Where’s Sarah? The Return of a Classic.

1 12 2008

wheres-sarah1

Back in 2006, the members of the Alaska State Legislature were doing their jobs in the place they were supposed to be doing their jobs, also known as the state capitol, Juneau. The governor, however, didn’t like Juneau much. She preferred to do her job from Wasilla and Anchorage, while collecting per diem payments and living in her own home. I know that the rest of the Legislature who live in the Anchorage area would probably love to do their jobs from home while collecting per diem payments. It’s hard to be away from your family for that long. Juneau can only be reached by plane. It can be difficult. But I’m guessing it would be frowned upon if they did it.

Double-standard aside, Sarah Palin was absent from her place of employment a lot. As a sign of protest, legislators from both sides of the aisle took to wearing a unique fashion accessory. They appeared at the Legislative session wearing buttons that said, “Where’s Sarah?” They realized that it was, in fact, impossible to be effective as a governor if you are not actually present.

This astute political observation couldn’t be more relevant today. Today, Sarah Palin is not in her office. She is not dealing with the affairs of state. She is not working on the gas pipeline, or the dropout rate, or trying to figure out why our gas prices are more expensive than anywhere else in the country. She’s not playing catch-up from all the work she missed while on the campaign trail, and she’s not trying to figure out what to do to keep Alaskans warm this winter. She’s not figuring out what to do about the budget which was finalized when oil was in the $60/barrel range, not the $45/barrel it is now.

So, where’s Sarah? She is on the stump for Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss. She flew out to a private fundraiser last night, and is making four campaign stops in Georgia today. This travel comes on the heels of two months of campaigning out of state, and a recent trip to Florida for the Republican Governors’ conference. Yes, this is only two days (plus travel prep, speech prep, flying time, jet lag, etc.), but once again the Governor has missed the point. It’s what got her in the turkey video. She was unable to step outside the situation and ask herself, “How will this look to OTHERS?” How will it look that after months away trying to run the state from my Blackberry, and a return to a politically divided Alaska with lots of domestic problems that have been on the back burner, that I’m heading off to do more partisan political grandstanding for a controversial Republican candidate on the other side of the continent?” Because, if she had asked the question, the answer would have been, “Bad.”

I was glad to see the Democratic Party in Alaska stand up and say something today. This came from the Alaska Democratic Party:

Anchorage – While Gov. Sarah Palin is out of state again, this time in Georgia campaigning for incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss on the eve of the runoff election, Alaska faces challenges including a lack of leadership from the Governor.

Palin will stump for Chambliss, the draft-evading incumbent Republican who waged a notoriously misleading campaign against a decorated war hero, at rallies Monday in Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah and Perry, Georgia. Palin has been back in Alaska at work for only a few days since running for vice president. “Alaskans need our Governor here earning her salary and working on key problems facing Alaska families,” said Alaska Democratic Party Chair Patti Higgins. Alaska is facing significant challenges, Higgins said, including:

  • Oil prices have dropped dramatically to about $45/bbl from the peak of $144/bbl in July, which threatens the state budget.

  • Alaskans are paying some of the highest prices for gas in the nation, averaging $2.87 per gallon, while the national average is $1.91.

  • The state’s oil production continues to decline, due to falling prices and mature fields.

  • The global credit crunch and falling natural gas prices threaten the Alaska gas line.

  • The State is failing to meet its constitutional obligation to take care of public education as shown by the high drop out rates and the low graduation rates.

  • Many Medicare patients cannot find doctors.

  • There is continued flight from rural villages.

  • Alaska faces the prospect of reduced federal dollars from Washington, D.C.

“Alaska’s challenges are significant, and there is much that needs to be done right now. Our Governor should remember that her primary job is to work on behalf of the citizens of Alaska, not engage in partisan politics in other states,” Higgins said.”Governing is more than creating photo ops. We’d like a commitment that the Governor is working, not just scheduling media appearances.”

Why the press conference? Is this one-day stump that egregious? Isn’t she going to be on the east coast anyway to join other governors as they meet with President Elect Obama on Tuesday? What’s the big deal? I’ll answer that question as my mother would. “Sarah, you’re really pushing it.” And she is. And each time she pushes, more and more Alaskans will push back, and her popularity will continue to slide, and she will continue to play “gotcha” with herself. In honor of the governor’s flight to Georgia, I have resurrected the “Where’s Sarah?” button. I have tried in vain to find an image of the original button, but have hopefully captured the spirit in this new incarnation of an old favorite. To get one, or several dozen, click HERE. And don’t worry Legislators, my customer list is strictly confidential…your secret is safe with me!





