‘Truth for Lunch’ Delivered to Sarah Palin’s Anchorage Office.

1 10 2008

Today at lunch time, about 30 Alaskans gathered downtown outside the Atwood building to “Deliver Truth for Lunch” to Governor Sarah Palin’s Anchorage office. The core group of organizers for Alaskans for Truth were there, talking to reporters, as the crowd gathered. At about 11:30, the group, led by Linda Kellen Biegel entered the building and rode the elevators to the 17th floor, where the Governor’s office is located.

Kellen Biegel asked if the group could speak with Lt. Governor Sean Parnell. The very efficient front desk lady said she’d see if he was “available.” After a moment, we were told that Palin spokesman Bill McAllister would be out shortly. (Imagine Sean Parnell pulling the blinds, locking the door, turning out the light and sitting behind his desk with saucer eyes until everyone left).

McAllister emerged, and listened as Linda read aloud the petition demanding the resignation of Attorney General Talis Colberg. He made some official, “I-am-accepting-the-physical-petition-but-not-what-it-stands-for” statement, and then stayed for questions, many of which came from Phil Munger of Progressive Alaska and local Air America Radio personality  Shannyn Moore. Alaskans want to know who, exactly, is running our Department of Law, why the Attorney General is telling state employees to ignore subpoenas, and what the Governor intends to do about it. Several news cameras and reporters were on the scene.

So, to all of you who signed the online petition, your names are now in Sarah Palin’s office. It’s kind of like when you sign one of those online NASA things, where they put your name on a chip and send it to a comet…OK, it may not be quite that exciting, but it’s much more important.  And to those of you who haven’t signed yet, click HERE so you can join us in spirit, and take a virtual journey to Sarah Palin’s desk.

Whereas, Alaska Attorney General Colberg has tampered with witnesses subpoenaed to testify in the Alaska Legislative Council’s independent investigation of Troopergate and the pressuring of Walt Monegan to fire Trooper Wooten.

Whereas Attorney General Colberg has an admitted conflict-of-interest in the Troopergate investigation due to his acting on behalf of the Governor to pressure Walt Monegan to fire Trooper Michael Wooten.

Whereas Attorney General Colberg is obstructing the ongoing Troopergate investigation being conducted by the Alaska Legislative Council’s independent investigator Stephen Branchflower, reneged on his written commitment to the Alaska Legislative Council to cooperate fully with the Troopergate investigation, and has instructed witnesses subpoenaed to testify not to appear or comply with their subpoenas.

Whereas, Attorney General Colberg has allowed outside influences from attorneys Edward O’Callaghan and others of the McCain campaign to influence the Attorney General’s Office in the Troopergate investigation.

This petition is to demand the removal of Talis Colberg from the office of Attorney General of the State of Alaska.

About 900 signatures were gathered at the two-hour Hold Palin Accountable Rally last Saturday.  Another 1200 were gathered online in the past two days.

An interview with Linda Kellen Biegel can be seen HERE, and more coverage will be out in the next few days.  I’ll post more links as they become available.

Alaskans for Truth are not finished yet.  Stay tuned for more information.


*Pictures may be used with credit and links to Mudflats. Thanks!

Advertisements




Alaska Lt. Governor Sean Parnell Concedes!

18 09 2008

Alaska Democratic Congressional Candidate Ethan Berkowitz

Lt. Governor Sean Parnell will not seek a recount in the Republican primary for Alaska’s lone seat in the House of Representatives. He conceded to 18-term incumbent Don Young, who is currently under investigation and has spent more than $1 million in legal fees, before he has even been indicted. Young squeaked out a narrow victory with a final vote tally of only 304 more votes than Parnell.

Parnell, who had indicated he would seek a recount, has apparently had a change of heart. He may be banking on a McCain-Palin victory, which would put him snugly in the governor’s chair with a direct line to the White House. At this point, it’s not a bet I would take, but I’m not him.

