Thursday, December 31, 2009

Some of My Favorite PA Pictures from 2009 - Month by Month

Almost all Progressive Alaska posts have a photograph posted right below the article's title. I take some myself. PA uses photographs by others too, some of them by Alaska bloggers. Four of the Alaska bloggers are very good photographers - Dennis Zaki, Bill Hess, Jeanne Devon and Steve Aufrecht. Other Alaska bloggers are good photographers, too.

Here are pictures from 2009, I used in posts - one from each month:

January: Diane Benson at the inauguration of President Obama (Chuck Meyers - Sacramento Bee):

February: Katmai Winter McKittrick (Erin McKittrick):

March: Doogan DooDoo (Harpboy AK):

April: Wasilla Teabagger Tax Day Event family (PA):

May: Brian the Moose with John Ziegler (AKM):

June: Russian Emigre Kid at the Loussac, Protesting Prop. 64 (PA):

July: Terzah Poe and Diane Benson at a Wasilla Celebration (PA):

August: My Mom at Her 91st Birthday, with 10 grand-kids and one great-grand-kid (PA):

September: Late Afternoon Sun on Neklason Lake, Wasilla (PA):

October: Linda Mash-Ives' Harpsichord at an Anchorage Civic Orchestra Concert (PA):

November: Strider and Me Celebrating AK Muckraker's 2009 Cook Inletkeeper Muckraker of the Year Award (Judy Youngquist):

December: Strider and Snowblower (PA):

Ed Schultz and Rep. Eric Massa Challenge Former VP Cheney

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 33 -- When Is a Lie So Egregious That Lack of Media Coverage Becomes Pure Negligence?

Craig Medred covered this for the Alaska Dispatch. Pat Forgey covered it in detail for the Juneau Empire. The Anchorage Daily News, typically, appears to have neglected what is either a seriously egregious lie or a probable class A misdemeanor by Sarah Palin.

Either Palin has lied in her book that there were seriously taken threats against two of her daughters when they lived in Juneau, or Palin failed to lawfully report what must be presumed to have been - if you believe her - a situation that might have endangered other kids at the schools her daughters were then attending.

Here's Anchorage-based Christy Harvey, from the Center for American Progress, being interviewed by Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Update from Ultimate Civics

--- by Riki Ott

Many people have written to us asking what they can do to stand up for individual rights and help abolish corporate personhood.

This past fall, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee. Constitutional scholars consider this case to be the biggest threat to our democratic process as it could overturn the McCain Feingold Act, giving corporations and unions unlimited spending ability to influence elections from school board to zoning commissions to local, state, and federal elections. This would shred any remaining credibility of the election process and drown out voices of real people.

While scholars predict the Supreme Court will rule in favor of Citizens United, Justice Sotomayor stated, “[Judges] created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons. There could be an argument made that that was the court’s error to start with... [imbuing] a creature of state law with human characteristics.”

Sotomayor’s truth to power statement created an opportunity for Americans to seize the moment. Ultimate Civics (UC), led by organizer Riki Ott, worked with David Cobb (2004 Green Party presidential candidate) of Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC) to organize a “meeting of the minds” and discuss strategy to abolish corporate personhood. Members of UC, DUHC, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Alliance for Democracy, and other groups attended, while others like David and Fran Korten (Yes! Magazine) and Thom Hartmann (Thom Hartmann Radio Program) supported from afar.

A national coalition emerged from this meeting. Our goal is to amend the U.S. Constitution by affirming that only human beings have constitutional rights. In effect, this will abolish “corporate personhood” – artificial persons with human rights. We will launch our Campaign to Legalize Democracy in January when the Supreme Court issues a ruling in the Citizens United case.

In the coming weeks we will post opportunities for you to participate. Some groups may plan direct action around the verdict in the Citizens United case. If you are involved in any direct action, or if you are involved in creating a local ordinance limiting corporate power, please keep us informed by emailing

hat tip - Bob Martinson

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 32 - "... her mother is powerful, politically ambitious and has a reputation for being extremely vindictive..."

