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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japanese Tragedy

Sometimes, the magnitude of tragedy can render even the most outgoing virtually speechless.  I can be included in that list.  Watching the video of the tsunami, then the nuclear plant, the children, the people of Japan who are struggling to survive right now became almost too much to watch.

Some will say that the event put into perspective their great many blessings, but that itself sounds almost narcissistic and self-indulgent.  In other words, "Gee, I have it bad but at least it's not THAT bad."  I don't know if that is appropriate at this time.

I know that the tragedy and loss of life and ongoing struggle of the Japanese people made me hug my kids a little tighter, appreciate things a little more in the micro, and in the larger picture has made me wonder whether or not nuclear power is the answer to our energy crisis.  It has also made me remember how we as a nation come together when tragedy strikes - and Oklahoma is a great example of people coming together.

Oklahomans have survived the Murrah Bombing and came together, united in grief and sorrow as well as the search for justice.  Tornado after tornado, the loss of property and life serves to bring Oklahomans together to meet need and to appreciate one another a little more. 

The images of what happened in Japan are devastating.  Our country has once again reached out to show that we care and even in the midst of our financial mess, we have pledged our support financial and otherwise.  I think that may be one of the reasons our country is so blessed - we give and we continue to give even from our own poverty.

Prayers and thoughts go out to the victims of this natural disaster.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jenni White Running For GOP Vice Chair

Not sure if you're aware, but there is a race going on for the GOP Vice Chair post.  Pam Pollard, very well known in Republican circles, is facing Jenni White.  Who is Jenni White?  Here is a posting from her Facebook page...

I am a lifelong Oklahoman and registered Republican. I have rarely missed even the most local election, and I have become much more active in politics in the last several years.

In 1995 I earned a Master's Degree in Biology from UCO in Edmond and taught science for nearly a decade. My husband David and I have four children ranging in age from 27 to 6 and for a time, I was a stay at home mom, running a home business.

Following the election of Barrack Obama, I became an overnight activist. In early 2008 I helped organize the OKC912Project. As their Education Coordinator, I reached out to candidates for public office to come speak to and educate members about their campaigns. 

In 2009, I discovered that many public schools are not teaching our children the true founding of our country and our Republican form of government. That year I co-founded an organization called Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) to draw attention to this and many other problems in our current system. Since that time, I have logged countless hours of unpaid research, lobbying and travel to speak on issues surrounding public education. During 2010, ROPE researched and campaigned vigorously against State Question 744, and for candidates such as our current State Superintendent Janet Barresi. During the legislative sessions, ROPE is at the state capitol speaking with legislators about legislation important to all children enrolled in our public schools.

My experience in education and education legislation are the primary reasons I am running for Vice-Chair.

Especially in urban areas, Oklahoma (like most of America) is losing our young people to underachieving public schools. Combine lack of knowledge with an over-emphasis on technology and these two factors tend to foster dependency, making socialistic ideals seem attractive. Without a firm understanding of the vision of America’s Founders and a working knowledge of our representative form of government, many students graduate high school with very lopsided ideas of how our State and Federal government should function.

I have solutions. Oklahomans simply must engage our young people and provide ways to educate them in the Republican principles of freedom and responsibility. We must help train the next generation to develop a healthy work ethic and problem solve our country back to its Republican roots – smaller, more local government and a free enterprise system that allows economic growth and lower taxation. We must introduce our young people to the concept of personal responsibility by allowing them to develop an understanding of the moral basis on which our Founders built this great country.

I am excited at the prospect of being able to work with our current state GOP Chairman Matt Pinnell on his new Emerge46 campaign designed to do just this. If you are not familiar with the program, please read about it and join his efforts.

I was hoping to speak to you before your state convention, but I know I have already missed many. If your leadership has changed, I would ask you to please forward on my message. I will try to contact everyone personally between now and the state conference, but, please, do not hesitate to contact me via email or phone at your convenience. I’m happy to conduct a phone interview, or attend any meeting I’m able, to share my vision and hear from you about yours.

Thank you for your time and I hope to meet you soon.

