How Palin Spokesman Got Me Nine Extra Weeks of Vacation Time.

1 12 2008

Yes, you heard Palin right. In her speech to the adoring masses in far away Georgia, she explained why she fled her responsibilities in Alaska. She explained why she used her precious time to stump for Saxby Chambliss instead of doing her job. She did it….for Alaska. (One hand on heart, one hand dabbing eyes, and an imaginary third hand waving the Alaskan flag)  She did it for me, and for the little children, and for their puppies, and for future generations, and for the country!  God Bless Amairca. (sniff)

I’m kinda selfishly lookin’ at this to tell you the truth.  It’s not just for Georgia, this is for folks in Alaska and in Hawaii, and in Maine and in Washington State and in Washington D.C.  I’m lookin’ at this you know I’m a mom with five kids.  This is for my kids and their future…

Meanwhile, Alaska Dispatch reports on the reaction by the Palin administration to the Democrats’ press conference this morning, decrying the governor for leaving the state to engage in partisan campaigning while vital Alaskan issues go unaddressed by our absentee governor.  They called a press conference of their own:

“It has been 27 days since the election and this is the fifth day (Palin) has not been in the state,” Bill McAllister, Palin’s spokesman, told reporters at the news conference. “State business is unaffected.”

OK… let’s do the math. Where is that calculator…..ah, there it is.  Let’s see….(punching buttons)…that….means that she’s been gone… 18% of the time since the election, and “state business is unaffected.”  That’s pretty interesting.  And there are some wider implications.

Using Palin standard, we can conclude that if you work 50 weeks a year, you can take an extra 9 weeks off this year, and your job would be unaffected because that’s only 18% of your work schedule!  Wow!   And if your child attends school full-time at 180 days for the typical school year, you can keep them home for over a month and their school work would be unaffected!  And if the Alaska Legislature shaved 18% of the days off the legislative session, that session would be whittled down to a mere 74 days instead of the current 90 day session, with no effect on the business of the state.  Just amazing!  

And if anyone tells you otherwise, you just send them to Bill McAllister at the governor’s office.  He’ll straighten them out.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go plan my three month vacation.  Nice.

 

 

 





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!





Obama Rally Finale in Anchorage!

25 10 2008

Another great group of Obama supporters congregated on the Park Strip in Anchorage today.  This time, they were on an artistic mission.  The goal?  To create a giant Obama logo made up of pixel people in colored plastic ponchos. 

When I arrived, there were about 300 people already there, and just starting to take their positions.  I laughed because the size of this crowd would have totally blown me away a couple months ago, but now, after a series of enormous rallies (Alaska Women Reject Palin, Alaskans for Truth, Statewide Obama rally), it seemed perfectly normal!

Once again, everyone was all smiles, despite the VERY cold temperatures.  The blue people were being guided into place, by people with bull horns.  Then the white ones filled in part of the center.  Then red ones.  Then more white ones.  All the placement was meticulously coordinated by someone operating a camera from the top floor of a hotel across the street, who gave directions via walkie-talkies to the crew on the ground.  The event was promoted as an Alaska Women Support Barack Obama event, but men were welcome, and plenty showed up!

There were lots of progressive canines decked out in various types of attire, and it was a wonderfully diverse and enthusiastic crowd all around.  Once again there was lots of honking from passing cars, and people rolling down windows to give us big thumbs up in the frigid air.  There was one sad lonely guy on the corner with a sign that said, “Barack Hussein Obama Will Destroy the United States.”  It reminded me of the guy on the street corner with the ancient dog-eared decrepit sign that reads, “The World Will End Tomorrow.”

Finally the finished logo was in place, and the group started chanting O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA! which eventually morphed into “Yes We Can!”  And I allowed myself a few moments of imagining what it would be like if Alaska went for Obama this year. 

Then the coordinator with the bullhorn told everyone to remember where they were standing and what their neighbors looked like.  Then, from the top of a ladder he told everyone to disperse out of the “frame” and then when he gave the command, to run in from all sides and reclaim their positions.  He warned everyone to expect total chaos, but that it would be fun.  He was right.  People of all colors – reds, whites, and blues – separated, and then ran back together with whoops and hollers, spinning in circles, clapping, cartwheeling, and jumping, and remarkably formed a pretty decent regenerated logo in less than a minute!

By the time I got back to my car, my nose was red, my thighs were burning, my fingers were numb, and my face was frozen in a big grin.

The rally was organized to send a last-minute photo message to the rest of the country that Alaskans support Obama in large numbers, and that not all Alaskans are in love with Sarah Palin….not by a long shot.  I’ll post pictures of the official logo shot, and video as soon as they become available!

