Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bad Blogs: Tulsa Today Goes Birther with Wacked Out Obama Column

The blogosphere is ripe with nutcases and conspiracy theorists, but few can top the so-called Birthers, fringe types so unglued that they insist the Barack Obama is a foreign national.

Obama was born in Kenya, so he isn't legally the president. Of course!

Or maybe he was born in Indonesia. Or was it Ghana? Or was the Canal Zone? Oh, that's right: He was born in Hawaii, but it was before statehood—so he isn't legally the president.

All of this is nonsense, of course, but don't tell the fine folks over at Tulsa Today. This local blog has published a new Birther column by one Joan Swirsky, who is absolutely certain that somehow, someway Obama is a foreign national.

Really? No, not really. Swirsky's column is highly delusional and wildly irresponsible, a mishmash of fantasy and made-up "facts" and baloney, total bulls**t worthy of the know-nothings at the Flat Earth Society. 

But it's not silly enough for Tulsa Today.

Rep. Bachmann Gets Her Facts Wrong, Part 42

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is one of the dimmest bulbs on the Republican Right, a bubbling font of bad ideas and misinformation.

So it's no surprise that Bachmann can't tell fact from fiction in her claims about the health care law. Here's what she said:
The New England Journal of Medicine released a survey the week that President Obama signed Obamacare stating that over 30 percent of American physicians would leave the profession if the government took over health care.
Oh no! Obama has ruined the everything—except that the statement is not true. PolitiFact looked into the charge. It's wrong. The details are here.

Learn to Speak Tea Bag: The Language That Requires No Thought

Is the Health Care Law Unconstitutional? Probably Not

Talk radio and the conservative blogosphere went nuts last week claiming that the new health care law is unconstitutional.

In Oklahoma City, various Republican legislators also pushed the idea and Tulsa's U.S. Congressman,  John Sullivan, stated flatly that the law is not constitutional. Rep. Mary Fallin, who is running for governor, also chimed in on the unconstitutional side of the ledger.

Not so fast, buckaroos. 

This was always a dubious legal claim, one the Right seem to be silently dropping. In fact, few lawyers are lining up on the unconstitutionality side of this argument, so much so that one major university couldn't find a single lawyer to debate that side of the issue. 

The full story here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Eugene Robinson: The Far-right's Real Threat to America

In the wake of the arrests of "Christian" militants this weekend in Michigan, Eugene Robinson, a columnist for the Washington Post, has some hard-headed comments on the threat from the Right, and why it's real (unlike the so-called threat from the Left):
For decades now, the most serious threat of domestic terrorism has come from the growing ranks of paranoid, anti-government hate groups that draw their inspiration, vocabulary and anger from the far right. It is disingenuous for mainstream purveyors of incendiary far-right rhetoric to dismiss groups such as the Hutaree by saying that there are "crazies on both sides." This simply is not true.
There was a time when the far left was a spawning ground for political violence. The first big story I covered was the San Francisco trial of heiress Patricia Hearst….There are aging radicals in Cuba today who got to Havana by hijacking airplanes in the 1970s. Left-wing radicals caused mayhem and took innocent lives.
But for the most part, far-left violence in this country has gone the way of the leisure suit and the AMC Gremlin. An anti-globalization movement, including a few window-smashing anarchists, was gaining traction at one point, but it quickly diminished after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. An environmental group and an animal-rights group have been linked with incidents of arson. Beyond those particulars, it is hard to identify any kind of leftist threat.

Rep. Terrill's Hypocrisy: Oklahoma Lawmaker's Sweet Deal for OPEA

Randy Terrill is a piece of work. The Moore lawmaker thinks he was elected to the legislature to help his political pals. 

The Oklahoman on Sunday pointed out that Terrill has been taking care of the state workers union, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, at the expense of other groups and individuals. Turns out that Terrill supported legislation last year to give the OPEA—but no one else—access to state employee addresses, a neat way to recruit more members.

To the surprise of no one, Terrill has also benefited from OPEA support.

The Tulsa World today blasted Terrill for his hypocrisy. As the newspaper put it, "Terrill should apologize to the state's citizens for treating public records like a personal asset."

Understatement of the Day: 'Christian' Militia Leader Goes 'A Little Too Far'

Those fun-loving, gun-toting "Christian" militia folks up in Michigan have issues. Serious issues. In a sentence, they are seriously deranged.

As a clue, we present this classic understatement from Donna Stone, the wife militiamen David Stone, as reported in today's Tulsa World:
It started out as a Christian thing. You go to church. You pray. You take care of your family. I think David started to take it a little too far. 
You think?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Frank Rich on the Tea Party's Mob Mentality

Frank Rich, writing in the New York Times, on the Far Right's dangerous response to the passage of the new health care legislation:
How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht. The weapon of choice for vigilante violence at Congressional offices has been a brick hurled through a window. So far.

Headline of the Day: 'Republicans spent $1,946 at topless club'

Gotta love those big spenders at the Republican National Committee. The RNC has been blowing through the cash at strip clubs and on private jets and limos.

The New York Times headline sums up the problem, playing down the strip club:

R.N.C. Spends Thousands on Private Jets, Limos and Clubs, Report Shows

Read the full story here.

Oklahoma Opt-out: Don't Count on It

Those Republican wizards down at the State Capital might want to rethink their grand plan for stopping health care reform.

We're talking about the Oklahoma GOP's ill-advised plan to sue the federal government to stop health care reform in Oklahoma. But it's a long-shot legal strategy at best, as the Tulsa World is reporting.

Today's newspaper quoted OU College of Law's Rick Tepker: "States do not have the power by statute or constitutional amendment to bar application of federal law." 

For the supposed advocates of government frugality, there's also this bit of advice from Tepker: "It is highly irresponsible for legislators to be ignoring a basic principle of the American Constitution, and I think they are doing it for entirely political reasons." 

Yes, indeed. Of of those irresponsible legislators would be none other than State Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, who should know better.

