Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oklahoma Democrats act against youth violence:

The first legislative session kicked off this month with Democrats taking steps to combat youth violence. This will be a priority for Democrats over the next year.

"...the Legislature has provided only $1 million for gang-intervention programs" said Rep. Mike Shelton in October of 2006.

"And they've even tried to cut that funding."
(The Journal Record- Oct. 5, 2006)

To kick off this session- Democrats introduced a measure which would establish the "Oklahoma Anti-Gang Task Force" designed to coordinate law-enforcement efforts with state leaders.

Legislators also called for a 58 million dollar appropriation to pay for raises for teachers. This will take pressure off of schools who have had to dip into operating funds to meet their salaries.

"These are people we've forgotten about," said Representative Al McAffrey. "We cannot ask those people who provide such important services for our children to provide for their families on such low wage."
(Associated Press- Feb. 1, 2007)
Democratic Precinct Meetings Planned March 8th

Oklahoma City, OK- February 28, 2007 - All politics begins at the local level and for Oklahoma Democrats precinct meetings are some of the most critical gatherings. The ODP has planned statewide precinct meetings on March 8th. Call the ODP at 405.427.3366 to find your local meeting or log onto and click the "calendar."

State Party Chairman Lisa Pryor said precinct meetings are the most critical meetings for proactive Democrats to attend.

"If you want to have a personal and immediate impact in building a better government, one that protects and serves the people of Oklahoma, this is your opportunity to have a voice in the Oklahoma Democratic Party," Pryor said. "Help build the party you want to see."

Delegates will cast votes at the County Convention (March 31), the District Convention (April 28th) and State Convention (May 19th).

Pryor said the path to victory begins at the precinct level.

"It is critical that we have participation at the March 8th precinct meetings. As Democrats our goals are to regain control of both the State House and State Senate, to reclaim a seat in the U.S. Senate, to help a Democratic candidate carry the state of Oklahoma in the presidential election in 2008," Pryor said. "I encourage all Oklahoma Democrats to get involved, to make a difference and be part of this vision. The road to change and the path to victory start on March 8th."

Oklahoma Democratic Party
Jason McCarty
Communications Director

What is YOUR personal impact on global warming?

Everyone leaves a carbon footprint behind and if you are curious what yours is there is a website that can help determine this. Your energy consumption in your household and your car determine your direct impact. To see the full picture one must think about the total impact. To determine your complete impact you would have to take into account the energy that Target or Wal-Mart must use for you to shop there (among other services you use). Understanding these impacts can help each of us offset our own impact.

You can visit this website to calculate your impact on our enviroment.

Those of you who want to learn more do not forget Al Gore will be speaking on Global Warming at The University of Oklahoma tomorrow, March 1st. Doors open at 3pm at the Lloyd Noble Arena.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Yellow Dog Democrat Event

What: Oklahoma Democratic Party will be hosting a viewing of the Academy Award Winning Documnetary An Inconvenient Truth.

Who: All Yellow Dog members and friends are invited to attend!

Where: Oklahoma Democratic Party Headquarters
George Krumme Center
4100 N. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK

When: Tuesday March 6th at 6p.m.

There will be movie style refreshments and snacks!
Please RSVP to

Al Gore, 45th Vice President of the United States and bestselling author of and Academy Award winner for An Inconvenient Truth will deliver a presentation on global warming.

Thursday, March 1, 4:00p.m. at the Lloyd Noble Center at the University of Oklahoma campus, 1185 Asp Ave.

Doors will open at 3 p.m. Please use the main east lower section entrance. Also no backpacks, video or still cameras will be allowed. Bags are subject to search.

For further information or accomodations please contact the Office of Special Events at (405)325-3784

Black History Month

"A Dream Lost "
A little- known chapter of African-American history in Oklahoma as told to Ronald E. Childs. If anyone truly believes that Columbine High School massacre or the on the Federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was the most tragic bombing ever to take place on United States soil as the media has been widely reporting, they're wrong plain and simple. That's because an even deadlier bomb occurred in the same state to forget that it ever happened. Searching under the heading of "riots," "Oklahoma," and "Tulsa" in current editions of the World Book Encyclopedia, there is conspicuously no mention of the Tulsa race riot of 1921, and this omission is by no means a surprise, or a rare case. The fact is, one would be hard-pressed to find documentation of the incident, let alone an accurate accounting of it, in any other "scholarly" reference or American history book. That's precisely the point that noted author, publisher and orator Ron Wallace, a Tulsa native, sought to make nearly five years ago when he began researching this riot, one of the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. Ultimately joined on the project by colleague Jay Jay Wilson of Los Angeles, the duo found and compiled indisputable evidence of what they now describe as,
"The Black Holocaust in America."

