Wednesday, January 31, 2007

House Democrats Advance Child Protection and Safe Communities Agenda

House Democrats unveiled their vision for Oklahoma's Second Century this week including a pledge to protect Oklahoma's chilcren by:
  • Enacting toughter penalties for those who endanger children.
  • Refusing to allow children to grow up in abusive homes that are detrimental to their health and safety.
  • Providing incentives for adoptions, so that fewer children are left in state custody and can grow up in the loving homes they deserve.
Tulsa Rep. Jabar Shumate, HD 73, is pictured above listening to a concerned citizen about legislation related to the Democratic agenda. Shumate attended the event at the ODP for Rep. Hilliard tonight.

Hilliard Honored by House and Supporters

Rep. Wes Hilliard was the guest of honor tonight at an event at the ODP attended by his colleagues and local supporters. Lt. Gov. Jari Askins attended the event. Hilliard, one of the younger members of the State House of Representatives, reminded me that there are three Democratic legislators with roots in Sulphur, Oklahoma, his hometown (Go Tornadoes!) State Senator John Sparks' family is from the Sulphur area and State Rep. Al McAffrey was born in Sulphur where his father was a Freewill Baptist minister. Hilliard serves on the Public Health and Telecommunications and Utility Regulation Committees.

Referring to Barack Obama as a ‘Rock Star’ Gives People an Excuse to Not Take Him Seriously

Call me too intense, but here’s what bothers me: It bothers me to hear the media constantly compare Barack Obama to a rock star.

The label is obviously meant to be flattering for a man with a megawatt smile, Ivy League pedigree and a back story that seems to validate the idea of America being a land of opportunity -- that a man born of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas could ascend to this country’s highest office.

But unfortunately, in America, the labels that usually confer confidence toward white candidates tend to generate dubiousness toward black ones. Too many times, descriptions that ought to tell people we’re worth taking a closer look at becomes the stuff that says the description is all there is to us.

Hence my problem with all the rock star adulation.

Aside from the viciously racist and anti-Islamic attacks that right-wing media have thrown at Obama recently, subtler barbs are also being directed at him. Already, newspaper editorialists are questioning whether there’s any steak behind his sizzle, and whether he has enough substance to serve up with his style.

Conservative columnist Cal Thomas, for example, recently noted that Barack’s choice of Feb. 10 as the day to announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination falls on the same day as the season premiere of “American Idol.”

He then writes that “part of the attraction and seductiveness of Sen. Obama -- perhaps the main attraction -- is that he is mostly a blank slate on which others can write what they choose.”

“If this were a contest about looks and style, Obama might have an edge. If it were a contest about which candidate is the best orator, he’d win,” Thomas writes. “But it is neither. Regardless of party, a president must have the credentials and especially the worldview to be a credible leader.”

Now, this is a teachable moment if ever there was one -- one that shows how racial double-standards work in this country.

First of all, you have white pundits who are quick to question the intelligence and substance of black leaders who either don’t speak the King’s English well or who don’t enunciate words well -- even as they praise George W. Bush’s inarticulateness as a mark of earthiness rather than idiocy.

Yet when a black man like Obama manages the task of speaking well, it isn’t seen as substance, but rather, as a cover for lack of it.

By: Tonyaa Weathersbee,

Former Democratic Senator Named to Hall of Fame

Former Tulsa Democrat Senator Maxine Horner was named yesterday to the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame.

According to a story in today's Tulsa World, "Horner was the first black person and the first woman to serve as chairwoman of the Oklahoma Senate Democratic Caucus and, with Vicki Miles-LaGrange, shared the distinction of being the first black female state senator when she was elected in 1986 to represent a Tulsa district.

As a senator, Horner wrote Senate Bill 156, which created the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program. It helps low-income students pay for their college education.

She is a founder of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and has been a strong advocate of the arts and the preservation of Tulsa's Greenwood District.

Water Wars

Rep. Jerry Ellis,
HD 1, dropped off a couple of newspapers yesterday that headlined the water wars developing in SE Oklahoma over the possible sale of Oklahoma water to Texas developers and investors. Folks are drawing a line in the sand over this issue, Ellis says, and so should the legislature. If Texans want to buy our water then they need to build their homes and businesses north of the Red River according to Ellis and others who've been talking about this issue recently. Some have even said, sure, we'll sell water to Texas, one bottle at a time!

Ellis advises that folks keep an eye on this issue, and on our water supply. Hey you'd think our state has water issues or something, maybe even a history of drought and dust bowls. Hmmmm.

Contact him at

Beat Texas, and 48 Other States

Congratulations to Lauren Nelson, Miss Oklahoma and now Miss America 2007! Nelson was crowned Miss America Monday night after moving ahead of Miss Texas and the other contestants. Nelson joins five other Oklahomans who hold the title of Miss America. As they sing in the musical, "Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I've got a beautiful feeling, everything's going my way." Indeed it is for Nelson. And what a coup for Oklahoma, two years in a row and this year especially during our Centennial Year! Again, congratulations to Nelson and her family.

Happy Birthday Rep. Covey

Tomorrow is Rep. James Covey's birthday. Email him birthday greetings at the state capitol and thank him for his service to the citizens of House District 57, Covey, from Custer City, is the Assistant Democratic Floor Leader. He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committee, the Rules Committee, the Aerospace and Technology Committee and the Agriculture Committee. He is currently serving as Custer County Democratic Party Chair.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Presidential Preferential Primary

Visited with Michael Clingman at the State Election Board today about the 2008 Presidential Preferential Primary. Current law requires that this primary "be held on the first Tuesday in February" unless one or more states having a mutual boundary with Oklahoma establishes a single date for a regional primary. Thus, it appears that the PPP in Oklahoma will be Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008.

Stay tuned!

DNC Winter Meeting - "Strong Leadership for America's Future"

Here's the schedule for the DNC Winter Meeting in DC this weekend. I'll blog from there but thought you might want to see the lineup of speakers as provided by the DNC today. It's my understanding that the Saturday meetings will be televised on CSPAN.

The Democratic National Committee will hold its annual winter meeting to highlight "Strong Leadership for America's Future" in Washington, DC from February 1-3, 2007. The meeting will feature presentations from the Democratic Presidential contenders on their visions and ideas for America's future.

The candidates will join more than 400 DNC members from around the country, DNC Chairman Howard Dean, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to talk about the strong leadership Democrats are providing now in Congress and around the country and will provide in the White House.

The following presidential candidates will speak at the winter meeting: Sen. Joe Biden, Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Chris Dodd, Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Mike Gravel, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Barack Obama, Gov. Bill Richardson, and Gov. Tom Vilsack.

"After six years of failed leadership from the Bush Administration, the American people want new leadership in the White House," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. "Our Democratic leaders in Congress are working to make government work for every American, and the talented and diverse group of presidential candidates joining us this weekend are proof that we can bring the same kind of vision, talent and strong leadership to the White House. Democrats are energized and ready to build on our Party's successes, and we're confident that a Democrat will be America's next president."

WHERE: Washington Hilton
1919 Connecticut Ave. NW
International Ballroom

WHEN: February 1-3, 2007
General Sessions: 9 a.m. to noon (Friday and Saturday) Pre-set time for general sessions: 7:30 a.m.

