Just wanted to say a quick hello to everyone from the Heifer International Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas. Thus far it is has been a wonderful, life changing experience but I’ll have to say more later. What I will say now is that, yes, things look pretty bleak in the world now when it comes to hunger and ecological issues, but there is hope IF we act in response to these crisies.


Leaving for Arkansas


Just wanted to let regular readers know that I’ll be gone this coming week in Arkansas. I’ll be at the Heifer International Ranch as an adult sponsor for a church youth group at a friend’s church. It is doubtful that I’ll be checking email while gone, so if you need to get in touch with me (and it is urgent), please call my cell phone.



Here are some pictures I took at Saturday’s OKC Pride festival (the festival also runs today, along with the parade).

I was there both as a candidate, but also working as a pedicab driver. I really enjoyed being there, mostly because I (as a hopeless romantic… and I should add for anyone wondering, a heterosexual) am so inspired to see how hard the LGBT community has to fight for their right to love. I also just enjoy the vibe of the community (very freeing) and the friendly folks there.

Also the musicians in the 2nd picture are of Betsie and the Edge (Garth Brooks sister), who had kind of bluesy kind of sound. (I also really digged the band Simple Tree that played earlier in the day)



Buffalo Mennonite Church Pastor’s Blog: MennoFest and “Invisible Children”

This sounds like a really good thing. (especially since one of my favorite musicians is going to be performing there, Michael Blair (also of Madison Greene).



I got this by email today from the Raise Oklahoma campaign:

Thank you for all of your help!

We were one vote short….

on a procedural vote for minimum wage. We lost 46 to 45. Ten members were absent for the vote. The following members were against our cause: Adkins, Armes, Balkman, Banz, Benge, Billy, Bingman, Blackwell, Calvey, Cargill, Case, Coody, Cooksey, Cox, Dank, Denney, DePue, DeWitt, Duncan, Hickman, Ingmire, Jackson, Jett, Johnson, Jones, Liotta, Martin, Miller, K., Morgan F., Perry, Peters, Peterson, P., Peterson, R., Piatt, Richardson, Roggow, Smaligo, Steele, Sullivan, Thompson, Tibbs, Trebilcock, Winchester, Wright, Young and Mr. Speaker Hiett.

Thank you to each of your who worked so hard to make this happen. To our elected officials who voted in favor of raising the minimum wage we say “thank you for your courage and concern for working Oklahomans.”

We have come a long way in our fight for an increase in the minimum wage. One vote short is an amazing change. Three Republicans voted with us and that is thanks to your calls and emails. The tide can be changed if we keep up our efforts.

Together we WILL make a difference in Oklahoma. I hope that you will join with me in this effort. We get closer each day and we must not stop until we have achieved a victory for the working families who for too long have gone without a voice in the political process.


Campaign Events


My next campaign event will likely be this weekend’s OKC Pride celebration, where hopefully the Greens will have some kind of presence.

But as for today’s campaign activities, I was at the Raise Oklahoma Rally with a hundred or so other concerned Oklahomans.

I’ll post some pictures later, but the rally itself was very good with lots of speakers who argued why Oklahoma needs to raise the minimum wage beyond the federal level (one thing that got me was when we speaker said that a full-time minimum wage worker will only make $10,712 per year before taxes!)

After the rally most of us then went inside to talk to our legislators about the need to raise the minimum wage (I also dropped by Governor Henry’s office to leave him a note, asking him to amend the call for the special session to discuss raising the minimum wage).

Here are few quotes from the speeches (sentences below that are not in quotation marks are approximate paraphrases)…

From speaker from Mainstream Baptists of Oklahoma –

Our minimum wage laws say what we believe about “the value of working people in the eyes of God.”

“There will be a payday someday… what goes around comes around” (speaking of those who deny justice to the poor)

“Why must Oklahoma be an economic dustbowl for working people?”

From Rabbi Cohen –

Raising the minimum wage is one thing we can do for the “stranger in our midst”

From Shirley Cox, Director of Social Action for Catholic Charities (and my Immigration law prof from OCU)-

$10,712 = minimum wage full-time annual income. Most of can’t even make our mortgage payments with this.

60% of min. wage earners are women and the vast majority are adults over age 20.

From the Oklahoma Conference of Churches –

Arkansas Methodists just got through a inimum wage increase in their state. Surely we can do the same.