The date was June 1, 1921, when "Black Wall Street," the name fittingly given to one of the most affluent all-black communities in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving 36-black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering-A model community destroyed, and a major African-American economic movement resoundingly defused. The night's carnage left some 3,000 African-Americans dead, and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among these were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and even a bus system. As could be expected, the impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with ranking city officials, and many other sympathizers. In their self-published book,
"Black Wall Street: A lost dream," The authors have chronicled for the very first time in the words of area historians and elderly survivors what really happened there on that fateful summer day in 1921 and why it happened.
Ron Wallace similarly explained to Black Elegance why this bloody event from the turn of the century seems to have had a recurring effect that is being felt in predominately Black neighborhoods even to this day. The best description of Black Wall Street or Little Africa as it was also known would be to liken it to a mini-Beverly Hills. It was the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900s, and it proved that African-Americans had successful infrastructure. That's what Black Wall Street was about. The dollar circulated 36 to 1000 times, sometimes tacking a year for currency to leave the community. Now in 1999, a dollar leaves the Black community in 15 minutes. As far as resources, there were Ph.D's residing in little Africa, Black attorneys and Doctors. One Doctor was Dr. Berry who also owned the Bus system. His average income was $500 a day, a hefty pocket change in 1910. During that era, physicians owned medical school. There were also pawn shops everywhere, brothels, jewelry stores, 21 churches, 21 restaurants and two movie theaters. It was a time when the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports yet six Blacks owned their own Airplanes. It was a very fascinating community. The area encompassed over 600 businesses and 36 square with a population of 15,00 African-Americans. And the lower-economic Europeans looked over and saw what the Black community created, many of them were jealous. When the average student went to school on Black Wall Street he wore a suit and tie because the morals and respect they were taught at an early age. The mainstay of the community was to educate every child. Nepotism was the word of they believed in. and that's what we need to get back to in 1999.
The main thoroughfare was Greenwood Ave, and Archer and Pine Streets intersected it. From the First letters in each of those names you get G.A.P., and that’s where the renowned R&B music group the GAP Band got it's name. They're from Tulsa. Black Wall Street was a prime example of the typical Black community in America that did business, but it was in an unusual location. You see, at the time, Oklahoma was set aside to be Black and Indian State. There were 28 Black Townships there. One third of the people who traveled in the terrifying " Trail of Tears" alongside the Indians between 1830 to 1842 were Black people. The citizens of this proposed Indian and Black State chose a Black Governor, a treasurer from Kansas named McDade. But the Ku Klux Klan said that if he assumed office they would kill him within 48 hours. A lot of Blacks owned farmland, and many of them had gone into the oil business. The community was so tight and wealthy because they traded dollars hand-to-hand, and because they were dependent upon one another as a result of Jim Crow laws. It was not unusual that if a resident's home accidentally burned down, it could be rebuilt within a few weeks by neighbors. This was the type of scenario that was going on day-to-day on Black Wall Street. When Blacks intermarried into the Indian culture, some of them received their promised 40 acres and a mule, and with that came whatever oil was later found on there properties, just to so how wealthy a lot of Black people were, there was a Banker in a neighboring town who had a wife named California Taylor. Her father owned the largest cotton gin west of the Mississippi River. When California shopped, she would take a cruise to Paris every three months to have clothes made. There was also a man named Mason in nearby agner County who had the largest potato farm west of the Mississippi. When he harvested, he would fill 100 box cars a day. Another Brother not far away had the same thing with a Spinach farm. The typical family then was Five children or more, though the typical farm family would have 10 kids or more who made up the nucleus of labor. On black Wall Street, A lot of global business was conducted. The community Flourished from the early 1900s until June 1, 1921. That’s when the largest massacre of nonmilitary Americans took place, and it was lead by the Ku Klux Klan. Imagine walking out of your front door and seeing 1,500 homes being set ablaze. It must have been amazing. Survivors that were interviewed think the whole thing was planned because during that time that the massacre was going on, White families with their children stood around on the borders of the community and watched the carnage, the looting and everything ---much in the same manner that they would watch a lynching.
It was was typical to have a picnic on Friday nights in Oklahoma. The word is short for "pick a Nigger" to lynch. They would lynch a black male and cut off body parts for souvenirs. This went on every weekend in this country.
"Why Did It Happen"

The riots weren't caused by anything Black or White. It was caused by jealousy. A lot of white folks had come back from World War 1 and they were poor. When they looked over into the Black communities and realized that the Black men who fought in the war had come home heroes, this helped trigger the destruction. It cost the Black community everything, and not a single dime of restitution--no insurance claims-- have been awarded to the victims to this day. None the less, they rebuilt. We estimate that 1,500 to 3,00 people were killed and we know that a lot of the bodies were buried in mass graves all around the city. Some were dumped in the river. As a matter of fact, at 21st street and Yale Avenue, where there now stands a Sears parking lot, that corner used to be a Coalmine. They threw a lot of the bodies into the shafts. Black American don't know about this story because we don't the word Holocaust to our struggle. Jewish people use the word, holocaust. It's politically correct to use it. But when we Black folks use the H word, people think we're being crybabies or that we're trying to bring up old issues. No one comes to our support. In 1910, our forefathers and mothers owned 13 million acres of land at the height of racism in this country, so the Black Wall Street book prove the nay sayers and revisionists that we had our act together. Our mandate now is to begin to teach our children about our own ongoing Black holocaust. They have to know when they look at our communities today that we don't come from this.
This is the last day of BLACK HISTORY MONTH, I would like to thank all of the readers for letting me share with you this month a little about Black History.
Teresa Hill

Pelosi Urges Bush to Join Democrats in Helping States Fund Shortfall in Children's Health Insurance

Washington, D.C. - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today released the following statement calling on President Bush to support the efforts by Democrats to provide the states with the needed funds to cover the shortfalls for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP):

"President Bush heard again this weekend from Democratic and Republican governors that unless Washington moves quickly to help states cover the $745 million shortfall in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) soon, the health coverage of many children will be in jeopardy.

"Democrats in Congress understand the urgency and are committed to providing funding to the 14 states that do not have enough money to cover their current enrollment. That is why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and I wrote to President Bush more than three weeks ago asking him to submit a spending proposal separate from his upcoming emergency supplemental appropriations request to cover shortfalls in funding for the children's health insurance program.

"While the President has given no indication that he will address this immediate need, I urge him to make the right choice and work with Democrats to fund this shortfall.

"The President's budget, which addresses funding after 2007, makes the wrong choice and could result in more children losing their health coverage over the next five years. Millions of low-income children who count on SCHIP are counting on Washington to get the job done. Democrats will lead the way and I hope the President will join us."

Monday, February 26, 2007


Thank a teacher and a thank every legislator who supports the Honesty in Funding Education Act, HB 1935, sponsored by Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner.

You can thank them today by joining with the House Democrats at the State Capitol Press Room today at 1 p.m. or send them emails today urging their support of this important piece of legislation that will insure that the legislature keeps its past and future promises to teachers and school administrators.

The House Democrats will meet today flanked by school administrators and teachers to show their support of a bill that will insure payment for an unfunded mandate sent to them last year related to teachers' salary increases. In addition the Honesty in Funding Education bill will require the legislature to determine full education appropriations in a timely fashion so that local school boards and their administrators can make financially sound decisions related to hiring staff for the next school year.

HB 1935 is part of the House Democrats' Vision for Oklahoma's Second Century agenda.

The Honesty in Funding Education Act would fulfill the commitment made to school districts during the 2006 session of the State Legislature.

During the 2006 session the Legislature mandated that school districts give teachers in the state an increase in pay of $3,000. However, in spite of commitments made on the floor by House Leadership, the Legislature failed to appropriate monies to the school districts that would cover the costs associated with the pay raises.

“The fact is the State Legislature required all schools to pay all teachers an additional $3,000 by law, the extra costs created by the raise should also be paid,” said McPeak. “This is an unfunded mandate.

“When the bill was presented before the Legislature last session we were guaranteed by the House Republican Leadership that the extra costs to the school districts would be appropriated by the bill,” said former school superintendent Ray McCarter, D- Marlow. “The people of Oklahoma were lied to.”

Many school districts were forced to spend money out of their operational budgets for the pay raises. Now schools budgets are falling short and the money is needed for basic costs. Shortfalls due to this unfunded mandate may result in some teachers losing their job.

“Although raises have been given to teachers in the recent past, cuts in general operational dollars made in 2002 and 2003 have never been restored,” said Representative McCarter. “Now, school districts are must divert a portion of what’s left of operational money to cover unfunded mandates.”

“We didn’t keep our word. We sent schools an unfunded mandate” said McPeak. “It’s as simple as that. This has nothing to do with this year’s budget. This was agreed to last year.”