Let the Battle of the Political Ornaments Begin!

1 12 2008

thanks-santa

During the election season, I enjoyed taking all sorts of informal “polls”.  I counted yard signs, bumper stickers, buttons on jackets, t-shirts for sale, and all sorts of other indicators of the political climate that had no basis in scientific accuracy whatsoever. They were annecdotal curiosities, but sometimes these tell stories too.

Now that December has arrived, there’s another one I hadn’t anticipated – Christmas ornaments.

An Obama-themed Christmas seems appropriate for the many who enthusiastically supported the president-elect, said Kimberly Harris, one of several selling handcrafted Obama ornaments online.

There are ornaments for sale on Web sites such as etsy.com and cafepress.com. Some feature Obama’s face with notes such as “thanks Santa.” Others simply show the blue and red symbol for change that was used in Obama’s campaign materials. “He’s outselling Sarah Palin 7-1,” she said. “People love him, they really do.”

Happy Holidays to all.





Small Victory for Obama in Alaska

20 11 2008
US PRESIDENT
Total
Number of Precincts 438
Precincts Reporting 438 100.0 %
Times Counted 325054/495731 65.6 %
Total Votes 323820

Baldwin and Castle AI 1652 0.51%
Barr and Root LIB 1575 0.49%
McCain and Palin REP 192631 59.49%
Nader and Gonzalez IND 3757 1.16%
Obama and Biden DEM 122485 37.83%
Write-in Votes 1720 0.53%

Obama did not win in Alaska. Polls had him on an average of about 11 points behind in the weeks before the election. Alas, the numbers reflected in the polls turned out to be worse for Obama in the general election. At one point it looked like McCain-Palin took a whopping 65% of the vote.

With all the excitement of the Senatorial race, all anyone could think about was Begich vs. Stevens. First Stevens up, and Begich down. Then separated by 3 votes. Then Begich up and Stevens down. Begich more up. Uh-oh, Stevens gaining. Begich up again. It was dizzying, and everyone’s laser-sharp focus was trained on those returns.

But there’s one small victory that hasn’t been talked about much. After the whopping 90,000 votes that were counted in Alaska after election day, there was a shift in the presidential race. After the final tally, McCain-Palin won by 59.49%. LESS than 60%. And we can even round down to 59%! I’ll take it.

2008 McCain/Palin 59% Obama/Biden 38%

2004 Bush 61 – Kerry 35
2000 Bush 59 – Gore 28

Obama won the hearts of more Alaska voters than any Democrat in recent memory. And McCain-Palin, despite their surface appeal, with the Alaska Governor on the ticket, frankly, didn’t do all that well comparatively. I’m looking forward to 2012. I think we’re headed in the right direction.





A Mat-Su Teen Speaks Out

18 11 2008

Days in Alaska politics tend to focus on things like the Legislative Council, The Ethics Act, the endless and ongoing vote count in Alaska, the corruption and conviction of Alaska politicians and the latest comings and goings of our Governor… So when something like this lands softly in my inbox, it stops me in my tracks. This is part of an essay written by a self-described “Caucasian high school girl” named Waverli Rainey who lives in Palmer, Alaska. Palmer is the little town that sits right next to Wasilla.

Nov. 4 was a momentous moment for me. I went to the Wasilla Sports Complex for what was called a community event. We were told it was non-partisan because it’s a city building. However, once inside, it seemed as if it was a Republican-only event. Despite this, we stayed. Although I am too young to vote, I sat at the Sports Complex to see who would be the new president. I felt joy as I saw Sen. Barack Obama’s electoral points grow and grow. I clapped for and was impressed by Senator McCain’s graceful speech and his call for unity and support for the new president-elect.

I anxiously awaited what Present-elect Obama would say. Between speeches, a live band played music. However, when President-elect Obama began to speak, those running the event had to be asked to have the band stop so we could hear him speak. Eventually, they stopped playing, but we missed the beginning of the speech. Then half way through this historic speech, former Mayor Keller turned down the audio of President-elect Obama and put on a call from Governor Palin. I certainly understand the desire of Valley residents to hear from the governor, but if this was a non-partisan event, I feel that interrupting the next president was disrespectful. I also feel it did not represent the coming together of America that Senator McCain had only moments before asked his supporters to do.

