Obama Victory Rally at “Mudflats Point”, Grant Park, Chicago.

6 11 2008

Here is a great “on the scene” report sent in by roving reporter Mudflatter Chief Shikago!  What an exciting and historic moment for all of us, but particularly for those lucky ones to be live at the scene.  A huge shout out, and thank you to Chief Shikago for sharing his story.  It makes all of us feel a little bit like we were there too, especially with that great Mudflats sign and Alaska State Flag on site!

 

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Obama Victory Rally at Mudflats Point, Grant Park, Chicago

 

After just 3 hours of sleep, (a regular occurrence leading up to today)  I jumped up at 6am and had my usual 3 cups of coffee while reading Mudflats on my cell and watching MSNBC. I contemplated my mission, 1st Meeting Lurker Liz from Mudstock II for lunch near the Board of Trade. 2nd to get myself, a couple of bags, 2 signs and 9 balloons through what was being called heavy security at Grant Park. Because of the restrictions, I opted to leave my beach cart and folding bag chair home, choosing instead an old airline blanket and tired muscles to move the load downtown. As tired as I felt, I opted to drive rather than taking the train.

 

I made it to the Grant Park garage in record time. Did some final packing and rechecking my camera gear. I grabbed my signs and balloons and started to hike toward Jackson and LaSalle where I met up with Liz. I felt blessed she was willing to meet up with this off the wall radical socialist Hussein supporter again. We had an outstanding lunch. Conversation circled around Mudflats and my sad (at times) existence. Liz is a lovely person and a great listener, as I did most of the talking. We hugged good-bye and promised to see each other again. I set a course for Grant Park at Congress.

When I arrived in line I was amazed that there were only about 200 people in front of me. 2 lines stretched out from Congress at Michigan Avenue. I was in the North side line, for those that didn’t have tickets to the inner stage area. During the wait I enjoyed the company of a mother who had just flown in from Kentucky for the rally, and a gentlemen from Evanston, a suburb of Chicago. I saw a guy who looked like Joe the Plumber, but, he was holding a sign that simply said; TX for OBAMA. Several international journalists stopped to ask us questions, as they worked the lines. It seemed like my balloons were very popular with the photographers as no fewer then 70 photos were taken of them, though the guy with the life size cut-out of Barack won the day.

A high point for me during the 4 hour wait was seeing Ronnie Wo Wo. I have met him once before.  Ronnie is a famous local Chicago Cubs fan who is at every homegame, and is known for his trademark “Wo Wo” sound. So after securing my place in line, I ran out to Ronnie and said; “Ronnie I have to get a photo of us for Mudflats!”, “cool” was all he said. Carolina Procter, of the post tribune sums up Ronnie best, “If Ernie Banks is Mr. Cub, then Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers is Mr. Cub Fan”. A disadvantage to being in line for hours was that all the cities Port-O-Johnnies were inside of the park not out on Michigan Avenue.

 

Finally the line began moving. At security I had to empty my bags. That’s when it was discovered I was trying to smuggle in about 5 pounds of assorted candy. With some “Like you’re really weird mister” looks, I made it inside. Now for the final push to the Northeast corner of the park, just another 4 blocks. I selected a location I thought might be good with equal distance between a monster Jumbotron and those johns I missed while in line.

 

I immediately took out my packing tape and secured the Alaskan Flag and my Mudflats sign to a light pole. Unpacked my camera a shot a photo of Wolf Blitzer speaking on CNN. Then I realized I needed to raise the signs higher just above head level. I spent the next hour untangling my helium balloons.

