I Pity the Intern! Don Young’s A-Team.

19 06 2008

Apparently a paid member of Don Young’s staff decided it would be a good idea to distribute a “Survival Guide” to interns on Capitol Hill. Frankly, I can’t imagine any survival guide getting me through being Don Young’s intern. Maybe if it came in a flask. But I digress…

This handy guide discusses phone etiquette, among other things, and refers to Don Young’s “A Team” a group of nine lobbyists with unfettered access, who are to be immediately connected to any member of the staff with whom they wish to speak. Seriously, it really did refer to these people as “The A Team”. Much to my dismay, fictional good-guy mercenary Mr. T, from the original “A-Team” was not on the list, but the following nine lobbyists were:

Rick Alcade, Colin Chapman, Randy DeLay, Billy Lee Evans, Jack Ferguson, Mike Henry, Duncan Smith, CJ Zane and Jay Dickey. “These people can talk to whomever they want.”

My favorite picks are Rick Alcade, the lobbyist at the heart of the infamous Coconut Road earmark, and Randy DeLay, brother of the equally infamous Tom DeLay. There’s also Jack Ferguson, former chief of staff to Alaska senator Ted Stevens – also under investigation. Please note that these nine get better treatment than “Other Members” “Government People” or “Other People”. You and I did get a mention, though. “Constituents – Call to voice their opinion.”

Other little gems discuss his wife Lu “Mrs. Y” Young’s interesting and sometimes bizarre idiosyncracies

  • Has good days and bad days, try to get people to warn you
  • Her orders are often disguised as offers, suggestions, or invitations – they are not. Do them.
  • Does not permit noise from computers
  • Don’t stand in her way – don’t stand anywhere I would suggest. Sit down or hide in the broom cupboard.
  • You should not put anything on her desk
  • You should not keep her waiting. She says you go – you go.
  • Eat when she tells you to eat
  • If you sneeze, it’s always allergies or pressure changes; stick strong to your case.

Apparently “Mrs. Y” has germ issues?

“The Boss” (Mr. Y)

  • Expects you to open doors for him (particularly tricky when he does not specify where he is going, make a guess).
  • Doesn’t like facial piercings
  • Doesn’t like people putting their hands in their pockets
  • Should always be referred to as “the Congressman” or “the Chairman”

The official response from Don Young’s office?

“Rep. Young has welcomed dozens of interns into his office over the years and finds their assistance in the office invaluable. But interns are not staff. This incredibly outdated “survival guide” was pieced together by several former interns and not by staff. This “guide” in no way reflects the official policies of Rep. Young’s office.”

So…..why was it being distributed to prospective interns by Mike Anderson, Young’s Chief of Staff?

The internets are all a-buzz. For more on this latest PR disaster, check out Talking Points Memo, The Anchorage Daily News, Politico, The Hill, Think Progress and The Wall Street Journal with many many more to come, I’m sure.

This little bombshell is certainly not going to help in the current primary race against Sean Parnell. But think about it, people…if we don’t reelect him, the good ol’ boy from Ft. Yukon is going to be forced to (shudder) open doors for himself! Oh, the horror.

I wonder what kind of phone calls those interns are taking today? Should we all call, pretend we’re on the A-Team and see what happens? Nah, they’re probably all in the ‘broom cupboard’.





Markos & Mark…BFF

18 06 2008

Yet another great summary of the Begich Stevens race in Daily Kos today.  Markos Moulitsas talks about how in each election cycle he has certain personal favorites he likes to keep a close eye on.  This time one of them is Mark Begich.

Usually listening to someone outside Alaska talk about their own local politics feels about as interesting as watching their 3-hour vacation slide show of the Bahamas.  We nod politely and hope it ends soon.   We get so caught up in our own little world up here, we forget that our local politics are SO outrageous, it  even appeals to those outside!  What’s not to love?  We’ve got it all.  Drama, deceit, greed, bribery, indictments, felony convictions, corruption, big corporations, environmental issues, nepotism….throw in some goodies like “Series of Tubes” and Coconut Road, and a few eccentric characters like Hulk-tie-wearing Uncle Ted, Don ‘the biting mink’ Young, and Lisa “Who’s Yer Daddy?” Murkowski, and it surprises me it’s not a made-for-TV movie yet.

It was great fun reading through the comments and getting some perspective on how closely many are watching this race, and how many are tossing $20 or $25 into the coffers.

