Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hannity Tops Misinformer List

Media Matters, a useful web monitor of right-wing sloth and misinformation, has named Fox News blabber Sean Hannity as its "2008 Misinformer of the Year," an award the baby-faced blowhard richly deserves. 

As the Media Matters site documents in considerable detail, Hannity is the master of the half-truth, routinely but purposely leaving out information that runs counter to his preconceived ideas about the evils of all things remotely liberal or centrist.

It's not fact-based opinion that Hannity spouts every day, it's full-bore intellectual dishonesty. On the other hand, no one ever accused Hannity of being intellectual, or even especially thoughtful. He's not. 

The man's a hack. His unofficial motto: "Don't confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up."

The details on Hannity's year of misinformation can be found here.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oregon Ducks Swamp OSU Cowboys, 42-31

Mike "I'm a Man! I'm 40!" Gundy and his OSU Cowboys started well but faltered down the stretch in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, allowing the Oregon Ducks to pull off an upset win in San Diego.

The Ducks wore down the Pokes in the second half, battering quarterback Zac Robinson and the OSU offense, and running at will through the Cowboy defense.

Looks like Gundy's halo lost a little of its shine in sunny California, but Cowboy fans are no doubt thinking about next year.

UPDATE: One online wag we saw had the nerve to write this about our beloved OSU Cowboys: "Looks like Boone Pickens will have to buy himself a new team." Ouch! 

Republican Senators (Hint: Inhofe, Coburn) Undermine U.S. Financial Position

The GOP true believers are extraordinarily doctrinaire. That accounts for their noisy opposition to every government plan to save the economy.

Federal assistance to the auto industry, for example, has been panned by Republican members of the U.S. Senate, including Oklahoma's economic dinosaur, Jim Inhofe.

But as columnist Eugene Robinson pointed out recently in the Tulsa World, this opposition puts them at odds with "the current administration, the incoming administration, a majority in the House of Representatives and Democrats in the Senate…."

It also puts the GOP senators and their party "against unions, against America's domestic industrial patrimony, [and] against the blue-collar working class…."

Oklahoma Sens. Inhofe and Coburn, Alabama's Richard Shelby and Tennessee's Bob Corker are pushing their party so far to the right that there may be no one left to vote for the Republicans except Southern white men over 50.

That's hardly a realistic base for a national party, but that appears to be the future than the GOP senators have planned for the Republicans.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sarah Palin Now a Grandmother as Daughter Bristol Gives Birth

Those vaunted Republican family values were in full view today as Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol gave birth to a bouncing baby boy.

Sarah's an awfully young grandmother, but, last we heard, Bristol is still unmarried. And her future mother-in-law (assuming an eventual marriage) is in trouble over illegal drugs.

Coincidentally, a new report on abstinence-only sex education shows—surprise!—that it doesn't really work. Here's a summary from the Washington Post.com:
Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

"Taking a pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior," said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. "But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking."

Based on the Palin's chaotic family life in the Great North, it might be time for the Republicans to reconsider their so-called family values, which look a lot less effective than the GOP claims they are.

TVA's Tennessee Coal Sludge Spill Gets Bigger, More Damaging

The latest news from the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill is even worse than earlier reports. 

Here's the CNN.com headline today: 
1,000,000,000 gallons of sludge shames agency
TVA has some explaining to do. Plus, a hell of a lot of clean-up. 

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tulsa Legislator Wins AT's Bonehead Award for Gun Sales Tax Repeal Proposal

Okies love their guns. Big ones, little ones, all kinds of rifles, shotguns, handguns, machines guns, bazookas, light tanks, armored personnel carriers, howitzers, Humvees, flamethrowers—you name it.

We love 'em so much that a Tulsa legislator, Democrat Rep. Eric Proctor, wants more of us to have 'em without having to pay those pesky state sales taxes.

Proctor introduced a bill earlier this month to repeal the state sales on guns and ammo, all the better to get more lethal weapons in the hands of people who would rather have a cheap gun than pay taxes (which, as far as we can tell, is about every red-blooded male Oklahoman over about, say, seven years old).

AltTulsa begs to differ. Unlike fear-mongering legislators and their frightened constituents, we don't see bodily harm behind every bush or in every dark corner. Yes, there's plenty of crime in Tulsa (as there is everywhere else) but we don't believe guns in every pocket is the answer. Nor are we arguing for banning guns in the Very Red State of Oklahoma.

Gotta love the NRA, right up there with OU football! And, Jesus, of course!

But we do believe in sensible gun policies (yes, there are such policies, the NRA notwithstanding), and Proctor's measure sounds more like a stunt that a reasonable policy. A sales tax repeal won't lower the price of guns by much in any case, and is unlikely to lead to a safer, saner or more livable Oklahoma.

That's why Rep. Eric Proctor wins AltTulsa's latest Legislative Bonehead Award, grandstanding instead of working for common sense, bipartisan solutions to the difficult problems of crime and guns in Oklahoma.

Tennessee Coal Sludge Spill Much Larger Than First Estimated

The news from the East Tennessee coal sludge spill keeps getting worse. Here's an update from CNN:

Estimates for the amount of thick sludge that gushed from a Tennessee coal plant this week have tripled to more than a billion gallons, as cleanup crews try to remove the goop from homes and railroads and halt its oozing into an adjacent river.

TVA officials originally said the cleanup would take four to six weeks. Now they say they aren't sure.

The sludge, a byproduct of the ash from coal combustion, was contained at a retention site at the Tennessee Valley Authority's power plant in Kingston, about 40 miles east of Knoxville. The retention wall breached early Monday, sending the sludge downhill and damaging 15 homes. All the residents were evacuated, and three homes were deemed uninhabitable, according to the TVA.

TVA's initial estimate for the spill was 1.8 million cubic yards or more than 360 million gallons of sludge. By Friday, the estimate reached 5.4 million cubic yards or more than 1 billion gallons -- enough to fill 1,660 Olympic-size swimming pools.

