Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wine of the Week: A 2006 California Cabernet Franc by Ironstone

Setting aside our usual political focus, let's turn to some new fruit of the vine. This week's wine is an Ironstone 2006 Cabernet Franc with a Lodi appellation.

Cab Franc isn't a top red grape variety like, say, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But from what we've learned, it's an old grape variety that's widely grown and used in various red blends.

Ironstone's Cab Franc is a light-to-medium red wine. It's bright and oaky, perhaps a bit too oaky for us. The primary flavor reminds us of blackberries, though the berry taste is tart and the finish is short. We suspect the wine would stand up well to grilled meat or, say, a big juicy burger.

All in all, this Cab Franc is a pleasant wine at a reasonable price. (We bought our bottle for $9 at Ranch Acres in Tulsa.) But we have to say that we usually prefer a richer red than this, and there are plenty of such bottles on the shelves at good prices.

Finally, a word about Ironstone. We didn't know this vineyard, but we like their pitch. According to the label, Ironstone is a fourth-generation family operation that practices
"sustainable viticulture and farming." Ironstone is located in Murphys, California, a historic Gold Rush town.

Republicans Dump Palin in Favor of Newt Gingrich

Gov. Sarah Palin's political star continues to dim. Here's the latest headline on Palin's falling future from the folks over at Fox News (really):

Republicans Disinvite Palin to Major Fundraiser

Congressional Republicans Tuesday decided to ditch Sarah Palin in favor of Newt Gingrich for the critical House-Senate fundraising dinner in Washington June 8.

Literary Lions to Speak in Tulsa

T-town isn't known as a center of American letters, so it's great when the writers come to us.

Next up on the literary calendar is a visit by former poet laureate of the United States, Billy Collins. He'll be reading his work Thursday night at TU. The event is free and begins at 7:30 in the TU student center, 5th Place and Gary Avenue.

Collins is known for his accessibility, which is a fancy way of saying that his language and themes are easily understood by ordinary folks (that would be us).

Later in the month, OSU-Tulsa will host playwright Edward Albee, best known for his 1963 play Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? Albee, a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, will speak at 7 p.m. on Tuesday April 14.

Tickets for Albee's talk are $10 for adults, $5 for students. The speech is sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers. For tickets, call 918-594-8215.

No Stim for You: Brodgon Thumbs His Nose at Funds that Could Help Owasso

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation announced 48 road projects Monday totaling some $230 million, the first round of road and bridge repairs funded by federal stimulus funds.

But don't expect to see much construction if you live in Owasso. That's because Owasso's state senator, Randy Brogdon, doesn't want the federal money.

In light of Brogdon's grandstanding, we have a suggestion for ODOT: Make sure none of the road and bridge projects go to Owasso.

Fortunately, Gov. Henry and other state leaders would rather fix the state's bad bridges and roads than play partisan political games.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gen. Petraeus Contradicts Cheney's Claim

America's least popular politician, former vice president Dick Cheney, predicted recently that the Obama Administration had put the U.S. in jeopardy by changing controversial Bush anti-terrorism policies.

But Gen. David Petraeus disagrees. The blog Think Progress has the details:

Earlier this month, former vice president Cheney told CNN that President Obama is “making some choices that…raise the risk to the American people of another attack,” referring to Obama’s decisions to close Guantanamo and end torture. Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Centcom Commander Gen. David Petraeus — whom Cheney has previously called “extraordinarily capable” — said he doesn’t agree with Cheney’s assessment:

PETRAEUS: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. I think in fact that there is a good debate going on about the importance of values in all that we do. I think that if one violates the values that we hold so dear, that we jeopardize. … We think for the military, in particular that camp, that’s a line [torture] that can’t be crossed.


It is hugely significant to us to live the values that we hold so dear and that we have fought so hard to protect over the years.

The Republican Budget: A Big Zero

Friday, March 27, 2009

NBC Blog: Rep. Boehner's GOP Budget Turns into a PR Disaster

Republican House leader Rep. John Boehner went down in flames yesterday when he unveiled the House GOP's alternative budget plan.

Too bad it was an empty document, devoid of, well, anything resembling an actual budget with things like numbers in it.

Here's how the NBC blog First Read characterized Rep. Boehner's bad day:
Let’s be honest: Yesterday’s House Republican budget rollout was a P.R. disaster for the GOP. “Here it is, Mr. President” was the title of the GOP Leader blog touting that they had answered Obama’s dare to produce a budget. The problem -- their budget rollout didn’t contain any hard budget numbers or deficit projections. They say those hard numbers will come out next week.

But now we learn that Reps. Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan objected to unveiling yesterday’s “blueprint,” but were overruled by Reps. John Boehner and Mike Pence. But bigger than any internal disagreements or any criticism about a lack of details is the fact that yesterday’s GOP non-announcement moved the attention away from the Obama-vs.-congressional Democrat storyline to the GOP’s lack of a budget.

In fact, after yesterday, the White House and congressional Democrats can agree on one thing: The GOP -- at least until next week -- is the “Party of No.” What's more, it puts more pressure on Ryan to truly put out a comprehensive budget alternative.

Also, this episode could end up creating a rift in the GOP over how to combat the Obama White House. After all, Senate Republicans wanted nothing to do with an alternative, and now Mitch McConnell, et al are either laughing at their House GOP colleagues, furious at them, or both.

