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!

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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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