Friday, December 30, 2011

Michele Bachmann Gets Help from ORU Students, but She's Going to Need So Much More

A group of ORU students is campaigning in this weekend for one of their own, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Bachmann studied law at the now-closed ORU law school. 

The Tulsa World reports this morning that the ORU students will spend the weekend campaigning for Bachmann in Iowa. They'll even earn course credit for their work, the World reports.

But Bachmann will need more than a few student volunteers to overcome her tendency to take extreme positions and simplify complex issues. Bachmann loves simple solutions (don't we all?), but her solutions are almost always wrong.

Indeed, Bachmann's star has fallen in recent months. Recent Iowa polls have her in the low double-digits, running even with another fallen star, Texas Gov. Rick Perry. 

We're not in the predicting business, but we feel confident in saying that Bachmann has a snowball's chance in hell of winning the Iowa Caucus.

Then again, with nut cases like Rep. Ron Paul and ethically challenged has-beens like Newt Gingrich going strong in Iowa, anything is possible.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hypocrisy Alert! Inhofe Claims EPA Plays Politics

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe is not especially self aware. Not at all.

So when the former Tulsa mayor—a first-rate political operator—claims that the Feds are playing politics, he's ignoring his own extensive history of hyper-partisanship.

Inhofe's latest head-spinning hypocrisy occurred earlier this month when Inhofe pounced on a draft EPA report that linked hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) to contaminated drinking water in Wyoming.

It's all politics, Inhofe claimed, telling the Tulsa World's Jim Myers that the EPA draft report is political science, not solid science. Notably, Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso did not endorse Inhofe's charges.

Excuse us for saying so, but Inhofe is in no position to comment on sound science. He's the guy who claims that global warming and climate change is a hoax, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 

In the Wyoming case, Inhofe's "political science" charges are contradicted by the EPA's own procedures, which calls for an independent scientific review of the draft findings.

In other words, the Wyoming report is one more example of Inhofe—not the EPA—playing politics with science.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Woody Comes Home: Big News for Tulsa's Brady District

In case you missed it, today is a big news day for Tulsa's Brady Arts District. The headline is this: The Woody Guthrie archive is coming to town.

Thanks to the George Kaiser Family Foundation, thousands of Guthrie documents and song lyrics will be housed in a new archive now under construction in the Brady District just north of downtown. The archive is part of a series of art and cultural developments going up in the district.

Check out a video report from the NewsOn6 link: Development In Tulsa's Brady District

Reading Lives: Tulsan G.T. Bynum Loves Biographies

Tulsa City Council Chairman G.T. Bynum has been one of the few voices of reason at city hall in recent years. Some of his colleagues, as Tulsa voters know all too well, have been irrational hotheads.

We can't say for sure, but Bynum's thoughtful approach to politics may be due his habit of reading biographies, a habit described in a recent Tulsa World article.

Bynum told reporter Brian Barber that he got hooked on biographies as a schoolboy when his mother took him to the Yorktown Alley bookstore at Utica Square.

Over the years, Bynum said, he has read about 1,000 biographies, 40 or more a year. He keeps the books, so his study is overflowing with books. "It drives my wife nuts," he said.

We recount Bynum's book passion with admiration, since we too love books and the wisdom gathered in biographies, histories and other volumes. 

Kudos to Bynum—and to the Tulsa World—for emphasizing books, reading and—heavens!—even learning something along the way. We wish more public people had this habit.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Coburn's Newt Gingrich Problem: Oklahoma Senator Knows Too Much about Former Speaker

It's not exactly breaking news, but it's worth repeating: Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is no fan of Newt Gingrich. 

Gingrich, of course, is running for the Republican presidential nomination. According to some polls, he's running well in Iowa and South Carolina.

But Newt is problem for many Republicans, including Coburn.

Why such antipathy? As Sen. Coburn explained earlier this month, Coburn served in the U.S. House when Gingrich was the House speaker. That experience, Coburn has admitted, has left him unimpressed by Gingrich's leadership skills.

"I just found his leadership lacking," Coburn said recently.

That may be an understatement. Beyond leadership, Gingrich has a laundry list of misjudgments, ethical problems and moral failings, all of which are serious enough to turn off voters.

Nevertheless, a recent SoonerPoll found Gingrich the top choice of Oklahoma Republicans. We don't have a dog in this fight, but Oklahoma voters might be well advised to listen to Sen. Coburn.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Recommended Reading: Tracy Kidder's Inspiring 'Mountains Beyond Mountains'

Dr. Paul Farmer is not a household name. He should be.

As described by author Tracy Kidder in this 2003 book, Paul Farmer is "a man who would cure the world." If that sounds overstated, it's not—at least not if you read this inspiring book.

Farmer, we learn, is a highly dedicated—not to say obsessive—physician who has taken on chronic diseases in rural Haiti and other impoverished places. And, as Kidder makes clear, Farmer's efforts have paid off in the lives of thousands and thousands of individual patients.

Mountains beyond Mountains follows the life of Dr. Farmer from his unusual childhood in Florida through his anthropological and medical training at Duke and Harvard to his clinic-building efforts in the wilds of Haiti, a rugged place that gives the book its title.

The story that emerges is a moving portrait of a energetic and visionary man of medicine, a physician who cares deeply about the lives of each of his patients.

As we said, this is an inspiring story. Beyond the man himself, Kidder describes the work of Farmer's organization, Partners in Health, which started on a shoestring and is now a major force in international efforts to combat disease.

In this season of giving and good will toward men, AltTulsa recommends Kidder's book and its subject, Dr. Paul Farmer and Partners in Health. A link to their website is here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Inhofe's Pick, Rick Perry, Running Poorly in Oklahoma

Sen. Jim Inhofe thinks he is leading, but Oklahomans aren't following.

We're talking about Inhofe's announced support fort Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who Inhofe has recently praised for his energy and environmental views. (Yawn…) 

But the results announced Saturday showed Perry well behind Newt Gingrich and even that Massachusetts "liberal," Mitt Romney.

Perry was the top choice of only 9 percent of Oklahoma Republicans in the SoonerPoll, which surveyed 400 Republicans from mid-November to mid-December.

National support for Perry continues to be weak too. In fact, the entire GOP field is flawed, from the morally and ethically challenged Newt Gingrich to the ill-informed Michele Bachmann.

We're sure Sen. Inhofe will keep flogging the Perry candidacy, but Sooners have seen quite enough of Rick Perry. As the kids say, stick a fork in him—he's done.  

