Last week or so saw the explosion in the number of individuals signing the White House petition forms that asked for a peaceful succession of their state from the Union. Now I am more than sympathetic with the petition signer’s reasons for wanting to go our own way and yes the Declaration of Independence states that the people have the right to throw off a non functioning or abusive government and form a new government and one of these days that day might arrive.
But not this day and not for losing an election.
Yes, the election proved that there are more tax eaters than tax payers and that the two left coasts control the political realm but if a invader comes into your home or if an unjust homeowners association starts to trample on your rights do you abandon your home or sell your home and move away? No, you stand and fight for your rights.
Channel 4 and Fox 25 both interviewed me for the story and both faithfully reported the Sooner Tea Party position on the petitions… Hell no but thanks for bringing attention to how afraid people are.
The Fox 25 story isn’t online but we actually saw it on TV Wednesday morning as we were meeting over breakfast before the election recount. You know how it is, you speak to the reporter for ten minutes and they use fifteen seconds in their story, well in this case they did a great job and used the statement where I asked if ten thousand Oklahomans were that worried about succession why weren’t they working with the Tea Party to stop the reasons for secession? Fox 25 has been a steadfast ally with the Tea Party including this story
where RINO Representative Jason Nelson and I go head to head on the DHS leadership State Question.
And again in this story
where State Chamber spokesperson Arnella Karges and I are head to head on the Oklahoma Water Resources Board State Question.
Remember Arnella Karges? She served as the incoming House parliamentarian until Speaker Steele lost the Speaker Designate election for his handpicked successor then the previous parliamentarian was enticed back with an ungodly salary. So you go from interpreting the rules during process and debate on the House floor to working for the State Chamber…. Everyone understand the importance of this?
And Channel 4 put our view on the secession petitions in their story
and did an excellent job boiling it down and reporting our position accurately.
Now the signers of these petitions are upset and afraid of the road we are traveling as a nation but rather than putting yourself on a list that the government is bound to retain to identify potential terror suspects why not join in the local fight to end the madness that we find our state getting sucked into? Yeah, you will likely still get put on their list if you serve as a spokesperson for the effort but you will actually make a difference and perhaps stop Oklahoma from having to leave the Union.
Look back at the 2010 legislative session before Charlie Meadows and the John Birch Society killed off the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance. We got four bills to the governor’s desk, Opt out of Obama Care, Open Carry (a real open carry bill, not watered down), an anti RFID Chip in the Drivers License bill, and the Montana Fire Arms Freedom bill which was really a 10th Amendment challenge to the feds. All four bills fought for Oklahoma’s sovereignty, the right to reject Obama Care, the right to our 2nd Amendment, against a National ID card program, and for the right of Oklahoma to manage those things that remain within our border that aren’t covered by Article One, Section Eight of the U.S. Constitution.
Yes, all four bills were vetoed and our veto proof margins were lost when six Tulsa area Republicans changed their votes during the veto override fight. But you don’t win or lose a war on the outcome of a single battle; in this case we had ugly voting records that we used to beat the RINOs with for the next two years and that is what caused the RINOs to not only start supporting an Open Carry bill, it caused them to author the bills! We used our loss in 2010 to prepare the battlefield for the 2012 primary election and it paid off with a watered down Open Carry bill that was a major step in the right direction. Next session there will be less opposition to a full Open Carry bill after everyone realizes that few actually have used their Open Carry rights, it will be less than a big deal to support it.
So my message to those petition signers is to get off your butts and support our cause. This next session is poised to be a good session for liberty with a new speaker that has publically supported cutting Oklahoma’s reliance on federal funds and the strings that come with that money. The State Chamber slaves that owned the Legislature since the Republicans took control are defeated, shamed, and in disarray. We have an excellent shot at this next session supporting the common good for Oklahoma instead of the special interests so additional troops on the ground before the session begins would make us even more effective at stopping the reasons for wanting to join the secessionist movement.
