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.

Friday, August 26, 2011

So Great! Gawker Ranking Puts Oklahoma in the Pits

The Sooner state did not rise to the top of the heap in the cheeky state rankings devised by the folks at Gawker, a cheekier-than-thou website based in New York City.

No, sports fans, us Okies live on The Prairie, which is not a compliment. Our landscape, the Gawker folks helpfully point out, is just plain sh***y.

But, hey, Tulsa comes off better than the rest of the state. We are home to Hanson, after all, which is a compliment.

The Gawker profile also highlights State Rep. Sally Kern, one the nation's greatest homophobes. She's one of the reasons Oklahoma ranks so low.

In any case, we didn't come in last, which is something. Read all about it here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jim Inhofe's Climate Fantasies Meet Reality: More Science (and Ridicule) for Oklahoma Senator

Why bother with science when you can make up your own "fake" facts?

We are referring to former Tulsa mayor (alas) and current U.S. senator, Jim Inhofe, the same Jim Inhofe who claims that global warming and climate change are hoaxes. Too bad Inhofe's politically motivated wishful thinking keeps getting knocked down by actual science. (Example: here)

The record heat wave in the Sooner state this summer isn't helping—Oklahoma's heat has been off the charts. 

As Sooners know all too well, it's been well over 100 degrees for days on end this summer in many Oklahoma towns and cities, causing major headaches for Oklahoma's agricultural sector. In plainer language, the excessive heat has wilted the crops.

Meanwhile, Sen. Inhofe is still certain that he's right and all the climate scientists with their fancy charts and computers and statistical trends and stuff are so wrong. In fact, Inhofe's anti-science attitude has become increasingly embarrassing, as we document here.

P.S.—Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin earlier this summer asked Oklahomans to pray for rain, as if we—the good people of the Sooner state—could simply petition the Lord for relief and, presto, He would deliver life-giving rain to His Chosen People.

We probably need to brush up on our theology, but we don't think this is how God works.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Birthermania Lives! Thanks to WorldNetDaily's Conpiracy Theory, Airman Flakes Out

You just can't stamp out a good (read: nutty) conspiracy theory.

For the True Believers, no amount of evidence or facts is ever enough. They are always right, of course, and all the other conspirators and their so-called evidence are always wrong.

Thus we have the sad spectacle of an Air Force staff sergeant buying the "birther" conspiracy that Barack Obama isn't really president because, you know, he was born in Kenya and is a Muslim and a Marxist and all that. Same ole, same ole.

How does he know? Why it was on the Internet, of course, always a totally reliable source of The Truth. Oh, and there's WorldNetDaily, home of a number of whacked out conspiracy theories, including "birtherism."

The link, with the sergeant's video, is here.

Duh! Muskogee Phoenix Headline Misses the News

The AltTulsa gang was checking the Oklahoma headlines today and we came across this "winner" on the Muskogee Phoenix website:
Coburn speaks during Town Hall meeting
Really? Sen. Tom Coburn spoke at his own meeting? Wow! Who woulda thunk it?

And what, pray tell, did he speak about? That might be worth reporting.

Beyond the usual "government is out of control blah, blah, blah," there was this: Coburn said won't be running for senate again when his term expires in 2016.

Oh, there's some news. Too bad the Phoenix missed it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Good News for Downtown Tulsa: Aloft Hotel under Construction in Old City Hall

Downtown Tulsa is a work in progress. Now, finally, after decades of demolition and neglect, some exciting new developments are coming back to the city center.

AT recently reported on a new grocery store coming to downtown. Cam's Grocery is scheduled to open later this year.  

In addition, Blake Ewing, owner of Joe Momma's Pizza downtown, is planning a new grocery downtown.

Thanks to the Tulsa World, we see that the Aloft Hotel is making strides in the conversion of Tulsa's old city hall to a luxury downtown hotel, one convenient to the BOK Center. As we say, it's an exciting development for downtown Tulsa and another step in the revitalization of downtown.

A link to the Tulsa World story is here.

Fox & Friends Promotes Drinking and Guns: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Wow! Ron Paul's Amazing Messiah Ad: He's 'The One'

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rep. Sullivan Speaks: Surprise! He Blames Obama

Rep. John Sullivan is nothing if not partisan. Whenever he opens his mouth, he bashes everyone to the left of Attila the Hun.

So naturally Sullivan couldn't make nice about the Republican-created debt ceiling crisis, one that resulted in a U.S. credit downgrade by the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's.

To hear Sullivan tell it, it's all Obama's fault—no mention of House Speaker John Boehner or the Tea Party gang who orchestrated the entire mess.

According to Sullivan, the downgrade is "a clear signal that President Obama and his economic team are in way over their heads when it comes to the economy."

Actually, no. That assessment doesn't even square with the S&P statement on the credit downgrade, which pointed out that partisanship and a failure to raise revenues were a continuing problem in Washington.

The president—not Republican leader Boehner and certainly not the Tea Party "hostage takers"—turned out to be the adult in the room during the debt limit negotiations, as recent polls have made clear.