UPDATE: Perry isn't setting the world in fire in Iowa, either. Poll results released today have the Texas governor at only 10 percent, gaining only one point over an earlier poll.

UPDATE, PART 2: AltTulsa has seen new Iowa poll figures and Perry is up to 16 percent. Whoo! Of course, with Newt's recent slide, the voters have to go somewhere, even to a candidate as shallow and unthinking as Rick Perry.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Poll: Sooners Support Newt, an Honest Family Man

Be careful what you wish for, Cowboy fans.

A new poll by has former House Speaker Newt Gingrich well ahead among Oklahoma Republicans. Gingrich was the choice of 33 percent of the 400 GOP voters polled from mid-November to mid-December, well ahead of Mitt Romney, who was the choice of 14 percent.

None of the other Republican candidates broke single digits.

Despite this show of support, we suspect Oklahoma conservatives are (and will be) holding their nose when it comes to Newt's "family values."

That term deserves the quotation marks, inasmuch as Gingrich is now married to his third wife, a former aide who 23 years his junior. Oh, and Gingrich was having an affair with Callista while he was condemning President Bill Clinton for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky.

Here's how Gingrich has tried to explain his infidelities: "There's no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate." Yeah, right. 

And that's just the beginning of Gingrich's history of poor judgment and ethical lapses, all of which raise grave doubts about his fitness for office.

Given the Gingrich record, it's little wonder that many mainstream Republicans have begun to attack him. But more than a few Democrats are delighted.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Watch: NewsOn6 Report on Tulsa's Pop Up Shopping

Double Dumb: Inhofe Doubles Down on Rick Perry

Sen. Jim Inhofe never lets reality get in the way of a bad idea. 

That's right, Cowboy fans, Oklahoma's senior senator is sticking with Rick Perry for president, even as Perry has demonstrated repeatedly that he's ill-informed, hot-headed and too bigoted for the presidency.

Speaking earlier this week to the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce, Inhofe said Perry is his man "because on environmental issues and on energy issues he's still the best one."

We disagree. But we get it—Inhofe is pandering to the oil and gas bidness, as he always does. But even Republican voters aren't buying what Inhofe is selling.

On the national stage, Perry has proved a huge embarrassment, another Texas governor not ready for prime time.

It's possible, of course, that Perry will stage a big comeback—look at Newt!—but we aren't counting those chickens just yet.  

Newt is smarter than Perry (though that's not saying much), but even Newt may not survive the primary season. Like the Texas governor, Newt is afflicted with foot-in-mouth disease. It may not be long before he comes crashing down again.

Meanwhile, Jim Inhofe is backing a loser.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Museum to Celebrate Tulsa's Deco Style

Coburn on Newt: There's a Leadership Problem

Oklahoma's junior senator, Dr. Tom Coburn, is not exactly thrilled over the recent rise of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's presidential prospects. 

Here's how New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd put it:
Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who was in the House when Gingrich was speaker, told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that he would have a hard time supporting Newt because his leadership was “lacking oftentimes.”

Conservative Frum Blasts Conservative Media's Distortions

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Cain Postmortem: Will and Vanity Was Not Enough

A day after Herman Cain suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, it's worth taking stock of the Cain phenomenon.

Cain, a former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, was not a deep thinker or a particularly distinguished leader, yet he was—briefly—the rising star in the GOP firmament.

Some answers to the mystery of Herman Cain turned up this week in a prescient review of his book. This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House, by Michael Tomasky, published in the December 22 edition of The New York Review of Books.

One of Cain's favorite phrases, Tomasky writes, is "CEO of Self." That was (and still is) Cain's modus operandi, as in this quote from the book:
Again, seeing myself as CEO of Self, I was determined not to fall into a comfort zone of letting other people, no matter how competent and well-meaning, make the decisions for me.
In other words, Tomasky makes clear, Cain was (is) so confident in his own power and such a true believer in his own destiny that success—the White House!—was inevitable. Thus, Tomasky concludes, Cain had no "ground operation in New Hampshire because true CEOs of Self don't need things like ground operations. They exert their will and they win."

As a proud conservative, Cain explains his success in the private sector as the result of hard work.  Tomasky correctly notes, however, that this is hardly a conservative view. Indeed, he writes, it applies to Barack Obama, Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey. 

Beyond Cain's lack of self-awareness and huge gaps in his knowledge of public affairs, Tomasky also discovered another major weakness in Cain's character: vanity

After reading Cain's book, Tomasky concludes the candidate was so convinced of the inevitability of his presidential success that he simply had to seal the deal.

Tomasky, recall, wrote this well before the most recent Cain scandal, charges by an Atlanta woman of a 13-year affair with the candidate. That report, along with several earlier charges of sexual harassment, put the final nails in Cain's coffin.

Unfortunately for Cain, his vanity long ago outstripped his ability. He was never as smart or as competent as he thought he was.

Recent Reading: Filmmaker Errol Morris' Observations of Photography, "Believing Is Seeing"

The AltTulsa gang has a serious interest in all things cultural, creative endeavors such as art, film, literature and the like.

So we were suckers for Errol Morris' new book, Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography). Morris, after all, is a noted documentary filmmaker (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War) and MacArthur ("genius") award winner who is famously obsessive in his pursuit of the odd and the amazing.

In Seeing Is Believing, Morris writes about the more-complicated-than-you-would-expect meanings of photographs, focusing on a number of famous (or infamous) photos from the Crimean War to the Civil War and Abu Ghraib. (Remember the notorious photo of the hooded man, wires attached to his hands?)

The chapters, many of which include verbatim transcripts of Morris' interviews with various historians and photo buffs, raise important questions what is "real" in photographs. When the Depression-era photographer Authur Rothstein moved a cow skull in his documentation of the drought in North Dakota, for example, was that a "fake" photo?

The answer, as Morris tells it, is hardly straightforward. After all, there was an actual drought in North Dakota, as well as many cow skulls. So what, if anything, was fake about the image? 

Believing Is Seeing is full of such conundrums, which is why it makes fascinating reading. We recommend the book, though with this caveat: Morris is so obsessive and relentless in his search for the truth, some readers may find the text tedious and off-putting.

For us, Morris' obsession was a small price to pay for a thoughtful meditation on images and the role they play in our lives and cultural history.

