Friday, April 29, 2011

'Shame on You' Sally Kern: Oklahoma's Very Own Bonehead Gets Blasted

Rep. Sally Kern is having a very bad week. It's her own fault, of course, since she's the one trotting out bogus stereotypes and cliches about blacks and women. 

The Oklahoma City Republican (and preacher's wife!) has been criticized in Oklahoma and across the nation for stating—on the floor of the House of Representatives—that blacks don't study hard because they think the government will take care of them. (Of course!)

Oh, and women—"they tend to spend more time at home with their families," Kern said. (Girls just want to be moms, after all.) 

The Tulsa World was having none of this nonsense, publishing an editorial blasting Kern for reverting to the racism and sexism of the 1950s. The paper also pointed out (correctly) Kern's hypocrisy:
Sally Kern, the proud Christian and wife of a minister, continues to say and do unChristinalike things.

The House ought to take action and punish Kern.
In the meantime, all we can say is shame, shame on you, Rep. Kern.

We're not so keen on punishing Kern, a dim-witted and thin-skinned person who loves to play the victim. But we agree that Kern needs to be shamed for pretending that all blacks are lazy and all women just love to cook and clean.

Those are tired stereotypes that should have been dispelled long ago. Sally Kern needs to figure that out.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stuffed-Shirt Alert: Columnist (and Boy Anglophile) David Brooks

The AT gang takes a dim view of professional stuffed shirts, folks who are so effete, dainty and out of touch that they have no idea what life is like among us "ordinary" folks.

Today's nominee is author and columnist David Brooks, who lives, apparently, in a chilly world of conservative ideas and legendary figures. In a conversation with Gail Collins published today in the New York Times, Brooks drops names like the professional prig that he is, revealing his private world of highmindedness and exclusivity.

You rubes from Nowhereville keep your distance!

The winning Brooks quote:
[Y]ou’re conversing with someone whose pet turtles as a boy were named Disraeli and Gladstone; who once lost every one of the British novelist Margaret Drabble’s soccer balls when we subletted her house one summer in 1971; who once got a bruise when he accidentally bumped into Margaret Thatcher while backing away from a lunch buffet at a free market conference.

More Sally Kern Nonsense: Oklahoma Legislator Repeats Negative Stereotypes

Rep. Sally Kern is as dependable as the setting sun. Every day, it seems, she blurts out another bit of nineteenth-century nonsense. 

Oh wait, that's a slander to the enlightened folks who lived in the nineteenth century, some of whom were more thoughtful than Rep. Kern.

The latest pearl of wisdom from Oklahoma's most backasswards legislator: blacks don't want to work hard (the government will take care of them, naturally!) unlike those white guys we all know and love. Oh, and women all want to stay home with the children. Of course.

Sadly, we are not making this up. The Kern story is here.

Moammar Gadhafi's War on Writers: An Interview with Novelist Hisham Matar

Are writers dangerous? For dictators such as Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, they are.

That's the theme of an interview broadcast today with Libyan novelist Hisham Matar. Speaking on NPR, Matar described how Gadhafi imprisoned hundreds of poets, short story writers and novelists for no crime other than simply writing.

Ideas outside the "official narrative" were threats to the regime, Matar notes, which led Gadhafi and his minions to lock up anyone who dared challenge the powers structure. Matar also reports that government officials went to bookstores to collect unapproved books, which they proceeded to burn.

Obviously, such actions are anti-intellectual and wrong. They also demonstrate how thin-skinned and paranoid Gadhafi was, unwilling even to allow "dangerous" books in the bookshops.

Matar's intervew, in print and audio forms, is here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grassroots Music: New Albums from Marcia Ball and Steve Earle

AltTulsa keeps abreast of all things cultural, but we have to admit that we don't post much about music. Let's remedy that today with a recommendation for two new albums by some favorites, Marcia Ball and Steve Earle. 

We see that Ball, a long-time Austin blues singer, is out with Roadside Attractions (Alligator Records). The CD contains 12 original songs, including one called "This Used to be Paradise." USA Today's Edna Gunderson called it a powerful song about "how greed has destroyed traditions."

Earle's new album, I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive, has the same name as his new novel. (Earle is a serious writer!) The album was produced by T Bone Burnett and channels the spirits of Oklahoma's own Woody Guthrie, as well as Hank Williams and others.

We say: Check 'em out.

