Thursday, November 30, 2006
(Thanks to Cleveland County Democratic activist Tim Mauldin who sent this to me today. I hope that you will consider making recommendations.)
Do you think Oklahoma’s health and health care are in good shape? Penny Cockerell, a reporter for the Oklahoman wants to know. Please consider sending your thoughts and recommendations: email@example.com or call 405-760-0775.
Here are some points to be considered from the 2006 “State of the State’s Health” Report issued by the Oklahoma Dept. of Health
• Oklahoma, with 26.1 percent of adults smoking, is third in the nation. The tobacco industry continues to pour billions of dollars into advertising their deadly products, and target those who are most vulnerable — our youth, our minority populations, and our poor…huge disparities exist in the percentage of smokers when comparing race, income, and education.
• Smoking causes more death and disability than any other preventable risk factor. When just looking at lung cancer…smoking results in thousands of Oklahomans dying prematurely each year.
• Unfortunately, many of these lung cancer deaths occur disproportionately among African Americans.
• Smoking also contributes to Oklahoma’s high rates of heart disease, stroke, bladder cancer, and emphysema.
• In Oklahoma, over $2 billion, or $600 per person, is spent each year for smoking-related direct medical care and lost productivity... Such an economic burden stifles growth in Oklahoma and prevents us from reaching our fullest potential.
• Over the past 10 years, it has become increasingly clear that America’s health care system cannot sustain itself. We have by far the most expensive health care system in the world, costing us this year $1.9 trillion or $5,700 per capita.
• The average expenditure for the 25 established market economies (EME), so identified by the World Bank, is about $2,600 per capita. Yet, by any measure of public health, we rank at or toward the bottom of that 25.
• The rising cost of health care combined with more and more people unable to afford health care insurance coverage is placing hundreds of thousands at risk due to lack of access to care.
• We are the only EME that does not guarantee some level of health care to all its children.
• Based on current figures, it is estimated that nearly 700,000 Oklahomans have no health insurance coverage. Such numbers place a huge burden on our health care system due to uncompensated care.
• Currently, every Oklahoman with health insurance coverage pays an additional $1,781 a year on their premium to help cover the medical expenses of state residents without coverage.
Stamping the Rooster
Democrats State Senator Kenneth Corn and State Senator Debbe Leftwich have both prefiled bills that would eliminate "straight party" voting. I haven't seen their proposals yet, have just read and heard about them so I will be eager to see how the measures would improve voter participation.
According to the Oklahoma State Election Board there were 197,185 Democrats who "stamped the rooster" --- voted straight party in the November General Election compared to 142,500 Republicans who voted straight party. To review the data county by county visit the Oklahoma State Election Board's website Results by County here.
A quick Google search of the topic reveals that the practice is popular in some states but is the subject of much discussion and it looks like it will get some debate this session in our state legislature. What do you think? Should Oklahoma keep straight party voting or abandon it?
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
A recent posting on Daily Kos introduces possible candidates against Sen. Inhofe in '08. Read it here. Leading the pack are Democrats Gov. Brad Henry, Attorney General Drew Edmondson and Congressman Dan Boren. Also mentioned as a possibility is former Congressman Brad Carson. I've also heard Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor's name as a possible candidate.
Inhofe had an approval rating of 46% just after the election with 13% undecided. Track his approval here.
Read the blog devoted to exposing Jim "In Hot Water" Inhofe at http://jiminhotwater.blogspot.com.
It appears that Oklahoma could be "in play" in '08 with the right candidate and a strong campaign.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I've previously asked readers to begin thinking about the '08 campaigns, local, state, and national. Below is a posting on presidential primary candidates; the underlying tone is important for all primaries; not just the presidential. This posting was referenced from one on the power of netroots bloggers. I'll post it separately.
Democratic Ticket 2008: An Embarrassment of Riches
by Rob in Vermont
Jonathan Singer posted an article the other day called The Sorry Slate of Republican Presidential Candidates in which he opines that the GOP’s crop of 2008 candidates is perhaps the slimmest pickings for either party in the last 100 years.
But you know what? Here’s what really floats my boat: I’m not even thinking about how crappy their slate is – I’m thinking about how great our slate is!
Sure, we can all find flaws in candidates who aren’t our favorites, we can all prognosticate about “electability.” Of course we can - we’re all political junkies and it’s our nature to be rather cynical and jaded.
But just for a moment, put your cynicism on a shelf. Our 2008 field of potential candidates really is an embarrassment of riches. Just to name a few...
John Edwards – on humanitarian, moral leadership issues, he is riveting
Al Gore – on the subject of protecting our environment and the costs if we don't, he has no equal
Wes Clark – a tried and true expert on defense policy
Barack Obama – one of our country’s finest orators
Hillary Rodham Clinton – just considering the intellectual heftiness of a second Clinton presidency, after the unbearable lightness of a second Bush presidency - the Universe itself would be grateful for the restoration of cosmic balance.
Indeed, our roster is full of brainy wonks, each of whom is well able to speak knowledgably on complex domestic and foreign policy issues, each of whom would return intellectual credibility to the White House. I suspect being “brainy” will not be sneered at so much in ’08 the way it was in ’00 and ’04.
The 2006 election suggests that the electorate has finally begun to tire of ideologues who think with their intestines instead of their heads and who pull policy out of their behinds instead of listening to experts and viewing empirical evidence with an unbiased eye.
I hope that having such a high-quality field won't, perversely, lead to a greater-than-normal number of gratuitous potshots being taken by Democratic bloggers and diarists who can't stand to see attention being paid to someone who isn't their top choice, like this recent attack on Al Gore. I know politics “ain’t beanball” and “if you can’t take the heat” etc. But our candidates will receive more than enough unconstructive criticism from the GOPers and the media.
It doesn't take much effort to write a snotty post about why some Democrat, who isn't your favorite, shouldn't be anyone's favorite.
But here's my request (while I have you here with your jadedness sitting on that shelf): in the coming months, try to refrain from unconstructive criticism of potential Democratic presidential candidates. You can put your critical eye to so much better use by making the effort to offer criticism in a constructive way, with the goal being to help our candidates to become better candidates.
A great example of this are two articles by blogger Mik Moore on Barack Obama. In the first article, he writes very pointedly about what he finds wrong with Obama’s famous speech about faith and politics, and in the second article he writes about what he finds right about the speech. And here’s another good example (if I do say so myself) of constructive criticism.
OK, sermon over! I hadn't intended to write a diary about criticism.
I just wanted to yell CHEERS for our 2008 crop of potential Democratic presidential candidates. Because our slate is most excellent!!!
Sunday, November 26, 2006
According to the Oklahoma Democratic Party Constitution and Bylaws the State Vicechair shall:
1) Preside at meetings when the chair is absent, is unable to preside and has
failed to designate a person to preside,
2) Act for the chair when the chair is absent,
3) Assist the chair with such tasks as the chair may direct,
4) Assist the chair in raising funds,
5) Assist the chair in training programs, seminars and workshops for
Democratic nominees for public office, Democratic Party officials and
Democratic campaign workers,
6) Be authorized to countersign with the chair all checks drawn on the
accounts of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.
According to the Oklahoma Democratic Party Constitution and Bylaws he State Chair shall:
1) Preside at the meetings of the State Convention and the State Central
Committee or designate a person to preside,
2) Be the sole spokesperson for the Democratic Party in the State unless he
or she nominates an individual to be the spokesperson for the Party and
that person is approved by the State Central Committee,
3) Be the chief executive and inspirational leader of the Oklahoma
4) Be responsible for interviewing and recruiting prospective candidates for
public offices in which there is no Democratic incumbent in consultation
with appropriate county and congressional district chairs,
5) Direct all fund raising efforts of the Democratic Party and assure that all
funds are deposited in accounts in the name of the Oklahoma Democratic
6) Disburse funds of the Party, reporting such disbursements to the State
7) Countersign with one of the other State officers all checks drawn on the
accounts of the Oklahoma Democratic Party,
8) Coordinate Party activities with the elected Democratic leadership,
9) Be responsible for conducting workshops for Democratic nominees for
public office in such areas as campaign techniques, fundraising and
campaign contribution and election laws,
10) Be responsible for directing the biennial Party organizational meeting
process and the Presidential delegate selection process,
11) Be responsible for conducting workshops for Democratic Party officials
and campaign workers,
12) Be responsible for maintaining a State headquarters office,
13) Be responsible for hiring staff, and for appointing one person to be the
State Central Director with the advice and consent of the State Central
Committee. No individual may assume the title of State Central Director
for any purpose without such consent,
14) Call meetings of the State Central Committee at such times as the chair
15) Appoint the members of meeting committees with the approval of the
State Central Committee.