George Will Slams Herman Cain as 'Charlatan'

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Downtown Tulsa's Pop Up Shopping: A Photo Report

Downtown Tulsa has not been a Christmas shopping draw in, say, something like 45 years. That's unfortunate, though Tulsa's downtown—like a lot of central business districts—was hurt by the rise of the suburbs and other social and economic changes in the post-WWII war era.

But there's a tiny ray of retail hope this year with the rise of some interesting "pop up" shops in the Philcade Building at 5th and Boston.

A local blogger, Prairie Hive, has posted a set of photos of the Philcade pop up shops. Check out the link here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jon Stewart: The Right's Phony Outrage over Obama's Thanksgiving Address

Update: The Battle over Wind Farms in Osage County

Tulsa's This Land continues to provide in-depth coverage of interesting environmental and political topics, including the on-going legal battle over wind farm towers—let's call them windmills—proposed for neighboring Osage County.

A link to Holly Wall's Osage report is here: The Energy War in Osage County.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More GOP Nonsense: A Great State with No Taxes

Oklahoma Republican leaders have been pursuing their dream of a utopian Sooner state, a paradise unpolluted by the evil of—wait for it—taxes.

That's right, Sooner fans, we can have a great state for free. Well, not exactly. In fact, not at all. 

Yet the state's GOP leaders keep pretending that this tax-free paradise is possible. Oklahoma City Rep. David Dank, for instance, is hawking the idea that Oklahoma can rid itself of the personal income tax.

Keep dreaming, Rep. Dank. 

The fact is that a great state needs revenue to fund essential services that people need and want, such as public education and public health, transportation and law enforcement. As OU professor of economics Alexander Holmes recently noted, abolishing the personal income tax would gut state services. "It's willful ignorace of somebody to propose abolishing the personal income tax," Holmes said.

Prof. Holmes is correct. Rep. Dank and his Republican allies in the legislature are in fact willfully ignorant. Like a lot of conservative leaders these days, they are pretending that all state services are wasteful or useless and that all taxes are bad. This is pure political baloney. 

More importantly, it's no way to have a prosperous and productive state where people want to live, work and raise their families. These goals require education and safety and public health, the very things that Dank and his allies would destroy with their irresponsible pipe dream.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to Us! AltTulsa Turns Five

We've been busy lately, so busy we almost forget our own birthday. We hate that when that happens.

Yes, Sooner fans, the AltTulsa blog is five years old. 

In that time, we've blogged about everything from art to books to wine, though our primary focus has been on national and state politics, with occasional posts on the Tulsa political scene. 

Thanks to the Wingnut branch of the Republican Party, we have a steady and never-ending source of commentary and (mostly unintentional) humor.

We've also outlasted a number of other Tulsa political blogs (remember Medblogged?), most of which were chock full of half-baked ideas and underwhelming insights. We wanted to counter that sort of conventional wisdom, which is why we called ourselves Alternative Tulsa.

To be honest, we aren't always as alternative or contrarian or inspired as we'd sometimes like to be. Perhaps it's our age (rapidly advancing, it seems). More likely, however, is the fact that in this highly partisan and often uncivil age, we want to be a thoughtful voice of ideas and reason, not a site for screaming, ranting or character assassination.

So here's to ideas, art, literature and thoughtfulness—and also longevity—here in T-town. Hear! Hear!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

More Good Music: A Coda for R. E. M.

The AltTulsa gang can't claim any musical chops, but we do know what we like. Our likes  include the most famous alternative rock band in Athens, Georgia, R.E.M.

As you may have heard, R.E.M. is breaking up after 31 years, which was newsworthy enough to land a couple of band members on NPR's "All Things Considered" the other day.

ICYMI (translation: In Case You Missed It), here's a link to the R.E.M. interview.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Music from Jazz Pianist Keith Jarrett

Pianist Keith Jarrett is an amazing jazz performer.

This is not exactly news to anyone who has been paying attention to jazz piano for the last four decades or so. Jarrett has been dazzling audiences with his solo improvisations for quite a while.

We were reminded of Jarrett's long career this week when NPR ran an appreciation of the musician on the occasion of his new album, an improvisation recorded in Rio de Janeiro.

If you don't know Jarrett, the NPR report is a good introduction to his music. The link is here.

Oklahoma Native Elizabeth Warren Honored in OKC

Shhhh. Don't tell anyone, but this week the Sooner state honored—gulp!—a Harvard professor.

It's true, Sooner fans. This week's Oklahoma Hall of Fame ceremony in Oklahoma City honored Elizabeth Warren, an OKC native who holds an endowed chair in law at Harvard (in lefty Massachusetts!) and who—dare we say it?—might be a liberal. 

No, we are not making this up. Elizabeth Warren is an extraordinarily accomplished scholar (nine books, more than one hundred scholarly articles) who has been a national leader in economic and fiscal policy.

She's also an economic and policy adviser to—wait for it—President Barack Obama, which, in Far Right Oklahoma, makes her akin to Satan's girlfriend. (Warren also has the intellectual prowess to mop the floor with, say, an Oklahoma dinosaur such as Sen. Jim Inhofe) 

In fact, Warren may get a that chance. She's a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, running against Republican Sen. Scott Brown, a Tea Party favorite who is probably vulnerable in 2012.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is Mayor Dewey Bartlett Up or Down? It Depends…

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett may—or may not—be highly unpopular with city voters.

If that sounds a little ambiguous, that's because it is.

We're referring to a recent Sooner Poll, the results of which appeared on the front page of the Tulsa World on Sunday. The World headline summed up the Bartlett poll question in unambiguous terms: "Poll shows most would vote against Bartlett."

True—but the numbers are not exactly as firm as they might seem. 

In fact, the numbers showed that only 26 percent of voters would vote for Bartlett over "another candidate." Fifty-eight percent opted for another candidate.

Ah, but there's the rub.  

"Another candidate" is not a person and, as an abstract idea, it's pretty easy to choose this imaginary improvement over a real (and flawed) actual mayor. In other words, don't bet the farm on a mystical candidate who can easily defeat Bartlett in the next city election.

There are many other problems with making predictions about the mayor's future based on a poll taken now for an election to be held in 2013. As the Sooner Poll's Bill Shapard noted in the World, it's a long time before the mayor faces the the voters.

Mayor Bartlett can also take comfort in his "negatives" compared to the city council's "negatives." On that question, Bartlett's "somewhat disapprove" and "strongly disapprove" ratings were 46 percent, while the council's ratings in the same categories were a whopping 71 percent.