 

‘Bec Hussein of Illinois’ had printed business cards with the Mudflats web address on them, just in case anyone asked about us Mudflats at Mudstock II on Sunday. I had the 4 she gave me in my pocket and I could have used 50! A continuous stream of people asked me questions about Mudflats and Alaskan politics in general, thankfully I have done a little reading up on the subject thanks to AKM and all of you. The best question came from a Chinese national student in Chicago for studies who I spent and hour visiting with. With a Mudflats card in his hand, my e-mail addy penned on the back, he said, in his best english; “Why you care about Alaska politics” to which I replied “Just because it is a different state does not mean we shouldn’t care about what happens there”, and I explained that “When Alaska’s Governor was thrusted into our nations presidential race it’s only natural that we would want to learn more about that individual” I went into further detail using the civil rights movement as an example of how what happens in a state far away can effect us all. It was interesting to get his take on the possibility of real freedom coming to China, which is, he said, only prevented today by the “Old men”. HHhhmmmm I thought of the Republican party at that point.

 

I finally finished the detangling process and at once tried to launch a 3 inch in diameter Obama sunrise, no luck, I tried again with 3 balloons and almost no ribbon, but it was of no use, too much time had passed and too much helium had escaped since I purchased them the night before. With a slight pain in my heart I put them out of there misery and placed them in the trash can. I grew ever frustrated around 8pm with my AT&T cell service which would not give me a signal cutting me off from my Mudflats posting plans.

 

By now there was barely room to sit with my legs folded. I had a continuous plastic bowl full of candy that I would go around and offer my neighbors. When complemented on this practice I would simply say “This is what good people do”. Every time a state was announced for Obama we all went crazy, even Bashu from China, and a women sitting next to me from Portugal who had flown all the way to Chicago just to be there. It was when Virginia was given to Obama I shed my first tear. I thought of Virginia’s history in the slave trade and how far they’ve come. As each state came in our favor the croud went crazy. Then came the big announcement CNN is calling the election for Barack Obama. Screaming, hugging, jumping up and down it was like being and molecule of water that just reached boil. First 10, then 20, 30 minutes later and you still couldn’t hear yourself think, at some point I remember smelling pot in the air. No, not mine.

 

The crowd fell silent again, when John McCains face took over the Jumbotron. His exausted concession speech was well received with few boos and an occasional thumbs down. It was obvious to all he was a beaten man, more over by his own party, than Barack. When I saw McCain supporters leaving as he started his speech, I felt sorry for him.

 

Then shortly thereafter all of the Jumbotrons in Grant Park switched to Barack being introduced, all except ours at Mudflats Point. About 500 of us ran to a smaller set about a block away, (really bad view because it was crowded already) only to hear a few sentences and “Click” the Jumbotron at Mudflats Point came online with Barack, so it’s back we run. By this time you could hear a pindrop, and everyone would say, “yes we can”, after the President Elects lead. Recalling this today gives me goosebumps. It was an unbelieveable moment, it was OUR moment, and it was OUR time. Before I knew it, his words had ended, far too soon for me. As the music was playing and he and Joe Biden were preparing to leave the stage, I asked a stranger to take my picture at Mudflats Point. Afterward I turned and saluted the Alaskan flag and then donated the signs to the historical society of my mind, sadly I turned and joined the other half a million people to leave that sacred ground.

 

Seeing so many people filling the steets as we left was amazing. Just looking down Michigan Avenue I could see the entire population of Fairbanks before me. 60 people shoulder to shoulder wide. People were scrambling up everything and anything they could find to get to a better photo angle, I saw centerline dividers with 30 people balancing on them, trying not to get the person in front of them in their photo. During my hike to the Jeep this throng would spontaniously begin cheering again. I can still hear it, it’s the sound American’s make after hearing Lady Liberty herself, address our nation.

 

‘Chief Hussein Shikago’

In honor of the President Elect and with a mission accomplished spirit I will now been known as simply: ‘Chief Shikago’

 

(I am not a writer, so please forgive all of my grammatical errors.)

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Author of TheoPalinism on KUDO Today!

6 11 2008

Leah Burton, author of the new book TheoPalinism will be on CC’s show on KUDO today. Should be good!

For the live feed, click HERE.

Burton writes from a unique perspective of being a multi-generational Alaskan who has worked as a lobbyist in Alaska for Family and Children’s Rights, lending her a distinctive view on this debacle.

