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Friday, March 04, 2011

First Friday In March Week In Review

This has been a remarkably bizarre week in the news.  Ranging from the turmoil in Libya and subsequent oil prices, to Charlie Sheen showing that for some people, it just doesn't matter how much money you have...you're still wacko.

Huckabee:  This week, former Governor, Fox News show host and candidate for president launched against Natalie Portman for her perceived glamorization of single parenthood.  Being the good Baptist Minister Bass Player that he is, Huckabee just had to "go there" and make an issue of it (read the coverage here).  Appealing to the most base elements of the conservative pathos, Huckabee pulls out an old trump card from the GOP talking points - to get headlines, take a dump on Hollywood or someone in Hollywood who is getting headlines.  Of course, The Huckster made no mention of Bristol Palin and her upcoming memoir wherein she will no doubt sing her own praises, tell us how tough she has had it being a spoiled little rich kid, bemoan the life of a single mother searching for appropriate nannies and make a mint doing it. 

Supremes:  In a move that surprised a lot of people, the Supreme Court actually took the side of Westboro Baptist Church that has made a name for itself protesting fallen soldiers' funerals.  The ruling will impact Oklahoma laws and laws made across the nation to keep families of fallen soldiers from their protestations.  Not really sure how I feel about this one. 

City Council Shock:  The Tea Party was sure that the excitement Oklahomans had regarding a conservative movement was at hand, but it proved only to be temporary and short-lived.  Much like the media cycle in Oklahoma, Republicans apparently have the attention span of a pack of swarming gnats who have completely forgotten from whence they came.  The campaign slogans that energized the conservative base have served to be little more than cheers given on the sidelines of a junior high school football game.  The only real conservative on the Oklahoma City Council, Brian Walters, was defeated by establishment candidates who will rubber stamp virtually any program or idea that Mick "Taco Bell" Cornett has to offer.  And what was the Tea Party response?  Silence.  Welcome to the regime of the paper tigers.  Oklahoma City is moving forward - the rich are getting richer, the middle class is silent and the poor, well, they are looking for room at the proverbial Inn.  Let's see how donations to City Rescue Mission end up this year.

GOP Meets Life Church:  The new "Emerge 46" campaign from the Oklahoma GOP is creative, innovative and anything but unique.  If you follow the movement and growth of Oklahoma's Mega-Church Life Church, you will see very real similarities in marketing/public relations strategies.  The Democrats have dominated where college-aged voters are concerned and Matt Pinnell knows this.  He and his young bucks are beginning to see how the evangelical movement has seen success and they are emulating that with this new program.  This week, a gathering took place with Senator David Holt, Matt Pinnell, Lt. Governor Todd Lamb and a few others who are excited about this new media approach to getting young conservatives to come out of the closet.  Hoping to ride the establishment Republican tidal wave that has seem to overtake the conservative movement last year, the new "hip and happening" GOP wherein anyone over the age of 40 is cast aside (unless you're a donor), this new program will be exceptionally successful.

Sally Kern Writing A Book?   According to the Democratic Chatboard, Demookie.com, State Representative Sally Kern is authoring a book not yet available, but listed on Amazon.com entitled, "The Stoning of Sally Kern."  Bloggers have picked up on the news and the left-leaning blog sites have been all a-twitter about it.   Sally Kern has done a masterful job of keeping herself in the media and with the insurgence of the Baptist movement in Oklahoma, Sally stands to profit immensely from this book - her husband being a Baptist pastor doesn't hurt either and lest we forget, it was the Baptist denomination that helped former camp counselor James Lankford sail to Congress.  Kern is very much like Randy Terrill in that she will have that State House seat for as long as she wants it.  Her supporters are rabid supporters and her detractors have been marginally successful at dealing with Sally's rise to fame, which puts Kern in a very good position to run for higher office in the future.  If her book deal is true, expect another makeover of Sally in the very near future.

So, there you have it, kids.  Some food for thought.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Supreme Court Rules For Westboro Baptist

From the AP:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount attention-getting, anti-gay protests outside military funerals.

The court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine who sued church members after they picketed his son's funeral.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court. Justice Samuel Alito dissented.

