because of the color of her skin. A black teacher who says he was hired to come to Iowa from New England to help his school meet affirmative action goals is arguing in support of race-based affirmative action because race is still important. The motion was defeated.

We were eating dinner with Fox News on in the background. My 11-year-old son, a Harry Potter fan, looked up at B-roll of a Republican candidate's campaign appearance and said, "Who is that guy that sort of looks grey? I thought it was Lord Voldemort." Can you guess which GOP candidate it was?

mccain-snarl.jpg

voldemort-snarl.jpg

UPDATE: Huckabee just walked to the podium to the Liberty Bell March. (You know, the Monty Python theme.) Chuck Norris is visible behind Huck's left shoulder. (Or is it that Huck is at Chuck's right hand?) I can't find the right image online, but my son and I both think Mike Huckabee looks like Mr. Tweedy from Chicken Run.

If you were listening to 1170 KFAQ this morning (I was on with Gwen Freeman, filling in for Chris Medlock, who had lost his voice), you'd have heard producer Elvis Polo taunting me and Gwen about a story on the Politico website, speculating on what would happen if Fred Thompson didn't finish strongly in tonight's Iowa caucus. This isn't the first time that Politico has posted a story seemingly designed to demoralize Thompson's supporters and shift the focus away from issues. (The last time this happened, video came out showing that Politico reporter Roger Simon's account of the event was wrong and misleading.)

Thompson debunked the story on several media outlets and told a rally this morning that it's time to "shock the world." The best way to help make that happen is to use your phone to encourage Iowa Republicans to turn out and support Fred Thompson. If you're a Thompson supporter, if you've watched the videos and read the position papers and are convinced, as I am, that he's the right man to be our next president, take some time this afternoon to phone for Fred.

The presidential straw poll that will get most of the attention at Thursday night's Iowa precinct caucuses is only a small part of the business that Republican voters will conduct. On the home page of the Polk County Republican Party website, chairman Ted Sporer outlines what will happen at caucus meetings on January 3. Since it is on the homepage, and therefore likely to be replaced with something new after Thursday night, I'm taking the liberty of putting the entire text here.

Season's Greetings.

We have seen months of candidates campaigning here in Iowa with ads on the television surveys over the phone, and literature in the mailbox. Finally the caucus season is upon us! The race is fluid and Republicans are ready to pick their nominee. All eyes are upon Iowa Caucuses, the First in the Nation, on January 3, 2008.

Thank you for visiting our site. As hard as it seems to believe, the 2008 Caucuses are almost upon us. The Republican Party will caucus on January 3, 2008 at 7:00 o'clock, p.m. The Democrats are convening at 6:30 so please disregard any information that you might have seen or heard that our caucuses are at the same time, they're not.

With so much at stake and so much Republican interest in each of our candidates we expect a large turnout. You should try and arrive early, around 6:30. Most of the larger precincts will have more than one check in lines but delay is always possible. We are also sharing some facilities with the Democrats and we want to allow everyone time to get organized and to participate.

You must be a registered Republican who is at least seventeen and one half years of age to participate. You may only caucus in the precinct in which you are registered to vote. You can register as a Republican at your precinct caucus-voter registration forms will be available. However, you can only be registered in one place at a time so a new registration form on caucus night will void any earlier form. Please remember, completing a fraudulent voting registration is a crime.

The Presidential Straw Poll is only one of the many items of business that will be conducted at your caucus. You will also elect:

Two members of the Polk County Central Committee. Central committee members form the backbone of our volunteer force. The term of office is two years. Central committee membership has nothing to do with your support for a Presidential candidate. As a central committee member you will be asked to serve on a subcommittee and to provide service to the party at events and for political projects such as our vote by mail program.

Delegates to the county convention. Each precinct has an allocated number of delegates, ranging from a low of 1 to a high of 33. The CountyConvention is March 8 at West Des Moines Valley High School. The gavel falls at 10:00 a.m. Delegates at the County convention will elect a smaller group of delegates to the Third Congressional District (April 26 in Grinnell) and State Conventions (June 13-14 in Des Moines).

Alternates. Each precinct elects alternate delegates who will represent that precinct at the County convention if the elected delegates cannot serve.

Junior Delegates. Each precinct will also select junior delegates to the County Convention. Junior delegates are those interested young Republicans who will not be old enough to vote in the November 2008 general election.

Platform Convention Delegates. Each committee will elect one person to represent that precinct at the Platform Convention. The platform convention is January 19 at Valley Southwoods in West Des Moines.

We have included information about the Polk County Caucuses on our website. Please check each of the three links to the right for more information.

Thanks again for visiting our website. Victory in 2008 begins with the Iowa caucuses. Please feel free to contact us with any remaining questions.

Ted Sporer

Polk County Chair

Other links on the site list the locations of each of the 183 precinct meetings (mostly in school classrooms) and set out the order of business. (The order of business seems to have been put together by a pro-life group. On the item for electing delegates to the county convention, it states, "It is perfectly proper to ask anyone running where they stand on the right to life issue." And on the next item, "Discussion of Platform Issues," it states, "It is at this time that you will want to submit the Pro-life Resolution so that it can be voted on.")

The process will be slightly different in smaller counties. Russ from Winterset describes the process in Madison County:

Madison County's got somewhere around 17,000 people (accoring to the 2000 census), and my contact is thinking that this year will be an overflow crowd like '88. Our countywide caucus will be held at the Winterset High School auditorium, with the individual precincts breaking down & voting in classrooms after the joint presentations, and a crowd of more than 800 or so will mean it's "standing room only". Assuming that the county's 50-50 split between the two parties (Iowa's teetered between the parties lately, so that's probably a fair cop, if you count affiliated voters only), that means that a 10% turnout will give us somewhere around 600 people (assuming 1/3 of voters are Rep, Dem and Ind).

At the beginning of this post I referred to the presidential straw poll. For Republicans, at least, the vote that will be taken at these caucuses is completely non-binding. The allocation of delegates to presidential candidates won't happen until the state Republican convention in June. (See the Green Papers entry on Iowa Republicans for details of the process.)

The process for Iowa Democrats is different: Precincts will pick delegates to their county conventions based on presidential preference, but delegates to the national convention won't be chosen until the state convention in June, and only then will it be known with any certainty how many delegates are pledged to each candidate.

For both parties, any attempt to allocate Iowa's delegates to candidates prior to June will almost certainly be incorrect.

The Iowa caucuses aren't that different from the way delegate selection was handled in Oklahoma prior to the establishment of a presidential preference primary in 1988. If memory serves, Oklahoma's Republican caucuses were often held before Iowa or New Hampshire. We just didn't market them as well.

SeeDubya is fed up with talking heads and pundits who are too busy trashing the style of Fred Thompson's campaign to pay due attention to the substance of the man and his principles:

Let's lay this moron-meme to rest right now. I don't care if you're for Fred or not, and I don't care if you attack his issues or his record. Actually, scratch that. I'd love for pundits to start talking about his policy positions and his voting record! Exactly which aspect of his plan for border security or social security do you disagree with? What part of his rhetoric rings false? Which part of his doctrine of resolve, or his understanding of first principles do you disagree with, and which candidate's principles are better? That's a debate, and that's what we're supposed to be having now.

"Fire in the belly" is a completely meaningless statement. It's subjective and irrefutable--or, more precisely, it's unfalsifiable. You can't prove it, and beyond what I've laid out here you can't disprove it, so it just hangs around like a bad smell. It's the recourse of political commentators too lazy or too biased or unable to come up with serious objections to Fred. From now on when I hear pundits trot out that canard, I'm going to ask whether they really want their own jobs--you know, whether they're a just little bit lazy, whether they're just phoning it in, and whether they've got any fire in their own bellies.

SeeDubya begins the post with a long list of sacrifices and efforts Thompson is making, which ought to be enough to prove to any honest observer that Thompson thinks he's the best choice for president and is working hard to convince voters of that fact. But the mainstream media narrative is set even for much of the conservative media: Every ill-timed yawn or apparent frown becomes more "evidence" that Fred Thompson really doesn't want to be president, so you don't need to listen to his ideas or policies, and you don't need to bother to give him money or volunteer for his campaign.

Just four days until the Iowa caucuses. In this seventeen-minute video, Fred Thompson explains why he believes he's the right man for the job:

At a campaign stop in Burlington, Iowa, earlier today, Fred Thompson answered a question from a voter about whether he truly has the desire to become president. He pointed out the financial and family sacrifices he has made to make this run, as an indication of his desire to be president, but he also says he's not consumed by personal ambition. Thompson is running because many people wanted him to run, and because he thinks he has "the background, the capability, and the concern" to serve as president.

It's such a good answer, and it so captures what I like about the man's character and attitude that I've reproduced the entire answer below, but I've bolded the bits that I especially like.

[THIS IS A BEST-EFFORT TRANSCRIPT OF THE SPECIFIC QUESTION AND ANSWER] Q: My only problem with you and why I haven't thrown all my support behind you is that I don't know if you have the desire to be President. If I caucus for you next week, are you still going to be there two months from now?

...In the first place I got in the race about the time people normally get into it historically. The fact of the matter is that others started the process a lot earlier this time than they normally do. I think it was for some of them when they were juniors in high school.

APPLAUSE

That is a very good question, not because it's difficult to answer, because, but I'm gonna answer it in a little different way than what you might expect.

In the first place, I wouldn't be here if I didn't. I wouldn't be doing this if i didn't. I grew up very modest circumstances. I left government, I and my family have made sacrifices for me to be sitting here today. I haven't had any income for a long time because I'm doing this. I figure that to be clean you've got to cut everything off. And I was doing speaking engagements and I had a contract to do a tv show, I had a contract with abc radio like I was talking about earlier and so forth. I guess a man would have to be a total fool to do all those things and to be leaving his family which is not a joyful thing at all if he didn't want to do it.

But I am not consumed by personal ambition. I will not be devastated if I don't do it. I want the people to have the best president that they can have.

When this talk first started, it didn't originate with me. There were a lot of people around the country both directly and through polls, liked the idea of me stepping up. And of course, you always look better at a distance, I guess.

But most of those people are still there and think its a good idea. But I approached it from the standpoint of a deal. A kind of a marriage. If one side of a marriage has to be really talked into the marriage, it probably ain't going to be a very good deal for either one of them. But if you mutually think that this is a good thing. In this case, if you think this is a good thing for the country, then you have an opportunity to do some wonderful things together.

I'm offering myself up. I'm saying that I have the background, the capability, and the concern to do this and I'm doing it for the right reasons. But I'm not particularly interested in running for president, but I think I'd make a good president.

Nowadays, the process has become much more important than it used to be.

I don't know that they ever asked George Washington a question like this. I don't know that they ever asked Dwight D. Eisenhower a question like this. But nowadays, it's all about fire in the belly. I'm not sure in the world we live in today it's a terribly good thing if a president has too much fire in the belly. I approach life differently than a lot of people. People, I guess, wonder how I've been as successful as I've been in everything I've done. I won two races in TN by 20 point margins, a state that Bill Clinton carried twice. I'd never run for office before. I've never had an acting lesson and I guess that's obvious by people who've watched me. But when they made a movie about a case that I had when I took on a corrupt state administration as a lawyer and beat them before a jury. They made a movie about it and I wound up playing myself in the movie and yeah I can do that.

And when I did it, I did it. Wasn't just a lark. Anything that's worth doing is worth doing well. But I've always been a little bit more laid back than most. I like to say that I'm only consumed by very, very few things and politics is not one of them. The welfare of our country and our kids and grandkids is one of them.

If people really want in their president a super type-a personality, someone who has gotten up every morning and gone to bed every night and been thinking about for years how they could achieve the Presidency of the United States, someone who can look you straight in the eye and say they enjoy every minute of campaigning, I ain't that guy.

So I hope I've discussed that and hope I haven't talked you out of anything. I honestly want - I can't imagine a worse set of circumstances than achieving the presidency under false pretenses. I go out of my way to be myself because I don't want anybody to think they are getting something they are not getting. I'm not consumed by this process I'm not consumed with the notion of being President. I'm simply saying I'm willing to do what's necessary to achieve it if I'm in sync with the people and if the people want me or somebody like me. I'll do what I've always done in the rest of my life and I will take it on and do a good job and you'll have the disadvantage of having someone who probably can't jump up and click their heels three times but will tell you the truth and you'll know where the President stands at all times.

It reminds me of the attitude that Tom Coburn has brought to his service in Congress. He would much rather be back in Oklahoma delivering babies, but, like Thompson, he is concerned about the country that we will leave to our children and grandchildren, and he is willing to do what he must to get elected and serve with integrity.

I'm sure the former Oklahoma governor meant well:

Former Governor Frank Keating is the co-chairman of "Catholics for McCain," formed to support Arizona Senator John McCain's Republican presidential bid.

but I wonder if it really helps the Arizona senator to have someone with that surname leading a group connected with his campaign.

I'm supporting Fred Thompson for President because on the issues that matter -- the war against Islamofascism, defense, and foreign policy; taxes, entitlements, and the economy; social issues and judicial restraint -- he's right, and for the right reasons. There's a foundation of sound principle that undergirds his views on specific policies and the willingness to stand firm on those principles even in the face of hostility.
That's why Fred Thompson can rightly call himself a consistent, common-sense conservative, the only one among the leading Republican candidates.

If you're undecided, I encourage you to read through the detailed policy papers on the Fred '08 website.

If you've already concluded that Fred Thompson is the best choice for President, I urge you to contribute to his campaign, so he'll have the funds to get his message out in Iowa before next Thursday's precinct caucuses. Here's a handy form for sending in a contribution:

The Fred '08 campaign is trying to raise about $250,000 by 6 pm Friday to be able to run this TV ad, titled "Substance":

Another way to help is to spend an hour or two making phone calls to Iowa Republican voters on Fred's behalf. The campaign will provide the names and the instructions, you just have to be willing to call. Many if not most potential caucus-goers have yet to come to a firm decision about whom they'll support. Your phone call will make a difference.

To my Oklahoma readers: Although it's another month before we vote, if you want Fred Thompson to be still be a viable choice when it comes our turn, we need to do what we can to help him finish strong in Iowa and then go on to victory in South Carolina and Florida.