With an irreverent wink, wink, nod, nod….”Say it ain’t so Joe! Aw gosh – you betcha! Guys and gals!” …and all the other folksy disrespectful colloquialisms Sarah Palin has thrown around as she crossed America on the 2008 presidential campaign trail, insulting all but the fanatics she mobilized…she and her followers have blundered and failed.

The Palin Factor inspired this author to put pen to paper and illuminate just a sampling of the ideologies behind Sarah Palin’s unbelievable rise to the republican ticket as their anointed selection for vice president.

TheoPalinism is ground swell movement that has insidious roots in America and it has taken the
F
undamentalist Religious Right Evangelical Extremist Charismatics (FRREECs) (NOT to be confused with Christians!) over 30 years to infiltrate the Republican Party and find their “Poster Girl”.

The book also includes a chapter contributed by Burton’s father who is a 35 year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers and a retired Commissioner of Public Safety – twice – for the State of Alaska. Commissioner Burton speaks to the real issues embroiled in Troopergate in his chapter that cites the lack of pursuit through proper channels and processes where a complaint such as the Palin family purports to have had with the governor’s brother-in-law, should have been followed.





Crunching the Numbers in Alaska.

6 11 2008

OK…

I’m not generally a conspiracy theorist. I say “generally”, because sometimes conspiracies happen. And sometimes it would be foolish to ignore them. The only thing worse than being labeled a conspiracy theorist, is being labeled a gullible idiot when it all comes to light. So I invite you to hop on board the Conspiracy Theory Express with me for a moment, because it’s pulling out of the station here in Alaska, ready to take you on a five minute tour.

As the final numbers roll in from state and national elections, I and others have noticed some results that are interesting at best, and highly suspect at worst. Either way, they deserve some scrutiny.

Let’s look at the national numbers first. Keep in mind that Alaska’s very own Governor, and the new GOP golden girl, Sarah Palin, was on the ticket. And Barack Obama has excited progressive Alaskans like no candidate before. He had five field offices, great ground organization, and inspired the biggest candidate rally in Alaska history. Voter turnout here was expected to be through the roof and breaking all records.

In 2004, 66% of registered voters turned out to vote in the presidential election between George Bush and John Kerry.

In 2008, including the votes still outstanding, only 54% of registered voters turned out.

And the strangest part of all? Voter turnout in the primaries, before Palin was even on the ticket, was up 12% from 2004. We also had more than 20,000 new registered voters.

Curious.

As these strange numbers rolled in at Election Central, I was there watching. Here’s how it fell out over time.

With 36% of the precincts reporting:
61.76% for McCain
35.64% for Obama

With 81.3% reporting
61.54% for McCain
35.69% for Obama

With 96.1% reporting
61.29% for McCain
35.96% for Obama

Alaska, like many states, has blue areas and red areas. The Mat-Su Valley, home of Sarah Palin is very very red. Anchorage? Blue. The Kenai Peninsula? Red. Juneau? Blue. You get the idea. When I, and my fellow progressive celebrants watched the first numbers come in, we thought, “That must be the Valley”, because the latest polls actually had the presidential race neck and neck with Obama only 2.7 points behind. We kept waiting for the progressive areas of the state to kick in, but they never did. No fluctuations one way or the other more than .3%. And George Bush won the 2004 election her by a margin of…..61-35.

Strange.

Then, we’ve got the two Congressional races.

Ted Stevens vs. Mark Begich. The convicted felon is currently ahead by about 3300 votes, with about 60,000 absentee and early votes left to count. It’s a squeaker, and Begich may pull this one off. By why is it a squeaker when the last poll had Begich 22 points ahead? He’d been running at a dead heat in the polling before Ted’s conviction, but after the seven felony convictions came in, Begich’s lead widened considerably. Pretty stunning turnaround for Stevens.

Remarkable.

How about Ethan Berkowitz vs. Don Young for the Congressional seat?