That last figure is no surprise to critics of the outgoing council, almost of whom were booted out (or chose not to run) in elections this year. 

Artists in Tulsa: This Land Presents the Joe Brainard Tour

Monday, November 14, 2011

Head-spinning Wingnuttiness: Bachmann Goes Red; Praises the Communist Chinese Model

In case you missed it, check out the latest Wingnuttiness from our old Minnesota friend, Rep. Michele Bachmann, speaking at the most recent Republican debate.

Never one to think deeply about much of anything, Bachmann went off about the failures of LBJ's Great Society and the successes of—wait for it—Communist China. Holy eggroll!

Yes, Cowboy fans, the new Bachmann model for economic success is the repressive Chinese regime, an anti-democratic state that allows industry to abuse its workers (child labor, anyone?) and has nonexistent environmental protections (because who needs clean air or water?).

But don't take our for it. Read the words of the Great Bachmann herself:
The Great Society has not worked, and it’s put us into the modern welfare state. If you look at China, they don’t have food stamps. If you look at China, they’re in a very different situ — they save for their own retirement security. They don’t have pay FDIC. They don’t have the modern welfare state. And China’s growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with The Great Society, and they’d be gone.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Writer Ian Frazier Talks about Siberia (It's Amazing)

One of the country's best writer's, Ian Frazier, was in Tulsa last night promoting the paperback edition of his book Travels in Siberia.

Frazier, who writes for The New Yorker and has published several acclaimed books of literary journalism (as well as a couple of humor books), was a guest of Booksmart Tulsa (thank you, Jeff Martin) and The Land (thank you, Michael Mason).

We first came across Frazier's Great Plains some years ago and we were bowled over. Frazier is a fiercely intelligent reporter and his grasp of history, literature and culture and such is impressive and far-ranging.

, another Frazier book, makes memorable literature out of his own family history—a rather amazing feat that few writers could manage with as much grace and humor as Frazier. We were also impressed by On the Rez, Frazier's popular report on Native American history and culture.

If you missed Frazier's Tulsa visit, you can hear from from the man himself courtesy of "Studio Tulsa," the KWGS program hosted by Rich Fisher. A link to the KWGS audio is here: Ian Frazier and His "Travels in Siberia."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This Land Investigates: Plagiarism, Illustrated

Tulsa cartoonist David Simpson may be gone from the local media scene, but he's still making headlines.

But not in a good way.

No, Simpson is being investigated for more evidence of plagiarism, the very thing that has gotten him fired from the Tulsa World and, just last week, Urban Tulsa Weekly.

The details keep coming—and they aren't pretty. This Land has uncovered the evidence and posted the damning copies of the plagiarism on its website.

The link is here: Plagiarism, Illustrated.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shocker! Bynum Gets the Endorsement of His Family

Tulsa City Counselor G. T. Bynum, the incumbent in District 9, is very likely to breeze to victory in Tuesday's municipal election.

That's a good thing, since Bynum has his heart in the right place and, more importantly, happens to be a reasonable politician.

Often, in fact, Bynum has been the only reasonable member of the council, the one councilor who actually seems to put the good of the city before his ego.

Nevertheless, Bynum's latest postcard mailer is, well, something of an inside job, including the endorsement of former Mayor Robert J. LaFortune. If we recall correctly, Mayor LaFortune is Bynum's grandfather.

It's swell that Grandpa likes G.T., but this is hardly an independent endorsement, of course. Nor is the endorsement of former Sen. Don Nickles, who turns out to be Bynum's former employer.

Despite such "inside baseball" endorsements, we still plan on voting for G.T. As we said, he's good for the city. Beside, he sometimes ticks off Tulsa blogger Michael Bates, which is worth something.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

This Week's Holier-Than-Thou Award Winner: Tulsa Today's David Arnett

Yes, Sooner fans, Tulsa's own David Arnett doing the Lord's work, saving Christmas from the clutches of the Secular Humanists, socialists (Obama!), pagans and other heathens and ne'er-do-wells who would ditch the whole idea if only they could.

Arnett is the chief promoter and spokesman for a real Christmas parade, because, you know, that's exactly what the Lord wants for Tulsa.

No need for a phony-baloney Holiday Parade like they have downtown, a parade that might include all those unwashed non-believers and sinners.

We know all this because David Arnett has been all over the media with his Message from God; to wit, that the Evil Doers in Tulsa have sandbagged Christmas (again!) and that he has a Grand Plan to Save Christmas in Eastern Oklahoma.

He also told us on his website, Tulsa Today, the same website that has been uncovering secret socialists behind every clump of crabgrass from Poteau to the Potomac.

So let's hear it for the intrepid and ever-vigilant David Arnett, the undisputed winner of this week's Holier-Than-Thou award for Sanctimoniousness.

Audio Update: More Arrests At Occupy Site

For those of you keeping score at home, Occupy Tulsa continues downtown.

The latest reports we've seen cover the arrests of those protestors who refused to leave the Centennial Green park after the police began to enforce an 11 p.m. curfew.

Here is an audio report that aired earlier today on KWGS 89.5: More Arrests At Occupy Site.

While we're on the topic, Occupy Tulsa has its own blog (naturally). Read their reports here.

Scenes from Tulsa's Day of the Dead Celebration

Hat tip to the Tulsa World

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

From the Horse's Mouth: Hear from Daniel Lee, Organizer of Occupy Tulsa

Video Lowlights: The Weird Rick Perry Speech

Updated Coverage of the Arrests at Occupy Tulsa

Yes, Cowboy fans, the police are arresting protestors in Tulsa.

For a city as complacent as T-town, this is a significant development. Or, to back up a bit, it is a significant development that Tulsa has protestors at all. This is, after all, a Republican-leaning city in a Very Red State.

The Tulsa World, whose offices are within steps of the Occupy Tulsa site, has an update on the recent arrests downtown.

Check out their coverage here.

Occupy Tulsa: Some Photos from Downtown

Occupy Tulsa is making news. Or, more accurately, the arrest of some Occupy Tulsa protesters early this morning has brought new attention to the protest.

We don't have any first-hand information about the arrests, but we did find this photo gallery from the site of the protest in downtown Tulsa.

The link to the photos is here.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Worth the Cost? Forking over OSU Cash for Bush's Poodle

Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, is speaking tomorrow in Tulsa, an event sponsored by the OSU Spears School of Business.

We like the idea of bringing in Big Name Speakers to enlighten us nobodies out here in Flyover Country.

