Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Schoolkids at the Circle Cinema

Students from the Kendall-Whitter Elementary School were treated to a French children's film recently, courtesy of Tulsa's Circle Cinema. The film, The Red Balloon, is by all reports a charming story and the Tulsa World says that the children enjoyed the movie.

The Circle's effort to expose Tulsa children to foreign films is a wonderful idea. They're unlikely to see such films on their own and, in an increasingly global community, exposure to different stories from different cultures is a worthy goal.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tulsa billboard gets it wrong

A Tulsa billboard attacking birth control is attracting national attention. Unfortunately for those of us in T-Town, it is exactly the kind of publicity that makes Tulsa, and Oklahoma, look foolish.

The billboard in question carries this amazing headline: "Birth Control is Harmful." The sign, which directs readers to, is an apparent response to Planned Parenthood's local billboards which proclaim, "Birth Control is Easy." The "Harmful" billboard is showing up on some national websites, but the ones we've seen are highly critical—as are we.

Why? Because birth control has long been a very good thing, especially for people (including sexually active teens) who don't want children or shouldn't be having them. (It would be even better if teens wouldn't have sex, but that's a somewhat different problem, and certainly one not solved by scaring them away from birth control.)

Does Tulsa need more kids with kids? No. But that seems to be the unintended message of these "Harmful" billboards.

We've checked out the "Respect Life" website, but we remain unconvinced. They advance the unrealistic and harmful notion that birth control pollutes the moral fiber of the unsuspecting public, cheapening our lives and values.

Well, no it doesn't. It doesn't because many of us (including many Catholics) who use birth control live solidly moral lives, working hard, raising decent children, caring for others, serving the community, and so on. Birth control didn't and won't corrupt us or those we have any influence over. Besides, attacking birth control as a social evil is misguided in a world where there's plenty of real evil to fight.

Finally, if their idea is to prevent unwanted pregancy and abortions, then they've got it backwards. Since the whole point of birth control is to prevent pregancy, birth control prevents abortions. And certainly the pill, the patch, condoms, and other forms of birth control—even if you don't like them for yourself—are preferable to abortion.

The Respect Life folks can say what they want to—it's a free country. But we happen to think the attack on birth control is profoundly misguided and, in the real but imperfect world, hurts some of the very people they say they want to help.

Monday, November 27, 2006

KRMG's falling numbers

We learn from a reliable source that the once-great Tulsa AM station, KRMG, has been slipping in the local ratings. We haven't checked the Arbitron numbers ourselves, but it comes as no surprise that the station's right-wing talkers have lost their mojo in recent years.

Every time we hear the baritone and mostly vacuous rumblings of Boortz, Limbaugh, and Hannity on KRMG, we stick around a moment or two just to see what they're spouting off about this time. Almost without exception, they're sticking it to another liberal or environmentlist, blissfully free of logic or facts or actual knowledge.

It's easy to shoot off your mouth when the facts don't matter and the solutions can be blamed on others. Just once we'd like to tune in and hear the Big Talkers admit that they don't know everything and that even conservatives don't have a lock on the truth. There's little chance of that—modesty and intellectual honesty are not their style.

If the ratings numbers are true, maybe other listeners have reached the same conclusion we have: There's no intelligent life on the AM dial, at least when these guys are talking.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Brookside Thanksgiving

One thing to be thankful for in Brookside this year is the end of the city's "beautification" project. We put "beautification" in quotes deliberately, because we're still not sure the months of construction and disruption were worth the effort. Progress can be a good thing, of course, but the noise and congestion of the last few months was a pain, to say the least. Thank goodness it's completed now, but the results a a tad underwhelming. To our (admittedly jaundiced) eye, Peoria Avenue south of 31st Street looks patchy and incomplete. On the other hand, the road workers and equipment have moved on, which is something to be thankful for this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bishop Pearson's Liberal Religion

We were pleased to learn recently that one of our favorite Tulsa preachers, Bishop Carlton Pearson, has joined the United Church of Christ, which the Tulsa World described as "one of the nation's most liberal denominations."

Indeed they are—and good for them, and Pearson too.

As you may recall, Pearson's evangelical congregation at Higher Dimensions Worship Center deserted him in droves when the pastor accepted the doctrine of Universalism, the idea that all humans are part of God's great plan and that all can make it to heaven.

We have no problem with Universalism, nor with Pearson's wonderfully radical openness to all humanity, a refreshingly unpopular idea in Tulsa, where literal readings of the Bible still dominate the religious landscape.

We were pleased to learn, too, that the Pearson's new denomination, the UCC, has been a leader in liberal religion for hundreds of years. According to the World's report, the church gave voting rights to women in church elections in 1699, ordained a black minister in 1785, ordained a woman in 1853, and has been pushing for civil rights for gays since the late 1960s. Amazing!