Berkowitz consistently led Young in every single poll since May by 5-14 points. Contrary to this comfortable and consistent lead, Don Young managed to pull off a stunning upset by trouncing Berkowitz by more than 7 points.

Amazing.

And since history is always our best teacher, let’s look back at the 2004 elections in Alaska. The majority of precincts had voter turnout of over 100%. In some cases, voter turnout was over 200%. Either Alaskans are enthusiastic about their vote to the point of breaking the law and voting twice, or there’s something very very wrong.

(From Shannyn Moore) There are 40 districts in Alaska. The Anchorage area districts run from District 17 to District 32. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and pick any district from 17-32. Pay particular attention to the 3rd column labeled % turnout. Hit the back arrow and select another district. There are more precincts with voter turnout over 100% than under 100%. In other words, many more people voted in Anchorage area precincts than there were registered voters. Clearly, this is not possible. In 2006, the Democrats filed a lawsuit against the Alaska Division of Elections to release public records needed to verify the 2004 election results. The Democrats ALSO sought to have the Alaska Division of Elections release the raw election data for the 2006 election.

It’s been more than 24 hours since the polls closed in Alaska, and the red flags are already waving.

OK, the Conspiracy Theory Express bus 5-minute tour is over, and you may now hop off. This was just a test drive. Keep your eyes on how the final numbers turn out. Democracy requires vigilance, and hopefully our state candidates will not be afraid to stand their ground. The Obama campaign had a team of lawyers at the ready in case election fraud was detected. It’s a wise precaution, and an obligation to the electorate whose fundamental rights hang in the balance. If I were Ethan Berkowitz or Mark Begich or Barack Obama, I’d make sure I took the process to the end, and took advantage of the media spotlight which still shines on our state, before it vanishes, and we are left to sort out our election questions in the dark. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

UPDATE – Here’s some new coverage on this topic from The Washington Post and from 538.com.

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Palin on Stevens. Let the Back-Pedaling Begin!

6 11 2008

Here we go.  Alaskans were wondering how Palin was going to deal with her condemnation of Senator Ted Stevens now that she realizes that close to half of Alaskans still voted for him despite the fact that he is a convicted felon.  This puts her squarely at odds with public opinion, especially Republican public opinion.

Seems as if she’s leaned over and extended a hand to Uncle Ted, to help him out from under the bus.  Will he take it?  Too little too late?  We’ll wait and see.  In the meantime, let the back-pedaling begin!

Ms. Palin faces some complicated political dynamics now that she has returned. Some state Democrats, often her allies in the past, have been angered by her aggressive partisanship on the campaign trail. Then again, Ms. Palin has criticized some important local Republicans, too.

Last week, after Senator Ted Stevens was convicted on federal charges that he failed to disclose gifts and free home renovations he received, Ms. Palin joined Mr. McCain and other top Republicans in calling for him to resign. Yet while Ms. Palin lost her bid for the vice presidency, Mr. Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, holds a narrow lead in his bid for a seventh full term.

Asked Wednesday whether she still believed that Mr. Stevens should resign, Ms. Palin was circumspect, saying only that the people of Alaska “just spoke” on the issue at the ballot box and that “they want him as their senator.” She said Mr. Stevens should decide “what happens next.” (Mr. Stevens could still be forced to step down, and Ms. Palin is widely viewed as a potential candidate for his seat if he does.)

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Sarah Palin Lands in Anchorage. I Almost Freeze to Death.

6 11 2008

I will never do that again.  I will never stand in the freezing cold for two and a half hours for Sarah Palin.

I got word that Palin’s flight was coming in and that the “public” was invited to attend her welcome home.  I arrived a little before 8:30, when the flight was scheduled.  Shortly after arrival, the crowd of about 150 were told that the flight had been delayed until 9:00.  Then the gates were slid open and the crowd was funneled out on to the tarmac into an area that was sectioned off with parked vans on one side, and ropes on the other side.  The crowd seemed particularly excited.  There were lots of families with small children carrying signs like “We Love Our Gov”,  “Sarah Rocks” and “We’re Proud of You”.  Not nearly as creative as the signs at the Alaskans for Truth Rally, but they got their message across.

gov1

So we stood, and we waited.  We watched our breath make clouds illuminated by the media lights. Every time a plane was seen taxiing, the crowd erupted.  I got stuck next to a screamer again.  This time it was a woman, and every time she let out a “WOOOOOOOOOO!” it made my ear drum rattle. 