16) And in addition may appoint a convention secretary, sergeants-at-arms and
tally clerks for each convention that is called. The state party secretary
may be appointed as the convention secretary.
Oil & Gas Industry Leads Oklahoma Contributors
The Oil & Gas industry was reported as Oklahoma's top contributor to federal campaigns this cycle followed by "retired", lawyers, health professionals, miscellaneous finance, and commercial banks. OpenSecrets.org reports the following for Oklahoma this cycle:
Oil & Gas $1,178,416
Lawyers/Law Firms $451,209
Health Professionals $398,695
Misc Finance $200,094
Commercial Banks $189,070
Misc Business $171,072
General Contractors $151,500
Real Estate $143,637
Misc Energy $127,610
Oklahoma political candidates spent more than $30 million this campaign season. Advertising, consultants, mail, payroll, polling, travel, fundraising, unspecified, postage, and supplies are the top ten aggregate expenditure categories for Oklahoma political candidates this cycle according to a report in the Tulsa World today. $18.4 million went to advertising. To read the report click here.
Oklahomans gave $8,003,326 toward federal races in 2006. Contributions to federal candidates came primarily from donors living in Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties with Cleveland, Garfield, Comanche, Pontotoc, Canadian, Carter, Pottawatomi, Payne, Creek, Kay, Jackson, Stephens, Muskogee and Rogers Counties all reporting more than $50,000 in contributions this election cycle.
Of the total given toward federal races $5,994,990 was given directly to federal candidates with the balance going to leadership PACs and independents.
Democrats living in Creek, Pittsburg, Muskogee, Woods, Pushmataha, Craig, Atoka, Adair, and McIntosh counties gave more than their Republican counterparts.
For more information about contributions by county go to http://www.opensecrets.org/states/county.asp?State=OK&Year=2006.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
In the 51st Oklahoma Legislature there will be 18 women serving; nine Republicans and nine Democrats. There will be 11 women serving in the House of Representatives and 7 women serving in the Senate. Thirty-four Democratic women filed for state office in 2006. The Oklahoma Democratic Party would like to double that number in 2008. We are now actively recruiting qualified women to file for public office in 2008, and we're looking for 68 women to step up and take the challenge of public service and leadership. Why is this important? Read the following article about why women matter in the legislature. Then make a decision to be one, find one or support one.
Do Women in Local, State, and National Legislative Bodies Matter?
A Definitive Yes Proves Three Decades of Research By Political Scientists
By Karen O'Connor
Director, Women & Politics Institute, American University
Political theorist Hannah Pitkin asserts that political representation "means acting in the interest of the represented, in a manner responsive to them."1 Political scientist Jane Mansbridge goes farther to note that descriptive representation enhances substantive representation. 2Some male legislators may seek to advance women's interests, and others may argue that all issues are women's issues. But, a large and important body of research by political scientists indicates that the presence of women in legislative bodies makes a significant difference not only in what gets discussed, but also in what kinds of legislation are advanced.
When Elizabeth Dole entered the Republican presidential primary for the 2000 election, her presence forced the other candidates to deal with issues of concern to women voters. Similarly, former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun's entrance into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2004 already is being hailed because, as a woman, she will force the rest of the Democratic candidates to address women's issues seriously. It is one thing for all of the announced male candidates to appear together on the stage at NARAL Pro-Choice America's Roe v. Wade 30th Anniversary dinner to voice their support for reproductive rights; it is another when they are forced to deal with women's issues on a daily basis on the campaign trail.3 A women's presence in the race will do that in a way no ardently feminist man could.
The same phenomenon holds true in legislative bodies (as well as the courts). Simply put, more than three decades of rigorous scholarly inquiry leave no doubt that women in politics in general and women in elective office, in particular, make a difference in the lives of all women. They help "enact better policy for women," 4as well as affect the legislative bodies in which they serve.5
THE IMPACT OF WOMEN IN STATE AND LOCAL LEGISLATURES
Much of the early research on the impact of woman legislators was confined to analyses of state and local legislatures simply because there were insufficient numbers of women in the U.S. House or Senate to allow for any kind of exacting quantitative analysis. Research conducted at the state and local level, however, ultimately provided testable hypotheses to examine the impact of women in the House of Representatives. Among the key findings about the impact of women legislators in state and local governments are:
On the Issues
· Women conceptualize problems differently and are more likely to offer new solutions. 6
· Non-feminist women are more likely than non-feminist male colleagues to work on legislation affecting women. 7
· Women legislators of both parties are more likely to advance "women's issues," define women's issues more broadly than men, put them at the top of their legislative agendas, and to take a leadership role in those issue areas.8 This results in bills dealing with children, education, and health care becoming legislative priorities. 9
· Women are more likely to view crime as a societal, rather than individual problem.10
· Women legislators are more likely to make certain that their policy positions are translated into new programs to help women.11
Working for Their Constituents
· Women legislators receive more constituent casework requests than their male colleagues and are three times more likely to agree that they would do more if they had more staff.12
· Women not only are more responsive to constituent requests, they are more likely to be persistent in their follow through to get a favorable resolution for their constituents. 13
· Women legislators believe that they need to help other women transcend barriers to success. 14
In the Legislative Body
· Women view themselves as more prepared, more diligent, and more organized.15
· Women emphasize a "hands on" approach emphasizing collegiality and collaboration instead of a hierarchical "command" approach. 16
· Women rely on a wider range of individuals in formulating policy creating more sensitive and thoughtful policy making. 17
· Women who meet as a caucus are more likely to work on bills dealing with women's rights. 18
· First term women sponsor less legislation than their male counterparts, while more senior women offer more than their male counterparts. 19
· Female committee chairs use their positions to facilitate interaction among committee members rather than to control and direct the debate. This affects the behavior of witnesses and other committee members. 20
· In general, women-sponsored legislation has a slightly higher rate of passage.21 Particularly, women's priority bills on women's issues become law at a higher pass rate than men's. 22
· When women are less than 15 percent of the legislative body, their status constrains their behavior. 23
· States with the lowest percentage of women in their legislatures pass the lowest number of women's bills.24
· Men believe that women in the legislative body help sensitize them to women's issues.25
WOMEN IN CONGRESS: WHY DOES IT MATTER?
The findings of the researchers noted above provide conclusive proof of the impact that women have as state and local legislators. Of course, given the smaller number of women in Congress until late, many of their local and state-based studies cannot yet be replicated, particularly in the U.S. Senate. Still, all of the quantitative studies of women in the House of Representatives have reached the same conclusions about women in that body. As the late Congresswoman Patsy Mink (D-HI) noted: "I always felt that we [women] were serving a dual role in Congress, representing our own districts and, at the same time, having a voice to the concerns of the total population of women in the country."26 It is clear that the vast majority of women in the Congress feel this way. This sentiment is underscored by quantitative studies of women in Congress by political scientists who have found that:
On the Issues
· Women get women's issues on the agenda. 27
· Women widen the range of policy solutions proposed and frame the policy debate in different terms.28
· Congresswomen give more attention and support to women's issues than men, regardless of their party affiliation or ideology. 29
· Overwhelmingly, women members introduce most women's legislation. 30
· Women are more likely than men to co-sponsor legislation dealing with women's issues. 31
Women in the Institution
· Use the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues to champion women's issues. 32
· Without Caucus initiatives, many women's policies would not have been enacted. 33
· Strategic positions by women legislators make the difference in drafting legislation and on the floor.34
· Women use their positions on committees to advance legislation benefiting women. 35
· Since 1992, women in the Senate have received less valuable committee assignments. 36
· Women continue to be overlooked for committee chairmanships. 37
· Women use conference committee assignments to advance and protect women's policy issues. 38
Thirty decades of methodologically sophisticated social science research proves women make a difference. The question now should be how to get more women elected to these positions.
