Oregon Mudstock!

5 12 2008
Thanks to Mudflatter pdx mb in Oregon for reporting back about the Oregon Mudstock!  Sounds like they had a lovely afternoon, and how cute is that Littlest Mudflatter??  Looking forward to reports and photos from Southern California, Anchorage and the Inauguration in D.C. coming soon!
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Our Oregon Mudstock was an intimate, but enjoyable affair. We met in Tualatin Oregon (northern Willamette Valley, but south of Portland) on Sunday following Thanksgiving. Perhaps the timing made it difficult for others to make it. We know you were all with us in spirit. Probably the unbelievable gorgeous weather didn’t help. Don’t tell anyone, because we want to keep it a secret here, but Oregon has some of the best autumn weather you can find. In between those infamous gray rainy days, we have days with crisp blue skies, brisk-but-not-frozen temps and even some fall color that may rival New England this year. Okay, I’ve never been to New England, but the trees have been stunning this year! Anyway, our Oregon Mudstock fell on one of these days…
 
Attendees included pdx mb (occasional poster), Jeanine and Susan (don’t have your mudflats names, but both say they are mostly lurkers), and the star and youngest member of our group, Pearl (no mudflats name and too young to post, alas…). Susan brought us a gift of her Obama postcards that she had printed and used for various campaign activities. Pearl had a darling Obama silkscreened tee shirt, and Susan was also wearing a beautiful necklace of an Obama logo carved in wood. At that point we were all still hopeful that Jim Martin might still pull off a victory in Georgia, hopeful about Merkley’s future performance in the Senate, and encouraged by PE Obama’s very presidential actions. Can we have the inauguration already?
 
We also delighted in the knowledge that our Oregon group also includes one Anne Kilkenny (no relation) and another member with ties to Wasilla (her aunt and uncle owned a store for many years before the strip mall invasion). We’re sorry they couldn’t make it. There’s chatter about an inaugural mudfest…
Dutifully reporting,
pdx mb




Come to the Muckraker’s Ball!

5 12 2008

muckrakers-ball

If you’re not busy on Saturday night, or even if you are, make plans to attend the 2008 Muckraker’s Ball & Award Ceremony!  No, alas, I had nothing to do with putting together this fabulous event, even though I’d love to take credit, and the name does seem fitting….

Each year Cook Inlet Keeper, an organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Cook Inlet watershed and the life within it, chooses one deserving Alaskan who has spoken truth to power, and works to hold the government and corporations accountable for their actions.  Isn’t that a nice concept?   To this individual Cook Inlet Keeper bestows the honorary title  of “Muckraker of the Year.”  This year, the recipient is the amazing and incomparable Dr. Ricki Ott, “whose groundbreaking work has played a vital role shining a necessary light on the politicians, bureaucrats, and Exxon Corporation executives who have labored to cover up and ignore the devastation of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.”

Believe it or not, we are approaching the 20th anniversary of that event whose after effects are still being felt by residents of the Sound, fisherman, wildlife, and all who hold to that area as a symbol of wildness and beauty.

Dr. Ott will be signing copies of her new book, “Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.”

And who is up to emceeing this festive and auspicious event?  None other than Air American radio personality and Alaska blogger, Shannyn Moore!   It will no doubt be loads of fun, and promotes the good work of one of my most favorite organizations.

And to share a small bit of the spirit of Prince William Sound, the site of the Exxon disaster, I’ve added some pictures to the Flickr stream that you’ll find at the bottom of the sidebar.  Enjoy.





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!





The Governor of Alaska and the Queen of Georgia.

29 11 2008

chess

Tomorrow, Sarah Palin, like all of us, will make certain decisions about what to do with her time. She, like all of us, will decide where to put her energy and focus and attention. She has a newfound power and ability to influence decision-making on a populist level. And she has made decisions about how she wants to do that.

