2006
10.31

Thanks to my friend Lance for sending me this. It’s pretty stirring. (also be sure to check out this Youtube rendition of “Solidarity Forever” sung by Pete Seeger and the Weavers)

2006
10.30

 

JMBranum.com (my campaign website): Invitation to the Election night watch party

2006
10.28

Election thoughts

 

My life has been busy lately with a lot of things that I think are far more important than the joke that is Oklahoma electoral politics, nevertheless, I find it hard to ignore the mess completely, so here are my recommendations for who to vote for in the upcoming elections…

Governor – LEAVE IT BLANK. Istook & Henry are both tools of the rich and powerful. Istook of course is aligned with the neocons, while Henry is a liar when it comes to the death penalty. I don’t see any reason to vote for either of them. I understand the logic of the “lesser of two evils,” but in this case I see no positive reason to vote for the Democrat. Brad Henry is a horrible governor, worse even than his predecessor Frank Keating (who ranked among the worst in our state’s history).

The only good vote for Governor is a blank vote in my eyes.

Lt. Governor – There are some compelling arguments (mostly put out by OKIES) about the wisdom of voting independent, but I’m not a big of Independent E.Z. Million, seems to have no platform except changing where the OU-Texas game is played. (and not that it is that big a deal, but who in their right mind would want to change one of the biggest rivalries in college football? Playing it in Dallas with a 50/50 split in the stands makes for a great game.)

With regards to Democrat Jari Askins, I’m troubled by the fact that she has so little substance on her website, did not respond to the Project Vote Smart Questionaire, and gave lame and politically slick answers to the League of Women Voters’ Questionaire. Maybe I’ll vote for her, but I need to find out where she stands on the death penalty first (particularly since according to Wikipedia, she once was on the Pardon & Parole Board and is endorsed by the F.O.P. (which usually is not a good sign)

US Congress – I like all of the Democratic party candidates (to varying degrees) except for Dan Boren. I don’t support Boren because he is agressively pro-war and voted for BARF (Bankruptcy Abuse Reform Fiasco). Maybe he is worth voting for, for the sake of the Democratic majority, but that is the only possible reason I can think of why one should vote for him.

Other State races – I’m not a fan of the Republican or Democrat in the state-wide offices (Auditors, AG, etc.). Maybe I’ll be sold on these folks between now and election day, but right now I’m undecided. (And while I like Atty General Edmonson going after corporate polluters, I can’t back him because of his zealous pro-death penalty stance)

State Legislative – In my neighborhood, I’m proud to support Andrew Rice for State Senate and Jim Roth for County Commissioner. And of course I plan to vote for myself for State Representative.

I’ll post thoughts on the state questions later.

2006
10.28

Here are my current top 10 out of the 48 beer reviews I’ve authored at Beeradvocate.com:

#1- New Belguim Abbey Belgian Style Ale (4.7 out of 5 stars)
#2 (tied) – Fredericksburg Brewing Company Admiral’s Amber Ale (4.65)
#2 (tied) – Live Oak HefeWeizen (4.65)
#4 (tied)- Schneider & Sohn Aventinus (4.45)
#4 (tied) – Abita Turbodog (4.45)
#6 – Fredericksburg Brewing Co. Pioneer Porter (4.35)
#7- New Belguim Fat Tire Amber Ale (4.3)
#8 – Bridgeport IPA (4.25)
#9 (tied) Duvel Maredsous 8 (4.2)
#9 (tied) Rogue Ales Mocha Porter (4.2)

A few points are worth noting. I rate the beers based on a combination of how much I enjoy the beer, tempered with how well the beer stacks up against others of the same style and price range, so that is why some beers are ranked much higher than you might expect (Abita Turbodog is ranked super high because it is so, so good for its price range, however if price was no consideration then it probably would probably rank only in the top 20 or so).

