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The Peace Arena This site is a mix of politics, history, culture, geekery and just life as lived by an accidental Okie, who is proud to follow the progressive path forged by other Okies, including Kate Barnard, Will Rogers, Woody Guthrie and Wilma Mankiller.

24 August 2013 ~ 1 Comment

Why I wasn’t there

Me, holding a sign in the 2011 King Holiday Parade in Oklahoma City.

Me, holding a sign in the 2011 King Holiday Parade in Oklahoma City.

I slept quite a bit later than usual today, thus missing the OKC event marking the anniversary of the MOW in 63. I think my body knew what my brain didn’t (yet): I did not want to go and listen to a lot of chants and speeches, and hear not one goddamn word about war or the warlike violence our nation perpetrates in the name of national security. You know, the shit Dr. King would say, if, by the grace of providence, he was here to mark the milestone with us. I didn’t want to see the JROTC/color guard leading the march like they do the MLK events in January every year, not just in OKC but across the nation. A “tradition” that is an unforgivable perversion of King’s values, and a knife in the heart of his legacy. Or witness the abominable (but very well funded) contingent of military recruiters, whose only goal of participation is to ensnare some poor kids into their crime syndicate.

If I am wrong, and I learn that “war” was uttered at least once, I will be properly chastised and sorry to have missed the historic occasion.

I will also be extremely shocked.

James M. Branum stands beside a Marines truck holding a sign with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. Branum's group, the Oklahoma Center for Conscience, and the Marines were both participating in the 2011 King Holiday Parade in Oklahoma City.

James M. Branum stands beside a Marines truck holding a sign with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. Branum’s group, the Oklahoma Center for Conscience, and the Marines were both participating in the 2011 King Holiday Parade in Oklahoma City.

15 April 2013 ~ 2 Comments

Justin Bieber gets Anne Frank

Anne FrankI can’t believe I’m doing this, but I am going to defend Justin Bieber. The singer, who for some reason is immensely popular right now with girls around the age Anne Frank was when she died (15), went to Amsterdam, and while there visited the Anne Frank museum.

Afterward he wrote in the guest book “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber,” that being the affectionate term that Bieber’s fans use to identify themselves. Now he is being attacked for being a egotistical moron.

Well of course he’s egotistical! He’s a 19! He also happens to be the center of a great deal of attention the last few years and made tons of money from it. (I hope he’s saving and investing it, because this delirium will pass). Justin Bieber is in the teen idol business and he sees a lot of 15 year old girls in that line of work. To him, there are two kinds: beliebers and non-beliebers. I don’t want to shock you, so sit down for this: He prefers the former. He thinks they are very perceptive and have the good taste to like his music.

While she waxed poetic about the tree outside her window, love, war and other “important” issues, she was also very interested in the pop culture of the time. She had pictures of movie stars on her bedroom wall, torn from the pages of movie star publicity magazines, which, presumably, she also read with teenage excitement. If you actually read and studied her, maybe if you visited The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam like Bieber did, you would know that.

But he’s not a moron, or heartless, or whatever else he’s being accused of. He no doubt saw that Anne was quite excited about the popular culture of her day, so it is not out of line for him to project that onto himself (see 19 year old male, above). In fact, I think Justin Bieber gets Anne Frank in a way that those who are screaming bloody murder about his harmless comment do not.

There’s also the little matter of that word “hopefully” — used, I think, with some self-awareness and perhaps even humility.

The administrators of the Anne Frank House put out a statement in which they wisely try to stay out of the (faux) controversy, and say that the important thing is that Bieber was interested enough to come to the museum to visit. I concur. I would bet you that a lot of teen girls who count themselves as “beliebers” are reading Anne Frank’s diary right now because of Justin Bieber. A pretty serious accomplishment for a teen idol.

Look, when I was 15 I was a huge Monkees fan. Somehow I grew up to be a serious person anyway, and I don’t recall any Monkee, even Peter, the “serious in real life” one who was my favorite, ever steered me to important reading material that could enhance my thinking about the world and my place in it.

I think I know what Anne Frank would say to Bieber’s attackers if she were here, whether she was 15 or 85: Is this really the most important problem in the world right now for you to rant about?

I just would like to get a message to Justin: Next time you’re in Atlanta, I know a place for you to visit.

08 April 2012 ~ Comments Off

A new leaf

I’m not going to be an activist/organizer anymore.

Probably for good, but who knows. I doubt I’ll be able to quit cold turkey, that lifestyle is so ingrained, but I’ve already scaled back, and will continue in that direction. I hope those who are inspired to change the world for the better keep up the fight, and that they have better results than I did. I don’t know that it’s possible, but you have to believe so, in order to make the effort.

I hope they don’t make the same mistakes I did, though, like ignoring the need for money, friends and family. Yes, I know it’s impolite and impolitic to list the first along with the other two, but when you start getting old and don’t have any of them, things really start to suck. I realize, rather late, that the presence of at least one in some decent measure is rather critical to success, actually at any age, but especially old. I’m not technically old yet, but I am within spitting distance, and it’s looking grim.

If you want things to change, you can’t keep doing the same shit you’ve been doing. So I will be consciously altering my behavior, and trying to shake things up. And I’m going to be doing a lot more looking back at the things I’ve done and not done, and seeing what I can glean in terms of self-understanding — and create towards life enhancement.

15 May 2011 ~ Comments Off

Photos and report from the 2011 Oklahoma Democratic Party State Convention

So yeah, I went to the convention yesterday and I lived to tell the tale!


The Oklahoman story Former state lawmaker to head Oklahoma Democrats describes how a credentialing problem led to a long delay and ultimate redo of the vote for party chair (while taking every opportunity possible to mention the past unsuccessful campaigns of the various candidates.