***

The plant sits on a tributary of the Tennessee River called the Clinch River. At least 300 acres of land has been coated by the sludge -- a bigger area than the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Can Coal Really Be Clean? Not So Much

A big topic in the 2008 campaign was energy independence and one major element of such independence was (and is) U.S. coal, especially the promise of clean coal. Both John McCain and Barack Obama touted the benefits of this supposed form of cheap and clean energy.

Too bad, then, that clean coal may be more hype than reality. The technology to produce and use coal in a "green" fashion seems many years away.

Meanwhile, we have this very real coal problem here and now:
A coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee that experts were already calling the largest environmental disaster of its kind in the United States is more than three times as large as initially estimated, according to an updated survey by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
More on the coal ash spill from the New York Times here.

Friday, December 26, 2008

CNN Poll: 75 Percent of Americans Glad to See Bush Leave Office

More news we already knew:

(CNN) -- A new national poll suggests that three out of four Americans feel President Bush's departure from office is coming not a moment too soon.

Twenty-eight percent of those polled say President Bush is the worst president in U.S. history.

Seventy-five percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday said they're glad Bush is going; 23 percent indicated they'll miss him.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rush in Fantasyland: More Liberal Conspiracies from Radio Blowhard

Rush Limbaugh has about much credibility as The National Enquirer. The Enquirer reports on fad diets, Hollywood scandal and the like, while Limbaugh simply says whatever nonsense pops into his fat head.

That would explain El Rushbo's latest pronouncement on the liberal conspiracy to ruin the economy and thus help Obama and the Congressional Democrats. Of course! It makes so much sense.

Here are Limbaugh's exact words. Note that Rush cites no evidence, none. He doesn't have any. But Rush was never much interested in evidence.
Who’s benefiting? Aside from the people being bailed out.The Democrat [sic] party and Barack Obama are benefiting.

They got elected, they increased their numbers in the House, they increased their numbers in the Senate, they got the White House now, and they’ve got a crisis that people think can only be fixed with the all-mighty and powerful government interceding to save this or to save that, when in fact, the government is going to nationalize the automobile industry. It’s going to nationalize some banks. It’s going to nationalize the mortgage industry, and may end up nationalizing the automobile industry.

Auto Industry Meltdown: It's Not Just GM and Chrysler Who Are Losing Money

Oklahoma politicians (read: Sens. Inhofe and Coburn) are "outraged" at President Bush's promise to bail out General Motors and Chrysler.

Never mind that a collapse of the auto industry would be very bad news for the U.S. economy, putting many thousands of workers out of work.

This week we learn that it's not just those (supposedly) overpaid UAW workers and the (allegedly) mismanaged American auto manufacturers who are facing the downturn.

Here's the telling headline from the New York Times:
Toyota Expects Its First Loss in 70 Years
Here's the link to the Times story.

Saudis Deny 8-year-old a Divorce from 58-year-old (Yes!) Husband

Annals of Injustice: Here's a recent report from Saudi Arabia that's hard to believe:
An eight-year old Saudi Arabian girl who was married off by her father to a 58-year-old man has been told she cannot divorce her husband until she reaches puberty.
Read the full report from the Guardian here.

Minnesota Update: Democrat Franken Edges Ahead in Senate Race

Al Franken may be the new senator from Minnesota, ousting Republican Norm Coleman.

The latest results from the Minnesota state canvassing board shows Franken, a Democrat, ahead by 48 votes out of 3 million that were cast on November 4.

Franken is best known as a comedian and satirist. Educated at Harvard, Franken was a once cast member of Saturday Night Live and wrote a popular political book called Rush Limbaugh Is A Big, Fat Idiot, the title of which is self-explanatory.

Press reports say the final determination on the election will come in January, though the decision is likely to wind up in court.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mother Jones Video from the Fringe: Still Hoping (and Praying) to Stop Obama



These folks really, really need a hobby. Inventing legal theories to fulfill your own private presidential fantasies hasn't been working out so well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Torture Administration: Senate Report Finds Top Officials Advocated Abuses

It's not news that the Bush Administration made up its own rules when it came to the treatment of detainees.

Geneva Conventionswho needs 'em? Waterboardingperfectly legal. Secret prisons in foreign countrieseverybody does it. Sexual abuse of prisoners (plus photos!)harmless fun by a few bad apples!

But novel legal theories and strained readings of international law can't justify the "we can do whatever we want" system of prisoner treatment, as a new Senate report has found.

Here, from the New York Times, is a summary of the Senate report. We highlighted a few paragraphs that reveal the Bush Administration's unwise and immoral actions in its so-called War on Terror.

[A] bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guant√°namo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

***

These policies have deeply harmed America’s image as a nation of laws and may make it impossible to bring dangerous men to real justice. The report said the interrogation techniques were ineffective, despite the administration’s repeated claims to the contrary.

Alberto Mora, the former Navy general counsel who protested the abuses, told the Senate committee that “there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively, the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guant√°namo.”

Tulsa Today Still Flogging Anti-Obama Rumors and Nonsense

AltTulsa loves a good conspiracy theory as much as the next fellow. But we love truth and the facts even more.

That's why we don't print rumor and unsubstantiated baloney on this site, including the speculation and nonsense of one Joan Swirsky, a New York-based "journalist" (using the term loosely) who insists that wishing and hoping that some things are true is the same as actually verifying the facts. Well, no.

Nevertheless, Tulsa Today this week published Swirsky and her continuing specualtion that Obama (1) isn't really a citizen and (2) is intimately involved in the "pay for play" scandal involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Swirsky seems undeterred by the fact that the Obama birth certificate stories are false and that this claim keep failing in the courts (as well as the court of public opnion). She seems equally undeterred as well by the fact that federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald made very clear the fact that Obama is not a target of his Blagojevich investigation or the fact that Blago is heard on wiretap complaing about Obama and his staff's unhelpfulness.