Also my reviews are based on the beer I’m drinking on the night of the review. Aventinus often would score close to 5.0, but the particular bottle I drank when I wrote the review wasn’t as incredible as normal which was why it only got a 4.45. I will of course review it again on another night (and i hope it does much better), but objective reviewing requires that I review the beer in front of me.

On another note though, it is interesting to me to see the top 10 beers I had listed back on August 12th. Of the prior top 10, the ones that got bumped were a stout from Bridgeport, a pale ale from Fredericksburg, 2 beers from Spoetzl brewery (makers of Shiner Bock), and one dark beer from Crescent City Brew House in New Orleans. All of them are rather good beers.

2006
10.28

Quote for Today

From the page 5 of the October 11, 2006 edition of the TCC COnnection (PDF download):

What do you consider the most challenging moral issue facing the country? – “Christians not practicing the simplest of values taught in Sunday school, such as walking in love and foregiveness, not judging others, and treating others the way you want to be treated. My nightly prayer has changed from ‘Now I lay me down to sleep…’ to ‘God, please protect me from your followers.'” – Anita Pere, Journalism Major

Speaking of the TCC student newspaper, it looks like there was quite the free speech fight at Tulsa CC back in the 80’s…

TulsaToday.com: Who’s teaching whom at Tulsa Junior College? – by Rebecca L. Martin (As published by the Columbia Journalism Review, September/October 1987)

2006
10.26

 

NewsOK: State’s givers rank 2nd

Typically blistered by rankings on education, per capita income, health and the like, Oklahoma today has new bragging rights:

Our rich people are more generous than the wealthy in 48 states and the District of Columbia. . .

At first this story sounds good, but then read on…

. . . Oklahomans with incomes above $200,000 reported an average of $2.5 million in investment assets and gave away 1.05 percent of that. The range was from a low of 0.8 percent in 1999 to a high of 1.3 percent in 2004.

By comparison, Oklahomans with incomes below $200,000 had an average of $72,337 in investment assets and gave away 1.57 percent of that, ranking ninth nationally.

Although they give more percentage-wise, the nonaffluent were not a focus of the study, said Tim Stone, president and executive director of NewTithing Group.

“We don’t necessarily think they should be focusing overall on giving more,” Stone said. . .

\

What is interesting to me is that they missed the real headline here — LOW AND MIDDLE INCOME FOLKS GIVE MORE OF THEIR MONEY THAN THE RICH DO.

This is no surprise to me, and has always been the way it is (Jesus observed this phenomenon in the story of the Widow’s Mite (told in Mark 12:41-44)), but it still angers me to see the way that the rich are celebrated for their pitiful levels of giving, while the poor are never recognized for their incredible generosity.

I think it is high time that we quit naming buildings after rich people, instead name the buildings after poor folks. Rich people shouldn’t be celebrated for giving out of their abundance, but rather should be EXPECTED to give.

2006
10.23

 

In looking for something else, I stumbled across these op-ed columns I wrote back in 2001 during the aftermath of the 9-11 situation. It is interesting to me, to see what I was right about and what I was wrong about…

The Daily University Star: Stopping the cycle of violence is how America can pass the test

At the time of this writing, America has passed the first few hours after hell paid a visit. Rescue efforts are beginning, airspace is shutdown and the government is in exile in Nebraska. Reality has taken on the horror of a Tom Clancy novel gone wrong.

As we would expect, President Bush spoke to the nation. Most of what he said would be what we would expect of our national leader, but one sentence stuck out for me as being a moment of unintentional brilliance; “The resolve of our great nation is being tested. But make no mistake: We will show the world that we will pass this test.”

I do not know if Bush realized the truth of what he said, but he is right. America is being tested, but I do not share Bush’s confidence. . .

The Daily University Star: Paperwork could save you from the draft

. . . Tragically, I think the United States is gearing up to fight a war we will lose. Afghanistan (with U.S. equipment and training) beat the Soviet Union in the ’80s in a time when the Soviet military was the world’s finest. Today, the situation is even more grim with the ready availability of chemical and biological weapons and bin Laden’s lack of restraint in using the most horrific methods of war possible. . .

