Monday, March 31, 2008
Dr. George Belden, Dr. Christopher Sweeney and Prof. Philip Munger will perform six works. Two works will also be performed by some of Dr. Sweeney's UAA students.
Perhaps the most exciting event will be the premiere of Serbian composer Ivan Jevtic's Sonata for Alto, Tenor and Bass Trombones. Prof. Jevtic, who teaches in Belgrade and Paris, is excited about the performance, saying, "I am glad my composition is performed far way, in the far north!"
Dr. Belden and Prof. Munger will perform from Variations on an Aboriginal Tune, a work for two trombones Munger composed in 1964, when he was sixteen.
The trio will present the premiere of Munger's Shards III, for bugle, two trombones, electronics and recorded electronic sound. The work was written to honor and commemorate America's 4,000-plus Iraqi War dead. It was just last year, that Munger presented Shards II, commemorating 3,000 American Armed Forces deaths in that awful, misguided war. Shards I, honoring our first thousand fatalities in that war, premiered at UAA in November, 2004.
Munger, a Vietnam War-era U.S. Army veteran, is a member of Bugles Across America, an organization that plays "taps" at memorial and dedicatory services and ceremonies across the country.
The trio will also present the premiere of Dr. Belden's transcription of Henry Cowell's Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 12, from 1957. Originally scored for a trio of French horns, Dr. Belden has rewritten them for trombone trio.
Tickets will be available at the UAA Fine Arts Building before the concert. Parking is free.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
The Associated Press, in a 340-word article about the debate which has been most the widely syndicated take on the event, barely scratched the surface of what went on during the two-hour event. My 650-word Progressive Alaska article from last weekend, gave the most points to Kodiak Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, the second most to former Anchorage State Representative Ethan Berkowitz.
Taufen's 1,670-word article is comprehensive, to say the least, and blasts a number of holes in my essay's premises. He noted that being in the audience, one got a different sense of Berkowitz's presence than came across from listening to the radio coverage on APRN:
"Berkowitz was very good at handling the short time frame for answers to complex issues, and stayed with the fire hard style on several cylinders throughout the night. He has to be given strong credit for his well-studied knowledge of fisheries issues and knowing what Kodiak wanted to hear. He strongly stated that he was fully against the privatization of fisheries off Alaska or anywhere else, and "the government should not rationalize boats out of the water" as he stood on the side of open competition. But I found Ethan's sparkings out of character. If he wants to win the election, knowledge alone won't do, debate watchers said he'll have to cut back on the salesmanship and hyperbole. However, those who only listened in on the radio may wholly disagree, as Berkowitz sounded strong."
Where I had been critical of Diane Benson's lack of preparation in a couple of areas, Taufen sees her tenacious attack on Don Young on the important issue of "transfer pricing" to have been the pivotal point in the debate, and the one which resonated most with the Kodiak fishermen in the audience:
"Benson, who is a member of an Alaskan native corporation, Sealaska - the largest private landowner in southeastern Alaska - clearly was no stranger to the multinational corporate exploitation of federal, state and tribal resources. She stated the problem too simply for most, because she does understand it. Others said she never explained transfer pricing. Not so, she got to the heart of it. And she asked a long-term congressman who could not deny he knows about it. Posing the question alone speaks to a commitment to deal with boat-rocking hard realities, and having the integrity to obligate oneself to doing something about it once in Congress. Those are leadership qualities."
Taufen further explains how Benson connected in the auditorium in ways that didn't come across over the radio:
"But (behold the underlying truth, again) Young faked understanding that important, multi-billion dollar question. Maybe Don Young was thinking of a hair-splitting answer to differentiate home countries from their multinational corporations who fully support their firms winning in fisheries trade by endorsing misconduct in their global transactions while in the host 'country' of Alaska, or ANC Sealaska.
"Young steered back toward the first question, already disallowed by the moderator, by saying,"I don't exactly know the question ... 'transferred to other countries'. But I will tell you, in this audience, that this [debate] is about fish, but I've heard a lot about Coconut Grove..." as he went on the defense over his actions regarding the Florida road. With a lie.
"The audience reacted and one identified person could be heard saying, "He didn't answer the question!" Someone softly shouted "What about transfer pricing?" Benson clarified to the moderator that "he did not answer the question about abusive transfer pricing, which does affect [Alaskan fisheries] because if you have packaging, for example that says on the packaging being imported to Japan...." Clearly, Benson understands many methods can be used to launder the profits through the products to deny Alaska true value for its seafood."Again the moderator cut in, saying the question was answered to the extent it was going to be answered. But Benson reiterated, "So, he's not going to answer the question about abusive transfer pricing and its effect on Alaska fisheries, and the losses we have as a result of it." Jake Metcalfe also asked the moderator if we could get a response to the question that was asked."
Taufen's entire article is well worth a read, even if you're not very knowledgeable about the issues that were debated on the 20th.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Before I took Ray's tour, I consulted friends who are deeply involved with the Alaska Democratic Party. Ray had been singled out by the Party's Rod McCoy for possible violation of the Party's current Party Plan. McCoy cited Article II, Section 6, which says:
Any candidate running for election as a Democrat who:
A) Publicly endorsed or supported, or whose name was published as endorsing
or supporting, the election of a candidate from another political party against a
Democratic candidate in a partisan race between the date of the last primary and
the general election; or
B) Publicly denounced a Democratic Party nominee in a partisan race between
the date of the last primary and the last general election shall be ineligible to
participate in any Democratic party caucus or subdivision meeting; serve as a
District, State, or National Convention delegate or alternate; or receive any
campaign services from the Alaska Democratic Party or any of its subdivisions or
adjuncts until after the next state convention.