The concession still strikes me as odd, since the margin of victory was slim enough that the state of Alaska would have picked up the costs of a recount. Maybe he worried that a recount and second loss would sully his image. Palin and Parnell are all about image.

Democrats will sleep a little easier tonight knowing that Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz will be the one to face Don Young in November. Parnell would have been a tougher competitor. I can practically hear the champagne corks popping at Berkowitz headquarters.

Despite the much larger Republican turnout at the primaries, many of Parnell’s votes were “anyone but Don Young” votes from Republicans, Independents, and Non-Partisans. Many will either not vote at all, or vote for Berkowitz, simply because the 18-term corrupt, bombastic, blowhard that is Don Young is no longer tolerable.

There were also many Republican ballots selected by Independents, and Non-Partisans who lean Democratic, but voted for Young in a strategic move to keep him in the race so Berkowitz can bring him down like a bag of dirt. In Alaska, Independents and Non-Partisans can choose either the Republican or Democratic ballot. That’s why there are so many of them. Ahhhh…strategery.

Frankly, it’s also going to be a lot more fun to cover a Young-Berkowitz matchup for local media and bloggers.

So join me in a toast (or a donation) to Ethan Berkowitz! >tink< It’s not going to be a cake walk, but he stands a chance of ending an era of corruption in Alaska’s congressional delegation. I’ll bet there are plenty in Washington D.C. popping their own corks right about now.





Operation Chaos a Success! Don Young Wins by a Nose!

17 09 2008
Lt. Governor Sean 'Caribou Ken' Parnell
Lt. Gov. Sean “Caribou Ken” Parnell (left) and Don Young with his favorite objet d’art….Don Young.

Operation Chaos, it seems, may have been a diabolical success.  You’ll all recall when Rush Limbaugh urged all his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton in states with open primaries.  The theory was that she’d be easier to defeat than Barack Obama.  It’s debatable whether his tactic had any effect locally, but it obviously didn’t work on a national level.

In Alaska, on the other hand, things may have turned out differently.  It was no secret in the polling, that Democratic candidate Ethan Berkowitz was much more likely to defeat long-term but desperately corrupt incumbent Don Young, than Republican newcomer (and some would say Palin-bot) rival Lt. Governor Sean Parnell.

So, devious Independants and Non-partisans (who make up well over 50% of the voters in Alaska), chose the Republican ballot and voted for Young in a desperate attempt to swing the general election in favor of a viable Democratic candidate.  How do I know this?  Because, just in general chit-chatty conversation, I personally came across FIVE people who did it.  I didn’t ask. It was almost like people needed to make this guilty, yet gleeful confession.  Did one of my earliest posts help plant the idea?  Probably not. Not many people read it.  But the idea obviously sprang up indepentently in the minds of those hungry to get the old-guard corrupt politicians out of office.

Weeks after Alaska’s primary, the absentee ballots now counted, Don Young can claim victory by the razor-thin margin of 304 votes.  I know five of the voters by name, and I’m guessing that Alaskans like them have put him over the top.  Alaska politics makes strange bedfellows.

Parnell  will probably call for a recount, so keep those champagne bottles corked for now.  The recount could take another 10 days.  But, things may be looking up in one branch of Alaska politics.





And Now for Something Completely Different.

6 09 2008

Yes, there is life beyond Palin. It may seem hard to believe, especially here in Alaska, where the media is swarming on the small town of Wasilla like ravens on a dumpster full of french fries. (Trust me, it’s a good metaphor)

As everyone in the Lower 48 + Hawaii is finding out, the cast of characters in Alaskan politics is full of…well…characters:

Walt Monegan, the noble Police commissioner who said, “I’d gladly die for the governor, but I would never lie for the governor”

Chuck Kopp his non-vetted replacement who famously proclaimed, “I am not a sex harasser!”

Mike Wooten, the trooper in Troopergate who has a list of offensive deeds, but was axed by whom Palin wanted to axe for what many feel is personal revenge.