1. The Concept of Representation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967).
2. "Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent 'Yes'," Journal of Politics 61 (1999): 628-57.
3. Research by political scientists, for example, has found that when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor took her place on the U.S. Supreme Court, all of the other justices' support of claims of sex discrimination rose significantly. Her presence in the room as the justices deliberated cases apparently made them more cognizant of, and less likely to sanction sex discrimination. Karen O'Connor and Jeffrey A. Segal, "The Supreme Court's Reaction to its First Female Member," Women & Politics 10 (1990): 95-104. Similarly Elaine Martin and Barry Pyle find that feminist judges are more likely to adopt a pro-woman position, which holds true for Democratic and Republican judges. "Gender and Racial Diversification of State Supreme Courts," Women & Politics 24 (2002): 35-52.
4. Amy Caizza, "Does Women's Representation in Elected Office Lead to Women-Friendly Policy?" Institute for Women's Policy Research, Research in Brief. IWPR Publication #1910.
5. Nancy Chodorow, The Reproduction of Mothering (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999); and, Georgia Duerst-Lahti, "Knowing Congress as a Gendered Institution," in Cindy Simon Rosenthal, ed. Women Transforming Congress (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002).
6. Lyn Kathlene, "In a Different Voice: Women and the Policy Process," in Sue Thomas and Clyde Wilcox, eds. Women and Elective Office: Past, Present, and Future (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999); Lyn Kathlene, "Words that Matter: Women's Voice and Institutional Bias in Public Policy Formation," in Susan J. Carroll, ed. The Impact of Women in Public Office (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2001); Marcia Whicker and Malcolm E. Jewell, "The Feminization of Leadership in State Legislatures," in Thomas and Wilcox, eds. Women and Elective Office; and, Cindy Simon Rosenthal, "Gender Styles in State Legislative Committees: Raising their Voices in Resolving Conflict," Women & Politics 21 (2000): 21-46.
7. Debra L. Dodson, "Acting for Women: Is What State Legislators Say What they Do?" in Carroll, ed. The Impact of Women in Public Office.
8. Janet Boles, "Local Elected Women and Policymaking: Movement Delegates or Feminist Trustees," in Carroll, ed. The Impact of Women in Public Office; Susan J. Carroll, "Representing Women: Women State Legislators as Agents of Policy-Related Change," in Carroll, ed. The Impact of Women in Public Office; Sue Thomas and Susan Welch, "The Impact of Gender on Activities and Priorities of State Legislators," Western Political Quarterly 44 (June 1991): 445-456; Sue Thomas, "Why Gender Matters: The Perceptions of Women Officeholders," Women & Politics 17 (1997): 27-54; Debra Dodson and Susan J. Carroll, "Reshaping the Agenda: Women in State Legislatures," (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University, Center for American Women and Politics, 1991); Edith J. Barrett, "Gender and Race in the State House: The Legislative Experience," Social Science Journal 34 (1999): 134-44; Shelah Gilbert Leader, "The Policy Impact of Elected Women Officials," in L. Sandy Maisel and Joseph Cooper, eds. The Impact of the Electoral Process (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1977); Thomas H. Little, Dana Dunn, and Rebecca Dean, "A View from the Top: Gender Differences in Legislative Priorities Among State Legislative Leaders," Women & Politics 22 (2001): 29-50; Beth Reingold, Representing Women: Sex, Gender, and Legislative Behavior in Arizona and California (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2000); Michelle A. Saint Germain, "Does their Difference Make a Difference?: The Impact of Women on Public Policy in the Arizona Legislatures," Social Science Quarterly 70 (1989): 956-968; and, Sue Thomas, How Women Legislate (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).
9. Carroll, ed. The Impact of Women in Public Office; Joanne V. Hawks and Carolyn Ellis Staton, "On the Eve of Transition: Women in Southern Legislatures, 1946-1968," in Lois Lovelace Duke, ed. Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1993); Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick, Political Women (New York, Basic Books, 1974); and, Lynne E. Ford and Kathleen Dolan, "Contemporary Women State Legislators: A Diverse Group With Diverse Agendas," in Lois Lovelace Duke, ed. Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, 2nd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996).
10. Lyn Kathlene, "Power and Influence in State Legislatures: The Interaction of Gender and Position in Committee Hearing Debates," American Political Science Review 88 (1994): 560-76.
11. Boles, "Local Elected Women."
12. Lilliard E. Richardson, Jr. and Patricia Freeman, "Gender Differences in Constituency Service Among State Legislators," Political Research Quarterly 48 (1995): 169-179.
13. Susan Abrams Beck, "Acting as Women: The Effects and Limitations of Gender in Local Governance," in Carroll, ed. The Impact of Women in Public Office.
14. Thomas, "Why Gender Matters."
15. Beck, "Acting as Women" and Thomas, "Why Gender Matters."
16. Cindy Simon Rosenthal, "Determinants of Collaborative Leadership: Civil Engagement, Gender or Organizational Norms?" Political Research Quarterly 51 (1998): 847-868.
17. Kathlene, "Power and Influence." Interestingly, the public also views women leaders as more organized (67%), communicative (65%), creative (62%), and people oriented (54%) than male leaders. Avon's Global Women's Survey, 2000. Janet Flammang also finds that women attribute their distinctive leadership styles to "an insistence upon mutual respect, consensus decision-making, validation of the feelings of others, and noncompetitive power." "Female Officials in the Feminist Capital: The Case of Santa Clara County," Western Political Quarterly 38 (1985): 94-118.
18. Thomas, How Women Legislate and Thomas and Welch, "The Impact of Women."
19. Kathlene, "Words that Matter."
20. Lyn Kathlene, "Power and Influence;" Sue Tolleson Rinehart, "Do Women Leaders Make a Difference? Substance, Style and Perceptions," in Debra Dodson, ed. Gender and Policy Making: Studies of Women in Office (New Brunswick, NJ: Center for American Women and Politics, 1991); Whicker and Jewell, "The Feminization of Leadership in State Legislatures;" and, Cindy Simon Rosenthal, "Getting Things Done: Women Committee Chairpersons in State Legislatures," in Thomas and Wilcox, eds. Women and Elective Office.
21. Mark Ellickson and Donald Whistler, "A Path Analysis of Legislative Success in Professional and Citizens Legislatures: A Gender Comparison," Women & Politics 21 (2000): 77-103.
22. Sue Thomas and Susan Welch, "The Impact of Women in State Legislatures: Numerical and Organizational Strength," in Carroll, ed. The Impact of Women in Public Office.
23. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Men and Women of the Corporation (New York, Basic Books, 1977).
24. Thomas and Welch, "The Impact of Women."
25. Boles, "Local Elected Women."
26. Fern S. Ingersoll, "Former Congresswomen Look Back," in Irene Tinker, ed. Women in Washington: Advocates for Policy Change (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1983).
27. Christina Wolbrecht, The Politics of Women's Rights (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000); Debra Dodson, et al. Voices, Views, Votes: the Impact of Women in the 103rd Congress (New Brunswick, NJ: Center for American Women and Politics, 1995); Kathleen Frankovic, "Sex and Voting in the U.S. House of Representatives," American Politics Quarterly 5 (1977): 315-330; Nancy E. McGlen, et al. Women, Politics, and American Society, 3rd ed. (New York: Longman, 2002); and, Barbara Burrell, A Woman's Place is in the House: Campaigning for Congress in the Feminist Era (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994).
28. Wolbrecht, The Politics of Women's Rights; and, Dena Levy, Charles Tien, and Rachelle Aved, "Do Differences Matter? Women Members of Congress and the Hyde Amendment," in Karen O'Connor, ed. Women and Congress: Running, Winning, and Ruling (New York: Haworth Press, 2002).
