Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jon Stewart: The Right's Phony Outrage over Obama's Thanksgiving Address

Update: The Battle over Wind Farms in Osage County

Tulsa's This Land continues to provide in-depth coverage of interesting environmental and political topics, including the on-going legal battle over wind farm towers—let's call them windmills—proposed for neighboring Osage County.

A link to Holly Wall's Osage report is here: The Energy War in Osage County.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More GOP Nonsense: A Great State with No Taxes

Oklahoma Republican leaders have been pursuing their dream of a utopian Sooner state, a paradise unpolluted by the evil of—wait for it—taxes.

That's right, Sooner fans, we can have a great state for free. Well, not exactly. In fact, not at all. 

Yet the state's GOP leaders keep pretending that this tax-free paradise is possible. Oklahoma City Rep. David Dank, for instance, is hawking the idea that Oklahoma can rid itself of the personal income tax.

Keep dreaming, Rep. Dank. 

The fact is that a great state needs revenue to fund essential services that people need and want, such as public education and public health, transportation and law enforcement. As OU professor of economics Alexander Holmes recently noted, abolishing the personal income tax would gut state services. "It's willful ignorace of somebody to propose abolishing the personal income tax," Holmes said.

Prof. Holmes is correct. Rep. Dank and his Republican allies in the legislature are in fact willfully ignorant. Like a lot of conservative leaders these days, they are pretending that all state services are wasteful or useless and that all taxes are bad. This is pure political baloney. 

More importantly, it's no way to have a prosperous and productive state where people want to live, work and raise their families. These goals require education and safety and public health, the very things that Dank and his allies would destroy with their irresponsible pipe dream.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to Us! AltTulsa Turns Five

We've been busy lately, so busy we almost forget our own birthday. We hate that when that happens.

Yes, Sooner fans, the AltTulsa blog is five years old. 

In that time, we've blogged about everything from art to books to wine, though our primary focus has been on national and state politics, with occasional posts on the Tulsa political scene. 

Thanks to the Wingnut branch of the Republican Party, we have a steady and never-ending source of commentary and (mostly unintentional) humor.

We've also outlasted a number of other Tulsa political blogs (remember Medblogged?), most of which were chock full of half-baked ideas and underwhelming insights. We wanted to counter that sort of conventional wisdom, which is why we called ourselves Alternative Tulsa.

To be honest, we aren't always as alternative or contrarian or inspired as we'd sometimes like to be. Perhaps it's our age (rapidly advancing, it seems). More likely, however, is the fact that in this highly partisan and often uncivil age, we want to be a thoughtful voice of ideas and reason, not a site for screaming, ranting or character assassination.

So here's to ideas, art, literature and thoughtfulness—and also longevity—here in T-town. Hear! Hear!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

More Good Music: A Coda for R. E. M.

The AltTulsa gang can't claim any musical chops, but we do know what we like. Our likes  include the most famous alternative rock band in Athens, Georgia, R.E.M.

As you may have heard, R.E.M. is breaking up after 31 years, which was newsworthy enough to land a couple of band members on NPR's "All Things Considered" the other day.

ICYMI (translation: In Case You Missed It), here's a link to the R.E.M. interview.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Music from Jazz Pianist Keith Jarrett

Pianist Keith Jarrett is an amazing jazz performer.

This is not exactly news to anyone who has been paying attention to jazz piano for the last four decades or so. Jarrett has been dazzling audiences with his solo improvisations for quite a while.

We were reminded of Jarrett's long career this week when NPR ran an appreciation of the musician on the occasion of his new album, an improvisation recorded in Rio de Janeiro.

If you don't know Jarrett, the NPR report is a good introduction to his music. The link is here.

Oklahoma Native Elizabeth Warren Honored in OKC

Shhhh. Don't tell anyone, but this week the Sooner state honored—gulp!—a Harvard professor.

It's true, Sooner fans. This week's Oklahoma Hall of Fame ceremony in Oklahoma City honored Elizabeth Warren, an OKC native who holds an endowed chair in law at Harvard (in lefty Massachusetts!) and who—dare we say it?—might be a liberal. 

