Editor’s notebook: Hugs for heroes, Cain solutions, Fallin in the Times, pastor threatened

The Hugs Project, an Oklahoma program that regularly ships parcels to U.S. military personnel serving overseas in the War on Terror, continues today (Pearl Harbor Day, December 7) when volunteers and organizers will gather at 7000 Crossroads Boulevard in Oklahoma City. 

Purpose of the event, according to executive director Karen Stark, will be to put prepared packages onto postal trucks that will age present to accept the parcels for shipment to the Middle East. Stark said participants will pass the boxes hand-by-hand into the trucks. 

Joining Stark and others at the activity will be Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, Oklahoma’s adjutant general. Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs Rita Aragon, the first woman to hold the Cabinet Secretary’s post in Oklahoma, will also make an appearance, Stark said. 

The event kicks off at 1 p.m. In a release sent to CapitolBeatOK, Stark said, “We’ll meet at Suite 1048 on Dec. 7th and pass the load to the waiting postal carriers. Darth Vader, Navy personnel, patriotic Oklahomans, military parents and spouses, volunteers, boy and girl scouts and others will be helping move the load.  Everyone who loves our troops is welcome.” 

More on the mission of the Hugs Projects can be found on CapitolBeat OK here, or at their website

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Georgia businessman Herman Cain is out of the presidential sweepstakes, and will not be among those running in Oklahoma’s Republican presidential primary. However, in an overnight email to supporters, Cain did not sound like a fellow who is planning to stay off the public stage. 

Cain wrote: “I did not want to become president just for the sake of being president. I’m perfectly happy with what I’ve accomplished in my life and I don’t need the ego boost. Rather, I sought the presidency because our nation has some big problems to deal with, and it’s clear that our political class has neither the will nor the ability to solve them.

“For that very reason, I was not surprised that I was viciously attacked once I rose in the polls. I was surprised by the nature of the attacks. Me, a womanizer? I would never have thought they’d come up with that one. But I knew the establishment would not like the idea of my success, because I will not get along by going along like so many do. I will not kick the can down the road to the next generation of leaders, because our problems are serious and they need to be solved now.”

Cain continued, “If real solutions are achieved, it will not matter who achieved them. If Congress and the president take the right measures to ensure our fiscal strength, protect our national security, achieve energy independence, spur economic growth and accomplish health care reform that actually works – it won’t matter to me whose signature is on the bills. Only that the bills become laws that get us to the goal.

“And while I am disappointed, there are more than a few silver linings to doing this work outside the context of a presidential campaign. The process by which we choose our nation’s leader is ridiculous. There is little focus on policy substance and even less on candidates’ governing skills. If you’re not warding off some wild accusation, you’re explaining away a “gaffe,” which is usually the sort of slip of the tongue that anyone can make, but because some reporter heard it, it turns into a news-cycle narrative with a shelf life of six or seven days.” 

Cain promised to keep pressing for policy reforms along the lines of his 9-9-9 proposal for a combination of tax reforms and spending curbs, through a new website (TheCainSolutions.com). 

He concluded his note to supporters, “Six months ago, most of you had never heard of me. You have now. A lot of what you’ve heard is not true, but I’ve got your attention. Keep listening, and if you care about the future of our country like I do, get involved.”

Through the first two days of filing in the Oklahoma presidential primary, five Republican hopefuls had filed: former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, Lone Star State Governor Rick Perry, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Others are expected to file before close of business today (Wednesday). President Barack Obama is the only Democrat to have filed so far, but one perrenniel candidate (Jim Rogers) is rumored to be considering the race. 

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Opposition to the Obama administration’s proposed new curbs on youth employment in the farming industry continues, even though the rules seem likely to go into effect. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s statement against the proposed rules gained national coverage this week in a Washington Times story by Andrea Billups. 

The U.S. Department of Labor said in a recent statement, “Children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America. The fatality rate for young agricultural workers is four times greater than that of their peers employed in non-agricultural workplaces.” 

While the proposals rules are crafted, federal officials say, to allow young workers to work on their parents’ farms, the edicts would end popular youth temporary/summer labor on farms owned by relatives or friends. The restrictions will extend to corn detasseling, with corn farmers saying their seasonal labor costs will increase dramatically without rural youth labor. 

The Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star asked in a recent editorial, “Why should teen workers be denied the right to detassel when young teen football players will be sprinting and colliding at full speech in football practice in the same weather conditions?”

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A man who threatened an Edmond church pastor after the preacher’s opposition to an anti-discrimination measure has been charged with a felony in Oklahoma County District Court. He has not been arrested, according to a story in today’s editions of The Oklahoman. 

The Oklahoma City Council voted last month to approve changes to anti-discrimination language for government employees, joining Oklahoma County government in affording explicit employment protections for gays and lesbians. Passage of the measure made Oklahoma City the fifth local government to add such language to anti-discrimination provisions.

The public discussion period was intense and at times acrimonious, but the council debate itself was also marked by calls for mutual respect from conservatives like Councilman Larry McAtee and his liberal colleague Dr. Ed Shadid, sponsor of the measure. 

McAtee said the measure was not necessary and that there was little evidence of discrimination against gay employees. Shadid said the city should “be the employer, and let God be the judge.” 

Shadid began his rise to political office with an unsuccessful independent run against state Rep. David Dank in 2010. He overcame a major independent expenditure to win election last spring to represent a MidTown district at city hall. 
Shadid’s measure prevailed 7-2 after lengthy discussion. 

Soon after the ordinance amendment passed, a well-known Edmond pastor, Rev. Paul Blair of Fairview Baptist Church, received several shocking telephone messages in a little more than 24 hours, beginning at 4:12 a.m. November 16 and concluding 10:10 a.m. the next day. 

Police believe the calls were made by David Michael Moxley, who was charged on Tuesday (December 6). The calls included an explicit bomb threat, an assertion the caller had “committed homicide more than once,” and a statement the caller wanted to have sex with the preacher’s wife. Audio copies of the messages were, for some days, an Internet cause celebre. 
When Moxley’s sister heard the recordings, she recognized her brother’s voice and called him. 

In the last phone message in the series of calls to Blair’s church phone line, the caller apologized for “inappropriate messages” and claimed the calls were made in response to an email from the church, and not Blair’s opposition to the anti-discrimination measure. Rev. Blair’s emails are regularly sent on behalf of Reclaiming America for Christ, which supports traditional sexual morality.