Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"Open Enrollment"? Samaritan Ministries is always open!


2016 health insurance open enrollment is currently about halfway through, with a deadline of January 31st, 2016. The ObamaCare tax/penalty for not having health insurance is substantially higher for 2016 than it was in previous years: 2.5% of household income, or $695 per adult - whichever is higher.

Costs for health insurance have skyrocketed, and competition has plummeted; in fact, premiums in Oklahoma are set to jump 35%, with only two companies offering plans here. Some states have only one insurance company available.

I've blogged previously about my wife and I being members of Samaritan Ministries, a healthcare-sharing ministry. We opted out of traditional health insurance three years ago, and joined this wonderful organization.

Here are a few distinctives about Samaritan Ministries:

  • No narrow enrollment period

Unlike traditional insurance, you can sign up with Samaritan Ministries at any time of the year.

  • Stable, affordable cost

The monthly cost ranges from $180 for a single person under 26, to $495 for a 3+ person family. Monthly share rates increase only by a two-thirds vote of the membership, so the cost is much more stable than health insurance.

  • Usable

Health insurance deductibles can easily be $5,000 or more, in addition to other out-of-pocket costs. Health-care sharing ministries like Samaritan Ministries have a few things that aren't eligible to share (see their guidelines), but generally speaking the amount you are personally responsible for is $300 - but even that can be eliminated if you receive discounts on your medical bills.

Personal example: in 2015, between my wife's pregnancy/childbirth and my emergency appendectomy, we had about $50,000 in medical bills. After getting self-pay discounts of nearly $15,000, the remainder (about $35,000) was shared to the penny by fellow Samaritan Ministries members. We weren't out anything - no $5,000 deductible, nothing.

  • Biblical

Samaritan Ministries applies Biblical principles in every aspect of the ministry. From membership qualifications and lifestyles, to ministry accountability, to what health needs are eligible to share (i.e. no paying for abortions, etc).

  • Personal touch


Samaritan Ministries has a very personal touch. Those cards in the picture above? That represents about 55 families across the country who paid my medical bills when I had an emergency appendectomy. Members send their monthly shares directly to members with medical needs, and are encouraged to send cards or notes and to pray for the member in need. When did your insurance company ever do that?!

  • Exempt from penalty/tax

Although not considered "insurance", Samaritan Ministries (and a few other health-care sharing ministries) meets ObamaCare's requirement to have insurance or pay a penalty/tax. HCSMs were specifically exempted in the Affordable Care Act.

  • Physician flexibility

Rather than being tied into specific networks,Samaritan Ministries members have the flexibility to go to whichever physicians and facilities they desire. As a self-pay patient, you enable the doctor's office to cut out paperwork and insurance hassles, and generally are able to receive significant discounts.


In our three years as members of Samaritan Ministries, we have submitted two medical needs. Read about our first one here, and see how needs are submitted. Read about our second one here, and find out about bill reductions and self-pay discounts. You can also read other posts I've done about Samaritan Ministries here and here.

More Information

Currently, there are over 50,000 families (more than 165,000 individuals) participating in Samaritan Ministries. For more information about why they do, visit SamaritanMinistries.org. You can view videos, testimonials, Frequently Asked Questions, the Guidelines, the Application Form, and much more.

If you are interested in joining, I'd be more than happy to talk with you. You can call me at (918) 869-6000, or email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com. When a member refers someone who then becomes a member, Samaritan Ministries gives the referring member a credit.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Music Monday: Appalachian Carol

This week's Music Monday is Appalachian Carol by composer Dan Goeller (this is another piece by Goeller I played when I was a member of the Tulsa Bible Church orchestra - hear another Goeller piece here).

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry CHRISTmas!


Have a very merry CHRISTmas!

The account of the birth of Jesus Christ, from Luke 2:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

I hope that you have a very happy and safe holiday!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Music Monday: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

This week's Music Monday is God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen played by the Annie Moses Band.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Irony: "Motion to Waive All Applicable Budgetary Discipline"


In case you hadn't heard, Congress passed a $1,100,000,000,000 budget deal today. In the Senate, the last roll call vote before final passage was a "Motion to Waive All Applicable Budgetary Discipline".

Oh, you don't say. It's almost funny, in a pathetic, sad sort of way. Drowning in nearly $18,791,750,000,000.00 of national debt, I'd say our government long ago abandoned any pretense of "budgetary discipline"...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Music Monday: O Holy Night

This week's Music Monday is the classic Christmas carol O Holy Night, sung by David Phelps.

Enjoy!

Cruz announces Oklahoma visit details


HOUSTON, Texas – Following the CNN debate in Las Vegas, presidential candidate Ted Cruz will participate in a fly-around tour of seven March 1 Super Tuesday states. The “Take-Off With Ted Cruz Country Christmas Tour” will feature twelve rallies in twelve cities in one week.

“Our ‘Take Off with Ted’ barnstorming of the March 1st states will fortify our national organization and position us to win on Super Tuesday," said Cruz Communications Director Rick Tyler.  "We’ve always believed that the GOP primary calendar gives Cruz an early advantage so we have spent significant time in those states and have built an army of conservative volunteers to get out the vote just like the ones we have unleashed in the first four early states."

Thursday, December 17
10:00 a.m. - Las Vegas, NV
6:00 p.m. - St. Paul, MN

Friday, December 18
11:30 a.m. - Mechanicsville, VA (Richmond) (free tickets here)
4:30 p.m. - Kennesaw, GA (Atlanta) (free tickets here)

Saturday, December 19
 10:00 a.m. - Bloomingdale, GA (Savannah) (free tickets here)
2:30 p.m. - Daphne, AL (Mobile) (free tickets here)

Sunday, December 20
 1:30 p.m. - Trussville, AL (Birmingham) (free tickets here)

Tuesday, December 22
10:00 a.m. - Knoxville, TN (free tickets here)
1:30 p.m. – Nashville, TN (free tickets here)
7:00 p.m. – North Little Rock, AR (free tickets here)

Wednesday, December 23
9:00 a.m. – Tulsa, OK (free tickets here)
Oral Roberts University
7777 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74136 
1:30 p.m. – Oklahoma City, OK (free tickets here)
Oklahoma City Community College
7777 South May Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73159

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ted Cruz to campaign in Oklahoma on December 23rd


Presidential candidate Ted Cruz will be making two stops in Oklahoma on December 23rd. During his Cruz Country Christmas Tour, the Texas Senator will hold events in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. More details will be released in the coming days.

The most recent Oklahoma poll, taken November 12th-15th, showed Donald Trump leading the field with 27.1%, and Cruz in second at 18.3%. Closely following were candidates Ben Carson (17.5%) and Marco Rubio (16.3%).

Oklahoma's presidential primary is on March 1st, and 40 delegates will be up for grabs. Only four states hold caucuses or primaries before Oklahoma: Iowa (Feb. 1st), New Hampshire (Feb. 8th), South Carolina (Feb. 20th), and Nevada (Feb. 23rd). On March 1st, Oklahoma joins 11 other states in voting (AK, AL, AR, GA, MA, MN, TN, TX, VA, VT, WY).

Saturday, December 12, 2015

12 Republicans, 7 Democrats file for Oklahoma's presidential primary


The filing period for Oklahoma's March 1st, 2016 Presidential Preferential Primary was held Monday through Wednesday; a total of 19 candidates filed under the two main parties recognized in Oklahoma (the third, 'Americans Elect', has a grand total of nine (9) voters statewide).

Here are the candidates that will be on the primary ballot:

Democratic Primary Candidates

  • Hillary Clinton (NY)
  • Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente (CA)
  • Keith Judd (TX)
  • Star Locke (TX)
  • Martin J. O'Malley (MD)
  • Bernie Sanders (VT)
  • Micahel A. Steinberg (FL)

Republican Primary Candidates

  • Jeb Bush (FL)
  • Ben Carson (FL)
  • Chris Christie (NJ)
  • Ted Cruz (TX)
  • Carly Fiorina (VA)
  • Lindsey Graham (SC)
  • Mike Huckabee (FL)
  • John R. Kasich (OH)
  • Rand Paul (KY)
  • Marco Rubio (FL)
  • Rick Santorum (VA)
  • Donald J. Trump (NY)


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Updated: Conservative Index scores for Oklahoma presidential endorsers


(click image to view larger)

Following some recent presidential endorsement releases, here are the updated Conservative Index scores for Oklahoma state legislators who have picked sides in the 2016 presidential race.

Marco Rubio leads with 17 endorsers, with a Conservative Index average of 67.5. Ted Cruz has 13 endorsers, with an average score of 81.3. Jeb Bush has 10 endorsers, with an average of 62.2. Donald Trump has 4 endorsers, averaging 67.8. Carly Fiorina has 1 endorser with a score of 90. No other candidate (that I am aware of) has a public endorsement from an Oklahoma state legislator.

For comparison, the average Conservative Index score for House Republicans is 72.5, while the Senate Republicans average is 70.0 (combined legislative average is 71.6).

Looking at House endorser averages, only Ted Cruz is above the average (82.9 vs 72.5). Cruz and Fiorina are the only ones with higher Senate averages as well (76.0 and 90.0 vs 70.0), although Fiorina only has one endorser. Cruz is also the only one with a higher combined average (81.3 vs 71.6).

Monday, December 7, 2015

Music Monday: Christmas Fantasy

This week's Music Monday is Christmas Fantasy by Dan Goeller. When I attended Tulsa Bible Church and played in the church orchestra, this was my runaway favorite piece of music that we played. Goeller writes and arranges fabulous, high-caliber church orchestra pieces. This piece, as well as other numbers by Goeller, was challenging yet thrilling to perform.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fair opposes proposal to expand Rainy Day Fund


by Steve Fair

Oklahoma state government has a Rainy Day Fund, aka the Constitutional Reserve Fund.  It works as a savings account for government so in the case of an emergency, it can be tapped.  Any revenue over 95% of revenue estimates collected in a year is deposited into the Rainy Day Fund.  The state constitution caps the amount to be deposited to the fund at 15% of the General Revenue Fund estimate provided by the State Board of Equalization for the prior fiscal year.

     The legislature can tap the Rainy Day Fund if the state’s official estimate shows that the following fiscal year will bring in less than the current year.  3/8 of the Rainy Day Fund can be used for supplemental funding.  Another ¼ of the fund can be tapped if the governor and ¾ of the legislature declare a state of emergency.

      Twice in the past eleven years, Oklahoma voters have changed how the fund works.  In 2004, the amount of money the legislature could use was reduced from 1/2 to 3/8.  The change passed by a 2 to 1 margin.  In 2010, Oklahoma voters narrowly passed a proposal to increase the amount that was to be deposited to the fund- from 10 to 15%.  The measure passed by a mere 20,000 votes statewide. Now it appears voters will be asked to vote on changes to the Rainy Day Fund in November 2016.

     State Representative Jon Echols, (R-OKC), says he intends to file legislation in the upcoming legislative session allowing voters to amend the Constitution to both increase the cap – but not lower it – and allow the Legislature to appropriate directly to the fund.

     “The idea that we should cap how much money the state can save is, frankly, ridiculous.  Not only is there a cap on how much we can save, there is also legitimate doubt among House staff as to whether the Legislature has the authority to make direct appropriations into the Rainy Day Fund. Neither of those restrictions make any sense. We had a $600 million budget gap last year, and we are now looking at up to $1 billion less this year to appropriate. Our current approach is shortsighted and bizarre. Taxpayers expect us to be prudent and develop a long-term approach to state spending. This is not the way a citizen would run his or her family and it certainly isn’t the way we should run our state,” Echols said.

     Oklahoma Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger says he would like to create another fund, similar to the Rainy Day Fund that would allow state government to sock away some funds for down budget years.  In an editorial in The Oklahoman, Doerflinger said, “I think there are tools we should put in place, maybe a separate fund that would help equalize these types of downturns in the energy sector.  It might cause some smoothing or leveling of the pain that occurs if you were to see something this dramatic in the future.”

     First, Echols has a point.  Why restrict how much money the legislature can put in savings?  After all, saving money is better than government spending it.  That sounds pretty good, but government is not a family or a business.  When government socks away tax dollars into a savings account that means they are overcharging taxpayers.  If there is a surplus, give it back to the people it belongs to- the taxpayers. Government, at all levels should operate efficiently, but not be banking up a surplus- in good or bad times.

     Second, the legislature taps the Rainy Day Fund virtually every year.  It doesn’t even have to cloud up before they hit the savings account.  That is why voters overwhelmingly voted to reduce how much the lawmakers could tap.  The fund was set up for emergencies, but every year there is an emergency.

     Third, the legislature should consider fundamentally changing the budgeting process and force agencies to justify every penny of tax dollar they are appropriated.  They should also commit to identifying and eliminating waste.  They need to force government agencies to consolidate.  Stabilization should never be the goal of government.  It should be to become more efficient and reduce in size and scope.

    Currently the Rainy Day Fund has a balance of $382 million.  With an expected budget shortfall of $1 billion or more, it’s a sure bet the legislature will be tapping the fund.  Until Oklahoma government is truly right-sized and streamlined, giving Oklahoma government more money- whether in a savings account or not- is inconsistent with good government. Government should be saving money by cutting operational costs, not by efficient management of more money.

Steve Fair is a longtime conservative activist, and current National Committeeman for the Oklahoma Republican Party. He blogs at Fair and Biased.

          *          *          *          *          *

I am in full agreement with Steve Fair on this issue. Rather than relying on tapping the Rainy Day Fund every year, state leaders should actually cut government. Excess taxpayer dollars should be returned to the people, not stockpiled in an excuse for not making tough budget decisions.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Bridenstine featured in Cruz ad

Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Tulsa) is featured in a new Ted Cruz for President web ad, responding to attacks from a pro-Marco Rubio super PAC.

3 Oklahoma legislators endorse Rubio, bring total to 17


More OK Legislators Endorse Rubio, Bring Total to 17

The Marco Rubio for President Oklahoma State Chairman, Senator David Holt, has announced the names of three more Republican legislators who are endorsing U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s candidacy to become the next President of the United States.   The three join the 14 other Oklahoma legislators who have already endorsed Rubio, as well as U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin.

The three new endorsers are Senator Frank Simpson (R - Springer), Rep. Dan Kirby (R - Tulsa), and Rep. Paul Wesselhoft (R - Moore).

“While the Democrats are stuck in the 1990s, Marco Rubio is prepared and ready to lead us into the 21st Century,” said Senator Simpson.

“Senator Marco Rubio is the most effective candidate for President, that is, if we really want to win, and not just make some political statement with another candidate,” said Rep. Wesselhoft.

Said Rep. Kirby, “Marco Rubio has the intelligence, experience and creative new ideas that are needed to move America forward.  He is a leader and will be an excellent President."

The full list of 17 Oklahoma legislators and one Oklahoma Congressman who have endorsed Senator Rubio is as follows:

  • Senator David Holt (R - Oklahoma City), State Chairman
  • U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin (R)
  • Senator Kim David (R - Porter)
  • Senator Eddie Fields (R - Wynona)
  • Senator Jack Fry (R - Midwest City)
  • Senator A.J. Griffin (R - Guthrie)
  • Senator Wayne Shaw (R - Grove)
  • Senator Frank Simpson (R - Springer)
  • Senator Jason Smalley (R - Stroud)
  • Senator Roger Thompson (R - Okemah)
  • Rep. Josh Cockroft (R - Wanette)
  • Rep. Randy Grau (R - Edmond)
  • Rep. Katie Henke (R - Tulsa)
  • Rep. Dan Kirby (R - Tulsa)
  • Rep. Terry O’Donnell (R - Tulsa)
  • Rep. Leslie Osborn (R - Mustang)
  • Rep. Paul Wesselhoft (R - Moore)
  • Rep. Harold Wright (R - Weatherford)

With today’s announcement, Senator Rubio still has more publicly announced endorsements from Oklahoma legislators than any other candidate for President.

Senator Rubio will be a candidate in the March 1st, 2016 Oklahoma Republican presidential primary.  Senator Rubio most recently visited the state this Fall, when he paid his respects at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and delivered a speech outlining his energy plan.  Oklahoma supporters of Senator Rubio’s campaign can receive updates from Senator Rubio's campaign in Oklahoma by following @TeamMarcoOK on Twitter or liking TeamMarcoOK on Facebook.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!



It's Thanksgiving week, and I'm taking a brief blogging sabbatical. I hope you have a great week spending time with family and counting your blessings.

In the mean time, be sure and check out the links I've posted for other political blogs and sites, both Oklahoma-based and national. I've linked plenty of conservative news sources on both sidebars.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Republican Jarrin Jackson to run against Mullin


JARRIN JACKSON ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN FOR CONGRESS OK­2

(November 23, 2015, Oologah, OK­) Today, Jarrin Jackson announced his campaign for the Republican nomination to Congress, Oklahoma District 2. The Rogers County resident will challenge two­-term incumbent Markwayne Mullin.

Jackson said, “I'm a combat veteran who has one unifying belief: Serve America. All of who I am, what I have done, and what I believe flows from that.”

He said, “This is a time for triage and intervention, not maintenance. Our country is getting sicker, and our enemies are using our goodness against us. We need to counter that. I am conservative, but I want to be judged by performance, not labels. I offer American values, fresh ideas, and military­-grade grit.”

Jackson said he is for limited government, and believes security is the key to freedom and opportunity. “America didn't prosper by accident back in the day. We prospered on purpose, asserting American ideals and stressing initiative. How we did it then is how we do it again.”

Jackson is a decorated, former Army Ranger who graduated from West Point and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. A 5th generation Oklahoman, he grew up in Oologah, is married to a pediatrician, and has two boys.

Learn more by visiting JarrinJackson.com.

Music Monday: Simple Gifts

This week's Music Monday is a section from Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring based on the old Shaker song Simple Gifts.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

SoonerPoll: Trump leads in OK, but Cruz and Rubio surge


SoonerPoll, in conjunction with News 9/News on 6, today released a new Oklahoma presidential primary survey showing significant changes from their last report in September.

SoonerPoll/News9/News on 6 Oklahoma Presidential Tracking Poll (PDF link)
389 likely voters registered Republican, conducted Nov. 12th-15th.
MoE +/-5.1%. Numbers in parentheses are from Sept. 1st-15th survey.

Donald Trump - 27.1% (30.8%)   -3.7%
Ted Cruz - 18.3% (6.5%)   +11.8%
Ben Carson - 17.5% (22.5%)   -5.0%
Marco Rubio - 16.3% (4.1%)   +12.2%
Mike Huckabee - 4.3% (5.0%)   -0.7%
Carly Fiorina - 2.3% (8.3%)   -6.0%
Jeb Bush - 2.2% (6.2%)   -4.0%
Rand Paul - 2.2% (0.9%)   +1.3%
John Kasich - 0.5% (2.2%)   -1.7%
Other - 2.5% (3.1%)   -0.6%
Unsure - 6.7% (10.4%)   -3.7%

Cruz and Rubio both surged around 12%, while most other candidates fell 2-6 points. Trump's lead has been cut to single digits (8.8%), and there's essentially a three-way tie for second.

The bottom ten candidates combined (14%) don't even beat the fourth place candidate (Rubio at 16.3%). The presidential primary on the GOP side is swiftly becoming a four-man race.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bobby Jindal drops out of Presidential race


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has ended his presidential campaign. Jindal, arguably the most conservative governor in the country for the past eight years, never really got a chance to break through into the top tier, rarely polling nationally above 1-2%. His main "strength" was in Iowa, where he polled as high as 6% -- his campaign was based on pulling out an upset win in the 'Hawkeye Caucii'.

It's a sad state of affairs when the first three GOP candidates to exit the 2016 race are conservative, successful, multi-term governors (Perry, Walker, Jindal).

Here is his full statement:
I cannot tell you what an honor it has been to run for President of the United States of America. My parents came to this country 45 years ago searching for freedom and a chance.
When I was born, we lived in student housing at LSU, and never in their wildest dreams did they think their son would have the opportunity to serve as Governor of Louisiana or to run for President.

They raised me to believe Americans can do anything, and they were right, we can. But this is not my time, so I am suspending my campaign for President.

Going forward, I believe we have to be the party of growth and we can never stop being the party that believes in opportunity. We cannot settle for The Left’s view of envy and division. We have to be the party that says everyone in this country – no matter the circumstances of their birth or who their parents are – can succeed in America.

One of the things I will do is go back to work at the think tank I started a few years ago – where I will be outlining a blueprint for making this the American century.

We must show the way forward on growing our economy and winning the war against terror, and especially defeating radical Islam.

I realize that our country is off on the wrong track right now. Everyone knows that, but don’t forget, this is still the greatest country in the history of the world – and every single one of us should start every day by thanking God that we are fortunate enough to be US citizens.

Now is the time for all those Americans who still believe in freedom and American exceptionalism to stand up and defend it. The idea of America – the idea that my parents came here for almost a half a century ago – that idea is slipping away from us. Freedom is under assault from both outside our borders and from within. We must act now, we do not have a moment to spare.

Jindal was in my initial top three out of the field. Scott Walker was who I leaned toward at the beginning, but then he dropped out. For the last two months I've been in a toss-up between Cruz and Jindal.

Jindal has the stellar conservative record of reform that we need in Washington. Sadly, the electorate this time around is more enamored with the high-on-flash-low-on-substance Donald Trump than they are with real solutions. Regardless of who becomes the GOP nominee and defeats Hilary Clinton, Bobby Jindal needs to play a prominent role in the next administration.

With Walker and Jindal now out, count me on the Cruz Crew train.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Republican John Tyler Hammons announces for SD9


Former Muskogee mayor John Tyler Hammons has thrown his hat in the ring for the GOP nomination in Senate District 9. He joins fellow Republican candidate Dewayne Pemberton, and Democratic candidate Jack Reavis. Reavis has twice run unsuccessfully for House District 14, while Pemberton is making his first run for office.

Hammons made the announcement official with a Facebook post this afternoon:


Hammons was elected mayor of Muskogee in 2008 at the age of eighteen, making him at the time the youngest mayor in the nation, and was reelected in 2010. In 2012, he left office to pursue a law degree. He passed the bar over the summer, and currently works as an assistant attorney general of the Cherokee Nation.

Senate District 9 covers portions of Muskogee and Cherokee counties (including the cities of Muskogee and Tahlequah), and is currently held by Earl Garrison (D-Muskogee), who is term-limited.

Music Monday: Preacher Tell Me Like It Is

For this week's Music Monday, we've got the Southern Gospel trio 'Greater Vision' singing their song Preacher Tell Me Like It Is.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

McLain wins SD34 GOP primary



David McLain appears to have pulled out a squeaker in the winner-take-all GOP primary for Senate District 34.

With 34 of 35 precincts reporting, McLain received 881 votes (42.11%), John Feary got 823 (39.34%), Mark Williams received 333 (15.92%), and Chuck Daugherty got 55 (2.63%).

The general election will be January 12th, 2016.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Music Monday: Armed Forces Salute

This week's Music Monday (a little late) is an Armed Forces Salute arrangement that I enjoyed playing with the Tulsa Bible Church Orchestra for several years, typically on Memorial Day, but it fits for Veterans Day as well.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Coburn on Cavuto: candidates need to address national debt

Former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn was interviewed yesterday by Fox News host Neil Cavuto, and called for the GOP presidential candidates to address the national debt crisis, and briefly touched on his thoughts on some of the candidates.



Thursday, November 5, 2015

Followng Coburn, Lankford to Release a Gov't Waste Report


WASHINGTON, DC— Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today announced he will release a federal government waste and solutions report later this fall. Specifically, the report will highlight examples of wasteful or duplicative spending, along with burdensome regulations, but will also offer a policy solution to each of the problems. Lankford’s report, entitled, “Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball”, will continue a tradition started by former Senator Tom Coburn, MD. The Office of Senator Lankford released a short video on social media today to tease the release of the football themed-report in late November.


“With a massive $19 trillion federal debt and a half-a-trillion dollar deficit, we must tackle our federal budget and root out inefficiencies, duplication and wasteful spending wherever they exist,” said Lankford. “This report will provide specific examples of wasteful spending and unnecessary regulations that are not in the taxpayer’s best interest, and show how the federal government has dropped the ball.”

Lankford shares Senator Coburn’s sentiment that many Members of Congress should produce their own waste reports, and he applauds Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Senator Dan Coats (R-IN), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), among others, who have released reports to expose wasteful spending.

After serving four years in the US House of Representatives, Lankford was elected to the US Senate on November 4, 2014, to finish the remaining two years of retiring Senator Coburn's term, which will end January 2017. From his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Lankford welcomes the opportunity to identify reckless government spending and gimmick pay-fors.

Regulatory reform has also been a top priority for Lankford during his first year in the Senate. He chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, and he launched the #CutRedTape Initiative with Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in March. Lankford and Heitkamp have worked together on three regulatory improvement bills which passed Committee several weeks ago.

Tuesday's GOP Debate: 8 in primetime, 4 in undercard


The FOX Business Network/Wall Street Journal GOP Debate on Tuesday will be featuring eight candidates in the primetime debate, and four in the undercard debate (aka "the kid's table"). This is the first debate this cycle with candidates being bumped off the main stage (Huckabee and Christie).

From FBN:
The four polls used in the average were conducted by the following organizations: Fox News, Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP, Quinnipiac University, and The Wall Street Journal/NBC News. To qualify for the prime-time debate, a candidate had to score 2.5% or higher in an average of the four most recent national polls. Candidates scoring under that had to receive at least 1% support in at least one of the four most recent national polls to qualify for the 7 p.m. debate. No online or automated (IVR) polls were used in compiling the data.
Here's the main event lineup (9e/8c), along with the candidate's average in the qualifying polls:

  • Donald Trump (25.3%)
  • Ben Carson (24.5%)
  • Marco Rubio (11.8%)
  • Ted Cruz (10.0%)
  • Jeb Bush (5.5%)
  • Carly Fiorina (3.0%)
  • John Kasich (2.8%)
  • Rand Paul (2.5%)

In the 7e/6c JV debate:
  • Mike Huckabee (2.3%)
  • Chris Christie (2.3%)
  • Bobby Jindal (0.5%)
  • Rick Santorum (0.5%)

Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore did not qualify for the undercard debate.

In addition to airing on the Fox Business Network, the debate will be livestreamed for free online. Additionally, for those who subscribe to cable or satellite but don't get FBN, Fox is temporarily "unbundling" the channel for subscribers to be able to watch.

Personally, I think a smaller debate stage is good. Ten people sharing the limited debate time doesn't allow enough time to delve into issues and get enough input from all the candidates. I think the race is starting to coalesce around four candidates (Trump, Carson, Rubio and Cruz), and most of the other candidates really need to consider dropping out.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Music Monday: Amazing Grace

This week's Music Monday is the namesake song from the 2006 movie Amazing Grace. This arrangement comes in the closing scene of the movie -- it's by far my favorite rendition of the timeless hymn.

Enjoy!



Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Republican Rick West announces for HD3


Rick West Announces Candidacy for Oklahoma House District 3

Heavener, OK, ­Nov. 1, 2015–  Rancher and long-time Le Flore County resident Rick West has announced his candidacy for the Oklahoma House District 3 seat.  West, a Republican, is running for the legislative seat that is being vacated by current State Rep. James Lockhart.

“I am ready to serve the people of House District 3 as their next State Representative,” said West.  “And I am ready to work hard to bring more jobs to Le Flore County while reducing government waste.”

Born in North Carolina, West has lived in Le Flore County since 1977. In 1979, he married his wife of 36 years, Jan, and they moved to Hontubby Community just outside of Heavener, where they run a cattle and poultry farm.

“Living in Le Flore County for almost 40 years, I know firsthand the problems that face the people in District 3,” said West.  “And you can be confident knowing that I will work hard for each and every person in our district.”

In 2012, West retired after 36 years of service from USDA/APHIS (Animal /Plant Health Inspection Service) as an animal health technician. Rick also worked to help reduce outbreaks that have affected the livestock in Oklahoma and across the country including finding ways to combat the Exotic Newcastle Disease, BSE (Mad Cow disease), Avian Influenza, Tuberculosis, & Brucellosis.

West and family are members of the Big Creek Baptist Church in Heavener where he serves a deacon and Sunday School teacher. Rick is also a member of the Farm Bureau, the American Farmer and Rancher, and the Poteau and Heavener Chambers of Commerce. In addition, Rick is active in the local and county Future Farmers of America and is a supporter of the local school academic and athletic activities.

Rick has also stayed active in the community by serving on the Le Flore County Equalization and Excise Board, the Le Flore County Fair Board, and the APHIS/ Native American Working Group, which is a liaison between the USDA and the Native American tribes in Oklahoma.

To learn more, please visit WestforHouse.com.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

KFOR: Oklahoma Obamacare premiums see 35% price hike

Right in time for Halloween, ObamaCare is out with some new - and scary - price increases for Oklahomans.

From KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City:
Oklahomans who buy health insurance on the federal marketplace could be in for sticker shock this year.

The Department of Health and Human Services is estimating premiums will jump 35 percent on average for the one company returning to the exchange this year: Blue Cross Blue Shield.

According to HHS, last year, more than 126,000 Oklahomans took their pick of plans from four different companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Community Care, Global Health and Assurant.

This year, three of those companies dropped out, and only one - United Healthcare - stepped in to replace them.
Read more here, and watch KFOR's clip below:


I'll take "Things Conservatives Said Would Happen" for $1000, Mr. Trebek.

On this note, let me point you once again to my posts on Samaritan Ministries, a non-insurance alternative for Christians that is exempt from the ObamaCare penalty-tax. It's been great for my family -- it's morally acceptable, financially affordable, and realistically usable. Take a leap of faith, and leave the insurance/ObamaCare mess behind!

Friday, October 30, 2015

McGuigan: It's time for Fallin to appoint Cathy Costello to Labor Commission

It's time for Gov. Fallin to appoint a Commissioner of Labor. 
Cathy Costello is the best choice.

OKLAHOMA CITY – A shocking murder took place in August, when Commissioner of Labor Mark Costello's eldest son, Christian, stabbed his father to death at a restaurant in north Oklahoma City.

Like many other journalists, I reported reactions from state officials and others at the time.

Among many issues highlighted across the philosophical spectrum was agreement that the state must reform provisions and practices relating to the treatment of mental health issues, including those that afflict Christian Costello.

Mark Costello was a remarkable man. Although I did not initially support him for election as commissioner, I became over the course of five years convinced he was the best combination of fiscal conservatism and even-tempered governance among the statewide elected officials. Many of his peers are fine individuals, yet Costello stood out (something many of them expressed after his death).

Aside from his ability as a leader, Mark Costello was a remarkable man who managed -- with wit, intelligence, grace and integrity – to forge alliances and a friendships across the spectrum of state politics and policy.

In September I supported Mark's widow, Cathy Costello, to fill the vacancy created by his death,
as did many others around the state.

Mrs. Costello had, shortly before, asked Fallin to appoint her to the post. She is the person most like Mark, the man voters chose twice for the job. She will build upon his remarkable and all-too-short time in public life.

Yes, I have a point of view. It is informed with knowledge of the issues and individuals involved – including the late Commissioner – and of public policy in this particular arena.

Oklahoma state law provides, “When any office shall become vacant, [the governor] shall, unless otherwise provided by law, appoint a person to fill such vacancy, who shall continue in office until a successor shall have been duly elected or appointed, and qualified according to law.”

State law also provides, “If any officer of the state, district, county, city, town or other governmental subdivision of this state shall die while in office, and shall leave a surviving spouse, the said surviving spouse shall be eligible (if otherwise qualified) to be appointed to and to hold said office during the term for which the said officer was elected.…”

These provisions are not arcane expressions of the intentions of those long dead.

They are the framework within which decisions are made for leadership in statewide posts, including Commissioner of Labor.

Others interested in this important appointment may examine provisions for themselves in several documents that can be accessed online.

On September 2, Governor Mary Fallin wrote to Stacy Bonner, a financial officer at the Department of Labor, asking her to serve as Acting Commissioner “until such time as I make a formal appointment” to the position.

Curiously, in the letter – a copy of which The City Sentinel has obtained – she referred to Bonner as Deputy Commissioner.

Deputy Commissioner posts can, for cost-saving or other reasons, remain vacant.

Deputy Commissioners are appointed by the head of the agency, that is, the elected or duly-appointed commissioner.

It is not clear that the late Commissioner Costello ever appointed Bonner to the post.

I have no reason to believe he ever did so.

Referring to Bonner as deputy commissioner does not make her so, unless my awareness of the late Commissioner's actions in this area is faulty.

I have no quarrel with Bonner, yet I advocate the wisdom of established practice and believe she should not be made commissioner.

A better option is available.

The governor has authority to make an appointment. She should do so soon.

I have a point of view and it is this:

Our governor should appoint Cathy Costello to fill out the term of her late husband. Mrs. Costello is qualified in her own right. She is the best choice to continue the progress made in workplace safety, advancement of the interests of workers and improvements in the Oklahoma economy.

NOTE: McGuigan served as Deputy Commissioner of Labor 2005-07. He was appointed to the position during the administration of the late Brenda Reneau.

          --          --          --          --          --          --

I completely agree with McGuigan's thoughts on this matter. I don't understand what's taking Governor Fallin so long to make any appointment, either.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Conservative Index scores for Oklahoma Legislature's presidential endorsers


Back in August, I compared the Oklahoma Constitution's 'Conservative Index' lifetime scores for Oklahoma legislators who had endorsed Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush. Since then, three other presidential candidates have released Oklahoma legislative endorsements, so here's the update.

Marco Rubio has 14 endorsers, with an average score of 65.5. Six endorsers are House members (average of 67.8), and eight are Senate members (average of 64.6).

Ted Cruz has 13 endorsers, with an average score of 81.3. Ten endorsers are House members (average of 82.9), and three are Senate members (average of 76).

Jeb Bush has 10 endorsers, with an average score of 62.2. Nine endorsers are House members (average of 61.4), and one is a Senate member (average of 69).

Donald Trump has 2 endorsers, with an average score of 63. One endorser is a House member (average of 63), and one is a Senate member (average of 63).

Carly Fiorina has 1 endorser in the Senate, with an average of 90.

For comparison, the average Conservative Index lifetime score for Republicans in the state legislature is 71.6. The average for GOP House members is 72.5 and for GOP Senate members it's 70.0.

14 Oklahoma legislators endorse Rubio for President


Marco Rubio Oklahoma Chairman David Holt Announces 13 Legislative Endorsements

The Marco Rubio for President Oklahoma State Chairman, Senator David Holt, has announced the names of 13 other Republican legislators who are endorsing U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s candidacy to become the next President of the United States.  

“Marco’s candidacy is resonating with Oklahomans, as evidenced by this strong list of supporters from the Oklahoma Legislature,” said Senator David Holt.   “These folks come from across the state and from all walks of life, but like me, they all believe in Marco’s message.   I believe Marco will perform very strongly in Oklahoma’s Republican presidential primary, and then I know Marco will win Oklahoma next November on his way to becoming the next President of the United States."

The additional legislators endorsing Marco Rubio are:

Senator Kim David (R - Porter)
Senator Eddie Fields (R - Wynona)
Senator Jack Fry (R - Midwest City)
Senator A.J. Griffin (R - Guthrie)
Senator Wayne Shaw (R - Grove)
Senator Jason Smalley (R - Stroud)
Senator Roger Thompson (R - Okemah)
Rep. Josh Cockroft (R - Wanette)
Rep. Randy Grau (R - Edmond)
Rep. Katie Henke (R - Tulsa)
Rep. Terry O’Donnell (R - Tulsa)
Rep. Leslie Osborn (R - Mustang)
Rep. Harold Wright (R - Weatherford)

With today’s announcement, Senator Rubio has more publicly announced endorsements from Oklahoma legislators (14) than any other candidate for President.

Senator Rubio will be a candidate in the March 1st, 2016 Oklahoma Republican presidential primary.  Senator Rubio most recently visited the state last month, when he paid his respects at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and delivered a speech outlining his energy plan.  Oklahoma supporters of Senator Rubio’s campaign can receive updates from Senator Rubio's campaign in Oklahoma by following @TeamMarcoOK on Twitter

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

CNBC debate moderators nuked by a Cruz missile

I missed most of this evening's presidential debate due to church, but wow, you have to check this clip out. Texas Senator Ted Cruz verbally firebombed the debate moderators.



By all accounts I've seen, this was the worst-moderated debate in recent history.

Bridenstine comments on budget and Speaker votes

Congressman Jim Bridenstine on the House Speaker Vote
 
Congressman Bridenstine:  Today the GOP Conference nominated Rep. Paul Ryan for Speaker of the House, giving him 200 votes out of 245 cast.  43 Members, including me, voted for Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida.
 
Rep. Ryan is the Republican nominee, and I will vote for him on the floor of the House. I will work constructively with the new Speaker to advance sound legislation addressing the nation’s urgent needs, and I will also hold him accountable to lead House in responsibly performing its representational duties and advancing our national interests.

Congressman Jim Bridenstine Votes Against the Backroom Budget Deal

Congressman Bridenstine:  Today I voted against the “Bipartisan Budget Act.”  This massive bill was negotiated in secret and brought to Members who were given 41 hours to consider it.  No amendments were allowed and representation was denied to the American people.  It increased spending, increased annual deficits, and raised the debt limit.  I voted No.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fallin: prepare plans for 10% cut in nonessential spending

As a state that is heavily dependent on oil and gas revenues, the recent collapse of energy prices is setting Oklahoma up for another "tough" budget year. Here's a press release from Governor Fallin, with some of my thoughts below:

Governor Mary Fallin Orders State Agencies to Develop 
Plans for 10% Cut in Nonessential Spending
A moratorium is also placed on nonessential out-of-state travel

OKLAHOMA CITY - With 2016 expected to be a challenging budget year, Governor Mary Fallin today issued an executive order requiring the chief administrative officer of every Oklahoma agency, board and commission to prepare written plans to reduce nonessential expenses by 10 percent for both the remainder of this fiscal year and for the entire 2017 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The executive order does not mandate any spending cuts; rather, it asks agency heads to plan for potential future cuts.

The plans are to include an explanation of how the dollars saved from the reduction will be reallocated to other needs within the agency. The written spending cut plans are due to each agency’s respective Cabinet secretary by Dec. 1, according to Executive Order 2015-46.

The governor also placed a moratorium on nonessential, taxpayer-funded, out-of-state travel for all state employees. Essential travel is limited to trips that are critical to core state agency functions, maintain professional accreditation unavailable in Oklahoma, are required by the federal government or are necessary to secure or maintain federal funding.

Also, effective Dec. 1, advance written notification must be given for proposed state payment of any:
  • Agency, state and public employee or officer membership(s) in any private or public organization;
  • Nonessential out-of-state travel for agency employees and officers that is wholly paid for by an entity other than the state, or;
  • Nonemergency purchase(s) that exceed $10,000.
“I’m asking every agency to start planning for potential spending cuts and to develop a strategy that protects essential services,” said Fallin. “It’s important we get ahead of this issue as we enter a difficult budget year. Families and businesses tighten their belts during lean times; our state agencies can do the same.”

Revenue for the appropriated state budget for the 2016 fiscal year has come in below projections. A significant shortfall is expected to occur in the next budget year.

Here's a few thoughts I had on this.

"Non-essential spending"
If it's non-essential, why is government doing it? This reminds me of the federal government "shutdown" in 2013. Republicans [ostensibly] believe that government should be small and limited, which should preclude "nonessential" spending.

"Nonessential out-of-state travel"
Why is state government paying for any nonessential out-of-state travel to begin with?

Governor Fallin campaigned in 2010 and 2014 on "right-sizing" state government. Budget shortfalls provide the opportune time to do just that, yet we continue to see that state government hasn't really shrunk under Republican leadership.

The folks at OCPA have been beating this drum for a long time (example from earlier this year). State spending reached an all time high in 2015. It's time Republicans got serious and did more than "trim around the edges" of state government.

Music Monday: The Harmonious Blacksmith

This week's Music Monday is the final movement from Georg Frideric Handel's Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV 430, more commonly known as The Harmonious Blacksmith. As if we hadn't previously established that I have a rather unusual musical taste -- I've always been a fan of the harpsichord. This sounds and looks like an incredibly difficult piece to play.

Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Carson 25%, Trump 19%, Rubio 9%, Cruz 7% in OK poll

A new presidential primary poll finds GOP candidate Ben Carson now beating Donald Trump in Oklahoma. Commissioned by The Oklahoman newspaper, the survey shows some significant movement from the last one released by SoonerPoll in September.

Oklahoma Republican Primary Survey (link)
The Oklahoman/Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates500 registered Republicans in Oklahoma, Oct. 19th-22nd, MoE +/- 4.3%
Ben Carson - 25%
Donald Trump - 19%
Marco Rubio - 9%
Ted Cruz - 7%
Mike Huckabee - 4%
Jeb Bush - 3%
Carly Fiorina - 2%
John Kasich - 2%
Chris Christie - 1%
Rand Paul - 1%
Santorum/Pataki/Jindal/Graham - 0%
Undecided - 27%
Carson stopped in Oklahoma this past week for some book signings, and now leads Trump in recent Iowa polling.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Protect Life & Marriage Rally featuring Lankford, Bridenstine, Russell


Tomorrow afternoon, Christians from all across Oklahoma will be gathering at the Oklahoma State Capitol for a Protect Life and Marriage rally. U.S. Senator James Lankford will be headlining the event, and Congressmen Jim Bridenstine (OK-1) and Steve Russell (OK-5) will be speaking, in addition to numerous pastors helping the effort.

A news release from the organization says more than 700 pastors and their congregations plan to come. Similar rallies in North Carolina last Saturday and in South Carolina in August attracted over 10,000 supporters at each event.

The Protect Life and Marriage rally will be held Sunday (Oct. 25th) at 4pm, on the south lawn of the Oklahoma State Capitol building in Oklahoma City.




Monday, October 19, 2015

'Picnic with the Party' Thursday in Muskogee



The Muskogee County Republicans are holding their annual fall "Picnic with the Party" on Thursday, October 22nd, at 6pm, at Muskogee's Civitan Park. The cost is $10 per family, and will include hot dogs, dessert, drinks and all the fixings. Bring the kids or grandkids, and enjoy an evening with local Republicans!

Local candidates for office will be speaking, as well as representatives for several Republican presidential candidates.

The following 2016 candidates are currently confirmed to be attending:

  • Muskogee County Sheriff: Roger Posey
  • Senate District 9: Dewayne Pemberton
  • House District 13: Avery Frix, Leah Todd, and Al Stevens
  • House District 14: Rep. George Faught
  • House District 16: Scott Fetgatter

Representatives of GOP presidential candidates Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio are coming, with several other campaigns in the process of confirming attendance.

For more information visit this link or email MuskogeeRepublicans@gmail.com.

Music Monday: Liberty Fanfare

This week's Music Monday is John William's Liberty Fanfare.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

House Study Examines Administrative Rules Process



OKLAHOMA CITY - On Wednesday, Rep. George Faught held an Interim Study with the House Committee on Administrative Rules to discuss options for streamlining and improving the Administrative Rules Process. The committee heard testimony from several state agencies and industry stakeholders who expressed concerns about the current method of proposing and reviewing the rules, including the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the State Department of Education, the Secretary of State’s Office, and the Corporation Commission.

Since resuming his position as Chairman of the committee, Rep. Faught noticed serious flaws in the process currently in statute, including confusing and uncertain timelines concerning rule approval dates. While the members of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives Committee on Administrative Rules work diligently throughout the legislative session to personally discuss and review the rules with state agencies and interested parties, the effectiveness of legislative oversight is minimal. Under the current system, the legislature must pass a single resolution, encompassing all agencies rules submitted prior to April 1st, which declares all rules approved and notes any disapproved rules.

For the past two years, the legislature has failed to pass such a resolution. This inaction negates the work of the committee and cedes legislative oversight authority to the Governor. With insight from all perspectives, Rep. Faught plans on proposing legislation to revise the Administrative Procedures Act and repair the current, flawed process.

Rep. Faught said, “We have heard from the members of the legislature, our state agencies, and the people we serve. We realize the system is broken and we can improve it. I commend the Administrative Rules Committee for their tireless work. I am confident that in conjunction with the Senate, we can reach a solution that will enable the legislature to exercise its authority in protecting the people and ensuring more efficient government.”

Monday, October 12, 2015

Music Monday: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name

This week's Music Monday is Tom Fettke's chorale arrangement of Linda Lee Johnson's The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.



The lyrics of the song are inspired by Psalm 8, and testify to both the greatness of God's power in creation, and the greatness of His grace in His relation to mankind.

When I gaze into the night sky,
And see the work of Your fingers.
The moon and stars suspended in space.
But what is man that You are mindful of him?
You have given man a crown of glory and honor.
And have made him a little lower than the angels.
You have put him in charge of all creation;
The beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea.
But what is man, oh, what is man
That You are mindful of him?

O Lord, our God the majesty and glory of Your name
Transcends the earth and fills the heavens.
O Lord, our God little children praise Him perfectly.
And so would we, and so would we.
Alleluia, Alleluia. The majesty and glory of Your name!
Alleluia, Alleluia.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pam Pollard wins Special Election for OKGOP Chair



Pam Pollard won the Oklahoma Republican Party chair election held this afternoon in Oklahoma City, and will fill out the rest of Randy Brogdon's two-year term (expiring spring of 2017).

339 state committee members were present in person or by proxy (including 106 from state legislative members).

The tally in the first round of balloting was 163 votes for OFRW President Pam Pollard, 115 for Vice-Chair Estela Hernandez, and 77 for 3rd District Chair Robert Hubbard. There were 16 extra votes cast over the credentialed amount of members, and that surplus left Pollard slightly under the 50%+1 majority, but Estela Hernandez motioned and Robert Hubbard seconded that Pollard be approved as chair by voice vote.

Our thanks to all three for running, congratulations to the new OKGOP Chair, and best wishes on moving the Party forward.

Friday, October 9, 2015

My Pick: Pam Pollard for OKGOP Chair


On Sunday afternoon, members of the Oklahoma Republican Party's State Committee will convene to elect a new chair for the Party.

I was a member of the State Committee for six years (2009-2015), but did not run for reelection at the county convention this spring, so while I do not have a vote any more, I take great interest in the operations of the committee and the state party in general.

As my readers are aware, for the last several years I have made an effort to conduct a survey of the candidates running for OKGOP chair and vice-chair. To date, I have been successful in getting responses from all of the candidates. The survey I did this year was the longest (14 questions) and most detailed yet. -- view it here.

We have a great group of candidates running to finish Randy Brogdon's term, that's for sure.

I have not had much interaction with Estela Hernandez beyond my candidate surveys this year (both the current one and the vice-chair one from this spring). She brings an enthusiasm to the party that we need, and an emphasis on outreach that the Republican Party in general tends to neglect. She has a willingness to be a vocal Republican in a community where it isn't the most popular thing to be.

Some of you may remember that I endorsed and voted for Robert Hubbard in the 2010 gubernatorial primary. During that race, Robert was the only candidate to put aside the political rhetoric and generic platitudes to discuss facts, figures and plans -- that impressed me. Robert also was a financial supporter of my dad's 2012 congressional campaign at a time when most people wanted to sit on the fence and wait. Robert has guts and is willing to stick his neck out, yet gets along with everybody. He's a great guy.

As I said, the State Committee has three great candidates to choose from. My pick for Oklahoma Republican Party Chair is Pam Pollard.


My wife and I have interacted with Pollard since 2008, and always found her to be a ball of GOP-driven energy. She has a fierce dedication to advancing and growing the Republican Party.

The state party is facing some challenges right now. I think Pam Pollard is the best choice to resolve them.

We need a chair who is knowledgeable about the State Party Rules. I can think of no other Republican who knows the party Rules as well as Pam Pollard. The Rules form the basis of how this Party is to operate, and without a good grasp of them, we will flounder (as the immediate past two chairmen have demonstrated). I'm a nut about the Rules (probably one of the few who keep a copy downloaded on my smartphone), but Pam is an even bigger nut about them.

We need a chair who can fundraise. This is a huge part of operating the OKGOP. Matt Pinnell did a fabulous job here as chairman, but Dave Weston and Randy Brogdon struggled. Pam Pollard has a proven record here of success, and I believe can bring alongside others who can help the Party be a financial success again.

We need a chair who can organize conventions. The presidential primary makes 2016 a b-i-g year of conventions. There are precinct meetings, county conventions, District conventions, and the State Convention. The presidential year conventions are different from off-year conventions, as they are focused on electing national convention delegates and presidential electors. Any convention is a difficult thing to put on, and it's even harder for a novice to do (exhibit A: the 2015 state convention). Pam has a great deal of experience here that we need in the chair's office.

Additionally, I believe Pam can unite the Party effectively. We've fractured some over the last year or two, and especially with the "soap opera" of the last few months. We need a chair who bring everyone together and focus them on the main goal - advancing the party principles and platform, electing Republicans to office, and growing the conservative grassroots in this state.

For the Oklahoma Republican Party to be strong again, we need an experienced leader.

That leader is Pam Pollard.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cruz raises $12.2M in Q3, $26.5M since joining race


Cruz “Sustainers” Fuel the Field Operation Each Month

HOUSTON, Texas -- The Cruz for President campaign today announced it has raised $26.5 million since its campaign launch six months ago, with just over $12.2 million coming in during the third quarter. The campaign showed sustained momentum by doubling its total donations during the period, receiving 185,000 Q3 contributions for a total of more than 362,000 over the course of the campaign. The average donation during the third quarter was $66.

The campaign has also secured more than 6,000 “sustainers” – donors who have pledged to give a recurring monthly amount to the campaign. The sustainers provide enough recurring revenue to cover all expenses every month for Cruz’s entire field operation across the country, which includes the first four early states, as well as the 23 additional states and territories where the campaign is currently organized. In September, the campaign announced it has named more than 500 leadership team members throughout the nation, far ahead of any other Republican candidate in the race.

“We are thrilled to see a grassroots wave of support for our campaign gaining momentum all over the country,” Cruz said. “Not only are we seeing a surge of new donors and recurring donors to our campaign, but also continued growth of our organizations in the early states and all across the country. Americans are ready for real change, and I am ready to stand with them to take on the Washington Cartel and return power to the American people. We have both the financial and organizational resources to compete for the long haul and to take our optimistic message all across the country.”

Cruz has one or more donors from 58 percent of the zip codes in America, a 10 percent growth from the second quarter.

In the last 24 hours of the quarter, the campaign raised more than $1 million, following the similar $1 million surge in fundraising that was generated in the 48 hours following the second debate.

Cruz continues to stand at the top of GOP leaders in social engagement, which remains crucial to targeting new and low-dollar donors. More than 2,602,036 unique visitors have come to Cruz’s website since the campaign launch. He has also gathered more than 418 million impressions on Facebook, more than 215.6 million impressions on Twitter, and has been tweeted about more than 6 million times since the campaign launch.


Comment from the Blogger: Cruz raised just over $10M in Q2, and another $4.3M in Q1 when he launched his campaign.    

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Samaritan Ministries: insurance alternative for Christians

With the next health insurance open enrollment starting on November 1st, many people will be looking into getting insurance or switching plans. With ObamaCare changing how health insurance works, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find plans that actually work, are usable, and don't cost an arm and a leg. For Christians, there's the added question of supporting companies that pay for abortions and other immoral and unbiblical practices.

I'd like to present another option for you...


... get out of traditional health insurance altogether!

Before you think I'm nuts, let me introduce you to Samaritan Ministries.

My wife and I have been members of Samaritan Ministries since December of 2012. Samaritan Ministries is a not-for-profit religious organization classified as a health-care sharing ministry, and is not traditional "health insurance".

Samaritan Ministries and similar organizations are an innovative free-market non-insurance solution to today's healthcare needs. They satisfy the 'ObamaCare'/Affordable Care Act's requirement to purchase health insurance or pay a tax-penalty. Unlike health insurance, you can sign up at any time, not just during an enrollment period.



Samaritan Ministries is Biblical

Galatians 6:2 says "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." It is out of this principle that health-care sharing ministries like Samaritan operate. Applying this principle to health-care expenses results in the Body of Christ operating as it did in the days of the Early Church -- encouraging fellow believers in difficult situations through prayer and sharing the load.

Samaritan Ministries operates on Biblically-based foundational principles:
1. Jesus Christ is the only adequate Provider for every need we have
2. A medical need (or any other need) involves more than money
3. Believers in Jesus Christ are responsible to first use the resources He has given us to meet the needs of ourselves and our families
4. The local church should be the next “line of defense” to provide for the needs of its own members
5. God created man as His image bearer and the crown of His creation.

To be a member of Samaritan Ministries, you must be a professing Christian, agree to the Samaritan Ministries Statement of Faith, be a regularly attending member of a church, agree to certain moral standards (dealing with alcohol, tobacco, and sexual activity), and have your pastor or church leader sign a testimonial form. You can view the Application Form here, and the Guidelines here.

In the monthly mailing sent to members, Samaritan Ministries includes a daily prayer guide for the month listing different prayer requests and medical needs that members have. Prayer is important to Samaritan Ministries - one of their mottoes is "Send a note, Pay your share, Always stay alert in prayer."

Samaritan Ministries is Affordable

Cost is a big factor in dealing with healthcare and insurance. Samaritan Ministries is very affordable and simple to understand. There are four basic monthly levels, with discounts when one or both heads of household are under 26:

  • Single: $180 ($140 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $220 / $180 
  • Couple: $360 ($280 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $440 / $360
  • Parents with kids (3+ person family): $405 ($355 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $495 / $445
  • Widowed or divorced with children: $250 ($200 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $305 / $255

11 months out of the year, you send your monthly "Share" directly to a fellow member with a medical "Need". Once a year, your monthly Share is sent to the Samaritan Ministries office for administrative costs - the only time money is not directly sent to a fellow member.

The amounts are only changed by a super-majority vote of the membership.

Samaritan Ministries is Usable

For medical "Needs" that meet the Guidelines, you are responsible for the first $300. Any amount after that is shared with other Samaritan members. If you receive any discounts on your medical bills, that discount is taken out of your personal responsibility amount, so it's very easy to essentially cancel out that $300. Samaritan Ministries partners with The Karis Group to negotiate reductions on large bills. More on that in a bit.

After your first three medical needs submitted in a year, the $300 personal responsibility sum is waived for successive needs that year. Theoretically, whether you have three medical needs in a year (that meet the Guidelines) or ten, it's just $900 that won't be shared.

Here's a personal example. In June, I had an emergency appendectomy. Total cost for my procedure and hospital stay was in the ballpark of $33,000. I explained to the hospital that I was a self-pay patient (briefly went through how Samaritan Ministries works), and received a 20% discount. Samaritan hooked me up with The Karis Group, and they were able to negotiate a 35% discount instead of my initial 20% reduction. On some of the other bills, I was able to get between 20% and 40% marked off by being self-pay. All told, my original cost of around $33,000 was reduced to around $22,000, and every penny was shared by Samaritan members across the country.

Cards and checks received from about 55 Samaritan Ministries families across the country
My wife's [uneventful] pregnancy and [very eventful, emergency c-section] delivery in July cost an initial $15,000. After self-pay reductions of around 40%, the final total was around $11,500 -- and again, every penny is being shared by Samaritan Ministries families across the country.

Another plus to Samaritan Ministries is that you're not restricted to certain physicians and medical providers -- you can go wherever you want! Remember "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor"? That's actually true with health-care sharing ministries.

Currently, over 49,000 families (nearly 160,000 individuals) participate in Samaritan Ministries. In September 2015, there were 4,407 medical needs being shared with a grand total of $13,915,033 (approximately $3,157 per need). So far this year, about $100,000,000.00 worth of medical needs has been shared by Samaritan members.

To read more on how the need submitting process works, see my post from March, when we submitted our first medical need - Samaritan Ministries works: our experience. For some more in-depth details, see my page devoted to this topic: Samaritan Ministries -- Health-Care Sharing.

More Information 

Currently, there are nearly 50,000 families participating in Samaritan Ministries. For more information about why they do, visit SamaritanMinistries.org. You can view videos, testimonials, Frequently Asked Questions, the Guidelines, the Application Form, and much more. 

If you are interested in joining, I'd be more than happy to talk with you about our experience. You can call me anytime at (918) 869-6000, or email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com. If the information I've given you is helpful, and you decide to join Samaritan Ministries, I'd greatly appreciate it if you would put me down as your referral when you fill out your Application Form (Samaritan Ministries gives members a referral credit).

I hope that our experience has been helpful and given you useful information about health-care sharing ministries, and Samaritan Ministries in particular.