But, hey, when facts don't matter, you can say or write almost anything, as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity prove every day. Here, then, without further ado, is a recent raving by Ms. Swirsky:
Of course, it’s Obama himself, the man who recently dodged a bullet of his own when, last week, the Supreme Court passed on a petition to declare him ineligible for the presidency by virtue of his having failed to produce an authentic, verifiable birth certificate that attests to the fact that he meets one of only three criteria of the U.S. Constitution for the job, namely that he be a natural-born citizen of the United States. Note: Another suit is due to be heard by Justice Scalia on 12.12.08, and several other suits are pending.

What, if any, is the connection between Obama, the convicted felon Rezko, and the soon-to-be-convicted Blagojevich?
Ah yes, if Obama is from Illinois, just like Blago and Tony Rezko, it naturally follows that they are all guilty of some crime or another, since they all know each other, all live in Chicago and all think exactly alike.

Of course they do. Because that's how conspiracy theorists see the world. Back in the land of actual facts, Tulsa Today should know better.

Cheney's Role in U.S. Torture: Will the Veep Be Forced to Pay the Price?

The final days of the Bush Administration has the principals out on the Legacy Tour, working hard to spin as many people as possible and hope that the citizens (and historians) don't notice.

Such a strategy seems foolhardy to us, as does Vice President Dick Cheney's recent admission that he was involved in the approval of detainee waterboarding.

The Veep seems proud of his role in the waterboarding affair, but he may want to reconsider his comments, which have raised the ire of some journalists and public officials.

Consider, for instance, this exchange last night between MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Michigan Sen. Carl Levin:

Maddow: One of the things I think has been so I guess challenging to the American debate about this is that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have essentially argued that they have legalized waterboarding. That they have legalized torture. They think that the actions of their Justice Department made things like waterboarding not war crimes any more. Are they right?

Levin: You can't just suddenly change something that's illegal into something that is legal by having a lawyer write an opinion saying that it's legal. Things can't work that way or else someone could get a lawyer to say a crime is not a crime and then that would be a defense. That is not a defense and I just, I was astounded frankly when I heard the Vice President of the United States sort of just blandly, blithely saying that oh he thought that was an appropriate thing and yes he was involved in the discussions about it.

The Economic Wit & Wisdom of President George W. Bush

I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rush v. Powell: Who's Credible, Who's a Fraud?

Speaking on CNN the other day, Gen. Colin Powell pointed out that radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh was a pox on the Republican brand.

Powell noted, for instance, that Republican operatives such as Limbaugh have long used "polarization for political advantage." Powell continued: "Is this really the kind of party that we want to be when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts?"

Good question,
Gen Powell.

Ah, but
attacking Rush is heresy in Red State Oklahoma. Here, for example, is Mike McCarville's lame response to Powell:
Powell, one of those silk-stocking "Republicans" who like to cozy up to the Washington crowd, has completed his transition to liberal Democrat. The former general, with the help of a media that seems to believe his opinions matter and have delighted in reporting his remarks critical of conservatives in general and Rush Limbaugh in particular, has shown his true colors.
Sorry, Mike, but we're going with Gen. Powell on this one. Powell may strike you as "silk stocking," but we rate him as mostly educated and reasonable,* something Rush isn't—and can't claim to be. (Asterisk: Powell's infamous UN speech, now repudiated by, well, everyone, Powell included.)

Let's consider the facts: Rush is a thrice-divorced, college dropout who avoided the draft and never served a day in uniform. Indeed, Rush has never served a day in public office and has no policy experience whatsoever. His opinions are regularly fact-free and worth exactly what the public pays for them, which is to say, nothing.

In short: Not much of a husband, not much of a student, not much of a public servant. His life's work: Hours and hours of hot air and right-wing nonsense.

As for being "cozy with the Washington crowd," Rush is no stranger to the D.C. Republican establishment, having wined, dined, and smoked stogies with all sorts of GOP insiders, including one of the few Republicans with a bigger ego that Rush, Newt Gingrich. Indeed, Rush is the one with the huge bank account and high-living ways, golfing his way across the land from his Florida estate. Lots of elitism here, but not much in the way of national service.

Powell, by contrast, was an ROTC student in college who worked his way up to general. In the army, Powell served in combat in Vietnam (two tours), winning a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and numerous other military honors.

He was married in 1962 and is still married to the same woman.

As a leader and presidential advisor, Powell served as national security advisor for Ronald Reagan, and was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H. W. Bush, led the military in the first Iraq war, and went on to be Secretary of State under George W. Bush.

This, we submit, is a record of distinguished national service that make Rush look like a piker. This, we submit, is a record that warrants respect, even when Powell is wrong, as he surely is from time to time.

Rush, in contrast, is wrong every day, almost every time he opens his mouth, a prisoner of bad ideas, weak logic, intellectual inferiority, and his own hubris. Rush, after all, is completely unfamiliar with the notion that he could be wrong.

Oklahoma Observer Unveils New Website

The Oklahoma Observer has expanded its presence on the "Interweb." 

Frosty Troy's venerable publication, now in the capable hands of Arnold Hamilton, has put up a new and expanded website, all the better for Oklahoma's progressive and freethinking community (small though it may be). 

The Observer's new site even includes a video featuring Hamilton talking about the publication's history and mission. It's worth watching. Check out the Observer's new site here

State Department Report Recommends Dropping Blackwater

Blackwater, the controversial private security firm that has made headlines for its "cowboy" role in Iraq, may be dropped as a contractor by the U.S. State Department.

The move comes as a result of a new State Department report requested by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

According to a BBC,
Rice ordered the review after Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in September 2007.

Five guards have been charged with manslaughter over the shootings.

The incident triggered outrage in Iraq and led to a debate about the role there of private security companies - upon which the US relies heavily.

The Blackwater news is in stark contrast to a report posted earlier this week on Tulsa Today, a posting by writer Pat McGuigan that seeks to defend the firm in spite of its checkered record in Iraq.

Read more about the State Department report here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rewriting History: Bush Fudges His Taliban Statement

Being George Bush, apparently, means never having to say you're wrong. You just rewrite history. 

Too bad that we have digital recording and old-fashioned fact-checking these days, which help real people establish actual facts. 

The incident in question is his statement yesterday in Afghanistan. Defending his policies there, Bush stated, "I never said that the Taliban was eliminated."

