2008
07.30

Terra Extraneus: The State of Law Blogging in Oklahoma, 2008: Part Two – a very kind review of this blog, and 5 other blawgs

One thing that surprises me is that there are so few blawgs in Oklahoma. If any lawyers are reading this, I can say that I highly recommend blogging. First, and foremost it is so much fun to be able to speak your mind and actually be heard.

Secondly, it is a pretty good way to drum up business. While most lawyers will be uncomfortable sharing as much of their personal lives online as I do, I’ve found that many of my clients enjoy getting to know me online before they hire me, and I have had a few clients who later have told me that it was my blog that convinced them to hire me, and not my more stuffy law firm website.

2008
07.27


PLAY VIDEO: Peace Activists Rally In Support Of Robin Long
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Robin Long
2008
07.22

Free Robin Long!

Courage to Resist: Support Robin Long, Iraq war resister deported from Canada

Support Robin Long!

On July 15, 2008 U.S. Army PFC Robin Long became the first war resister
since the Vietnam War forced to leave Canada and turned over to the U.S.
military. He has been returned to his last unit at Fort Carson, Colorado.
His military pre-trial confinement has been outsourced to the local county
jail. He will likely be court martialed for AWOL, desertion, and possibly
speech-related violations of military discipline. Support Robin Long and all
troops with the courage to resist!

1. Donate to Robin’s legal expenses
2. Send Robin letters of support
3. Send Robin commissary money
4. Send Robin a book
5. Sign the public statement of support – coming soon! . . .

I am very honored and excited to be fighting on behalf of Robin as his civilian attorney, but I won’t be alone in this fight. Already many folks have been working (both in Canada and the US) on Robin’s behalf.

Please consider doing what you can to support this work (see the link above to Courage to Resist for more information on what you can do to help).

2008
07.21

NewsOK: The Brent Rinehart comic book

CNN: Brent Rinehart defends homophobic campaign comic book (video)

Brent Rinehart, Sally Kern, and our other homophobic elected officials who are making such asses of themselves with their ignorant rantings about the “homosexual agenda” are really doing us all a favor.

First and foremost, they remind us that there are still very hateful people out there. Kern and Rinehart aren’t inflicting actual violence on people, but folks who share their sentiments are (see see this post from Sinister). It sucks, but we all need to be aware of the very real danger posed by violent bigots, and Kern & Rinehart help us to not forget.

Secondly, Sally Kern and Brent Rinehart remind us of the absolute absurdity of the idea of discriminating against LGBT folks. Certainly Kern and Rinehart make particularly absurd parodies of their own viewpoints, but these absurd parodies remind us of why the less offensive and in-your-face versions of homophobia are still pretty messed up.

So, Brent Rinehart, keep up the good work! The more folks like you, and Sally, and Fred Phelps open your mouths, the more folks come to believe in the cause of equality. (as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, it was seeing Fred Pheps that made me, a former homophobe, became a straight ally of the “homosexual agenda” for equality)

2008
07.17

McKinney ‘08

I got this forwarded to me via email. If I can find the original op-ed, I’ll link to it here, but for now here’s the text of it. And while I can’t afford a $1000 donation like Ted Glick made, he has inspired me to make a (much smaller) donation to the McKinney campaign.

Future Hope column, July 14, 2008

The Wheel Turns

By Ted Glick

Several times on Saturday, July 12th, the day Cynthia McKinney became the Green Party’s 2008 Presidential candidate, I found myself thinking: I wonder how this compares to the national nominating conventions of the third parties that immediately preceded the Republican Party of the 19th Century.

The Republican Party was once a third party. Abraham Lincoln won office in 1860 with less than 40% of the popular vote, doing so because the Republicans were in competition with the major parties of that time, the Democrats and the Whigs.

But before the Republicans were formed in the mid-1850’s other smaller parties—the American and Free Soil parties—had plowed the ground and planted the seeds that led to the emergence of the Republicans, Lincoln’s election, the Civil War, the abolition of slavery and, for an historically brief period of time, Reconstruction governments in the South that enacted progressive legislation to benefit both poor blacks and poor whites.

I’m sure those who attended the Free Soil conventions had their doubts. How could they ever overcome the slave owners and the moneyed interests, they must have wondered. How could this relatively rag tag political movement ever become the force needed to make serious change?

It’s hard to believe, sometimes, many times, that we really can change the world. As Ingrid Betancourt once said, one of our greatest obstacles is our skepticism. But then moments happen—historical moments—like Saturday at the Palmer House in Chicago, that give us renewed hope and energy.

It was historic that an African American woman, a six-times-elected former Congressperson from Georgia, and a Puerto Rican woman, a leader of the youth-based Hip Hop movement, were chosen as the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates of a party that will be on the ballot in 30-40 or more states, enough states to mathematically win the Presidency.