But for those of us with long memories, Mr. Blair is an odd choice. After all, he's the principal U.S. ally who fell for the Bush administration's bogus weapons of mass destruction nonsense.

Blair, who is well-educated and apparently thoughtful in many ways, should have known better. Indeed, his own citizens did know better. Most of them opposed the war and took to the streets in a number of massive anti-war demonstrations.

Which brings to mind the charge that Mr. Blair was, for the purposes of the Iraq war, Bush's poodle. This is not a compliment, but it is a stain on Mr. Blair's judgment and leadership.

Saddam Hussein and Iraq had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks, a fact that Mr. Blair should have given the UK leader pause when he signed on to Bush's dangerous foreign policy misadventure.

So now OSU has seen fit to pay good money to bring Mr. Blair to town. We have no idea what Mr. Blair will say, but we expect that it will be less than earth-shattering.

But hey, maybe some of us Okies can visit the UK next summer, where we can visit some of our precious Yankee Greenbacks.

Holy Smokes! Sooner State Nonsmokers Now a Majority

AltTulsa likes to keep an eye on public health statistics, many of which provide a snapshot of the state's health concerns.

As nonsmokers, we have long been sensitive to the many Sooner state smokers out there (cough, cough). We can even recall a visit to one of the old Indian bingo parlors (remember those?) where the smoke was a blanket of gray haze as thick as the San Francisco fog.

So imagine our surprise to learn that Oklahoma's ex-smokers now outnumber the smokers. As reported in the Tulsa World, smoking rates in the Sooner state have reached an all-time low of 23.7 percent. 

State Health Commissioner Terry Cline said the change is historic. He cited state anti-smoking programs as part of the reason for the declining number of smokers.

We take Cline's word for this bit of good news.  After all, as the World notes, "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Oklahoma and the nation."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

How 'bout those Texas Aggies? Oh, Wait. Never Mind

As all Texans know, there's nothing funnier than an Aggie joke. Take Rick Perry, for example— please!

With that in mind, let's review today's Texas A&M football performance.

Playing at home, the highly ranked Aggies were sure bets to whip the hapless Missouri Tigers. Gig 'em Aggies! 

Oh wait, they lost? In overtime? Choked again? Really? You betcha!

Wow. Aggie losers. Again. Go Tigers!

Interesting New Study on the Health Benefits of Coffee

And now, for your edification, a story on the health benefits of coffee. Sounds a bit unlikely, to be sure. But read it and judge for yourself.

The story here: Can Coffee Save Your Life?

Dewey Plays Along: The Tulsa Mayor's Own Salad, er, Soup, that is, Sandwich

A new video featuring Tulsa mayor Dewey Bartlett, courtesy of This Land.

GOP Overeach in Ohio: Polls Show Republican Agenda Failing with the Voters

The Republican Noise Machine has been blasting its anti-worker, anti-union message for many months now, but the voters aren't buying it.

At least, not in Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich is racking up negative poll numbers and appears to be headed for a political defeat in the upcoming vote on public employee union busting.

Here's a summary from one observer that tells the story in a nutshell:
A controversial law sharply curtailing collective-bargaining rights for Ohio’s public employees is sinking in the polls, raising Democratic hopes that the measure’s defeat could boost their prospects in the crucial swing state in 2012. The law’s diminishing poll numbers have coincided with a decline in the approval ratings of Republican Gov. John R. Kasich, the measure’s most visible proponent. The drop is coming as the law’s union-led opponents have waged an energetic campaign against a measure that they say represents an overreach by the state’s Republican political leaders.
 Hat tip to our friends at the Daily Kos. 

Remember the $16 Muffins at Justice? Turns Out, It's Not True

Like a lot of phony outrage on Fox and other right-wing sites, this meme was wrong.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Herman Cain's Unintentional Humor: Colbert Tackes the New Cain Ad

Tulsa Politics: District Four City Council Debate

As a public service, AltTulsa presents (or, more accurately, re-presents) a 30-minute radio debate between the candidates for Tulsa city council, District 4. The candidates are Blake Ewing, a Republican, and Ken Brune, a Democrat.

The debate was broadcast this week on the KWGS program "Studio Tulsa." The host was John Durkee, KWGS news director.

An audio of the debate is here: District Four Tulsa City Council Debate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dan Sullivan: The Good Ole Boys in Action

How 'bout that Rep. Dan Sullivan?

Yes, Cowboy fans, Dan Sullivan, conservative Tulsa Republican legislative leader, will be supping at the public trough. Again.

Sullivan, one of those brassy anti-government types, is taking—wait for it!—a lucrative government job. Sullivan was recently hired as the new CEO for the Grand River Dam Authority, a state energy agency. This despite the fact that Sullivan has exactly no energy experience. Sweet!

This is business as usual at the GRDA, which had previously hired another politician as its CEO. That time it was a Democrat, Kevin Easley, and the GRDA was criticized (and rightly so) for Easley's hiring.

Ah, but the good-ole-boy system endures. Sullivan, who should be opposed to the government gravy train, isn't about to criticize his new salary, reported as more than $200,000. All together now: Sweet!

Again, Sullivan has no energy experience whatsoever. In fact, this is just the sort of deal that Rep. Sullivan would criticize, if the GRDA had offered the post to a Democrat, especially one with no experience.

In Oklahoma sometimes, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Hotel Slated for Tulsa's Downtown Brady District

A new hotel in Tulsa's Brady District is another sign of the revitalization of downtown Tulsa. Here's the story, courtesy of Tulsa's KOTV Channel 6: A Renaissance For Tulsa's Brady District

Zing! Evangelicals Attack other Evangelicals

Our nomination for Quote of the Week, from an op-ed in the New York Times by evangelicals Karl Giberson and Randall Stephens.

The writers, both associated with Eastern Nazarene College, go after the "simplistic theology" and "stubborn anti-intellectualism" of popular fundamentalism, the kind embraced by most of the Republican presidential candidates.

The opening lines:
The Republican presidential filed has become a showcase of evangelical anti-intellectualism. Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann deny that climate change is real and caused by humans. Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann dismiss evolution as unproven.


The rejection of science seems to be part of a politically monolithic red-state fundamentalism, textbook evidence of an unyielding ignorance on the part of the religious. 
And remember: These guys are evangelicals.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ideologue Sally Kern: More Baloney from Oklahoma's Worst Legislator

AltTulsa missed it the other day, but Rep. Sally Kern—card-carrying member of the American Taliban—is up to her old tricks.

