Thursday, February 28, 2008

Guns on Campus—What a Stellar Idea!

The latest evidence for the end of civilization as we know it comes from the Oklahoma Legislature, or more specifically, Rep. Jason Murphey, a Republican from Guthrie.

Murphey's bright idea: arming college students. (Doh! Why didn't we think of this?)

The solution to college murder sprees, recently at Northern Illinois and earlier at Virginia Tech, is students who can shoot back. Of course. Rep. Murphey says that, under his legislation, licensed students could take concealed weapons into the classroom.

Only a couple of problems here. Okay, three or four problems, tops.

First, as former state trooper and current Rep. Paul Roan told a reporter, this could hinder law enforcement.

"You wouldn't know who the players are," Roan said. You think?

Second, what about students who lose their temper at a professor, a classmate, or a (former) boyfriend or girlfriend?

Oh, that's right, they can shoot back! We can see it now: Bearded OU and OSU profs, accenting their tweedy threads with underarm holsters and snub-nosed pistols.

Professors with pistols—that's got a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Third, there's an age problem here. Murphey's bill says that gun-toting undergrads would have to be licensed (okay, this is a good idea) and 21 or over (another good idea).

So if our crazed campus shooter wants to shoot up a classroom, he (and it usually is a he) can locate a freshman or sophomore course, where most students are likely to be under 21 and thus (legislatively) unable to shoot back.

Following the logic of more guns making campus safer, we'd have to advise freshmen and sophomores to arm themselves as well, illegally if need be. After all, they've gotta shoot back, right?

Fourth, who will pick up the costs for the hospitalization and funerals for the faculty, staff, and student bystanders who get caught in the crossfire? If every frat boy and coed is packing heat and the crazed gunman appears, it's shoot first, ask questions later, isn't it?

Come to think of it, if Rep. Murphey's bill becomes law, expect student grades to skyrocket.

Don't care for that "gentleman's C" on your essay exam? No problem—you can settle the score with a well-placed body shot.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Big Bucks Back Bynum in Tulsa Council Race

District 9 candidate G.T. Bynum, a former staffer for Republican Sens. Don Nickles and Tom Coburn, has friends with deep pockets.

Reporting on the city council campaign contributions, the Tulsa World revealed today that Bynum has raised more than $45,000 for his council race, far outpacing every other city council candidate.

Bynum's campaign cash is coming from people the newspaper calls "the Republican old guard." These include former Tulsa Mayor Bob LaFortune, Jim Hewgley, and Howard Barnett.

Some other prominent Tulsa names in Bynum's financial corner: Dean and Hank Williams, John and Jennifer LaFortune, Jenk Jones, Henry Zarrow, W.H. Helmerich, Stacy Schusterman, Patty and Joe Cappy, George Kaiser, and Charles Norman.

Like we said, Bynum has friends with very deep pockets.

It's just a guess, but we'd say Bynum has more than enough money to conduct a first-rate campaign for the District 9 seat.

For more on Bynum and his candidacy, check out his website here

An Internship We Won't Be Recommending

Although he publicly said he would last year, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig never actually resigned from the U.S. Senate.

The conservative (and anti-gay) Republican legislator remains on the job, still serving the good citizens of Idaho, despite his embarrassing (and very gay) encounter in a men's room of Minneapolis airport.

In any case, here's a summer opportunity we'd have to think twice about before we could send our child to work in Washington:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Idaho Senator Larry Craig is currently seeking intern applications for the summer term, which runs from May to August. The application deadline is March 15, however if more time is needed for the application process, please contact Senator Craig's office for an extension. Craig offers paid internships within the Washington, D.C., office. Preference is given to Idaho applicants attending Idaho schools who are in their junior or senior years of college (including graduating seniors).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dr. Coburn's Latest Obstructionist Ploy (Hint: It Involves Loaded Guns)

The Sooner State's junior U.S. senator, Dr. Tom Coburn, is at it again. Always the contrarian, Sen. Coburn is blocking a bipartisan public lands bill on behalf of the gun lobby.

