Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The Ducks wore down the Pokes in the second half, battering quarterback Zac Robinson and the OSU offense, and running at will through the Cowboy defense.
Looks like Gundy's halo lost a little of its shine in sunny California, but Cowboy fans are no doubt thinking about next year.
Federal assistance to the auto industry, for example, has been panned by Republican members of the U.S. Senate, including Oklahoma's economic dinosaur, Jim Inhofe.
But as columnist Eugene Robinson pointed out recently in the Tulsa World, this opposition puts them at odds with "the current administration, the incoming administration, a majority in the House of Representatives and Democrats in the Senate…."
It also puts the GOP senators and their party "against unions, against America's domestic industrial patrimony, [and] against the blue-collar working class…."
Oklahoma Sens. Inhofe and Coburn, Alabama's Richard Shelby and Tennessee's Bob Corker are pushing their party so far to the right that there may be no one left to vote for the Republicans except Southern white men over 50.
That's hardly a realistic base for a national party, but that appears to be the future than the GOP senators have planned for the Republicans.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sarah's an awfully young grandmother, but, last we heard, Bristol is still unmarried. And her future mother-in-law (assuming an eventual marriage) is in trouble over illegal drugs.
Coincidentally, a new report on abstinence-only sex education shows—surprise!—that it doesn't really work. Here's a summary from the Washington Post.com:
Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.
The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.
"Taking a pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior," said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. "But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking."
Based on the Palin's chaotic family life in the Great North, it might be time for the Republicans to reconsider their so-called family values, which look a lot less effective than the GOP claims they are.
1,000,000,000 gallons of sludge shames agency
Sunday, December 28, 2008
We love 'em so much that a Tulsa legislator, Democrat Rep. Eric Proctor, wants more of us to have 'em without having to pay those pesky state sales taxes.
Proctor introduced a bill earlier this month to repeal the state sales on guns and ammo, all the better to get more lethal weapons in the hands of people who would rather have a cheap gun than pay taxes (which, as far as we can tell, is about every red-blooded male Oklahoman over about, say, seven years old).
AltTulsa begs to differ. Unlike fear-mongering legislators and their frightened constituents, we don't see bodily harm behind every bush or in every dark corner. Yes, there's plenty of crime in Tulsa (as there is everywhere else) but we don't believe guns in every pocket is the answer. Nor are we arguing for banning guns in the Very Red State of Oklahoma.
Gotta love the NRA, right up there with OU football! And, Jesus, of course!
But we do believe in sensible gun policies (yes, there are such policies, the NRA notwithstanding), and Proctor's measure sounds more like a stunt that a reasonable policy. A sales tax repeal won't lower the price of guns by much in any case, and is unlikely to lead to a safer, saner or more livable Oklahoma.
That's why Rep. Eric Proctor wins AltTulsa's latest Legislative Bonehead Award, grandstanding instead of working for common sense, bipartisan solutions to the difficult problems of crime and guns in Oklahoma.
The news from the East Tennessee coal sludge spill keeps getting worse. Here's an update from CNN:
Estimates for the amount of thick sludge that gushed from a Tennessee coal plant this week have tripled to more than a billion gallons, as cleanup crews try to remove the goop from homes and railroads and halt its oozing into an adjacent river.The sludge, a byproduct of the ash from coal combustion, was contained at a retention site at the Tennessee Valley Authority's power plant in Kingston, about 40 miles east of Knoxville. The retention wall breached early Monday, sending the sludge downhill and damaging 15 homes. All the residents were evacuated, and three homes were deemed uninhabitable, according to the TVA.
TVA officials originally said the cleanup would take four to six weeks. Now they say they aren't sure.
TVA's initial estimate for the spill was 1.8 million cubic yards or more than 360 million gallons of sludge. By Friday, the estimate reached 5.4 million cubic yards or more than 1 billion gallons -- enough to fill 1,660 Olympic-size swimming pools.
The plant sits on a tributary of the Tennessee River called the Clinch River. At least 300 acres of land has been coated by the sludge -- a bigger area than the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Too bad, then, that clean coal may be more hype than reality. The technology to produce and use coal in a "green" fashion seems many years away.
