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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Obama Tax Cut (for 95% of us)

Want to know how much of a tax cut you would get under Barack Obama's tax plan (and how much more you would have to pay under McCain's tax plan)? Go to this web site and calculate your potential savings:

ObamaTaxCut.com

Will McCain/Palin Beg Hillary's Forgiveness?



As anyone who follows politics knows, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been chosen by Sen. John McCain to be his running mate. The choice has been touted as being a "bold move" that reaffirms McCain's "maverick status."

Well, maybe so, maybe not.

In her introductory speech by McCain's side, Palin praised Sen. Hillary Clinton for creating "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" for women. Palin promised to be the one who "broke through" for them.

Of course, Palin was referring to the 18 million votes, many by women, for Sen. Clinton in the Democratic primaries. She claimed this mandate, and hopes to claim their votes, despite the fact that she did not do one thing to earn it or them. She did not raise or contribute a single dollar to Sen. Clinton's campaign. She did not knock on a single door or make a single phone call on Clinton's behalf. She did not take the heat Clinton took in the senator’s historic bid for the nomination. All she did do was say "Yes" when the man in charge asked her if she would hitch a ride at his side.

What really galls me is that Palin now praises Hillary even though Palin is a member of the party that spent the last 18 months trashing Hillary. Palin is valued for the fact that she will "excite" the party's conservative and evangelical base, the very people who said of Hilary, "Life is a B*tch; Don't Vote for One."

The GOP supposedly decries identity politics now brags, in Rush Limbaugh's words, to "have a babe of our own." So it seems that the Double Standard is alive and well in the GOP despite all their pretensions.

That is unless Palin and McCain wish to issue an apology to Sen. Hilary Clinton and beg forgiveness from the woman they once all hated but now pretend to love.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barack Obama's Extraordinary Speech

Barack Obama speaks to the 84,000 listeners crammed into Invesco Field in Denver
Obama delivered dead-on campaign speech in Denver tonight. “Tonight, tonight, I say to the people of America, to Democrats and Republicans and independents across this great land — enough!”

I agree.



McCain would only be McSame. I believe we have seen what it means to have the Republican ideology put into actual practice.

It's not a pretty sight.

New Orleans after Katrina

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm Teaching at Rose State College

Sunset looking from the Rose State College campus
I'm teaching once again at Rose State College in Midwest City, OK in eastern Oklahoma County. I've been there more or less steadily since 1991. Midwest City is the location for Tinker Air Force Base, a major logistics center servicing AWACs and B-52 Bombers, among other military flyware.

I enjoy being able to spend some time teaching adults. The average age for my classes must be somewhere in the early 30's. I get many military personnel and Tinker employees along with those who have figured they need a college degree if they are going to get very far in life.

This Fall semester I am teaching Composition I & II in two 8-week segments on Mondays and Wednesday nights. As I said, it's a pleasant change after dealing with teenagers all day long.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Views from My Classroom

looking towards my windows
flying the flags of the USA and Oklahoma
one of my poster boards

Saturday Pancake Breakfast

Last Saturday was the annual Oklahoma County Democratic Party Pancake Breakfast. We gathered once again at the Del City Community Center to eat pancakes, sausage, and eggs and hear our candidates for office tell us about their campaigns. Frosty Troy was the M.C. and did his usual great job. We raised over $1600 for our campaigns.
A gathering of great Democrats
Cat and state Rep. Al Lindley talk politics
OK Lt. Gov. Jari Askins speaks to the crowd

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Setting Up My Classroom

Oklahoma Centennial High School
Today was my first day back at Oklahoma Centennial since last June when I came in for a couple of days to help move some items in.
View from the school looking north
One thing I am going to enjoy is the view from our school. We have very wide vistas. We are on one of the higher points in Oklahoma City with very little blocking our view. You can see the state capitol from our front lawn.

We have one of those fiberglass bison in our foyer. Don't know if it has been named yet.
My classroom
This is what my classroom looked like when I got to it. Boxes and boxes of books.
Windows in my classroom looking west.
I have a nice view from my classroom also.