Except that he didThink Progress has the exact quotes (yes, he said it more than once). 

Speaking in September 2002: "The Taliban's ability to brutalize the Afghan people and to harbor and support terrorists has been virtually eliminated." 

In April 2002: "With the Taliban eliminated and al-Qaida badly damaged, we have move into the second stage of our war on terror. 

There's more Bush revisionism on the Think Progress site here

Palin-speak Makes the Top Ten Media Feuds

Advertising Age, one of the industry's most important mouthpieces, is out with its Top Ten Media Feuds for 2008. Some are predictable (Google vs. Yahoo, for instance), while others are, well, merely sad. 

The one we like best has to do with the Savior of the Republican Party, none other than Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Ad Age summed up her media feud this way: 
Sarah Palin vs. the English Language
Here's a sample of the Palin problem: "[S]he…regarded the English language as her own rambling, substance-free Bridge to Nowhere." Ouch! 

See Ad Age's complete Media Feud list here

Friday, December 12, 2008

Colin Powell Blasts GOP's Divisive Strategy; Attacks Rush Limbaugh's 'Lesser Instincts'

Gen. Colin Powell has unloaded on the Republican strategy of polarization and base instincts.

Thanks to CNN, here is Powell's spot-on analysis of recent Republican political efforts:

The Republican party must stop "shouting at the world" and start listening to minority groups if it is to win elections in the 21st century, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday.

In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria for Sunday's "GPS" program, President Bush's former secretary of state said his party's attempt "to use polarization for political advantage" backfired last month....

"I think the party has to stop shouting at the world and at the country,"Powell said. "I think that the party has to take a hard look at itself, and I've talked to a number of leaders in recent weeks and they understand that." Powell, who says he still considers himself a Republican, said his party should also stop listening to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

"Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?" Powell asked. "Is this really the kind of party that we want to be when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts?"

Coburn Won't, but White House Will, Help the U.S. Auto Industry

Sen. Tom Coburn, always the frugal (read: tightwad) Republican, voted against the auto bailout plan last night. Today, Coburn was outranked by another Republican. 

President George Bush has now signaled his willingness to help the struggling Detroit automakers, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. 

Here's a quote from the WSJ summing up the president's plan: 
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the administration would consider tapping the $700 billion government pool—known as the Troubled Asset Relief Plan—that was created ahead of the November election to calm turmoil in financial markets. 
Very interesting. Coburn is ready to let the U.S. industry fail (as are the voters, if the polls are right), but not even George Bush wants to see a huge sector of the U.S. economy collapse on his watch. 

For an alternative Oklahoma perspective on the GOP's attacks on workers, see Doc Hoc's blog here

More Headlines We'd Rather Not Read: U.S. Jobless Figures Skyrocket

From CNN.com
December layoffs exceed 100k
Job cuts continue to mount in December as recession deepens 

Headlines We'd Rather Not Read: Ice Storms Strike Again

One year ago this time, Tulsans were still living with the cold and dark of the Great Ice Storm of 2007. 

Tulsa has escaped the ice so far this year (knock on wood), but no such luck in New England.

Here's a bit of a Reuters report on the troubles way up east: 
Ice storms knock power out across NY, New England

NEW YORK—A powerful snow and ice storm knocked out power to near 1 million homes and businesses across New York and New England on Friday, closing roads and forcing the state of Mains to shut government offices.

"This is a very, very serious situation right now," New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said after declaring an emergency in his state, where as many as 230,000 lost power in what local authorities describe as the worst outages in three decades." 
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? We think we can speak for thousands of Tulsa-area residents in wishing our New England neighbors warmer weather soon, very soon. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recent Reading: Naomi Klein's 'Shocking' Critique of Capitalism

We prefer to stay far, far away from economics. For us, as for many others, it's the "dismal science."

But in these days of economic uncertainty and financial collapse (thanks, George), it couldn't hurt to do a little economic reading.

With that in mind, we found a provocative article in the December 8 edition of The New Yorker, which profiled Naomi Klein, a rising star on the Canadian left whose recent book, The Shock Doctrine, has made her a celebrity.

We don't know Klein's work, and we can't vouch for her "shock" thesis. But we did find Larissa MacFarquhar's article on Klein worth reading, even when we didn't buy her ideas (pun intended).

As the magazine puts it, Klein's an "agitator," the voice of the "new new left." More importantly, Klein advances a full bore argument on unfettered capitalism, especially the kind advocated by economist Milton Friedman.

She's also a realist, telling MacFarquhar, "I'm not a utopian thinker. I don't imagine my ideal society.… I'm just much more comfortable talking about things that are."

For a radically different view of the U.S. economic landscape, check out Klein's profile at The New Yorker.

Bad Predictions: Bill Kristol Gets It Wrong

Foreign Policy magazine is out with its "10 Worst Predictions for 2008." Topping the list, not surprisingly, was conservative blowhard and Fox political analyst William Kristol.

Here's Kristol's prediction from Fox News Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006:
If [Hillary Clinton] gets a race against John Edwards and Barack Obama, she’s going to be the nominee. Gore is the only threat to her, then. … Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Talk Radio Hall of Shame: A New Low for Michael Savage

Talk radio's most reliably unreliable blabber, Michael Savage, has sunk to an all-time low, which, considering Savage's penchant for hyperbole, is really saying something. 

Ruminating about a sensational New York crime involving S&M, Savage couldn't stop himself and generalized into this colossal whopper: 
[A]ny heterosexual woman today over the age of 25 who grew up in America is basically a dominatrix. You ask any heterosexual guy.
Whoa, Momma! Talk about painting with a broad brush. And all us listeners out here in Radioland are supposed to believe this crap? 

We have no idea what sort of demons inhabit Michael Savage's fevered brain, but we think we're safe in suggesting that a little therapy couldn't hurt. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Latest from The Onion: Bush's Regrets

The Onion, a popular humor paper, is out with a purported column by none other than President George W. Bush.

