Let the Battle of the Political Ornaments Begin!

1 12 2008

thanks-santa

During the election season, I enjoyed taking all sorts of informal “polls”.  I counted yard signs, bumper stickers, buttons on jackets, t-shirts for sale, and all sorts of other indicators of the political climate that had no basis in scientific accuracy whatsoever. They were annecdotal curiosities, but sometimes these tell stories too.

Now that December has arrived, there’s another one I hadn’t anticipated – Christmas ornaments.

An Obama-themed Christmas seems appropriate for the many who enthusiastically supported the president-elect, said Kimberly Harris, one of several selling handcrafted Obama ornaments online.

There are ornaments for sale on Web sites such as etsy.com and cafepress.com. Some feature Obama’s face with notes such as “thanks Santa.” Others simply show the blue and red symbol for change that was used in Obama’s campaign materials. “He’s outselling Sarah Palin 7-1,” she said. “People love him, they really do.”

Happy Holidays to all.





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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Obama Victory Rally at “Mudflats Point”, Grant Park, Chicago.

6 11 2008

Here is a great “on the scene” report sent in by roving reporter Mudflatter Chief Shikago!  What an exciting and historic moment for all of us, but particularly for those lucky ones to be live at the scene.  A huge shout out, and thank you to Chief Shikago for sharing his story.  It makes all of us feel a little bit like we were there too, especially with that great Mudflats sign and Alaska State Flag on site!

 

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

 

Obama Victory Rally at Mudflats Point, Grant Park, Chicago

 

After just 3 hours of sleep, (a regular occurrence leading up to today)  I jumped up at 6am and had my usual 3 cups of coffee while reading Mudflats on my cell and watching MSNBC. I contemplated my mission, 1st Meeting Lurker Liz from Mudstock II for lunch near the Board of Trade. 2nd to get myself, a couple of bags, 2 signs and 9 balloons through what was being called heavy security at Grant Park. Because of the restrictions, I opted to leave my beach cart and folding bag chair home, choosing instead an old airline blanket and tired muscles to move the load downtown. As tired as I felt, I opted to drive rather than taking the train.

 

I made it to the Grant Park garage in record time. Did some final packing and rechecking my camera gear. I grabbed my signs and balloons and started to hike toward Jackson and LaSalle where I met up with Liz. I felt blessed she was willing to meet up with this off the wall radical socialist Hussein supporter again. We had an outstanding lunch. Conversation circled around Mudflats and my sad (at times) existence. Liz is a lovely person and a great listener, as I did most of the talking. We hugged good-bye and promised to see each other again. I set a course for Grant Park at Congress.

When I arrived in line I was amazed that there were only about 200 people in front of me. 2 lines stretched out from Congress at Michigan Avenue. I was in the North side line, for those that didn’t have tickets to the inner stage area. During the wait I enjoyed the company of a mother who had just flown in from Kentucky for the rally, and a gentlemen from Evanston, a suburb of Chicago. I saw a guy who looked like Joe the Plumber, but, he was holding a sign that simply said; TX for OBAMA. Several international journalists stopped to ask us questions, as they worked the lines. It seemed like my balloons were very popular with the photographers as no fewer then 70 photos were taken of them, though the guy with the life size cut-out of Barack won the day.

A high point for me during the 4 hour wait was seeing Ronnie Wo Wo. I have met him once before.  Ronnie is a famous local Chicago Cubs fan who is at every homegame, and is known for his trademark “Wo Wo” sound. So after securing my place in line, I ran out to Ronnie and said; “Ronnie I have to get a photo of us for Mudflats!”, “cool” was all he said. Carolina Procter, of the post tribune sums up Ronnie best, “If Ernie Banks is Mr. Cub, then Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers is Mr. Cub Fan”. A disadvantage to being in line for hours was that all the cities Port-O-Johnnies were inside of the park not out on Michigan Avenue.

 

Finally the line began moving. At security I had to empty my bags. That’s when it was discovered I was trying to smuggle in about 5 pounds of assorted candy. With some “Like you’re really weird mister” looks, I made it inside. Now for the final push to the Northeast corner of the park, just another 4 blocks. I selected a location I thought might be good with equal distance between a monster Jumbotron and those johns I missed while in line.

 

I immediately took out my packing tape and secured the Alaskan Flag and my Mudflats sign to a light pole. Unpacked my camera a shot a photo of Wolf Blitzer speaking on CNN. Then I realized I needed to raise the signs higher just above head level. I spent the next hour untangling my helium balloons.

