Sunday, August 31, 2008

Saradise Lost - Chapter Four -- The Ship of State

hat tip - Cujo359

Saradise Lost - Chapter Three - The Challenge to Our Alaska Media

Having spent hours and hours on the phone since Friday with reporters and writers from the USA, Canada and Great Britain, and having read dozens of excellent articles about Sarah Palin and scores of awful ones, in the Outside media, I'm learning a lot. My first post-choice post last Friday, This Changes the Most In-Flux Political Environment in the USA, reacted mostly to early cable news and wire service coverage of the announcement by McCain in Ohio.

But over the weekend, while the MSM press first string is usually gone from the job in Alaska, a challenge to our veracity, professionalism, memory and intelligence that dwarfs even the Ted Stevens indictment, has occurred.

Reporters from around the country are interviewing Rick Steiner, the UAA professor whose battle against the Palin administration last year over state correspondence on the status of Polar bears, the Anchorage Daily News consigned to the Alaska Ear column. A reporter is flying here from the UK to - among other things - interview John Stein, the Wasilla Mayor who built the city government structure Palin got credit for. A blogger named Jane Hamsher is getting into more details about Palin's past vindictiveness than our local reporters have yet scratched since the Monegan fiasco began. Sam Stein, a Huffington Post columnist, was able to determine from a few hours of basic research, that the McCain team had not investigated Palin's Wasilla administration's history in the Frontiersman. I was thinking of checking on that Tuesday, but Stein had it figured out by Friday!

I could go on and on with examples like this. The important point on the above instances is that these reporters and writers are doing a good job, by and large. I've had to answer many questions about Alaska and Palin based on misunderstanding, ignorance or prejudice toward the governor or the state, but the best of these people try to get it, and want to understand us.

Alaska progressive bloggers, especially in dealing with comments to our national-level essays, or in observing the media and blogs throw out one inaccuracy after another about our state, and about Sarah Palin or the Palin family, have to stand up against false information and false impressions.

My feelings about Sarah Palin have always been mixed. I find her totally unsuitable for this job possibility. Yet, several times this weekend, I've found myself defending her and Wasilla, in comments about her potential candidacy.

Robert Dillon pointed out the growing insidiousness in left blogs, grasping at anything they can find, to slime a person and family with a rumor, that, remarkably enough, started early last spring, in far right Alaska GOP circles. Yet Dillon was careless in attributing the DailyKos story to Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, which is untrue. The story was penned by a DailyKos diarist, named ArcXIX.

I've already written that I feel this choice of Palin is dangerously irresponsible. I'll continue to fight it. With the truth.

In a way it is scary. I've been critical, upset, angry, goddam mad and over the top about a lot of Alaska politicians, talk show personalities and editors, in the 10 months of Progressive Alaska. But, I have to say, there's something about Sarah Palin that makes some nutty people in the Valley way more nutty, in what they would do to stick up for her.

image by Dennis Zaki, who is busy, busy, busy....

Saradise Lost - Chapter Two



hat tip - Howie Klein

Saradise Lost - Chapter One

August 31 PA Arts Sunday - Hurricane Edition -- Part Two -- Variations on a Theme on the Katrina Hexachord

The day the levees broke in New Orleans, George Bush was visiting the San Diego naval base. As he left the event, he was presented with a gift Gibson guitar by country western singer, Mark Wills. Images of Bush playing the guitar spread across the web, as thousands of people drowned.

New Yorker music writer and blogger, Alex Ross dubbed a picture of Bush playing air guitar on the Gibson, the Katrina Hexachord. Confusion ensued, as people failed to realize that there were several images of his antics, and that he wasn't fingering the same "chord" in each of them.

Soon afterward, one composer, an M. Keiser, wrote a piece partially based on one version of the Katrina Hexachord, calling it Trent Lott's Porch. I transcribed Keiser's piece, thinking of using it as basis of a set of variations My transcription appears at left).

But the project never went anywhere, as I thought of dealing with a piece about Bush's Katrina failures. Late in the fall, Jocelyn Clark, from Juneau's Crosssound Festival asked me to write music for the May 2006 performances of the ensemble in Wasilla, Anchorage and Homer. I decided to take up the Katrina Hexachord idea again, as basis of the second movement of a composition, to be called, Two Rivers.

I posted a closeup of Bush playing the guitar near the guitar professor's bulletin board at UAA, asking the guitarists to give feedback on the actual tonal makeup of the chord:
Here is the result of my compositional efforts, and the performance by the 2006 CrossSound Ensemble, in their UAA performance:




(click on the title, click on the green arrow, then click on the back arrow on the larger page, to come back here, while the music plays)


George Bush was photographed playing air guitar in California the day after the levees broke in New Orleans. Later the same day, he gave a big birthday cake to John McCain in Arizona. Then he flew back to his ranch in Texas. Eventually it dawned on him and his handlers that thousands were dying in New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta. So he then flew from photo opportunity to photo opportunity in the devastated areas. Wherever he went, rescue efforts were suspended to accommodate his gigantic bubble.