Tomorrow, Sarah Palin will fly to Georgia to use her influence on behalf of Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss. She will appear at four campaign rallies speaking to thousands of voters on his behalf. The run-off election between Chambliss and his Democratic challenger Jim Martin has become an epic struggle, the outcome of which may decide whether Democrats walk away from this election with a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate.

The holy grail of 60 seats has not only elevated the Senate race in Georgia to Olympic proportions, it has focused the magnifying glass on the laborious and exacting recount in Minnesota, and has kept Republicratic-independent Senator Joe Lieberman in his plum committee chairmanship for fear of making him mad and losing him to the dark side entirely. It is politics. It is a chess game. It is, as our current President would call it, “strategery.”

But, as political candidates, and strategists, and voters often do, we get deep into that dark forest of strategy and we no longer look at the trees. To many, Chambliss is a political pawn in this Senatorial chess game, who has suddenly made it to the other side of the board, and now has all the significance and power of a Queen. To others, including Max Cleland, the man who ran against him last time, he is more than that.

Matt Zencey was kind enough to do my homework for me today. In the Alaska Notebook, he reminds us:

Chambliss was elected to the Senate in 2002 by running one of the most reprehensible campaigns of modern times. He was up against incumbent Democrat Sen. Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran who lost both legs and his right arm to a grenade during that conflict.

Chambliss avoided serving in Vietnam. He got four student draft deferments, and when his number finally came up, he was medically disqualified with knee troubles.

In the best Karl Rove fashion, Chambliss the draft-evader attacked Cleland the war hero for being soft on terrorism. Distorting Cleland’s votes about workplace rules for the new Homeland Security Department employees, Chambliss portrayed him as a tool of terrorists like Osama bin Laden.

Here’s how the Almanac of American Politics (2006) described it:
“Chambliss ran an ad, much attacked in the press, showing pictures of Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Max Cleland, and saying that Cleland ‘voted against the President’s vital homeland security efforts 11 times.’” (Those “vital homeland security efforts” Cleland opposed were intended to strip homeland security employees of union rights and other workplace protections.)

The man who couldn’t bring himself to serve in the military said a man who left three limbs behind in war was a weakling who would turn the country over to terrorists.

I have no doubt that our Governor is proud of her son Track, who recently enlisted in the army. She wears her blue star pin, and I’m sure there’s not a day that goes by that she doesn’t wonder about his welfare, and worry about his safety as all mothers would worry about the welfare of the child that first made them a parent. She thinks about the military differently than she used to, because she now has very precious “skin in the game.” So, I wonder. I wonder how it is that she, and so many others including John McCain who have a personal narrative that is touched by war and conflict, can stand next to Saxby Chambliss and see him as nothing but the shiny new Queen in the chess game.

And while America prepares to witness the most historic Presidential inauguration of our lifetime, and children of every color look at their TV screen at our new first family and think, “Yes, I can” maybe for the first time, we hear again from Senator Chambliss. Here’s what he said about the neck-and-neck race that brought about this run-off election.

“There was a high percentage of minority vote,” Chambliss told Alan Colmes on Fox a couple weeks ago, “but we weren’t able to get enough of our folks out on election day.”

“WE weren’t able to get enough of OUR folks out on election day.” Who is “we”? Who are “our folks”?

During the fall Senate campaign, Chambliss cautioned his followers that “the other folks” are voting. The senator added that the “rush to the polls by African-Americans” has “got our side energized early, they see what is happening.”

In Chambliss’ world it is “our side” vs. the African-Americans. Our folks vs. the minority vote. I am tired of Chambliss’ world. I am tired of racially divisive politics and the words that keep it alive. It was Gandhi who said, “Words become our deeds.” This country has had enough of those words, and those deeds. And this country has had enough of those who support them. This is not a chess game.

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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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Protesters in Alaska Stand for Love, and Oppose Prop 8.

13 11 2008

It’s been a few weeks since Anchorage had a good rally.