Stephen Branchflower, the rock solid non-partisan investigator, and Thomas Van Flein, his nemesis and the private attorney now representing Palin. Palin’s new private attorney.

And the whole supporting cast of children, children’s boyfriends, extended family, ex-coworkers, the almost fired librarian saved by the outraged masses at the last minute*, the fired police chief, and of course, Palin herself – the lip-sticked pit bull moose-skinning gun-toting mother of 5 (or 4 say some), who either rose like a star, or flimflammed her way to the top…depending who you ask.

But, yes, there is a whole political landscape outside the governor’s little world. There is big news developing with two of those characters who haven’t been discussed much lately – Don Young, and Sean Parnell.

Don Young. That’s him up there standing in front of the giant portrait of himself, wearing an Alaska state flag bolo tie. When people who don’t know about Don Young ask about Don Young, they are met with one of three reactions: the eye roll, the head shake/chuckle combination, or an expletive. It never fails. He is absolutely indescribable, but I’ll try. He is a cocky, loud mouthed, angst-ridden, bloviating, jaw-dropping bully. He looooves pork, and people that love pork, love him. He’s a porketarian of the highest order. His annual fundraiser is even a pig roast and he’s proud of it. The grill at the event is usually a $30,000 barbeque donated for the event by Veco corp, the now defunct oil services company whose president and vp have plead guilty to felony counts of bribery and agreed to dish the dirt on what feels like half the Republican politicians in Alaska…and one Democrat just for the heck of it. Many are either on their way, or already in prison.

Don Young himself is currently under investigation by the FBI, and has spent more than a million dollars from his campaign fund on lawyers and hasn’t even been indicted yet. All of this does not keep Alaskans from voting for him. He’s been holding Alaska’s lone seat in the House of Representatives since 1973, and most Alaskans just look upon him as an inevitability, like snow. He just keeps coming back, no matter what you do. And besides, we’ll overlook a lot, as long as we get our pork.

The last time Don Young was up for reelection, the Democratic challenger (a woman, and Alaska native) Diane Benson got 40% of the vote. While this may not sound like much in other elections, 40% against Don Young with a progressive female candidate on the ballot was huge. This proved that Young was vulnerable. Smelling blood in the water, hoards of lower level politicians began circling the wounded bloviator.

This time around, he may go down. State legislator Ethan Berkowitz, a rising Democratic star, stand a very good chance of unseating him in the upcoming election. Progressive Alaskans are doing the happy dance all over the state. For them, it is a dream come true. But…there’s one more hurdle to overcome. The hurdle is named Sean Parnell. Sean Parnell is what many like to call a ‘Palin-bot’. He shares Palin’s idealogy, and is “supportive” of her administration. Translated, this means whatever she says goes, and he doesn’t argue. Critics say he’s an empty suit and an empty head. He also doesn’t like to show up at debates, or give interviews…too uncomfortable (sound familiar?). BUT, he has Sarah Palin’s ‘full support’, which is enough for many in the state.

Berkowitz doesn’t fare as well against Parnell in the polling, and it might be a tight race if that was the match-up in November. Parnell might very well swoop into office exactly like Palin, by getting the anyone-but-the-incumbent-as-long-as-I-can-still-vote-Republican vote. That’s a big slice of the pie up here.

I went down to Convention Central at the Egan Center in Anchorage on primary night, just to watch the returns. And, as many predicted, the race of the night turned out to be Young vs. Parnell. We all bit our nails, drank $8 beers at the bar in the corner, chomped peanuts and watched the big board. At times there were only four votes separating the two candidates. Progressives stopped doing the happy dance and started worrying. Many Democrats and independents I know voted for Young, simply to assure that he would stay in the race long enough to be taken down by Berkowitz. (The Alaskan version of Rush Limbaugh’s operation Chaos, urging Republicans to cross over and vote for Hillary). They will be happy they did. At the end of the night, only about 150 votes separated the two candidates, with Young holding a razor thin lead over Parnell, and hanging on by his fingernails.

