Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bartlett Claims Adelson Loves Criminals—Really

Don't you just love local politics, nonsense and all?

We're referring, of course, to the Tulsa mayor's race featuring Dewey Bartlett and Tom Adelson, Republican and Democrat, respectively.

Unfortunately for Tulsa, both candidates have unleashed negative television ads. Adelson, for example has slammed Bartlett's term on the Oklahoma Turnpike Commission, when Bartlett expressed support for more turnpikes in and around Tulsa.

Bartlett has struck back with his own charges, some of which seem more than a little overheated. For instance, there's the "creepy guy" mailer we received the other day, which purports to show that Adelson is soft on crime.

Of course he is—he's a liberal. And we all know that liberals love criminals, especially child molesters! Ha!

This is complete crap, of course, but just the kind of underhanded allegation that some politicos think will win them votes in Oklahoma politics. Maybe it will. (Hey, it worked for Dick (Law and Order) Nixon—and look how well that worked out.)

Sure, negative campaigning is a staple of politics these days. But playing the fear card—especially the child molester charge—says more about Bartlett than it does about Adelson.

Some people, it seems, will say anything to get elected.

Mary Matalin Cites Global Cooling; PolitiFact Finds Her Claim "False"

We always love it when the Right spouts off with complete disregard of the facts. Take Mary Matalinplease!

But seriously, it must be nice to live in a universe of your own making, where believing something is true can make it true and actual facts don't matter a whit.

So when Matalin recently stated that the earth is cooling, the folks over at PolitiFact decided to check the facts.

And darned if she's wrong—again. Who woulda thunk it? Read the complete PolitFact investigation here.

Jon Stewart Uses Fox News Clips to Take Down The Spin Meisters at Fox News

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Making Stuff Up: Conservatives Blast Obama Without Benefit (Again!) of Facts

AltTulsa likes to live in the real world. Or to put it more baldly, we prefer to live in a world where facts matter, not in a world of rumors or myths or paranoia.

Our friends on the Right are not always so particular. Take, for instance, the White House visitor logs voluntarily released by the White House yesterday. Some Wingnuts immediately went bonkers, claiming that William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright had been White House visitors.

See! We told you so! Obama hates America and freedom! It sounds so convincing, so perfect for the fear-mongers and extremists. If only it were true.

The facts, from Think Progress, are here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Coburn Gets Hit on Opposition to Contractor Rape Bill

Tom Coburn's ethics keep getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Although Oklahoma's junior senator presents himself as a high-minded and virtuous public servant, his actions sometimes make you wonder.

First there was Coburn's no-I-didn't, yes-I-did actions linked to his adulterous senate pal, John Ensign of Nevada. If we recall correctly, Coburn once said he didn't get involved in Ensign's "payoff" of the parties involved. Later, he admitted he did play a role. (Read the story here.)

Now there's his vote against a bill to hold defense contractors like Halliburton accountable when their employees commit crimes like rape. Seems like a no-brainer, but Coburn couldn't support the bill.

Coburn's vote has been criticized, as it should be. The details are here.

W Speaks: Bush Motivational Speech Not So, Well, Motivational

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dr. Inhofe, Climate Scientist, Talks Nonsense Again

The esteemed climate scientist, Prof. Jim Inhofe, Ph.D., is pontificating again on his special area of research, global warming.

Inhofe, you see, knows all about global warming because he's an trained scientist. His degrees are impressive and his research is world-renowned. He's conducted dozens of climate studies and reviewed hundreds more. When he speaks, we know his words can be trusted.

Or not. As it happens, Sen. Inhofe doesn't know much of anything about global warming or climate change, he just thinks he does.

For Inhofe, this is good enough. As the saying goes, "My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with the facts."

The details on Inhofe's latest climate comments are here. Needless to say, Oklahoma's senior senator has zero credibility on the topic.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fox News and the Art of the Smear

Those thoughtful and genteel truth-seekers over at Fox News are at it again.

Never a bunch to let facts get in the way of screeds, the Fox gang picks up the smallest threats of a story and tries to weave them into a huge national or international crime.

The latest example seems particularly excessive and, well, dumb. As Jeffery Goldberg has outlined at, innocuous comments on a sketchy British call-in show can be the basis of a smear, especially if the subject of the smear is Muslim.

The truth, apparently, is not exactly welcome over at Fox News. Read Goldberg's illuminating column is here.

Who Leads the GOP? Glenn Beck? Rush? Palin?

The Republican Party needs a makeover.

But don't take our word for it. We're just repeating the misgivings of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has expressed his concern over the increased significance of such right-wing figures as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin.

These folks are becoming the de facto representatives of the GOP, despite their fringe appeal and frequent missteps.