Sadly, Coffee' s acting like a partisan political hack—again. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cigarette Tax Roundup: Oklahoma in the Middle at $1.03 per Pack

We don't happen to smoke, but lots of Okies are big-time puffers. The Sooner state is so high in smokers, in fact, that it is a major public health problem here.

This means that the state of Oklahoma makes some serious revenue on cigarette taxes, which is $1.03 per pack in Soonerland.

Other states go much higher and much lower. The high: Rhode Island at a whopping $3.46 per pack. (That ought to slow down some puffers.) The low: South Carolina at a mere 7 cents per pack.

Unsurprisingly, the tobacco states have low cigarette taxes. Virginia, for example, levies only 30 cents per pack; Kentucky taxes cigs at only 62 cents per pack.

Other states, apparently, use tobacco to rake in the cash. The Connecticut tax is $3 per pack, New York is $2.75, and New Jersey is $2.70.

Our advice: Don't smoke—you'll avoid the tax and, as a side benefit, you'll probably to live longer. 

Tulsa's Woodward Park, March 2010

Rep. Michele Bachmann's Crazy Talk: Another Clueless Conservative

Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann is no stranger to nuttiness. In fact, she's the poster child (and child is the operative word) for Republican crazy talk, saying whatever silliness pops into her head.

Today's silliness concerned the U.S. economy, about which Bachmann seems utterly clueless.

Read about it, courtesy of TPM, here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

USA Today Editorial: GOP Lawsuits Are Legally Dubious, Sour Grapes

Oklahoma's Republican legislators are hyper-partisan operators, which explains why many of them are so eager for the state to file a lawsuit to stop the new health care reform law.

We suspect this is legal folly and would be a huge waste of state money. Today, we noticed that USA Today agrees with us. Here's a portion of their editorial:
Most constitutional scholars seem dubious that these suits will succeed, given the federal courts' long history of deference to Congress' authority to regulate interstate commerce, even when it comes to forcing individuals to do something they'd rather not. In a key 1942 case, for example, the Supreme Court upheld the power of the government to prohibit a farmer from growing more wheat than a national quota allowed, even though he insisted it was for his own consumption.

Obama Calls Out the Doomsayers: It's Hardly 'Armageddon'

The president went to Iowa City today and pointed out that—contrary to Republican hysteria—the sky hasn't fallen:
You turn on the news, you'll see the same folks are still shouting about how it's going to be the end of the world because this bill passed. …. Leaders of the Republican Party, they called the passage of this bill ‘Armageddon.' Armageddon! End of freedom as we know it! So after I signed the bill I looked around to see if there were any asteroids falling. Some cracks opening up in the Earth! Turned out it was a nice day!'

Chicken Little in Oklahoma: Randy Terrill's Nervous Breakdown

Oklahoma Rep. Randy Terrill of Moore is mighty exercised just now. To hear him tell it, only he and his fellow Oklahoma Republicans stand between freedom and tyranny. 

On Sunday night, Terrill "wept for the republic." It's the End of the Universe! So Terrill says.

President Obama's health care law (yes, it is a law) is stealing our freedom! So Terrill says. Obama is taking over the Sooner state (home of all right-thinking patriots!) and making us slaves. So Terrill says. 

Sooners don't need no stinkin' health insurance! We ain't ever gonna get sick. Besides, we can pay for our own dang medical bills—or just do without.

So Terrill says. What a whiner. 

Purging the Ranks: Frum Out at AEI after Speaking Out on Health Care

Conservatives beware—if you don't follow the party line, you could be out.

That seems to be the lesson over at the American Enterprise Institute, which has canned veteran commentator David Frum for straying from the party line on health care.

Ouch! Isn't this exactly what they accuse the lefties of doing? Not a lot of room for dissent over at the AEI, apparently.

AEI has met the enemy—and they are it. The full story here

UPDATE: Frum's termination means has lost his health insurance.

The GOP Goes Chicken Little: Help! The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!

To hear the Republican Party tell it, this week's health care vote  marks the end of Life As We Know It.

Talk radio's blowhards are at full scream, while the Tea Party folks and other wingnuts are advocating revolution. Sad to say, it's true. The climate of fear created by the zanies and zealots isn't funny—people are reacting in highly irrational ways.

Here, from Media Matters, is a roundup of some of the overheated rhetoric from the Right:
Listening to the calamitous warnings (i.e. "the end of America as we know it"), it's not that unreasonable to think that at some point one of the media mob leaders is going to suggest that life itself just is no longer worth living.
After all, late last week the nation stood on the precipice, just three "days away from the United States of America being over as we've all known it," according to Rush Limbaugh, who warned that reform would drive every private insurance company out of business. Glenn Beck also went full tilt, warning that the bill represented a "turning point," like the Civil War and Pearl Harbor, while colleague Sean Hannity pinpointed the health care vote as the "very hour" that America turned "completely towards socialism."
The Washington Times likened reform to the "Black Plague," and the online reaction was somehow even more unhinged. It was "RIP USA," because with the vote, America would become "occupied by a hostile foreign power." Indeed, a "socialist putsch" had been sprung and "America's Day of Wreckoning [sic]" was at hand. Why? Because the Democrats' health care legislation "will make every American a POW, strip them of their Freedoms and Liberty and shove them in a meat cellar for cold storage."
Not scared yet? Well, just keep in mind that "Fascist healthcare will destroy America," "civil unrest is coming," and President Obama is to blame. More? "Fascist House Democrats are preparing to euthanize America." And don't forget that Sunday's health care vote in Congress represented a "dark day for America, the worst since 9/11."

Newt's Two Faces: Both For and Against the Individual Mandate

Newt Gingrich should know better.

The conservative Republican leader is on Fox News these days whining about the individual mandate, the new requirement that individuals must buy health insurance. It's awful and unconstitutional, Newt says.

Too bad that one of the advocates for the individual mandate is—wait for it—Newt Gingrich. Yes! As Media Matters has pointed out, Newt advocated for the individual mandate.

