Democratic viewpoints on politics, policy and activism

Save the Rails! Rally in OKC calls for different transportation choices

( – promoted by DocHoc)

Saturday, August 11, 10 a.m. at Union Station, S. Harvey and 7th St.

Elected officials, candidates and citizen activists to speak to save the Union Station railyards for future mass transit

OKLAHOMA CITY – Citizens from around the state will be gathering this Saturday at Oklahoma City’s Union Station for what they call a rally to “Save the Rails” network that crisscross Oklahoma and provide a ready-made solution to mass transit needs for the entire region. They are inviting all concerned citizens to join them to demand better transportation choices by our politicians and business leaders.

Confirmed to speak at the rally are State Senator Andrew Rice, Oklahoma state Representative Wallace Collins, Tom Elmore of North American Transportation Institute and Fannie Bates, candidate for Oklahoma County Commission

“The people’s needs and expressed desire for viable mass transit are not being considered,” said Ms. Bates, who is centering her campaign for the Oklahoma Country District 1 seat on the issue. Bates, a teacher with a masters in public health, will speak at the rally.

“This event is an opportunity for the people of the state to speak up for responsible government, safe highways and badly needed alternatives to the automobile,” said Tom Elmore, a long time activist for rail transport and one of the organizers of the event. “Using the state’s unique 900 mile network of publicly owned rail lines, OKC Union Station is the only hope baby boomers and older Oklahomans have of seeing a comprehensive, regional rail transit system in our lifetimes.”

Existing plans for the new CrossTown will pave over some of Oklahoma City’s important rail infrastructure and any future rail development will require untold expense to create what exists right now. Union Station, which was restored with tax funds, will become a “museum relic” if the rails don’t exist.

The current development path is extremely shortsighted, says Evan Stair, Executive Director of Passenger Rail Oklahoma. “now that we know the environmental cost of petroleum use, and the future value of rail transportation, it is crazy to pave existing rail lines to build a new highway!”

“The simple and inexpensive alternative is to route heavy trucks around Oklahoma City on the South Loop unless they are making OKC deliveries, then shore up and re-deck the existing I-40 overhead. This would save money, save the rails, make future rail use possible, permitting Oklahoma City to become a regional rail hub.”

Organizers say their goal is to focus community attention on the issue, and lobby public officials who are only listening to business interests. To this end, there will be literature and ideas for future action available for attenders.

Joni LeViness, of Tulsa, plans to bring a number of environmental and community activists from the east side of the state to the rally, saying the issue is a statewide and national one. “There needs to be a reformation and extension of public transit, that’s the only sane thing to do,” she said.

The rally will start at 10 AM at Union Station, 300 SW 7th St (corner of S. Harvey and 7th). After the rally, participants will be invited to walk to nearby Wheeler Park, which is itself set for destruction as part of the rerouting, for a BYO picnic lunch.

“It’s not too late,” says Ms. Bates, “Together, the citizens can prevent this development dead-end and help create a transportation system that will be the envy of the nation.”

For more information about the rally and the ongoing efforts to preserve Oklahoma’s railyards, see savetherailsok.org or call 404.794.7163.

Progressives seek 59 candidates to replace "Bush Democrats"

( – promoted by DocHoc)

In reaction to the retirement announcement from Cindy Sheehan over the Memorial Day weekend, Democrats.com have announced a campaign to rid Congress of the “Bush Democrats” that betrayed America by voting to fund Bush’s disaster in Iraq. They are seeking qualified challengers for these “representatives” in the 2008 Democratic primary and are offering information and support to help the effort.

Excerpt:

In May, 169 House Democrats voted for the McGovern Amendment to end the occupation in March 2008, while only 59 “Bush Democrats” voted against it. If we can switch 43 of those 59 “Bush Democrats,” the McGovern Amendment will pass. So let’s recruit anti-war Democrats to run against those 59 “Bush Democrats” in the 2008 primaries.

This, of course, includes Oklahoma’s own Dan Boren, who represents the 2nd Congressional District.