“Diminishing operational dollars means less money in the classroom,” said McCarter. “The bottom line is that schools across the state have already spent the money from the operational budget this year and it is up to the legislature to restore it.”

Representative McPeak conducted an interim study over the summer and fall of 2006, working with school superintendents and administrators from across the state. House Bill 1935 is the result of that study. Dubbed the Honesty in Funding Education Act, the bill would appropriate $56 Million to school districts across the state to make up for the monies that were not appropriated last session. Representative McPeak has been told by House Republican Leadership that his bill will not be heard in committee.

“This bill was worked on all summer by school administrators from across Oklahoma and representing a variety of school districts. It was non-partisan,” said McPeak. “No one knew what political party anyone belonged to and it makes no difference. Now, that session has started, folks inside the Capitol are making it political.”

“This is not honest or open government. You either keep your word or you don’t. Politicians made a big splash by promising teacher pay raises. The House required that the schools spend the money based on that promise and gave them the money to spend.”

“If this bill would come to the floor, it would pass overwhelmingly,” said McPeak. “Most of the men and women in the House of Representatives are honest. The people of Oklahoma deserve the opportunity for their elected representatives to cast an up or down vote on House Bill 1935.”

If you are an honest citizen, educator, parent, or student please join the House Democrats for this important press conference today, if you are unable to attend, please encourage your legislator to support this important legislation. Email addresses for all House members are provided below.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

House Democrats and Educators to Team Together for Honesty in Funding Education Act

Representative Dale Turner and House Democratic Leadership will hold a press conference at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 27th at The State Capitol Press Room, in Room 432B.

They will be joined by educators from across the State to call for the Honesty in Funding Education Act to be heard in the House.

For more information contact Joe Hartman at (405) 521-2711 ext. 213

Who: House Democrats

When: Tuesday, February 27th, 2007, 1:00 p.m.

Where: The State Capitol Building, Room 432B

Democratic Mayor of Tulsa Hosts Roundtable with Tribes

Kathy Taylor, the visionary Mayor of Tulsa, is reaching out to tribes in her area by hosting a roundtable forum with three of the biggest and most successful tribal governments in Oklahoma. The historic meeting revolved centered on economic development in and around Tulsa.

Osage Chief Jim Gray said, "This is a huge step in breaking down these artificial barriers that have kept us from working together. The fact that you have all three tribal leaders sitting at the same table with Mayor Kathy Taylor shows there is a willingness."

Read the full Tulsa World story.

Medallion Dinner 2007 Guests

NAACP State Chairman Roosevelt Milton and members of the Georgia Brown Federation of Democratic Women enjoyed the festivities at the recent Oklahoma County Medallion Dinner hosted by Oklahoma County Democratic Party officers Kitti Asberry, Ron Wasson, and Lynn Green.
Five years after 9/11, America remains less safe than it should be.

More than five years after 9/11 and more than four years into the war in Iraq, the American people are less safe than they should be. Democrats are ready with the tough AND smart policies needed to change course, from implementing the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission to holding President Bush accountable for change in Iraq.

9/11 Recommendations

Five years after 9/11, America remains less safe than it should be.

Iraq is serving as a "cause celebre" for recruiting and training new generations of terrorists, Afghanistan is sliding backwards, and Osama Bin Laden remains on the loose.

The American people demanded a change, and that's just what Democrats are delivering.

Democrats will start by completing implementation of the much-needed recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

President Bush's failed policies have made America less safe. Now more than ever, Congress must ensure the highest quality of security for the American people.


President Bush is ignoring a bipartisan majority of Congress, his own military commanders, and the American public in escalating the war and is leading us on a path to strategic defeat in Iraq.

The American people have demanded a change of course in Iraq and Democrats are committed to holding President Bush accountable.

One possible option is to restructure the Authorization of the Use of Military Force that gives President Bush the authority to conduct this war.

The President's authorization in Iraq is outdated and needs to be modified. Congress authorized this President to go to war to stop Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction and from aiding Al Qaeda terrorists. We now know that no WMD ever existed, and Saddam Hussein had no connection to Al Qaeda.

Congress set the mission in Iraq four years ago, and Congress can set the appropriate mission now.

America's security deserves a tough and smart strategy that will force Iraqis to take control of their own country, redeploy our troops, and refocus our efforts on battling the very real and growing threat of terrorism

There is no one piece of legislation that will bring this war to an end. Democrats will continue to look at ways to force the President to change course and will examine the appropriate legislative vehicles for our proposals.

Living Black History: Astronomer Beth Brown Boldly Goes Where Few Have Gone Before

By: Michael H. Cottman,

Dr. Beth Brown, an astrophysicist at NASA, turned a teenage interest in Star Trek and Star Wars into a scientific career studying outer space.
Her area of expertise is not the usual employment choice for most black women – the evolution of celestial bodies, planets, the solar system and far-away galaxies that shine brightly in the X-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum and can reach temperatures of 10 million degrees.
In short, Brown is an astronomer.
"When I was younger I read a lot of science fiction books and growing up I watched Star Trek," Brown told "I wanted to be an astronaut, but in college I chose astronomy as a field of scientific study. My parents raised me with love to be an ambitious woman."
Ambitious may be an understatement.

Brown, 38, received her Bachelor of Science degree in Astrophysics from Howard University, and received a Master of Science degree and doctoral degree in Astronomy from the University of Michigan. She is the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from the University of Michigan's Department of Astronomy.
Brown has also been listed as one of the Women of NASA, an interactive project designed to encourage young women to pursue careers in math, science and technology by providing as role models outstanding women in NASA.
A native of Roanoke, Va., Brown has worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland as a scientist in the Astrophysics Science Division. And she makes a clear distinction that she studies astronomy, not astrology.
"I’m not Miss Cleo," she said, noting people often confuse the two areas of concentration.
"I love to learn about, not only the solar system, but our galaxy and universe," Brown said. "Indeed, much of my research has focused on galaxies beyond our own."
Brown started her NASA career at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a research associate for the National Research Council. Prior to that, she joined the National Space Science Data Center, and later relocated to the X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory providing science support and data acquisition. Brown has conducted research on galaxies using data from several observatories, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.
Most recently, Brown was honored as one of 11 awardees for the NASA Administrator's Fellowship Program, a program designed to ensure the strength of the nation's scientific and technical workforce. She is a member of the American Astronomical Society and the National Society of Black Physicists, for which she previously served on the Executive Board.
"What I enjoy about the teaching, is finding interesting and exciting material to combine with the information presented in the textbook, and then turning that into a lecture that makes sense to someone just starting to learn about astronomy and physics," Brown said.
"In working for NASA, I have enjoyed working with the Public Affairs Office from time to time, doing live TV interviews on topics of interest, such as solar eclipses," she said. "I may not have had those opportunities in another job."
Brown said she also enjoys talking to young people about her job and can best serve as a role model for black youth who aspire to be part of the space program "by continuing to follow my pursuits with dedication and enthusiasm."
Some of Brown’s speeches over the years have included, "Discoveries from NASA Space Science," "Characteristics of Stars and the Effect of Light Pollution," "African-Americans in the NASA Space Science Enterprise," and "Exploring Research Opportunities in Space Science."
"I still like science, because I am still curious about how something works and why something exists," Brown said in an interview for NASA.
"Space continues to fascinate me," she said. "I love my job because I get to work on several different things, and there's always something new being discovered. Sometimes (as with any job) things can get frustrating. But I surround myself with supportive friends and family who help me to get through the tough times. And I also maintain a life outside of work, which keeps me balanced."
Last year, Brown returned to Howard University where she is one of 11 recipients of the NASA Administrator’s Fellowship Program.
NASA started the fellowship program nine years ago to ensure the strength of the Nation’s scientific and technical workforce. The program is designed to enhance the professional development of NASA employees and faculty of minority-serving institutions. The program strives to increase the capability of minority institutions to respond to NASA’s research, development, and educational needs.
There have been 71 fellows selected since the program’s inception in 1997. Previous participants have been instrumental in securing individual and institutional research awards, mentoring students to pursue NASA-related research, and encouraging graduates to pursue a career at a NASA Center.
The program is managed and administered by the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation in Fairfax, Va., for NASA’s Office of Education.
"I have gained some attention for being the first African-American woman to obtain a doctorate from the University of Michigan Department of Astronomy, however I do not focus on that," Brown told "Instead, I focus on those activities that satisfy me as a professional astronomer."

