Friday, November 30, 2007
No, we're not talking about the Religious Right in the U.S.
We're talking about the oh-so-sensitive and zealous Sudanese who are calling for the execution of a British teacher who allowed her students to name a class teddy bear Muhammad.
This "crime" has led to the teacher's conviction and a 15-day jail sentence. A Sudanese government spokesman told the New York Times that the teacher's sentence was "very light."
He's not kidding. CNN is reporting today that Sudanese protesters want the teacher, Gillian Gibbons, executed. The Times reports that British diplomats are "furious." They have called the incident "an innocent mistake."
Perhaps these very devout people ought to consider the consequences of their values, beliefs that can elevate a minor slight into an international incident and put religious dogma ahead of actual human life.
As many Tulsans may recall, Frank has produced a series of programs featuring rare and historic Tulsa film footage. We haven't seen the new show, but if it's anything like his earlier efforts, it will be well worth watching.
Here's how Frank describes the new program:
This show includes clips of Bell's Amusement Park in the 1950s, rare footage of 1920s OSU football games, the Mr. Zing & Tuffy Show, Dance Party on KOTV, Thomas Gilcrease home movies, Tulsa’s parades from long ago, and much more.
For more about Frank, his new program and his other films, check out his website, www.tulsafilms.com.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
God told him on Thanksgiving that he should resign the next day, Roberts told students in the university's chapel.
News of the gift was announced Tuesday following a two-day meeting of the school's board of regents. The offer came after the board accepted Richard Roberts' resignation as the school president. In a lawsuit filed earlier this fall, Roberts and his family were accused of lavish spending on personal items.
According to today's Tulsa World, "The Roberts family will no longer have a say in the school's business operations."
The newspaper also reported that Green has had no previous connection with ORU, but referred to the school as "God's College." Ok, but we always through the label belonged to a certain school in South Bend, Indiana.
In a cartoon published in Sunday's edition, Plante drew a warehouse filled with library shelves and a deliveryman announcing "another book confirming Bush lied."
The librarian's response: "Goes in 'The Public Couldn't Care Less Dept.' section W. Aisle 167, Row 86."
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
TULSA—Nearly 20 Oklahoma authors will again gather at historic Harwelden mansion just after Thanksgiving to give the public an opportunity to buy signed books as gifts for the holidays—and to help raise funds for the Tulsa Press Club Scholarship Fund.
The event features a diverse array of Oklahoma authors (novelists, journalists, historians, children’s book writers and illustrators, among others) for a free public appearance and signing.
This year’s authors are Carl R. Bartholomew, Plane Phenomenon; Bart Borsky, Passing Gas and Getting Paid For It: The Musings of a Comic Anesthesiologist; P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast, Betrayed: A House of Night Novel; Connie Cronley, Mr. Ambassador: Warrior for Peace; David Dary, True Tails of the Prairies and Plains; David Halpern, Pilgrim Eye and Tulsa Art Deco; Carolyn Hart, Set Sail for Murder; Davis D. Joyce, Alternative Oklahoma: Contrarian Views of the Sooner State; Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa’s Daily World: The Story of a Newspaper and its Town; Constance Murray (wife of the late Danny Goble), Tulsa! The Biography of an American City; Mel Odom, Exodus; Jim Stovall, The Ultimate Life; Will Thomas, The Hellfire Conspiracy; Michael Wallis, Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride; Laurence Yadon, 100 Oklahoma Outlaws, Gangsters and Lawmen.
Monday, November 26, 2007
According to The Huffington Post, Novak wrote that "serious Republicans know that [Huckabee] is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans."
When Huckabee was a second-tier candidate, Novak continued, he was mostly a "nuisance candidate." Now that he's surging in the polls, the columnist wrote, "the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem."
We can't speculate about the source of Novak's animus, but we see this outburst as more evidence of confusion on the Republican right, which can't decide who is conservative enough to carry the banner of Ronald Reagan.