Jenni White
Restore Oklahoma Public Education

Gerhart Under Fire

The Muskogee Politico and the McCarville Report are locked and loaded, and it appears as though there is a concerted effort to show that the Tea Party isn't what it was in the last election cycle.  Leadership fragmentation, controversial commentary and a run against the Speaker of the House has attracted the spotlight for a man who many believed to be the catalyst for the conservative groundswell in the last election cycle.  The question will be whether or not they will be effective, or simply serve to divide the already contentious Republican Party.

Prepare for GOP fallout.
Al Gerhart is the target at this juncture and could be the catalyst for further fragmentation of the Tea Party movement in Oklahoma.  Who stands to gain?  Who stands to lose?  Those are questions to be answered in the next election cycle, but for now, two of the mainstays of Republican blogs are putting Gerhart's feet to the fire.

From The Muskogee Politico:
On Tuesday, Gerhart and the OCA was dealt yet another big blow when Tulsa metro-based OKforTea, perhaps Oklahoma's largest and most active Tea Party group, notified Gerhart of their immediate withdrawal from the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance. Their email, signed by each of OKforTea's organizers, stated "Though OKforTEA has enjoyed being a member of the OCA and though we understand and appreciate its mission, we must withdraw from membership as of March 15, 2011. Please remove the name of our organization from the list of members and any printed materials or websites, immediately."
From The McCarville Report:
Six Republican House members have been singled out for threats by the Sooner Tea Party's Al Gerhart for remarks made in the privacy of their Caucus, leading some to conclude that the collegiality of the Caucus is being violated.

The realization that Gerhart has "inside" information from the Caucus has some members looking over their shoulders and others ready to quit going to Caucus meetings, it appears.
The Tea Party movement as a whole was largely responsible for the amazing victories experienced by Republicans across the nation in both state elections as well as federal elections.  Al Gerhart, the exceedingly controversial figure who once called out Gary Jones (former GOP Chair and newly elected State Auditor), has been both a motivator and a hindrance to conservative movement in Oklahoma and it looks like he has laser-guided missiles directed at him.

Speaker Kris Steele
Gerhart is a man who does not lack the passion of his convictions and as we have all learned at one point or another in our lifetime, such passion is a double-edged sword. 

In many ways, it's as though the GOP is attempting to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  It didn't take very long for Oklahoma Speaker of the House Kris Steele to show where his loyalties lie - his pastor invoking some of the most bizarre and questionable imagery during his first official prayer before the House, then his move to the center and incessant attacks on House Conservatives like Mike Reynolds and Randy Terrill.  There is talk around town that conservatives in the House who have heretofore been silent are seriously considering a move against the Speaker and his choice for a replacement already (Steele is term-limited). 

Al Gerhart doesn't strike many as the type of guy who will back down from a fight and this one looks to be a bloody, 12-round caged death match.

Bring your popcorn and earplugs.

Groundswell of GOP Discontent

Social networking sites such as Facebook are a-buzz with the lack of satisfaction voters feel from the last batch of Republicans sent to Washington and elsewhere.  Whether it be the Oklahoma Speaker of the House chastising the more conservative members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives or freshmen Congressmen in Washington flying around the country, enjoying their new fame, conservative voters have had their fill.

And it's only March.

The McCarville Report outlines Representative Mike Christian eviscerating Speaker Steele for attacking conservative members of the House who really broke no rules but rather have been a thorn in the side of the moderate Speaker of the House, Kris Steele.  The aggregate result has been anger and ire from the Tea Party members in Oklahoma and it appears as though the fire will spill over into upcoming State House races. 

Sadly, the mantra of "social issue bills" that was first brought forward by the Oklahoman in their editorials has spilled over into even the most conservative writings on the Internet.  It's an effective tool, mind you, on par with liberals calling themselves "progressives" or switching the debate from global warming to "climate change."  The facts still remain the same that the few members of the conservative movement remember why voters chose Republicans last year - they desire stronger immigration policy, stronger personal protection (as in 2nd Amendment bills) and the Speaker of the House in Oklahoma has sold the caucus down the river...and Fred Morgan is the Skipper of the boat.

The talk on the street is that the Tea Party and other conservative organizations are looking for candidates once again across the board - state, local as well as federal.  No office is safe, no elected official will get a "free pass."

I'll keep you posted...