Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pokes Rule! How 'bout Gundy's Cowboys?

That's right, Cowboy fans, OSU coaching genius Mike "I'm a Man!" Gundy led his team to a smash-mouth victory over the lowly Baylor Bears today in Waco.

Gundy's Cowboy squad, ranked number 23 in the nation, put up points early and often as they… Oh, wait. OSU lost? To Baylor? Really?

Oh, never mind.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reading Up on Wendell Berry, Winner of This Year's Helmerich Distinguished Author Award

Tulsa readers have an opportunity to meet acclaimed writer Wendell Berry at next month's Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award presented by the Tulsa City-County Library.

Berry is best known as an advocate of the natural world and the rural life, a topic of many of his poems, short stories, novels and nonfiction. A native of Kentucky, Berry lives and works a 125-acre farm in Port Royal, where his family has lived for many decades.

Berry's novels include Nathan Coulter, Jayber Crow, Hannah Coulter, and Andy Catlett: Early Travels, all set in the fictional Kentucky town of Port William.

Berry is also author of a new collection of stories, A Place in Time, which he read from and talked about yesterday on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR. You can find his NPR interview and more here.

As part of the Hermerich ceremonies, Berry will be speaking on Saturday, December 8, at 10:30 a.m. at the Central Library downtown. The public is invited.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Latest Barresi Fail: School Grading System Misses the Mark

For those of you keeping score at home, it's Oklahoma School Superintendent Janet Barresi 1, old-fashioned common sense 0. 

We're referring to the Barresi-supported and highly flawed school grading system, which just this week gave more than half of Tulsa schools grades of D or F. That's right, Sooner fans, we now know that urban schools with lots of poor children have more academic problems than—surprise!—suburban schools with children from higher income families.

In other words, Barresi and her staff spent time and money to prove exactly what we (and everybody else) already knew.

As a Tulsa World editorial noted, this unfair grading system "seems designed to cast local schools in the worst possible light."

Moreover, the neither the state Department of Education nor the state legislature is likely to do much to assist the failing schools. Quoting again from the World editorial, "[I]f recent history is any guide, their 'help' will consist of shifting more money away from the local schools and loading them with more standardized test requirements."

No wonder Tulsa Public School Superintendent Keith Ballard has been critical of the state plan. Unlike Barresi, Ballard is working every day to solve real-world problems facing the school, not serving up an ideologically driven rating system that stigmatizes poor children.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gov. Mary Fallin: Big Spender (of Taxpayer's Money)

While we're on the subject of Gov. Mary Fallin's big spending ways (see yesterday's post), let's take a closer look at the not-so-austere spending plan the governor follows when on the road.

How about trips on the state plane from Oklahoma City to her house at Grand Lake? Yes, Sooner fans, the Oklahoman discovered four such trips at a cost of about $1,200 a pop.

Or how about the state plane ride to Arizona and Las Vegas, a trip the Oklahoman said cost a cool $15,700, including a overnight at a Marriott resort for $240 and a meal that cost $172.Yum!

Oh wait. That's cheap compared to Gov. Fallin's two nights at the Ritz Carlton in southern California at $470 a night. (She was there for an all-important Fortune magazine event and all of us Okies just love Fortune.)

Thanks, Oklahoma taxpayers, thanks soooooo much. 

To be fair, the newspaper noted that Gov. Fallin does pay for most of her own meals while traveling, which is good. And she has been a frugal traveler on many other occasions, the Oklahoman reported.

That's as it should be. But what sticks in our craw is the governor's insistence that the state has to tighten its belt and live within its means.

If that's what Gov. Fallin really believes, she's already failed.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dr. Tom's Fantasies: Sen. Coburn Plays the (Bogus) Anarchy Card

AltTulsa has been AWOL this election season—so many other projects!—but it's not too late to remind Sooner state voters of the nuttiness of our current political leaders.

We're thinking of Sen. Tom Coburn's town hall meeting a couple of months ago when the good senator went just a tad overboard in some of his—we hesitate to use the word—judgments.

Speaking to a crowd at the University of Tulsa in August, Dr. Tom rounded up the usual suspects—the federal government is too big, Obama's too weak—but he got more than a little hyperbolic over Attorney General Eric Holder.

"I've never seen less regard for the rule of law than in this administration," Coburn said."Respect for the law is what holds this country together. This administration has set about to destroy that." Coburn continues, "That's how anarchy starts." 

Destroying the rule of law! Anarchy! Yes, indeed, it's all Eric Holder's fault!

But Coburn didn't stop there. Oh no. Holder, he continued, was an "inappropriate person" to be the attorney general. And this: Holder will turn out to be "one of the worst attorney generals in our nation's history."

This is a popular Wingnut talking point, endlessly promoted by the blowhards on talk radio, but—like Coburn's charge—it is notably short actual evidence of "anarchy" and lawlessness.

It's also evidence of Dr. Tom's highly political memory. Unless our math is wrong, Dr. Tom was an adult during the Nixon administration. Does the name "Watergate" ring a bell? Anyone? Or how about the name of Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell? He's the one who went to jail for his part in the Watergate scandal.

Seems like Richard Nixon and John Mitchell would be great candidates for Dr. Tom's charges of anarchy and lawlessness. On that point, the good senator was selectively silent.

Understatement of the Week: Barresi Bombs

AltTulsa's nomination for the Political Understatement of the Week, from today's Tulsa World. The topic: Oklahoma School Superintendent Janet ("My Way or the Highway") Barresi. 
Barresi becoming political hot potato 
Ya think?

Rep. Sullivan's Far-Too-Sentimental Swan Song

First District Rep. John Sullivan got "primaried" this year—a conservative Republican defeated for reelection by an even more conservative (read: wingnut) Republican, Jim (Tea Party) Bridenstine. 

So Sullivan's going away, but not before a sentimental journey through his brilliant (cough, cough) political career. Sullivan wants the good people of Tulsa to know he's delivered—bringing federal dollars to the First District. 

That was Sullivan's message last month when he spoke to the Tulsa Metro Chamber, touting federal earmarks as his political legacy. The improvements to Interstate 44 in Tulsa, Sullivan said, are an example of federal money that has helped the community. "I will never apologize for that," Sullivan said.

Oh wait. Conservative Republicans like Sullivan are supposed to hate federal spending. It's undermining the nation, they scream. We need a balanced budget, they shout.

That's the party line. But Sullivan, like a lot of GOP pols, wants it both ways. He wants to rail against taxes and federal spending at the same time he's working the system to bring home the pork to Tulsa.

And then there's this: Sullivan got a standing ovation after his talk to the Chamber. That was mighty nice of the assembled business folks, mighty nice indeed. Guess they forgot about Sullivan's time at the Betty Ford Clinic in California. That's part of the congressman's legacy as well.

Big State Dollars: Gov. Fallin's Taxpayer-Funded Travel Totals More than a Quarter Million

Gov. Mary Fallin is on the road again. Or so it seems.