School starts in a week!

Monday, August 11, 2008

House Painting

The Mess
For the last 3 days, our house has been in a complete uproar.

We've been painting the living room, dining room, and breakfast room.

I hate having my living space disrupted, even when it's necessary, and this was very necessary. We should have done this years ago.

But I hate it when I can't get to my comfortable reading chair, when I can't get to any chair really.

But we're nearly finished. We just have to put everything back in order.
Weapons of Mass Distraction

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jim Roth Takes Part in Mayflower Pulpit Series

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner, Jim Roth

Jim Roth, newly appointed member of the 3-person Oklahoma Corporation Commission, delivered the sermon this Sunday at Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City. Roth was appointed to the commission last year by Gov. Brad Henry following the resignation of Denise Bode from the commission. The Corporation Commission is given the task of regulating the activities and rates of Oklahoma's public utilities like electricity, natural gas, and phone service.

The topic for Roth's sermon was "Quiet Faith" which he constrasted to flashy demonstrations of religiousity. "Some people are more concerned about putting up giant crosses by the Interstate Highway, having loud rock and roll bands in order to attract worshippers, or trying to get lower income people to contribute large sums of money to rich evangelists than they are in trying to follow the teachings and example of Jesus," Roth noted. He praised Mayflower Church members for putting their faith into action. "Here we have Care Teams visting the sick and dying, our '363' group feeding the homeless on Saturdays, our medical mission to Nicaragua, and many other examples of quiet faith in action."

Roth is running for election to a full term on the Corporation Commission. He previously served as County Commissioner for Oklahoma County District 1.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater speaks at the OCDP Friday Luncheon

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater talked about how he has worked to expand Drug and Mental Health Courts as well as relating a moving narration of his work to end gang violence in the county during his talk on August 8th at the Oklahoma County Democratic Party Luncheon. The luncheon is a regular function of the OCDP held at the Boulevard Cafeteria in midtown Oklahoma City.

DA Prater told the over 50 people gathered that his predecessor only had a little over 200 participants in the OK County Drug Court program, a program created by the legislature to provide alternatives to incarceration for drug offenders. "My office expanded the Drug Court to over 600 participants," Prater stated. "We hope to soon have 720 participants in the near future." He challenged those present to visit a "Drug Court Graduation" sometime. "Graduates talk about getting and holding jobs, reconciling marriages, and healing families with the help of Drug Court." He also hopes to expand the Mental Health Court noting that the Oklahoma County jail currently houses more of the mentally ill than any institution in Oklahoma.

Prater also discussed his work dealng with gang violence in Oklahoma County through his work with a former gang lord turned pastor whose ministry works with those in Oklahoma City gangs. The pastor arranged for Prater to meet with gang leaders in at his church. David Prater came to the meeting alone and unarmed. "The gang members had posted 'look-outs' around the building who sent text messages to the leaders inside the church when I drove up. The look-outs were alerting the leaders about whether or not I had come with police to arrest them." The gang leaders, the pastor, and David talked for over 2 hours together. "At first, the talk was very confrontational, but it gradually changed. I talked with them about how we can end the gang violence that has plagued the county." Prater was moved try this unusual and personally risky step after an 8 year old child was shot and permanently impaired due to a gang revenge attack.

DA Prater credits his approach as being instrumental in preventing some gang "turf wars" and revenge killings that threatened to break out in the county. He plans to work with schools to try to deal with the problem of school drop outs, a prime source of new members for the gangs. "When I asked the gang leaders at the meeting how can we best work to curb gang participation, the answer one gave was, 'Keep the kids in school.' "

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Karl Springer Talks With AFT Building Leaders

