Thursday, June 30, 2011

Another Amazing Newt Flip-flop: Gingrich on Both Sides of Afghan Troop Pullout

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been a bust as a Republican presidential candidate. His fledgling campaign has lost top staffers as well as a number of major donors—and that's in a matter of weeks.

Now Gingrich has flubbed again, taking two diametrically opposed positions on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in—yes!—only two weeks.

Gingrich, the Georgia GOP back-bencher who rose to become Speaker of the House during the Clinton years, is floundering as a candidate, hampered by his massive ego and failure to acknowledge that the possibility that he could ever be wrong.

Oh, and there's the matter of his marriages, divorces and sexual indiscretions—an entire soap opera of conservative moral lapses that belie his professed principles.

The details of the latest Gingrich flip-flop are here.

Tulsa Blogger Steven Roemerman Seeks District 7 City Council Seat

Conservative Republican and local blogger Steven Roemerman wants a seat on the Tulsa City Council.

Roemerman, 35, is offering voters his "strong conservative principles," probably a selling point in Tulsa's District 7, which is now represented by John Eagleton. To his credit, Roemerman wants to "usher in a new age of civility" at city hall.

Few observers would quarrel with that sort of change in local politics, which has been marred for months by bickering and bad faith between councilors and Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

Nevertheless, we have some concerns about Roemerman's candidacy. For one thing, his announcement is includes a dose of grandiose political doubletalk about forging "a future for Tulsa that my children and their children will be proud of."

It's difficult, if not impossible, to know what that means or how Roemerman's ideas might create such a city.

Then there's Roemerman's "civility" push, which may be more hot air than clear-eyed political reality. Indeed, Roemerman's blogroll links to the highly uncivil Michelle Malkin, a bomb-throwing conservative commentator who is hardly a role model for civil discourse.

Given that association, we'd say Roemerman has some way to go to convince voters of the depth of his civility.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Good Jab: Barry Friedman's Takedown of Tom Coburn's Ethically Challenged Fraternity

Dr. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma's junior U.S. senator, is taking heat from his role in the John Ensign sex scandal.

In his "At Large" column in the July issue of Tulsa People, Barry Friedman nails the senator for his hypocrisy in the Ensign affair, noting Dr. No's sudden conversion to "Yes" when asked if he "could keep the husband of Ensign's mistress quiet."

Ouch! This hurts—especially when Coburn's "moral outrage toward others [Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich] is legendary,"Friedman notes.

Friedman also recalls that Coburn was outraged again about the nudity in Schinder's List, a serious work on the Holocaust. 

But when his Christian conservative pal (Ensign) needed someone to arrange hush money, Coburn answered the call. "Coburn acted like a fraternity brother who helped get the girl out of dorm before Parents' Weekend," Friedman writes.

Zing! Coburn's moral compass is on the fritz, it seems, and the senator has yet to acknowledge his problem. In fact, he's defended his actions and claimed he did nothing unethical.

As AT has said before, the Ensign affair is not going away. 

How 'Bout that Janet Barresi? Chopping and Cutting State Education Funds

Oklahoma's State Education Supt. Janet Barresi is at at again. She's cutting more funds for education all across the Sooner state.

First she cut teacher bonuses (for National Board certified teachers), adult education, middle school math labs and other programs.  

Good work, Janet!

Now, under her leadership, the state Board of Education has eliminated state funds for Tulsa's Street School, an award-winning nonprofit school that provides alternative education for dropouts.

Never mind that the school is 38 years old and has been receiving state funding for 25 years. Never mind that the school was recognized in 2009 as the first recipient of an award in alternative education from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. Never mind that the school was blindsided by Barresi's staff, which didn't answer emails and stopped communicating with Street School leaders in advance of the funding cut.

Good work, Janet! 

Yes, the state budget is hurting. Hard choices have to be made. We know that. But the state has an obligation to educate its children and to make that education as strong and useful as it can. As the Tulsa World asks in an editorial today, "How many more hits can public education take?"

The World ends with this observation:
Politicans talk a good game about how important education is to the state. But it all seems to be nothing more than talk.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Today's Best Political Headline: Why Palin Has No Shot in 2012

Sarah Palin's political future is rapidly dimming. As an op-ed in today's USA Today puts it, "Palin has no shot in 2012."

The authors of the article, two Virginia political activists, point out that Palin's rise to stardom has been achieved by "pure luck." She was "plucked from obscurity in Alaska" by Sen. John McCain in 2008, but her performance since then has dismal.

She quit as Alaska governor after the election, taking the easy path in political life, free to criticize Democrats and other Republicans but bearing no responsibility herself.

We know that Palin has some rabid fans in Red States (like Oklahoma) and in largely Republican cities (like Tulsa). But a small group of passionate supporters, as the op-ed writers make clear, is not a solid base for national political office.

The Palin political moment has come and gone. But there's always reality television.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bachmann Update: Tea Party Leader Pushed for Federal Pork

Good ole Michele Bachmann is every bit the political hypocrite we suspected she would be. The conservative Republican legislator from Minnesota talks big about small government and lower taxes–but she still wants every last federal dollar for her district. 

Here's the story from Think Progress:
Despite her Tea Party rhetoric, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) aggressively pursued literal government pork when she “leaned heavily” on federal officials to inject money into her district’s pork industry, the Huffington Post reports. Three of the six counties in her district are also among the top 10 recipients of dairy subsidies in the state.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Oklahoma's Smaller Government: GOP Cuts Sticking It to the People

Oklahoma's Republican lawmakers are reducing state government, just like they said they would. But for citizens, the small government results are not encouraging.