Circle Cinema Documentary Sheds Light on Afghan Woman's Run for President

Kudos to Circle Cinema and the Tulsa League of Women Voters for sponsoring Frontrunner, a documentary film that followed the ups and downs of Afghanistan's first female candidate for president.

Dr. Massouda Jalal, a medical doctor, was a candidate in two Afghan elections as the nation reorganized itself following the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban.

The film, which ended its run at the Circle yesterday, provides a vivid portrait of Jalal and her presidential campaign, the only woman in the 17-candidate race.

Here's a quick summary of the documentary:
Jalal doggedly campaigns from the back of a taxi, in mosques, in homes, in busy markets and in the streets. Her courage shows that it's the dangerous work done by ordinary Afghans—women and men—that will determine the fate of a newly born democracy.
In other words, this film reveals a hopeful democratic opening in one of the most troubled nations of the world. That's why we applaud the Circle and the League of Women Voters for sponsoring this film.

The film has closed in Tulsa, but you can find out more (and see an 8-minute clip) at the film's website here.

Inane Talk Radio Quote of the Day

And the winner is…El Rushbo

Today's idiocy came when Limbaugh criticized Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to Mexico and called her "incompetent." Limbaugh continued: 
The scary thing is that she is TWICE the man OBAMA is. 
One more example of the thoughtful political wisdom (ha!) from Rush. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Owasso Sen. Brogdon Planning Gubernatorial Campaign: Oklahomans Completely Apathetic

Surfing the Sooner state blogosphere recently, the AT crew found this underwhelming news item: Owasso State Sen. Randy Brogdon (one of our favorite John Birchers) has announced the formation of an exploratory committee for governor.

Good luck, Randy. You'll need it.

We say this because a recent Sooner Poll showed that almost nobody in Oklahoma knows who Randy Brogdon is.

If we remember correctly, Brogdon's state support polled at something less that 2 percent. Actually, if you round off the actual statistic, the support number is a mere 1 percent.

On the bright side, Brodgon could hardly go any lower.


Oklahoma Republican Leader Coffee: 'I Made a Dumb Mistake'

Gotta love those ethically challenged Oklahoma Republicans.

Take Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee who, until recently, had a tax lien filed against him. Although he's now paid the lien, such tax problems undermine the state GOP's contention that they are the "squeaky clean" Oklahoma politicans.

Remember former GOP leader Lance Cargill?

Here, for your reading pleasure, is the Coffee apology made this week to the Senate Republicans:
Well, the problem with dumb mistakes is that you have to answer for them. That is what I am here today to do. I made a dumb decision, and I went into caucus today to apologize for that and answer questions from members of my caucus.

Boo Hoo! Conservative Pundits Upset that Obama Doesn't Entertain Them

Barack Obama gave a prime-time news conference last night, the second in his two-month administration. The president started with a short statement and went on to answer questions for about 50 minutes. 

The reviews of Obama's performance were largely positive, but there were dissenters. Some criticism was policy-based and thoughtful, which is a constructive (and normal) part of the political process. 

Then there's crap like this. Fox News blowhard Fred Barnes previewing the president's presser: "I hope there are no more five-minute answers. It's hard to stay awake." 

And this: Professional gossip Matt Drudge's headline summing up the press conference: "Being Boring." 

Or this: Fox News bully Bill O'Reilly: "While the president was authoritative tonight, he was also dull and repetitive." 

Or Fox News know-nothing Sean Hannity: "Besides being boring and dull and uninspiring and unconvincing, you know, he cannot really pull it off…." 

If you're a right-wing pundit, it's all about the president's entertainment value. In this fun-house, you can't be a real leader if you're dull or boring. Somehow, these pundits are convinced that entertaining Americans is equivalent to making the difficult decisions that any president has to make to lead the nation. 

News flash: This idea is wrong. It's idiotic. It's superficial. And it's one more sign that the Republican Right has nothing significance to say. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Good News for Appalachia: EPA Puts Hold on Mountaintop Coal Mining

The Obama Administration is taking a second look at the destructive practice of mining coal by removing entire mountaintops in places like West Virginia and Kentucky.

Here's the AP report:

The Environmental Protection Agency is putting on hold hundreds of mountaintop coal-mining permits until it can evaluate the projects' impacts on streams and wetlands.

The decision was announced Tuesday by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. It targets a controversial practice by coal mining companies that dump waste from mountaintop mining into streams and wetlands.
Anybody who has driven through the Southern Appalachian coal fields (as we have) can see the massive environmental damage caused by mountaintop removal. This is a good move, one that's long overdue.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Coming Soon to T-Town: Pearl District Farmers' Market Begins April 23

Speaking of eating fresh and local (see previous post), the Pearl District Farmers' Market is set to begin another season on Thursday, April 23.

The market will run from 4:30-7 p.m. in Centennial Park, Peoria and 6th Street, just east of downtown Tulsa.

For downtown and midtown folks, the Pearl District is a convenience location for local shopping. Maybe we'll see you there.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eat Fresh, Local (Even Organic!) Food: Tulsa Farmers' Markets Opening in April

The AT crew loves to eat locally, so we're happy to promote Tulsa-area farmers' markets. The one we visit the most is the Cherry Street Farmers' Market, which will have it's 2009 opening in a couple of weeks.