VENUE: 431 W. Broadway, Muskogee, OK 74401
starts: 09/09/2008 – 12:32am

On 5/10/07, Rep. Dan Boren betrayed the voters and troops of Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District by voting to continue George Bush’s disastrous Iraq War forever.

Democrats.com is looking for an “aggressive progressive” Democrat who will challenge Boren in a Democratic primary in 2008.

Read our Candidate Guide.

If you are interested in running against Boren, or know a good candidate who could run against Boren, post a comment below.

Full statement below the fold.

Let’s Keep Fighting for Cindy Sheehan

Today Cindy Sheehan “retired” from the anti-war movement after leading the fight for two years with every piece of her heart and soul.

Cindy wrote: “Good-bye America… you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it. It’s up to you now.”

Sadly, America needs Cindy more than ever. Eight more Casey Sheehans died today in Iraq, leaving eight more grieving Cindy Sheehans back home. Sgt. David Safstrom of the 82nd Airborne told the NY Times, “What are we doing here? Why are we still here? We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”

Cindy lost heart after a few dozen “Bush Democrats” voted with virtually every Republican to keep Bush’s criminal occupation going forever.

And it’s easy to lose heart when we put our time and money into electing anti-war Democratic majorities, only to have those majorities betrayed by a few dozen “Bush Democrats” who are bribed by powerful defense contractors or intimidated by Karl Rove’s political henchmen.

But we cannot afford to lose heart because May’s total deaths of U.S. troops hit 114, the highest since Cindy began her anti-war campaign and the third highest of the war. And at the current monthly rate, 2007 will be the deadliest year for U.S. troops in the four years of Bush’s criminal occupation.

So all of us must pick up the torch that Cindy laid down and find a way to end this war. But how?

In May, 169 House Democrats voted for the McGovern Amendment to end the occupation in March 2008, while only 59 “Bush Democrats” voted against it. If we can switch 43 of those 59 “Bush Democrats,” the McGovern Amendment will pass. So let’s recruit anti-war Democrats to run against those 59 “Bush Democrats” in the 2008 primaries.

This strategy produced dramatic results in 2006. Both Jane Harman (CA-36) and Al Wynn (MD-4) voted for the war in 2002, but voted against the occupation in 2007 as a direct result of primary challenges by outstanding anti-war candidates Marcy Winograd and Donna Edwards. (Edwards lost by only 3% and will run again in 2008.)

So let’s find challengers for all 59 “Bush Democrats”! We created a map of all 59 “Bush Democrat” districts here:
http://tinyurl.com/2…
Click the pins to see the incumbent’s name and a link to a page for that incumbent.
If you know an anti-war candidate who could run a good race, click that link and nominate that candidate in a comment. Also share your thoughts on other nominees you find there.

We also created an online pledge form to start building support for our anti-war challengers:

“I pledge to vote against every Senator and Representative who approves funding to continue the disastrous Iraq War. We have already given far too much of our blood and treasure – and killed far too many Iraqis – for a war based on lies. We are now occupying a hostile nation divided by civil war for the benefit of military contractors and Big Oil.

The only way to support our troops is to bring them home NOW, and no funds should be used for any other purpose. If Congress fails to bring our troops home, I will do everything I can – and urge everyone I know – to defeat pro-war Senators and Representatives, both in my party’s primary elections and in the November general election.”

Over 18,000 have already signed our pledge. Sign it now and tell your friends:
http://www.democrats…

Let’s do it for Cindy Sheehan – and for her beloved son Casey.

OCCO yard sale fundraiser this weekend, May 18 – 19

( – promoted by DocHoc)

playhouseBeautiful hand-made playhouses available for sale during yard sale >>

The Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors (OCCO) is having a yard sale this Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19, at Joy Mennonite Church, 502 NE 16th, Oklahoma City, to raise money for their work.

“We need your lovingly used items, your help on those days to price and sell, your assistance in telling your friends, organizations and networks about the sale. And of course, come by and buy!”