Birthermania! True Believers Still Denying Obama's American Birth

Headline of the Day (thus far):
Trump Advisor: Even If Long-Form Birth Certificate Is Genuine, It Doesn't Prove Anything

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More Bogus News from Fox: It's the New, Completely Phony War on Easter

First it was the imaginary War on Christmas, a favorite theme of Fox News every December.

Even without actual evidence, Fox annually reports that Obama and the Godless socialists and communists all over America have stolen the holidays—that is, Christmas.

Now it's the War on Easter, another trumped up bit of nonsense from the True Christians and Patriots over at Fox. Once again, the evidence is missing and the arguments weak, but…. Who at Fox ever let the truth stand in the way of a good smear? 

That's not the Fox News way. Their mission is to report the news they think will be popular with the Right Wing paranoid types—a fact-free perversion of real journalism where no truth is needed.

Read more about it here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What Royal Wedding? AltTulsa Is a William & Kate Free Zone

Some prominent folks in the U.S. media are falling all over themselves for Prince William-Kate Middleton news this week in advance of the Royal Wedding.

Barbara Walters, for one, did a special the other day—or so we hear. (We couldn't bear to watch.) 

We hate to be petty colonials, but isn't this a whole of hoopla about not very much. Or, more bluntly, why should we care about the Royal Family?

As MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell said last week, didn't we wage a revolution to get away from these folks?

Yes, we did.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cash Flow: New GOP House Just Like the Old GOP House

Remember the 2010 Republican pledge to represent real, grassroots citizens? No? Apparently, neither did the GOP freshman class, which is raking in the PAC money like the old GOP. Here's a summary from Think Progress:

Despite running on a message that they would “shake up” Washington, House GOP freshmen are raking in money from PACs, with more than 50 of the 87 members taking in at least $50,000 in PAC money during the first quarter of 2011. Eighteen took in more than $100,000, led by Rep. Steve Stivers’ (R-OH) $241,000.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Inhofe's Landing Audio: Listen to the Call on Senator's Dangerous Landing

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe endangered the lives of several airport construction workers in November when he landed on a closed runway in Texas.

Inhofe says it's old news, but the FAA report, publishing online last week, provides chilling details of the senator's landing, including his "sky hopping" the plane over several trucks that were on the runway.

Now, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we can listen to one of the calls made to report Inhofe's landing. The call makes clear that the workers were more than a little alarmed about Inhofe's plane and its dangerous landing.

A couple of highlight: The called notes that Inhofe "damn near hit a big red dually," whose driver probably "wet his britches." At the end of the tape, the airport manager and veteran pilot talks about the "recklessness" of Inhofe's actions.

Interesting, but not what you'd call inspiring behavior for a U.S. senator:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Incredible Shrinking Tea Party: Tax Day Rallies Attract Only a Few

Monday, April 18—yesterday—was Tax Day, the day that federal income taxes were due.

It's also a day that the Tea Party types love to "celebrate" with noisy gatherings and signs whining about paying too much.  

This year,  however, the Tea Party gang was largely MIA. True, a few tax protesters turned out in Tulsa and other cities across the nation, but their ranks were thin. In Oklahoma and elsewhere, the Tea Party is losing steam.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did an entire segment on this trend, noting that Beltway pundits and GOP insiders have failed to reflect the Tea Party's diminished prospects. Indeed, some of them are acting as if the Tea Party is important and has real clout, a proposition that is increasingly debatable. Indeed, polls show the Tea Party is highly unpopular.

Right here in Soonerland, the anti-tax group at the state capitol was a measly 30 or so, according to media reports. There's much more here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Headline of the Day: "Fallin flip-flops" on Federal Healthcare Grant

Yes, Sooner fans, Gov. Mary Fallin goofed. First she was for it, then—under Wingnut pressure—she wasn't.

The item in question is the $54 million federal grant to set up a health insurance exchange, part of the health reform program passed last year.

In an editorial, the Tulsa World noted (correctly) that Fallin has been on both sides of this grant. When she was being practical, she was for it. After all, it's money that, as the newspaper put it, "could have been put to good use." 

But no. With all the strength of a wet noodle, Fallin bowed before the altar of the Tea Party and its allies. She rejected the grant.

This makes no sense, but logic is not a notion the Wingnuts are familiar with. Following their reasoning (another foreign concept), the World notes that the state should immediately start returning federal money for military bases, food stamps, Medicaid and Medicare, and Social Security.

Okies don't need no stinkin' federal funds. Oh wait. Yes we do. 

