Monday, February 28, 2011

Frank Buckles, last American WWI vet, dead at 110


Frank Woodruff Buckles, America's last surviving veteran of World War I, has passed away. He turned 110 on February 1st.

Born on February 1st, 1901, on a farm in Bethany, Missouri, Buckles and his family moved in 1916 to Dewey County, Oklahoma, near the small town of Oakwood. Frank worked at the bank in Oakwood, lived in the hotel and attended high school there. America entered the War in 1917.

During the summer of 1917 and at the age of 16, Frank sought to join the military. He first tried joining the Marine Corps, but was turned down because he wasn't 21 years old. He tried again later, this time saying he was 21, but didn't weigh enough. He then tried the Navy, but they said he was flat-footed, and wouldn't take him.

He then went to Oklahoma City, where he enlisted in the Army on August 14, 1917. He joined the Ambulance Service, which was the fastest way to get to France.

Buckles in 1917


Buckles and his fellow soldiers sailed to Great Britain aboard the HMS Carpathia, famous for rescuing survivors of the Titanic disaster. "While in England, I drove a Ford ambulance, a motorcycle with sidecar, and a Ford car for visiting dignitaries," Buckles told David DeJonge, a photographer and documentarist who became the family spokesman.

He finally made it to France, where he had several different assignments. After the Armistice, he escorted prisoners of war back to Germany. "After two years with the AEF (American Expeditionary Force), I returned home on the USS Pocahontas in January 1920. I was paid $143.90, including a $60 bonus," Buckles told DeJonge.

After the War, he returned to Oklahoma City, where he took shorthand and typewriting at a business school. Using those skills, he got a job in Toronto, Canada, with the White Star Line Steamship Company. This sparked an interest in the steamship industry, and although he had a short stint in banking, he soon returned to shipping.

1940 found him working for the American President Lines in Manila, Philippines. He was there in 1941, when the Japanese occupied the city right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Frank spent the next three and a half years in Japanese prison camps, and wasn't liberated until February 23rd, 1945, when the 11th Airborne Division came in.

Buckles lived in California for a few years after the war, and married his wife Audrey. They moved to West Virginia in 1954, where they then operated a small cattle ranch. They lived in an area which one of Buckles' ancestors originally settled in 1732. Audrey died in 1999. Frank was the Honorary Chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation, which was founded to call on Congress to refurbish the District of Columbia WWI Memorial and rededicate it as a National Memorial. World War I is the only major historical conflict to not have an official national memorial (the D.C. memorial was built by the City, and was to memorialize the 499 DC citizens who died in WWI).

Due to special arrangements made by the White House in March of 2008, Buckles will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Both France and Great Britain have previously made arrangements to send delegates to his funeral.

Frank was the last living, first-hand military memory of the Great War. With him passes an age where men fought using centuries-old tactics, but with modern weapons. World War I was a bloody, brutal conflict that changed how wars are fought, and changed forever the face of Europe. It was the War to End All Wars, but did not accomplish that goal. It wiped out an entire generation of young men, and led to future, greater conflicts.

I saw this quote about Frank, which I thought was very profound: "Today most kids lies about their age in order to buy a pack of cigarettes or a case of beer. Buckles, only 16 at the time, did so in order to enlist in the Army."

We should never forget the men like Frank Buckles, who fought to guard and protect freedom in the West. We should remember the lessons that they learned, and never fail to pass on their memory.

Just two individuals now live who were enlisted during World War I. Royal Navy seaman Claude Choules (who witnessed the surrender of the German Imperial Navy), and Women's Royal Airforce waiter Florence Green are the lone survivors.

[many thanks to David DeJonge; much of the above information was adapted from his website Pershing's Last Patriot, which is about Frank and a planned documentary about his life and story]

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Boren: solving deficit and debt is the main issue


Congressman Dan Boren (D-Muskogee) spoke to a crowd of over 150 at his town hall yesterday in Muskogee, focusing on topics like the budget deficit and national debt.