This theme and variations take a look at his stations of the anti-cross. The theme is based on the hexachord created by Bush’s fingerings when photographed with the Katrina gift guitar: ascending G#-C#-F-A#-D#-A, and that strange chord’s relationship to the six chromatic notes Bush didn’t play.

a. Introduction (timing - 0:00)
b. Theme - Air Guitar (1:08)
c. Variation 1 - Happy Birthday, John (2:27)
d. Variation 2 - The View from Air Force One (4:01)
e. Variation 3 - Heckuva Job, Brownie (5:27)
f. Variation 4 - Trent Lott’s Porch (6:57 & 8:36)
g. Variation 5 - Swaggerin’ with the Firemen (7:34)
h. Variation 6 - Leni’s Wet Dream (9:12)
i. Variation 7 – Little Dirge for NOLA (11:00)

August 31 PA Arts Sunday - Hurricane Edition -- Part One -- Steve Shepard at Kimura

The Kimura Gallery, on the second floor of the atrium part of the University of Alaska Fine Arts Building, is currently hosting a show of drawings by Mississippi narrative artist, Steve Shepard. The show went up on August 25, and will stay on the walls until September 26. It is called Swampwader Politics and Other Gestures.

The drawings on the wall are quite vivid in their directness. The simplicity of the statements the artist uses to narrate the stories and icons in the drawings stand in contrast to the graphic nuances in some of the startling images themselves.

Here's how Steve Shepard describes his art:

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1955, I have spent most of my life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I began fishing, beachcombing, sailing and operating a small motorboat when I was eight. And I have been exploring and studying the coast ever since.

I speak a visionary language of deep ecology inspired by the natural history of the northern Gulf of Mexico and its disintegration at the hands of developers (Republicans) investing in sprawling overpopulation.

In pursuit of complexity, I favor busy frenetic compositions with an attention to spontaneous absurdity. Dynamic shifts in perspective and horizon and the abandonment of linear perspective all are driven by my need for impressions of dizzy flight over inner vistas. I harmonize the surface with bright rich pure colors. My influences include the work of self-taught artists (I was first taught to paint by my fourth grade teacher in Gautier, MS, Ms. Francis Smith, originally of Hattiesburg, who enthralled me with her memory and historic canvases as well as her handling of local landscape), outsiders (Wolflii and Ramirez), Chicago Imagists, and ethnic sources from pre-Columbian to African and Far Eastern.

My style reflects an appreciation for naive and narrative art expressed outside the restraints of Western perspective.

My work is all made on cotton or rag paper, darkened with watercolor. I draw the image with black ink, sometimes graphite and prismacolor; and fill in the image completely with prismacolor. The paper is sometimes mounted to board before the drawing is made, and, upon completion, sprayed with a UV resistant fixative and framed without glass. Unmounted drawings are framed under glass.

I spoke on the phone with Steve Shepard last Thursday. He was getting his house, his studio and his parents' house - all close to the Gulf of Mexico coast in Mississippi - as safe as possible from Hurricane Gustav. He described how much was lost to him and to his family in Hurricane Katrina, three years ago this past week.

Good Luck, Steve!

The drawings in the Kimura date from 1986 to 2006, and Shepard regards this as an important showing of his odyssey as a visual artist.

No matter what Hurricane Gustav does to his home, he plans on giving a lecture about his art this coming Wednesday, September 3, at the Fine Arts Building Recital Hall, at 7:00 p.m. There will be a reception for the artist earlier in the evening, in the gallery, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

images from Kimura Gallery courtesy of Steve Shepard

Saturday, August 30, 2008

At the Fair Today

Judy and I spent about eleven hours at the Alaska State Fair today. We womaned and manned the Alaska Democrats booth for six hours. Then we worked as volunteers for Valley Community for Recycling Solutions for another four hours. It was a gloriously spectacular day.

I was up early, on the phone with reporters from several out-of-state publications, answering questions about Sarah Palin.

When we got to the fair, more calls came in, as we were trying to deal with questions from booth visitors. And firedoglake was supposed to put up an article about Alaska's current political environment I've been working on and modifying for them this week.

I've been telling reporters since yesterday that Sarah Palin has about a 50/50 chance of becoming the next Tom Eagleton. Judy said to me after one really long call, "And I thought we were going to spend some time together today."

The Democrats' booth has to move next year. It is parked in what a friend familiar with Fair traffic calls "the DEAD zone." I've spotted a space I'll ask the party to consider moving to, where everyone passes.

Supposedly, there were McCain -Palin T-shirts being sold by 10:30 a.m. yesterday. They sold out by 8:00 p.m. today.

Recycling at the Fair is a big concern, with a huge volunteer roster. They fill one of those full-size dumpsters with cardboard, which has to be broken down flat, every day.

Judy and I walked around, pulling a cart, emptying trash cans of plastic and aluminum, into big plastic bags, for a few hours. Then I went around, gathering up cardboard boxes and breaking them down, from behind the booths on the Purple row.


A few people came by the Democrats' booth making rude gestures, or asking "Do you love burning American flags?"

God, do I love Alaska!

Sarah's First "Victory"

A year ago today, I was the guest of John Stein, who was then the City Administrator of Sitka, Alaska. He was the person who advised a very young Sarah Palin to move up from the Wasilla Planning Commission and go for an open seat on the Wasilla City Council. She did. Soon afterward, she ran against John, who was then Mayor of Wasilla, and beat him. By a few votes.