29. Julie Dolan, "Support for Women's Interests in the 103rd Congress: The Distinct Impact of Congressional Women," Women & Politics 18 (1997): 81-93; Raymond Tatlovich and David Sheier, "The Persistence of Ideological Cleavage in Voting on Abortion Legislation in the House of Representatives, 1973-1988," American Politics Quarterly 21 (1993): 125-139; Wolbrecht, The Politics of Women's Rights; Frieda L. Gehlen, "Women Members of Congress: A Distinctive Role," in Marianne Githens and Jewell Prestage, eds. A Portrait of Marginality: the Political Behavior of American Women (New York: David McKay, 1977); Leader, "The Policy Impact;" Janet Clark, "Women at the National Level," in Thomas and Wilcox, eds. Women and Elective Office; and, Michele Swers, "Are Congresswoman More Likely to Vote for Women's Issue Bills Than Their Male Colleagues?" Legislative Studies Quarterly 23 (1998): 435-448.
30. Wolbrecht, The Politics of Women's Rights, and; Michele Swers, The Difference Women Make: The Policy Impact of Women in Congress (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).
31. Karen O'Connor, "Thirteen and Counting (and Making a Difference): Women in the U.S. Senate," Journal of Women's Imaging (November 2001): 119-122; Wolbrecht, The Politics of Women's Rights; Karin Tamerius, "Sex, Gender, and Leadership in the Representation of Women," in Georgia Duerst-Lahti and Rita Mae Kelly, eds. Gender, Power, Leadership, and Governance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1995); Katherine Cramer Walsh, "Enlarging Representation: Women Bringing Marginalized Perspectives to Floor Debate in the House of Representatives," in Rosenthal, ed. Women Transforming Congress; and, Swers, The Difference Women Make.
32. Irwin Gertzog, Congressional Women: Their Recruitment, Integration, and Behavior, 2nd ed. (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995); and, Dodson, et al. Voices, Views, Votes.
33. Debra Dodson, "Representing Women's Interests in the U.S. House of Representatives," in Thomas and Wilcox, eds. Women and Elective Office.
34. Swers, The Difference Women Make; and, Noelle H. Norton, "Transforming Policy from the Inside: Participation in Committee," in Rosenthal, ed. Women Transforming Congress.
35. McGlen, et al. Women, Politics, and American Society.
36. Laura W. Arnold and Barbara M. King, "Women, Committees, and Institutional Change in the Senate," in Rosenthal, ed. Women Transforming Congress.
37. Arnold and King, "Women, Committees, and Institutional Change."
38. Norton, "Transforming Policy from the Inside;" and, Richard L. Hall, Participation in Congress (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996).
The Women & Politics Institute is dedicated to advancing the study and discussion of women and politics, promoting opportunities for women in politics, and training young women to become political leaders: http://www.american.edu/oconnor/wandp/
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Oklahoma Elects Democratic Women
Nationally, the 2006 election is being heralded as the “Year of the Woman,” and Oklahoma is no different. On November 7, 2006, Oklahoma voters sent several women into public office, and we want to thank the wonderful women Democratic candidates with whom we got to work.
At the statewide level, we elected:
Jari Askins, Lieutenant Governor
(The first Democratic woman to hold this post in Oklahoma.)
Sandy Garrett, Superintendent of Public Instruction*
Kim Holland, Insurance Commissioner*
In the State Senate and State House of Representatives, we elected:
Mary Easley, SD 18*
Connie Johnson, SD 48*
Jeannie McDaniel, HD 78
Rebecca Hamilton, HD 89*
Anastasia Pittman, HD 99
These offices are especially important to us as Democrats, because victory at the state legislative level helps us build the groundwork to win at many other levels, and maintain long-term Democratic success.
Thanks again to all of our women voters and women candidates – and congratulations to our women winners!
Local Democratic activist and lobbyist Keith Smith died Monday, November 20, 2006 in Oklahoma City. He was actively involved in this year's Democratic campaigns; in particular the defeat of Republican nemesis Thad Balkman. Smith was a Yellow Dog Democrat who lobbied for the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood. He was a compassionate and tireless advocate for civil rights in Oklahoma. Smith was an avid OSU fan. He will be missed by many friends and family members.
Senator Tom Ivester
Tom Ivester, SD 26, is one of Oklahoma's newest Democratic State Senators. I grew up in SD 26, "shortgrass country" in southwest Oklahoma, and my parents still farm out there. I met Ivester early last spring and visited with him and met his family again at the Mtn. View Gotebo Fair in August. I knew then what a dedicated representative of the people and for the people he would be and was proud to see him sworn in last week. (We are pictured at right at the reception in the Senate Lounge following the swearing in ceremony.)
He is a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves who recently returned from duty in Afghanistan. The new Senator practices law in Elk City and Sayre. Ivester's family is not new to the state capitol, his grandfather held the same Senate seat more than 70 years ago and the Ivesters have been active community members for generations.
Congratulations Senator Ivester!
Monday, November 20, 2006
House Democrats who will be term limited in 2008 include:
- David Braddock, HD 52
- James Covey, HD 57
- Darrell Gilbert, HD 72
- Al Lindley, HD 93
- Ray McCarter, HD 51
- Dale Turner, HD 24
- Mike Morgan, SD 21
- Jeff Rabon, SD 5
- Terry Ingmire, HD 34
- Mike Wilt, HD 11
- Owen Laughlin, SD 27
- Kathleen Wilcoxson, SD 45,
- Jim Williamson, SD 35
Friday, November 17, 2006
Senator Gumm’s “Senate Minute” Column
for November 17-23, 2006
DURANT, Okla. – Hello again, everybody! Let me begin this week’s column by wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.
As our nation pauses to give thanks to Almighty God for the many blessings He has bestowed on us, I remember the closing words of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. “Here on Earth, God’s work must surely be our own.”
Those words are among the statements that eloquently embody the spirit of our nation and our state. The challenge of those words was reminded to us by column written by U.S. Sen.-elect Jim Webb of Virginia.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Senator Webb began with a statement with which I deeply agree: “The most important – and unfortunately the least debated – issue in politics today is our society’s steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century.”
While corporate executives send American jobs overseas, they are compensated at an incredible rate. Making it worse, some support a tax policy that would make this divide greater, giving larger tax cuts to the wealthy than the rest of us. I strongly disagree.
That is why during my two years as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, I fought efforts to give smaller tax cuts to working Oklahomans. Because the Senate held firm on this point, every Oklahoman benefits from the tax cuts we passed, not just the wealthy.
Compounding the problem are the challenges facing working families in this new century. Cheap labor overseas and the “vast underground labor pool” from illegal immigration are helping squeeze working Oklahomans.
The way to stop illegal immigration is to dry up jobs for illegal immigrants by punishing companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Just as serious as illegal immigration is the legal out-migration of American jobs to countries with cheap labor. Our area suffered the loss of manufacturing jobs at Wrangler in Coalgate and, more recently, Ethan Allen in Atoka.
Some politicians try to make political hay out of this, but the truth is nothing state government could do attracts the eye of some corporate executives like ridiculously cheap labor.
Short-sighted executives see cheap labor overseas as the key to more profits.
Congress should use tax policy to punish companies that export American jobs. State government should step in as well, but our reach extends only to Oklahoma’s state lines. The federal government can punish any American company that turns its back on American workers.
Every American, every Oklahoman – regardless of whether they are born to wealth – deserves the chance to reach their potential. We should put a high value work; Americans who work hard and play by the rules should be able to earn enough to support their families.
As we give thanks this holiday, may we rededicate ourselves to the notion that every American deserves the chance to enjoy the full bounty of our blessings. Here on Earth, that is surely God’s work, and nothing is more “American” than that.
Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute.” Have a happy Thanksgiving and may God bless you all.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Six new Democratic state senators will be sworn into office on Thursday, November 16, 2006, in the Senate chamber of the State Capitol. The Honorable Joseph M. Watt, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, will administer the oath of office on the 99th anniversary of Oklahoma’s statehood.
“As we head into our centennial year, it seems very appropriate that the first official act of this body, taking the solemn oath of office, will take place on Statehood Day,” said Sen. President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater. “We are making history as we prepare to lay the foundation for Oklahoma’s next 100 years.”
Newly elected members taking the oath of office include Sean Burrage, D-Claremore; Roger Ballenger, D-Okmulgee; Joe Sweeden, D-Pawhuska; John Sparks, D-Norman; Tom Ivester, D-Elk City; and Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City.