Yes, Sooner fans, The Oklahoman has looked into the governor's travel schedule and discovered the governor's travels over the last 21 months have cost taxpayers a whopping $273,000.  
Nice work if you can get it.

The Oklahoman's story, reported in the Tulsa World, shows that Travelin' Mary has been flying off to such places as Boone Pickens' ranch (in the hated state of Texas!), Arizona (for important OU and OSU football games) and Jolly Ole England (promoting the state's aerospace industry).

Oh, and there was that trip to Ireland for her daughter's wedding. That trip cost taxpayers $13,300 for security, the Oklahoman reported.

And the trips keep on keepin' on; read all the details here.

Remember when the governor called for austerity in state spending? If so, you're doing better than Travelin' Mary. For her, it's do as I say—and never mind what I do.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Get Out Your Checkbook: Tulsa's Private Schools Will Cost You Plenty

Lots of local folks like to heap abuse on the public schools, but one popular educational alternative—private schools—are not exactly affordable for many of those same folks.

This year's tuition at Tulsa private schools is higher than ever, with some local schools raising tuition as much as $800, the Tulsa World reported recently. Top rates the Tulsa's most elite private high school, Holland Hall, come in at a whopping $17,300.


Sure, some Tulsa private schools are much cheaper. But private school education—avoiding all those unwashed commoners—is still gonna cost you. Even the bargain basement private schools, like Wright Christian, cost somewhere north of $4,000.

Pay those fees every year for twelve years and, well, do the math.

Meanwhile, the state of Oklahoma is underfunding the public schools (again), with some officials claiming that money is not the solution.

Meanwhile, as noted above, the private schools keep raising their rates.

Gov. Fallin's (Phony) Rugged Individualism

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin was on message a couple of weeks ago when she spoke to the Republican National Convention about rugged individualism. It's a favorite theme of the GOP and right-wing noise machine.

We have nothing against rugged individualism, but we do part company with the exalted status the concept gets in the conservative firmament. Among the Tea Party types, the sacred individual can do anything and everything—except when he or she can't.

We were reminded of this recently on the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, federal legislation that provided land and money to establish agricultural and mechanical schools, including one in Stillwater.

Good ole Abe Lincoln himself signed the legislation—an actual federal government plan (yes!) that improved what came to be known as the Sooner state. Yes, Cowboy fans, until the Morrill Act took effect there was little more than grass and a few shade trees in sleepy Stillwater.

"There wasn't a site—there wasn't anything," OSU's David Peters told the Tulsa World, referring to the establishment of a land-grant college in Stillwater.

Now, of course, OSU is a major university. But establishing and building that university wasn't a one-man project; it was a group project that required federal and state legislation—and money.

Gov. Fallin and her pals like to pretend that all good things come from lonely heroes and heroines who risk their lives and fortunes for the Greater Good. Sometimes that's true.

 But Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act because the individual can't do it all.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cowboy Fail: Mike ('I'm a Man!') Gundy's Coaching Leads to Implosion

Big Mike ("I'm a man! I'm 40") Gundy had a very bad day on Saturday. His Oklahoma State Cowboys went to Arizona and got creamed.

Final score: Wildcats 59, Cowboys 38. Ouch!

You don't have to take our word for it. Here's what Gundy said: "It was poor coaching and poor playing." Give him credit for honesty.

But we like the assessment of Tulsa World sports columnist John Klein: "You have to go back a few years to find such a total collapse for OSU football."

Then there's this little reminder from Klein's column today: "Mike Gundy, just nine months after demanding and getting a huge pay raise, will now have to earn it."

Somebody remind us: How many millions was in Gundy's contract? Oh, that's right: More than $29 million. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Censure Time: Tulsa Republicans Gone Wild!

Those ever-so-vindictive Tulsa County Republicans are at it again.

Yes, Sooner fans, it's another exciting food fight among the purists, the fine folks who insist that that every GOP utterance and every GOP action follow the right-wing party line.

In case you haven't been following the news, this latest outburst of spite concerns the GOP's official response to Tulsa County's two Republican County commissioners, Fred Perry and John Smaligo, who voted to put the Vision2 tax proposal before local voters.

The proposal would extend a 0.6 percent county sales tax, raising $748.8 million for economic and industrial improvements for public works projects in Tulsa and Tulsa County, including the Tulsa International Airport. 

Local GOP bigwigs were outraged (of course!) and promptly voted to oppose the tax increase since, as we all know, all taxes are evil and should be opposed at all times for any reason at all. (Who needs improved roads and safe bridges?)

But wait! There's more!

Not content to merely oppose this horrible, horrible idea to improve the Tulsa community (Heavens!), the small-minded bigwigs voted to censure Perry and Smaligo. After the censure vote last Saturday, a few local Republican leaders, including Sen. Brian Crain, criticized the censure, to which we say, good for him.

We don't have a dog in this fight, but the whole episode is powerful evidence for the pettiness of local Republicans. Their message is clear: Woe be unto any Republican who thinks for himself and actually wants to make things better in Tulsa County.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Texas Crazy: Fantasies from a Lubbock Judge

 Someone in Texas has been listening to waaaaaay too much talk radio:
"[President Obama is] going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the (United Nations), and what is going to happen when that happens? I'm thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we're not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we're talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy. Now what's going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He's going to send in U.N. troops. I don't want 'em in Lubbock County. OK. So I'm going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say 'you're not coming in here'," - Judge Tom Head of Lubbock County, Texas.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dr. No Sounds Off on (Yawn…) Same Ole, Same Ole

Let's say one thing for Sen. Tom (Dr. No) Coburn: he's consistent. Of course, if you are consistently wrong, that's a problem. 

Yes, Sooner fans, Dr. No was in Tulsa this week, speaking to those long-suffering working stiffs at the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa. He told 'em how awful things are—in spite of the fact that things aren't that awful.

Turns out, the housing market in these parts is pretty good. Also, unemployment isn't so bad either.

Not bothered by actual facts, Coburn trotted out usual the right-wing talking points, including, as the Tulsa World put it, "the abandonment of the U.S. Constitution."

That and this little bit of exaggeration: The end of the republic is here, Coburn says.  The sky is falling! The sky is falling! 

This is the usual overheated GOP rhetoric in an election year, but you'd think that a thoughtful Republican with an M.D. behind his name could describe the world is a more or less realistic way.

But if you thought that, you'd be wrong too. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Popular Crime: Local Violence Attracts an Online Crowd

Tulsans love their crime news. 

We draw that broad conclusion based on an informal survey of the top ten stories in the "Most popular stories" list on the Tulsa World website, which is invariably loaded with a variety of shootings, beatings, robberies and other violence acts. 

Just today, for instance, eight of the top ten stories on the list were local crimes and another was a Texas shooting. Only one story of the top ten was non-crime related, a story on the rise of the West Nile virus.

True, crime has long been a staple of the news business. It's often interesting and, more importantly, people do need to know about the violence in their neighborhoods. But the popularity of crime news in Tulsa also says something about Tulsans, who can't seem to get enough of bar brawls, meth lab busts and the like.