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Rain Gear Rally for Obama in Juneau!

20 10 2008

When I got an email a couple weeks ago from the organizer of the Obama rally in Juneau that happened this past Saturday, I thought to myself, “Why are they calling it a Rain Gear Rally?”  It’s two weeks from now…how do they know?  Then I remembered.  It’s Juneau.

And sure enough, those intrepid waterproof souls we know as Juneau Democrats, braved the freezing rain and wind, and were out there for the cause.  A big wave from your compatriots in the north, Juneau! Keep up the good work!

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McCain Palin Rally vs. Obama Biden Rally in Anchorage! The Blow by Blow.

4 10 2008

Once again, there were duelling rallies here in Anchorage.  The McCain-Palin rally was held in the just-completed Dena’ina Convention Center in downtown Anchorage.  The Obama rally was held outside, just a couple blocks away, at the Delaney Park Strip.

One would think that the Republican rally celebrating the hometown girl, in her very very red state would have drawn a huge crowd, and that the Obama rally would be a few brave intrepid souls with a couple signs shivering by the side of the road.  One would be wrong.

The Obama rally was all set up and running when I arrived – tents, face painting, t-shirt sales, voter registration, postcard writing to swing states, a huge stage and sound system.  By 1:00, there were more than a thousand people milling around with signs, kids, dogs and huge smiles.  This was definitely a feel-good place.  Hundreds lined the roadside waving signs to appreciative honking motorists, and hundreds more milled around the tent area.  Anchorage mayoral candidate and former legislator Eric Croft got up and spoke, so did Kat Pustay who’s heading up the Obama campaign in the state.  Then came Ethan Berkowitz, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House seat currently held by Don Young.  Ethan welcomed his “fellow revolutionaries”. The crowd went wild.

I looked at my watch.  It was after 1:30 and I knew if I didn’t get to the McCain Palin rally soon, I’d never go.  So I ripped myself away from all the positive energy and the fresh air, and hurried over to the Dana’ina Center.  3 people stood outside waving signs.  I figured I had to smile, so I did.  “Come on in, we’re having a rally!” one of them effused. I took a big cleansing breath, and in I went.

I just had a feeling this rally wasn’t going to have as big a crowd as the Obama rally, because the rally that was held for Palin herself, when she was in Anchorage a few weeks ago only had about 500 people show up.  But I walked into the room and I really was stunned.  I felt like I had entered an empty chair convention.  It was really bad.  I actually felt sorry for the organizers for a minute, before I snapped myself out of it.   A head count yielded about 250-300 people.  Clearly they had been hoping for more.

Jack Frost, local voice-over guy and conservative Republican who got trounced by Mark Begich in the last Anchorage mayoral race, was the emcee.  Literally right as I sat down he was announcing the “special guest”….a phone call from Sarah Palin!  Her voice was piped in over the loudspeakers, and there was a slide up on a screen showing her photo-op with Henry Kissinger.  I have to say, it was a bit jarring sitting there hearing the ‘giant voice’ of Sarah Palin filling the room.  She didn’t say much.  It was a bunch of “Gee, I miss you guys…  I heard there were a few flakes today.  I miss that weather.  It’s been so amazeen travelin’ across this great country and meetin’ people, and even Alaskans down here also as we travel across the country also meetin’ people…  I miss you guys SOOO much.”

A lady scooted up to me and said, “We’d really like everyone to be up at the front and towards the center, not all spread out.”  Ah…can’t have the news cameras getting all those chairs.  I scooted up and way over to the side so I wouldn’t get on film.

Then the emcee reminded us about how much Alaska would “get” if Palin was the VP, and also reminded us that our enemies hate us because of our way of life, and our freedoms, and “all they want to do is kill American soldiers”.  Then he said the only thing the rally was missing was “an effigy of Katie Couric.”  (Felt pocket for Tums….left them home.)

And look, there’s Meg Stapleton sitting among the empty chairs.

Next up was a local Republican legislative candidate, Bob Lewis,  who told the crowd he had driven past “that other rally” on his way in, and how the people were just full of hate, and anger and fear, and that “we” (the Palin rally) were the ones having a good time.  “So,” he told us, “you need to decide which side you want to be on!”

That was it for me.  Had to leave.  On the way out I noticed clip boards with the “support Palin” petition.  Someone behind the table said that this was “against those people” (described as ‘Obama operatives’) who were smearing Palin and that “we just want to support her.”  I didn’t sign….being an “operative” and all.