The way it's going, no one—not Mitt Romney, not Fred Thompson, and certainly not the liberal former mayor of New York—can fill Reagan's conservative shoes.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
According to a story in the Nov. 21 issue of the Oklahoma Gazette, Burleson was censured by the trustees of the congregation's International Mission Board because he has continued to criticize some of the trustees' actions.
Although a compromise was negotiated between Burleson and a three-member team from the IMB's executive committee, the deal fell apart when Burleson refused to apologize for his public dissent.
For now, Burleson told the Gazette, he intends to continue attending meetings of the IMB, even though he will have to pay his own way. He also intends to continue blogging.
Gazette reviewer Phil Bacharach writes that the film is a "brutal, harrowing and ultimately mesmerizing tale of Texas-sized murder and greed." The Gazette headline even refers to the movie as "masterpiece."
Perhaps it is, though we're sure that not everyone will enjoy this story, which doesn't try too hard to tie up its loose ends.
Bacharach also praises the acting of Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin, who "evokes the spirit of a young Nick Nolte."
Serious film students ought to check out No Country for Old Men.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Now the Coen brothers, filmakers Ethan and Joel, have put a McCarthy novel on the big screen with considerable effect. No Country for Old Men, now playing at the Southroads 20 in midtown Tulsa, has collected dozens of positive notices from the critics, some of whom are calling it a "masterpiece."
We are reluctant to use that particular superlative, but we did find the film a taut and coldly effective work. It's not a sunny vision, but it is an unflinching one, and, significantly, one that explores the way some men decide to live—and die.
The dusty landscape of McCarthy's West Texas (actually New Mexico) is haunting and bleak. Native Texas Tommy Lee Jones is agreeably world-weary as a county sheriff and Javier Bardem is as calculating and evil as any movie killer in memory.
McCarthy's 2005 novel, as we recall, was poorly received, failing to meet the critics' expectations in the wake of the acclaimed Border Trilogy novels. But the Coen brothers have a knack for cold hearts and casual violence (their first film was the noir thriller Blood Simple) and in their hands No County for Old Men proves to be a chilling mediation on the human condition.
If that sounds a bit too grandiose, we can explain. We've read and admired a number of McCarthy novels, though we admit he's not always an easy or pleasant read. We've even met the man, which is something of a coup since McCarthy is famously reclusive. As it happens, we also had occasion to meet the Coen boys once at a screening of Blood Simple.
So we know McCarthy's literary pedigree well and the borderlands too, having traveled the wilds of West Texas for ourselves on occasion.
All of which leads us to this conclusion: No Country of Old Men is a terribly potent film that kept us twitchy in our seats for its entire length. Fans of Hollywood's lighter fare won't find much entertaining here, but noir film buffs and serious cinema students are likely to find a great deal to celebrate in the latest from the Coens.
First it was the UK's Tony Blair, who should have known better, and today it's John Howard, completely out of step with the voters Down Under.
The Huffington Post calls the latest reversal of fortunes the "coalition of the no longer willing." Here's the lead paragraph from today's New York Times:
Prime Minister John Howard, one of President Bush’s staunchest allies in Asia, suffered a resounding loss after 11 years in power.
Friday, November 23, 2007
We haven't a clue about what this means for the school, but it may help stabilize an institution that's had a lot of bad news lately.
The Tulsa World has more—much more—about ORU's recent troubles on its website here.
We aren't the only ones who think highly of this book. Imperial Life was a finalist for the National Book Award earlier this year. This week we learned that the book was named a nonfiction "Notable Book" by the New York Times Book Review.
As we noted in our last entry, the book reveals the folly of the neocon project to create a Jeffersonian democracy in the Middle East. The President and his advisers were extraordinarily ill-equipped to take on this task.
We agree with the blurb on the back jacket of our copy: "Every American who wants to understand how and why things went so badly wrong in Iraq should read his book," author Steve Coll wrote.