The telling headline:
I'm Really Gonna Miss Systematically Destroying This Place

Oklahoma Observer Planning New Website

Our reform-minded friends over at the venerable Oklahoma Observer are putting up a new and improved website.

We know this because, well, we looked for their old website. It wasn't there. Instead, we found an announcement that a new site is in the works.

When it's up and ready, we'll let you know.

Speaking of the Observer, Urban Tulsa (of all publications) published a good report on Frosty Troy and his Oklahoma City journal in an issue last month. As UT reports, long-time journalist Arnold Hamilton has taken over the operation of the Observer.

If you missed it, you can find the online edition of UT's story here.

Recent Reading: Philip Roth's Novel 'Everyman'

We picked up a remaindered copy of Philip Roth's 2006 novel Everyman the other day (thanks, Borders) and enjoyed some pleasant hours absorbed in Roth's prose.

Everyman is a short novel (182 pages), but it packs a wallop. The story follows the life and many regrets of a retired advertising man facing death. The novel, in fact, is something of an extended meditation on aging, memory, loss and regrets—lots of regrets.

Yes, this sounds depressing. It's not exactly the stuff of an uplifting page-turner. But in Roth's story, the ad man's mortality, his failing body and his ruminations on his life add up to something more hopeful, even inspiring.

In spite of all his troubles and his imminent death, Roth's protagonist offers an example of endurance and persistence.

Whether we admit it or not, none of us can escape the body's decay or death. But we can take some solace in Roth's Everyman and its central character, a man who—for all his flaws—can teach us some things about the meaning and purpose of life.

Wingnuts Lose in Obama Citizenship Case

As AltTulsa has been reporting, some conservative activists (read: black helicopter conspiracy types) have insisted that Barack Obama can't be president because he's not really a citizen. 

According to these sources, Obama's U.S. birth certificate doesn't exist or may be a fake or perhaps he was born in Indonesia or in Kenya or some other foreign place that disqualifies him from office.

Besides, he's a secret Muslim and there's got to be some kind of Constitutional ban on people like that ruling a Christian Nation, right? 

Sadly, some of the people pushing this nonsense live right here in Oklahoma, even in Tulsa. (Check out the ravings at Tulsa Today, picked up and repeated by The McCarville Report Online. Wonder when these good ole boys will apologize for misleading their readers?) 

Today, the delusions of the right were dashed once again when the Supreme Court declined to hear the latest bogus appeal from people with way too much time on their hands. 

Read all about today's court decision here. For an extensive debunking of these ideas and a helpful discussion of the psychology of conspiracies from Salon.com, click here

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Palin Makes the Monologue on Leno

Now that she's seen the Lower 48, Gov. Sarah Palin can't seem to stay in Alaska. She was in Georgia the other day, campaigning in the Senate runoff there.

Here's Jay Leno's take on her work in Georgia:
Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss won the runoff election for the Senate seat for Georgia. Republicans think that Sarah Palin campaigning for him helped him win. You know, this is the first candidate she's helped elect since, I guess, Barack Obama.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Louisiana Voters Oust Indicted Congressman

William Jefferson, the New Orleans Congressman infamous for having cash in his freezer, has been defeated. Jefferson, a Democrat, was seeking a 10th term in Congress.

Jefferson was defeated by a Republican attorney, Anh Cao, who will become the first Vietnamese-American in Congress.

Here's a portion of the AP report on the election:
NEW ORLEANS — Voters in Louisiana have ousted indicted Democratic Rep. William Jefferson and sent a little-known Republican to Congress.

Unofficial results showed Republican attorney Anh "Joseph" Cao denying Jefferson a 10th term.

Republicans made an aggressive push to get rid of the 61-year-old incumbent, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, laundering money and misusing his congressional office.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Yet More Obama Nonsense on Tulsa Today

AltTulsa doesn't have a lock on political truth or wisdom. Try as we might, we aren't always right or as smart as we'd like to be, a fact we freely admit.

But we do take pride in being familiar with, and connected to, verifiable facts and some broadly agreed upon version of reality, which means we usually find private, secret realities highly unlikely.

That's one of the problem over at Tulsa Today, a local blog that has been offering secret Obama conspiracies in recent days. Contrary to actual facts since the election, Tulsa Today keeps beating the "Obama is an illegitimate candidate and secret traitor" story as thought there was something real and important about such fantasies.

Sadly for right-wing conspiracy nuts, no. There's only smoke and mirrors here, folks, and the repetition of rumors and lies does nothing to help the common good.

Here's a portion of some recent nonsense posted on Tulsa Today, claims so shallow as to be meaningless, as indeed they are.
“The most noticeable characteristic of Obama,” says Dr. Kate, in a chilling article entitled The Trojan Candidate, ”is his profound lack of respect for America as shown with his behavior on the flag pin, the failure to observe decorum regarding the national anthem, the fake presidential seal, the printed announcement of his speech in Germany, the upside down flag on the tickets and behind Biden at the Convention, his airplane with painted-over American flag, and his detached and callous appearance at Ground Zero. By this behavior, Obama is mocking America, cheapening its decorum and symbols.”
Well, no. Some of this is wrong, the rest is exaggerated. Example: A quick Internet search can turn up dozens of photos of Obama wearing the flag pin and honoring his nation in ways that everyone can see and understand—unless, of course, these are all Photoshopped fakes!

Political dissent and criticism can be a good thing in a democracy. But as this example makes clear, there's nothing remotely substantive about this criticism. Moreover, the criticism ignores a slew of actions and announcements by Obama and his team since the election that contradict this Trojan Horse argument.

Then, again, in the warped world of the conspiracy believers, no amount of actual facts is likely to mean anything. Secret realities rule!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oklahoma Health Report Card: We're (Yikes!) a Long Way from #1

Hey, it could be worse. We could live in Texas or, heaven help us, Louisiana.

We're talking about a study released today from three national health agencies, a study that ranks the states from the most healthy to the least.

Vermont is #1;
Louisiana is dead last, # 50.

Oklahoma is in relatively poor health, ranking only #44. The Sooner state is just behind Arkansas (#43) and just ahead of Florida (#45) and Texas (#46).