We prefer to think about finer things. Sure we do. (Hey, did you hear about the fight last night between these two drunks…)

Fun with Romney-Ryan: The Bold Choice (Not)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Remembering Gore Vidal: Mike Wallace Talks to the Prolific and Always-Acidic Author

Author and life-long contrarian Gore Vidal, who had family ties to Oklahoma, died this week. He was 86.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bogus Drugs: Why We Need the Feds and their Pesky Rules

Those on-so-clever Tea Party types are always whining about government spending. We spend too much on all those unnecessary federal programs, they say. Rep. Ron Paul, among others, wants to strip government back to the military and, well, not much else.

Of course, such cuts come at a price, one even the libertarian Cato Institute might not want to endorse.

Let's consider a recent Federal Drug Administration right here in Oklahoma. Turns out the FDA raided an Owasso business a few days ago for selling drugs that can cure cancer. (Right…and we've got this cool bridge in Brooklyn we can sell for cheap.)

According to the Tulsa World, the owner of the Owasso business was not a doctor, but she did administer something called OxyM, made, in part, of "black walnut green-hull extract."

That's right, Sooner fans, if people are desperate enough you can sell them just about anything.

Protecting the public from drug and medical scams is important. This isn't government waste and it isn't something the free market can regulate on its own.

The "government is the enemy" crowd doesn't want to hear it, but we need a lot the government we have. Among other things, it keeps the medical shysters in check.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Manuscript of Woody Guthrie's 'Lost' Novel Turns Up in Tulsa University Library

We like this story—a small literary detective story that involves Tulsa.

More accurately, it involves a "lost" Woody Guthrie novel and the TU library, where a manuscript of the novel was recently discovered. Or rediscovered.

Arts writer James Watts of the Tulsa World reported the story and all its twists and turns. It's worth a read, and not just because Johnny Depp (really!) is part of the story.

Read it and learn more. The link is here.

Paranoia Alert! Mitt Romney Embraces Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories

 It's one thing when blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity promote whacked-out ideas about one-world government, black helicopters and similar nonsense.

But it's another when a supposedly serious person repeats this baloney. So, naturally, GOP candidate Mitt Romney has now done just that at a town hall meeting in Ohio.

We suspect Romney knows this is crap too, but he needs the GOP's base. Wingnuts love a good conspiracy—the facts be damned.

Read more about it here: Romney Embraces Conspiracy Theories.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Very Interesting: Chesapeake Energy's Incredibly Low Tax Payments

In case you missed it (as we did), Bloomberg News reported some amazing facts surrounding the Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corporation last week.

Here's the lead of the story, as published in the Tulsa World:
Chesapeake Energy Corp. made $5.5 billion in pretax profit since its founding more than two decades ago. So far, the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer has paid income taxes on almost none of it.
But wait, there's more. Bloomberg's analysis found that the company paid $53 million in taxes over its 23-year history, "or about 1 percent of the cumulative pretax profits during that period."

That's a pretty low tax burden, you'd think. We should all be so lucky.

And then there's this: "That's less than half of CEO Aubrey McClendon's compensation…in 2008 alone."

Amazing—and infuriating. The rich keep getting richer.

Bloomberg explains that Chesapeake's tax breaks are the result of a decades-old rule that allows the company to postpone taxes "in recognition of the inherent risk of drilling wells that may turn out to be dry."

Improved technology has lowered that risk drastically, so much so that Chesapeake struck oil or gas in 99.6 percent of its wells last year." Some risk.

Meanwhile, Chesapeake has lost more than $7 billion in market value in the past year and McClendon has been replaced as chairman of the company, Bloomberg reports.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Video Fun: The Phonies at Fox on Ever-Rising Gas Prices

The Wit & Wisdom of Republican Leader Mitch McConnell

As gas prices continue to fall in Tulsa and around the nation, it's interesting to recall the way the Republicans attacked President Obama for his supposed role in raising gas prices.

Here, for instance, is the brilliant political/economic analysis of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the sage of Kentucky, speaking in February of this year:
This President will go to any length to drive up gas prices and pave the way for his ideological agenda.

Mitt Talk: Fun with Actual Audio

Monday, June 18, 2012

Oklahoma's Shame: A Grandstanding Legislature (oh, and Governor, too)

AltTulsa has been out of touch lately—don't ask—but even with one eye open we've noticed that the Republican leadership 'round these parts has been, well, dumb.

That's the conclusion of one of our favorite observers of the state scene is Arnold Hamilton, editor of The Oklahoma Observer and a columnist for Urban Tulsa Weekly.

In a recent review of the legislative session, Hamilton noted that our elected official are remarkably good at "offering solutions in search of problems." 

As an example, Hamilton cites a GOP favorite, the "open carry law," which allows folks with concealed carry permits to strap on a six-shooter for all the world to see. 

Hee-Haw! It's gun-totin' time in SoonerLand!

Hamilton's comment: "My goodness—is that really the message we want to send to the rest of the country? You think the brightest minds and best companies will be pining to relocate to a state that thinks it's still ensconced in the wild, wild west?"

Or what about the new law that mandates drug tests for welfare recipients? The Republicans love this idea, since  we all know there are thousands of free-loadin' druggies on the dole.

Except, as Hamilton notes, they aren't. "This law does not do anything of significance that DHS wasn't already doing," Hamilton notes.

He continues:
This was Grandstanding 101—yet another triumph of style over substance, giving [Gov. Mary] Fallin and Co. a platform to hoodwink rabid rednecks into believing the state's Powers-That-Be are pokin' a stick in the eyes of those who dare get sumthin' for nuthin'.
Well put, Arnold.

The state's leaders pose and bluster, all the better to polish their far-right credentials. As for tacking the state's real problems—well, those are hard. They can't be bothered with that stuff.

As Hamilton notes, "real leadership is in short supply at the state Capitol these days."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Oklahoma Is Beer Country—Really

True, the Sooner state is not known as a beer-maker's paradise, but there are some interesting (and tasty!) developments in Oklahoma brewing.

We would note, for instance, recent releases from Tulsa's Marshall Brewing Company. For summer sipping, Marshall recently released its Arrowhead Pale Ale.  The brew has been described as "an American pale ale crafted as a lighter, more quaffable ale that is complemented by a unique aromatic citrus notes from its hops."

Quoted in the Tulsa World, brew master Eric Marshall said Arrowhead was very popular last summer, which promoted the brewery to release this year's batch earlier in the season.

A link to Marshall Brewing is here

Meanwhile, the historic Choc Beer Company in tiny Krebs, Oklahoma, just won a silver medal for its Choc 1919 beer at the 2012 Brewers Association World Beer Cup. The 1919 beer is an American-Style Wheat Beer.

The World Beer Cup, we understand, included 799 breweries from 54 countries and 45 U.S. states. Given the scope of the competition, we're pretty confident that Choc 1919 will be worth trying one of these hot summer afternoons.