Yes, Sooner fans, Oklahoma City Kern, a Republican, has been flipping her lid over national education standards. Yep, those dad-blamed ole federal standards are (according to her) a federal takeover of Oklahoma education. We ought to have local control, Kerns says.

This is standard-issue Kern nonsense, of course. Public education is already under local control.

In fact, Kern's agenda has less to do with local control than with her own desire to impose religion—her particular brand of religion—views on local districts.

As a Tulsa World editorial pointed out recently, Kern really wants "forced prayer, the teaching of creationism and the banning of certain books, among other restrictions." How's that for free inquiry?

No, Sally Kern is not in interested in education at all, not actual education that challenges students to think for themselves. Her idea is indoctrination, especially of the Far Right variety.

Oklahomans of all persuasions ought to be wary of such baloney.

Friday, October 14, 2011

KWGS Interview: Rich Fisher's Talk with Jonathan Franzen

As we mentioned in this space a few days ago, Jonathan Franzen,  author of novels such as The Corrections and Freedom, was in Tulsa this week for a lecture at TU.

If you didn't get to the lecture, you can still catch up with Franzen through an interview conducted by Rich Fisher for KWGS 89.5, the NPR affiliate in Tulsa

Fisher, host of "Studio Tulsa," talked to Franzen in advance of his visit. It's an interesting conversation. Here's the link: KWGS: Interview with Jonathan Franzen.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Poor Sally Kern, Attacked by Those Mean Gay People

Gotta love that Sally Kern, an Oklahoma politician who always stands up for the downtrodden and the outcast, those folks that society has shunned.

Oh, wait. That's what Jesus would do. 

Kern, on the hand, works hard to shun the sinners that Jesus himself would embrace.

Instead, Kern plays the victim card, imagining herself under physical attack by all those well-muscled, militant gays, people so well known for their violence and gun-play.

Read about Kern's latest complaint here. Boo-hoo.

Flashback: Romney Endorses the Individual Health Insurance Mandate

Ah, the joys of videotape. (Okay, digital technology.) It's great to recall what the candidates once said.

Take Mitt Romney—please. Turns out, the former governor and current Republican presidential candidate likes the individual  health insurance mandate, the same one that the current GOP has been deriding for years.

It's more evidence (as if any were needed) of the shifting positions that Romney has taken on, well, most every major political position.

For conservatives, Romney's principles are firmly fixed in the wind.

The link, with revealing video, is here.

Georgia County Considers Replacing Firefighters With Prison Laborers

We hate to be blunt, but this strikes us—and most other people, we suspect—as an incredibly stupid idea.

A Georgia county is considering using inmates as firefighters. Hey, what's not to like? It's free labor. It's innovative. It's cool.

Or maybe not. Maybe this is just a dumb idea.

The details are here: Georgia County Considers Replacing Firefighters With Prison Laborers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Author Jonathan Franzen Visits Tulsa Thursday

 The AltTulsa gang likes to keep up with contemporary writers and their writing, so we are pleased to put in a plug today for novelist Jonathan Franzen. He will speak Thursday night at TU as part of the university's Presidential Lecture series.

The lecture is set for 7:30 p.m. at TU's new Lorton Performance Center. 

We admit that we know Franzen more by reputation than by a deep reading of his work. Nevertheless, we have been impressed by the popular and critical acclaim that Franzen's work has garnered and we expect his public lecture to be enlightening and even provocative.

Here's some background on the author from the TU website:
Jonathan Franzen stepped into the international pop culture spotlight in 2001 when his book “The Corrections” was published, with translations in 35 languages, American hardcover sales of nearly 1 million copies and nominations for nearly every major book prize in the United States. As if sales and critical acclaim weren’t enough to boost his profile, the author found himself in a public relations imbroglio over his conflicted reaction to his novel’s endorsement by Oprah’s Book Club.
Franzen’s most recent novel is “Freedom” (2010). Writing in the New York Times Book Review, editor Sam Tanenhaus declared the work a “masterpiece of American fiction,” and “Freedom” debuted at No. 1 on the Times’ bestseller list. His short stories and his essays, including political journalism, have most recently appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Essays, The New York Times, and The Guardian. A new collection of his nonfiction, “Farther Away,” will appear in 2012.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fallin Fail: Governor Defends Air Show Boondoggle

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin pretends to be a good steward of the taxpayer's money. She's one of those highly accountable, tight-fisted Republicans who wouldn't waste a dime of the Sooner state treasury.

Actually, not so much.

As the Associated Press reported this week, the Fallin administration sent four state employees to the Paris Air Show this summer to the tune of $84,000.

How 'bout that $400-a-night luxury hotel? How 'bout that $188 daily meal expense? Nice (state) work, if you can get it.

Fallin has defended the trip, calling it a "legitimate investment" in the state's aerospace industry. The state needs to wave its aerospace flag, Fallin said, because it's an important Oklahoma industry.

We're not buying it, not when Fallin and other state leaders have been cutting spending on public education, health programs and other state services.

After laying out $84,000 on a dubious junket, Gov. Fallin and the state's Republican leaders need to drop all the "woe is me" baloney about state revenues. If they can afford to send four state employees to Paris, they can do better for the underfunded and underserved people of Oklahoma.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Writer and Filmmaker Miranda July: An Appreciation (and a Thanks to Tulsa's Circle Cinema)

Speaking of writers (see last post), AltTulsa wants to put in a good word for Miranda July, writer, filmmaker and actor.

We first encountered Ms. July some years ago when her film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, made a splash on the indy film circuit. It's an inventive, odd and engaging film—though not the sort that brings the masses to the mall cineplex.

Later, we were taken by her 2007 collection of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You. Although it's been years since we read the stories, we've never forgotten the hard beauty of her characters and their emotional lives. In a word, unforgettable.

We were reminded of Ms. July this week because Tulsa's art house, Circle Cinema, is playing her latest film, The Future. We saw it earlier this week and were charmed again, in part by the originality of the story—a quirky mediation on time—and in part by Ms. July's radiance on the screen. For a writer who is only part-time actor, Ms. July is remarkably convincing (and lovely) on the big screen.

Ms. July also appeared at the Circle this week via Skype, answering questions from the audience. She  talked about her film and writing. Given the originality of her work, her answers provided insights into her creative process and, more importantly, her artistic vision.

There's more about Miranda July and The Future here.