This Saturday, Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and straight citizens will take to the streets of Anchorage and Fairbanks to protest the passage of Proposition 8, California’s anti-same sex marriage amendment, and the lack of LGBT equal rights in Alaska.

Tens of thousands of LGBT people and their allies have taken to the streets to show outrage with the outcome of California’s Proposition 8. Prop 8 is a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage, taking away a right that was granted before the vote. Same-sex marriage bans also passed in Arizona and Florida. The outcome of these propositions has angered the national gay community and their supporters.

To date, more than 250,000 individuals have pledged to take part in a nationwide event to descend upon the City Halls, State Capitols and the Nation’s Capitol to make their voices heard. Signs, posters and numerous websites have already been created and the word is spreading quickly throughout the nation.  Jointheimpact.wetpaint.com lists protest locations in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.

The message is simple and profound:  Equal Rights for All.

The organizers of this nationwide event stress that these will be peaceful demonstrations. “Let’s move as one full unit, on the same day, and let’s show the United States of America that the LGBT community are also United States citizens equal in mind, body and spirit and deserving of full equality under the law.”

The Protest / Movement is scheduled to take place across the nation  on Saturday, November 15th, 2008. Those interested in attending this historic event may find their local protest location by visiting: http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com

ANCHORAGE
Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008; at 12 p.m. Noon
550 W 7th Ave. in front of the Atwood Building

FAIRBANKS
Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008; at 9:30 a.m.
800 Cushman Street, City Hall





Palin Ignores Mosquitoes at Her Peril.

11 11 2008

Turns out there was just too much in that little 9 1/2 minute interview to cover in one day. This is installment #4 in picking apart Sarah Palin’s interview by the Daily News and KTUU in her Wasilla home on Sunday.

I found this particular question to be quite fascinating…probably because I was involved personally in the incidents discussed. I covered extensively the protest rallies in Anchorage that occured while Palin was on the campaign trail. I’ll recap, just to clarify:

1) Alaska Women Reject Palin – This rally happened at the Loussac Library and had about 1500 attendees, mostly women. Nobody had ever seen anything like this. Anchorage rallies usually manage to round up a couple dozen people…if they’re lucky. This was epic. There was a sea of homemade signs slamming her positions on reproductive rights, aerial wolf hunting, troopergate, global warming and croneyism. Anyone at that rally knew that something had awakened in the Alaskan people, that had resulted in something unexpected – an engaged citizenry.

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2) Alaskans for Truth Rally – This rally happened at the Park Strip in downtown Anchorage, and had approximately 1800 attendees. The focus of this rally was to hold our Governor accountable for her actions, and to demand the immediate resignation of Alaska State Attorney General, Talis Colberg. Colberg advised state employees that they could disregard legislative subpoenas, and they did. Sarah Palin had promised to cooperate with the Legislative investigation, and she didn’t. The organizers were wondering if that first rally was an anomaly. They wondered if they could pull off a repeat. They did, and more. Speakers included local activists, progressive media, Republicans, representatives of the Native community and the Alaska State Troopers, and even Walt Monegan’s mom. The other purpose of this rally was to show support for former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan, independent investigator Stephen Branchflower, and State Senator Hollis French, all of whom had been mercilessly and unfairly slandered in the media by Palin and her mouthpiece, Meg Stapleton.

This rally got much more media coverage than the first one, and resulted in Mudflats having its busiest day ever, with more than 1/3 of a million hits in 24 hours. It was covered by the Anchorage Daily News, CBS, national blogs, local blogs and all local TV stations. The national coverage was not massive, but it was significant, and it’s doubtful that this went unnoticed by Palin, and it certainly didn’t go unnoticed by her staff still in Alaska.

So, yes….I was curious to see how Palin would answer this question.

Q. Governor, were you aware that during the campaign there were some large protests in Anchorage against your candidacy, as well as your handling of the Walt Monegan issue? What do you think about that and what can you do to bring those people back?