Lots of Oklahomans depend on federal money for all kinds of jobs and other support. In a state with high rates of poverty and numerous health-related problems (read: smoking), Fallin made a dumb move. Call it a flip-flop.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Inhofe's "Sky Hop" Landing: FAA Report Details Politician's Dangerous Landing

The FAA's official report on Sen. Jim Inhofe's dangerous landing on a closed runway in south Texas last year hit the Internet this week. The facts aren't pretty. 

Here are more exciting details of Sen. Inhofe's landing from the official report:
Then there's this tidbit:
Interesting. Very Interesting. 

Sen. Inhofe says it's old news, but it's also worth noting that, as the report states, "this was not the first time this kind of thing had happened."

The report also notes that the airport manager, Marshall Reece, "confirmed the basic facts." The report adds:
Sen. Inhofe is a long-time pilot and, it seems, and a rather skillful one—he successfully avoided injuring himself or others on this misadventure. But endangering others by landing on a closed runway is no laughing matter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sen. Inhofe's Dangerous Landing: Some Findings from the FAA's Incident Report

Former Tulsa mayor Jim Inhofe doesn't want to talk about it, but he endangered the lives of several construction workers last November when he landed his aircraft on a closed runway in Texas.

Thanks to The Smoking Gun, Oklahomans can now read the details of the Federal Aviation Administration's report on the incident, details that do not inspire confidence in the senator's judgment.

Here's a portion of the FAA Incident Report:
This is official language, of course. The workers themselves spoke more plainly, including one who said Inhofe's plane "scared the crap" out of him.

Even worse, the FAA report includes this comment:
Fortunately for the Texas construction crew, Sen. Inhofe did manage to miss all the workers and their equipment by "hopping" his plane down the runway. Still, this was a serious incident, so serious that it could have injured or killed Inhofe, his passenger and the men on the ground.

No wonder Inhofe doesn't want to talk about it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sen. Jim Inhofe Landing "Scared the Crap" Out of Texas Airport Workers

Tulsa's very own Jim Inhofe "scared the crap" out of a group of Texas airport construction workers last year when he intentionally landed his small plane on a closed runway. 

That was the news released today by The Smoking Gun, a website that published the gory details of Inhofe's landing, one that endangered the lives of workers as he hopscotched over trucks and other construction equipment.

Inhofe, the state's senior U.S. senator (emphasis on senior) landed on the runway despite a huge yellow X marking the runway as closed.

The amazing "crap" link (with actual audio!) to The Smoking Gun is here. It's worth a listen. It's also a vivid reminder of Inhofe's lack of judgment in a life or death situation. 

P.S.—The official report on Inhofe's landing is also on The Smoking Gun site. It's very interesting reading.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Oklahoma Crazy: GOP Fundamentalists Push for an Ideologically Pure Paradise

Yes, Sooner fans, the inmates are running the asylum. 

We're talking about the state's Republican zealots, the noisy and completely unhinged blowhards who have taken over the Oklahoma Republican Party. For these fine folks, no conspiracy theory is too wacky to embrace and no federal program actually helps anyone.

If this sounds like leftist hyperbole, consider the following reports from down the Turner Turnpike:

• The legislature is considering its own "birther" legislation, a bill to require presidential candidates to prove they are U.S. citizens. State Sen. Ralph Shortey, an OKC Republican, supported the bill this way: "The situation [read: right-wing lie] with our president has instigated this fear." Really?

Rep. Sally Kern, an OKC Republican, wants to outlaw the judicial use of foreign law in Oklahoma. This legislation would probably be unconstitutional. It would seem to be nonsensical as well, since Kern has been quoted as saying it "targets all religious laws." If so, wouldn't the Ten Commandments be off limits to Oklahoma courts?

• Even Tulsa County's Republican Party, which should know better, is going over the edge, pushing a GOP "purity test." Thus, all gun legislation is unconstitutional (really!) and if you don't believe this "core principle," you aren't a True Republican. So says Sally Bell, outgoing Tulsa County GOP chairwoman. So much for the GOP's big tent.

• Speaking of the Tulsa Republican convention, the GOP know-nothings also blasted Gov. Mary Fallin—a fellow Republican—for trying to respond rationally to the healthcare crisis. For these folks Fallin, hardly a bleeding-heart liberal, is a traitor to the True Conservative cause. So much for Reagan's 11th Commandment.

