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

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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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