Her campaign consisted of challenging John's wife, the late Karen Marie, of having a different last name from Mr. Stein, and of dissing "government schools," a term Palin had picked up from the now imprisoned ex-Representative, Vic Kohring.

Her campaign accused Stein, a Republican, of not being Republican enough. The campaign, very fungelical, stressed that Karen Marie was a prominent Democrat, and pro-choice (they called her a "baby killer").


Palin promised, in her mayoral campaign, to eliminate the Wasilla sales tax and city police department Stein had struggled to get.

She didn't.

Last August, when I was staying with John, we laughed a lot, as we talked about the many contradictions and periods of luck Sarah's rise has seen.

That run of luck may end this weekend...

image of Alexander Baranof in the Sitka town square

Friday, August 29, 2008

This Excellent KTVA Report Will Come Up Again and Again

This is Two Months Old.......

Conservatives Are Starting to Go "Oh, NO!!!"

Needless to say, the comedy and parody political blogs are having a fine time with John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. 23/6 is having a field day, with articles called:

Ode to Todd Palin, whose part-Eskimo sperm swims uphill, both ways

Sarah Palin arouses conservatives like no one since Jesus

and

McCain's Quayle: One of her kids is named "Track"

Wonkette discovered Palin sometime in the last century, so they know her well. Their headliner right now might be worrisome to the McCain folks, though:

WONKETTE EXCLUSIVE: TODD PALIN MAY BE LOVER OF MANY LADIES


The Onion, which used to be the flagship web-based political humor page, has a tag up, called "A Real Sweet Gal, With Gams Up to Here," but it is a blank stub right now.

Far more interesting to me, though, is Howie Klein's analysis at Down With Tyranny! of conservative reactions to McCain's Palin selection. He has a long list of links and quotes to some very worrisome WTF reactions from some very, very red pundits. Here are some highlights:

Ramesh Ponneru at National Review - "Tokenism. Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?"

Jean Lopez at National Review - "Looks like I'll either sit this one out or vote for Bob Barr. Why, o, why, didn't McCain listen to Rove and just pick Romney?"

Mark Halperin at Time - "those who point out that George H.W. Bush was able to win despite Dan Quayle's presence on the ticket forget that the country was much more solidly Republican at the presidential level back then than in today's 50-50 America."

The Washington Post printed a short interview piece with Walt Monegan today. Not very informative to Alaskans who have kept up, but the hundred or so - and growing - comments are fascinating.

Meanwhile, watching CNN, the networks seem to be head-over-heels in love. So far.

Update - 8:00 p.m: eli at firedoglake has a great set of links to Sarah's weaknesses.

Shannyn Moore's Take on Gov. Palin's Judgement

(Sarah Palin, behind a .50 caliber machine gun, doing her Michael Dukakis impression last year.)

Shannyn Moore has written an article that seriously questions some apects of Gov. Palin's judgement. Guest post by Shannyn Moore:

Today is a historical day for Alaskans. Having been born and raised here, I can celebrate whole heartedly that an Alaskan politician has made the national stage for something other than corruption charges. Wow, the nation is stunned…you have a gun, Lady? Really? Neat! Can we vote NOW? The story of a real Alaskan woman, mother of five, uber-pro-life, a creationist, loves Jesus, hates the devil, married to a real life stud…well, you just can’t write this stuff. If John McCain had selected my favorite Alaskan Conservative, my father, instead of Governor Gump, I still wouldn’t vote for him.

When it comes to being one breath from the presidency, my nostalgia for an Alaskan being in the White House wanes fast. I want a vice president with good judgment. I don’t care what gender you are, or what color you are…I want your brain to be connected to your heart and spine. After the debacles of Frank Murkowski, I was ready to give Sarah Palin the benefit of a doubt and line up as an Alaskan First, before party. She has shown weakness on a few key issues that disappointed me in the past few months, and now are red flags with her new job offer.

Last spring there was the big announcement of Sarah Palin’s 5th pregnancy. I’m pro choice, happy she was able to make whatever choice was best for her family. With her oldest child in the military, three more at home, and one on the way she was getting quite a bit done. I would have wanted a nap and a spa, but that’s just me. In the last few weeks of her pregnancy she was flying all over the country, Washington D.C. and then to a conference of Republican Governors in Dallas. Her water broke at the conference and she decided to fly back to Alaska to have her 5th child that she knew had downs-syndrome. She passes up some of the finest children’s hospitals in Dallas, Seattle and Anchorage, to fly hours and then drive to 50 miles to her home town to have her child. I admire her ability to hold a child in during all those hours and miles above the Earth, and her staunch loyalty to Alaska to deliver her baby on Native Soil. But had I been on board one of those planes on the way to take a loved one off life support, or be at a wedding, or job interview, or any other event that we get on planes for, and had to be diverted by a woman who knowingly got on board after her water broke, I may not admire her uterine control so much. Her lack of judgment for fellow passengers seems obvious, but for someone who is so pro-life it seems reckless.

As Governor, Palin did bring back a special session to fix the previously bought tax on the oil industry. Not giving away our State’s resources doesn’t constitute standing up to Big Oil. I’m sure it feels like it with the pressure of the most powerful lobbyists in the world, but it just isn’t. It is standing UP for Big Oil to sue the federal government for listing polar bears on the endangered species list because it could affect future exploration. Alaskan towns are washing away, and our climate is changing. Permafrost is no longer “perma” in many places. The rapture is not an environmental policy.

