Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tomorrow's Headlines Today: Elaine Dodd Elected Chair of Tulsa County Democratic Party

Some of the AltTulsa crowd turned up at the Tulsa County Democratic Convention earlier today where, to paraphrase Oklahoman Will Rogers, an organized political party was sometimes difficult to locate.

Yet the Democrats did conduct some serious party business. For one thing, they elected Elaine Dodd as county party chair. Dodd, who served a previous term as county chair, is taking over for Patti Basnett. From what we heard, Dodd and Basnett will be working together to strengthen the Tulsa County Democratic Party. We were impressed—Democrats actually cooperating, fighting Republicans instead of fighting each other.

The local Dems also passed a number of forward-thinking resolutions, some of which are near and dear to us. For example, they approved resolutions supporting historic neighborhoods and pedestrian-friendly urban development. They also offered support to independent family farms, vineyards, community gardens, co-ops, and farmers' markets. The Tulsa Democrats even supported the sale of wine and real beer (that is, stronger the 3.2) in grocery stores, just like they have in "civilized" states (such as Texas and New Mexico, to name only two).

There was much more on the agenda, of course, including praise for U.S. forces and a well-deserved blast at the Bush Administration's (mis)conduct of the Iraq war, actions the Dems said have "failed the American people." To which we would only add: Amen!

Inhofe News Flash: Tell the Truth

Tulsa's Own Sen. Jim Inhofe is putting forth a novel political idea—telling the truth.

But he might want to reconsider his advice, since the truth telling is likely make the his own party look very, very bad.

We're referring, of course, to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Asked about the firing, Sen. Inhofe told the Tulsa World that the president should just say, "I don't like him. They serve at my pleasure. They are out of here."

Good advice, Sen. Inhofe. But let's not stop there with the truth-telling. Let's have Karl Rove tell the truth about why his former aide was installed as a U.S. attorney in Arkansas. Let's also have Rove and others in the Justice Department, including Gonzales, tell the truth about replacing other U.S. attorneys who, it seems, weren't sufficiently partisan enough for Rove and his political operators.

Along with Sen. Inhofe, we think truth-telling is a good idea. So let's start with Karl Rove testifying under oath before Congress. But we won't be holding our breath.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Recommended: 'Lost Boys' Documentary

We haven't seen the film, so we're relying on second-hand information here. Nevertheless, we want to put in a plug for God Grew Tired of Us, a documentary opening this weekend at Tulsa's Circle Cinema.

We recommend the film based on a documentary we did see, Lost Boys of Sudan. That documentary was screened at the Circle a few months ago. It was a moving story about the lives of several Sudanese men trying to adjust to life in the United States.

The film opens this Sunday, April 1, with showings at 2 and 4:30 p.m. In between these two showings, Peter Kuir, a local Sudanese "Lost Boy" will speak on his experiences in Africa and America.

More information is available at the Circle Cinema's website.

Our Friend Rush: 'Americans are Blithering Idiots'

One of the reasons we get up every morning is the wit and wisdom of Rush Limbaugh. We just can't get enough of his brilliant and inspiring political observations. Here's a recent sample of the Master at work:

USA Today’s got a poll: ‘Do you think something’s wrong about the firing of eight US attorneys?’ Seventy-two percent said yes. Seventy-two percent of the American people, a bunch of blithering idiots who have no idea what they’re talking about, but yet they voted, so these polls matter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dr. Dobson Dumps on Thompson Presidential Bid

Some Oklahoma conservatives are pushing former Tennessee senator (and part-time actor) Fred Thompson to enter the Republican presidential race. But the influential conservative leader James Dobson of Focus on the Family is taking aim at the senator.

News reports today quote Dr. Dobson as questioning Thompson's religious convictions. Dobson acknowledged Thompson's conservative and pro-life credentials, but added, "I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression." Dobson also said that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian voters. Dobson seems to support former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who recently admitted sexual misconduct in a radio conservation with Dobson.

Dobson is entitled to endorse any candidate he likes. But we take strong exception to his religious litmus test. Apparently, Dobson can forgive Newt's indiscretions—what's a little hanky-panky between adults, after all?

But Sen. Thompson's religious beliefs, whatever they may be, can't be tolerated in spite of the fact that Thompson seems to agree with Dobson on many significant social and moral issues.