*** For press credentials, you must contact Kimberly Hunter at or call 202-863-8148 no later than 5 PM on Thursday, Feb. 1st. Please note that if you are not on the credentials list, you will not be allowed in the meeting.

Friday, February 2, 2007 - DNC General Session (Approximately 9 AM to Noon) The following is the list of speakers in order of appearance:

Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid (NV)
DNC Chairman Howard Dean
Senator Christopher Dodd (CT)
Senator Barack Obama (IL)
General Wesley Clark (Ret.)
Senator John Edwards (NC)
Representative Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY)

Saturday, February 3, 2007 - DNC General Session (Approximately 9 AM to Noon)

The following is the list of speakers in order of appearance:
Senator Joseph Biden (DE)
Governor Bill Richardson (NM)
Senator Mike Gravel (AK)
Governor Tom Vilsack (IA)

Biden's Bid for 2008

I received this notice from Sen. Joe Biden today:

"I wanted you to be among the first to know. Tomorrow, I am filing the necessary papers to become a candidate for President of the United States and launching my official campaign website at .

You'll hear more about the launch of our campaign tomorrow, but I wanted to send you an early invitation to participate in a live audio webcast this Thursday at 8:00 PM ET. I hope you can join me as I discuss the upcoming campaign.

You will find a link to this webcast on on Thursday. In the meantime, I encourage you to email me questions at:


We'll try to get through as many of them as we can on Thursday night. The start of a presidential campaign is an exciting time and my family and I look forward to working with you as we begin this journey.

Thank you,

Joe Biden

For more information call 580 774 3035.
State Democrats Committed To Protecting Health of Oklahomans

Oklahoma City, OK- Jan 30, 2007 Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Lisa Pryor's statement on the Healthcare initiatives rolled out today by the Democratic Caucus of the Oklahoma House of Representatives:

"Eight out of ten voters say healthcare is one of the most pressing issues facing Oklahoma families. Democratic House Members have a viable plan, Vision for Oklahoma's Second Century, for affordable and accessible healthcare coverage," Pryor said. "Today the Democratic Caucus unrolled a series of bills aimed at helping working men and women ensure their family's safety and health. They want to protect the health and wellness of our state's citizens, including the most vulnerable, our children. The Democrats are committed to providing quality healthcare and prescription drugs to all Oklahomans, regardless of economic means or geographical location. The success of Oklahoma in the next 100 years is directly related to our ability to develop generations of healthy Oklahomans."
Democratic House Members Announce Initiatives to Lower the Cost of Healthcare

Democratic Members of the State House announced today the first part of their Vision for Oklahoma’s Second Century—a legislative package that ensures all Oklahomans receive access to affordable healthcare and prescription drugs.

“Access to affordable healthcare should not just be a privilege for the wealthiest Oklahomans,” said Democratic Leader Danny Morgan, D- Prague. “As Democrats, we will make sure that every Oklahoman has the right to affordable healthcare, while also maintaining a fiscally responsible system.”

“When House Democrats announced our Vision for Oklahoma’s Second Century last week, we outlined five key areas to building a strong, common-sense foundation for a better Oklahoma,” said Democratic Floor Leader James Covey, D- Custer City. “We have responded to the calls of those we represent with legislation that provides affordable healthcare to all Oklahomans.”

The Democratic vision for healthcare contains fourteen pieces of legislation. Highlights of the platform include:

Oklahoma Hospital Quality and Access Act - House Bills 1435 by Lamons and 1354 by Auffet
House Bills 1435, by Representative Lucky Lamons, D- Tulsa, and 1354 by Representative John Auffet, D- Stilwell are measures that would allow the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to assess a Hospital Quality and Access Fee from hospitals in Oklahoma. The fee would be 0.875% of gross hospital patient revenues. Funds generated by the fee will be used to increase the level of Medicaid reimbursement for inpatient and outpatient hospital services, emergency room care and physicians.

“This piece of legislation is imperative to keep our hospitals open across the state, especially in our rural and economically depressed areas,” said Representative Lamons. “A bill similar to this one was supported last year by the State Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma Medical Association and the Oklahoma Hospital Association. There is no reason why this bill should be held up like it was last year. It is our responsibility to ensure that all Oklahomans receive the healthcare they deserve.”

Allow Patients to Choose Their Doctor - House Bills 1904 by Hamilton and 2131 by Morrissette
House Bill 1904 by Representative Rebecca Hamilton, D- Oklahoma City and House Bill 2131 by Representative Richard Morrissette, D- Oklahoma City, would give the patient the right to choose the doctor who treats them when injured on the job.

“Two years ago the Legislature took away the rights of individuals to choose their own doctor,” said Representative Hamilton. “This goes against the principles of liberty and personal freedoms on which our country was founded.”

“In our Vision for Oklahoma’s Second Century, we made a commitment to Oklahomans that we would be tireless in fighting for their right to choose their own doctor,” said Morrissette. “HB 2131 is a fulfillment of that promise. The right of Oklahoma’s families and seniors to be treated by a doctor they trust should never be violated so insurance companies or corporate medical groups can turn a profit.”

Put Same Restrictions on Pharmaceutical Drug Sales Representatives as Lobbyists - House Bill 1938 by McMullen
House Bill 1938 by Representative Ryan McMullen, D- Burns Flat, would put the same restrictions on pharmaceutical drug sales representatives as lobbyists. Under the provisions of the bill, drug sales representatives would have to register with the Oklahoma State Ethics Commission and follow their guidelines.

“Oklahomans have asked us to do something about the out-of-control costs of prescription drugs and in our Vision for Oklahoma’s Second Century we told them we would do just that,” says McMullen.

“HB 1939 creates a system of accountability for the single largest costs associated with prescription drugs—marketing. As pro-business legislators and small business people, we have always defended the right of businesses to make a fair profit and we champion investment in research and innovation. However, we will stand up for working Oklahoman’s and seniors who’s hard-earned dollars are being wasted on rounds of golf and trips to the Bahamas. We believe in accountability and we think its time prescription drug companies doing business in our state trim the marketing fat from the out-of-control prices our citizens are being forced to pay.”

Increase Medicaid Coverage for Children - House Bill 1746 by Hoskin
House Bill 1747, by Representative Chuck Hoskin, D- Vinita, would increase the income eligibility guidelines for Medicaid program for children to 200% of the federal poverty level. The current level is set at 185%.

“There is nothing more important than healthcare for our children,” said Representative Hoskin. “This piece of legislation will ensure that more children will have access to the type of healthcare that they need to grow and become prosperous Oklahomans.”

This piece of legislation is nearly identical to the Governor’s healthcare proposal.

Healthplex Specialty Care Access Act
- House Bill 1583 by Lamons
This bill by Representative Lucky Lamons would direct the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to implement provisions of the Act to assist indigent individuals gain access to specialty medical care by establishing sites for delivery of specialty care and to assist in the training if residents and medical students.

Raise the O-EPIC Federal Poverty Level to 200% - House Bill 1747 by Hoskin Representative Chuck Hoskins wants to increase the income eligilibility guidelines for participation in the O-EPIC Premium Assistance Program. He wants to increase it from 185% to 200%.