And if you aren’t sure which grassroots group to support in the coming session consider who the media has consistently picked to represent the voice of the opposition in Oklahoma politics: The Sooner Tea Party. Not OCPAC and Charlie Meadows, not the OCPA, not the fringe Ron Paul “leaders” that are too disorganized to find their butts with both hands, not the Oklahoma City Tea Party that continues to refuse to actually stand for or against anything, but the Sooner Tea Party that leads the fight to preserve liberty, the rule of law, and the Constitution. We prepare by building infrastructure like our sign shop, our newspaper, our robo call system, and researching &writing the most widely read newsletter in Oklahoma. We earned our reputation as the leader of the opposition in Oklahoma. Yes some of the fringe Ron Paul “leaders” might have showed up at the Sorrels watch party on election night but where were they when it came down to fighting for the Sorrels campaign’s right for a recount? Did they step forward to fight or put up their own money? The Sorrels campaign knew that when it comes to a fight you want the Sooner Tea Party leading not the Republican Party, not a bunch of sissified whiners that avoid confrontation and treat the fight for liberty as a hobby not as the life and death struggle that it is.
From the beginning of the Tea Party movement I became aware of the average person’s desire for what I call a magic bullet, that one tactic or petition that would solve all the problems we faced. As a cabinet maker I know that cabinets don’t build themselves and that mistakes will happen along the process; what makes you a real cabinet maker is the ability and dedication to overcome any mistakes and do the hard work to build a set of cabinets that the homeowner will be proud of. In politics it is the same, hard work and preparation makes its own luck and you don’t have to win the election to influence how the public officials act after the election. Just taking a chunk of hide off their backsides is enough to scare them straight, that and the fact that they know that you aren’t going away and will be back on their sorry butts the day after the election.
Integrity Means Fighting When There is a Cost to be Paid
One of the most popular statements on integrity is when someone says that integrity is when you do the right thing when no one is watching. I disagree; the ultimate test of integrity is when you stand up for what is right regardless of the cost.
We saw an excellent example of this when we broke the Whetsel/Dr. Jarjoura scandal last September where Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel was caught allowing a wealthy dentist to play policeman and gain access to some of the most sensitive law enforcement information in our system including Homeland Security alerts, FBI alerts, and even the FBI crime data base. We broke the original story which was followed up by an Axxiom for Liberty article that vouched for our information and even found more incriminating information against Whetsel and Jarjouras. But a threatening letter from Jarjoura’s lawyers caused the Axxiom for Liberty article to disappear while we held our ground and stood by our opinion.
Now we aren’t bashing Kay Beach too much, she isn’t cut out for the fist fights that is politics, her bag is research not confrontation. But the liberty movement should never rely on those that don’t stand their ground under adversity. You don’t want an unsteady ally in your foxhole protecting your back or privy to your secrets or tactics because they can turn on you or disappear just when you are depending on them the most to watch your back.
Kay’s decision to avoid confrontation did save her from being sued by Jarjoura so some might say that she survived to fight another day, that it is better to cut and run at times. I would agree that there are times that we should fight a guerilla warfare style campaign, hit and run rather than fighting for every inch of ground but once you choose a battlefield as your own you should never, ever, back down.
That was the case with the Jarjoura case, there was simply too much at stake to allow the story to go unpublished. Jarjoura had bought his way into the heart of law enforcement in Oklahoma County, had numerous red flags like the previous felony arrest, the unfinished pilot training effort, and the federal civil indictment for Medicaid fraud that didn’t result in his dismissal from the Oklahoma County Sheriff Reserve force. The man could well be a threat to our collective security given his actions and his background check was either sloppily done or not done at all, justice and public security screamed for exposing the scandal.
But Jarjoura did sue both the Sorrels campaign and the Tea Party by suing their leaders. The Oklahoma was a bit behind the curve and just learned of this lawsuit last week so the reporter called asking for some comment. In things like this the best rule is to avoid comment but sometimes the movement requires that you take a calculated risk so I spoke to the reporter but made sure to cover only what had already been covered.
The Oklahoman article
does a decent job laying out our concerns for questioning Jarjoura’s actions in our newsletter:
“The article questions whether Jarjoura has terrorist ties and whether Whetsel overlooked the dentist’s criminal background when selecting him as a reserve deputy.