Meanwhile, we have this very real coal problem here and now:
A coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee that experts were already calling the largest environmental disaster of its kind in the United States is more than three times as large as initially estimated, according to an updated survey by the Tennessee Valley Authority.More on the coal ash spill from the New York Times here.
Friday, December 26, 2008
More news we already knew:
(CNN) -- A new national poll suggests that three out of four Americans feel President Bush's departure from office is coming not a moment too soon.
Twenty-eight percent of those polled say President Bush is the worst president in U.S. history.Seventy-five percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday said they're glad Bush is going; 23 percent indicated they'll miss him.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
That would explain El Rushbo's latest pronouncement on the liberal conspiracy to ruin the economy and thus help Obama and the Congressional Democrats. Of course! It makes so much sense.
Here are Limbaugh's exact words. Note that Rush cites no evidence, none. He doesn't have any. But Rush was never much interested in evidence.
Who’s benefiting? Aside from the people being bailed out.The Democrat [sic] party and Barack Obama are benefiting.
They got elected, they increased their numbers in the House, they increased their numbers in the Senate, they got the White House now, and they’ve got a crisis that people think can only be fixed with the all-mighty and powerful government interceding to save this or to save that, when in fact, the government is going to nationalize the automobile industry. It’s going to nationalize some banks. It’s going to nationalize the mortgage industry, and may end up nationalizing the automobile industry.
Never mind that a collapse of the auto industry would be very bad news for the U.S. economy, putting many thousands of workers out of work.
This week we learn that it's not just those (supposedly) overpaid UAW workers and the (allegedly) mismanaged American auto manufacturers who are facing the downturn.
Here's the telling headline from the New York Times:
Toyota Expects Its First Loss in 70 YearsHere's the link to the Times story.
An eight-year old Saudi Arabian girl who was married off by her father to a 58-year-old man has been told she cannot divorce her husband until she reaches puberty.Read the full report from the Guardian here.
Friday, December 19, 2008
These folks really, really need a hobby. Inventing legal theories to fulfill your own private presidential fantasies hasn't been working out so well.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
It's not news that the Bush Administration made up its own rules when it came to the treatment of detainees.Geneva Conventions—who needs 'em? Waterboarding—perfectly legal. Secret prisons in foreign countries—everybody does it. Sexual abuse of prisoners (plus photos!)—harmless fun by a few bad apples!
But novel legal theories and strained readings of international law can't justify the "we can do whatever we want" system of prisoner treatment, as a new Senate report has found.
Here, from the New York Times, is a summary of the Senate report. We highlighted a few paragraphs that reveal the Bush Administration's unwise and immoral actions in its so-called War on Terror.
[A] bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.
These policies have deeply harmed America’s image as a nation of laws and may make it impossible to bring dangerous men to real justice. The report said the interrogation techniques were ineffective, despite the administration’s repeated claims to the contrary.Alberto Mora, the former Navy general counsel who protested the abuses, told the Senate committee that “there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively, the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.”
That's why we don't print rumor and unsubstantiated baloney on this site, including the speculation and nonsense of one Joan Swirsky, a New York-based "journalist" (using the term loosely) who insists that wishing and hoping that some things are true is the same as actually verifying the facts. Well, no.
Nevertheless, Tulsa Today this week published Swirsky and her continuing specualtion that Obama (1) isn't really a citizen and (2) is intimately involved in the "pay for play" scandal involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Swirsky seems undeterred by the fact that the Obama birth certificate stories are false and that this claim keep failing in the courts (as well as the court of public opnion). She seems equally undeterred as well by the fact that federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald made very clear the fact that Obama is not a target of his Blagojevich investigation or the fact that Blago is heard on wiretap complaing about Obama and his staff's unhelpfulness.
But, hey, when facts don't matter, you can say or write almost anything, as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity prove every day. Here, then, without further ado, is a recent raving by Ms. Swirsky:
Of course, it’s Obama himself, the man who recently dodged a bullet of his own when, last week, the Supreme Court passed on a petition to declare him ineligible for the presidency by virtue of his having failed to produce an authentic, verifiable birth certificate that attests to the fact that he meets one of only three criteria of the U.S. Constitution for the job, namely that he be a natural-born citizen of the United States. Note: Another suit is due to be heard by Justice Scalia on 12.12.08, and several other suits are pending.