Back out into the fresh air, and down the street where signs were still waving.  As I crossed the street there were police cars, and I noticed several very large piles of something in the middle of the road.  The road had actually been closed off from traffic….  at first I thought it was cement, but then I looked closer and it was….mud!  It looked for all the world like muflats mud! Done on purpose to keep visibility of the rally low?  Strange coincidence?  A message to Mudflatters?   I have no explanation for that one…

Crossed the street, and there I was again, back at the rally of “hate, anger and fear” listening to a great local band, and watching kids with painted faces dancing in the grass, smiling people registering voters, busy postcard-writers, cheering sign-wavers, and a community brought together by a shared desire to move the country in a new direction.

Clearly I was at the right rally.





And the Mudflats Award for Bravery Goes to… Wasilla Democrats!

10 09 2008

Obama supporters in Wasilla, Alaska!  Yes, you heard right.  A group of intrepid Obama-Biden supporters stood in the rain beside the highway in downtown Wasilla, waving signs and cheering as people headed home from work.

Several rally-goers called in to Alaska’s progressive talk radio station KUDO to report on the event.  By 5:15 they had about 25 people at the rally.  OK, before you think that’s not much…trust me…it’s a LOT, especially for Wasilla and especially considering that this is, basically,  the heart of enemy territory.  According to one caller, there were lots of people honking and giving the thumbs-up.  Of course, there were also those who chanted Sah-rah out the window.

Meanwhile, up in Fairbanks, another form of rally is taking place.  The “Welcome Home” rally for Sarah Palin.  And yes, I’m sure it is better attended.  And yes, they are handing out McCain-Palin buttons featuring a creepy line drawing of a pit bull with big red human lips that I cannot bear to post here.  (shudder)

But the fact that the Wasilla event happened, that 25 people showed up, that passers-by honked and gave the thumbs up at ALL is amazing.  So, a big hat tip and a sweeping bow to the bravest folks in the land!

(Anyone out there in Wasilla get pictures?  Email akmuckraker@yahoo.com)

And for those of you who feel compelled to look…..the pit bull button is HERE.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.





Alaska Primary Gallery

28 08 2008

Here are some more pictures from last night’s Alaska Primary.  Still no winner in the Don Young/Sean Parnell fight to the death, and there won’t be for another couple weeks.  The absentee ballots will figure heavily into this epic contest, where the two are only slightly more than 150 votes apart.  Don Young is hanging on by his fingernails.  I came across another non-partisan who took the Republican ballot to vote for Young hoping he’d get taken out in the general election by Ethan Berkowitz.  If I came across four in the last 24 hours without even trying, there must be many many more out there.  And if Don holds on, it’ll be the progressives that let him live to fight another day.  That, plus a final surge of cash from the Democratic Party bashing Parnell.  Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

And, of course, Sean Parnell being the Lt. Governor is in charge of the Division of Elections which will be counting the votes…. Just when you think the knot couldn’t get any more tangled.





Black Cloud Over Alaska Republicans.

25 08 2008

On Primary Eve in Alaska, and as the Democratic Convention in Denver began, I was at the next best place…the Alaska State Fair. No rain, no crowds, no lines. Gotta love it!

On the way out of town, I spotted a great crowd on Seward and Northern Lights waving signs for YES on 4, YES for Fish. And despite what the zillion dollar ad campaign from the foreign mining interests would have you believe, many in the crowd were Alaska natives and people with fishing jobs. Yes…jobs that aren’t mining. Yes, jobs that will be lost when Pebble toxifies the fishing in Bristol Bay. Losing a fishery to oil wasn’t enough, now we’re going to lose one to gold. Don’t get me started…

Once at the Fair, I found the Begich booth, and the Obama booth, both staffed with cheerful, upbeat campaign workers busily handing out buttons, stickers and information.

Barack Obama himself even made a surprise appearance at Macho Nachos!

OK, it’s a cardboard cutout….

The Democrats booth eluded me. I looked, but I had to rush off for an appointment and never found it.

But I did find the Republican candidates booth.

Lights on, nobody home. And what’s that big black cloud? Sometimes in life, metaphors just present themselves with no effort required.





Signs of the Valley

19 08 2008

I found myself in a van with a load of kids on a road trip to the Valley today.  Needing a fun car game, I remembered Phil Munger’s Signs of the Times post from a few weeks ago.  So, I suggested we all count political signs and see who ‘won’ by the time we got back. We counted signs from ‘downtown’ Sutton to Eagle River.

So, as an homage to Phil Munger at Progressive Alaska, I present my own humble Valley version of Signs of the Times:

Ted Stevens (R) Senate: 2

Mark Begich (D) Senate: 4

Don Young (R) House inc: 4

Sean Parnell (R) House: 4

Ethan Berkowitz (D) House: 0

Diane Benson (D) House: 0

Linda Menard (R) State Senate: 7

Eric Cordero (D) State Senate: 0

And 1 each for Parks, Scott and Gatto for State House.