Palin: To bring those people back in terms of…..and I wasn’t aware of the protests ’til like after they happened. I’d hear about it. A friend emailed me or somethin’ sayin’ there were placards out there saying whatever they’d say. (waves hand dismissively) I think that’s the nature of a a national level campaign also some you know they evidence of that the opposition to our ticket on the national level that that’s going to be expressed here on the local level too.

The thing that really got me was the hand wave. She brushed us away like a mosquito. An annoyance. Not worthy of even breaking out the flyswatter. I hope this will be Palin’s big mistake. She underestimates those who have defected. Her approval ratings went from over 90% when she was first elected, to about 60% now. When one third of your supporters turn, it can make life difficult, especially when that 30% is angry, riled up, and out to change things.

An interesting thing has happened during this election, especially for progressives. All of a sudden, we feel like we’ve made a difference. We feel like we’ve taken our country back from the brink of something that no longer looked like the America we learned about in grade school. We have ushered in to office, the first African American president, who is a northerner, an educated, literate man with progressive ideals, and we’ve done it $5 or $25, or $100 at a time. We’ve seen a grassroots movement that actually shaped not only the future of our nation, but the future of the world. It feels pretty good.

My hunch is that this feeling is not going to help the likes of Sarah Palin. Why? Because people feel empowered to make change. I don’t know if Alaskans will sit idly by while our Governor charges the state per diem to sleep in her house, or charges the state for her children’s one way tickets and fancy hotel rooms, or while political appointments are based on religious idealogy and/or presence in the Wasilla High School year book. I don’t know if we’ll be willing to swallow an administration that fires people and sullies their reputations because of a personal vendetta. I don’t know if Alaskans will forget the “other” Sarah Palin who incited cries of “Kill him!” when she said that our President Elect was “palling around with terrorists.” I don’t know that Alaskans were able to deposit their permanent fund checks, and their energy rebate checks this year, and square that with watching our Governor sling accusations of “socialism” like it was a four letter word, and “spreading the wealth” like it was a moral crime.

Who knows. Maybe I’m wrong. Alaskans have surprised me before….like when they voted en masse for a convicted felon.

But anyone who lives here, does not underestimate the power of a mosquito. There’s a joke that the mosquito is the Alaska State Bird. And when you get a whole lot of them agitated and looking for blood, you can definitely affect some kind of change in behavior. I’ve seen a giant bull moose standing in water up to its nostrils just to get relief from big black clouds of those pesky little creatures. So why not a state government?

mosquito1

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Vote Count in Alaska – Volunteer Opportunity!

9 11 2008

For all Alaskan Mudflatters, here is an opportunity to participate in the final vote count. No, our election is not over yet, and all the early votes that came in between October 31 and November 3, plus a steady stream of absentee ballots being received by mail, and “question” ballots still need to be counted.

Vote monitors are needed to help in Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla, Nome, and Anchorage.

If you can offer some time to help with this effort, please contact one of the following:

Mark Begich campaign: info@begich.com or featherlybean@gmail.com

Alaska Democratic office: info@alaskademocrats.org

Ethan Berkowitz campaign: info@ethanberkowitz.com

Thanks for considering one last way you can participate and help every vote be counted in this historic election!

UPDATE: Looks like this effort is fully staffed! Thanks to all who stepped up!  **The Begich campaign is looking for a list of backup help should the need arise, so feel free to contact them.**





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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Palin Returns to Alaska to Vote. Democrats Will Greet Her!

3 11 2008

Calling all Mat-Su Valley Progressives, and early birds within driving distance from Wasilla!

In the wee hours of the night, Sarah Palin will fly in to Alaska to vote first thing Tuesday morning at her home polling place in Wasilla, then she will fly back out immediately afterward to be with John McCain for Election Day.