"What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to 'special protection' under the First Amendment," Roberts wrote, "and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous."

Matthew Snyder died in Iraq in 2006 and his body was returned to the United States for burial. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who have picketed military funerals for several years, decided to protest outside the Westminster, Md., church where Snyder's funeral was to be held.

The Rev. Fred Phelps and other family members who make up most of the Westboro Baptist Church have picketed many military funerals in their quest to draw attention to their incendiary view that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

They showed up with their usual signs, including "Thank God for dead soldiers," ''You're Going to Hell," ''God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11," and one that combined the U.S. Marine Corps motto, Semper Fi, with a slur against gay men.

The church members drew counter-demonstrators, as well as media coverage and a heavy police presence to maintain order. The result was a spectacle that led to altering the route of the funeral procession.

Several weeks later, Albert Snyder was surfing the Internet for tributes to his son from other soldiers and strangers when he came upon a poem on the church's website that attacked Matthew's parents for the way they brought up their son.

Soon after, Albert Snyder filed a lawsuit accusing the Phelpses of intentionally inflicting emotional distress. He won $11 million at trial, later reduced by a judge to $5 million.

The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., threw out the verdict and said the Constitution shielded the church members from liability.

Read more.

Conservatives Lose Oklahoma City Council Races

The votes tallied and as the smoke clears, the Chamber candidates pulled off a significant win, seeing the incumbents Meg Salyer and Pat Ryan sail to victory.  The upset for conservatives, however, aren't just the Salyer and Ryan victories...it was the defeat of Brian Walters from Ward 5.

Walters, one of the only candidates for any public office to dare to say anything derogatory about the MAPS 3 initiative, was defeated by a whopping 450 votes.  David Greenwell defeated Brian Walters in a time when the Tea Party is attempting to exert itself in local races and these defeats will not sit well with conservatives.

The fragmented Tea Party organizations are going to find themselves in world of hurt if they can't put together a cohesive message and more unity.  There are too many different sects in Central Oklahoma and the rank-and-file conservative just doesn't know who to believe or to get behind.  The hardcore activists are in the loop, but what made the Tea Party successful in the 2010 campaign was a unified message and fear on the part of establishment Republicans.  The Tea Party is dangerously close to becoming a paper tiger in Oklahoma and this City Council election underscores that reality.

Sorry, folks, but that is just the way it is.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Statement from Representative Terrill

Statement of Rep. Randy Terrill Re: Andy Lester Closed House Meeting (Where Fox 25 News was ejected by House leadership and other media outlets were either not informed or denied access altogether.)

Unable to claim that I have violated any pre-existing rule, law or Constitutional provision, the Speaker has announced that I will instead be investigated for the bogus equivalent of embarrassing the House.

While I have not done anything of the sort, I must note that this new low ex post facto standard was apparently invented solely for this situation and will apply only to me.

No other House member before, after or concurrent will ever again be subject to an investigative committee using such a subjective standard.

It's clear this ambiguous phrasing was apparently designed to engineer some outcome predetermined by the House leadership.

Yet I have done nothing to embarrass either myself or the House of Representatives.

In fact, I have absolutely nothing to hide.

I have consistently called for a fair and open inquiry into this matter, and I am certain that if I were given such a hearing it would clear me of even any hint of impropriety.

Yet Speaker Steele is denying me a fair and open hearing.

Instead he has created a process cloaked in secrecy and hidden from the public eye.

He is denying me the right to present evidence, cross examine witnesses and challenge the claims my political enemies might make against me.

Amazingly, the Speaker tries to justify the secrecy of his proceedings by claiming he acts out of concern for my right to privacy - a right I have both publicly and privately rejected.

Why is the Speaker trying so hard to keep this matter so secret?

What is he trying to hide?

I am only protected by an open process.

This secret star-chamber proceeding gives me fewer rights than a Guantanamo detainee.

I only ask that I be given a forum to present my side of the story and to have public oversight over any hearing into the allegations leveled against me.

In Case You Missed It: Teen charged in connection with vandalism to DAV building, ballpark

A 14-year-old boy is facing five counts of criminal mischief in connection with vandalism at both the Disabled Veterans building and an Athens ballpark.