In his 2008 book, Real Change, Gingrich wrote:
Finally, we should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond). Meanwhile, we should provide tax credits or subsidize private insurance for the poor.
It's on page 276 of Newt's own book. So Speaker Gingrich, were you wrong then or are your wrong now?

The damning details here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seven Years In, U.S. Spending to Rebuild Iraq Tops $44 Billion

All those penny-pinching Republicans are whining loudly about the cost of the new health care law. It costs way too much, they say. 

Yet these same Republican lawmakers raised nary a peep when the previous president decided to start an elective war against Iraq, a country that—contrary to their claims—was not associated with the Sept. 11 terrorists.

Turns out that war costs way too much too, especially a war we didn't have to fight. Seven years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, USA Today has totaled up the cost of rebuilding Iraq: It's $44.6 billion. 

Which Republican legislators are dumb enough to complain about health care costs and forget about the costs of the war they supported? 

That would be Oklahoma's two senators, Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn. 

What Nutty Republicans Believe: 24 Percent Think Obama's the Anti-Christ

In case you missed it, AT would like to highlight a Harris poll released this week that finds GOP voters believing some really bizarre things.

Wingnut watcher John Avlon of The Daily Beast has summarized the results, which are scary, very scary:
  • 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist. 
  • The belief that Obama is a “domestic enemy” is widely held—a sign of trouble yet to come.
  • 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim
  • 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was "not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president"
  • 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is "doing many of the things that Hitler did"
  • Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama "may be the Antichrist."
The AltTulsa crew believes in rationality and logic. But there scant evidence of such reasoning in these numbers, which raises a good question: Why do all these people believe nonsense?

    Honoring the Fallen: Photographer Documents the Rooms They Left Behind

    As regular readers of AT can attest, we have been posting for many months now about the Iraq war, its moral and political consequences and especially its effects on our fighting men and women.

    To that end, we've read a slew of books about the war, including a powerful photographic book called Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Ashley Gilbertson, a young photographer for the New York Times. 

    This week we discovered a new Gilbertson project, photos of the room that American soldiers have left behind. These pictures and moving stories about the fallen soldiers were published this week in the New York Times Magazine.

    This is sobering and thoughtful journalism, especially if you consider the lives that can't be lived and the profound losses endured by each of families.

    The link to Gilbertson's new photos is here.

    The WaPo's E.J. Dionne on Angry, Misguided Conservatism

    The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne on the nuttiness and irrationality of the current conservative wailers, a group that includes many of Oklahoma's so-called conservatives:
    In its current incarnation, conservatism has taken on an angry crankiness. It is caught up in a pseudo-populism that true conservatism should mistrust -- what on Earth would Bill Buckley have made of "death panels"? The creed is caught up in a suspicion of all reform that conservatives of the Edmund Burke stripe have always warned against.
    Authentic conservatism is better than this.

    First Republican Health Care Flip-Flop: Iowa's Chuck Grassey

    The good folks over at TPM have discovered the first (but not the last) GOP flip-flop on health reform. Details here.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Surprise! Public Shows New Support for Health Care Reform

    The doomsayers keep flapping their lips, but—surprise!—new polling data shows the public moving in favor of the new legislation.

    Here's a summary of a new USA Today/Gallup poll, which undermines the Chicken Little response of many Oklahoma politicos: 
    Americans by 9 percentage points have a favorable view of the health care overhaul that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, a notable turnaround from surveys before the vote that showed a plurality against it.
    By 49%-40% those surveyed say it was "a good thing" rather than a bad one that Congress passed the bill. Half describe their reaction in positive terms, as "enthusiastic" or "pleased," while about four in 10 describe it in negative ways, as "disappointed" or "angry."
    The largest single group, 48%, calls the bill "a good first step" that should be followed by more action on health care. An additional 4% also have a favorable view, saying the bill makes the most important changes needed in the nation's health care system.

    Fear-Mongering: The Right's Anti-reform Scare Tactics Fall Flat

    Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist, has taken a clear-eyed look at the anti-reform tactics of the Republicans and their allies. It's an ugly picture:
    [T]he emotional core of opposition to reform was blatant fear-mongering, unconstrained either by the facts or by any sense of decency.

    It wasn’t just the death panel smear. It was racial hate-mongering, like a piece in Investor’s Business Daily declaring that health reform is “affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.” It was wild claims about abortion funding. It was the insistence that there is something tyrannical about giving young working Americans the assurance that health care will be available when they need it, an assurance that older Americans have enjoyed ever since Lyndon Johnson — whom [Newt] Gingrich considers a failed president — pushed Medicare through over the howls of conservatives.

    And let’s be clear: the campaign of fear hasn’t been carried out by a radical fringe, unconnected to the Republican establishment. On the contrary, that establishment has been involved and approving all the way. Politicians like Sarah Palin — who was, let us remember, the G.O.P.’s vice-presidential candidate — eagerly spread the death panel lie, and supposedly reasonable, moderate politicians like Senator Chuck Grassley refused to say that it was untrue. On the eve of the big vote, Republican members of Congress warned that “freedom dies a little bit today” and accused Democrats of “totalitarian tactics,” which I believe means the process known as “voting.”

    Quote of the Day: Frum Realizes the GOP Works for Fox News

    Right-wing Violence Rears Its Ugly Head: Threats to Lawmakers' Children

    The Wingnuts are losing their grip, egged on by talk radio hacks and GOP enablers.

    Here's a chilling example from Think Progress:
    [Rep. Louise] Slaughter has been at the center of the push for reform. Last Thursday she received a chilling recorded message at her campaign office. “Assassinate is the word they used…toward the children of lawmakers who voted yes.”

    Annals of Stupidity: Talker Boortz Claims Health Bill Worse than Sept. 11

    Talk about hyperbole. Radio blowhard Neal Boortz is so worked up over health care reform that he thinks it is worse than the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

    No, we are not making this up. But such statements are more evidence (as if any were needed) of the exaggeration and rhetorical excesses of the Right, some of whom have lost all touch with reality.