Sounds as if Dr. Dobson's political principles are mighty flexible. Based on what we've seen and heard out of Colorado Springs in recent years, some might call Dr. Dobson's shifting political positions "moral relativism."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New Farmers' Markets Promise More Local Produce

We at AltTulsa look forward every spring to the return of the Cherry Street Farmers' Market, where Tulsa-area growers, bakers, and producers sell local fruits, veggies, flowers, herbs and more. This year the Cherry Street Market opens Saturday, April 14, at its usual location in Lincoln Plaza, just east of Peoria on 15th Street.

Thanks to the Tulsa World, we learn that two additional farmers' markets will be opening in midtown Tulsa this spring. In May, the Cherry Street folks will be opening a new farmers' market in Brookside, at the corner of 41st Street and Peoria, every Wednesday morning from 8 until noon.

The other new farmers' market will be on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m. at Peoria at 6th Street, in the Pearl District of Tulsa. This neighborhood, just east of downtown Tulsa, is being revitalized with townhouses and the new Centennial Park. The market will open April 5 in the parking lot near the park. The Pearl District Market is being organized by our friends at Sustainable Green Country.

This is good news for folks who want to support local agriculture and local producers. We'll see you there.

El Rushbo Sinks to New (Partisan) Low

Radio talker Rush Limbaugh is not much for subtle thinking or careful analysis. Still, he draws millions of listeners every weekday, feeding them a steady diet of conservative pabulum, would-be facts, and exaggerated charges against liberals and other folks he doesn't care for—it's a long, long list.

Even so, El Rushbo reached a new low point the other day in his comments on presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth. When Mrs. Edwards announced that her cancer had returned, Rush couldn't resist putting a political spin on the news.

According to Rush, the Edwards cancer is a political opportunity for the Edwards campaign, which is using it to keep the campaign in the news and generate new momentum. Rush's theory (if you can call it that) is that liberals like Edwards are so cynical and opportunistic that they will do anything to keep themselves in the news.

But Rush is the real cynic. Rush attributes motives to Edwards that the former North Carolina senator and his wife do not hold; namely, that they are purposely exploiting Mrs. Edwards' cancer for partisan political advantage.

We don't believe it for a minute. We can't believe other Americans believe it either.

Cancer, as even Rush should know, is a nonpartisan disease. Just ask Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, who announced today that his cancer has returned. Unlike Rush, we don't see any political angle to cancer. We wish Tony Snow well, as all Americans should.

Monday, March 26, 2007

More GOP Senators Criticize Gonzales

We've been posting regularly about the troubles of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, under fire for the suspicious firings of eight Republican U.S. attorneys.

The latest news was bad for the AG: Speaking on talk shows this weekend, three more senators criticized Gonzales—three Republican senators.

This can't be good news for the White House, which issued a new statement of support of the AG. Meanwhile, Gonzales defended himself in NBC interview we saw, but the effort was less than impressive.

Stay tuned, sports fans, this one is a long way from over.

People We Like: Tulsa Writer Michael Wallis

Michael Wallis is a big man with a big voice and a big personality. All of which is a way of saying that he's a talented and colorful Tulsa writer, someone all Oklahomans can be proud of.

Why? Because he's written a string of entertaining and informative books about Oklahoma and the West, including one that's just been published, Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride (W.W. Norton, $25.95). This comes after his book, Route 66: The Mother Road, which led to his work on the movie Cars, where Wallis was an advisor and the voice of an animated character. And this is on top of many other books on such people as the outlaw Pretty Boy Floyd and former Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller.

With this resume, Wallis must be doing something right. A couple of weeks back, the new book landed Wallis a full-page story in the Tulsa World, and a few days after that, a national radio interview on NPR's Diane Rehm Show. (Free downloads of the show are available on Diane Rehm's site at

Not bad for a Tulsa writer. Not bad at all.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

'Gonzalesgate' Update: Looks Like He Lied

New e-mails on the U.S. attorneys firing scandal appears to contradict Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' statement that he had no part in the firings. Press reports this morning reveal that Gonzales attended an hour-long meeting on the firings in November and personally approved the actions.

Oops! When it appears that the nation's chief law enforcement officer is lying, the Bush Administration has a big problem.

Things at the Justice Department are getting curiouser and curiouser. The Bush Administration's explanations keep shifting and more evidence of White House political interference is dribbling out.

