Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sooners Fatter than Ever: Oklahoma Obesity Rate Goes Up

New obesity figures show that Oklahoma was one of 28 states where the rate of obesity went up.
Oklahoma ranked among the highest states in nation, most of which are in the South (see below). 

The top twelve states and their rates of obesity:

1. Mississippi                                                 33.8
2. Alabama and Tennessee (tie)                     31.6
4. West Virginia                                              31.3
5. Louisiana                                                    31.2
6. Oklahoma                                                  30.6
7. Kentucky                                                    30.5
8. Arkansas                                                     30.1
9. South Carolina                                            29.9
10. Michigan and North Carolina (tie)           29.4

Racial Politics: GOP Senators Use Kagan Hearing to Attack Thurgood Marshall

Republican senators, including Oklahoma's Tom Coburn, are using the Supreme Court hearings for Elena Kagan to attack the Court's first African American justice, Thurgood Marshall. 

Led by Alabama's Jeff Sessions, this is bad for the nation and a curiously nasty position, another aspect of the GOP's hostility to civil rights and its legacy.

At bottom, the Republicans are still pushing their discredited Southern strategy, subtly (or not) reinforcing and promoting white hostility to the social and economic gains of blacks and other minorities. 

Tom Coburn should know better, but his ideological blinders are so narrow that he can't see beyond his nose. The sorry details here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sen. McCain Goes Wrong: Phoenix is NOT the No. 2 Kidnapping Capital

He could have been president. But John McCain picked an airhead named Sarah Palin for his vice presidential—a colossal lapse of judgment that doomed his presidential ambitions.

Now John McCain is making up statistics to support his reelection campaign. The statistic in question had to do with kidnapping and McCain's assertion that that Phoenix has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world. It's number two, McCain said.

Somebody checked the figures. McCain was wrong. He made it up. The full story here.

Flip-flop Wamp: Tennessee Republican Decries Stimulus, Touts the Money

Like a lot of conservative Republican lawmakers (several Oklahomans come to mind), Tennessee Rep. Zack Wamp has two positions on the federal stimulus.

These two positions are completely contradictory, of course.

Wamp, a candidate for governor in the Volunteer State, spent much of last year (and this) railing against the Federal spending package.

But when the dollars flowed to his district, Wamp was happy to claim credit for boosting the economy back home.

It's classic Republican nonsense, the same sort practiced by Oklahoma's GOP legislators, including Tulsa Rep. John Sullivan.

The flip-flop Wamp story is here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Night Wine Blogging: Woodbridge 2007 Pinot Noir (from France!)

Yes, we know that Woodbridge is a California winery started by the late wine evangelist Robert Mondavi. But this Pinot Noir is a French import—it says so right on the bottle.

That's just fine with us—we like good wine at a fair price no matter what its origin or label.

The 2007 Woodbridge Pinot comes from Pays de l'Herault, a place (in France, of course) we know nothing about.

Despite our ignorance, we found the wine worked with salmon, just like it said on the back label. And to continue the winemaker's blurb, it is somewhat "silky" with generalized "spice flavors."

For the price—we paid under $10—this Pinot a perfectly pleasant red wine, intense enough to stand up to the salmon and soft enough to drink with a mild cheese.

Or just to sip on an easy Friday night—that works too.

Recent Reading: Joseph O'Neill's Award-winning Novel, 'Netherland'

The AT gang likes to keep abreast of contemporary writing and writers, as our regular readers will attest.

We're deliberately eclectic in our literary tastes, reading nonfiction (recently, a lot of Iraq war books) as well as fiction, old and new.

Our most recent serious novel (we're skipping John Grisham's The Rainmaker) is Netherland, a 2008 novel by the Irish-born writer Joseph O'Neill. 

Netherland is a curious but lovely book, sophisticated enough to win critical praise and the Pen/Faulkner Award. It is the story of Hans van den Brock, a Dutchman working in New York who finds himself friends with a shady but lively cricket fanatic named Chuck Ramkissoon.

Indeed, the novel is something of a philosophical contemplation of cricket, a game we don't understand. Despite that problem, O'Neill's prose is so gorgeous and his story so unusual that we were quickly seduced, easily falling for his emotionally fraught characters and their lives.

To sum up: Netherland is a beautiful novel for the right reader, a reader open to sensitive language, delicate relationships and an original vision of the American city. 

Note: We'd like to hear from other Netherland fans. If you've read it and want to offer an opinion, post it below.

More Texas Republican Nuttiness: The Terrorist Baby Plot

Texas Republican are just about as silly as Oklahoma Republicans—but at least they are in Texas.