Coburn's latest budgetary ploy is an attempt to "overturn decades-old safety regulation barring people from carrying loaded guns in national parks," New York Times noted this week. The paper points out that Coburn is threatening to block the public lands bill "unless it includes his amendment to allow the packing of live firearms in the parks."

And why are loaded weapons in national parks a good idea? Coburn's office, the paper reported, could only offer a Death Wish movie scenario, saying that guns locked in your trunk are no use when a rapist is attacking your family.

Yikes! Talk about some seriously over-the-top fear-mongering. 

If we understand the Coburn position correctly, it would be better to have all park visitors armed and ready at all times just in case there's a maniac on the loose. 

A more sensible approach to guns in the park has been advanced by a group of retired park rangers, who have warned that loaded guns in national parks would increase the risk to public safety and make poaching in the parks much easier.

The Times argues that Coburn's amendment is "another attempt by the gun lobby to extend laissez-faire gun rights to college campuses, churches, and workplaces even as the nation suffers firearm fatalities and rampages that take 30,000 lives a year."

Thirty thousand lives a year—that's an amazing (and horrifying) statistic. And it's a statistic unlikely to diminish if we follow Sen. Coburn's "shoot 'em up" idea.

Let's be clear: We're not arguing that the government should take guns from its citizens. (That's not about to happen, in any case.) But neither do we believe that the Second Amendment gives every citizen an absolute right to be armed anywhere and everywhere.

National parks, for instance, might be a place where even gun-lovers can unload their weapons for a time. That hardly seems like a full-bore assault on the Second Amendment.

Reasonable restrictions on gun use and gun possession make common sense and serve the greater good. Dr. Coburn, who has made a professional pledge to "Do No Harm," ought to drop his obstructionist amendment.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Boren's Book Poised to Make a Mark

OU President David Boren hopes his new book, A Letter to America, will be "a powerful wake up call to all Americans."

That, at least, is how Boren's book is being touted in a full-page ad in The New York Review of Books. The ad includes blurbs from three prominent people, including historian David McCullough and PBS newsman Jim Lehrer.

The ad goes on: "A Letter to America boldly faces the question of how long the United States, with only 6 percent of the world's population, can remain a global superpower. Boren explains with unsparing clarity why the country is at a crossroads and why decisive action is urgently needed."

Boren's book will be published in March by—who else?—OU Press. At 120 pages, it's a slim volume. It will sell for $14.95 and, to Boren's credit, the proceeds will benefit an OU scholarship fund and the OU Press.

We haven't seen the book, so we have no idea as to its merits. But McCullough praises Boren's ideas as "wise, timely, and constructive." Lehrer adds this endorsement: "I say, Amen, David Boren."

Interested readers can get a preview of Boren's book by clicking the book's website here.

UPDATE: David Boren will be in Tulsa in early April (not March, as we previously reported) to promote his book. Details are listed on the book website listed above.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Coburn's Iraq Flip-flop Makes the News

Sen. Tom Coburn raised eyebrows the other day in Muskogee when he admitted that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

It was a mistake, of course, but it's a mistake that the Bush Administration and its supporters can't admit. To do so would acknowledge the failure of the entire Neocon enterprise of the past seven years, policies that have undermined the war on terror and cost the nation the support of the world community.

More to the point, Coburn's reassessment of the Iraq war is at odds with his previous support for the war.

It's also at odds with the unfailing (and unthinking) war support of Oklahoma's other U.S. senator, Jim Inhofe, who wasted no time in taking issue with Coburn's new-found antipathy to the Iraq invasion.

Think Progress has a useful roundup of this story here.

Trouble at KFAQ: Medlock Holds Court as Gwen Freeman Exits AM Morning Show

The morning blab over at Tulsa's KFAQ is duller than ever now that talker Gwen Freeman has disappeared from the AM band.

This leaves former Tulsa councilman and failed GOP politician Chris Medlock as the morning squawker on the station, a bad sign for fans of KFAQ.

