Saturday, May 31, 2008

KRMG's Right-Wing Rant of the Week

The AltTulsa team doesn't spend much time with Tulsa's KRGM radio, home of more blather, misinformation and right-wing paranoia than any other media outlet in town.

But we spent a few painful seconds listening to talker Michael Savage earlier this week and we feel compelled to pass along some of the Great Man's wit and wisdom (and we are using those words very, very loosely).

Referring to his political opponents the other night, Savage called them "rat vermin perverts." (No, we are not making this up.) As we recall, he repeated the phrase more than once just to drive home his drivel.

Whatever happened to thoughtful, reasoned discussions of significant political issues?

AT is in favor of free and open political debate, even robust and vigorous debate. But Savage does himself and his right-wing causes no favors when he devolves into grade-school monologues, which seems to be a big part of the Savage act.

Recent Reading: Didion's 'Magical Thinking'

It's mostly about death, but that doesn't make Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking morbid or depressing. In fact, Didion's long consideration of the sudden death of her husband and the illness and collapse of their daughter is rewarding in a number of ways.

A well-known writer, Didion had a long and productive marriage to John Gregory Dunne, also a writer. Between their individual writing projects, the two worked together on screenplays. They were a successful literary couple looking forward to many more years together.

In 2003, their daughter Quintana suddenly fell seriously ill. Returning home one evening after visiting Quintana in the hospital, Dunne had a fatal heart attack, throwing Didion's life into turmoil.

Here is a wonderful sentence in which Didion explains her purpose:
This is my attempt to make sense of the period that followed, weeks and months that cut loose any fixed idea that I ever had about death, about illness, about probability and luck, about good fortune and bad, about marriage and children and memory, about grief, about the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.

Look for your own copy of The Year of Magical Thinking, published in 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf.

Former Army Chaplain Yee Will Speak in Tulsa

James Yee is a West Point graduate and former Army chaplain. He's also a Muslim who has the odd distinction of having been accused of giving secrets to al-Qaida suspects at Guantanamo.

Yee was arrested and held in solitary confinement for 76 days. Then all the charges against Yee were dropped. He was a free man.

Yee will tell his story and sign books on Friday, June 6, when he visits Tulsa for a talk called "Faith and Patriotism Under Fire." Yee will speak at TU's Lorton Hall at 7 p.m., in room 2003.

The speech is sponsored by the Islamic Society of Tulsa, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance, and the Muslim Student Association at TU.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

McCain's Lobbyist Woes Continue

Conflict of interest alert! Sen. John McCain's ties to lobbyists are creating major headaches for the GOP's Mr. Straight Talk.

Earlier this month, McCain dumped several top staffers because of their lobbying activities.

Now it turns out that former Sen. Phil Gramm, a Texas Republican, has been working as a lobbyist for huge Swiss bank UBS while also advising the McCain campaign on economic policy.

USB has been a big loser in the on-going housing mortgage crisis and stands to benefit financially if it can influence current and future U.S. economic policy.

We know that Republicans have long backed big business and corporate interests over the working class and the little guy. But for John McCain, who styles himself as a reformer and no-spin guy, this sort of ethical blindness is especially damaging.

Our advice to the McCain campaign: Dump Phil Gramm and all the other business lobbyists on your staff. Sure, it will be painful—but it's the right thing to do.

Headlines from the 'Duh' File

It needs to be said, we suppose, but here's a bit of political obviousness from the folks at
McCain does tricky dance with unpopular Bush

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sen. Coburn: GOP in 'Paralysis and Denial'

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is worried about the fall elections. His party, the Republican Party, is in trouble because they haven't been behaving like Republicans.

Writing in today's Wall Street Journal (of course), Dr. Coburn offers a prescription for GOP health, but only if the party returns "to the path of limited government."

Although he doesn't mention the current Republican president by name, Coburn's column is a not-too-subtle attack on the policies of George W. Bush and his political guru, Karl Rove.

What ails the party, Coburn insists, is "the triumph of big-government Republicanism and failed experiments like the K Street Project and 'compassionate conservatism.'"

Coburn even invokes Scripture in his argument against wasteful government spending, noting that true giving requires "sacrifice by the giver." He continues: "This is why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his possessions…."

We doubt that many Oklahoma Republicans will take the good doctor's advice. The muddled party of George Bush—a man who never had to sacrifice anything in his life—is unlikely to start sacrificing now.

Doom and Gloom in Bush's Grand Old Party

It's no fun being a Republican these days. After all, the GOP "brand" is badly tarnished—and the news is getting worse.

There's the long nightmare of a failed and incompetent president, the dark vision of Dick (Five Deferments) Cheney, and a host of scandals up and down the party line.

Here's the latest on a delicious GOP scandal in New York involving a Republican Congressman, his mistress and their "love child."
A top New York Republican acknowledges that most of the party's choices to replace scandal-plagued Rep. Fossella (R-NY) have already opted out of the race.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

McCain's Lobbyist Pals Forced to Jump Ship

Conflict-of-interest charges are causing problems for Sen. John McCain's presidential bid.

That's right, Sooner fans, ole Straight Talk John has found ethical problems in his own campaign staff because several top McCain staffers have ties to foreign governments.

News organizations reported today that McCain's top foreign policy adviser has lobbied the senator's staff on behalf of the republic of Georgia while he was working for the campaign.

Five—count 'em, five—McCain advisers have left the campaign recently because of conflict-of-interest problems.

All of this supports the notion that the Arizona senator has a blind spot when it comes to good ole boy cronyism.