    No matter how often they say it, the sky is not falling. The Republic still stands, and, what's more, we are better for it.

    Read more about Boortz and his serial nonsense here.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    LameOn6: Dart to KOTV Morning Show's Wimpy Interview with Rep. Sullivan

    We know that television morning shows are superficial and mind-numbing, but there's still no excuse for the completely lame interview that the NewsOn6 conducted this morning with Rep. John Sullivan. 

    Talking to Sullivan about health care is worthwhile. He's the First District Congressman, after all.

    But the KOTV interviewer was not supposed to roll over and play dead, which is exactly what he did, allowing Sullivan to make a number of bogus comments without any clue that the congressman was blowing smoke.

    Example: Sullivan claimed the health bill is unconstitutional—a stretch at best. The Ch. 6 anchor let it slide.

    Example: Sullivan claimed that racial slurs against two African-American Democrats may not have happened. It's more likely that they did. The Ch 6. anchor let it slide.

    Memo to Ch. 6: Do you homework. Read some articles. Ask some tough questions. Challenge some assumptions, for Heaven's sake. You are NOT in the PR business for Rep. Sullivan. Grow a pair.

    Repeal Movement: U.S. Chamber Drops Out

    The Sore Losers over on the GOP side of the aisle are furious and they're going to repeal the health care reform bill. So they say.

    But if they try, they won't have the U.S. business community on their side. TPM's Josh Marshall reports tonight: 
    The Chamber of Commerce, a key anti-Reform player and spender, is telling the GOP they can count them out on any campaign for repeal.

    The Potted Plant Speaks: Rep. John Sullivan Makes Stuff Up

    Tulsa has the considerable misfortune to be represented in Congress by Rep. John Sullivan, an Oklahoma Republican and world-class potted plant.

    Never having had an original thought in his life, Sullivan hews to the far-Right party line. He grandstands, hems and haws from time to time and pretends like he has a clue. He doesn't.

    Regarding health care reform, Sullivan was a solid "no," of course. But that's not enough for Sullivan and his pals. Oh no. Now they claim the bill is unconstitutional. 

    We think this is highly unlikely, unless of course we get some very activist judges. Since the Republicans hate activist judges, Sullivan would seem to be working against his own interests.

    We note too that Sullivan never mentions the basis for his unconstitutional argument. Last time we checked, Sullivan's legal credibility was slim to none, meaning his legal arguments are largely hooey—unless he can find some really, really activist judges.

    UPDATE: Rep. Mary Fallin, GOP candidate for governor, is also claiming the bill is "blatantly unconstitutional." Well no. But thanks for giving us yet another reason to oppose the Republican nonsense of Rep. Fallin. 

    Conservative David Frum on the GOP's Very Own Waterloo

    The GOP's extremist rhetoric and take-no-prisoners strategy went down in flames yesterday when the Democrats passed the health care reform bill.

    Conservative columnist David Frum was not happy, but he's not blaming the Democrats. His own side made some serious errors, as he has pointed out:
    Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.
    It’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they’ll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections. [...]
    No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?
    We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat. [...]
    So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.

    Seriously Stupid: In Response to Health Care, Iowa Rep. King Talks Secession

    Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, might want to rethink his commitment to the United States. As a U.S. Congressman from one of these United States, secession from the Union would be the very definition of anti-Americanism, wouldn't it?

    But King, a rather goofy far Right operator, told anti-health reform protesters yesterday that he wished he could start a new country with these good Americans. 

    Really? What country would that be? By the way, what happened to the patriotism the Right always wants its leaders and citizens to practice?

    There's more, from Think Progresshere.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    The Most Outrageous Health Care Claims, Featuring Sen. Tom Coburn

    Now that the U.S. House has passed a bill reforming the nation's health care system (Yes!), it's time to look back at some of the misinformation promoted by opposition. 

    The Republicans were so opposed to anything resembling change of any kind (can you spell "status quo"?) that some of their claims were, well, complete baloney.

    One of those trying to scare the public: Oklahoma's very own Tom Coburn. See Coburn and other outrageous video clips here.

    The Atlantic's James Falllows: The Significance of The Health Vote

    Political observer and Atlantic Monthly writer James Fallows on the significance of the health care reform vote tonight. Fallows hits the nail on the head:
    For now, the significance of the vote is moving the United States FROM a system in which people can assume they will have health coverage IF they are old enough (Medicare), poor enough (Medicaid), fortunate enough (working for an employer that offers coverage, or able themselves to bear expenses), or in some other way specially positioned (veterans; elected officials)... TOWARD a system in which people can assume they will have health-care coverage. Period.

    Molly Ivins Lives: Kathleen Turner Channels Brassy Texas Pundit

    Molly Ivins was one of a kind, a Texas journalist and columnist who regularly skewered the high and mighty in Texas and elsewhere.

    Ivins died a few years ago, but her memory lives on in a new play, where Ivins is played by Kathleen Turner. We learned all this in a report on NPR, where Turner's smoky voice does Ivins proud. 

    Ivins fans (or those who want to be) can learn more  A link to the NPR story, with great audio of Turner's wonderful voice, is here.

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Right-wing Hysteria: More Tea Party Threats

    Tea Party Nuts Threaten Violence to Stop Health Care Vote

    The Tea Party folks have not distinguished themselves with their thoughtful arguments and good judgment.

    In fact, the opposite is true. These folks consistently raise the rhetorical level, increasing their fever pitch, playing out the Chicken Little melodrama, "The sky is falling!"

    Today, at least one Tea Party bozo is threatening gun violence against the health reform.

    The link, with a photo of the threatening sign, here.

    Recent Reading: A Closer Look at the Soldiers of Abu Ghraib

    Speaking of powerful stories (see previous post), we recently finished Standard Operating Procedure, an investigation into the abuses and torture of Iraqi prisoners at the infamous prison known as Abu Ghraib.