Here's their announcement:

Our farmers' market vendors have been busy preparing for the upcoming market season. The Cherry Street Farmers' Market opens April 11th from 7 - 11 am.

Lisa Brandborg will manage both [the Saturday and Wednesday] markets and is looking forward to the 2009 season. There are new vendors who promise to add interesting vegetables and products to the expanding market selection.

The special events have been planned along with educational demonstrations. There will be music on the Gray Snail patio Saturday mornings.
As many Tulsa "green shoppers" will attest, local farmers' markets are a great way to find organic and locally grown produce and products, everything from veggies to honey, eggs, meat and more. Plus, they have music at the Saturday market.

Check them out here.

Recommended Reading: Adam Gopnik's Take on Lincoln and Darwin

Perceptive readers will know that February 12, 2009—just about a month ago—was the 200th birthday of two important men, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik has used this coincidence to write a book about the enduring significant of both men on modern life. Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life (Knopf) is a double portrait of these men and the challenges of their lives.

We haven't read Gopnik's book (so many books, so little time…) but the reviewers promise a worthwhile experience. Reviewer Alison Hood, writing in BookPage (we picked it up at the Tulsa City-County Library), writes that the book is "a finely considered, thought-provoking examination of their lives, their visions and the influence of their literary eloquence…."

Another reviewer, John Timpane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, continues the praise:
Angels and Ages makes a persuasive case that our liberal, bourgeois lives, resting on reason, law, and the primacy of science, rest also on Darwin and Lincoln….it is...powerful [and] emotional…covering breathtaking acreage with trenchant flair.
On the bicentennial of the birth of Lincoln and Darwin, Gopnik's thesis sounds intriguing and worth some serious contemplation. We're planning on getting to it later this year.

Meanwhile, if you have comments on Gopnik's book, let us know in the comments section.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wine of the Week: A 'Round' Chilean Cabernet by Locomotora

AltTulsa likes sip a little wine every now and again—just for dinner, you understand. It helps the digestion.

In recent weeks, we sipped our way through several bottles of a good 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, a country that has a history of producing quality wines at a good price.

This Locomotora red is a relatively light Cab with a rounded, balanced flavor. It's a bit hot or peppery at first swig, but calms down a bit in another sip or two. It shows a lot of fruit flavors, perhaps a combination of dark cherry and other fruits. The finish is fairly long as well, a good sign in our book.

We drank it with food and with appetizers and cheese, and it worked well every time. At about $8 a bottle at Ranch Acres in Tulsa, it's worth a try.

Obama Administration Rolls Back Bush Records Restrictions

President Obama is moving toward more public access of public records. Sounds downright democratic.

Here's the report from the Washington Post:

The Obama administration advised federal agencies Thursday to release their records and information to the public unless foreseeable harm would result.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. issued guidelines fleshing out President Obama's Jan. 21 order to reveal more government records to the public under the Freedom of Information Act, whenever another law doesn't prohibit release.

The new standard essentially returned to one issued by Attorney General Janet Reno during the Clinton administration. It replaced a more restrictive policy imposed by the Bush administration under which the Justice Department defended any sound legal argument for withholding records.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Amazing Jim Inhofe 180: Oklahoma Senator Tries to Have It Both Ways

Sen. Jim Inhofe can't decide whether he's for government micromanagement of the federal bailout funds or against it.

Consider his recent statement on Tulsa's KTUL:

The AIG situation is clear evidence of what happens when you shovel money out the door with no strings attached and no transparency.

Ah, yes. Now the senator wants "strings attached." But that's not what he said in February when he made clear his opposition to federal "strings" because they interfere with free enterprise.

Here's Inhofe's quote from last month:

I thought, is this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?

So which is it, Sen. Inhofe?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tulsa World Editorial Gets It Right: Legislature's Pledge Bill Is Meaningless

Oklahoma legislators, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to enforce patriotism on Oklahoma school children.

That, at least, seems to be their intent. The state House voted last week to require public school students to recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag every school day. Oh, and to the Oklahoma flag too.

As the World editorial pointed out on Monday, this is what passes for education reform in the current Oklahoma legislature. Not to mention the fact that this legislation "fixes" a problem that doesn't exist—an outbreak of anti-Americanism among Oklahoma children.

Meanwhile, the schools remain underfunded, but many these same legislators wouldn't lift a finger to support public education if it involved, say, additional spending or tax increases.

This legislation is, as the World put it, "another meaningless mandate."

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Pew Poll Shows that Republicans Don't Like Their Leaders

This is news we could have guessed. But it's good to have real numbers—and these numbers show that rank-and-file Republicans don't care for their leaders.

Here's how pundit Greg Sargent summed up the results from the Pew Poll:
The approval rating of GOP leaders among Republicans has plummeted 12 points in a month, down from 55% in February to a minority of 43% now. That’s striking.

Not only that, but approval of GOP leaders overall has dropped to 28% overall — the lowest rating for GOP leaders in 12 years of Pew polling.

In fact, approval of Republican congressional leaders has fallen from 34% in February to 28% currently, the lowest rating for GOP leaders in nearly 14 years of Pew Research surveys.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Radio Know-Nothing Laura Ingraham Mocks Meghan McCain as 'Plus-sized'

Ronald Reagan used to push the GOP's "Eleventh Commandment." The commandment was simple: Don't criticize your fellow Republicans.

