Palin is Back at Work.

5 12 2008

I looked at the Anchorage Daily News today, and my first thought was, “Hey, isn’t that the lady from TV?” Yes, indeed, Governor Sarah Palin is back in Alaska and it looks like she’s working!

After the national media descended on Alaska last summer, like ravens on a Wendy’s dumpster, many things were dragged out into the spotlight that otherwise might have lingered in Alaskan obscurity. I think of that bizarre phenomenon like a team of ten or twelve strangers coming into your house and emptying out your closets, taking inventory, and then writing about it.  You’d realize that maybe you had some strange stuff in there, that you had just gotten used to, and other stuff you didn’t even know was in there…but now that you look at it all in the light of day, through someone else’s eyes, you realize that maybe you should have been cleaning out your closets more often.  One of those things was the Palin administration’s record on health care for children and pregnant women.  The national media was not kind in its analysis of how Palin was caring for women and children, and many Alaskans had been furious about it for some time, and felt vindicated by the media analysis from outside the state.

Lawmakers have scrapped for years over Denali KidCare, which provides health insurance for lower income children and pregnant women. Palin last year opposed the push to increase coverage — even though the state was enjoying a huge surplus at the time from high oil prices. It’s one of dozens of policy calls that came under scrutiny as the governor became a national figure in the wake of her nomination this summer for vice president.

Palin, pressed on why she’s now changed her position, kept repeating that it is an opportunity for more children to be covered.

And, as usual, nobody is happy. Democrats think she hasn’t gone far enough, and Republicans think she’s gone too far. But Republicans will likely not stop it, and Democrats will take what they can get.

One of the good things that has come from Palin’s run for VP, is that Alaskans have been forced to look outside the bubble. Those who have felt that Palin’s policies and attitudes were not in alignment with their own, are now realizing that a lot of other Americans out there share their sentiments. It’s hard sometimes to remember that out there is a big wide world that isn’t Alaskan.

We were all expecting, with the price of oil dipping below $40/barrel yesterday, that the state budget was once again going to fall victim to Palin’s dreaded red pen. So this increase in an “entitlement program” in the face of plummeting oil prices, and the coming economic crunch, came as a bit of a surprise. I wonder how much her decisions in the next few years will be made in consideration of that world outside. She has plans for 2012, after all…

Palin will release the rest of her proposed state budget next week and said not to expect any significant cuts. She downplayed the danger falling oil prices pose to the state budget, saying Alaska is in a far better position than other states.

Palin claimed the state could still end up with a surplus even if oil averages $45 a barrel over the next several months.

David Teal, the state Legislature’s chief budget analyst, said that is possible for the current fiscal year that ends in June. But he has doubts. “Oil is falling pretty fast; we don’t know if we’re going to have a surplus or a deficit,” Teal said in an interview. Palin’s new spending plan, though, would start in the next fiscal year — when Alaska oil prices would have to average at least $20 a barrel more than now to balance the budget.

Welcome to the season of tight-rope walking, fiscal wrangling and hand-wringing as we try to pack all that stuff back in the closet.





Sarah Palin – All. Year. Long.

4 12 2008

All year long?

I know what you’re thinking.  Tell me if I’m right.  Is it,

 “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” ? 

Oh, but it’s true.  Our gun-totin’ “Gover-Girl” has her very own 2009 calendar.  Soon to be gracing garage walls all over the Mat-Su Valley, and the southeastern United States…..(drumroll please)…..

cover

Sarah Palin 2009 Photo Wall Calendar 9×12
just $15.95

This high quality 13-month wall calendar features:
Over 50 photographs of Sarah Palin and her family
Never before seen photos
13 pages of high quality gloss paper
Closed dimensions 9″x12″
Pre-drilled hole for hanging
Cellophane wrapped
Produced and printed in the USA

Sarah Palin went from virtual obscurity to huge popularity as Presidential Candidate John McCain’s running mate. Since then she has re-energized the Conservative base of the Republican Party. As a front runner in the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination, she is showing America that she is willing to reform her own party and politics as usual.

Now you can have your very own 2009 calendar featuring never before seen photos of Sarah, with Todd, Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig Palin.