From a spokesperson from the Raise Oklahoma Campaign –

spoke about how poverty affects crime and rescividism



Seekingtruthnow: Twisted Oak Fort

My brother Dan has some really neat pictures of the tree fort that he has finished renovating for our much younger brothers (Ben & Dave who are both 6).

Dan’s project has really sparked my imagination for a project of my own. I’m thinking about building a small “cabin” for sorts, out at my grandparent’s old farm (near the old community of Pine Ridge, Oklahoma), either a stand-alone structure similiar to Dan’s tree fort (if I did this, it would be a small room built on telephone poles, that would be big enough for a cot and a table for short retreats) or possibly taking a section of one of my grandpa’s old barns and using it as the shell for a small cabin).

Of course the big limiting factors are money and time, but maybe if I start small I can have a small weekend retreat built by this fall.



Here’s something I sent out by email to campaign supporters, but if any of y’all would like to come to the rally it would be fantastic…

Hello folks,

I’m going to be attending the Raise Oklahoma rally at the Oklahoma State capitol tomorrow morning and would like to invite you to join me. The cause of raising Oklahoma’s minimum wage is a very important issue and I think it would be very good for Greens to be present at this rally to lend our support. (info on the rally is pasted in below)

I’ll also have some home-made campaign stickers that you’re welcome to wear. If you are coming and want to meet up, give me a call on my cell phone at 405-476-5620. (Or if you really want to have fun and ride to the rally by bicycle give me a call and maybe we can meet up and ride together.)

Yours for the cause of a true living wage,


J. M. Branum
Independent/Green Party member for House Dis. #99

RAISE Oklahoma


We The People Rally
At the capitol
Monday June 19, 2006
10:00 AM
South Capitol Steps

We have a last chance to help

pass a

Minimum Wage Bill

Representative Richard Morrissette D-92 is introducting minimum wage bill HB-1224

Please come and Bring Your Friends

RAISE Oklahoma
2415 N. Hudson
Oklahoma City, OK 73103



These pictures were taken on my first day riding (Wednesday of last week)…

(That first picture can be my “before” picture, after I hopefully will lose lots of weight with this job 😉

Thus far pedi-cabbing has gone very well. My income has been quite a bit better than I did in Austin (so far my top night has been $134, and my low night was $56, but lately it seems like if I ride hard I’m averaging around $100), and the passengers are in many ways nicer.

I do want pretty badly to get my own pedicab. The company I rent from (Brickshaw Pedicabs are great folks, but it would be really nice to have my own cab (and to make higher profits through ad sales and whatnot). I’ve looked at several options, but thus far the good cabs cost $4,000+. I have seen some really cheap deals on Ebay, but most of those are one-speed unassembled pedicabs from overseas that I bet are super-heavy.

Another option is building my own pedicab, but that looks to be beyond my abilities right now (there are some good blueprints online at the ITDP.org’s website that are used for a program in India).

So I guess for now I’ll keep renting. I think thought that I will switch to a monthly lease (around $300 or so a month) in July though which at least will guarantee me a cab every night.

By the way, if you are in the OKC area and would be interested in being a pedicab driver, shoot me an email (jmb at jmbzine dot com) and I give you info on what you need to do. It is definitely a lot of fun and great way to make money in an environmentally-friendly way.



CNN: Wal-Mart restroom birth leads to prison — Mother who abandoned newborn convicted of murder

MACON, Georgia (AP) — A 27-year-old woman was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for leaving her newborn daughter in a Wal-Mart restroom last year.

Amy Shorter covered her face after the verdict was read Wednesday, and several relatives cried as they left the courtroom. They declined to comment.

The jury found Shorter guilty of felony murder for causing the baby’s death while committing first-degree cruelty to children. . .

This story is staggering to me on two grounds.

First, if this woman had killed her baby inside her womb (or while the baby was still partially inside of her) she would be guilty of no crime whatsoever, yet minutes later she is a murderer in the eyes of the law for abandoning that same baby.

Does this make any sense at all? I really don’t see how it does.

Secondly, does it make any sense that this woman was sentenced to life in prison for this crime? I don’t see how it does. I think there should be some sort of consequences for what she did, but life in prison? That just seems excessive, particularly given the fact this mother seemed to have committed this crime out of panic rather than volition.

Life in prison is an appropriate punishment for murderers who are likely to reoffend, but for crimes of passion and panic, the statistics say that offenders are unlikely to ever commit the crime ever again, and if this is the case then what purpose is there in throwing away a human life to life behind bars? One life has already been needlessly cast aside, I don’t see what good there is throwing away another life.