C) Before any money may be given to a candidate by the Democratic Party or
any of its subdivisions or adjuncts, the candidate must sign an agreement with
the Alaska Democratic Party stating that should he or she join a legislative
organization not approved by the Democratic Party caucus (a majority of
Democrats) in that legislative body any money received must be repaid to the
Alaska Democratic Party. The terms of repayment must be approved by the State
Central Committee unless repayment is waived by that committee.
McCoy was concerned that Metcalfe's articles, mailings, filings and organizational activities in the latter's ongoing campaign against past and present political corruption in Alaska were becoming a violation of the Party Plan, because Metcalfe has written about ex-Governor Tony Knowles extensively, and is known to be interested in some of Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich's activities as mayor.
But McCoy's view doesn't appear to be prevailing.
I sought advice before the tour because I'm the incoming secretary for the Party for District 13, and for the Mat-Su area. Earlier in the plan, in Section 5 of Article II, it states I could be removed from those offices for writing about Ray's comments about Begich during the tour. The advice I got is to go slowly on this.
Which is good, because the story Ray tells is way fucking complicated. And Ray has not jived me on anything. Everything I've learned from him over the years has turned out to be true.
Ray started out showing me the Jon Rubini housing units on Government Hill. Some are on base, others in a weird niche where the base fence meanders for several blocks that puts them in the city, but exempt from being taxed at their value.
Then we stood atop the downtown parking garage which is itself atop the People Mover station. We looked across 6th Avenue, over the site of the upcoming Augustine Energy building. Ray explained what he's learned so far in his ongoing parking contract investigation.
Then we went to midtown. Ray spent 20 minutes explaining the Calais Building's recent history. Then we moved further south, to the complex of Native corporation buildings Rubini leases and is continuing to build there. Then over to 36th and C, where he spent a while telling me how the FAA got moved out of the Veco Building and into this Rubini-controlled space.
We looked at a vacant lot that's been there forever on 36th, between the Loussac Library and the Frontier Building. It used to be owned by the US Post Office. Guess who just bought it?
Then we went by the possible new home of the Alaska Federal Records Depository. He described the convoluted appraisal situation on the property and how looming deadlines will force this issue back into the public soon. We looked at the extremely silly park there.
We were running short on time. I've got to go back to finish the tour. But, first, he answered another question for me, one I've had for a while - how did the strange road system between Klatt and 100th get that way. Ray's genuine. I knew some things about how that engineering miracle was achieved 20-some years ago, that I didn't share with Ray. What he said confirmed every one of them.
Both ishmael melville at Kodiak Konfidential and Steve at What Do I Know? wrote about birding this week. Steve is in Thailand until May, and has been taking a lot of bird pictures there. ish asks for comments on what kind or kinds of birds he's photographed swimming in the sea near Kodiak. I say they're a mix of Red-breasted Mergansers and Barrow's Goldeneyes. ish calls himself an "accidental birder," but Steve Aufrecht is quite serious, both in Thailand, and at home in southcentral Alaska. Here's his last bird post from about a week ago.
I can't say enough about the quality and variety of Steve Aufrecht's writing from Thailand. He's keeping more abreast there of the political situation in Alaska than most of the editors at the Anchorage Daily News are. And he's also taking an amazing set of photos of daily life in the communities where he's working and visiting.
erin and hig, the trekkers journeying from Seattle the Aleutians by muscle, wind, tide and gravity, have gotten to the area around the Pebble Mine site. At Journey on the Wild Coast blog, erin posted this week about a community and school set of presentations the couple made at the Iliamna/Newhalen Elementary School.
I commented earlier in the week about subarctic mama's takedown of Rep. Mike Kelly's depiction of the role of women in domestic violence in Alaska. Hers is the best essay I've read this week in the progressive Alaskan blogosphere. Go read it!
Freshwrestler at freshwrestler's reprieve doesn't mince words in his assessment of the State of Alaska's settlement this week with big pharma over their negligent marketing of zyprexa.
Adele Stickman, a new intern working at Kevin Harun's MOA green office, has posted links to a data assessment tool called Iceberg, at the ADN Recyclable and Renewable blog, but the links don't work. I hope they fix it there at the ADN.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Moon said turning Traini away was his decision and he stands by it. But now following the Supreme Court ruling, he's offered to give Traini time on the air to talk about his candidacy - possibly on Monday, the day before the election.
"He's now a candidate, he deserves equal time," Moon said.
Another rank decision has been that by the Central Committee of the Alaska Democratic Party to remove references to the only Democratic Party candidate for the U.S. Senate, Ray Metcalfe, from the Party's web site because he raised honest questions about ex-governor Tony Knowles' relationship to big oil when he was in his last elected office. I'll be writing about this story through the rest of the week.Update - Saturday: Friday early afternoon, the State Democratic Party web site placed Ray Metcalfe's campaign web site up at the Party's candidate niche. It now lists Mark Begich, Ray Metcalfe and Frank Vondersaar.
An outlet called blognetnews.com has started listing what it calls "Alaska's most influential political blogs" at its - apparently -- out-of-state -- site. Their listing doesn't include the ADN Political Blog, which undoubtedly gets more traffic than do all those listed combined.
Progressive Alaska is going to try doing a weekly roundup of some of the most interesting entries in the lefty blogs around the state, beginning this weekend. I hope to interject more humor into this Saturday column than I usually do here.
I'm also going to try to find a way to list more regional blogs - Alaska-based web forums that primarily discuss in-state local and regional issues. Anyone with suggestions for inclusions, can e-mail me with ideas. Please...
Update: Steve Aufrecht at What Do I Know? wrote to me from Thailand, providing a link to a controversy involving blognetnews.com. The comments at the linked post are fascinating.