I’m all about killing and grilling moose. So is Sarah. But to the degree she will influence elections by spending $400,000 of state money to propagandize her position to shoot wolves and bears out of planes is bizarre. You would think Alaska has a ban on the importation of Viagra for all the fervor to chase animals with airplanes.

Just days before last weeks election, her administration put up a website, had a press conference all to influence a ballot initiative. While at a press conference she was asked how she would vote on the issue and she came out against it, all be it after dis-robing herself of the “governor’s hat”. The initiative intended to beef up the environmental water standards for large scale open pit mines proposed in the Bristol Bay watershed. It is currently the home of the world’s largest wild salmon run. After the supreme court ruling in favor of Exxon over the Alaskan fishermen, paying damages for environmental damages seems like the cost of doing business rather than a deterrent. As a fellow fisher woman I was shocked by her stance, as an Alaskan I was upset at her lack of regard for the election process and her naivety to think her “personal opinion” wouldn’t alter the outcome.

John McCain came in 4th place during the Republican primary. His disregard of the US Constitution trumps his service. The National media has said Sarah and McCain are both Mavericks. A maverick in Washington wouldn’t have voted lock step with George Bush. To be a maverick republican in Alaska all you have to do is not be indicted or sitting in jail for selling your vote. For all the inexperience or judgment questions I have on Palin’s policies, she’s too good for him. You can put all the sugar on a turd pie that you want….John McCain will still be a turd pie.

The only thing more varied than Alaska’s landscape is its people. When it boils down to a flat tire when it is 20 below, you don’t ask political affiliations when you pull over to help. Sarah Palin is Alaskan, so am I. Politically we disagree on many things, but I’d help her change her tire if she needed it.

NPR to Cover Sarah's Wikipedia Changes Yesterday

A friend tipped me off that All Things Considered will air this story this afternoon, about the changes made to Gov. Palin's wikipedia entry yesterday.

Sheesh! CNN is interviewing Matt Zencey as "a leading expert on Sarah Palin."

This Changes the Most In-Flux Political Environment in the USA

When I told Judy about MCain's pick, she really thought I was pulling her leg. I had to say "really" three times before she realized this has really happened.

Quickly going through the Alaska blogs and national lefty blogs, I'll make a first set of observations -- Outside Alaska:

1) Palin is NOT in the pocket of big oil.

2) She is NOT a fiscal conservative.

3) Howie Klein, who always amazes me at how much he knows about so many states on so many levels, has the best national-level post on Sarah's big ticket liabilities I've read yet. He misses it on some stuff, though.

4) I am tired of national reporters calling me and asking, "Is it true that Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant?" Thanks, Lydabots, for starting that one last spring, when you were pissed at Sarah for more stuff than you could handle.

5) People outside of Alaska totally, TOTALLY misunderstand Alaska and Alaska politics.

6) Troopergate, with a fine light turned upon it, isn't on a timeline that will influence this election as much as some outsiders are already hoping.

And some observations on how this might influence our Alaska races:

1) It changes everything.

2) Alaskans will rally around Palin in the face of unfair criticism of her administration and character. This will help GOP races in November all around Alaska.

3) Combined with the national attention directed on Stevens in September and October, we will be in the news more than at any time since Joe Hazelwood slimed us into the national spotlight.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

John McCain's Answer to Everything..........



hat tip - georgia10

FOX News is Totally Fucking Disgusting - Chapter 2,345

Celtic Diva took this picture of the DNC FOX News crew, during the Pledge of Allegiance at today's DNC. Here's her observation:

Typing and talking.....with their backs to the flag.

Nice....

(Tipped off by Dennis Zaki, who told me he saw the same thing yesterday while CNN, MSNBC and the others stood respectfully with their hands on their hearts.)

I suppose some wingnut in the comments is gonna write, "How could Celtic Diva take that picture with her hand over her heart? What about that, huh?

"And I'm SURE they're wearing their American Flag lapel pins. Is she? They shouldn't have to stop doing their very important work, making us feel safe by making sure we're very, very scared."

Update - Thursday, 9:00 a.m:
I called Dennis this morning. He's in Denver, and it is too hot! He verified and amplified on CD's comments on FOX's boorish conduct. "Even BBC and the Spanish National TV stood up and turned toward the American flag. The only news team in the whole place that ignored it was FOX. Time after time."

He told me he couldn't see any American flag lapel pins on their shirts, blouses or coats either.

Dennis got to stand near Bill Clinton, and spoke with Rahm Emanuel about Ethan Berkowitz.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Uncounted AK-AL Young-Parnell Votes

The primary election results are frozen at 97.9% for a while. Apparently, the uncounted precincts are:

Hughes
Iliamna
Hydaburg
Kokhanok
Nondalton
Sheep Mountain
Atmautluak
Lower Kalskag
Scammon Bay

Probably - as far as the Young-Parnell race goes, more Young votes than for Parnell. More interesting are the remaining, yet uncounted absentee and questioned ballots.