All of a sudden someone shrieked, “It’s the Lieutenant Governor!!”  “Where?” someone yelled.  “Behind you!”  I turned around and there I was….face to face with Sean Parnell! Three or four women screamed like  Lieutenant Governor groupies.   “You are doing such a wonderful job!” one woman gushed. “And you’re so much better looking in person!  That’s why I didn’t recognize you! Can I get my picture taken with you?” (vague nausea set in, and I drifted to another part of the crowd).

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell aka Caribou Ken

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell aka Caribou Ken

There was no doubt when the actual plane arrived.  It had a giant blue “McCain  Palin” on the side.  It came to a stop a little distance away. They rolled the stairs up to the side of the plane, the door opened and people started coming down.  The crowd went wild.  It was the press.  More people.  More screaming.  It was staff.  Chants of SAH-RAH, SAH-RAH!

Finally Sarah and Todd stepped off the plane, and down the stairs, Sarah teetering on the most rediculous shoes I’ve ever seen in my life.  Let me just say….Sarah Palin knows Alaska.  She knows what it’s like when it’s 10 degrees in November at the airport, but there she was tromping through the snow cover  in 5 inch black stiletto heels.  She reminded me of a little girl playing dress up, the way she walked. 

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She was all smiles, waving at the crowd, and working the audience.  She stopped to see the “public” before making comments to the press.  We heard about how she traveled all over “this great country” with Senator McCain, and everywhere there were people just wavin’ Alaskan flags, and Senator McCain understands about Alaska and Alaskan trade, and Alaskan energy, and Alaskan seafood….  Then she said that it was time that we all supported our new President…President Obama.  Wow.  Didn’t see that one coming.  The lady next to me said, “Isn’t she sweet?  She’s so nice telling us to support him even when she doesn’t mean it. Awwww. It’s never about her, is it…she wants what’s best for the country.”   Luckily my feet were frozen in place or I would have fallen over.   Then she said how now we needed to teach our new president about Alaska, and Alaskan trade, and Alaskan energy and Alaskan seafood…  “Because,” she said, “at the core of our campaign, my message to them was ‘We’re Alaskan!'”  Hmmm.  I must have missed that core message somewhere between Bill Ayers and Bill Ayers.

Then she teetered off to go talk to the press who were set up about 30 feet away. 

gov2

While she was gone, the crowd was a-buzz. “She’s so nice!” “Isn’t it amazing how she can speak off the cuff like that?!  And she’s so good at it!”  And my favorite exchange from off to my right somewhere:

Woman 1:  I wonder what she’s telling the media?

Woman 2:  She’s probably telling them to lay off her clothes!

Woman 1:  Yeah.  And she looked really good in those clothes.

Woman 2:  She looks good in anything, doesn’t she?

Woman 1 :  Yes. She. Does.

Then more chatter about singing.  “We should sing!  What should we sing?”  “How about God Bless America?”  “No!  Amazing Grace!” “That’s not peppy….How about: (singing) We love you Saaa-rah, oh yes we doo-ooo!  We love you Saa-raah, and we’ll be truu-uue!  When you’re not wi-ith us, we’re BLUE! Oh Saa-raah wee-ee love yooooou!”   At this point I was ready to stick a shiv in my temple.  We were packed in like sardines, and I dared not move or I would lose my reasonably good picture-taking spot so I stayed put.