    It's not "fun" reading, but it is an important work, nto least because it provides context for the whole sorted story. The book is by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, based on hours and hours of interviews that Morris films for his film of the same name.

    We came away from the book with more understanding, even sympathy, for the men and women who abused the prisoners. Yes, it's hard to defend their actions, but the interviews make clear how unprepared they were for the jobs they had. 

    In short, Abu Ghraib presented a nearly impossible situation for these soldiers. Their conduct was still wrong, but their own words helped us see how terrible the assignment was and why these soldiers can't be blamed for the entire mess.

    At Abu Ghraid, there was plenty of blame to go around, blame goes well beyond the prison walls, up the chain of command all the way to the Pentagon. 

    Learn more about the film here. There's also a link to the book on the film's website.

    Texas Monthly's Investigation into Human Trafficking in Texas

    Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times writes a lot about human rights and social evils, worthy causes to be sure.

    Today, we notice, he's posting about an article in Texas Monthly, a piece that investigates the sex trafficking business in Houston and other cities.

    As it happens, we've read the TM piece. It's distressing, of course, but well worth reading. The link to Kristof, and the Texas Monthly piece too, is here.

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Colbert Asks: 'Why Help the Poor?'

    Stephen Colbert took a shot at the legions of self-absorbed hyper-individualists (Glenn Beck? Bill O'Reilly?) on his Comedy Central show last night.

    In an interview with Father James Martin, Colbert asked him why he should help those less fortunate than himself: 
    If I help the poor, what's in it for me?

    The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
    Glenn Beck Attacks Social Justice - James Martin
    Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care reform

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Dr. Nasty: Losing the Health Reform Debate, Tom Coburn Plays Dirty

    Ah, Tom Coburn. Oklahoma's junior senator is not just pious, he's also a bully.

    On the verge of losing the debate on health care, Coburn decided to threaten Democratic members of the U.S. House who changed their vote from "no" to "yes." Coburn says he'll use Senate rules to punish these folks. 

    Coburn, apparently, thinks he's on a mission from God. News Flash: He's not.

    He is grandstanding, however, trading statesmanship for pandering and hoping that the good people of Oklahoma won't notice how petty he has become.

    But you can fool some of the people some of the time. As evidence, we reprint this weirdness from another Tulsa blog, one that supports Coburn's hyperbolic rhetoric:
    Thus Americans are gathering in; defense of their Constitution, opposition to the targeted destruction of the finest quality healthcare system in history of mankind, and stinging rebuke of the current Marxist Administration of President Barack Hussein Obama.
    Wow! Someone around T-town is off their meds. (Probably can't afford them!)

    As it happens, the U.S. health care system works best for people who have the means to pay for it—tough luck for poor people or anyone else who suffers from a major accident or dread disease.

    Beck and Rep. King Agree: Voting for Health Reform on Sunday is 'An Affront to God'

    We seriously doubt that Fox News blowhard Glenn Beck has a direct line to God. Nor does the off-the-wall Iowa Republican, Rep. Steve King.

    Yet these two yokels are pronouncing God's great disappointment,—no, "an affront to God"—about the idea that Congress might cast a vote in favor of health reform on a Sunday.

    Heavens! It takes a certain amount of hubris to speak on behalf of the Lord Almighty.

    We don't presume to know God's mind, but we do feel secure in the statement that Beck and King are mere goofs, willing to say anything about anybody (including the Lord) in order to score cheap political points.

    The story, with audio, here.

    Fleecing the Right: The Growing Conservative Scandal in California

    This is rich. The Conservative movement—so concerned about wasteful spending—is being scammed in California.

    It's not pretty—many thousands of dollars going not to the movement and its (bad) ideas, but to line the pockets of some private individuals. 

    TPM has been investigating. Read it here.

    Colbert on the GOP's Great (Fake) Census Conspiracy

    Pants on Fire Award: Rush Is Wrong, Part 246

    Rush Limbaugh's credibility is not exactly sky high. Yet one of radio's most notorious serial liars keeps makin' stuff up, hoping that gullible folks will fall for it.

    So when fake news surfaced the other day the Obama Administration would ban sport fishing, Rush couldn't resist. He has repeated this lie on the air, even though the whole idea has been debunked. 

    The conservative blogosphere, naturally, jumped on the story, convinced on another evil conspiracy to take away the people's rights.

    PolitiFact checked the facts and, of course, Rush is wrong. Rush couldn't care less, of course, since his whole purpose is to shade the truth to suit his purposes.

    The actual facts here.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    The Obama Apology Meme: In GOP Land, Facts Don't Matter

    Mitt Romney should know better. Romney, a probable candidate for president in 2012, is now out with a book, politicking with the best of them. No one should be surprised that he is criticizing President Obama.

    Unfortunately, Romney is also exaggerating his charges to make political points. One recent Romney attack was the GOP talking point that Obama has been going around the world apologizing for America.

    Republicans don't believe in apologies–except when they do. (We recall, for instance, George W. Bush once saying that he would approach the international community with modesty, something he failed utterly to do.)

    PolitiFact checked out the GOP meme and—oops!—it's false. The truth is complex, as it often is, and Romney and other critics don't admit complexity on this (and many other) topics. 

    Dang facts! Damn complexity!

    This sort of reality keeps messing up the GOP's revisionist history. Read the details here.

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Fox News Has a Beck Problem

    Howard Kurtz, who writes about the media for the Washington Post, has been talking to the folks at Fox News about Glenn Beck. 

    Turns out, there's a problem. (Who coulda guessed?) Kurtz finds that actual reporters at Fox (and there are a few) have major problems with Beck and his convoluted blend of half-truths, jingoism and fact-free assertions. 

    Seems that the reporters see Beck as a major credibility problem for the serious news people. (You think?) 

    Read the Kurtz column is here.

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Time Magazine Asks: Why Does Glenn Beck Hate Jesus?

    He was just in Tulsa yesterday, but his fans might want to rethink their affection for Fox News bonehead Glenn Beck.

    As we have documented on this site, Beck last week attacked those horrid churches who practice things like "social justice." 