It was historic for the Green Party that it made this decision.

But most important of all, it was historic that a new, multi-racial, grassroots movement was born, or re-born, in Chicago. Though predominantly white, it is a movement with strong women of color playing central leadership roles and with an anti-racist consciousness on the part of many of its white local, state and national leaders. It is a multi-issue movement making the connections between racism, sexism, heterosexism, climate change, war, poverty, economic injustice, immigrant rights and other issues. And it is by no means solely electoral. One well-attended workshop discussed the plans of No War, No Warming for nonviolent direct action at the Republican Convention and a “no more stolen elections” campaign. This campaign will gather pledges of people prepared to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience if the fall of 2008 sees the kind of voter suppression and election machine chicanery that we saw in 2000 and 2004.

The timing for the McKinney nomination was fortuitous, happening just as mainstream news stories and commentators are reporting on and writing about Barack Obama’s political right turn, his abandonment or softening of a number of liberal and progressive positions.

Cynthia McKinney’s acceptance speech said little about Obama. Instead she focused on the imperative need for the values-based Green Party and its values-based political platform, one she believed was in tune with the values and viewpoints of a majority of the American people. She skillfully and eloquently wove together a compelling call for action on a range of issues. She was interrupted by applause many times, as was a similar, if different, speech by the VP candidate Rosa Clemente.

McKinney made clear what to her would be a significant victory—5% of the vote, which she saw as establishing the Green Party as a legitimate political player on the national scene. Though visionary and inspirational, Cynthia McKinney had her feet planted firmly on the ground.

She also knew, based on personal experience, that her campaign and her candidacy would experience multiple dishonest attempts to discredit it and direct attacks. The day after her nomination she educated Green Party delegates about the years of public attacks on Martin Luther King, Jr. prior to his assassination as he went beyond civil rights to give leadership against the Vietnam War and for human rights and economic justice.

For the Green Party, this convention was like a pool of cool, clear water found by a group of people hiking across a hot, unforgiving desert.

The last four years have been very rough. It has been hard enough that the Green Party, like the rest of us, has been suffering under four additional years of Bush/Cheney and two years of a Democrat-controlled Congress that has allowed the Iraq war to continue and Bush to avoid impeachment, among other outrages. But for the Green Party, its also been the divisiveness generated by the 2004 contest between Ralph Nader and David Cobb for the GP’s support.
For some, a small but loud minority, of 2004 Nader supporters, his loss at the 2004 convention was a reason for repeated and nasty sectarian attacks on Cobb and a number of those who supported him.

Almost none, if any, of those sectarian Nader supporters were present in Chicago, although there were definitely Nader supporters present. But Nader’s decision to run as an independent and NOT to contest for the Green Party’s endorsement this time led to a much more unified and positive political process. 300-350 delegates and several hundred others from almost 40 states came together hoping for the best and, from all indications, left feeling very inspired. They returned home ready to roll up their sleeves and do the essential follow-up to make this new political movement’s first major campaign—the McKinney/Clemente campaign—as successful as possible.

It is to be hoped that as the news about Chicago spreads, a growing number of people will get involved. Most immediately, money is urgently needed, and people are needed to be part of petition campaigns this summer, right now, to get the Green Party on the ballot in a number of states.

The emergence of the McKinney/Clemente campaign raises a number of questions:

1) For those tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people who are or have been members or supporters of progressive third parties, will you come forward now when something has emerged which is a qualitative step forward and which has tremendous upside potential?

2) For those people who fully understand that the Democratic Party is in no way part of the solution, will you continue to criticize or do nothing to support the Green Party and the McKinney/Clemente campaign even after the Green Party has proven its staying power and has birthed a clearly significant and needed, hopeful political alliance?

3) And finally, how much longer can our threatened ecosystem and our suffering peoples wait before a critical mass of independent progressives, radicals and revolutionaries join forces in a strategic, mass-based alternative whose presence and successes can move the country forward in a way that nothing else can?

As for myself, I’ve begun to respond to his historic development. Sunday morning I did something that I’ve never done before for any candidate. I made a $1,000 donation to the Green Party. More accurately, a put a $1,000 debt on my credit card. I did so as a way of literally putting my money where my mouth and my pen are.

One more question: what will those reading this column do? What will you do?

For more information and to contribute to the McKinney/Clemente campaign go to www.runcynthiarun.org. To connect with the Green Party go to www.gp.org.

Ted Glick has been a Green Party member and activist since 2000. For the last four years his primary work has been focused on the climate crisis. He can be reached at indpol@igc.org or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.