Cheney Speaks to New Coast Guard Officers

After a break (work, work, work!), AltTulsa is back—and on the Dick Cheney beat.

It seems that America's least popular national politician was the commencement speaker today at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. We don't know what Cheney told the new officers, but we expect he said something grand about national service and sacrifice.

AT believes in those values as well. But unlike the vice president, we didn't get five—yes, five!—deferments to avoid military service.

Cheney's lame excuse
: He had "other priorities."

Despite this failure, Cheney has spent his political life as an unreconstructed hawk. This means he has approved sending our sons and daughters off to war, something he was never willing to do.

But wait, there's more!

In case you missed it, Cheney was one of the Republican big dogs who went to Mississippi earlier this month in support of a GOP Congressional candidate. That candidate lost to the Democrat—this in a solid Red State.

Cheney or not, things aren't looking good for the Republicans in the fall.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oklahoma Barbecue Wins Praise

AT hasn't been out on the barbecue trail lately, but Natalie Mikles has.

Mikles, a writer for the Tulsa World, has published a couple of recent stories on prize-winning Oklahoma barbecue. Just the other day, the newspaper published a feature story on Sperry's Donny Teel, who was proclaimed "one of the world's greatest barbecuers."

Since we haven't eaten at Buffalo's BBQ, we can't vouch for this claim. But Mikles has plenty of evidence to support the headline that Donny Teel is the real barbecue deal. He works out of a trailer on Highway 11 in Sperry. On weekends, he's on the road to barbecue competitions around the country.

From the sound of it, Teel sells lots and lots of smoked meat. Mikles recommends Buffalo's ribs, sliced beef sandwiches, and smoked pork.

Some other barbecue recommendations from Mikles:

Wild Horse Mountain Bar-B-Q, south of Sallisaw

Smokehouse Bob's, N. 11th Street in Muskogee

Leo's B-B-Q, N. Kelly in OKC

A Shameless Plug for Tulsa-Area Produce

In case you've been napping (as we have), we want to remind Tulsa shoppers that it's the season for local produce. AltTulsa wants to recommend the Tulsa-area farmers markets.

We are particular fans of the Cherry Street Farmers Market, which takes place every Saturday morning at the corner of Cherry Street (15th Street) and Peoria in mid-town Tulsa.

The Cherry Street folks move the whole affair to Brookside on Wednesday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. The Brookside location is 41st and Peoria.

Beyond Cherry Street, there is the Pearl Farmers Market, held this year on Mondays from 4:30-7 p.m. For those not familiar with mid-town, the Pearl District is at 6th Street and Peoria.

The suburbs also have farmers markets, including Jenks, Owasso, and Claremore.

Our advice: Check 'em all out.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

One More GOP Congressional Sex Scandal

For years, the Democrats were the party of sexual misconduct. Hey, they were liberals, and we all know that liberals are Godless heathens who do whatever they feel like regardless of the consequences.

Yeah, right.

More recently, Republicans in Washington are proving that they too can engage in outrageous sexual misconduct. The latest example: New York Rep. Vito Fossella, a Republican, who was arrested last week on a drunken driving charge in Virginia.

Now we learn that Rep. Fossella has a lot more to worry about than his drunk driving charge. Here's the explanatory headline from The Huffington Post:

GOP Congressman Admits to Affair and Love Child, Cries on House Floor

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Inhofe Plays Bait-and-Switch With Vets

Our friends at Think Progress have nailed former Tulsa mayor and current Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe for his flip-flop on aid to veterans.

Here's the complete posting from Think Progress, a comment that points to the shallowness of the Republican commitment to America's war heroes.

On Tuesday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) quietly withdrew his support from Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) 21st Century GI Bill, and signed onto a competing proposal by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC). Today, an Iraq war vet from Oklahoma, Miranda Norman, slammed Inhofe for leaving veterans behind:

Senator Inhofe is undermining America’s heroes, as they reach for the American dream. It’s insulting and a slap in the face. Not only has Senator Inhofe turned his back on legislation backed by every veterans’ group, but he signed on to a sham bill, because he thinks veterans are fools who won’t be able to tell the difference.

McCain’s proposal reserves its most generous benefits for those who signed up to serve before 9/11 or those who remain healthy enough — and uninjured — to serve for 12 years. VoteVets has more on why the McCain-Graham bill should be “flat out rejected."

Cheney Spins Oklahoma Republicans

Vice President Dick Cheney, one of the most unpopular politicians in America, was in Tulsa Friday night singing the praises of his boss, President George W. Bush.

Cheney spoke to about 400 party faithful at the Oklahoma Republican Convention at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Tulsa.

Never one to reflect on the Bush administration's many foreign and domestic failures, Cheney painted an optimistic portrait of the president and his policies. "When the history is written it will be said this is a safer country and a more hopeful world because George Bush was president," Cheney told the convention.

Cheney's sunny prediction overlooks his own dismal performance as a Iraq war prognosticator, where few if any of his predictions have come true. This was the guy, after all, who said made it perfectly clear that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. As Cheney famously put it, there was "no doubt" about this fact.

Cheney's optimism also flies in the face of public opinion polls this week that show Bush's approval at a record low, with less than 30 percent of the public favoring the president.

With gas prices at record highs, a housing crisis, a credit crunch and no end in sight in Iraq, Cheney (and his Oklahoma supporters) are hoping history will vindicate their policies. That could happen, we suppose, but it's a faint hope at this point.

Based on their multitude of mistakes over the past seven years, Bush and Cheney are unlikely to escape the verdict of history.