Their appearance on the cover of this week's Weekly Standard has concerned Gingrich. Unlike the GOP screamers and blowhards, Gingrich is actually a knowledgeable and accomplished legislator.

The story, from Think Progress, is here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Recent Reading: An Accidental Soldier's Story from the Streets of Iraq

We've been hitting the books again lately, the better to inform ourselves (and our readers) of contemporary ideas and events.

Our latest read is John Crawford's The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell, a gritty tale of army life in Iraq. It's a sobering account of what it was like for some U.S. soldiers who served (and are serving still) in Iraq.

Crawford describes himself as an "accidental soldier" because his National Guard unit was called up in 2002 when he was one semester short of graduation from Florida State.

Crawford's chief contribution to Iraq War literature is his demystification of military glory. From Crawford's unit, the war is a long, hot, boring slog, devoid of purpose or even meaningful human interaction.

Sure, Crawford and his buddies bond over their thankless tasks, but this is not the book for military romantics. In Crawford's experience, Iraq is a filthy hellhole and its people are mostly liars and thieves.

Despite this grim assessment, the book is worth reading for insights in the the soldier's world and its brutally honest depiction of young men cast into places they don't know for reasons they don't understand.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

GOP Hypocrisy Update, Part III: 67 Republicans Take Stimulus Money They Voted Against

Those budget hawks in the Republican Party talk tough—the country don't need no stinkin' stimulus money.

It's danged ole socialism and it's ruining America!

But the GOP only talks tough. In fact, Republicans love home town pork as much as everybody else. As the Daily Kos has documented, the number of Republicans who have proudly accepted stimulus funds is now 67—and counting.

The details—with Republican names—are here.

Sooner State Hypocrisy Alert: The list of 67 includes Rep. Mary Fallin, who wants some of those Federal dollars she opposed to help improve buildings for the Oklahoma National Guard.

Bicycling in Tulsa: A 'Shout Out' to Tulsa Hub

AltTulsa is, as the name implies, all about alternatives—ideas and practices that can change our community for the better.

That's why we want to put in a plug for Tulsa Hub, a non-profit bicycle organization that promotes human-powered transportation in T-town.

According to their publicity material, Tulsa Hub "is an educational, civic action organization that empowers all people in the Tulsa Metropolitan Area by offering promotion of and equality of access to sustainable transit."

Sustainable transitwhat a concept. In a city long dominated by the automobile, this is refreshing. It's also a way of helping people without a car, or the means to buy a car, with two wheels so that they can improve their lives.

Helping others—we like it. It's a worthy cause. Find out more about Tulsa Hub at their website here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gun Owners Misfire: More Bogus Claims on Health Care Reform

The intrepid fact-checkers over at PolitiFact have found a real whopper. Did you know that "ObamaCare" will take away your gun rights?

No? Well, fear not, dear Sooners, because it's fear-mongering by people who should know better.

Here's the PolitiFact story:
The Gun Owners of America has recently taken aim at an unlikely subject: health care reform.

In the last few weeks, GOA has sent out several action alerts to members criticizing the health care reform bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee last week. The bill, authored by Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., was supported by all of the committee's Democrats, as well as Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. It will now be merged with another Senate health care bill and go to the full Senate.

On Oct. 9, 2009, the day before the Finance Committee began voting on amendments to the Baucus bill,
GOA sent an alert to members titled, "ObamaCare Could be Used to Ban Guns in Home Self-Defense." We examined the claim
and found little to back it up. We rated the claim False.

GOP Hypocrisy Update, Part II: NC Senator Loves Stimulus Money He Opposed

AT loves those fun-loving Southern Republicans, masters of doublespeak and political duplicity.

They regularly berate Washington spending and then, when the money comes home, they proudly take credit for it. Hey, it's not pork if it's being spend in my home state.

The latest case: North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, delivering a cool $2 million to the Tar Heel state.

Burr's motto, apparently: Do as a say, not as I do. The details here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hypocrisy Update: GOP Congressman Awards Stimulus Funds He Voted Against

Southern conservatives are something special in the annals of modern hypocrisy. They routinely rail against excessive federal spending, but love to bring the pork to their home districts.

So it's not hard to believe that Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston was recently passing out federal stimulus dollars without mentioning the fact that he voted against those same dollars.

The conservative mantra: It's only wasteful spending when it's not in my district.

Hat tip to Think Progress. The sorry details are here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Judging Flesh: Rush Gets a Meaty New Assignment

From SNL comedian Seth Myers:
It was announced that Rush Limbaugh would be a judge for the 2010 Miss America pageant. This is an early boost to Miss Connecticut, whose talent is filling out illegal prescriptions.