Still, we never cease to be amazed at the conspiracy theories these guys seem to believe.

Or maybe they don't believe them at all—they just want to scare the voters.

The latest such theory was articulated by Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert. It involves the birthing terrorist babies who can grow up to become radicalized and then destroy us.

Sure, it will take 20 or 30 years, but who's counting? The story, with video, here.

Annals of Conservative Hypocrisy: Taking that Dirty Federal Money

The Kansas City Star is reporting on a Missouri man railing against government handouts while—wait for it—accepting more than $1 million in government cash.

The Democrats, the man claims, are a party of parasites.  But his government handouts are different, of course.

Read the story here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sen. Coburn's Not-So-Straight Talk

Dr. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma's junior U.S. senator, prides himself on being a straight-talkin' regular guy.

He'll be the first to tell you that he's not one of those Washington weasels who will say whatever it takes to keep the voters happy.

But even Coburn turns into a weasel when it suits his purpose. The most recent example was Coburn's appearance on CNN, where he was a Big Time Weasel regarding the GOP line on BP and the oil spill.

Coburn didn't want to get caught on one side or the other, which is when the Big Weasel tactic comes into play. Read and see the video report here.

J.C. Watts Gets Mired in GOP Arizona Infomercial Controversy

Former Oklahoma congressman J. C. Watts, a Republican, is back in the news—but not in a good way.

Turns out that Watts was a television pitchman for a company that promoted "free money" from (where else?) the U.S. government.

What makes this news is the Arizona candidacy of another former congressman, conservative J. D. Hayworth, who is running against John McCain for the U.S. Senate. Hayworth as also a shill for the "free money" company.

It's the kind of thing that makes conservative Republicans look bad. In a sentence, it looks like this: Never let principles stand in the way of a quick buck.

The TPM link is here.

Politics According to Cohen: Smart is Out; Dumb is In

Richard Cohen, writing in the Washington Post, examines the rise of political know-nothingness, exemplified by the rise of clueless Tea Party candidates.

Turns out, Cohen writes, it's all the fault of smart people, especially those without values:
The oil industry is full of smart people, and so is the mortgage industry. Smart people seem to have brought us nothing but trouble. Smarts without values is dangerous -- threatening, scary, virtually un-American. This is why a succession of archconservative eccentrics have succeeded. Their values are obvious, often shockingly so. We know what they want, just not how they are ever going to get it. Experience has become a handicap and inexperience a virtue. Smart is out. Dumb is in.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Re-thinking Trash: Columnist Green Gets Close to the Problem

Tulsans throw away far too much.

We say this based on a visit to the Tulsa landfill, where we saw old computers, appliances and other pieces of junk being bulldozed under the dirt.To our untrained eyes, this didn't look economical or safe. 

This helps explain our interest in Tulsa World columnist Wayne Green's piece Sunday on the trouble with Tulsa's landfill and Tulsans' proclivity for throwing out far too much. It's an informative and thoughtful piece, well worth consideration.

It sounds like time for the city to reconsider its trash policies. Read Green's column here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Texas Congressman Joe Barton Becomes New National Punchline

Thanks to Texas congressman Joe Barton, a pro-oil Republican, the late night comedians have a juicy new target.

Here's a quick sample from Jimmy Kimmel:
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas took it upon himself to apologize to BP CEO Tony Hayward for a political "shakedown." He later apologized for his apology and explained that he hadn't seen the news in two months, and didn't know that BP recently destroyed the ocean.

Texas Bonehead of the Week: Rep. Joe Barton Backs Down on Oil Comments

Don't we all just love British Petroleum?

No, we don't. 

But that didn't stop Texas Rep. Joe Barton from showing some love to BP yesterday when, incredibly, he apologized to the oil company for the government's treatment of the poor ole oil giant.

Even Barton's Republican allies were ashamed of the apology. 

Then there was Barton's comment that the $20 billion escrow account pushed by the Obama Administration that Barton called a "shakedown." He's apologized.

So it is with a great deal of false pride that we nominate Rep. Joe Barton for the highly coveted title of Texas Bonehead of the Week. The whole story here.

Wingnuts Still Pushing Obama's Secret: He's a Muslim—Not!

Ah, to be a Wingnut, to live in a fact-free world where whatever you want to believe can be true.

It must be a great way to live: Who needs facts? They're dull. Who needs evidence? That's silly. Wingnuts have tremendous faith in their own powers of imagination.

In other words, if they can imagine it, why—presto!—it could be true. Hell, it probably is.

All of which brings us to the radio stylings of G. Gordon Liddy, who this week advanced the "Obama is a secret Muslim" theory, a theory based on thin air. 

