He’s Baa-aack! Infiltrating the Welcome Home Ted Stevens Party.

29 10 2008

Ted Stevens is back in Alaska. I decided to crash his welcome home party at the Pen-Air hangar out by the airport.  I had no idea what to expect with this one, but I just had to do it.  I’ve never been to a welcome home party for a convicted felon returning home to run a Senate campaign.  And I probably won’t get the chance again. 

Driving out to the airport, it became increasingly obvious that more and more cars on the road were sporting Ted Stevens bumper stickers, and heading in the same direction.  As I got closer to the hangar, I noticed immediately cars parked everywhere.  Could this really be for Stevens?  People were walking toward the hangar, so it must be.  I had to park some distance away and by the time I got in the hangar, I was freezing.  The place was packed, and brightly lit.  Boxes of Ted Stevens buttons and stacks of bumper stickers greeted us at the door as smiling people welcomed us.  The sound system was blaring Journey, and that made me think of the long strange journey Uncle Ted has been on for the last two years.

I noticed Assemblyman Chris Birch from South Anchorage milling around, and there was former Assemblyman and Anchorage Mayor wannabe Dan Sullivan.  And over there, Senator Lisa Murkowski in the obligatory red suit, smiling and shaking hands.  I estimated the crowd at about 600.  Bigger than I thought it would be.  But I didn’t see Republican Party Chair Randy Reudrich.  Or State Senate President Lyda Green.  Just one assemblyman, one former assemblyman, and our Junior Senator.  The missing persons were obvious, and it demonstrates the interesting fractures developing in the state’s Republican party.

I snapped a picture of the crowd, and a lady grabbed my arm. “You should take a picture of those t-shirts!” she beamed.  “Did you see them??  They’re great!  They say ‘Fuck the Feds! Vote for Ted!'”  This took me by surprise, and I sort of did a choke/gasp combo, and she reassured me, “Oh, they made those marks instead of some of the letters…but you can tell that’s what it means.  Look!  There’s one!”  She pointed.  I snapped. And thus the Republican Party in the State of Alaska has officially hit bedrock.

Our emcee was Rick Rydell, a long-time conservative radio talk show icon.  “I don’t know about you, but I don’t like outsiders telling me what to think!”  Wild cheering with a peppering of testosterone drenched “YEAHH!”.  And if any of ’em tries it, says Rydell, they can “kiss my moose-hunting behind.” I almost didn’t tell you that part, because it’s people like that that make me cringe as an Alaskan.  Then he went on to say that there were people that call his radio show all the time and say, “How can you not think Ted is guilty?” and then he says, “Why do you think he IS guilty?  And then they tell him, ‘I read it on the internet and the Anchorage Daily News.”  Laughter and scorn from the audience.  And finally he reminded the crowd that “the prosecutors don’t know Ted….I know Ted, and I choose to believe him.”  

Yes, apparently to Anchorage’s conservative radio audience, not only the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska’s only large newspaper), but the entire internet is a bogus source of information.  What the talk show guy “chooses to believe” is infinitely more reliable.

Next up,  Lisa Murkowski.  Here was one angry lady.  After being introduced by Rydell as the “other Senator”, she was met with lots of cheering and chants of LEE-SA! LEE-SA!  She flashed the crowd what I can only describe as a you’re-in-deep-trouble “Mom face” and said “NO.  NO.  This is not about me. THIS IS ABOUT ALASKA!”  Then, she went on and on about how Ted has “more to give”, and he had faith in us, and we need to have faith in him, and that it was “not a good day for the country when justice is not duly served.”  Then she proceeded to slam everyone she could think of for turning on Ted, including the Democratic National Committee (boos from the crowd).  She, of course failed to mention that the Republican National Committee, The Republican Senate Minority Leader, The Republican Presidential Candidate, and our own Republican Governor VP Candidate Sarah Palin ALSO asked Ted to step down.  Details, details.  Much more fun to Boo the DNC.  And then the grand finale…we were told to “feel the love in the room” and “wrap our arms around Ted” and give him a “hero’s welcome.” 

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Senator Lisa Murkowski

And then, Lily Stevens, Ted’s daughter spoke.  “We need to send a strong message to my Dad. We need him!”  Chants of WE NEED TED! WE NEED TED! WE NEED TED!   And then, the man of the hour arrived, with his wife Catherine on his arm.

He looked a little tired, but was definitely as cantankerous as ever.  “I am innocent of the charges against me!”  “I will be vindicated!”  “I will NEVER stop fighting for the people of Alaska!”  “My future is in God’s hands.  Alaska’s future is in your hands!”  “I have helped every Alaskan that has ever come to me for help!” Lots of cheers.  “I naively trusted someone I thought was a friend.”  This reference of course was to former Veco CEO Bill Allen who turned on his buddy and served as the prosecution’s star witness.

It was a short gathering.  Only about 1/2 hour.  Well attended by a devoted cadre, who can only be described as being “filled with righteous anger”.  And we learned that there is no way he’s stepping down.  There was absolutely no mention made of Mark Begich, Stevens’ Democratic opponent.  “The feds” are the clear enemy here.  And we know how we feel about THEM.  Just read the t-shirts.

I skated out quickly, and zoomed across town to the open house for Mark Begich.  I’m always glad these things happen at the same time, so I can end my journey in a comfortable venue.  He made a great speech – short but positive, and hopeful.  Young people were everywhere, a great swing band played, there was popcorn.  The room was packed. There was a happy flag cake.  There were no expletives.  Nobody was angry.  It was nice.

