Vic Kohring Wins Free “Vacation”!

30 06 2008

Well, it’s another red letter day on the Corrupt Bastards Calendar. Vic Kohring is headed to The Grey Bar Hotel in Sunny California. After his last desperate attempt to keep from going to prison last week, I had expected today to arrive with lots of kicking and screaming for the former Wasilla representative. Not so.

In what can only be described as a bizarre display of….bizarreness, Mr. Kohring stood beside the Glenn Highway this morning eating cookies, and waving to passers-by under a huge sign with his name on it, and the giant orange spray painted addendum “THANKS ALASKA”. No word yet on whether he’s caused any accidents.

Saying that he isn’t afraid of prison, he added “It’s almost like going away on vacation. A Government sponsored vacation.”

Kohring begins his prison term the same way he got himself in trouble in the first place…begging for money. Stating that he couldn’t afford the flight to Taft, the private prison in California he’ll be calling home for the next three and a half years, marshals will escort Kohring to Taft after he surrenders here in Anchorage on Monday. So, you and I are footing even more of the bill for Vic’s “Government sponsored vacation”. Maybe that’s why the sign said ‘THANK YOU’ instead of ‘I’M SORRY’?

You can enjoy the whole story from Kyle Hopkins at the ADN website.





Kristol Luvs Palin. Creepy.

29 06 2008

Here’s one that’s just beyond the pale.  On Fox News, William ‘the Bloody’ Kristol decries “the horrible sexism and misogyny” of Democratic primary voters, and tells us his new pick for McCain’s running mate is – Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  He gushes and swoons to the point of creepiness, talking about how Republicans are more ‘open to strong women’ and even suggests that Palin could ‘take on’ Barack Obama one-on-one on the basketball court.  Check out how Brit Hume keeps looking at him like he’s crazy.

When someone suggests that John McCain-Colin Powell might make for a winning ticket , Kristol chides him for ‘misogynist thinking’.  Huh?

Yes, this is the same Bill Kristol who mocked Hillary’s January tears. This is the same Bill Krisol who, in February, appearing again on Fox News said, “Look, the only people for Hillary Clinton are the Democratic establishment and white women. (snip) White women are a problem, you know. We all deal with that.” [laughter] When called on the carpet he sheepishly added, “I shouldn’t have said that.”   No, Bill…you shouldn’t have thought it.

Well, now Sarah Palin can add the coveted ‘nutball neocon warmonger’ demographic to her eclectic fan base.  Bill Kristol’s drooling, over-the-top endorsement should be enough to dampen Sarah-mania for supporters in the political center and left.





Exxon Laughing Their Way to the Bank – Again.

28 06 2008

It always bothered me that the unchecked burning of fossil fuels would some day have  a beneficial effect for oil companies beyond the obvious.  Let me explain.  Oil is burned -> atmosphere is warmed -> ice melts -> shipping lanes in the Arctic open -> ice-free shortcuts and easier transportation for oil companies. 

The thing that adds insult to injury about this whole arrangement is the fact that part of the reason we’ve been slow to act in terms of cutting fossil fuel use, bankrolling alternative energy, and joining the rest of the world in their concern about global warming‘climate change’ is that we keep hearing about how the science is ‘divided’.  Because, after all, there are many scientists who don’t think there’s a problem, and even if there is, it’s certainly nothing WE’ve done….right?  They throw out all kinds of statistics about how there are some places actually getting colder, and weather in the Middle Ages, and this is all part of a natural cycle, bla bla bla. 

“Close your eyes”, they whisper…”It’s OK.  It’s not your fault.  Just keep doing what you’re doing.  You deserve a Hummer.  There, there…don’t let those nasty environmentalists scare you.  Close your eyes…”

Well, of course, these ‘climate experts’ who tell us to ignore our senses and what’s going on in Alaska, and choose the more pleasant scenario…the one that relieves us from culpability, are not just idiots.  They are bankrolled, and they are bankrolled by…you guessed it –  Exxon Mobil.  

Well now we hear some startling new information.  The North Pole may be ice-free this year.  Not by 2030 or 2040 as studies last year indicated.  This year.  What does this mean for corporate oil giants like Exxon?  Ice-free shipping for their tankers over the pole sooner than they dreamed, newly exposed areas for potential drilling, and more corporate allies to help them prop up their little groups of scientists who have sold their souls and their planet for some cold hard cash.

Exxon Mobil is going to be laughing all the way to the bank.  Oh, that’s right…they already are from that whole Supreme Court ruling thing the other day…  Well, as soon as they RETURN from the bank, they’ll laugh themselves right back again.  I hope they don’t get sore from all this laughing and running to the bank.

And any bumps in the road like those pain-in-the-ass polar bears, and Alaska natives will be taken care of by the State of Alaska’s capitulation.  They’ve got Gov. Sarah Palin, the congressional delegation, and half the legislature tucked snug in their corporate pocket.  Will all this change when we flip some of those long held seats and fill them with new more progressive successors?  We can hope so, but we shouldn’t take it for granted.  Oil has permeated more than just the beaches of Prince William Sound in this state, and it’s going to take politicians who are willing to risk (gulp) losing for speaking the truth.  Any takers?

And one final note.  This week the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.  Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy just to know they care?





Ray Metcalfe Gave Me $2 Million Cash!

27 06 2008

 

‘Tis the season for political events, meet & greets, and luncheons with candidates.  It’s always interesting to check out the promotional stuff that circulates around. I thought I’d take an inventory of my political loot to date from events without a ‘suggested donation’, just to see how they stack up.

Diane Benson – Campaign button in my choice of blue on red, or red on blue.

Ethan Berkowitz – Button. One style fits all.

Mark Begich – Bumper sticker, two-sided sign (blue & white), 2 slices of pretty good pizza and a slice of cake.  Not bad…

Ray Metcalfe – 2 crisp $1,000,000 bills!

Each bill features Mr. Metcalfe’s face and “Which Earmark Did You Get?” on the front, with “In Ray We Can Trust” on the back, along with info on Veco, bribery, Ben and Ted Stevens and Ray’s part it investigating all of it. While Mr. Metcalfe won’t be getting my vote, he definitely wins the prize for creativity this primary season, and gets my appreciation for a good laugh. Let’s face it, there’s nothing funny about an Ethan Berkowitz button.





5 Minutes 32 Seconds.

25 06 2008

After sitting here wallowing in despair and frustration about FISA, and our ‘quaint and outdated’ fourth amendment, it was such a relief to hear Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold speak up today.  Dodd eloquently said what so many Americans are thinking, and what so few of their elected representatives are.  He spoke for two hours on the floor of the senate today. If you have 5 minutes and 32 seconds, settle in and listen to a patriot. 

Gee, I wonder how Stevens and Murkowski will vote?  I emailed them both.  Not because I think it will change anything, but watching Chris Dodd reminded me that sometimes it’s just about saying what needs to be said.  So, a virtual pat on the back and a big thank you to Senator Dodd from a few thousand miles away.





Screwed.

25 06 2008

Well, the extremely predictable ruling came down from the U.S. Supreme Court today. In a 5-3 vote the court decided to hack and slash the original $5 billion, which had already been hacked and slashed to $2.5 billion in punitive damages owed to Prince William Sound fishermen and Alaska Natives affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill to $507.5 million.

First, condolences to the 32,677 plaintiffs, their families, and all those affected by the spill who have been waiting and watching for almost 20 years, while lawyers get fat sucking on the marrow of the oil soaked bones littering the beaches of Prince William Sound. This was hard to take for ALL Alaskans, but for the plaintiffs, and all those who love the Sound, it was twisting the knife.

Second, to all those people who have bought into the idea that the oil companies have been good to Alaska by donating to charities, sponsoring sporting events, and plastering their logos on anything that doesn’t move (and some things that do), listen closely. They. Don’t. Care. Exxon has been fighting this since the moment the $5 billion was awarded to plaintiffs in 1994. Think that’s a lot of money? It’s not. Exxon’s recorded profits last year were $40.6 Billion. That’s PROFIT. Doesn’t make $507.5 million sound particularly punitive, does it? If the health, well-being and welfare of the Alaska people mattered to Exxon Mobil, these people would have been paid 13 years ago. So when you see the oil companies doing something that looks ‘nice’, remember it’s a cost of doing business to shut us up.

Third, any Alaskans who are outraged by this announcement today and are still planning to vote Republican in the upcoming presidential race – wake up. Who were the only supreme court justices voting with the Alaska people and against the interest of corporations? The progressives. Who were the ones that voted against the interest of Alaska? Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, & crew – those conservative judges that John McCain wants more of when he appoints the next 2 or 3 members of the court. Presidents are gone in four to eight years; Supreme Court justices last a lifetime. A court like this is what we get when so many Americans and Alaskans swallow the red Kool Aid, and don’t think about the political ramifications of their votes to their own interest when the chips are down. So, in November, think. Please.

By the time all is said and done a huge portion of the $507.5 million has evaporated with the shrinking value of the dollar since 1989, another huge portion went to the lawyers, 8000 of the plaintiffs are dead, and the Sound has still not recovered, and won’t in our lifetime. They got about 10% of the oil, they think. Sometimes in life, you get a cheap lesson…this wasn’t one of those times.

Don’t forget this when they tell you Pebble Mine won’t destroy the Bristol Bay fishery. Don’t forget this every time we negotiate with the oil companies about anything. Don’t forget this every time you see a warm fuzzy TV commercial, or see oil company logos every time you turn around. Don’t forget that anyone in our state to develop finite natural resources is here for the money. Period. And don’t forget this when you vote in November.





What’s in a Name?

24 06 2008

Can I remind everyone about the huge uproar that arose last year when a group petitioned to have Town Square Park renamed ‘Ruth Moulton Town Square’?  Ruth Moulton was an incredible citizen activist who organized petition drives, sued the city three times, created a grassroots movement, and eventually had Town Square written into the city charter to keep it from becoming a parking lot.  This took over a decade, and was done for free by a dedicated citizen of Anchorage, so WE could have a park downtown.  But people whined and complained, “Why do we have to NAME everything after people?  Why can’t it just be Town Square Park?”  The Assembly even rewrote the naming ordinance stating that naming things after their location should be preferable to naming them after a person.  And if you must name something after a person, let it be a feature of the whole, rather than the whole itself.  Hence, the new Ruth Moulton Plaza within Town Square Park.

Now, less than a year later, the city of Anchorage is graced with ConocoPhillips Stadium??  That’s what the new Assembly voted  to name the new soccer stadium going up in Kincaid Park. No whining, no endless meetings discussing the appropriateness of naming the whole facility vs. a feature of the facility, and on and on and on like with Town Square.   Not the  ConocoPhillips concession stand within Kincaid Stadium, no distinguished plaque thanking them for their contribution… they got the whole enchilada.  Apparently $500,000 is enough to buy you advertising for the rest of eternity with no controversy whatsoever.  The entire project will cost $10 million, but footing 1/20th of the bill will suffice to have the ConocoPhillips corporate logo branded on the thing in perpetuity so future generations can enjoy it.

Kudos to the two lonely souls who stood up in front of the Assembly and said “bad idea”.  And 1/2 a kudo to Mike Guttierez for suggesting that the naming be reviewed in 15 years, and subject to change if we don’t like it any more, or if we have another oil spill, or if their CEO is convicted of bribing our legislators…you know, stuff like that.  This type of forward thinking would have saved us from the “Ted Stevens International Airport”, don’tcha think?





Requiem for a Debit Card.

23 06 2008

I’m grumpy. Even though Sarah Palin’s new proposal would put $1200 in my pocket to help with fuel costs. I have to admit…I wanted the debit card. That was the original proposal. We each got a glittering free-fuel debit card to spend at the pump, or to pay our home heating bill, or anything related to energy usage. It would get charged up each month, and occupy a special little slot in our wallets. It was a thing to have and hold, it was a gift card to the energy store that kept on giving…it was plastique! But, alas, it is not to be.

Now, we will probably just get a check in the mail and that’s that. We can buy a recliner, a microwave, a big screen TV, a life-time supply of Doritos….whatever we want. There’s something about that that just feels wrong. It feels like charity. It feels like a handout. It feels abstract. It feels like when Bush told us after 9/11 to “go shopping”. The debit card, on the other hand, was relevant. It would have reminded us where it came from and what it was for. And while I could probably survive without anything, it reminded me that folks in rural Alaska whose heating costs are 5 times more than mine would be using this to actually keep warm. And it would be a visual reminder to conserve.

The cash handout simply sends the message, “Spend me. Consume. Don’t think. Drown your sorrows with a big screen TV. Have a Dorito.”

Now, in the big picture, none of this is going to have much effect. We absolutely need to get the noose that is ‘big oil’ off our necks and start thinking about alternative energy sources. With more tidal power than anywhere in the country, geothermal literally erupting all around us, wind potential that is incalculable, and constant solar for months out of every year, THIS is where our efforts need to be. But that’s not going to help the really needy who, in a few months are going to see their home heating costs go through the roof, and have to make decisions about what to give up so their family can be warm.

And once again, no one knows what to make of our governor’s latest proposal. Cries of “Socialist!” are heard ringing down the conservative halls of the legislature. Environmentalists are screaming that the bill encourages consumption instead of long-term solutions. Most people are just chanting, “Show me the money!” And once again, we search for the middle ground.





‘Nuremberg Defense’ Good Enough for Congress.

21 06 2008

Cop: “But my superior told me to beat the crap out of that guy.”

Linndy England: “But everyone was doing it, and my superior officer said it was OK to take pictures of the naked guy in the dog collar.”

Nazi: “I was only following orders.” (Remember the ‘Nuremberg Defense?’)

RESULTS: Loss of badge, jail time, execution by hanging.

Now, let’s take a look at what happened today in the U.S. House of Representatives.

AT&T: “But the government TOLD us to violate the Constitution, break the law, and illegally spy on American citizens without a warrant.”

Congress: “Would you identify yourself please?”

AT&T:“I’m a multi-billion dollar telecom company.”

Congress: Oh….well then that’s OK. But we’re going to have to ask you to not do that again. Alright? Well then…off you go.

Today’s FISA vote was hard to take on many levels. I know there are plenty of people in the telecom industry and in the government high fiving each other over the desecration of the Constitution, and the saving of their own skins, and it’s making me sick to my stomach. Maybe it’s because my Dad was a World War II vet, tortured in a POW camp, and found solace in the fact that criminals didn’t get off the hook by saying they were “just following orders”. Now, apparently, they do.

WHY is our Democratic congress cowering in fear of a lame duck president with a subterranean approval rating and six months left in office? And WHY couldn’t this wait until a new administration? WHY did we just have to give absolution and immunity to the telecom companies right this very minute?

Were I a conspiracy theorist, I’d wonder what the hell Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was saying when they bugged his phone.

I have no doubt that Democrats will pick up many more House and Senate seats in 2008. But if the anger and outrage of the American people (who are squarely opposed to retroactive immunity for telecoms, and actually like their Constitution) continues, we will start to see a day of reckoning in 2010. That’s the election when we will have the luxury of running better Democrats against bad incumbent Democrats. Votes like the one held today will be coming back in two years to haunt those who came down wrong….just like those votes to support the invasion of Iraq are now.

But for the time being, we have 129 members of congress, all Democrats, who did the right thing. 293 of them (including Don Young and every last Republican) did the wrong thing, and violated their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. No one took an oath to protect and defend the Executive Branch, yet that’s exactly what they did right after throwing the Constitution under the bus.

So, now this heads to the Senate where we are forced to watch it happen all over again. It’s expected to pass, and as of yet there are no rumors of filibuster. Much to my disappointment, even Barack Obama has said that he will support the compromise because it’s a lot better than the original ‘Protect America Act’. Read his statement, if you can stand it, here. For this, Atrios named him Wanker of the Day. If the shoe fits…





I Pity the Intern! Don Young’s A-Team.

19 06 2008

Apparently a paid member of Don Young’s staff decided it would be a good idea to distribute a “Survival Guide” to interns on Capitol Hill. Frankly, I can’t imagine any survival guide getting me through being Don Young’s intern. Maybe if it came in a flask. But I digress…

This handy guide discusses phone etiquette, among other things, and refers to Don Young’s “A Team” a group of nine lobbyists with unfettered access, who are to be immediately connected to any member of the staff with whom they wish to speak. Seriously, it really did refer to these people as “The A Team”. Much to my dismay, fictional good-guy mercenary Mr. T, from the original “A-Team” was not on the list, but the following nine lobbyists were:

Rick Alcade, Colin Chapman, Randy DeLay, Billy Lee Evans, Jack Ferguson, Mike Henry, Duncan Smith, CJ Zane and Jay Dickey. “These people can talk to whomever they want.”

My favorite picks are Rick Alcade, the lobbyist at the heart of the infamous Coconut Road earmark, and Randy DeLay, brother of the equally infamous Tom DeLay. There’s also Jack Ferguson, former chief of staff to Alaska senator Ted Stevens – also under investigation. Please note that these nine get better treatment than “Other Members” “Government People” or “Other People”. You and I did get a mention, though. “Constituents – Call to voice their opinion.”

Other little gems discuss his wife Lu “Mrs. Y” Young’s interesting and sometimes bizarre idiosyncracies

  • Has good days and bad days, try to get people to warn you
  • Her orders are often disguised as offers, suggestions, or invitations – they are not. Do them.
  • Does not permit noise from computers
  • Don’t stand in her way – don’t stand anywhere I would suggest. Sit down or hide in the broom cupboard.
  • You should not put anything on her desk
  • You should not keep her waiting. She says you go – you go.
  • Eat when she tells you to eat
  • If you sneeze, it’s always allergies or pressure changes; stick strong to your case.

Apparently “Mrs. Y” has germ issues?

“The Boss” (Mr. Y)

  • Expects you to open doors for him (particularly tricky when he does not specify where he is going, make a guess).
  • Doesn’t like facial piercings
  • Doesn’t like people putting their hands in their pockets
  • Should always be referred to as “the Congressman” or “the Chairman”

The official response from Don Young’s office?

“Rep. Young has welcomed dozens of interns into his office over the years and finds their assistance in the office invaluable. But interns are not staff. This incredibly outdated “survival guide” was pieced together by several former interns and not by staff. This “guide” in no way reflects the official policies of Rep. Young’s office.”

So…..why was it being distributed to prospective interns by Mike Anderson, Young’s Chief of Staff?

The internets are all a-buzz. For more on this latest PR disaster, check out Talking Points Memo, The Anchorage Daily News, Politico, The Hill, Think Progress and The Wall Street Journal with many many more to come, I’m sure.

This little bombshell is certainly not going to help in the current primary race against Sean Parnell. But think about it, people…if we don’t reelect him, the good ol’ boy from Ft. Yukon is going to be forced to (shudder) open doors for himself! Oh, the horror.

I wonder what kind of phone calls those interns are taking today? Should we all call, pretend we’re on the A-Team and see what happens? Nah, they’re probably all in the ‘broom cupboard’.





Kucinich Alert!

18 06 2008

A quick reminder to tune in to KUDO 1080am in Anchorage tomorrow to listen to local progressive talk show host Shannyn Moore speak with Congressman and Progressive icon Dennis Kucinich!  Her show starts at 1:00pm and Kucinich is scheduled for the second hour. Lately they’ve been cutting her an hour short for Anchorage Bucks baseball.  (Not nearly as interesting, imho…)  They’d better not try that tomorrow lest a pack of angry libruls storm the studio to demand airtime.   If you’re not in Anchorage, you can get live streaming online

Good on ya Shannyn Moore for getting Kucinich on the show.  I’m all ears…

UPDATE:  Wow.  Dennis Kucinich called from the floor of the House for the interview.  He confirmed that if 30 days pass with no result, he will read the articles again…only this time there will be 60 instead of 35!  He also conveyed that his understanding is that Bush can be impeached and subject to penalties, even after he leaves office.  He also spoke fondly of Alaska and Alaskans, recounting his visits here.  He had time to take a few calls, and had to excuse himself once for a few minutes so he could go vote!  This gave me just enough time to flee the office and make it to the car without missing a beat on the way to a meeting.

You’ve got to give this guy tons of credit for being the only one with courage enough to stick his finger in the eye of Bush & Co. and call them out for what they are and what they’ve done – in Kucinich’s words “wanton disregard of the Constitution”.  You said it.

Kudos to KUDO, and Shannyn Moore.





Markos & Mark…BFF

18 06 2008

Yet another great summary of the Begich Stevens race in Daily Kos today.  Markos Moulitsas talks about how in each election cycle he has certain personal favorites he likes to keep a close eye on.  This time one of them is Mark Begich.

Usually listening to someone outside Alaska talk about their own local politics feels about as interesting as watching their 3-hour vacation slide show of the Bahamas.  We nod politely and hope it ends soon.   We get so caught up in our own little world up here, we forget that our local politics are SO outrageous, it  even appeals to those outside!  What’s not to love?  We’ve got it all.  Drama, deceit, greed, bribery, indictments, felony convictions, corruption, big corporations, environmental issues, nepotism….throw in some goodies like “Series of Tubes” and Coconut Road, and a few eccentric characters like Hulk-tie-wearing Uncle Ted, Don ‘the biting mink’ Young, and Lisa “Who’s Yer Daddy?” Murkowski, and it surprises me it’s not a made-for-TV movie yet.

It was great fun reading through the comments and getting some perspective on how closely many are watching this race, and how many are tossing $20 or $25 into the coffers.