 

‘Bec Hussein of Illinois’ had printed business cards with the Mudflats web address on them, just in case anyone asked about us Mudflats at Mudstock II on Sunday. I had the 4 she gave me in my pocket and I could have used 50! A continuous stream of people asked me questions about Mudflats and Alaskan politics in general, thankfully I have done a little reading up on the subject thanks to AKM and all of you. The best question came from a Chinese national student in Chicago for studies who I spent and hour visiting with. With a Mudflats card in his hand, my e-mail addy penned on the back, he said, in his best english; “Why you care about Alaska politics” to which I replied “Just because it is a different state does not mean we shouldn’t care about what happens there”, and I explained that “When Alaska’s Governor was thrusted into our nations presidential race it’s only natural that we would want to learn more about that individual” I went into further detail using the civil rights movement as an example of how what happens in a state far away can effect us all. It was interesting to get his take on the possibility of real freedom coming to China, which is, he said, only prevented today by the “Old men”. HHhhmmmm I thought of the Republican party at that point.

 

I finally finished the detangling process and at once tried to launch a 3 inch in diameter Obama sunrise, no luck, I tried again with 3 balloons and almost no ribbon, but it was of no use, too much time had passed and too much helium had escaped since I purchased them the night before. With a slight pain in my heart I put them out of there misery and placed them in the trash can. I grew ever frustrated around 8pm with my AT&T cell service which would not give me a signal cutting me off from my Mudflats posting plans.

 

By now there was barely room to sit with my legs folded. I had a continuous plastic bowl full of candy that I would go around and offer my neighbors. When complemented on this practice I would simply say “This is what good people do”. Every time a state was announced for Obama we all went crazy, even Bashu from China, and a women sitting next to me from Portugal who had flown all the way to Chicago just to be there. It was when Virginia was given to Obama I shed my first tear. I thought of Virginia’s history in the slave trade and how far they’ve come. As each state came in our favor the croud went crazy. Then came the big announcement CNN is calling the election for Barack Obama. Screaming, hugging, jumping up and down it was like being and molecule of water that just reached boil. First 10, then 20, 30 minutes later and you still couldn’t hear yourself think, at some point I remember smelling pot in the air. No, not mine.

 

The crowd fell silent again, when John McCains face took over the Jumbotron. His exausted concession speech was well received with few boos and an occasional thumbs down. It was obvious to all he was a beaten man, more over by his own party, than Barack. When I saw McCain supporters leaving as he started his speech, I felt sorry for him.

 

Then shortly thereafter all of the Jumbotrons in Grant Park switched to Barack being introduced, all except ours at Mudflats Point. About 500 of us ran to a smaller set about a block away, (really bad view because it was crowded already) only to hear a few sentences and “Click” the Jumbotron at Mudflats Point came online with Barack, so it’s back we run. By this time you could hear a pindrop, and everyone would say, “yes we can”, after the President Elects lead. Recalling this today gives me goosebumps. It was an unbelieveable moment, it was OUR moment, and it was OUR time. Before I knew it, his words had ended, far too soon for me. As the music was playing and he and Joe Biden were preparing to leave the stage, I asked a stranger to take my picture at Mudflats Point. Afterward I turned and saluted the Alaskan flag and then donated the signs to the historical society of my mind, sadly I turned and joined the other half a million people to leave that sacred ground.

 

Seeing so many people filling the steets as we left was amazing. Just looking down Michigan Avenue I could see the entire population of Fairbanks before me. 60 people shoulder to shoulder wide. People were scrambling up everything and anything they could find to get to a better photo angle, I saw centerline dividers with 30 people balancing on them, trying not to get the person in front of them in their photo. During my hike to the Jeep this throng would spontaniously begin cheering again. I can still hear it, it’s the sound American’s make after hearing Lady Liberty herself, address our nation.

 

‘Chief Hussein Shikago’

In honor of the President Elect and with a mission accomplished spirit I will now been known as simply: ‘Chief Shikago’

 

(I am not a writer, so please forgive all of my grammatical errors.)

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Human Obama Logo in Anchorage – Video

29 10 2008

Here is the video from last Saturday’s event in downtown Anchorage! Hundreds of Obama supporters gathered in the freezing cold for over an hour to send this video postcard to their fellow Americans “outside.” Enjoy, and pass it on!

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Speechless Good. Speechless Bad.

19 10 2008

Speechless. In a good way.

Speechless. In a bad way.





Who is the Real Barack Obama?

15 10 2008

Despite the fact that Barack Obama has been campaigning for president for the past two years, there are still people (like Sarah Palin) asking the question, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” After all, despite speeches, town hall meetings, debates, interviews, press conferences, and two books….we’re still not quite sure. *whispers* Did you know his middle name is ….(looks around to see who might be listening)….Hussein?

I mean, Saddam Hussein had that name too! Clearly, Obama is not only a muslim, but a muslim terrorist, unless we’re talking about his angry pastor. HIs best buddies are probably terrorists too, and I’ll bet you he wasn’t even born in the United States. You can tell a lot by a name…





Confessions of a Sign Hacker

21 09 2008

I have a confession to make.

