Sunday, January 31, 2010

Trouble in Tea Party Paradise; Convention Problems Mount

The angry and unhinged Tea Party folks will gather in Nashville for a convention next week, full of piss and vinegar.

Having an unusually loose grip on reality, the TP people can be counted upon to make outlandish claims about almost everything and scream really loudly.

Unsurprisingly, planning for the Nashville convention isn't going well. Some of the True Believers are fighting with other True Believers. Meanwhile, some of the Tea Party Stars are bailing out. Example: Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann, one of the silliest of the GOP extremists.

Sticking with the plan: half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. 

NPR has an interesting report on the Tea Party's many problems. The story, in print and audio, can be found here.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Tribute to the People's Historian, Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, radical historian, died this week. Zinn was the author of A People's History of the United States, a book that dared to tell the story of the nation by looking at ordinary people and the grassroots, not the high and mighty.

Just think: A scholar who told the story of the U.S. from the point of view of working folks and outsiders. 

Celebrating the little guy—what a concept. You might even call it democratic. Read the tribute from Mother Jones here.

Colin Firth Glows in Tom Ford's 'A Single Man'

Speaking of drama (see previous post about August: Osage County), we also made it out to Tulsa's art house theater, Circle Cinema, for A Single Man, the directorial debut of clothing designer Tom Ford.

In a sentence, A Single Man is about the day in the life of a gay English professor after the death of his partner in Los Angeles in 1962. British actor Colin Firth stars; his performance is lovely and carefully controlled. It's little wonder that he won Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for this role.

The movie is visually seductive, too, with Firth and co-star Julianne Moore as lonely souls longing for meaning and feeling among the wreckage of their lives.

We didn't know Tom Ford or his clothes before this movie, but based on his stellar direction of this film, we'd like to know more about his clothes. We also hope he makes more movies. 

A link to the Circle Cinema is here.

Still Time to See the Tulsa PAC Drama 'August: Osage County'

We braved the snow and ice Friday night to attend the Tulsa PAC performance of August: Osage County, the powerful and funny family drama by Oklahoma native Tracy Letts.

The play was worth the white-knuckle drive.

The fictional Pawhuska family is by turns terrifying and hilarious, giving audiences a range of powerful issues and ideas to consider. Among other themes, Letts is concerned with questions about the meaning of family, love, loyalty, and truth. 

In short, there's enough emotion and human frailty here to keep even the skeptical playgoers entertained and challenged, which is no small achievement.

The play continues tonight and Sunday, with two shows. And if you're lucky, the roads will be much improved.

Note: The play is "no holds barred," which means that those audience members with genteel Oklahoma ears may be offended by some of the language.

Mother Jones Magazine Takes Down WashPo's Tea Party Story

Those hilariously odd Tea Party folks keep fooling the press and public—some of the time. The latest victim: A reporter at the Washington Post who should know better.

As Mother Jones magazine has noted, a recent WaPo story quoted one Tea Party leader who isn't actually much of a leader at all.

Nope. In fact, he's a proud racist, so hateful that even the Tea Party folks are trying to distance themselves from the man.

The Post played along, unwilling or unable to sort out the truth. Read about it here.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Palin's Popularity Takes a Drubbing in Alaska

She is the former half-term governor of the 49th state, but Sarah Palin is taking a beating in the Tundra State.

Talking Points Memo has the results of a new Alaska poll, and Palin's support is fading. The numbers are here.

Oops! GOP Charges that the Stimulus Didn't Work Prove to be Wrong

The Republican naysayers and their allies have been saying it for months. The stimulus package was a big mistake. It didn't work, they kept saying.

Except that it did, as a former McCain adviser admitted today. Details here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Union School Board Stands Up for Free Expression; Keeps Book in Library

AltTulsa likes to read. We like ideas. We love books. We believe reading and books are good for adults and children, even when the ideas are different or—heaven forbid!—controversial.

That's why we were pleased to see a Tulsa-area school board stand up for a children's book that included some same-sex couples.

Oh no! You mean there are actual gay people in the world? Even in the Sooner state? Well, yes. 

Read the Tulsa World story here.

The Embarrassing Sen. Jim Inhofe, Part 148

Sen. Jim Inhofe is nobody's idea of a statesman. If he has a civil bone in his body, he's kept it well hidden for years.

So it is no surprise that the former Tulsa mayor (sad, we know…) plays political games whenever he can. Speaking to KRMG about the president's State of the Union speech, for instance, Inhofe didn't bother to think about the president's policies in a serious way.