Gerhart said what prompted his concerns was discovering that Jarjoura had contributed thousands of dollars in cash and vehicles to the department and to Whetsel’s re-election campaign about the same time he began training as a reserve deputy. Public records show Jarjoura contributed money and vehicles during that time.”
The story goes on to claim this:
“Jarjoura also denied having a criminal record. Gerhart later retracted part of the article.”
This is untrue, we stand by the evidence that Jarjoura did have a felony arrest in the early 1990’s for grand larceny according to the OSCN website records that we were given and those records included screen shots of prior to publishing our story. What we retracted and apologized for was the confusion of the actual Oklahoma statue that was used to charge Jarjoura and his fellow dentists at the Bright Smiles dental company. We had thought that the Oklahoma statute that covers Medicaid fraud was being used when in fact it turned out that the most recent law passed because of the Obama Care law was used, a whistle blowers statute instead of what we think is the more appropriate criminal statute.
The fact remains that Jarjoura and his fellow dentists are on track to going to trial next year on a $15,000,000.00 civil indictment to recover money for the state and federal government. That fact alone should have lead to his dismissal as a reserve deputy. Why was he being protected was our biggest question.
Jarjoura did finally answer one of the crucial questions that we asked in the original article: Was he a Christian or was he a Muslim? The answer according to the Oklahoman is that Jarjoura is a Christian. Now normally we could accept Jarjoura’s answer at face value but the fact that we are left to accept his word on his faith is causing further concerns in our opinion. It is helpful to learn a bit about the Muslim faith before further discussion.
The Muslim faith has a method of preserving their practitioners when they are facing adversity, they can simply lie to infidels, in fact they are required to lie to infidels if it advances the cause of Islam or allows a Muslim to escape harm to his well being or the well being of other Muslims. Here is a good tutorial on what is allowed in the Muslim faith.
The Quran’s reasoning and laws on allowing a Muslim to lie to others is outlined on this web page. Taqiyya and kitman are the two forms of acceptable lying; taqiyya being an outright lie and kitman being a lie told by omission. The Quran’s message ought to be that not every Muslim is a liar, indeed most Muslims in the U.S. are honest people just trying to escape Sharia law in their home countries, but the historical message is quite clear when it comes to believing Muslims: do so at considerable risk.
Jarjoura’s attorney commented on the story. Robert Lafferandre claimed that the Tea Party is punishing Jarjoura for his hard work and donations to the sheriff department. If that is their legal defense then this lawsuit is going to turn out badly for Jarjoura. A successful libel suit requires that a public figure prove that someone acted with a willful disregard for the truth and there is no doubt that Jarjoura is a public figure given his public support of the Oklahoma County Sheriff office through donations, face book postings, publicity stunts to raise money, and there is the fact that he is a commissioned law enforcement officer which should automatically put his actions and his person under a higher scrutiny as long as the questions pertain to his job or a public interest.
Libel law is an intersting topic, one that we had neglected to research prior to being threatened with a lawsuit. Historically a reporter or printer was at the mercy of the government. The fact that what was published was true was not a defense! “The greater the truth, the greater the libel.” was the phrase used in the famous trial of John Peter Zenger in 1735 after he published an article critical of New York Governor William Cosby. Alexander Hamilton was Zenger’s lawyer and he managed to get the jury to nullify the established law at the time and the decision stands are a 1st Amendment triumph.
Even after the passage of the Bill of Rights and the 1st Amendment in 1791 libel law in America continued to protect government officials. Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1798 that punished Americans for publishing writings against the government that brought officials into contempt or disrepute, allowing for the wholesale silencing of political opposition.
The law changed suddenly in the 1960’s with the Supreme Court decision of New York Times Co V. Sullivan. The Times had published an advertisement that outlined abuse of students by the police in Montgomery Alabama. A commissioner in Montgomery named Sullivan took offense and sued the Times for publishing the advertisement. The jury was instructed that they were to ignore if the charges were true or not, that falsity and malice were presumed in libel cases and the Alabama jury returned a $500,000.00 verdict for Sullivan. The New York Times appealed to the Supreme Court and won a verdict that said the libel law was unconstitutional as it didn’t defend the 1st and 14th Amendments in a libel action brought by a public official against his critics.
