Friday, September 30, 2011

Education Food Fight: Oklahoma's Right-wingers Get Nasty

Whoa Nelly! The education food fight in Oklahoma is heating up, with some of the state's right-wingers spouting off in hyperbolic terms. 

The dust-up (pun intended) began the other day when one of Superintendent Janet Barresi's staffers, Jennifer Carter, called some Tulsa-area educators "dirtbags" for their legal challenge to a new state law.

The law involves private school scholarships for special-needs children, which Jenks and Broken Arrow officials say is unconstitutional.

Poor choice of words, Barresi explained. You think?

Now, conservative OCU law professor Andrew Spiropoulous has unloaded on the school officials, referring to "the thuggish tactics of the school mafia and their legal henchmen." And "school mafia"? Really?

It's hard to see how filing a lawsuit is "thuggish," but that's what the good professor wrote in the Journal Record.

And Rep. Jason Nelson, Republican of Oklahoma City, claimed that Jenks and Broken Arrow were "persecuting" the special-needs children, though that too seems far from the truth. 

But wait, there's more! "I've got news for them [Jenks and BA school officials]. Get used to it. Oklahoma citizens will no longer stand by while wealthy [?] school bureaucrats abuse their power," Nelson said.

Of course, filing a lawsuit is not "persecuting" children, nor are these bureaucrats necessarily acting against the will of the people.

One other thing: Janet Barresi and Jennifer Carter are education bureaucrats too, and, for all we know, wealthy.

Give Him Credit: Obama's Foreign Policy Success

From the NBC News website today, following news of the Obama Administration's latest anti-terrorist success:
No president since George H.W. Bush has had more foreign-policy successes happen under his watch than President Obama. The death of bin Laden. The dismantling of al Qaeda. The ouster of Khaddafy. And the end of combat operations in Iraq. 
Just a thought: The president deserves a lot more credit for getting the job done. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Simonson Resigns from Mayor's Staff

Terry Simsonson is out at Tulsa city hall.

Simsonson, chief of staff for Mayor Dewey Bartlett, resigned today following charges that he used his city position to help his son. His resignation is effective October 15.

Here are some details, courtesy of the Tulsa World:
In his resignation letter, read by Mayor Bartlett, Simonson states, “Without admitting any wrong doing on my part, what started out as my simply wanting to help my son become a Tulsa firefighter has turned into a distraction for you from the important work you must focus on as Mayor.
“This was never my intentions and, therefore, I believe I must do what is best for you and right for Tulsa,” the letter states.
Bartlett would not say whether he asked for the resignation, saying, “It’s a private matter.”
Simsonson has been a long-time political figure in Tulsa, once writing a weekly political column for Urban Tulsa.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bachmann Wrong Again: Why Can't She Tell the Triuth?

No one has ever accused Rep. Michele Bachmann of having a firm grip on the facts. If anything, Rep. Bachmann's grasp on actual facts has been, shall we say, tenuous. 

So when the Minnesota legislator spouted off the other day with the "news" that President Obama''s approval ratings were the lowest of any modern president, a thoughtful voter would have good reason to check the figures.

And guess what? Rep. Bachmann was off—way, way off.

Despite several years of Republican efforts to delegitimize the president (Born in Keyna? Not a citizen? A Marxist?), Obama's ratings are much, much stronger than Bachmann's phony charges would suggest. (Ronald Reagan, for instance.)

In short, Bachmann's wishful thinking triumphs over facts once again. The details are here.

From This Land: The Making of Tulsa's 'Artifical Cloud'

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gays Cause Tornadoes! So Says Perry's Florida Co-Chair

It's always the danged gays. They're always messin' things up for the rest of us.

This time it's tornadoes. Of course it is. 

Why the co-chair of the Perry campaign in the Great State of Florida has said so her very own self—and she ain't kiddin'.

For all we know, these gay sinners (are there any other kind?) are causin' earthquakes and hordes of locusts too. Oklahoma's own Guardian of All Things Right and Proper, Rep. Sally Kern, would be proud. We're bettin' she is.

The link is here.

Today's Best Quote: Bill Clinton on Uninformed Politicans

AltTulsa's nomination for best political quotation of the day. It's from former President Bill Clinton, who takes aim at the tidal wave of nonsense spouted by the Republican presidential candidates. Here's the quote:
You can stand up and say anything and nobody rings a bell if the facts are wrong. There’s no bell ringing. It’s crazy, we’re living in a time when it’s more important than ever to know things. And not just to know facts but to put them in a coherent. sensible pattern. And we live in a time, if you just want to talk about the economy, where the model that works for economic growth and prosperity is cooperation. But the model that works in politics is conflict.

Only on Fox: Gov. Perry is Superman, Prepared to Save the U.S.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ouch! Ethics Group Blasts Florida Congressman

South Carolina Governor Makes Up Drug Test Data

The Republican war on the poor has few limits, which means it's just dandy to make things up when it suits your political purpose.