A Contemplation of Home: Tulsa Writer Considers Meanings and Memories

James Watts is an arts writer for the Tulsa World. As such, he reviews classical music, museum exhibits, art shows and other cultural events for the newspaper. (Yes, wise guys, Tulsa does a serious art and music scene.)

Watts also writes personal columns every now and again. One column, published several weeks ago, struck us as particularly evocative. The column was a rumination on the meaning of home, which in this case was his wife's parent's home near 21st Street and Yale.

When it came time to clean out the house after they died, the task seemed overwhelming, Watts writes. 

The couple had lived in the house for 50-plus years, collecting (as we all do) "everyday objects, family heirlooms, geegaws that no one could quite figure out their purpose or their worth….."

Watts also writes of his own parents, their many homes and and their late-life adventures. Is home a building, Watts wonders, or is it something more?

Maybe it's just us, but we were moved by Watts' thoughtful prose—something that doesn't happen with every newspaper column.

Read Watts for yourself. The link is here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Education Food Fight: Oklahoma's Right-wingers Get Nasty

Whoa Nelly! The education food fight in Oklahoma is heating up, with some of the state's right-wingers spouting off in hyperbolic terms. 

The dust-up (pun intended) began the other day when one of Superintendent Janet Barresi's staffers, Jennifer Carter, called some Tulsa-area educators "dirtbags" for their legal challenge to a new state law.

The law involves private school scholarships for special-needs children, which Jenks and Broken Arrow officials say is unconstitutional.

Poor choice of words, Barresi explained. You think?

Now, conservative OCU law professor Andrew Spiropoulous has unloaded on the school officials, referring to "the thuggish tactics of the school mafia and their legal henchmen." And "school mafia"? Really?

It's hard to see how filing a lawsuit is "thuggish," but that's what the good professor wrote in the Journal Record.

And Rep. Jason Nelson, Republican of Oklahoma City, claimed that Jenks and Broken Arrow were "persecuting" the special-needs children, though that too seems far from the truth. 

But wait, there's more! "I've got news for them [Jenks and BA school officials]. Get used to it. Oklahoma citizens will no longer stand by while wealthy [?] school bureaucrats abuse their power," Nelson said.

Of course, filing a lawsuit is not "persecuting" children, nor are these bureaucrats necessarily acting against the will of the people.

One other thing: Janet Barresi and Jennifer Carter are education bureaucrats too, and, for all we know, wealthy.

Give Him Credit: Obama's Foreign Policy Success

From the NBC News website today, following news of the Obama Administration's latest anti-terrorist success:
No president since George H.W. Bush has had more foreign-policy successes happen under his watch than President Obama. The death of bin Laden. The dismantling of al Qaeda. The ouster of Khaddafy. And the end of combat operations in Iraq. 
Just a thought: The president deserves a lot more credit for getting the job done. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Simonson Resigns from Mayor's Staff

Terry Simsonson is out at Tulsa city hall.

Simsonson, chief of staff for Mayor Dewey Bartlett, resigned today following charges that he used his city position to help his son. His resignation is effective October 15.

Here are some details, courtesy of the Tulsa World:
In his resignation letter, read by Mayor Bartlett, Simonson states, “Without admitting any wrong doing on my part, what started out as my simply wanting to help my son become a Tulsa firefighter has turned into a distraction for you from the important work you must focus on as Mayor.
“This was never my intentions and, therefore, I believe I must do what is best for you and right for Tulsa,” the letter states.
Bartlett would not say whether he asked for the resignation, saying, “It’s a private matter.”
Simsonson has been a long-time political figure in Tulsa, once writing a weekly political column for Urban Tulsa.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bachmann Wrong Again: Why Can't She Tell the Triuth?

No one has ever accused Rep. Michele Bachmann of having a firm grip on the facts. If anything, Rep. Bachmann's grasp on actual facts has been, shall we say, tenuous. 

So when the Minnesota legislator spouted off the other day with the "news" that President Obama''s approval ratings were the lowest of any modern president, a thoughtful voter would have good reason to check the figures.

And guess what? Rep. Bachmann was off—way, way off.

Despite several years of Republican efforts to delegitimize the president (Born in Keyna? Not a citizen? A Marxist?), Obama's ratings are much, much stronger than Bachmann's phony charges would suggest. (Ronald Reagan, for instance.)

In short, Bachmann's wishful thinking triumphs over facts once again. The details are here.

From This Land: The Making of Tulsa's 'Artifical Cloud'

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gays Cause Tornadoes! So Says Perry's Florida Co-Chair

It's always the danged gays. They're always messin' things up for the rest of us.

This time it's tornadoes. Of course it is. 

Why the co-chair of the Perry campaign in the Great State of Florida has said so her very own self—and she ain't kiddin'.

For all we know, these gay sinners (are there any other kind?) are causin' earthquakes and hordes of locusts too. Oklahoma's own Guardian of All Things Right and Proper, Rep. Sally Kern, would be proud. We're bettin' she is.

The link is here.

Today's Best Quote: Bill Clinton on Uninformed Politicans

AltTulsa's nomination for best political quotation of the day. It's from former President Bill Clinton, who takes aim at the tidal wave of nonsense spouted by the Republican presidential candidates. Here's the quote:
You can stand up and say anything and nobody rings a bell if the facts are wrong. There’s no bell ringing. It’s crazy, we’re living in a time when it’s more important than ever to know things. And not just to know facts but to put them in a coherent. sensible pattern. And we live in a time, if you just want to talk about the economy, where the model that works for economic growth and prosperity is cooperation. But the model that works in politics is conflict.

Only on Fox: Gov. Perry is Superman, Prepared to Save the U.S.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ouch! Ethics Group Blasts Florida Congressman

South Carolina Governor Makes Up Drug Test Data

The Republican war on the poor has few limits, which means it's just dandy to make things up when it suits your political purpose.

Thus our GOP pal Nikki Haley of South Carolina blundered into a set of fake statistics to make a point about rampant drug use among South Carolina's unemployed.

"The problem was so unbelievable, Haley said last month, that at the Savannah River nuclear site, '[of] everybody they interviewed, half of them failed a drug test,'” the website Think Progress reported.

Well, no. Haley's figures were bogus, as the governor has now admitted.

This is all-too-typical Republican behavior, namely, "My mind's made up. Don't confuse me with the facts."

For the True Believers, ideology trumps factual evidence every time. The full story is here.

This is true: Wingnuts go after offensive ice cream

We shoulda seen it coming. Now ice cream—or its name, at least—is dirty. Filthy. Vulgar.