No, we are not making this up. Elizabeth Warren is an extraordinarily accomplished scholar (nine books, more than one hundred scholarly articles) who has been a national leader in economic and fiscal policy.

She's also an economic and policy adviser to—wait for it—President Barack Obama, which, in Far Right Oklahoma, makes her akin to Satan's girlfriend. (Warren also has the intellectual prowess to mop the floor with, say, an Oklahoma dinosaur such as Sen. Jim Inhofe) 

In fact, Warren may get a that chance. She's a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, running against Republican Sen. Scott Brown, a Tea Party favorite who is probably vulnerable in 2012.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is Mayor Dewey Bartlett Up or Down? It Depends…

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett may—or may not—be highly unpopular with city voters.

If that sounds a little ambiguous, that's because it is.

We're referring to a recent Sooner Poll, the results of which appeared on the front page of the Tulsa World on Sunday. The World headline summed up the Bartlett poll question in unambiguous terms: "Poll shows most would vote against Bartlett."

True—but the numbers are not exactly as firm as they might seem. 

In fact, the numbers showed that only 26 percent of voters would vote for Bartlett over "another candidate." Fifty-eight percent opted for another candidate.

Ah, but there's the rub.  

"Another candidate" is not a person and, as an abstract idea, it's pretty easy to choose this imaginary improvement over a real (and flawed) actual mayor. In other words, don't bet the farm on a mystical candidate who can easily defeat Bartlett in the next city election.

There are many other problems with making predictions about the mayor's future based on a poll taken now for an election to be held in 2013. As the Sooner Poll's Bill Shapard noted in the World, it's a long time before the mayor faces the the voters.

Mayor Bartlett can also take comfort in his "negatives" compared to the city council's "negatives." On that question, Bartlett's "somewhat disapprove" and "strongly disapprove" ratings were 46 percent, while the council's ratings in the same categories were a whopping 71 percent.

That last figure is no surprise to critics of the outgoing council, almost of whom were booted out (or chose not to run) in elections this year. 

Artists in Tulsa: This Land Presents the Joe Brainard Tour

Monday, November 14, 2011

Head-spinning Wingnuttiness: Bachmann Goes Red; Praises the Communist Chinese Model

In case you missed it, check out the latest Wingnuttiness from our old Minnesota friend, Rep. Michele Bachmann, speaking at the most recent Republican debate.

Never one to think deeply about much of anything, Bachmann went off about the failures of LBJ's Great Society and the successes of—wait for it—Communist China. Holy eggroll!

Yes, Cowboy fans, the new Bachmann model for economic success is the repressive Chinese regime, an anti-democratic state that allows industry to abuse its workers (child labor, anyone?) and has nonexistent environmental protections (because who needs clean air or water?).

But don't take our for it. Read the words of the Great Bachmann herself:
The Great Society has not worked, and it’s put us into the modern welfare state. If you look at China, they don’t have food stamps. If you look at China, they’re in a very different situ — they save for their own retirement security. They don’t have pay FDIC. They don’t have the modern welfare state. And China’s growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with The Great Society, and they’d be gone.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Writer Ian Frazier Talks about Siberia (It's Amazing)

One of the country's best writer's, Ian Frazier, was in Tulsa last night promoting the paperback edition of his book Travels in Siberia.

Frazier, who writes for The New Yorker and has published several acclaimed books of literary journalism (as well as a couple of humor books), was a guest of Booksmart Tulsa (thank you, Jeff Martin) and The Land (thank you, Michael Mason).

We first came across Frazier's Great Plains some years ago and we were bowled over. Frazier is a fiercely intelligent reporter and his grasp of history, literature and culture and such is impressive and far-ranging.

, another Frazier book, makes memorable literature out of his own family history—a rather amazing feat that few writers could manage with as much grace and humor as Frazier. We were also impressed by On the Rez, Frazier's popular report on Native American history and culture.