For the first time the Court ruled that libel law can’t run against the constitution:
“Thus, we consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.1
The Court stated that errors are inevitable in debate and that punishing critics of public officials for factual errors would chill free speech about public interest issues:
“The constitutional guarantees require, we think, a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with 'actual malice' — that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.15
Suddenly libel law in America was turned on its head and common sense protected reporters and publishers. The Court now required evidence of actual malice, a reckless disregard for the truth with clear and convincing evidence, setting a threshold that has stopped frivolous lawsuits long before they reached the courthouse.
The next big step for freedom came with the Supreme Court decision of Curtis Publishing Co. V. Butts and The Associated Press V. Walker and the decisions arose out of once again the Civil Rights movement. Both plaintiffs had retired after their lawsuits occurred and were no longer public officials but the Supreme Court extended to extend Times V. Sullivan to public figures as well as public officials. The case hung on whether the publishers had committed highly unreasonable conduct or departure from the standards of investigation and reporting news stories. The Court verified that departure from investigation standards or usual reporting procedures didn’t add up to malice, that mistakes or ommissions didn’t mean libel.
The limits of actual malice were defined further in Gertz V. Rober Welch, Inc in a case where a police officer had killed a young man. The John Birch Society’s American Opinion written by Robert Welch used the case to warn of communists trying to frame police officer and claimed that Gertz was a communist despite the fact that Gertz wasn’t involved in the actual criminal case that had convicted the police officer of second degree murder. The Court had to decide if Gertz was a private person or a public figure and if so, what standards apply for private persons and limited purpose public figures.
The high court found two main distinctions between public figures and private persons:
1. A public official and a public figure have greater access to the media to counter defamatory statements.
2. Public officials and public figures seek out public acclaim and assume the risk of greater public scrutiny.
This lead to the Court setting up completely different standards of protections for private persons versus public figures like Jarjoura:
“We hold that, so long as they do not impose liability without fault, the States may define for themselves the appropriate standard of liability for a publisher or broadcaster of defamatory falsehood injurious to a private individual.19
In short, a private person doesn’t have to show actual malice in order to win a libel suit, just that the reporter was negligent or at fault in some manner. But the court also ruled that a private plaintiff couldn’t recover punitive damages unless they show actual malice. The Court also ruled that people could be limited purpose public figures, and that an individual that injects himself into a particular public controversy becomes a public figure for a limited range of issues and therefore they must meet the actual malice with clear and convincing evidence as the standard of proof. In the Gertz case they determined that Gertz wasn’t involved in the controversy at hand, he wasn’t part of the criminal prosecution of the police officer and he never put himself in the press. Jarjoura on the other hand had injected himself into the public face of the Oklahoma County Sheriff department with his donations, his rappelling down the side of a building to raise money, his naming of four donated vehicles after his four daughters, and then he compounded his mistake by interviewing with the Oklahoman in the story that widely discussed our concerns. Remember that private person don’t have access to the media like a public figure does.
We really hadn’t worried much about libel law until this lawsuit, depending on the truth to protect us but looking into the defense against libel revealed the following defenses:
Truth or substantial truth: Basically if what we write is true then it can’t be libelous. As long as the “gist” of the story is true then we are protected. In this case we were concerned about Jarjoura’s purchasing access to the sheriff department. The concern was expressed in a number of questions that we asked in the article.
Fair report or fair comment: Oklahoma provides protection to those that report on a public body such as a city council, the idea being that public good overrides the protection of public officials. Nothing is more public than an election involving a sheriff that is selling access to inside information and Homeland Security alerts much less having the FBI Crime database available in your garage or driveway.
Qualified privilege: is close to Fair comment and can be claimed by journalists where it is important that the facts become known to the public. This includes public bodies like the police or fire departments, as long as there is no malicious intent, the reporter is protected.
Libel-proof plaintiffs: Some defendants have such lousy reputations that they are libel proof, you can’t harm a person whose reputation is already tarnished. The federal civil indictment of Jarjoura and his business partners is an excellent example of this. Were I a parent seeking a dentist for my child, I would not be worried that the dentist had Middle Eastern connections, I’d worry that the dentist was under federal civil indictment for Medicaid fraud that alleged unnecessary treatment paid for by the taxpayers.
