Friday, September 12, 2014

Oklahoma Republican So-Called Leaders Need a Backbone to Turn Off Hate Spigot of Oklahoma Hard Right

Bennett said he has received hundreds of messages supporting his position and that he won't step down or apologize.  "I work for my constituents, and they determine if I get hired or fired," Bennett said. "I'm definitely not going to apologize." Houston Chronicle

When I think that the hate rhetoric spouted by hard right Oklahoma Republicans cannot sink lower, I have to admit I am wrong again as a member of the GOP Legislature has gone after Muslims on Facebook.  Rep Bennett is only in power because of a weak previous speaker who played to the hard right to become Speaker on his way to what he thought would be a US Senate position but was derailed in the primary. Another reason I stayed Republican through the primary -- #1 was to vote against the worst State School Superintendent have ever seen -- Janet Barresi (came in 3rd in the primary) and second was to vote against someone I know for someone I don't really know, Rep Lankford, for the Senate seat Dr. Coburn is leaving early.  Lankford is too far hard right for me so I am voting Democrat in the general but he was the best GOP in the primary IMO.  More on OK 2014 Senate races in future blog posts.    

As a note, on September 3rd, I switched party registration from longtime Republican to Democrat -- never thought I would see that day but then I never saw such a hate filled Republican Party as I have seen in Oklahoma.  Some comments out of elected officials make me cringe yet they embrace anything that is anti-Obama including militia.  It is in fact scary at some of the comments that come out of some Republicans that are never disavowed because others are afraid they will lose support of the hard right in this state which is necessary for them to win elections.  Finally just gave up that the Republican Party in this state was ever going to have any common sense and switched.  Most Democrats here I know are center left so this center right person feels right at home.

Difference is the Democrats here are not so hate filled and care about people, schools, and infrastructure to name a few while the hard right Republicans who run this state would rather talk about social issues -- anti-gay including marriage, stricter abortion laws, and making Oklahoma a Christian state where other religions are not welcome seems to be their ultimate goal.

The news reports about Rep Bennett take the prize when I thought former Rep Randy Terrell's rants against Hispanics couldn't get any lower.  BTW Terrell was found guilty of political bribery in an OK Court. While his case was pending, he quit the House to run for Cleveland County Commissioner -- boggles your mind.

Reading this article from The Journal Record this morning made me shake my head and then realized this anti-Muslim State Rep John Bennet, R-Sallisaw is a member of the Republican Party while I am now a Democrat -- received my voter card from the election board yesterday.  Now am no longer associated with the OK Republicans who spew so much hate.  Relief!

Does the GOP in OK want an all-white male Christian dominated state where women and minorities do what they are told?  Feel like at times Oklahoma has gone back over a hundred years and women and minorities need to fight for rights all over again.  We may have a Republican woman Governor but women's rights, higher minimum wage,  or education to name a few are not a high priority for Governor Mary Fallin who is a pawn of ALEC and is running for re-election.  

Read about this yesterday in both major newspapers but this morning's Journal Record's guest editorial summed it up the best:
Hamilton: Leaders must turn off the hate spigot
By: Arnold Hamilton Guest Columnist September 11, 2014