Whatever else you might want to say about Freeman, at least she sounded like she belonged on the radio.

Medlock doesn't. And when you combine his lack of radio presence with vacuous ideas and incessant whining, there's little to recommend the show.

Unfortunately for Medlock, we're not the only ones who think so. A scan of Tulsa cyberspace reactions to Freeman's disappearance shows that the move is not playing well out in Radioland

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Huck Strikes Back: Rev. Huckabee Takes On the GOP Establishment

He has no chance of winning the GOP nomination, but that hasn't caused former Baptist minister and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to tone down his rhetoric.

Speaking earlier today, Huckabee attacked the Republican Party's play-it-safe activists and voters, saying they have turned their backs on the Republican base.

Here's a portion of one story we found on Huckabee's latest broadside:
Long shot Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee lashed out at GOP leaders on Wednesday, saying they no longer represent the views of the party's support base.

“Republicans have decided that elections are a messy thing, and anointings and coronations are much better,” Huckabee said in an appearance on MSNBC. “It's that kind of attitude that is going to be the death of the Republican Party in this country.”

The former Arkansas governor and ordained Southern Baptist minister said Republican Party establishment seems to want little dissent in the party.

“We just want everybody to line up on the stage, let's build a campfire, toast marshmallows, sing ‘Kumbaya' together,” Huckabee said.

Bush Sinks Still Lower in Approval Ratings

The political fortunes of George W. Bush continue to tank.

New poll results released this week show that Bush has achieved—if that's the right word— a new low in presidential approval.

For conservative Republicans and other (former) Bush supporters, this can't be good news:

George W. Bush's overall job approval rating has dropped to a new low in American Research Group polling as 78% of Americans say that the national economy is getting worse according to the latest survey from the American Research Group.

Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 77% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 14% approve and 79% disapprove.

Among Americans registered to vote, 18% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 78% disapprove.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Moonlighting County Official Stays Very Busy

Terry Simonson, chief deputy to Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller, is a very busy man.

Not only does Simonson have to put in long hours for his $89,000 county job, he also has to work nights and weekends on his private legal cases, one of which is his boss's divorce proceedings.

We learn all this thanks to the Tulsa World, which has noted that, and we quote, "Simsonson is listed an attorney in 22 court cases, including 19 bankruptcy petitions filed since he went on the county payroll."

Simonson explained to the paper that he does all his legal work on his own time. He also said that his legal work does not interfere with his county duties.

We have no reason to doubt Mr. Simonson's statements. Like we said, he's a very busy man.

But the World's editorial today asks an important question, one that county taxpayers ought to be asking as well: "Is $89,111 not enough to capture your full attention, Mr. Simonson?"

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stories We'd Rather Not Read, Afghan Edition

It wasn't so many months ago that the American mission in Afghanistan looked like a big success. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, America and its allies eliminated the ruthless Taliban leadership (if you can call it that) in Afghanistan in a war that almost everyone in the U.S. supported.

But the news from Afghanistan hasn't been so upbeat in recent months. While we've been concentrating on Iraq and having success stopping some of the in-fighting there, the Taliban keeps threatening a comeback in Afghanistan.

The most recent evidence for this comes in the form of massive suicide car bombings, two of them in the last two days. Here's the somewhat sanitized lead from a news service today:
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber killed 38 Afghans at a crowded market Monday, pushing the death toll from two days of militant bombings to about 140.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Oklahoma's Coburn Not Looking for VP Role

Oklahoma's junior U.S. senator, Dr. Tom Coburn, told citizens in Muskogee yesterday that he's not interested in being the vice president despite some national speculation to that effect.

As quoted in the Tulsa World, Coburn offered a blunt "no" when asked about the VP post. Coburn continued, referring to his Senate career as a quasi-religious "calling."
"Let me put this to bed," Coburn added. "I'm old enough to know what I've been called to do."

Running for vice president, he said, is not it.

"I was called to run for the U.S. Senate," he said.