Sounds like a sensible policy. Otherwise, Republicans will start sounding like Democrats, who often end up self-destructing in spasms of internal criticism.

But radio blowhard Laura Ingraham has thrown Reagan's wisdom out the window. On her nationally syndicated radio show (heard in Tulsa on KFAQ) this week, Ingraham mocked Sen. John McCain's daughter Meghan, casting her as whiny, superficial and "plus-sized."

So that's what Republican operators have come to? Making fun of a senatorial daughter's weight? Maybe it's true: today's GOP talkers have nothing of substance to say.

Partisan Hack Tucker Carlson Calls Jon Stewart a 'Partisan Hack'

Conservative TV blabber Tucker Carlson is still smarting from Jon Stewart's take down of his old CNN show Crossfire.

In the wake of Stewart's grilling of CNBC's Jim Cramer last week (we posted a clip earlier), Carlson has fired back. Stewart, Carlson said, was a "partisan hack."

This is a pretty funny charge coming from a man whose claim to fame is being a partisan hack. Speaking on CNN, Carlson also said this:
I would like to see somebody have the stones to come out and say, Jon Stewart's kind of a pompous jerk, actually.
Howard Kurtz and the other CNN panelists disagreed. So do we.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

David Letterman: Top 10 Ways the Republican Party Can Become More Hip

Crackpot Commentary from the Neo-Con Set: Saddam Involved in OKC Bombing

The defenders of the presidency of George W. Bush have their work cut out for them. After eight years of hubris, incompetence and failure, the Bush legacy is in tatters, which is where it is likely to remain for many, many decades.

But a history of failure never seems give pause to the neo-cons. Check out a comment made Thursday on MSNBC's Hardball by Frank Gaffney, a neo-conservative security "expert," who is still trying to make the case that Saddam Hussein was tied to U.S. terrorism.

Note especially his effort to have it both ways, claiming there's "compelling circumstantial evidence" but that this evidence is "not proven by any means."

Here is Gaffney's outlandish claim involving the Oklahoma City bombing:
There‘s also circumstantial evidence, not proven by any means, but nonetheless some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence of Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq being involved with the people who perpetrated both the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and even the Oklahoma City bombing.

Wine of the Week: Rolling Estate Wines 2005 Australian Shiraz

Beyond politics, literature and cultural topics, AltTulsa has an interest in serious food and fine wine. (Hey, we gotta sustain ourselves, so why not go for the good stuff?)

We recently bought a bottle of Shiraz from the Australian winery called Rolling. As with most bottles of Ozzie Shiraz, this is a rich and spicy red that starts with a big burst of dark cherry and blackberry flavor on the tongue.

The alcohol content is 13.8 percent, which is enough to give the wine some backbone and a reasonably long finish. For the price (about $10 at Ranch Acres in midtown), it's a good wine and a good price.

We had the Rolling Shiraz with blackened Mahi-Mahi, sauteed in butter and olive oil, and cooked with red and yellow peppers, sweet red onions, and served with sliced fresh avocado sprinkled with lime juice.

Yes, it's red wine with fish, but it worked magnificently: a great swirl of flavors and textures.

One caveat: This Rolling wine has a screw top, but the winery has a tag on the bottle explaining that the top is airtight so that we can all enjoy "its superb flavours exactly as intended." Works for us.

For more information, find the Rolling winery here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Freedom Falters in Afghanistan: Student Faces Prison for Downloading Story on (Heavens!) Women's Rights

AltTulsa likes free thought and wide-ranging debate. Those kind of activities sound like the marketplace of ideas, which is a very good thing in a democracy.

But there's no free thought in the formerly Taliban-dominated nation of Afghanistan, a country that we would like to be at least a little bit democratic.

Here's the latest example of anti-free-thought-expression in Afghanistan from the British newspaper, The Independent:
Student facing 20 years in hell

Afghan court secretly sentences student whose cause was taken up by The Independent. His crime? To download article on women's rights.

Medlock's KFAQ Radio Show Bites the Dust

Chris Medlock, KFAQ talk show host, former city councilor and one-time candidate for mayor (he lost), is out of a job today, according to Tulsa blog reports.

Michael Bates, who should know, is reporting on Batesline that KFAQ has laid off Medlock in an apparent effort to reduce expenses in a down market.

AltTulsa never spent much time listening to Medlock, so it's no great loss for us. But for Tulsa's rag-tag band of malcontents and conspiracy theorists, this is bad news.

No, it's worse. It's proof positive that Tulsa's evil elements (read: midtown elitists) have prevailed again. We knew it!

Comedy Serious: Stewart v. Cramer, Part 1

The Palin Family Saga: Bristol's Got a Baby but no Husband

Gosh darn it! That cute Hockey Mom Sarah Palin and her traditional family values aren't lookin' so good these days.

Now that teenage mom Bristol and her boyfriend have called off their wedding, how's that abstinence-only sex ed going up there in the Great State of Alaska? How's the traditional family definition workin' out over at the Palin household?

Based on events this week in Alaska, Gov. Palin's socially conservative ideals aren't very realistic, not even in her very own family.

Last year, here's how comedian Tina Fey summed up the governor's view of marriage: “I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers.”