It just seems to me that the message is clear here, that the female — the other half of the population — is falling down because they’re doing stupid things marrying the beasts among us, or shacking up with them. The guys that are brothers and uncles and fathers and stuff are not taking care of this problem. I just think it’s one more thing that insidiously is on government, and it bothers me.”
subarctic mama goes on to take "Burka" Kelly to task, citing the true situation in Alaska in regard to domestic violence:
I can imagine Kelly’s dream Alaska. Unburdened by the evil of government, it’s a place where tribal bands of men defend the honor of “their women.” It’s a place where public schools have been dismantled and religious private schools predominate. Maybe a store would sell burqas printed with Alaska flags.
Kelly's remarks were so offensive to the then-expectant Representative from Bethel, Mary Nelson, that she requested to be moved away from sitting next to Kelly.
And this week, during the debates in finance committees over the bizarre idea of tacking $500 or so onto PFD's that might go up to $2,000 this year, legislators are hard put to find ways to sit or stand next to their opponents on this and other issues.
The cost of these "energy rebates," paid out to every Alaskan, whether the person needs it or not, is, in my view, a very stupid idea. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez seems to have a better idea of where energy money in Alaska is needed: in the bush. What the legislature seems to be headed toward is bribing us. What a tough decision this must be for them, eh?
The cost of these bribes to voters will be $305,000,000. The amount proposed by Gov. Palin, in her State of the State address, for a Renewable Energy Fund, was $250,000,000. Palin's new Energy Czar seems to be steering away from such a rational idea. He's indicated so far, that if people just close their doors and windows, put some duct tape over this, some caulking over that, everything will work out OK in the bush. Another example of subtle or not-so-subtle racism from one of Palin's hires.
Update: I worked in community corrections for about seven years. I was trained as a domestic violence intervention specialist, and dealt with families of victims and perpetrators of this ugly dynamic for even longer than that. In light of that, I find Mike Kelly's remarks from a week ago not only ignorant and reprehensible, but totally despicable.
Traini has served part of a term and a full term on the Municipality of Anchorage Assembly. He filed for another full term. The MOA determined he was a legal candidate, placing his name on the April ballot. A constituent sued in Superior Court, objecting to Traini's inclusion, winning the suit. Traini has appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court, which will hear the case very soon.
Kyle Hopkins posted an item at the ADN Politics Blog yesterday evening, soon after Traini was banned. Apparently, Traini was scripted into the seating chart, and Traini's opponent for the seat, Elvi Gray-Jackson, was expecting Traini to appear on the set with her. But he was kept off stage by KAKM staff. Here's a description of the backstage scene from the ADN Political blog's comments:
I was in the green room at KAKM before the Midtown debate started. A KAKM employee came in a couple minutes before it was to start and showed Elvi the seating chart of where she and Traini would sit. Elvi went in not knowing she would not have an opponent to debate. I watched that debate in the green room with Mike Guitierez and Steve Pratt, and we were stunned to see Elvi have to debate herself because we knew Traini had been in the building. Talking to Elvi afterword it sounds like she didn't know that Traini had been banned, and was assuming he backed out at the last minute. It must have been a very last minute decision and was very bizarre.Should Traini be judged by the Supreme Court to be ineligible, his appearance yesterday, had it been allowed, would be moot. But should he be deemed eligible, his absence from the forum cannot be remedied.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Two years ago, Alaska’s Sarah Palin came out of nowhere to swipe the GOP nomination from Frank Murkowski, the unpopular incumbent Republican governor. She went on to a general-election victory and is occasionally even discussed, in some circles, as vice-presidential material. Now her 2006 running mate, lieutenant governor Sean Parnell, has announced a primary challenge to Rep. Don Young, who has held the state’s lone House seat for 18 terms. In that time, Young has become one of Washington’s premier pork-barrel pols, most notably for his advocacy of the infamous “bridge to nowhere.” Despite their self-image as rugged libertarians, Alaskans love federal handouts, and the 74-year-old Young hasn’t faced a difficult reelection in some time. Yet he’s also under an ethics probe involving earmarks, and has spent around $850,000 on legal bills. Many Republicans worry that if Young is their nominee once again he will lose the seat. Now they have a viable alternative in the August primary. Palin has endorsed Parnell. So should Alaska’s conservatives.
On the surface, it looks like the National Review editors have put some thought into their decision. But DC-based reporter Robert Dillon called up National Review this morning about the editorial, and had the following exchange with NR writer, John Miller:
"There's a feeling that he's a conservative that can win and protect the seat," said National Review reporter John Miller.
Asked if there were any particular issues on which the National Review agreed with Parnell or if the magazine had analyzed the position of the race's other Republican challenger, state House Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux , -- the answer was no.
"The governor's support of him was influential," Miller said.
So basically it's an anti-Young, pro-Palin endorsement.
Miller said the editorial pretty much said it all (see previous post) and he wasn't too interested in answering additional questions. For my part, I was just trying to make a story out of the endorsement, but there's not much to write about if they endorsed him only because the governor did.
It does mean that I could conceivably put more thought into this blog than the National Review does in endorsing candidates for national office, which is kind of scary.
Robert's onto something there. More likely that the National Review folks were told by their conservative GOP behind-the-scenes masters to cook up an editorial marginalizing Young and touting Parnell as the solution to part of their growing negative national image.
hat-tip to Robert Dillon
Monday, March 24, 2008
Things have gone more or less downhill for a lot of people since that day, just short of five years ago.