Sunday's Tulsa World Delayed by Fire

Many Tulsa residents found their Sunday Tulsa World a little lighter than usual due to a major fire at the paper's downtown facility. No injuries were reported.

An electrical fire at the World delayed the news sections of the Sunday edition of the paper. Only the advertising supplements were delivered.

The newspaper's website reported that the news sections of the paper will be delivered on Monday.

Meanwhile, the World's website is fully functional and readers are advised to read the paper in its electronic form.

Friday, February 15, 2008

'Straight Talk Express' Not Exactly Straight

We remember when the John McCain campaign bus was called the "Straight Talk Express." But now that he's the GOP nominee for president, Sen. John McCain's talk is turning out to be something less than straight.

To wit: McCain, a former prisoner of war in North Vietnam, has consistently opposed torture by U.S. agents. This opposition included waterboarding, the practice of simulated drowning that apparently dates back to the Spanish Inquisition.

This week, however, McCain flip-flopped on waterboarding, a flip that has not gone unnoticed in the blogosphere.

Here's the McCain headline as interpreted by The Huffington Post:

John McCain Sells His Soul to the Right: Backs Off on Torture Ban

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Update: Huck Fades in Eastern Primaries

We thought it was too good to be true—and it was. Mike Huckabee's early lead in Tuesday's GOP Virginia primary didn't last and the former Arkansas governor went down to defeat.

Arizona Sen. John McCain won all three primaries Tuesday, solidifying his grip on the Republican nomination.

For social conservatives who are skeptical of McCain's positions, Huckabee is (or was) the true believer and an acceptable alternative to McCain.

But Huck's political fortunes appear to be dimming, at least in his role as the man who will stop McCain from wrecking the Republican Party.

On the other hand, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn could benefit from the rise of McCain. Some of the chattering class are mentioning Coburn as a possible vice presidential candidate for McCain.

A maverick Republican like McCain, Coburn would shore up McCain's conservative credentials and please many on the right.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Virginians Line up Behind Obama; Huckabee Leading McCain in Early Results

Breaking news from Virginia: It's early, but several media outlets are projecting that Sen. Barack Obama will beat Sen. Hillary Clinton in today's Democratic voting in the Old Dominion.

More surprisingly, the early Republican results show an early lead by Mike Huckabee, who continues to benefit from conservative doubts about Sen. John McCain.

McCain has a huge numerical advantage over Huckabee in the delegate count, but Huck shows continued strength among social conservatives, voters that McCain will need if he hopes to win the White House in November.

One week ago, Tulsa County Republicans split their vote between the two men, with Huckabee edging out McCain by a single percentage point.

Oklahoma's Health: Not a Pretty Picture

We read in today's Tulsa World that the George Kaiser Family Foundation will donate $50 million to OU-Tulsa to built the nation's first School of Community Medicine.

That sounds like a good thing. But does Tulsa need a School of Community Medicine?

Health statistics show that we do. OU-Tulsa reports that the Sooner state ranks 45th in the number of physicians statewide and 49th in medical doctors per capita.

Then there is this Tulsa statistic: South Tulsans have a 14-year greater life expectancy than North Tulsans. Unsurprisingly, rich folks have better health and longer lives—not to mention better health care—than poor people.

For those of us interested in social justice, this 14-year-gap is an appalling statistic, one that the Kaiser Foundation gift may go some way toward eliminating.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oklahoma Nonfiction Nominees Featured on AltTulsa

The AltTulsa team tries to keep abreast of current books, but even we were surprised to see that several books we've featured in the past months turned up as nominees in the nonfiction category of the Oklahoma Book Awards.

The nominated books we noted include the following:

Alternative Oklahoma: Contrarian Views of the Sooner State, edited by Davis Joyce.

Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride, by Michael Wallis.

Ralph Ellison: A Biography, by Arnold Rampersad.

We can recommend all three of these books—in fact we have—so we'd be pleased no matter which one wins. We're just glad that for the good folks at the Oklahoma Center for the Book, the sponsor of these awards. Thanks to their work, we are rountinely reminded that Oklahoma is more than oil wells and cowpokes—there are writers as well as readers here on the plains.