Those irrepressible Mat-Su Democrats have put out the call to join them for a sign waving event between 7am and 8am by Wasilla Lake! Bring your best signs, and join in! This is the best chance you’ll get to make an “in your face” election day statement.

So set that alarm clock (you’re not used to that extra hour of sleep anyway, right?), grab a thermos of coffee, hit the road, and join the rest of the intrepid souls that will be using all that great election day energy on the side of the road in a town that never knew it would be famous.

Anyone going, please send pictures ASAP and I’ll get them out there to a wider audience.





Mudstock II in Chicago!

2 11 2008

Today in Chicago, a group of dedicated Mudflatters gathered for the second, in hopefully a long line of Mudstock events!  I was so thrilled to get the photos and great write-up of yet another real-life get-together of the Mudflats community!  Here’s the writeup from ‘Bec Hussein of Illinois’ complete with pictures from Bec and Shikago! 

To make things interesting, three of the Mudflatters’ screen names are “Chicago”, “Chicago” and “Shikago”!  You can have fun figuring it out!

Well Chicagos, Shikago, and Chicagoans, the rest of us were with you in spirit!  Thanks for sharing your wonderful afternoon with us.

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I’m heading back to the burbs on a train packed with Bears fans (yay – they won today) and American Girl Place visitors. I just had the loveliest experience, thanks to Mudflats, and that was attending our impromptu Mudstock II – Chicago. With a “can do” attitude, Shikago, Chicago, and I (Bec Hussein of Illinois) decided that a pre-election meet-up was possible. Shikago jumped into the planning full force, and surprised us with many special mementos for the day.

The appointed hour was 11:30 AM, Sunday, November 2. The gathering place was by what we all call “The Bean” in Millennium Park, just west of Lake Michigan in downtown (The Loop) Chicago. The magnificent sculpture is actually named “Cloudgate.” But we all have come to call it The Bean because of its bean shape. It is fast becoming one of Chicago’s most famous landmarks. We opted for it over gathering at “The Picasso” in Daley Plaza, where in past decades such a meet-up would most likely take place.

First on the scene was Shikago, with his cart of equipment featuring a small American flag. My daughter (Mudflats lurker) and I were happily greeted by Shikago. I pulled on my newly purchased yellow boots, as Shikago told us how the lovely bouquet of balloons he had spent his precious funds on were ordered to the trash bin by a park security person roving around on a Segway. Something about park rules against balloons around the sculpture.  A big disappointment, but we still were quite the attraction with our signs and all. Chicago soon arrived, my yellow boot Mudflats nametags were distributed, and more Mudpuppies came on the scene.

We were joined by Carla, USABarbie, lurker Liz and her husband Walt, and Joe (sorry, didn’t catch his screenname). Next,  arrived our very special guest, Lila Bang-WalMart, fresh from her appearance at Mudstock I in Pittsburg! She was in town for a medical convention and we were so thrilled that she chose to play a little hookey from that to join us, and hold a record for participating in BOTH pre-election Mudstocks! How ironic that Lila was staying at the “W” hotel for her visit here. As a special treat, she transformed herself to a Sarah Palin impersonator, posing for a photo holding the “Elect Walt Monegan Governor” sign that Shikago had made.

Shikago had his tripod set up for the group shots, and we happily posed. There were people all around and we may have received some startling looks, but no one assaulted us. I had printed up a few business cards with the Mudflats address, in case anyone asked about us. I was sorry not one was handed out.

As we walked a couple blocks to the restaurant, we went past the forming lineup of network trucks setting up for the big Tuesday night election rally. Eurovision was doing a live shot of The Bean in one corner.

As we enjoyed lunch at Pizano’s, there was a great exchange about who we were, what we did, where we lived, and of course, all kinds of election thoughts.  Another Mudflatter, (screen name Chicago) found us at the restaurant and she joined in the conversation. A short while later, USABarbie’s boyfriend arrived, another distinguished guest. He is closely involved in the set up of the giant Obama rally for Election Night and shared what a massive configuration of sound and technical equipment is being put in place.