Interested readers can find out more at the author's website, www.rajivc.com.
Not surprisingly, what happens is a disaster.
Such is the tale told in Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City, a compelling report on Paul Bremer and the other Americans—most of them loyal Republicans—who tried to remake Iraq from the safety of the Baghdad's Green Zone.
Chandrasekaran, former Washington Post bureau chief in Baghdad, provides story after ridiculous story of official misunderstanding and bureaucratic incompetence by Bremer, the American viceroy in Iraq, and scores of other well-intentioned but misguided political actors.
A couple of examples illustrate the point:
--Bernard Kerik, former NYC police chief and hero of 9/11, was absolutely the wrong man to place in charge of training Iraqi police. His short tenure in Baghdad was marked by considerable posing and grandstanding.
--A 24-year-old with no financial experience who is put in charge of rebuilding Baghdad's stock exchange. His plans are grandiose—computerized data, financial transparency, etc.—but entirely unrealistic.
Imperial Life in the Emerald City is a first-hand chronicle of the many ways nation-building can and does go wrong, aided by the arrogance of the Bush neocons: Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, and, not least, Paul Bremer.
Chandrasekaran's book deconstructs the Bush Administration's misadventure in Iraq and offers a potent warning to future idealists about the hazards of democracy-building. Read it and weep.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
More than 80 percent of the tenured ORU faculty do not want Roberts to stay on as the school president, according to press reports.
The AP and the Tulsa World report today that a faculty survey Monday showed an overwhelming "no" vote on Roberts' continued leadership of the south Tulsa institution. The survey follows a faculty "no confidence" vote on Roberts last week.
ORU's recent troubles stem from a lawsuit filed earlier this fall by three former professors that alleges financial misconduct by Roberts and his family.
Stay tuned, folks. This story show every sign of continuing for some time to come.
Move over, Chuck Norris. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has another celebrity endorsement, this one from pro wrestler Ric Flair, also known as The Nature Boy.
But wait, there's more: red-meat hunter and rock star Ted Nugent is also throwing his support to Huckabee, "citing the Republican's support for second amendment rights," CNN reports.
Monday, November 19, 2007
We make this claim on the basis of an incredibly silly ad the Huckabee campaign has produced featuring native Oklahoman, martial arts fighter and wannabe Texas Ranger Chuck (Walker) Norris.
Hey, we love Norris/Walker as much as the next working stiff, but we disagree entirely when Gov. Huckabee says that he has a two-word solution to illegal immigration: "Chuck Norris."
As we noted above, we are not making this up!
Huckabee actually reduces a complicated and intractable dilemma into a problem that can be solved—presto!—by the Hollywood magic of Walker, Texas Ranger. Underneath the Norris beard, Huckabee continues, there's no chin—there's another fist!
What are we supposed to make of this blend of fantasy problem-solving and macho Hollywood conservatism?
We confess: we're stumped.
But if this is Huckabee's idea of impressing right-wing voters, he's even more of a long-shot than we supposed.
Some House Backers of Thompson Are Starting to Lose the FaithThe CQ story explains that Thompson's presidential campaign has been so lackluster that even his House allies are asking hard questions about viability of the candidate. Here's the money quote from CQ:
"I think he’s kind of done a belly flop,” said an estranged Thompson backer who indicated he will not pull his public support before the “Super Tuesday” primaries. “We’ll just wait till after Feb. 5 because I think he’s going to get beat.”No word yet on the flailing Thompson from Tulsa Rep. John Sullivan, another House member who is supporting the former Tennessee senator.
One volume that caught our attention recently comes from the University of Oklahoma Press, just down the Turner Turnpike from T-town. Books on Trial: Red Scare in the Heartland, a new book from OU, looks fascinating—and more than a little scary. According to a blurb we saw, authors Shirley A. Wiegand and Wayne A. Wiegand chronicle the "sobering story of innocent people swept up in the hysteria of their times."
