Friday, October 26, 2007

Accept It Or You're A Bigot

I'm still marvelling at the spin that is following the decision of dozens of Oklahoma's legislators to decline a complimentary copy of the Koran, that seems to have been offered as a political ploy.

Most of the vitriol that has been generated by the outraged left has been heeped on Rep. Rex Duncan, who was one of the first to decline the offer. He has been accused, unjustly, of holding a press conference to make his decision known. As I wrote below, this didn't happen. In the face of conclusive evidence that it didn't happen, the new spin is that he copied the media on the e-mail in which he declined the Koran. Only problem is, he didn't do that, either!

Rep. Duncan was kind enough to forward the e-mail he sent to the Governor's Islamic committee, declining their offer. The exact content of the message follows:
>Please remove my name from the list of legislators receiving a
>complimentary "Oklahoma Centennial Quran."
>Please encourage your fellow Oklahoma Muslims to speak out and
>condemn acts of violence committed in the name of Muhammad and the
>Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women
and children in the name of ideology.
>Representative Rex Duncan

Most of the critics of Rep. Duncan have been only been quoting the line about "killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology." This sentence, without the sentence that precedes it, seems rightfully peculiar. Parsing the message is a tried and true rhetorical trick.

Are the critics claiming that Duncan is wrong when he intimates that acts of violence are committed in the name of Muhammad and Islam? Only a fool would suggest this isn't happening in the world. Do the critics claim that "Oklahoma Muslims" have been virtually silent with regard to what is happening and that a frightening number of American Muslims support terrorism in the defense of the faith? Studies have proven this is the case.

Did Rep. Duncan "refuse" the Koran, or simply "decline" the offer. There is a difference. His tone is obviously polite and diplomatic. The reason he sent the e-mail in the first place is that the committee asked the legislators to let them know if they were going to decline the gift. Duncan did so.

Politely doing as he was asked was characterized in a press conference today as "hateful words."

In reporting the press event, the Tulsa World also purposely parsed Duncan's message, taking his remarks out of context to make him look bad. The World writes:
Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, refused a gift of Islam's holy book earlier this week, saying, "Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology." Other lawmakers joined him in refusing the gift, offered by the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council as part of the state's centennial celebration.

Go back and read Rep. Duncan's message. Is he "refusing" or politely "declining?"

The World further reports:
"Today, I'm an American Muslim, speaking for our brothers," said David
Bernstein, executive director of the Jewish Federation.

"Hateful words inevitably lead to hateful actions," he said.

Where are the hateful words? Millions of Americans, including me, share Duncan's frustration that "peace loving Muslims" are not openly and frequently condemning the radicals of their faith. Are we never to put our frustrations, no matter how politely constructed, into words?

The other troubling bit of media bias that is rampant in the hyperbolic coverage of this story is the fact that nobody reports that Rep. Duncan is anything more than a elected member of the legislature. What has never been reported since this broke is Duncan's military service.

Here's what is written in Rep. Duncan's on-line profile at the State House web site:
Lieutenant Colonel, OK Army National Guard. Rex has served 28 years in the
Guard, Reserves and active duty.

He volunteered for active duty following 9/11 and served 16 months as a
Special Forces officer with the Special Operations Command-Central. His duty assignments included Middle East and Horn of Africa.

He currently serves as Battalion Commander of 2/189th Regiment, Regional
Training Institute in Oklahoma City.Awards and decorations include: Special
Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault, Pathfinder and
EIB badges and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

Surely, Rex Duncan knows better than any of those who have criticized him as bigoted, what has been done in the name of Islam. After all, the man has served his country bravely in the Middle East. How many of the critics have done the same?

Even if you think this biases his worldview, you would surely have to agree that his service is at the very least a mitigating factor that the readers of the newspaper and the online forums who know little or nothing about Duncan's past, have a right to know.

The feeding frenzy surrounding this manufactured event is predictable. Those that see the rise of Islamo-Fascism as the greatest danger facing the West today have grown accustomed to the tactics of the anti-war types and their allies in the liberal denominations and faiths.

We'll just keep telling the truth and hope enough of it seeps out to make a difference.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hey Michael Patton! Who You Calling An Idiot?

The Tulsa Now Forum began as a fairly even handed, on-line opportunity for Tulsans to discuss local issues on politics, culture and development. However, of late, it has degenerated into a very one-sided rant that is very intolerant of those who might enter to express opposing viewpoints.

Most troubling about this forum, and most such forums, is the ability of posters to hide behind on-line "handles," which allow them to make anonymous accusations (often personal attacks) against others without scrutiny into their own vocations, political affiliations or personal pasts.