Regrettably, Oklahoma has a long, embarrassing history of elected leaders spewing hate, bigotry and crackpot theories. 
Gov. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray was rabidly anti-Semitic and pro-eugenics. Former state Rep. John Monks used an ethnic slur to deride Chinese. State Rep. Sally Kern declared homosexuality to be a greater threat to America than terrorism. 
Enter state Rep. John Bennett, the latest to secure a permanent spot in the Oklahoma Hall of Infamy. 
The Sallisaw Republican’s incessant attacks on Muslims is 21st-century McCarthyism, writ large – mean-spirited, broad-brush demagoguery that serves no purpose except to fan suspicion about 35,000 Oklahomans whose faith tradition is different than his.
Unfortunately, the voters in House District 2 have twice given Bennett a megaphone to spew his vitriol. He clearly isn’t exiting the public stage any time soon, despite a call for his resignation from the state’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leader. 
It’s a free country, of course. Bennett is welcome to display his inanity for all to see. But his (mis)conduct begs a broader question: Where are the state’s elected leaders? Where are the adults in the political room? 
Isn’t anyone going to stand up and set the record straight that Oklahoma is not an intolerant backwater full of John Bennetts? 
The problem is there are so many John Bennetts serving in the Oklahoma Legislature – by some estimates, two dozen or so in the House alone – that Gov. Mary Fallin, House Speaker Jeff Hickman and Senate President Brian Bingman are careful about crossing them. 
They inhabit seats of power because too many good-hearted, sensible Oklahomans don’t bother to vote, giving the parallel-universe, on-the-political-fringe crowd outsized influence on Election Day. 
Hickman isn’t entirely wrong when he says he can’t control what Bennett posts on Facebook. What Bennett says and does away from the House floor are his and his constituents’ business. Mostly. 
But Hickman and common-sense House Republicans – who ought to be concerned that their party’s image is soiled by such bigotry – are not without tools to curb Bennett’s worst excesses. 
The speaker, after all, determines committee assignments, whose bills are heard and whether a House member’s office is a broom closet far from the floor or a spacious room with a view. Indeed, the speaker determines whether a member is even recognized to speak on the House floor. 
More immediately, Hickman and Co. must take away Bennett’s megaphone – dissolve the so-called counterterrorism caucus. Make it clear no such thing exists any longer. Make sure there are no more anti-Muslim news releases financed by taxpayers via the House Media Division.  (my bold)
This is risky business for Hickman. Speakers can be deposed if enough of their caucus members so wish. Yet it’s even riskier for the state when its leaders refuse to repudiate such demonizing. 
Hickman inherited this mess. Bennett’s counterterrorism platform was a gift from former House Speaker T.W. Shannon – a political payback to wing nuts whose support was essential to Shannon’s narrow victory over Hickman in a previous speaker’s race.  (my bold)

Read more: The Journal Record
Decided to see what was on Google about Rep Bennett -- first thing I see is an article from the Houston Chronicle as this has now gone nationwide via AP with Gov Fallin and Speaker Hickman refusing to comment.  Their refusal to comment is no surprise as they want it both ways so they stay silent not to upset the hard right.  Took a good look at the picture of Bennet and in the background saw GOP Rep Mike Reynolds who is good friends with Sally Kern plus a few other things, e.g. think AF Academy.  He ran in the primary for Cleveland County Commissioner -- he lost for which many of us are very grateful.  Should have realized Reynolds was a member of that phony committee of the hard right on terrorism used as a carrot to help elect TW Shannon as Speaker of the Oklahoma House. Sole purpose of that Terrorism Committee seems to be to have a platform to spout their hateful rhetoric against anyone not a white male Christian.  

It all is making sense today.  For almost 18 years been telling everyone I know outside of Oklahoma that they would not believe OK GOP's hard right rhetoric and their platforms.  That hard right group who was a minority have taken over OK GOP -- now the whole world can see what is going on in Oklahoma is not that much different then Kansas where Brownback is Governor.  This hard right group of OK GOP has the ability to do to Oklahoma what Brownback and the hard right did to Kansas which has put Kansas in an economic tailspin not to mention tanking public education to stage where former Republican Governors have endorsed the Democrat against Brownback.
Okla. lawmaker, GOP chair affirm anti-Muslim postBy SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press | September 11, 2014 | Updated: September 11, 2014 8:14pm
Friday, April 12, 2013 file photo
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A GOP state legislator and the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party are standing behind anti-Muslim remarks the lawmaker posted to his Facebook page, and both said Thursday they have no plans to apologize. 
Leaders with several civil rights organizations have called for state Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, to apologize after he posted a comment to his Facebook page urging people, especially Christians, to "be wary of the individuals who claim to be Muslim-American." Bennett also said in his post that the Islamic holy book, the Quran, calls for the killing of non-Muslims. 
Adam Soltani, the executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the comments "inappropriate and offensive," and requested an apology. 
Meanwhile, Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston stood behind Bennett's comments and said they were accurate. 
"Everything John Bennett said is legitimate and there is no need to for him to apologize. One look around the world today, and 1,400 years of history, and you can see what he says is accurate," Weston told The Associated Press. "The thing I want to emphasize is that we have no quarrel with Oklahoma Muslims, but at the same point in time you have to acknowledge there are problems across the globe and throughout history with people who practice Islam."  (my bold)
Spokesmen for Republican Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman and Gov. Mary Fallin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  
Excerpt:  Read More at The Houston Chronical
There is only one solution for Oklahoma and that is for every last registered Democrat to go vote on November 4th to start turning Oklahoma back to common sense.  Now can see that Democrat Governor Brad Henry kept the OK GOP hard right in check with his alliance with more common sense GOP Speakers.  Since GOP Gov Fallin was elected with a Republicans taking statewide offices and adding even more to their numbers in the legislature, we have seen Oklahoma become more of a pawn of hard right and ALEC special interests along with oil and gas. Time for the Republican anti-education/infrastructure Party to get defeated.  There is a group of maybe 10 or 11 sensible Republicans in the House who will vote against the hard right agenda -- time for Democrats and sensible GOP to unite to form a coalition to support all Oklahomans not just special interests.