The visitor’s gallery of the Senate chamber will be open to family, friends, supporters and other members of the public who wish to attend. Streaming video and audio of the ceremony will also be available on the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
(I enjoy reading E.J. Dionne and this morning's piece on the recent elections is no exception. Given that Oklahoma is considered a red state and elected Democrats to 8 of 9 statewide offices the lessons learned about the voters and the political landscape are worth reading. As we move forward as a party organization and as a state we need to seriously consider his closing line. Read it below.)
Democrats' Real VictorySelf-Deluding Spin on Both Sides
By E. J. Dionne Jr.Tuesday, November 14, 2006; A31
LITTLE ROCK -- Elections provoke myth-spinning. Republicans are in danger of spinning away from a full appreciation of the magnitude of their defeat last week. Democrats could spin themselves into useless arguments rooted in the past and ignore the opportunity American voters have offered them.
Some Republicans, including President Bush's political architect, Karl Rove, are trying to say that Tuesday's vote was no big deal. Democratic gains were at or below the incumbent party's usual losses in the sixth year of a presidency, and anyway many of the Democrats elected this year are "conservative."
Republicans believe this spin at their peril.
Many who play down the Democratic gains are the very same people who said six months ago that the Democrats had no chance of winning either the House or Senate. Incumbent-friendly congressional boundaries and the fact that many of the House and Senate seats Democrats needed to win were in previously pro-Bush areas meant Democrats needed a big and unlikely surge.
The surge happened. Votes are still being tallied, but it appears that the Democrats emerged with at least as large a margin in the popular vote in this year's House races as Bush enjoyed in winning two years ago. If Rove could claim that Bush's narrow majority was part of a "rolling realignment" to the Republicans, why is a comparable majority the other way insignificant? Democrats, by the way, also have an estimated 11 percent lead in the vote totals for Senate races and a 7 percent lead in governors' contests. (Remember, we could have a U.S. Senate race in 2008 in Oklahoma and our Governor won 74 of 77 counties with 63% of the vote.)
The notion that this election produced a different kind of "conservative" majority is simply wrong. Yes, Democrats won in part by nominating moderate candidates in moderate areas. But every newly elected Democrat was, by any fair reckoning, somewhere to the left of the vanquished Republican, especially on Iraq and economic issues.
Moreover, voters on Tuesday sent to Congress a pack of unapologetic progressives, including Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Senate, and such new House members as John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire and Dave Loebsack in Iowa, among many others.
Some Republicans say that Sen. Joe Lieberman's reelection as an independent suggests that rejection of Bush's Iraq policies was not, to use Rove's word, the "determining" factor in the election. But exit polls make clear that Lieberman won despite his support for the war, not because of it.
Connecticut voters disapproved of the war by a margin of two to one, and nearly two-thirds favored withdrawing some or all of our troops. Lieberman, who enjoyed residual affection among Connecticut Democrats, managed to carry close to 40 percent of the vote among those who favored troop withdrawals, including a remarkable 29 percent among those who favor withdrawing all our troops.
Republicans make a mistake if they dismiss the depth of the Democratic victory and the disintegration of their coalition. Democrats now control 28 of the 50 governorships, many of them in previously red states such as Arkansas, and they picked up legislative chambers in seven states.
Democrats converted one-time Bush voters in large numbers and cut into core Republican constituencies. As the National Journal's Tom Edsall has pointed out, Republicans lost ground among white men, married people and religious voters. Nationwide, one of every seven Bush voters from 2004 backed a Democratic House candidate. In Ohio, Brown won 20 percent of those who voted for Bush two years ago; in Montana, Democrat Jon Tester won 18 percent of the Bush voters. In the Ohio governor's race, Ted Strickland, the winning Democrat, won 30 percent of Bush supporters from 2004.
But victory has not prevented the revival of what feels like an ancient feud between Democratic centrists, who are emphasizing the importance of moderate voters in Tuesday's results, and those on the party's left who point to the centrality of economic populism and impatience with the Iraq war.
To which the only rational response is: Stop! Moderates were indeed central to the Democrats' triumph, because Republicans vacated the political center. But these are angry moderates. Many are unhappy about Iraq, less on ideological grounds than because the Bush policy is such an obvious failure. The new Democratic voters are a mix of social conservatives (especially in the South and parts of the Midwest such as Indiana) and social libertarians (especially in the West). Many (especially in the Midwest) are angry about the flight of manufacturing jobs overseas.
Holding this coalition together will require subtlety and an acknowledgment that the comfortable old battles of the 1980s and '90s are irrelevant to 2006 and 2008. The old arrangements are dead, a truth that both parties need to recognize.
What then, will we do in Oklahoma? How do we lead and how do we capture more seats for the people? Let us know your ideas for creating a progressive future for Oklahoma. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last night I had the pleasure of speaking on the campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University as part of the Distinguished Lecturer Series associated with the Aspects of State Government class.
The class is taught by former Oklahoma Speaker of the House, now SOSU President Dr. Glen Johnson, Dr. Richard Pearlstein, and Dr. Chummei Yoe. Dr. Johnson will be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Thursday night in Tulsa.
I had been scheduled to speak in the 7 p.m. slot following Oklahoma House Speaker Elect Lance Cargill but he was running late so I spoke at 5:30 p.m. and he at 7 p.m. Apparently GOP Chairman Tom Daxon was unable to participate in the series.
As a former teacher it's always great to be back in an academic setting and last night combining education and politics was about as good as it gets for me! Thanks Dr. Johnson for the opportunity to visit your campus and meet your students and staff!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
It's time to think about precinct meetings, county conventions, district conventions, and our state convention.
Check out the ODP Constitution and By-laws on our website by clicking on the words ODP Constitution and By-laws here. Read the sections related to elections and then make a commitment to get involved inthe party process from your own precinct. You'll be glad that you did.
Precinct officers become delegates to the county convention where county officers and state delegates are elected. The county officers and delegates attend a district convention where district officers are elected before the state convention which will be Saturday, May 19, 2007 in Oklahoma City. State officers are elected at the convention and resolutions recommended by the district conventions are considered for adoption by the state delegates.
If you really want to make a difference in your party, get involved and stay involved. We know that in 2004 if we had earned the votes of 10 more people in every precinct Bush would not have won. Can you find new votes in your precinct? If you can, then you can make a difference. We have 2244 precincts in Oklahoma. To be successful in 2008 we must fill every office in every precinct. That means we need YOU. And we need thousands of other dedicated Democrats to help us elect a President, a U.S. Senator, and new state legislators. We need thousands of dedicated Democrats to mobilize to elect Democrats to the county courthouses, to local school boards, and to city councils.
But if you do get involved, understand that you have a responsibility to the men and women who run for office in your community, in your county, in your legislative district, in your state, and in your country. You have a responsibility to support them with your time and talent. You have a responsibility to support them with your money.
And if you are a party officer you have a responsibility to support the local and state party. There are plenty of opportunities to support the party. Check out the ODP's Yellow Dog Democrat Club. Check out the Rooster Club.
If you have ideas about strengthening the party share them with us at the ODP. We are open to new ideas and new people. We look forward to working with you to elect more Democrats than ever in 2008!
Thanks for all you do for Democrats!
Lisa Pryor, Chairman
A quick review of the Sunday talk shows indicates that the race for 2008 began in earnest on November 8th. Who are your picks for president in 2008? Who will best represent Oklahomans and who can win in November?
In the 2004 Presidential Primary Oklahoma picked General Wesley Clark followed by Senator John Edwards; leaving the eventual nominee John Kerry behind but well ahead of Governor Howard Dean. So Oklahoma, who will it be in 2008?
Rumored or confirmed possibilities include: Biden, Bayh, Vilsack, Gore, Clark, Kerry, Richardson and Clinton. Who will it be for you?
50 State Strategy -
There's been a considerable amount of talk about the DNC's 50 State Strategy in national and local venues. In Oklahoma the strategy allowed us to work for the last 72 weeks on a 72-hour plan that resulted in winning eight of nine statewide offices for Democrats.
Thanks to Oklahoma's DNC Partnership Project staff members Jason McCarty, Communications Directo; Teresa Hill, Outreach Organizer; and Courtney Ruark, Outreach Organizer. All three are Oklahomans who've been working directly with local, county, and state Democrats this cycle to improve turnout and election results.
