McCain Campaign Rewrites Alaska History.

30 09 2008

 

Every once in a while we hear tha sound of hoofbeats on the Mudflats….  Hark!   Is that…..a horse?  Why yes, it’s our trusty white knight Representative Les Gara galloping up to deliver his latest opinion piece on the Palin debacle.  He unfurls his scroll and reads…

 

Over the past few weeks we Alaskans have been scratching our heads over the interesting claims the McCain campaign has made about our Governor.  A lot of them have been news to us.  Governor Palin’s nomination to the McCain ticket has created unusual common ground for Alaskans.  Whether we support her or not, we’ve been furrowing our eyebrows a lot lately as we watch the McCain campaign re-write Alaska history.   

 

            As a legislator who’s both agreed and disagreed with Governor Palin, I know some of her positions are difficult to sell.  Some are not.  But to avoid that whole messy thing of explaining controversial positions, the spin doctors running the McCain campaign are doing what got George Bush elected.  Many campaigns spin in the gray areas, where the truth isn’t clear.  But the McCain campaign’s taken a page from Karl Rove, and decided to spin past the margins.  They’re pitching the verifiably false as true.

 

            During the August Republican National Convention, Alaskans heard for the first time that our Governor opposed a national symbol of federal pork, what folks in the Lower 48 call the “Bridges to Nowhere.”   We didn’t know that.  In her 2006 Governor’s campaign, when her opponents took the risk of telling boomers these two bridges might be too expensive – candidate Palin said she supported them – and said she’d work to get more Congressional money for them.

 

            Now the campaign has a new line, that Governor Palin “told Congress thanks, but no thanks” for this money.  That’s a problem.  See, she never could have said that.  Congress debated our Alaska’s request for $400 million in bridge money in 2004 and 2005, before Palin was elected Governor.   A national outcry against these projects, at a time when a Republican Congress was pushing pork over effective relief for Hurricane Katrina’s victims, forced Congress to re-write this earmark.  Alaska ultimately got the money in 2005, but the Congressional language requiring that we spend it on these bridges was deleted.  We said thank you.  Governor Palin never opposed this funding.  She never offered to return it when she took office in 2007. 

 

            Then there’s the claim by Senator McCain that our Governor has been a “maverick” fighting federal earmarks.  We didn’t know that either.  Alaska takes more federal earmarks per capita than any state in the country.  Governor Palin asks for them.  She, like her predecessors, happily accepts them.  Alaska’s budget contains hundreds of millions in earmark dollars.  Alaska politicians love earmarks, and campaign on their ability to get them.

 

            We also heard at the Convention that Governor Palin’s been a budget cutter.  But in Governor Palin’s two years as Governor state spending has gone up by 20%.  She did veto projects, and I supported those vetoes.  But after vetoes, there’s still been a 20% budget hike.   Depending on your views, a 20% spending increase might be defensible.  It’s not defensible to make people believe you cut the budget when you didn’t. 

 

            Here’s what else I know about my state.  We have the third worst children’s health insurance program in the nation.  The Governor wouldn’t support cost-effective measures to extend insurance to the 10,000 children of Alaskan working parents who cannot afford coverage.  She campaigned against a recent proposal to prevent large strip mines from spilling toxic chemicals into Alaska’s salmon waters – something that’s raised the ire of fishermen and Alaska Natives in remote Southwest Alaska communities.  Thirty-five to forty percent of our kids don’t graduate from high school, and we can’t convince Governor Palin to join the 41 other states that have accepted the science showing statewide pre-k education helps kids succeed when they don’t have other good options at home. 

 

            There are a lot of important issues to discuss this campaign.  They should be debated honestly.  So far, as Senator McCain’s joined Barack Obama’s call for change, he’s only succeeded at changing the truth.

 

We now return you to the McCain-Palin campaign already in progress.





I Forgive the New Yorker.

30 09 2008

OK…I was really peeved at the New Yorker after that horrible cover of Barack and Michelle Obama doing the “terrorist fist bump” by the warmth of a burning flag, and a portrait of Osama bin Laden. This was supposed to be how “uneducated people” felt about Obama…you know…satire…hahaha.

When you have to tell people it’s supposed to be funny, it isn’t.

I’ve been harboring a grudge since July.

Then, a few weeks ago, they linked to Mudflats. That softened me up a little, I admit.

Now, I’m calling it even. It feels good to forgive.

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Disaster Relief – Open Thread

30 09 2008

Well, our new server is down again.  So, until the ship rights itself, we can hang out here.  Sorry to all for the inconvenience.





McCain Clamps Hand Over Palin’s Mouth. Again.

29 09 2008

“Sen. John McCain retracted Sarah Palin’s stance on Pakistan Sunday morning, after the Alaska governor appeared to back Sen. Barack Obama’s support for unilateral strikes inside Pakistan against terrorists“She would not…she understands and has stated repeatedly that we’re not going to do anything except in America’s national security interest,” McCain told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos of Palin. “In all due respect, people going around and… sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that’s—that’s a person’s position… This is a free country, but I don’t think most Americans think that that’s a definitve policy statement made by Governor Palin.”

So, people sticking microphones into conversations, shouldn’t count? Hmmm…I seem to remember something about people clinging to guns and religion into a microphone…

So what was this wishy washy comment that wasn’t really what she meant?

“Saturday night, while on a stop for cheesesteaks in South Philadelphia, Palin was questioned by a Temple graduate student about whether the U.S. should cross the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

“If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,” Palin said.

