Friday, December 30, 2011

Michele Bachmann Gets Help from ORU Students, but She's Going to Need So Much More

A group of ORU students is campaigning in this weekend for one of their own, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Bachmann studied law at the now-closed ORU law school. 

The Tulsa World reports this morning that the ORU students will spend the weekend campaigning for Bachmann in Iowa. They'll even earn course credit for their work, the World reports.

But Bachmann will need more than a few student volunteers to overcome her tendency to take extreme positions and simplify complex issues. Bachmann loves simple solutions (don't we all?), but her solutions are almost always wrong.

Indeed, Bachmann's star has fallen in recent months. Recent Iowa polls have her in the low double-digits, running even with another fallen star, Texas Gov. Rick Perry. 

We're not in the predicting business, but we feel confident in saying that Bachmann has a snowball's chance in hell of winning the Iowa Caucus.

Then again, with nut cases like Rep. Ron Paul and ethically challenged has-beens like Newt Gingrich going strong in Iowa, anything is possible.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hypocrisy Alert! Inhofe Claims EPA Plays Politics

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe is not especially self aware. Not at all.

So when the former Tulsa mayor—a first-rate political operator—claims that the Feds are playing politics, he's ignoring his own extensive history of hyper-partisanship.

Inhofe's latest head-spinning hypocrisy occurred earlier this month when Inhofe pounced on a draft EPA report that linked hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) to contaminated drinking water in Wyoming.

It's all politics, Inhofe claimed, telling the Tulsa World's Jim Myers that the EPA draft report is political science, not solid science. Notably, Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso did not endorse Inhofe's charges.

Excuse us for saying so, but Inhofe is in no position to comment on sound science. He's the guy who claims that global warming and climate change is a hoax, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 

In the Wyoming case, Inhofe's "political science" charges are contradicted by the EPA's own procedures, which calls for an independent scientific review of the draft findings.

In other words, the Wyoming report is one more example of Inhofe—not the EPA—playing politics with science.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Woody Comes Home: Big News for Tulsa's Brady District

In case you missed it, today is a big news day for Tulsa's Brady Arts District. The headline is this: The Woody Guthrie archive is coming to town.

Thanks to the George Kaiser Family Foundation, thousands of Guthrie documents and song lyrics will be housed in a new archive now under construction in the Brady District just north of downtown. The archive is part of a series of art and cultural developments going up in the district.

Check out a video report from the NewsOn6 link: Development In Tulsa's Brady District

Reading Lives: Tulsan G.T. Bynum Loves Biographies

Tulsa City Council Chairman G.T. Bynum has been one of the few voices of reason at city hall in recent years. Some of his colleagues, as Tulsa voters know all too well, have been irrational hotheads.

We can't say for sure, but Bynum's thoughtful approach to politics may be due his habit of reading biographies, a habit described in a recent Tulsa World article.

Bynum told reporter Brian Barber that he got hooked on biographies as a schoolboy when his mother took him to the Yorktown Alley bookstore at Utica Square.

Over the years, Bynum said, he has read about 1,000 biographies, 40 or more a year. He keeps the books, so his study is overflowing with books. "It drives my wife nuts," he said.

We recount Bynum's book passion with admiration, since we too love books and the wisdom gathered in biographies, histories and other volumes. 

Kudos to Bynum—and to the Tulsa World—for emphasizing books, reading and—heavens!—even learning something along the way. We wish more public people had this habit.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Coburn's Newt Gingrich Problem: Oklahoma Senator Knows Too Much about Former Speaker

It's not exactly breaking news, but it's worth repeating: Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is no fan of Newt Gingrich. 

Gingrich, of course, is running for the Republican presidential nomination. According to some polls, he's running well in Iowa and South Carolina.

But Newt is problem for many Republicans, including Coburn.

Why such antipathy? As Sen. Coburn explained earlier this month, Coburn served in the U.S. House when Gingrich was the House speaker. That experience, Coburn has admitted, has left him unimpressed by Gingrich's leadership skills.

"I just found his leadership lacking," Coburn said recently.

That may be an understatement. Beyond leadership, Gingrich has a laundry list of misjudgments, ethical problems and moral failings, all of which are serious enough to turn off voters.

Nevertheless, a recent SoonerPoll found Gingrich the top choice of Oklahoma Republicans. We don't have a dog in this fight, but Oklahoma voters might be well advised to listen to Sen. Coburn.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Recommended Reading: Tracy Kidder's Inspiring 'Mountains Beyond Mountains'

Dr. Paul Farmer is not a household name. He should be.