And the judge agreed.

This has come up before. At Palingates, Patrick has pulled up an October 2008 post by Andrew Halcro, about aspects of Troopergate that might have been part of why Levi Johnston made the statement about the vindictiveness of the Crazy Woman:

In 2005, Palin and her sister Molly went to the Palmer Courthouse while Mike Wooten was in Portland with his stepson. They convinced a judge to grant Molly a domestic violence restraining order against Wooten. This was done so Molly could retain full custody of the children.

When Wooten returned from Portland, he realized that there was a order prohibiting him from seeing his kids. Three weeks later, Wooten was granted an appearance in front of the couple's divorce judge.

In front of Judge Suddock, Molly testified that Wooten never hit her or never physically abused her or ever touched the children. She told the judge she was feeling pressure from her family to file the order.

Suddock immediately dissolved the order because there was no proof of any domestic violence and called the order an abuse of the legal system. He then scolded Palin's sister for keeping Wooten's kids away from him.

The Palins' "abuse of the legal system" may end up being one of the most enduring legacies of this family in Alaska.

All the Alaska media is glomping onto this newest episode of the Sarah Springer Show. As are our several Alaska or Palin-related blogs:

Anchorage Daily News

Alaska Dispatch
The Mudflats
The Immoral Majority
Bree Palin
Andrew Sullivan
More Andrew Sullivan

More coverage as it develops hourly at memeorandum.

Coverage of this at Conservatives4Palin is typically myopic. Their initial reaction was to stomp on Levi Johnston:

Levi Seeks Publicity Instead of Tripp's Well-being

Their second reaction is to award Levi's son a new name:

Yesterday we learned that Bristol Palin, Governor Palin's eldest daughter, filed for sole custody of her son, Tripp E. Johnston-Palin, in early November of this year.

The child's name isn't Tripp E. Johnston-Palin, it is Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston. Just another example of the fictitious world in which many of Palin's last-ditch supporters reside. One of the most deluded commenters there, writes:

I worry that Obama or Emmanuel or Axelrod will lean on the judge to make a judgement in Levi's favor to try to further embarrass the Palin family.

Update I: C4P commenters no encouraging violence against Levi Johnston:

Thought Track is back from Iraq. Where I'm from cases like this are settled between men, you know what I mean.

And a comment at Andrew Sullivan's blog:

I am a family law attorney in NH. I find Bristol's statement about Palin's involvement in the case implausible. For starters, in about 100% of the cases involving custody of a child born to teen parents, the maternal grandparents are heavily involved. The teen mom about always lives at home, is very dependent on her parents for child care, and overall assistance with everything to do with the baby. And not the least, but reviewing the pleadings filed to date, serious money has already been shelled out-in the thousands I am certain. You can be sure that Sarah and Todd wrote those hefty retainer checks, not Bristol..

Monday, December 28, 2009

PA Arts Tuesday - Women's Ghazal Progress

I finished Bamyan Voids, the first movement of my new orchestral work, Hindu Kush, back at the beginning of my Holiday break. I'm about halfway done now with the second movement, Women's Ghazal, that uses themes inspired by five popular Afghan women's songs.

Here's a peek at measures 81 though 100:

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 31 - The Crazy Woman's Lingering Stinking Messes

I. 2009 is all but over. The Anchorage Daily News, Alaska's print journal of record has yet to review Sarah Palin's semi-factual memoir of her political career. The time for such a review is long past. Why hasn't the paper's editorial management reviewed the book yet?