Other healthy states: Hawaii (#2), New Hampshire (#3), Minnesota (#4), and Utah (#5).

Some unhealthy states: Mississippi (#49), South Carolina (#48), and Tennessee (#47).

And what about our neighbor to the north, the Great State of Kansas? They came in at a fairly terrific #22! (We better compare ourselves to Missouri, which posted a relatively weak ranking of #38.)

The rankings were based on four factors, including personal behaviors (smoking, drinking, obesity), community and environmental factors (crime, disease rates), public health figures (insurance and immunization rates), and health care factors (including primary care physicians).

This helps explain Utah's high ranking (clean-living Mormons), as well as Oklahoma's low status (lots of smokers, heavy people, poor insurance rates and fewer doctors).

We like Oklahoma, but Kansas is suddenly looking a lot more attractive.

The Gun Lobby Takes a Hit, Except in Soonerland

Right here in the Reddest of the Red States (read: Oklahoma), we love our guns. Every Sooner oughta have three or four for huntin'—or just in case.

But as the New York Times pointed out this week, the 2008 election didn't turn out so well for the pro-gun folks. After November, the gun lobby's vaunted political clout may be waning, at least beyond the borders of Soonerland.

The National Rifle Association's many attacks on Barack Obama, for example, was characterized by "false, misleading, and…ineffective ads, fliers, mailers, and Web postings…," the Times editorial noted.

Indeed, Obama won several states "with heavy gun ownership, including Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania." In addition, the NRA endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina. She lost. The NRA endorsed Bob Schaffer in Colorado. He lost.

NRA-endorsed candidates also lost in 20 congressional races (out of 25), hardly a measure of political power, the Times noted. (Read the entire editorial here.)

Is this the end of the NRA? Hardly. But it may be a sign that the NRA's "sky is falling" rhetoric may be losing its appeal, at least in other states.

Here in Oklahoma, no such luck. All us Sooners need more guns, really big ones.

You never know when some secret Muslim socialist from Illinois will try to grab 'em from us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tulsa World Debuts New Web Design

In an age of digital media, traditional newspapers (that is, the ones printed on paper) are having a hard time landing new readers. 

Kids—they seem to want everything delivered online these days: news, entertainment, ads, even friends (that is, Facebook and MySpace), and so on. 

So it's not a huge surprise that the Tulsa World unveiled today a new and improved website for its readers. To our untrained eyes, it is an improvement over the earlier site, which was, the paper boasts, the most popular in Oklahoma. 

You can find the World's new site here

Understatement of the Day: Bush Opens up to ABC News

Here's our nomination for Understatement of the Day, courtesy of ABC News, which will broadcast an interview with George W. Bush tonight. In it, Bush admits this much:  
I think I was unprepared for war. 
No! Really? 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Obama Meets with Adm. Mullen in 'Very Positive' Meeting

Just a few weeks ago, the GOP partisans were slamming Barack Obama as an anti-American, anti-military traitor, willing to sell out the U.S. at the drop of a hat.

This right-wing hyperbole was always nonsense, as this report from today's Washington Post makes clear:

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went unarmed into his first meeting with the new commander in chief -- no aides, no PowerPoint presentation, no briefing books. Summoned nine days ago to President-elect Barack Obama's Chicago transition office, Mullen showed up with just a pad, a pen and a desire to take the measure of his incoming boss.

There was little talk of exiting Iraq or beefing up the U.S. force in Afghanistan; the one-on-one, 45-minute conversation ranged from the personal to the philosophical. Mullen came away with what he wanted: a view of the next president as a non-ideological pragmatist who was willing to both listen and lead. After the meeting, the chairman "felt very good, very positive," according to Mullen spokesman Capt. John Kirby.

Facts are stubborn things, as someone once said. Obama, the facts show, is less partisan than his predecessor and more pragmatic.

Recent Reading: Annie Proulx's Wyoming Stories from 'Bad Dirt'

During this long political season, AT has been distracted by politics and political commentary. As a result, we neglected our literary posts, which, we admit, is one of our abiding interests.

Thankfully, the holiday weekend gave us a chance to catch up a bit and spend some time with Annie Proulx and her wonderfully gritty Wyoming stories. We recently found a used hardback copy of Bad Dirt, the second volume of her Wyoming stories (the first volume was Close Range, if memory serves).

Proulx, who lives in Wyoming part of the year and seems to have a special insight into the people there, writes about folks in the fictional town of Elk Tooth, where the locals frequent one of the hamlet's three bars.

As we suggested above, most of Proulx's stories feature tough, hard-working characters, ranch hands, game wardens and bartenders who live in trailers and manage to scrape out a living on the high plains of the mountain west.

The opening story, "The Hellhole," features a game warden named Creel Zmundzinski and some of his surly law breakers, who, in Proulx's imagination, get their comeuppance in a particularly vicious way.

Another story focuses on Willy Huson, an Elk Tooth eccentric, who once had a good out-of-town job as a mechanic for United Airlines but returned home to fix cars and lawn mowers, at least when the feeling strikes. In this story, however, Huson decides to set up a hot tub outside his trailer, which is why the story is called "Summer of the Hot Tubs."

Next time you're in the market for some original short fiction with an edgy twist, check out Annie Proulx's Wyoming stories. She's the real deal.

WSJ's Peggy Noonan Praises Obama's Maturity, Steadiness

Peggy Noonan, a columnist for the conservative Wall Street Journal, is praising the leadership of Barack Obama.

Unlike some of her wild-eyed and unhinged Republican allies (including some in Oklahoma), Noonan pointed out this week that Obama has not turned out to be a "redistributionist" or secret socialist.

Here's how Noonan put it a couple of days ago:
Mr. Obama's cabinet picks and other nominations suggest moderation, also maturity, and his treatment of Joe Lieberman shows forbearance and shrewdness. Politics is a game of addition, take the long view, don't throw anyone out as you try to hit 60. Most of all, leave Mr. Lieberman having to prove every day to the Democratic caucus that he really is a Democrat. There's nothing in being a maverick now. Mr. Obama's preternatural steadiness continues.

Anchorage Columnist Slams Palin for Supporting Georgia Senator

Gov. Sarah Palin, former vice presidential candidate and darling of the Republican right, is facing some tough sledding in her home state.

A writer for the Alaska Daily News, the state's largest newspaper, has blasted Palin for her recent trip to Georgia in support of Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

The column points out the Chambliss ran a dishonest and disgraceful campaign to win his senate seat, accusing his opponent of being soft on terror even though his opponent, Max Cleland, lost three limbs in Vietnam while Chambliss sat out the war with draft deferments.

It's yet another reason to doubt the national political future of Palin.

A link the the Anchorage column is here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tulsa John Birchers Still Hoping to Hunt Down Subversives in the Sooner State

AltTulsa missed the local John Birch Society meeting a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately for Tulsa and Oklahoma politics, almost everyone else missed the meeting too.

The Tulsa World sent a reporter at the meeting, however, and he reported a grand total of 20 or so at the Birch meeting. That's an extraordinarily poor turnout in a county that went heavily Republican earlier this month, supporting such candidates as Sen. Jim Inhofe, and yet another sign of the waning influence of the Birchers.

One local person at the meeting was Sally Bell, recently a candidate for Tulsa County Commission. Bell lost to Karen Keith, but Bell blamed her loss on the World.

"The local newspaper absolutely tore me to shreds," Bell told the group. (Blame the press—a time-honored and all-purpose right-wing tradition.)

The paper said the aims of the Birchers are "to spread the gospel of anti-totalitarianism and to organize to resist the looming 'New World Order.'"

Reporter Denver Nicks also quoted Don Crosson, a leader of the local Birch organization, who identified state Sen. Randy Brogdon of Owasso as a John Birch member.

Just what the Oklahoma senate needs—another Cold War dinosaur, still working hard to resurrect the Joe McCarthy and expel Commies and other heathens (read: non-white immigrants) from the Sooner state.

Why there must be several dozen Reds hiding somewhere around here and, with Bell, Crosson, and Brogdon on the alert, we can all sleep tight tonight.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Consumerism Turns Deadly: Black Friday Shoppers Trample Wal-Mart Worker

Without further comment, this unbelievable report from today's New York Daily News:

A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said.

The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Time's Joe Klein on the Last Days of Bush

The Bush presidency has been a disaster in many, many ways. Here, from Time magazine's political columnist Joe Klein, is a potent summary of the tarnished Bush years:
At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks....

[H]is ridiculous, preening appearance in a flight suit on the deck of the aircraft carrier beneath the "Mission Accomplished" sign. The flight-suit image is one of the two defining moments of the Bush failure. The other is the photo of Bush staring out the window of Air Force One, helplessly viewing the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. This is a presidency that has wobbled between those two poles — overweening arrogance and paralytic incompetence....

In the end, though, it will not be the creative paralysis that defines Bush. It will be his intellectual laziness, at home and abroad. Bush never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and regulation that was necessary to make markets work. He never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and equity that was necessary to maintain the strong middle class required for both prosperity and democracy. He never considered the complexities of the cultures he was invading. He never understood that faith, unaccompanied by rigorous skepticism, is a recipe for myopia and foolishness. He is less than President now, and that is appropriate. He was never very much of one.

Okie Bloggers Fall for Bogus Obama Birth Certificate Story

You'd think Oklahoma's conservative bloggers would have more sense. Common sense, we like to think, is a sturdy Oklahoma value.

But no. Some folks who should know better keep falling for conspiracy theories concerning President-elect Barack Obama's phony birth certificate. In the fantasy world of right-wing nonsense, this means that Obama can't actually be president because he isn't actually an American.

While we're at it, there's also a story (read: hoax) that Elvis and Marilyn are alive and well and living in Miami, and a whole horde of space aliens are living in Roswell.

Who's passing along such nonsense? David Arnett at Tulsa Today, for one, and, citing Arnett, OKC's Mike McCarville on his political blog, McCarville Report Online.

And how do they know about the fraudulent certificate? Ah, yes—from other wingnut web sites and such paragons of good judgment as Alan Keyes. Keyes has filed a lawsuit to uncover the hidden truth about Obama.

Of course. If you lose election, search for technicalities, even when you have to invent the technicalities. That's bound to turn up some dirt.

Keyes, by the way, is the non-Illinois carpetbagger (and world-class gasbag) who ran against—you guessed it—Barack Obama when Obama ran for the U.S. Senate. If memory serves, Keyes lost in a landslide. (Keyes needs something productive to do these days, apparently).

Meanwhile, the echo chamber keeps firing blanks at will, as if they have real bullets and an actual political target.

They don't. They are grasping at straws and doing a disservice to politics and democracy. Oklahomans, especially so-called conservative Oklahomans, should get off this bandwagon before they embarrass themselves even more than they already have.

DECEMBER 8 UPDATE: As we (and many others) predicted, the Supreme Court today declined to hear one of these cases, adding to a long line of failed cases filed by the crackpots.   

Monday, November 24, 2008

Obama's Economic Picks Win Praise

It's a huge contrast from the Bush Administration where ideology trumped everything, but Barack Obama's economic selections show signs of thoughtfulness and—heavens!—competence. 

Here's how The Economist has described the selection of Treasury Secretary nominee Tim Geithner: 
Ah glorious, glorious competence. How we've missed you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tulsa's Medlock on Palin: She's Perfect

We know that the election is over. Obama and Biden won, though not in the reddest of the Red States, good ole Oklahoma.

Time to move on.

Still, we couldn't help looking back at some of the foolishness that came out of the Republican National Convention. Searching through cyberspace, we found Tulsa mentioned in the New York Observer of early September.

It seems that an Observer reporter interviewed one Chris Medlock, Tulsa Republican activist and local radio talk show host.