Instead, he offered a hack attack, arguing that Obama is a really good liar. That's Inhofe's idea of leadership, apparently. As we said, Inhofe is not a statesman, or even a thoughtful politician. This the guy, after all, who brought Dick "Chicken Hawk" Cheney to Tulsa for a fundraiser. 

The link, with revealing audio from KRMG, is here.

On Fox News: Rudy's Complaint about Obama Turns Out to be Wrong

The GOP attack machine wasted no time in going after President Obama last night—even making up "facts" about the Obama's speech.

Example: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani claimed that the president never even said the word "war" in his State of the Union speech.

Let's go to the videotape, shall we? Oops! It shows that the president used the word "war" seven— count 'em, seven—times. 

Giuliani was wrong, like a lot of the wingbags the Right. From what we can tell, some of these folks would rather score political points than tell the truth. 

Check out the facts here.

Reclusive 'Catcher in the Rye' Author J.D. Salinger Has Died

J. D. Salinger, the famously reclusive author of Catcher in the Rye, has died at his home in New Hampshire. He was 91.

Read the AP story here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dick Armey Wrong Again: Tea Party NOT More Popular Than the GOP

Good ole Dick Armey, conservative activist and former Republican leader in the U.S. House, is blowing smoke again.

Armey, one of the principal windbags behind the Tea Party movement, made this statement the other day: "Right now the Tea Party polls higher than the Republicans and the Democrats."

Only one minor problem here: It's a lie.

PolitiFact has checked out Armey's statement. It's wrong.

As PolitiFact put it,
"the pollsters who conducted the survey say it's not accurate to say that the party is more popular than Democrats or Republicans." 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Going Carless in Tulsa: A Bold Experiment, Especially in January

In a city once known as as the Oil Capital of the World, doing without an automobile is brave. Very brave. Especially in January.

That's why we want to recommend a Tulsa blog called, appropriately enough, Carless in Tulsa. It's an experiment on what it's like to go without wheels in a very car-oriented city.

The writers are Kristin and Nate, brave folks indeed. Check out their blog here.

(Hat tip to blogger Michael Bates of Batesline.)

Revealing Video: South Carolina GOP Pol on Helping the Poor

GOP Thinking: South Carolina Republican Compares the Poor to 'Stray Animals'

AltTulsa loves those South Carolina conservatives. The state that produced Dixiecrat Strom Thurman and the Appalachian Trail hiker (ha!) Gov. Mark Sanford has no shortage of grandstanding blowhards.

The most recent example is Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, a candidate for governor who—in a burst of candor—complained about (what else?) poor people. Turns out, he says, that they breed! (Who knew?)

From The State in Columbia:
Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has compared giving people government assistance to "feeding stray animals."
Bauer, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, made his remarks during a town hall meeting in Fountain Inn that included state lawmakers and about 115 residents.
To be fair, he has tried to explain what he now says he really meant. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

WaPost Writer Blasts Supreme Court's Corporate Money Decision

You may have heard about last week's Supreme Court decision (a 5-4 vote) striking down bans on corporate money in election campaigns. 

The reason this decision is getting a lot of bad press is because it seems to tilt the playing field in electoral politics to corporations, which have big money and the will to spend it to get what they want from favored politicians—and punish those who won't play ball with corporate power.

Writing in the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus has blasted the decision, taking apart its numerous errors. Here's the opening paragraph:
In opening the floodgates for corporate money in election campaigns, the Supreme Court did not simply engage in a brazen power grab. It did so in an opinion stunning in its intellectual dishonesty.
A link to the entire column is on our Twitter feed on the right.

Friday, January 22, 2010

People Robbing Banks or…

All-too-true humor from late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon:
In 2009, the F.B.I. reported a 20 percent decrease in the number of people robbing banks. There was, however, a huge increase in the number of banks robbing people.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jon Stewart on Fox News Duplicity: Celebrities They Love & Hate

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Fact-checking Limbaugh's Lies: More Haiti Nonsense from El Rushbo

How do you know when Rush Limbaugh is lying? When he's moving his lips.

Sure, it's an old joke, but in Limbaugh's case, it's more accurate than not. The latest made-up crapola from El Rushbo has to do with giving to Haiti, which Limbaugh seems to think is some sort of Left-wing conspiracy. 

He said recently that giving aid through the White House website would entail extra overhead costs. PolitiFact checked out the claim and —guess what?—it's wrong. Who coulda guessed it?

PolitiFact awarded Limbaugh its Pants on Fire award for making stuff up. Good work, Rush.

The actual truth is explained here.

Right-wing Pundits Pine for the Glorious Bush Presidency

George W. Bush was ill-prepared for the presidency.