For more information about Choc beer, click here.

ALSO: In case you missed it, Urban Tulsa Weekly published a "summer brew" cover story a few weeks back. You can read their beer reviews here

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ron Paul Backers vs. Oklahoma GOP in 'Raucous' Oklahoma State Convention

This is old news, but it's worth a moment to recall the fun and games of last month's Republican state convention in Oklahoma City.

It was a "rollicking" good time, according to press reports, complete with some philosophical (and physical!) fights between Rep. Ron Paul's rabid believers and more mainstream Oklahoma Republicans.

Here are some of the lowlights, as reported by Michael McNutt of The Oklahoman:
• Paul backers booed Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin 

• Paul backers booed former Minnesota governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty

• A Paul supporter reported being hit in the head by Romney supporter

• The convention got "slogged down" in fights over credentials, so much so that Gov. Pawlenty's luncheon speech had to be cancelled and luncheon money refunded
Wow! Thanks to Paul's zealots, Oklahoma Republicans were—and are—an unorganized mess. For those of us on the other side of the aisle, this is good news.

The GOP hijinks remind us of the old Will Rogers quip: "I'm not a member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat."

In the Sooner state today, that applies to the Republicans.

Will Tulsa Rep. John Sullivan Go Down in Flames?

Rep. John Sullivan is nobody's idea of a heavyweight. If anything, the First District congressman is a ineffective right-wing cipher, a politician with no vision beyond getting himself reelected by thoroughly inattentive GOP voters.

But this election season, Sullivan may have met his match. His challenger this year, Jim Bridenstine, is more accomplished and smarter than Sullivan—that's a really low bar, of course—and even more Hard Right.

In Oklahoma, Republicans can never be too far right—we're the Reddest State in America, after all. So Bridenstine is going way out to the right, all the better to appeal to the talk radio crowd and oust Sullivan.

Bridenstine, by the way, graduated from Rice and has an MBA from Cornell. Oh, and he's a Navy pilot. Sullivan, who graduated from NSU, has no military experience. Sullivan does have experience at the Betty Ford Clinic, but this isn't really a great thing in politics.

AltTulsa's crystal ball is always a little murky, but we'd put our money on Bridenstine. Sullivan is a fabulous slice of right-wing baloney, but he's not much of a leader.

As for us, we're voting for John Olson, the Democratic candidate, Army veteran and Tulsa businessman. As far as we can tell, Olson is a reasonable human being and a thoughtful guy, which is more than you can say for most of the First District Republican voters.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Update: Oklahoma City Worries about Chesapeake's Woes

As noted in this space last week (see below, Chesapeake Energy is—or has been—a high flyer in the Oklahoma City economy in recent years.

But the company has taken a hit recently, both by low natural gas prices and by questions about its CEO and his financial arrangements.

This is potentially bad news at the other end of the Turner Turnpike, which was the subject of report this morning on NPR's "Morning Edition."

Listen to the report here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bad News for Oklahoma's High-Flying Chesapeake Energy

In case you missed it, it hasn't been a good week for Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy. More accurately, it hasn't been a good year for the company.

The company's stock has fallen 45 percent since the beginning of 2011, according to press reports, and the company's CEO, Aubrey McClendon, has racked up "more than $846 million in debt from companies and banks also doing business with Chesapeake…."

This was from Bloomberg News, which knows a little bit about high finance. And this was headline on the Bloomberg story in the Tulsa World Tuesday: "Chesapeake's directors enjoyed cozy deals."

And who are these directors? None other than former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and current OSU President Burns Hargis, among others. According to one critic quoted by Bloomberg, the company's directors "repeatedly failed to exercise independent oversight."

What's more, the directors were well paid, taking home more than directors at similarly sized energy companies. Then there's the cozy deal allegations, which involve the employment of directors' relatives (Keating's son and daughter-in-law) and numerous gifts to a university run by a director (OSU).

We don't claim any expertise in financial matters of this sort, but this can't be good publicity for Oklahoma or its energy industry.

Indeed, it looks a like what some wags call crony capitalism. It's not a good thing.

Eat Local: It's Farmers Market Time in Tulsa

The AltTulsa gang has been distracted lately, so we've missed our annual shout out to Tulsa-area farmers markets.

Let's remedy that now by mentioning our favorite, the Cherry Street Farmers Market, which runs every Saturday morning on Cherry Street (aka 15ht Street), just east of Peoria,  in midtown Tulsa.

There's also a Brookside offshoot of the  Cherry Street market, the aptly named Brookside Farmers Market, which is running Wednesday mornings from 8 to noon in the Food Pyramid parking lot near 41st Street and Peoria.

The Brookside market will be bigger and better this year, according to the a report in the Tulsa World. Market manager Melanie Hunter told the paper that the Brookside market will include a wider selection of products as well as performances by various music acts.

For more information on the Cherry Street and Brookside markets, check out their website here

Monday, May 21, 2012

Big Bucks: Oklahoma Congressional Delegation Rakes It In

Oklahoma's Republiocan senators and congressmen are doing just fine, thank you very much. In fact, some of them are—wait for it—millionaires.

Must be nice to be a humble servant of the people, like, say, Sen. Jim Inhofe. Financial disclosure forms just released show Inhofe's assets at $3.6 to $10.7 million.

Sen. Tom ("Dr. No") Coburn is no slouch in the income department either, with assets listed at $1.8 million to $5.1 million.

Meanwhile, the median household income in the Sooner state is an underwhelming $42,979. Yes, Sooner fans, it pays to be a politician round these parts.

Even a couple of Oklahoma's Republican congressmen are millionaires. Take Rep. Tom Coleplease! The new reports list his assets at $2 to 5.3 million. Oh, and Cole gets some nice trips out of the deal, including Puerto Rico and Spain.

Consider this: Cole's income from interest, dividends and capital gains was listed at $91,100 to $223,800. Even the lower figure here is more than twice the annual median income in Oklahoma.

But wait. One Oklahoma congressman is a relative pauper among the elite. Tulsa's own John Sullivan—formerly a patient at the Betty Ford Clinic—lists assets at only $15,000-$50,000. Rep. Sullivan lists no major holdings either—no mutual funds, no retirement accounts, no professional partnerships.

Sullivan didn't even list any cool junkets—nada, nothing. He does have a personal mortgage, however, to the tune of $250,000 to $500,000. So that's something.

Maybe Sullivan should take after Rep. James Lankford and take to the pulpit. Langford made a nice chuck of change as a guest preacher—$4,150.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Video Roundup: The GOP's Orgy of Politicizing Terrorism

The Republicans were sooooo offended this week when President Obama reminded the public of the anniversary of the death of Osama Bin Laden. It's so distasteful and cynical, they said. We would never do anything of the kind. Oh wait. As the video makes clear, they did it repeatedly and shamelessly, over and over and….