My Fellow Americans....An Inconvenient Truth

Congratulations to former Vice-President and winner of the popular vote in 2000 Al Gore for his tremendous work in "An Inconvenient Truth" recognized last night by the Academy of Motion Pictures as this year's best documentary film. Read about it here.

Gore's much anticipated announcement that he's running for president of the United States did not come last night, although he spoke twice and twice used the phrase "My Fellow Americans". However, rumors continue to swirl that he will be a candidate in 2008. From the recognition and applause last night he may have more respect and potential Hollywood contributors for his possible campaign than either Hillary or Obama have and that's saying a lot at this time.


(Chair's Note: This request is from Canadian County Democratic Party Chair Jody Harlan and Sierra Club member. Her contact information is below. She's asking fellow Democrats to join with her in demanding that our state legislators protect our water. I urge you to contact your legislator this morning about the importance of protecting our environment ---- our water, our land, and our skies. Please help today. Make a call, send an email. Do something.)

PLEASE HELP! The laws that protect clean water in Oklahoma are under attack at the State Capitol by animal factory corporations and their friends who have benefitted from their campaign donations. Whose side are you on?

PLEASE VOTE NO ON HB 1470 - Would you drink water from waterways next to miillions of gallons of livestock waste? Sometimes livestock waste IS hazardous.

Millions of gallons of livestock feces and urine containing hydrogen sulfide gas, arsenic, ammonia, phenols and pathogens are definitely hazardous -- contrary to HB 1470 which is on the House Calendar for Monday, 02/26/07. This bill would grant special privileges and slash the cost of properly disposing of livestock waste for out-of-state, large-scale factory farming corporations at the expense of Oklahoma citizens' health and property rights. Under the provisions of HB 1470, an unscrupulous factory farmer could mix livestock waste with plutonium, pocket the profit, damage his neighbors' health and property, pass the cleanup costs along to taxpayers and still meet the "nonhazardous" definition. It's likely that legislation like this would keep Oklahoma's Attorney General from seeking Superfund dollars to clean up abandoned Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or making any animal waste polluter responsible for damage under Superfund laws. We don't want CAFOs next to their homes, family farms and businesses, especially if safety regulations are no longer adequate. Animal factory owners get the profits and should tbe responsible for cleaning up their own messes -- not pass the cost along to taxpayers. Please vote NO on HB 1470.

PLEASE VOTE NO ON HB 1392 - Environmental plans should not give polluters a "free pass."

HB 1392, which is also on the House calendar for Monday, 02/26/07, sets up a fragmented, unworkable system guaranteed to provoke more controversy and much greater risk to clean water in Oklahoma. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) following resource conservation management plans, required by this legislation, would be presumed to be in compliance with the law – no matter how much they were actually polluting Oklahoma streams, reservoirs and aquifers. This legislation gives immunity to high incidence polluters with failing environmental plans, while passing along the clean up costs to taxpayers. The plans are just another layer of paperwork on top of all the existing paperwork required. No funding is allocated to pay for additional work assigned to agencies responsible for oversight.
Our Centennial year is the wrong time to weaken Oklahoma laws that have maintained clean water and clean air in our state for the last 10 years. We don't want to end up like Arkansas with its compromised water, damaged reputation and loss of tourism. Please vote no on HB 1470, HB 1392 and similar legislation.

House of Representatives Email Addresses:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

For more information contact Jody or Tim at:

Tim Wagner
Colata "Jody" Harlan
426 Poplar Avenue
Yukon, OK 73099-2659

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Cash and Carry

The lead in today's Tulsa World story about Speaker Lance Cargill's questionable shakedown of lobbyists , including scheduling offsite appointments with them in 15-minute increments, is remarkable given his push this week for an ethics reform bill that would, at a minimum, cost the state an additional minimum $400,000. Read today's full story here.

Lobbyists exposed the GOP shakedown last year and new reports indicate that the practice, styled after the GOP K Street Project that was largely responsible for the downfall of that party in Congress in November, is continuing under the leadership of Cargill at 23rd and Lincoln. Last year's scandal at the State Capitol was "pay to play." This year's growing scandal is "cash and carry." The central figure in each of these unethical schemes: Lance Cargill.

For more on this story read The Oklahoman, The Oklahoma Gazette, and The Norman Transcript.

Stay tuned as the story continues to develop...
Coburn Admits Republican Colleagues Care More About Power than People

From this morning's Flashpoint. . . .

Ultra conservative right wing Republican U.S. Senator Tom Coburn said he hasn't decided if he'll run for re-election in 2010.

Asked if the Republicans lost control of Congress because of Iraq, Katrina, Jack Abramoff or overspending? He answered that the Republicans were more interested in power and staying in control than doing what the American people needed them to do. (The same reason that State Senator Nancy Riley gave for leaving the GOP and becoming a Democrat last summer by changing her registration.)

On George Bush, Coburn said he's doing what he thinks is right, especially on Iraq. None of our options, there, in Iraq, are good, said Coburn. The president is "a terrible communicator behind the podium," Coburn said. --- you can say that again!