Huck Hangs Tough in GOP Race

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee isn't giving up in the Republican race for president, despite the fact that he has almost no chance of winning the nomination.

In fact, Huckabee won GOP contests Saturday in Kansas and Louisana, victories that did nothing to help the fall campaign of the probable Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain.

It is worth noting, too, that Huckabee is disputing the results in Washington state, where Huckabee's team has charged that the contest was stopped prematurely, allowing McCain to take the win.

Despite McCain's momentum and his overwhelming numerical advantage in delegates, there's evidence of a serious split in the ranks of hard-line Republicans. Some are learning to love McCain—a man they only recently loathed—while others are sticking with Huckabee or talking about staying home in November.

Will a third-party of conservative true believers emerge? Probably not, but it's a long time until November.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

How Did This Happen? Huckabee Beats McCain in Today's Kansas Caucuses

Somebody forgot to tell Mike Huckabee that he has no chance of winning the Republican nomination for president.

Instead, Rev. Huck overwhelmed the presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain, in party caucuses in Kansas today. One news site called it a "big win"—and perhaps it is.

We can't see any good news in this for McCain, who needs support from all the Republicans he can find if he intends to beat the Democratic nominee (whoever that turns out to be) in November.

Dobson Slams McCain, Endorses Huckabee

James Dobson, one of the most hard-line of the hard-line religious zealots who absolutely knows the Mind of God and thus presumes to tell the rest of us how to think and live, has blasted the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain.

leader of the Colorado-based Focus on the Family, criticized McCain for his support of embryonic stem cell research, his temper and use of foul language (!), and his opposition of the federal anti-gay marriage amendment.

Dobson's throwing his support behind Rev. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher whose political views pass the all-important James Dobson ('No Straying from the Doctrine') Religious Test.

The way Dobson puts it, you'd think McCain was some sort of liberal, valueless, secular humanist atheist, kissing up to every Godless gay couple who wants to adopt and convert a child to their depraved lifestyle.

That's a parody, of course, since McCain is nothing of the sort. On some issues, McCain may be a moderate, and if Dobson disagrees with those positions, that's fine. But moderate positions are not the Mark of Satan, no matter what Dobson says.

Indeed, it's a sign of Dobson's extremism that he and his organization can't find a viable candidate to support this year, even among a right-wing and (mostly) conservative Republican field.

Sen. Coburn Takes a Swipe at Bush

Oklahoma's junior U.S. senator, Dr. Tom Coburn, is something of a maverick Republican, not unlike his Arizona pal, Sen. John McCain.

It's no surprise, then, that Coburn is supporting McCain for the Republican nomination, a nomination that seems virtually assured. (So long, Rev. Mike—the odds are against you.)

Coburn's maverick side was on full display this week when he spoke in support of McCain, taking aim at the current leader of the Republican Party.

Here's how Dr. Tom put it:

The fact is, we haven’t had a president over the last eight years who had the guts to take on the excesses of a Republican and Democrat Congress.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Councilor's Ego Overwhelms Judgment

It's been a bad week for Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson. He emerged in the media this week as an overblown buffoon, more concerned about the size of his office than the good of Tulsa's citizens.

Unfortunately for Henderson, his outsized ego appears to be the major cause of his problems.

The story, as told by the Tulsa World, has to do with Henderson's new office at Tulsa's city hall. Henderson was miffed that his new office wouldn't be as nice as the mayor's new office. That prompted Henderson to hold up a transfer of money to renovate the new city building.

When Henderson made vague complaints about the building and parking at the new facility, Mayor Kathy Taylor called his bluff. "Let me quote from my notes [of a meeting with Henderson]," Taylor said.

Quoting Henderson, Taylor continued: "I put you in the glass office building. I deserve whatever kind of office I want."