When anonymity is granted, falsehoods get ranted.

Currently the carping assemblage is waxing outraged on the decision of Rep. Rex Duncan to not accept a freebie Koran offered by a Islamic group formed by Governor Henry. In this polylogue of opinion and mock-shock, it seems fair game to mix facts in with outright falsehoods to make a good point.

One poster who goes by the nom-de-keyboard of "RecyleMichael" is widely known to be local enviromentalist Michael Patton. Patton's style of rhetoric is to play the part of the diplomat, often feigning fair mindedness as his primary concern, but then slipping in some damning statement amid all of the diplopmatic speech.

In regard to Representative Duncan, Patton utilized just such a strategy, hoping when the lie hit, the slander would be just that more effective. Here's what Patton wrote in a forum string entitled "Oklahoma lawmaker shows predjudice against Islam:"
Posted - 10/24/2007 : 19:36:51
As disappointed as I am with these legislators refusing a gift from a
different faith, I am not taking the side of the Muslim group passing these out

They had to know that certain legislators were going to make a big deal out
of refusing the books. I believe they did this in full knowledge that this would
identify the elected officials.It was a set up and 22 of the legislators fell
for it.

The elected officials should have quietly accepted the books, then given
them away or disposed of them in some other manner. Instead, the idiot Rex
Duncan called a press conference to sound like an uniformed bigot.
[emphasis added by me]

There are no winners here and all of Oklahoma lost on this one.

Dear Mr. Patton, please get your facts straight. It seems it is you, who is uninformed. I just got off the phone with Rep. Rex Duncan and asked him a very simple question. Did you call a press conference or directly contact the press with regard to this story?

His answer?

"No, Mick Hinton [Tulsa World reporter] called me."

In fact, I learned through my conversation with Rep. Duncan, Mr. Hinton called him within just a few hours after Duncan had sent an e-mail to Ms. Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour stating his desire not to receive the Koran. Just a mere two or three hours, Mr. Patton!

Rep. Duncan had placed a phone call to Ms. Seirafi-Pour on Monday to "opt out" of the gift, as requested by Ms. Seirafi-Pour, and to also inquire as to whether or not tax payer dollars were used to purchase the Korans. She assured Duncan that they were bought with private funds, but asked Duncan if he would send her an e-mail stating he didn't want the Koran "for their records."

This he did. Hours later, he was called by Hinton for the story that ran in the next days' newspaper.

I agree, Mr. Patton. This WAS a set up by this Islamic group, which obviously has political intentions. However, you owe Rep. Duncan an apology [both in the forum and to the man directly] for your idiotic remarks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Korans Rejected by Two More Legislators

Sources tell me that State Sen. James Williamson and State Rep. Ron Peters have joined the growning number of legislators that have declined to accept Koran's that have been offered by a curiously named committee formed by Governor Henry.

While he has declined the offer of a free "Centennial Koran," Williamson said he is willing to meet with representatives of the group.

The committee, inaccurately named the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council is entirely made up of Muslims. They sent an e-mail to every Oklahoma legislator, offering the Korans, but making it clear that they were free to decline the offer.

As of this writing, 18 Republicans and one Democrat have declined the Korans.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hot ORU Rumor

I have it from a pretty good source that is NOT Rick Westcott's e-mail that a second law suit will be filed against Oral Roberts University...this time by a student from the government department. I am told that the suit alleges that by cleaning house of much of the government department, the university damaged the student's degree. I'm trying to get additional confirmation. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not Even a Hand Slap?

As noted below, Toby Huyssen, the ORU student who was alleged to have written an e-mail calling on approximately 350 of his fellow students to come to the Government Department offices to sign up to volunteer in the Randi Miller for Mayor campaign, hasn't seemed to have suffered too much from his admitted ethical lapse.

On the surface, the email appeared to have been written by government professor Tim Brooker [you can see a scanned version of the e-mail here]. However, when the proverbial item this the proverbial fan, and someone suggested the IRS might want to look into ORU in general and Dr. Brooker in particular, the explanation was given that young Toby actually wrote the e-mail, using Dr. Brooker's university owned computer and neglecting to remove Dr. Brooker's electronic signature from the bottom.

Not many believed the cover story at the time. However, even those who did believe it agreed that Mr. Huyssen had committed a pretty serious ethical lapse. The kind of ethical lapse that gets students dismissed from their respective institution of higher education.