Milestones along a downward spiral.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Sean Parnell's entry into the U.S. House GOP primary in Alaska thrusts some new dynamics into what had been, up to his filing, an almost automatic pickup of that seat for the Democratic Party victor of the August 26 2008 statewide primary. Parnell, a fairly conservative Republican with solidly visible support from Governor Palin, is likely to draw campaign funds from GOP organizations outside of Alaska who have been waiting to see a higher tier candidate emerge from Alaska's Republican ranks. Parnell has solid credentials, having worked his way up from State House to State Senate to Lieutenant Governor. When in both chambers of the legislature, he was in majorities, and passed some fairly progressive legislation in the realm of victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
Even though the Palin/Parnell axis was defeated in the move at last week's state GOP convention to have Randy Ruedrich unseated as state party chair, Palin's 85% approval rating, combined with national-level GOP worries about Young's negative draw on Republican prospects in a strategic sense, spell doom for Young's fundraising chances. His quarterly report will show more money spent on legal fees. He started a legal defense fund early in 2008, but probably sucked another $200,000 or so out of his war-chest into legal defense this year.
State Representative Gabrielle LeDoux's strong showing in last week's commercial fishery debate in Kodiak helps keep her in the race, in spite of the newly enacted, big oil-inspired, ban on her being able to raise campaign funds while the legislature is in session.
The possible Parnell-Berkowitz matchup should be of concern to Ethan's camp. Parnell has the same background as Berkowitz - white male attorney who became a lawmaker. Both had legal careers that are ungoogleable. In other words, they marked time while working in private practice, or, as in Berkowitz's case, as a prosecutor. Jake Metcalfe looks, in a Parnell-J. Metcalfe matchup, even more vulnerable.
Parnell, as a former member of majorities and legislative committee chair in both houses, can show a lot of bills he introduced and passed. Berkowitz's record in that regard, as a House Minority Leader in an environment where the GOP majority was incredibly disciplined, has little in the way of legislative accomplishment toward which he can point.
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are as concerned about the November 2008 race in Alaska as are their GOP opposite numbers. Part of this must be because Democrats are beginning to wonder whether or not Alaska can be swept. Ted Stevens is less vulnerable than is Don Young. The U.S. House Democratic Party candidate from Alaska that brings the most votes to Mark Begich in November is what they should want.
In 2006, Diane Benson polled better among Veterans, military families, blue-collar workers and Alaska Natives than did the Berkowitz/Knowles ticket. She won parts of the state important to a Begich victory that Berkowitz/Knowles lost. Here's a 2006 Parnell-Berkowitz matchup:
Berkowitz/Knowles --- $1,100,000
Parnell/Palin ---- $880,000
Young --- $2,000,000
Benson --- $192,000
Berkowitz/Knowles --- 97,000 votes
Benson --- 94,000 votes
Considering Berkowitz and Knowles had the state party spending thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars on them, and Benson was essentially running a guerrilla campaign, these raw numbers are quite telling. The DSCC and DCCC are looking into them further. That's part of why in the DCCC's Sunday announcement, the organization kept out of our AK-AL primary. For now. But they're highlighting the AK-AL race. And so are others.
Diane Benson is in Juneau this week, finishing up the filming of a PBS documentary, based on Benson's screenplay of the life of Alaska civil rights pioneer, Elizabeth Peratrovich.
Update - Tuesday morning: The author of this article volunteered for and donated to the 1978 and 1980 campaigns of Rep. Don Young (he was then a Republican), volunteered for and donated to the Alaska Democratic Party when Jake Metcalfe was chairman, has volunteered for and donated to Diane Benson since July, 2006; and he or his wife have donated to the current Jake Metcalfe and Ethan Berkowitz campaigns.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Thursday evening's debate at the Kodiak High School auditorium, on fisheries issues, featuring five of the six candidates for Alaska's at-large U.S. Congressional seat, was well covered and solidly produced by KMXT public radio. The moderator and journalist questioners were more on-the-ball than I had expected. The candidates were reasonably prepared for most kinds of questions they might have expected.
I missed all but the last few minutes live. I teach at Eagle River Community college on Thursday evenings, so I was describing the end of the Romantic period and beginning of the 20th century in classical music to 30 young people, as the debate occurred. But KMXT had audio of the debates up early today, so I listened to it in snips as I could.
The clear losers were Don Young and Sean Parnell. Young, partially because he had to do very well to keep from losing ground, partially because you could sense no feeling of loyalty in the audience toward him. Nobody clapped for anything Young said all evening.
Parnell, because he wasn't there and hasn't yet released a statement on issues that came up.
Jake Metcalfe sort of stood by himself as neither a loser nor a winner. He had to remind the audience four times that he's a "real"Alaskan. His grasp of fishery issues was clearly the weakest of any candidate on the stage. His litany that processes solve problems as long as they're fair and transparent, whether the problem is the privatization of common resources, alternative energy development, or Pebble Mine, fell totally flat. When he tried to be passionate, he came off - as he often does - as a nice guy. Nothing more, nothing less.
Diane Benson, sandwiching her Kodiak trip between a successful set of New York City area fundraisers and the conclusion of filming her story of Elizabeth Peratrovich in Juneau, was honest in explaining a lack of depth of knowledge on commercial fishing problems. She wasted valuable time by asking Ethan Berkowitz a question about maritime issues when Berkowitz was in the State House, that couldn't have concerned Ethan. Benson handled a couple of the questions better than the other candidates - those of educating young people to take jobs at sea through our university system, and the importance of rebuilding our international relationships after eight years of the Bush administration's backing away from any multi-lateralism.
Ethan Berkowitz connected with the audience best of the three Democratic Party candidates. His passion in some of the areas resonated more than anyone there with the audience, getting him the most laughs of the evening. His opening and closing statements were those of a polished politician. He was the most vehement on decrying the privatization of fishing resources as a detriment to coastal communities.
Gabrielle LeDoux clearly won the debate. She's been to far more FishCom affairs than all the other candidates combined. She had the home court advantage. Her solutions to problems showed a long-standing acquaintance with Western Alaska fishery history.
More importantly, she was openly critical of Don Young on several occasions. And she tied his failures directly to the event's agenda, which none of the other Young opponents managed to do. Young even tipped his hat to her on that.