It's the end of civilization as we know it.

Yes, Sooner fans, the good and decent folks on the Far Right are highly offended by the new Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor, "Schweddy Balls."

You may remember that "Schweddy Balls" was a pretty funny Saturday Night Live sketch some years ago. The skit featured a Mr. Schweddy (played by Alec Baldwin) and his special holiday baked goods, Schweddy Balls.

Ah, but there's no humor on the Right. These Guardians of All Things Good and Pure are wagging their fingers at Ben & Jerry's and all those vulgar American ice cream eaters who would stoop so low as to buy this product.

Read all about the controversy here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wipeout: Four Tulsa Councilors Lose Their Seats

AltTulsa doesn't focus much on local politics, but even we can't overlook the "throw the bums out" results of Tuesday's primary elections.

The good news is that some of the cranks went down in flames. The ornery District 7 incumbent, Republican Jim Mautino, could only muster 347 votes in a losing campaign against Byron Steele, who tallied 571. 

Former councilor Sam Roop, also from the crank side of the aisle, lost his bid to regain the District 5 seat, which was won by Karen Gilbert. Thankfully, Gilbert appears to be a reasonable person, exactly the kind of person in short supply at city hall in recent years.

Some other candidates also fell by the wayside last night, including Steven Roemerman in District 7 and our musical friend Rocky Frisco in District 4, though Frisco wasn't really a serious candidate.

Happily, G.T. Bynum won the Republican primary in District 9, to the chagrin of local blogger Michael Bates.

In fact, Bates-endorsed candidates fared poorly in Tuesday's voting, not a good sign for his power base, such as it is. If we recall correctly, seven Bates-endorsed candidates lost last night, including Turner in District 2, Barnes in District 4, Roop in District 5 (see above), Mautino in District 6 (see above), Roemerman in District 7 (again, see above), Gibbs in Dictrict 8, and Pinney in District 9.

As we said in the headline, wipeout.

We are only speculating here, but maybe cranks have worn out their welcome at city hall. After years of bickering and feuding among themselves and with the mayor, Tulsa voters seem to want a few more reasonable people on the job. Can't say we blame 'em.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Poet Billy Collins Reads his 9/11 Poem, 'The Names'

Billy Collins is an easy poet to like. He's often clever and his lines are simple enough for even us flat-footed types.

His poem, "The Names," isn't funny, nor should it be. It's dedicated to the victims of the September 11 attack and their survivors. 

It's a moving tribute, especially if you let the words and ideas wash over you quietly.

The poem was read earlier today at the ceremony in New York City. A link to Collins' own reading of the poem is here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Candidate Rocky Frisco Tells It Like It Is—Sort of

AltTulsa generally avoids commentary on local politics. The Tulsa World, other local papers and various bloggers cover this territory and we are happy to let others huff and puff on Tulsa's sometimes disfunctional political scene.

That said, let us now violate our own rule and comment on the political musings of District 4 candidate Rocky Frisco.

Frisco is a local musical legend and he speaks his mind. Maybe this is a good thing—or maybe not

Speaking at a candidate forum last month, Frisco went for the Big Issues. The biggest problem facing Tulsa, he said, is the "nature of government itself." He explained that the Bill of Rights says, in so many words, "Leave me alone and none of your damn business."

Whoa Nelly! How's that again?

More to the point, Rocky, how does that philosophy translate into good local government?  Let's say, for example, that Rocky's neighbor wants to park 28 junk cars in his front yard, is that "none of your damn business"?

Or say Rocky's neighbor wants to keep all his household trash in a huge pile—just upwind of Rocky's front porch. Is this huge pile of stinking garbage "none of your damn business"?

"Leave me alone and none of your damn business" may play well with Tulsa's "crank" crowd, those voters who still have visions of the wide-open prairie, where a man's land is his land, dammit—end of story.

Like or not, that time has come and gone. Frisco may pine for the good ole days, but the rest of us live in a real city with real problems, a place where we need to get talk to each other and cooperate to get things done.

Frisco's colorful, homespun philosophy (if you can call it that) is all hot air. District 4 voters ought to look elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recent Reading: Death and Heroism on the Forrestal, a Crippled Aircraft Carrier

The fire started when a rocket fired accidentally across the flight deck from one bomb-laden aircraft to another, spilling jet fuel over the deck.

Soon several 1,000 pound bombs were engulfed in flames and began "cooking off," explosions that blew huge holes in the deck and created a firestorm below decks as fuel poured in and spread the fire.

When the fire was finally extinguished, the USS Forrestal (CVA-59), the nation's first supercarrier, was a crippled warship. Worse, 134 men were dead.

This happened off the coast of Vietnam in 1967 and could have easily killed pilot John McCain, the future senator and presidential candidate. It was one of the worst naval disasters since World War II.

Author Gregory A. Freeman tells this story in his 2002 book, Sailors to the End. It's a moving story if not a happy one, packed with the gripping details of heroism under extraordinarily dangerous and uncertain conditions.

We think we have some understanding of this story, having served on the Forrestal some years after the disastrous fire. Reading Freeman's account brought back the memories of those days, when we watched in awe as the Forrestal launched and recovered aircraft with precision all day and night, in good weather and bad.

We knew the carrier was dangerous then, but until we read about the 1967 fire, we had no idea how dangerous it really was.

Freeman should also be commended for his identification of the safety and supply problems that led to this tragedy. In its zeal to deliver bigger bombs on North Vietnam, the Johnson Administration made crucial decisions that cost 134 sailors their lives.

This is a lesson worth remembering.

Note: For more on Freeman and his books, including Sailors, click here

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Incredible Shrinking Tea Party: More Bad Numbers for Hysterical Conservative Whiners

Yes, they are noisy. Yes, they capture the headlines, not to mention the heart and soul of the once-proud Republican Party.

But the Tea Party popularity is waning, according to a recent poll. In fact, the new numbers show the Tea(t) Party with an unfavorable rating at 46 percent. Only 28 percent of those polled viewed the Tea party favorably.

Even Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann is slipping in the polls, in part because of another conservative darling, Texas Gov. Rick Perry. 

Speaking of Perry, he was in Tulsa today, raising cash and accepting the endorsement of Sen. Jim Inhofe. Given Inhofe's dismal standing in the reality-based world outside of the Sooner state, his endorsement will result in more votes for President Obama. Good work, Jim!

The Tea Party polling details are here.