Geriatric Medical Loan Program
- House Bill 1830 by Kiesel
This bill by Representative Ryan Kiesel, D- Seminole, creates the Oklahoma Geriatric Medical Loan Repayment program within the State Department of Health. The program will, upon available funding, provide educational loan repayment assistance for up to five Oklahoma licensed physicians who have completed a fellowship training program in geriatrics, including geropsychiatry, per year. The geriatric specialists who enter the program agree to provide medical care in a designated Geriatric Specialist Shortage Area of the state for five consecutive years and agree that 30% of the patients they treat will be Medicaid recipients.

Require Private Prisons to Treat Mental Health Patients - House Bill 1844 by Collins
This bill by Representative Wallace Collins, D- Norman, would require private prisons that contract with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to provide mental health treatment.

Provide a tax deduction equal to health care expenses that are not reimbursed – House Bill 1888 by Morrissette
This bill by Representative Richard Morrissette adds amendatory language which provides a tax deduction equal to the following health care expenses that are not reimbursed:

· Inpatient hospital care up to $50,000
· Doctor visits
· Prescriptions up to $2000
· Rehabilitative care up to $20,000
· Nursing home care up to $20,000
· Home health care up to $20,000

It also adds language stating that resident or part-time individuals with income less than $35,000 are allowed a credit against the tax imposed by Section 2355 of this title fifteen (15%) of the earned income tax credit allowed under IRS rules.

Allow Pharmacies to Sell Discounted Prescription Drugs to Elderly and Uninsured - House Bill 1899 by Hamilton
Representative Hamilton authors this bill that directs the Board of Pharmacy to adopt rules that would allow pharmacies to sell discounted or low cost pharmaceuticals to elderly and uninsured persons. The bill would also require the Board to list all legitimate Canadian web-based and mail order pharmacies on its website.

Assistance for Medicaid Part-D beneficiaries - House Bill 2037 by McPeak
House Bill 2037 by Representative Jerry McPeak, D- Warner, directs the Department of Human Services to establish a program to assist Medicare Part D beneficiaries by paying the amount between $2,000 and $5,000 (commonly referred to as the “donut hole”) that is not covered by the program for prescription medications.

Oklahoma Drug Price Disclosure Act - House Bill 2137 by Morrissette
House Bill 2137 by Richard Morrissette establishes the Oklahoma Drug Price Disclosure Act. The measure requires manufacturers of prescription drugs dispensed under federal or state program in Oklahoma to submit a report to the Chief Executive Officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority regarding certain pharmaceutical pricing criteria for each drug.

The bill also provides that a violation of the Drug Price Disclosure Act is a violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act if the manufacturer sells or offers to sell a prescription drug at price that is in excess of the best price for that drug that has been reported by OHCA.

Miami Rep. Larry Glenn, HD 7, stopped by the ODP last night for a function honoring his House colleagues Rep. Chuck Hoskin, Rep. Brian Renegar, and Rep. Scott BigHorse.

Norman Rep. Wallace Collins, HD 45, listens intently as a patron discusses the upcoming legislative session with him.

Stilwell Rep. John Auffett, HD 86, attended the event at the ODP last night honoring three House Democrats.
House Democrats

New Democratic legislators, l to r, Rep. Chuck Hoskin, Rep. Brian Renegar, and Rep. Scott BigHorse joined Lt. Governor Jari Askins for an event at the ODP last night.

Oklahoma House Democrats Support a First Class Education System

Oklahoma House Democrats are committed to a complete education system that gives Oklahoma's next generation the tools required to achieve the American Dream. They are committed to:
  • A common public education system that creates an environment where Oklahoma students can learn, including state-of-the-art facilities, the latest technology, and finest teachers in the counrtry.
  • Compensating and rewarding our teachers for excellence and continued education.
  • Ensuring that Oklahoma's students have access to an affordable higher education system.
  • Strengthening and expanding our Career Tech System, which provides valuable opportunities to Oklahomans seeking workforce education and technical skills.
I visited with several of the Representatives about this plan last night at an event at the ODP HQ honoring Rep. Brian Renegar, Rep. Chuck Hoskin, and Rep. Scott BigHorse. They will stand up for Oklahoma's future through their commitment to public education. Some those at the event last night are pictured below.Pictured at the ODP last night are from left,
Rep. Wes Hilliard, Rep. Brian Renegar, Rep. Chuck Hoskin, and Rep. Jerry McPeak.

Democratic Leader Rep. Danny Morgan, Rep. Jerry Shoemake, and Rep. Lucky Lamons showing their support for colleagues Hoskin, Renegar, and BigHorse last night at the ODP.

Monday, January 29, 2007


You'll want to watch this new piece on You Tube that was in my email inbox tonight from General Wesley Clark's PAC Securing America. Clark wrote:

"For too many years, those of us who advocate a responsible use of our military, and thus have spoken against the President’s failed Iraq policy, have been falsely tagged as against the troops by the Bush Administration, neo-conservatives, and their cronies. Today, that all changes., the leading political group of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, is launching a television advertisement that makes it crystal clear – opposing the President’s escalation of the war in Iraq means you are supporting the troops. is joining organizations such as, SEIU (Service Employees International Union), and Center for America Progress as founding members of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. I am proud to say that I am an active Board of Advisors Member to, and even prouder of how they are taking up the fight and leading the way in opposing the President’s folly."

Watch the ad, click here.

Some 150 activists for peace braved freezing rain to participate in a "Rally for Peace" held on Saturday at the State Capitol. Colorful signs were held high as listeners cheered the words of religious and political opinion leaders, parents of Iraq veterans, one Iraq veteran, and a self-described “conservative Republican.”

State Senator Connie Johnson announced and read a resolution she is introducing to the Legislature calling President Bush’s sending additional troops to Iraq now a misguided expansion of a failed policy. She asked rally participants to express support for the resolution to their elected senators and representatives. Senator Andrew Rice and Representative Al McAffrey added their voices to the call for an end to the Iraq war.

Mother of an Iraq veteran Jeri Reed described her concern over disturbing changes in her son’s personality as a result of his Iraq service. Warren Henthorn said that his son Jeffrey’s reported suicide during his second tour in Iraq is still under investigation. Henthorn wants the war to end to spare other families the shattering loss his family has suffered. Founder of Oklahoma Veterans For Peace Jon Cantrell, a Vietnam veteran, said veterans know that this war will produce large numbers of soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder for decades to come. Iraq veteran Brendan Jackson said he volunteered because he trusted the cause, but came to believe that he and the country had been sold a war that he now thinks is more about oil than national defense.

Porter Davis, a delegate to a national Republican Convention, said it is time for Americans of all political affiliations to speak with one voice against this war. Valerie Ackerman spoke for six Tulsans who drove to Oklahoma City for the rally. Ackerman is director of the Tulsa Peace House which organizes regular public vigils for peace there.

Dr. Katherine Scheirman, MD, an Oklahoma City veteran of 20 years service in the US Air Force, telephoned the rally from the national demonstrations being held simultaneously in Washington, DC. Scheirman reported that some 400,000 people were gathered there to listen to speakers calling for an end to the war.

Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers of Mayflower Congregational Church said that he had come to the rally not to be divisive but to grieve the loss of so many American and Iraqi lives in a conflict that he said violates the precepts of his faith. He invited rally participants to join him in reading aloud the names of Oklahomans killed in Iraq, in reverence for their ultimate sacrifice for what they believed was service to their country.