What, if any, is the connection between Obama, the convicted felon Rezko, and the soon-to-be-convicted Blagojevich?
Of course they do. Because that's how conspiracy theorists see the world. Back in the land of actual facts, Tulsa Today should know better.
Such a strategy seems foolhardy to us, as does Vice President Dick Cheney's recent admission that he was involved in the approval of detainee waterboarding.
The Veep seems proud of his role in the waterboarding affair, but he may want to reconsider his comments, which have raised the ire of some journalists and public officials.
Consider, for instance, this exchange last night between MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Michigan Sen. Carl Levin:
Maddow: One of the things I think has been so I guess challenging to the American debate about this is that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have essentially argued that they have legalized waterboarding. That they have legalized torture. They think that the actions of their Justice Department made things like waterboarding not war crimes any more. Are they right?
Levin: You can't just suddenly change something that's illegal into something that is legal by having a lawyer write an opinion saying that it's legal. Things can't work that way or else someone could get a lawyer to say a crime is not a crime and then that would be a defense. That is not a defense and I just, I was astounded frankly when I heard the Vice President of the United States sort of just blandly, blithely saying that oh he thought that was an appropriate thing and yes he was involved in the discussions about it.
I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Powell noted, for instance, that Republican operatives such as Limbaugh have long used "polarization for political advantage." Powell continued: "Is this really the kind of party that we want to be when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts?"
Good question, Gen Powell.
Ah, but attacking Rush is heresy in Red State Oklahoma. Here, for example, is Mike McCarville's lame response to Powell:
Powell, one of those silk-stocking "Republicans" who like to cozy up to the Washington crowd, has completed his transition to liberal Democrat. The former general, with the help of a media that seems to believe his opinions matter and have delighted in reporting his remarks critical of conservatives in general and Rush Limbaugh in particular, has shown his true colors.Sorry, Mike, but we're going with Gen. Powell on this one. Powell may strike you as "silk stocking," but we rate him as mostly educated and reasonable,* something Rush isn't—and can't claim to be. (Asterisk: Powell's infamous UN speech, now repudiated by, well, everyone, Powell included.)
Let's consider the facts: Rush is a thrice-divorced, college dropout who avoided the draft and never served a day in uniform. Indeed, Rush has never served a day in public office and has no policy experience whatsoever. His opinions are regularly fact-free and worth exactly what the public pays for them, which is to say, nothing.
In short: Not much of a husband, not much of a student, not much of a public servant. His life's work: Hours and hours of hot air and right-wing nonsense.
As for being "cozy with the Washington crowd," Rush is no stranger to the D.C. Republican establishment, having wined, dined, and smoked stogies with all sorts of GOP insiders, including one of the few Republicans with a bigger ego that Rush, Newt Gingrich. Indeed, Rush is the one with the huge bank account and high-living ways, golfing his way across the land from his Florida estate. Lots of elitism here, but not much in the way of national service.
Powell, by contrast, was an ROTC student in college who worked his way up to general. In the army, Powell served in combat in Vietnam (two tours), winning a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and numerous other military honors.
He was married in 1962 and is still married to the same woman.
As a leader and presidential advisor, Powell served as national security advisor for Ronald Reagan, and was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H. W. Bush, led the military in the first Iraq war, and went on to be Secretary of State under George W. Bush.
This, we submit, is a record of distinguished national service that make Rush look like a piker. This, we submit, is a record that warrants respect, even when Powell is wrong, as he surely is from time to time.
Rush, in contrast, is wrong every day, almost every time he opens his mouth, a prisoner of bad ideas, weak logic, intellectual inferiority, and his own hubris. Rush, after all, is completely unfamiliar with the notion that he could be wrong.
The move comes as a result of a new State Department report requested by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
According to a BBC,
Rice ordered the review after Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in September 2007.The Blackwater news is in stark contrast to a report posted earlier this week on Tulsa Today, a posting by writer Pat McGuigan that seeks to defend the firm in spite of its checkered record in Iraq.
Five guards have been charged with manslaughter over the shootings.
The incident triggered outrage in Iraq and led to a debate about the role there of private security companies - upon which the US relies heavily.