LeDoux had to attack. She's fighting a battle to keep her fundraising machine going now that it is competing with the Palin insurgency's least revolutionary or evolutionary figure, soon-to-be ex-Lt. Governor Sean Parnell.
How hard Gabrielle pushes during the remaining days of the legislative session when she's back in the Juneau fish bowl with Parnell could be a fascinating story. It might be interesting to see if she can manage to finesse the Palin administration into soon revealing whether Parnell was encouraged to run against Young in hopes that he beat Young, or to get him out of the administration. I've got a hunch Parnell's just been finessed by Palin, and doesn't know it yet.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Nothing makes Judy and me happier than that our daughter will soon graduate from the Huxley School at Western Washington University with a degree in Environmental Science, or that our son has decided to transfer from UAA to Humboldt State College in California, to study Oceanography.
Through following the links to articles at Alaska Report by Doug O'Harra, I've discovered the science blog, Far North Science. It is a collective effort. Most of the articles apply to our Alaska environment, and often, to rapid changes occurring here, due to climate change.
I've added Far North Science to the Progressive Alaska Blogs category here, which continues to grow.
A week later, as Baker hoped, Saddam invaded Kuwait. Soon afterward, American and allied airpower began bombing Iraqi forces. Early in 1991 the allied forces invaded Iraq and cleared Kuwait of Iraqi forces. From then until March, 2003, American and British air forces continued to bomb Iraq. On March 19, 2003, the present phase of this longest American war began.
The United States Air Force, in FY 1992 budget battles with our other armed forces, bragged to congress that we had killed "a quarter million Iraqis" during the 1990-1991 phase of the war. Between the end of ground hostilities then and the beginning of the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, the United Nations claims a further 500,000 or more Iraqis died from health problems brought about by the initial and continued bombing of Iraqi public health infrastructure. Most of these civilians died during the Clinton administration.
Additionally, a further 250,000 Iraqis were killed by Saddam's forces after they rebelled in reaction to George Bush I's treacherously false promise to come to their aid.
In the present phase of the Iraq War, which began five years ago yesterday, almost 1,200,000 Iraqis have died. At least that many have been severely injured. Two million Iraqis are internally displaced, and almost that many Iraqis have left the country.
That's 7.4 million casualties. Almost 30% of the population. Even the German invasion of the USSR between 1941 and 1945 didn't create such a high population percentage of casualties. Only the Nazi invasion and genocidal occupation of Poland from 1939 to 1945 was worse in recent history.
Before the war, Iraqi Christians were prominent in all aspects of Iraqi life. Now over 90% of them are refugees. Before the war, Iraqi females were the most highly educated women in the Middle East outside of Israel. Now, a very high percentage of educated Iraqi females have either left the country, or have been killed or disfigured. Their chances for a higher education or satisfactory employment have been reduced to almost nil.
All our major national level politicians blame all of this, including the current dysfunctional state of Iraq's government on the Iraqis. No existing mainstream narrative looks at the situation there from a perspective remotely resembling what you've read above.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Not usually given to hyperbole, Berkowitz might have made another metaphor, and been more accurate, but he's right in that it is the beginning of the public comparative process for these candidates; and that the debate will focus on issues not necessarily important to big places like Anchorage and Fairbanks.
The debate will also be the first event at which all the candidates, except possibly Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell, will be on a stage together. It may be the only one that will find all the GOP and Democratic Party candidates answering the same set of questions.
They won't be talking about sport fishing very much. Only if asked about halibut charters, most likely. Kodiak was once the busiest fishing port in the United States, if not the world. It still is one of the very busiest. A majority of the people attending this debate have blue water over the wheelhouse stories they could tell that would make The Deadliest Catch seem tame by comparison.
But the stories these industriously brave women and men have been telling lately have largely been about the privatization of a common resource which they consider to be theirs, yours and their children's. Theirs to harvest, and theirs to care for, too.
I've been reading articles and books about commercial fishing for close to 40 years. I remember Roger Fitzgerald's first article about Alaska fisheries, back in the early 1970s. I reported on local, state and national fisheries issues for KLAM Radio in Cordova around that same time. Like any complex subject, reporters in Alaska writing or reporting on fisheries, deal with the subjects from a wide array of viewpoints.
These days, most Alaskans get their news on these issues from six reporters: Wesley Loy, Laine Welch, Richard Mauer, Stephen Taufen, John Enge and Doug O'Harra.
Loy, and Mauer write for the Anchorage Daily News. Welch reports every Friday evening on APRN, and syndicates her fishery reports to newspapers around the state. Taufen, Enge and O'Harra write for the Alaska Report. Enge and O'Harra have their own interactive blogs, too.
Wesley Loy also does other business reporting, but his business approach to fisheries is a combination of gossip and name-dropping of major political figures and fishery moguls. My favorite recent gossip column by Loy had this gem:
Last night I attended a grand reception United Fishermen of Alaska put on at the Twisted Fish Co. restaurant here in Juneau.
It was a packed room as folks feasted on an enormous bowl of king crab courtesy of Alyeska Seafoods Inc. and the Alaska Crab Coalition.
The event drew an the impressive showing of VIPs. I noted numerous state lawmakers including House Speaker John Harris of Valdez, Rep. Bill Stoltze of Chugiak, Rep. Paul Seaton of Homer, Rep. Mike Chenault of Nikiski and Rep. Andrea Doll of Juneau.
Others included state Fish and Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd, aides to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, plus some top brass from the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Highliner even spotted some regular commercial fishermen from ports like Wrangell and Sitka.
The whole scene was proof the commercial fishing industry still has some pull in this capital city otherwise fixated on the oil business.
Richard Mauer gets pulled into fishery issues largely because he's probably the best investigative reporter in Alaska right now, and a lot of dirty deals are done in the business.