2008
07.17

Slate.com: Night of the Living Meds — The U.S. military’s sleep-reduction program

What was interesting to me about this story is to see this in reverse. The studies mentioned here discuss how to combat problems from sleep deprivation. So why does the military engage in intentional sleep deprivation during Basic combat training? Soldiers often receive an average of 3-4 hours of sleep per night, for weeks at a time (and given the psychological trauma that many are dealing, the recruits can’t even sleep during those times). Surely this isn’t to improve performance (since the Army’s own studies show the opposite)? I can’t help but think that they are instead engaging in the favorite practice of cults, to deprive recruits of sleep to break down their will.

2008
07.17

EveryDayCitizen.com: Put one back in the Mennonite column

So, here’s a typical and awesome story. I’ve met a whole bunch of people with a progression similar to this. There were at least a few other people with the same basic story there tonight; I also met a bunch of these guys on my visit to Ozark Christian College; and I’ve met scattered others.

“Ted” is about 23 (I think), really tall, blond, with a smile that never leaves his face. He grew up in a conservative evangelical family, going to a small country church in South Dakota.

His church had thread of historical connection to the Mennonites. He remembers in high school talking to a Mennonite pastor who served briefly at his church about pacifism.

Ted couldn’t understand how the guy could oppose just wars of liberation or self-defense (like, I suppose, Iraq—this would have been the early days of the war). The pastor told him, “I used to feel the same way as you. Just read the Word of God and see what it has to say.”

Ted didn’t take him up on that challenge right away. . .

From there according to this blog post, Ted put this challenge away until he was older, when in college he encountered Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz, which made him decide to take the old Mennonite Pastor’s challenge seriously. (and a lot happens after that)

My own journey was different in some ways, but in many ways is similar. And I know many others that have similar stories, of coming from the majority American evangelical* protestant understanding of war, to one that I would argue is more rooted in what Jesus taught.

I guess I bring all this up to say that I think that progressives shouldn’t write off reaching out to Evangelicals. Some already are believers in non-violence (i.e. Evangelicals for Social Action are a prime example), but many others can be persuaded if you are willing to speak their language and relate to them using the Bible.

* The words “evangelical” and “fundamentalist” are often conflated and confused in the popular media, but I’m using the term Evangelical very precisely, to refer to Protestant Christians who place a high emphasis on scripture, who believe that accepting Jesus as one’s savior is essential to salvation, and that the Christian journey is one that is primarily about nurturing and growing in a spiritual relationship with Jesus. I would say too that Evangelicals tend to place a great deal of emphasis on the role of the laity in the church, and tend to see their ministers not as priests but rather as fellow Christians equipped and called for special works.

Fundamentalists on the other hand (the Christian kind) are a sub-set of Evangelicals, who have very rigid and dogmatic views on scripture, namely that there is one right way to interpret it, and that right way (with a few obvious to them exceptions) is the literal method. Most Evangelicals are not Fundamentalists.

I myself used to be an Evangelical. I still share lots of common ground with them, but I do have a more universalist theology and am more of an old school Anabaptist. I also have lots of common ground with the Emergent church movement, particularly on its emphasis on dialogue instead of proselytizing.

2008
07.16

CourageToResist: Robin Long deported from Canada

Courage to Resist is paying me to work Robin’s civilian defense counsel in any military proceedings he may face, so if you can spare the funds, please consider making a tax deductive donation to CTR.

2008
07.13

This is an update to an earlier post

I discovered two very troubling things on the websites of Windsor Hills Baptist church, besides the youth gun giveaway.

1. Their support of racist policies in Israel – I am doubly troubled because Windsor Hills buys into the nutty pro-Israel theology that backs the apartheid of the modern nation of Israel. The church even has a special website (yedidmoofisrael.com) to promote this wacked out theology), that openly backs the oppression and displacement of the Palestinian people and the protection of the Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank.

2. A video from their 2007 youth conference that includes extreme misogeny, blasphemy, and of course the use of automatic firearms – You can watch the video here. It is extremely troubling, but if you want to skip to the most disturbing parts, here are my notes…

Windsor Hills blasphemy
photo from video posted at whbcyouthconference.org

1:00 – makes horribly blasphemous statements about the so-called “Christian” nature of the USA, which teaches the idolatrous idea that being patriotic is the same as being godly
7:03 – an adult demonstrates the use of a fully automatic machine gun (only legal to own with a special registration in the US), then a young boy is allowed to shoot the same weapon
10:50 – besides the old white guys doing a goofy dance, note the troubling image of the statute of liberty on the stage — why does a patriotic symbol belong in a church?