The ADN came as close as they have on this, by publishing a fairly solid article by Erika Bolstad and Sean Cockerham back on November 17th, about the initial reception to the largely ghost-written book's release. Maybe their timidity on this subject is best portrayed by the blog entry made ten days earlier in November, by Pat Dougherty, the ADN's managing editor. In response to the question, "What happened to the comments section under the story about Sarah Palin's book tour?" Dougherty wrote:

I made the decision to turn off comments on this story. We offer comments on stories in the hope of some reasonable discussion of the topic being covered, or the handling of the story by the newspaper. Unfortunately, comments on stories about our former governor invariably seem to devolve into little more than food fights between people who like her and those who don't.

In addition, these stories, for whatever reason, particularly seem to attract individuals who are unable or unwilling to adhere to our commenting guidelines, and that consumes my time or that of other staff here that could be better used for other work.

Because the Daily News does not care to play host to food fights, I have closed one venue where they predictably occur. In the future, on the more substantive stories about Ms. Palin, we will allow comments as long as they amount to more than petty bickering among partisans. If they don't rise above that, we will shut them off.

So maybe the ADN hasn't reviewed this important book by the most famous person in Alaska history, a person to whom the ADN has erected a seemingly permanent "shrine," because Dougherty finds "food fights" distasteful?

The ADN has hosted writings on Palin's role in Alaska politics his past year that show prescience. The former ADN editor who has done this quite well is Michael Carey, who was, during the period between the national discovery of Palin and her self-inflicted demise, the "go-to guy" in the national mainstream press for commentary on what all this meant.

As good as Carey's columns about Palin have been, none stared Palin straight in the face. Carey came close in a column written a week after Palin's abdication. Even then, though, he carefully qualified what many of us see as glaringly obvious:

Sarah Palin is probably the most divisive figure in America.

Why that is has not been the subject of any efforts by the ADN under the daily editorial feature titled Our View. Alaska's progressive bloggers and dozens of Outside journalists, authors and bloggers have tied the package together as it truly is, many times, many ways. Essentially, Palin is so divisive because she brings out in her supporters emotions, opinions and actions that are often really ugly. Carey, in the op-ed cited above, sort of tiptoed around this by typifying some of the hate mail he had received after an appearance on FOX News.

But the most egregious aspect of our written journal of record in Alaska not reviewing Going Rogue is the fact that the book probably contains more provable falsehoods per page than any ever penned by an Alaskan. By a Lake Lucille mile and then some. No entity is better situated to bring that aspect of the book forward the public than is the ADN. By not doing this, they are enabling people Outside who believe the bullshit, vindictiveness, backstabbing and full frontal lying created by Palin's false impressions.

More courageous than the ADN editors in this realm is author Jonathan Raban, whose book, Passage to Juneau, is one of my personal favorites. Raban has reviewed Going Rogue and Sarah from Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative by Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, in an article in the January 14th issue of the prestigious New York Review of Books.

Raban's review observes that Palin's portrayal of Alaska is purposefully misleading:

Alaska, the particular reality from which Palin hails, is so little known by most Americans that she was able to freely mythicize her state as the utopian last refuge of the "hard work ethic," "unpretentious living," and proud self-sufficiency. Her anti-tax rhetoric (private citizens spend their money more wisely than government does) and disdain for "federal dollars" were unembarrassed by the fact that Alaska tops the tables of both per capita federal expenditure, on which one in three jobs in the state depends, and congressional earmarks, or "pork." So, too, she mythicized the straggling eyesore of Wasilla (described by a current councilwoman there as "like a big ugly strip mall from one end to the other") as the bucolic small town of sentimental American memory. Listening to Palin talk about it, one was invited to inspect not the string of oceanic parking lots attached to Fred Meyer, Lowe's, Target, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot, or the town's reputation among state troopers as the crystal meth capital of Alaska, but, rather, the imaginary barber shop, drugstore soda fountain, antique church, and raised boardwalks, seen in the rosy light of an Indian summer evening.

To audiences struggling to keep their heads above water through a deepening recession, her Alaska
de l'esprit, this land of boundless natural resources and minimal government and taxation, "microcosm of America" as she liked to say, sounded a fine place to which to escape from the exigencies of living in the real United States in 2008.