On Monday, Athens Police Investigator Chris Slaton arrested the teenager on five counts of third-degree criminal mischief, Capt. Floyd Johnson said. The boy allegedly spray-painted an exterior wall at the Disabled Veterans of America building at 25396 Airport Road in Athens on Feb. 21 or 22, Johnson said. He is also suspected of painting a structure and another dwelling and of damaging a drinking fountain Feb. 25 at the Fifth Avenue ballpark, the captain said. Total damage was listed a $700, records show.

The DAV is listed as the victim in two of the five counts and the city of Athens is listed as the victim in the other three, Johnson said.

The boy was released to the custody of his mother.

The investigation will continue.

Cut And Paste Story of the Day: Oil prices climb as Iran tensions escalate

While we were sleeping and wondering whether or not Christine O'Donnell is going to be on Dancing With The Stars....

NEW YORK (AP) -- Oil prices climbed Tuesday as Iran clamped down on anti-government protesters and unrest in the Middle East threatened to keep energy prices high for months to come.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April delivery gained $1.23 at $98.20 per barrel at midday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude gained $1.74 at $113.54 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

The recent surge in oil has pushed up gasoline prices in the U.S. by nearly 20 cents per gallon in the past week. That's the sharpest increase since 2005, according to the Oil Price Information Service. Americans are now paying roughly $75.6 million more per day to fill up than a week ago.

The national average added another penny on Tuesday at $3.375 per gallon. Prices should keep rising to between $3.50 and $3.75 by spring, according to OPIS oil analyst Tom Kloza. He said future increases will be much more gradual, because gasoline markets have mostly priced in the recent rise in crude. "So we should flatten out" in coming weeks, Kloza said.

Oil prices surged 13 percent last week, peaking above $100 per barrel, as Libyan protesters expanded their control over the country. While the Libyan uprising continued Tuesday, news agencies reported that Iranian authorities imprisoned opposition leaders in Tehran. Iranian authorities denied the reports.

Pro-reform groups have clashed with the Iranian government. Jailing opposition leaders would be a major escalation of the country's political crisis. Iran exports about 2.5 million barrels of oil and natural gas liquids per day, about 3 percent of global demand.

The Iran protests are among the latest uprisings that have churned through North Africa and the Middle East, a crucial region that's responsible for most of the world's crude exports. Analysts say it's impossible to say how long it will take for uprisings to play out, but energy markets likely will be on edge through the summer.

Read the rest here.

Barresi: Doin' The Right Thing(s)

Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction, Janet Barresi, has face quite the uphill battle since being elected.  She has had fights with the self-avowed omnipotent School Board, has had to answer questions about her hires and how those hires are funded, but in the midst of it all, she is winning in the court of public opinion and other statewide elected officials should follow suit.

Barresi is maintaining her social networking pages such as Facebook and Twitter - and she's providing elements of substance rather than photographs of herself with supporters and other elected officials.  Her Facebook page continues to thrive and on Twitter, she's linking stories about her and the implementation of her ideas and campaign promises for followers to enjoy.

Barresi has surrounded herself with people on the cutting edge of technology, people who have the ability to put together video and podcasts and her popularity is soaring as a result.  I'll admit that I was a skeptic in the beginning - wondering aloud whether or not a dentist would make a good Superintendent of Public Instruction and already her leadership and innovation is proving that she means business and she is sincere about her campaign promises.

Other statewide office holders would be well served in following her lead.  Doak, Costello, Jones, Lamb, Murphy, Miller and even Fallin should consider creating a similar environment of transparency.

Oklahoman Endorses Chamber Candidates

It will come as no surprise that today the Oklahoman editorial board gave the proverbial "right hand of fellowship" to the establishment candidates for Oklahoma City Council - Meg Salyer and Patrick Ryan.  Opponents of both candidates have the backing of the FOP and firefighter organizations so, by default, the Oklahoman and the chamber of commerce will not support them.

It's more of the same we've seen here in Central Oklahoma since I moved here in 1998.

If we want real change, we have to get out and vote.  Lest we forget, Mayor Mick Cornett almost lost to a virtual unknown who spent barely $1,400.

Read the Oklahoman's not-so-surprising endorsement here.