Rhetorical hyperbole: Some courts have held that editorial/opinion columns are understood to be not interpreted literally. A good example is the attacks that the Sooner Tea Party suffered during the 2011 Oklahoma City Council race, people knew not to put absolute credence in what the Oklahoma editors wrote because it was editorial, exactly as our newsletter is editorial and some of our newspaper is editorial, we are commentators on the news, not reporters.
Retraction statutes: Nearly every state possesses a statute that allows a defamation defendant to retract, or take back, a libelous publication. Some of these statutes bar recovery, while others prevent the defendant from recovering so-called punitive damages. The one mistake that we made in our original article was retracted and an apology was given and that fact was documented in Jarjoura’s lawsuit!
Also the Oklahoma Supreme Court has spoken many times to this issue of free speech in areas of public concern. Iin Gaylord Entertainment Co. v. Thompson two lawyers brought actions against a newspaper for defamation relating to articles and editorials discussing an interest group's efforts to change state law, the Court held that the publications were protected both by the statutory fair report and the fair comment privilege. The Court reasoned:
". . . The State can neither impede the exchange of ideas nor make that exchange costly through litigious action. Even the mere threat of unfounded liability would have a 'chilling effect' on the discussion of public issues. No less of a limitation is imposed when, as in this case, the action is taken by a private plaintiff under the aegis of state civil law. Civil actions by private parties will violate the free speech guarantee when the discussion alleged to be defamatory concerns public issues and no unlawful activity occurs. . . ."
Even worse for Jarjoura and his lawyer is what the Oklahoma Constitution says about this issue:
Article 2, §22 provides:
"Every person may freely speak, write, or publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions for libel, the truth of the matter alleged to be libelous may be given in evidence to the jury, and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libelous be true, and was written or published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted."
Since the early 1960’s the courts have ruled that defamation suits can be abused by punishing those who speak out against corruption and abuse and that many such suits are meritless. The term SLAPP suits was coined, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. This threat of libel suits can cause individuals like Kay Beach from speaking out against public concerns as few people have the money to fight for their rights once they are sued. If we want to continue to enjoy the benefits of the 1st Amendment then we have to stand up to protect the 1st Amendment. Few cases come around that scream for exposure like the Whetsel/Jarjoura scandal and it would be a loss for all freedom loving Oklahomans if Jarjoura succeeded in silencing his critics.
What Do You Have To Say?
By Ms PM
Well folks, the opening day of the legislature is right around the corner. The days pass by as fast as the wind blows hard here in the Sooner State.
Is it time to write a letter to the editor about issues you care about? Are there any issues facing Oklahoma government that pushes the "hot" button for you?
Are you so tired of fighting for Oklahoma that you have crawled back into a hole? With no hope? Too much despair? Or just a feeling that all of this is a for nothing? Are you able to care for your family? Have you put on hold the things you wanted to venture into because of the financial problems you may face? Do you feel so angry that you don't know where to start venting your frustration? What is it that brings out the most fear in you? What is it that calms your anxiety?
Are your representatives doing a good job of representing the people in your district? Do they hold true to the values you care about?
In your everyday journey do you run across waste being carried out by those you think never listen to your complaints?
Have you noticed an overall despair when talking to people? Have you ever thought about walking through your neighborhood and talking to people to find out their perspective on what is going on? New journeys will often times hold the key of understanding what you are passionate about and that gift may be the missing puzzle piece. Do you wonder what others have come up with as a plan of action for their life during these troubling times?
Our next newspaper will concentrate on Oklahoma and Cleveland Counties and we would love to hear from our readers on what issues concern them the most. If you can put on paper these things that consistently fly around in your head, you may find that it takes some of the fire out. Writing is a good thing, even if you feel crazy, you may conclude that after putting pen to paper, your thoughts are valid, therefore you have been returned to sanity, even for only a brief moment.
Sometimes...it's all we have, and sometimes...that is enough.
Perceptions Are Funny Things
By Ms PM
Spending most of the day at the Oklahoma Election Board for the re-count of the Sheriff's race was something new. Learning the process, in itself, was an educating experience. The people we met a few days before the re-count were knowledgeable and obviously held there positions with a pride and integrity. Unfortunately, some of those participating in the re-count could use a lesson in manners.