All this hemming and hawing from the Bush Administration's so-called "principled" conservatives. It's enough to give "principles" a bad name.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Oklahoma's Senior Senator: Joker of the Week

You could this one coming a mile away: Sen. Jim Inhofe's embarrassing and snippy questioning of former Vice President Al Gore this week has made him the butt of jokes on television and in the blogosphere.

Comdey Central's Daily Show had a great time lampooning Inhofe's performance this week as he tried to bully and intimidate Gore, back on Capitol Hill to testify about global warming. Gore seemed unperturbed by Inhofe's tactics.

Daily Show host Jon Stewart also had fun with some of Gore's comments, but Inhofe was the clear loser in the war of TV quotes. If Gore was too earnest in his public comments, Inhofe appeared mean-spirited and angry.

Perhaps he should be. As we mentioned in an earlier post, Newsweek's Howard Fineman correctly noted that Gore is winning this battle, both in science and in politics.

And if Gore is winning, guess who's losing.

Coming April 14: Herb Day in Brookside

Spring has officially arrived, which means the Brookside Herb Day is just around the corner. The annual event, set this year for Saturday, April 14, will be held just east of Peoria on 41st Street, near Wild Oats.

The Herb Day event runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and will feature all sorts of conventional and organic plants, flowers, Oklahoma wines, pottery and more.

Mark your calendar and hope that Brookside has a cool, calm April day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Delay Book Update: The Hammer Denies His Own Words

AltTulsa blogged earlier about former House Majority Whip Tom Delay, who's making the rounds this week pushing his new book, No Retreat, No Surrender.

Ain't capitalism great? Delay resigned from Congress in disgrace, but there's no law against turning your troubles into a gold mine.

Yet Delay can't quite remember what he wrote. When MSNBC's Chris Matthews questioned Delay about a phrase he used to refer to former Texas Rep. Dick Armey ("drunk with power"), Delay insisted he did not use that phrase. Delay said he referred to Armey as "blind with power."

Frustrated, Matthews read the "drunk with power" phrase to Delay from Delay's own book. Cornered, Delay was forced to admit that he didn't have his glasses.

Poor Tom, stumbling all the way to the bank.

Oklahoma's Newest Ice Age Fossil: Sen. Jim Inhofe

He's the former mayor of our fine city, but we have nothing good to say about Sen. Jim Inhofe's embarrassing performance Wednesday in Washington.

Inhofe, well known (and widely ridiculed) for calling global warming "a hoax," went out of his way to interrupt and dispute Al Gore's every word Wednesday when former vice president returned to Capitol Hill to testify about climate change and what might be done about it.

Inhofe was so disputatious and high-handed that Sen. Barbara Boxer found it necessary to remind him that he was no longer the chair of the senate committee. "Elections have consequences," Boxer said, emphasizing that Inhofe was on the losing side in the 2006 elections. (See the clip for yourself at today's Crooks and Liars.)

We're quite sure Inhofe thinks he's representing his good friends in the oil and gas industry when he resorts to such stunts. But he's skating on thin ice (pun intended).

Had the good senator been paying attention to both science and industry, he might have noted that they too are increasingly agreeing with Gore, not with him. As Newsweek's Howard Fineman noted after reviewing both Gore and Inhofe, Gore is winning both on the science and the politics of global warming.

Meanwhile, Tulsans may have to tell their out-of-state friends that they really live in Kansas or Arkansas. And, no, they never heard of this grandstanding Inhofe character.

An Invitation: Indie Tulsa Seeking Local Writers

Our friends at Indie Tulsa are seeking local writers to report on Tulsa's "Mom and Pop" businesses.

It's a good cause—supporting Tulsa's small shops and artisans. If you're journalistic at all, contact the Indie Tulsa folks and let 'em know. Before long, you too can be adding some interesting electrons to Tulsa's growing blogsphere.

Hannity Talks But Doesn't Think: Misinforming America

Crooks and Liars posted video today of right-wing talker Sean Hannity defending the President by getting the facts wrong. Speaking on Fox News (where else?), Hannity ("the serial misinformer," C&L calls him), said the Democrats should accept the President's offer to allow Karl Rove and Harriet Miers testify under oath, even thought that's the exact opposite of what Bush offered.

Hannity goes on to talk at some length about issues surrounding Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and the eight (Republican) U.S. attorneys who were fired by the Justice Department.

We were waiting for a correction, but in the video we saw, no correction appeared. As far was we can tell, Hannity and his friends at Fox never admit they're wrong, even when the videotape shows otherwise.