Welch is a statistics maven. I try to catch her radio and print reports every chance I can, because she presents a lot of data, and portrays it accurately. Her article on tomorrow's debate is worth a read.
Stephen Taufen's Alaska Report article on the debate is by far the best, though. Especially from the progressive viewpoint:
The privatization of pollock, crab and rockfish – coupled with the recent allocation of previously non-allowed bycatch of valuable species such as black cod – has the community on edge about fisheries sustainability and fairness, as well as opportunities for new entrants. The town was built on fathers and sons, and daughters, who set out to harvest the sea and work their way up in an industry increasingly pushing out highly experienced working men and women by lowering their rights and incomes.
Enge, like me, attacks Alaska media when they come up short of reporting facts, or develop narratives which distort or hide the real truth:
What's wrong with this statement? "Most recently, Kodiak trawlers tested the waters for a co-op in the rockfish fishery. The slower pace extended the fishery from three weeks to seven months, keeping more seafood workers on the job longer. By fishing cooperatively, the trawlers cut halibut bycatch rates by more than 70 percent."
The only thing that might be right about this statement is that Kodiak trawlers initiated "something," albeit, not where the public saw it happen to THEIR fish. (Notice I didn't say, "where the public COULD see," because someone like the FBI might have found out.) I'll also give them that it did stretch out the season, in large part because the processors were busy with salmon.
Enge's fishery blog is called Alaska Cafe.
O'Harra writes about science and how it relates to fisheries. I'm about to add his science blog, Far North Science, to the list of statewide progressive blogs.
Update - Thursday 0500: The ADN's Richard Mauer reports in today's edition - "Questions will be asked by panelists Jason Moore of KTUU in Anchorage, Casey Kelly of KMXT, Margie Bauman of the Alaska Journal of Commerce in Anchorage and Ralph Gibbs of the Kodiak Daily Mirror." Mauer further reports that Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell will not be there.
"He was a man he's known for years and trusted. [Clark] let him down, he let the state down in a very, very big way."
What Clark did, that upset Sen. Murkowski so much, was to use almost $70,000 the former had solicited from Veco, to commission polls on her father's chances for re-election in 2006. Unlike other figures in the GOP corruption scandals of the past two years, Clark didn't pocket any money.
In fact, Clark gave up a lucrative personal practice in late 2002, to work for Frank Murkowski, just before Lisa was appointed to her father's job - by her father. Clark probably gave up about $800,000 in personal income to work for Murkowski, a man in whom Clark erroneously and foolishly, placed his trust.
I have friends who were guests at the Clark residence in Juneau or lived down the street from the family, during Clark's tenure as chief-of-staff. They've described how Clark would often work until 11:00 p.m. and get back up at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. to attend to the Governor's affairs.
This is not to excuse Jim Clark. But, by bringing this up in such a self-serving way, Sen. Lisa Murkowski begs some comparisons:
• Former Rep. Tom Anderson - around $10,000 taken from Veco
• Former Rep. Pete Koch - less than $10,000 taken from Veco
• Former Rep. Vic Kohring - the price of a used riding lawnmower and about 250 cheeseburgers taken from Veco
• Sen. Lisa Murkowski - between $70,000 and $170,000 taken from Anchorage slum landlord Bob Penney in a shady real estate deal.
I know, I know, Sen. Murkowski sold the property back to Penney, once the word got out on the deal. But she initially tried to keep it, stating, "I bought the property from a friend that I think I have known since I was probably 5. It was before elementary school, let's put it that way. My husband knew him before he knew me. So we go back a long way."
It was only after a firestorm of criticism and probable ethics investigations - at the very least - came hammering down on Lisa, that she did the right thing. But her pattern of actions then help to explain her ingratitude toward Clark now.
What Sen. Murkowksi should have done, what her father should have done, in the time since Clark's plea, is to ask themselves, "Have we possibly asked too much of people like Clark and Penney?"
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Then a few sleazy hedge funds go where they inevitably were going to head - way, way south. A major investment firm is endangered because of their borderline criminality. Within hours the Fed and the Executive branch of our government are there with a bailout that would keep the Iraq war going for two months.
Wall Street welfare - Main Street bankruptcy. Only, these days, the victimized can't even declare a decent bankruptcy, because Congress changed the rules, making them continually vulnerable for retribution for the rest of their lives.
Privatize the profits - socialize the risks.
erin makes the same point in her new entry at Journey on the Wild Coast Blog. She and hig have gotten to the Pebble Mine site, one of the major goals of their 4,000-mile non-motorized trek from Seattle to the Aleutians. Noting how a mine like Pebble's legacy fits into our collective future, long after the gold has been extracted, the profits removed from Alaska, she writes:
They’re still exploring out there. Still finding more gold and copper, still expanding the already enormous size of this proposal. And with that enormous size comes an enormous amount of toxic waste - chemicals, tailings and waste rock that needs to be carefully contained - carefully kept separate from the groundwater and streams that feed Bristol Bay’s extraordinary fish resources. “Modern mining” has a shaky track record in protecting waters even for a few decades. And we would have to trust them for thousands of years. Through earthquakes, storms, and changes in climate… Through changes in corporations, generations, and even entire civilizations… Alaska gives permits to mines (like Red Dog Mine), that will require water treatment “in perpetuity”. But forever is impossible. And in hundreds or thousands of years, after the political and economic structures that keep the mine’s remains safe have shifted or dissolved, there may still be people there who need the fish in the streams and the animals along their banks.
photo by erin of prospecting rigs at the Pebble site.
Monday, March 17, 2008
The debate, to be held in the Kodiak High School Auditorium, will be the first forum at which candidates from both the Republican Party and Democratic Party will appear together at the same forum.