Well, at least she got the the "unwilling" part right.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Inhofe Always Opposes Federal Pork, Except When It's Oklahoma Federal Pork

Sen. Jim Inhofe is a straight-arrow politician. When he opposes Big Government Spending, he really means it—unless it's for Oklahoma.

When it comes to funding Sooner state pork, Inhofe is at the head of the handout line.

Just yesterday, for instance, Inhofe voted against a $410 billion spending bill, one that he conveniently stuffed with more than $50 million for Oklahoma.

Sen. Tom Coburn, to his credit, was consistent, arguing against the bill but not requesting any earmarks for the state.

How does Sen. Inhofe explain
his two-faced policy? He blames the system: "As long as the current process remains, you can bet I will be working to get every dollar I can for Oklahoma," Inhofe told the Tulsa World's Jim Myers.

Is he Jim "Straight Arrow" Inhofe? Not exactly. More like Jim "Two-sides-of-your-mouth" Inhofe.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sen. Randy Brogdon Launches Run for Governor; Voters Ask 'Randy Who?'

Oklahoma political blogs are reporting that State Sen. Randy Brogdon, an Owasso Republican, will run for governor in 2010. There's even a website urging him to run.

Brogdon could be a long shot in the race for the state's top executive. We say that because the Sooner Poll is out with some early numbers and Brogdon's numbers look dismal.

When pollsters asked Oklahomans about their views of the possible candidates, here's how Brogdon came out:
Strongly favorable views: 1 percent
Somewhat favorable: 3 percent
No opinion/never heard of: 93 percent
Somewhat favorable: 2 percent
Strongly unfavorable: 2 percent
AT's statistical training is weak, we admit, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Brogdon is unknown. And among those who do know who he is, half of them view him unfavorably.

Brogdon may get elected in 2010, but it's going to be a very steep climb.

GOP House Leader Complains That Obama Is Doing Too Much

In November, most Americans voted for change. That term was Obama's mantra.

One of those changes, presumably, was in the level of activity at the White House. After eight years of incompetence by Bush and his cronies, the new Democratic leadership wanted to hit the ground running.

Ah, but too much activity is a bad thing. Just ask House Minority Whip Eric Cantor. Here's how one blog described Cantor's charge:
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) seized on the opportunity to criticize the president Tuesday for over-reaching in his first 50 days on the job.

Following the GOP's weekly conference meeting, the second-ranking House Republican told reporters that President Obama should be focusing on the "economic crisis," as opposed to holding four-hour meetings on healthcare, as the president did last week. The efforts may be laudable, Cantor said, but the White House should be devoting all resources to fixing the economy and not to "impose these cap-and-trade schemes."
And how did President Obama respond? Read it for yourself:
I know there's some who believe we can only handle one challenge at a time. And they forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad and passed the Homestead Act and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of civil war. Likewise, President Roosevelt didn't have the luxury of choosing between ending a depression and fighting a war; he had to do both. President Kennedy didn't have the luxury of choosing between civil rights and sending us to the moon. And we don't have the luxury of choosing between getting our economy moving now and rebuilding it over the long term.
Verdict: Obama 1; Cantor, 0.

Best Fake Headlines from The Onion

If humor helps us cope with tough times, then The Onion may be a good way to ride out the economic meltdown.

Here are a couple of fake headlines we found today on the humor site:
Congressman Offers Preemptive Apology for Extramarital Affair

NCAA Expands March Madness To Include 4,096 Teams
If these sound promising, check out the videos on The Onion's website here.

One Month Anniversary of the Great Michael Bates Backdown

That's right, sports fans. It's been a full month since Tulsa columnist and blogger Michael Bates retracted his Urban Tulsa Weekly comments about the circulation figures of the Tulsa World. 

In January, Bates wrote that the World had lied about its circulation practices. When the World cried foul and filed a libel suit, Urban Tulsa backed away from the story and apologized, but Bates hung tough. 

On his popular blog, Batesline, Bates originally defended his reporting and seemed prepared to fight the libel charges in court. 

Then, exactly one month ago, Bates folded. His retraction letter is a humdinger, complete with numerous admissions of error and inaccuracy. 

Our favorite line: "My research was flawed and information in my story was false and inaccurate, and I retract those incorrect statements." 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Head-spinning Earmark Contradictions from South Carolina's Lindsey Graham

A lot of the GOP protests about excessive federal spending ring hollow these days.

Take the case of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. He voted against the omnibus budget package and promptly went on to criticize the earmarks in the bill.

But yesterday on Meet the Press, host David Gregory challenged Graham about his own $950,000 earmark for a convention center in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

As Think Progress noted, "Graham then pivoted from attacking earmarks to defending them." Graham continued, with this mind-bending logic:

“I voted to take all earmarks out, but I will come back in the new process and put that back in,” Graham insisted, saying that the convention center is important to stimulate the local economy. “I think I should have the ability as a United States senator to direct money back to my state as long as it’s transparent and it makes sense.”

Why Younger Voters Are Turning Away from the Republican Party

Senatorial daughter Meghan McCain has pointed the finger at bomb thrower Ann Coulter. Writing earlier this month on The Daily Beast, Ms. McCain said that Coulter perpetuates "negative stereotypes about Republicans."