No, Councilor Henderson, you don't. You're a city councilor, not the King of Tulsa. The size of your office and the age of your desk is not a burning issue for the citizens of this city.

In short, Councilor Henderson, grow up. Lose the attitude and put the needs of the citizens ahead of your own needs.

Finally, here's a little advice on your choice of political allies. Former Councilor Chris Medlock is not a good role model. In his time on the council, Medlock was mostly a preening blowhard, more interested in arguing and grandstanding than serving the city.

Medlock's antics didn't even serve his own interests. His subsequent political career flopped and he's now a professional blowhard on an obscure AM radio station.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Romney Suspends Campaign; Sen. John McCain Appears Unstoppable

Breaking news from the GOP field today: Romney is folding his tent and going home.

This puts Sen. John McCain in the driver's seat for the Republican nomination for president, with only Mike Huckabee as a weak challenger.

Now the fun starts: McCain has been rounded criticized by Rush, Sean and other yakkers on the right. Will they flip-flop now that Romney's gone? Will they flock to Huckabee? Will they try to try a "real conservative" to carry the right-winner banner this fall? And where will Romney's Oklahoma voters go?

For answers to these and other political questions, stay tuned.

From our friends at Crooks & Liars, we find this interesting bit of news:
John McCain was booed passionately by the hard line conservatives attending the CPAC convention today as he brought up his position and support for Bush’s immigration plan which is a sore spot for many there.

Suffice it to say, this is not a good sign for Republicans.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Huckabee Wins Tulsa County Republicans

Tulsa County's conservative Republicans gave Mike Huckabee a slight edge in Tulsa County, beating state winner John McCain.

Unofficial results show Huckabee with 34 percent of the Tulsa County Republican vote, edging McCain with 33 percent. The difference was less than one thousand votes.

Mitt Romney was third with 27 percent of the Tulsa County vote.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see a major split among Tulsa County Republicans. Huckabee, candidate of the religious right, carried the day—but just barely.

And despite the zeal of his Tulsa supporters who plastered Tulsa with signs, Ron Paul managed only 3 percent of the Tulsa County Republican vote, less than 2,500 votes.

Finally, anti-immigrant crusader Tom Tancredo managed to pull in 40 votes in Tulsa County, despite the fact that he's officially withdrawn from the campaign.

Forty votes—hey, it's a start. Better keep an eye out for the Tancredo bandwagon in 2012.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Huck Picks Up More States

Mike Huckabee, former Baptist minister and one-time governor of Arkansas, is showing some surprising strength in today's Republican voting.

The latest numbers we've seen tonight show that Huckabee will win in Alabama and, no surprise, his home state of Arkansas. He's also looking strong in another neighboring state, Missouri. Huckabee also won the West Virginia Republican convention today.

Even here in Oklahoma, Huckabee's numbers are creeping up, though he's still several points behind John McCain.

But stay tuned.

McCain Leads Huck in Oklahoma

It's still early, but Sen. John McCain is leading Mike Huckabee in the Sooner state Republican primary. The latest numbers we've seen put McCain at 39 percent, Huckabee at 30 percent.

Mitt Romney was far behind and, unless the numbers really shift in his favor, the Mittman appears to be toast in Oklahoma.

Clinton Projected Winner in Oklahoma

Sen. Hillary Clinton is the projected winner of the Oklahoma Democratic primary, according to MSNBC projections.

Just yesterday, we predicted that Sen. Barack Obama would run well in the state, stronger than the polls numbers showed. We haven't seen those figures yet, but the early signs put Hillary well ahead.

Huckabee Wins in West Virginia

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won today's Republican convention vote in West Virginia, a sign that his presidential bid may exceed expectations in today's Super Tuesday elections.

The AltTulsa team has been predicting Huckabee as a favorite of Oklahoma Republicans for weeks, though recent polling has put Arizona Sen. John McCain in the top spot.