The atmosphere of the meeting was calmer and more subdued than it was during the summer of 2009, but was still concerned about government spending and intrusion. Boren spoke positively of the Tea Party movement, and the new focus on fixing our nation's fiscal situation.

The congressman began the meeting by running through some quick figures dealing with the debt level and budget deficit. Boren said that, while we need to cut discretionary spending, entitlements like Social Security and Medicare are the big problem. Due to the "sacred cow" nature of entitlements, politicians don't want to take risks and make the needed reforms, but that's what our future depends on, Boren said.

Boren drew applause when he said that he voted to cut funding to Planned Parenthood and the President's "czars".

The congressman had a very relaxed attitude about his political future. He knows that his seat isn't guaranteed, and he said that he's perfectly fine with not being in Washington for a long time - in fact, he doesn't plan on staying in office for a long period of time.

Boren said that while the House will end up cutting nearly $100B from the budget, the Senate likely won't cut much. He predicted a final deal being cut between the two houses at somewhere around $30B, which would still leave a deficit of nearly $1.5 trillion. He hinted that he would vote to raise the debt ceiling, but with corresponding budget cuts.

He also said that he is a regular reader of MuskogeePolitico.com, so... hello Mr. Congressman!

I tweeted updates during the town hall, so for other points, search Twitter for #BorenTownHall (or click the link)

Friday, February 25, 2011

KFAQ's Pat Campbell interviews Don Rumsfeld


 Tulsa talk radio host Pat Campbell landed a big interview for his show this morning. 1170 KFAQ's morning host was joined by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was on to talk about his new book (Known and Unknown), as well as the past and present situation in the Middle East.

You can listen to the entire segment here.

Some people hated the man during his tenure as Defense Secretary, but I always liked "Rummy". Especially when he dealt with the media, he brought a special kind of humor. Take this quote from his interview with Pat Campbell:
"Well, you know, I've lived a third of the history of our country (which is a breathtaking thought, that we have such a young country, or that I'm so old)."
That got me to thinking - surely it couldn't be a third!

Yes. Literally a third of America's history. 2011 minus 1776 equals 235 years. Don Rumsfeld was born in 1932, so he'll be 79 in July. 79 plus 78 plus 78 is 235. As crazy as it sounds, Rummy and others his age have seen one third of America's entire history!
.

[On a different topic, but still from Pat Campbell, is a story about 'America's most injured soldier' returning to war. I recommend taking a look at it.]

Government Shutdown? Not So Fast

With the looming battle over the Continuing Resolution (CR) funding bill, this article sheds some light on what would happen during a potential government "shutdown".


Social Security checks would still go out. Troops would remain at their posts. Furloughed federal workers probably would get paid, though not until later. And virtually every essential government agency, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, would remain open.

That's the little-known truth about a government shutdown. The government doesn't shut down.

And it won't on March 5, even if the combatants on Capitol Hill can't resolve enough differences to pass a stopgap spending bill to fund the government while they hash out legislation to cover the last seven months of the budget year.

Not quite what the media is playing up as a "shutdown", huh? Click here for the rest of the article.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Boren to hold Muskogee town hall Friday


U.S. Congressman Dan Boren will be holding his weather-postponed Muskogee town hall meeting tomorrow afternoon. Originally, scheduled for the first week of February, but canceled due to snow, the town hall will be held tomorrow at 1pm, at the Bacone College Chapel (2299 Old Bacone Road in Muskogee).

From his press release:
"Town hall meetings are great opportunities for constituents in eastern Oklahoma to come together as a community and share their thoughts and concerns, as well as ask questions about legislation being considered by Congress," Boren said. "I hope these events are well attended as communication is a key part of my representation of the 25 counties in the Second Congressional District of Oklahoma. I know the dialogue expressed during town hall meetings greatly assists me," Boren said. "I invite you to join me."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lawmakers Vote to Ban Creation of Embryos for Experiments


Lawmakers Vote to Ban Creation of Embryos for Experiments

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 22, 2011) – Legislation that would make it illegal to create human embryos for experiments was approved by a House committee today.

"This legislation simply makes it illegal to create unborn children with the intent of killing them for research purposes," said state Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee. "Oklahomans do not support treating unborn babies as ‘spare parts.’"

House Bill 1442, by Faught, creates the "Destructive Human Embryo Research Act." The proposed law would make it illegal to "intentionally or knowingly conduct destructive research on a human embryo" or to "buy, sell, receive, or otherwise transfer a human embryo with the knowledge that such embryo shall be subjected to destructive research."

Violations would result in misdemeanor charges.

The legislation states that the destruction of human embryos to obtain embryonic stem cells "raises grave moral, ethical, scientific, and medical issues that must be addressed," and that the moral justification for medical or scientific research "cannot be based upon the dehumanizing and utilitarian premise that the end justifies any means."

In spite of millions spent, Faught noted that embryonic stem cell research has not produced a single treatment and typically generates cancer tumors, not cures.

In fact, Dr. Kevin Donovan, director of the Oklahoma Bioethics Center at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Tulsa, told the Tulsa World (April 24, 2009 edition) that "embryonic stem cell research so far and in the future is a dead end. There are no foreseeable cures in the next decade for certain."

In addition, embryonic stem cell research also has a supply problem.

A report by the RAND Corporation found that only 2.8 percent of so-called "leftover" embryos at fertility clinics have been specifically designated for research while 88.2 percent continue to be held for family planning. (link)

The RAND report also found that 11,000 embryos would generate just 275 new embryonic stem cell lines.

Locally, KOTV in Tulsa reported in 2009 that the Integris Fertility Clinic in Oklahoma City had 230 sets of embryos stored for later use, 20 sets for embryo adoption, and just two sets designated for research. The clinic indicated that each "set" can contain anywhere from two to 11 embryos each.

"It is clear that the only viable way to conduct embryonic stem cell research is to create thousands of new embryos specifically to harvest them for stem cells," Faught said. "Even if there were no moral problems, there simply are not enough ‘discard’ embryos at fertility clinics."

Faught said he does support adult stem cell research, which is already helping patients overcome more than 70 diseases and disorders and does not require embryo destruction.

"Why should we condone the killing of thousands or millions of unborn children when there are far better alternatives, and at a time when advances in adult stem cell research are allowing ‘reprogramming’ of cells to duplicate embryonic cells?" Faught said. "Oklahoma can be pro-life, pro-research and pro-cure without endorsing embryo destruction."

He noted Oklahoma has already dedicated millions to adult stem cell research. In 2009, the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust committed $500,000 for a year-long planning phase for adult stem cell research funding, followed by $1 million per year funding for the following five-year implementation phase, for a total of $5.5 million.

House Bill 1442 passed the House Public Health Committee today. It now proceeds to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

NOTE: For accompanying video, go to this link.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Texting-While-Driving Bans: A Continued Discussion

Blogger Ron Black recently posted a guest editorial by Craig Dawkins on the issue of texting-while-driving bans.
Texting and Driving Bans are Abusive
By Craig Dawkins

February 18, 2011

The Oklahoma State Senate jumped on the ‘no texting while driving’ bandwagon when the Public Safety Committee approved Senate Bill 146 this week. Texting and driving bans have been approved in 30 other states and it appears that Senator Jerry Ellis –D, Valliant, wants Oklahoma to follow their lead.

Ellis cites discussions with people who’ve witnessed texting drivers driving badly. Perhaps they have. But I’ve witnessed many people driving badly while eating, applying makeup, lighting cigarettes, reading books, talking to people in the back seat, looking at attractive females, and I could go on. I’ll bet you’ve seen that too. So do we need to ban all of those things as well?

Read the rest of the column here. His post is also along the lines of a previous article I linked to back in January.

The fact is, a texting-while-driving ban is not much more than a PR stunt. Oklahoma already has laws on the books to crack down on inattentive driving. These laws are much broader and wide-ranging than a texting-while-driving ban would be.

The way to crack down on texting-while-driving is to enforce existing law, not pass a new law.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gundy and Beiber: Cellphone Ringtones

Earlier this week, teen music star Justin Beiber was doing a radio interview when his cell phone rang. His ringtone featured Oklahoma State University football coach Mike Gundy's infamous post-game rant. A few days later, Gundy was at a press conference when his phone rang. Both videos are below.

Beiber's ringtone


Gundy's ringtone



And yes....... I know. I did just post about Justin Beiber......

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Capitol Day: Homeschool Invasion





Homeschoolers are at the State Capitol for the annual Oklahoma Home Educators' Capitol Day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Update: Israel and the Arab World

Current Political Situation

Hillel Fendel, senior editor of the Israeli news website Arutz Sheva, has written a very interesting series entitled The New Middle East at a Glance - Country by Country. Here is the link for Part I, and here is Part II.

In the articles, Fendel discusses the recent political turmoil that began in Tunisia, and has spread to Egypt, Yemen, and throughout the Arab World of the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to talking about the unrest, he explains the historic and present state of the Jews in each respective nation. I highly recommend reading this series.

Iranian Provocation Continues

News has broken today that Iran is sending two warships to dock in Syria for a year-long "training mission". The vessels were set to pass through the Suez Canal today. In Syria, they will be in close proximity to Hezbollah, the terrorist group set up by Iran that is now in control of Lebanon. Hezbollah already has been armed by Iran, and with Iranian military support so close, will be emboldened. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said today that he is ready for another war with Israel, and specifically an invasion of the Galilee region

Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood

For those here in the West who view the Muslim Brotherhood as a "moderate" and "secular" organization, and support elevating them to power in Egypt, allow me to show you Article 2 of the official Hamas Charter:
Article Two: The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times. It is characterised by its deep understanding, accurate comprehension and its complete embrace of all Islamic concepts of all aspects of life, culture, creed, politics, economics, education, society, justice and judgement, the spreading of Islam, education, art, information, science of the occult and conversion to Islam.
That is just one reason why it is dangerous for the Muslim Brotherhood to come to power in Egypt, Israel's largest neighbor. Two terrorist organizations (especially when in alliance or control of a nation like Egypt), in conjunction with Syrian and Iranian supported Hezbollah in Lebanon, pose a serious threat to Israel's safety, security, and very existence.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Emerge46: the OKGOP's new outreach program

Today, the Oklahoma Republican Party announced the launch of a brand-new outreach program, called "Emerge46". The press release is below:



OKGOP Announces Launch of Emerge46

(Oklahoma City)- There is one voting bloc adding 4 million eligible voters nationally every year. By 2020 — the first presidential election in which this voting bloc will have all reached voting age — about 90 million of them will be eligible voters, close to 40 percent of America’s total eligible voters.

Meet the youth vote, the Millennial Generation. In an effort to better reach this generation of voters in the 46th state in the union, the Oklahoma Republican Party today announced the launch of Emerge46.

The program is aimed at those in college, starting a career or starting a family. The program will connect emerging generation voters with College Republican and or Young Republican clubs and activities. The OKGOP will be a financial supporter of these organizations, and will provide them with training and tools to help further conservative Oklahoma candidates and causes.

Congressman James Lankford and Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, two of Oklahoma's youngest and brightest conservative statesmen, will serve as Co-Chairs. Also serving on the board will be Stephanie Milligan, state President of the Oklahoma Federation of Young Republicans and Megan Yarber, President of the Oklahoma Federation of College Republicans.

"I’m very passionate about the emerging generation, as I’m part of it, and I believe it’s time for us to step up to the plate and begin making the case for the Republican brand," said Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell, the youngest state GOP Chairman in the country. "The emerging generation is winnable and must be fought for."

Lt. Governor Todd Lamb commended the announcement: "My focus has been on creating an environment in which our young people can work and thrive in a prosperous Oklahoma. I am pleased that the Oklahoma Republican Party is reaching out to this emerging generation to solicit their involvement and ideas in our political process."

Congressman James Lankford stated: "As someone who has worked with the next generation for many years, I applaud the Oklahoma Republican Party's commitment to members of this emerging generation.  This is the moment to engage a group of people who want to make a difference in our world."

For more information, please visit the Emerge46 website at www.Emerge46.com.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rep. Roberts Assists Patrolman with Highway-side Arrest


When a highway patrolman was struggling to arrest a drug trafficker on the side of I-35 last Sunday evening, many drivers called 911 to report the fight. State Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant), however, noticed the altercation, and stopped to lend a hand.


Before backup could arrive, Roberts assisted the officer in handcuffing the man, who had been fighting with trooper for several minutes. Roberts is a freshman legislator and a Navy veteran.

KXII News (southern OK/northern TX) is airing a feature story tonight at 10pm, and the Daily Ardmoreite newspaper has a story coming out tomorrow.

Our thanks and congratulations to both the highway patrolman and Rep. Roberts - true public servants!

UPDATE: Here is the KXII story, and here is a Durant Daily Democrat story.

28 Below, in Oklahoma?!


Temperatures this morning (in Fahrenheit)

Reykjavik, Iceland: 39°
Anchorage, Alaska: 30°
Helsinki, Finland: 16°
North Pole: 16°
Moscow, Russia: 12°
Toronto, Canada: 7°
Muskogee, OK: -6°
Tulsa, OK: -12°
Bartlesville, OK: -28°

That's right. Twenty eight degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. In Oklahoma. That breaks the official state record low of -27°, set in 1930 in Watts, and 1909 in Vinita.

Brrrrrrr!

UPDATE: Nowata, OK, might have actually dipped to -31° this morning... developing...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Legislature Cancels Session - Due to Weather


In a highly unusual move, the State Legislature has canceled session for the rest of this week, due to another winter storm that will begin to hit the state this afternoon and evening. This storm is forecast to drop anywhere from 4 to 12 inches of snow across most of Oklahoma.

This is the first time in recent memory that the legislature has canceled session due to the weather. I spoke with several legislators who could not remember ever doing this before.

But come Monday, session should be back to normal conditions at the Capitol.

Cockroft files bill to phase out state income tax


OKLAHOMA CITY (February 8, 2011) – Legislation authored by State Rep. Josh Cockroft would further lower the state income tax to 5 percent in 2011 and phase it out by 2016.

House Bill 1543 would reduce the income tax by 1 percent each year, down to 0 percent in 2016.

“I think that Oklahomans no longer support the state income tax and would like lawmakers to come up with a new way to fund state government,” Cockroft, R-McLoud, said. “Texas gets by without a state income tax and I think that Oklahoma can as well.”

Cockroft said that in addition to changing the source of revenue, the Legislature would focus on reducing state spending.

“The state needs to eliminate wasteful spending and join the 21st century as an affordable and efficient form of government,” Cockroft said. “I think that there are many places where reform and common sense will result in effective government services for less.”

Josh Cockroft, R-McLoud, is the state representative for House District 27, which covers portions of Cleveland and Pottawatomie counties. He can be reached by calling 405-557-7349 (Capitol), or by emailing josh.cockroft@okhouse.gov. He also maintains a blog for legislative purposes, located here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. President



Happy 100th, President Reagan. We certainly do miss you.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Planned Parenthood Received $244k from the State of Oklahoma in 2010

State Rep. Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) stumbled, almost by accident, upon a startling fact: Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma received $244,723.96 from the State of Oklahoma from July 2010 through the end of the year.

Rep. Murphey discovered the transactions by searching Oklahoma's Open Books website. It appears that the payments began with the start of the FY2011 budget in July of 2010. A quick search of the state spending site shows no previous transactions with any Planned Parenthood vendor.

(click to enlarge)

The money was paid by the State Department of Health. At this time, it is not sure what exactly those payments were used or intended for, but since this has come to light, you can be sure that it will soon be known.

RNC Chairman Priebus Appoints OKGOP Chairman Pinnell 'Chairman of State Chairmen'


Today:

WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus offered the following statement regarding the appointment of Matt Pinnell as Chairman of the State Chairmen:

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell to lead our exceptional coalition of state party chairmen. He represents the next generation of conservative Republican leadership. Matt was instrumental in our Party’s historic wins in 2010, overseeing the most successful election cycle for Oklahoma Republicans in state history. I look forward to working with him so that we can strengthen our state parties, grow our Party nationally and help elect the next Republican President of the United States."
Our congratulations to Chairman Pinnell!

Rand Paul talks about compromise on Senate floor

Freshman Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) talks about compromise in his first speech in the U.S. Senate:


Thursday, February 3, 2011

GOP Pledge: Cut $100B? More like $35B

During the 2010 congressional campaign, Republican House leaders issued a Pledge to America, wherein the GOP leadership made pledges to make spending cuts, repeal ObamaCare, and make congressional reforms, among other things.

One of the most prominent pledges was "we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone [emphasis mine]".

A lot was made about the House Republican's intent to cut at least $100B from the budget in their first year of control. However, it seems that this particular pledge won't actually come to fruition.

It seems that the House GOP leadership is planning on cutting $74 billion from the budget. That is, $74 billion from President Obama's 2011 budget proposal. As Erick Erickson said today on RedState.com, "There’s just one problem — the Democrats left power without ever passing Barack Obama’s budget. In other words, the GOP is cutting $74 billion from a budget that does not even exist." In actuality, the GOP leadership-proposed cuts amount to about $35 billion less than the 2010 budget.

"We're going to cut at least $100 billion. No, make that $74 billion. Actually.... $35 billion. What? Is something wrong? Pledge? What 'pledge'? Oh, 'at least $100 billion in the first year alone'? Well..... yeah, about that..."

Our fiscal situation is in a mess. Everyone agrees on that. It's a total and bipartisan wreck. We have to do something about it, something major. Halfhearted, hesitant nibbles won't cut it. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has found $350B in waste, fraud and duplication that could be eliminated. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has proposed $500B in cuts.

That's more like it. As Sen. Coburn has said, we have an apocalyptic fiscal crisis on our hands. Our national debt now stands at over $14,000,000,000,000.00 (14 trillion dollars). We stand on the brink. Now is not the time for hesitant indecision. Either we take the plunge into national fiscal ruin -- or we take the plunge and make the deep cuts necessary to balance our budget and pay down our debt as speedily as possible. There is no other option.

My hope is that the Congressional Republicans will finally get the message, and do the right thing for our nation, even though it is hard. It remains to see whether or not they will summon the courage to do so.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Boren postpones town halls due to weather

As a result of the heavy snow today, Congressman Dan Boren has postponed his scheduled town halls for today and tomorrow.

POSTPONED:
  • Tuesday, Feb. 1st - Stillwell
  • Tuesday, Feb. 1st - Tahlequah
  • Wednesday, Feb. 2nd - Sallisaw
  • Wednesday, Feb. 2nd - Muskogee
RESCHEDULED:
  • Friday, Feb. 4th - Stillwell (Adair County Courthouse, 9:00am)
  • Friday, Feb. 4th - Tahlequah (Tahlequah Armory, 12:30pm)
The Sallisaw and Muskogee town hall meetings have not been rescheduled yet, but further announcements will be made on Congressman Boren's website.