I was driving to work on Friday, approaching a familiar overpass on the Seward Highway, when I noticed a hand-painted sign that someone had put up so it would hang over traffic.  I’ve seen signs on this overpasses before.  Sometimes it’s a birthday greeting, sometimes a welcome home message.  I even once saw a “No Blood for Oil” sign before the invasion of Iraq.  This one looked like it had been painted on a white sheet.  It was mostly red and blue….it….was….an…… Obama sign!  I smiled as the car got close enough to read it.  “Obama 4 Change” it said.  But then as I got closer still, I realized that there was more.  It continued, “2 Islamic Law -N- U.S.A.”  Obama for change to Islamic Law in U.S.A.??  Argh!

I was outraged, not only at the sheer stupidity and misinformation in the content of the sign, but “-N-“??  There was plenty of space to write “IN”.  And isn’t “-N-”  supposed to mean ‘and’? 

I’m glad I was in the passenger’s seat or I would have hit the guard rail.  So spouse says to me, “Do you want to take a picture of it?” (must have been remembering our photo safari in Wasilla a couple weeks ago)  I said no.  It was too depressing.  Then I noticed the car veering off at the next exit.  “Where are we going?”, I ask.  “We’re going back.”  And so we did.

The plan? Not to take the sign down as I first thought, but to quickly and surgically remove the bottom half!  Brilliant. Not only would the sign be correct in content, but the -N- and the rest of the nonsense would be relegated to the dust bin.

The procedure took about five minutes, as we discovered there were actually two identical signs, one facing north and one facing south.  I present to you, dear Mudflatters, my trophies. No antlers or moose heads from this Alaskan hunt, but something even better.

The signs are down now, but they survived all the way through the morning and evening commute on Friday.  I wonder if the original sign hangers got to enjoy the edited version…

Sign Before

Sign after

The trophies!





Obama Picks Joe Biden. The Gloves Are Off!

23 08 2008

 

It’s official.  The leaks started last night late, and the most anticipated text message in history arrived at 1:42am Alaska time.  All in all, I think it’s a good choice for several reasons:

  • There is nobody who has more foreign policy experience and savvy than Joe Biden.  No matter who the McCain camp selects, they won’t be able to hold a candle to Biden in the debate on foreign policy issues.
  • He’s been around a long time.  He pointed out in his speech that there are only four senators with more seniority than him (soon to be three after Stevens’ inevitable defeat), but that there are 44 who are older than him.  Good chuckle line, and he makes the point.  McCain is older and less experienced.
  • The man takes the train to work in D.C. from Delaware every day.  He’s from a working-class Catholic family from Scranton, PA.  In the current climate of ‘House-Gate’, it can do nothing but help.  No one’s going to call the Amtrak guy an elitist,  especially after John McCain just got nabbed taking a nine car motorcade to Starbucks for a cappucchino.  (low foam half-caff with a sprinkle of cinnamon perhaps?)  In his speech today in Illinois, Biden invoked that iconic vision of sitting at the kitchen table worrying about finances.  Then said McCain would have to decide which of his seven kitchen tables to sit at…Youch!  Democrats aren’t used to fightin’ talk, and from the sound of the crowd, they liked it.
  • Biden’s other classic line from the speech today:  “These times require more than a good soldier, they require a wise leader.”  Oof.  Body blow.  He recognized and commended McCain’s service to his country, and deftly shifted gears with the above line. 
  • He hit the ground running on day one with a scathing attack on the effects of Republican rule in Washington, and referred freuqently to the “Bush-McCain policies” of the last eight years.  The more often people hear Bush-McCain in the same breath, the better for Democrats.

For all those who wish just for once, Obama would just get mad and lose his cool in a fit of moral outrage, this is as close as you’re going to get.  The team is officially composed of one cool cucumber and a scrappy attack dog.  The election just got a whole lot more interesting.





Obama Clinches It!

3 06 2008

The Associated Press is reporting that Barack Obama has the nomination clinched. He needs 10 delegates at this writing to make it official, and the results from Montana and South Dakota are not in yet. The predicted deluge of superdelegate endorsements started yesterday, and are still coming thick and fast. It looks like it will technically be delegates from the states that nudge him over the finish line, which is a good thing. It feels better than having it happen on some off-day with some random superdelegate putting him over.

The rumor mill is churning about VP choices. Hillary has said she’s ‘open’ to a Vice Presidential slot. Hmm. If I were Obama, I’d feel a wee bit uncomfortable about assigning anyone to my #2 slot when a scant two weeks ago they’d been speculating about my potential assassination. I think that was the nail in the coffin for Hillary. But, I notice on Barack Obama’s website that his next engagements are both in Virginia on June 5th. Virginia…home of Jim Webb. Interesting. Personally, I think Richardson would be the best choice.

And of course we all speculate about when Hillary will concede. She’s got an event scheduled in NY with big donors and I’m suspecting she’ll break the news there.

Time for everyone to take a big deep breath. The real race is about to begin.