Schwarzenegger Update: Sucking Up to Rush

We spoke too soon.

We posted a blog entry yesterday on California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's smack down of radio bigshot Rush Limbaugh. Speaking to NBC, the governor had called Rush "irrelevant," which strikes us as exactly the right description of Rush and his political views.

Alas, the governor's "diss" was too good to last. Today we learn that Arnold was smoozing Rush in a friendly telephone conversation on Limbaugh's show, apparently to keep El Rushbo (and his listeners) happy. Arnold groveling—what a concept.

We know that politics creates strange bedfellows. Still, we think Schwarzenegger was right the first time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gov. Schwarzenegger: 'Rush Limbaugh is Irrelevant.'

AltTulsa's nomination for Quote of the Day:

Speaking to an NBC reporter today, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked if he was really more of a Democrat than a Republican, as some conservatives, including radio talker Rush Limbaugh, have suggested.
"All irrelevant. Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant," Schwarzenegger responded.
So true, governor. We've been saying the same thing for years.

He's Back: The Hammer Rises to Strike Another Day

Revising history is hard work, but somebody's got to do it. And if you're former House Majority Whip Tom Delay, there's a lot of revising to do.

That's right, ladies and gents, our favorite former exterminator from the Lone Star State is back in the limelight. He's got a new book to flack.

Delay (aka The Hammer, or in his legislative days in Austin, Hot Tub Tom) is on the talk show circuit promoting his book. It's called—no surprise here—No Retreat, No Surrender, a reflection of Delay's enduring and zealous partisanship.

We haven't seen the book, so we can't comment on its literary merits, if any. But we did hear Delay discussing the book today and it's clear that The Hammer continues to put ideology above the national interest. When the interviewer suggested that some partisan arguments might be set aside for the greater good, Delay would have none of it. Democrats, he insisted, are "the enemy." Sure, Tom, the terrorists, the Democrats, feminists, gays, environmentalists— they're all the same and they're all out to destroy America.

Tom Delay's not exactly a nuanced thinker. If he were, he might explain why we should believe a man whose book title—No Retreat, No Surrendercontradicts his own recent actions; namely, resigning his House seat under pressure.

Sure sounds like a "retreat" or a "surrender" to us.

Bush's War Enters Its Fifth Year

As of today, the President's wrong-headed and ill-advised war in Iraq has entered its fifth year. Speaking yesterday, the President "called for patience," as one headline writer put it.

We'll need plenty of patience. The President added that "success will take months, not days or weeks." But even that may be optimistic. Some news program yesterday showed clips of then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld predicting a war of less than six months.

Responding to Bush Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi captured the public mood: "The American people have lost confidence in President Bush's plan for a war without end in Iraq."

Friday, March 16, 2007

How the GOP Leadership Undermined Veterans Funding

Remember Dennis Hastert? How about Tom Delay? We certainly do, but not fondly. Here's one good reason.

We learn today that these two Republican leaders retaliated against those in their own party who pushed for more money for the Veterans Administration.

Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey told NPR that he was ousted as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee in the last Congress because he insisted on more funding for the agency. The VA, Smith said, has been "systematically underfunded" for years. Speaker Hastert and Rep. Delay weren't interested in hearing about it, Smith said, and punished him when he continued to argue for the funds.

Cutting spending
, apparently, trumps everything else, including the nation's obligation to its veterans.

This news gives the lie to the Republican Party's support for the troops. And it adds fuel to the fire started by the Washington Post, which recently found bureaucratic problems and inadequate facilities at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

So much for the right's "moral clarity."

AG Gonzales Gets Another GOP Push

A second Republican senator has called for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Oregon's Gordon Smith made the announcement yesterday

Also yesterday, more administration e-mails surfaced showing political involvement in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys by both Gonzales and presidential adviser Karl Rove.

Stay tuned. We predict much more on this scandal soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Catching Up on The New Yorker's Mark Singer

AltTulsa posted a report a few days ago about former Tulsan Mark Singer, a long-time staff writer for The New Yorker. His most recent magazine piece, as we reported, told the amazing and unlikely story of three Mexican fisherman who survived months at sea when their small boat was disabled (see March 2 posting below).

Singer's article inspired us to seek out more of Singer's recent New Yorker work. We quickly found another amazing story, this one with an Oklahoma connection. Last fall—October 6, to be precise—Singer reported on one Richard McNair, formerly of Duncan, and now a wanted man. McNair's claim to fame is breaking out of prison, which he's done several times over the past two decades, most recently from the U.S. Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana.

