Friday, January 28, 2011

Jon Stewart Nails Him: Bill O'Reilly Plays Fast & Loose on the Nazi Analogies

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Surprise! Obama's National Poll Numbers Go Up

You wouldn't know around these parts, but President Obama's popularity is on the rise. 

That's right, Sooner fans, reports of the president's political demise are highly exaggerated.

As we have noted for some time now, the president's much-criticized stimulus program worked (even in Oklahoma) and the economy is slowly but surely getting stronger.

Then there was the lame duck congressional session, which—to the surprise of the naysayers—got some things done, including a new START treaty with the Russians.

Most of all, perhaps, the president looks better and better compared to his Tea Party and wingnut critics, who—when they have to really do something instead of whine—continue to flail and fail. The Jim DeMint and Rand Paul types have proven to be terrific blowhards, but little more.

A report on Obama's poll numbers is here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Barresi's Rough Start: New School Chief Finds Bumps in the Road

No serious observer thinks that governing is easy. It isn't.

Just ask the new state superintendent of education, Janet Barresi, who battled with the state board of education in a meeting today.

According to the AP, Tulsa board member Tim Gilpin "had several loud exchanges"with Barresi. Gilpin also referred to her as a "dictator," the AP reported.

The board also refused to hire three employees Barresi requested, expressing "concerns that the three had been giving directions to Department of Education employees since Barresi took office on Jan. 10."

We don't know the source of these conflicts, so we're reluctant to start playing the blame game. But this is hardly a smooth start for Barresi, who is discovering first-hand the difficulties of state politics. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bipartisan Outreach: Sen. Coburn's Peace Offering

Let's put in a good word for Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, who sat last night at the State of the Union speech with a liberal New York (gasp!) politician, Sen. Charles Shumer. 

This was a small matter, but it had large and important implications, a sign of bipartisanship and civility in our highly contentious political atmosphere.

Apparently, we weren't the only ones to notice this act, since Coburn and Shumer made the front page of today's Tulsa World. Coburn also turned up on the front of USA Today, this time with President Obama himself. And both men were smiling!

So we say thank you, Sen. Coburn.

As for our other senator, Jim Inhofe, thanks for nothing. True to form, Inhofe remains hyper-partisan and mean-spirited, making the political climate worse.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rep. Michelle Bachmann v. the Facts: Minnesota Republican Fails the Test

AtlTulsa likes to think of itself as a reality-based blog. In plainer English, that means we try very hard to work with facts as we try to get to the Larger Truth of Things.

Would that others would do them same, especially our brothers and sisters on the conservative side of the aisle. Sadly, the Right is a wonderland of misinformation, rumor, speculation, paranoia and the like.

Which brings up to Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, Exhibit A in rhetorical excess and pure unadulterated baloney. She's all bluster and screed, unanchored to anything resembling actual, observable facts.

But don't take our word for it. Rep. Bachmann has been keeping the fact checkers busy, as this report from her home state makes clear:
Over the past year, Bachmann has often criticized President Barack Obama, the newly enacted health care law and the growing federal deficit. She comes armed with assertions, figures and graphs to make her point.
But independent fact checkers find that the information she relies on is often exaggerated, misleading or wrong. PolitiFact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning feature of the St. Petersburg Times that checks whether statements made by politicians are true, has repeatedly determined that Bachmann's claim don't ring true.
"We have checked her 13 times, and seven of her claims to be false and six have been found to be ridiculously false," PolitiFact editor Bill Adair said.
Adair said no politician has been checked as often as Bachmann without saying at least something that's true
"I don't know anyone else that we have checked, more than a couple times, that has never earned anything above a false," he said. "She is unusual in that regard that she has never gotten a rating higher than false."

Is It a Job-Killing Health Care Bill? Well, No.

The Republican House leadership is peddling more nonsense. In their anti-Obama hysteria, the GOP brass pushed the repeal of the health care law this week.

The measure passed, even as polling data shows increasing supporting for the new law, even among Republicans.

And in case you didn't catch it, the GOP labeled the original bill "job-killing" an attempt to undermine the health reform legislation by claiming that it will hurt job growth.

Is the GOP claim true? Actually, no. PolitiFact discovered that the Republicans—wait for it—cherry picked the data, including the numbers they liked and leaving out the numbers they didn't.

It's classic political baloney, the kind the Republicans love to shovel on Fox News.

Read the PolitiFact report here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Massachusetts Police Seize Weapons from Blogger Who Praised Tucson Shooting

The AT gang is all about free speech. We love to exercise our First Amendment rights, rights that—we hasten to add—extend to every citizen, even those we disagree with.

But free speech is not unlimited. It can be abused, especially when it is closely connected with violence. That appears to be the case this week in Massachusetts, where local police seized a stash of weapons from a blogger who praised the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson.