14:58 – extreme misogenistic statements, also note the US flags around the podium

22:50 – The kids are sent out to “save” the folks who live in a lower income apartment complex. The church proudly claims that they had “fifteen salivations, dozens of prospects”

24:10 – more sexist teachings where the young men are encouraged to be ministers (but the girls are absent)

25:45 – lots of crap about the flag that again claims that the flag represents America’s “Christian” heritage

Maybe I’m taking this all too seriously, but ideas matter. I want to make sure that anyone google searches to find out about this youth conference knows there is another side to all of this. The teachings of Jesus are not nationalistic, and they are not militaristic or sexist, unlike the crap that Windsor Hills Baptist Church churns out.

2008
07.13

This sounds too much like a spoof on the gun giveaway in Bowling for Columbine, but no it is for real.

windsorhillsyouthconferenceshooter

photo from video posted at whbcyouthconference.org

KOCO (also posted on CNN): Church Cancels Teen Gun Giveaway

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma church canceled a controversial gun giveaway for teenagers at a weekend youth conference.

Windsor Hills Baptist had planned to give away a semiautomatic assault rifle until one of the event’s organizers was unable to attend.

The church’s youth pastor, Bob Ross, said it’s a way of trying to encourage young people to attend the event. The church expected hundreds of teenagers from as far away as Canada. . . .

Raw Story: Church lures teenagers with assault rifle

Man alive!

I’m not anti-gun persay (I support the right of responsible gun ownership), but this is just nuts on so many levels. I want to begin though by saying that I could see potentially that shooting sports might be an appropriate activity at a youth camp or organization. I was a boy scout during most of teen years, and shooting sports were certainly one of our more enjoyable activities. I earned the shotgun shooting merit badge (which included being able to shoot a set number of clay pidgeons) and competed in a .22 rifle contest at scout camp. I had a blast, but also learned very much to respect weapons.

For a church though, boy, that’s a bit more complicated. We can’t deny that weapons are a potent symbol for youth today. And an AR-15?! Let’s not kid ourselves here. An AR-15 is the civilian variant of the M-16 used by the US military, and unless I’m mistaken would not be the best choice to use as a hunting rifle. (and let’s not even talk about the insanity of the church spending $800 for a prize like this when there are so many needy, right there in their own neighborhood on NW 23rd)

It seems to me that Windsor Hills Baptist Church is literally pimping itself out, by playing up to a popular media/youth culture that glamorizes gun violence and particularly big flashy guns. Their youth pastor pretty much said as much, when he said the gun giveaway was an attempt to lure youth to come to the conference from as far away as Canada.

I have to wonder though what this “sale gimmic” for the gospel has to do with the real message of Jesus. Jesus was about non-violence and love first and foremost, so I can’t imagine that he would be down with glamorizing gun violence to get out his message. Or for that matter, where is his message in all of this? I checked out the Windsor Hills BC’s website and also the website of the Windsor Hill BC youth conference (they have taken off the info about the gun giveaway), and there is no mention that I can see about caring for the sick, feeding the poor, or bringing justice to the oppressed. I see nothing about non-violence or peace. In fact, I don’t think Jesus’ message is taught at all at the Windsor Hills Baptist Church. The church claims that they will have “red hot preaching” at this youth conference and a “soulwinning blitz” but what about loving people? What about reaching out to those who feel they have no place in God’s Kingdom?

And what does a giveaway of the US military’s rifle of choice at a church, say about Jesus’ message of peace? It seems like a complete contradiction to me, and makes about as much sense as meeting for drinks after attending an AA meeting. (interestingly enough, the pastor emeritus of the church, who according to KOCO was behind the gun giveaway, was a former Green Beret… hmmm?)

On another strange note, it is striking to me that this gun giveaway was going to happen on the week after a very successful Oklahoma City Peace Camp for high school youth (hosted by the Church of the Open Arms and the Oklahoma Peace Education institute).

What an incredible contrast?

Again I am completely mystified about what has happened to much of mass Christianity in Oklahoma. There are some wonderful exceptions, but most Christians in OKC make me almost ashamed to call myself a “Christian” when I see how the term is used and abused. I am offended to see the Christian faith hijacked by folks who aren’t even bothering seek to grappled with what JESUS ACTUALLY SAID.

Explain to me how you can turn the other cheek and love your enemy, while you blow their brains out, and I’ll try to accept the idea of a fighting Christian. Otherwise, I think it is an oxymoron. The terms “pro-war christian” and “anti-war Christian” are nonsensical. A “pro-war christian” is an oxymoron, and an “anti-war christian” is redundant.

I know I’m being judgmental tonight (committing the sin, I attack others for committing), so please understand I’m probably throwing around too much hyperbole tonight, but when you see crap like this gun giveaway, you can’t help but think that the mass form of Christianity today has nothing to do with what Jesus taught.

Or to quote Gandhi, “”I do not like your Christians..they are so unlike your Christ.”