Monday, February 28, 2011

An NPR Tribute to the Nation's Last WWI Veteran

Frank Buckles—the last known U.S. veteran of World War I—died yesterday in West Virginia at the age of 110.

Buckles, a Missouri farm boy who managed to enlist in the army at 16, survived both World War I and World War II. NPR interviewed Buckles in 2008 and included some clips from that interview in their tribute on today's edition of All Things Considered.

Buckles had an amazing life, even surviving the hardships of a Japanese POW camp. The NPR link, with audio, is here.

Let's hear it for a Great American, Frank Buckles.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hypocrisy Alert: Gov. Fallin, Rep. Sullivan Celebrate Project They Voted Against

Oklahoma voters can always count on the state's Republican leaders to talk out of both sides of their mouths. 

The latest example was the ceremony yesterday to mark the opening of the reopening of the Inner Dispersal Loop (IDL) in downtown Tulsa, a project paid for by federal funds.

Gov. Mary Fallin and Rep. John Sullivan were on hand to celebrate, which is totally disingenuous since both leaders voted against those very funds. 

That's right, Sooner fans. Both Fallin and Sullivan whined and whined about the Obama Administration's stimulus package, the same package that rebuilt the IDL and provided jobs in Tulsa.

Sadly, this is par for the course for Fallin and Sullivan. They're quick to condemn federal spending and blame those crazy liberals for the national debt, but even quicker to take every federal handout they can, their conservative principles be damned.

Let's call it what it is: Republican hypocrisy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Still Unglued: The Latest Paranoid Ravings of Fox's Glenn Beck

Haley Barbour Update: Mississippi's GOP Governor Backs Down in KKK Controversy

Haley Barbour keeps playing with historical fire, pretending that the legacy of racism in the South really wasn't all that bad.  

The latest such incident was Barbour's support for an official state license plate honoring a Confederate leader who was a founder of the KKK.

The Mississippi governor, a Republican, has appeared to have a case of historical amnesia about the glorious days of the Jim Crow South, before all those outside agitators (read: civil rights workers) messed up the Good Ole Boy system of racial discrimination and segregation.

But even Barbour has now had second thoughts, as we read today at Think Progress:
Under pressure to address racial issues swirling around a potential presidential bid, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) finally said he won’t sign a bill to honor a former KKK leader with a state-issued license plate. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee had defended his fellow Republican on the issue this weekend before Barbour backed down.
Barbour, as some Okies will recall, was a guest of then-candidate Mary Fallin when she was running for governor.

The website Politico has the details here. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Artist Sally Mann: Photographing the Body

For students of contemporary photography, Sally Mann is an artist worth considerable attention. Mann has for many years photographed the human body, as explained today on NPR's All Things Considered.

But don't take our word for it. Listen to the story, and see a slide show of Mann's old-fashioned glass plate photos of her husband and others on the NPR website, which is here.

Barresi Redux: New State School Superintendent Doesn't Like Oversight

The recent dustup between Republican State School Superintendent Janet Barresi and the Democratic State Board of Education can be explained as a partisan cat fight.

Indeed, that's exactly the way the GOP and many of the state's newspapers responded—blaming the Democrats for sandbagging Barresi and her top staff choices.

But there's more to this story, as The Oklahoma Observer's Arnold Hamilton has pointed out. Hamilton notes, for example, that one of the Democrats, Tulsa attorney Tim Gilpin, had asked Barresi for additional staff information in emails three times prior to the Jan. 27 meeting.

"Three times his requests went unanswered," Hamilton notes. Unsurprisingly, Gilpin and other board members were irritated at being ignored and the mood of the meeting went south fast.

Hamilton's conclusion: Barresi doesn't like the oversight of the State Board of Education, never mind that the board was established by the state Constitution and that its powers are considerable.

Contrary to the GOP narrative, the board is supposed to exercise its own judgment, not serve as a rubber stamp for whoever occupies the school superintendent's post.

Hamilton also notes that the Republicans—anxious now to abolish the Board of Education—may want to think twice. One of these days, he notes, the shoe will be on the other foot and the GOP will wish they had a GOP-controlled board looking over the shoulder of a Democratic state superintendent.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oklahoma Observer's Hamilton Finds Fault with Fallin's Federal Funds Request

The Oklahoma Observer's Arnold Hamilton, writing this week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, has faulted Mary Fallin's hypocrisy in the recent snow storm.

Here's Hamilton's key question:
Did anyone else find irony in the fact that new Gov. Mary Fallin, who tapped into anti-federal government fervor in order to win election last fall, turned to the federal government for help, even before the month's first snowflakes fell? 
As it happens, we did notice this flip-flop, a common one in Oklahoma conservative politics. The state GOP loves to whine about federal intrusion at the same time it lobbies for as many federal dollars as possible. (Sen. Jim Inhofe, anyone?)

Hamilton also points out not-so-Republican positions of GOP House Speaker Kris Steele and Senate leader Brian Bingham regarding prison reform.