Following the Tucson shootings, the blogger wrote, "1 down and 534 to go," a reference to the number of U.S. House and Senate members. The blogger also posted other anti-government comments, including a rant against the Department of Education.

A link to the story is here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Broadcast Blues: Beck, Hannity Dropped in Philadelphia

The Right's Radio Windbags are hitting a more few bumps in the road.

As we noted in an earlier post, Glenn Beck's radio show has been dropped in New York City. Beck's station cited falling ratings for the show's cancellation.

Now Beck and Sean Hannity are losing their radio outlets in Philadelphia.

But have no fear, sports fans: Beck and Hannity will continue on Fox News. Check out the Philadelphia story here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Post-Tucson Poll Finds Obama Up, Palin Down

 The Right's rhetorical excesses are finally wearing thin.

That's one interpretation of new poll numbers out today, numbers that show a disenchantment with hyper-partisanship in the wake of the Tucson shootings. As reported on the Politics Daily website, the public is blaming talk radio and the Tea Party for much of the problem.

Here's another part of the poll that reflects on the fortunes of the president and the former vice presidential nominee from Alaska:
When it comes to the response to the Arizona shootings, 78 percent approve of what President Obama had to say in his much-lauded speech at a tribute to the victims of the Tucson shooting spree. But Sarah Palin got negative marks, with 46 percent disapproving about the way she responded compared to 30 percent who approved, with 24 percent having no opinion.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Washington Post Weighs In: Obama Stronger, More Resilent

The Republicans has a very good November. Fired by anti-everything zeal and Tea Party baloney, the conservative tide was rising.

Ah, but things change, sometimes for the better. With Big John Boehner as the GOP leader in the House, the Republicans will now have to something besides say no. They'll have to actually legislate, which is a lot harder than simply objecting to the president and his initiatives.

Beyond that, the shootings last week in Tucson changed the political climate, putting the Right on the defensive and giving the president an opportunity to lead, which he did. His speech this week in Tucson was widely hailed for its eloquence and tone.

The Washington Post has assessed the new political reality:
In the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, which prompted a national outpouring of criticism of the harsh tone of the nation's political discourse, the GOP confronts a political environment that has changed dramatically…. Obama, who appeared weakened and on the defensive in the days after the midterm elections, has emerged as a stronger and more resilient adversary than Republicans anticipated just 10 weeks ago.

Chicken Hawk Hannity Wants Cheap Gas; Pushes for Another Invasion of Iraq

Good ole Sean Hannity is on the warpath again—urging another invasion of Iraq—in the name of cheap gas. 

Hannity, who has never served a day in uniform, talked about a new invasion in a discussion of high gas prices on (where else?) Fox News.

Hannity's imperialism is nothing new, of course. The factually challenged blowhard has been an apologist for the Bush/Cheney adventurism for years.

The Hannity story, with video, is here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fallin Flub: New Governor Pledges to "Offend" the State, National Constitution

Gov. Mary Fallin isn't getting off to the best start in Oklahoma City. As you may have heard, Fallin flubbed part of her oath of office, saying "offend" when she should have said "defend." 

Some wiseacres have noted that offending the Constitution is what Oklahoma Republicans are all about.

For the Freudians out there, this slip of the tongue could be a very bad sign.

We don't subscribe to such theories and we submit that Fallin's verbal gaff was meaningless. It was just a silly mistake. Whatever your view, you can check out the Fallin flub video here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Quick Take on Obama's Tucson Speech

Political analyst Nate Silver has weighed in on President Obama's speech in Tucson tonight. A portion of Silver's conclusion:
President Obama’s speech in Tucson tonight seems to have won nearly universal praise. I suspect it will be remembered as one of his best moments, almost regardless of what else takes place during the remainder of his presidency.

Dept. of Bad Timing: Boehner Holds Fundraiser During Tucson Memorial Service

Speaker of the House John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, doesn't seem to have a feel for his new post. After a rocky start last week, Boehner has now developed a tin ear, participating in a swanky fundraiser tonight in Washington during the memorial service for the Tucson shooting victims.

This is unlikely to win Boehner many friends and quite likely to make him look callous to many voters. Read the full story here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

El Rushbo: Alleged Shooter Smiling Because Democrats 'Running Interference' for Him

Never underestimate the perverse logic of talk radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh.

Always quick to exploit a tragedy for partisan advantage, Rush is now saying the the alleged Tucson shooter is happy because the Democrats are blaming everyone but him.

Rush has no problem finding Democrats at fault here. Of course, Rush finds the Democrats (aka liberals) at fault for, well, everything he doesn't like.

A more thoughtful commentator might try to separate bombast and actual facts, but Rush has never been on good terms with facts. They get in the way of his narrative.

Hey, that's why he's popular—tell people what they want to hear—the facts be damned.