Sooners Roll, Bash the Longhorns Again—or Maybe Not

How 'bout those OU Sooners, smackin' down the Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl.

We win the Red River Rivalry! Go Crimson & Cream! Go OU!

What's that? They lost to Texas? Again? Oops. Spoke to soon.

Well, what can you do?

Austin's a great town. Maybe we should just change teams. Maybe we look good in Burnt Orange. Go Longhorns!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Paranoid Wingnuts: Chain E-mail Invents Obama Christmas Tale

From our friends at PolitiFact, who checked out a chain e-mail that purports to have President Obama attacking Christmas.

This e-mail wins the coveted "Pants on Fire" award for complete fabrication, which is a hallmark of anti-Obama hysteria these days.

Some excerpts from the PolitiFact investigation:
On the Internet, the "war against Christmas" wages on — or at least that's what the e-mails claim.

A chain e-mail says that the Obama White House is renaming Christmas trees "holiday trees."

"We have a friend at church who is a very talented artist. For several years she, among many others, has painted ornaments to be hung on the various White House Christmas trees," the e-mail begins. "She got her letter from the WH recently. It said that they would not be called Christmas trees this year. They will be called Holiday trees. And, to please not send any ornaments painted with a religious theme... Just thought you should know what the new residents in the WH plan for the future of America."

"This isn't a rumor; this is a fact," the e-mail says.

We always get suspicious when we hear statements like that.

It is true that the White House has long commissioned tree ornaments…. [F]or her first year in the White House, first lady Laura Bush asked artists from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to design replicas of historic homes and houses of worship to hang on the tree.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration came under scrutiny for its own politically correct holiday traditions.

In 2005, then-press secretary Scott McClellan was asked why the media Christmas party had been changed to the media "holiday" party. Here's what he had to say:

McClellan: "I don't know that that's accurate, that the Bush White House eliminated ..."

Reporter: "It is. Yes, it's no longer Christmas. It says, 'holiday.' "

McClellan: "This is a time to welcome people of all faiths, and all those who are celebrating the holiday season…."


The Bush White House also recognized Kwanzaa, a holiday traditionally celebrated in African-American communities, and held an annual children's "holiday" party.

For the current administration's part, White House spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield says the tree tradition isn't changing.

"There is no truth to this, and the letter referenced in the e-mail does not exist," she said. "No letter has gone out yet from the White House pertaining to Christmas tree ornaments."

She added, "The trees in the White House will be called Christmas trees, and the tree on the Ellipse will be called the National Christmas Tree. There will be no name changes."

Fox Pundits Exposed: Blaming Obama for Market Declines Was, Well, Wrong

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gotta Love King James: Pastor Advocates Burning Other Bibles

Book burning has a checkered legacy, to put it mildly.

To put it bluntly, book burning is anti-intellectual, anti-democratic and harmful to the free exchange of ideas.

But a North Carolina pastor has other ideas. To him, the King James version of the Bible is the only proper Bible. It's God's true Word, he claims, never mind the fact that it was translated by some very fallible human beings.

Other Bibles, the preacher says, can and should be burned. They are (get this!) "Satan's books." Even Billy Graham's books, the church says, are tainted and should be burned.

We not members of this North Carolina congregation, of course, but AT strongly disagrees. We stand for openness, debate, and the honest search for truth, even spiritual truth.

Our advice: Leave the other Bibles and books alone. Let these books stand or fall in the court of public discussion and debate.

The Raw Story has details.

Recent Reading: Richard Engel's Baghdad Invasion Story

Regular AT readers will know that we've been working our way through books on the 2003 Iraq invasion.

The latest book is A Fist in the Hornet's Nest, Richard Engel's account of his experiences reporting from Baghdad before, during and after the invasion.

Engel, one of the few U.S. journalists who speaks Arabic, covered Baghdad for ABC News. He was the only American television correspondent who stayed in the Iraqi capital during the war.

Engel is a smart and resourceful reporter. He enters Iraq on a "human shield" visa, but then gets his official press credentials. Never one to follow the crowd, Engel also manages to work around the Iraqi media restrictions and do some interesting, original reporting.

Along the way, Engel bribes officials, establishes "safe" houses and nearly gets arrested. He also witnesses the brutality and horrors of the Saddam years and the government's culture of fear.

The book chronicles Engel's strenuous efforts to report from Baghdad honestly, not an easy job in a chaotic city during wartime. Along the way, Engel also contemplates the troubled future of Iraq and its people.

A Fist in the Hornet's Nest is a good read, too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Anti-Obama Hate: He's a Nazi

The lunatic fringe is out there—but they have nothing to say. It's just old-fashioned hate.