As Media Matters has documented, this idea won't die, despite weak links to hard facts and real evidence. Moreover, it shows the dishonest lengths some wingbags will go to discredit the president.

It's stupid and dangerous, but these folks keep trying. Read the full report here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Public Support Rises for New Health Care Law

Oops! While the right-wing blowhards were scaring themselves silly, the public is slowly beginning to embrace the new health care law.

Here's new polling data, undermining the Chicken Little response of the Republicans and the their hysterical allies:
A new Associated Press-Gfk poll finds public support for President Barack Obama's health care law has risen to its highest point to date. Yet the nation remains divided over the new law, with 45 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed.
Still, that's a significant change from May, when supporters were outnumbered 39 percent to 46 percent. And it's the strongest backing for the overhaul since the AP-Gfk poll began asking in September.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

GOP Race for Governor: The Brogdon Train Hasn't Left the Station

It's hardly a big surprise, but Rep. Mary Fallin is primed to the be next governor of Oklahoma. Recent polls suggest that Fallin, a Republican, can beat any Democratic challengers. 

Fallin is also a huge favorite over State Sen. Randy Brogdon of Owasso, a Tenth Amendment true believer and Tea Party type who wants to take the state back to the glory days of the 1930s.

Brogdon has fans in the Tulsa area, including Tulsa blogger Michael Bates. But Brogdon is a long shot at best, as the NewsOn6 has noticed. They put the GOP race this way:
Fallin looks like a shoo-in in the Republican primary, leading her nearest challenger, State Senator Randy Brogdon, by almost 50 points.
So Fallin has a mere 50-point lead in the polls. Looks like Brogdon has a lot of work to do before the primary.

Good luck, Randy. You'll need it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Annals of Not-So-Compassionate Christian Behavior: Count the Weeks, Fire the Teacher

Check out this story of holier-than-thou "Christian" behavior in Florida. We're just so glad that these school folks never, ever committed any sins of any kind. Never. Could not happen.

Why? Because they are perfect and, well, everybody else is not. They (that is, everybody else) are sinners who have to be punished.

Here's the report:
Newlywed Jarretta Hamilton, an elementary school teacher in her late 30s at Southland Christian School in Florida, went to her supervisors last year to be congratulated on her pregnancy and request maternity leave. But things took an unexpected turn when administrators asked just when, exactly, did she conceive? Refusing to bear false witnesses, Hamilton admitted to the prying busybodies that she had become pregnant three weeks before her wedding day.
In response, Hamilton was fired for engaging in "fornication." Conveniently, this also meant that the school was off the hook for paying maternity leave. Then, in an added insult and violation of Hamilton's privacy, her premarital conception was made public to others in the school and parents.

Doing What's Right: Tulsa Councilor Bynum Offers Support for Gay Employees

Tulsa councilor G. T. Bynum, a conservative Republican, has gone out on a limb, but he's doing the right thing. The limb we are speaking of is Bynum's proposal for the city of Tulsa to protect the rights of the city's gay employees.

This is brave stuff here in T-town, which has a long and dishonorable tradition of discriminating against gay folks.

Tulsa World columnist Wayne Green weighed in on the topic in yesterday's paper, offering a thoughtful review of the issue and giving Bynum credit for doing the right thing. 

We second Green's views and commend Bynum for his fair-minded attitude and and political courage. Read Green's column here.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tea Party Squabbles: The Movement Loses Steam

We never put much stock in the Tea Party movement. More than anything, it seemed, the Tea Party gang was opposed to so much of modern life that it didn't have a clear sense of what it wanted or how to get there.

It was, we thought, more noise than substance.

Now we learn that the Tea Party crowd is divided and losing steam. Its members are squabbling in Nevada, Virginia and other states.

It's not pretty, but it is interesting to see the so-called mavericks fall apart before they've achieved much of anything.

The Washington Post has taken a look the the Tea Party in light of Tuesday's election. The full story here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cloud Coo-Coo Land: Rep. Rex Duncan Loses His Mind

Leave it to intrepid state legislator Rex Duncan to protect us from the evils of foreign law.

It's real and its scary—so says Rep. Duncan. Why those danged old liberal judges are bound to make us follow foreign laws any minute now.

Right. And I've got some pristine land on the Gulf coast you can buy for $100 an acre.

The entire silly story here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cash or Fries? Tulsa Robber Gets Food, not Money

Sometimes you just want a good french fry.

So maybe it's no surprise that a Tulsa robber accepted french fries early Thursday instead of the cash he demanded.