The supervision of the Division of Elections is a responsibility of the person now behind Don Young by 145 votes. Robert Dillon from An Alaskan Abroad writes about what he has learned about the current status of the absentee and questioned ballots. I'll reprint his analysis, but insert Sean Parnell every time he wrote Division of elections:

Gail Fenumiai, director of Sean Parnell's Division of Elections, said they mailed out more than 16,200 absentee ballots and have received about 7,600 back. A good chunk of those were included in last night's count but there's still potentially 8,000 ballots out there.

Sean Parnell was also accepting absentee ballots from people around the state who could not make it to an official polling station. Those ballots are still being collected and a firm number on how many there are won't be known until Thursday.

There's also the issue of question ballots from each precinct. Sean Parnell will begin counting absentee and question ballots on Sept. 5. An unofficial final tally is expected that evening, Fenumiai said. State statute allows the Division 15 days to turn in a final count, but they try to do it in 10 days during a primary, Fenumiai said.

Sean Parnell won't begin counting ballots absentee and question ballots before Sept. 5. The only change in the count prior to that will be the nine precincts that didn't report last night.

As it stands now with 97.8 precincts reporting, Don Young has 42,461 votes to Sean Parnell's 42,316 -- a difference of just 145 in Young's favor.


There is no evidence I'm aware of that Parnell will attempt to influence the count. However, the state is already involved in answering questions and complaints regarding the Lt. Governor's office's ties to Parnell's campaign office.

I've yet to see a story about that in the media, but it is happening. Actions have been taken by the Attorney General's office in this matter. Strange how incurious the MSM in Alaska is about a story that is so easily investigated.

Scenes From the Egan Center - Alaska 2008 Primary Night

The 2008 Alaska Primary Race is over. I'll be writing about it later today, when I have more time. I'll make one observation now, though. Turnout, after all the hype, was lower than I expected. 20,000 less voters voted in the AK-AL race than I was hoping for. 48,056 voted in that contest in 2006. At 97% count, it is around 65,000 for that race in 2008. In that same contest, Democratic Party ticket increased about 15% over 2006. Republican Party participation in that rather close contest, was only up 11% from 2006.

And - this is rather troubling. I've been commenting about how weird it is for Ted Stevens' supporters to be using their kids as props in his campaign appearances. Well, it turns out, they are largely his grandkids, and youngsters bought (hired out) from the Covenant House. Sick....? Well, somebody in the know observed to me, "Hey - they need the work!"

Sen. Ted Stevens, from below, on KTUU set. Several people, including Republicans, commented to me how old and troubled he looks.

Linda Menard, who convinced Senate President Lyda Green to pull out of the GOP Primary race, happy with her cruise to Primary victory.

Mr. Whitekeys. I asked him if he was thinking, "WTF?" He laughed that great laugh of his, responding, "So much new material, so little time...."

Mark Begich's internet guru, Matt Browner Hamlin, back to work, after being detained in Hong Kong, for unfurling a Tibetan flag during the Summer Olympics.

Shannyn Moore trying to interview me: "Did you guys totally screw up, or what?"

David Shurtleff, Ethan Berkowitz's Communications director, and me, beginning to make up. Actually, we've been fine.

I asked Ethan Berkowitz's wife, Mara Kimmel, to pin one of her husband's campaign buttons on my lapel before I left the hall.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More on DNC Coverage

Fairbanks Mayor and somewhat sane Republican, Jim Whittaker, gave a speech this afternoon on Obama. The image at left is from Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis. An Alaskan Abroad's Robert Dillon - now back on the web after a changeover from one server to another - has the text:

Good evening! We are Americans first, not Democrats, not Republicans. I stand before you as a father, a husband, a mayor, an Alaskan, a registered Republican—but first and foremost, as an American.

I am not here to speak against Senator McCain. I am here to endorse Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States of America because I am an American first. And as Americans, each of us has one precious vote—and a responsibility to cast that vote for the candidate we believe will best meet America’s challenges and seize America’s opportunities.

I will be casting mine for the candidate who possesses a keen intellect, a pragmatic idealism and a resulting wisdom which is sorely needed in America today. I will be casting my vote for Barack Obama.

We, Americans, must have a foreign policy based on strength, logic and sound judgment. We will get that from Barack Obama.

We, Americans, must have economic policies based on what’s best for hard working families—not lobbyists, or special interests, or just the very wealthy—but for the vast majority of our people. We will get that from Barack Obama.

We, Americans, must have an energy policy which leads us to energy independence and stability. We will get that from Barack Obama.

This cornerstone of our economic security and national security cannot be left to shifts in the market or the whims of hostile dictators. America’s energy policy must be based on self reliance and the resources we have right here at home: from domestically produced natural gas, including liquefied natural gas from Alaska, to biomass, wind and solar—renewable, alternative energy sources, American energy sources.

In the end, I’m here tonight because I know the change we need requires a leader with a steely resolve, a powerful vision for our future and a passion for helping working people. The man you will nominate tomorrow is that leader−America’s next great president, Barack Obama.


Fairbanks blogger, Janiak, observes that if you want to really watch the DNC, go to C-SPAN. She sent me this critique of the corporate-friendly take of the CNN and 24-hour cable news coverage:

I was trying to watch the Demo convention on CNN-

First they featured the invocation, and then broke to interview Mitt Romney on the floor of the convention!!!!! Ick!