 





New Rasmussen Poll Numbers for Alaska

18 06 2008

It’s only June, so why does this already feel like a nail-biter?  A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey released today shows another 2 point split between Begich and Stevens in the senate race…only this time Stevens is up.  Still well within the margin of error, but it would have been nice to see a widening split in Begich’s favor.

Today:  Stevens 46%, Begich 44%

Last Month:  Begich 47%, Stevens 45%

View Candidate Favorably?   Stevens 51%    Begich 55%

View Candidate Unfavorably?  Stevens 44%   Begich 36%

Amazingly, Ted Stevens’ favorable ratings have gone up 5% since last month!  Huh?  Amnesia has set in.  We’re delirious from the long hours of daylight.  All that corruption is SO…..last month.  What is it?  This must be stopped….

Hmmmm.  Can you think of anything that might remind people how neck-deep Stevens is in Alaska’s cesspool of political corruption?   Anything that might spark the people’s memories?  (Hint: It’s related to him.)    That’s right, sonny boy Ben!   I’ve been on Ben-Watch since June 1st, when a coworker of a friend of a friend who knows something told me that the indictment of Stevens ‘the Lesser’ would be handed down within 30 days.  That was 18 days ago.   I claim no secret knowledge other than this really somewhat reliable gossip from said coworker of friend of friend in the know…but I’m counting anyway.

It’ll be interesting to see what Rasmussen Reports has to say after the fateful day, and the feeding frenzy of media coverage that is sure to follow.

Tick tick tick…

 





Ted Stevens – Thrifty and Ethical! (cough)

14 06 2008

Friday’s annual financial disclosure from Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski revealed a few goodies.  Uncle Ted has apparently forked out somewhere between $15,000 and $50,000 in legal fees to the firm Williams & Connolly, presumably for work connected to his ongoing federal investigation. 

While this may seem a pretty penny to most of us (unless we’re lawyers), it begs a question.   Why is Ted “My House Was Raided by the FBI and IRS” Stevens paying a paltry $50,000 or less, while Don Young has so far shelled out over $1.1 MILLION with no end in sight?!  Seems a tad off balance to me.  

Maybe Don didn’t price shop his legal firms very well.  Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld must have seen him coming.  And yes, one of the partners in Don Young’s legal firm is named Gump.  I hope he’s the one that defends him in court.  You can’t make this stuff up. 

So one point to Ted Stevens for thriftiness.  And another point to Ted for paying for his lawyers himself, instead of pillaging his campaign donations like the Don.  How sad is it that I feel compelled to give a member of our congressional delegation ethics points for how he pays for the lawyers defending his own heinous corruption.  Welcome to Alaska.

And let’s not forget Lisa.  While nothing startling was revealed, it’s good that everyone is reminded about the “something’s-rotten-on-the-Kenai-and-it-ain’t-fish” land deal with campaign contributor Bob Penney.  If you recall, he sold her a parcel of land for a fraction of it’s actual worth because that’s not the same as a bribe, right?  Her snit fit after being found out was ‘FINE.  I’ll just give it BACK.  I hope you’re all HAPPY!’ (pout stomp stomp stomp)   Just because she’s less corrupt than the other two clowns doesn’t mean she’s clean.  In the land of the blind the one eye’d (wo)man is king.

When Murkowski was asked about the revision to her disclosure she proclaimed, “We’re completely done with that.”   Really.  Let’s hope others out there don’t share that sentiment.

Monday, Don Young’s report will be out.  Stay tuned…this oughtta be good.

UPDATE:  STEVENS LOSES POINT!…..NOT THRIFTY.

Seems that the disclosure from the Stevens camp reflects only the outstanding liability! (slaps self on head)  The universe is in balance after all.  So we have no way of knowing what the total bill may have been, only what he still owes.  He may be another million dollar man for all we know.  I confess I am relieved to have been corrected by those wiser and more inside than myself. 





Wicked Witch Breaks Crayons. Goes Home.

13 06 2008

Senate President Lyda Green (the Wicked Witch of Wasilla) has pulled a surprise move last night, withdrawing her re-election bid. Seems she felt she had to step out because her constituents and fellow lawmakers didn’t agree with her oil and gas position, and were siding with (gulp) gov. Sarah Palin, her archnemesis and fellow Wasilla Republican. It was really the only right thing to do to maintain her personal integrity. Hmmm.