Filled with exclusive photographs by professional photographer Judy Patrick, long time friend, who also served as Palin’s Deputy Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

Why is it not surprising that the woman who is doing the calendar is not only a long-time friend, but that she’s a long-time friend who was ALSO her deputy mayor??  It’s like a double-scoop of croneyism.

And $15.95 for a calendar?  Pretty steep.  Maybe it’s to cover the cost of the  added bonus feature of the pre-drilled hole, or the perhaps the stylish cellophane wrapping…

I have to confess, that while I was expecting a calendar of this sort to emerge eventually, I was also expecting  one of those calendars like the “Bushism-A-Day” ones.  Surely there are enough Palinisms to have a 13-month calendar!  The Gibson and Couric interviews alone are good for a calendar each.

While we wait, Amazon features four  Barack Obama wall calendars, but alas no Joe Biden.  Maybe for 2010.





Palin vs. Murkowski….Another Epic Battle?

2 12 2008

athenaToday an article in Huffington Post has picked up on what could be, in Alaska, an epic battle come next year. In a tale worthy of Greek Mythology, Sarah Palin could be preparing to take on Senator Lisa Murkowski for her seat which becomes available in 2010.

Our story begins In 2002, when Frank Murkowski decided he’d had enough time in the Senate, and came home to Alaska to run for Governor. Murkowski, who had held the senate seat since 1981, won the gubernatorial bid. But who was to take his now vacant place in the senate? In his first wildly unpopular decision as governor, Murkowski appointed his daughter Lisa to the seat. It also became increasingly obvious over time that Frank was not cutting the mustard. Gas pipeline debacles and battles with the Legislature caused his popularity to plummet like a lead balloon. Adding insult to arrogance, he purchased a private jet to fly himself around the state and elsewhere. There was a radio contest to name the jet, and the winning entry was “The Bald Ego”.

Here’s where you picture Frank in a toga, being fed grapes, and fanned by his staff. Every once in a while, he’d make some bombastic proclamation that made the villagers angry, but other than that he had a pretty good life up on Mt. Olympus. Now and then, he’d wave over to the next mountain top where his daughter Lisa was actually not doing such a bad job being a senator according to the villagers. She wasn’t quite so conservative, appeared to be more ethical, worked harder, and actually seemed to care. Go figure.

Then came a young upstart from one of those outlying provinces from whence heroes always come. She was young, ferocious, and beautiful, and she had her eye on that throne. It was promising to be an epic battle. Troops on both sides rallied. Murkowski’s minions dropped their wine jugs and their platters of figs, and grabbed up weapons. They looked at the rag-tag team of outlanders, and decided that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. All they had to do was keep the power they already had. They had the advantage. How hard could it be? But then the primary battle came, and in David vs. Goliath fashion, with one well-placed stone flung by her sling, Murkowski was struck smack between the eyes by the young woman from the village, and went down like a bag of dirt with a 19% approval rating.

After the stunned silence, the rejoicing began. We did it! One of US beat the grape-eating guy who was making everyone miserable! Sa-rah! Sa-rah! Sa-rah! And the Bald Ego went up for sale in the public marketplace, and Sarah reassigned the grape-peeler to another job, and the villagers loved her. They loved the idea of her. It was perfect. We needed a hero and we got one. Of course, over the months, many of the villagers began to see things they didn’t like. The new Queen started to pull people in from the obscure outlying province and put them in positions of power that they weren’t qualified for. People from the village started disappearing, banished to the hinterlands. She got rid of her humble toga, and started dressing more and more like a grape eater. She started visiting other kingdoms far away where people cheered for her, and attending parties far and wide, while her own kingdom suffered. Some of the villagers who were paying attention started to get a little nervous, and then a little disgruntled, and then downright mad.

But others remembered that humble young girl who flattened Murkowski, and refused to give up their dream. Heroes don’t come easy, and heroic tales must stay as they are written, otherwise it would just be too depressing. Alaskans have lost other heroes lately to greed and corruption and hubris, and this one would be just plain heartbreaking.

And now our Queen is looking around. She’s scanning the horizon, looking at other mountain tops, and new thrones, and new lands to conquer. She remembers Lisa, daughter of Frank the vanquished. Lisa rules the mountaintop over there, closer to all those parties, and cheering crowds. That throne might be nice…

But Lisa feels the gaze of the restless Queen, the one who flattened her father with a stone. She has been holding a white-hot hatred for the Queen who is now known as “Murkowski slayer.” It’s uncomfortable to live one mountain away from someone with that nickname when your own name is Murkowski. She’s been stifling her desire for vengeance, but this frontal assault on her own mountain would be just too much.