Poorly informed, superficially educated and tied to a host of failed theories and weak ideas—yet never doubtful of his ability—Bush started an elective war, sanctioned policies of torture and increased government secrecy and presided over a major economic collapse.

Despite that record, the Right has continued to insist that Bush was a triumphant leader who stood tall when the chips were down. To hear the GOP spinners tell it, W. saved the nation from all sorts of external and internal evils.

On the one-year anniversary of Bush leaving office, the Right has gone into full nostalgia mode, recalling the triumphs that never were, desperately trying to save a ship (the Bush Administration) that has already sunk.

Our friends at Media Matters have complied a list of Glorious GOP Nostalgia, complete with heroic tales and misremembered facts. Read more here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Recommended Viewing: Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War Film 'The Hurt Locker'

Regular readers of AT know that we have been students of Iraq war literature, paging our way through a number of books and memoirs by soldiers and journalists. (See our Alternative Reading category below.)

Today we'd like to add a film to our Iraq war curriculum. The film is The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow's gritty tale of an army team that defuses the deadly IEDs, aka roadside bombs. (The film is still playing at Southroads AMC 20 in Tulsa.)

We can't say the film is exactly fun. It's not. But it is realistic and harrowing and, for this reason, an important film, one that shows how terrible and seductive war can be.

Quoting the writer Chris Hedges, the movie opens by noting that "war is a drug." Bigelow, one of the rising women directors in Hollywood, keeps the camera moving throughout the story, a way of communicating the adrenalin thrill of combat. 

Bigelow also focuses on the faces of the protagonists, showing the grime and the sweat and the sheer terror of modern warfare. It's macho stuff—enough like real combat to shake up the most complacent among us. 

For more, check out the official movie site here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Poll Shows Americans Don't Support Palin Presidential Run

Some folks love her, but ex-Gov. Sarah Palin is not as beloved as conventional wisdom would have you believe.

A new CBS poll shows that support for a Palin presidential bid is thin. Of course, the good people of Red State America still maintain that Palin is The Savior of the Right, notwithstanding repeated evidence of her lighter-than-air intellectual heft. 

Read the full poll report here.

This is Fair & Balanced? Fox Fumbles the Ball on Haiti Coverage

The phonies at Fox News have tipped their hand—again.

CNN, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and other actual news organizations reacted swiftly to the earthquake in Haiti. Over at Fox News, not so much.

The blowhard brigade (O'Reilly, Beck, Hannity) was too busy making stuff up to bother with a real humanitarian disaster not far from our shores.

The sorry story, with documented coverage patterns, is here.

One-Year Anniversary of the Great Bates Backdown

Just about a year ago, Tulsa blogger and Urban Tulsa Weekly columnist Michael Bates blasted the Tulsa World for playing fast and loose with its circulation figures.

Among other things Bates charged that the newspaper had not been audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation for nearly a decade and that the paper's circulation was 20 percent higher in 2005 than it was in 2006. 

The World was not amused, filing a libel lawsuit against UTW and Bates. Urban Tulsa quickly retracted these and other charges, but Bates did not—at least at first. On his blog, Batesline, Bates stood behind his column.

By mid-February, however, Bates capitulated. He admitted his mistakes and the lawsuit was dropped.

In his "To whom it may concern letter," Bates included some very interesting words and phrases regarding his column, including these: "numerous errors," "false," "regret and retract," "unfounded," "inaccurate and misleading," "incorrect," ""absolutely no evidence," "false and inaccurate," and "retract those incorrect statements."

That's quite a list.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Urban Tulsa's 'Hot 100' List: Some Hits, Many More Misses

The wacky folks over at Urban Tulsa Weekly (yawn) have complied their annual list of Tulsa movers and shakers. They call it, somewhat optimistically, the Hot 100.

It's a silly exercise, of course, and one fraught with hazards. First, the number is arbitrary. Second, the definition of "hot" so vague as to be meaningless. Third, the selection process itself is unclear and well hidden.

Given these problems, it's no wonder the Hot 100 list is uneven, to put it mildly.

First, some winners:

We like some of the art and cultural names, including Clark Weins of Circle Theater fame and Lisa Regan, the Garden Deva.  We also like some of the civic folks UTW names, such as George Kaiser, Susan Neal, and The People Who Run the Local Farmers Markets.

Then there are UTW's highly dubious selections:

Terry Simonson, Mayor Dewey Bartlett's chief of staff. Last time we checked, Simonson was making more than the mayor. Oops. Then there's the fact that Simonson used to write columns for—you guessed it—UTW.