The polls also show that Congress's approval ratings have sunk to a historic low. Here in T-town, it's clear why those approval numbers are so low.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tulsa's Michael Wallis to Appear on The Daily Show

This is pretty cool. Tulsa's own Michael Wallis will be the guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Yes, Sooner fans, Wallis will appear this Thursday, August 11, on the Comedy Central show. 
Wallis will be taking about his latest book, David Crockett: Lion of the West. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thanks, Tea Baggers: A (Fake) Tea Party Tribute

No Austerity in OU Basketball Land

With high unemployment, a manufactured debt crisis (thanks Tea Party!) and a reeling stock market, Sooners are well aware of economic uncertainty and hard times.

Or maybe not. Down at OU, new basketball coach Lon Kruger is, well, rolling in cash. 

As the Tulsa World reported recently, Kruger's bonuses alone could total $270,000—a terrific payout for success on the court. Sure, his players have to win games to collect this money, but these numbers make it difficult to claim that Kruger is being underpaid.

Oh, and his six-year contract comes in at a cool $16.6 million. 

Here are some of the financial sweetners as reported in the World:
• $20,000 bonus for winning the Big 12 title or the Big 12 tournament
• $25,000 for making the NCAA tournament
• $25,000 for advancing in each round of the tournament
• $15,000 for being named Big 12 coach of the year
• $25,000 for being named national coach of the year. 
There are other incentives in Kruger's contract as well, including $500,000 longevity bonus to be paid out if he stays until 2016.

And (finally) there's something in Kruger's contract about learning. Coach Kruger also gets a $25,000 bonus if the team's average GPA is 3.0 or higher. 

Hmmm. Seems like that last incentive is far less important than those on-the-court goals.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Barresi Update: The Oklahoma School Superintendent's Continuing Shortsightedness

Oklahoma School Superintendent Janet "Cut & Chop" Barresi has been on the job less than a year. But that hasn't stopped her from making Oklahoma schools worse.

We were reminded of Barresi's wrecking ball approach to public education recently by an op-ed in the Tulsa World. Poteau history teacher Thomas Brennan noted public education has served Oklahoma well, providing opportunities for all children no matter where they live or what their level of family income. (A link to Brennan's piece is here.)

"Public education was a great unifier of shared culture and values that strengthened the middle class of America and was at the core of our democracy," Brennan wrote.

But the state legislature, Gov. Fallin and Supt. Barresi are undermining this legacy, Brennan added. Barresi cut funding for Advanced Placement programs, for example, then had the nerve "to complain that too many high school graduates are not ready for college."

Barresi also cut funds for alternative education—including Tulsa's Street School—and dropped state support for National Board Certified Teachers.

Hey, who needs well-qualified teachers?

Sure, funds are tight. The state has budget problems. We know this. But Barresi and others state leaders have taken a meat ax to the education budget and done precious little to make solve the state's funding problems.

Brennan summed up the problem with a grade for Oklahoma's leaders. It's a well-deserved F.

Philbrook Show: Native American Views of War

Wars and Rumors of Wars @Philbrook from Philbrook Museum on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Conspiracy Flashback: Tulsa Blogger Bates Played the Birther Game Too

Speaking of "Birtherism" in T-town (see last post), Tulsa blogger Michael Bates of Batesline fame couldn't resist getting in on the action back in April.

As you will recall, that's when the president released his (supposedly non-existent) long-form birth certificate. Ah, but the conspiracy theorists immediately seized on the supposed inconsistencies in the document to assert that the certificate was a forgery.

Of course! Every conspiracy theorist worth his or her salt is going to find glaring problems in this obvious forgery from the highest office in the land. 

Unfortunately, Bates played along with this nonsense. Here's what he wrote on April 27, 2011:
My guess was that there was something embarrassing on the long-form birth certificate that didn't appear on the certification of live birth that he released earlier. [Actually, no. Bates was wrong.]

And now the White House has posted on its website a PDF containing what purports to be a scan of a certified copy of the birth certificate of Barack Hussein Obama, II.

I say "purports" because there are some weird things about it. It's not strange that it's a PDF, rather than an image file, like a JPEG, BMP, PNG, or TIFF. Many scanners generate a PDF by default.
Bates went on to cite more document mumbo-jumbo from his network of highly sophisticated [sic] wingnuts, but…it all amounted to a molehill, not a mountain. They have no conspiracy and found no forgery. But last April, Bates played along as if this was a real controversy.

As we said in our last post, only the loneliest and most unhinged (read: Orly Taitz) are still playing the "birther" card.

Bad Blogs: Tulsa Site Still Flogging the Obama Birth Certificate

Only the most zealous conspiracy theorists are still pretending that President Obama is a foreign national without an actual U.S. birth certificate.

Unfortunately, one of those is right here in T-town.

Yes, Sooner fans, the completely phony Obama birth certificate story is being kept alive at Tulsa Today, a local blog. Tulsa Today cites the not-exactly-credible World Net Daily site as the source for the latest Obama conspiracy report, which (surprise!) features the irrepressible (and completely wrong-headed) Orly Taitz.

In a time when the nation has real problems and needs effective solutions to these problems, Ms. Taitz and her fellow theorists are a little more than a silly side show, doomed to failure.

Nevertheless, Tulsa Today is on the case. The link is here.

Office Jitters: Tulsa's District 9 Councilor G. T. Bynum Talks about His First Vote

Video courtesy of Tulsa's This Land