We're getting fewer state services, which hurts the middle and working classes. Since most Oklahomans are middle and working class, state budget cuts are not improving life for most of us.

Thankfully, some people are beginning to notice and call the GOP on its stingy view of the public sector. A recent letter in the Tulsa World ticked off the results of the Republican agenda.

It's an ugly picture, all courtesy of the Sooner State's right-wing politics. Read the World letter here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More Silliness from the Wingnut Crowd: Tulsa Writer Believes Everything He Wants to Hear

Oklahoma will never run out of gullible wingnuts willing to believe anything that suits their fancy.

Who needs facts or evidence or logic? Why bother with boring details like that when you have The Truth on you side?

We're speaking of a recent letter to the Tulsa World that proclaims the treason—or something like it—of President Barack Obama.

Here, for your political enlightenment and reading pleasure, are some of the gems in this epistle:
It has become increasingly obvious that President Obama does not have a valid U.S. birth certificate and is a foreign national who hates America, our military and our way of life.
Wow! Full-bore birthism, without a hint of actual evidence. A couple of questions come to mind: "Increasingly obvious" to whom? That would seem to be a smaller and smaller minority, even among right-wing voters. Where is the evidence for "hating" the military? Oh that's right—no need for silly evidence.
It is also apparent that his ascent to the presidency was orchestrated by the left knowing that he was not eligible under the U.S. Constitution. 
Of course—it's the all-powerful (but secret) left in action, the same socialist-communist-Marxist gang that has already brought down major capitalist corporations like Wal-Mart and Google and Citibank and Exxon and…. Oh wait, these companies seems to be doing okay.
He was groomed for this in Russia in the 1980s to make a push for [a] global Marxist society…
Sure, and we saw Elvis singing in the choir at First Baptist last Sunday. Or is Obama (not Frank Sinatra) the real Manchurian Candidate? But seriously, Obama was born and raised in Hawaii, educated at Columbia University and Harvard Law School and then settled in Chicago.

And he did travel to Russia at one time, which means he must have become a Marxist.

For the wingnuts, of course, all this is just further evidence of Obama's anti-Americanism. Didn't he spend some time in Indonesia as a child? Yes! Aren't Columbia and Harvard elitist ultra-liberal anti-American institutions that indoctrinate America's youth into "foreign" ideas like peace and love? Yes! 

Case closed. Well, if you still believe that was Elvis you saw at church.

Oklahoma Legislature's Smaller Government Means Cuts to School Special Ed Programs

The Oklahoma Legislature is dominated by conservative Republicans, which means that state programs and services are now officially underfunded. 

Or as Tulsa Public Schools Supt. Keith Ballard put it today in the Tulsa World, "This is what smaller government looks like."

Ballard was responding to inquiries about TPS's decision to cut special education services to the tune of $4.2 million, which will eliminate a number of teachers, administrators paraprofessionals as well as  support services for special education students.

Ballard was not happy about the cuts, but he was honest enough to point out the culprit. "These are very necessary services for kids, but the Oklahoma Legislature is determined to have smaller government."

Voters (and parents) need to keep this in mind next time they vote for state representatives and senators.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rumor Central: More Wingnut Myths about Obama

The zany world of right-wing propaganda and bogus knowldege is alive and well out there on the Interwebs, apparently immune to all efforts to stop it with actual facts.

We're speaking (again) of viral emails that condemn President Obama for his outlandish statements and socialistic, communistic and vegetarian views.  

Why to hear the hate-mongers tell it, Obama is in league with Hitler, Stalin and Fidel Castro—not to mention the Islamic terrorists—to bring the country to its knees.

Heavens! What's a true-blue patriot supposed to do? 

We suggest this simple solution for saving the nation: Listen with a healthy dose of skepticism toward all forms of Internet rumors, talk radio and Fox News. 

As it happens, the Conservative True Believers out there keep getting it wrong, as the latest round of Internet nonsense has shown. 

PolitiFact checked the record. Read the latest debunking report here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ouch! School Superintendent Janet Barresi Takes It on the Chin

Janet Barresi was elected as the state's new school superintendent in November. Barresi, a dentist (really), made a lot of big promises during the campaign, but things haven't been going her way since she assumed office earlier this year.

There was, for example, that whole thing about some new Barresi staff members who—oops!—weren't actually state employees. Turns out, they were being paid by private funds.

If that seems odd to you, you aren't the only one who thought so. The state attorney general, a Republican like Barresi, recently issued an opinion confirming the problematic nature of Barresi's staff arrangement. 

Then there was a scathing letter to the editor in the Tulsa World the other day, one that we suspect represents the view of a growing number of Oklahoma voters. "Wake up, Oklahoma," the writer began. "You have elected  state superintendent…bent on the destruction of public education in Oklahoma."

Together with the right-wing branch of the Oklahoma legislature (the GOP), the writer notes that the new educational agenda in the Sooner state is "a segregated theocracy where only the most privileged will be able to get an education." Ouch!

We aren't sure what Barresi is up to or how her so-called reforms will work out, but we can testify to this: most Oklahomans like their local public schools and they aren't going to sit on their hands if and when those schools and their children lose educational opportunities to advance school privatization and wholesale budget-cutting.

At some point, the voters will realize that charter schools aren't a really a solution for most Oklahoma school children. When that happens, Barresi will have some explaining to do.