As it happens, the state's conservatives are big on locking 'em up and throwing away the key—no pity for prisoners. But the state's GOP Republican leadership is now looking for ways to reform the system to save cold hard cash.

The top Republicans know we can't afford the cost of incarcerating thousands and thousands of men and women. As Hamilton notes, this new focus on rehabilitation is likely to produce squeals in the Republican caucus. 

In short, Oklahoma Republicans are talking out of both sides of their mouths again, saying one thing and doing another.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Republican Fail: House Speaker Boehner's Bogus Federal Jobs Claim

Those hard-nosed, straight-talking House Republicans promised to bring honesty and transparency to the Congress.

Speaker John Boehner, the House Republican leader, was supposed to the face of a new, improved GOP, one held to a higher standard than those lyin' liberal Democrats.

Too bad Boehner can't live up to his own claims, as he demonstrated today when he attacked the president's proposed budget. The Speaker claimed that the Obama administration has added 200,000 new federal jobs. 

Heavens! No wonder the conservatives are up in arms!

The problem: Boehner's claim isn't true, as PolitiFact has documented. Read the facts here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Numbers Look Good for Obama in 2012

While the Right continues to predict disaster for Obama and the Democrats in 2012, recent poll numbers look much better for the president's reelection. 

Sure, it's two years away. But the economy is getting better, thanks to the stimulus and other administration policies.

Here's a quick summary of some match-ups between the president and some likely Republican opponents. In every case, Obama wins.  
Obama 48% / Romney 41%...Obama 49% / Huck 41%...Obama 56% / Palin 35%...Obama 55% / Gingrich 35% (FOX)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Republicans' Very, Very Bad Week: House Leaders Find the Going Tough

The new Republican-led U.S. House is off to a shaky start. This week, in fact, the GOP suffered a number of legislative setbacks, as some of their Tea Party allies refused to go along.

This wasn't what the Republicans wanted—or what they promised the American public.

Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and their troops several some important votes this week and drew criticism for failing to focus on job creation, one of the topics Republican leaders had emphasized.

NPR has the story of the GOP's very bad week. Read or listen to the report here.

Texas Tea Party Leader Gets on the 'Obama is Muslim' Train to Crazytown

The Zanies are out there—and some of them live in (wait for it…) Texas. Yee-ha!

We're talking about the paranoid fantasies of the Wingnut crowd—Texas Tea Party folks who make up their own facts (read: lies) about President Obama.

It's one thing to disagree with the president, any president. That's part of politics.

But the persistent and fantastic attempts to make Obama into a foreign-born Muslim and a Communist are pernicious and dishonest. These are Big Lies designed to undermine the president not by what he says or does, but by painting him as a Scary Foreigner Who Will Destroy America.

Now the Texas Tea Party leader (read all about it here) is promoting this nonsense, a line of reasoning so specious as to undermine his agenda and put him squarely in the middle of, yes, Crazytown.

Help! The Commies Are Coming! PolitiFact Debunks Another Wingnut Rumor

Thanks to the Internet, practically everyone with a computer is only a click or two away from Crazytown.

To put it another way, the Internet has accelerated the circulation of political nonsense, speculation and rumors, making it more difficult than ever to tell what's true from what's not. 

Today's example: a widely circulated e-mail on a trade agreement that will allow the Chinese—the Reds!—to live and work here in the good ole U.S. of A!

It's a sensational story, even scary. But it's not true, which is a big problem if you are trying to scare-monger, as some on the Right are wont to do. (Exhibit A: Glenn Beck. Exhibit B: Michael Savage.)

The helpful PolitiFact link is here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Even the Right Condemning Beck's Hysteria

Some on the American Right have been hyperbolic in recent years, none more so than Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.

Now Beck's conspiracy theories regarding Egypt (and so much more) have gone far enough to foster a pushback from other conservatives, who have noticed—quite correctly—that Beck's wild fantasies are causing credibility problems on that side of the aisle.

Courtesy of our friends over at Media Matters, here's a compilation of conservative commentary on Beck's most recent screeds: Beck's "Apocalyptic" Egypt "Hysteria" Triggers Conservative Condemnation.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

TU Basketball Quote of the Day: Oklahoma Geography Lesson

AltTulsa's pick for the TU basketball quote of the day, from Houston coach James Dickey. Dickey was referring to TU player Justin Hurtt's game-winning shot:
I don't exactly know my geography, but it was someplace probably close to Okmulgee that he hit that shot from, but he made it. He's a great player.

The Silliest Reagan Tribute: Rep. Ben Qualye's Ridiculous Metaphor

Today is Ronald Reagan's birthday—he would have been 100—and conservatives around the nation are remembering the nation's 40th president.

But not all Reagan tributes are thoughtful. Some, in fact, are downright silly. 

With a hat tip to The Nation's Chris Hayes, here's one of the most superficial, a by Arizona Rep. Ben Quayle for Politico.

Here are Qualye's first two paragraphs, which speak of the, er, rhetorical power of Rep. Qualye's s sugar-sweet vision:
When I was a child, President Ronald Reagan was the nice man who gave us jelly beans when we visited the White House.