If you missed Frazier's Tulsa visit, you can hear from from the man himself courtesy of "Studio Tulsa," the KWGS program hosted by Rich Fisher. A link to the KWGS audio is here: Ian Frazier and His "Travels in Siberia."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This Land Investigates: Plagiarism, Illustrated

Tulsa cartoonist David Simpson may be gone from the local media scene, but he's still making headlines.

But not in a good way.

No, Simpson is being investigated for more evidence of plagiarism, the very thing that has gotten him fired from the Tulsa World and, just last week, Urban Tulsa Weekly.

The details keep coming—and they aren't pretty. This Land has uncovered the evidence and posted the damning copies of the plagiarism on its website.

The link is here: Plagiarism, Illustrated.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shocker! Bynum Gets the Endorsement of His Family

Tulsa City Counselor G. T. Bynum, the incumbent in District 9, is very likely to breeze to victory in Tuesday's municipal election.

That's a good thing, since Bynum has his heart in the right place and, more importantly, happens to be a reasonable politician.

Often, in fact, Bynum has been the only reasonable member of the council, the one councilor who actually seems to put the good of the city before his ego.

Nevertheless, Bynum's latest postcard mailer is, well, something of an inside job, including the endorsement of former Mayor Robert J. LaFortune. If we recall correctly, Mayor LaFortune is Bynum's grandfather.

It's swell that Grandpa likes G.T., but this is hardly an independent endorsement, of course. Nor is the endorsement of former Sen. Don Nickles, who turns out to be Bynum's former employer.

Despite such "inside baseball" endorsements, we still plan on voting for G.T. As we said, he's good for the city. Beside, he sometimes ticks off Tulsa blogger Michael Bates, which is worth something.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

This Week's Holier-Than-Thou Award Winner: Tulsa Today's David Arnett

Yes, Sooner fans, Tulsa's own David Arnett doing the Lord's work, saving Christmas from the clutches of the Secular Humanists, socialists (Obama!), pagans and other heathens and ne'er-do-wells who would ditch the whole idea if only they could.

Arnett is the chief promoter and spokesman for a real Christmas parade, because, you know, that's exactly what the Lord wants for Tulsa.

No need for a phony-baloney Holiday Parade like they have downtown, a parade that might include all those unwashed non-believers and sinners.

We know all this because David Arnett has been all over the media with his Message from God; to wit, that the Evil Doers in Tulsa have sandbagged Christmas (again!) and that he has a Grand Plan to Save Christmas in Eastern Oklahoma.

He also told us on his website, Tulsa Today, the same website that has been uncovering secret socialists behind every clump of crabgrass from Poteau to the Potomac.

So let's hear it for the intrepid and ever-vigilant David Arnett, the undisputed winner of this week's Holier-Than-Thou award for Sanctimoniousness.

Audio Update: More Arrests At Occupy Site

For those of you keeping score at home, Occupy Tulsa continues downtown.

The latest reports we've seen cover the arrests of those protestors who refused to leave the Centennial Green park after the police began to enforce an 11 p.m. curfew.

Here is an audio report that aired earlier today on KWGS 89.5: More Arrests At Occupy Site.

While we're on the topic, Occupy Tulsa has its own blog (naturally). Read their reports here.

Scenes from Tulsa's Day of the Dead Celebration

Hat tip to the Tulsa World

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

From the Horse's Mouth: Hear from Daniel Lee, Organizer of Occupy Tulsa

Video Lowlights: The Weird Rick Perry Speech

Updated Coverage of the Arrests at Occupy Tulsa

Yes, Cowboy fans, the police are arresting protestors in Tulsa.

For a city as complacent as T-town, this is a significant development. Or, to back up a bit, it is a significant development that Tulsa has protestors at all. This is, after all, a Republican-leaning city in a Very Red State.

The Tulsa World, whose offices are within steps of the Occupy Tulsa site, has an update on the recent arrests downtown.

Check out their coverage here.

Occupy Tulsa: Some Photos from Downtown

Occupy Tulsa is making news. Or, more accurately, the arrest of some Occupy Tulsa protesters early this morning has brought new attention to the protest.

We don't have any first-hand information about the arrests, but we did find this photo gallery from the site of the protest in downtown Tulsa.

The link to the photos is here.