During Friday night’s presidential debate in Mississippi, Obama took a similar stance and condemned the Bush administration for failing to act on the possibility terrorists are in Pakistan.

“Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan,” Obama said after McCain accused the Illinois senator of wanting to announce an invasion. “If the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.”

So, any guesses about the debate in 3 days? Is it going to happen? Will she be wearing her hair down (i.e. concealing a wire)? Is she going to make it to the election? Discuss.





Brutus Speaks! Palin’s Reaction to Alaskans for Truth Rally.

29 09 2008

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Sunday, organizers and rally-goers were basking in the afterglow of the “Hold Palin Accountable” rally. The rally got front page coverage in the Anchorage Daily News, and was featured on local and national broadcast news. It was also picked up by newspapers across the country. This was a big step up from the coverage of the last anti-Palin rally. We are being heard.

Shortly after the rally, we heard the official response from Sarah Palin, via Meg Stapleton. For a little background, Stapleton was a former news anchor at KTUU, Alaska’s most widely viewed news station. She has at various times also been Palin’s press secretery , and special assistant. She was offered and accepted a position as mouthpiece for the McCain-Palin campaign in August. People used to like Meg Stapleton, the way you do news anchors and assistants to popular governors.

Since Stapleton’s faustian bargain with the McCain campaign, she has been the smirking, smearing, condescending, fib-telling face of the “Truth Squad.” The very name of the Squad is Orwellian, and so is Stapleton. She keeps saying, “2+2=5”, and expecting the world to believe it. Not only has the Truth Squad been dishonest, but they have systematically and surgically attacked well-respected public servants, for doing their jobs with integrity and the best interest of Alaskans at heart.

Here’s a good summary from The Anchorage Press (9/25/08)

“Today, we reiterate and emphasize the ongoing cooperation in the truly independent investigation involving the only legal forum in the state for the Monegan inquiry,” Stapleton said Monday. “As you know, that is the Personnel Board.”

Except that we don’t know that. And that was never asserted prior to Palin’s August 29 selection by McCain as his running mate.

And that’s not the least of the inaccuracies and inconsistencies being peddled by Stapleton and O’Callaghan.

When Stapleton alleged that Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage) decided not to subpoena Palin’s former chief of staff Mike Tibbles, KTUU’s Jason Moore pointed out that it was actually Fairbanks Republican Representative Jay Ramras that requested Tibbles not be subpoenaed. Following that report on KTUU, according to TPMMuckraker.com, Stapleton called Moore’s wife and told her that Moore was calling Stapleton and O’Callaghan liars, then followed up by calling KTUU news director Steve Mac Donald to complain.

In trying to paint Commissioner Monegan as a rogue, the Truthers alleged that Monegan had sought to go to Washington, D.C. in July to seek federal funds to fight sexual violence in Alaska without the administration’s approval (the campaign called this “the final straw”). However, ABC News unearthed the travel authorization—signed by Palin’s chief of staff Mike Nizich—authorizing Monegan to go to Washington to attend a meeting with Senator Lisa Murkowski.”

OK, now we’re ready for the official response from Meg Stapleton about the rally that saw more than 1500 people converge in a downtown Anchorage Park. It is conveniently color coded for you in a lovely shade of muck…just to beat the point to death.

“Clearly this was an Obama rally and nothing else. The rally proves the point of partisanship which the Governor has been trying to remove from the investigation in an effort to get a fair and just result.

The Governor remains an open book and is fully cooperating with the non-partisan Personnel Board and its independent investigator, which are statutorily authorized to conduct an investigation.

As you no doubt noticed the personal attacks at this rally, it is unfortunate that while we discuss the Governor and her record, the Obama campaign is resorting to personally attacking those who will continue to stand with the Governor and Alaskans and against personal smears.”

Now you know why several people at the rally had signs directed squarely at Meg Stapleton. When Alaskans start quoting Julius Caesar’s “Et tu, Brute?” (Even you Brutus?) you realize the extent to which she is seen as the ultimate betrayer.

Strangely, the last time Meg Stapleton got national media attention was during her days at KTUU when a story she was filming made it to Jay Leno. While she was reporting a human interest story, at Christmas time, she knelt down by one of Santa’s reindeer. It got spooked and literally ran her over. Sometimes animals have pretty amazing instincts.






Dad Tries to Get Mrs. Couric to Change Sarah’s Grade.

28 09 2008

It happened again. This time Katie Couric managed not only to make Sarah Palin look bad, but John McCain look worse! What was her diabolical secret? She used that secret weapon – asking questions. In this one-on-two interview, John McCain showed up to sit with Sarah to make sure she didn’t screw up too badly, and tried to keep that big bad journalist on a short leash. Saturday night in Philadelphia, Palin was questioned by a Temple graduate student about whether the U.S. military should cross the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan. She answered, “If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,” Palin said.

That was the subject of Katie Couric’s first question. Palin basically repeated what Barack Obama had said during the Presidential debate, when John McCain scoffed at him and patronizingly admonished him by saying, “You don’t say that out loud.” (subtext: you naive little idiot!)