Raban goes on to observe many things the ADN has missed about Palin over the years. Here's just one example:

With the backing of her church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, and the hunting interest, she campaigned on the nonmayoral issues of abortion and gun-ownership. It was put about that the Steins were living in sin: they produced their marriage certificate. It was also put about that Stein, a lapsed Lutheran, was Jewish. In 2008, he told William Yardley of The New York Times:

Sarah comes in with all this ideological stuff, and I was like, "Whoa." But that got her elected: abortion, gun rights, term limits and the religious born-again thing. I'm not a churchgoing guy, and that was another issue: "We will have our first Christian mayor." I thought, Holy cow, what's happening here?

In Going Rogue, Stein is described as "relatively new to the community." "He wasn't a born-here, raised-here, gonna-be-buried-here type of hometown guy." Those darned wandering Jews.

Raban does describe instances of Alaskans getting the word out, though:

Fact-checkers from the Associated Press and several tireless bloggers have uncovered scores of inaccuracies and "lies" in Going Rogue. It's fair to doubt that any line of direct speech in the book was ever uttered by the person to whom it is attributed, and to assume that every factual detail has probably been either invented or twisted out of shape in order to cast Palin in the best possible light.

Raban concisely describes the Reudrich affair far more honestly than I remember reading in the ADN:

Hearing rumors that Ruedrich was leaking confidential state information to a natural gas company, she and a technician hacked into Ruedrich's e-mail account one evening and found evidence that he was conducting Republican Party business from his public office—an offense with which Palin was familiar, since she'd sent out flyers promoting herself from the mayor's office in Wasilla when she was running for lieutenant governor in 2002.

Raban further describes how the Alaska press actually helped Palin's rise at that important juncture, rather than doing some serious reporting that might have comprehensively questioned Palin's qualifications to have been the chair of the commission she so precipitously quit.

Raban's review of these two books is excellent. The most comprehensive review of the book so far, though, is that done by the person who was "outed" last spring by a former ADN writer, Mike Doogan, and a present one, Sheila Toomey. Two people who cooperated keeping Toomey's anonymity at the ADN for over a decade. Jeanne Devon's page-by-page review of Going Rogue is a tour de force, and though it concentrates on the errors of commission in the book, more than the numerous errors of omission, it is quite definitive.

I haven't read the book, nor will I. Just looking at AK Muckraker's image (at the top of this post) of page 62, I can spot too many lies and exaggerations to make me want to go on.

Bottom Line: The ADN's failure to comprehensively review Going Rogue is a major lapse in what should be regarded as a basic responsibility of our state's journal of record.

II. Why did Palin resign when she did?

We're still waiting on the State of Alaska's ruling on whether or not Palin's legal defense fund as constituted violated the state executive ethics statute, or whether her book contract's obligations were similarly out-of-bounds for day-to-day activities of an Alaska governor. But it is increasingly obvious to me that her decision to, as her older son so tersely put it, "take a dishonorable discharge," was just that - dishonorable. I'm not complaining that she left. I am going to speculate a little, though:

Had it not been for the efforts of people like Linda Kellen Beigel, Andree McLeod and Frank Gwartney, she would have hung on until about three weeks before the book tour started, perhaps longer. Seeing as Parnell is more honest, less flip and more knowledgeable about state government than was or is Palin, you might think about thanking Linda, Andree or Frank next time you have an opportunity.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday Alaska Progressive Blog Roundup - Part II - Ten Lessons I May Have Learned in 2009

I. In Alaska, 2008 saw the indictment (and erroneous conviction) of Sen. Ted Stevens, the election of Sen. Mark Begich to replace him, the nomination of then-Gov. Sarah Palin to the VP slot on a doomed GOP ticket and a huge influx of money into the State of Alaska coffers, which Palin then squandered in a giveaway designed to boost her popularity at a key moment.