UPDATE: We did it! The goal was reached and exceeded, and the new ad will run in Iowa all the way through caucus night on Thursday. (I'm sure additional contributions would still be welcomed and appreciated.)

Coulter on Huckabee

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Yes, it's Ann Coulter, but there are a few quotables in her latest column, "Liberals Sing 'Huckelujah'":

All I want for Christmas is for Christians to listen to what Mike Huckabee says, rather than what the media say about him....

Huckabee is a "compassionate conservative" only in the sense that calling him a conservative is being compassionate....

Huckabee opposes school choice, earning him the coveted endorsement of the National Education Association of New Hampshire, which is like the sheriff being endorsed by the local whorehouse....

According to Huckabee, most people think conservatives don't like music. Who on earth says conservatives don't like music -- other than liberals and Mike Huckabee? This desperate need to be liked by liberals has never led to anything but calamity....

He supports a nationwide smoking ban anyplace where people work, constitutional protection for sodomy, big government, higher taxes and government benefits for illegal aliens. According to my calculations, that puts him about three earmarks away from being Nancy Pelosi.

Liberals take a perverse pleasure in touting Huckabee because they know he will give them everything they want -- big government and a Christian they can roll.

Coulter also has a link on her homepage to this surprising quote from of a profile of Huckabee from the December 12, 2007, New York Times Magazine:

[Bill] Clinton's goodwill stems, Huckabee believes, from Huckabee's own restraint during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. ''Obviously I was asked to comment. If I had been willing to criticize President Clinton, I could have made a cottage industry out of it. But I didn't do that, I didn't discuss it at all. And I think he was grateful for that.''

MORE: Dean Barnett says that Huckabee is this cycle's equivalent of the 1996 Pat Buchanan campaign. After Buchanan's win in New Hampshire, he had a moment in the spotlight to convince the American people he could be a responsible President, and he failed. Likewise Huckabee in 2008:

Rather than assure the Republican electorate that he was more than a one trick pony who could speak beautifully on social issues and spiritual concerns, he doubled down on his pastor side. Perhaps with good cause. When he ventured opinions about serious policy matters outside his comfort zone, especially regarding global affairs, he showed an ignorance that was quite frankly stunning for someone who had the audacity to seek the presidency at a time of war.

Then there is Huckabee's lucrative side business as a speaker:

Over the weekend, it came out that Huckabee received $35,000 in honoraria in 2006 from a company that does stem cell research, the very same company that social conservatives blasted Mitt Romney over because his blind trust had invested in it. Huckabee's take of $35,000 from the stem cell researchers was but a small sliver of the roughly $378,000 in outside fees that Huckabee raked in during his final year as Arkansas' governor.

Barnett is predicting a third-place finish in Iowa for Huckabee, with soft Huckabee support shifting to Romney and Thompson. He also says to ignore the latest ARG poll, which was taken over the weekend before Christmas -- not the best time to get a political sample.

Tired of soundbites on important national issues? Pajamas Media is beginning a series of extended conversations with presidential candidates on the War on Terror. The first interview is with Republican former Sen. Fred Thompson, conducted by Roger L. Simon and Bob Owens:

A transcript can be found here.

Fred Thompson displays the sort of thoughtful, well-informed understanding of foreign policy that I want to see in our next president.

(If you're of the same opinion, and you like what you see in this interview, Fred Thompson could use your help with a contribution of any size to help him get his message to Iowa voters.)

If you're frustrated that you won't get a say in the choice of presidential nominees because your state has a later primary, fret not. You don't even have to go to Iowa or New Hampshire to make a difference. You can use your free long distance service to phone likely voters in those states.

Since many if not most mobile phone plans treat local and long distance calls the same, you may as well put all those extra minutes to good use. Other campaigns have done this: I used my cell phone to make calls for Pat Toomey's 2004 campaign for U. S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

On Fred Thompson's campaign website, supporters can log in to get numbers to call and to indicate the result of each call online. (You have to register first as a Friend of Fred.) It wouldn't surprise me to learn that other campaigns are doing the same thing.

While a call from a paid telemarketer or a recorded message can be annoying, I'd like to think that an undecided voter would be impressed that an ordinary voter would feel strongly enough about a candidate to make long distance phone calls on his behalf.

NOTE: Be sure to check out the linkblog over in the left hand column of the BatesLine home page. There are several new entries today, including some about Tulsa and Oklahoma issues. Each entry is a link to an interesting article and webpage with a brief description or pull quote. As it was a two-column week (early deadline because of Christmas), I'm too worn out for much more than a few quick linkblog entries.

The front-loaded, earlier-than-ever primary schedule has enabled a campaign opportunity that wouldn't have worked as well in years past. The Ron Paul campaign is urging his student supporters (college and driving-age high school) to come to Iowa to campaign for him in advance of the January 3 precinct caucuses there:

School is out, and the Ron Paul Revolution is taking over Iowa! All students (high school & college) of student age (16-30) are invited to join us in Iowa Dec. 14-23 and Dec. 27 - Jan. 4 for Ron Paul's Christmas Vacation!

If you can get to Iowa on Friday Dec. 14 and/or Thursday Dec. 27, the campaign will provide you with the rest. Food, housing, and gas will be covered for 150 students in Iowa. All you have to do is get there.

The students will be going door-to-door, urging people to show up at their precinct caucus to support Ron Paul. The blog entry notes that 25,000 supporters will be sufficient to place in the top three. If the campaign gets the 150 volunteers they want, they can easily knock on twice that many doors. If the campaign has good lists of likely caucus-goers, this could be a very productive effort.

This is a great idea for maximizing grassroots energy in a low-budget way. Is the Fred '08 campaign paying attention?

Stop the hand shows!

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If you've been thinking about supporting Fred Thompson's campaign, today would be a great time to do it. The Fred '08 campaign is looking for 2400 donors in 24 hours. From the campaign website:


Stop the Hand Show

Running for President is serious business. We're facing pressing issues like national security, bankrupt entitlements, a broken tax code, and out-of-control judges. So what did the liberal moderator want at Wednesday's debate? A show of hands. We deserve serious discussion not kindergarten antics.

Don't you want a conservative leader who won't grovel to the liberal media?

If 2,400 people donate in the next 24 hours it will tell the liberal media that the American people are tired of their games.

Stand with Fred and reject the liberal media's "monkey business" and gotcha games. Donate today.

Then send an e-card to your friends letting them know you're standing up with Fred.

In the photo above, that's Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee, and McCain indicating agreement with the statement that global warming is a serious problem caused by human activity.

If you're wondering what the "hand show" comment is about, here's the best moment from Wednesday's Des Moines Register forum for Republican presidential candidates.






Fred Thompson's refusal to take seriously the mainstream media's childish approach to the presidential race has been evident in his responses to a series of fluff questions from the Associated Press. Some candidates would spend a lot of time trying to craft an answer that would avoid offending any important constituency. Jay Tea at Wizbang reports the questions so far and Thompson's answers:

Thompson's attitude seems to be "this is stupid, and I'm not going to treat it seriously. Instead, I'm going to simply give answers that take the crap you people have flung at me and give it right back to you -- in one or two words."

The first question was "what was your childhood nickame?" Fred's answer? "Mr. President."

The second one was "what is your most prized personal possession?" "Trophy wife."

As soon as I saw the third question, I knew the answer. "What do you like to do on a lazy day?" I said "run for president," but that was too wordy. Thompson cropped it down to "campaigning."

The hits on Thompson have been that he got a late start, he's lazy, and he has a trophy wife. Here he's taken each of them and tossed them right back in the face of the AP.

Jay Tea also makes this interesting point:

I've said numerous times that I think one of the key elements in winning the presidency has to be a sense of humor. The American people seem to prefer to vote for the candidate who comes across as warmer, funnier, more ready to laugh at themselves and with people than one who is not. That trend has held true in every election since 1980, and (once you skip the 64-76 period, when laughter just didn't seem appropriate -- an assassination and Watergate bookending two war referenda) most before then. A sense of humor and a willingness to laugh at oneself seems to indicate a level of comfort with oneself, an ease and general even-temperedness that the American people seem to value in a president.

And the judgment of history seems to bear it out. Those presidents who consistently rank the highest in historical reflection are the ones who seem to have had the readiest wit -- Reagan, Kennedy, FDR, Lincoln.

Chris Matthews made a similar observation all the way back in 1999, identifying 1964 as the lone exception in recent history:

We Americans may vote indoors, but we elect to the White House candidates with the look, feel and freshness of the outdoors about them. Identify "the man with the sun in his face" and you've picked yourself the winner....

Instead, in election after election, we've gone with the guy who looks like he's just made it in from the countryside, the outsider seeking our trust, the guy running against the suits, the guy we can imagine without one.

Maybe this is something peculiarly American, some trait primordial to our rebellious, pioneer nature. Did any other country -- France or England or Canada? -- ever select a face in the crowd like Andy Jackson as its leader, a self-proclaimed "rail-splitter" to keep itself from being split in two?

National Review endorses Romney by process of elimination.

Many conservatives are finding it difficult to pick a presidential candidate. Each of the men running for the Republican nomination has strengths, and none has everything -- all the traits, all the positions -- we are looking for. Equally conservative analysts can reach, and have reached, different judgments in this matter. There are fine conservatives supporting each of these Republicans.

Our guiding principle has always been to select the most conservative viable candidate. In our judgment, that candidate is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Unlike some other candidates in the race, Romney is a full-spectrum conservative: a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest. While he has not talked much about the importance of resisting ethnic balkanization -- none of the major candidates has -- he supports enforcing the immigration laws and opposes amnesty. Those are important steps in the right direction.

In their view: Giuliani, Huckabee not consistently conservative, McCain not as conservative as Romney, Thompson not a good campaigner.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan White House political director, is worried by Romney's focus on process and pragmatism over principle:

Mr. Barnes says Mr. Romney's "approach to government is not ideological." A Romney adviser is quoted as saying of his candidate: "He's super-pragmatic. He's an eclectic conservative." And Mr. Romney himself says flatly that as president he would "insist on gathering data . . . and analyze the data looking for trends."

Uh-oh.

Make no mistake. If the leading candidates in the GOP presidential race are to be litmus-tested as conservatives, all would cause conservatives sleepless nights. If the Reagan coalition was of economic and social conservatives combined with national security hawks, each group has something to be disturbed about with this batch of front-runners....

Yet the Romney approach as described not only by Mr. Barnes but more importantly by Mr. Romney himself is an approach that goes far beyond any particular issue. It is, as Mr. Romney himself freely admits, all about process. Whatever the issue--economic, social or national security--Mr. Romney would gather the data, look for a trend and thus "you make better decisions."

This should cause conservatives to break out in cold sweats....

Mitt Romney is clearly one decent guy, one very, very accomplished human being. He has announced where he stands on the issues of the day, putting himself head and shoulders above a Clinton, Obama or Edwards. But as conservatives head into caucus and primary season, they should not be hesitant to question what appears to be his addiction to process for the sake of process.

Go back to Fred Barnes's Romney quote, the one in which Mr. Romney says he looks for a "new alternative that everybody agrees is the right way to go." What Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan shared was a core belief that in fact it was a better thing for some principles to triumph over others. "Everybody" did not agree with Lincoln that freedom was better than slavery, that keeping the Union together was better than not, or with Reagan that the free market and tax cuts philosophy was a better philosophy than one of big government and tax increases. But they went ahead anyway.

Is there a place for data? Is there value in process? Sure.

But base an entire presidency on the importance of data and process over principle? Is this what Mitt Romney would do? Is this where a Romney presidency would lead? If so, conservatives have been here before.

It is not a good place to be.

During Romney's term as Governor of Massachusetts, the equivalent of the state supreme court declared that the Massachusetts ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Columnist Sandy Rios said Romney's hands were not tied. Romney had a choice, and he chose wrongly, issuing executive orders to legalize gay marriage:

Exactly one year ago I signed a letter of challenge to Mitt Romney along with Paul Weyrich and 42 other pro-family leaders asking the governor to use the time he had left in office to "reverse the damage that has been done to the sacred institution of marriage." We urged him to "declare immediately that homosexual 'marriage' licenses issued in violation of the law are illegal and to issue an order to all state and local officials to cease violating the law."

Why did we make such a difficult and uncomfortable request? After all, Governor Romney had done everything he could to stop homosexual marriage, hadn't he? And as he explained to the people of Massachusetts and to the country, he had "no choice" but to "execute the law." He had no choice when he ordered marriage licenses changed from "husband and wife" to "party A and party B"... no choice when he ordered city officials to immediately begin performing same-sex marriages ... no choice when he threatened them with losing their jobs if they didn't comply ... no choice but to be the very instrument, the expeditor, the person responsible for ushering in same-sex marriage. ...

Except, of course, if you consider that the court order was directed at the legislative and not the executive branch. The Massachusetts Constitution is clear that all decisions regarding marriage shall be governed by statutory law and not by courts. It was an illegal order by a rogue court to a weak legislature advanced by a governor who had no choice--except if he had considered following the dictates of conscience and the Constitution he had sworn to uphold.

We were given an insight into that seemingly premeditated "no choice" in a New York Times article dated September 8, 2007. It reported that, during a 2002 meeting in a gay bar with Log Cabin Republicans, Romney "promised to obey the courts' ultimate ruling and not champion a fight on either side of the issue"--a promise he most definitely kept, despite head fakes to gullible conservatives, pressing them to think he was crusading to protect marriage, children and defend the constitution.

You can watch all of yesterday's Des Moines Register Republican debate in chopped-up YouTube segments at the paper's website.

The paper's political columnist, David Yepsen, thought Fred Thompson had the best debate:

But it was Thompson, the former Tennessee senator, who was specific, good-humored and exuded an executive persona during the low-key, 90-minute session that was sponsored by The Des Moines Register and broadcast by Iowa Public Television.

He had several high points. One of them came when he flatly refused to play the "raise your hand" game in answering a question about global warming. Another came when he said the biggest problem facing education was the National Education Association. (Bashing teacher unions is always popular with Republican audiences.)