The Partnership Project, also referred to as the 50 State Strategy, is a key tactic for Democratic success this cycle and for 2008. By fielding a fulltime staff throughout the year the state party is able to develop infrastructure and to enahnce traditional networks while reaching out to new constituencies to build a healthy, innovative party that can support campaigns at the local, county, and state level.
As State Party Chair I am grateful for the investment in our Party by the DNC and look forward to electing more Democrats in Oklahoma and in America as a result of this strategy.
If you want to be part of the new Democratic Party, of a new direction in America, then contact us today. The race for the White House began on Tuesday, and we are already talking to Oklahomans about running for state legislative positions in 2008. If you've ever considered being a candidate or working on a campaign, please talk to our staff or call me at the ODP. We are there to serve Oklahoma's million -- and you are one of a million --- we're counting on you to help us further implement the 50 State Strategy through your involvement at the precinct, county, district, and state levels.
Lisa Pryor, Chairman
Friday, November 10, 2006
Chairman's Comments on Veteran's Day
Washington, DC - Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today issued the following statement commemorating Veteran's Day:
"Today, Americans are united in honoring the almost 27 million veterans of our country's Armed Forces. For generations, Americans of all backgrounds, from all across the country have answered the call to service. They and their families have made great sacrifices in defense of our freedoms, serving with honor and distinction. This year's commemoration, like others in recent years, takes on added significance, as our nation continues to ask so much of the brave men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have answered the call, displaying great skill and courage, and demonstrating a commitment to American that makes us all proud. We are all deeply indebted to them, and the brave soldiers who have served before them.
"This Veteran's Day follows the end of an historic election season. The American people sent a clear message for a new direction by electing strong Democratic veterans like Jim Webb in Virginia, Tim Walz in Minnesota, and Admiral Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy and Chris Carney in Pennsylvania to Congress. In doing so, they voted for hope and opportunity over fear and smear. They voted for change and accountability, not the White House's full-speed ahead commitment to a failed strategy in Iraq. And they voted to keep our promise to the brave men and women who have given so much in defense of our freedoms, asking only that their government keep its promise to take care of them when their service was done.
"For too long, the Republican Congress and the Bush Administration have failed to keep that promise. When Democrats take control of Congress, we will offer America's veterans and military families a renewed commitment to fully fund veterans health care, expediting the processing of benefits claims, and providing affordable health insurance to thousands of members of the Guard and Reserve by providing them full TRICARE benefits. After giving so much in serving our nation, this is the least we can offer in return.
"Democrats stand ready to lead. Together, we will make America stronger, and move America in a new direction - one that keeps our promise to the men and women who have served our nation."
Veterans Day events start Friday in state
By Brian Sargent
Armistice Day -- known now as Veterans Day -- was first observed 87 years ago.
The 45th Infantry Division Museum has celebrated Veterans Day every year since the U.S. bicentennial in 1976.
Ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. Friday at the museum at 2145 NE 36. The museum will be open until 4:15 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Saturday. All events are free.
Friday's ceremony begins with an Oklahoma Army National Guard flyover. World War II soldier re-enactors will fire an M337 tank gun. About 20 organizations will participate in the massing of the colors.
Veterans Day "means that the public has not forgotten them or their comrades who have not left the battlefield. It's that simple," museum curator Michael E. Gonzales said.
Members of Bugles Across America will perform Saturday at Oklahoma's two national cemeteries. Bugles Across America provides live buglers for sounding taps whenever needed.
Taps will be played beginning at 9 a.m. at Fort Sill National Cemetery. No speakers are scheduled.
At Fort Gibson National Cemetery in Fort Gibson, ceremonies begin at 11 a.m. Along with buglers, bagpipers are scheduled to perform.
Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner, will serve as master of ceremonies at Fort Gibson. Sen. Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee, also will speak.
"We encourage family members and veterans to attend to remember those who have served their country and have been buried here because of their honorable service," said Bill Isbell, program assistant for Fort Gibson National Cemetery.
A Veterans Day parade, part of Oklahoma's Centennial kickoff, winds through downtown Tulsa beginning at noon Friday. "Welcome Home" is the theme. The mile-long parade is organized by American Legion Post No. 1 in Tulsa. Organizers expect about 200 organizations to participate, including the Oklahoma Centennial All*Star Band and about a dozen bands from high schools in the Tulsa area.
Free admission will be offered Saturday for veterans and active-duty military personnel visiting the Oklahoma History Center, 2401 N Laird Ave. in Oklahoma City. The museum will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Veterans Day. A special exhibit focuses on Choctaw and Comanche Indians from Oklahoma who served as code talkers for the U.S. Army in World Wars I and II. A companion exhibit prepared by the Smithsonian Institution takes a larger look at Indian code talkers from across the United States. The exhibits remain on display through Jan. 15.
Golden Corral restaurants will offer free meals to veterans and active-duty military personnel from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday. The Disabled American Veterans will have information tables at each restaurant to answer questions about their transportation program and membership requirements. They also will accept donations.
Federal, state and county offices will be closed Friday in observance of the holiday. Post offices will be open Friday and the U.S. Postal Service will deliver mail. Saturday, post offices will be closed and mail will not be delivered.
The Metropolitan Library System and Pioneer Library System will be open Saturday, and Oklahoma City's Metro Transit bus service will run.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
The American people spoke loud and clear. They want a change, and they want Democrats to lead America in a new direction.
Democrats won an unprecedented majority because we are on the side of the American people.
In Iraq and here at home, it is time for a change. Americans want, they deserve, and they are going to get:
- A new direction in Iraq
- Better jobs at better pay
- Energy independence
- Affordable health care
- Affordable education
- A secure retirement
The days of the Do Nothing Congress are over. Democrats are ready to get to work.
It is time to put aside partisanship. Congress must honor America's choice with a new beginning. We must work together to move America forward.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
As a young voter, I've been trying to articulate to my friends and family just how it felt to win locally and nationally last night. Not just to feel victory in a race, but to feel like my hard work for the issues I believe in actually meant something. That I was actually part of change...
And then I found this on DailyKos, and it is much more eloquent than I can be:
The Newbie by Georgia10
Exhale. We won.
"We won." Truth be told, it's a concept that I have yet to fully register. You see, at 24 years old, such victories are completely foreign to me.
Millions of young Americans who grew up (politically) at the turn of the millennium are tasting their first victory today. We grew up in the aftermath of the Republican Revolution, not understanding what was so revolutionary about it. For us, a Republican Congress and Senate have basically been the status quo. We have no real memories of the pre-Gingrich political environment.
Often, I'll read or hear from those far wiser than me about their lifetime experiences. Anecdotes about Bobby Kennedy, tales of successful protest, and other memories borne out of a time when leaders led and common action produced tangible result. For years, I hungrily absorbed these stories, wishing that I was born in a different era where people still believed in the awesome power of the common citizen. Longing to experience government with a capital "G", an institution capable of remarkable social change.
I've grown up surrounded by disillusionment with that idea of government. I have vague memories of Clinton's impeachment, clearer memories of the 2000 election debacle, and an still-too-painful recollection of Kerry's loss. I've lived about one-fourth of my life under the presidency of George W. Bush. How's that for disillusionment?
As I matured, from a curious 18-year-old voter to a 24-year-old political junkie, my disillusionment grew. You know how it is. The outrages pile on day after day, and you feel like it's gotten to the point that there's no way this country can dig itself out of the rubble.
The darker it became, the more fervently I searched for light. A passionate speech here (Keith Olbermann), a TV smackdown there (Howard Dean). They have been sporadic twinklings of hope, but too far and few between to satisfy.
I'm used to losing, and I'm used to consolation prizes rendered in the form of moral victories and close calls.
But this--victory--is entirely foreign to me.
It's a strange feeling, one best described as a mix of ticklish heart and nervousness. I've moved on past disbelief to a sort of quiet contemplation on the length of the path before us. It's a long road towards real change, and my feet at slightly hesitant as we begin the walk. Perhaps those who have experienced victory before are more surefooted, steadied by the memories of previous Democratic majorities. We've been here before.
But here is not the here of the past. The path to implementing our agenda is booby-trapped by a right-wing intent on minimizing our majority status, and the media of today is not the media of past Democratic majorities.
So pardon the anxiousness of young voter who, in this Majority, feels like a citizen in a strange land. This crown of laurels feels a bit awkward on a head which has hung so low for so long.