Read more about the State Department report here.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sarah Palin vs. the English Language
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thanks to CNN, here is Powell's spot-on analysis of recent Republican political efforts:
The Republican party must stop "shouting at the world" and start listening to minority groups if it is to win elections in the 21st century, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday.
In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria for Sunday's "GPS" program, President Bush's former secretary of state said his party's attempt "to use polarization for political advantage" backfired last month....
"I think the party has to stop shouting at the world and at the country,"Powell said. "I think that the party has to take a hard look at itself, and I've talked to a number of leaders in recent weeks and they understand that." Powell, who says he still considers himself a Republican, said his party should also stop listening to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
"Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?" Powell asked. "Is this really the kind of party that we want to be when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts?"
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the administration would consider tapping the $700 billion government pool—known as the Troubled Asset Relief Plan—that was created ahead of the November election to calm turmoil in financial markets.
December layoffs exceed 100kJob cuts continue to mount in December as recession deepens
Ice storms knock power out across NY, New EnglandNEW YORK—A powerful snow and ice storm knocked out power to near 1 million homes and businesses across New York and New England on Friday, closing roads and forcing the state of Mains to shut government offices."This is a very, very serious situation right now," New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said after declaring an emergency in his state, where as many as 230,000 lost power in what local authorities describe as the worst outages in three decades."
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
But in these days of economic uncertainty and financial collapse (thanks, George), it couldn't hurt to do a little economic reading.
With that in mind, we found a provocative article in the December 8 edition of The New Yorker, which profiled Naomi Klein, a rising star on the Canadian left whose recent book, The Shock Doctrine, has made her a celebrity.
We don't know Klein's work, and we can't vouch for her "shock" thesis. But we did find Larissa MacFarquhar's article on Klein worth reading, even when we didn't buy her ideas (pun intended).
As the magazine puts it, Klein's an "agitator," the voice of the "new new left." More importantly, Klein advances a full bore argument on unfettered capitalism, especially the kind advocated by economist Milton Friedman.
She's also a realist, telling MacFarquhar, "I'm not a utopian thinker. I don't imagine my ideal society.… I'm just much more comfortable talking about things that are."
For a radically different view of the U.S. economic landscape, check out Klein's profile at The New Yorker.
Here's Kristol's prediction from Fox News Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006:
If [Hillary Clinton] gets a race against John Edwards and Barack Obama, she’s going to be the nominee. Gore is the only threat to her, then. … Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
[A]ny heterosexual woman today over the age of 25 who grew up in America is basically a dominatrix. You ask any heterosexual guy.
Monday, December 8, 2008
We know this because, well, we looked for their old website. It wasn't there. Instead, we found an announcement that a new site is in the works.
When it's up and ready, we'll let you know.
Speaking of the Observer, Urban Tulsa (of all publications) published a good report on Frosty Troy and his Oklahoma City journal in an issue last month. As UT reports, long-time journalist Arnold Hamilton has taken over the operation of the Observer.
If you missed it, you can find the online edition of UT's story here.
Everyman is a short novel (182 pages), but it packs a wallop. The story follows the life and many regrets of a retired advertising man facing death. The novel, in fact, is something of an extended meditation on aging, memory, loss and regrets—lots of regrets.
Yes, this sounds depressing. It's not exactly the stuff of an uplifting page-turner. But in Roth's story, the ad man's mortality, his failing body and his ruminations on his life add up to something more hopeful, even inspiring.
In spite of all his troubles and his imminent death, Roth's protagonist offers an example of endurance and persistence.
Whether we admit it or not, none of us can escape the body's decay or death. But we can take some solace in Roth's Everyman and its central character, a man who—for all his flaws—can teach us some things about the meaning and purpose of life.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Here's Jay Leno's take on her work in Georgia:
Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss won the runoff election for the Senate seat for Georgia. Republicans think that Sarah Palin campaigning for him helped him win. You know, this is the first candidate she's helped elect since, I guess, Barack Obama.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Jefferson was defeated by a Republican attorney, Anh Cao, who will become the first Vietnamese-American in Congress.
Here's a portion of the AP report on the election:
NEW ORLEANS — Voters in Louisiana have ousted indicted Democratic Rep. William Jefferson and sent a little-known Republican to Congress.