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Newt's Second Term: President of the Moon

We've been busy lately, so busy that we didn't have a chance—till now!—to snark over the Bold Ideas of God's Gift to Politics, Newt Gingrich, who suspended his presidential campaign this week. Alas, Newt will NOT be campaigning all the way to Tampa, as he promised. But at least we have his Great Moon Base plan on tape, a reminder of what a Great Visionary He Really Is, even if it's only in his own mind.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Flashback: World Columnist on Romney's Real Problem

Now that Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate for president, it's instructive to look back at Romney, his ideas and his background.

In today's installment, we recall this telling passage from columnist Ruben Navarrette, published January 15 in the Tulsa World:
Here's the problem with Mitt Romney, and why…his electability is in doubt. It's not his religion, his so-called moderate views on many issues, or even his reputation for fibbing and flip-flopping. 

Romney's real shortcoming is that he can't relate to everyday Americans. He doesn't understand their concerns or vulnerabilities or worries because the lives they're living bear no resemblance to his own. It's one thing to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth, and it's another to have been saddled with a 20-piece set of sterling flatware.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dewey Speaks: Mayor Bartlett Talks to NPR about Tulsa's Troubled Racial History

The Good Friday murders of three African Americans put Tulsa in the national headlines recently, but not in a good way.

Not only were the shootings horrific in their own right, but they also reminded people of Tulsa's troubled racial history, especially the infamous 1921 race riot that destroyed the city's Greenwood District, home to many blacks.

The folks at NPR's Morning Edition followed up on all of this in an interview this morning with Mayor Dewy Bartlett. It's worth a listen.

Mayor Bartlett works hard to explain how the city has changed over the decades. The interview also includes commentary by Scott Ellsworth, who has written a history of the race riot, and even mentions our friend Michael Mason, editor of This Land.

To listen to the interview, click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Wit and Wisdom of Rocker (& Gun Nut) Ted Nugent

The gun zealots were out in full force last week when the National Rifle Association held its national convention in St. Louis.

No. 1 crazy man: Ted Nugent, washed-up rock god and full-bore gunslinger.

Never one for thoughtfulness or carefully reasoned opinion, Nugent ranted and raged at the NRA meeting, even predicting the Obama administrations Nazi-inspired prison camps for good, honest gun-totin' patriots like himself.

Some samples: "We've got four Supreme Court justices who don't believe in the constitution."

And this: "If Barack Obama becomes the President in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."


It's complete fantasy, as are a lot of Obama-bashing from the right. But it's still dangerously irresponsible and, well, a demented lie. 

The details are here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rick Santorum Joke of the Week

Comedian Jimmy Fallon on former Sen. Rick Santorum, winner of last month's Oklahoma Republican primary:
After dropping out of the GOP race, Rick Santorum emailed his supporters to ask for help paying off his campaign debt. So if you believe in his message of responsible spending and no handouts, just give him a handout to cover all his irresponsible spending.

Uh-oh: Daily Show Correspondent Takes on Oklahoma's 'Personhood' Debate

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oklahoma Still High in Teen Births

We're number five! We're number five!

Okay, it's not a good thing. But the latest government figures show that Oklahoma is number five in teen births.

As we like to say around here, thank God for Mississippi, which topped the list. (Thank God too for the other states ahead of us: New Mexico, Arkansas and our friends in Texas.)

On the other hand, the teen birthrate nationally is falling. The study shows that the teen birthrate has reached the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1940.

Why the decline? In the AP report published in the Tulsa World, experts cite the economy. 

That makes sense. But we also suspect the wider availability and use of contraception by teens plays a major role in the declining birthrate. 

Of course, the availability and use of contraception has been targeted by zealots like Rick Santorum. No wonder his candidacy has flopped—even teenagers know better.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Over and Done: Former Sen. Rick Santorum, Oklahoma's GOP Choice, Is Out

Just a few weeks ago, Oklahoma Republicans went big for former Sen. Rick Santorum as the GOP nominee for president. Today, Santorum dropped out.

Yes, Sooner fans, Saint Rick of Pennsylvania is history. He's not going to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012.

This means that Oklahoma conservatives will have to vote for—yes!—Mitt Romney, the godfather of Obamacare and a state supporter of the individual mandate.

Woo-hoo! Republicans have a real Massachusetts liberal on the GOP ticket.

Can't wait to hear this East Coast  multimillionaire relate to all us working stiffs out here in Middle America.

UPDATE: Tulsa's Santorum supporters professed to be shocked that their man has dropped out. The story here.  Apparently, they were laboring under the illusion that Rick could actually win.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Newt Gingrich Rolls to an Overwhelming (Ha!) Fourth Place Finish in Wisconsin

Wisconsin GOP primary voters have spoken and our man Newt Gingrich—a Legend in His Own Mind!—rolled to a fantastic fourth place finish. Whoo!

Yes, Cowboy fans, Newt was fourth out of four in tonight's Badger state race with a whopping 6.1 percent of the Republican vote. Even the clueless Rep. Ron Paul got more votes than the Newtster.

How the mighty have fallen. After his South Carolina victory, Gingrich was brimming with confidence. (Okay, Gingrich is always brimming with confidence.) He assured the Republican base of his intellectual superiority and eventual victory at the Tampa convention.

Alas, it is not to be. Gingrich has been in political free fall for weeks, just about the time he promised a new U.S. base on the moon.

Let's face it, Mitt Romney—practically a GOP liberal!—will be the Republican nominee. Rick Santorum will keep pretending that he can get the nomination, but he can't.

As for Gingrich, there's not a snowball's chance in hell that he'll get the Republican nomination. Say goodbye, Newt. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Crystal Ball Time: Romney Wins Wisconsin; Santorum Fades, Newt a Distant Third

AltTulsa has no special insight into Republican politics in Wisconsin, but we're predicting a big Mitt Romeny win in that state's primary tomorrow.

How big? We can't say, but we think Rick ("Holier than Thou") Santorum is over and done, a victim of his Far Right extremism.

Santorum won the conservative GOP voters in Oklahoma a few weeks back, as well as victories in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. But Santorum can't win like that outside the South, which is why we feel confident in predicting a big Romney win tomorrow.

As for our favorite egomaniac, Newt Gingrich, it's hopeless. The guy has no chance to win the nomination.

Newt, of course, is soldiering on. He claimed today that Romney does not—repeat, does not!—have the nomination locked up and that he, Newt Gingrich, the Greatest Mind of His Generation, still has a chance.

And if you believe that, we've got this great bridge in Brooklyn that we'd like to sell you. Cheap!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Newt Loses Again: Gingrich Finishes a Distant Third in Louisiana

Destiny's heroic political leader—America's Great Visionary and Ultimate Savior—has failed again. 

Yes, Sooner fans, Newt Gingrich finished a distant third in Saturday's Louisiana GOP primary, well behind that faux conservative Mitt ("Secret Liberal") Romney. Rick Santorum won the day with 49 percent of the vote, well ahead of Romney's 26 percent and Gingrich's 17 percent.