So, what’s the story behind the story?

One likely scenario is that Lyda, faced with a humiliating defeat from Palin supporter Linda Menard in the primary, did what any self-respecting petulant villain would do – broke her crayons and went home. That’ll teach ’em.

Scenario #2 is a little more intriguing. Any surprising political news involving unexpected fleeing, and unlikely explanations (particularly ‘ethical’ ones) must be looked at in terms of the current climate. I refer you to the giant black cloud overhead that is corruption, indictment, and involuntary relocation to housing facilities out of state. (The kind with bars on the windows).

Revelations may be on the way.  We can only speculate.

You know, as happy as I am to see her out of there, I was secretly hoping for a more dramatic playground battle. I wanted chalk throwing and secret alliances, after school detentions and someone getting sent to the principal’s office. But we’ll just have to settle for what we can get for now. There may be a trip to the principal’s office yet to come.

See Progressive Alaska’s take on things here.

UPDATE: SCENARIO #1 CONFIRMED. SCENARIO #2 NOT YET RULED OUT.

Seems that scenario #1 (humiliating defeat indicated in polls) is now being confirmed by Lyda Green herself.  This does not necessarily rule out scenario #2.  The Anchorage Daily News adds a fascinating dimension to this stating that Lyda is feeling philosophical about the whole thing and looking forward to dedicating some time to her “passion for making decorative pillows and purses”.   Who knew?





Corrupt Bastard Minority Leader Testifies.

6 06 2008

Corrupt Bastard minority leader (read Democrat) state senator Donny Olson testified before a grand jury in Anchorage on Wednesday. You’ll recall he was the only Democratic member of the CBC (Corrupt Bastards Club) to have his offices searched in August of 2006. The other five were Republicans.

Information is scant, and we’re not even sure he’s the target of this particular phase of the investigation. We’re all trying to be patient here, but it’s coming up to the two year mark! By the time this is all over, investigators will have the equivalent of an Associates Degree in corrupt bastardom. Let’s hope it’s not a Bachelor’s Degree.

This may be connected to the rumored Ben Stevens indictment that’s coming down the trail. Or it may not. These days, glimpses of the investigation are like whale watching. Oooo! Look, there’s one! And then it slips away into the murky depths. And so we wait. How long are they supposed to be able to hold their breath, before they have to come up again?





‘O’ My.

2 06 2008

Senate seat O just got a little more interesting… Former Anchorage Assemblyman Doug Van Etten announced today that he’ll be running as a Democrat against junior corrupt bastard, Republican Kevin Meyer (above) for the Anchorage seat. Van Etten got ousted from the Anchorage Assembly by Dan Coffey and the Coffey-Time money machine in 2004.

And deranged wingnut Uwe Kalenka, of Chugach Electric fame will be running against Democrat Berta Gardner in midtown. This guy just won’t go away. On the bright side, this race now has tremendous potential for some real entertainment value!

We’ve still got two hours to go before the filing deadline….anyone else?

Another tidbit…I heard a rumor yesterday that the slow & squeaky wheels of justice are finally rolling up to the door of Ben Stevens. I’m on a 30-day watch. Stay tuned.





Kohring Heads to Sunny California.

31 05 2008

 

We learned this weekend that ‘corrupt bastard’ and former Alaska lawmaker Andy Griffith  Vic Kohring will serve his time in sunny California.  Convicted of bribery, extortion and attempted conspiracy, he was sentenced to 42 months in prison earlier this month.  Kohring, who said his conscience is “absolutely clear” and will fight his conviction “from his jail cell” still has that sad aura of someone who isn’t quite sure what’s actually going on.  I almost feel sorry for him ….sometimes.  But at least he knows he’s not alone. 

Consider if you will that there are currently HUNDREDS of notable Republican felons and others under indictment in the last 10 years.  You can check out Republican Offenders, an alphabetical listing starting with Jack Abramoff and finishing up with Al Zimmerman.   You can even sort them by crime – Embezzlement, Drugs/Prostitution, child pornography, corruption/bribery, lewd conduct, pedophilia, assorted felonies, and more!  And yes, Vic Kohring is on the list…two spots up from Pete Kott. 