Thompson also gets credit for being a stand-up guy willing to take on entitlement programs that threaten to bankrupt the country if left unchanged. He made it clear that wealthy, older Americans could no longer expect full Medicare benefits if he's elected. Thompson also teased Romney about his wealth and how the former Massachusetts governor is "getting to be a pretty good actor."

Yepsen also criticized his own paper's format:

The biggest problem with the debate was that it wasn't really a debate. Candidates got almost no opportunity to grill one another. Often they ran out of time and were cut off just as they started to probe an opponent.

The event would have been more nourishing had the format allowed for more back-and-forth.

Bizarrely, the DMR's editorial board complained that the candidates didn't spend enough time on the big picture. Don't they bear any responsibility for that, since their format didn't allow time for the big picture?

Many of the candidates' answers were only somewhat satisfying.

Indeed, the hour and a half spent with these nine men who aspire to lead the nation left us wanting to know more about their vision for America.

The real complaint becomes apparent as you read through the editorial: The candidates don't agree enough with the DMR's vision of America.

UPDATE: Jay Cost says the debate was a waste of time:

For how pompous the moderator seemed - shushing candidates left and right, and abjectly refusing to allow Fred Thompson to speak on global warming - you would think she was asking something better than these inane queries.

When the questions were not completely useless - the format impeded anything approaching an intelligent answer. The Des Moines Register took the same basic MSNBC format - where candidates are awarded for pithy one-offs and silly sound bite attacks - but did not ask the questions that facilitate those small-ball answers. This was the second big problem. The format. The Register wanted important answers compacted into the petty time allowances. That just was never going to happen. So, Mike Huckabee was given ten or so seconds to tell us something new about how his faith would inform not just his policies generally, but his health care and his education policies.

A sampling of alarm and concern from conservative, pro-life bloggers about Mike Huckabee's views on foreign policy:

The editors of National Review worry about a repeat of the late '70s.

On Iran, Huckabee is at his most troubling. He accuses the administration of "proceeding down only one track with Iran: armed confrontation." This is false, and the kind of rhetoric you'd expect from DailyKos bloggers, not a Republican presidential candidate. Huckabee thinks it has been a lack of diplomatic engagement that has soured our relations with Iran: "We haven't had diplomatic relations with Iran in almost 30 years, my whole adult life and a lot of good it's done. Putting this in human terms, all of us know that when we stop talking to a parent or a sibling or a friend, it's impossible to accomplish anything, impossible to resolve differences and move the relationship forward. The same is true for countries."

This is the kernel of Huckabee's foreign policy. He wants to anthropomorphize international relations and bring a Christian commitment to the Golden Rule to our affairs with other nations. As he told the Des Moines Register the other day, "You treat others the way you'd like to be treated. That's to me the fundamental issue that has to be re-established in our dealings with other countries."

This is deeply naïve. Countries aren't people, and the world is more dangerous than a Sunday church social. Threats, deception, and -- as a last resort -- violence must play a role in international relations. Differences cannot always be worked out through sweet persuasion. A U.S. president who doesn't realize this will repeat the experience of President Jimmy Carter at his most ineffectual.

Reacting to the story above, Ace writes:

Not that what one blogger thinks matters that much, but if Huckabee gets the nomination, I'm voting Democratic. It's not just an idle threat; I just won't vote for him and in fact won't even vote third party or stay home. I'll vote for the Democratic candidate, even Hillary. I won't be a party to selling out everything the party is supposed to stand for to a liberal ideology. If we're going to have eight years of liberal rule, I'd rather the Democratic Party be governing, so at least they can take the blame....

And... I do not want Huckabee setting the agenda for the GOP as de facto head of the party. I'd rather there be a (different) liberal in the White House, with the GOP Congress and Senate free to pursue genuine conservative policies, rather than having to support Huckabee's liberal impulses.

Not to mention a Republican National Committee feeling duty-bound to back the president of their party, right or wrong.

Hot Air has video of Huckabee flip-flopping on the trade embargo of Cuba: He wrote a letter urging that it be lifted in 2002, but admits that he supports it now because he's running for President.

Frank J. of IMAO responds:

With Huckabee saying he was for restoring ties with Castro's Cuba while governor of Arkansas because, back then, he was unaware of the issues between the U.S. and Cuba, is he now becoming Obama dumb on foreign issues? Each day, I'm getting more and more scared of Huckabee's front runner status.

But Frank Rich likes Mike. That's Frank Rich, the left-wing columnist for the New York Times.

MORE: Did Mike Huckabee lose weight the old-fashioned way? One brand-new blogger thinks Huckabee fits the profile of a gastric bypass patient. But Gerard Vanderleun notes that it fits the profile of a hit blog -- a blog set up specifically to put an anonymous attack on a candidate in play. (So I've deleted the direct link for now.)

How to make an attack ad

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From the recent Australian general election. The Aussies have learned well from us:

(Via Hot Air).

The political topic of the week was Mitt Romney's speech on religion, his attempt to defuse any concerns voters may have about his Mormon faith.

Over at National Review Online (of all places), Jason Lee Steorts responds to criticism that "Mormonism is nuts" (as he puts it) by saying that all religion is nuts.

I'm not going to attempt a comprehensive treatment of why Mitt Romney's Mormonism does matter in the presidential campaign, but here are a few thoughts I had while gazing into my stovepipe hat at a rock folding laundry.

1. Mormonism's weirdness goes beyond the strangeness of its specific doctrines (e.g., God is a man who earned his godhood on the planet Kolob) to two more worrisome qualities: Its esoteric nature and the fact that it relies on the testimony of a convicted con-man, someone who used fakery to bilk people out of money and used the same sort of fakery to invent a religion.

While there's plenty of "weirdness" to be found in Christianity, it's all out in the open for anyone to see. But the Mormon temple and its ceremonies are off-limits to all but the faithful.

In that regard, Mormonism bears a resemblance to a much newer American-born religion: Scientology, where you have to work (and pay) your way through several levels of initiation to hear the core doctrines about galactic warlord Xenu and the poor Thetans he blew up.

2. While a candidate's view on, say, the propriety of infant baptism or the nature of the Trinity may be irrelevant to his performance in public office, there is a branch of theology that is fundamental to governance -- anthropology, which in a theological context deals with the moral and spiritual attributes of mankind. Historically, Christian doctrine has affirmed the special dignity of man as created in the image of God, but also his fundamental depravity as a result of the Fall. One's views on this topic will affect the way you approach right-to-life issues, animal rights, education, law enforcement, and defense policy. The belief that mankind's dignity and depravity are immutable characteristics -- a fundamental precept of conservatism -- will lead you to different conclusions than the belief that human nature is evolving and progressing. The notion of checks and balances stems from the notion of human depravity and the need to limit the power available to selfish human beings.

More importantly, your views on human nature will either square with reality or they won't. The proof's in the pudding: An accurate understanding of human nature will help you develop policies that work, just as an accurate understanding of the principles of aerodynamics will help you develop aircraft that fly.

The Mormon view of human nature strikes me as a kind of Pelagian moralism, which is bound to err in the direction of trying to achieve moral improvement through legislation. To be fair, plenty of Christians err in the same way.

3. I keep thinking about Harold Bloom's book The American Religion, which lumped Mormonism and the dominant strain of Southern Baptist thought for most of the 20th century (until the conservative resurgence in the 1980s) together with Emerson's transcendentalism as varieties of gnosticism. (David Wayne's review of the book is worth reading.) Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were both Southern Baptists of the type that Bloom identifies with gnosticism. What about Mike Huckabee?

ONE MORE:

4. Romney said, "There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution." Dead wrong.

The Constitutional prohibition is a limit on government: The federal government can't make a rule that, for example, all customs inspectors must affirm the Nicene Creed or denounce the Pope.

Recall that for over a century, anyone holding an office under the Crown of England had to receive communion in the Church of England and had to subscribe to the following declaration:

"I, N, do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe that in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any Transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever: and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous..."

This Test Act was still in effect when the U. S. Constitution was drafted.

Romney is wrong to suggest that the prohibition in the U. S. Constitution forbids individual voters from considering a candidate's religious views. I can choose not to vote for Romney because he wears magic long-johns and follows a religion founded by a con-man. I can choose not to vote for him because of his impeccable hair. I can choose not to vote for him because of his flip-flopping on social issues.

Or I can choose not to vote for Mitt Romney because he is deliberately misreading the Constitution in a self-serving and freedom-limiting way.

UPDATE (2007/12/11): The misreading and mischaracterization spreads. I'm no fan of Lawrence O'Donnell, but Hugh Hewitt is wrong to say that O'Donnell favors a religious test because he wants Romney to explain where he disagrees (if at all) with the tenets of the Mormon religion. Hewitt also asks O'Donnell, "Why are you so bigoted against Mormons?" That's an unfair question and beside the point. It's the sort of cheap rhetorical ploy I'd expect from a radical lefty.

MORE (2007/12/13): Rod Dreher has this right, regarding Huckabee's recent comment about an odd Mormon doctrine:

To be sure, I don't care what Romney believes about this matter, as long as it doesn't affect the way he proposes to be president, and I think it's a big mistake to hold that against him. But surely it isn't an "attack" for Huckabee merely to have brought up one of the more unusual doctrines of the Mormon church.

What Romney is really doing is trying to deflect public attention from a religious teaching he would rather not explain by trying to make Huckabee seem like a villain for having raised it in the first place. It's a strategy I'm familiar with. There's a Muslim lay leader in Dallas who has repeatedly accused me of attacking the Islamic faith when I have pointed out unusual and threatening things that Islam teaches, and have tried to get him to explain, or at least own up, to it. To his credit, he hasn't backed away from the sharia's brutality, even as he affirms it as just and right, but he indefatigably characterizes my perfectly legitimate questions about what he believes his faith requires of him in public life (e.g., killing homosexuals) as bigoted attacks on his faith. He keeps saying we ought to all try to get along. Well, yeah, let's get along ... but let's not deny real and important differences, especially when they involve theological sanction for revolting violence, even murder. Ya know?

The Iowa caucuses are less than a month away, and you may be thinking, "Are there any bloggers in Iowa that can give us a perspective on the caucuses that we won't get from national media?" There are indeed.

Russ from Winterset, an Iowan active in Republican politics and a regular commenter at Ace of Spades HQ, was asked to suggest some blogs covering politics in Iowa. He named five sites in his reply: Iowa Politics, State 29, 24 Hour Dorman, Radio Iowa, and The Real Sporer. The latter blog belongs to the Ted Sporer, chairman of the Polk County Republican Party (that's where state capital Des Moines is) and an official in the state Republican Party.

Here are a few of posts on those blogs that I found interesting:

Political columnist Todd Dorman, in The Countdown: One Month to Go, lists the "top 5 campaign narratives that have turned out to be wrong" -- all the conventional wisdom that proved to be unwise. Number 5 is "Obama and Huckabee are on their way to caucus wins": "Sure, I know this is the current narrative. I just want to be among the first to say it's wrong. Please don't ask me why until January."

Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa interviewed Fred Thompson about fiscal policy, religion and politics, the contrast between Thompson and Huckabee, and Thompson's plans for the closing weeks of the Iowa campaign. Thompson recalled the conventional wisdom in 2004 that Howard Dean would win big and said it "tickles [him] to death" to know that Iowa voters have the independence to defy conventional wisdom.

Ted Sporer links to a blog post by Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich taking issue with Hillary Clinton's attacks in Iowa on Barack Obama's Social Security and health care plans and on his courage. Reich writes:

Yesterday, HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] suggested O[bama] lacks courage. "There's a big difference between our courage and our convictions, what we believe and what we're willing to fight for," she told reporters in Iowa, saying Iowa voters will have a choice "between someone who talks the talk, and somebody who's walked the walk." Then asked whether she intended to raise questions about O's character, she said: "It's beginning to look a lot like that."

I just don't get it. If there's anyone in the race whose history shows unique courage and character, it's Barack Obama. HRC's campaign, by contrast, is singularly lacking in conviction about anything. Her pollster, Mark Penn, has advised her to take no bold positions and continuously seek the political center, which is exactly what she's been doing.

State 29 has an entry about political diversity (the lack thereof) at the University of Iowa and has been in dogged pursuit of Sen. Chuck Grassley's efforts to get a $50 million earmark toward construction of a rainforest in Iowa.

Iowa Politics seems to be more of a comprehensive news site than a blog. A subdomain provides a helpfulIowa caucus visitors' guide, covering accommodations, restaurants, entertainment, and wifi coffee houses.

RELATED: Newsweek's latest Iowa poll has Huckabee zooming 22 points ahead of Romney. But hold the phone: Half of Huckabee's support and two-thirds of Romney's support is soft. Thompson is running third. Also, that's among 275 self-reported likely caucus goers, so there's a 7% margin of error. And about half of the "likelies" say this would be their first time to attend a caucus. I wonder what the numbers would be like for a sample of 500 previous caucus attendees.

"Fred Thompson is addressing the real issues important to real conservatives and he's offering real solutions." So says this impressive ad produced independently by a Fred Thompson supporter:

Need proof? Here's Fred Thompson's recent interview on the Charlie Rose Show on PBS. It's a 55 minute program with considerable emphasis on foreign policy and federalism. I can't imagine any of the other presidential candidates, save Duncan Hunter, addressing foreign policy and defense as intelligently and with as much grounding in reality. You get a glimpse of what I appreciate most about Thompson -- not only does he happen to hold the right positions on issues, he holds those positions for the right reasons, grounded in sound principles.

You can read the specifics on Fred Thompson's principles and positions on the issues on his official campaign website.