Meyers said that taking this public step was not without risk, because he was aware of a state statute which prohibits publishing the names of military casualties in a political context, and stated that there could be legal consequences to participating in the reading of the names.

Some 50 rally participants stepped up to join Meyers, and one by one, the names of 49 Oklahomans were read, along with their home towns and the dates of their deaths. Activist Darla Shelden shared the names of three Oklahomans who committed suicide following their service in Iraq.

Attorney Rex Friend next introduced a walk for peace to follow the rally, to be accompanied by police engaged for the event. The activists walked south on Lincoln Blvd to a peace pole installed at the Joy Mennonite Church, at NE 16th Street and Lincoln Blvd. From there, the walkers returned to the Capitol, pausing for reflection at the Veterans’ Memorial just south of NE 23rd Street.

Organizers including Nathaniel Batchelder of the Peace House in Oklahoma City expressed satisfaction that so many people had showed up in inclement weather. He said it is time for all citizens to make known their opposition to escalation of this war, and call Congress to bring US troops home.

Federation of Democratic Women-Tulsa Chapter

This weekend I attended the Champagne Brunch in Tulsa the Federation of Democratic Women put together. It was a wonderful event and many elected officials were in attendance. Not only our Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins, who served as the keynote speaker, but Mayor Cathy Taylor, Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, Senator Nancy Riley, and one of the National Vice Presidents and CD 3 officer Anita Norman. Lt. Governor Askins is always a dynamic speaker, but it was interesting for me (and my mother-in-law, Terri Uzzel who was my guest) to hear her reenactment of the rocket man. She also encouraged all of us to be proud of our state and not be ashamed when speaking to people from outside of Oklahoma. She also took a moment to publicly thank Senator Riley for having the courage to run as Lieutenant Governor on the Republican side. Lt. Governor Askins said it was because of her courage there was a run off between her opponents on the Republican side and therefore allowed her to run against them more evenly.

The Federation had an auction of desserts and the top seller also received a bottle of Shiraz signed by Jari Askins. I tried to buy the Rum Cake from Merritt's Bakery, one of my favorite places in Tulsa, but was outbid by other members of the Federation. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jessica Scattergood a transplant from the East Coast who emailed me last week about volunteering. I told her about the Federation meeting and before she left she became one of their members! Each ticket sold ($10), plus the auction, and a sizeable donation from one member all benefit Girls State held at the University of Oklahoma Campus. Last year the Tulsa Chapter under direction of Rae Weese, sent 3 girls to Girls State. There is also a counterpart of Girls State for Boys, each boy's week is paid for by the American Legion, but each high school girl is responsible for their own way. The Federation of Democratic Women makes this their goal each year and they are trying to send 4 young women this year.

If you would like more information about the National Federation of Democratic Women you may visit their blog.

The Field’s Starting to Clear in Potentially Historic ’08 Race; More Hopefuls Announce

For the first time in U.S. history, three viable Democratic candidates determined to become president in 2008 include a black man, a woman, and a Latino governor.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), who is Hispanic, are perhaps the first convincing female and candidates of color to run for the nation’s most powerful office during the same political season.

The 2008 campaign for president -- which apparently has begun nearly two years early -- will not include a sitting president or vice president in the crowded field of candidates, a rare occurrence in American politics.

A large group of presidential hopefuls, both Democrats and Republicans, now are formulating campaign strategies, establishing exploratory committees, assembling campaign teams, calling potential supporters, identifying fund-raising sources and traveling to early primary states.

Last week, Obama met with Rev. Al Sharpton, who told reporters earlier that Obama’s candidacy seemed more about "razzle-dazzle" than substance.

On Saturday, Clinton spoke to 3,000 cheering supporters in Iowa -- home to the presidential caucuses in January 2008 -- and told the audience: "I’m Hillary Clinton. I’m running for president, and I’m in it to win it."

And Republican Rudolph Guiliani, the former New York mayor who rose to national prominence after 9/11, spoke to GOP leaders Sunday in New Hampshire -- where the first primaries will take place -- and is now recruiting a campaign staff after creating an exploratory committee.

Bottom line: It’s on.

"Both Republican and Democratic primary candidates battling for the nomination will have to aggressively define their positions on the war while, somehow, creating a broad agenda and vision for critical domestic issues," Peter Groff, a Colorado state senator and publisher of, told
"There are differences in the details of those platforms," Groff said, "but there are major themes that will be constant throughout: security, prosperity and stability." …..
The political landscape is indeed crowded, and in many political circles across the nation, there are already poignant questions about whether America is ready to elect a woman or a candidate of color for president.

Some top Democratic candidates who have either announced exploratory committees or expressed interest include Clinton, Obama, Richardson, former senator John Edwards, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).

On the Republican side, early candidates and potential contenders include Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, former New York Gov. George Pataki, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA.), Ron Paul (R-TX), Rep. Tom Tancredo from Colorado; Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former congressman Newt Gingrich and Sen. Sam Brownback from Kansas.
"I think it still little too early, except to say that Republicans are poised for what will be a competitive race for the White House once the nominees from each party are selected," Tara Wall, senior communications advisor for the Republican National Committee, told

Clinton, Obama and Richardson have gotten much of the media attention so far as Democrats have already assembled an early yet diverse field of candidates -- a stark contrast to the all-white Republican line-up.

"Democrats have a diverse field," one Democratic strategist told "The Republicans have the same white guys on parade."

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who lost his bid for the White house in 2004, has decided not to enter the race in 2008.

"There are powerful reasons to want to continue that fight now. But I have concluded this isn't the time for me to mount a presidential campaign," Kerry said in a statement last week.

Several national polls show Clinton leading Obama by a fair margin for the Democratic nomination, and Clinton and Guiliani are tied, polls show, if the general election was held today. All of the candidates will have to raise millions of dollars for their campaigns, which could become perhaps the most expensive presidential election in history.

"There, of course, is a lot of buzz surrounding a face-off between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama," Groff said. "Conventional wisdom may dictate black voters will simply vote for black candidate. But early polling numbers suggest Hillary Clinton -- by virtue of her last name and husband's legacy -- commands greater name recognition with African Americans."

"That's not surprising since early polling also suggests that both Republican and Democratic primaries will be based more on name recognition than the issues," he added. "This is problematic for other candidates like former Sen. John Edwards and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. They've got a lot of catching up to do, despite impressive resumes."

Meanwhile, black political analysts, civil rights activists and black journalists are watching Obama closely and waiting to learn where he stands on issues that impact black Americans.

Ron Walters, a political science professor at the University of Maryland, has told that so far, Obama has not articulated a clear position on race in America.

And some blacks close to Obama in Chicago are whispering that Obama has already surrounded himself with mostly white advisors to lead his national campaign -- an accusation that one Obama advisor called "absurd."

Last week, in a preview of high-profile campaign issues to come, Obama said every American should have health care coverage within six years, setting an ambitious goal soon after jumping into the 2008 presidential race.

"I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country," Obama told a conference of Families USA, a health care advocacy group.