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Palin’s “Travelgate” Swings Open – Let the Fallout Begin!

29 10 2008

You know at the DMV, or the deli, when you have to pull one of those little ticket things off the roll, so you know where you are in line? They need to install one of those at the Department of Law in Alaska.

There is so much we never knew about our Governor. Nothing like being under the national magnifying glass, accompanied by a mass influx of some of the best investigative journalists in the world, to properly vet a candidate.

It feels like we were just hanging out at home, minding our business, and all of a sudden several hundred FBI agents descended on our house with fine-toothed combs, and electronic devices, and fingerprint gathering tools. We find out we may have been the victim of a crime and we didn’t even know it! Go figure.

Well, those metaphorical FBI agents (aka journalists) did a really good job. They even looked under the bed, and in the back of the sock drawer. They looked in the freezer, and they found that secret cubbyhole under the floorboards. They may not have found everything, but they sure made us think about all those other places we might look, now that we know.

Now that all these little Sarah Palin scandals have been excavated by the national press, there they lie. Right there on our dining room table with little color-coded evidence tags. They just sit, waiting for someone to come along, pick one up, examine it and say, “Heeeey. I didn’t vote for this!”

We were all promised “open, honest and transparent” government from Sarah Palin, and we find, to our amazement that what we actually got was a big steaming pile of just the opposite. Time to start taking numbers.

The first one to pull his ticket off the roll is Frank Gwartney, a retired lineman who lives in here in Anchorage. Let’s call him “Frank the Retired Lineman”. It makes him sound like one of those people Palin says she’s accountable to. He is “tired of the hypocrisy that exists in Government,” and thinks, “people need to know the truth.” This reminds us of that famous pre-VP quote that defined Sarah Palin’s rise to Governorship, “Hold me accountable.” Apparently, Frank was listening.

The complaint against Governor Palin, alleges Misuse of Official Position: “Gov. Palin attempted to and in fact did use her official position for personal gain by securing unwarranted benefits for her daughters…” All the allegations contained in the complaint are related to state reimbursed travel.

In Alaska, ethics complaints filed against the Governor are confidential. “We can neither confirm nor refute that a complaint has been filed against Governor Sarah Palin. Any complaint remains confidential unless the person being charged waives confidentiality or if the complaint progresses to the state of probable cause,” Assistant District Attorney, Dave Jones told CBS News.

Bristol, Piper and Willow, Palin’s daughters, accrued $32,629 in travel expenses while Palin’s husband Todd raked up $22,174 – all billed to the state for a total of $54,803.00.

“The Governor’s office has expended $54,803.00 in Alaska state dollars for family travel since December 2006,” according to the Governor’s Administrative Services Director, Linda Perez. “The documentation related to family travel has changed and you have to keep in mind that the governor and her family are very popular,” added Perez.

Sharon Leighow, Deputy Communications Director, said “Governor Palin followed state policy allowing governors to charge for their children’s travel and there’s also the expectation that the first family participate in community activities across the state.”

We all know the drill. Here’s what happens next. Attorney General Talis Colberg will refer the complaint to…..The Personnel Board. Those guys are busy these days! Still wrestling with the second incarnation of the Troopergate investigation, they now have another item on their expanding “To Do” list. Then the board decides if the conduct would violate the ethics ace if it were found to be true. If it would, then they go through the process of hiring an independent investigator. Much happens out of the spotlight, but after interviews, and evidence gathering, and when the board reaches a decision, they make recommendations to impose penalties, and/or disciplinary action. The process may take several weeks, or several months.

Governor Palin would be advised to get used to this. Grassroots discontent can be a formidable thing. You never know who will show up to pull the next ticket. Frank Gwartney? Who’s that guy?  The answer is:  The first guy in line.

Anyone worried that Alaska political junkies will have nothing to talk about after this election can rest easy.

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Human Obama Logo in Anchorage – Video

29 10 2008

Here is the video from last Saturday’s event in downtown Anchorage! Hundreds of Obama supporters gathered in the freezing cold for over an hour to send this video postcard to their fellow Americans “outside.” Enjoy, and pass it on!

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ACORN Speaks!

29 10 2008

If you believed John McCain and the Republican Party, you’d think that ACORN is a subversive, sinister organization specifically designed to allow Mickey Mouse (whom they have registered to vote) to systematically tear apart “the fabric of our Democracy”, strand by strand….

Nevermind that anyone who actually went to vote while representing themselves as Mickey Mouse would doubtless get caught, and also be committing a felony.  I mean, come on….what’s a felony these days?  Look at Ted Stevens!  He’s got seven and he’s still running for the United States Senate with the blessing and support of the Alaska Republican Party!

Also, the GOP would like you to please pay no attention to the fact that John McCain himself was the keynote speaker at a 2006 rally cosponsored by ACORN. And don’t listen when he looks at the crowd of people wearing red ACORN t-shirts, “What makes America special is what’s in this room tonight.” That would just confuse you, dear voter.

Today, ACORN will be releasing its first TV ad, just so you can see how scary they are, and look at all their heinous democracy-fabric-ripping.

This week, ACORN will be on the offense in the media, for a change. With less than a week left until Election Day, they will try to dirve the media’s focus to protecting people’s right to vote, and exposing real cases of GOP voter suppression, while pushing forward with historic “Get Out the Vote” efforts. Voter fraud is a red herring. Voter suppression is a real threat.