Regarding corruption in government, Coburn said transparency is the key to changing the political culture. He said he went to the Senate to change the culture of the Senate. (The American people believe changing the Senators is the key to changing the culure of corruption.) His campaign against earmarks is part of his campaign for transparency. He admitted frustration with the Senate but stopped short of saying whether or not he would quit the Senate.

On Iraq, Coburn said, "We made a mistake in foreign policy based on intelligence that was wrong....we're there...the question is whether we were manipulated..." (And the answer is, yes, now do something about it.)

Political Notebook

The Tulsa World's Political Notebook today discusses the State Party Chair races for both Democrats and Republicans. Read the story here.
Lt. Gov. Jari Askins

The National Lieutenant Governor's Association website is noting that Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Jari Askins is promoting economic development and higher education funding. Their source is a recent Norman Transcript story about Askins' visit to the Norman Sooner Rotary Club last Tuesday morning. (Askins, left, is pictured at right with Sooner Rotary Club President Glenda Brown.)
STIR things up, protect our water

If you're interested in protecting our water and ensuring that corporations use legal, responsible litter disposal practices then read this fact sheet on poultry litter to take action.

The Greater Good

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson (pictured at right) has repeatedly taken the position that his job is to protect the citizens and resources of our great state --- his position is a personal conviction and is inherent in his constitutional oath of office.

I am very pleased that his walk matches his talk and that he continues to pursue every option available to protect our water resources for the greater good of the people of Oklahoma.

I was incensed when a State Senate Committee this week passed a measure that declared that animal waste is not hazardous. (Thank you Senator Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, for voting no on the measure.) Let's hope SB 709 gets the boot in front of the full Senate.

Let's make sure that anyone who personally benefits from or directly represents the poultry producers does the right thing and abstains from this vote on the floor. (Read about SB 709 here. )

From accounts I've seen and heard of the debate, this measure was forwarded to protect big poultry companies and to provide them legal cover in disposal of massive amounts of chicken litter, particularly in eastern Oklahoma. This was a huge issue in the 2006 elections for Edmondson but the people determined that they prefer clean water and politicians who protect their water supply over those who pander to poultry producers.

We should be very wary when the fox approaches the henhouse and when politicians fail to uphold their constitutional duty to protect the people. Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, a former ag teacher, debated that this would protect farmers and ranchers from having to erect hazardous waste barriers around an accidentally misplaced cow patty from their stock trailers....hogwash. This was to protect our citizens and our water from further contamination. That is why AG Edmondson has sued, on behalf of the citizens of Oklahoma, 11 poultry companies, including Tyson, for their practice of using excess chicken litter as fertilizer which is polluting eastern Oklahoma watersheds.

(I have some personal experience raising chickens on the farm, we raised 200 Cornish Rock chicks annually and I can tell you that even that small number created a significant amount of litter. At the same time the water provided to us from the Rural Water District was not safe to drink for pregnant women or nursing mothers due to the high nitrate levels. And this was in western Oklahoma. The real underlying issue at hand, however, is the misuse of poultry litter from massive broiler operations in eastern Oklahoma. If done properly and under very strict guidelines the practice could be acceptable, but if it is not controlled and monitored properly the watershed will be contaminated beyond repair, if it isn't already.)

Thank you General Edmondson for doing the right thing for the greater good. Thank you, General Edmondson for insisting on accountability and responsibility from those who pollute our water and destroy our rivers.

Friday, February 23, 2007

OK County Democrats

I enjoyed being with the OK County Democrats at their regular Friday luncheon at the Boulevard Cafeteria today. Because most of those present are party regulars I see them often, but it was particularly nice today to speak with them about the progress made at the ODP since May 2005. If their enthusiasm for the upcoming precinct meetings and state convention is any indication we will have a great turnout of Democrats at every level in 2007 which will enable us to go from good to great in 2008.

I've asked them, on behalf of the State Convention Arrangements Committee, to consider hosting in their homes some of our out-of-town delegates to the State Convention. After all, we are the party that cares and shares. So, if you plan to attend the Convention in May and would like to take advantage of hosted accomodations please let us know and we'll try to put together something with the generous OK County Democrats.
Dodd is the ideal Un-Hillary

Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, has a very respectable political background. He was the youngest person ever to be elected as a Connecticut Senator. He also is the only Connecticut Senator to be re-elected five times.

"Affable and Irish, Dodd comes closest of anyone in the field to the raw political talent of a JFK or Bill Clinton. Dodd, who turns 62 tomorrow, looks like a white-haired lion out of ``Advise and Consent,'' not a Ken doll of a hundred focus groups."

Just like all the other candidates, he started well behind Clinton in the money race, but he has since begun to catch up, his five million dollar campaign fund is surpassed by only Clinton herself. He states that he will not shy away from asking the Wall Street Companies for money, even though he heads up the Senate Banking Committee. But he says that accepting this money will not affect his policy decisions.

He is said to have one of the greatest advantages that you can have in politics, and that is he's a natural who doesn't need handlers to position him. Even though he has only been a candidate for a short time, he has made some big waves.

-Eric Davenport
ODP Media Release

Minimum Wage Bill Stalled: Democrats Remain Committed to Issue and Oklahoma Families

Oklahoma Democrats remain committed to raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma, in spite of Republican heel-dragging and posturing this week at the State Capitol, where the minimum wage was tabled in committee.

Democratic Party Chairman Lisa Pryor said, "Democrats value the working men and women of our state and know that they deserve more. It is near impossible for a family to live on the current minimum wage. Oklahomans deserve more. As Democrats, we know protecting the interest and health of our community depends on families being able to provide the basic necessities of life."

She said the decision to table the minimum wage bill was disheartening, but Democrats are not giving up on the seeing the legislation through this session. The votes for minimum wage in committee just weren't there with Republicans poised to vote against it

"We are committed to building a better place to work and live not just for today's voters, but for future generations of Oklahomans," Pryor. "A minimum wage increase is a critical step in ensuring that future."

An average CEO earns more before lunchtime in one day than a minimum wager worker earns all year.

"We can make our economy fair by raising minimum wage," Pryor said. "There is overwhelming public support behind this because it is the right thing to do for Oklahomans. We are long over due to raise wages for our working families. Every day families work hard and play by the rules to earn a good living, but still they struggle. It is wrong to have thousands of families working full-time, year-round and still be living in poverty."

The Democratic-led U.S. House voted 315 to 116 to raise the federal minimum wage in January.

Oklahoma City, OK- Feb. 23, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jason McCarty, 405.427.3366

Richardson: 'I would have a cabinet department for Native American affairs'

Presidential candidate and current governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, has learned important lessons in dealing with Native Americans and Hispanic people in his state. He plans to use those valuable lessons if he’s elected president, by integrating the minorities into his cabinet and working to improve relations with American Indians across the country. Follow this link to read the Indian Country Today interview.

-Lacey Earls
Tom Vilsack drops out of race.