    But more and more theologians and other thinking Christians have reminded Beck of the real gospel of Jesus, who took more than a passing interest in "the least of these."

    More details and an explanation here.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    New York Church Sends a Message to Glenn Beck: You're Wrong

    Glenn Beck's whining about nearly every idea this side of the nineteenth century is causing the Fox News know-nothing more static.

    Beck complained this week that some churches are preaching (and practicing) the idea of social justice. Beck urged such church members to leave these churches—as soon as possible. Beck, a Morman, seemed to forget that his own church believes in, yes, social justice.

    Now a New York church has challenged Beck directly, and is winning friends for its position. Jesus, they point out, believed in social justice.

    The full story, from Think Progress, is here.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Fox Anchor (and Beauty Queen) Gretchen Carlson Makes Up the News

    Gotta hand it to Fox News. Instead of reporting things like facts, they just make up stuff and pass it along because—in an alternate universe somewhere—it could be true.

    The Fox News motto: Give the people news they agree with—who cares if it's correct. (Facts are for silly liberals!)

    The latest example involves the very blonde but empty head of one Gretchen Carlson, pretending to know what she's talking about in the case of a schoolbook controversy. (Even the textbook part was wrong.)

    Heavens! The liberals are removing Christmas! They're removing the Constitution! But PolitiFact checked it out and—surprise!—she's wrong—Pants on Fire wrong.

    Here's part of their report:

    First, the board is hammering out changes to state curriculum standards, not textbooks. Second, the board is not considering removing Christmas from a list of various religious holidays. And third, the board has never considered removing the Constitution from history textbooks or the state's curriculum.
    The "Fox & Friends" anchor made things simple and irresponsibly far-fetched and wrong.

    Simple and irresponsible—an apt phrase for Fox News. The real (as opposed to the Fox) facts here.

    Best Utah Scandal Ever: Legislator Admits Hot Tubbing with Naked 15-Year-Old

    Political sex scandals are pretty routine these days (unfortunately), so it's not like AT was really shocked today.

    But still…how many sex scandals come from the Great State of Utah, land of LDS clean living? No booze! No smokes! Not even coffee! 

    Sure it was years ago, but the man's libido must have taken over and, well, she was cute and so what if she was only 15. 

    Besides, it was only a hot tub. It's not like they had sex or anything. (They didn't, apparently. Only a massage, maybe.) Yet the hush money sure looks suspicious.

    And then there's the young woman's life, which has been all fouled up as a result of her hot-tub encounter. Not good.

    All this probably looks pretty fishy to Utah voters, who are unlikely to be amused. Get your full dose of scandal here.

    UPDATE: Our favorite Utah GOP hot-tub king has resigned. The details here.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    More Christian Push Back Against Glenn Beck

    Our man Glenn Beck has stepped in it this time. Never one to think before speaking, Beck this week attacked churches that practice "social justice."

    Not surprisingly, some Christian churches and charities (Imagine: Christian charities! Beck's ears must be burning.) have reacted strongly against Beck's attack. 

    Here's a brief example we found today:
    Beck's linking of socially conscious churches to communism and Nazism hasn't sat well with some Christian groups.
    Bread for the World, a Christian group devoted to eradicating world hunger, has started a petition to demand that Beck stop spreading "misinformation and fear" through his radio and TV broadcasts.
    "Economic and social justice are central to the gospel of Jesus Christ," the petition reads. "Quit using your bully pulpit to spread misinformation and fear by comparing faithful Christians who care 'for the least of these' to Nazis and communists."

    By the way, Beck will be in Tulsa on Saturday. If you have tickets, we suggest you demand a refund and give your money to the Salvation Army. 

    Christians Push Back: Beck Criticized for 'Social Justice' Comments

    Ah, good ole Glenn Beck. A man so simple that he says whatever pops into his head. Even (or especially) when he knows he's rightwhich is all the time. 

    Beck, who will peddling his paranoia in Tulsa on Saturday, this week urged Christians to abandon churches that practice something terrible—social justice. That's simply a code word (Beck claims) for communism. And National Socialism, which is Nazism, which is why Obama is really like Hitler, which… you get the picture.

    Some Christians, however, are fighting back, as well they should. The Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, for one, has called Beck on it. Wallis points out that Beck, a Mormon, is ignoring the traditions of his own faith, not to mention centuries of Christian tradition and practice in other denominations. Oops! 

    Read all about it here.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Beck Week Continues: The Complete Guide to Beck's Stupidity

    Glenn Beck and sidekick Sarah Palin will be in Tulsa soon to talk and talk and talk about all the things that are wrong with America.

    To hear them tell it, we're all going to hell in a hand basket.

    So before you plunk down your cold, hard cash to hear the ravings of Beck and Palin, we suggest you check up on some of Beck's more outrageous claims.

    The record isn't pretty. An entire website devoted to Beck's nonsense, faux outrage and hypocrisy is here.

    Samuel Barber at 100: The Composer's Reputation Keeps Rising

    Even people who don't know Samuel Barber's name probably know his music.

    That's because one of his pieces, "Adagio for Strings," continues to be widely performed. We remember it from the soundtrack of Oliver Stone's movie, Platoon. As NPR puts it, "It's become, in a way, our national music of mourning."

    In honor of Barber's 100th birthday, NPR did a report on the composer's life and music, noting that Barber's reputation has risen in the years since his death.

    The NPR story, with audio and some of Barber's music, is here.

    New Ideas for Oklahoma: Oklahoma Citizen

    As one of the reddest of the Red States, Oklahoma has plenty of conservative voices. (True, a lot of them aren't very good, but we do have plenty to go around.)

    Today we learned of a new progressive voice in the Sooner state. It's called Oklahoma Citizen and—what do you know?—it's literate, thoughtful and active. (Imagine that!)

    It's worth reading. Check it out here.

    (H/t to Kurt at Okie Funk.)