This result, mind you, was in the Deep South, where Gingrich should have been competitive. The fact that he wasn't is a sign of how far his fortunes have fallen.

Gingrich once topped the polls in Oklahoma, but he couldn't beat Santorum in the Sooner state. 

As we have been saying for weeks, Newt is history. He never had a realistic chance at the Republican nomination and he will never be president.

But Newt, being Newt, certainly won't go away quietly. Oh no. With an ego the size of Georgia and an unending supply of half-baked ideas, he'll be around for years. Unfortunately.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tulsa Democrats Call Out Oklahoma Republicans

Oklahoma Republican leaders did themselves and their party no favors this week when they snubbed President Barack Obama on his first official visit to the Sooner state.

Instead of offering a hearty Oklahoma welcome for a sitting president, Gov. Mary Fallin disappeared—and thus appeared petulant and small-minded. 

The same goes Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. John Sullivan—all of whom seemed determined to be hyperpartisan.

There's a proud tradition in American politics of putting the nation's interests over party politics, a test that state Republicans failed this week. 

No one expected local Republicans to suddenly become fans of President Obama. But we did expect civility and common decency, which are values that Republicans claim to support.

Instead, they were extraordinarily petty, which says a lot about their character and the kind of party they lead in Oklahoma.

Tulsa Democrats, among others, took notice. One of their leaders, Michael Whalen, issued a statement apologizing for the actions of the Oklahoma Republican Party. The letter read, in part:
Mr. President, I want to apologize for the lack of respect you were shown by our Governor, Senators and statewide elected officials.  For many Oklahomans, it was heartbreaking to see our leaders put petty politics over manners and common decency. 

Politics aside, it is an honor to have had a visit from the President of the United States. The office of the presidency is to be respected. To do otherwise is rude, not to mention unpatriotic.  I assure you that most Oklahomans are taught from a young age that respect and hospitality are a part of the fabric of our great state. 

I hope that the warm faces in Cushing gave you a better taste of what it means to be an Oklahoman. True Oklahoma hospitality is far better than the welcome you received.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wrong Again: Gloating Sen. Jim Inhofe Thinks He's Won Climate Debate

Sen. Jim Inhofe is not the sharpest Crayon in the box. But Inhofe has never suffered a lack of confidence, even when that was totally unwarranted. 

That's exactly the case now that the Oklahoma Republican is flacking his book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. (The book is published by WND Books, the folks who keep insisting that Obama's birth certificate is a fake, which explains a lot.)

The book—and Inhofe's continuing verbal baloney—about global warming and climate change has earned the former Tulsa mayor (sigh) the ire of environmentalists and activists, some of whom have called him names. Poor Jim!

Inhofe being Inhofe, this name-calling is now a sure sign of the senator's victory. In a statement published today in the Tulsa World, Inhofe says "you know you've won the fight" when you've been criticized by the Hollywood elite and the leftist environmentalists. 

That's more baloney, of course. Inhofe is throwing mud, returning fire again the usual suspects, the evil liberals. More importantly, this sort of argument completely ignores actual science, which is where the real debate will take place.

Sen. Inhofe can crow all he wants about his environmental "victory," but he hasn't won—and won't win—if the science doesn't support his position.

On this score, the senator is losing.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Yee-Ha! Okie Republicans Go Ga-Ga over Guns

In their on-going efforts to turn Oklahoma into a Bright Red Conservative Paradise, state Republicans have scored another gun victory.

This week, the state senate passed an open carry bill that will allow citizens to openly carry firearms. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Anthony Sykes of Moore, said the law works well in other states. "They are doing fine," Sykes told the Tulsa World.

We are not reassured. Nor should anyone else be reassured.

No, Sooner fans, this is more GOP pandering to the NRA and gun lobby.

Democratic Sen. Jim Wilson of Tahlequah has it right. He pointed out that the law will put more guns in public in the hands of amateurs, some of whom will be "trying to intimidate people."


But logic and common sense are no help in our Red State Paradise. Our Republican leaders are far more wedded to the right-wing agenda and than they are to the safety of Oklahoma citizens.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cowboy Up! Mike ("I'm a Man!") Gundy Scores Big

We don't do a lot of sports on this site, but we couldn't help but notice a story in the Tulsa World yesterday, one that says far too much about priorities in the Sooner state.

The headline was straightforward: "Gundy's contract tops $29 million." 

That's right, Cowboy fans, the coach is raking in the dollars in a new eight-year contract. It's good work if you can get it, and, to be fair, Gundy has proven to be a winning coach.

But given the slash-and-burn budget cutting of the state's GOP leadership, it's more than a little ironic that a football coach can cash in while other state priorities such as public safety, education and health get cut. We don't need no stinkin' state services for—dare we say it!—the sick, the infirm, the poor.

Oh well, at least we're all clear on the state's priorities. Go Cowboys!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another Tuesday, Another Newt Primary Flop

Newt Gingrich is nothing if not egotistical. He's confidently predicted—more than once—that he will win the Republican nomination. No matter that he's only won two states, South Carolina and his home state of Georgia.

Tonight, Newt is flopping again. In the Deep South states of Alabama and Mississippi, both of which had their primaries today, Newt is losing.

Yes, it's still early. But it looks like Newt can't—and won't—pull off a convincing win in the South. It's another nail in Gingrich's political coffin.

Let's face it, Sooner fans, Newt is history. He couldn't win Oklahoma (Saint Santorum of Pennslyvania won handily) and he can't even manage a big win in the Very Red States like Alabama and Mississippi.

Bye-bye, Newt. People aren't buying the horse hockey you are selling.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Birthermania Lives! Florida GOP Congressman Still Flogging the Nonsense

Yes, Sooner fans, it's more nuttiness from your friendly neighborhood Republican.

Not content to disagree with the president's policies, the Wingnut branch of the GOP keeps pretending that Barack Obama is not a real American. 


It's more world-class baloney from a conservative movement with few ideas and even fewer scruples. Hey, when the president is a secret Muslim from Kenya, who needs old-fashioned values like truth or honesty?

That corny ole crap is for loser liberals.

Meanwhile, Florida Republican Rep. Cliff Sterns keeps up the baloney. The link is here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gotta Love Newt's Southern Values

So we're listening to a Fox News Radio reporter a few minutes ago explaining Newt Gingrich's appeal in Georgia.

Our intrepid commentator notes that Georgia is in the South and Southerns share the same values at Good Ole Newt. 

Ah yes, those traditional family values. Newt's got 'em. Or maybe not.

Let's see: Ethical problems leading to his ouster as Speaker of the U.S. House? Ouch! Infidelity? That hurts! Two divorces, three marriages? Ugh!  

An ego the size Georgia? True! Nutty ideas like a moon base? Dumb! A wife that 23 years his junior? Okay, we'll give you that one.

Oh man—love me some good, old-fashioned Southern values!

KRMG Radio Calls Oklahoma for Santorum in Two Minutes

Yes, Sooner fans, Rick Santorum has won Oklahoma's presidential primary. Whoo!