One of McNair's most useful skills, Singer reports, is charm. The man is affable. People like him, even some of the people who are supposed to be keeping him in jail. He's also clever and manipulative. And he's still on the run, Singer writes. As of last October, U.S. authorities had tracked him to western Canada, where the trail went cold.

Singer went looking for NcNair too, in Duncan and Oklahoma City, where McNair once sold cars. McNair's family, Singer writes, didn't want to talk. After all, they said, McNair left town about 25 years ago. Why stir the pot?

Yet McNair is a dangerous man, having been convicted for murder in North Dakota. In Singer's story, McNair's no choir boy, but he is an interesting outlaw.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

At the Abyss: Sen. Sununu Gives Gonzales a Push

Today's most interesting development in the on-going "firing" scandal at the Department of Justice: New Hampshire Republican Sen. John Sununu's call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign.

He's the first Republican senator take a stand against AG Gonzales. He may not be the last.

The Human Face of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

We slipped out the other day for the Circle Cinema's afternoon screening of the documentary White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Too bad were were one of the few to see the film because it's an important work, depressing in its details but also a testament to the endurance of the human spirit.

The film includes interviews with 14 survivors of the bombings and allows them to tell their stories. Not surprisingly, all of them know exactly where they were when their lives changed forever on August 6 and 9, 1945. The stories are filled with death and horrible injuries, mostly burns and, over time, radiation sickness, which the Japanese knew nothing about. But the stories are also uplifting in many ways because the survivors endured, despite all the misery and death around them.

Most Americans, we suspect, know little about the bombings and their aftermath. In fact, the film shows that most Japanese today know very little about the bombings, despite the fact that the bombs killed many thousands of Japanese and largely destroyed two major cities. But that was a long time ago, it seems, and no one really wants to recall the destruction caused by these atomic bombs.

This film, like John Hersey's famous 1946 book, Hiroshima, looks at the bombings from the victims' perspectives. Yet filmmaker Steven Okazaki, like Hersey, avoids casting blame on Americans. In the film, Okazaki lets several Americans involved in the bombings explain their role. Mostly, they justify the bombings as the fastest way to end the war, which it was. But it was indisputably brutal as well.

Here's more on the film, courtesy of the Circle Cinema's website:

An extraordinary new film by Academy Award- winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki, puts a human face on what we are really talking about. Even after 60 years, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki continue to inspire argument, denial and myth. Surprisingly, most people know nothing or very little about what happened on August 6 and 9, 1945, two days that changed the world. This is a comprehensive, straightforward, moving account of the bombings from the point of view of the people who were there.

White Light/Black Rain ends today at the Circle, but the film has ties to HBO and is likely to show up on the small screen in the coming months. We recommend it not because it's pleasant viewing, but because it is a powerful reminder of the lingering consequences of war.

Financial Times Editorial Blasts Gonzales

Reading around the web today, AltTulsa found this pointed Financial Times editorial on the president's embattled lawyer, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:

Mr. Gonzales had every right to sack prosecutors, who are political appointees. But he had no right to mislead Congress about why he did so – even though he is now blaming lower officials for the misinformation. Mr. Gonzales has shown a disdain for Congress and the rights of the American people. He has amply proved that he will never be anything other than Mr. Bush’s lawyer – a mere apologist for the imperial presidency. The affair has already claimed one top scalp at the justice department. It is high time Mr. Gonzales stepped down too.

Oklahoma's GOP Senators: Don't Debate Iraq War

The latest political maneuvering over the Iraq war finds Oklahoma's Republican senators disagreeing with most of their Republican colleagues.

Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn can be (and often are) unreasonably partisan—that's part of their public record. Nevertheless, both Oklahomans voted against a measure to allow a full senate debate on the war, votes that put them at odds with 39 other senate Republicans, including many so-called hawks.

The 39 Republicans joined with 50 Democrats to allow the Iraq war debate to proceed. Many in the Republican majority welcomed the debate, which they are using to attack the Democratic position on the war and troop withdrawal.

Only nine senators, all Republicans, voted against the measure. Apparently, these nine are so pro-war that no debate can be tolerated.