Then the absentee voting began. There were 25,000 votes to be counted. The result? After more nail-biting ups and downs and the Division of Elections working into the night, Young maintains his lead by a scant 239 votes. With still more absentee ballots to be counted from overseas, this is about as close as it gets. The last of the absentee ballots will be rounded up by Wednesday, and it’s anyone’s guess. There will likely be a recount.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Division of Elections is under the purvue of none other than…the Lt. Governor, Sean Parnell? Oh, it’s true. Who said life beyond Palin would be boring?

Now that you’ve welcomed a new Alaskan eccentric into your political world, please sit back and enjoy this little homage to Don Young from TPM Muckraker who refers to Young as a “one man mud wrestling match”. Enjoy.

*correction from previous post





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.





Alaska House Race Poll Numbers

10 08 2008

The latest poll numbers from Ivan Moore Research from 7/18-7/22/08

Don Young (46)

Sean Parnell (38 )

Gabrielle LeDoux (6)

I have a friend who refers to this race as:  The Crook, the Nitwit, and the Other One.

On the Democratic side, Ethan Berkowitz leads Diane Benson at this point 54-25.

So, assuming we have a Young vs. Berkowitz race:

Young (R) – 37

Berkowitz (D) – 52

Wow. Change is in the air.

Even though there were no results for a Benson vs. Young matchup, and even though we may never get to see it on the ballot again, I’d just love to know.  I think Diane would mop the floor with him, and I’d like all her supporters, and Don Young himself to see it in black & white.





Alaska Candidates on the Couch

21 07 2008

Just got back from the Alaska Women’s Political Caucus Debate for House candidates, aka the “Couch Conference”. In attendance – Diane Benson, Ethan Berkowitz and Don Young. Glaringly absent – Gabrielle LeDoux and Sean Parnell.

I arrived a little late, but walked in just in time to hear Don Young’s position on the Iraq War. Fumbling for a pen, I managed to scribble down “Fully supported ‘invasion of Saddam’ or we would be having a nuclear war with Iran and genocide the likes of which we have never seen.” Yeah, we know. And the smoking gun would have been a mushroom cloud. FYI Don, we actually invaded Iraq, not Saddam.

Most of the questions and answers went as you’d expect, and many were softballs. KTUU’s Megan Baldino was underwhelming as moderator and looked bewildered and unsure of the protocol and the questions most of the time.

And I confess, I kept hoping for one of those Don Young head-exploding moments that would end up on YouTube, but no such luck. There was lots of sighing, and puffing out of cheeks, eyerolling and muttering. A couple times you could hear him say ‘nonsense’ under his breath, and he did this really odd leg lift thing, over and over, while looking completely engrossed in his shoe. And he definitely turned every shade of purple while the Democrats talked about ethics, but that was about it. When it came time for Don to talk about ethics, here’s part of what he had to say:

“I will set on this bench…this couch…and hold my character. [Mudflats – OMG close your eyes!] Yes, there’s been a lot of writing in the paper. 18 months of writing….18 months….. But my ethics and my wife’s ethics…my family’s ethics should never be in question. You may think they should be, but they should not be.”

Oh reeeeeaalllly. And exactly WHY should they not be in question? Maybe we should ask the FBI.

Ethan Berkowitz did well, but answered a few questions in vague terms, including, “What can you do in congress for the state of Alaska?” He responded by talking about moving forward, looking forward, looking to the future, needing a congressman for the NEXT 36 years, not the past 36 years. But I wanted, and thought he was capable of giving a more substantive answer. Other than that, he was polished, energetic, and engaged. He specifically mentioned his support for Clean Elections (eyeroll from Don Young), which I was happy about.