As described by author Tracy Kidder in this 2003 book, Paul Farmer is "a man who would cure the world." If that sounds overstated, it's not—at least not if you read this inspiring book.

Farmer, we learn, is a highly dedicated—not to say obsessive—physician who has taken on chronic diseases in rural Haiti and other impoverished places. And, as Kidder makes clear, Farmer's efforts have paid off in the lives of thousands and thousands of individual patients.

Mountains beyond Mountains follows the life of Dr. Farmer from his unusual childhood in Florida through his anthropological and medical training at Duke and Harvard to his clinic-building efforts in the wilds of Haiti, a rugged place that gives the book its title.

The story that emerges is a moving portrait of a energetic and visionary man of medicine, a physician who cares deeply about the lives of each of his patients.

As we said, this is an inspiring story. Beyond the man himself, Kidder describes the work of Farmer's organization, Partners in Health, which started on a shoestring and is now a major force in international efforts to combat disease.

In this season of giving and good will toward men, AltTulsa recommends Kidder's book and its subject, Dr. Paul Farmer and Partners in Health. A link to their website is here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Inhofe's Pick, Rick Perry, Running Poorly in Oklahoma

Sen. Jim Inhofe thinks he is leading, but Oklahomans aren't following.

We're talking about Inhofe's announced support fort Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who Inhofe has recently praised for his energy and environmental views. (Yawn…) 

But the results announced Saturday showed Perry well behind Newt Gingrich and even that Massachusetts "liberal," Mitt Romney.

Perry was the top choice of only 9 percent of Oklahoma Republicans in the SoonerPoll, which surveyed 400 Republicans from mid-November to mid-December.

National support for Perry continues to be weak too. In fact, the entire GOP field is flawed, from the morally and ethically challenged Newt Gingrich to the ill-informed Michele Bachmann.

We're sure Sen. Inhofe will keep flogging the Perry candidacy, but Sooners have seen quite enough of Rick Perry. As the kids say, stick a fork in him—he's done.  

UPDATE: Perry isn't setting the world in fire in Iowa, either. Poll results released today have the Texas governor at only 10 percent, gaining only one point over an earlier poll.

UPDATE, PART 2: AltTulsa has seen new Iowa poll figures and Perry is up to 16 percent. Whoo! Of course, with Newt's recent slide, the voters have to go somewhere, even to a candidate as shallow and unthinking as Rick Perry.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Poll: Sooners Support Newt, an Honest Family Man

Be careful what you wish for, Cowboy fans.

A new poll by has former House Speaker Newt Gingrich well ahead among Oklahoma Republicans. Gingrich was the choice of 33 percent of the 400 GOP voters polled from mid-November to mid-December, well ahead of Mitt Romney, who was the choice of 14 percent.

None of the other Republican candidates broke single digits.

Despite this show of support, we suspect Oklahoma conservatives are (and will be) holding their nose when it comes to Newt's "family values."

That term deserves the quotation marks, inasmuch as Gingrich is now married to his third wife, a former aide who 23 years his junior. Oh, and Gingrich was having an affair with Callista while he was condemning President Bill Clinton for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky.

Here's how Gingrich has tried to explain his infidelities: "There's no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate." Yeah, right. 

And that's just the beginning of Gingrich's history of poor judgment and ethical lapses, all of which raise grave doubts about his fitness for office.

Given the Gingrich record, it's little wonder that many mainstream Republicans have begun to attack him. But more than a few Democrats are delighted.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Watch: NewsOn6 Report on Tulsa's Pop Up Shopping

Double Dumb: Inhofe Doubles Down on Rick Perry

Sen. Jim Inhofe never lets reality get in the way of a bad idea. 

That's right, Cowboy fans, Oklahoma's senior senator is sticking with Rick Perry for president, even as Perry has demonstrated repeatedly that he's ill-informed, hot-headed and too bigoted for the presidency.

Speaking earlier this week to the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce, Inhofe said Perry is his man "because on environmental issues and on energy issues he's still the best one."

We disagree. But we get it—Inhofe is pandering to the oil and gas bidness, as he always does. But even Republican voters aren't buying what Inhofe is selling.

On the national stage, Perry has proved a huge embarrassment, another Texas governor not ready for prime time.

It's possible, of course, that Perry will stage a big comeback—look at Newt!—but we aren't counting those chickens just yet.  