Our friends at Media Matters have the audio here: Limbaugh: "The Entire Democrat Party Running Interference" For Him.

Should Lawmakers Carry Guns?

Good post-Tucson advice, posted today on Think Progress
Terrance Gainer, the Senate’s sergeant in arms said this morning on ABC’s Good Morning America that it’s not a good idea for lawmakers to carry their own firearms for personal protection in the wake of Saturday’s shootings in Tucson, AZ. “I think we should leave the law enforcement and security to those professionals,” he said.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Headline of the Day: Washington Republican's Week One Fail

The U.S. House is in Republican hands now, but things have not gone well. Speaker John Boehner and his troops have looked incompetent. Today's headline in Politico summed up the GOP's Week One screw-ups:
GOP Finds Governing Isn't Easy  
Read the full Politico story here

The Texas Miracle that Wasn't: Republican Gov. Rick Perry's Big Budget Problem

Gov. Rick Perry loves to talk big. (Hey, it's Texas!) To hear him tell it, his Republican brand of conservative leadership and economic policy works great.

Texans, Perry claims, pay low taxes because he's a sharp guardian of public expenses and a fiscally responsible "small government" leader.

Only one problem with this claim: It's smoke and mirrors. In fact, it's evidence of the failure of conservative economic policy. 

As it happens, the Texas Miracle that Perry has been touting has resulted in a hugh state budget deficit, almost as bad as the one in (heavens!) California. Oh, and it's worse than New York, a state run by those evil Yankee liberals.

In reality, Perry's economic policies have hurt many state programs and made the state's economic viability worse, actions that won't endear him to his conservative base. Nor will it help Perry's political ambitions, which are said to extend to the White House.

Economic Paul Krugman has been analyzing the numbers form Austin. Learn more here.

P.S.—Gov.-elect Mary Fallin and the Republican state legislative leaders better pay attention to Perry's woes lest they make the same mistakes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

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

Urban Tulsa Weekly is out with its annual list of Tulsa's Hot 100, their pick for T-town's movers and shakers. As we have pointed out in the past, this list is always problematic when it's not downright silly.

In the past, for instance, UTW has included its own publisher, Keith Skrzypczak. Naming your own boss as a Big Shot is not exactly an independent evaluation, is it? This year, the paper named (wait for it) its associate publisher, James Bengfort. What a stretch! 

UTW also added to the tradition, naming not one, but two of its own former columnists to the list. Terry Simonson, Mayor Dewey Bartlett's chief of staff, was a regular writer at UTW for some time, as was blogger Michael Bates. Bates left UTW after he wrote a column on the circulation problems at the Tulsa World, a column that prompted a lawsuit and for which Bates later apologized.

We're not opposed to singling out deserving Tulsans, a number of which are named in the Hot 100. But this exercise is undermined by UTW's practice of naming its own associate publisher and former writers to the list.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Beck's Broadcast Bombs in the Big Apple

We love Glenn Beck out here in Middle America—well, not all of us—but Beck's wretchedly overheated rhetoric isn't working in New York City. Beck's ratings are so low that he's being pulled off the radio in New York City.

Beck is also having ratings trouble in other East Coast markets, which is no surprise since everybody knows that where most of the American traitors, er, socialists live. Or maybe these East Coasters are simply people who appreciate facts and evidence, items in short supply in BeckWorld.

But have no fear, Beck fans, Glenn Boy will still be ranting away nightly on Fox News, where everything he says will make perfect sense as always, al least if you're a True Believer in the Gospel According to GB.

The story, from Media Matters, is here: Beck's radio empire imploding -- whacked in the Big Apple!

Yikes! Tulsa is No. 1—in Smoking (Cough, Cough)

That's right, Sooner fans, T-town in No. 1 in smoking. Whoo-hoo!

The AT gang doesn't smoke, but lots of our Tulsa neighbors do, apparently. This is unfortunate, since smoking is—how should be put it?—deadly. And we suspect that this isn't the kind of publicity the Greater Tulsa Chamber of Commerce wants for Tulsa.

Maybe it's all the gamblers around here, since the local casinos seem filled with smokers. (Or so we're told. We of pure hearts and minds wouldn't know.)

In short, we can't explain the attractions of cigarettes, but if seems to be a public health issue that ought to raise some alarms.

The Daily Beast story here: 30 Cities With Smoking Problems.

By the way, Oklahoma City ranked No. 7 on the list, so at least we beat them at something. Oh wait, this means they are healthier than we are. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Charles Krauthammer's Selective Attack on Obama

Our pal Howard Kurtz, formerly of The Washington Post and now at The Huffington Post, has found another example of the Right's hypocrisy on matters pertaining to (you guessed it) President Obama.

Kurtz is correct on this point, though it's an easy one to make. After all, the hysteria and misinformation on the president and his administration has been vicious and overwhelming—the facts be damned.