2009 saw Palin's total eclipse as governor, as she lost her grip on her job, a widening crisis over dwindling subsistence resources and jobs in the Bush, disorientation in much of the state's traditional media, especially the print dailies, and much lowered state revenues that have yet to make their full mark.

I'll be writing more about 2009 in Alaska this coming week.

Over the 11-month period between August 29th 2008 and July 23rd 2009, the Alaska progressive blogging community earned its chops. We were very fledgeling at the beginning of that time, very proud and pumped at its end. We actually helped bring national attention to several important issues regarding Alaska. Hopefully, the information we shared on this state's problems will help lead to some solutions, and soon.

In a sense, we were able to take advantage of the national spotlight thrust upon Alaska by Palin's own position in the limelight. From the beginning, some of us realized that the combination of getting the truth out about Palin and defending Alaska's and Alaskans' uniqueness might be tricky:

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.

By and large, most progressive Alaskan bloggers have fulfilled these responsibilities. Three have been credited for that nationally. Shannyn Moore won the prestigious (among serious progressives) 2009 Steve Gilliard Award, for her work, in a contest with very serious national competition. AK Muckraker won the 2009 Cook Inletkeeper Alaska Muckraker of the Year Award for her efforts on Palin's record on the environment, and on other environmental issues. Progressive Alaska won a 2008 New Scientist Award for citizen activism, and Eric Boehlert honored me by featuring me as the central character in the first part of Chapter 13 of his book on the 2008 presidential election, Bloggers on the Bus.

My only big fuckup over those 11 months was by too quickly reading through one of scores of emails I got on the morning of July 3rd 2009, believing from my scan that Palin might actually be under indictment by the Feds. I printed it as presumed fact in an update to a post at a national blog. Shannyn took a lot of heat for my mistake.

I've made a lot of smaller screwups, but I try to learn from each one.

Some of us were naive enough - I'm a chief fool in this - to think that Palin would go away after the abdication. She hasn't. At least, not yet.

II. There's a lot more going on in Alaska than the baffling continuity of interest in Sarah Palin. This is Progressive Alaska's 2001st post. Almost 400 have been about Sarah Palin. There are 350 to the Saradise Lost set. Good grief!

But that leaves about 1,600 posts here that weren't about the Crazy Woman. What have I learned, trying to come up with all this material? Here are ten lessons learned in diminishing importance:

Lesson One: The planet's climate crisis is far worse than most people realize. The information is out there. It sometimes gets the credence it deserves, but the combination of all our ongoing activities that sustain us keep us from being able to deal with it rationally. If we don't change that soon, human civilization as we know it is doomed.

Lesson Two: Huge international corporations have a death grip on our political and economic structures that are the main feature in the lack of awareness about not only climate change ramifications, but many other important issues. That death grip not only hurts us, it will soon make the ways those corporations sustain themselves unsustainable.

Lesson Three: The majority of people who show up to vote regularly really believe they are voting not only in their own interest but in yours too, just not as much as theirs. But the people who control our national politics, the GOP and ConservaDems don't want to encourage more people to vote. They actually want less people to vote, so that they can keep a better handle on how it comes off for their paymasters.

Lesson Four: After the huge corporations, fundamentalist religions, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Communist, Buddhist or whatever, are the greatest danger to us all. I group them all together, because none of them believe in the goodness of the advancement of science, literacy, shared wealth and - perhaps most importantly - the status of women in society. All the above religions have many good beliefs and doctrines, but fundamentalists, by only looking backward for examples, doom us as surely as Lot's wife doomed herself.

Lesson Five: Our two-party system may be at the breaking point. This may be a good thing. Those of us who so hoped that President Obama might be a genuine reformer are perplexed. So far, almost 80% of the Federal funds actually spent on new programs administered by his administration have gone to entities that have been basic to the problems we are now enduring, with little long-range thinking going into how to get beyond the "too big to fail" death spiral that keeps rewarding those too big. New strange alliances will surely happen in 2010.