We can only take back this state to common sense if we all vote on November 4th -- time for Democrats staying home on election day is over.   Help save Oklahoma from following the path of Kansas!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9-11-2001: America's Pentagon, the Heart of American Military, was Attacked by Terrorists -- 9-12-2001: America's Flag Flies High at the Pentagon

These words are part of the Pentagon Memorial established after the attack on 9-11-2001

Thirteen years ago today I was sitting in my office in our home talking to a friend on the phone who was working in DC about the attacks on the World Trade Center when the he felt the plane hit the Pentagon and saw the smoke.

The DoD has been so much a part of our family's lives starting when I went to work at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, years ago.  Our family has been transferred around the Country ending up here in Norman, Oklahoma, after the San Antonio Depot at Kelly AFB closed.  My oldest daughter was at Pensacola NAS, Florida, for training on that day.  Hearing her voice when we finally got in touch was overwhelming even though I knew she was safe but had no idea what was ahead for her after training.

Will never forget 9/11 and watching the scenes of devastation on the TV from the initial hits on the World Trade Center buildings and then to have the Pentagon hit left me in tears and still does remembering all the people who died needlessly that day because of lax security at our airports and a few other things.

The World Trade Centers get most of the focus today but I decided to make this post to be about the Pentagon which was attacked that same day shortly after the WTC's attack.   There were 184 men and women who died in the Pentagon that day -- a building thought to be impenetrable.  It is from the ground but no one would have suspected a hijacked airliner out of Reagan National would fly into the building.

American Airlines Flight 77: Left Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia at 8:20 a.m. en route to Los Angeles with a crew of six and 53 passengers, not including five hijackers. The hijackers flew the plane into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. 
The Pentagon was severely damaged by the impact of American Airlines Flight 77 and ensuing fires, causing one section of the building to collapse. As it approached the Pentagon, the airplane's wings knocked over light poles and its right engine smashed into a power generator before crashing into the western side of the building, killing all 53 passengers, 5 hijackers, and 6 crew. The plane hit the Pentagon at the first-floor level. The front part of the fuselage disintegrated on impact, while the mid and tail sections kept moving for another fraction of a second. Debris from the tail section penetrated furthest into the building, breaking through 310 feet (94 m) of the three outermost of the building's five rings. 
It is unfathomable to realize how much devastation this airliner caused having been in that building in the past -- giant fortress.

Note the American flag to the right of the devastation which was unfurled on Sept 12, 2001, and retired 30 days later flying night and day!  The flag will never be flown again but has been preserved by the US Army.  This American flag will always stand as a tribute to the men and women who lost their lives that day and to the many who have served our great Nation over the years be it military or civilian who work in the heart of  our Nation's defense.  