But today, it remains unclear whether Obama can energize a national black electorate simply because he embraces his black roots, even though he was born into a biracial family -- his mother white and his father, a black Kenyan.
"Win or lose, he now faces the big questions, like what does he stand for? Can he take the heat and go the distance of a rigorous national campaign? Does he have enough experience? Will he be hurt by his middle name, Hussein? Will he quit smoking?" Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page asked in a recent editorial.

Several prominent civil rights activists appear cautious about Obama.

Sharpton, who ran for president in 2004 and is considering a run in 2008, questioned whether Obama has "meat."

"Right now we're hearing a lot of media razzle-dazzle," Sharpton recently told reporters. "I'm not hearing a lot of meat, or a lot of content. I think when the meat hits the fire, we'll find out if it's just fat or if there's some real meat there."

And Rev. Jesse Jackson, who ran for president in 1994 and 1998, said Obama faces real challenges, adding there is no guarantee that Obama would generate overwhelming support from the black electorate.

Bill Burton, a senior advisor to Obama, told that Jackson has spoken favorably about Obama recently, adding that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) supports Obama’s candidacy.

And, perhaps in an attempt to embrace longtime civil rights leaders, Obama was scheduled to meet with Sharpton last week.

Burton said Obama has several top black advisors on his campaign staff, including a longtime friend, Cassandra Butts, and Obama's wife, Michelle, among others. He added that half of Obama’s Capitol Hill staff are "people of color."

Obama’s approval rating among blacks in Illinois, Burton said, is at 93 percent, and now Obama plans to take his message around the country to "introduce" himself to black America. Many blacks, Burton acknowledged, are not familiar with Obama beyond the headlines.

But at least one black columnist took the old-guard to task for their comments about Obama.
"Frankly, the real problem black leadership has is that Obama didn't come through ‘the civil rights system,’" Roland S. Martin wrote in his syndicated column.

"And like it or not," Martin wrote, "there is tremendous jealousy that he has been able to do what so many others have not done: First, he actually got elected to something. Second, he launched a campaign that people actually believe can win."

Last week, Obama got a first-hand sense of hard-ball politics. He was forced to rebut allegations that he was educated at a radical Muslim school, a report that surfaced on the Web site of the conservative Insight magazine. Conservative Internet blogs and the Fox News Channel picked up the story and spread the charges.

Obama called the reports "scurrilous," and his communications director e-mailed reporters a lengthy memo attempting to set the record straight.

"I think they recognize that the notion that me going to school in Indonesia for two years at a public school there at the age of seven and eight is probably not going to be endangering in some way the people of America," Obama said on NBC's "Today" show.

In a precursor of what’s in store politically, Democrats fired a shot over Sen. McCain’s bow last week for siding with President Bush’s Iraq war policy.

"McCain’s stubborn support for the Bush-McCain troop increase is not only at odds with the vast majority of the American people, but also with a multitude of military leaders and foreign policy experts," Luis Miranda, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement.

Groff said the GOP field is actually wider than the Democratic field.
"Despite his respectable and consistent lead in early polling, there is still much skepticism surrounding former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani's electability in a primary dominated by conservatives," Groff said. "Conservatives will vote according to who is closest to their social agenda. Giuliani is too moderate for Red State tastes within the Grand Old Party. This is also problematic for 'maverick' Arizona Sen. John McCain."

Craig Kirby, a senior advisor to former Virginia governor Mark Warner, maintains that nearly two years before the November 2008 presidential election, it’s anybody’s race.

"The race is wide open -- on both sides," Kirby told "I believe the candidates that can take advantage of small donors and big money with the right attention to both will go the distance."

By Michael Cottman

Civic Engagement, Civic Discourse

Oklahoma is home to several good organizations that are working to improve the quality and quantity of civic discourse about issues that matter to Oklahomans.

Among those are the Citizens Policy Center (CPC) and the Oklahoma Partnership for Public Deliberation (OPPD).

Both are non-partisan groups dedicated to creating better opportunities for all Oklahomans. CPC does issue analysis and reports while OPPD trains moderators and recorders for conducting issues forums in communities statewide.

County Chairs Are Posting Convention Information on DNC Website

I just want to thank all of the county chairs for posting their, precinct and county convention information on the DNC events website. This is a good party building tool, that we welcome all Oklahoma Democrats to use to post, Fundrasiers, Social, Meeting, Local and State events on.

Big Screen TV and American Idol

Last week we used streaming video technology to project the President's State of the Union address on our wall. The viewing would have been much better through a big screen tv. So here's the deal. Take the American Idol survey and if you win the big screen tv, donate it to the ODP! the link is here.

Minimum Wage

Congress is supposed to serve the people, but for ten years Congress only served itself.

The American people are working more and making less, and Democrats (and many Republicans) believe it’s time for a change.

Hard-working families have waited long enough. Democrats are taking this country in a new direction, and Republicans should join us to give the American people the raise they deserve.

Distort, Distract, Divide

Key Point: The Bush Administration is playing its old game of “distort, distract, and divide” at home while it pursues a failed policy in Iraq. Escalating the war will not make America safer or begin to bring this war to an end so our troops can come home. A bipartisan coalition in Congress will give the President’s plan an up-or-down vote.

The failed policy of this president—going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely—has made America less safe and emboldened our nation’s enemies.

President Bush is escalating the war against the advice of his own military commanders, a bipartisan majority of Congress and an overwhelming majority of the American people. Escalating the war will not make America safer.

Congress will always stand up for the safety of our troops and the security of our nation, and that means standing up for a real change of course in Iraq—we will hold this President accountable with an up-or-down vote.

Democrats have a plan for success in Iraq that will make America safer, protect our strategic interests and honor the sacrifice of our troops and their families.

  • Shifting the principal mission of our forces from combat to training, logistics, force protection, and counter terrorism;
  • Beginning the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months;
  • Implementing an aggressive diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, to help the Iraqis achieve a sustainable political settlement, including amending their constitution.

General Petraeus agreed that the debate in Congress does not undermine our troops’ morale. (Senate Armed Services Committee, Tuesday, January 23, 2007)

GEN. PETRAEUS: Sir, I think I stated earlier how important I think free and open debate, the marketplace of ideas and all the other great qualities that our country has achieved are, in fact, to our country. I think some of the soldiers will be out there saying yeah, go get them. Some will be saying what’s that all about. And some will just keep their head down and go about their mission.

SEN. BAYH: So what you’re saying, General, is that our men and women who wear the uniform really are a lot like Americans back at home. They’ve got diverse opinions, too.

GEN. PETRAEUS: Sir, that’s where they come from.

SEN. BAYH: And they’re probably sophisticated enough to take all this in and accept it for whatever it’s worth.

GEN. PETRAEUS: Sir, I think that’s an accurate statement.