Speaking of writing for UTW, the paper also puffed another of its former columnists, Michael Bates, author of the Batesline blog.  Isn't this the same guy who got UTW sued last year? And caused UTW to publicly apologize? Oh, right, he's the one.

Then there's part-time pol Chris Medlock. We can't quite fathom how Medlock is "hot." After all, he's been losing in politics (to Dewey Bartlett in the GOP primary for mayor) and employment (lost his job at KFAQ radio). Not much a track record here.

Finally, UTW once again nominated its own founder, Keith Skrzypczak, as a Hot 100 member. The staff has done this before, which does nothing to improve the reputation or credibility of UTW. (Yawn.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rev. Pat Makes Stuff Up: Shameful Video from Robertson's 700 Club

Pat Robertson: God is Punishing Haiti for Pact with Satan (Yes, really!)

Rev. Pat Robertson—the chief pontificator at The 700 Club—is simply amazing. When bad things happen, he can talk to God and then tell the rest of us why the Lord did what He did.

Hurricane Katrina happened to New Orleans because those folks were Big Time Sinners, Rev. Pat has said.

After Sept. 11, 2001, the Lord told Pat's pal Jerry Falwell (and Rev. Pat agreed) that the attack was all the ACLU's fault. After all, those liberal lawyers keep supporting things like civil rights and free expression and porn and gay stuff. So icky! 

Now that an earthquake has killed many thousands of innocent people in Haiti, Rev. Pat says that God told him that He did it because the evil Haitians were in league with the Devil. And then there's France, which has something to do with Satan as well. 

Fascinating. Incredible. Literally unbelievable. Read all about it here, with enlightening video. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Sun's TV Critic Slams Palin-O'Reilly Fox Propaganda Fest

The TV fun has begun. After Sarah Palin's appearance tonight on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show, The Factor, it's time to take stock of the ex-governor's first outing as a television commentator.

It's not a pretty picture (pun intended). She's all sizzle and no steak, which is just like Fox News (and their viewers) want it.

In Sarah Land and Fox World, facts are really, really hard. You have to know things to talk about facts. So just give us blather and poorly reasoned opinions—they're really, really easy.

The Baltimore Sun's television critic, David Zurawik, watched Palin and O'Reilly with interest. It was, he concluded, little more than political propaganda. His column is worth reading. Find it here.

Irony Alert: Palin Claims Public Likes Fox News Because Actual News Is Biased

No one ever said Sarah Palin was the brightest crayon in the box. There's a reason for that, of course, which became painfully obvious today as the half-term governor of Alaska joined the Fox News team.

With a straight face and no sense of irony, Palin explained that the people just love Fox News because it's so fair and balanced, unlike the biased actual news media.

Of course.

As Stephen Colbert has proclaimed while channeling the American Right, reality has a well-known liberal bias. 

To put it another way, the mainstream media reports facts, while Fox and the conservative media reports news that people already agree with, factual or not. 

That may make conservative viewers happy (the real Fox objective being profits, not truth), but it's hardly fair or balanced, a slogan so warped as to be meaningless.

The story and Sarah video here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gotta Love It: Video Highlights of New Fox News Lightweight, Ex-Gov. Sarah Palin

Never underestimate the cynicism and silliness of Fox News, which today announced the hiring of its newest and lightest political commentator, the half-term former Alaska governor, one Sarah Palin.

Despite abundant evidence of Palin's incompetence and general ignorance on matters large and small, Fox News couldn't resist. Of course not. With her dazzling smile and "you betcha" spirit, Fox viewers will be swept away by the newest Empty Head on the Right.

All of which provides more proof that Fox isn't (and never was) a serious news operation. Clearly, Fox News is more interested in pumping up the Republican Party than anything else.

In honor of this occasion, our friends at Talking Points Memo have complied a highlight reel of Sarah moments of the past year. The amazing video is here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

GOP's Phony Terrorist Outrage: Repeating the Lies and Hoping No One Notices

The Republican Party has no shame. From National GOP Chairman Michael Steele and across the Wingnut spectrum, the bogus charges against the Obama Administration keep on coming.

The latest is the phony outrage that President Obama is soft on terrorism, so soft that he won't say the word terrorist. That lie was repeated today by New York Rep. Peter King.

But it's not true. The record shows that the president and members of his administration have routinely used the word. 

But the Republicans keep trying to pin this charge on Obama, apparently believing that if you repeat a lie often enough it will (magically) become true. 