We have no idea what Oklahoma's senators were thinking. But they do the citizens of Oklahoma no service when they stick their heads in the sand and pretend like all is well in Iraq.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Coulter Watch Update: More Column Cancellations

Ann Coulter's editorial slide gets a little bit steeper.

As we've been reporting recently, Ms. Coulter's idiotic line about Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards being a "faggot" is hurting her syndicated column.

As of today, a total of nine newspapers have dropped her column.

We don't expect Ms. Coulter to fade away, but we do appreciate the gesture. Why? Because Ms. Coulter was never really about thoughtful or informed political discourse. She has always been (and is) more interested in dropping verbal A-bombs on her opponents than anything else.

Such grandstanding has made her rich and famous, to be sure, but it's a minor achievement. It's not hard to become rich and famous if you really want that. To wit: Anna Nicole Smith, Paris Hilton, and many, many others—all famous for being famous.

Sen. Coburn's Put Down of Attorney General Gonzales

Oklahoma's junior U.S. senator, Dr. Tom Coburn, has never been one to mince words. Today, in the wake of still more evidence of political skulduggery in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys by the Bush Administration, Coburn was asked if he supports the attorney general.

“I think we’ve got to have one,” Coburn said. The reporter followed up: This attorney general?

"I didn’t answer that,” Coburn replied. Ouch!

Open Government in Oklahoma: Doing the Public's Business in Public

It's Sunshine Week in Oklahoma—and that's a very good thing.

No, we're not talking about warmer March weather. We're talking about open government, specifically Oklahoma's Open Records Act, the state law that requires public officials to conduct the public's business in public.

That notion would seem to be a "no brainer" in a democracy. Yet as Joey Senat, OSU journalism professor and president of FOI Oklahoma writes in Sunday's Tulsa World, an Oklahoma sheriff recently told a newspaper reporter that public police reports couldn't be give to just "anybody who walks into the courthouse."

Wrong! Most of those "anybodies" are Oklahoma citizens and, as it happens, the sheriff works for them.

The World, to its credit, is promoting Sunshine Week in a series of articles aimed at educating the public about open meetings and open records.

It's a worthy cause, one all Oklahoma citizens should embrace. In a democracy, after all, the people are sovereign, which means "we, the people" have rights, one of which is to know what our public officials are doing in our name.

More information on the topic, check out

Saturday, March 10, 2007

This Week in Bushworld: The Wheels Come Off

Things are going from bad to worse in the waning months of the Bush Administration. The public is increasingly unhappy over the Iraq war and the President's popularity is at historic lows, even for a second-term president.

But for Bush, last week was exceptionally unpleasant. Let's review:

Item 1: Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, was convicted Tuesday of perjury. The Libby trial showed that Cheney and Bush adviser Karl Rove were obsessed with striking back at those who criticized the administration's Iraq war plans.

Item 2: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was heavily criticized for the firing of eight federal prosecutors, several of whom testified before Congress. Some told of political pressure from Republican lawmakers. The situation was dire enough that Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a Republican, made this prediction: "One day there will be a new attorney general, maybe sooner than later." By week's end, Gonzales began backing down, agreeing to changes in the Patriot Act demanded by Democratic lawmakers.

Item 3: The FBI admitted late this week that the agency had overstepped its authority and spied on Americans, in violation of the Patriot Act. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine presented the findings in a 126-page report, which the AP described as "damning." Criminal charges against FBI agents and lawyers may result.

Item 4: The troop buildup in Iraq—the so-called surge—continues unabated and without apparent results. The bombings continue in Baghdad, and the civilian and military casualties continue to grow. The President has requested still more troops, probably not for the last time.

There's much more to the Bush disaster, of course, including the shameful conditions for outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital. No wonder the president spent the last several days in South America.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Traditional Family Values Math Lesson: When Three Candidates Add Up to Eight Wives

The three front runners for the Republican nomination for president in 2008 are familiar faces: John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich.

All three are working hard to convince conservative votes of their traditional family values.

We don't blame them. Former House Speaker
Gingrich admitted this week that he was having a sexual relationship during the Clinton impeachment scandal.

Can you spell
adultery, boys and girls? How about hypocrite?

Thanks to MSNBC, we picked up this little factoid as well: Between the three of them, there's a grand total of
eight wives and exes.

So much for the right-wing's sanctity of marriage.

Urban Tulsa in Fantasyland: Dream On

We had no idea how lucky we were to live in Tulsa.