On KTOK's "Mullins in the Morning Show" this Monday, I got into a spirited discusssion with Doug Miller, my GOP debate partner in the media, and the host about the troop surge in Iraq. I have never had so many comments from people so soon after a cell phone was ringing the second we were off the air! This was a classic case of Republicans distorting both the issue and the stances of the two parties, as well as leaving out key facts to try and paint Democrats as people who don't support the troops. Well, like most of you I am sick of that sort of smear job, and I was ready to go on this topic. It is common on radio for right-wing hosts to take a sound clip from ONE Democrat, play it with no context, and then say "Aha! Look what the Democrats want to do!'-even if the opinion expressed isn't even in the majority in our own Party. These types of attacks are the staple of talk radio, but they don't work when there is an actual live person on the air to dispute their logic and conclusions. I was happy to point out a number of inconvienient facts to the opposite numbers today, such as Democrats are fully in support of the troops, support the war on terror, that the war in Iraq has been mismanaged by Bush, have voted for defense budgets of almost 500 billion dollars, and by the way...several Republicans and 80% of the American people think the troop surge won't work and is a bad idea. I enjoyed the exchange. If I had had one more minute, I would have pointed out to Doug that most of the people who were against intervention in WWII were Republicans! Catch the debate every Monday at 7:35 am, on the am 1000 dial

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sen. Webb Takes the President to the Wood Shed

Thanks to a friend who forwarded this link for a UK story recapping Sen. Webb's response to the president's state of the union address last week. It's worth reading, and don't stop until you get to the end.... "the Democrats. They’re serious again. Their choice of Webb proved it. Yes, they have the first woman Speaker in American history. But they gave the response to a navy man from the South. They know what they’re doing. Which is more than can currently be said for the White House."

Food for the Okie Soul

Don't miss this story in the Tulsa World about our state's iconic soul meal. Chicken fried steak, bbq pork, fried okra, squash, black eyed peas, cornbread, biscuits, sausage gravy, grits, corn strawberries, and pecan pie.

My favorite bbq is at Leo's in OKC and my favorite grits are the 5 Cheese Grits at Legend's in Norman. Send us your favorite spots and recipes to share.
Presidential Head to Head

Click here for the current complete lineup of Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates.
Blogging for Information

As a reminder, our blog team posts stories of interest to Democrats in Oklahoma related to local, state, and national newsmakers and events. We post information you need to know and sometimes information that is just fun for Democrats! Posting does not imply endorsement of a specific candidate or position. If you have a story you would like us to consider for posting, email us a request with appropriate links.

Campaigning in the West's Silver State

While many were focused on Iowa and New Hampshire yesterday, two Democratic presidential hopefuls campaigned in Minden, Nevada. Gov. Bill Richardson, already a declared candidate, and Gen. Wes Clark, strongly rumored as a 2008 candidate, met with Democrats at the "Turn Nevada Blue" dinner. Nevada is an early primary state and may be key to winning the west.

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

Sen. Hillary Clinton
stormed Iowa yesterday in her first official appearance there as a Presidential candidate. I watched some of the tv replay coverage but prefer this story from the Washington Post today. Read it here. I predict her response to a question about her ability to fight back against the Republicans, and maybe even other Democratic candidates, will become a classic -- "when you are attacked you have to deck your opponents." When an audience member shouted "You go girl!" Clinton responded "You go with me."

As Clinton concluded her appearance by signing autographs and shaking hands, it was BTO's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet", not her husband's familiar "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" that filled the auditorium.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Democratic Values Platforms and Resolutions

There's always excitement when Democrats talk about "what we believe." At yesterday's Oklahoma County Democratic Party Friday luncheon State Senator Connie Johnson spoke about clearly defining who we are as Democrats.

As we approach our organizational meetings and grassroots activists have the opportunity to submit resolutions through their county and district conventions I thought it would help us to look at some other values statements. Here's one from DEMOS -- it supports investing in our public structures together.

Public Works: The Demos Center for the Public Sector

Our Values

We believe America is at its best when we work together, when we each strive to be engaged citizens, and when we see beyond our self interests to the needs of our communities. And, we believe these traits are the founding principles of our public structures and our government. The public realm is the space where connections between Americans are fostered and where we can come together to share challenges, solve problems and pursue the common good. At Public Works, we believe these fundamental principles must be restored and that support for public sector institutions and activities must be rebuilt in order to strengthen our collective well-being and meet together the challenges of the future.

We believe . . .

. . . in public purposes and common good. We believe Americans must work together to achieve public purposes. Whether it's creating vibrant communities, ensuring the health and safety of our people, or fostering advances and innovations to benefit the world, there are noble goals that Americans cannot achieve working individually. But, together, we can build a country that ensures opportunity, justice, safety and freedom for all.

. . . in "citizenship." We mean real citizenship, a citizenship that has historically called us to be active, involved members of our communities; engaged in how we are governed and supportive of the public institutions that help us thrive. We believe we must revive the notion of "good citizen" and "corporate citizen" in America. We believe that regardless of origins, race, or religion, Americans share a responsibility to engage in activities that promote the greater good of the community.

. . . in the balance between public and private interests. We strongly support the right of each American to pursue his or her private goals. However, we also believe that private pursuits must be balanced by public interests. Today, this balance is in jeopardy; too often self-interest trumps public interests, undermining the very concepts of community and public good. We believe we must restore government's role in arbitrating the proper balance between individual gain and shared benefit.

. . . government must be recognized as the instrument of our public will. Our traditional values of public purposes, common good, "citizenship" and the public/private balance have declined, in part because, government's mission has been undermined, and public faith in the values that under-gird the public sector has diminished. We believe we must reaffirm the public sector as the principal institutional embodiment of our collective will to address shared challenges and achieve common ambitions.

Look Who's Blogging

A 2006 report summarizes Democratic political bloggers this way:

Active readers of Democratic political blogs are very highly educated, highly politically active, quite well-to-do, voracious consumers of media, not very young, and skew male. Apart from the male part, these indicators fly in the face of stereotypes about progressive bloggers, who are supposedly drooling, rabid, anti-social, uneducated, teenage extremists with no political value and out of touch with current events. Quite to the contrary, active blog readers have a tremendous amount of political capital to spend, and are in search of adventurous progressive politicians and organizations to spend it on. Is there any major progressive political group in the country that would not want to appeal to the demographics of this readership? High concentrations of wealthy, highly educated, highly active media junkies cannot be found in many areas in either this or any other country. Mischaracterize and misjudge them at your own peril.

White House Scrum

Next week the DNC will host its winter meeting in DC to conduct business and "interview" the Democratic presidental candidates. I'll be there and will report back here as it happens. In the meantime, the following editorial by Tom Teepen takes a look at the possibles.

Somewhere in the scrum for the White House is the next president
Friday, January 26, 2007

If you haven't formed your presidential exploratory committee yet, better hurry. You don't want to be shut out. The line is already long and it is an open question whether the last to join it can get to the registration desk in time to file before the polls close in November, 2008.

There are 19 in the scrum so far and others impend. Either 1) here's democracy at its most exuberant, 2) or at its most delusional or 3) W. has given new life to the old axiom that in America anybody can become president.

The Democratic pack includes the first really serious female, African-American and Hispanic candidates. The Republican pack features – well, 10 white guys, but you knew that.

Hillary Clinton is the Democrat to beat. She's smart, experienced and scares no small number of Democrats half to death. Her nomination would inspire the latent legions of Hillary haters to new prodigies of venom and contempt and would double-dare Americans to catch up with the rest of the world by electing a woman.

Barack Obama, another senator, is the new glamour boy. No, really: Clark Gable had those ears, too. The problem for Obama is that he's still wet behind his. Smart and articulate, he's little experienced and, here we go again, dares Americans to overcome their racial hesitations and misgivings.