Oklahoma polls haven't closed yet tonight, so we have no information yet on Huckabee's performance here. But if West Virginia is any indication, Huckabee may come on strong in the Sooner state.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ron Paul's Fans Keep Trying, to No Avail

We were driving into Tulsa this afternoon and noticed a host of Ron Paul signs sprouting along the shoulder and exit ramps of the Broken Arrow Expressway.

Let's give the candidate his due: He has very loyal (not to say nutty) supporters. They love their man and seem absolutely convinced that his brand of anti-war Republicanism and radical approaches to the nation's problems is just what America needs.

Good luck, folks. Sunday's Oklahoma Poll numbers show Paul at 3 percent, 2 full points behind the liberal former mayor of new York City—and he's withdrawn from the race.

Say goodnight, Ron. And please tell your supporters to pick up all those signs.

Breaking Sports News: Bobby Knight Resigns at Texas Tech

It's true—it's all over the web. Bob Knight is out as head basketball coach at Texas Tech. But we're going Rhett Butler on this one:
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Super Tuesday Eve: John McCain, Hillary Clinton Look Strong in Oklahoma

With Oklahoma voters set to cast ballots in about 12 hours, the latest poll numbers show Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain leading their respective parties.

On the Republican side, the Oklahoma Poll on Sunday showed Republican McCain at 40 percent, well ahead of Mike Huckabee at 19 percent and Mitt Romney at 17 percent.

A sizable percentage of Republican voters, 14 percent, told pollsters they didn't know or refused to answer.

Among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton topped the poll with 41 percent, well ahead of John Edwards at 24 percent. Edwards suspended his campaign last week. Barack Obama, who has the most momentum nationally, showed up at only 17 percent in the Oklahoma Poll.

Our take: Frankly, we're puzzled. After Iowa, we thought Huckabee would be an easy winner among Oklahoma's conservative Republicans. But McCain came alive after his South Carolina victory, and the Oklahoma numbers seem to be going McCain's way. Look for McCain to win the Oklahoma Republican primary.

The bad news: Some Oklahoma Republicans are clearly unhappy with McCain. His immigration position, for example, is a major obstacle in the Land of House Bill 1804.

Among the Democratic candidates, Clinton appears to have a huge lead, though we see more and more Democrats looking at Obama. It seems unlikely that Obama can overcome Hillary's numbers here, but we suspect that Obama will do better than expected.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Thin-skinned Legislator Sounds Off: Enemy Media 'Hate Everything We Represent'

It's only February, but we may have a winner in the contest for the Most Thin-skinned Oklahoma Politician award.

The hands-down winner this year is Rep. Don Armes, a hyperbolic Republican from Faxon, and one of the legislators recently warned by the Oklahoma Tax Commission for not filing his state income state returns.

But the real problem lies elsewhere, Armes told the Oklahoman. It is—we shoulda known—"the liberal media." "We are all under the microscope, and the media will stop at nothing to tear us apart," Armes added.

This may be news to most Oklahomans, people who may read the Daily Oklahoman and the Tulsa World, papers not exactly in the mold of the Daily Worker.

But no matter. Armes knows there's an Oklahoma liberal media conspiracy out there somewhere.

Notably, Armes cites no specific example of a liberal media outlet nor any link between the embarrassing tax news and a partisan attack on Oklahoma Republicans. As it happens, a number of Democrats have been named in the tax stories as well.

Finally, Armes seems unaware of who pays his salary and the fact that democracy, open government, and a free press include the idea of legislators actually standing for office as public servants (not private citizens) who are expected to set a good example and live by the same rules the rest of us have to follow.

But maybe that's too complex for Rep. Armes, a politician so lame and helpless that he blames his problems on a cliche.

What We're Reading: Bill Buford's Adventures as Apprentice Cook, Pasta-Maker and Butcher

The book is Heat and Bill Buford, its author, is just about as food-obsessed as the chefs he profiles in all their sweat-stained glory.

Buford quickly makes clear, for instance, that kitchen work at Babbo, chef Mario Batali's highly praised New York restaurant, was a virtual pressure cooker for the staff, cooks and assistants who couldn't afford to eat the food they were preparing.