To be sure, what I have to say is my own perception of the whole ordeal.
One of the first observations happened when being sworn in and instructed what and what not to do. I asked a question regarding the clarity of procedures and before I could finish, Doug Sanderson, Secretary of the Oklahoma Election Board, cut me off and proceeded to answer the question he thought I was asking. I listened to his answer and when finished, I stated that that was not what I had asked. That was the first bit of animosity I sensed. He instructed me to show him on the ballot what I was talking about. I was very clear with the communication I spoke in regard to the wording of the question and had he given me the opportunity to finish speaking, there would have been no need for me to use the ballot to draw a picture for his understanding. I am very sure of this.
It was a grim lot I sat and counted ballots with. No one was smiling and little to no eye contact. When I called out my first "objection," I wrote down as previously instructed, what my objection was.
My observation, the ballot was marked at the box, "straight Republican ticket" and completely filled in with ink. The caller called that ballot for Whetsel. My written objection was, "straight Republican ticket", "Whetsel." Any objection stops the count and Doug has to come over, pick up the written objection and take it to the designated group for a ruling on how the vote should be called.
When he came to the table, he looked at the ballot and said I had to write down my objection. I pointed to the large yellow sticky note I had written my objection on and placed by the person reading the ballots like I had been instructed to do. For clarity, none of the "watchers" which is what I was, were allowed to talk other than to say "objection." Doug did not seem to understand the way I had written my objection. I thought it was very straight forward. Straight Republican ticket would be a vote call for Sorrels as the Republican candidate was Sorrels. This was the second bout of animosity. In my mind of perception, it became clear that the first time he couldn't figure out what I was asking and wanted a picture explanation, the second time he didn't understand the picture explanation. Seemed a bit odd as neither of us are idiots although we all periodically act like one.
I did not understand why he then asked me; "Don't you see a mark on the ballot?" As he had explained during the swearing in, we object, he picks the ballot up with the objection and a group determines the outcome. It never seemed appropriate to debate the ballot with him going by his initial instructions; after all, there was a group to do this. The only conclusion I can come to is he wanted me to recant the objection.
What I saw on the ballot in question was a completely colored in box for "straight Republican ticket." There was a tiny squiggle mark, similar to when you pick up a piece of paper with the same hand you are holding your pen with and the pen touches the paperwork and leaves a mark somewhere on that paper. The pen had unfortunately touched inside of "Whetsel's box in the upper left hand corner. All the other boxes the voter marked were completely blacked in following suit with the way the "straight Republican ticket" box was marked. That is why I had an objection of how the vote was called. I believe it was my sworn duty to question this call. After the debate with the others, this vote was called for Whetsel. There is no doubt that Whetsel won the election, with or without this vote. There is also no doubt that this vote was incorrectly given to Whetsel.
While this objection was being debated I got the attention of another in our group of watchers and without speaking, I pointed to the front where the group was debating the objection, and back to myself, to let him know it was my objection they were debating. The reserve sheriff deputy sitting near the table I was at came up behind me and said "no talking." This was the third example of that pesky animosity. I had not said a word, only pointed. I found this odd as the "watcher" for the Whetsel group had at this point in time verbally said something three times with no acknowledgment of the "talking" rule being broken. Breaking this rule can result in being thrown out. I wondered if I had said something if I would have been the one thrown out. I wasn't going to find out.
The next "objection" I called was the same situation with a squiggle mark. This time the vote was given to Sorrels and originally it had been called for Whetsel.
First and foremost this re-count is a right for anyone that has reasonable suspicion of any election process and the ability to provide the funds required for a re-count. This event cost thousands of dollars and a lot of time from volunteers.
The people at the Election Board were paid for their time and I sensed that they thought the whole ordeal was a nuisance. Doug came to my table and spoke directly to staff asking if they needed a break during the whole process. It was no surprise when no eye contact was made with me and it was nothing short of being treated like a pest that needs to just go away. None of what happened was taken personally, and I will continue to question. Regardless, this was something to experience.