More from McCain's column:

I straight up don’t understand this woman or her popularity. I find her offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time.


More so than my ideological differences with Ann Coulter, I don’t like her demeanor. I have never been a person who was attracted to hate or negativity. Everything about her is extreme: her voice, her interview tactics, and especially the public statements she makes about liberals. Maybe her popularity stems from the fact that watching her is sometimes like watching a train wreck.

Religion by the Numbers: Survey Shows Ups and Downs of Faith in America

USA Today's page one headline today is worth pondering: "Almost all denominations losing ground, survey finds."

Indeed it did. The study, from the American Religious Identification Survey, showed that Americans calling themselves Christians dropped 11 percent from 1990 to 2008.

Other patterns: "The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic," USA Today reported.

We did a little more digging (thanks USAT) and found these figures on the Sooner state from 1990-2008:
Catholics: Down 1 percent.

Other Christians: Down 6 percent.

No religion: Up 4 percent.
The "no religion" category went from 7 to 11 percent in Oklahoma, so it's not like the heathens are taking over Sooner land.

Compared to Wyoming, however, Oklahomans are highly devout. The study shows that the percentage of "no religion" folks in Wyoming (of all places) jumped from 14 to 28 percent in the same time period

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fake Editorial Correction for the Black Helicopter Crowd

Here's the funniest fake editorial correction we've seen in a while.

It plays into the wacky ideas all those right-wing conspiracy theorists who keep insisting that the election of Barack Obama signals the end of freedom, motherhood and Christmas, and the rise of vegetarianism and Fascism.

Here, courtesy of The Onion, is the (fake) correction in full:
Last week, The Onion reported that in exchange for a prominent position in the New World Order, it had given its unconditional allegiance to the leaders of Operation Omega. That was a typo. There is no Operation Omega. Everyone should go about their business as usual on Mar. 24.

Too Much Talk Radio: Tulsa Hunting Instructor Kicks Out Liberals

Here we go, folks. You consume a steady diet of talk radio nonsense, and you end up acting foolish.

We're talking about a Broken Arrow hunter safety class in which the volunteer instructor kicked out the liberals, people also known as ordinary citizens who exercised their right to vote for the current president of the United States.

What's next—the pizza guy won't deliver because we failed the Reddest of the Red© Litmus Test?

In case you missed it, the Tulsa World reported Saturday that the hunting instructor "asked if any of the students voted for Barack Obama."

Some of these so-called traitors raised their hands, whereupon the instructor called Obama "the next thing to the Antichrist" and declared he would cancel the course if the liberals didn't leave.

One of the "liberals," a grandfather and former marine, objected, but left the room with his 13-year-old grandson who needed the course to get his Oklahoma hunting license.

The instructor has been released by the Department of Wildlife Conservation, according to the World.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

'Bout Time: Ron Paul Takes on Rush

Doom and Gloom from the Business Page

AltTulsa kinda likes USA Today. No, it's not the most serious newspaper and its coverage is reliably superficial, but the paper often provides a snapshot of current social and cultural trends.

But even we were taken aback
by some economic headlines in the paper's "Money" section several days ago. Here's what we found:
Banks lost $26.2B in 4th quarter

GM reports 2nd-worst annual loss

Fannie Mae lost $25B in 4th quarter

Jobless claims up more than expected
What's striking about these headlines is that all four appeared on a single page of the paper above the fold!

That's a small detail, of course, but it's also a sign of the times. Four business stories, all of which point to more downturn before the economic bottom.

Hold on to your 401K plans, Sooner fans, it's still a mighty bumpy ride.

PolitiFact Nails Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn: Health Allegation is False

Sen. Tom Coburn has a reputation as outsider, a politician who speaks his mind even when his ideas aren't popular.

But it would help Sen. Coburn's reputation if he didn't exaggerate or make things up. Here's the latest example, courtesy of PolitiFact, a fact-checking organization that—in this case—makes Coburn look like a liar.

Here's a portion of the PolitiFact commentary on Coburn and his claims about the president's health care plans:

When Sen. Tom Coburn said that under President Obama, "all the health care in this country is eventually going to be run by the government," it was like a golden oldie PolitiFact has heard many times before.

During the campaign, we heard the same tune from vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who said Obama was calling for a "government-run plan"; Mitt Romney, who said Obama "wants the government to take over health care"; and Rudy Giuliani, who called Hillary Clinton's similar plan "socialized medicine."


"Remember, under the Obama plan . . . all the health care in this country is eventually going to be run by the government," Coburn said in an interview on Fox News on March 4, 2009.

"So it's part of an incremental creep towards eliminating any objection, both as us as taxpayers and then individual physicians in terms of not complying with a government-run bureaucracy," he added.


We asked Coburn's office about his remarks. "What matters is not just President Obama’s intent, or what his plan states, but the likely effect and consequences of his plan," said spokesman John Hart. "Under Obama’s approach, the only plans left standing will be those controlled by the government."

That may be Sen. Coburn's opinion on what could happen, but it's definitely not part of Obama's plan. And Coburn was very specific in saying that "under the Obama plan, all the health care in this country is eventually going to be run by the government." That gives the incorrect impression that Obama is promoting a government-run health care system. He's not. We rate Coburn's statement false.