In the face of better recognized and funded competition, Tom Vilsack will be dropping his bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination today. Vilsack will hold both a news conference and a teleconference today to further elaborate on his reasoning for dropping out of the race.

Vilsack was a strong critic of the war in Iraq, and has been calling for Congress to immediately cut all funding for the war.

- Jordan Endicott

Steak Dinner Evidence of Pay to Play?

Republican House Speaker Lance Cargill's fundraising practices are again making headlines. Last year Cargill was the subject of a published investigative report in the Oklahoma Gazette about a "pay to play" scheme that he and then Speaker Todd Hiett had constructed and were implementing. (March 23, March 29, June 7, 2006) It wasn't the Democrats who first complained, but the lobbyists who were being strong armed by the GOP leadership to pay up or risk having the bills they are interested in tossed.

Cargill says "it's" not happening this year, that he's doing it right, that he's reformed, and to prove it he's introduced an eight-point lobbying reform package.

He then alleges that the Democrats are doing something wrong. His evidence? He was in a fancy OKC steakhouse a few days ago and saw five Democrats eating steaks together. This he said is evidence that their votes are for sale and that his is not. I think this is evidence that five Democrats were at dinner together and that Cargill is doing the "right", the partisan Republican, thing.

Recently he further defended his activities with this statement to the Associated Press: "Everybody out here asks lobbyists for money, there's nothing new about this.

"It wasn't a shakedown, holding people over a barrel on legislation. We're just being up front with people about the political goals that we have. That includes the 100 Ideas, that includes our legal fund."

Really now? Is this the same 100 Ideas initiative being promoted by ousted Republican legislator Thad Balkman? Did you catch that --- the political goals that WE have. And those would be the goals of the RNC, the OKGOP, and CHS.....

Further allegations of scandal dog the new speaker --- and where there's smoke, there could be fire, now if we could just find five Republicans eating together we'd have all the evidence needed.

Morning Coffee Rant

It's been reported that Sen. Glenn Coffee wrote an open letter to Gov. Brad Henry yesterday chastising him for not understanding the value and process of bi-partisanship and collaboration.

I couldn't believe my ears when I heard this. You send an open letter to the news media accusing Governor Henry of playing partisan politics, how hypocritical. But then you and your partisan political hack buddies at the capitol never let truth interfere with your hyperpartisan political attacks.

Our Governor has an 83% approval rating largely because his agenda priorities and leadership style reflect a strong commitment to bipartisanship and collaboration. His agenda and priorities reflect the will of Oklahoma's citizens --- stronger investments in education, healthcare, and research that will return to our state as higher paying jobs, healthier citizens and expanded opportunities for success --- regardless of political affiliation.

In fact, Henry has often demonstrated his forward vision for our state by saying "I'm building a state, not a party" and yet Coffee accuses the Governor of pure partisan politics. Back at 'ya Glenn. You are the one who has partisan press releases waiting for the "send" button before committee votes are even tallied. You are the one who is demanding lockstep allegiance to a failed partisan ideology ---- didn't you get the message, the Democrats took Congress and we are poised to take the White House in 2008. And Oklahoma Democrats are set to win secure majorities in the State House and State Senate in 2008. The fearmongering tricks and tomfoolery that worked for you and yours in 2004 and 2006 are out the door. Better not look left or right 'cause the Blue tsunami is coming to Oklahoma in 2008 and your appellation will be swept away with the debris.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

OK GOP shuts down access to behavioral health services for Oklahoma kids

Bill to Provide Greater Access to Behavioral Health Services Killed in Committee

State Sen. Debbe Leftwich said her measure to improve access to behavioral health care in Oklahoma is dead for two years after failing to receive passage from a Senate committee on Thursday. Leftwich said Senate Bill 452 would have closed a loophole that currently prevents thousands of Oklahomans from getting the treatment they need.

Republicans in the Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee, two of which sell insurance in the private sector, lined up and voted in lockstep to protect their friends in the insurance industry while Oklahomans seeking treatment for serious illnesses have been shut out,” said Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City.

Leftwich said the problem is that the largest single insurance company in the state refuses to cover the cost of seeing health care providers such as licensed professional counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, behavioral health professionals and advanced practice nurses. They will cover treatment by an M.D. psychiatrist or a PhD psychologist. However, those doctors are generally based in metropolitan areas.

“That means thousands of people in rural Oklahoma simply can’t get the help they need,” said Leftwich. “This bill would have guaranteed greater access for Oklahomans and families who need behavioral health services by ensuring that insurance companies follow the intent of the existing law. As it is now, insurance companies have found a loophole so big you could drive a truck through it.”

Leftwich said before killing the bill, there was a Republican attempt to amend the bill so that all patients needing behavioral treatment would have to first be seen by a doctor or psychologist. She said that would actually have cost insurance companies more money than her proposal, as those doctors tend to charge higher rates to see patients.

“This leaves countless Oklahomans between a rock and a hard place and unable to get the care they need,” Leftwich said. “Many people don’t have a choice about their insurance coverage if it’s provided through their job. Even those who can afford to pay for a psychiatrist or psychologist out-of-pocket may not live close enough to take advantage of those services. Oklahomans have been sold out in favor of the powerful insurance lobby.”

Chair's Note: Expect more of this type of behavior from the Rs this session, they are bound and determined to shut out working families and children. We warned voters of this kind of behavior last year and now it's coming to pass, Coffee and his crew care less about doing the right thing than they do about the next elections.

State Convention 2007

If you have questions about the ODP State Convention 2007 please send us an email at

Early registration and credentialing will be Friday, May 18th with our first general session on Saturday, May 19th and the second general session on Sunday, May 20th. All meetings are in OKC.

On HBO Tonight
Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

Moxie Firecracker Films is proud to announce
the world broadcast premiere of Rory Kennedy's
Thursday, February 22nd at 9:30 p.m. (EST) on HBO.

Through interviews with perpetrators, victims and witnesses,
Ghosts of Abu Ghraib examines the abuses that occurred
in the fall of 2003 at the notorious Iraqi prison.

"[A] powerful and indispensable documentary." -The Hollywood Reporter

"[This] forceful, direct doc is well-turned in all departments." -Variety

"A controlled, candid and remarkably thorough look at all sides of what happened..." -L.A. Times

"Haunting" -IndieWire

Would someone please tape this for me? I don't get HBO at home. Thanks!

Biden Relies on Experience

After Senator Joe Biden’s recent remarks concerning Barack Obama it left many wondering if he still had a chance in the 2008 Presidential race. At the AFSCME Democratic Presidential Forum in Carson City, Nevada Biden made strides to improve his Presidential image. One spectator was left saying "Biden, I was surprised. He came across very presidential." As Biden continues to repair his image one thing is certain his strong point remains the issues. Though Biden has not caught up with frontrunners Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, he has continued to impress on issues close to Americans such as education and health care, but many feel it is his strong stance on Iraq and experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that may keep him in the race. For more on this click here or visit Joe Biden's website for more crowd reaction to his Nevada speech.