A quick-thinking Whataburger employee made the suggestion—and it worked. The Tulsa World story is here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sen. Reid's Big Break: Nevada's GOP Candidate Has Far-Right Radical Ties

 Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid got a big boost last night when Republican voters put Sharron Angle, certified Tea Party wacko, on the Nevada ballot.

Angle's views go off the deep end, not a good way to get elected even in Nevada. Here's a summary:
The peculiar ideology of Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee challenging Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada, is perhaps no better illustrated than by her embrace of the patriot group Oath Keepers, whose membership of uniformed soldiers and police take an oath to refuse orders they see as unconstitutional -- including enforcement of gun laws, violations of states' sovereignty, and "any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps."

"We support what the organization stands for," Angle's husband, Ted, told Talking Points Memo DC in a phone interview Monday. "Sharron does."
 The Oath Keepers, by the way, are paranoid in a number of ways, especially in their views that secret detention camps are just around the corner.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wingnut Watch: Father, Son Charged with Threats to Rep. Stupak

Words have power, of course, especially when the words are crazy enough to inspire actual violence against a public official.

That's why AltTulsa appreciates logic, argument and reason. We want debate and discussion, not bullets and blood.

Unfortunately, a fair number of wingnut conservatives think that it's just fine to whip up hysteria against people they don't like, the consequences be damned.

Except that such anti-everything hysteria can lead to this:
Two men face federal charges for threatening Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) during the healthcare reform debate.
Two men face federal charges for threatening Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) after he voted for healthcare reform.
The U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Michigan on Monday charged Russell Hesch, 73, and his son David Hesch, 50, with conspiring to threaten, assault, kidnap or murder a U.S. official.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Now Open: Philbrook's Egyptian Treasures Show

Critic James Watts has published an illuminating review of the new Egyptian show now at Tulsa's Philbrook Museum.

The show incorporates big themes, especially the desire for immortality, as its title indicates: "To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum."

Read the Tulsa World story here. The go to the Philbrook and see the amazing Egyptian objects.

What Are We Composting? The Onion Reports

Following the tradition of meaningless statistics pioneered by the fine folks at USA Today, we present The Onion's idiotic chart of America's composting habits.

See the publication's ridiculous StatShot here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lyin' Again: Daily Show's Video Footage Proves Beck's Cluelessness

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Glenn Beck Airs Israeli Raid Footage
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

South Carolina's Enlightened GOP Leadership: Too Many 'Ragheads'

 AT would like to think that political discourse in this country was civil and even thoughtful.

But no. We're hopelessly naive. 

As evidence, we cite this story from the Great State of South Carolina:
On a talk show tonight in South Carolina, State Senator Jake Knotts told listeners "we already have one raghead in the White House, we don't need a raghead in the governor's mansion." Obama is ... well, Obama and "raghead" number two is gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, who is the child of Sikh immigrants from the Punjab.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Photos from the Gulf: Pictures BP Doesn't Want Americans to See

An AP photographer has taken some disturbing photos of oil-covered wildlife along the coast in the Gulf of Mexico. It's bad, worse that we imagined.

Think Progress has posted the photos here.

Egyptian Treasures Opening at Tulsa's Philbrook Museum

A show of Egyptian artifacts is coming to T-town. The Philbrook's new show will open Sunday.

The Egyptian art and artifacts—120 in all—are from the Brooklyn Museum but they will be on display in Tulsa all summer long.

The Tulsa World has the report. A link to the story is here.

Latest from the Conspiracy Front: Survivalists Use BP Disaster to Predict FEMA Camps

The Conspiracy Theorists never stop. They don't even slow down—there's always a new and bizarre plot out there to enslave hard-working Americans.

The latest, detailed by the good folks at Mother Jones—is the secret plot to round up Gulf Coast citizens and put them in FEMA trailer camps, all in the name of public safety.

There's no actual evidence for this plan, of course, but this never stops the True Believers. Using the Internet and other forms of publicity, they have pushed this new and oh-so-devious secret plan.

Before long, Right-wingers everywhere will be demanding Obama to stop the (imaginary) madness. Yawn.

The full—and completely nuttystory here.

GOP Follies: Ethically Challenged Ensign Establishes Legal Defense Fund

Conservative Republicans like to claim that they have strong core principles and they stick to these principles.  

The record shows otherwise. 

Nevada's conservative GOP senator, John Ensign, is a case in point. Ensign claims to be a Christian and a True Blue Right-winger, but he hasn't lived that way. There was that sexual relationship with the wife of a former staffer.

Now, seeking reelection, Sen. Ensign has started a fund to cover his legal fees, expenses he wouldn't have if he had lived up to his own principles.

Read the story here.