Steele v. Limbaugh: The Battle over the Future of the Republican Party

In this corner, the former Lt. Gov. of Maryland, Michael Steele. And in the other corner, the heavyweight champion (literally) of Talk Radio, Rush Limbaugh.

Let's get ready to rumble!

Out of power and out of ideas, the Republicans are turning on each other in what could be a long-term grudge match. Here's the latest on the emerging rancor on the right from our friends (ha!) at Fox News:

This week's dustup between Michael Steele, the new national GOP chairman, and influential conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh underscored the competing dynamics at play as Steele pushes to expand the party beyond its traditional base and Limbaugh warns that base not to stray from conservative ideals.

As a result, many prominent people in the party are laying low, waiting to see whether a unifying voice will emerge to lead the GOP forward.

Some say the spat over Limbaugh's speech last weekend at a conservative conference didn't help. Steele called Limbaugh a mere "entertainer" who is sometimes "incendiary" and "ugly," comments for which Steele later apologized.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tulsa World Skewers City Councilors Over Community Garden Objections

The editorial writers at the Tulsa World found the sarcasm button today when they published a tongue-in-cheek essay lambasting two Tulsa city councilors.

It's a well-deserved blast at councilors Jack Henderson and David Patrick. Read it with relish.
At first it seemed City Councilor Jack Henderson didn't like the idea of community gardens, an issue the council is pondering, because he was afraid they would sprout salvage yards.

By Tuesday he had changed that theory. Now, it's something else he's afraid is going to take root — dope.

"How do we know what people are going to be growing? Vegetables? Maybe. Or maybe something else," he said at a City Council committee meeting.

Henderson is absolutely right. Before we go charging into this whole community garden business, we need to make sure no one grows marijuana in them. What we need is a law that makes it illegal to grow pot. We could even make it a serious offense and put people in prison for it.

Oh, wait. We already have that law. Never mind.

Then there's the argument put forward by Councilor David Patrick.

Patrick said he isn't opposed to community gardens; he just wants to protect neighborhoods from outside groups coming in to start them.

The danger is obvious. If outside agitators are allowed the liberty to use their own private land for community gardens we could have an immediate outbreak of ... squash.

If these rogue elements are not controlled, tomatoes and okra will stalk our streets.

Before you know it, everyone's got a cucumber and the kids are down on the corner trying to score some lima beans.

It's silly and enough to make you wonder what are these councilors really are afraid of and why do they seem so hell-bent to either stop the community-garden movement or attach such a high application fee to the process that no one will ever attempt one?

Community gardens are about good food, hard work and communities pulling together. They aren't about junked cars, dope or radical cells spreading dangerous ideas, unless you think a cantaloupe is dangerous.

Pot, Meet Kettle: The Blatant Hypocrisy of GOP Hatchet Man Karl Rove

Karl Rove has nerve. Lots of nerve. Too bad his nerve is in the service of lying and deceit.

As the former Bush White House political operator, Rove was the preeminent D.C. hatchet man, using the office of the president to build, in his own words, "a permanent Republican majority."

Now that his dreams of a conservative utopia have been shattered and Rove has been reduced to a windbag on Fox News, he sees his own worst behavior in the actions of his predecessors.

Now that the Democrats have criticized radio blabber Rush Limbaugh (poor ole Rush; his feelings got hurt!), Rove sees conspiracy everywhere. Here are some classic Rove quotes, revealing once and for all Rove's inability to tell his butt from a hole in the ground:
It's petty and it's small on the part of the White House. I mean, didn't President Obama come to Washington saying, I'm going to change the tone? And here he has unleashed his attack dog in Rahm Emanuel, and he's got Carville and Begala out there beating up on Rush Limbaugh, and for what purpose? I mean, you know, what's to be served by that?

And it's clear that this is -- that this is the same old style politics that we grew to really dislike in the 1990s, when the White House thought everything through from a political perspective, road-tested it by running polls and focus groups and did everything with a very keen eye towards the politics of the matter, not what was in the best interests of the country.
Hey Karl, look in the frickin' mirror. You have a long and nasty history as the master of attack dog politics, and now you're whining about this? Gimme a break!

Hypocrisy, thy name is Karl Rove.

GOP Fiction: The Obama 'Enemies List'

In a world of free-floating "facts" and make-believe evidence, anything is possible.

That is exactly the kind of thinking in the latest Matt Drudge fantasy, one that equates Richard Nixon and Barack Obama by tying them both to an "enemies list."

Back on planet earth, however, there's a big difference between Nixon and Obama. The difference is this: Nixon had an enemies list; Obama does not.

Despite this tiny factual problem, the right-wing noise machine has manufactured the Obama enemies list and hawked it repeatedly. Beyond Drudge, the enemies list idea has been pushed by (1) New Gingrich, (2) Lou Dobbs, (3) Tony Blankley, and, (4) Rush Limbaugh.

But Obama is not Nixon. Moreover, no one has produced any evidence that Obama or anyone on his staff has created any sort of list anything like Nixon's actual enemies list.

It's a Republican fiction, an Internet gimmick that Drudge made up to serve his own interests and feed the noise machine.

Inane Republican Comment of the Day

Today's winner is none other than Tennessee Rep. Zack Wamp (love that name!) who had this profound observation this morning (on MSNBC) about the health care crisis  in America: 
Health care is a privilege. It's not necessarily a right. 
Really? This is the Republican response to the problem of expensive health care? 