Who knew that
T-Town's alternative weekly, Urban Tulsa, is "the city's most open-minded, un-biased [sic], balanced, unconventional publication."

Who says so?
Why the editor of Urban Tulsa, of course. In a classic example of editorial self-congratulation, this week's issue of UT includes an editor's note in which the editor does rhetorical backflips over his own publication.

Too bad UT's editor grossly overstates his case.
UT has occasional moments of interest and flickers of insight, but most of its editorials, columns and reporting are hopelessly dull and conventionally right-of-center, hardly the stuff Tulsa readers need. More often than not, to quote Gertrude Stein, "there's no there there"—little enterprise reporting, boring design, and GOP opinions fresh from the 1950s (or merely downloaded from a right-wing think tank in OKC).

we're supposed to accept this as "open-minded, un-biased [sic], balanced and unconventional" journalism?

UT, but no thanks. We'll look elsewhere.

Coulter Watch: Another Paper Cancels

The slide continues for our pal Ann Coulter. We hear today that yet another newspaper has dropped her column. Grand total to date: seven. (See our earlier posts on Ms. Coulter's problem with civility.)

She'll be missed—not!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

About Those 'Wasted' Lives in Iraq

Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama took a beating a few weeks back for referring to American lives being wasted in the Iraq war. Right-wing pundits near and far criticized Obama for appearing to denigrate the sacrifices of America's fighting men and women. Just down the Turner Turnpike in Oklahoma City, for instance, the McCarville Report Online noted that Obama "stumbled" in making the remark. (Obama has since apologized.)

More recently, however, Arizona Senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain appeared on David Letterman's television show to announce his intention to seek the presidency. Unfortunately for McCain, he too stumbled over the idea of "wasted" lives. McCain told told Letterman, "We wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives, over there." (McCain has since apologized.)

How did McCarville cover McCain's "wasted" stumble? So far, not a word.

Coulter Watch Week 2: More Newspapers Drop Her Column

Our favorite right-wing bomb thrower (see our posts last week), Ann Coulter, is paying a price for her overheated personal attacks.

We read today that another newspaper has dropped Ms. Coulter's syndicated newspaper column, the fourth newspaper to do so since she called Demcoratic presidential candidate a "faggot" at last week's Conservative Political Action Committee meeting in Washington.

It couldn't happen to a more appropriate person. Ms. Coulter has lived well for years now as a verbal destroyer of liberals and other perceived enemies. But she was always guilty of hyperbole. Liberals weren't merely wrong or misguided in Coulter's world, they were dupes and traitors, actively working against the U.S. and helping the terrorists win.

But even Godless liberals are more complicated (and more patriotic) than that. And no matter what you think of John Edwards or his politics, calling him a faggot cannot be considered serious political analysis.

From what we can tell, the newspapers who are dropping Coulter aren't dropping conservative commentaries. They're just dropping her.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Vice President's Black Cloud

AT's nomination for "Best Quote" on the outcome of the Scooter Libby trial comes from prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald:

There is a cloud over the vice president . . . And that cloud remains because this defendant [Libby] obstructed justice.

There is a cloud over the White House.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Rep. Sullivan's Word Choice Causes Trouble

Oklahoma's First District Congressman, John Sullivan of Tulsa, has apologized for using the word "bigot" to describe opponents to his legislation honoring victims of the Tulsa race riot of 1921.

In a letter published Sunday in the Tulsa World, Sullivan said he didn't mean to offend. He noted also that his "inflammatory language" deflected attention from his main purpose, which was to promote the memorial legislation.

AltTulsa is on record in support of Sullivan's legislation. And unlike Rep. Sullivan, we aren't afraid to offend when necessary. If there are Tulsans out there who believe the race riot ought to remain hidden, we disagree. We disagree strenuously. We disagree strenuously because we believe the truth should be told, even when it's unpleasant.

The race riot is a shameful part of Tulsa's history, but it happened. It's true, and the citizens of Tulsa were not blameless. It is no service to Tulsa or to history to pretend that Tulsa was a racial paradise in 1921.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The Not-So-Fair-And-Balanced Fox News Network

Our friends at the website Think Progress did a little investigation of two recent news stories—one important, the other not so much. Here's what they found when they compared broadcast coverage of the Walter Reed outpatient scandal to the Anna Nicole story:

The most lop-sided coverage by far was aired by Fox News, which featured only 10 references to Walter Reed compared to 121 of Anna Nicole — roughly 12 times the coverage. MSNBC featured 84 references to Walter Reed and 96 to Anna Nicole.