As my first major party state convention, I thought it was pretty good, except for the excruciating three hour gap of confusion and intrigue (and drinking and other diversions) in the middle. But if the Oklahoman is correct, in 1999 a similar discrepancy was just glossed over and allowed to stand, so with that info, I withdraw all my griping of yesterday, since I don’t think anyone can say the vote wasn’t fair, and I’m quite happy with the outcome, since the Wallace/Orwig team consists of my #1 and #2 picks for chair. I think the party machinery moved significantly to the left, putting it more in line with its grassroots activists, which will hopefully lead to even more contributions from them in time and money, which are needed.

OK County’s original vote count (all these counts are 5th District only since I didn’t realize till later that parts of OK County were being counted in 4th CD):

Troy Green 0
Leroy D Downs 3
Dana Orwig 39
Wallace Collins 38
Mannix Barnes 19
Jed Green 6

On the revote, and after Troy and Jed dropped out and endorsed Collins:

Leroy D Downs 1
Dana Orwig 40
Wallace Collins 47
Mannix Barnes 18

Runoff (voting began at 5:35):

Dana Orwig 44
Wallace Collins 57

Final statewide count (5:50)

Dana Orwig 213
Wallace Collins 326

Wallace gave a simple and blessedly short acceptance speech, we moved on to the election of Vice Chair, but I had already stayed two hours longer than I really could, so I left at that point.

From other online sources, I learned that in addition to Dana Orwig at Vice Chair, David Ratcliffe was elected Secretary and Donna Russel Treasurer. Since I believe this is an all-caucasion slate, the Affirmative Action postitions are all the more important. They are:

Male: Carl Downing and George Young
Female: Denay Burris and Nicole Kirkpatrick

Still haven’t heard about the resolutions.

Update [5/15/2011 8:35pm]:

I have been informed by a member of the Young Democrats that “Resolutions will be heard by Central Comm b/c we lost quorum before they could be considered.”

12 May 2011 ~ Comments Off

Welcome Malee

The Oklahoma City Zoo’s new baby elephant, born on April 15, now has a name, Malee. I visited on Tuesday, my first trip to the OKC zoo believe it or not. I know I’ve been here a few years, but I really haven’t gone anywhere or done anything until this year.

This also serves as a test of a new (to me) WordPress plugin, Blip Slideshow. I like it because it can pull the feed from Picasa, Flickr, and lPhotobucket, and lets you configure a lot of settings.

Album view of my photos.

12 May 2011 ~ 2 Comments

Pink Wave spreads pro-choice, pro-family message to legislators

[For a gallery view of the photos, see my Picasa album.]

Billed as a “Pink Wave” because of the color of their t-shirts and signs, supporters of real family values gathered at the Capitol today to address the anti-women and anti-families legislation that is becoming the stock in trade of the Oklahoma legislature. The event was sponsored and organized by the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma. Participating organizations included Trust Women PAC, Reproductive Health Coalition, ACLU of Oklahoma, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Tulsa Reproductive Services, Sally’s List, Oklahoma Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice, Oklahoma Federation of Democratic Women.

Speakers included Martha Skeeters, Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice; Rep. Emily Virgin; Senator Judy Eason McIntyre; Sen. Jim Wilson; Tamya Cox, ACLU of Oklahoma; Sen. Connie Johnson; Kelly Jennings, Oklahoma Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice; and Joanna Wall, Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice.

Approximately 200 attended the noon event, including mothers of young children, students, clergy, current and retired legislators, public service workers, health care workers, attorneys and veterans.

11 May 2011 ~ 1 Comment

Going to the Oklahoma Democratic Party State Convention this Saturday

I am going to the Oklahoma Democratic Party convention this Saturday as an alternate delegate with a proxy, and thus a vote in the statewide party elections for officers. I am in the Change Oklahoma caucus.

Those who have known me for a while may know that I chose to work within the party here in Oklahoma two years ago, because I see it as currently the only viable way to even minimally advance progressive causes via the electoral process in this state during what remains of my lifetime. You don’t have to provide me with all the ways the duopolistic major party system in this country is problematic; I’m aware, but I am also aware of the need for change here and the political realities in terms of process. So here I am, a Democratic Party “operative.”

So this will be my first major party state convention, believe it or not — I’m a longtime political junkie, but not a partisan. So I’ve tried to observe, talk to people and learn what I can and I have decided to support Wallace Collins for state party chair. The other candidates all have very positive things going for them, but I think Wallace has the background, electoral experience and political connections statewide to build the party in both rural and urban areas. All the other candidates talk about their plan, but hell, I could write a plan. But I couldn’t go out to rural OK and try to sell it to people. I couldn’t get them to give me some money to help implement my plan. I sure couldn’t convince them to stick their necks out in their community. I think that’s what the party chair needs to be able to do. I hope everyone will support the candidate who they think can do that all over the state, not just in urban centers with people like themselves.

That’s my endorsement and my two cents.

18 April 2011 ~ Comments Off

Corporate tax dodgers get a tax bill from OKC MoveOn.org members

MoveOn members and supporters rallied and listened to Frosty Troy and others set the record straight on the so-called deficit crisis, then presented employees at a local Chase Bank with a “bill” for Morgan Chase’s unpaid taxes.

MoveOn.org has been giving Oklahoma a bit of attention in the past few months, trying to build up their activist “council” in Oklahoma City (the Tulsa council has been fairly well established for a while. A statewide coordinator has been hired, Ali Canada, and local activists like Pat McCauley in Norman have been holding house parties and planning public events (a pro-labor rally at the Capitol on Feb. 26 was one such event).

To join (or start) your local council, start on the MoveOn Political Action Council Home page.

14 April 2011 ~ 3 Comments

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