I've never had victory open the floodgates of hope. I've never seen the stars so bright and shiny, or the path towards real change so well-lit. It's exhilarating. It's intimidating. It's brand new, and overdue.
To those celebrating their first victory today, and to those who have seen victory and taste it again tonight... congratulations. Our party has won, and our work has just begun.
Last night's elections showed that the American people want change and that they have put their faith in Democrats to bring change to Washington.
This was not just a victory for a party, it is an opportunity for our country. An opportunity to clean up the problems in Washington so we can get back to fixing the problems of every day Americans - crushing health care costs, high tuition, stagnant wages, and our dependence on foreign oil.
Americans also said loud and clear that they will not accept the same failed course in Iraq - they went full-speed ahead to the polls to vote for an end to the full-speed ahead strategy of this White House.
Democrats are eager to put the long-term interests of our country ahead of the constant effort to seek political advantage. We will work together with our Republican friends to bring change to Washington and results to the American people.
It's time to reach across the partisan divide, set aside the bitterness of the past few years, and give America a government based on civility and solutions.
Congratulations to all of the candidates, their families, their campaign staff and volunteers and to all of the Oklahoma voters. Thanks to all of the volunteers at the ODP. Thank you ALL!
I'm still watching the results at home, it's 1:30 a.m. and it looks like the Democrats will take the U.S. House AND the U.S. Senate.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Please post a comment here.
We've had a number of calls about repetitive robo-calls made after midnight. These calls are likely from an Automatic Dialing Device and could be a violation of the Democratic process and a violation of applicable law.
We need your help to trace these calls.
If you receive such a call, please:
1. Utilize caller id to capture the telephone number.
2. Note the date, time and telephone number upon which the call was received.
3. Call the local office of your telephone company and advise them that you received such a call, the date, time and number called.
4. Call 1-405-427-3366 with your information or leave your information on our voice mail system. You can also email the information to email@example.com.
5. Record the call if possible.
6. Please report any and all calls. We need all your information to determine geographic patterns and other demographics. We intend to investigate and if possible cause prosecution of all persons who are involved in this corrupt practice.
Thank you for your help.
“So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion ... it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth.”
That statement was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Marguerite Higgins more than a half-century ago during the Korean War.
But until recently, the “hard bruising” truth about the Iraq war has been difficult to come by from leaders in Washington.
One rosy reassurance after another has been handed down by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: “mission accomplished,” the insurgency is “in its last throes,” and “back off,” we know what we’re doing, are a few choice examples.
Military leaders generally toed the line, although a few retired generals eventually spoke out from the safety of the sidelines, inciting criticism equally from anti-war types, who thought they should have spoken out while still in uniform, and pro-war foes, who thought the generals should have kept their critiques behind closed doors.
Now, however, a new chorus of criticism is beginning to resonate. Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the war’s planning, execution and dimming prospects for success.
Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee in September: “I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I’ve seen it ... and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war.”
Last week, someone leaked to The New York Times a Central Command briefing slide showing an assessment that the civil conflict in Iraq now borders on “critical” and has been sliding toward “chaos” for most of the past year. The strategy in Iraq has been to train an Iraqi army and police force that could gradually take over for U.S. troops in providing for the security of their new government and their nation.
But despite the best efforts of American trainers, the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition.
For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don’t show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.
Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.
And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.
Now, the president says he’ll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.
This is a mistake. It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation’s current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.
These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.
And although that tradition, and the officers’ deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.
Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.
This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov.. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth: Donald Rumsfeld must go.
Tell others about your election day activities in Oklahoma by filing a story with CNN here: http://www.cnn.com/exchange/ireports/topics/forms/election/campaign.trail.html
Let's get as many Oklahoma stories on as possible. You can also submit your stories here as a comment to this blog. Or call us at 405.427.3366 with a story or email your story to me today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take your digital camera with you and send us a photo of election day activities in your hometown. It's a great way to share your day with other Democrats in the state and to encourage our candidates.
Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who met at the ODP this morning for the metro Democrat sign blitz. And I do mean morning! The coffee was on at ODP by 3 a.m. and signs were out the door by 3:30 a.m. I know that other crews worked through the night, we saw the evidence of their hard work across the city. So, again, on behalf of all of the candidates, thank you!!!
P.S. If your group did a sign blitz take a picture and post it for our fun on this blog. Without volunteers across the state we could not be successful at the polls. Thank you!
Monday, November 06, 2006
Get Out and Vote on Tuesday!
At long last, the time has come to cast our votes -- and with the future of our country at stake, Election Day couldn't come soon enough. As Americans, it is our duty to hold our elected leaders accountable for their performance, and we do that at the ballot box.
In my short time in politics, I have learned many new clichés -- one of the most notable being, "This is a critical election." This year, it is dramatically true. The Bush Administration and this Republican Congress seemingly can not, or will not, make the right decisions about the most important issue ever to face government officials: war and peace. The only hope for a change of course in our misguided foreign policy is a Congress that will serve its Constitutional role as a check on this power of this reckless executive.
But to do that, we need to change the current Congressional leadership -- and you can do your part by casting a vote for change tomorrow.
Casting your own ballot is incredibly important. But there are 3 more critical things I ask you to do to help bring change on Tuesday:
Encourage your friends and family to vote. Given the historically low turnout in mid-term elections, encouraging everyone you know to vote could be the key to winning the election. Your personal reminder is a huge motivator -- more powerful than any TV ad or piece of mail. And it's easy to do!
Volunteer with your local campaign. Visit OkDemocrats.org to find the candidates that need your help in these final hours.
Sign up to phone voters in key Congressional districts across America. Join MoveOn's "Call For Change" program to contact Democratic voters who vote in presidential elections but often sit out mid-term elections. We need to motivate these Democrats to get out and vote!
Iraq was a war of choice, a war that has defined the Bush Presidency and captured the almost unanimous support of the Republican-led Congress. For three long years after U.S. troops occupied Baghdad, and as the country spiraled deeper into chaos and violence, loyalty to the President and his party demanded many Republican members of Congress to follow his motto: "Stay the course". Critics were often demonized, public accountability was minimized, and policy alternatives were rejected.
But this fall, a combination of leaked intelligence and briefing documents and mounting American casualties has brought Iraq back front and center in the minds of voters. And it has become clearer than ever that our current course in Iraq is unsustainable -- not to mention this Republican one-party government's failures to address other important issues: economic fairness, health care, global climate change, and education.
That is why it is critically important that you cast your vote for change tomorrow.
These next 24 hours are a critical time for our country. I urge you to take an hour or two to volunteer with a local campaign or call Democratic voters in critical Congressional districts.
This is the time for us to stand up and be counted. Together, we will help Democrats take back Congress on Tuesday, bringing the change that our troops, our families, and all Americans so desperately need.
There's one thing everyone who wants Democrats to win tomorrow needs to remember: be prepared for anything. We offer a fresh start and a new direction, but each and every Democrat must get to the polls to make our vision a reality.
Reports of voter suppression and potentially illegal tactics have already begun surfacing in districts where Republicans seem to be heading for defeat. That's why it's so important that you vote. From repeatedly harassing phone calls to disgusting flyers sent to Hispanic voters, they're trying everything they can to keep Democrats from voting.
No matter what the other side does to try to keep Democrats at home, we have to continue our person-to-person outreach for this final stretch. Our democracy can withstand these tactics if every one of us lives up to our responsibility to engage our neighbors in this movement to take America in a new direction.
We've put together the resources you need to spread the Democratic message and reach as many people as possible. Here are just a few of those resources:
Find Your Polling Place
In addition to allowing people to report election irregularities, the 1-888-DEM-VOTE number also provides your polling place. You can call, or find your state's polling information here: http://www.democrats.org/pollingplace
The best way to volunteer at the last minute is to call your local Democratic Party: http://www.democrats.org/volunteer/call
Print Your Own Flyers
The Democratic Agenda: http://www.democrats.org/agenda/vision
Voter Protection Info: http://www.democrats.org/voterprotection/materials
One look at those flyers will remind you what we're fighting for in this election.