At Fox News, scandal trumps serious journalism every time.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Coulter Explains: 'Faggot' Comment Only a Joke

Conservative bomb thrower Ann Coulter has explained her CPAC comment (see post below) about "faggots" and presidential candidate John Edwards.

The comment was only a joke, Coulter now says.

We suspected as much. Coulter has always been more about comedy than politics.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Ann Coulter's Latest Contribution to Civilized Political Discourse

Ann Coulter's latest broadside comes from her speech Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C.:

I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I -- so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.

Memo to Ms. Coulter: Calling a political opponent a "faggot" says a lot more about you and your crowd than it does about Sen. Edwards.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Former Tulsan Tells Amazing Tale from Mexico

Writer and former Tulsan Mark Singer has one of the best jobs in journalism: he's a staff writer for The New Yorker. Singer gets paid to track down interesting people in out-of-the-way places and tell their stories in what is still one of the nation's best magazines.

Singer, who grew up in Tulsa and graduated from Edison High School here, published an article last month recounting the amazing story of three poor Mexican fishermen who became stranded in the Pacific Ocean for nine months. Unlikely as it sounds, the fishermen left San Blas, Mexico, in a small fishing boat on October 28, 2005. Three (of the original five who started the journey) were rescued by a Taiwanese trawler thousands of miles away near the Marshall Islands on August 9, 2006.

As we said, it sounds highly unlikely. And yet, as Singer explains, the three surviving fishermen were resourceful, eating whatever they could catch and drinking rainwater when they could. They also read a Bible, which one of the men had brought along.

Their miraculous return, after nine months at sea, created a sensation last year in Mexico and throughout Latin America. Many observers were skeptical if not hostile, questioning the story and suggesting that the men had more sinister motives than mere fishing—drug-running, perhaps?

That's probably not the case. But whatever the truth, Singer's narrative kept us up late one night, wondering how this misadventure and rescue came about. It's a good read. You can find it in The New Yorker's Feb. 19 & 26, 2007 issue.

The Bush Slide Continues, Even in the GOP

George W. Bush is continuing to lose popular support, even among members of his own party. Polling data released today by the New York Times/CBS News Poll shows the president's support among Republicans down 13 percentage points since the November election, dropping from 78 percent then to 65 percent now.

Among all voters, the poll showed the president's approval at only 29 percent. That figure is also down since November, when it stood at 34 percent.

The president's other numbers look equally bad. On fighting terrorism, the war in Iraq, and the general direction of the country, the poll shows increased disapprove the the job the president is doing.

Our take on the president's numbers: It's about time.

The Bush Administration has exploited the September 11 attacks for years, offering a steady diet of ideologically driven fear and hyperbole in place of solid analysis and planning. Saddam was never a real threat to the U.S., Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, and there was no compelling reason to invade Iraq when we did. The president did not make the world safer and we are now bogged down in a war we have no idea how to end.

Despite these facts, millions of American clung to the hope that the president and his advisers knew what they were talking about. They didn't. As they say in advertising, caveat emptor.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Klan Exploits Fear of Illegal Immigrants

The Ku Klux Klan is using anti-immigrant sentiments to boost its membership and increase its visibility in American politics.

That's the conclusion of a report by the Anti-Defamation League. The report, released last month, says that the Klan and other white supremacist groups have been growing and becoming more active in recent months. These groups, the ADL says, has been especially active in exploiting anti-immigrant feelings.

"Klan groups have witnessed a surprising and troubling resurgence by exploiting fears of an immigration explosion," Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights director, told the Associated Press.

The report cited an anti-immigrant rally in Alabama last year that included slogans such as, "Let's get rid of the Mexicans!" Last September, the AP reported, a Kentucky family originally from El Salvador had a cross burned in its yard.

We cite these incidents not because we approve of illegal immigration. We don't. Immigrants should come to this country legally and American employers should hire legal immigrants, not illegals.

But the irrational and overheated fear of immigrants promoted by some anti-immigrant activists is unwise and harmful to the body politic, as the ADL discovered. The Klan and other white supremacist groups don't need any more help disseminating their hateful ideas. There's more than enough hate in the world already.

That's why we decline to join the anti-immigrant hysteria, either nationally or locally. Let's enforce the laws. Let's not promote hate and discrimination.