How do we know? KRMG told us so—a whopping two minutes after the polls closed. 

The votes weren't tallied then, of course, but that didn't stop the pollsters from making their exit poll predictions.

They were right, of course, but we found it curious that KRMG cited no numbers whatsoever when they made their 7:02 prediction. No percentages of precincts reporting, no raw vote tallies, no nothing. Only a Fox News report calling the state for Saint Rick of Pennsylvania.

On wait, that explains it. The 7:02 report came from Fox News, home of free-floating "facts" that—flip a coin!—may or may not be true.

Oklahoma GOP Votes for Santorum, But Will It Matter?

The AltTulsa crystal ball is usually hazy on such matters, but we feel confident on this Super Tuesday in predicting a big GOP win for Rick Santorum in the Sooner state.

We also predict that Santorum's win in Oklahoma won't matter because Mitt Romney will carry the day. 

Like it or not, Oklahoma is no Ohio—and Ohio counts in a way that Oklahoma doesn't. Ohio is a more important state with more clout on the national stage. So even if Santorum wins big here, the significance of that win will be overshadowed by a Romney win in Ohio. 

 Moreover, Santorum is losing ground as the national GOP gets behind Mitt, even in Deep Red Oklahoma.

In fact, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn has endorsed Romney. That endorsement won't help him much today, but it's another sign that Santorum doesn't have the money or the organization or the popular appeal to reach the Republican nomination.

As for Newt Gingrich, he's toast. He can win Georgia and maybe do well in other states. But Gingrich has been losing steam for weeks and we don't expect he'll get his mojo back today. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

538 Blog: Calling Oklahoma for Santorum, True Believer

Rick Santorum was in Tulsa yesterday promoting his presidential bid, a move that appears very likely to pay off. 

Nate Silver, the Five Thirty Eight election numbers guru at the New York Times, is projecting Santorum with a whopping 91 percent chance of winning Oklahoma.

We don't have any new numbers, but our guess is that Santorum will be the likely winner. He's a professed Super Conservative, after all, and that plays well with Oklahoma's Far Right GOP voters.

Never mind that Santorum's brand of conservatism is anti-birth control, even anti-sex. Never mind that he has denigrated mainstream Christianity. Never mind that he lost his last senate campaign by double digits to a Democrat. Never mind that Sen. Tom Coburn has endorsed Mitt Romney. 

None of that matters when you can spout doctrinaire conservative talking points that fire up the base even when they make little sense. That's Rick Santorum, True Believer.

For the Five Thirty Eight projections, details are here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Music Break: Broken Arrow's Kristin Chenoweth on God, Comedy and Dolly Parton

Everybody loves the hometown girl who makes it big. Which is why we love Broken Arrow's own Kristin Chenoweth, the little lady with the big, big Broadway voice.

Of course, a lot of folks are fond of Chenoweth, which explains how she turned up earlier today on NPR. She's talented and funny, altogether charming. (Color us smitten.)

But back to business: A link to the NPR interview (with audio) is here.

The Incredible Shrinking Newt: Gingrich Fading Fast

Not all that long ago, Newt Gingrich was riding high among Oklahoma Republicans. If memory serves, he was the top choice of 33 percent of the state's GOP voters in December.

No more. Newt is now polling third behind Mitt (Mr. Moneybags) Romney, and Rick (I'm holier than you!) Santorum. 

Newt's cavalry—J.C. Watts and Herman Cain—will be riding into Tulsa Monday to save the day, but we suspect is too little too late for Gingrich.

Newt peaked in the South Carolina primary and his fortunes have fallen ever since. After his ill-advised space pandering in Florida (a cool new moon base, anyone?), the former U.S. House speaker has had a hard time being taken seriously.

Plus, there's the whole ethical mess from Newt's last days in the House, not to mention the business of his two divorces and three—count 'em!—marriages. Oh, wait, we forgot to mention Callista, who is, ah, just a few years younger than good ole Newt. (Twenty-three years, to be exact.)

If we were the betting type, we'd put our Sooner dollars on Santorum in Tuesday's primary election. After all, he's got the winning Oklahoma trifecta down cold—God, guns and gays. Yee-ha!  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Art Break: Susan Stamberg Reports on Richard Diebenkorn, California Abstract Painter

 The AltTulsa crew appreciates a variety of culture pursuits, including such rarefied pleasures as poetry (heavens!), literary novels (oh my!) and painting (really?).

We're even interested in—dare we say it?—abstract painting. You know what we're talking about, those canvasses covered in lines and shapes and squiggles and such, the stuff "regular" people love to ridicule.

With that warning, then, let's proceed to today's art break, a story on Morning Edition by one of our favorite NPR reporters, Susan Stamberg. Ms. Stamberg's story this morning was about the paintings of Richard Diebenkorn.

No, we had not heard of him either, but we listened to Ms. Stamberg and, with an open mind, took a look at his work, which he began in the 1960s. It's soft in color, and geometric, not exactly what we were expecting.

Diebenkorn may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the paintings we saw began to grow on us. Listen to Stamberg's story (and see some of his paintings) by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Busted! Jon Stewart Finds Fox News Reading Republican Talking Points

GOP at War with the Last 200—no 300!—Years

AltTulsa's nomination for the Oklahoma Quote of the Day is OU political science professor Keith Gaddie, commenting on the far right push of the Republicans in 2012:
The Republican Party appears to be at war with, bascially, the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries in this process. 
Wow! The GOP—some of the most out-of-date and backward thinking you'll find anywhere.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Newt's Visit Unlikely to Boost Oklahoma Poll Numbers

Newt Gingrich brought his campaign to Tulsa today in an effort to shore up his failing presidential campaign. 

Once the GOP frontrunner in Oklahoma, Gingrich is fading fast while Rick ("No Sex") Santorum is riding high in the Sooner state.

Sooner Poll results reported Sunday in the Tulsa World show Santorum at 39 percent, Mitt Romney at 23 percent and Gingrich at 18 percent. Ron Paul came in fourth at only 8 percent, behind the catch-all category of "Don't know/refused." 

How the mighty have fallen. In mid-December, Gingrich was atop the Sooner Poll with 33 percent of the voters. Gingrich's numbers nationally are even worse. Gallup today has The Newtster at an underwhelming 13 percent. 

Let's face it, Sooner fans, Newt Gingrich is toast. He won't win the Oklahoma primary and he won't win the Republican nomination. He'll never be president of the United States.

Why? Maybe it's Newt's ethically challenged history in the U.S. House. Maybe it's his convoluted  marital history, which includes two ex-wives and a current wife more than two decades his junior.

Or maybe it's his never-ending font of silly ideas, including his scheme to establish a U.S. base on the moon. Brilliant!

Candidate Newt Gingrich Stumps in Tulsa; Forgets to Mention His Amazing Moon Base

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich spoke in Tulsa today, hoping to rally his supporters in advance of the upcoming Oklahoma primary.