Here's the Observer paragraph featuring Medlock, complete with Medlock's rose-colored (and quite wrongheaded) assessment of VP candidate Sarah Palin:
Chris Medlock, an alternative delegate from Tulsa, Okla., screamed, “Joe Biden doesn’t have a chance!” throughout the speech. When it was over he said, “If it was a fight, they would have stopped it early. She scored blow after blow after blow. And she softened it with humor. She is the perfect candidate.”
Ah yes: The Perfect GOP Candidate. Apparently, inexperience, lack of knowledge, and a gee-whiz personality make up Medlock's qualifications for Republican greatness.

Thankfully, a majority of Americans disagree.

Rush Runs the Republican Party to Ruin, Kondrake Writes

Morton Kondrake is not the sharpest pencil in the box, by our lights, but he knows a festering political problem when he sees one. And this week he identified one in the person of Rush Limbaugh. And Sean Hannity. And Laura Ingraham.

They are right-wing radio talkers, of course, and Kondrake is putting them on notice. The headline of Kondrake's column in today's Tulsa World put it plainly: "GOP job No. 1: Fire Rush Limbaugh."

Kondrake points out that right-wing rants have been bad for the Republicans. The blabbers, he write, have whipped "the GOP base into frenzies—over immigration, brain-damage victim Terry Schiavo and same-sex marriage—that have branded the party as troglodyte."

The result, he continues, is a Republican Party out of tune with a major demographic shift, all those Americans who can be identified as "Latinos, young people, the well-educated, moderates, working women, first-time voters, and 'seculars.'"

Houston, we have a problem.

Kondrake even quotes Karl Rove on the problem. If the GOP keeps losing Latinos, Rove said, the party "will find it hard to regain the majority."

Step 1 in the Republican rehabilitation, Kondrake says, is to fire "Limbaugh and his ilk as the intellectual bosses of the GOP." The blabbers should be ignored, Kondrake argues.

Amen, Brother Mort! We're with you all the way.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Deceiving the Public: Wingnut Presents Misleading Data; Zogby Admits Problem

When you don't have the facts, make 'em up! Manipulate the data! Nobody will know the difference, right?

Wrong! As evidence, we present the following dust up (based on real, true, actual facts!) that undermines one of the popular conservative claims about the election of Barack Obama.

It seems that a conservative operator named John Zielger commissioned the Zogby organization to conduct a survey of presidential voters. Not being especially interested in matters of fairness or truth, Zielger created the questions in a peculiar fashion, one which asked Obama voters about controversial charges lodged against the president-elect.

When the poll got the expected results, Ziegler and the right-wing blogosphere had a field day, reporting data that appeared to show Obama voters were misinformed by the media. The data was so "good" (read: cooked) that Zielger set up a popular website featuring the information.

The news made the Oklahoma blogsphere as well, thanks to Tulsa Republican Michael Bates and OKC's Mike McCarville.

Too bad it was all crap, as we now know.

The Wall Street Journal, for instance, investigated the Zogby poll and published a not-very-flattering piece on the results. The article noted that the poll "interpreted the numbers from the survey in a misleading fashion."

Pollster.com has also weighed in, with the same conclusion.

Even John Zogby has distanced himself from the poll. He told reporters that the poll was put together while he was on vacation. Zogby added: “I also believe it was not our finest hour. This slipped through the cracks. It came out critical only of Obama voters.”

Oh really? Wasn't that Ziegler's point? Of course it was. So much for, well, honesty.

Now we're waiting for our Sooner state friends, Bates and McCarville, to own up to their mistake, the mistake of publishing crap from the right and pretending it's actually true.

Gallup Poll Shows GOP Negatives on the Rise

More bad news for the Republican Party. Here's a brief summary from our friends at Talking Points Memo:
The new Gallup poll shows that the Republican Party as an institution has a 61% unfavorable rating, with only 34% favorable. And the numbers have only gone downhill since the election -- in October they were at 40% favorable and 53% unfavorable.

Sarah Palin, the Alaska Wealth Sharer

Gov. Sarah Palin has returned to Alaska, thank goodness.

Yet the former high school basketball player and beauty queen hasn't quite disappeared. Indeed, news reports out this week say that Palin has been offered a seven-figure book deal, which means the Lower 48 will see plenty of her when she (or, more accurately, her ghost writer) publishes the book. In the meantime, we'd like reconsider Palin's dubious "redistribution" charge against Barack Obama.

We bring this up because we saw Hendrik Hertzberg's piece in the November 3 issue of The New Yorker. Hertzberg points out that Palin presides over a state where the resources are owned "collectively," to put it in Palin's own words. Moreover, the state has no income tax or sales taxa nice deal, if you can get it.

As it happens, the state levies huge fees on the oil companies, enough to pay the state government's bills. Plus, there's a surplus that the state pays out to its residents, a windfall that Palin increased by $1,200 this year. No wonder she was popular up there.

The total this year for every man woman and child in the Great North: $3,269 each! "[W]e share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs," Palin told the magazine.

Hertzberg say this might be called "socialism with an Alaskan face."

Losers of the Week: Rush and the Right-wing Radio Talkers

It's not news that Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing radio talkers are one-note blabbers. With no new ideas and a persistent lack of reason and evidence, Rush and his kind offer almost nothing to the national dialogue beyond party-line rants and inconsistent nonsense.

This week, however, Rush and the ranters took it on the chin from none other than Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican (Yes!) and Vietnam War veteran (unlike Rush, Sean Hannity, and many other Chickenhawks).

Speaking at the Johns Hopkins School of Advances International Studies, Hagel, according to one source:
leveled harsh criticism at his own party, the lack of intellectual curiosity among some of his colleagues, the Bush administration's handling of nearly every aspect of governance and -- perhaps most bitingly -- the conservative radio voices that often dictate the GOP agenda.

Hagel continued: "We are educated by the great entertainers like Rush Limbaugh," said Hagel, sarcastically referencing the talk radio host who once called him "Senator Betrayus."

"You know, I wish Rush Limbaugh and others like that would run for office. They have so much to contribute and so much leadership and they have an answer for everything. And they would be elected overwhelmingly," he offered.

"[The truth is] they try to rip everyone down and make fools of everybody but they don't have any answers."

Well put, Sen. Hagel.