Thus our GOP pal Nikki Haley of South Carolina blundered into a set of fake statistics to make a point about rampant drug use among South Carolina's unemployed.

"The problem was so unbelievable, Haley said last month, that at the Savannah River nuclear site, '[of] everybody they interviewed, half of them failed a drug test,'” the website Think Progress reported.

Well, no. Haley's figures were bogus, as the governor has now admitted.

This is all-too-typical Republican behavior, namely, "My mind's made up. Don't confuse me with the facts."

For the True Believers, ideology trumps factual evidence every time. The full story is here.

This is true: Wingnuts go after offensive ice cream

We shoulda seen it coming. Now ice cream—or its name, at least—is dirty. Filthy. Vulgar.

It's the end of civilization as we know it.

Yes, Sooner fans, the good and decent folks on the Far Right are highly offended by the new Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor, "Schweddy Balls."

You may remember that "Schweddy Balls" was a pretty funny Saturday Night Live sketch some years ago. The skit featured a Mr. Schweddy (played by Alec Baldwin) and his special holiday baked goods, Schweddy Balls.

Ah, but there's no humor on the Right. These Guardians of All Things Good and Pure are wagging their fingers at Ben & Jerry's and all those vulgar American ice cream eaters who would stoop so low as to buy this product.

Read all about the controversy here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wipeout: Four Tulsa Councilors Lose Their Seats

AltTulsa doesn't focus much on local politics, but even we can't overlook the "throw the bums out" results of Tuesday's primary elections.

The good news is that some of the cranks went down in flames. The ornery District 7 incumbent, Republican Jim Mautino, could only muster 347 votes in a losing campaign against Byron Steele, who tallied 571. 

Former councilor Sam Roop, also from the crank side of the aisle, lost his bid to regain the District 5 seat, which was won by Karen Gilbert. Thankfully, Gilbert appears to be a reasonable person, exactly the kind of person in short supply at city hall in recent years.

Some other candidates also fell by the wayside last night, including Steven Roemerman in District 7 and our musical friend Rocky Frisco in District 4, though Frisco wasn't really a serious candidate.

Happily, G.T. Bynum won the Republican primary in District 9, to the chagrin of local blogger Michael Bates.

In fact, Bates-endorsed candidates fared poorly in Tuesday's voting, not a good sign for his power base, such as it is. If we recall correctly, seven Bates-endorsed candidates lost last night, including Turner in District 2, Barnes in District 4, Roop in District 5 (see above), Mautino in District 6 (see above), Roemerman in District 7 (again, see above), Gibbs in Dictrict 8, and Pinney in District 9.

As we said in the headline, wipeout.

We are only speculating here, but maybe cranks have worn out their welcome at city hall. After years of bickering and feuding among themselves and with the mayor, Tulsa voters seem to want a few more reasonable people on the job. Can't say we blame 'em.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Poet Billy Collins Reads his 9/11 Poem, 'The Names'

Billy Collins is an easy poet to like. He's often clever and his lines are simple enough for even us flat-footed types.

His poem, "The Names," isn't funny, nor should it be. It's dedicated to the victims of the September 11 attack and their survivors. 

It's a moving tribute, especially if you let the words and ideas wash over you quietly.

The poem was read earlier today at the ceremony in New York City. A link to Collins' own reading of the poem is here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Candidate Rocky Frisco Tells It Like It Is—Sort of

AltTulsa generally avoids commentary on local politics. The Tulsa World, other local papers and various bloggers cover this territory and we are happy to let others huff and puff on Tulsa's sometimes disfunctional political scene.

That said, let us now violate our own rule and comment on the political musings of District 4 candidate Rocky Frisco.

Frisco is a local musical legend and he speaks his mind. Maybe this is a good thing—or maybe not

Speaking at a candidate forum last month, Frisco went for the Big Issues. The biggest problem facing Tulsa, he said, is the "nature of government itself." He explained that the Bill of Rights says, in so many words, "Leave me alone and none of your damn business."

Whoa Nelly! How's that again?

More to the point, Rocky, how does that philosophy translate into good local government?  Let's say, for example, that Rocky's neighbor wants to park 28 junk cars in his front yard, is that "none of your damn business"?

Or say Rocky's neighbor wants to keep all his household trash in a huge pile—just upwind of Rocky's front porch. Is this huge pile of stinking garbage "none of your damn business"?

"Leave me alone and none of your damn business" may play well with Tulsa's "crank" crowd, those voters who still have visions of the wide-open prairie, where a man's land is his land, dammit—end of story.

Like or not, that time has come and gone. Frisco may pine for the good ole days, but the rest of us live in a real city with real problems, a place where we need to get talk to each other and cooperate to get things done.

Frisco's colorful, homespun philosophy (if you can call it that) is all hot air. District 4 voters ought to look elsewhere.