Then there was Batali himself, an overextended Italian-American with larger-than-life appetites and a temper to match—and he's one of the more stable characters Buford finds in his tour of Italian, British, and American kitchens and butcher shops. (Don't even ask about Buford's Italian butcher, Dario, a man so immersed in Tuscan traditions that he insults vegetarians as well as Italian chefs who stray from the old ways.)

Buford, a successful editor and literary man, is an enthusiastic and entertaining guide to this culinary world, unafraid to throw his mind and body into the action, even when he doesn't know what he's doing.

Heat, first published in 2006, is now out in paperback from Vintage Books. We got a copy on sale at Borders, but Heat is worth the money even if you have to pay full price.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Huckabee Slams Mitt as Conservative Pretender

There's a new political food fight taking place this week, only this time it's not Hillary and Obama, but Mike Huckabee taking on Mitt Romney.

According to The Huck, Romney's only a pretender to the conservative throne. Here's the money quote:

Mitt's just trying to be a conservative, because he's really having to overcome a lifetime of being pro-abortion, of being pro-same-sex marriage, about being against Second Amendment and for gun control, about being for $700 million in increases in taxes, and then saying he didn't ever raise taxes, but he called them fees.

Just guessing here, but we suspect these positions are a little out of bounds for Oklahoma's Republican stalwarts. So it will be very interesting to see how well the Mittman does next Tuesday when Sooner state voters go to the polls.

Microsoft's Plan for World Domination

Okay, we admit that the headline above may be a tad over the top.

But the news today that Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo for more than $44 billion strikes us as bad for consumers. Microsoft, after all, is not known for its friendly attitude toward its rivals.

In fact, the opposite is true: Microsoft is known for crushing its competition whenever it can and by whatever means, even when it might not be quite legal.

So we think the anti-trust folks over the the Department of Justice might want to take a long, hard look at this buyout before they let Microsoft proceed with this deal.

Oklahoma GOP Increasingly Split on Presidential Choice

Oklahoma Republicans are more divided than ever over who should be the next GOP presidential nominee.

For weeks now, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has looked like an easy winner among Sooner state GOP voters. Huckabee's appeal stemmed in part from his former career as a Baptist preacher.

But John McCain has growing support in Oklahoma as well, including support from the recently resigned House Speaker, Rep. Lance Cargill. Indeed, the most recent poll numbers show McCain pulling ahead of Huckabee in Oklahoma.

Now we see that Oklahoma National Committeewoman Bunny Chambers has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Chambers, who is described as a longtime conservative activist, may carry some weight with the right-wing of the Oklahoma Republican party, which seems very unhappy with the prospect of a McCain nomination.

McCain, as right-wing radio constantly reminds us, is a traitor to the cause. We even saw a report today that hard-line blabber Ann Coulter will campaign for Hillary Clinton (!) if McCain is the GOP nominee.

That seems far-fetched
to us, but we would point out to Ms. Chambers and other Sooner state Romney supporters that—only a short time ago—Mitt was a liberal Republican governor of a liberal state, with positions that won't fly among Oklahoma's Republican base.

The number of Romney flip-flops is considerable and something the Democrats (and a good many Republicans) are likely to highlight in the on-going presidential debate.

More Lawmakers Behind on Tax Payments

First, it was Republican House Speaker Lance Cargill. Now it's the GOP's second-highest House Republican, Rep. Gus Blackwell, who is behind on his taxes.

Media reports today reveal that Blackwell was "shocked and surprised" to discover that he had paid his property taxes late for 13 years. The news caused Blackwell to drop out of the race to be the new Speaker of the House.

To be fair, several Oklahoma Democrats have also made news for their tax woes. One of them, Rep. Judy Eason McIntyre of Tulsa, missed a Dec. 31 deadline to pay at least half of a $397 property tax bill.

People make mistakes, it's true, but Oklahoma voters ought have legislative leaders who will comply with the tax code. That's hardly asking a lot, and some of our sorry leaders can't even manage that.