Newt is smarter than Perry (though that's not saying much), but even Newt may not survive the primary season. Like the Texas governor, Newt is afflicted with foot-in-mouth disease. It may not be long before he comes crashing down again.

Meanwhile, Jim Inhofe is backing a loser.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Museum to Celebrate Tulsa's Deco Style

Coburn on Newt: There's a Leadership Problem

Oklahoma's junior senator, Dr. Tom Coburn, is not exactly thrilled over the recent rise of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's presidential prospects. 

Here's how New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd put it:
Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who was in the House when Gingrich was speaker, told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that he would have a hard time supporting Newt because his leadership was “lacking oftentimes.”

Conservative Frum Blasts Conservative Media's Distortions

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Cain Postmortem: Will and Vanity Was Not Enough

A day after Herman Cain suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, it's worth taking stock of the Cain phenomenon.

Cain, a former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, was not a deep thinker or a particularly distinguished leader, yet he was—briefly—the rising star in the GOP firmament.

Some answers to the mystery of Herman Cain turned up this week in a prescient review of his book. This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House, by Michael Tomasky, published in the December 22 edition of The New York Review of Books.

One of Cain's favorite phrases, Tomasky writes, is "CEO of Self." That was (and still is) Cain's modus operandi, as in this quote from the book:
Again, seeing myself as CEO of Self, I was determined not to fall into a comfort zone of letting other people, no matter how competent and well-meaning, make the decisions for me.
In other words, Tomasky makes clear, Cain was (is) so confident in his own power and such a true believer in his own destiny that success—the White House!—was inevitable. Thus, Tomasky concludes, Cain had no "ground operation in New Hampshire because true CEOs of Self don't need things like ground operations. They exert their will and they win."

As a proud conservative, Cain explains his success in the private sector as the result of hard work.  Tomasky correctly notes, however, that this is hardly a conservative view. Indeed, he writes, it applies to Barack Obama, Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey. 

Beyond Cain's lack of self-awareness and huge gaps in his knowledge of public affairs, Tomasky also discovered another major weakness in Cain's character: vanity

After reading Cain's book, Tomasky concludes the candidate was so convinced of the inevitability of his presidential success that he simply had to seal the deal.

Tomasky, recall, wrote this well before the most recent Cain scandal, charges by an Atlanta woman of a 13-year affair with the candidate. That report, along with several earlier charges of sexual harassment, put the final nails in Cain's coffin.

Unfortunately for Cain, his vanity long ago outstripped his ability. He was never as smart or as competent as he thought he was.

Recent Reading: Filmmaker Errol Morris' Observations of Photography, "Believing Is Seeing"

The AltTulsa gang has a serious interest in all things cultural, creative endeavors such as art, film, literature and the like.

So we were suckers for Errol Morris' new book, Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography). Morris, after all, is a noted documentary filmmaker (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War) and MacArthur ("genius") award winner who is famously obsessive in his pursuit of the odd and the amazing.

In Seeing Is Believing, Morris writes about the more-complicated-than-you-would-expect meanings of photographs, focusing on a number of famous (or infamous) photos from the Crimean War to the Civil War and Abu Ghraib. (Remember the notorious photo of the hooded man, wires attached to his hands?)

The chapters, many of which include verbatim transcripts of Morris' interviews with various historians and photo buffs, raise important questions what is "real" in photographs. When the Depression-era photographer Authur Rothstein moved a cow skull in his documentation of the drought in North Dakota, for example, was that a "fake" photo?

The answer, as Morris tells it, is hardly straightforward. After all, there was an actual drought in North Dakota, as well as many cow skulls. So what, if anything, was fake about the image? 

Believing Is Seeing is full of such conundrums, which is why it makes fascinating reading. We recommend the book, though with this caveat: Morris is so obsessive and relentless in his search for the truth, some readers may find the text tedious and off-putting.

For us, Morris' obsession was a small price to pay for a thoughtful meditation on images and the role they play in our lives and cultural history.

George Will Slams Herman Cain as 'Charlatan'

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Downtown Tulsa's Pop Up Shopping: A Photo Report

Downtown Tulsa has not been a Christmas shopping draw in, say, something like 45 years. That's unfortunate, though Tulsa's downtown—like a lot of central business districts—was hurt by the rise of the suburbs and other social and economic changes in the post-WWII war era.

But there's a tiny ray of retail hope this year with the rise of some interesting "pop up" shops in the Philcade Building at 5th and Boston.

A local blogger, Prairie Hive, has posted a set of photos of the Philcade pop up shops. Check out the link here.