So I started flipping back and forth from C-Span- total coverage- to CNN-

CNN kept cutting to themselves analyzing what Hilary would say for the ten thousandth time, while totally ignoring what the actual convention speakers were saying, like Ann Richards daughter, a leader of Planned Parenthood, detailing how many time John McCain had voted against women’s issue, like insurance coverage for birth control.

On CNN an e-harmony (dating service) ad covers for a fiery Dennis Kucinich speech- “wake up America- the corporations are taking over America!!!”

“Not a call to go from right to left, but from Down to Up.” Go Dennis!! OK- to be fair, CNN does now have Kucinich on. Big Big cheers. Wonder what Wolfe Blitzer is going to say about that….

He sure did whip up the crowd, says Wolfe.

Now Gloria Borger is running at the mouth, covering up John Chiang, controller of California

And CNN is giving more air time to disgruntled Hilary supporters, while C-Span runs DNC promotional video, and cuts to Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisc. CNN is still on commentary.

Democracy Now is also doing excellent, truthful coverage.

I've been sign-waving, voting, teaching, meeting on a new music composing project, and helping our son Alex get ready for flying to Humboldt State in the morning to begin a new year of college. He would have gotten there already, but he's setting up on the stage of the Borealis Theater at the Alaska State Fair right now, to play his last gig of the summer with Static Cycle.

Off to Anchorage to join the Diane Benson crew for the election night coverage at the Egan Center. I won't be blogging on that until tomorrow, but I'll bring the iPhone for pictures.

We'll have some GREAT candidates tomorrow!

Meanwhile,
St. Ted and his attorneys will saddle (that's saddle, not addle) the entire nation in the weeks leading up to the election with tawdry tales of sex between Bill and Bambi (in Ted's Gridwood playhouse?)...

image by Celtic Diva - or, possibly Morrigan

Diane Benson on Benson Boulevard

Image by Clark Yerrington

----->>> Go, Diane & Clean Elections!!!

Progressive Alaska's Endorsements

My hand-modified huge Diane Benson sign is ready. I've got my Carrharts, XTra Tuffs and Hellys ready to don, along with some waterproof gloves. I'll be down at the junction of Palmer-Wasilla and Trunk, standing next to the Alaskans for Clean Elections sign, until even the borough employees are at their desks, sipping their first cuppa.

With up to 200 visits per hour at PA recently, maybe this site's endorsements will help:

U.S. Senate: Mark Begich. The coat had little to do with swaying me. Mark convinced me back in May. Sorry, Ray, my good friend......... too many dots left unconnected for you to sell your case to me on Mark. Keep on doing what you're doing! You're my hero. Mark will be our Senator.

U.S. House: Diane Benson. Having worked closely with this remarkable Alaskan over the past 26 months, I've come to think of her as both a needed next step in growing beyond the faulty state legislative paradigm of the post-Hazelwood era, and think of her sometimes as the little sister I never had.

Ethan, for all the chutzpah he showed for 45 seconds during that notorious special session in 2006, was and remains too similar to old-school, 20th century political loyalty politics for what I believe to be necessary. His current fundraising, and the way it has elevated him to the status of "inevitable," is the best example on the Democratic Party side of the aisle, of why we need a Clean Elections initiative.

Diane Benson's growing awareness and grasp of the issues facing us, especially in the realms of women's & civil rights, health care, and ties to lobbyists, shows she is more than capable of both representing Alaskans, and of helping take the U.S. Congress in a new, more progressive direction.

The Ballot Measures: I'll let Kodiak Konfidential's Ishmael Melville's recommendations stand on their own merits:

Ballot Measure No. 1, Establishing a Gaming Commission: NO. I'm all in favor of gambling, but this is putting too much power in the hands of too few (three of the seven commissioners make a quorum!). Let the Legislature create what gambling the people see fit, then let a commission or department run it. This is just a thinly veiled attempt to create big gaming in Alaska without public input.

Ballot Measure No. 2, Adding grizzly (brown) bears to same-day airborne hunting ban and requiring all predator control hunting be done by state employees: YES. Just makes sense.

Ballot Measure No. 3, Clean Elections: YES. This will create a wholy voluntary system to provide public funding for elections. Best way I've ever heard to keep Corrupt Bastard Big Oil/VECO-style money out of politicians' hands. Remember it's totally voluntary.

Ballot Measure No. 4, the Clean Water Initiative: Big Hell YES. Salmon over gold, any day. Save our streams, help keep Pebble Mine in check and the lives and livilihoods of thousands of Alaskans safe and intact. Voting for Clean Water and Salmon is the real vote for jobs.

Gotta go out, get soaked, get my arms tired.

Go out there yourselves, folks - AND VOTE!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Writing Raven Rocks!

The two guys at left are Alaska Democratic Party delegates to the DNC, Chuck Degnan and Rex Okakok.

After the first day of the DNC, it is becoming obvious how much the blogging coverage by Writing Raven and Celtic Diva is adding to our understanding of how alaska issues are being dealt with there. Unfiltered through the corporate lens and corporate gatekeepers.

A case in point is Writing Raven's observation on how the Alaska delegates dealt with national Obama representative, Julie Anderson stated to a group that included the Alaska delegation, "I don't think Sen. Obama believes that is an appropriate place to be drilling at the moment."