Here is the official list of filers for the February 5, 2008, Oklahoma presidential primary. The number before the name is the order in which they filed:

Democrats:

1. BARACK OBAMA, 233 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60601
9. HILLARY CLINTON, 4420 N. Fairfax Dr. Arlington, VA 22203
10. JOHN EDWARDS, 410 Market St., Suite 400 Chapel Hill, NC 27516
12. BILL RICHARDSON, 111 Lomas Blvd. NW, Suite 200 Albuquerque, NM 87102
13. DENNIS J. KUCINICH, PO Box 110180 Cleveland, OH 44111
17. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, PO Box 51882 Washington, DC 20091
18. JIM ROGERS, 8623 E. Reno Ave. #5 Midwest City, OK 73110

Republicans:

2. JOHN McCAIN, PO Box 16118 Arlington, VA 22215
3. TOM TANCREDO, 501 Church St., Suite 212 Vienna, VA 22180
4. DUNCAN HUNTER, 9340 Fuerte Dr. #302 La Mesa, CA 91941
5. RON PAUL, 3461 Washington Blvd., Suite 200 Arlington, VA 22201
6. RUDY GIULIANI, 295 Greenwich St. #356 New York, NY 10007
7. JERRY R. CURRY, PO Box 387 Haymarket, VA 20168
8. MITT ROMNEY, PO Box 55239 Boston, MA 02205
11. ALAN L. KEYES, 13533 Scottish Autumn Ln. Darnestown, MD 20878
14. FRED THOMPSON, 1130 8th Ave. S. Nashville, TN 37203
15. DANIEL GILBERT, 115 Justin Trail Arden, NC 28704
16. MIKE HUCKABEE, PO Box 2008 Little Rock, AR 72203

January 11, 2008, is the last day to register to vote or to change your party registration for the presidential primary. Both parties have closed primaries; you must be registered with a party affiliation to vote in that party's primary.

Oklahoma will have 41 delegates at the Republican National Convention. Three delegates will be pledged to vote for the top candidate in each congressional district. 23 delegates will be pledged to vote for the top candidate statewide. The remaining three delegates are the state chairman, the national committeeman, and the national committeewoman, who go to the convention free to vote as they will. The national committeeman and committeewoman will be elected at the Oklahoma Republican state convention in the spring; the incumbents, Lynn Windel and Bunny Chambers, have announced that they will not seek re-election.

RNC rules penalize states holding primaries before February 5 by cutting their delegate allocation in half. Because the Oklahoma legislature did not move our primary a week earlier, Oklahoma will retain all of its delegates to the 2008 convention. For the same reason, Oklahoma voters will have minimal impact on the selection of the Republican presidential nominee. On the same date there are 17 other delegate selection events, including California and New York. Oklahoma has only 41 of the 1,081 delegates to be chosen on February 5. Don't expect to get any attention from any of the candidates.

There will be 47 Oklahoma delegates at the Democratic National Convention. The six Oklahoma members of the DNC, U. S. Rep. Dan Boren, and Gov. Brad Henry will go as unpledged delegates. A ninth unpledged delegate will be elected at the state convention. Five delegates from each congressional district will be allocated proportionately to candidates who receive more than 15% of the vote. The same formula will be used to allocate 13 delegates according to the statewide result.

My source for the delegate allocation rules is The Green Papers, probably the most comprehensive accounting on the web of when and how convention delegates are selected.

Here's an 8-minute segment from Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Situation Room, an interview with Fred Thompson. Thompson answers questions about his faith ("no apologies to make") and explains the distinction between his support for legal immigrants and his opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants (illegals shouldn't be allowed to get in ahead of those who are trying to play by the rules).

On this topic, Blitzer asked, "Is there too much pandering going on on this issue, in your experience?" Thompson's reply: "Why should this issue be any different than any other issue?"

Much of the interview dealt with consistency. Thompson ran an ad in Iowa quoting past statements by Romney and Huckabee that contradict their more recent statements on a number of issues. Thompson said of the others in the race, "Most of these other guys have had to alter their positions when they decided to run for President. I have not."

(Please note that there is some overlap between the two clips.)

(Via Fred Thompson News.)

By the way, Thompson will be filing in Oklahoma. In fact, paperwork was already filed, but something needed to be corrected. I've been assured by the campaign that this will happen before the deadline Wednesday at 5.

Today through Wednesday at 5 is the annual filing period for the February 5th school board elections in Oklahoma, as well as for the presidential primary to be held the same day. As of 1 p.m., only Barack Obama has filed for the Democrats. John McCain was the first Republican to file, followed by Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, and Jerry Curry of Haymarket, Va. The state election board will be updating this PDF file with the complete list of those who have filed for the Oklahoma presidential preference primary.

In all of Tulsa County's independent school districts except Tulsa, Office No. 3 is up for election to a five-year term, elected at large by the entire district. The two dependent districts (Keystone and Leonard) will elect a member for Office No. 3 to a three-year term.

In the Tulsa District, board members are elected by election district to four-year terms. Board members for District 5 and District 6 -- Cathy Newsome and Ruth Ann Fate, respectively -- are up for re-election. If for no other reason, they both deserve to be defeated for their hostility to charter schools and to expanded options for Tulsa's school children. It was the Tulsa school board's stonewalling that led to bipartisan state legislation this year providing for a way for charter school organizers to bypass the board.

Even if you don't have school-aged children, if you care about the vitality of the City of Tulsa's central core, you should want to see more opportunities for charter schools. We need to offer families better educational choices if we want them to stay in the city instead of moving to the 'burbs.

Click here for a PDF map of Tulsa County's school districts, also showing the boundaries of Tulsa Schools' seven election districts.

District 5 (Newsome) covers Utica to Yale, 11th to 41st, plus Utica to Harvard between 41st and 51st, Riverside to Utica between 21st and 51st, plus the remainder of precinct 106 south of I-44. District 6 (Fate) is roughly I-244 to 51st, Yale to Memorial, plus 51st to 61st, Sheridan to Memorial, plus the bit of the Tulsa district south and east of 31st & Memorial, with minor adjustments for precinct 56 (in the district) and 92 (out of the district).

Also on the ballot is the Zone 3 seat on the board of Tulsa Technology Center, for a seven year term. Bea Cramer, a retired Tulsa Tech staffer first elected in 1990, is the incumbent. Zone 3 is most of the City of Tulsa southeast of 31st & Yale, plus a bit of Broken Arrow northwest of 101st St and 145th East Ave. Click here for a map of the Tulsa Technology Center board election zones. Tulsa Technology Center serves all of Tulsa County plus a portion of each neighboring county.

If you don't like the school system, throw your hat into the ring.

UPDATE: As of 3:30, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton have also filed for the presidential primary. Also, Brian Hunt, vice president of CB Richard Ellis/Oklahoma, has announced that he is running for Cathy Newsome's Tulsa school board seat. You may remember him as chairman of the Tulsa Real Estate Coalition, the political wing of the local development industry, during last year's city elections, when TREC excluded mayoral candidate Chris Medlock from a debate. I've e-mailed him some questions and will let you know the answers I receive. Brian has two children in Tulsa Public Schools -- one at Eliot Elementary and one at Zarrow International Elementary.

Todd Seavey sends a couple of witty darts in the direction of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's popularity bubble and in the process introduces a useful phrase into the political lexicon (which I've highlighted in bold):

A vote for Huckabee might as well be -- well, a vote for some other Arkansas governor. Just enough centrism to govern, not enough principle to make a difference. Huckabee is the sort of politician that makes one fear that mass democracy, after enough decades of refinement, will almost always produce de facto committees in the form of individuals....

Regarding Huckabee's philosophy of "verticalism":

But Huckabee does not -- because he cannot -- explain exactly what it is that he wants us to move vertically toward. "Upward to freedom" makes sense. "Upward to totalitarianism" even makes sense, bad idea though it may be. "Upward to a grab bag of focus-grouped ideas, some left, some right, none daring, that might play well in a Midwestern state like Iowa and get me on the ticket later as a southerner" is hollow. Don't fall for this Rorschach approach to politics, America. We already have one Clinton in the race.

Meanwhile, Greg Kaza, the head of the Arkansas Policy Foundation, that state's free market think-tank, writes at National Review Online that Arkansas has just had its biggest tax cut in history: a 50% cut in sales taxes on groceries. That cut didn't come under former Governors Bill Clinton or Mike Huckabee. How, Kaza asks, "did the tax survive two decades that included Clinton's "Bridge to the 21st Century" and Huckabee-style 'compassionate conservatism'?"

The long answer, however, was a failure to cross the fiscal T's, as in taxes, and dot the visionary I's, as in imagination. This is where freshman Democratic governor Mike Beebe comes in.

Beebe, raised by his working mother, a waitress, had the imagination to make a phase-out of the grocery tax his main issue in the 2006 election. And this year he turned that idea into reality. The governor skillfully navigated the grocery-tax cut around legislative critics who preferred an earned-income tax credit that excluded the middle class. He would also base the tax cut on a budget surplus of nearly $1 billion that Mike Huckabee did not use to reduce taxes.

The story also notes that it was a Democrat in the Arkansas legislature that led the charge to eliminate the state grocery sales tax.

It's not good for the GOP if a Democratic governor is better at cutting taxes than a Republican governor.

There's been a lot of arguing back and forth about former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's record on taxes and spending. The Club for Growth argues that Huckabee is not a fiscal conservative. Huckabee's allies accuse the Club for Growth of being deliberately misleading about Huckabee's record, although when they get down to specifics, what they are really arguing is that the facts that have been documented by the Club for Growth aren't important.

One of the factual points on which Huckabee has directly contradicted the Club for Growth is on the matter of the fuel tax increase he signed into law in 1999. Here's what the Club for Growth said in their analysis of Huckabee's fiscal record:

He signed bills raising taxes on gasoline (1999), cigarettes (2003) (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07), and a $5.25 per day bed-tax on private nursing home patients in 2001 (Arkansas New Bureau 03/01/01).

In response, Huckabee claims that while the fuel taxes went up, the increase was approved by 80% of the voters in a referendum. Club for Growth has a new video showing Huckabee saying something of that sort on five different occasions in recent interviews and debates.

The end of the video has the following response:

On April 1, 1999, Huckabee signed the gas and fuel tax hikes into law. The tax hikes began taking effect that day. -- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 04/25/99

On June 15, 1999, 80% of Arkansas voters approved a bond issue, which DID NOT include the gas tax increases. -- Arkansas Democrat- Gazette, 06/29/99

I don't have access to that newspaper's archives, but I was able to find records of the 1999 legislative session on the Arkansas Legislature's website. This link lists all the acts of 1999 -- bills that were enacted into law -- with links to PDFs of the legislation. This link provides summaries of all the acts of the 1999 session.

The two relevant acts were Act 1027 and Act 1028. Here are the summaries from that Legislature's website:

HIGHWAY BONDS

Act 1027 (HB1500) - The act authorizes the Arkansas State Highway Commission to issue revenue bonds not to exceed $575,000,000 for the purpose of constructing and renovating roads and highways. The act authorizes that the repayment of the bonds shall be guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the state and prescribes the terms and conditions of the issuance of such bonds. The act describes the sources of repayment of the bonds and provides for a statewide election on the question of issuing such bonds.

MOTOR AND DISTILLATE FUEL TAXES

Act 1028 (HB1548) - The act levies an additional excise tax on motor fuel in the amount of 1¢ per gallon per year for 3 years. The act also levies an additional excise tax on distillate special fuel in the amount of 2¢ per gallon on the effective date of the act and provides that the tax on distillate special fuel will increase to 4¢ per gallon effective one year after the effective date of the act. The act also provides that the additional taxes collected pursuant to the act shall be special revenues and shall be distributed as set forth in the Arkansas Highway Revenue Distribution Law. The act also eliminates the current limitation on the transfer of funds to the State Aid Road Fund.

These two bills were passed by the Arkansas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Huckabee. Note that the only reference to an election is in Act 1027, which is about the issuance of revenue bonds. There is no election mentioned in Act 1028; unlike Oklahoma, politicians in Arkansas can enact a tax without a vote of the people.

Just to be sure, let's drill down into the actual text of the bills:

Here's Act 1027, the Arkansas Highway Financing Act of 1999. The bill calls for the issuance of bonds, to be guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the state, to be repaid by anticipated federal highway funds and the increased excise tax on "distillate special fuels" (e.g. diesel):

Revenues derived from the increase in taxes levied on distillate special fuels pursuant to Section 2 of the "Arkansas Distillate Special Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999" and the "Motor Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999" and transferred to the State Highway and Transportation Department Fund pursuant to Arkansas Code 27-70-207(c) in accordance with Section 4(a) of the "Arkansas Distillate Special Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999" and the "Motor Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999".

Section 5 of the Act calls for an election:

No bonds shall be issued under this Act unless the issuance of bonds has been approved by a majority of the qualified electors of the state voting on the question at a state-wide election called by proclamation of the Governor.

So Act 1027 called for an election to ask the voters of Arkansas whether or not to issue revenue bonds for highway projects.

Now let's look at Act 1028, which is given two names in Section 1:

This Act may be referred to and cited as the "Arkansas Distillate Special Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999" and the "Motor Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999".

Here are the key paragraphs, sections 2(a) and 3(a):

On and after the effective date of this act, in addition to the taxes levied on distillate special fuels in this section and Arkansas Code 26-56-502 and Arkansas Code 26-56-601, there is hereby levied an excise tax of two cents (2¢) per gallon upon all distillate special fuels subject to the taxes levied in those code sections. Effective one (1) year after the effective date of this act, the additional tax levied by this subsection shall be increased by an additional two cents (2¢) per gallon....

On and after July 1, 1999, in addition to the taxes levied on motor fuel in 26-55-205, 26-55-1002 and 26-55-1201, there is hereby levied an additional excise tax of one cent (1¢) per gallon upon all motor fuels subject to the taxes levied in those code sections. On and after July 1, 2000, the additional tax levied by this subsection shall be increased to two cents (2¢) per gallon. On and after July 1, 2001, the additional tax levied by this subsection shall be increased to three cents (3¢) per gallon.

Note that the tax isn't contingent on voter approval. The act, approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Mike Huckabee, directly increases the taxes at the pump on diesel and gasoline. Here is the only mention of voter approval in Act 1028. It's at the beginning of section 4:

(a) The additional taxes collected pursuant to this act shall be considered special revenues and shall be distributed as set forth in the Arkansas Highway Revenue Distribution Law, beginning at Arkansas Code § 27-70-201.

(b) However, if the bond issue provided in the Arkansas Highway Financing Act of 1999 is approved by the voters, the distillate special fuel taxes collected pursuant to Section 2 of this act shall be distributed as provided in the Arkansas Highway Financing Act of 1999.