He'll need more than hope. Newt's numbers in Oklahoma have tanked in recent weeks thanks to his propensity to pander to audiences and say whatever sort of idea pops into his head.

Newt has a lot of ideas—most of them bad. 

Remember his spectacularly bad moon base idea? Newt trotted out that doozy when he was speaking on Florida's so-called Space Coast.

We missed today's Newt shindig, so we're not sure what Gingrich was peddling today. But we're betting the moon base didn't come up.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Republicans Gone Wild: OETA Funding Safe—for Now

AltTulsa is pleased to see that the legislative move to strip state funding from public television (OETA) has been dropped.

The Oklahoman reports that Rep. Leslie Osborn, a Republican from Mustang, has withdrawn the bill. She told the paper that she didn't have the votes to get her bill through the budget subcommittee on education.

AT has previously criticized the defunding idea as "dumb."

Rep. Osburn, however, is not giving up. She told the Oklahoma that OETA funding would be cut or eliminated when the state abolishes the state income tax, another goal of the state Republican leaders. (Homeowners beware—property taxes will go up!)

Nevertheless, Osburn is a True Believer. "[T]he founding fathers didn't give us the right to procure money from the people against their will—which is taxation—for anything cultural or philosophic," she told the paper.

Oh, wait. Don't tell her about the Smithsonian. Or the National Gallery of Art. Or the Library of Congress. Or the National Archives.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Art Audio: The Philbrook's Show of Pottery and Photography, "Black on Black & White"

Tulsa's Philbrook Museum has opened a new show featuring the pottery of Maria Martinez, famous for her black-on-black work, and the photographer Laura Gilpin, a friend of Martinez who documented Native American life in the Southwest.

Rich Fisher at KWGS 89.5 featured the new show earlier this week on "Studio Tulsa."

It's worth a listen. Better yet, it's worth a visit to the Philbrook.

A link to the show is here: KWGS: "Black on Black & White: The Southwest of Laura Gilpin and Maria Martinez"

Easy Target: Jon Stewart Lampoons Santorum's Women in Combat Ideas

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Grant Wood, American Painter

American Gothic is one of the most famous paintings ever made. It's creator was Grant Wood, the Iowa-born artist who was born today, February 13, 1891. The painting is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, where it continues to draw big crowds. For more on Wood and his art, see the Wikipedia entry here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Inaccurate and Misleading: Celebrating The Great Michael Bates Backdown

Yes, Tulsa citizens, it's time once again to recall the Great Michael Bates Backdown, the time when our intrepid local blogger got in way, way over his head.

You may remember that Bates, in early 2009, used his "Cityscope" column in Urban Tulsa Weekly to blast the Tulsa World (or "Whirrled," as Bates likes to put it) for its circulation reporting and auditing practices.

It's all well and good to bash the local paper, if you like, but it's not such a good idea to say things that you don't know to be true. That sort of reporting just leads to trouble. 

Indeed, the World was not amused and threatened legal action. For its part, UTW quickly distanced itself from Bates' column.

Then, three years ago tomorrow, February 10, 2009, Bates wrote a very informative letter setting the record straight about his column. In it, Bates admitted that "my column contained numerous errors."

This letter was—and is—interesting reading. Bates owns up to to a whole bevy of reporting problems. But let's just quote some of the best lines from the Bates letter directly: 
My column suggests that the Tulsa World was not audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation for nearly a decade. This is false.

My statement that the Tulsa World retained "consultants" to provide circulation information is inaccurate and misleading. 

My suggestion that the actual circulation numbers were somehow "concealed" from a time is incorrect.

My suggestion that Tulsa World circulation as 205 higher in 2005 than in 2006 was incorrect. 
Ouch! The letter goes on, but you get the idea.

In the end, Bates escaped the lawsuit. But he also provided fodder for his critics and helped create a new Tulsa holiday, the Great Bates Backdown, which we will be celebrating again tomorrow.


Fallin Fail: Governor Delivers Budget Baloney

Gov. Mary Fallin made her State of the State speech the other day, trumpeting her bold (sic) new tax plan. In a phrase, it's all cuts all the time.

Whoo-hoo! Sooners will pay lower taxes! We'll all have more money and everyone will prosper!

But wait. This seems just a tad to good to be true. 

In fact, the Tulsa World (and others) have noticed that the governor's budget numbers don't add up. For one thing, the governor assumes that lower taxes will, as the World put it, "immediately trigger economic growth."

Big maybe. This is the same "big maybe" that George W. Bush pushed for eight years in Washington, and we all know how well that worked out.

We expect a certain amount of baloney from the state's Republican leadership. But Gov. Fallin is hawking smoke and mirrors here, offering voodoo economics in place of realistic budget solutions.

Sure, we'd all love lower taxes. But we also want a state government that works well and serves its citizens in a fair and reasonable way. Based on her tax plan, the governor doesn't get it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Birthday to One of the Greats: Novelist Charles Dickens at 200

In case you missed it, it's time to celebrate the 200th birthday of one of the greatest writers in the history the English language, Charles Dickens.

The author of David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, and many other novels turns 200 today.

We admit that we haven't dipped into much Dickens lately, but we have enjoyed some recent BBC productions of his work, including Little Dorrit. Terrific stuff, by our lights.

Thankfully, too, NPR ran an appreciation of Dickens on "Morning Edition" this morning. The link is here.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dumb Move: Legislator Wants to Chop OETA Funds

The Republican stupidity at the state legislature continues unabated.

The latest bonehead idea is to cut off state funding for the state's public broadcasting system, OETA. In fact, Rep. Leslie Osborn of Tuttle claims that 17 states have now quit funding public television.

Too bad that's not true. As the Tulsa World reported yesterday, that figure is wrong. Rep. Osburn is making up her own "facts," which turns out to be a popular tactic among the state's GOP legislators.

More importantly, cuts to OETA are an ill-advised way of cutting state spending, an effort to chop government services and diminish the quality of life in the Sooner state.

Who needs OETA anyway? It's not like it broadcasts anything interesting or educational. Naw, we don't need no stinkin' Big Bird. American Experience—who needs a serious look at U.S. history? Masterpiece? Who needs culture?

Hey, we're Okies—we don't take kindly to learnin'.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ouch! Sooners Dead Last in Dental Visits

We're number 50! We're number 50!

Yes, Sooner fans, Oklahoma ranks dead last of the 50 states in the percentage of adults who visit the dentist at least once a year. Whoo-hoo!

We learned this sad fact in today's Tulsa World, which reported on free dental clinic held Friday in McAlester. According to the story, about 1,000 people turned up for the clinic, including some of who drove more than 100 miles.

The clinic, known as the Oklahoma Mission of Mercy, continued today and the paper said another 1,000 were expected.

We commend the Oklahoma Dental Association and its dental professionals who put on this clinic and help our fellow Oklahomans. In a state with lots of low-income residents who lack dental insurance, the clinic is a great thing.

But it is a sad commentary on the current state of Oklahoma's economy and public health that we are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to dental care.