Lesson Six: Bloggers and blogging will continue to grow in influence worldwide, unless the corporatists find a way to shut us down. I've been communicating on-line since 1984. Over those 25 years, I've watched this set of tools grow in importance. Even though the corporatists, fundamentalists and just-plain-fucking-idiots know how to use these tools too, the tool itself lends itself to progressives better than to most other interest groups.

Lesson Seven: Alaskan bloggers need to fight to get more communication tools and organizational structures that enable plain people and communities, without controlling them, out to the Bush. Ethan Berkowitz and several others are fighting to expand access by the most isolated communities here to broadband communication and to the hardware needed to accomplish that. Sadly, it is probably easier to bring high-speed internet to many villages than to get them good water quality. This is a complex set of problems, but our role in helping break on through the other side might help bring understanding to rural problems and reduce the outright and institutionial racism against Alaska Natives that endures so fully here.

Lesson Eight: Our Alaska progressive blogging community needs to get serious on several levels if we're going to push beyond our fleeting fame from helping let the world know just how ridiculous Sarah Palin actually is. I mean, let's get honest - that was easy from day one.

We might take Steve Aufrecht's cue and form an association. We might go in some other direction. But we need to find not just magnifying glasses, but multipliers for the best we can do.

Lesson Nine: Progressive Alaska, as I originally envisioned it, has failed. My fault. I have a fairly large-sized ego. But I have a lot to add to the discussion, so the blog has worked, just differently from the community-based vision I had hoped for, but wasn't set up personality-wise to create.

Lesson Ten: The two years I've taken off from seriously writing music may have been worth it. Not just for what little I've been able to add to the political discussions here and nationwide, but for what I may have been able to bring back to my music, now that I'm seriously composing again for the first time since 2007. More on that soon.

image - Phil Munger and Talis Colberg at the 2009 Colony Days Parade

Saturday Progressive Blog Roundup - PA's 2000th Post

I'm very busy with the kids, who are visiting for the Holidays, and writing music, so no time for a comprehensive Alaska progressive blog roundup. Sorry.

The music I'm writing right now, called Women's Ghazal, is inspired by female Afghan vocalists. Here's a Youtube of Mariam Wafa, who lives in exile in California:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another Over-the-Top Version of the Hallelujah Chorus

The other day, I posted the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's incredible rendition of Georg Frideric Handel's Hallelujah Chorus from his seasonal oratorio, The Messiah.

E. Ross
at Bent Alaska has posted another over-the-top performance of this, as done by the Boston Gay Men's Chorus. I can't resist. These guys are fantastic. I may even use this version in my music appreciation class at UAA, because it illustrates very well how composers may use just a few words, judiciously repeated, in their choral masterpieces:

Christmas Eve Odds & Ends - The Pathfinder and Bill Hess' Great Book-Signing Story

I. Looks like my favorite tugboat hat will be getting a lot more comments when I choose to wear it.

One of my sources says that they will be taking the Pathfinder to Seattle for repairs because that's how far it will have to go to find a drydock that isn't booked up for the next six months. Divers from Valdez are putting emergency patches over the hull damage as I write.

Don't ask me how anyone piloting a Crowley tug at the bottom of Valdez Arm could possibly hit Bligh Reef. Everyone knows exactly where it is. It is very well marked.

The Pathfinder used to have a computer connected to the radar that pegged exactly where the hull was, according to its GPS position, at all times. For some reason, it was removed some time ago, and even though laptops can be used to run this program in concert with the main bridge radar, there was no such system on board when this happened.

The closest one might come to an answer to the grounding itself is probably one of my favorite quotes from the late ornithologist, fisherman, big game guide and environmentalist, Pete Islieb. At a conference in Anchorage in May 1977, he predicted that a tanker would ultimately go aground on Bligh Reef. That was over 12 years before it actually happened.

When asked by the head of the USCG Marine Safety Office in Anchorage to explain why he felt that way, Pete responded, "Because it is there; because somebody ALWAYS hits Bligh Reef. They always have - they always will."