Books on Trial comes in at 280 pages and will run you $24.95, though we noticed a discount on the OU Press website. For more information, check out the site at oupress.com.
We're going to put Books on Trial on our reading list.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Maybe we'll celebrate Monday with an Americano from our favorite Tulsa coffee shop, Shades of Brown in Tulsa's Brookside neighborhood.
During our 12 months of blogging, we have reported on and critiqued a host of local, state and national issues. We've plugged a few of our favorite magazines, books and authors, as well as some alternative movies and documentaries, mostly films playing at Tulsa's amazingly interesting Circle Cinema.
We even managed to attract a few readers along the way.
We're also pleased to report that we even got a nomination as "Best Political Blog" in the Okie Blog Awards, which was a terrific bit of confirmation for our "alternative" mission in the Sooner state.
But perhaps we're most pleased that we kept up a steady stream of posts during the past year, nearly 500 posts in the 364 days since we started. Yes, many of them were short, but we think brevity is a virtue in blogging. It helps us focus.
Besides, we do have an actual life beyond the blogosphere—contrary to all those stereotypes about lonely, pencil-necked geeks blogging all night from some dingy basement apartment. (For the record, our apartment is on the second floor.)
In any case, thanks for reading. And keep those comments and criticisms coming—it keeps the site lively.
Friday, November 16, 2007
On the plus side, Savage is often hilarious, though most of his humor is unintentional.
Yet even in the overheated world of conservative talk, Savage can sometimes blunder into completely uncharted territory. This week, for example, he fired two empty barrels at Media Matters, a website that has the inconvenient habit of pointing out Savage's reign of misinformation.
Here's how Media Matters summed up its latest run-in with Savage:
On the November 14 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage referred to Media Matters for America as a "fascist front group." As Media Matters has documented, on the September 26 edition of his radio show, while discussing Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's controversial comments on his own radio show about his visit to Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem, Savage called Media Matters for America a "gay, fascist website." Savage has also labeled the organization a "hate group," a "group of gay Mafioso," "the homosexual Mafia," and "a gay smear sheet." On the January 30 broadcast of his show, Savage called Media Matters a "little website" and claimed, "I'm not even going to read its name anymore."
On his November 14 show, Savage later added: "Media Matters was created by Hillary Clinton, and they're after Michael Savage. They're after Bill O'Reilly. They're after anybody that doesn't toe the Hillary, left-wing party line." As it has repeatedly noted, Media Matters is a progressive nonprofit organization and is not affiliated with any candidate or political party.
Let's review, shall we? Media Matters, Savage says, is (1) "fascist," (2) "gay," a (3) "hate group," part of the (4) "gay Mafioso," and part of the (5) "homosexual Mafia." Even worse (by Savage's lights), it was (6) "created by Hillary Clinton."
That's an amazingly bizarre bit of name-calling, though it's remarkably free of evidence. But as the cynical old cigar-chomping reporters used to say: Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.
Gonzales, a Texas crony and former White House counsel who was appointed Attorney General by the president, used his time at Justice to politicize the DOJ, forcing out independent-minded prosecutors and putting in Republican partisans more interested in right-wing politics than minor matters such as, say, equality under the law.
This week, some of the Gonzales mismanagement came back to bite him in the ass. Here's a one-paragraph summary of the former AG's troubles:
Friends and supporters have established a legal defense fund for former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales, who is still facing “an ongoing Justice Department investigation into whether” he “committed perjury or improperly tampered with a congressional witness.”
Good work, Alberto. The Justice Department, the very agency that you recently ran, is now investigating you.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
ORU faculty gives vote of no confidenceThe story explains that the tenured faculty at ORU is not expressing an opinion about the lawsuit against the school filed recently by three former profeessors. It also explains that the faculty expressed confidence in the school's provost, Mark Lewandowski.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Dollar is one of several televangelists being investigated by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, which is looking into allegations of opulent lifestyles and excessive compensation by the ministries. Besides Dollar, the Senate is targeting two other ORU regents, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland.