What do the Republicans offer us? Spiraling costs in both human and monetary terms with no accountability and no plan in sight for Iraq, more people working full-time just to live in poverty because the minimum wage hasn't changed in a decade, and more people suffering in silence because, just like 45 million others, they don't have health insurance.
The vast majority of Americans have had enough. That's why the Republicans have resorted to doing anything they can to distract or deceive voters.
But we Democrats have our own plans, which couldn't be clearer:
Honest Leadership & Open Government
We will end the Republican culture of corruption and restore a government as good as the people it serves.
Real Security & A New Direction in Iraq
We will protect Americans at home and lead the world by telling the truth to our troops, our citizens and our allies, and we will heed the advice of our commanders on the ground and force a change in the failed Republican strategy in Iraq.
Energy Independence & Lower Gas Prices
We will create a cleaner, greener and stronger America by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, eliminating billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies and developing energy alternatives.
More Jobs, Better Pay & College Access for Everyone
We will create jobs that stay in America, raise the minimum wage, and open the doors to college for every American.
Healthcare that Works for Everyone & Life-Saving Cures
We will join 36 other industrialized nations in making sure everyone has access to affordable health care, and we will make decisions to invest in stem cell and other medical research based on science, not politics.
We will ensure that a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single American, starting with protecting workers' pensions expanding saving incentives and preventing the privatization of social security.
I can't stress enough how important these final hours are -- and because of the Republican voter suppression tactics, every one of us will need to do even more.
If you or someone you know has any trouble voting or is harassed in any way, please take down as many details as possible and report it. You can report any voter suppression or election irregularities by calling 1-888-DEM-VOTE. You can also report problems online here:
You'll hear a lot of predictions over the next day or so, but ignore both the good ones and the bad ones. We're got to work, work and work some more until this election is over. There is no other option -- we've all done too much for too long to let this slip away.
The only poll that matters will be on Election Day and it will signal a new direction for America.
Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
President Bush attempted to rally his base for GOP candidates across the country this weekend and was in Florida today. Problem is, even the GOP candidate for Governor ducked out and the only Republican near him was Katherine Harris, better known as Cruella Devil of the hanging chads. All indications are she is going down, down, down tomorrow, as is the Republican majority in the House. How embarrassing that the Republican candidates are unwilling to stand with their president. Hmmmm.
GOP Dirty Tricks in Oklahoma
Ring, Ring, Ring
It's not just an October surprise, it's down and dirty tricks and the prime suspects are the Republican campaigns that have been down, down, down in the polls for weeks.
We've had a rash of calls today complaining about repeated robo calls after midnight from Democratic candidates. For the record, only a few of our candidates even used robo calls, the party only did live calls, and none were scheduled after 9 p.m. Thus, the scenario we had been warned about has come to pass....the Republicans have programmed calls to Democratic voters to call, call, call, and call again to irritate sleepy voters to the point that they will question the Democratic candidate. Read all about it here.
Again, this is going on across the country to suppress voter turnout and to discourage Democrats from going to the polls tomorrow. We know that this election is about turnout and we are on pace to win and win big, here in Oklahoma and across the nation.
So, turn your ringer down or screen those calls tonight. Then tomorrow, go vote for the Democrats - the candidates who respect you and your family enough to tell you the truth and not interrupt a good night's sleep.
As if voters needed another example of George W. Bush’s misplaced priorities, there’s this.
The American death toll in Iraq is now well over 2,800. October was the deadliest month in Iraq in two years, with 105 Americans killed. Already, 18 Americans have been killed in the first five days of November. The cost to the American taxpayer is more than $380 Billion and going up $3 Billion each week.
American Generals are preparing for the worst (a prolonged, costly and deadly occupation) and pleading with the Pentagon for a new plan. Iraq is spiraling into chaos, with American troops lodged in the middle of a sectarian, civil war. Iran and North Korea are testing new weapons.
A national intelligence report warns that American policies are creating more terrorists, not fewer. Past members of the Bush Administration and respected retired American military leaders are revolting against the disastrous, ill-conceived “stay-the-course” stubbornness that passes for a White House Iraq strategy.
The Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times are calling for President Bush to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Upwards of 70% of the American people say the country, with Republicans in control of the Presidency and the Congress, is seriously off-course. While all this happening, and with Americans begging for honest, effective leadership, what is President Bush doing?
He’s campaigning. Campaigning in Texas and South Carolina and Colorado. Montana and Georgia. Nevada and Kansas. Nebraska, Missouri and Indiana. Instead of tending to the serious business that affects all Americans and the entire world, Bush and Vice-President Cheney are flying from state to state, raising money for their party, and playing partisan politics. The President is doing everything he can to ensure two more years of the same, with a Congress that fails to hold him accountable, rubber-stamps his every move, and covers up his failures. And what is the President talking about on these taxpayer-funded campaign swings? Tax cuts for the rich, fear of terrorists (obviously his security plan isn’t working) and gay marriage. Please. Enough is enough.
It’s time for a New Direction in America…and a New Majority in Congress. Oklahoma needs to be in the Majority, not the minority, in the U.S. House of Representatives. On November 7th, cast your vote for Democrats for Congress.
Vote Democrat on November 7!
They’re at it again. In the latest renewal of their famed 72-hour “Get Out the Vote” strategy, Republican politicians are again making wild, irresponsible and unethical attacks on Democrats in the final hours of the campaign when it’s too late to rebut the claims and too late to expose their tactics. They’ll lie about anything and hope you, the voters, will fall for it.
While the Oklahoma Democratic Party is sending out positive postcards which encourage voters to cast their ballots for Oklahoma’s top-notch slate of Democratic statewide candidates, the Oklahoma Republican Party and their surrogates are mailing out distortions and pulling dirty tricks to fool the unsuspecting. Again this year, Oklahoma Republican political operatives are launching eleventh-hour “smear and fear” campaigns to turn out their base and divide the electorate. That’s how they’ve been able to win elections for several years, and it’s time each Oklahoman gets wise to their cynical schemes and says, “No More.”
Now, the Republican sleaze-merchants are perpetrating their frauds on our Oklahoma newspapers with distorted, unethical advertising. David Stringer, Publisher of The Norman Transcript, is also President of the Oklahoma Press Association and upcoming speaker for the Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium seminar on Media Credibility, Ethics and the Threat to Democracy. Yet, even his newspaper has been used by unscrupulous, anonymous Republican operatives who have smeared Democratic District 45 House candidate Wallace Collins in his race against Republican incumbent Thad Balkman.
Somebody (again, they won’t identify themselves publicly so can’t tell you their names) has placed two personal attack ads in the Transcript in the waning days of the campaign to attack Mr. Collins. This shadow group can’t be held accountable, because they won’t say who they are, and chances are, they are not registered with the State Ethics Commission, as required by law. They are skirting the law and hoping readers won’t notice or care. The candidate these sleazy ads support isn’t talking, either. And he certainly isn’t taking responsibility. No, Balkman looks the other way and lets the sleaze merchants do his dirty work. It’s the Karl Rove/Radical Republican way…and it’s despicable.
A Texas-based shadow group is launching similar attacks on Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland, without complying with Oklahoma law. The Republican State Leadership Committee is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect Republicans across the state, but they’re not complying with the Ethics laws by failing to disclose who is supporting which candidate. No wonder Republicans in the legislature opposed toughening Oklahoma’s campaign ethics laws and have consistently voted against bills that would require candidates to be held responsible for their lies. There is nothing they won’t lie about to gain power and nothing they won’t do to keep it.
Oklahoma deserves better. The Oklahoma Democratic Party urges every Oklahoman to watch out for the Republican dirty tricks and reject their un-Oklahoma ways. Oklahoma Democrats are not perfect, but our candidates are doing everything they can to fight to the finish with honor and conviction. Today’s Oklahoma Democrats believe in responsibility and accountability, and as Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party I do not tolerate lies, deceptions and distortions. Thankfully, our candidates prefer to talk about the real issues affecting Oklahoma families and how a vote for a Democrat is a vote for proudly moving Oklahoma forward through smart policies and honest leadership.
I call on our candidates to do as good Democrats do – work hard and play by the rules. And, I respectfully ask the voters of Oklahoma to say “No More” to the sleazy politics of distortion and personal destruction pushed by the Republican Party by casting their votes for Democrats on November 7th.