Diane Benson was at the top of her game. She was witty, poised, and unintimidated. My favorite Benson moment followed Don Young’s proclamation that he is-was-and-always-will-be pro-life. She answered that she is pro-life too, which is why she doesn’t support the death penalty, and doesn’t think we should “go to war at the drop of a hat”, but that matters of a woman’s body are private, and between her and her doctor. Zzzing! Her only cringe-inducing moment was when in response to a question about how best to promote women’s issues and fair pay, she said, “Stop electing men.” This was met by a heckle from the back of the room that came from a young uber-Republican guy in a suit, sporting a giant LaDoux bumper sticker on his lapel, who called out in his best frat-boy voice, “Yeah…Vote for Gabrielle!” Benson’s comment may have been true, to a degree, but Berkowitz scored by saying that people should vote for a candidate because of their values, not their gender.

The most moronic question of the night? If you could make up a catchy one-line slogan to bring tourists to Alaska, what would it be? All three candidates looked at Megan Baldino and each other like, “Are you kidding?” Don Young even said, “Who makes up these questions?” No one had a good answer, and no one in the audience was surprised they didn’t.

Second-most irrelevant question, but one that surprisingly perked up the audience nonetheless – “What car(s) do you drive, and do you fly commercially or by private jet?” Just because I know you’re curious:

Ethan Berkowitz – 1993 Yukon. Toyota Prius. Commercial airlines, front of the plane, aisle seat. He quoted Bill Egan who said, “You get more votes in coach.”

Don Young – 2003 Cadillac. Saturn. Evaded the airline question.

Diane Benson – “Nothing beats 50mpg on my Harley” (the crowd approved). Honda Element. Dodge Dakota work truck. Also didn’t answer the airline question, but probably not for the same reason as Don Young.

There was another interesting Don Young moment during the break. While being serenaded with great piano music (the event was held in the Steinway Piano shop) he danced down the aisle holding an invisible partner with a giant goofy smile almost long enough for me to get it on tape….that would have been my YouTube moment! Oh well. He did seem to be in quite a chipper mood….perhaps he’s watching Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, his biggest Republican threat, who hitched his wagon to Sarah Palin’s rising star. That star is starting to fizzle, big time, and it’s only good news for Don Young in the primary. More on that later.

But basically, Young’s strategy was to remind us all that he’s been in congress for a long long long time, and that he can drop lots of names. His other strategy was to be a puffed-up, condescending bully. It’s worked for him in the past, so he keeps doing it. He never missed an opportunity to mention that the other two Republicans weren’t there, which was ironic since, in May, Young blew off a promised teleconference at the Hispanic Affairs Council forum (attended by all four other candidates) with a flimsy excuse. The condescension continued with weird comments to Ethan Berkowitz, either under his breath about Diane Benson, or out loud with things like, “Well, Ethan, that was a very nice campaign speech” after every question he answered. (Note to Ethan – Try using a strategically placed throw pillow as a buffer zone to keep Don out of your ‘bubble’ if you have to sit next to him again)

After the first round of questions, each candidate was given a paper bag with questions on little slips of paper in it, that they drew out of the bag and asked their opponents. Ethan Berkowitz’s last piece of paper slipped under the flap at the bottom of the bag and he couldn’t find it. So Don Young booms out, “And Ethan wants to be a congressman….He can’t even find what’s in the bottom of the bag! HAHAHAHAHAHA!” This was met by crickets and uncomfortable shuffling from most of the room, uproarious laughter from the frat boy corner, and cascades of giggles from the Steinway piano lady, who spent the rest of the evening fawning over him like a lovesick schoolgirl.

The evening wrapped up with a 2 minute closing statement from each candidate. Don Young reminded us that even though some people think he’s done badly, he hasn’t done badly. He revealed the horrifying fact that he wants to die in office – “God’s going to replace me some day. I only hope it’s not the voters.” Voters…lightning bolt….either way, he needs to be gone.

If either Democratic candidate gets the seat, Ethan Berkowitz will get his wish to “elevate the quality and tone of politics in this state.”