Murkowski says a run against her would be fraught with risk. If Palin lost, her stock would drop just ahead of a potential 2012 presidential run. And if she won, she’d be a backbencher in a chamber that is dominated by seniority — and would have to begin her presidential campaign as soon as she took office.

“If she wants to be president, I don’t think the way to the presidency is a short stop in the United States Senate,” Murkowski said.

Asked Monday to respond to Murkowski’s comments, Palin’s communications coordinator, Kate Morgan, said only, “The governor has never stated her intention or desire to run for that office.”

True, she has not stated her intention or desire to run for that office. But there’s an awful lot of activity on Mt. Olympus these days. The blacksmiths are busy, the horses are being counted, and the royal court has a strange glint in their eyes. And one thing we do know is that Queen Sarah’s restless nature is no longer content on her own mountain. Her destiny lies elsewhere. She likes the thrill of the battle, and the villagers know that Queen Lisa’s mountain is the most advantageous to conquer.

So what will the villagers do when 2010 comes? Whose side will they choose? The discontented villagers who’ve been paying attention to Queen Sarah and seeing the same arrogance and hubris that took down her predecessor will rally behind Lisa who has been doing better than her father. Others, who love their heroes, will remember how Lisa got to be Queen of her mountain, and they will remember her father the grape-eater with the jet, and the epic saga of the battle won for the people by that unlikely girl with the sling.

And others of us are still waiting for a brand new, and as yet unknown hero to arrive, and slay them both.





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!





Joe the Plumber Won’t Go Away Either.

29 11 2008

The two people that most of America was hoping would become footnotes in history, or questions in Trivial Pursuit after Election Day, continue to prove that they will not go gently into that good night.

First we had Sarah Palin on the “Victory Tour” with Larry King, and Matt Lauer, and the Governor’s Conference in Florida, and the turkey slaying, and the “Thank you Sarah Palin” TV commerical, and her newly planned trip to stump for racist fear-monger, Saxby Chambliss…

And now….he’s baaa-aaack!  I speak of Joe the Plumber.  I picture him and Sarah Palin as a set of bookends that John McCain used to try to prop up his flagging campaign, and they were the cheap kind of bookends that aren’t very heavy and don’t have that little thing that you slip under the books to hold them up.  In other words, they were for show, and they didn’t work for squat.

Nevertheless, they continue to sit there on the shelf and annoy us, and we have to keep looking at them.

The commentary from Cenk Uygur makes this one bearable. I wonder if Joe will show up in Georgia on Monday? It actually wouldn’t surprise me.

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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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Would You Rather Freeze to Death, or Be a Socialist?

28 11 2008

On Thanksgiving weekend, when Americans are thinking of all they have to be grateful for, many are also burdened with worries about the future. Matters as fundamental as keeping warm are very real for thousands of Alaskans living in rural villages where the price of heating oil hovers around $10/gallon. The costs associated with flying heating oil out to rural communities that are off the road system is astronomical. Many communities are experiencing theft of heating oil by neighbors desperate to keep warm, and others in coastal communities are scouring the shore for driftwood to burn. These things are incomprehensible to most Americans, but are a stark reality in Alaska. Many families are abandoning the native subsistence lifestyle that their families have been living for thousands of years, and moving to Alaska’s urban centers because they feel they have no choice. This is causing a whole host of other challenges for the rural communities that are losing residents, and for the urban centers coping with the influx of rural Alaskans coping with culture shock.

For the past three years, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has been donating free heating oil to Alaska villages, and economically depressed communities in 23 states across the country. This has the effect you might imagine in Alaska. Some are deeply grateful. Those are usually the cold people. Others are furious at the gesture from this unapologetic socialist, and either accept the gift begrudgingly, or have outright refused to take it. Those in the latter category are starting to rethink their position facing the hard reality of the coming winter, and the fact that some rural families will be spending in excess of 40% of their income on heating fuel.

I am unsure if the irony of the socialist free fuel dilemma is lost on Alaskans. While some state leaders are squawking that

a) Chavez is a Socialist

b) Socialists are evil

Therefore we should reject them and all they stand for.