McCain, in this joint interview, is obviously under stress. He squirms and blinks. You look at him and listen to the tone of his voice, and you know he’s a man on edge. He’s a pressure cooker who’s keeping the lid on with all his might. Palin, comes across as cool and confident (except for that nervous lip lick she does, and the occasional clenched jaw), but with Palin, it’s the transcript that is fascinating. You really have to read the “blizzard of words” to fully appreciate the extent to which she isn’t saying anything.KC: Over the weekend, Governor Palin, you said the US should “absolutely” launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan to Pakistan to “stop the terrorists from coming any further in” now that’s almost the exact position that Barack Obama has taken and you, Senator McCain, have criticizes as something you do not say out loud. So, Governor Palin, are you two on the same page on this?SP: We had a great discussion with President Zardari as we talked about what it is that America can and should be doing together, to make sure that the terrorists do not cross borders, and do not ultimately put themselves in the position of attacking America again, or her allies. And we will do what we have to do to secure the United States of America and her allies. KC: Is that something you shouldn’t say out loud Senator McCain?JM: Of course not. But look, I understand this day and age “gotcha journalism”. Was that a pizza place? In a conversation with someone who…you didn’t hear the question very well…you don’t know the context of the conversation…grab a phrase. Uh, Governor Palin and I agree you don’t announce that you’re going to attack another country.KC: Are you sorry you said it, Governor?JM: Now wait a minute! Before you say is she sorry she said it, this was a gotcha sound bite.

KC: It wasn’t a gotcha. She was talking to a voter.

JM: She was in a conversation. She was in a conversation with a group of people, and talking back and forth…and I…I don’t…I’ll let Governor Palin speak for herself.

SP: In fact you’re absolutely right on. In the context, this was a voter…a constituents hollerin’ out a question from across an area asking, “What are you gonna do about Pakistan? You better have an answer to Pakistan.” I said, “We’re going to do what we have to do to protect the United States of America.”

KC: You were pretty specific about what you wanted to do – cross border…

SP: (interrupting) As Senator McCain is suggesting here also, never would our administration get out there and show our cards to, uh, terrorists, in this case to enemies, and let them know what the game plan was, not when that could ultimately adversely affect a plan to keep America secure.

KC: What did you learn from that experience?

SP: That this IS all about gotcha journalism. A lot of it is! But that’s OK too.

KC: Governor Palin, since our last interview, you’ve gotten a lot of flack. Some Republicans have said you’re not prepared, you’re not ready for prime time. People have questioned your readiness since that interview, and I’m curious to hear your reaction.

SP: Well, not only am I ready, but willing and able to serve as Vice President with Senator McCain if Americans so bless us and privilege us with the opportunity of serving them. Ready with my executive experience as a city mayor and manager, as a governor, as a commissioner, a regulator of oil and gas.

JM: This is not the first time I’ve seen a governor questioned by some…quote “expert.” I remember that Ronald Reagan was a cowboy. President Clinton was the governor of a very small state that had no experience either. I remember how easy it was going to be for Bush 1 to defeat him. I still recall…whoops…that one. But the point is uh, I’ve seen uh, underestimation before. I’m very proud of the excitement that Gov. Palin has ignited with our party around this country. It is a level of excitement and enthusiasm frankly that I’ haven’t seen before and I’d like to attribute it to me, but the fact is that she has done an incredible job and I’m so proud of the work that she’s doing.

Now, I’m not the one who brought up Bill Clinton, and I wouldn’t have if I were John McCain. BUT….since he did, I thought it would be fun to look at this other governor of a “very small state that had no experience either.” First of all, notice that McCain said “either,” so he is pretty much admitting that Palin has no experience. But lets compare “very small states.”

Alaska: population 626,932. 1.1 people per square mile. Borders a whole lot of empty space in Canada.

Arkansas: population 2,673,400. 51.1 people per square mile. Borders six states.

So John McCain is comparing these two states to justify Palin’s abilities. Arkansas has almost 5 times the population, and 50 times the population density than Alaska. And it has neighbors.

But we won’t quibble. This isn’t a “who’s the smallest” contest. Let’s get to the real meat of McCain’s argument. Let’s compare Bill Clinton’s no experience, with Palin’s “no experience either.”

Clinton: After attending Georgetown on scholarships, he received a B.S. in Foreign Service. After graduation he received a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford where he studied government. He attended and graduated Yale Law School. He was a professor at the University of Arkansas. He was the Attorney General of the State of Arkansas. He was the governor of Arkansas for 10 years. He was the Chair of the National Governor’s Association. He also worked on state and national campaigns.

Palin: One semester at Hawaii Pacific University, two semesters at North Idaho College as a general studies major, two semesters at the University of Idaho, one semester at the Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska, and three semesters at the Univeristy of Idaho, graduating with a B.S. in communications-journalism. She worked briefly as a sportscaster for an Alaskan TV station and as a sportswriter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper. She spent several years as a homemaker, and four years on the Wasilla city council. She served two terms as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (pop. 7000), and twenty months as Governor of the aforementioned state with a little over half a million people in it.

So McCain’s argument is that if Bill Clinton could be a successful president, than surely Sarah Palin could. At least that’s what he’s trying to convince the teacher in this weirdly awkward parent-teacher converence. We all know that Sarah’s been trying really hared, but somehow I don’t think Mrs. Couric is going to change her grade.

To watch the clip from the interview, click HERE.





McCain-Palin – How Low Will They Go?

28 09 2008

With every day bringing new cringe-worthy gaffes, inadequacies, and (R)evelations (Biblical and otherwise), the McCain campaign is getting desperate. They’ve tried just about everything to postpone, or lessen the carnage of the looming bloodbath that will be the Vice Presidential debate this Thursday night.Plan A – Change the rules of the debate. Give the candidates less time to talk, and less time to talk TO each other. If Palin has 25% less time to talk, she will embarrass herself and her party…..25% less. That’s the theory anyway. Plan A has been implemented.Plan B – Economic meltdown. Play it so that John McCain is “the only one” who can solve the crisis, and suspend the campaign so he can. Push for the Presidential debate to be moved forward to take the place of…..wait for it…..the Vice Presidential debate! This allows for the VP debate to be postponed indefinitely! It’s so crazy, it just might work… Except it didn’t. Barack Obama called McCain’s bluff, showed for the debate and forced McCain to participate or risk being upstaged by a nationally televised Obama Town Hall meeting. (McCain campaign lifting collective fist to the sky…”Noooooooo!”)Plan C – While looking for another way to stall the debate, giving Palin more time to memorize those index cards of talking points, create a diversion for the press. Because right now, the press is not a friend to the McCain campaign. The Couric interview was an epic disaster. Obama won the first Presidential debate, according to most Americans. McCain is looking dangerously physically run-down. Even Alaskans have had it with their governor, and were out in droves Saturday, protesting the stonewalling of her ethics investigation. Op-ed pieces from the left and from the right have been unflattering to say the least. Hmmm….how to divert all this negative press coverage….*lightbulb*

In an election campaign notable for its surprises, Sarah Palin, the Republican vice- presidential candidate, may be about to spring a new one — the wedding of her pregnant teenage daughter to her ice-hockey-playing fiancé before the November 4 election.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

Because, as we all know, that’s the definition of a “fantastic” wedding.

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Awwww…..Don’t they just look so in love….freaked out and miserable? And there’s something about a tattooed engagement ring…

So, if Plan C is indeed a shotgun wedding, what does this mean? Will the press, as the McCain campaign hopes, make this the Alaskan hillbilly version of the Prince Charles/Lady Diana nuptials? Will they have to suspend the campaign so the parents of the bride can participate? Will that shotgun fit under Todd’s tuxedo without looking conspicuous?

But more importantly, if the press does turn its lascivious, million-eyed focus on the young lovers, will this actually be a good thing for McCain and Palin? Or, will the nation have its head held, and be forced to watch as these two young people, who never asked for this kind of attention, become a sideshow attraction as they are paraded in front of cameras, and become political pawns in a chess game they don’t want to play? This plan may backfire.

How does the proud papa-to-be, Levi Johnston, feel about the situation?

The ice-hockey player wrote on his MySpace page he was a “f***ing redneck” and stated, “I don’t want kids.” But a McCain insider predicted he would marry Bristol whenever his future mother-in-law wanted. “It’s a shotgun wedding. She kills things,” the source joked.

Ha ha. Let the marital bliss begin.

Although several sources are already reporting on this, no one has speculated yet about where this wedding might take place. We all recall how Sarah, wile pregnant and in labor with her infant son Trig, admitted that she hopped two commercial airline flights, and bypassed hospitals in Dallas, Seattle, and even in Anchorage, so she could deliver the high-risk baby in her home town of Wasilla, Alaska. “First Dude” Todd Palin explained jeapordizing his wife and unborn child’s safety by stating, “You can’t have a fish-picker from Texas.”

So where do we suppose the wedding will be? Todd? Can you have a shotgun wedding in D.C.? Can we Alaskans expect yet another media circus for the “Bristol ‘n Levi” wedding? Join me as we spiral our way down into further depths of the painfully tacky, brutally opportunistic, Machiavellian nausea that is the McCain campaign.

*h/t to Crooks and Liars for the photo.





Alaskans for Truth Demand Accountability from Palin! HUGE Rally!

27 09 2008

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You know sometimes when you have something in your mind, and you create the image so perfectly and it’s so great, that when the actual event comes to pass, it can just never match up? After being so overwhelmed and awestruck at the Alaska Women Reject Palin rally that happened a couple weeks ago here in Anchorage, I started to worry. Last night as I thought about today’s event, the Hold Palin Accountable Rally, and I started to imagine what it might be like.

My mind movie featured a glorious autumn day, with blue sky, white clouds and golden leaves. I didn’t know how many people might come, but I suspected it would be even more than the 1500 that were there at the last rally. I imagined all sorts of new and creative signs, designed to send a message to Sarah Palin, to the Alaska Legislature, to the McCain campaign, but most of all to our fellow Americans in the rest of the country.

Because, frankly, we’ve felt a bit like we’re living in the Dr. Seuss story, “Horton Hears a Who”. If you’re not familiar with this tale, it involves thousands of tiny people who live on a dust speck, and no matter how loudly they yell, no one can seem to hear them. They keep screaming “We are here! We are here! We are here!” but to no avail. It takes a moment of real desperation, and the participation of every little Who in Whoville, but finally their cries are heard.

That was my mind movie. As I sucked down my coffee this morning driving into town with my camera and my sign, I wanted to kick myself. I feared that this image I had created, of thousands of Alaskans yelling “We are here!” and the media actually listening was just going to set me up for disappointment. At the last rally, which turned out to be the largest political rally in the history of Alaska, there was virtually no media coverage. There were a couple print journalists, and one radio person, but no TV cameras. The real exposure of this event came from bloggers, folks with video cameras putting clips on YouTube, and mass emailings from friend to friend with attached pictures, and accounts of the rally from locals.

The day started out exactly as I had imagined – a gorgeous slightly chilly fall morning, with sunshine aplenty. I arrived really early, and the sight of an empty park made my stomach shrink, even though the rally was not due to begin for another hour. I made another quick sign. The time went fast. I started hearing honking horns and realized that sign wavers had started to gather along the road. I looked at my watch….12:00. Not nearly as many people as I had hoped. Stomach shrank more. Then I thought….well…it’s a beautiful day. People are out enjoying the weather, and hiking. Maybe I should have hoped for clouds. It would be OK, I told myself. Historically, anything over 25 people at a sign waving event in Anchorage is a rousing success. I had to remember this. And people may have just had one good rally in them and that was that.

I started snapping pictures of signs. There were some really good ones. My favorite? “Hey, Sarah! I can see the end of your political career from my house!” I was cheered. After 20 or 30 minutes of photographing signs, I looked around. I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed, but a massive influx had happened. Both sides of the city block between 9th and 10th Avenue were packed! I went across the street to the opposite corner to get a good shot of everyone, and… I was not alone. Cameras everywhere! Local TV news from every station, the Anchorage Daily News, unmarked video cameras in various sizes, photographers with lenses 2 feet long scurrying around, people with hand-held devices talking to protesters…. It took my breath away. I had to stop what I was doing, and just stand, and look.

I said it after the last rally, and I’ll say it again. This does not happen here.

There were 1500 protesters at the last rally. This time there were more. If there weren’t 2000, it was really close. Someone said they heard a Daily News reporter say he was going to “call it 1000 people.” That Daily News Reporter was obviously not at the other rally. I’m telling you now, it was way more than 1000.

After an hour or so, we were all called to the main stage to hear the speakers. It was difficult to pull ourselves away from the road. There was an incredible amount of support from honking cars, and drivers waving and giving “thumbs up”. There were amazing signs. There were pitbull masks. There was a guy dressed like Richard Nixon. There were live chickens. Yes, a woman had a cage of live chickens beneath her sign that read, “Sarah, Don’t Chicken Out!” The one that really got to me, though, was held by a sweet little lady who stood alone with her back to the stage. It read “I’m the mother of the ‘rogue’ Walt Monegan, and I Love Him.” People were rendered speechless, and kept stopping, one by one, to shake her hand, and tell her how much her son was loved and appreciated. Walt is the ex-commissioner of Public Safety that Palin fired because he refused to fire a trooper who is her ex-brother-in-law, that she wanted gone for personal reasons. A real human face was put to this situation, in a poignant way. That good man who has not only lost his job, but has been ripped apart in the press by ex-KTUU anchorwoman, now Palin mouthpiece, Meg Stapleton, and Bush-McCain lawyer Ed O’Callaghan, has a Mom, and she is not happy.

The speakers were great. CC from KUDO radio, Shannyn Moore from Air America, Ron Devon reading a letter of support from Rep. Les Gara who was out of state, Libby Roderick, local folk singing legend, John Cyr, head of the troopers’ union, and many more. The greatest of all was the final speaker – Walt Monegan’s Mom. She stood up, obviously emotional, and thanked the crowd for their support. “I never knew so many people loved Walt,” she said, her voice quivering a little. “I’m going to cry……I don’t know what else to say but, thank you!” She sat down again, and mopped her eyes, and the crowd went wild.

At the end of the day, there was a huge stack of petition sheets signed, over a dozen newly registered voters, a ton of news coverage, and almost 2000 Alaskans who had their say.

Next week, a small group will take the stack of petitions and deliver them to the Attorney General’s office. There is already conversation about when the next rally will happen. Alaskans, like the Whos in that Dr. Seuss story are trying very hard to be heard. So, America….Listen up!

We want our governor held accountable.

We want an end to the stonewalling in the legitimate investigation by the Alaska State Legislative Council.

We want the resignation of the Alaska State Attorney General Talis Colberg who told state employees they could ignore legal subpoenas.

And we want the McCain campaign and their cadre of lawyers out of our state government!

WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE!

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Palin Delays Financial Disclosure Until After Debate.

25 09 2008

After the unbearably painful performance by Palin during her recent interview with Katie Couric, it’s obvious to most that she is not ready for the Vice Presidential debate next week. Whether the interview is the reason, or only part of the reason that McCain has fled his own debate with Barack Obama scheduled for Friday isn’t entirely clear. The McCain camp has requested that the Presidential debate be moved to the date of the Vice Presidential debate, conveniently delaying the Vice Presidential debate to an unknown date in the future. Presumably this will give Palin some much-needed extra time to bone up on all the things she would have learned if she had ever studied or participated in international diplomacy, and matters outside the state of Alaska.

It’s also not clear yet, whether this “delay tactic” is going to work. Barack Obama has said that if McCain doesn’t show up to the debate, he’ll be there to hold a Town Hall meeting instead, leaving the Vice Presidential debate to go on as scheduled. Interesting…

“Delay” is apparently the theme of the day for our Republican VP nominee. Today we hear that Palin has requested, and received a four day extension for the disclosure of her personal finances. The new release date for these forms? October 3rd, the day AFTER her scheduled debate with Joe Biden.

Trevor Potter, general counsel for the McCain-Palin campaign, told the FEC that the campaign initially thought it had until Oct. 4 to file the report but then learned the FEC set an earlier due date.

Oops. They forgot to check the date. Those silly McCain people… I bet they felt really stupid.

But now that they’ve got their dates straight, they’ve got to tread very carefully with this one. Ask indicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who is facing seven felony counts for filing false financial disclosure forms. Ask Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich who just got in a little hot water himself because his federal and state forms didn’t match.

[The forms will] show whether she and her husband, Todd, hold any mortgages for real estate investments, and roughly how much any property held for investment purposes is worth. The financial reports that Sarah Palin filed as Alaska governor list property the couple held at that point, but not how much it was worth; how much, if any, profit they made on real estate sales; or how much, if any, mortgage debt they held.

Such information is a standard part of the personal financial disclosure reports that members of Congress, administration officials and federal candidates must file each year. The reports allow the public to see whether politicians may be receiving favorable financial treatment from people with issues before government or have any potential conflicts of interest. They also offer a glimpse of their ability to manage their personal finances.

Another extension may be filed, but the last possible date for the extension is October 6. Will there be any interesting little surprises there? Forensic accountants, sharpen your pencils, clean your glasses and circle the day on your calendar. You’re on!





On Palin and Wolves.

25 09 2008

I’ve heard from many people in the past few weeks who want to know more about Palin and wolves. I’ll go on record right now as a staunch environmentalist. I don’t like to treat my world any different than I treat my house. I don’t like to do to living things what I don’t want done to me. I don’t like eating things that have been sprayed with stuff I wouldn’t spray on my own salad.

I know that not everyone feels this way. I also know that when I write, I like to write as an Alaskan. I’ve lived here almost 20 years, and my patterns of thinking have shifted quite a bit in that time. I ‘get’ Alaskans even though I wasn’t born here. But I also know them well enough to know when I fall out of line with typical “Alaskan thinking.”

That said, my feelings about hunting do not reflect the feelings of most Alaskans. I could write you a great piece on why I think aerial wolf hunting, or any kind of wolf hunting, is wrong, and why I’m outraged at the entire political process that has now legalized it in this state. I could get on my soapbox and have at it for a good long while. But it would definitely be colored by my own, very out of the main stream of Alaskan thinking. So, I have hesitated to talk about this issue “from an Alaskan perspective”, because I don’t believe I can.

Fortunately, I did know just the person to do it. Friend and fellow blogger Shannyn Moore was born in rural Alaska. If there’s anyone who can claim to be coming at this particular issue from a truly “Alaskan perspective”, she’s the one. She speaks about the wolf hunting issue as the daughter of a trapper, not a relocated environmentalist from the East Coast (not that there’s anything wrong with that). She agreed to write a post on her own blog about this topic and to let me cross-post here.

And as you read through the post, realize that I was one of the people who voted the wrong way on Ballot Measure 2, thanks to the confusing wording courtesy of our Lt. Governor, Sean Parnell.

Wolf in Governor’s Clothing

Shannyn Moore

The smell of fresh snow and the burning fuel of a Ski-Doo Olympic Snowmachine are part of my vivid childhood memories. I would hang on to my pop’s snowsuit, as we rode through Alaskan muskegs, down river banks, and up power line trails. Checking our trap line was dirty work. Bait consisted of freezer burnt salmon and road kill rabbit retrieval missions. I grew up with the smell of skinned mink, beaver, muskrats, coyotes, and wolves in my garage. We took the hides to the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage and sold them. Staying in a hotel with plumbing and television was our decadent reward. I learned more about nature from trapping and hunting than I did from any biology class. Habits, tracking, instincts; I was in awe of the Nature around me and then I helped kill it. It wasn’t easy. Mink are smart as white collar thieves. They could get bait out of a trap nine times out of ten, and defecate before departing, a not-so-subtle message to Pop and I.

I don’t write these things to brag, just as fact. You may be revolted by this lifestyle, and I won’t argue. I share this to provide you the reference of my horror of aerial wolf hunting. Shooting wolves from planes is to hunting, what hiring a prostitute is to dating.

Alaska has a long history of bounties and hunting-much of it controversial. Aerial wolf hunting began in 1948. In 1972, Congress passed a law that prohibited aerial wolf hunting. Problem solved? No, under the guise of “wolf control,” permits were issued to “pilot gunner” teams in 1979. In 1992, under Governor Walter Hickel’s Administration, the Alaska Board of Game initiated a wolf control program with the goal of reducing numbers by 80%. Under threat of a massive tourist boycott, the “land and shoot” policy was reintroduced. During Democrat Governor Tony Knowles Administration, only non-lethal measures were used against wolves. The Wolf Management Reform Coalition collected 33,000 signatures to put an aerial wolf hunting ban on the November 1996 ballot; 59% of Alaskans voted for it, with the exception being a biological emergency. A Republican Legislature introduced SB74. This bill eliminated the need for a biological emergency to justify aerial wolf control and usurped the will of the people. Governor Knowles vetoed the bill and the Republican majority overrode it. In March of 2000, SB267 was passed which allowed hunters other than the state biologists to aerially shoot wolves. That same year, Alaskans voted on another ballot initiative to ban aerial wolf hunting by a 53% majority. In 2004, then Governor Frank Murkowski reinstated aerial wolf hunting to private hunters. He opened up 60,000 square miles of Alaska for the flying cowboys. All you needed was a plane and a permit.

With all of this history, we should have been prepared to deal with a Palin Administration hell bent on killing wolves. She and I were “raised by the same wolves”, and she wants to shoot them out of planes. She stacked the Alaska Board of Game with pro-aerial wolf hunters. She was successful at merging faulty science, Safari Club International interests and state funded propaganda; spinning a web of lies to masquerade as conservation. I’m not sure where it started; maybe a spam email promising penis enlargement from shooting mammals out of planes went viral. Running our policy on “Faith Based Science” hasn’t worked; animals you believe are here for you to rule, and exist because Noah got two of them on a boat and they managed not to eat each other is one thing. But if you refuse to use the brain God gave you for observation and noticing patterns of science, well, how good of a steward of the Earth are you? Years of classic, scientific studies by Adolph Murie and Vic Van Vallenbergh have been mocked or ignored. Their studies were in the field, observing the balance between wolves and ungulate populations. They proved what common sense verifies; wolves take the weak and the sick thereby strengthening the herds. The Alaska Board of Game lacks common sense and ignores science. The Board is loaded with Viagra starved, trigger-happy Alaska Outdoor Council and Safari Club International agenda driven thugs.

Because of declining hunter success throughout the 1990s, residents of McGrath were vocal about the need for aerial wolf control. They complained loudly and constantly that there weren’t enough legal moose to hunt. The most comprehensive moose population survey to date was done in the fall of 2001. Alaska Department of Fish & Game Biologists documented moose numbers and the bull/cow ratios within a 520 square mile area around McGrath known as the Experimental Micro Management Area or EMMA, as well as the rest of Game Management Unit (GMU) 19D East. The target ratio for a sustainable hunted population is 30 bulls/100 cows. Within the EMMA, that ratio fell to an unhealthy 18 bulls/100 cows. Outside EMMA and basically outside the range of lazy 4-wheeler hunters, that ratio was 44 bulls/100 cows-well above the healthy target. Here’s the kicker direct from the Alaska Department of Fish & Games official report “The low bull:cow ratio in this area (EMMA) results from an imbalance between hunting and recruitment. The bull:cow ratio in the remainder of GMU 19D East remains relatively high.”

In other words, the science from ADF&G’s own biologists contradicted the need for any predator control. Studies conducted for the McGrath Adaptive Management Team proved that over-hunting was the reason for the lack of moose in the area, not wolves. That data was buried and wolf control was implemented.

Right before the 2006 Election, Alaskans for Wildlife submitted 57,000 signatures to get another aerial wolf hunting ban in place. Newly elected Governor Palin and the ADF&G issued even more wolf kill permits and put up a $150 bounty. A state judge ruled Palin exceeded her authority and the bounty was scrapped. At the end of the 2007 legislative session, Palin flooded the legislature with bills to ease up on wolf hunting restrictions, but the bills were held up in committee. In the spring of 2008, Palin tried to declare wildlife an “asset” of the State to make their management off limits to ballot initiatives. She covertly tried to tack a wolf hunting bill on to an animal cruelty bill, SB 273, introduced by Senator Bill Wielechowski. Pun intended: she got shot down.

Last month Alaskans voted once again on Aerial Predator Control. The intent of the ballot initiative was simple enough; to prohibit the shooting of wolves and grizzly bears from aircraft. Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell, overseer of elections, did his part to insure the proposition language was confusing enough to guarantee failure:

Ballot Measure 2Bill Amending Same Day Airborne ShootingBALLOT LANGUAGEThis bill amends current law banning same-day airborne shooting to include grizzly bears. The bill permits the Board of Game to allow a predator program for wolves and grizzly bears if the Commissioner of Fish and Game finds an emergency, where wolves or grizzly bears in an area are causing a decline in prey. Only employees of the Department of Fish and Game could take part in the program. Only the minimum number of wolves or grizzly bears needed to stop the emergency could be removed. Should this initiative become law?

Parnell was dragged into court several times for misrepresenting the intent of the initiative on the ballot. Many Alaskans were confused by the ballot language. My neighbor is a retired state engineer. He is a bright man and a conservationist. He voted no despite being an outspoken opponent of aerial wolf killing. Had I not known to vote yes, I would have voted no too. Now, aerial predator control proponents can disingenuously claim that Alaskans favor killing wolves and bears from planes as evidenced by the 2008 vote on Ballot Prop 2.

Governor Palin did her part to defeat the initiative as well. She approved the use of public money and ordered the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to publish a 26-page full color pamphlet called “Understanding Intensive Management and Predator Control in Alaska.” It circulated through newspapers statewide and was mailed to tens of thousands of Alaskans just days before the election. The pamphlet emphasized “how well the current system is working.” Jim Marcotte, Director of Support for the Board of Game, said the pamphlet was not meant to influence voters-Really? Spending public money to tell Alaskans that the Aerial Wolf Control Program is necessary to protect our moose and caribou populations just before a statewide election wasn’t an attempt to influence the outcome? The fear machine was in full force. The message was clear: wolves threaten hunters’ ability to put food on the table. But the truth was more about putting pelts on a wall. In addition to the pamphlet and mailers, the state paid for Board of Game members to fly all over Alaska to “educate” the public on the benefits of predator control-again just before the election. This entire predator control program is about turning Alaska into a wild game farm. In response to the allegation that she signed off on a “propaganda campaign to justify the state’s barbaric wolf slaughter from the skies,” Palin said, “My understanding is this program was funded by the Legislature to factually explain game management practices to Alaskans, and I don’t have a problem with that.” The total bill for the “education” was $400,000. Nearly the same amount of money she vetoed for high school drop out prevention. It’s shameful she spent almost half a million dollars on pamphlets to compensate for Alaska’s prohibition on Cialis. Hey, if you’ve been shooting wolves out of planes, and you have an erection lasting for more than four hours, check the Boone & Crocket stats, you may have a trophy!

In June of this year, the ADF&G broke their own predator control regulations with the slaughter of 14 wolf pups near Point Moeller. Under the ADF&G Wolf Control Regulations (5AAC 92.110(i)), “Denning, the killing of wolf young in the den, is prohibited.” On site at the scene of the crime were Deputy ADF&G Commissioner for Wildlife, Ken Taylor, and The Director of ADF&G’s Division of Wildlife Conservation, Doug Larsen. Why were suits from Juneau involved in a routine field operation? Why do we pay them salaries to enforce laws they are either unaware of, or choose to break? Perhaps they knew they were breaking their own law and were there to support the cover-up and clean up crew.

ADF&G Biologists want to “maintain” caribou herd numbers between 3,000-4,000 animals on the Alaska Peninsula near Port Moeller. According to former ADF&G Commissioner Ron Skoog, the caribou populations on the Alaska Peninsula have fluctuated many times over the last several decades. Indeed, the caribou population on the Alaska Peninsula has dropped to 500 or fewer at least 3 times over 132 years. ADF&G Biologists obtained emergency permission to kill wolves by misleading the Board of Game and Alaskans to think the current decline is unprecedented. This is clearly NOT the case.

Sarah Palin has been in a position to do the right thing for the wildlife of Alaska. Independent Alaskan Biologists have been begging for her ear. Faith based science is not science, yet it is what she has used in her policy making; mocking legitimate studies, and embracing big game hunters. The Rapture is not an environmental policy nor is it a game management policy.

It’s been a long time since I set or checked a trap. I’ve spent hours behind a camera, camping in bear refuges, in awe of the nature of Alaska. When I was a child, I had no idea how big the world was, or how tamed parts had become. Looking at the world, I know Alaska is precious in its wildness. Why can’t we just let Nature run wild?

Photos courtesy of Florian Shulz; Special thanks to Leo and Dorothy Keeler.





Palin and the Witch Hunter – Chapter II.

25 09 2008

We have not seen the last of the witch hunter. We know Pastor Thomas Muthee was back in Wasilla this past weekend, and  I posted a link previously of Sarah Palin recounting the time that Pastor Muthee had prayed over her, but now a video of the actual event has surfaced.  Do not, I repeat do not watch this if you plan on sleeping any time soon.  It’s a long clip, but here are the highlights:

2:57 – First mention of Sarah

5:00 – We need God to ‘take over the education system.’

5:27 – We need God to ‘take over the media’ and Hollywood itself.

6:08 – We need the government run by born-again Christians.

6:58 – Praying for Sarah to become governor (Doesn’t this impact their tax-exempt status?  Anyone?)

7:12 – Sarah herself enters and is “prayed upon”.

8:38 – Another witchcraft reference.

Oh boy.  The suspension of Mcain’s campaign, the beyond devastating Couric interview, Return of the Witch Hunter and the takeover of every facet of society by God, and the (strangely credible these days) National Enquirer releasing a story about an affair with Todd’s business partner…all in 24 hours.  Not a good day for the McCain-Palin campaign. 

It appears as if Pastor Muthee is working hard to fulfill the vision statement of his church, known as “The Prayer Cave”:

“Touching lives for total community transformation, thereby taking cities and nations.”

Resistance is futile, Wasilla.  You have been assimilated.  I wonder if Palin mentioned “taking cities and nations” for God during her chat yesterday with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai? 

I’ll be sleeping with the lights on tonight.





Bed Time in Alaska – Open Thread

24 09 2008

Stepping back from politics for a moment (is that even possible?), I thought I’d post a nice moose picture.  Why not?  Snoskred, our wonderful Forum creator, has come to really like moose, and since as far as I know, they don’t have moose in Australia, I thought I’d post one.  I took this picture from my driveway while in my car on the way to work the other day.  He was very busily attacking a shrub with his antlers, shaking back and forth, trying to scrape off all the itchy velvet covering they develop in the spring and summer, to reveal the nice shiny antlers underneath. This apparently intimidates the guys and impresses the ladies, now that fall is here, and moose start the process of making baby moose.  I caught him, however,  at the embarrasing moment when it looked like he was wearing a crazy green headdress.

This morning, having breakfast, my spouse said to me, “I haven’t seen a moose in a while.”  And I said, “Actually I saw one the other day crossing the road and going up into that yard with the steep hill.  You know the one…”  I was about to say, the one with the dark hair and the nice antlers.

“You mean, Brian?”  Spouse thought I was going to describe whose yard it was. 

Whereupon my brain froze for a moment….Did he really just call this moose “Brian“?  Then, of course, I realized it was neighbor Brian, and I laughed so hard I almost choked on my canteloupe.

So, of course now, this moose has become….Brian.

But back to politics….(you knew that was coming)  I got a message from someone who has my dream job.  Mudflatter Matt is live blogging from the Ted Stevens trial in D.C.!  No much happened today, but as the trial gets into full swing, it will become a must-read.  The link is HERE, and I’ve added it to the sidebar.