-Cole Hines

OKC Gazette: The executive director of 100 Ideas now pledges to reveal the state initiative’s funders

Ben Fenwick of the OKC Gazette filed a great story on the 100 Ideas project of Lance Cargill and Thad Balkman.

Here's a critical passage:

"The 100 Ideas organization previously refused to answer questions about such funding. In two previous Gazette stories, both Cargill and Balkman cited donor privacy as reasons for not revealing the organization’s financials. Several news organizations requested the names of the group’s financiers.

Two Democrats were added approximately an hour after the Gazette interviewed Balkman about the political disparity in the group, and days after Balkman had announced the makeup of the then-12-member board. It is now at 14, with a 2-to-1 Republican disparity, counting known registrations.

The advisory board additions also came after state Democratic Party Chair Lisa Pryor issued a scathing statement regarding the 100 Ideas board picks.

Pryor said the 100 Ideas initiative appears to be compromised by the ideology of its originators, who will choose only ideas that fit their party’s agenda.

“What will happen is it will raise false hopes with the public, and they will play into the Republican strategy,” Pryor said."

Read the full story.

Wes Clark Continues to Disapprove Iran Invasion launched just yesterday, however, already over 11,000 people have signed their names to the petition. This goes to show that no matter how the press tries to spin information to favor Bush's intentions in Iran, the general public is not taking it anymore.

Today, a report was released stating that Iran has breached an agreement with the United Nations through expanding its efforts to enrich Uranium - an important element in the creation of nuclear energy. These efforts at nuclear energy creation have caused a stir in Washington, as relations with Iran are already compromised by the paranoia surrounding Iran's alleged military gifts to Iraq. While the Bush administration sees a direct relationship between the creation of nuclear energy and gifts to Iraq, it is important to get all the facts before jumping to conclusions.

The fact of the matter is that although the report shows an increase in the amount of Uranium Iranians are enriching, the numbers are actually far below the projected nuclear activity Iran publicly stated a year ago. Moreover, while nuclear energy has the stigma of being highly dangerous and inevitably linked to terrorist activity, quite the opposite is true. In today's world of limited resources, energy production has become a multi-alternative business. From wind and solar power to hydroelectric dams, energy must be produced for human consumption. This fact is unavoidable. What IS avoidable is war with Iran.

At this point, the Bush administration is publicly stating that they hope to use diplomatic means to solve the current situation... but then again isn't that what they said about Iraq? By placing more stringent sanctions on Iran, Bush is in essence limiting the ability of Iranians to create and use electricity, which just isn't our business. It's time for Bush to stop interfering with nations attempting to better themselves, and halt his crusade through the Middle East.

So, here's to hoping that limited information and the President's use of fear tactics will not lead to another Iraq-type situation. At this point in time, we are simply not needed, nor welcome in Iran.

-Nicole Morgan

Click to read the New York Times article.
Click to add your name to the petition

After reading Mike Dorning's article about Obama's website, I decided to check it out and if you haven't visited the website yet, you should check it out as well. It is, hands down the most interactive website that any candidate has to offer. Much like other social networking websites such as myspace and facebook, Obama's website allows visitors to create an accout, add a picture, search and add friends, join groups and even create a personal blog. The website also allows you to search for upcoming events in your area. In addition to the social networking features, Obama provides biographical information as well as his stand on various issues. To check out Obama's webite, go to or to read Mike Dorning's article, click here.

-Whitney Denton
Letter to Norman Transcript Editor

ODP Vice-Chair Ben Odom Sent this letter to the Norman Transcript last week after the paper took a shot at Democratic Congressman Dan Boren and his position against the Bush Administration's Iraq plan.

Dear Editor,

It is a sad day for Norman when our local paper, The Transcript, allows its editorial page cartoon and lead editorial to sink to the level of right-wing talk radio and totally distort the Democratic positions on the war in Iraq and the war on terror.

Not blindly following the failed leadership of George Bush is doing our troops a favor, not a disservice. What really gives aid and comfort to our enemy is knowing that the Administration is without competence, a real plan for a victory in the region, or the ability to persuade allies to meaningfully contribute. Congressman Dan Boren, who is a pro-defense Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, ought to be saluted for his constant efforts to equip our troops, and modernize our defenses. When he points out that the lives of our troops are not just poker chips to be thrown in the pot in an attempt to bluff out a bad hand, Dan Boren ought to receive the praise of this newspaper and its readers, not unwarranted and ill-informed criticism.

Even worse than the editorial was the cartoon of February 12, showing Democrats putting up a flag of surrender. What a horrible distortion of the truth, when Democrats have voted for hundreds of billions in defense spending, backed the war in Afghanistan and the hunting down of Osama bin Laden. Democrats have indeed pointed out that the Iraq war has been poorly conceived and led by this White House, but that is our patriotic duty as the “watchdog” opposition. To suggest that Democrats favor anything but victory in the war on terror however is McCarthyism, and tears at the very fabric of our political system.

All Americans want victory – but how we can best achieve that victory is a proper topic for debate in our system of government. That type of debate has always occurred in past conflicts. It speaks to the very reason we have the best system of government ever devised. But a republic merits honest discussion, not bumper sticker politics.

Democrats, Oklahomans, and Americans deserve better than this level of discourse from your editorial page. Shame at what your editorials have insinuated against your fellow Americans should be your constant companion as the debate unfolds.


Ben Odom
ODP Media Release

Pryor: Cargill Peddles Reform Pill, But Will He Take It?

Oklahoma City, OK- Feb. 21, 2007 - Republican House Speaker Lance Cargill is peddling a House Bill on Ethics and Lobbying Reform. But is the Speaker willing to take his own medicine?
Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Lisa Pryor said today it's interesting that the politician many people believe did the most skirting of the ethics rules in the last cycle has suddenly become the chief reformer. She challenged the Harrah Republican to come clean.

"If Lance Cargill is suddenly the champion of transparency in government, he should make the names of his 100 Ideas Initiative financial supporters public," Pryor said. "It looks like the fox wants to close the gate now that he is in the henhouse. If Lance Cargill wants to reform the way donations are made and lobbying is done at the State Capitol Building, he should lead by example."

She said voters should question why Cargill raised and spent so much money for a House race he won with ease. Pryor also said that until lobbyists at the Capitol are not strong-armed to donate to Republican leadership PACS just to get legislation heard, the whole bill is hollow pandering.

Pryor said Oklahoma House Democrats tomorrow are expected to offer amendments to the House Bill which will offer will solutions to open government.