Nice to know that some Christians are actually interested in treating all of God's children as exactly that.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blaming the Sixties, Again

An op-ed column in today's Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader blasts the "lefty loonies" of the 1960s, blaming them for the nation's inability to wage war and defeat terrorism. Lexington's own right-wing pundit Jenean McBrearty assures us that the flower children of an earlier era hate the military, hate Western civilization, hate patriotic Americans, and hate "imperialistic corporations."

We at Alernative Tulsa are stunned. We had no idea that our 1960s ideals were so utopian and so harmful. And who knew that communism had failed? (Nobody ever tells us anything!) All we recall from those hazy college days is drinking cheap wine and singing along with John and Yoko.

But Ms. McBrearty has set us straight: "Love is not all you need," she points out. Perhaps she's right. Love is such a major lefty notion, after all, never actually mentioned in, say, Holy Scripture.

Before we accept this and other indictments of the 60s generation, we might want to recall others who were in college during that decade. (Our Lexington correspondent, for some reason, fails to mention a single American-hating hippie who, in her words, "supports the aims of the enemy.")

In any case, the 1960s gave us such sunshine patriots as George Bush, Dick Cheney, and even Rush Limbaugh. These guys love America now (as they always remind us), but not so much that they bothered to defend their nation in the 1960s. True, Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard, but this was a plum assignment and carried little risk of combat. Besides, he was in Alabama working on a political campaign for part of his tour. (Just a lucky break, we suppose.) Cheney managed those five (5!) deferments, explaining that he had "other priorities." Rush, the story goes, had a boil on his behind, and managed a medical deferment. Pardon us for pointing out the irony here, but it wasn't 1960s utopianism that kept these good Republican "patriots" out of Vietnam.

Ms. McBrearty is serving up the latest helping of Richard Nixon's enemies list: blame the radical left. (There are so many hiding right here in Middle America, after all. And they've embraced radical ideas like love and peace!)

Given the choice, we prefer the naive idealism of the 1960s Radical Left to the cynical, self-serving pieties of the Right, especially those who failed to serve when they had the chance.

Monday, November 20, 2006

One of the Finest Minds of the 19th Century

In case you missed it (and most people around here did), Our Very Own U.S. Senator made headlines in October when Radar magazine put him on the "Ten Dumbest Congressmen" list. We at Alternative Tulsa have never met the good Senator and offer no opinion of his intelligence or lack thereof. But we do recall several of the following Senatorial gems, which Radar listed as follows:

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
  • claimed that global warming is "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people"—a rhetorical flourish he recently refined by likening climate change theories to Nazi propaganda.
  • As far back as 1972, he called for Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern to be "hanged with Jane Fonda"
  • Claimed that both Bill and Hillary Clinton were out to assassinate him.
  • Quote "My wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I'm really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we've never had a divorce or a homosexual relationship."

Alternative Reading on Iraq

The Bush Administration's failed policies in Iraq take another well-deserved hit in Max Rodenbeck's New York Review article "How Terrible Is it?" Rodenbeck, Mideast correspondent for The Economist, notes that the public is finally awakening to flawed nature of the Administration's logic following September 11.

Rodenbeck's article, a review of two National Security Strategy documents and three new books on the Iraq situation, summarizies the recent shift in public opinion about terrorism and the Iraq war. He praises Louise Richardson's book, What Terrorists Want (Random House, 2006), calling it a crash course on terrorism. He also summarizes twelve key points she makes, several of which point of the folly of the Administration's actions.

Rodenbeck's article appears in the November 30 issue of The New York Review of Books. It's certainly worth a look, but not if you're a True Believer in the wisdom of W. The magazine's website is

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Re-thinking Tulsa's Conventional Wisdom

Tulsa is, it seems safe to say, a hotbed of conventional wisdom in politics, ideas, art and literature. Few Tulsans, it seems, are inclined to challenge the status quo or "color outside the lines" in any substantive way. We do, of course, have a number of naysayers and fringe characters who stir the local political pot, and who can be interesting and occasionally useful.

But Tulsa seems to lack a core community of informed readers and thinkers, those folks who actually read intelligent books, talk about ideas and issues, and arrive at informed decisions about local, state, and national concerns. Surely such people live in and around Tulsa, quietly going about their lives, increasingly irritated by the prevailing winds of conventional thought in northeastern Oklahoma.

We at Alternative Tulsa (or AT for short) offer this modest site as a place for critiquing the status quo—presenting ideas, facts, opinions, and commentaries from a critical perspective. The word "critical" is used advisedly here; we don't mean simply negative. We mean, instead, news and views that present alternatives to the easy and simple answers that most people adopt unthinkingly. Here at Alternative Tulsa, we want to push the boundaries, to present ideas—even unpopular ideas—that expand the public dialogue about Tulsa's political, ideological and cultural life.

Stay tuned for new posts from Alternative Tulsa.
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