They seem to be OK with the fact that

a) Sarah Palin also gave away money for free fuel to all Alaskans in the form of an energy rebate check.

b) This sounds awfully…..socialist

c) Sarah Palin was openly railing against socialism and all things socialist across the country on the campaign trail.

Many say, “We shall forget this comparison because we don’t like cognitive dissonance and we shall not ever admit that a socialist idea has any merit at all, nor that any Alaskan might think we need to be doing the same thing as Hugo Chavez. Humph.”

The main difference, of course, is that Chavez is providing the fuel to rural communities that have at least a 70% Alaska Native population, and Sarah Palin gave it to everyone, including wealthy Anchorage residents who spent it on…whatever.

Speaking of the $1200 energy rebate check issued by Palin,

Anchorage Rep. Bob Lynn, a Republican, said he doubts the state would cut checks again because oil prices are dropping and the payment was meant to be a one-time measure.

Lynn said it’s not right for Alaska to receive oil from Chavez. “We need to be able to take care of our own. The United States needs to do something about this,” he said.

Still, Lynn added later, “It’s one thing for me to speak philosophical thoughts here in the warmth of my home in Anchorage. It’s another thing to have a wife and kids in danger of freezing to death out there.”

Bingo. It’s time for Alaskans and Americans to stop screaming “Socialist!” like it was a four-letter word and get over the reactionary knee-jerk rejection of an entire political philosophy because of the fear of a label. Fear of freezing should trump fear of a word. We need to address these problems using concepts with long-term solutions, and not be afraid to use what works because of how it sounds. And we need to recognize where the need exists most and focus our efforts there.

It’s going to take some conviction and courage from both sides of the aisle in Alaska to deal with this, especially considering the ironic anti-socialist rhetoric that came from our Governor on the VP campaign trail.

 





The Alaskan White Knights are Waffling, and We Have Homework to Do.

25 11 2008

waffle

I have a couple questions.

What do you do when your Governor is accountable to your Attorney General, and your Attorney General is accountable to your Governor, and neither one of them will either acknowledge or administer consequences for bad behavior.  It’s like a kid whose Mom says, “Go ask Dad,” and whose Dad says, “Go ask Mom.”  Neither one of them wants to be accountable, and neither one of them has any  intention of answering the question.  They are hoping the kid will go away.

Now I have another question.

What do you do when the Legislature, the voice of the people who hired the Governor, also refuses to administer consequences for bad behavior, and simply stands mute?  And what do you do when that silence then turns into statements that run not only counter to the expectation of the people, but to their job description, and the bounds of ethics and the law? 

What do you do when your “voice” no longer speaks for you?

I have a small understanding about how people with Tourette syndrome, or muscular spasms must feel.   It must feel like a betrayal of mind and body when the things that are meant, on the most basic level, to represent you  (your voice, and your actions) are hijacked by unknown forces, leaving you making declarations and gestures that have no connection with your true intent. 

When the Alaska Legislature starts talking about how we’re all weary of Troopergate, and Governor Palin, Attorney General Talis Colberg, and those who ignored legislative subpoenas should just be able to continue without facing any consequences for violating the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, and the law,  I feel like shouting, “This is not me!  I’m not saying this!  I’m not doing this!”

I have often compared the Democrats of the Legislature to white knights. I’ve been blown away at times by their bravery, their conviction, and the fact that they put themselves out on a limb to do the right thing. And I’ve also given a pat on the back to Republicans who have planted themselves on the right side of the fence despite their party affiliation. In some ways the Repulicans had the harder job. When the bipartisan Legislative Council voted to make public the Troopergate report whose first finding was that Sarah Palin abused her power and violated the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, I was amazed. I began to…dare I say it aloud….have faith in my Legislature.  All of them.

Now, after the election, as Sarah Palin gets back to the business of the state (when she’s in town), I am beginning to lose that faith.  The white knights are starting to pull their punches, the horses are rearing like they’ve seen a snake, and the villagers are getting a horrible sinking feeling. We are wondering what happened to them? We wonder if they are breaking their vows to us, and justifying the betrayal in the name of “moving forward and working together on the issues that really matter.”