Wasilla photographer Bill Hess, whose iconic image of Diane Benson driving concrete truck as a Teamster has been used time and again at Progressive Alaska, has posted one of the best articles on what it means to be who we are here - in Wasilla, Alaska - I have ever read.
Bill, unlike others, was able to take a camera with him to Tuesday's Wasilla Sports Complex book signing with the Crazy Woman, wait in line, take pictures of people he met and dealt with as he wound his way to Palin's table, and walk away with a good picture of the CW. Bill's description of his short conversation with her perfectly pegs her for the inane, incurious twit she truly is.

I'm not going to quote from Bill's article, because
you should read it yourself. It should win an award.

lower image - Bill Hess

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Response to David Gottstein's Claim That "There is No Palestinian Gandhi"

Back in November, the Anchorage Bartlett Democratic Club featured David Gottstein, chairman of the Alaska branch of the America Israel Political Action Committee, as their guest speaker. He had asked for the time so that he could respond to an earlier Bartlett Club speaker, Oregon-based anti-Zionist activist and polemicist, Alison Weir.

In October, Weir had addressed the Bartlett Club, the Alaska World Affairs Council and was also given an opportunity to speak at the Loussac Library. Gottstein had attempted to have all of Weir's appearances cancelled and helped promote canards about Weir, chiefly the totally false charge that Weir is a "Holocaust denier." Gottstein also sought to have Weir's appearances in Homer, Juneau and Fairbanks cancelled.

2009, a year that began with the brutal Israeli invasion of the huge prison camp known as The Gaza Strip," has been a turning point in how many Americans perceive the Israel-Palestine question. Gottstein might have achieved his goal of muzzling Weir in 2005, but he failed totally in 2009.

Nobody attempted to keep David Gottstein from giving his rebuttal to Weir, though. More than half of the audience listening to his thorough presentation were not attending as advocates of continuing Israeli expansion in the West Bank, or of Israel's huge influence on important American government policy decisions. They courteously listened to Gottstein's talk.

Most of the questions directed to David were courteously presented too. However, they sought answers posed in his presentation which the questioners themselves wondered about.

I'm not going to go through the questions and Gottstein's answers. I asked him, though, about the case of the USS Liberty. His response, that the Israeli attack on the American surveillance ship that was cruising in international waters on June 8th 1967, during the Six-Day War, was an unfortunate mistake, was predictable. I then asked him how he would characterize the living survivors of this attack, that lasted longer than the World War II naval battles of Savo Island, Tassafaronga and Cape Esperance combined, in view of the the fact that 100% of those American heroes emphatically believe the Israeli attack was intentional.

David Gottstein answered that, like many "friendly fire" incidents, the survivors were obviously "deluded," and were projecting.

It wasn't so much the word "deluded" as it was the extremely dismissive tone David used saying it - his tone drew gasps from people around me. He was almost hissing at our dead young men and their living defenders.

I lost it, picked up my coat and iPhone, mumbling "Shame!" as I headed toward the door.

I later apologized to the club for so rudely and abruptly leaving.

I've been waiting these two months to see if anyone else would write about that Bartlett Club luncheon. I'm not surprised that nobody has.

Another of Gottstein's ideas he expounded was the dual set that many Zionists throw out there in discussions like this - that the Palestinians "never fail to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity," and that if the Palestinians were "truly peaceful," a "Palestinian Gandhi" might have emerged.

My view is that several Palestinian Gandhis have emerged. Many have been murdered by the Israelis, some by the Palestinians themselves. Several Palestinian Gandhis are languishing in Israeli prisons, many of them uncharged with any crime.

The most recent Palestinian Gandhi is Abdallah Abu Rahmah. He's a school teacher in Bil'in, a city listed for extinction by the nearby and rapidly expanding ultra-Orthadox illegal Israeli settlement of Modi'in Illit. