Open Thread – Countdown to Truth Continues!

7 10 2008

While the Presidential debate was in full swing, this came out from the Anchorage Daily News:

With his Troopergate report due Friday, legislative investigator Steve Branchflower appears to have the makings of a fairly complete account, despite weeks of resistance from the Palin family and administration. 

Branchflower has, or soon will have, answers from nearly all the people he’d hoped to question regarding Gov. Sarah Palin’s firing in July of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

Some of the final witnesses include seven state employees, including the governor’s chief of staff, who lost a court fight to kill subpoenas Branchflower obtained through the Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee to compel their testimony.

This week the seven are answering a list of questions known as interrogatories. The answers are submitted under oath.

Another key witness, Todd Palin, the governor’s husband, also is answering a list of questions in writing, and has a deadline of Wednesday to turn them in.

A legislative panel has scheduled a meeting for 9 a.m. Friday to receive Branchflower’s report on Monegan’s firing and whether Palin or members of her administration abused their powers in pushing for the dismissal of a state trooper involved in a child-custody fight with the governor’s sister.

It’s getting close, and keeping the pressure/support on the Legislative Council is crucial.  .  Keep those emails and phone calls coming.  Only 3 days left.  We’re in the home stretch.

No one knows what this investigation will turn up, but every American has the right to know.  So Alaskans and non-Alaskans alike, keep the pressure on!  I’m so proud of the participation of the Mudflats community to this effort.  You all know how to roll up your sleeves, and get it done. *snappy salute to all of you*

And, Alaskans for Truth has a website up, so you can send family and friends a link!  To visit, click HERE.

Here’s the next installment of the Top Ten Reasons We Want the Branchflower Report Released:  (from Gryphen at The Immoral Minority)

10: Maybe once the report comes out people will stop naming their pitbulls “Sarah” and making them wear lipstick.  Because that is just all kinds of wrong.

 

 

9: It will give Meg Stapleton the opportunity to stop lying about Walt Monegan and Troopergate, and to start lying about why Sarah Palin got her ass handed to her in the debate.

 

8: If it doesn’t come out then what will Alaska Progressive bloggers write about all weekend?

 

7: This investigation has cost Alaskans $100,000. The last time Alaskans spent that kind of money with nothing to show for it, was on exotic dancers and cocaine back in the oil drenched 1980s.

 

6: Because the McCain campaign does not want the report to be made public, and when was the last time ANYBODY told Alaskans not to do something and we listened?

 

5: Once this report is finally out we can all stop pretending to like Dan Fagan.

 

4: The report will undoubtedly convince the Palins that they need to return home where surely they will be inspired to add yet another offspring to their brood, perhaps this one to be named “Phlegm Wingnut Palin”?

 

3: It will allow Alaskans to stop focusing on this distraction and get back to watching for Russians trying to come over the border so that we can shoo them back to where they belong.

…to be continued

As usual, emails and contact phone numbers are in the comments section.

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Live Blogging the Second Presidential Debate

7 10 2008

Click HERE to join the Mudflats chat!  Chat starts at 4:45 Alaska time (8:45 EST, 5:45 PST), 15 minutes prior to the debate.

I’ll be live blogging right here.

Tom Brokaw.  Red tie.

McCain.  Red tie.

Obama.  Blue tie.

Economic question first. No surprise.

Obama is looking good. Confident.  Bush-McCain connection. No regulation.  Need strong oversight.  Cracking down on CEOs. No golden parachutes.  Middle class needs a rescue package. Lower taxes, infrastructure to create jobs, healthcare, energy. Lobbyist jab.

McCain: Town Hall meeting jab.  Americans are angry upset and fearful.  I hava a plan.  It’s energy independence!  Keep taxes low.  Stop spending spree.  Don’t raise taxes on anyone.  Home values continue to decline. We need to buy the bad mortagaes and renegotiate for the new values.  “My friends”  “My friends.”  He seems really tired.

Q. Who would be treasury secretery

McCain:  Warren Buffett.  Meg Whitman….Ebay!  What ever happened with that jet…?

Obama:  Warren Buffet. 

Q. What’s going to help people with the bailout?

McCain:  Greed, excess, Wall street, Main St.  He’s talking about suspending his campaign!  Sheesh.  Thought he’d want to forget about that.  Obama and cronies encouraged risky loans.  “Some of us stood up two years ago”  Democrats defended Fannie & Freddie. )Yup, it’s all the democrats’ fault.  He ought to watch that 13 minute video on the Keating Five.  He’d find that very informative).

Obama:  Businesses can’t get loans, can’t meet payroll. Could have adverse affect on everyone.  We shouldn’t have been there in the first place.  Correct McCain’s history. (Thank you)  Deregulation.  McCain bragged about being a deregulator.  Obama wrote to Paulson and told them we had to deal with it.    Confident about economy but we need new regulatory system. Need to help ordinary families stay in their home.  Change culture of Washington.

McCain:  If we stabilize housing market by buying up bad loans, and get rid of croneyism and special interest in Washington we can fix our economy.  Some reference to a letter that Obama didn’t sign….  We’ve got the best workers in the world (aka fundamentals).

Q. How can we trust either candidate when both parties have gotten us in this mess.

Obama:  Understand frustration, but Bush came in with a surplus. McCain voted for 4 of 5 Bush budgets.

McCain: System is broken.  I’ve always been a reformer.  I have worked with Feingold, Lieberman.  Obama has never taken on his party.  Liberal big spenders…Obama $860 billion of new spending.  He wants earmarks, he wants to spend your money.  He wants to spend money on a planetarium in Illinois!  I know how to fix everything.  Energy Energy.

Brokaw:  What will be your highest priority:  health care, energy, social sec. & medicare.

McCain: Work on all three at once.  “My friends” (3).  Ronald Reagan.  I reach across the aisle.  Feingold, Lieberman…again.  Let’s build lots of nuclear power plants!  Alternative energy.  He’s getting all breathy like his running mate.  We have to do them all at once.

Obama: We have to prioritize.  Energy, we have to deal with today.  Invest $15billion per year for 10 years, and we can be free from foreign oil.  If we decide to do it we can.  #2 is healthcare.  #3 is education.  We need to look at our records.  Go line by line through the budget.  We also have to look where tax revenues are going.  McCain wants to continue Bush tax cuts plus billions more in cuts to corporations.

Q.  We haven’t been asked to sacrifice anything since WWII.  What will you ask the country to sacrifice?

McCain:  Defense spending.  Spending freeze, except for defense and veteran’s affairs. Establish transparent process.  We can do two things at once.  We’re not rifle shots, we can do everything.

Obama: 9/11…we were all ready to come together.  We were unified.  Bush said “Go out and shop.”  That’s not what the American people were looking for.  America is hungry for leadership.  We need to think about how we use energy.  We need oil and offshore drilling. We need to develop clean coal. But we can start thinking about how we save energy in our homes, and in our cars.  Fuel efficient cars made in the U.S.  Will require effort from everyone.  Young people want to serve.  Double the peace corpt.  Volunteer corps, military service.  Requires leadership from Washington.

(finger cramp break)

McCain and Brokaw are wearing the exact. same. tie.

My friends (4)  Obama is like Hoover.  His tax plan is like nailing Jell-O to the wall.  No laughter.  Obama’s secret is that his tax increases will increase taxes on small business revenue.  They’ll have to cut jobs and won’t be able to hire anyone.  “I got some news (looks at Obama).  The economy is bad.”  He did the little air punch and got breathy again.  He’s been takin’ some lessons from the Hockey Mom.

Obama wants to address the tax accusations.

Q.  Social Security and Medicaire.

Obama:  Need to take on entitlements quickly.  Will do it in my first term.  We’re not going to solve SS & medicare unless we fix the tax plan. Will provide tax cut for 95% of all Americans.  If you make less than $250,00 a year, your taxes will go down.  Vast majorities of small businesses make less than that.  McCain’s cuts are not fair and they don’t work.  Brings it nicely back to Medicare and Social Security.

McCain:  More air punches and shifting around.  What’s next, winking??  More Tip O’Neil and Reagan.  My friends (5&6)  Look at our records. My friends (7).  More folksy hand gestures.

Q.  Climate change and green jobs.

McCain:  We’re in tough economic times.  We’re struggling.  I disagree with the Bush administration.  Lieberman again.  The best way to fix this is nuclear power.  It’s safe and its clean and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs.  The French do it.  Alternative energy, hybrids, hydrogen, we can do it.

Obama:  Biggest challenges of our time.  Critical we understand the challenge and the opportunity.  We can create 5 million new jobs easily. Engine for new economic growth.  This is a national security issue.  Solar, wind, geothermal.  Favor nuclear power as one component.  McCain and I agree on something….problem is that for 30 years politicians have done nothing.  But he’s been there for 26 of those years and voted against alternative energy many times.  3% of oil reserves, and use 25% of the world’s oil.  We can’t drill our way out of the problem.  We can export our own innovation.

McCain:  My friends (8).  There was a bill full of goodies.  Know who voted for it?  “Than one” (points at Obama).  Drill drill drill!!  National security.  Oil! Drill!  We’ve got to drill!  Drill offshore!  Drill NOW!!!

Obama talking about his healthcare plan.  McCain is sort of wandering around grinning at the audience…

McCain:  Obama will fine you if you don’t insure your children.  He will fine you if you are a small business and you don’t insure your employees. ???  People want to shop around.  Gold Cadillac healthcare…like hair transplants.  O.M.G.  He did a hair plug jab at Biden????  Man…  What a *bleep*.

Obama:  Healthcare should be a right.  In a country as wealthy as this, there’s something wrong with not covering people.  Clarifying McCain’s blizzard of misinformation.  You will have to make sure your child has healthcare.  McCain voted against children’s health care.  It’s true I think gov’t should crack down on insurance companies cheating. 

Q.  How will we be peacemakers in the world?

McCain: My friends (9).  We are peacemakers and peace keepers.  We’ve shed blood for other countries. I have knowledge, experience, judgment, terrorism.  Lebanon, Kosovo, first Gulf War. Obama was wrong about the surge, Russia, doesn’t understand.  No time for on the job training. My friends (10)

Obama: Bad judgment on Iraq, greeted as liberators.  Wrong judgment.  Spending $10billion a month in Iraq.  We need to spend this at home.  Darfur. Bush-McCain policies has not worked.

My friends (11)

My friends (12)  Wow.  I guessed 8.

McCain:  Our foreign policy requires a cool hand at the tiller.  (I think he has just endorsed Obama!!) 

We need to talk softly and carry a big stick.  Obama is announcing he wants to attack Pakistan.

Obama: Never said attack Pakistan.  Said take out bin Laden.  McCain sang Bomb Bomb Iran.  That’s not speaking softly.

McCain:  I’ll take out bin Laden.  I was only joking with a friend about Iran…

Q.  How do you reorganize Afghanistan.

Obama:  Withdraw troops from Iraq responsibly.  Move them to Afghanistan. Met with Karzai.  He needs to be more responsive to the Afghan people.

McCain: Petraeus.  I’ve talked to him.  Double size of Afghan army.  Some of what Sen. Obama said was right.  Won’t admit he was wrong on Iraq surge.  He’s getting all wound up.  Seems frustrated.

Q. Russia

McCain:  Long ago I warned about Vladimir Putin.  Looked in his eyes and saw 3 letters – K-G-B.  Distancing himself from the Bush-Putin lovefest.   Putin has his eye on Ukraine.  They need to be in NATO.  Naked agression into Georgia.  No more Cold War but Russia is a challenge.

Obama:  Agree with McCain for the most part.  We also need to provide financial and concrete assistance to help Georgia and others to rebuild their economy.

Q.  What would we do if Iran attacked Israel? (from Navy guy in audience).

McCain:  Pats him on back and shakes his hand, thanks him for service.  Obama would sit down without preconditions…  (Looks like we’ll have to go through all this again….) 

Obama:  Thanks guy for service.  No military options off the table. No veto power to the U.N.  Must use all tools at disposal to prevent that scenario.  Not talking led Iran to centrifuges and N. Korea to nukes.

Obama:  Warm fuzzy closing statement. 

McCain:  Warm fuzzy closing statement. 

Cindy McCain in blue, Michelle Obama in red. 

*********************************************

McCain seemed much more tense.  He was very wound up.  Obama seemed unflappable.  The foreign policy was more of the last debate.  Nothing nes, and no real surprises here. 

They both seemed very comfortable in the format overall. 

There was no gotcha moment.  There was no bursting into flames for either candidate.  But, I’ve got to give this to Obama on policy, on coolness, on composure.  When McCain’s voice gets all tight, and especially when he pointed to Obama and said “That one!”, he flew right in the face of his own acknowledgement that “you need a cool hand on the tiller.”  That’s the line that blew me away.  It may haunt him.  And the fact that McCain wouldn’t shake hands….





Another Alaska

7 10 2008

We talk an awful lot about Wasilla these days. Americans now know more about the inner-workings of the city council, the library, the police department, and local churches than they ever imagined they would. We also talk a lot about the North Slope of Alaska with its oil fields, and the larger city centers of Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks. But look at a map of Alaska superimposed on a map of the Lower 48. Most of Alaska, which some call the “real Alaska,” is much larger, and much less known that the parts that make the headlines.

For every person who has lived in “the bush,” there is a different story. But universal is the opinion that bush Alaska has some very real problems, that have not been adequately addressed. The remote location of many bush communities makes many aspects of construction and infrastructure difficult. Communities often do without what the rest of us would consider basic neccessities. Health care and education face unbelievable challenges. The rates of domestic violence, rape, and alcohol abuse are alarming. Alaska State Troopers are too few, underpaid, and often underequipped.  Sadly, our previous Commissioner of Public Saftey, Walt Monegan, was on track with a plan to address some of these issues. You’ll recall that he was fired by Sarah Palin, and his termination has become the focus of the “Troopergate” investigation.

Mudflats reader Josh shares the following story.

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Sarah Palin has stated in one of her now famous blurbs with Katie Couric that she was excited to debate Joe Biden to talk about energy and ideas. Interesting. Maybe if she had been doing that in her own state for the past two years, we wouldn’t have the Mayor of Anchorage, and the Anchorage School District Superintendent writing her office asking for help with a very real problem.

With growing evidence of an Alaska Native exodus from villages to the city, Mayor Mark Begich and Schools Superintendent Carol Comeau sent a letter to Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday asking her to organize an emergency task force to find ways to stem the migration. Anchorage and the state “cannot stand by and tolerate the deterioration of rural Alaska,” the letter read. (continue)

My wife and I have been teaching and living year-round in bush Alaska for the last four years, and recently moved to Anchorage. We left after trying to make changes in an extremely broken system that has been ignored and overlooked by the state and its officials for far too long. Our jobs were threatened, we had no union to go to, and therefore no recourse. Our issue was targeted at education , but the poor state of education in the bush can be easily attributed to a broader problem of isolation, poverty and lack of oversight that no one at the state level is willing to get a handle on.

Anchorage and the state “cannot stand by and tolerate the deterioration of rural Alaska,” the letter said.

The major problem that my wife and I are running into when we tell people our story is that many believe it is the Alaskan Native’s problem as a federally recognized tribe and therefore is no different than the many cases and issues that exist on the lower 48 reservations. This is not the case. Alaskan Native tribes are not a sovereign nation. There is no legal difference in the villages that exist off the road system in Alaska, and a small rural town in Kansas. The only difference is that if a small rural town in Kansas had overwhelmingly high suicide rates, rape cases, domestic violence issues, no infrastructure, no running water, poor electricity, energy bills that exceed thousands each month and no money or jobs to help cover the costs, someone would do something about it!

We became very close with a family in our village that had a child drown in a stell container of raw sewage. Let me say that again. They had a child drown in a steel container of raw sewage. Their child was simply outside playing and since there is no playground equipment for the kids to play on, they play on anything, often things too dangerous for children. In this case it was something commonly referred to as a “honey bucket.” This is a steel container where house sewage is dumped since there is no indoor plumbing.

Many of the problems that face rural Alaska are not solvable in a day, a month, even years. But, when you have a Governor bragging about her reforming ways, it does make you wonder. Why was she so unable to even start real reform in her own state over a two year period?

So as you watch Sarah Palin talking about energy issues, ask yourself one question: If Sarah Palin is so knowledgeable about energy and has had executive experience, why is the Anchorage Daily News running a story like the one above?

Sarah Palin has been in office for almost two years and managed to sell a plane, is under investigation for an abuse of power, and gave people that do not need it (including people no longer in Alaska) $1,200 rather than funding real energy relief for rural Alaskans. The Washington Post has stated in a recent article that in 2002 through lobbyist ties related to Ted Stevens and Don Young she secured $900,000 in upgrades for Wasilla’s infrastructure. There are still many rural villages today without roads, electricity, indoor plumbing, and some even have their sewage leaking into the water supply. Money is needed, but more importantly, someone that is willing to spend the time to start a conversation.





Open Thread – Countdown to Truth! 4 Days to Go…

7 10 2008

Thanks to all of you who are submitting daily emails to the Legislative Council urging them to release the results of the Branchflower Report as soon as it becomes available!   It is absolutely critical that these council members realize that the eyes of the nation are upon them, and that Americans have the right to know the results of this ethics investigation before they cast their vote in November.

We now know that the seven state employees that were told they could ignore legislative subpoenas, have had a change of heart and will now honor those subpoenas.  They will be permitted to make statements in writing to keep things moving quickly.  Please keep those emails coming.

And here’s your Top 10 Reasons to Release the Report (from Gryphen at The Immoral Minority)

10: Maybe once the report comes out people will stop naming their pitbulls “Sarah” and making them wear lipstick.  Because that is just all kinds of wrong.  

9: It will give Meg Stapleton the opportunity to stop lying about Walt Monegan and Troopergate, and to start lying about why Sarah Palin got her ass handed to her in tonight’s debate.  

8: If it doesn’t come out then what will Alaska Progressive bloggers write about all weekend?

 7: This investigation cost Alaska $100,000.  The last time Alaskans wasted $100,000 with nothing to show for it, was on exotic dancers and cocaine back in the oil drenched 1980s.

 6: Because the McCain campaign does not want the report to be made public, and when was the last time ANYBODY told Alaskans not to do something and we listened?

 5: Once this report is finally out we can all stop pretending to like Dan Fagan.

 4: The report will undoubtedly convince the Palins that they need to return home where surely they will be inspired to add yet another offspring to their brood, perhaps this one to be named “Phlegm Wingnut Palin”?

Tune in tomorrow for reason #3.

I’ve posted the emails of the legislators in the comment thread, excluding those who have already committed to voting yes to release the report.

Remember, these Council members are under a tremendous amount of pressure from the McCain campaign to NOT release the results of this investigation until after the election.  We have been having an effect!  Do not underestimate this.  Please keep those emails coming!