It’s interesting to speculate how the new mailing addresses of these jailed Republican politicians will affect their opinion on the importance of prison reform, and the need for serious reevaluation of the  for-profit prison system.  Because, after all, thinking about the rights of prisoners is so…..librul.  We may, perhaps, be treated with some jailhouse political conversions.  It’s a shame we won’t be able to count on their votes in future elections, though, because….well…felons can’t vote.  Maybe that’s another issue they’ll take a look at.





Corrupt Bastard Dominos!

30 05 2008

This is great!  Check out Ray Metcalfe’s website, and play corrupt bastard dominos!  He’s got a nice header, and when you click it, you can see a whole string of corrupt bastards starting with Bill Allen, and ending with ‘Uncle Ted’ Stevens who falls last, with a satisfying thwack, right on his face.  I did actually laugh out loud and confess to playing this little game more than once. Kinda like throwing darts, without leaving a hole in your wall.  It just feels goooood. Here’s the link –  Try it!





Don Young’s In…Let the Games Begin!

30 05 2008

It’s official, folks. Don Young has tossed his hat in the ring vying for his 19th term in Congress. One thing that his competitors Ethan Berkowitz (D), Diane Benson (D), and Sean Parnell (R) will NOT be short of this election season is ammunition. As a moment of tribute, I dug up this excellent retrospective from the wonderful people at TPM Muckraker. I wonder if they’ll actually be a little sad to have the Don unseated. It seems like half their material in the past couple years has featured Alaska’s lone representative….’the bitin’ mink’. So break out the Jiffy Pop, kick back and enjoy six minutes of “the one-man mud wrestling match” that is your representative, Don Young.





Palin vs. Polar Bear – Round 2 (Ding!)

28 05 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, it’s more like Palin vs. Facts.  What’s a governor to do when facts get in the way?  Read on…

Rick Steiner, (University of Alaska Marine Advisory professor, and environmental superhero) through a public records request, has acquired an email that the Palin administration didn’t want you to see.  Basically, it says that yes, the Alaska state biologists DID agree with the Federal assessment leading to their listing (begrudgingly) of the polar bear as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act.  They agreed with this despite the Palin administration’s vehement opposition to the listing, and in direct conflict with Palin’s statement that the state biologists found nothing to support the ‘threatened’ listing…  Innnnteresting…

Cover-up, or just plain denial?   It reminds me of that classic Seinfeld line. I believe it was George Costanza who said, “It isn’t a lie if YOU believe it.”  And Sarah just keeps on believin’….so much so that she’s actually going to sue the government.  Yes, that’s right.  If you can’t handle the truth, just litigate it to death.

And despite Palin’s recent veto of $268 million dollars from the state budget, axing things like safety improvements at Klatt Elementary School, money for fire stations, road improvements, emergency services, etc., guess what survived the ruthless red pen?  $2 million to get a bunch of people in a room to talk about how scientists are “of differing opinions” about whether the melting of the polar ice cap will indeed affect the polar bears. Perhaps, we can make this an annual tradition. Next year I propose holding a summit to discuss whether putting a large flame under a pot of crab will result in dinner.  We can’t really be sure you know.  That’s like trying to ‘project into the future’. I mean, what are we – cooks or fortune tellers for crying out loud? 

And who’s paying for this $2,000,000 Flat Earth Society Conference?  You and me.  If someone handed you a $2 million check to spend on the state, where would you spend it?  I doubt many of us would put our money toward rehashing this issue that even the ‘petrol-philes” in the Federal Government can’t deny, lest they look like idiots.

But not us…we’ve got a state government that either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that they’re making us look like idiots. Again.

In the meantime, the polar bear above is one Alaskan bear that is blissfully ignorant of all this….he’s in the Alaska Zoo.  Regardless of the outcome of Sarah’s lawsuit, this may be the only place to see one in Alaska by 2050.





Berkowitz vs. Parnell? Say it Ain’t So!

27 05 2008

CQ Politics has a great summary of the current statistics and intrigue in Alaska’s upcoming House race.  It speaks of the looming specter of Sean Parnell unseating Don Young in the primary and making the seat harder to win for a Democratic opponent.  Flashback to the Murkowski/Palin scenario.

See my previous post “Operation Chaos. (Only good)” for a devious bit of ‘strategery’.

One of Berkowitz’ pluses is the fact that Alaska needs representation in the majority party.  And I believe it’s going to be the majority party for a good long time.