Feb. 21, 2007
Oklahoma Democratic Party
Jason McCarty, Communications Director
Online Activists Push Course Change in Iraq

(Chair's Note: This story from the Christian Science Monitor was forwarded to me by one of our OK Blue Notes readers and online activists. It's worth reading and considering how bloggers may change politics in America and in Oklahoma.)

States Begin Criticizing Iraq Policy, Too

Spurred by online activists, five state legislatures moved last week to oppose Bush's war strategy.

By Cristian Lupsa

The Vermont legislature wants Congress to bring American troops home from Iraq. The Iowa Senate is on record against President Bush's plan to send more troops into combat there. Democratic legislators in Maine sent a letter to their congressional delegation asking them to vote against any kind of escalation of the war. Even the Boston City Council weighed in to ask for a withdrawal of troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan.

These are among some two dozen resolutions criticizing the Iraq war and the president's strategy for a troop "surge." Although state and local pronouncements on foreign policy carry little weight – even less than the nonbinding resolution that cleared the US House of Representatives Friday – they illustrate the war's unpopularity among elected officials at all levels. They also show how activists are using the Internet to tap that discontent.

The current push at the state level was spurred largely by a mid-January initiative by liberal advocacy groups, including the Progressive States Network and, with support from US Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts. Launched as Congress wrangled over whether to debate Mr. Bush's new Iraq strategy, the online campaign urged war critics to bombard their local as well as national elected representatives with calls for action.

"The Internet is making the 50-state campaigns easier and cheaper," says Christopher Cooper, a political scientist at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. "This has led to an increasing nationalization of state politics."

Nearly half the states weigh war criticism

More than 20 states are working on resolutions or letters that oppose the "surge" plan or ask for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

In Vermont, the resolution approved by both chambers last week calls on the "president and Congress to commence immediately the orderly withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq." State Rep. Michael Fisher, the Democrat who introduced the measure for the second consecutive year, said the language of the resolution debated in Washington was not strong enough.

"I felt Vermonters wanted a stronger message than 'Don't escalate,' " he says. Mr. Fisher says he doesn't know what the impact of the resolution will be, but hopes that state lawmakers around the country will recognize the Iraq war as a states' issue, because it drains funding for local projects, adds to the burden on taxpayers, and puts a strain on the National Guard.

"This act might create a little ripple, or it might be part of a larger wave," Fisher says.

The current campaign won't relent until it stops any escalation of the war, says Joel Barkin, executive director of the Progressive States Network. "States are the ones that ultimately have to deal with the repercussions."

Aside from Vermont, resolutions passed last week in the California and Iowa senates, while state lawmakers in Maine and Maryland opted to send letters voicing opposition to the troop buildup to their congressional delegates. US Rep. Tom Allen (D) of Maine praised his state's legislators for listening to their constituents, while Maine's Republican lawmakers said they were pleased their Democratic colleagues didn't take the issue to the floor.

"State legislatures are the representative bodies that are closest to the people, and they have been hearing from constituents who are frustrated with the war," says Aubrey Jewett, a political scientist at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, in an e-mail. "As more state legislatures take up resolutions on Iraq, it will add to the mounting pressure for the president and Congress to change strategies."

Votes and debates in state legislatures break along party lines, with Republicans saying lawmakers should not waste energy on actions that carry little weight. They also contend that these types of resolutions send the wrong message to US troops. But their clout has waned since last fall's elections, when the GOP lost majorities in five state legislatures. They now control 15 legislatures to the Democrats' 23.

While the politics remain contentious, the technological take-away is simpler: Online activism is pushing national issues to the states.

"The Internet helps decentralize political activism," says John Horrigan of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. "You no longer have to organize a protest in Washington, D.C." to get your point across.

Online, activists gain more visibility

The growth in Internet-based grass-roots groups doesn't mean more activists are out there, but it does mean people have found a faster way to reach large number of supporters, Mr. Horrigan says. So far, liberal Democrats have the edge. A Pew study has shown them to be the most likely online activists. "At least [for] now, the Internet is a space where Democrats are slightly busier with online tools," he adds.

In the case of the Iraq resolutions in the states, activism helped give a national debate some local flavor, Mr. Barkin says. The aim remains to make Washington pay attention, but the means of doing so are changing.

"You put in 500 calls to a [legislator in Washington] and you will send a message," says Barkin. "But you put 500 calls to a state legislator and it shakes the whole building."

Progressive Revival

Elaine Dodd, former Tulsa County Democratic Party Chair, sent a reminder today of the Just Progress Progressive Revival set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Fellowship Congregationa Churs, 25th and Harvard in Tulsa. The retreat will be preceded by a memorial service for activist Keith Smith at 1 p.m. For more information about Just Progress visit their website at

ODP Media Release

Republicans Ignore Consequences of Escalation of Iraq War

Voting Against Bipartisan Resolutions

Recently, Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe, along with Representatives Mary Fallin, Frank Lucas, John Sullivan and Tom Cole made it clear that they support more of the same failed policies in Iraq by voting against resolutions expressing disapproval with President Bush's plan to escalate the war. While a bipartisan majority in the House and Senate, including Democratic Congressman Dan Boren, supported the resolutions, the Oklahoma Republicans joined a small group who voted in favor of the President's misguided plan to escalate the war in Iraq. Over 70 percent of Americans disagree with the president's plan to add an additional 21,500 troops to police a civil war in Iraq. Despite this, Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe, along with Representatives Marry Fallin, Frank Lucas, John Sullivan and Tom Cole voted to protect the President instead of standing with Americans who disapprove of the President's plan.

By voting against the resolutions these Oklahoma Republicans have opted to ignore the lessons of history, the advice of military experts and the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Additionally, a recent report shows that troops are facing equipment shortages with a lack of armored vehicles, weapons and other equipment. These shortages continue to hamper efforts in Iraq and will likely be made worse by the President's troop surge plan.

"This past week, our representatives in Congress had an opportunity to represent the interests of Oklahoma by voting with the American people and against the President's troop surge plan," said State Party Chairman Lisa Pryor. "Instead, they chose to back President Bush, placing political party allegiance over the will of the people and the safety of our troops.

"Our troops continue to be stretched thin and are still lacking much needed equipment. Oklahomans and our brave men and women deserve a new strategy, and a new direction not more obstruction by Republicans like Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe and Representatives Mary Fallin, Frank Lucas, John Sullivan and Tom Cole who are clinging to a failed stay the course strategy. The President's plan to continue to escalate the war in Iraq and bogging down our troops in the middle of a civil war is unacceptable. Our delegation of Oklahomans should join Congressman Boren and other Democrats in calling for a forward looking plan which calls for a political solution and gets our brave men and women out of the crossfire of an Iraqi civil war."

Oklahoma City, OK- Feb. 20, 2007

Oklahoma Democratic Party

Jason McCarty, Communications Director