The only thing voter approval changed is how the additional tax revenues would be allocated. The tax increase would go into effect either way.

Bottom line: Club for Growth is telling the truth about Huckabee's gasoline and diesel tax hike. Huckabee's recent statements about the tax increase are at least misleading -- when he mentions the tax increase and then says that Arkansas voters approved "a road program," giving the impression that the tax increase and the "road program" (meaning the bond issue) were one and the same thing -- and at worst a flat-out lie -- when he says that Arkansas voters approved the tax increase.

BONUS VIDEO: Here's Huckabee, at the opening of the 2003 special legislative session, telling legislators he'd be fine with any tax increase they'd choose to pass:

There's more interesting stuff about Huckabee's fiscal record and lack of support from Arkansas Republican legislators on the Arkansas Journal blog.

AND MORE: The latest counteroffensive from Huckabee's blogpals is on Evangelical Outpost, where Joe Carter accuses Club for Growth of hypocrisy for not including a 2005 earmark that benefitted a company owned by Club for Growth.net donor and chairman Jackson Stephens Jr. in one of the CfG's congressional RePORK Cards. I replied in the comments:

Joe, the Club for Growth issued its first RePORK card in 2006, based on 19 anti-pork amendments offered by Rep. Jeff Flake; the earmark to which you refer was in 2005. And even if they'd had a RePORK card in 2005, the earmark wouldn't have been on the RePORK card unless someone like Jeff Flake or Tom Coburn had proposed an amendment to bar funding for it, unlikely considering that it was for a "Surgical Wound Disinfection and Biological Agents Decontamination Project" for the DOD.

WRDA veto overridden

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The U. S. Senate voted 79-14 this morning to override President Bush's veto of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (HR 1495). The bill becomes law; the House voted Tuesday to override, 361-54.

The fourteen brave souls who voted against the override comprise 12 Republicans and 2 Democrats, including our own Tom Coburn: Allard (R-CO), Brownback (R-KS), Burr (R-NC), Coburn (R-OK), DeMint (R-SC), Ensign (R-NV), Enzi (R-WY), Feingold (D-WI), Gregg (R-NH), Kyl (R-AZ), McCaskill (D-MO), McConnell (R-KY), Sessions (R-AL), Sununu (R-NH).

Of the seven Senators not voting, five are presidential candidates: Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden, and Republican John McCain. (Republicans John Cornyn of Texas and Jim Bunning of Kentucky were the other two.)

The bill includes a $50 million authorization for Arkansas River corridor projects related to the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan:

SEC. 3132. ARKANSAS RIVER CORRIDOR, OKLAHOMA.

(a) In General- The Secretary is authorized to participate in the ecosystem restoration, recreation, and flood damage reduction components of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan dated October 2005. The Secretary shall coordinate with appropriate representatives in the vicinity of Tulsa, Oklahoma, including representatives of Tulsa County and surrounding communities and the Indian Nations Council of Governments.

(b) Authorization of Appropriations- There is authorized to be appropriated $50,000,000 to carry out this section.

Club for Growth wanted to see the veto sustained and will make this vote part of its congressional scorecard. The bill came out of conference committee 60% bigger than either of the original House or Senate versions, and the Heritage Foundation called the bill "a prime example of legislation run amok."

RELATED: Andrew Roth of the Club for Growth, writing at National Review Online, debunks the top lame congressional excuses for pork barrel spending:

  • "I know my district better than some unelected bureaucrat!"
  • "Earmarks don't increase spending."
  • "It's for the children!"
  • "I'm fighting to get our fair share!"

And they're off!

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Jay Cost, whose Horse Race Blog provided detailed day-to-day analysis of the 2004 presidential election at the level where it mattered -- on a state-by-state basis -- is back and blogging at Real Clear Politics. (Actually, he's been back for a while, but I just now noticed.)

Cost's writing was a refreshing surprise, emerging as it did in the homestretch, the last month the '04 race. This time he began a year and a half before election day.

As I skim through the archives of the new blog, I'm remembering how much I enjoyed Cost's thinking and the clear way he expresses it. Here are a few bits by way of introduction.

About his approach and style:

This blog will probably be unlike most other blogs you read. I do not really think of myself as a blogger so much as a prolific essayist. As the election draws nearer, I think this space will start to resemble a blog more, as there will be more news to analyze. But, for the time being, I do not intend for this place to be my running tally of who is "up" and who is "down." It is just too soon for that.

Instead, I will try to make this site a forum for questions and answers about our electoral politics. I am at my best when I am trying to answer an exact question. So, what you will read here will be my answers to questions that I have asked myself. When formulating these questions and answers, I prize theoretical clarity and analytical precision. That is, I like to develop clearly-stated, intuitively sensible theories about what is going on, and then analyze those theories as precisely as I can. It is a goal of mine that this space be full of clear and precise thoughts.

About himself:

I don't understand politics as a pitched battle between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil. I understand it as the competition between divergent interests in the venue that Americans have set up to manage such conflict, namely our Madisonian system....

I like math, and I think it is useful for studying politics. Yes - math and politics in the same sentence - you read that right!...

I am not really interested in the "should" of American politics; I am interested in the "is."... This is not to say that my own preferences for the "should" won't creep into my analysis of the "is," but I am going to keep them as separate as possible.

Because I will not be able to keep the "is" and the "should" entirely separate, you should know a little about my worldview. I'll put it in two different ways, the hoity-toity philosophical and the meat-and-potatoes. Hoity-toity: my political philosophy lies at the nexus of Karl Popper, St. Bonaventure, and Edmund Burke....

By and large, I do not get frothy-mouthed over the "should."... It is hard to be frothy-mouthed about what should happen when you learn the dirty little secret of the Madisonian system: it is set up specifically to prevent much from really changing. So, why get all frothy-mouthed over my idea of the way things should be when our forefathers set it up so that my idea of "should" will almost always lose?

His rules for e-mail are worthy of widespread adoption. The last one sums them all up.

Emails should be polite and respectful. They should implicitly convey your understanding that a fellow human being you (probably) have never met shall be reading what you have written, and that - as you have never met him - you have no business being anything but nice.

On the flaw in asking for first preferences only in primary polls:

Primary voting is staggered. Some of us vote after others. This is important because candidates drop out. In reality, Iowans are the only people who make a selection for the presidential nomination the way respondents answer polls. The rest of us have to choose from a smaller field. So, this format of polling does not capture the reality of the primary election....

So, the poll I would like to see is a query of primary voters that asks them to rank the candidates from worst to first, and let us view the raw data. Maybe then we could get a sense of what will happen.

On the way conventional wisdom develops:

Nevertheless, this is how the Washington chattering classes work. They put together disparate pieces of data into an over-simple narrative (the only kind that works in sound bite format) - and they repeat it, and they repeat it, and they repeat it. Eventually, it takes upon a life of its own, as the conclusion of the chatterers becomes a fact that all and sundry have "observed."

Finally, a couple of quotes from a brilliant recent essay, The Awful Task of Governance:

There is a strange tension in the American political party. It strives to achieve a governing majority. That is its goal. But a governing majority is nothing but a hassle. It cannot accomplish much more than half measures, watered-down versions of what it promised, or symbolic gestures that change nothing at all. Eventually, its supporters catch on to this impotence, and they come to loathe it, decrying its members as dime-a-dozen politicians who squandered the public trust. So, I can't help but ask: why bother?

Of course, like a salmon swimming upstream, the party does bother. It works tirelessly to acquire 218 Reps or 51 Senators, even though it knows (or it should know) what awaits it upon "victory." And what awaits the party is one of the inevitable features of our system: it thwarts, stymies, and frustrates governing majorities. It was designed to do exactly that....

The function of the political party is to concentrate power just enough so that the government can actually work.... What was needed was some kind of centripetal force in our system to collect at least some of the power that the Constitution disperses. Without such a force, our system would do little more than enforce the status quo. Thus, the party caucus was born. This remains the job of the political party to this day: to concentrate power by coordinating the actions of governmental agents with similar views.

I've added the Horse Race blog to my Newsgator-powered headlines page, which shows the latest 100 posts from about 160 blogs and opinion feeds, so you and I will know when a new Jay Cost essay has been posted.

Right after we were married, way back in 1989 and the early '90s, my wife and I lived in the Marella Apartments on Riverside Drive. About the time we moved in there, a few blocks east, on the southeast corner of 39th and Peoria, there was a little commercial building, and a brightly painted red-white-and-blue cafe in a very narrow space. A fellow from Pennsylvania named George Van Wyck thought Tulsa needed a source for authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, so he opened Steak Stuffers USA. The place got a four and a half star rating from the Tribune, upgraded to five stars when the store expanded -- the close quarters was the only knock against the place. George ran (and still runs) a clean store; I remember seeing health inspection scores in the upper 90s. He was always shooting for 100%. We visited frequently.

I think Steak Stuffers USA was the first place in town to serve corn fritters as a side item (sometimes called corn poppers or corn dodgers).

The restaurant was successful, and eventually he expanded into the space next door, but his time on Brookside came to an end in 1992, when Albertson's bought the building and knocked it down to make room for their parking lot. George found a new home for Steak Stuffers USA in an old Braum's location on 51st Street between Utica and Lewis. At some point in the '90s, he also expanded to 81st and 145th in Broken Arrow, but he had trouble finding enough reliable workers to keep both locations operating to his high standards.

I'm rehearsing all this history to tell you that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is going to be at Steak Stuffers USA, 1932 E 51st St, tomorrow (Friday) at 3:15 p.m. for a brief appearance. (He'll be at the Summit Club for a paying reception at 4.)

There are things I like and dislike about Rudy Giuliani, but I'm very happy that his campaign is giving George Van Wyck and Steak Stuffers USA a moment in the spotlight.

Just remember, Rudy: Use the fork to push down the meat, mushrooms, and cheese and wrap the roll around for full flavor.

UPDATE: David Schuttler has photos of Rudy getting stuffed.

In his column The Worst GOP Field Ever--or the Best?, Michael Medved makes a good point about how unimpressive the candidate selection was in years past. I think he's right when he points to the lack of "one obvious and overwhelming frontrunner" as the source of some unease. Republicans seem to like a bandwagon to jump on, and this year there isn't one.

What's interesting about this column is how Medved fames his writing to boost Huckabee. He casts Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, and Duncan Hunter as "angry fringe candidates." (He describes Steve Forbes, who made a late entry in 1996 and was considered an early top-tier candidate in 2000, as a "hard right fringe candidate.")

Sam Brownback, often paired with Huckabee as a fellow social conservative from the south central US, is described by Medved as an "ego-tripper" in the mold of Orrin Hatch and Bob Smith ("ran more for attention and publicity than with any real thought of winning anything").

Medved includes Huckabee as a major contender, one of the "Big Five", and as he runs through the flaws of each -- "two messy divorces," "slick, pandering flip-flopper," "too old and too cantankerous," and "upstaged by his micro-managing Trophy Wife" -- Huckabee's problems are "can't seem to raise money" and "background as a Baptist preacher" which might alienate Catholic voters. Medved tags the other four with internal, character flaws, while Huckabee's only problems are external and beyond his control. Nothing about his nanny-state proclivities, his record of supporting tax increases, his opposition to tough immigration enforcement.

Mitt Romney has Hugh Hewitt, and now it appears that Huckabee has his Hewitt in Michael Medved.

I thought the Democrats already had a wealthy, out-of-touch pseudo-populist in the race. Here's Barack Obama at an Iowa campaign stop:

One line that landed a little flat, though, was when Mr. Obama sympathetically noted that farmers have not seen an increase in prices for their crops, despite a rise in prices at the supermarket.

“Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?” the senator said. “I mean, they’re charging a lot of money for this stuff.”

The state of Iowa, for all of its vast food production, does not have a Whole Foods, a leading natural and organic foods market. The closest? Omaha, Minneapolis or Kansas City.

Mr. Obama, perhaps sensing a lack of reaction from the crowd, moved along to the next topic. After all, he never claimed to be a farming expert.

Remember back in 1988, when Michael Dukakis suggested that Iowa farmers should diversify and cultivate Belgian endive.

What is it about Democratic presidential candidates and upscale leafy vegetables?

Fred Thompson, former Tennessee senator and potential Republican candidate for president, was invited to speak over the weekend to the Council on National Policy, a group made up of conservative leaders in various spheres of influence. Here's the text of his speech.

An anonymous tipster told Hotline that Thompson's speech was underwhelming, but the Washington Times reported that Christian conservative leaders are lining up to support Thomspon. (Although the Times story doesn't mention the CNP meeting, the story came out Monday and the anonymous comments almost certainly came from CNP members.)

Thompson didn't try to cover every possible issue and said at the outset he would not be delivering a rousing oration. Instead, he took two examples of his recent government-related activity and used them to set out his basic philosophy of government and the principles that guide him.

The two examples Thompson used were assisting Chief Justice John Roberts through the confirmation process and helping Scooter Libby through his recent trial over the Valerie Plame case. In the course of talking about Roberts he makes clear his support for judicial restraint, his opposition to Roe v. Wade, and his opposition to judicial overreaching on church-state issues.

In the part of the speech about Libby, Thompson rehearsed the facts of the case. He believes the Justice Department caved to political pressure and that Libby deserves a presidential pardon. He marvels that Libby is facing time in jail, while pants-stuffer Sandy Berger has suffered no penalties for stealing what were likely classified documents from the National Archive.

Here's how Thompson tied these two stories together:

The Roberts nomination shows us that we can win against those who would use the Constitution for their own ends, even though it is always a fight.

Libby’s prosecution demonstrates how injustices can occur when public officials lack the courage to go against the public clamor and to do the right thing, thereby perverting the rule of law.

Thompson does a very clever thing here in a very subtle way. Without mentioning President George W. Bush by name, and without criticizing him by name or title, Thompson set out what Bush did well and what Bush did wrong and how a Thompson presidency would differ from the Bush administration.

Bush's biggest policy failures stemmed from a desire to preempt criticism from the left-leaning mainstream media -- No Child Left Behind, signing McCain-Feingold, the Medicare prescription drug benefit; going into Iraq with not enough troops, too quickly turning Iraq and Afghanistan over to new civilian governments, adopting too-strict rules of engagement.