Not so fast you say. Oral Roberts University is a Christian institution and therefore one should not be surprised that they forgave Mr. Huyssen to the degree that he wasn't ousted from the school, despite having drawn the ire of the IRS down upon the house that Oral built. Temper this, though, with the fact that Dr. Brooker, himself, was allegedly forced out by the university.

So even if Mr. Huyssen wasn't expelled, wouldn't you suppose that his indiscretion would at least preclude him from receiving accolades from the University he had shamed?

Well...if you answered "yes"...then you're going to be perplexed.

On April 4, 2006...less than three months after the alleged phony e-mail was sent out...Tobias Huyssen was among a handful of students at an honors banquet. [You can see the .doc version of the evening's program, here].

Local luminary Hans Helmerich was the featured speaker and Toby was to be honored as the outstanding student in the International Community Development program.

Wouldn't one think that such an honor would not have been granted to someone who had admitted to an action that had brought bad publicity to the school and had placed his professor...the father of his roommate, in the cross hairs of public scrutiny? No? Then read the text below, which graced the evening's program as an explanation as to why everyone had convened to honor the school's honorees.

Oral Roberts University fosters excellence. It is an institution devoted to equipping people for success and maximizing their potential. Tonight we gather to give tribute to those who demonstrate excellence in their respective fields of study. These chosen individuals exemplify the uncompromising academic standards of the University. Tonight we gather to give honor to whom honor is due, as mandated in the book of Romans.

The men and women being recognized this evening have distinguished themselves in their pursuit of excellence. Such distinction did not come easily. Talent alone did not bring them here. It took more than a good idea or wishful thinking to set them apart from their peers. At a university dedicated to helping individuals reach their full potential, the award recipients had to rise above the good and the great in order to reach the superior.

I'm guessing you are now laughing too hard to read on. I know I can barely type right now.

Draw your own conclusions. Mine involve a trusting student, a sword and a handy place for said student to fall upon said sword for the greater good.

Way to "reach the superior," Toby.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Toby Huyssen Making News...Again!

The student that allegedly wrote the now infamous "paper tiger" e-mail, imploring ORU government students to get involved in County Commissioner Randi Miller's mayoral campaign is back in the news. Apparently, he is now living in Louisiana and is heading up an organization called the "Louisiana Action Council" which has a PAC called "Louisianans in Action."

In fact, Huyssen is listed as the Executive Director of the group. Not bad for a kid who was a college senior last year. Not bad for a kid who allegedly violated the trust of his professor by using his computer and his name to lure students to the Government Department's offices so that they could sign up to volunteer for Miller.

WBRZ News 2 reports in a story dated yesterday:

A New York businessman with a history of pushing his favored political issues in other states has quietly contributed thousands of dollars in this year’s Louisiana legislative races, much of it handed out by a group describing itself as a “grass-roots” organization that supports school choice.

Companies connected with real estate tycoon Howard Rich, a noted libertarian, have spread $60,000 among 21 candidates in recent months.

The checks are not made out in Rich’s name but rather come from eight different corporations, all with a listed address of 73 Spring St., New York, NY, that has been connected to Rich and his associates.

Most of the checks were distributed by the recently formed Louisiana Action Council or its political action committee, Louisianians in Action. Louisiana Action Council Executive Director Toby Huyssen declined to identify the source of the campaign finance contributions that his group distributed.

“I don’t know if he wants his name in the newspaper,” Huyssen said.

To explain who Huyssen is, WBRZ gives the following background:

Huyssen, the director, is a Louisiana native who attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., from 2002 to 2006 and has a political résumé that includes work on Haley Barbour’s 2003 gubernatorial campaign in Mississippi and Bobby Jindal’s 2003 gubernatorial campaign in Louisiana, according to Huyssen’s biography on the group’s Web site.

Louisiana Action Council has quickly established itself. The group’s associated political action committee has received $8,150 in contributions — $150 from Huyssen, $4,000 from Louisiana Action Council and $4,000 from the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority — and has spent about $6,600, mainly on phone-banking.

I will have to keep an eye on this developing story in Louisiana to determine what it's all about. However, it is interesting the Huyssen has hit a news story at the same time that his name is being bandied about in Tulsa as the purported author of an e-mail that many believe was written by ORU professor Tim Brooker. Brooker is of course one the three professors suing ORU and Richard Roberts.

I also wonder if the Louisiana reporters know of Huyssen's involvement in the ORU scandal.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Richard Roberts Finds Little Shelter Here

Evangelist and Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts states in today's Sunday World that the proof that his students weren't used in an unlawful manner during the 2006 City of Tulsa mayoral primary is that students also worked on other candidate's campaigns, not just County Commissioner Randi Miller's. The Tulsa World writes:

"Here (for the Miller campaign) we were told, 'Get them over here and . . . use
every resource at your disposal.' " Roberts denies that.

He said ORU students also worked in the campaigns of other Tulsa mayoral candidates including Chris Medlock and Bill LaFortune. "I am not aware of any (university) resources being used" in the Miller campaign, he said.

I can't speak for the LaFortune campaign, but I can state categorically the sum total of the volunteer contribution to my campaign for mayor that came from Prof. Tim Brooker's team of students adds to a couple of hours, on a Saturday afternoon, by a single female student who brought her mother and father with her, to throw Tulsa Beacons that included an ad advocating my candidacy.

This lone student showed up to help out in any way she could. She seemed very nervous to be there and did not seem in the least to fit the mold of the ORU students who had worked previously on my City Council campaigns. In fact, it seemed that she had brought her mother and father along for moral support, more than to help out a candidate she had never before met.

The task she and her parents were assigned, was to join other teams that were throwing the Beacons onto the driveways of targeted Republicans who were known to be frequent voters. They left campaign headquarters in the early afternoon and returned a few hours later. Most of the teams were finishing their routes in less than an hour and a half. When the student returned with her father, she wanted someone from the campaign to sign a note telling Brooker that she had logged time working on the Medlock campaign. I signed it for her.

About an hour after they left, one of my team coordinators returned to HQ and told me that he had seen the student and her parents throwing the newspapers into yards in an area that wasn't assigned to them, and into every driveway, instead of just those of targeted voters.

We immediately wrote her off as an attempt by the university to try to cover their keesters with the IRS and were reasonably sure that we would never see her again. We didn't.

Perhaps this nervous student was for real. Perhaps she truly felt I was the best candidate of the three to support to get her extra credit. I hope I am not doing her a disservice today. However, she is the only help we got and what I am imparting here is an honest retelling of the assumptions that were made during a very heated campaign.

A check of my records shows that of our campaign workers that supplied us with their contact information, not one came from ORU. This, despite the fact that we had had nearly ten students work on my re-election effort in 2004.

So sorry Dr. Roberts, the Medlock campaign doesn't give you much cover.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Randi Not Off the Hook

Right after the concession speeches were made at the Vote Yes watch party, County Commissioner Randy Miller said that “the people have spoken” and that river development was dead for some time. She is basically taking this no vote as a condemnation of all river development, both public and private.

Wrong again Randi!

The vote no folks, for the most part, support river development. I would imagine a majority of the vote no folks would support the use of some public funds (a reasonable amount) to be used for river development. Further, I am confident that most of the vote no folks, both Tulsans and suburbanites, would bless a well documented plan that was implemented by the relevant cities, leaving Randi Miller and the County out of the equation.

That being said, what Miller is trying to sell to us, in lieu of this defeat at the polls, is that the County will now move on to other priorities, leaving the river in her waterless wake.

Sorry Randi, you can’t do that!

Tulsa County and it’s elected officials have promises to keep. The monies allotted to the low water damns in Vision 2025 are still there. Your promise to construct three dams using those funds, in conjunction with matching funds, still exists. The voters don’t care if the matching funds are from the Feds, the state or from private sources. They DO care that they not come from additional sales taxes.

THAT is the message they sent you, Randi!

Just because they rejected an additional county sales tax to make up for the lack of the matching funds you and your fellow commissioners promised the voters you’d get, doesn’t absolve you of your promise.

Quit looking for a quick fix at the polls and get to work, Randi!

I have said numerous times on the KFAQ Morning Show that your mistake, and that of your buddies at the Chamber was, that as soon as the Kaiser Foundation approached you with their offer of millions of dollars for the river, you should’ve said, “Fantastic, let’s put the first 50 to 60 million bucks toward matching the voters millions from the Vision 2025 vote.”

In other words, let’s keep our four year old promises first, and then maybe the voters will trust you enough to pony up new money for überparks and "pedestrian bridges to nowhere" at a later date.

We who said “nay” are not buying your spin. We don’t believe you when you say there won’t be any Vision 2025 overage monies [we just think you have other plans for it], so use the overages to pay for the dams. We don’t believe you that Hurricane Katrina caused the arena over-runs, drying up the Federal dollars needed for the low-water dams [pork is still flying out of Washington every day, you just have to make a case to get some].

Regardless of where the money comes from, Randi, you made a promise to “construct” low-water dams, we voted based on that promise in 2003, and you’re not off the hook. As such, the County either moves forward with “river development” or you need to start looking for another line of work.