Call me crazy, but I think ethics really matters.   If you polled voters and asked if they’d rather have an ethical politician or an unethical one, you’d get the obvious answer. And if you broke down the results of this poll by party affiliation, I don’t think you’d find much difference.  Everyone wants ethical politicians. So, why, after a candidate has been elected, would anyone want to stop a process that was designed to find out if that politician is corrupt?  Why would you budget $100,000 for an investigation to find out whether a politician violated the ethics act if you were going to ignore the finding?  And why, if the findings showed that the politician had indeed violated the ethics act, would you decide to give them a free pass?  And why, if witnesses, and perhaps the head of the Department of Law violated…..the LAW, would you be just fine with that?

For right now, I’m going to give our White Knights on both sides of the aisle the benefit of the doubt.  I, on behalf of the villagers, am going to accept some responsibility for their waffling.   Perhaps we just haven’t been doing a good enough job of letting them know we’re here, and that we’re going to back them up.  Maybe they really think people don’t care.  Perhaps they feel like they’re headed off to battle with no ammunition.  That has to be scary.

So here’s your homework Mudflatters…  As a Thanksgiving present to the Alaska State Legislature, I want you to give them some ammunition.  Every email you send, every letter you write, every phone call you make is an arrow in their quiver.  Phone calls count as two arrows…maybe even three.

I want our white knights to be armed to the teeth.  I want them to ride into battle feeling invincible.  I don’t want them to feel like they were abandoned by the village.  Let’s hang a garland of flowers around their necks, and sent them off with a full quiver of public outrage.

I’m not willing to throw them under the horse just yet.

For emails to all Alaska State Legislators – Click HERE – then cut & paste them all into your email address bar.

For phone numbers of the Alaska State Legislators – Click HERE

Giddyup!





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.





Alaska’s Senate Race – The Morning After

19 11 2008

Alaska has a Blue Senator. Mark Begich has won the election.

So where do we stand, and what does this mean?

Mark Begich – It means that Mayor Senator Begich gets to pack his bags and head to Washington DC, with his wife and son, to start giving progressive Alaskans and centrists, and people who don’t want a convicted felon representing them in our nation’s capitol, a voice. If he’s wise, and smart, he will take the Ted Stevens debacle as a cautionary tale. If he plays his cards right, he could be there for a long long time, but the Republican party will have him in their sights, and be watching for every little slip-up.

If the Democrats in the Senate are wise and smart, they’ll be really nice to Senator Begich and give him a couple nice feathers in his cap to wear home to Alaska. They know the kind of bombastic, blow hards Alaska is capable of sending to the capitol, and they probably don’t want it to happen again. And they sure don’t want Sarah Palin gunning for an open senate seat in 6 years. Mark Begich will be like salve on a wound for many who have had to endure Ted Stevens for decades.

Who will fill Mayor Begich’s seat after he leaves? Anchorage Assembly Chair Matt Claman. Matt just took over the chairmanship of the Assembly when a surprise progressive majority took over the paralyzingly conservative Anchorage Assembly that had previously been populated by junior versions of the aforementioned bombastic, blow hards. When the Assembly shifted to the left, Claman was chosen. I know Matt Claman and he’s a good guy. He lacks the extroversion and charisma of Begich, but his principles are sound, and he’s a concensus builder, and a rational thinker. He’ll probably do a pretty good job. He’ll be there until April, when the mayoral elections happen. He may decide to run for the position officially at that time. There are several others who have thrown their hat in the ring too. And this may cause some interesting wrangling, since one of those candidates is Assembly Vice Chair Sheila Selkregg. Today’s Anchorage Daily News has an interesting article on these behind the scenes goings on.

Sarah Palin – Well, God sent a message to Sarah. She said if God opened a door, even a crack, she’d “plow through it”. But tonight, when Begich won a clear victory, and the four decade era of Ted Stevens ended, the door firmly shut tight. She will undoubtedly be looking for another door. The three that may open up next are:

  • The Don Young Door – Congressman Don Young will be up for re-election in 2010, but may be out before then. He’s already spend a whopping 1.2 million dollars on legal fees in anticipation of his own coming indictment. Alaskans have been waiting for that shoe to drop for a while now….and it’s coming. It’s just a question of when. Look for headlines coming soon to a paper near you, now that Alaska politics has wormed its way into the national consciousness. But even if Young survives this, his 19th term in Congress, I don’t think Sarah Palin is gunning for his job. I just don’t think Congress is her style.
  • The Lisa Murkowski Door – Now we’re talking. Sarah unseated Lisa’s father Frank Murkowski when she became governor in 2006. This would be the second Murkowski trophy head on her wall. Murkowski hasn’t done a bad job in most Republican’s minds, but she hasn’t knocked their socks off either. It’s not a sure thing by any means that she’d be able to hold her seat against Palin. And the Senate, as we have just witnessed, can be an effective stepping stone to the Presidency, which is what Palin is gunning for in the long run. That’s the door she thinks God will open for her – the big fat door to the Oval Office. She’s “wired for the mission” and would be ready to run in 2012, or 2016.
  • The Direct Door to the Presidency – If Palin can hold on to office for another term, she may be banking on her national celebrity, and name recognition, and her Christian conservative buddies in high places to take her from the governorship to Pennsylvania Avenue…or so she hopes. She’s up for re-election in 2010. And who knows…she may feel fully qualified by that point to throw her hat in the ring anyway.

And what about Ted Stevens, and his suddenly awkward and very visible namesake – The Ted Stevens International Airport. Before we break out the chisels and hammers, the Anchorage Assembly and the Public Facilities Advisory Commission, and who knows who else, will have to do some political soul searching, and have lots of meetings.

Stevens’ legal appeal process moves forward, and he’ll fight tooth and nail, like he always does. And amazingly, he is still eligible, despite his seven felony convictions, for his senate pension of $122,000 a year, courtesy of taxpayers. Although there is a recently-passed federal law that prohibits felons from collecting on these pensions, Stevens’ particular felonies were not on the list, and they were committed before the law went into effect. Maybe next time.





Vote on Ousting Ted Stevens Delayed. Happy Birthday. UPDATED!

18 11 2008

Ted Stevens turns 85 today, and the GOP has voted to postpone a vote today that would boot Stevens from the GOP conference, until after the results of the Alaska Senate race are known. I guess that’s about as good a birthday present as the embattled Senator can expect this year.

As it stands, Democratic challenger Mark Begich leads Stevens by 1022 votes, a slim lead, but one prognosticators believe may be enough to hold through the last major round of vote counting today. 24,000 votes will be tallied by this evening, and the only ones remaining after that will be votes received from overseas, which will continue to be accepted until Wednesday. Ballots must be postmarked by midnight on November 4th, and are allowed two weeks to arrive in Alaska.

One of the questions on everyone’s mind is what happens when the current administration leaves office? The number of individuals on the list of last-minute pardons to come can only be imagined at this point. Will Stevens be one of those on that list? Not according to Stevens himself who was asked if he would seek a pardon.

Stevens simply said “No” when asked about a Bush pardon, and bristled when a reporter asked if he expected to be expelled as a political liability to Republicans battling an image of corruption.

“That’s just your words,” he said. “As a matter of fact, when the indictment was announced, they said it was not a corruption case, it was not a bribery case. It was a simple matter of failing to disclose. Maybe some of the verbiage that you are using is not proper.”

Senate Republicans are meeting to determine their leadership and a variety of motions. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had intended to offer a motion expelling Stevens from the conference, but postponed it until Thursday just minutes after Tuesday morning’s meeting began.

“I don’t like to use the word ‘pleased,’ but I’m happy with that,” Stevens said of the delay.

Stevens said his race in Alaska won’t be final until Nov. 25, and that he remains confident of victory. He is currently trailing Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) by more than 1,000 votes.

“I still think I’m going to win,” he said.

Stevens said he expects the Republican Party will ask for a recount in the race, given the narrow margin.

So, that’s the word from Ted Stevens who is one tough nut, and cantankerous to the end. No asking for a pardon (at least not officially), and a probable recount. The bad news is that this election will seemingly never end. The good news is that a hand recount will potentially expose some election “abnormalities” that are a result of the unreliable and easily manipulated Diebold machines responsible for the vote tally that was tampered with in 2004, and that continue to be used to this day.

And the ride goes on.

UPDATE – First new results in!

Mark Begich – 146,286

Ted Stevens – 143,912

That gives Begich a comfortable lead of 2,374

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

UPDATE #2:  Finall tally for the day has Mark Begich up by 3724!  Will Stevens concede?  Will Begich declare victory?  Will we have a recount?  Stay tuned!

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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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