So, Palin-bot Linda Menard was our winner.

The big surprise here is not only did we see twice as many Begich signs as Stevens signs, but that there were actually signs north of Palmer for a Democrat without bullet holes in them!  Progress can be measured in many ways.

The other noteworthy observation was that one kid in the back of the van said, “Hey!  How come there aren’t any Obama signs? or McCain signs?”  They were answered immediately by an adorable little 8-year old girl with a big smile who called out matter-of-factly, and like she had just remembered something important, “Oh!  McCain sucks!”  Luckily I was not drinking my coffee at the time or I would have blown it all over the windshield.  It was all I could do to keep a straight face.  Signs of the times? Let’s hope so.





Mark Begich on the Ed Schulz Show

30 07 2008

Mark Begich just got interviewed on the Ed Schulz show, (broadcast on local Air America affiliate KUDO 1080am) and knocked it out of the park. He took the high road on the Stevens issue. He had to do it really, in order not to alienate centrists and fans of the ‘old Stevens’ in Alaska, but he did it well.

He also talked about issues which probably made many progressives in the lower 48 cringe (gun ownership, drilling in ANWR), but did so eloquently. Whether or not progressives in Alaska, and across the country agree, they will undoubtedly be seeking new information on directional drilling from the Sourdough field, and other issues not generally mentioned by the mainstream media. He explained that Stevens and other Alaska Republicans don’t talk about options in drilling because they like having a target to rail against – environmentalists. In this black & white battle, the middle way often gets overlooked in the discussion.

Begich summed it up by citing recent poll numbers that had him with a nice lead over Stevens, even before the indictment, and by stating that Alaska is ready for change, and he was confident of a victory.

As I write, Ed Schulz just threw out the question, “What do you think about this Alaskan candidate wanting to drill?” – then a commercial break. Reactions might be interesting.





Obama Headquarters Open for Business

10 07 2008

Before I get out of town, just had to comment on the Obama organizational meeting Tuesday night.

I’ve been to a couple other meetings on “political row” aka Fairbanks St., and as I turned in off of Northern Lights, I wondered what had happened. There was obviously some kind of accident. Either it was just a fender bender, or a stalled car because no emergency vehicles were in sight. Maybe it just happened… A man ran over to my car window, and I rolled it down. “Here for Obama?” I nodded. “The only parking available at this time is either the Fireweed Theater or Carrs across the street!” he said smiling.

I was totally floored. After parking, waiting on line for more than five and less than ten minutes to register, I stood there with an index card with my precinct number written on it, and was escorted outside for food and drink. No veggie burgers, and no sugar or milk for coffee…at least none that I could find. I didn’t care. I sat there happily eating a dry cracker, a big piece of watermelon, washed it down with black coffee, and watched the throngs of excited people milling around under the big white tent that had been set up in case of rain. The organization was pretty darned impressive.

There were so many people there, they had to give the pep speech twice, once for those in the back of the building and once for those in the front. About 250 people showed up to volunteer. The crowd was very diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender and age. This bodes very very well. Notable attendees were Vic Fischer (of Alaska Constitution fame), and Matt Claman (Anchorage Assembly chair). I don’t know if Alaska will go blue this year, but the chances are better than they have been in a long time.

Here are some favorite pictures from the event.

A Die Hard

Converting the Hummer Crowd?





Vic Kohring Wins Free “Vacation”!

30 06 2008

Well, it’s another red letter day on the Corrupt Bastards Calendar. Vic Kohring is headed to The Grey Bar Hotel in Sunny California. After his last desperate attempt to keep from going to prison last week, I had expected today to arrive with lots of kicking and screaming for the former Wasilla representative. Not so.

In what can only be described as a bizarre display of….bizarreness, Mr. Kohring stood beside the Glenn Highway this morning eating cookies, and waving to passers-by under a huge sign with his name on it, and the giant orange spray painted addendum “THANKS ALASKA”. No word yet on whether he’s caused any accidents.

Saying that he isn’t afraid of prison, he added “It’s almost like going away on vacation. A Government sponsored vacation.”

Kohring begins his prison term the same way he got himself in trouble in the first place…begging for money. Stating that he couldn’t afford the flight to Taft, the private prison in California he’ll be calling home for the next three and a half years, marshals will escort Kohring to Taft after he surrenders here in Anchorage on Monday. So, you and I are footing even more of the bill for Vic’s “Government sponsored vacation”. Maybe that’s why the sign said ‘THANK YOU’ instead of ‘I’M SORRY’?

You can enjoy the whole story from Kyle Hopkins at the ADN website.