Gov. Bill Richardson has great good sense – is that a disqualifier? – and an admirable reputation in foreign affairs from his turns in that field under Bill Clinton. But could he have an illegal immigrant buried in his genealogy, bait for rampaging nativists? And as a base for a campaign, New Mexico ranks right up there with Rhode Island.

And there are John Edwards again, Joe Biden sort of again, Tom Vilsack (sometimes spelled W-h-o?), Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel – an Alaskan ex-senator, if you care – and Dennis Kucinich, again and again and again. In the wings, and proving that the past is never really past, is the Bygone Quartet — Al Gore, Wesley Clark, John Kerry and Al Sharpton. (Oops. Kerry just made it a trio.)

The Republican to beat is John McCain, always conservative but off and on in the past a stray and now making a dramatic dive to the right that includes sucking up to Jerry Falwell and ilk with the ferocity of a swimming pool drain.

Rudy Giuliani – as he would have it, "America's Mayor," although short one city — and the recent Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, have to be taken seriously. Maybe Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, too; he's nowhere in the polls but he is the chosen of the religious right. The field straggles out with Tom Tancredo, Tommy Thompson, James Gilmore, Ron Paul, John Cox and Duncan Hunter who are, respectively... Oh, never mind.

On the GOP's vulture perch, hoping for carrion and an opening, are Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and George Pataki. And Chuck Hagel, who ought to know better — a decent fellow but a sure-enough moderate in a party to which that is the Mark of the Beast.

It is nearly a year until the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary and 655 days, give or take, until the presidential election. One. Two. Three. Four...

Tom Teepen is a columnist for Cox Newspapers. He is based in Atlanta.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Look at Historical Voter Turnout in Presidential Cycles

The 2008 presidential election will be the first one in 56 years (since 1952) where neither a sitting President, nor a sitting Vice President, will be on the ballot. It's also worth noting that the election of 1952 had the highest voter turnout in modern history.

2004 - President Bush vs. Senator Kerry (55.3%) 2000 - Governor Bush vs. Vice President Gore (51.3%) - though, Gore didn't lose...
1996 - President Clinton vs. Senator Dole (49.1%)
1992 - Governor Clinton vs. President Bush (55.1%)
1988 - Vice President Bush vs. Governor Dukakis (50.1%)
1984 - President Reagan vs. Former Vice President Mondale (53.1%) 1980 - Governor Reagan vs. President Carter (52.6%)
1976 - Governor Carter vs. President Ford (53.6%)
1972 - President Nixon vs. Senator McGovern (55.2%)
1968 - Former Vice President Nixon vs. Vice President Humphrey (60.8%)
1964 - President Johnson vs. Senator Goldwater (61.9%) 1960 - Senator Kennedy vs. Vice President Nixon (63.1%)
1956 - President Eisenhower vs. Governor Stevenson (60.6%)
1952 - General Eisenhower vs. Governor Stevenson (63.3%)
1948 - President Truman vs. Governor Dewey (62.5%)
1944 - President Roosevelt vs. Governor Dewey (56.0%)

Oklahoma Democrats Prove Commitment to Education
Democrats in the state legislature and Democratic Governor Brad Henry this week rolled out plans to improve Oklahoma's education system. Democrats are dedicated to increasing opportunities that support K-12 development and growing Oklahoma's college scholarship program, Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP).

"Governor Henry and Democrats in the State Senate and State House led by Senator Mike Morgan and Representative Danny Morgan have all made expanded opportunities for education a core principle in the 2007 legislative agenda," Pryor said. "As elected leaders, these Democrats are making sure young Oklahomans have the tools they need to develop and succeed in life. We owe the citizens of Oklahoma a high standard of stewardship and Democrats are committed to building our state with smart investments in our youth -- the future of Oklahoma. We are committed to a complete education system that gives Oklahoma students the tools and opportunities to achieve the American Dream."

Reid: America is Fortunate
the State of the Indian Nations Is Strong

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on President Joe A.Garcia's State of Indian Nations Address to the National Congress of American Indians:

"In his address to the National Congress of American Indians,President Garcia described the state of the Indian Nations as strong. Inthe face of difficult odds, American Indians continue to be a vital forcein our country -- people who contribute to every facet of our nation. They enrich our society, defend our homeland, and as always, we send our thanks. We in Congress have the responsibility to do more to help. More than30 years ago, Congress enacted laws to promote tribal self-determination, a movement that President Garcia recognized as dramatically improving thelives of native people. As President Garcia said, we must continue tohelp tribal governments make progress on improving public safety for those in Indian Country, expand health care for native peoples, encourage the diversification of tribal economic development enterprises, explore tribal energy sources while sustainable conservation practices and protect tribal natural resources. From continuing to support native housing programs, to working to stamp out the community-destroying effects of methamphetamine addiction, and more, Democrats in Congress look forward to working alongside our nation's native people to make sure the more than 500 Indian communities grow even stronger in the future and to fulfill their goals of self- determination."

Gov. Henry to propose record education budget, funds for teacher pay, dropout prevention, college scholarships January 26, 2007

Gov. Brad Henry will propose a record $3.9 billion budget for public education this year with an emphasis on teacher salaries, dropout prevention and college scholarships, among other things.

“To compete effectively in today’s global economy, you must have a first rate public education system,” said Gov. Henry. “Oklahoma already has many great schools, but we have to keep up with other states and nations that are also dedicating significant resources to public education. With proper accountability and oversight, every dollar we invest in classrooms and teacher salaries will pay dividends down the road.”

Read the full story.

If Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act Gets Renewed, Let’s Be Sure to Properly Fund It This Time

Five years ago, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind law. This piece of legislation was intended to improve the public school system by increasing the penalties for schools that didn’t meet academic standards. Schools were required to test students in math and reading and were held accountable for the results.

If a student was struggling, he or she could receive free tutoring and, if the school continued to fall short of expectations, students are allowed to transfer schools. Schools that repeatedly fail were subject to harsh penalties, including closing. Though controversial, the law was an attempt to provide America’s public school children with a quality education. There was one huge flaw with the bill, however: Expectations for schools went up, but federal spending on public education didn’t increase sufficiently.

Without adequate funding, schools couldn’t implement the strategies need to improve their schools. They were doomed to fail and, in turn, so are our children. The No Child Left Behind Act is up for renewal. With the Democrats exerting their recently won power in the Congress, now is the time for progressive thinkers to fight for an increase in education spending.

School systems have, for years, routinely used standardized tests to gauge student progress. But, with the passage of No Child Left Behind, these tests went from being an assessment to, in many cases, being the deciding factor in whether or not a student will move on to the next level. For students in under-funded, i.e. poor, school districts, passing these tests is next to impossible. Classrooms are overcrowded, often with outdated text books. Many times, the teachers are not certified in the subjects they are teaching.

Add to that any personal issues they may be dealing with -- poor test taking skills, trouble at home, etc. -- and the odds are stacked against them. Many of those affected by this biased system are black. Data from California shows that only 63 percent of African-American and 68 percent of Hispanics students passed the state’s graduation exam, while 90 percent of white students passed. The picture around the rest of the country is not much different. As high stakes tests increase in popularity, the drop-out rate increases.