The event was supposed to be for all parties, for all people, but it didn’t feel like it. I was shocked and offended. The event was supposed to be for supporters of Senators Obama and McCain and no one paid respect to President-elect Obama’s historic moment. Finally, another step toward complete equality and it seemed no one cared.

So the next day I borrowed my mother’s Obama shirt and walked into school wearing my pride on my chest. Finally the campaign was over and I was actively supporting our new president, even though I knew I would be vastly out numbered at school. I expected complaints and qualms about the new president, but I was not prepared for the flat-out racist remarks said openly in the halls and classrooms. I was appalled. While I sat at my desk trying to do my work I could hear my fellow classmates:

“I think we should kill Obama,” one said.

“I hope someone comes up and shoots him in the head,” another would say.

“I hate Obama … he’s black.”

On went the racist words for the full 80 minutes of that class. Angered, I began to think of the injustice of it all and the ignorance of the students I was surrounded by. I wondered where they learned to be so hateful, and I wondered why the teacher never stepped in – why no adult, no student, including myself, had the guts to cut in and say it was not OK. Because it’s never OK for intolerance. It is never OK to cut someone down and dehumanize them because they do not look like you, or think like you, or talk like you, or worship the way you do.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

All men are created equal. All men. That does not mean only if you’re the same color as me, think like me, talk like me, or worship who or how I do. It means regardless of age, gender, race, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or religion – we all have the right to life, liberty and happiness. Guilt does not follow race. All Arab-Americans are not Muslim extremists; being Arab-American simply means their family came from a certain part of the world. All Asian-Americans are not all like Kim Il-sung; Asian-Americans come from countries like China, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore and they are not all the same. All African-Americans are not guilty of the genocide seen in places like Rwanda and Kenya.

If we were all guilty of the sins of our race, then what am I — a Caucasian high school sophomore from Palmer, Alaska — guilty of? Am I guilty of stealing land from their Native owners? Am I guilty of enslaving Africans? Am I guilty of the slaughter of entire races of people? Am I guilty of imprisoning Chinese and Japanese in American interment camps?

As a Causation high school girl, it’s easy to forget things like in America you wear a color — often called black, or white, or yellow, or red, or brown. We do not pick our name or race — we’re not chameleons who can change color at will, it’s how we’re born and raised. Being African-American, or Latino, or Asian-American, or Native American, or Alaska Native, or Arab-American is not a crime. Being Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, or agnostic is not a crime. Wearing a burqa on your head, or glasses on your face, or studying all views of the world and seeing the flaws of all governments is not a crime.

Sometimes I think of a place where all of our languages are mashed together, singing of our own multi-heritage pride; the pride of a truly unified America. A place where we can be proud of our accents because this is how American English sounds, too. A place where there is no more White Power! or Black Power! Where it’s American Power! Or better yet, where it’s Human Power! A place that proudly conjures images of colonists throwing tea into a harbor, Martin Luther King Jr. standing on the steps of Lincoln Memorial, and immigrants working hard to achieve their American dream all at the same time. We are the story of our culture and colors and I’d like us all to take pride in it.

If ignorance and intolerance and bigotry is our past, then Waverli Rainey and those young people like her are surely our future. And we’re going to be OK.

To read the entire article in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, and leave a note of support for Waverli, click HERE.

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President Elect Obama’s First Fireside Chat.

15 11 2008

Welcome to the 21st century.

In addition to regularly videotaping the radio address, officials at the transition office say the Obama White House will also conduct online Q&As and video interviews. The goal, officials say, is to put a face on government. In the following weeks, for example, senior members of the transition team, various policy experts and choices for the Cabinet, among others, will record videos for Change.gov.

[snip]

But online political observers say President-elect Obama’s innovative online fueled campaign will likely evolve into a new level of online communication between the public and the White House–the Internet-era version of President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous “fireside chats” between 1933 and 1944,

“The Obama team has written the playbook on how to use YouTube for political campaigns. Not only have they achieved impressive mass — uploading over 1800 videos that have been viewed over 110 million times total — but they’ve also used video to cultivate a sense of community amongst supporters,” said Steve Grove, head of news and politics at YouTube. “Obama told us in a YouTube interview last year that he plans to have ‘fireside chats’ on video, and we expect his administration will launch a White House YouTube channel very soon after taking office.”