The time of the debate's broadcast will be from 7 to 9 p.m. KMXT will stream it on the internet, as will APRN. ComFish's web site lists Don Young, AK Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, Diane Benson, Ethan Berkowitz, and Jake Metcalfe as participants, but the program was printed before Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell announced his candidacy for the seat last Friday morning.
At the Mat-Su Democrats' Egan Dinner last Friday, I gave a report on my attendance of that day's events at the Alaska GOP Convention in Anchorage. I pointed out that with Sean Parnell's entry into the race, national interest in the contest is already growing. I predicted more money will be spent in the 2008 U.S. House primary contest than was spent in the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial final. Around $2,500,000 was spent on that race.
I love Kodiak! I wish I could be there for the debate.
Fagan: You don't know who Louis Farrakhan is?
Girl on show: No I don't...
Fagan: He's the head of the Nation of Islam of the United States, he's a big, uh...y'know - hates Jews. But all Muslims are supposed to hate Jews. To be a good Muslim.
Girl on show: See, I'm not a Jew, so I didn't know that.
Fagan: You don't have to be Muslim to know that Muslims are supposed to hate Jews.
I transcribed that from the podcast available at KFQD. Friday's hour three section, which should still be up there, puts this segment at 49:18 to 49:35.
Although the rest of the show is filled with more examples of Fagan's and his sidekick's ignorant drivel, none of it quite rises to this level of what I regard as hate speech. My wife says she regards it as "borderline" hate speech, but the other people I've run this by feel it rises to the level of hate speech.
I'm writing to the publisher of the Anchorage Daily News and the Manager of KFQD. An apology to Anchorage's Muslim community is the least I'll be pushing for:
Pat Dougherty, Publisher
Anchorage Daily News
PO Box 149001
Anchorage, AK 99514-9001
301 Arctic Slope Avenue
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Since Rachel Corrie died this day five years ago, over 86 Israelis, 1,290 Palestinians, 1,300 or more Lebanese, 3,988 Americans and 1,189,000 Iraqis have also died in pursuit of a folly that has destroyed the hopes of well over a billion people for a generation.
Rachel Corrie protested the Iraq War before it started, in a demonstration in Gaza City, shortly before she was killed. Like her, I was against the war before it took off. I discovered her death as I was seeking anti-war poems for a song cycle.
The resulting music, finished in early 2004, was condemned in Alaska as anti-Semitic. I was denounced at a joint session of the Alaska Legislature for having written the commemorative work. Those claims were total falsehoods. After cancellations of projected performances in Anchorage, New York City and Toronto in 2004, the work was finally performed on November 1, 2005 in London.
I've been reluctant to post the entire performance at my music web site, because of the incredible volume of hate mail I've received in the past whenever I assert my beliefs on what Rachel Corrie meant, and because people continue to misunderstand what the work means.
But I'm convinced the work resonates now more than ever, and is as fitting a tribute to this young woman and what she believed as exists. So, I've put the entire work up at my music site and my protest music site.
I hate this Goddamn Fucking War and every evil it has created, extended, warped and exacerbated.
The Skies Are Weeping
The April 8, 2004 speech explaining the music's premise
Rachel Corrie's memorial site
Update: This blog lists some of the commemorations of Corrie's death five years ago, that have occured on the web.
Friday, March 14, 2008
The Governor relentlessly brought up the image of "Change." Beyond that, she asked for anyone attending who is willing, to call for a "Declaration of Independence" from the GOP in Alaska as it is currently constituted. Her appeal to "clean up politics" was directed at a political organization which has done everything in its power to thwart her fairly progressive agenda. And still does.
Younger people in the audience applauded loudly as she asked, "Why should we wait for others to manifest that commitment for change? Let it be us, cultivating new leaders."
Older people were looking more and more glum, as she then quoted President Bush, in his 2008 State of the Union message, when Bush declared war on the earmark process, that has gone out of control during his presidency. Acknowledging Alaska's dependancy on earmarks in the past, she said, "It is time to embark on a new era in Alaska. It IS time for change."
Young people clapped harder, some rose to applaud and cheer. Palin kept using the term "change," almost as if she were auditioning to be Barack Obama's running mate. But she isn't.
Palin sees the continuing rule of GOP Party Chair Randy Ruedrich as an obstacle to the separation of her new paradigm from the statewide and increasingly important national highly negative image of Republican Party politics in Alaska. She next called the Party's Central Committee on their decision late Thursday night, to keep a vote on a rule change that would allow a vote against Ruedrich's tenure to come to the floor a questionable decision. Her request for vocal and physical support from the floor was indelibly recorded by Alaska Report's David Zaki.
I wanted to write about this Friday morning, but my other laptop started acting up. It is going into the shop tomorrow. I thought through the day, as I went from an interview with Diane Benson before she embarks on a trip, at a rehearsal at UAA, and at the Mat-Su Democrats dinner tonight, that some other news source would pick up on the chutzpa of Palin's call for change. None seems to. The Parnell announcement overshadowed Palin's appeal, but I thought her speech to be the most interesting by an Alaska politician I've ever witnessed.
I heard at the Mat-Su Democrats dinner that some news outlet announced a time for a vote Saturday on the motion to suspend the rules and consider Ruedrich's termination, but I haven't seen any further information.
As I left the convention site, I overheard one of the young Fairbanks Republicans who was handing out "Vote for Change" buttons say to another kid, "The reason Young is so much against change is because he knows that when his lawyers are done with him, that's all he'll have left - CHANGE."
S0mething has happened t0 my lapt0p - the letter "0" and s0me 0ther features have st0pped w0rking. It is under warranty and I have an0ther lapt0p at h0me but I'm g0ing t0 have t0 wrap this up and take it 0ver t0 the Mac St0re.