We doubt it. The full story here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

TCU Dumps Boise in Fiesta Bowl Blowout

Gotta love those TCU Horned Frogs, who showed their gridiron prowess in a huge Fiesta Bowl victory over the Boise State Whatevers.

Say what? Boise won and the Frogs lost?

How'd this happen? The sports gurus said TCU was the best team in Texas, certainly better than the lame Boise Staters. (Where is Boise State anyway? Oregon? Montana?) 

So Boise is now 14-0—undefeated! Guess we'll have to find out where these guys live (Wyoming? Colorado?) and why they can beat the tar out of most everybody else.

The Political Animal on Hume's Conversion Advice to Tiger

Fox News anchor Brit Hume might want to rethink his recent advice to Tiger Woods. Hume, you may recall, recently advised Tiger to give up Buddhism (Tiger's a Buddhist?) and convert to Christianity.

The pundits are having a field day, of course, since the recent record of high profile Christians involved in sex scandals is long and impressive.

Let's see: There's Rev. Ted Haggard, Sen. David Vitter, Sen. John Ensign, and Gov. Mark Sanford, just to get started.

The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen has weighed in as well. Read Benen's posting on The Political Animal here.

UPDATE: One wag we heard noted that Hume's pro-Christian advice was based mostly on Christianity's purported good deal, the idea that Christianity gives sinners like Woods a "get out of jail free card." Looked at in that light, Hume's advice is even stranger than first supposed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dick Cheney's Paranoia: Former VP Plays Fast & Loose with the Truth

The most unpopular national politician of the last decade—Dick Cheney—has come out of hiding once again in order to lie about President Obama. 

This time Cheney is claiming that Obama is soft on terrorism, so soft, in fact, that Obama won't admit the nation is a war. Too bad it's a completely bogus claim, as PolitiFact has documented.

In fact, PolitiFact found numerous instances of Obama saying exactly what Cheney says Obama hasn't said, earning the former VP a dishonorable "Pants on Fire" award for lying.

We don't mind Cheney criticizing at the president. All politicians criticize their opponents. But we do object to fabrications and lies, which seem to be standard operating procedure for Cheney and many others on the Right.

Here's the conclusion of the PolitiFact analysis:
[E]ven a cursory examination of Obama's statements shows this one is preposterous. Obama has often said the United States is at war against terrorist organizations -- and has ordered a massive increase in U.S. troops in Afghanistan to fight that war. So Cheney's comment isn't just False, it's ridiculously so. Pants on Fire!
The full PolitiFact story is here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ron Reagan on 2009: A Banner Year for Conservative Idiocy

Air America commentator Ron Reagan—really!—has summed up the year in Right-wing Nonsense. To the surprise of absolutely no thinking person, the Conservative Idiots have been working overtime to debase their cause by lying and deception. 

Here's a bit of the Reagan commentary: 
It's been a banner year for conservative idiocy. The ranters, the haters, the bigots, the self-loathing closet cases and prattling greed-heads were all out in force. They'll be back again next year--you can count on it. As long as there's money to be made peddling crap, crap peddlers won't go away. And they're taking no prisoners...
Check out the full audio clip here.

Cotton Bowl Blues: Pokes Take a Dive in Dallas

Mike ("I'm a Man! I'm 40!") Gundy's Oklahoma State Cowboys made numerous mistakes—including six turnovers in the fourth quarter—in a losing effort against the Ole Miss Rebels.

It's not like the Rebels were flawless—they made numerous errors too. But at the end of the day, Mississippi pulled out a 21-7 victory over the hapless 'Pokes.

Despite the Cotton Bowl loss, the Bedlam loss to rival OU, and the loss to Texas, OSU had a pretty good year. And, as always, there's next season.

New Year, Same Old Lies: Ann Coulter Keeps on Blabbing

The AT crew is dedicated to the facts. We like to think that there is actual evidence in the political world, and that adherence to the facts is one of the glories of American political discourse. 

Not everyone follows this notion. Indeed, there's a whole industry (talk radio, Fox News, etc.) built on political lies, distortions, half-truths, deliberate misinterpretations and the like. For this crowd, facts are hardly necessary.

Just make stuff up—the ditto-heads will believe whatever you tell them. 

Which brings us to one of the best practitioners of Right-wing deception and nonsense, Ann Coulter. Her latest whopper: Obama's madrassa education, a lie she repeated earlier this week.

Of course: Obama is a secret Muslim (or something) who will soon force us (yes, he's a secret Fascist too) all to give up Christianity (which he secretly hates).

It's nuts, of course, but the Right loves to demonize its enemies, even when they have to make up lies to do it. Check out the details here.