By contrast, Thompson has demonstrated that he will stand by someone who was done an injustice, even when voices from his own party are clamoring that Libby is a pariah. Thompson's willingness to stand for justice when it could do him political harm but no political good whatsoever -- that's a character quality I want in a president.

UPDATE: A brilliant 30 second video response by Thompson to Michael Moore's challenge to debate him about healthcare.

In today's edition of American Spectator Online, there's a piece by me, trying to explain to a national audience what Republican activists in one of the reddest red states were saying at last Saturday's convention about the 2008 presidential race and what Sen. Jim Inhofe is doing to motivate his base of supporters.

I'll be writing one more piece on the convention (I promise, Jason and Michelle!) for GetRightOK, a new online community for Oklahoma conservatives. It'll mainly be some personal reflections on the races for state chairman and vice chairman. (It's next in the queue.)

...and he's proving it by standing up the Oklahoma Republican convention. Romney had committed months ago to be the keynote speaker at this year's convention, to be held on April 14 in Oklahoma City.

But just yesterday, Romney's people notified the state GOP that he would not be coming to speak. When the party contacted the Romney campaign to find out why, so that they could provide some explanation to the delegates, some graceful way out for Romney, the campaign's response was that they had no response.

Barring a family emergency -- not a likely reason for a cancellation 10 days in advance -- there's no good reason for Romney to cancel. He doesn't have legislative or executive responsibilities to fulfill. He's just running for president, and this has been on the calendar for a long time.

The message the cancellation sends is that Mitt Romney will stick to a commitment, but only until something better comes along.

It may be too late to schedule another speaker, but convention organizers are giving it their best.

Wouldn't be exciting -- and symbolic -- if Fred Thompson came to speak, filling the void left by Romney?

Below I'm going to try to provide some cultural context for James Dobson's comment casting doubt on Sen. Fred Thompson's Christian faith (while applauding serial bigamist Newt Gingrich). But first, these folks had some worthwhile things to say on the subject:

See-Dubya:

Dobson has alienated a lot of people with his comment and he's also set up the biggest Sistah Souljah moment of the upcoming race. Fred ought to use this as a chance to talk about his faith, and also to differentiate himself from shrill voices like Falwell and Dobson.

Allahpundit at Hot Air, where See-Dubya has this to say in the comments:

Speaking as someone who was baptized in the Church of Christ myself, [Dobson] has just used up every last bit of goodwill I had for him. It’s sanctimonious jackass spokesmen like Robertson, Dobson, and Reed who are making Christian conservatism irrelevant and driving us into the arms of mushy-headed Rick Warren feelgoodism.

In the comments of the same post, blogger Right Wing Sparkle defends Dobson's career, but not his comments in this situation.

Karol writes:

Much as my instinct is to lash out at Dobson (I mean, who is he to say who is or is not a Christian) I know that he is quite a big deal, especially in the swing state of Colorado. I don't know what he has against our man Fred, but I do hope he cuts this nonsense out.

The USA Today article included a quote from a Dobson spokesman that may be difficult for non-evangelical readers to parse:

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian -- someone who talks openly about his faith."

"We use that word -- Christian -- to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added. "Dr. Dobson wasn't expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to 'read the tea leaves' about such a possibility."

Let me try to translate and provide some context, without justifying Dobson's comment.

Evangelicals draw a distinction between nominal Christians and committed Christians. Within the evangelical subculture, the bare word "Christian" means someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus, someone who has had a conversion experience, someone who has asked Jesus to come into his heart, someone who has been born again. (As I write those phrases, I'm struck by the difficulty of explaining the concept to people who aren't native speakers of evangelicalese.)

While other branches of Christianity define being a Christian in terms of participation in the sacrament of baptism, which they regard as objectively making a person a Christian, evangelicals understand being a Christian in experiential terms -- making a decision to follow Christ, having a conversion experience.

The pietistic predecessors of modern evangelicalism looked at the institutionalized churches of the 17th century and saw a dead orthodoxy -- the form of religion was there, but the life-changing power of the resurrection was absent. America's Great Awakening in the early 18th century was not about converting pagans but about calling a nation of outwardly moral, faithful churchgoers back to a lively personal faith in Christ.

From the evangelical frame of reference, it makes perfect sense to ask the question, "Is he a Christian?" of someone who was baptized and has gone to church every Sunday morning of his life. As the saying goes, being born in a Christian home doesn't make you a Christian any more than being born in a garage makes you a car. The reality of your faith and the security of your salvation is suspect if you can't point to a date and place when you came to faith.

I can remember, as a Campus Crusader in college, being very suspicious of people who claimed that they couldn't remember a time when they weren't Christian. There were a number of students in our group who grew up in Christian homes and had been baptized as infants, but they had conversion experiences in college. Many chose to be baptized as adult believers, because only now did they consider themselves Christian. Their earlier church involvement was mere religion, not living faith in and a vital personal relationship with Christ.

To bring this back to politics: Here in Oklahoma, even our Catholic politicians are expected to be born again. When a Republican politician from a liturgical background runs for higher office, you can expect to see an interview with him in a magazine like Community Spirit, in which the pol tells of a personal conversion experience and describes his devotional habits of prayer and Bible reading. (Extra points for being part of a Bible study or prayer group with fellow politicians.) Evangelical voters are reassured to hear a politician talk in this way: He must really be saved, and therefore he has the spirit of God dwelling within him, and therefore he can make godly decisions as a government official.

The demand to hear a conversion story can have comical results. I can't find the exact quote, but I recall that the elder George Bush, a lifelong Episcopalian, had a typically awkward answer when asked, during his campaign for the White House in 1988, whether he was born again. He knew he had to say yes, but it was clear that he didn't really understand the question.

While Dobson might be upset that Thompson hasn't come to pay his respects, I suspect Dobson's main problem is that Thompson doesn't wear his faith on his sleeve, that he doesn't talk about his prayer life or having a quiet time or being in a Bible study or listening to Christian radio. The problem with that is that it mistakes the talk for the walk. It puts Dobson (and those he influences) at the mercy of whoever can make the most convincing use of the standard evangelical buzzwords, which doesn't necessarily correlate with genuine devotion to Christ.

UPDATE: Mollie Hemingway at Get Religion gets it. She agrees that the follow-up quote from Schneeberger is the key to understanding what Dobson said:

I also think it’s worth highlighting that what we’re seeing here are classic distinctions in how various Protestants define Christian.

Whether they admit it or not, many Americans adopt a view similar to that held by Dobson: Christianity is mainly about behavior and feelings. Christians of all stripes — as well as folks who don’t define themselves as religious — tend to judge Christians’ fidelity to their faith (and adherents of other religions) by their actions. Many of them incorporate personal testimonies into the equation as a means of speaking to behavioral change or a change of feelings. I bet that many readers are nodding their head and saying, “And what’s the big deal about this?”

Well, this view is extremely different from that held by other believers, myself included. In my church body [Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, one of the most conservative branches of American Lutheranism] we don’t really speak of personal behaviors or statements — as Dobson seems to have done — to determine someone’s religious status. Instead we point to whether they’ve been baptized.

ALSO: Barb the Evil Genius, a Lutheran blogger, initially thought I was defending Dobson and wondered if I still held the opinions that I say I held as a Campus Crusader in college. You can see my response, plus some additional thoughts, in the comments below. If you can't imagine that someone can be a genuine Christian without a crisis conversion experience, you need to read Barb's thoughts on the subject.

Columnist Mona Charen explains "Why Fred Thompson Should Run":

The current Republican field is like a smorgasbord at Denny's -- lots of OK choices, but nothing to get the heart racing. That's why the potential candidacy of former Sen. Fred Thompson is creating a palpable stir.

She runs through the leading candidates, explaining how each one falls short: Giuliani, McCain, Romney. What about Brownback, Huckabee, Hunter, et alii?

The other candidates in the race are barely registering in the polls, and one of those waiting in the wings is carrying enough baggage to sink a cruise ship.

So. What about that likable fellow from Tennessee? Thompson is not "just an actor" (though they said that about Reagan, and he turned out OK). He began his professional life as an assistant U.S. attorney, worked as Sen. Howard Baker's campaign manager and did a stint as co-chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee. It was he who asked the innocuous-sounding but momentous question of Alexander Butterfield: "Were you aware of the existence of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?"...

His voting record is solidly conservative. He is articulate, self-made (his father was a car salesman), highly intelligent, and exudes calm authority. His star power offers him an opening with independent voters that other candidates can only dream of, while his solid conservative credentials will excite the Republican base.

Mark Alexander likes Thompson on every issue:

Thompson's record as a U.S. Senator from 1994 to 2003 shows that he was on the right side of every critical issue. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs from 1997 to 2001, he voted for national-debt reduction, the all-important balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a presidential line-item veto to eliminate congressional pork and efforts to privatize elements of Social Security. He supported legislation in the interest of free enterprise and opposed many regulatory and tax measures. He opposed growth in social-welfare programs, including expansions in Medicare and welfare for immigrants. He supported efforts to decentralize or disenfranchise unconstitutional government programs.

Fred voted for limits on death penalty appeals, product-liability punitive-damage awards and class-action lawsuits. He opposed decreasing restrictions on wiretaps. He supported increased oil exploration, including ANWR drilling permits, and is an advocate of free trade, understanding well the underlying national security implications. He supported an amendment to prohibit flag burning and voted for numerous measures in support of Second Amendment rights. (Charlton Heston campaigned for him in '94.)

On family and social issues, he opposed "marriage" between homosexuals, partial-birth abortion, cloning, the addition of "sexual orientation" to hate-crimes legislation and legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. He voted for many education-reform measures, including the provision of school vouchers.

Most important, Thompson's support for Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom was, and remains, steadfast. Thompson has the authoritative grasp of national-security issues necessary for a commander in chief, particularly with respect to the long-term jihadi threat.

Peggy Noonan has a general comment about the field which may explain the appeal of Thompson. She says Republicans should stop being intimidated by the legacy of Ronald Reagan:

For Republicans especially he should be a reorienting memory. He was modern conservatism. If they are for more government, more spending, a more imposing state, what are they?

For Democrats he should function as a reminder that ideas and philosophy count, that they give politics meaning.

Republicans should take heart from his memory but not be sunk in him or spooked by him. Life moves. Reagan's meaning cannot be forgotten. But where does it get you if it's 1885, and Republicans are pulling their hair out saying, "Oh no, we're not doing well. We could win if only we had a Lincoln, but they shot him 20 years ago!" That's not how serious people talk, and it's not how serious people think. You face the challenges of your time with the brains and guts you have. You can't sit around and say, "Oh what would Lincoln do?" For one thing it is an impractical attitude. Lincolns don't come along every day. What you want to do with the memory of a great man is recognize his greatness, laud it, take succor from it, and keep moving. You can't be transfixed by a memory. Hold it close and take it into the future with you....

Doesn't matter what you call yourself, matters who you are. Reagan wasn't magic. He was serious, farsighted and brave about the great issues of his time. Republican candidates could try that. If they did, it would have a secondary benefit. They'd start respecting themselves instead of merely being full of themselves. This would help them stop being spooked.

A Rasmussen head-to-head poll shows Fred Thompson beating Hillary Clinton 44-43 and only 12 points behind Barack Obama. (Via Alarming News.)

The American Spectator blog has this observation:

Suffice it to say that a number of folks in Massachusetts and Manhattan and Arizona are getting nervous. Without having spent a dime, Thompson is a more credible candidate than some folks who have spent upwards of $10 million.

An Iowa, ARG has Giuliani and McCain tied at 29, Thompson in third at 12, and Romney in fourth at 10.

In Texas, ARG shows Giuliani at 30, McCain at 20, Romney at 13, Thompson at 12, and Gingrich at 11.

ARG hasn't done an Oklahoma poll since the Thompson buzz began. Their February poll has Giuliani at 37, McCain at 21, and Huckabee at 14. Romney is at 2.

(Huckabee is doing great in Arkansas, but is in the single digits at best everywhere else.)

Looking at all of ARG's state-by-state polls, the message that come across clearly is that Romney should just give up. He is in the single digits almost everywhere except his two home states -- Utah and Massachusetts -- and New Hampshire, where he had a lot of exposure as governor of a neighboring state. Even where he's just into the low teens, he's well back of Giuliani and McCain, competing with a couple of undeclared candidates. For all of the money he has spent, he's not making an impression. Only a win in Iowa or an overwhelming win in New Hampshire (a close win would fall short of what would be expected of a Massachusetts official there) would make him a contender in later primaries. For all of the advertising he has done, for all of his time in those two states, Romney's numbers aren't budging.

(But, you say, shouldn't that be true of Huckabee, Brownback, and the rest, too? The difference is that they could credibly claim they haven't made their media push yet in those states, so they wouldn't expect to see much support at this stage.)

Finally, Karol at Alarming News tracks the tempest over Thompson's views on abortion. A group called "Evangelicals for Mitt" posted an entry on its blog with quotes from 1994 and 1996 news stories saying that Fred Thompson was a supporter of abortion rights at the time, just as Romney was in '94. But an executive with the National Right to Life Committee interviewed Thompson at length in 1994, during his first race for Senate:

[National Right to Life executive co-director Darla] St. Martin said that she went down to Tennessee in 1994 to speak with Thompson personally when he first ran for Senate, and that she determined he was against abortion.

"I interviewed him and on all of the questions I asked him, he opposed abortion," St. Martin said. She told me that the group went on to support him in that election, and his record reinforced for her that their determination was correct.

"He has a consistent voting record that is pro-life," she said.

MORE FRED:

Thompson dominated a straw poll held at the Gwinnett County, Georgia, Republican Convention. Gwinnett County, in the Atlanta suburbs, ought to be Gingrich country, but Newt finished with 17%, well back of Thompson with 44%. It's not a scientific poll, but county convention goers are the sort who volunteer for candidates and persuade their neighbors to vote.

Michele of Reformed Chicks Blabbing comments on these results:

I think we are seeing the erosion of support for the leading candidates and the beginning of a ground swell for the closest we are going to get to an electable, conservative candidate. At least I hope that's the case.

George Korda, writing in the Knoxville News Sentinel, remembers August 1994, during Thompson's first run for U. S. Senate, when he was running well behind his Democratic opponent. The column has a great title: Thompson and the Hunt for a Red November. That's red as in Republican. How long has it been since we had a president that wasn't from the sunbelt?

There's a lot of interesting news on Bill Hobbs's Elephant Biz blog including a Daily Fred roundup. Hobbs also ponders whether Thompson's surge disproves the conventional wisdom that an early entry into the presidential race is essential, dissects Hugh Hewitt and Michael Barone's analysis of Fred's chances, and why Mitt Romney's success at fundraising may all be for naught.

The American Spectator blog has more on who's funding and supplying info to the Evangelicals for Mitt blog, which lately seems focused on downplaying anyone who might compete with Romney for conservative support.

Finally, here's a blog devoted to news about Fred Thompson.

YET MORE: Robert N. Going says he "likes a guy who says what he means and means what he says." He cites Thompson's response to the question, "Do you want to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

I think Roe vs. Wade was bad law and bad medical science. And the way to address that is through good judges. I don't think the court ought to wake up one day and make new social policy for the country. It's contrary to what it's been the past 200 years.

Last week, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 82-14, HB 2595 (link opens a Microsoft Word-compatible Rich Text Format file), which would move Oklahoma's 2008 presidential preference primary from the first Tuesday in February to the last Tuesday in January. The bill was authored by State Rep. Trebor Worthen and State Sen. Todd Lamb, both Oklahoma City Republicans. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Rules Committee.

Oklahoma is already in a strategic position with its current primary date, which it shares with California, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Missouri, and Utah. (West Virginia has a state convention for delegate selection that day, and North Dakota has caucuses.) Although California will attract a lot of attention, it doesn't have the majority of delegates up for grabs that day. In fact, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma have a combined total of 125 delegates. Add in Alabama's 45, and you have what amounts to a south central regional primary offering 170 delegates. (The numbers exclude the three uncommitted superdelegate seats allocated to each state's RNC representatives.)

Despite a much greater population, California has the same number of delegates, a consequence of the party's overall lack of success in statewide races there. California gets one bonus delegate (for winning the Governor's Mansion); Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma have a total of 55 bonus delegates.

(Arizona and Utah are inconsequential -- likely locks for McCain and Romney, respectively.)

While California was a winner-take-all state in years past, in 2008, there will be 54 separate elections. Three delegates will be allocated in each congressional district to the candidate with a plurality. The winner of the statewide tally will get an additional 11 seats. There's an incentive for an underfunded candidate to focus on winning in just one of California's media markets, while spending more time and money in the less expensive, more compact south central states.

So there are already plenty of strategic reasons for presidential hopefuls to spend plenty of time in Oklahoma. If HB 2095 passes the State Senate, Oklahoma would become even more important, leaping ahead of South Carolina by four days to become the second primary on the calendar, just a week after New Hampshire.

Of course, any other state might move its date, too, if there is still time for its legislature to act. In some states, legislatures have authorized the governor or the state's chief election official to move the date in response to the actions of other states, whether or not the legislature is in session.

LINKS: The Green Papers has a wealth of information about the 2008 primary process, including a chronological calendar of primaries, caucuses, and conventions, which in turn has links to details on each state's rules, delegate allocations for the Republicans and Democrats, showing the allocation formula used by each party. There is also a table showing who is eligible to participate in delegate selection and what allocation method is used for each state for both Republicans and Democrats. Each state page includes notes on legislation affecting the date of the primary.

The fact that the Green Papers got Oklahoma's legislative information wrong makes me wonder about the reliability of their other information, however. They have this:

Oklahoma HB 1790 was amended on 7 February 2007 to change the Presidentail Primary date from the first Tuesday in February (5 February 2008) to the first Saturday in February (2 February 2008).

HB 1790 is actually Rep. John Trebilcock's very sensible bill to reduce the number of permitted special election dates from 21 to 14 in every two-year cycle. Unfortunately HB 1790 didn't make it out of committee. I can't find any legislation that would move the primary to a Saturday.

Bits and pieces:

Here's a website dedicated to the proposition that Rudy's Really Liberal. Quotes from Mr. Giuliani on a variety of topics, including his rather callous views on abortion.

WMCA talk show host Kevin McCullough doesn't think much of Newt Gingrich's assertion that private lives should be off limits in the 2008 presidential campaign:

Bill Clinton deserved to be scrutinized. His behavior (supposedly in private) put the nation's security at risk. He also ended up committing felonies.

Since the dirt of these men's lives IS going to be examined. They would be better off demonstrating that they are no longer the men they once were - as opposed to making these waste of time statements about how this part or that part of their lives should be "off limits."

Telling Dr. Dobson that he did something wrong doesn't fully address Gingrich's character problem. Newt didn't just make one oopsie while tipsy. He did the trophy wife trade-up not once, but twice, in each case taking up with wife N+1 while still married to wife N. (Six years overlap in the case of his second-to-third-wife transition.) And there's more -- Google "Newt Gingrich" and "little boy smile" and you'll see what I mean.

Now on to the continuing buzz about former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

Mickey Kaus wants to know

Wherein lies the greatness of Sen. Fred Thompson? Just asking!

Ron Coleman has a similar question:

But is this another case of mistaking the TV character for the person? ....

Conservatives are in the dumps because there isn’t a Reagan, or even the version of George W. Bush they thought they were buying, in this race. But what exactly it is that they see in Thompson is not clear unless, as I said, they are actually voting for a rich baritone voice, six-and-a-half-feet of USDA Grade A beef, and — here’s the kicker — his role as a fair but firm, if a little politicized, urban crime-fighter.

I'm getting excited about a candidate for the first time in this race, and I've never seen "Law and Order," so that isn't all there is to it. I suspect Thompson's stint as a Paul Harvey fill-in has done more to get conservatives excited. Here is someone who is saying all the right things on fiscal issues, social issues, and foreign policy -- and saying them so well!

The point Kaus makes about Thompson's lack of executive experience is a valid one, but does that lack outweigh the benefit of having a nominee who holds the right views on the key issues of the day and who can articulate and defend them?

Thompson's radio commentary on illegal immigration has Karol waxing lyrical. And she points to Ryan Sager's piece in the New York Sun weighing the effects of a Thompson candidacy on the rest of the GOP field:

But there's one candidate whose campaign he could end almost instantaneously, should he choose to run: that of Mr. Romney. Mr. Thompson is pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay marriage, and anti-tax — like Mr. Romney. But he has one advantage over the former governor: He didn't just come to these positions over the last year or so, in a "Road to Des Moines" conversion.

On virtually every issue, Mr. Thompson is as far right, or further, than Mr. Romney, and he has been for some time. Mr. Romney's claim to fame so far in the campaign has been that he's the "true conservative" in the race — in contrast to Mayor Giuliani and Senator McCain. If Mr. Thompson jumps in, however, the rationale behind Mr. Romney's candidacy drops out.

"Road to Des Moines conversion." Heh.

Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza thinks Thompson can do what social conservatives like Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee have struggled to do: raise money.

McCain, Romney and Giuliani have all been in the race and raising money for months (if not years), and with the pricetag for the nomination estimated at between $50 and $100 million the ability to raise millions of dollars is a huge hurdle.

Lucky for Thompson that his home state is renowned for its willingness to donate to political candidates. Beginning with Sen. Howard Baker's (R-Tenn.) run for the presidency in 1980 and with Al Gore's first run in 1988 and then both of Sen. Lamar Alexander's unsuccessful bids for national office (and don't former Sen. Bill Frist's abbreviated run), Volunteer State donors are acclimated to supporting their native sons.

Baker, Frist and Alexander are intimately involved in the recruitment of Thompson and would undoubtedly bring their financial networks to bear on his behalf -- ensuring a solid financial base on which to build a national campaign.

That via Mary Katherine Ham, who notes that John McCain is helping to make the case for Thompson by his slap at the Club for Growth. She notes: "We fiscal conservatives don't take kindly to Club for Growth bashing." No, we don't.

Finally, via WorldMagBlog, an interesting piece from the Weekly Standard on believers and the presidency -- not about whether past presidents were serious about their faith in God, but about whether they really believed in the direction they were leading the country:

Four or so years ago, I heard the comedian Jackie Mason mock George W. Bush's slender rhetorical powers. "He stumbles, he stutters, he mispronounces. He goes arghh, he goes ahhh; he twists himself up in words; it's hopeless. Unlike Bill Clinton, who speaks with never a pause, never a miscue, never a hitch of any kind. You know, when you come to think of it, it's a hell of a lot easier to speak well when you don't believe a word you're saying."

More than merely amusing, this comic bit is provocatively suggestive. What it suggests is that American presidents can be divided into those who are true believers and those who are something else: managers, politicians, operators, men who just wanted the job. While in office, Bill Clinton, who seems to have had as little true belief as any politician in recent decades, sensed that the country wanted to move to the center, so he moved to the center along with it: changing the welfare system, doing nothing radical about health care, rocking no boats, giving the people what the polls told him they wanted....

Belief is not a sine qua non in a president. At times the country does better with a politician whose aim goes little beyond keeping the ball in play, the game in motion. And where belief is detectable, the question of course is what is the content of the belief a candidate holds. If Churchill was a believer, so was Hitler.

Yet no great American president I can think of has not been a believer. The greatest of our presidents, perhaps the greatest American, Abraham Lincoln, was great precisely because of his deep, almost religious belief in the necessity of maintaining the Union and doing everything he could to keep it intact. Had they then existed, polls heavily in favor of his bringing the boys back home by stopping the Civil War would scarcely have dissuaded him.

Oh, one more thing, not specifically presidential, but related, given the concern about the true leanings of Giuliani, Romney, and McCain. Rush Limbaugh has been criticizing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's shift to the left on a variety of issues. On the Today show, Schwarzenegger called Limbaugh "irrelevant." Limbaugh took that in stride -- assumed that Arnie meant Rush isn't relevant to his decision-making process in California. Here's a link to a transcript of Rush's response. Rush notes the electoral disasters that befall Republicans when they fail to govern or campaign as conservatives. He mentions that he hasn't settled on a presidential candidate yet. "[O]ne of the things I'm concerned about is there's not one Reagan conservative in the bunch -- which is okay, but then don't tell me that there is."

He also makes an interesting point about friendships between commentators and politicians:

I know Arnold. I have smoked stogies with Arnold, and I like Arnold! He's an engaging, friendly, nice guy. But that's why I always said, "Folks, when you're in a position, as I am, a national commentator, the one thing you can't do is become friends with these politicians." When you become friends with them, you can't criticize your friends. When they become part of your traveling gang or your inner circle, they are insulated from criticism, and that's not going to help me and that's not what I'm here for, is to make friends with these people.

It is a tough thing for me to be critical of politicians I've gotten to know. (Mostly -- some politicians I've gotten to know well enough that it's extremely easy for me to criticize them.) I hope I can effectively criticize their policies while being sympathetic to the challenges they face in making the right decisions.

Schwarzenegger called in to talk to Limbaugh (here's the transcript) and they had a frank but friendly exchange on the increase in the state's minimum wage, health care for illegal immigrants, and cigar smoking. Neither one backed down, but they kept it civil.

On a Dean Barnett entry about Newt Gingrich's "creepy" televised confession of adultery to James Dobson, a commenter called GenXDad nails it:

It's not Newt's infidelity in and of itself that bothers me, it's his self-centeredness and egotism that bothers me. His infidelities are a manifestation of his overinflated sense of self. In that respect, I dislike Newt the man for the same reasons I dislike Bill Clinton the man.

Anyone else remember Gingrich's public complaint about being forced to ride in the back of Air Force One. Which was worse: That he was genuinely bothered by such a minor slight, or that he felt it was appropriate to complain about it publicly?

Related to that: Here's an interesting piece from Vanity Fair in 1989, capturing Gingrich at an interesting moment. He has risen to the House leadership, he has gained national attention for his attacks on the ethics of Speaker Jim Wright, and you can begin to see the arc of the next five years, leading to the Contract with America and the Republican majority in the U. S. House.

Gingrich is an interesting thinker and strategist, and I admire the groundwork he laid in making Republicans competitive in the House of Representatives. I just don't want him to represent the Republican Party in next year's election.

Some stories on the 2008 Presidential sweepstakes:

Jim Geraghty wants to know: Where are the policy wonks? We see candidacy trial balloons going up all over the country, but who is floating an issue trial balloon?

So far, there’s been nothing strikingly compelling or repelling about these candidates’ vision of where they want to take the country, and so we argue about their past stands, decisions, and positions, instead of what they want to do with the office they seek.

How many candidates on either side are running for president because they want to do something? How many candidates on either side are running for president because they want to be somebody?

My guess is that the policy wonks are waiting until the field thins out a bit. If a wonk picks the right candidate to help, he can look forward to, at the very least, White House invites, maybe even a cabinet post or a role as a White House advisor. Pick the wrong guy, and you've lost your chance at being in the next president's inner circle.

Now a wonk might team up with someone for reasons other than personal vision. If a candidate offers a compelling agenda that aligns with a wonk's ideals, the wonk might sign up to help whether the candidate as a chance or not, just to have the opportunity to get some attention focused on his key issues.

But the candidates don't seem to have the boldness to talk about new ideas at the moment. Everyone seems afraid of putting a foot wrong. So expect the policy wonks to stay on the sidelines for a while longer.

Meanwhile, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson is being talked up by more and more conservative activists, who until now felt their choice was between conservative candidates who can't win and RINOs who might be able to win. Thompson is filling in this week for Paul Harvey and has been wowing listeners with his plain-spoken commentary. He has the ability to say something principled and pointed without being apologetic, but also without being shrill or obnoxious.

For example, read Thompson's commentary on Gandhi, Iraq, and pacifism. Pointing to the anti-war protesters who have made Gandhi an icon of their movement, he reminds listeners of the extremes to which Gandhi took his pacifism. Gandhi said that Jews under Nazi rule should have willingly abandoned themselves to the slaughter rather than resist. "Collective suicide would have been heroism," Gandhi said.