Rabbi Yosef Greenberg of the Lubavitch Center of Alaska gave an invocation and prayer, and then introduced State Representative Gabrielle LeDoux of Kodiak, who has filed to run in the GOP primary against Don Young.
LeDoux was wanly received, as she began a fairly short speech that emphasized her concerns about corruption and cronyism within the Alaskan Republican Party. Her address had a feeble joke about attorneys - she is a lawyer - comparing them to lobbyists. She didn't bring up anything along the issues line, which was disappointing.
Mat-Su Valley GOP activist Bert Hall introduced Rep. Young, who was quite animated, pulling one gag line after another out of his schtick bag, as the audience warmed to him.
Young brought up his million dollars in legal fees, by stating, " What price freedom? What price justice?
"I've made an agreeement with my lawyers and I've made an agreement with the Department of Justice, not to comment."
After the opening session here - called "Breakfast with U.S. House Candidates - people have broken up into small district groups, figuring out what to do during the General Session I, which begins in a few minutes.
I had an opportunity to chat with Rabbi Greenburg for the first time in almost four years, before he left. Then Bert Hall came over, and we discussed the Central Committee meeting that was held yesterday evening. He wasn't in it, but he stated that it went far longer than the hour that had been alloted to it, and a decision was made not to bring the issue of Randy Ruedrich's continuing chairmanship of the party up in front of the main body of delegates. Just how it is to be handled will be decided later today.
Update: Dennis Zaki and Stefan Taufen have a good article up on yesterday evening's Central Committee meeting at the Alaska Report.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The site had over 2,000 unique visitors last week. Readership is growing at 7% per week. Less than half are from out of state, and Alaskans from all over read articles at Progressive Alaska.
There's no way for one person or a small group of people to know, let alone write about in authoritative and picturesque ways, all the issues facing Alaskans.
I can't thank the people enough, who have brought articles here, written helpful comments, e-mailed me links and quotes, and so on! If you want to write here, know somebody who might, or have other ideas along those lines, let Progressive Alaska know.
I wrote here about my feelings on the political positioning of the VOT last November. Essentially, I view the stalwarts there as living in some kind of a fantasy world. A place less dangerous than World of Warcraft, but less real, too.
Brendan Joel Kelley, who is helping resurrect the Anchorage Press, has written a choice piece on his efforts to find out who funds the VOT, now that their former publisher, Bill Allen, is about to lose all his subscriptions and go out of circulation for the rest of his life.
Kelley got not very close to an answer as to who funds the operation from an attorney named David Bundy - possibly no relation to Ted - who is listed as the VOT's agent, with this gem:
“I don’t know why I should be telling you anything, even if I knew it,” Bundy says. “Even if I did, I’m not authorized to discuss it with you.”
Not authorized to discuss what’s public record? C’mon David, there’s no reason to be a douchebag.
So Bundy seems to think he's some kind of secret agent, rather than a plain old business agent? I hope Joel keeps on this story. The ADN can't, 'cause they want to distance themselves from these clowns.
I don't. That's why the Voice of the Times is proudly listed here as a humor site.
I do that.
- Don Young, from an interview by Robert Dillon in Washington D.C. early yesterday, for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
Last month, traveling through Alaska, he sounded more like Don Corleone Young, with threats, bluster, and claims that the million dollars or more in contributions his campaign is spending on criminal defense lawyers is "MY MONEY!"
Don is also doing a Rodney King impression, with - We need to knock the partisan bickering off, put aside our theatrical aspirations, and start getting things done.
I'm tempted to do the multi-colored word thingie to that precious gem too. That is from a press release Young sent out as he headed back to Alaska for the Easter congressional recess and the Alaska Republican Convention, being held in Anchorage this weekend.
• Raise your hand if you think Don has had a great awakening, and is going to be sincerely nice, and begin listening to his constituents. I thought not.
• Now, raise your hands if you think Don is just plain scared shitless. I thought so.
picture of peyote cactus on Don's office desk, as he contemplates becoming a visionary shaman
I've tried to keep the blogs listed here under that category limited to blogs which address issues important to progressives in more than one geographical area of the state. Two of these appear to qualify.
Kevin Harun and Nick Moe, both employees of the Municipality of Anchorage, have put together the Recycling & Renewables Rap Blog. Kevin is a full-blown innovator wherever he goes. While running the Alaska Center for the Environment, he turned that organization into a very credible, multi-faceted agency for empowerment, education and progress. I listened to Kevin talk about how he's directing the "greening" of the MOA, when he spoke at the Step It UP! Conference late last year.
Recycling & Renewables Rap Blog has a lot of entries by Kevin and Nick, and the comments contain information on dealing with recycling issues that can prove useful to people all over the state.
AK Root Cellar Blog is being run by Kim Sollien, a whiz kid out of Alaska Pacific University's sustainable Development program, who helped bring the Bioneers Conference to Anchorage for the first time, back in 2004.
Kim describes the premise of the blog thusly:
This blog is for those of you who would like to add more local foods to your diet, meet local farmers, learn new recipes based on seasonal eating and preserving the summer harvest. Food is political too, so here you can learn about and influence local and national agriculture issues, and participate in helping to rebuild the Alaska food system. May each of you chew happily and wisely.
There aren't nearly as many entries at the Root Cellar as there are at the recycling blog. That's bound to change soon. And the discussion topics are informative. The most recent is about how to possibly get Full Circle Farms in Carnation, Washington, to develop partnerships with local organic food producers. I'm all for that.
Judy and I grow a lot of our own vegetables, can a lot of fruit. New crops of arugula and meusclin came up yesterday. So Kim's subject stuff is dear to us both.
carrots from our garden yesterday. We keep them in very slightly damp sand over the winter, out in a cool corner of my shop. They taste better in mid-March than anything you can buy in a store in August.