So if grandmother gets ill, we're not obligated to assist her, right? Why should we? Health care is a privilege. Tough it out granny—that's the GOP way!

If junior is running a fever, too bad. Health care is a privilege. Suck it up, son. Suffering is good for you! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Headlines That Just Don't Sound Right

Here's a provocative headline from today's New York Times:
You're Dead? That Won't Stop the Debt Collector

U.S. News: A Bad Week for GOP's Michael Steele

In the continuing saga of the establishment Republicans vs. the screaming wingnuts (read: Rush, et al), the mainstreamers are  cowering to the Almighty Gods of Talk Radio.

Here's the lead of a story we found today on the U.S. News website:
It continues to be a bad week for Michael Steele, forced to apologize to conservative talker Rush Limbaugh, whose anti-Obama comments the Republican Party boss called "ugly."
This is not our fight, but it's sorta fun to watch the right-wing fight it out. 

Poll Finds Strong Support for Obama; Republicans 'Getting Drubbed'

Rush is still haranguing the noisy right-wing lemmings, but the public isn't listening. Check out the lead of this story we found today on Fox News (really):

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama enjoys widespread backing from a frightened American public for his ambitious, front-loaded agenda, a new poll indicates.

He is more popular than ever, Americans are hopeful about his leadership, and opposition Republicans are getting drubbed in public opinion, the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Dumbest Sign at Tulsa's 'Tea Party'

Tulsa's wingnuts and malcontents were on full display last Friday in Tulsa at a so-called "tea party," an event to protest the federal government or taxes or Obama or whatever it is these folks don't like. (We would like to provide a list, but it would be a very, very long list.)

We couldn't make it to the protest on Friday, but we paid attention to the news coverage and the local blog reports, most of which convinced us that this was a underwhelming collection of sore losers.

One sign seemed especially idiotic. It read: "220 years to build the republic--one month to destroy it."

Really? The U.S. has been destroyed in 30 days? Is Obama so powerful (and evil) that he can destroy the nation in 30 days? And we're supposed to take this notion seriously?

Back in the reality-based world, U.S. citizens are still getting up every morning and going to work. They're manufacturing things. They're building. The Republic stands.

And despite the bleak economic news, people are still buying things. Students are going to school and learning. Mothers and fathers are still raising their children and taking care of them. The Republic stands.

Although Obama's stimulus plan has just barely begun and may in time bring the U.S. economy back to life, these morons are already predicting the end of civilization as we know it. Seriously?

So the Republic been destroyed in 3o days? We don't think so. Nor do most Tulsans.

The Daily Show Skewers the Crap at CPAC

Monday, March 2, 2009

Today in GOP Hypocrisy: Take the Funds You Voted Against

Oklahoma Republicans in Washington, D.C., are nothing if not two-faced when it comes to federal spending.

On one face, they complain about every dime the federal government spends. The government is wasting our money, they say.

On the other face, these same conservative Republicans greedily snap up every federal dollar they can for the Sooner state, bringing home the pork for Oklahoma.

That sort of response leads to headlines like this from the front page of today's Tulsa World:
State Republicans got $66 million in earmarks in a spending measure they opposed

David Frum on Rush Limbaugh: 'A Walking Stereotype of Self-Indulgence'

Conservative David Frum, the former George W. Bush speech writer who penned the infamous "axis of evil" line, has barged into the controversy over radio talker Rush Limbaugh.

In a nutshell, the controversy involves the leadership of the Republican Party. Michael Steele was recently elected the head of the Republican National Committee, but the conservative base is in love with Limbaugh, who was cheered wildly at this weekend's CPAC conference.

Frum's take on the role of Limbaugh in the GOP:
And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush’s every rancorous word – we’ll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Black Eye for Oklahoma's Feed the Children

It's page one news in the Sooner state today: the Oklahoma City-based charity Feed the Children has problems.

Reporter Clay Nolan of The Oklahoman writes today that the charity's problems range "from the embezzlement of $100,000 at an overseas office to a major theft at an Indian warehouse."

There's more: "The son of the charity's founder [Larry Jones] had work done on his personal home at charity expense and had a charity credit card even though he is not an employee, the records show."

Even worse, perhaps, is Feed the Children's ad budget: "[A]lmost $110 million over three years [spent] not on food but on radio and TV advertising."

According to the Oklahoman's story, Larry Jones and five of the charity's directors are in a legal fight for control of the charity, which had more than $1 billion in donations during its last fiscal year.

Read the story here.

The GOP Embraces the Lightweights

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking today to Bob Schieffer of CBS, took on the continuing presence of Rush Limbaugh on the Republican Right.

Here's Emanuel's response to a question about the radio talker's influence: “I do think he’s an intellectual force, which is why the Republicans pay such attention to him.”

A blogger over at Americablog offered a somewhat different slant on Limbaugh and other conservative thinkers (in the loosest sense of the word):
I'd disagree with Rahm on this one. Limbaugh is not an intellectual force, he's an anti-intellectual force. He's popular fascism with a multi-syllabic touch. And that is exactly why he's so popular with the GOP. From Sarah Palin, to Bobby Jindal, to Joe-the-Tax-Cheat, the GOP loves its intellectual lightweights.