The proceeds will help the group continue to maintain and staff the Oklahoma GI Rights Hotline, put an AC in their office, along with other overhead expenses.

Items can be brought to the church before Friday, during the sale, or call for other arrangements.

Contact info:

To reach an OCCO member by phone: 405-771-4743

Send snail mail to: OCCO, 504 NE 16th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73041

Email us at: info at okobjector.org

Oklahoma GOP website features "Photoshopped" image of Speaker Pelosi

( – promoted by DocHoc)

From OKIMC.org:

Pelosi images comparisonThe front page of the Oklahoma Republican Party’s web site presents an image of the Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, which they accurately refer to as “disturbing”.

But the disturbing aspect of the image is its relationship to reality and its use on the website of a supposedly reputable organization of mature adults to disparage its subject in a not-so-subtle fashion. The image is clearly digitally distorted (“Photoshopped”)in order to present the Speaker as old, haggard and ugly, with heavily rouged cheeks, sloppy lipstick and lines, bulges and veins that do not actually exist on the Speaker’s face.

(This image shows the GOP image alongside a real photo taken from a similar angle, enlarged and cropped to match the first image for the sake of comparison.)

A screen capture of the web page (taken at 9:54 pm on Saturday, May 5) shows the image used to link to an editorial, “Tom Cole’s Job: Take Back the House” by George Will which features the third-term Oklahoma Republican who serves as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee — the group charged with finding good candidates and supporting their campaigns. Above the image is the teaser “Tom Cole’s Job: get rid of Speaker Pelosi (click disturbing photo)”.

Click here for (disturbing) screenshot of the section of the page in question.

The Oklahoma GOP version of the image was sent out to Oklahoma liberal and progressive activists Saturday evening.

OKIMC has requested a response from the Oklahoma Democratic Party. If and when one is received, this story will be updated.

Cross posted in orange

Please call Gov. re anti-immigrant bill – urge veto

( – promoted by DocHoc)

Make a call to Governor of Oklahoma Brad Henry’s Office

Phone: 1-800-865-5853 or (405) 521-2342

Please see info here:
http://okimc.org/nod…

Talking points:
I urge Governor Brad Henry to put an end to the mean-spirited anti-immigration bill, Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007, HB 1804.  This bill promises to open the doors to wide-spread discrimination in the state, and is counterproductive to its economic development.

According to the National immigration Law Center (NILC), HB 1804 raises significant legal questions that you should consider before making your final decision.

H.B. 1804:

– Discriminates Against Lawfully Present Immigrants

– Intrudes on Children’s Right to Attend School

– Criminalizes good Samaritans, police, ambulance drivers, teachers and others

– Undermines an Investment in Oklahoma’s Future by Repealing In-State Tuition for Immigrants

– Limits Access to Licenses Based on a State or Local Agency’s “Suspicion” About an Individual’s Immigration Status

– Conflicts with Federal Laws ‘Benefit Eligibility’ Requirements

– Requires participation in the Basic Pilot Program – A New Hire Verfication System that

  Preempts Federal Law

– Conflicts with and undermines the Federal Government’s Tax Law Requirements

– Unnecessarily Impedes Access to Services for Eligible U.S. Citizens

– Jeopardizes Public Health through Discriminatory Practices

The House of Representatives in Washington has already laid out a strategy for comprehensive immigration reform. I believe that local law enforcement-only measures like HB 1804, will do nothing to fix our broken immigration system and that a federal comprehensive approach to immigration reform is the only practical solution.  Please veto HB 1804.

From LULAC http://www.lulac.org…

OKC Drinking Liberally crisis!

( – promoted by DocHoc)

I know in the greater order of things, this isn’t that earth-shattering, but hey, sometimes the best remedy is a stiff drink with like-minded friends (assuming your health allows it and you exercise moderation, etc.).

OKC Drinking Liberally needs a new coordinator, AND a new meeting location. Sounds like a fun job for some Blue-ish Oklahoman.