Dollar told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he pays his own expenses using personal investments in business and real estate. His ministry did give him a Rolls Royce, which he uses for special occasions. "Without a doubt, my life is not average," Dollar told the newspaper. "But I'd like to say, just because it is excessive doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong."
Dollar preaches the so-called prosperity gospel, telling followers that God will reward the faithful with material riches.
We know nothing of Dollar's parishioners, but the philosophy seems to be working well for Dollar himself. Besides, there's always the example of Jesus himself, who spent his days hustling the Israelites for every shekel he could squeeze from his flock.
Oh wait, we're confused. The hustler we're thinking of is Jim Bakker, the former televangelist who once hustled Americans on behalf of Hertiage USA, his Christian theme park near Charlotte, North Carolina.
If we recall correctly, Jesus cared not a whit for worldly prosperity, preferring a humble life of service to humanity. But that Jesus apparently doesn't play well on television.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Let's also recall George Bush's foolish decision to invade Iraq, an elective war that has cost far too many American lives—nearly 4,000 killed and many thousands more wounded.
Let's also acknowledge the financial costs of Bush's stupidity, a price that all of us continue to pay:
If the Bush administration succeeds in its latest request for funding for the war in Iraq, the total cost would rise to $611.5 billion, according to the National Priorities Project, a nonprofit research group.
Friday, November 9, 2007
The regents, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and Creflo Dollar, have been targeted by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, who is investigating financial misconduct at ministries associated with each regent.
According to the World, the investigation is focusing on luxuries and generous perks the ministries allowed the televangelists. The luxuries include expensive cars and private jets, the newspaper reported.
This unhappy report was followed by a page-one story in Thursday's World on a much-delayed student center that ORU has raised almost $9 million to build. The building, announced in 2001, remains on the drawing board, yet the site is vacant.
Meanwhile, some of the money raised for the project has been used for scholarships and operating expenses, the newspaper discovered.
As we noted in an earlier post, ORU has more than $50 million in debt, a obligation the school's board is trying to reduce.
We have no idea what all this bad news might mean, but ORU's troubles seems to be growing, not fading.
But the President's words ring hollow in light of the Senate vote last night, a vote that confirmed Michael Mukasey as the nation's new attorney general.
As we noted yesterday, there are principled reasons to question Mukasey's fitness for office. After all, the man could not admit that waterboarding is a form of torture. He even pretended to be ignorant of the exact nature of waterboarding, a ruse that allowed him to sidestep additional questions about waterboarding.
The President and his Administration continue to thumb their nose at common decency as well as international standards of morality. Administration actions continue to tarnish the nation's proud tradition of civil liberties and individual dignity.
For America's sake, let's hope that the nation's new chief law enforcement officer, Michael Mukasey, has the guts to stand up to his boss and others in the government. If he does, he may save the nation yet more embarrassment on the world stage.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
To its great credit, the Tulsa World ran Hentoff's piece as an op-ed this week, a column that nailed Mukasey for his waffling on the question of waterboarding. Mukasey, you may recall, feigned ignorance about the specifics of the practice and refused to call it torture.
Henhoff rejected Mukasey's evasions. He points out, for instance, that the former Judge Advocate General of the Navy John Hutson has no problem calling waterboarding torture. "Waterboarding was devised by in the Spanish Inquisition. Next to the rack and thumbscrews, it's the most iconic example of torture," Huston said.
Hentoff also reviews a host of recent prisoner abuses, all of which sound like a lot like torture and all of which contradict President Bush's statement that the U.S. does not engage in torture. The Senate, Henthoff continues, will be acting irresponsibly if it votes to confirm Mukesey after his statements before the Senate.
We agree. Oklahoma's top Republican lawmakers, Senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, ought to rethink their usual rubber-stamp voting behavior. Otherwise, they too will be more deeply implicated in the Bush Administration's on-going but ill-advised and illegal torture policies.
It's high time that Oklahoma Republicans stand up for the rule of law and for recognized standards of human rights.
To read Hentoff's column for yourself, click www.tulsaworld.com
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
No, we're not kidding.
Apparently Robertson has a more forgiving heart that we imagined. After all, he has to forgive Rudy's three marriages, messy divorces, and left-of-center positions on gay rights, gun control and abortion. That's a lot of forgiving of a lot of key issues, especially for a guy like Robertson.
But stay tuned: There's bound to be some fallout on the Christian Right about this endorsement.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
For the first time in the history of the Gallup Poll, 50% say they "strongly disapprove" of the president. Richard Nixon had reached the previous high, 48%, just before an impeachment inquiry was launched in 1974.
Monday, November 5, 2007
President Bush has so far said nothing publicly about Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s crackdown in Pakistan. As The New York Times notes, Bush’s “silence contrasts sharply to his reaction to the crackdown on dissidents in Myanmar last month. In that case, Mr. Bush announced specific steps against Myanmar rulers.”For more from Think Progress, click here.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
The list was topped by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a fact that might cause many conservatives to question the entire enterprise. Giuliani, after all, has been well to the left of the most Republicans for years, only recently revising his own history on such topics as gun control and abortion. On top of that, Giuliani's divorces and three marriages make him an unlikely "family values" candidate.
Other rankings may also have Republicans scratching their heads. Rush Limbaugh was ranked No. 5, just ahead of Vice President Dick Cheney. Christopher Hitchens, an atheist, came in at No. 27, several steps above a professed believer, none other than President George Bush. (Talk about a lame duck.)
And that other Sooner on the list? We expected Jim Inhofe to shine. After all, he's our senior senator and a well-known right-winger. But no, it's martial arts movie star and infomercial pitchman, Chuck Norris.
That's right, Sooner fans, Hollywood conservative and Christian activist Chuck Norris comes in at No. 72, well ahead of such right-wing flamethrowers as Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin.
No, it doesn't make sense to us either. More importantly, it's sad testimony to the waning power of Sen. Inhofe
Friday, November 2, 2007
Still, we were surprised that Cheney confused the nation led by persistent U.S critic Hugo Chavez. Chavez, as alert readers will recall, is the president of Venezuela. But here's Cheney's response when asked about Chavez earlier this week:
My own personal view is that he does not represent the future of Latin America. And the people of Peru [sic], I think, deserve better in their leadership. But that’s obviously a matter they’ve got to resolve for themselves.
But the removal this week of Stanley O'Neal as the CEO at investment bank Merrill Lynch was cause for some alarm. O'Neal, CEO since 2002, was forced out this week after the company lost $2 billion last quarter in the troubled mortgage market.
The rub: His more-than-a-little-generous "golden parachute." According to press reports, O'Neal will receive more than $160 million to leave Merrill Lynch, plus a corporate office and an executive assistant for three years.
Sweet, as the kids say. We just wonder what kind of cash O'Neal would have raked in had he actually made money last quarter at Merrill.
It's a sad day in America when the nominee for attorney general cannot flatly declare that waterboarding is unconstitutional.--from an editorial this week in The Washington Post
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Today's Tulsa World reports that ORU could sell its station to help reduce the school $52 million debt.
ORU owns KGEB Channel 53, which carries broadcasts of Richard Roberts, son of Oral, and Richard's wife, Lindsay.
The World also reports that Miami minister Guillermo Maldonado spoke at the school this week and gave students a message from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit told him that "every time the people raise their hands, I will strike the enemy." Shouting helps too, Maldonado said.
It was a deal too good to pass up, apparently, and the students raised their hands and shouted.
A word to Satan: Stay the hell away from South Lewis Avenue.