I didn’t know then, but I know it now: The jelly beans were much more than a sweet treat that he gave out as gifts. They represented the uniqueness and greatness of America — each one different and special in its own way, but collectively they blended in harmony.
As Hayes put it: "Wow." Read more, if you dare:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ouch! Palin Headline of the Week

In observance of the centennial  of Ronald Reagan's birthday, we spotted this headline in today's Tulsa World.

The story refers to recent comments by Ron Reagan, the late president's youngest son.
Palin no 
son says 
And there's more: "Sarah Palin is a soap opera, basically. She's doing…what she does to make money and keep her in the news."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Exploding Another Reagan Myth: The Federal Gov'mint He Didn't Shrink

The Ronald Reagan hagiography is exploding, thanks to the short memories and wishful thinking of the Right.

For the Right, it's easy: when the facts don't support your ideas—make up some new "facts." 

A cherished Reagan myth involves his downsizing of the federal government. It's a great story, but it's simply not true, as the Washington Post has documented.

Here are a few facts Reagan's fans have neglected:
Federal spending grew by an average of 2.5 percent a year, adjusted for inflation, while Reagan was president. The national debt exploded, increasing from about $700 billion to nearly $3 trillion. Many experts believe that Reagan's massive deficits not only worsened the recession of the early 1990s but doomed his successor, George H.W. Bush, to a one-term presidency by forcing him to abandon his "no new taxes" pledge.
Read the entire Post article (with four more amazingly incorrect Reagan myths) here.

The Myth of Ronald Reagan: Facts Contradict the Gipper's Anti-Tax Legacy

Ronald Reagan would have been 100 years old on Sunday, so lots of folks are celebrating the former president's legacy. Republicans and Democrats alike are remembering Reagan's accomplishments with pride.

Unfortunately for Reagan's most ardent fans, history and myth are very different things. The RR Fan Club presents Reagan as a great tax-cutter, but that's not the full story. As it happens, Reagan did cut taxes but, contrary to the myth, he also raised them. More than once. Several times, in fact.

You can't blame this truth-telling on liberals. In fact, David Stockman, RR's former budget chief, has been fighting the myth for some time now, most recently in an NPR report on Reagan's tax legacy.

In short, it's wishful thinking to claim (as many GOPers do) that Reagan was consistently anti-tax.

Hear Stockman and historian Douglas Brinkley set the record straight here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Recommended Reading: The Right's Egyptian Freak-out, Starring (Who Else?) Glenn Beck

While we're snowbound in the house and catching up on our reading, AltTulsa is recommending an article by Michelle Goldberg of The Daily Beast about the Crazy Talk coming from some on the Right, notably Fox News windbag Glenn Beck. 

Never one to actually learn something about international affairs or world politics before he speaks, Beck has a completely incoherent set of ideas to explain what's happening in Egypt these days.

It's conspiracy-laden and completely nuts, of course, but Beck is a True Believer so it all makes perfect sense to him and the other zanies.

Here's a paragraph from Goldberg's piece, just to give you a taste of the nuttiness:
Store food and prepare for the coming global insurrection: That's the warning Glenn Beck issued Monday. The Muslim Brotherhood and American radicals, he informed us, are operating in tandem to bring about "the destruction of the Western world." On his Fox show, Beck presented a clip of Mohamed ElBaradei calling for a "New Egypt that is democratic, that is based on social justice." The phrase "social justice" flashed on the screen, because in Beck's world, it's a code word for a totalitarian leftist agenda, just as the Egyptian protesters' use of the phrase "day of rage" signals their kinship with Bill Ayers of the Weather Underground. "We've shown you tonight that Hamas, Code Pink"—the feminist anti-war group—"and the Muslim Brotherhood are all linked together."

Wow! It makes perfect sense. One world government! A global currency! Head for the shelters and arm yourselves, fellow Okies—here come the Marxist-Fascist-Socialist-Feminist totalitarian stooges!

Read Goldberg's report here.

CNN's Anderson Cooper Talks about His Encounter with an Egyptian Mob

No Driver's License? No Problem! Georgia Republican Calls for State to Stop the Interfering with Freedom

How 'bout those freedom-loving Republicans who love freedom so much that they are pushing to ban driver's licenses? We can't wait for those 9-year-olds to get behind the wheel!

Yes, sports fans, state-issued driver's licenses are interfering with your God-given right to drive and be as free as you ought to be.

That's the manta of one Bobby Franklin, a Georgia Republican legislator, who sees Big Government interfering with the people's right to drive.

Hey, while we're at it, let's do away other laws that interfere with our freedom. Why do we need traffic laws at all? Don't we all have the God-given right to drive on both sides of the road and go as fast as we want?

But why stop there? Why require physicians to go to medical school? Don't we all have the freedom to practice medicine? Then there are those pesky building codes, which take away my right to build a firetrap. And, by God, I have the right to build a firetrap if I want to!

In the new Republican world, all of us have the freedom to do, well, anything—it's our God-given right! Never mind public safety or common sense—we freedom-loving conservatives don't need no stinkin' common sense!

Read the whole story here.