Writing Raven covered the nuances of what happened next as well as any of Alaska's MSM reporters could have. And I'm already getting to appreciate her non-Anglocentric viewpoints.

image by Writing Raven

First Evening of Next Week's GOP Convention Leaked


from bravenewfilms.org.blog:

7:00 pm – Ceremonial burning of the U.S. Constitution
7:15 pm РSpiritual Medium Sylvia Browne performs psychic s̩ance in desperate attempt to raise Ronald Reagan from the grave
7:35 pm – "The Pleasures of Adultery" - with Newt Gingrich & Rudy Giuliani
8:05 pm – Gay sex party in Men's Restroom hosted by Senator Larry Craig
8:35 pm - Transvestite Ann Coulter – "My Life as a Man"
8:55 pm – Live satellite feed from Federal Prison – Ohio Rep. Bob Ney
9:05 pm – Guest speaker ex-Florida Congressman Mark Foley " Joys with Young Boys"
9:25 pm – Oliver North – " Iran is Evil, but I sold them weapons anyway"
9:40 pm – Bill O' Reilly – " The costs of sexual harassment and phone sex with employees"
10:00 pm – Gay sex party in Men's Room hosted by Ken Mehlman and Geraldo Rivera
10:25 pm – Check John McCain to see if he's still breathing and if his adult diaper needs changed.
10:35 pm – N.R.A. President hosts an assault riffle target practice on Gays and Mexicans.
10:45 pm - Call emergency squad after a drunken Dick Cheney accidentally shoots his friend in the face.
11:00 pm – President Bush performs his hilarious comedy routine where he looks for Iraq's fictitious WMD's under guests tables.
11:15 pm – Governor Mike Huckabee does his famous uncanny imitation of Gomer Pyle.
11:20 pm – Group intervention to get Rush Limbaugh back into drug rehab
11: 45 pm – Go up on rooftop and throw rocks down at homeless Vets sleeping in alley.
12:00 am – Live satellite feed from Federal Prison – California Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham
12:20 am – Convicted felon/Fox News analyst G. Gordon Liddy – Lock picking secrets
12: 40 am – Guest speakers Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz – "How to lie your Country into a War"
1:00 am – Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – "Tips on Money Laundering"
1:15 am – Hookers arrive for after party


They left out:

12:30 am - Sen. Ted Stevens - "Tips on raising your house to a new level"
12:35 am - Rep. Don Young - "How to launder $1.25 million dollars from your campaign contributors to your criminal defense attorneys"

What a GREAT Day for an Election - The 88th Birthday of American Women's Right to Vote

Tuesday, August 26, 2008, is the 88th anniversary of the certification of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. When it was certified, the courageous woman on the far left of this photo, Ruth Sheridan, was a young girl. My mother had just celebrated her second birthday.

There have been many battles for women to fight, to gain niches here and there in their constant campaigns toward full equality. That parity with the rights of males hasn't yet been won.

In Alaska, there have always been some opportunities for women of strong character. I remember being struck, back in 1973, when I came to Cordova, at how few women were there, but also, how strong and unique so many of them were. At that time, though, there were many battles for women to fight for, to gain more equality in newer areas.

For instance, Title IX had been enacted in 1972, the previous year. It took awhile for its benefits to come to pass, but this past two weeks' Olympics showed the world hundreds of powerful American, woman athletes. This past June, Judy and I saw our daughter become an NCAA champion in a rowing program enabled by Title IX.

This evening, Judy and I watched Michelle Obama's extraordinarily stirring, emotionally powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention. She acknowledged battles fought and won, but called for us to engage in battles still unwon - equal pay for equal work, better early childhood education, a sane rebuilding of our medical care system.

Part of the seriousness of the battles still unwon, is in how casually the American media has totally distorted the accurate image of Michelle Obama. FOX, MSNBC and CNN all misrepresented her statements about her pride in our country, and observations she has had over the years as an African American woman.

But the woman we saw tonight, vividly describing her blue collar upbringing, education, life work and family life is someone - I hope - most Americans can embrace fully as a model person, student, sister and mom.

The fights women of color choose to sometimes fight against enormous odds in Alaska has many examples. Two of the most important have been drawn together in Diane Benson's story of the civil rights struggle of Tlingit activist, Elizabeth Peratrovich.

Diane Benson's two-and-a-half-year-long struggle to unseat Don Young, a representative who has more often left women's rights behind than has helped, her role in bringing Elizabeth Peratrovich's story to a wider audience, and the many almost countless aspects of her struggle for her own dignity and that of hundreds of others, will be looked upon in Alaska as historical.

It is fitting that the next stage of her battle, Tuesday's Alaska Primary, is on this 88th Anniversary of the certification of the nineteenth Amendment. No matter how the poll numbers end up tomorrow, she has contributed much, and will contribute a lot more to the story of women's rights and civil rights in Alaska.

Alaska's Bloggers Reporting in From the Democratic National Convention in Denver

Both Celtic Diva and Writing Raven have begun making regular posts from the DNC in Denver. Go check out their reporting. The Alaska Report's Dennis Zaki hasn't posted at his blog or his electronic journal yet, but I expect that will change within hours.

Celtic Diva hopes to get an interview in today with Fairbanks Mayor, Jim Whitaker, who wll be speaking tomorrow evening:

DENVER - The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) and the Obama for America campaign announced today that two prominent Republicans will address the Democratic National Convention on Monday, August 25, 2008 and Tuesday, August 26, 2008. Former United States Congressman Jim Leach and Fairbanks Alaska Mayor Jim Whitaker will speak about Barack Obama's record of bringing Republicans, Independents and Democrats together to bring change and his vision for unifying our country.