AFT President Ed Allen, left, with new Oklahoma City School Superintendent Karl Springer, right, addressing the AFT-OKC Worksite Leaders
New Oklahoma City School Superintendent Karl Springer spoke at some length on Wednesday, August 6th, to a gathering of American Federation of Teachers Worksite Leaders. The Worksite Leaders, who are the primary representatives for OKC-AFT Local 2309, met in the union's conference room to discuss their responsibilities for the coming school year in their respective school buildings . OKC-AFT is the bargaining representative for all certified teachers in the Oklahoma City Public School District.
New Oklahoma City Superintendent Karl Springer
Mr. Springer talked about his goals for the district emphasizing the need for "responsibility" and "transparency." He stated that while he will delegate authority where necessary, "I can never delegate responsibility. When that happens, all you get in finger pointing." When one teacher asked Mr. Springer about the problems the district has had with previous superintendents, Springer stated, "When I am driving, I find it is best to always look through the windshield. I cannot be always looking in the rearview mirror." Mr. Springer outlined his strategy for building relationships in the community which is to maintain complete transparency. He also promised that he will also set aside time on a regular basis to visit building sites.
Worksite Leaders and AFT President Ed Allen listen to Superintendent Karl Springer
Mr. Springer seemed to impress the teachers present for the meeting. Said one veteran teacher, "The best thing about him is that he talks like a teacher." Mr. Springer emphasized his years in the classroom before becoming superintendent of the Mustang School District, his last assignment before accepting the job in Oklahoma City following the resignation of superitendent, John Q. Porter who served only a few months as superitendent of the district.
AFT President Ed Allen and OKC Superintendent Karl Springer pledge their best effort for a successful school year.

Paris Hilton for Prez Ad

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die


I love good satire, and this is cool, hot even.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Today School Begins

Oklahoma Centennial High School
Well, not classes, but summer is bascially over for me. Today, I will be getting into my class room to set up things for the coming term that start August 21st in our district. Tomorrow and Wednesday are workshops for the new textbooks we adopted. Then we have workshops for our union building leaders, and so on and so on until classes begin.

I am looking forward to this year. New building, new school, new attitude.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Voting on Primary Election Day



While the turnout for Primary Voting Day in Oklahoma only totaled 18%, the Greenflame voting turnout was 100%. Here is half of the household voting in the Democratic primary.

Obama Rally in OKC

Sen. Connie Johnson addresses the Obama Unity Rally
Yesterday evening, I attended a rally for Barack Obama in Oklahoma City. It was sponsored by our local "Women for Obama" organization. It was a very hot day, around 104, so the attendance was small but spirited.
Kitti Asberty, Vice-Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, fires up the crowd.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Doing the Lord's Work on the Campaign Trail

Dana Orwig

Cat and I went out this morning to help the campaign of Dana Orwig who is trying to become the representative for State House District 87. Dana is one of several fellow teachers, along with Donnie Lewis in HD 100 and Ed Holzberger in HD 83, who have taken on the difficult job of running for elective office.

What we did was not very challenging. We just went into a precinct and put door hangers on designated doors telling the voters that Dana would soon be in their neighborhood to visit with them personally. It is a kind of introduction.

Other than it being very hot, this wasn't hard at all. It simply involved walking the neighborhoods and hanging the cards on doorknobs. But I always feel good after doing something like this because it makes me feel like I am fulfilling my duties as a citizen. I call it "Doing the Lord's Work" since I feel that any good work is the work the Lord would have us do.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Are Wal-Mart Employees Citizens or Subjects?


According to The Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart is is so intimidated by the very possibility of a unionized workforce that its supervisors have been holding mandatory meetings essentially telling employees to vote against Democrats and Sen. Barack Obama this November.

Wal-Mart is taking this outrageous step because the Democrats and Barack Obama have committed to pass the Employee Free Choice Act to restore workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain for fair wages, health care, decent working conditions and a real voice on the job. All of America’s workers have the right to freely decide whom to vote for independent of employer pressure and intimidation.

We are seeing a return of old-fashioned employer intimidation tactics that harken back to the 19th and early 20th century.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle in his book Politics claimed that the difference between a citizen and a subject is that a citizen is able to participate in his countries political decision making.

When an corporation uses the threat of intimidation against their employees to force them to vote a certain way, then those employees become subjects of the corporation rather than free citizens able to fully participate in their government.

To get more information on this, check out the AFL-CIO Now Blog:
AFL-CIO Now Blog