One Democrat, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), has proposed a plan that calls for states to work to develop consistent academic requirements for students; this would ensure students, regardless of where they live, would leave school equally prepared for college or the workforce. Kennedy has also called for an expansion of social programs for poor children; social workers will be in every school that has a large population of students living below the poverty line. When students living in urban areas are able to emotionally and psychologically deal with the violence and poverty that may surround them, they learn better.

If federal and local governments were to adequately fund the nation’s public schools, the schools could implement the programs needed to ensure student success. Instead, the country has poured its money into the criminal injustice system and defense spending, leaving our children, our future, vulnerable and unprepared for an increasing competitive society.
The public education system needs to be reformed. Real reform starts with a financial commitment from the federal government.

By: Judge Greg Mathis, Special to
Party Official Elections

As we approach our biannual precinct meetings, county convetions, district conventions and state convention this spring, it is important to consider the individual offices that will be elected and the qualifications for election as outlined in the ODP Constitution and Bylaws.

It's also important to remember that our elections are not just a Democratic version ofAmerican Idol but are serious opportunities to assess the work of the last election cycle and the progress made in upholding our Democratic party values and strategic goals. It's also a time for each of you to consider what you did to support the party organization and determine what your role will be in the next two years.

I'll be posting separate entries about each of the offices and the constitutional requirements on this blog. Please consider how you can best serve Democrats and assist us in our primary goal --- electing Democrats.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Peace Demonstration to Take Place in Oklahoma City

There will be a peace march on Saturday January 27th in our nations capitol and there is a way to peacefully demonstrate in Oklahoma too!

Noon to 1 pm, South Plaza at the Capitol
Music / Speakers / Tables / Booths
Speaking: Rev.Dr. Robin Meyers,
Iraq Vet / Opinion Leaders
Bring signs, Banners, Friends and family.
Nonviolent Call to End the War.
-- 1 pm Peace Walk from Capitol to Follow --
Tables and Information Sponsored by
The Peace House, Spiritual Walk For Peace, Veterans For Peace, CodePink, Dept.of Peace Campaign, OCCO, DFA, Anti-War Fair Coalition
*Other Endorsements Invited

There is also a carpool coming from Tulsa. If you are interested in participating please contact The Peace House (918)231-2514 or visit their website at

No Katrina? President Bush Blasted for Ignoring Gulf Recovery in State of the Union Address

President George W. Bush, whose approval ratings are at historic lows, didn’t gain any ground with black America Tuesday night in his State of the Union address, observers say.

The initiatives in his speech before a majority Democratic Congress may benefit some, particularly the wealthy, according to Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Carolyn Kilpatrick, “but for more than 200 million Americans, they will not see the benefits,” she told “It was a soft and nice speech.”
Bush continued to advocate his policy for a strong presence in Iraq, though the majority of Americans want American soldiers to come home from the war, Kilpatrick said. His seventh State of the Union address did little to sway those opinions.

In a poll of its user audience recently conducted by, 72 percent of those surveyed said they do not support the war in Iraq because Bush never made a convincing case for war; nearly 90 percent said the billions of dollars spent for the Iraq war would be better used at home to fund education, health care and social programs, and 91 percent said they would not advise their loved ones to join the Armed Forces to support the war in Iraq.
Moreover, the issue considered the most pressing to's poll respondents -- the rebuilding of New Orleans after 2005's devastating Hurricane Katrina -- went completely ignored by the president.

Bush “failed to even mention Katrina," Kilpatrick lamented after the speech, "and he did not address many of the issues of concern to people of color."
By contrast, in the days ahead of the president's address, Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia compared the U.S. money being spent on Iraqi reconstruction with the fraction committed to the Gulf Coast rebuilding. And, chosen to give the Democratic response to Bush on Tuesday, Webb brought up the continuing struggle of Katrina victims right away, listing "restoring the vitality of New Orleans" just behind education and health care among his party's most pressing priorities.

The president’s speech, which lasted about less than 50 minutes, included the call for support of the deployment of more soldiers to Iraq, eliminating the federal deficit and reauthorization the No Child Left Behind Act.
Gary Flowers, a Rainbow/PUSH vice president based in Washington, D.C., said Bush’s rhetoric is out of touch with the American people.
“The rhetoric must match reality, and that was not present in his speech,” Flowers told The president’s insistence on maintaining his course in Iraq and the failure to address the concerns of thousands of Katrina victims is evidence of Bush’s disconnect, he said.

In the survey, 64 percent of respondents said that there is no more pressing issue facing blacks in America than the recovery of New Orleans. Overall, 80 percent of those surveyed said they are dissatisfied with the recovery effort in the Gulf; 77 percent said racism played a role in the federal government's response to the hurricane, and 50 percent said it is the federal government's responsibility to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

“He didn’t address the issues that are most salient to Katrina victims and people of color in America,” Flowers said. “He spoke of an achievement gap. There is no achievement that is not predicated on resources. Children in wealthier neighborhoods get better facilities and equipment. Children from poor neighborhoods take the same standardized test and for college admission."

Bush's best shot at success may be immigration overhaul. But then his proposal for a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship always had more support among Democrats than among fellow Republicans. Noting that "convictions run deep" on immigration, Bush urged a "serious, civil and conclusive debate" on the issue.

But on immigration, Bush -- and the Democratic majority -- is at odds with a large segment of the black community, according to the poll. Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed said illegal immigrants are placing an undue burden on America’s social services, and 45 percent said Congress should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
Bush linked America’s future security from overseas threats to reducing its gas-guzzling habits at home.He proposed gasoline reduction targets be met through tougher vehicle fuel standards. Further, Bush said he’ll seek a dramatic five-fold increase in U.S. production of ethanol and other alternative fuels.

"For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists -- who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, raise the price of oil and do great harm to our economy," Bush told lawmakers gathered in the House of Representatives chamber. It is in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply and the way forward is through technology."

The appeal for a sharp curb on the use of gasoline comes one year after Bush first declared Americans were "addicted to oil" and as he seeks ways to cooperate with a Democratic Congress girding for a legislative showdown over the president’s plan to send 21,500 new troops to Iraq.
It was the first time Bush had delivered his annual state of the union address to a Congress fully controlled by Democrats, who won majorities in both the House and Senate in mid-term elections last November.
With the new Democratic House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, seated directly behind him, Bush challenged Iraq opponents by arguing a troop surge in Baghdad provides "the best chance" for success.

He cast America’s mission in Iraq in stark terms. The U.S., he said, has a responsibility to quell the sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni Muslims which exploded in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion in 2003.
"This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk," he said.
"If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict. For America, this is a nightmare scenario."

Kilpatrick challenged the American people to stand up and continue to let the president know they disagree with his course for the country.
“He says we are on the right course. The course is not right,” Kilpatrick said. “The state of the union is not good. We must do better. We must save America for our children.”

By: Sherrel Wheeler Stewart,

Gen. Wesley Clark's Response to the State of the Union Address

Gen. Clark was live on Fox News last night with his response to the President's State of the Union Address. Read the transcript here.

Clark won the presidential primary inOklahoma in 2004 and there has been wide speculation that he may enter the race again in 2008. He worked closely with Democratic Congressional candidates across the nation during the 2006 election cycle and has been actively opposing the President's plans to escalate the war in Iraq.