What is even more strange to me is to remember how Iraq wasn’t even on the radar screen of the American public in 2001, and now our nation is bogged down in a neverending war of occupation and resistance to that occupation.

2006
10.22

Time to chip in some dinero

 

OKIMC.org: Need funds to keep OKIMC.org alive

There’s lots of good stuff happening at OKIMC.org these days (thanks to the hard work of Rena), but we do need some money to keep this effort moving. If you value independent non-corporate media, please make a donation.

2006
10.22

 

Well I’m back in Oklahoma. My trip to Austin was good but very, very busy. I did get a little bit of time to see old friends and some of my family (at Trudy’s, home of the glorious Mexican Martinis and their tremendous chipotle sauce that I love to get on enchiladas), but mostly was pretty bogged down with the NLG’s Law for the People convention.

As far as what I’ve taken with me from the convention, the biggie is that I got two new hats to wear. I was elected as Regional Vice-President for the Texoma region and was elected to the steering committee of the Military Law Task Force.

I’m really looking forward to both of those positions. The Texoma RVP position will entail some local organizing (to the extent I can, I did tell folks that I’m awfully swamped with military law work), but mostly will involve representing the region on the National Executive Committee at its meetings (2 per year in NYC, 1 per year on the west coast, and 1 at the national convention), which should be fun. As for the MLTF work, that will encompass a lot of things but mostly will be a continuation of some of the work I’m already doing.

(BTW, for those wondering I will be scaling back in some of my other areas of activist work to accomodate these new roles. I’m not yet sure what I’ll be doing, but my thought is I’ll probably move away from much work in electoral politics after the upcoming election is over, and focus more on those areas of activist that relate more directly to the law.)

As for highlights of the convention, here are a few…

* Participating in the TUPOCC meetings in which I learned in a much deeper way the importance of true community organizing through means that empower those you are working with, and shifts the traditional roles of “activist” and “client” to “partner” and partner.”

* Having lots of good conversations with folks about how socialism IS a good way for society to function, and why we shouldn’t give up on dreaming about how the world could be a better place.

* Hearing Roger Toussaint, the courageous head of the NYC transit union who went to prison over the right of workers to strike

* Meeting dozens of amazing folks doing work to protect the rights of immigrants, workers, and GI’s

* Hearing the Venezuelan lawyer speak during the banquet about the solidarity that the NLG shares with the Socialist movement in Venezuela and across all of the Latin America

* Hearing Bill Quigly speak with such hope and joy about the work for justice in New Orleans (despite the crushing blow of racism and classism that has has needlessly left NO vulnerable to future storms and missing so many of its people, mostly poor folks of color)

There’s so much more that I can tell but I guess that is enough for now. I’ll post pictures and more thoughts later on.

2006
10.21

Heroes of OU History

 

NewsOK: OU to give halftime tribute to first black player, Gautt

They will celebrate Prentice Gautt’s legacy tonight in Norman.

In doing so, they also will celebrate the men who thought enough of Gautt to back him 50 years ago. The men who walked into the University of Oklahoma president’s office and empowered Gautt to walk into crimson-clad immortality.

. . . Yet the names and the faces of the black men who stood behind Gautt largely have been forgotten. Frank L. Cox. G.E. Finley. Charles Atkins. Carl E. Barkley. There were others, too. They were medical professionals – doctors, dentists and pharmacists in a group called MeDePhar – and they were the ones who provided a scholarship for Gautt when OU refused.

Such a powerfully moving story, but my favorite part was this section…

Coming back from a freshman game in Tulsa, the team stopped at a restaurant where Gautt was refused service. The owner told him that he could not stay, so Gautt quietly stood up and walked out.

His teammates decided if he wasn’t eating there, neither were they.