There's more, unfortunately, but you get the idea. Oklahoma's far-right zealots won't be satisfied until every reasonable idea or moderate proposal has a stake through its heart. This is a Red State, by God, and nothing—absolutely nothing—that isn't Ideologically Pure can be tolerated.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Fond Look Back at Glenn Beck: Blowing Our Mind (So He Says)

Fact-Checking Trump's Latest Birther Claim: The Donald Is Wrong Again

Donald Trump would like people to take him seriously. After all, he's running for the Republican nomination for president (or so he would have us believe).

But The Donald's credibility is not going to improve if he keeps playing the "birther" card, repeating the discredited and silly idea that President Obama is not legally the president because he wasn't born in the U.S.

If you fall for this nonsense, Obama must have been born in Kenya or some other foreign place—all the better to support the equally inane idea that he's a secret Muslim, a communist, and a terrorist-loving subversive who hates America.

R-r-r-r-right. And we've got a really good deal on this New York City bridge.

This sort of hyper-paranoid baloney isn't worthy of a serious political candidate. Come to think of it, Trump isn't a serious candidate, even if his new belief in "birtherism" coincides with the Wingnuts and Tea Party boneheads out there in Red State America. 

Our friends at PolitiFact have (once again) checked out the facts of "birtherism" and rated Trump's latest charge. It's false. The true story here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Buyer's Remorse in Florida: GOP Gov. Rick Scott's Negatives Are Soaring

Rick Scott is the brash new Republican governor of Florida. But Scott's honeymoon with the voters is over—his negatives are rising fast.

Like some other oh-so-bold Republican state leaders (Wisconsin, anyone?), Scott is overplaying his hand, driving off independents and middle-of-the-road Republicans (assuming there are such folks left in the GOP).

The result is not pretty
for the Sunshine state's governor, which is what the new polling shows. The numbers are here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Alive and Kicking: Tulsa World's Market Penetration Goes Up. Really.

Some prognosticators have been predicting the death of the newspaper for many years—decades really.

Television news was once thought to mean the death of newspaper. Who wants to read the paper when you can simply turn on the tube? More recently, the explosion of digital media has been widely predicted to be the final nail in the ink-stained coffin.

That may yet happen, but print is still alive and—if not exactly well—still kicking.

Right here in T-town, the Tulsa World has seen its market penetration go up slightly, bucking the doomsayers. The World's penetration, in fact, is in the top 20 of U.S. newspapers, just ahead of the Daily Oklahoman.

But the World's numbers are up two percent, while the Oklahoman's are slightly down. Read the report with 2009-2010 numbers here.

These numbers include print and online penetration, which could be hurt by the World's recent decision to charge for some of its content. The jury's still out on that, but the death of print, once again, has been greatly exaggerated.

(Hat tip to This Land Press for the link.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

LSU Professor Publishes New Biography of Oklahoma's Will Rogers

Will Rogers died in a airplane crash in 1935. Yet Oklahoma's favorite humorist remains a beloved and well remembered figure in the Sooner state and beyond.

A new Rogers biography has just been published. The book, by Richard D. White, Jr. of Louisiana State University, emphasizes the political side of Rogers' career. "History has done a disservice to Will Rogers," White writes. A closer look at his life, the author says, reveals the man as "a true political insider with the power to shape public opinion and ultimately influence public policy."

We learned these facts from recent review of White's book in the New York Times Book Review, which highlights both Rogers' political power as well as his "eagerness to please," as reviewer John Schwartz puts it.

That eagerness, combined with Rogers' insider status, caused him to curb his criticism of John D. Rockefeller after a friendly visit to the millionaire's Florida mansion. More ominously, Rogers was also charmed by Benito Mussolini—a weakness in Rogers' "never met a man I didn't like" philosophy.

In his day, White concludes, Rogers was bigger and more influential than Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert or Rush Limbaugh. Rogers used his radio broadcasts and newspaper columns to support Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. He also made fun of Prohibition and warned of the rising threat of Germany in the early 1930s.

Based on this review, we're happy to recommend White's book, published by Texas Tech University Press. Check out the Amazon listing of the book here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Google's New Gmail Motion: It's Amazing (Wink, Wink)

Republican Chutzpah Award of the Day: Bar-owning Legislator Complains about DUI Laws

Talk about nerve.

A Wyoming legislator—a Republican—who owns a bar is complaining about proposed new DUI laws, which, he says, will be bad for small businesses (like his!) and will destroy a way of life. 

Amazing! The details are here.