Added Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for government transparency: “We’re living, after all, in the Internet era. This is an individualized version of the ‘fireside chats.’ It’s not delivered between 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. but whenever anyone wants to see it. I don’t know if it necessarily creates transparency — it’s still a controlled, one-way message. But it creates the aura of a much more accessible presidency.”





I am Jealous of a 7-Year Old.

13 11 2008

I came across this story on Crooks and Liars about a 7-year old political blogger named Stanislaw Gunkel.

His first blog post reads:

Welcome to Planet Stas’! This is my blog. And my favorite thing is Lego Aquaraiders. My blog is going to be on Aquaraiders, space and all my favorite things. I am five and a half years old and I’m in Kindergarten.

Apparently, one of his “favorite things” has turned out to be politics, and specifically Barack Obama. He’s been blogging from a kid’s perspective on why he wanted adults to vote for Obama. Here are a couple of my favorites:

You should vote for Barack Obama because McCain / Palin (and Bush) want to keep the war in Iraq going and I don’t think this is a good idea. Senator McCain has supported President Bush in the war in Iraq for the whole time. This shows that McCain would not be a good President because this would give us another Bush in the White House. Instead, vote for Barack Obama because he did not support the war and he will bring our troops home.

But here’s the best one. Remember when Sarah Palin made that snarky comment about bloggers wearing pajamas and blogging in their parents’ basement? Well, maybe she has good reason to fear them, because apparently even a seven-year-old can see through her like a pane of glass.

My mom told me that I shouldn’t base my election analysis on “feelings” (I like him/her) or “beliefs” (I share his/her beliefs) but on logical arguments. She asked me to create my own rational explanations for my support of Obama. Here is one of my arguments:

McCain and Palin are not be qualified to be President / Vice President of the U.S. The President’s job is to do good for the country and the world. To do good for the country, the President must make smart decisions on important situations.

Governor Palin believes the world is 6000 years old. This is absurd. This is not a rational belief. This is a mistake. Scientists, experiments and evidence have shown this to be completely false. Therefore, she is not rational. If she is not rational, she should not be allowed to be President or Vice President.

This kid is good…so good, in fact, that he got a letter from Barack Obama!

Senator Obama’s advice to me:

“Dear Stas, Thank you for your kind words and for your support. I am impressed with your interest in politics, especially at your young age. I encourage you to visit my website kids.barackobama.com to learn more about everything we’re doing to make your family’s future even brighter.

I leave you with three bits of advice that will make your life more fulfilling: Look out for other people, even when it does not directly benefit you; strive to make a difference everywhere you go; and get back up every time you are knocked down.

Thanks again for writing to me. Seeing young people like you who care about making things better inspires me and gives me great hope about the future of our country and our world. Sincerely, Barack Obama”

*ahem* Excuse me….President Elect Obama? Um, I know you’re really busy and all… (looking at the ground) but how about an anonymous Alaskan blogger? My favorite thing is politics too. I like it so much that I don’t even have time to play with my Lego Aquaraiders. I’m a little older than 7, and not quite as adorable as that kid….but….you know….if you have time, maybe you could drop a little note to Planet Mudflats?… (hopeful smile)

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Ahhhhh….. This Makes Me Feel Better.

12 11 2008

I’ve been having mental whiplash since the election.  I vacillate between thinking that somehow, some way, Sarah Palin is going to use her voodoo magic to end up in the White House, and then thinking that there is no more certain way to engender the implosion of the Republican Party than to get her on the ticket.  And back and forth my brain goes, like it was watching a tennis match.

So, I really liked stumbling across this article by Frank Shaeffer, a recovered Republican operative who blogs on Huffington Post.

Who voted for McCain/Palin in bigger numbers than they even voted for Bush/Cheney? Only one shrinking group: uneducated white folks in the deep south and a few folks in Appalachia. Take away the white no-college-backwoods-and/or-southern McCain/Palin vote and the Republicans would have been approaching single digit electoral college oblivion.