Thompson's concluding thoughts:

The so-called peace movement certainly has the right to make Gandhi’s way their way, but their efforts to make collective suicide American foreign policy just won’t cut it in this country. When Americans think of heroism, we think of the young American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, risking their lives to prevent another Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein.

Gandhi probably wouldn't approve, but I can live with that.

Thompson conveys substance (and he actually has substance), he has a way with words, and American voters are not going to cringe when they hear him speak.

He is a conservative of conviction, not of convenience. He is a social conservative, a fiscal conservative, and is pro-victory in the Global War on Terror.

This is the first candidate that I've felt any enthusiasm about supporting -- Fred Thompson is, as Doug Patton writes, a conservative who can win. Can anyone give me a good reason why I shouldn't jump on the Fred Thompson bandwagon?

The compressed 2008 presidential primary schedule may not be the only thing that leads to an early conclusion to both parties' nomination processes.

Mickey Kaus passes along an e-mail from an anonymous reader who writes that the mainstream media networks don't have the resources to cover two long battles involving multiple candidates. He says the networks will simplify the race to match their staffing levels -- two leading candidates plus one wild card in each party. Other candidates will simply not get any attention from the networks, which will lead donors, volunteers, and voters to assume that they aren't viable and to throw their support behind one of the three in the media spotlight.

It has always frustrated me to see my preferred candidate drop out before our turn to vote in Oklahoma. In 1988, I was a Pete du Pont fan -- first candidate with the guts to call attention to the looming social security crisis -- but he was gone after New Hampshire. In '96, Phil Gramm was my pick. I don't think he even made it to New Hampshire.

I understand that candidates need money to keep up a campaign, and if they can't win in a state like Iowa and New Hampshire where campaigning is relatively inexpensive and where there's no need to jet across the country, then they won't be able to convince the donors to invest in them.

I even understand the bandwagon effect that leads politicians to get behind the apparently inevitable candidate early on. A senator or congressman wants to be able to remind the new president that he was on his side when it counted, while there was still a degree of uncertainty about the nomination.

But I don't understand the bandwagon effect on voters. So what if New Hampshire backed McCain and South Carolina backed Bush? So what if Forbes suspended his campaign? If Forbes is still on the ballot, and you think he's the best choice, vote for him.

This is the first time since I don't know when -- 1952? -- that neither party has an heir apparent for the nomination. 1960 was a race for an open seat, but Nixon was Ike's heir apparent. 1968 started out with LBJ planning to run for re-election, but then he dropped out in favor of his veep. The next year with no incumbent running was 1988, and Vice President Bush was the obvious Republican front runner. In 2000, it was the Goracle's turn to succeed his boss.

This year we have a huge number of candidates on both sides. Everyone you might call a front-runner for the Republicans has some significant negative. This could be a long nominating process, but will the mainstream media succeed in portraying early 30% primary pluralities as landslides and starving close second place finishers of the attention they need to keep campaigning? Kaus seems to think that candidates being starved of MSM attention could maintain viability via blogs, YouTube, and other forms of new media.

I doubt it. The most faithful primary voters aren't internet users. They're the last demographic that still depends on the 30 minute Big Three news shows to find out what's happening in the world.

Hat tip to Ace of Spades, who also has the straw poll numbers from CPAC: Five candidates within a few percentage points of each other. Romney had the most but only 21%; Giuliani and Brownback were close behind. I wish they had done an instant runoff ballot. It would have been interesting to find out the attendees' second and third choices.

I don't really have time to blog tonight, but I should at least follow up on this story. A day after Salon reported the campaign of presidential candidate John Edwards had fired the two far-left bloggers he had hired to run his website's blog, Edwards made an announcement:

The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwan's posts personally offended me. It's not how I talk to people, and it's not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it's intended as satire, humor, or anything else. But I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake. I've talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word. We're beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can't let it be hijacked. It will take discipline, focus, and courage to build the America we believe in.

(For details of the offensive tone and sentiment, see Dan Riehl's lengthy list of Marcotte quotes.)

Marcotte posted this non-apology apology:

My writings on my personal blog Pandagon on the issue of religion are generally satirical in nature and always intended strictly as a criticism of public policies and politics. My intention is never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs, and I am sorry if anyone was personally offended by writings meant only as criticisms of public politics. Freedom of religion and freedom of expression are central rights, and the sum of my personal writings is a testament to this fact.

Of course she meant to offend people for their personal beliefs. She deliberately chose offensive imagery and language to characterize people who don't share her unbelief. Dawn Eden, Marcotte's frequent target, provides a frequently occurring example:

I guess it's nice to know that all those times her blog referred to Our Lord and Saviour as "Jeebus" — in 114 blog entries to date (the most recent last Sunday) — she was only kidding.

A search of Pandagon archives shows that Amanda has yet to devise a similarly ha-ha name for Mohammed. Well, give her time; she's been on the Edwards campaign for only a week and a half.

(I remembered something else Eden and Marcotte have in common -- neither one owns a TV. All together now: "Oh, the harlot and the chaste girl should be friends....")

Somewhere in my blog reading, I saw a Marcotte defender justify that nomenclature: According to this person, "Jeebus" refers to the judgmental, false god worshipped by conservative evangelicals and Catholics (i.e., her view of the Jesus of the Bible). In other words, it doesn't count has mocking the Christian religion, because these people are just using religion as a tool of patriarchal oppression.

Walter Olson of Overlawyered notes that this represents an about-face in the space of four days:

That's how it goes: no regrets as of Feb. 4, "I am sorry" as of Feb. 8.

Regarding Edwards' statement, KC Johnson asks:

This statement begs the question: if "the tone and the sentiment" of some of the duo's posts offended the candidate, and did not meet the standards for his employees, why did Edwards hire the duo in the first place?

Jeff Goldstein says that Edwards' statement implies that Marcotte and McEwan were just posturing all that time:

...Edwards just showed up Marcotte and McEwan as frauds and posturing blowhards, writers who have been pulling the wool over their audiences’ eyes by posting vicious “arguments” they never truly believed. To use the loaded language of establishment feminism—he publicly castrated them—and in so doing, he made fools out of their audiences, to boot.

Further, in doing so, he has shown himself to be nothing more than a calculating political opportunist of the worst sort—one who believes the voting public so daft they might actually buy a statement like the one he just released.

This lefty blogger seems to share that evaluation:

To me, his statement reads : 'I want to fire them but that wouldn't look right, so I'm going to pretend that they didn't actually write those things and require that they be more genteel in the future'. That isn't a fair shake. That's hustling for favor, and precisely what I despise about politics. Michelle [Malkin] and her tiny little litter should have been dismissed with laughter and derision. Instead, the message sent was, 'you're right, of course, but I'm not going to let it look like you're telling me what to do'.

Michelle Malkin has an extensive roundup of reaction, including this pointed evaluation by Paul Mirengoff of Power Line:

If the campaign keeps Marcotte and the other lefty blogger, it will be a clear sign of weakness -- powerful evidence that Edwards needs the unhinged element of his party so desperately in his quest to overcome Hillary Clinton that he can't dump a pair of infantile bloggers who, at a minimum, will constitute a liability in the unlikely event the party nominates him.

The bloggers themselves also seem pretty desperate. Apparently, they need this gig so badly that they don't mind being told to "shut up and sing."

UPDATE: Iowahawk has another Marcotte-related parody, "My Fair Blogger," featuring hit tunes like "I've Grown Accustomed to her Hate" and "We Know the Street Where You Live." (Be warned, the parody is as vulgar and atrocious as fair Amanda is.)

Once More with Feeling contrasts the approaches to this situation taken by Catholic League spokesman Bill Donahue and Dawn Eden, and makes a good point that applies to speaking publicly on any controversial topic:

...[N]othing is worse in the face of a hostile audience than acting outraged in the face of outrageous behavior. You only look like a whiner. And the media will paint you as “angry” unless you’re positively cheerful.

Bit of a tangent: By default, I discredit anyone who says he is "disturbed," "outraged," "horrified," "nauseated," "sickened," or "appalled." Each of those words denotes a visceral reaction, and they have been cheapened to the point of meaninglessness. Someone nauseated should look green around the gills. Someone truly outraged should have a red face. If you're horrified, your hair should look like you just touched a Van der Graaf generator. If you're appalled, you should be as white as a sheet. Instead, most of the time I hear these words uttered in some sort of press conference, the person speaking the words appears to be completely blasé. At best, he's mildly peeved.

UPDATE: Amanda's gone after all, as is Melissa McEwan.

And an old acquaintance of Amanda's speaks out in the comments at Hot Air:

Amanda graduated in the same high school class as my son and in fact was the girl friend of his best friend so I saw I fair amount of her. Three things to me stand out: she was exhibitionistic by nature, she had nothing but contempt for the other students in general although half were Hispanic and most were the “salt of the earth” types she claims she want to promote politically, and although being intelligent, she was not nearly as smart as she thought she was.

At the senior prom, she dressed up as a transvestite witch a la Rocky Horror Picture Show. She failed to get much of a reaction because no one had seen the movie and few would have appreciated the movie if they had. She thereupon lectured to the gathering there (there were 70 graduates total that year) what her costume represented and how important the movie is as a cultural event. When the gathering still “didn’t get it,” she sulked for the remainder of the prom. She attracted enough attention to get a scholarship to St. Edwards, a decent Catholic college in Austin. I’m sure it now regrets this.

As is so common with fairly intelligent people who overestimate their intelligence, she has been attracted to an extremist ideology that neatly explains all of the world’s happenings. Her blog with her “colorful” language and over-the-top opinions has given her the attention she craves. However, she seems to be the classic example of the Peter Principle in being promoted beyond her abilities and the chickens hatched by the conflict between her high ideals and serious personality flaws are coming home to roost.

Amanda Gone

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The latest blogstorm has been over Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' hiring of a couple of left-wing bloggers to serve as "blogmasters" at his official campaign website.

One of them is Amanda Marcotte, who created and was lead blogger for Pandagon.

Readers of The Dawn Patrol will know of Pandagon as the "Anti-Dawn Patrol," a pro-abortion, anti-chastity base used to launch potty-mouthed mockery and insults at Dawn Eden for her support for the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage. For a mild example, this entry, which begins:

The year is winding down, so it’s as good a time as any to have some fun mocking our favorite anti-choice nut Dawn Eden.

The funny thing is that, despite being on opposite ends of the spectrum on social and sexual issues, the two have some things in common, like a love of the semi-obscure musical subgenre known as power pop. (It's a shame Marcotte can't acknowledge some common ground and be a friendly antagonist, but what do I know? Here in Oklahoma, we believe that even the farmer and the cowman should be friends.)

Now they have something else in common -- being fired because of controversial blog content -- although in Marcotte's case, it's actually justified.

It's being reported that Marcotte was dropped by the Edwards campaign after several days of bloggers posting some of her more outrageous, obscene, and offensive screeds.

The problem wasn't just her use of language that would make a sailor blush, it was the hatred and vitriol directed against devout Christians and anyone who defends traditional moral standards. Referring to Christians as "godbags," mocking Christian beliefs with vile imagery, referring to pregnancy as "punishment" -- it won't help Edwards in the South, a must-win region for him, and it won't help Democrats as they try to lull evangelicals back into the party.

It doesn't help Edwards to have his blogmistress writing things like this, regarding the Duke lacrosse team rape case:

In her part of the country [the South], both women and black people are seen as subhuman objects to be used and abused by white men.

She replaced the text of the entry and deleted the above comment once the controversy began, but you can still read it here.

It amazes me that whoever in the Edwards campaign made the decision to hire her didn't bother to read back through her blog. Or perhaps someone did read it, but didn't see anything objectionable, which speaks volumes about the decision-maker in question.

Ideology aside, if you're going to give someone the virtual keys to your official campaign website, shouldn't you want someone who can express herself in a civil manner?

If you want specifics on Marcotte's trail of trash-talk, Michelle Malkin has text and links here, here, and here. Those links will also take you to video of Malkin performing a reading and a dramatization of some of Marcotte's blog entries.

UPDATE: James Lileks sums up the Edwards campaign -- and Marcotte:

John Edwards, who demonstrated his managerial skills by hiring as his blogmaster a writer whose ceaseless profanity makes Richard Pryor routines look like a papal encyclical, and showed his concern for "the Other America'' by building a new house large enough to shelter them all.

AND MORE: Iowahawk offers a pitch-perfect parody -- the Pandagon Papers. (Strong content warning, but no worse than Pandagon itself.)

A "Little Drummer Boy" parody, by blogger Saint Kansas. He ought to send this in to Rush Limbaugh:

This seems as good a time as any to direct you to Kevin McCullough's excellent series on why he believes (against his hopes) that Barack Obama will be the next president. Here's the latest installment -- Why OBAMA will be President - Part 10 - "He's NOT Howard Dean, John Edwards, or Hillary...":

Many of my critics are also saying that I'm off on the Obama prediction by claiming Obama to be an "empty-suit". Friends, call him anything you want, call him short on experience, call him only two years deep into his freshman Senate term, call him a baby-face in Washington - but Obama is not an empty-suit. John Edwards is for sure, but not Obama.

Obama's ability to identify across a broad spectrum of people groups comes from a very multi-faceted background that has allowed him to live in MANY different environments. His exemplary record at Harvard Law school would make most of our recent Presidential candidates reel in embarassment. He also was the FIRST African American to head the Harvard Law Review.

Everything about Obama's political career has been strategic. The reason he settled on Chicago as his home base. The reason he ran for the state positions that he did. Even in running for Congress and losing against Bobby Rush he observed, analyzed, and re-strategized.

Kevin McCullough has been watching Obama's career from the very beginning, and he looks to be as indispensible a guide to Obama as Paul Greenberg was in 1992 in educating us about Slick Willie.

(On the other hand, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal explains why he thinks Obama may not run, and how Obama can bow out in a way that maintains and enhances his prospects for the future.)

World Magazine is starting a series of profiles of potential presidential candidates and first up is Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas. World editor Marvin Olasky recently spent the night in Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana with Brownback.

Brownback was on my list of possibles, but I think he just dropped off. He appears to be mushy on Iraq, on the death penalty, on illegal immigration. He may have been trying to come across as thought