The latest example of anti-Obama hate speech comes in the form of a defaced golf course. (Sadly, we are not making this up.)

The story with photo is here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Talking Points Memo on Obama's Popularity

From our friends at TPM, Josh Marshall has this "deep thought":
Can Obama survive the shame of global popularity?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Tulsa Mayor's Race Gets Nasty: Time for Candidates to Grow Up

We know it's probably hopeless, but we'd like to add our voice to the hue and cry against negative attack ads in the Tulsa mayoral campaign.

Yes, we know why candidates and their campaign managers run these ads. They work, or at least they sometimes work.

Hit and hit hard, the thinking goes, so that you can raise doubts about your opponent, his policies, his ethics, his character, and how he treats his dog.

But AT agrees with the Tulsa World, which ran an editorial last month imploring the candidates, Tom Adelson and Dewey Bartlett, to "act your age."

The editorial ended with this point:
Voters want to know what you stand for. They want to hear your vision of Tulsa's future. If you can't stand on your own record and your own ideas, don't spend your money and our time tearing the other guy down.
It's sound advice. Here's hoping both campaigns are listening.

Observer's Arnold Hamilton Now Writing Column for Urban Tulsa Weekly

AT has been enjoying few days off, which explains our recent lack of postings.

But we're tanned and rested now, ready to resume our role trying to fight ignorance and enlighten the masses one reader at a time.

Now that we're back, let's put in a plug for enlightenment over at Urban Tulsa Weekly. We're thinking specifically of their new columnist, Arnold Hamilton, native Okie and the editor Frosty Troy's long-running publication, The Oklahoma Observer.

We're fans of Troy, an Oklahoma original who has turned the Observer's reins over to Hamilton. As many readers my remember, Hamilton covered the Sooner state for the Dallas Morning News for many years. He know his way around the statehouse.

In his first UTW column, Hamilton said his goal was "to lift the curtains at the state Capitol." That seems like an admirable ambition, though we saw that one UTW reader wasn't convinced. His letter to the editor cited the long legislative career of Gene Stipe. Given Stipe's venality, the writer concluded, "I have my doubts about your likelihood of success."

Despite that dour assessment, we welcome Hamilton's commentary to Tulsa and UTW.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Columnist Paul Krugman Blasts the GOP's Scorched-Earth Policy

The blowhards and wingnuts on the Right are out of control. If you've been paying attention over the last several months, this is no surprise.

Talk radio, hot-air TV, and the Tea Party gang have ratcheted up the political volume of late, drowning out such folks as reasonable Republicans (surely there are a few out there somewhere) and people who believe in facts.

Now, the push-back report: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, among others, is calling out the crazies. In Sunday's column, Krugman points out that the nutcases are so intent on winning that they put partisanship ahead of their country.

Based on their recent conduct, it's time to ask this question: Why do the conservatives hate America?

The Krugman column is here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sen. Coburn's Changing Story on Helping the Scandal-ridden John Ensign

Oklahoma's junior senator, Dr. Tom Coburn, fashions himself as a straight arrow. He's a man of God. He's as conservative as they come, to hear him tell it, and as honest as the day is long.

But Coburn's honesty gauge took a beating this week when news reports found him telling two different versions of his efforts to assist Nevada Sen. John Ensign, a God-fearing conservative tied up in a sex scandal.

It seems that Sen. Ensign wanted to keep his secret life secret by assisting or paying off some of the individuals involved. Seems also that his friend Tom Coburn denied any role in helping Ensign set up such arrangements. Seems now that Coburn has admitted that he did in fact assist in those arrangements.

In short: Either Coburn was lying then or lying now.

Either way, Coburn looks a lot less like a principled conservative and a lot more like just another political opportunist who will say whatever he has to in order to save face.

The Tulsa World story is here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pass the Grease: Oklahoma Ranks Low in Fruit, Vegetable Consumption

Oklahomans love their hamburgers and chicken-fried steak.

At least we suspect that's the case since a new study shows that Oklahomans are among the lowest consumers of fruits and vegetables.

The Tulsa World reported Wednesday that Oklahoma ranks 50th in fruit and veggieconsumption. Only Mississippi ranked lower than the Sooner state at 51st in the study, which included the District of Columbia.

Why the low ranking?

The World quoted a state Department of Health official who noted that Oklahoma is a poor state. Although Oklahoma grows a lot of wheat, corn and soybeans, the official said, less than one-half of one percent of Oklahoma agricultural land is devoted to fruit and vegetables.

By the way, some of those dang Yankee states eat a lot more fruits and vegetables than we do. The top three sites were the District of Columbia (really!), Vermont, and Maine.