I started to bounce up and down because my feet were seriously cold at this point.  Finally she finished up with the media, and came back over to the line.  She started shaking hands, and hugging people she knew, and exchanging niceties, working her way down the line, shaking hands, more hugging, and before I knew it, I was right there 2 feet away, and it was obvious I was the next in line to have my hand shaken.  I had to actually recoil to avoid it, and I managed to grab a little girl who was behind me and shove her ahead so it looked like I was being thoughtful, and not because the thought of shaking Sarah Palin’s hand was short-circuiting my brain.  The little girl’s mother thanked me and Palin moved on.

gov6

I was definitely ready to take off.  My toes were starting to really tingle, and it was getting late.  I went to head to the gate, and was stopped by Secret Service.  “I’m sorry, you’re going to have to get back behind the cone.”  I explained how I was really cold and was just heading to my car. “I’m sorry, I’m going to have to ask you to stand behind the cone until the Governor leaves.”  There were several other frozen people, some with little kids, who had already tried this apparently.  No dice.  I was stuck out in the cold behind a fence with a bunch of hard-core Sarah Palin groupies with no escape, and a jammed cell phone.  This was not good. 

I checked Palin’s progress.  She hadn’t gotten far.  She was autographing every piece of paraphernalia, every sign, every t’shirt, every flag that was thrust at her.  More pictures, more hugs.  I was going to be here for a while.  I walked around in the crowd to keep circulation going in my feet, but with no success.  Numbness was setting in.  I found a hot chocolate dispenser in one of the vans blocking my escape.  A man handed me a cup.  I debated whether I should drink it, or pour it on my toes.  I drank it.  It was probably the wrong choice.

It was another 1/2 hour before she waved good-bye to the crowd.  A new chant erupted.  “TWO THOUSAND TWELVE!  TWO THOUSAND TWELVE!”  I allowed myself a little daydream.  What would happen if I started chanting, “O-BA-MA!” at the top of my lungs?  It actually made me giggle out loud through my chattering teeth.  Then, she hopped in the black SUV and headed off to Wasilla. 

“Look, there’s Meghan!”, someone shrieked.  “Where? Where?”  And yes, there she was, Meghan Stapleton herself.  The last time I saw her she was being schooled on good manners by Representative Les Gara.  This was friendlier territory.  “We looove you!  You’re a bulldog Meghan!!”  Stapleton smiled and waved like the Queen…one of those wrist waves.  (Another mind movie in which I yell, “JUDAS!”) 

Gov. Sarah Palin & Meg Stapleton to her right.

Gov. Sarah Palin & Meg Stapleton to her right.

A little girl asked her mother, “Why can’t we go? I’m COLD!”  “We have to let the Governor go first, sweetheart.  She’s going with the police.”  “Why does she need the police?”  “They have to keep people away from her.  She needs to be SAFE from crazy people.”  The girl was about 5.

Palin was finally gone, the gate was open, and me and my fellow prisoners were free!  I ran back to my car and realized on the way that  I couldn’t feel my toes at all.  By the time the car warmed up, they started to tingle, then the excruciating pain, then the feeling of throbbing heat.  No frostbite, but really close.

Once again, I survived a Palin event.  From now on, I’m only doing this if it’s indoors!

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Bedtime in Alaska – Open Thread

6 11 2008

Good night, Mudflatters! I had a busy evening, which I’ll tell you about in tomorrow morning’s post!

Looks like there are several Mudstocks in the offing!

Oregon area Mudflatters who are interested in meeting up, email oregonmudfest@yahoo.com or go start a conversation about it on the Forum board. I started the topic in the Events & Meets section. Click this link –

http://www.themudflats.net/forum/index.php/topic,3461.0.html

And anyone planning on being in D.C. for the big innaugural event on January 20th and want to connect? Email mudstockdc@hotmail.com or pop over to the Forum and join the discussion about this meetup. Looks like there are quite a few Mudflatters ready to make the trip! Try this link:

http://www.themudflats.net/forum/index.php/topic,3434.0.html

I’ve also heard rumblings about a California Mudstock, and a couple others I now forget!

Check the Forum for other meet ups in the Events & Meets room!