Unofficial results showed Republican attorney Anh "Joseph" Cao denying Jefferson a 10th term.
Republicans made an aggressive push to get rid of the 61-year-old incumbent, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, laundering money and misusing his congressional office.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
But we do take pride in being familiar with, and connected to, verifiable facts and some broadly agreed upon version of reality, which means we usually find private, secret realities highly unlikely.
That's one of the problem over at Tulsa Today, a local blog that has been offering secret Obama conspiracies in recent days. Contrary to actual facts since the election, Tulsa Today keeps beating the "Obama is an illegitimate candidate and secret traitor" story as thought there was something real and important about such fantasies.
Sadly for right-wing conspiracy nuts, no. There's only smoke and mirrors here, folks, and the repetition of rumors and lies does nothing to help the common good.
Here's a portion of some recent nonsense posted on Tulsa Today, claims so shallow as to be meaningless, as indeed they are.
“The most noticeable characteristic of Obama,” says Dr. Kate, in a chilling article entitled The Trojan Candidate, ”is his profound lack of respect for America as shown with his behavior on the flag pin, the failure to observe decorum regarding the national anthem, the fake presidential seal, the printed announcement of his speech in Germany, the upside down flag on the tickets and behind Biden at the Convention, his airplane with painted-over American flag, and his detached and callous appearance at Ground Zero. By this behavior, Obama is mocking America, cheapening its decorum and symbols.”Well, no. Some of this is wrong, the rest is exaggerated. Example: A quick Internet search can turn up dozens of photos of Obama wearing the flag pin and honoring his nation in ways that everyone can see and understand—unless, of course, these are all Photoshopped fakes!
Political dissent and criticism can be a good thing in a democracy. But as this example makes clear, there's nothing remotely substantive about this criticism. Moreover, the criticism ignores a slew of actions and announcements by Obama and his team since the election that contradict this Trojan Horse argument.
Then, again, in the warped world of the conspiracy believers, no amount of actual facts is likely to mean anything. Secret realities rule!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
We're talking about a study released today from three national health agencies, a study that ranks the states from the most healthy to the least.
Vermont is #1; Louisiana is dead last, # 50.
Oklahoma is in relatively poor health, ranking only #44. The Sooner state is just behind Arkansas (#43) and just ahead of Florida (#45) and Texas (#46).
Other healthy states: Hawaii (#2), New Hampshire (#3), Minnesota (#4), and Utah (#5).
Some unhealthy states: Mississippi (#49), South Carolina (#48), and Tennessee (#47).
And what about our neighbor to the north, the Great State of Kansas? They came in at a fairly terrific #22! (We better compare ourselves to Missouri, which posted a relatively weak ranking of #38.)
The rankings were based on four factors, including personal behaviors (smoking, drinking, obesity), community and environmental factors (crime, disease rates), public health figures (insurance and immunization rates), and health care factors (including primary care physicians).
This helps explain Utah's high ranking (clean-living Mormons), as well as Oklahoma's low status (lots of smokers, heavy people, poor insurance rates and fewer doctors).
We like Oklahoma, but Kansas is suddenly looking a lot more attractive.
But as the New York Times pointed out this week, the 2008 election didn't turn out so well for the pro-gun folks. After November, the gun lobby's vaunted political clout may be waning, at least beyond the borders of Soonerland.
The National Rifle Association's many attacks on Barack Obama, for example, was characterized by "false, misleading, and…ineffective ads, fliers, mailers, and Web postings…," the Times editorial noted.
Indeed, Obama won several states "with heavy gun ownership, including Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania." In addition, the NRA endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina. She lost. The NRA endorsed Bob Schaffer in Colorado. He lost.
NRA-endorsed candidates also lost in 20 congressional races (out of 25), hardly a measure of political power, the Times noted. (Read the entire editorial here.)
Is this the end of the NRA? Hardly. But it may be a sign that the NRA's "sky is falling" rhetoric may be losing its appeal, at least in other states.
Here in Oklahoma, no such luck. All us Sooners need more guns, really big ones.
You never know when some secret Muslim socialist from Illinois will try to grab 'em from us.
Monday, December 1, 2008
I think I was unprepared for war.