Former Congressman Jim Leach will speak on Monday, August 25, 2008. The opening night of the Convention, themed as "One Nation", will highlight Barack Obama's life story, his commitment to change, and the voices of Americans calling for a new direction for this country. Michelle Obama will be the keynote speaker on Monday night and the Convention will feature a video tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Fairbanks Mayor Jim Whitaker will speak on Tuesday, August 26, 2008. Tuesday night, themed as "Renewing America’s Promise" will focus on Americans' concerns about the economy, rising healthcare costs and the need to expand educational opportunities for all. United States Senator Hillary Clinton will be the keynote speaker on Tuesday night.

Former United States Congressman Jim Leach represented southeastern Iowa in the US Congress from 1977-2007 and earned a reputation as one of the most respected foreign policy experts in Washington. Jim Whitaker is the Mayor of Fairbanks, Alaska. Leach and Whitaker endorsed Barack Obama earlier this month.


Writing Raven commented yesterday about aspects of the security around the convention site. Dennis sent this e-mail to friends:

I'm in the land of Obama. It's beautiful as always in Colorado today. I lived here off and on for 10 years and loved ever minute of it. I'm tempted to move here for the winter - and I've only been here two hours. The place is crawling with cops, media, and secret service snipers...... I forgot what they look like living in Palmer... I guess the cops are expecting a war. I was in a great riot here in 1987 for the MLK day vs the KKK festivities. I even got tear gassed! It was awesome. Great for pics... I finally got my fancy new video camera and will be shooting everything that moves. I'll post pics and video on my blog when I get a chance.


Another great blogging site for the behind-the-scenes events, is firedoglake's Campaign Silo.

Breaking New Frontiers -- Congratulations, Matthew Mitcham!



The Advocate has a profile of this great Australian diver. Needless to say, although Matthew isn't the first openly gay Olympian medal winner, NBC coverage of his triumph, unlike that of many other countries, failed to mention this important fact, only referring to his "personal issues and family issues," while narrating his appearance in the ten-meter platform event.

I Meet Obama at the Fair


he's the one on your left...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Making Pesto

We finished harvesting our Sweet basil and Lemon basil today. We grow it in the greenhouse.

Some years we've grown as many as seven kinds of basil - Sweet, Lemon, Thai, Purple, Cinnamon, Persian and Genovese. We've been growing basil since 1988, when we lived in our old house near the west end of Fairview Loop, on the other side of Wasilla.

This year, we kept it simple, because we travelled so much while the stuff was growing. And this year, we combined the Lemon and Sweet basil into one pesto blend, rather than keeping them in separate batches.

The kids love pesto. They always have. It isn't really cheap to make in Alaska, unless you grow your own basil. Most of the farmers' markets up north charge far more for basil than do markets in the lower 48. A few years ago, I bought three shopping bags completely full of basil in a farmers market in Des Moines, Washington, for $12.00. The pesto we made in Seattle went up to Julia's house in Bellingham, where she shared it with her college room-mates.

Pesto freezes better than any other vegetable product we store. We've eaten pesto that has been frozen for five years, that still tastes better than anything one could buy in most stores.

McCain to Pick Romney? Well, Let's Make Sure Alaskans Know How That Choice Feels About McCain

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Progressive Blog Roundup - August 23 2008 - Part Two: Dennis, Holly, Linda, Morrigan and Writing Raven Arrive in Denver

Alaska's bloggers and Holly Miowak Stebing, our state's winning essayist, have arrived in Denver, for the 2008 Democratic Party National Convention. I don't know whether or not Holly has a blog that does Alaska politics, but three progressive Alaska blogs will be covering this very important event regarding America's future.

I'll be very busy during the convention week, teaching at UAA, helping to hire ex-Ethan Berkowitz campaign workers for the Diane Benson project, and continuing to write music to a new production of Shakespeare's As You Like It. But PA will also try to relay information to readers from Alaska Real, Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis, and Dennis Zaki's Alaska Report Blog.

Judy and I are watching the last weekend of the Olympics. And the speech Joe Biden made this afternoon in Illinois. He's saying, "Yes - We CAN!" to crowds full of young people.

Yes, young people - we can. And - yes, young people - the Republicans have failed you on a monumental scale. Not only have they trumped the Ronald Reagan mortgaging of your future by electing an eight-year administration that cut taxes on the most wealthy during a time of war, they sold the notes on the mortgages to people who will now control those kids' futures in ways we can't yet imagine.

And, the Republicans have chosen to put a person up there to bring us into the next phase of this who wants to keep your kids, grand-kids and great grand-kids fighting a flawed war paradigm without oversight. Forever and ever.

Our accountant, her husband, Judy and I were comparing images of GOP clone children to kids reacting to Democrats today.

The GOP kids conjure images of children under the control of Jim Jones or David Koresh:

Our Democratic Party events through 2008 seem to be a degree beyond the opposite of that:
I hope that Alaska Democrats can mobilize hundreds more young people like Holly Miowak Stebing to help our younger kids figure this out.

image of Ms. Stebing by Linda Kellen