Somebody belly up to the bar!

www.drinkingliberally.org

GI Rights training workshop in OKC, April 20-22

( – promoted by DocHoc)

[Please help us get the word out by passing on this message to your friends and networks.]

TRAINING WORKSHOP ON GI RIGHTS REGARDING DISCHARGE FROM MILITARY
Oklahoma City, April 20-22

On the weekend of April 20-22, the Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors is holding a training workshop for our GI Rights Hotline (full details in the press release below).

Image from oldamericancentury.org
As you know, the rates of active duty military personnel seeking discharge is rising every day. You may not know that Ft. Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, is one of two main processing centers for discharges. So our area gets more than our share of active duty military seeking information and support. Our hotline was established to serve this urgent need.

Don’t be shocked, but the military does not provide complete or accurate information to its troops as to under what circumstances discharge can be sought — and obtained. That’s where we — and you — come in!

Please consider taking this training and becoming familiar with issues of military law pertaining to types of discharges, the process of filing, courts martial, etc. The training will be conducted by very experienced lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force and will give a good overview of the regulations and requirements involved.

Our main purpose for the training is to put our hotline into full operation, with well-informed volunteers. But even if you don’t think you have the time to staff the hotline, the training would be invaluable to you if you want to be able to talk to those in the military, their families, friends.

We also are inviting those from outside Oklahoma to attend the training, so you can provide a similar service in your community.

If you are an attorney, social worker, therapist or religious, you need this workshop to address the needs already being raised by your clients and members.

If you are a concerned citizen who just wants to help soldiers and guardsmen learn the truth about their options, you will find the training invaluable.

While the entire three sessions of the training is highly recommended, you may be able to miss some of the sections, depending on your background and experience. Scholarships are available, so money should not be an issue for anyone interested.

If you have any question, contact Rena at info(at)okobjector.org or 405-615-2700.

_____________

NEWS RELEASE

Workshop will train volunteers for GI Rights Hotline

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors will sponsor a regional GI Rights Hotline training workshop in Oklahoma City from April 20 -22.

The workshop will equip volunteers to serve as counselors to inform active-duty soldiers of their rights — including the right to conscientious objector status – and provide information and assistance to those who wish to leave the military.

Featuring trainers from the National Lawyer’s Guild Military Law Task Force, the workshop is open to anyone who seeks to help service members learn about their legal options. Participants in the Oklahoma City area who complete the workshop will be qualified to work on the local hotline, while out-of-towners will be encouraged to create or support similar services  in their own communities.

“Considering War and Personal Conscience” a forum at Mayflower Congregational Church on Friday, April 20, at 7 pm, will kick off the workshop weekend. The forum is open to the public and will serve as an introduction to the workshop for its participants. Veterans and conscientious objectors will be part of the panel. Intensive training sessions are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Oklahoma City University’s Walker Center.

Legal background is not required for participation; the workshop will address the primary legal issues that come up with callers and present guidelines for when a lawyer experienced in military law should be consulted.

The lead trainers of the workshop are Luke and Marti Hiken, both of whom work with the Military Law Task Force and have many years of experience in GI Rights services and training. They will be joined by Oklahoma City lawyer James Branum, who specializes in military law. He is also a co-founder of OCCO.

Costs for the workshop are set on a sliding scale, based on ability to pay, from $25 to $100. This does not include meals or accommodations. Scholarships are available and donations are welcomed to help cover the costs of those who cannot afford to pay. The deadline for pre-registration is April 16. Participation is limited, and the workshop organizers recommend early registration. If space is available, same-day registration will be available

For an application form, send a self-addressed, stamped #10 envelope to OCCO, c/o Joy Mennonite Church, 504 NE 16th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73104. A copy is also available on OCCO’s website, www.okobjector.org.

The workshop is being funded in part by a grant from the A. J. Muste Memorial Institute, which supports organizations that promote the principles and practice of nonviolent social change.

For more information, call 405-615-2700, or go to www.okobjector.org.