Sarah Palin will never hold national office nor will any Republican at the presidential level for a long time to come. Why? Because America has uneducated jerks in it but is not a nation of uneducated jerks. The Republicans are done, hoisted on the petard of their own “southern strategy.”

The Republican Party is only a step away from becoming the fringe of the fringe, identified more with cross-burning weirdos wearing hoods, folks like the Alaska secessionist party, all those gun owners stocking up on assault weapons before the “Socialist/United Nations/Obama/Muslim” conspiracy comes to fruition, than with anything remotely like a serious national political force.

The Republican Party–and I speak as a former lifelong Republican who, up through the 2000 primary campaign supported John McCain and even worked for him by arguing his case on various conservative and religious radio stations–is now the toy of the Rush Limbaugh windbags. These folks include outright crazies (such as Sarah Palin’s Assemblies of God pals who are waiting for Spaceship Jesus to rescue them and/or rooting out “witches” from their midst), white racists and a few not-very-bright attention seekers, including Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity etc.

[snip]

What’s the best defense against the rube/Palin voters derailing the Republican Party forever? If the statistics of who voted for whom are correct, the education of white people in the deep South and their economic empowerment is the best answer. Maybe it will take a black Democratic president to figure out some affirmative action program that can get our southern born-again white underclass into colleges and thereby save the Republican party.

Don’t you feel better too?

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More on Alaska’s ‘Puzzling’ Election Results.

8 11 2008

The Anchorage Daily News has now gotten on the bandwagon casting a critical eye on Alaska’s “puzzling” voter turnout.

Did a huge chunk of Alaska voters really stay home for what was likely the most exciting election in a generation?

That’s what turnout numbers are suggesting, though absentee ballots are still arriving in the mail and, if coming from overseas, have until Nov. 19 to straggle in.

The reported turnout has prompted commentary in the progressive blogosphere questioning the validity of the results. And Anchorage pollster Ivan Moore, who usually works with Democrats, said Friday that “something smells fishy,” though he said it was premature to suggest that the conduct of the election itself was suspect.

With 81,000 uncounted absentee and questioned ballots, some of which will be disqualified, the total vote cast so far is 305,281 — 8,311 fewer than the last presidential election of 2004, which saw the largest turnout in Alaska history. That was the election where Alaska’s selection of George Bush for a second term was a foregone conclusion, though there was an unusually hot Senate race between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and former Gov. Tony Knowles.

Four years later, the lead-in for the 2008 election was extraordinary:

• Unheard of participation in the Democratic caucuses and strong Republican interest in theirs as well.

• A huge registration drive by Democrats and supporters of Barack Obama that enrolled thousands of first-time voters.

• Obama’s historic candidacy.

• Gov. Sarah Palin’s unprecedented bid for vice president as an Alaskan and a woman.

• A race in which Republican Ted Stevens, a 40-year Senate veteran, was facing voters as a recent convicted felon against Anchorage’s popular mayor, Mark Begich, a Democrat.

• A Congressional race in which Republican Don Young, in office almost as long as Stevens, was seeking re-election after a year in which he spent more than $1 million in legal fees defending against an FBI investigation of corruption involving the oil-field services company Veco Corp. Young’s opponent, Democrat Ethan Berkowitz, had been filmed on the state House floor in 2006 demanding an end to Veco’s corrupt practices weeks before the FBI investigation became known. The news clip played over and over as legislators and then Stevens were indicted and convicted, boosting Berkowitz’s status.

 

 

The full article, including reactions from pollsters, the Democratic and Republican parties, the Division of Elections, and progressive blogger, Shannyn Moore.

The fact that this is on the radar of all those mentioned above is a very good thing.  After the last eight years, it’s become more and more difficult for those ‘puzzling’ election anomalies to slip under the radar.  Mark Begich himself set up a legal team to monitor the vote counting to make sure every vote is counted.

So on it goes.  The election in Alaska is not over yet.

 

 





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!

 

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

 

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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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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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.

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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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Line for Obama Paper at the NY Times Building. Wow.

5 11 2008

nyt

This was the scene in front of the NY times Building in NYC at lunch time, people lined up to buy 1 paper each. If you wanted more you had to get back on line. It moved pretty quickly.  At 4:30 on my way
home – the line was about 3 times as long and it was raining, it looked like it was moving a bit slower.

(Photo and description by Debby Szatmari)