Shikago is sadly without a ticket for the event, but is totally psyched to be part of it and will find a spot somewhere in the massive surrounding vicinity of the tickets-only section. USABarbie will be there too, of course, and I hope some of the massive sound equipment will reach out to wherever Shikago lands. Most of the rest of us have decided we prefer the comfort of our own homes that night, with our TVs blaring and computers whirling on Mudflats and all other possible information-ready Websites.

As we all departed for our trains, busses, planes and automobiles, Shikago presented us with a lovely packet of items he had created – including a Mudstock II tee-shirt iron-on transfer. A very thoughtful and generous person, that Shikago!

All at Mudstock II agree that our fascination and knowledge of Alaska has either been sparked or expanded, thanks to Mudflats. We learned that Joe has done extensive exploration of the State and he was eager to share suggestions of wonderful spots for us all to visit. I hope to head there during the next year. Others have already been, or, plan to return in the near future.

In closing, we send our very best Chicago greetings to all the other Mudflatters/Mudpuppies from Alaska and the other “49” states, Canada, Australia, and many places around the world. This has been a most welcoming, encouraging, and sanity-strengthening community during the election. Of course, we couldn’t be prouder to have the next president of the United States, Barack Obama, as a fellow-Chicagoan. We know the road ahead will still be rocky as the country pulls together. As Shikgao said in the special prayer/meditation he wrote and read to us before we ate — our country needs healing. Obama is the one to get this started.

Now that we found Mudflats, there is no way that we can stay away from those crazy Alaskan politics. We have to see a few other chapters of this story played out. Though we all need a little break from the all-consuming obsession that this election has become, we aren’t ready to leave Alaska on its own. So you are going to have Chicago, and all the rest of the Mudflats community, hanging in there to hear AKM report what happens next. We all know how we’d like the story to end! Let’s hope it includes a new Alaskan senator in Washington, an old one off to prison, a former state employee vindicated, and the brakes slammed on any notion that a particular Alaskan governor will be able to “rear her ugly head” in 2012!

Dutifully submitted by:

Bec Hussein of Illinois





Obama Rally in Homer, Alaska!

28 10 2008

Reports and pictures continue to come in from Mudflatters around the state holding rallies and events for Barack Obama.  These latest shots come from Judi Nester, the Homer Obama co-Chair, in Homer, Alaska, a wonderful small town of about 5000 people located on the Kenai Penninsula, about a four hour drive south of Anchorage.

Judi writes:

Some of the things that we have done in Homer is send out 2,500+ postcards to voters in the swing states of Ohio, PA and IN – phone canvass in Ohio and, of course, Homer and walking canvass of the Homer area. Organized a big rally in the Park – called Unite for Peace and Change – which registered voters and gave a forum for people to make speeches about Obama/Biden. We had speakers ranging in age from 17 to 70+. Now like many Obama campaign volunteers, we are engaged in the GOTV effort in Homer.

We were inspired by the Women for Obama event in Anchorage to do our own photo shoot.  The photos and blog about the event in Anchorage was terrific.  We were able to get over 50 volunteers for our own photo shoot yesterday which is about 1% of the population of Homer.

We have been feverishly working here since about April of this year and have a wonderful volunteer base.  I read Mudflats everyday to get an idea of what’s really happening in Alaska politics.  It’s been wonderful, especially with what everyone has been able to do in the troopergate investigation.

I hope, some day after Obama is firmly entrenched in office, he hears about how hard Alaskans have worked for him, and how many of us have used our energy, our time, and our sign-making ability to be out taking his message to the state of Alaska.

A big hat tip to all the intrepid core volunteers for Obama in Homer – Bob, Kat, Elizabeth, Sharon, Frank, Ingrid, Kim, Shannon, Christie and Bob (the photographer).  Also to the Palpitations musical comedy group for their fabulous performances at three events!

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