    Glenn Beck Week: GB Attacks (Some) Churches for Helping the Poor

    What sort of religious person would want to help the poor and the sick? That sort of ministry sounds, well, so Christ-like.

    But don't tell Glenn Beck, who this week slammed those horrible Christians who would bother to actually help the unfortunate. These misguided folks practice "social justice," a philosophy that really isn't about assisting the poor but is (secretly) a Communist plot! (Or is it a Nazi plot? Beck can't seem to tell the two apart.)

    (Apparently, the Salvation Army has also been duped. Don't they practice social justice every day?) 

    The link with all the sorry details is here.

    Colbert Mocks the GOP's Twisted Language

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Beck Week in Tulsa: More GB Craziness

    One the most ill-informed people in public life, Fox News windbag Glenn Beck, comes to Tulsa this week, ready to fire both barrels at everything he doesn't like. (Expect a very, very long whine.)

    That being the case, we want to do our part to let the public know how wise and thoughtful Beck really is. Today, for example, Beck attacked the U.S. census and its questions about race.

    A thoughtful person could find several very good reasons for such questions historically and today, but Beck only sees evil government misconduct. (Of course!)

    Or as Beck put it today (and these are his exact words):
    Today they are asking the race question to try to increase slavery. 
    Whoa, Mamma! Like the very nutty Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.), Beck sees evil (read: liberal)  government actions behind every tree.

    Come to think of it, trees themselves are probably parts of the liberal conspiracy. At least in Glenn Beck's tiny brain.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Public Fruit Trees: A Growing Idea in Some American Cities

    Could urban land in Tulsa be used for free public orchards?

    It's an interesting question, one that would supplement the growing trend of public gardens. For city dwellers, it's a way of reconnecting with the natural patterns of growing and harvesting.

    USA Today reports that more cities are joining the public orchard movement. Learn more about the idea here.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Darwin on Screen: Circle Cinema Film Celebrates Evolutionary Struggle

    Thanks to Tulsa's Circle Cinema, Oklahomans can get a inside look at Charles Darwin's life of ideas, especially his long struggle to write On the Origin of Species.

    The film, Creation, opened February 12 (Darwin's 201st birthday). It follows the famous English scientist at home, providing a portrait of his passionate marriage and his grief over the death of a beloved daughter.

    For more on Creation and the Circle Cinema, see their website here.

    UPDATE: Reading some book ads today, we discovered an interesting title regarding Darwin. The book is Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne. We don't know the book, but it's a provocative title and it's now out in paperback from Penguin.

    A link to the book on Amazon is here.

    Obsolete Jobs: A Slideshow of Occupations that Went Away

    This post has nothing to do with any of our usual concerns, but we want to post it anyway. The topic is jobs of yesteryear, which we found on the NPR website.

    We all know that jobs change over time, but it's interesting to review some of the occupations that once were, but are no more.

    Two quick examples: Telegraph operators and copy boys. Check out the NPR slideshow of obsolete jobs  here.

    GOP Leaders Back Away from Party's Nasty Campaign Tactics

    AltTulsa has been a consistent critic of fear-based campaigning. Now, at last, even Republican leaders are pulling back from the GOP's latest round of demonizing by the Republican Right.

    Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell has gone on record against GOP tactics. So has Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican. We applaud these men and their rejection of destructive, hyper-partisan rhetoric.

    Here's the story from the Salt Lake Tribune:

    Sen. Orrin Hatch said he is "ashamed" of a Republican National Committee presentation that called for demonizing Democrats and President Barack Obama to help raise money.
    "There is no excuse for that kind of stuff," said Hatch, R-Utah, during an appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday. "It shouldn't have happened. I'm ashamed of that."
    Hatch's comment was in response to a question about a 72-page Power Point presentation created by the RNC's finance director that included a slide labeled "The Evil Empire," which showed Obama dressed as "The Joker" with the word socialism written underneath.
    It also depicted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella De Vil and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.
    The RNC delivered the presentation to potential fundraisers in Florida last month. Someone leaked it to the press last week.
    One name we haven't seen opposing these shameful attacks: Oklahoma's own Jim Inhofe. Wonder why that is?

    Oh, that's right. Inhofe is one of the Republicans who practices these shameful political attacks.

    Liz Cheney Gets it Wrong: Playing Politics with Terror

    The excesses of the Republican Right are considerable and, often, outrageous. Now this list includes exploiting terror to score political points.

    The culprit is none other than former Veep daughter Liz Cheney, a person with a a less-than-firm grip on political reality. Her latest screed is an attack on a handful of Justice Department lawyers who once defended terror suspects.

    Heavens! A lawyer actually defending a guilty person. We all know that guilty persons—terrorists of not—don't deserve legal representation or a fair trial.

    Even conservative thinkers (a group that doesn't include Liz Cheney and her ilk) have backed away from Ms. Cheney's attack. Unlike Cheney, they recognize that defense lawyers have a responsibility to defend suspects, even when the suspects are terrorists.

    There is, after all, something wonderful in the law that involves the protection of individual rights, even when the suspects are horrible people. More often than not, it appears, terrorists are found guilty.

    The full story is linked here.

    Racism: Alive and Well in Nashville

    Some on the conservative end of the spectrum claim that racism is dead, that we now live in a post-racial society.

    We suspect otherwise. In fact, there's plenty of racism to go around, much of it directed toward the president and his wife.

    Here's the latest example

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. - After accusations of racism and calls for him to step down, a prominent local businessman says he's sorry for forwarding a controversial email.
    Walt Baker, the CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association, is at the center of controversy after forwarding an e-mail that compared First Lady Michelle Obama to a chimpanzee.
    Metro Councilman Walter Hunt said he started to get phone calls about the e-mail on Friday.
    "I don't know what he was thinking," Hunt told News 2, "and the people who got [the e-mail] said I don't think it's funny."
    "It was demeaning, insulting, racist -- not only to her, but to every citizen in the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee," said Hunt.
    Walt Baker initially brushed off the e-mail controversy, telling the Nashville Scene on Friday it was in good fun, but on Saturday he apologized.
    "It was wrong, my initial reaction to the story was wrong," Baker told News 2. "It was stupid and I am alone the responsible party in this."
    Given the long and sorted history of racism and intolerance in human history, this is hardly a surprise. But we'd like to think that people were smarter and more enlightened than this.

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Celebrate Oklahoma's Young Artists: The Momentum Show in OKC

    AltTulsa likes to hang with artists. They're a quirky bunch—which is probably why we like them.

    Which brings us the Momentum show in Oklahoma City, a show in for Sooner state artists under 30. 

    It's a cool idea. We like it. We've posted a link to a NewsOK video here.

    Beck's Illusions of Grandeur: He's Socrates! No, He's Ben Franklin!

    Glenn Beck is coming to Tulsa (yawn…) later this month. But Beck's fans many might want to consider the man's Montana-sized ego. 

    To wit: Beck has repeatedly compared himself to great thinkers including (get this!) Socrates, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, and Martin Luther King. Wow!

    It's silly, but true to the man. He's clueless, all hot air and fear. The dumb details here.

    Hate by the Highway: A Slide Show of Anti-Obama Billboards

    The zanies on the Far Right can't be bothered with ordinary political speech. No boring policy debates for these folks.

    Instead, they have opted for hyperbole and fear—making claims about President Obama that don't pass the truth test. It's sad, and it says more about the fear-mongers and race-baiters than it does about the president.

    The good folks at The Daily Beast have looked at the sorry evidence. See the slide show here.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Hoosiers Go Rogue; Use 10th Amendment to Claim They Are Sovereign

    There are many legitimate reasons to complain about or protest government actions. Then again, some reasons are nutty, which is exactly what we have now in Indiana.

    Using a highly questionable interpretation of the Tenth Amendment, these folks say they can claim their own sovereign status, which (conveniently) means that they don't have to pay taxes.

    Cool—and quite idiotic. The state of Indiana isn't buying it. Neither is anyone else with half a brain.

    Only the Tea Party folks think this notion is legal—and they happen to be wrong. The story here.

    David Corn Tackles Rove's Claims: Bush Administration Not Interested in Truth

    Karl Rove is out with his new book. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Rove is still spinning the story of how the Bush team got us into war. 

    Thankfully, David Corn has taken a look at Rove's fish story and found some problems, to put it politely. To put it bluntly, the Bush folks lied.

    Writing in Mother Jones, Corn sums up the problem:
    Rove can argue that in the run-up to the war, Bush and the others believed what they were saying about Iraq's WMDs. But Bush and his crowd demonstrated a profound disinterest in sorting out the truth. They made no effort to distinguish between known facts and convenient suppositions. They exaggerated. They trumped up unconfirmed pieces of information. They presented rosy assumptions. They overlooked or discounted data that didn't advance the cause.
    That's right, Sooner fans, Bush and his cronies lied. Corn gets it right:

    Bush and his aides, Rove included, were not looking to lead an informed debate based on the best information available; they were aiming to start a war. Almost by any means necessary. They spun the nation into Iraq—and now Rove is spinning to cover that up.

    Brooks on the Tea Party Gang: They're 'Wal-Mart Hippies'

    The Tea Party folks are having a bad week. Their candidates were duds in Texas this week. (This raises an interesting question: If you can't win in Texas, where can you win?)

    Now a leading conservative voice is dumping on their fake outrage and actual extremism. On the Colbert Report, David Brooks, Times columnist, compared them to hippies, but these folks are the "Wal-Mart hippies."

    Read more and see the video here.

    Frederic Chopin at 200: NPR Has Clips of Great Performances

    AltTulsa doesn't claim to have the best background in classical music. But we like to keep abreast of all things musical, which is how we come to Frederic Chopin.

    It was the composer's 200th birthday the other day and in honor of the occasion, NPR has set up a site with video clips of great pianists playing the master's work.

    The link is here. Needless to say, it's worth a listen.

    Mesofacts: When Reality Changes Slowly, Most of Us Have Trouble Adjusting

    Facts don't change, right? The Mississippi River still flows down the middle of the country and the height of Mount Everest is always the same.

    Or is it? Turns out that many facts do change. The "facts" of the weather change all the time, of course.  Even the height of Mount Everest has changed, thanks to more accurate measuring devices.

    But people don't always adjust to some changes of fact, especially changes we don't really notice, and therein lies the problem.

    This is the thesis of an interesting Boston Globe article by Samuel Arbesman, who argues for a category of fact called the mesofact, which describes factual knowledge that changes slowly over time. 

    Check out Arbesman's essay here.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Selling Scare: Republicans Plan to Push Fear in Fund-raising Campaign

    The Republican Party loves fear, especially when they can exploit it to their own advantage.

    The recent Bush Administration made a habit of it. Condi Rice warned of mushroom clouds and Dick Cheney—well, Cheney was afraid of almost everything. Or so he claimed.

    Following in this grand paranoid tradition, the current GOP plans to push more fear, especially fear of Obama and his supposed socialist, Marxist, Maoist, Fascist, totalitarian tendencies—even when those tendencies don't actually exist. 

    In the Republican worldview, fear is good. Let's scare people into voting Republican.

    Hey, it works for Rush and Beck and Hannity the whole mindless world of Talk Radio. So what if it's hype and hot-air?

    Politico has the story here.

    Texas Tea Party Update: God Gives Debra Medina Only 18 Percent of the Vote

    Voters should always be skeptical when political candidates start claiming that God is on their side.

    That's the case with Debra Medina, the Tea Party's favorite candidate in Tuesday's Republican primary for Texas governor. Speaking in Waco before the election, Medina said this:
    If you haven't seen the hand of God in this race, you haven't been looking.
    Medina got 18 percent of the vote; incumbent Rick Perry topped the 50 percent mark. He'll face Democratic candidate Bill White in the fall.

    As for Medina and her followers, maybe they ought to take the hint. Apparently, God doesn't want these folks in power.