This Country took a hit on 9-11 but Bin Laden the leader of Al Qaeda who was behind the attacks now sleeps with the fishes in the Ocean thanks to President Obama and his unwillingness to let the man responsible escape justice. 
11:35 P.M. EDT, May 1st  
     THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.   
Read More at The White House
The American Flag flying over the Pentagon where the terrorists flew into the building shows our resolve as a Nation to stand tall against terrorists foreign and domestic.  Hard to fathom why an American would join terrorists organizations who want to target the United States, but in my opinion if an American joins the terrorist, they should lose their citizenship in the United States as they have become our enemy.
The Pentagon Memorial, located just southwest of The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, is a permanent outdoor memorial to the 184 men and women who died as victims in the building and on American Airlines Flight 77 during the September 11, 2001 attacks
To commemorate the anniversary each year, an American flag is hung on the section of the Pentagon hit by Flight 77. At night, this section of the building is lit up in blue lights.
For the fifth anniversary, a "Tribute of Lights" display included 184 beams of light from the center courtyard shining into the sky. 
Anniversary events also include the America Supports You National Freedom Walk, which has been held on Sundays. The walk starts at the Lincoln Memorial and ends at the Pentagon.
Pentagon Memorial at Arlington Cemetery 
The Arlington Police/Fire/Sheriff 5K Race is held on Saturdays, around the anniversary, with the course going through part of Crystal City and through the Pentagon grounds.
Memorial services are held on the anniversary of 9/11 at the Pentagon, with one service in an auditorium at the Pentagon for employees. A smaller service is held at the memorial site for family and friends of victims killed at the Pentagon on 9/11. 

This story from DoD of the American flag brought back a lot of memories this morning as I watched the flag flying tall after it was unfurled the day after the attack on our Pentagon.  To me it showed the resolve of this Country and its military that even though the Pentagon took a huge hit, our American flag still flew high the day after:
The Story of the Pentagon 9-11 FlagBy Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity 
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2014 – Anyone who saw the American flag unfurled at the Pentagon on Sept. 12, 2001, knows how Francis Scott Key felt two centuries ago when he was inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 
The day after the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, the scene was still chaotic. Only essential military and civilian workers were required to come to the building. Parking was at Reagan-National Airport, as all U.S. airspace was still closed. As employees got off the Metro train, Pentagon police stood with weapons examining everyone’s badge. Those without a Pentagon ID were told to keep traveling on. The conversation in the building was about friends who remained missing. 
At the site, firefighters were putting out the final embers that were burning in the roof. Then word came that President George W. Bush wanted to see the damage to the Pentagon himself. 
Garrison flag 
No one knows who originally came up with the idea for unfurling the flag to the right of the damaged areas on the building, but Army Maj. Gen. Jim Jackson, then the Military District of Washington commander, made it happen. 
He sent over to nearby Fort Myer, Virginia, for the largest flag they could find. The U.S. Army Band had a garrison flag – the largest authorized for the military – and sent it over.
During Bush's visit to the impact site, 3rd Infantry Regiment soldiers and Arlington, Virginia, firefighters unveiled the flag and draped it over the side of the building. Then they stood and saluted. 
It was a moment that quickened the heart. The United States had been attacked, the Pentagon had been hit, friends were gone, thousands were killed in New York and Pennsylvania, yet the American flag still flew. 
That flag signified the unconquerable nature of the American people. Those inside the building already were preparing to take the battle to the attackers and bring them to justice. 
The flag flew on the side of the building for the next month. Each night, workers illuminated it with floodlights. Members of A Company of the 3rd Infantry Regiment -- “The Old Guard” -- took the flag down Oct. 11. 
A treasured symbol 
The flag is soot-stained and ripped at one spot where it rubbed up against the building. It now is in the care of the Army’s Center of Military History. 
It is treasured as the 9/11 generation’s Star-Spangled Banner, because they, like Francis Scott Key during the British attack on Baltimore in 1814, looked to the flag for inspiration and comfort. 
Read More at DoD
Soldiers from A Company, 3rd Infantry "The Old Guard" -- gather the giant garrison 
flag being lowered from the side of the Pentagon, where it had hung beside the impact site 
of the 9/11 terrorist attack, Oct. 11, 2001. The flag was ceremonially retired. 
DoD photo by Jim Garamone

NOTE: Photos in this article come from the Pentagon or Google Search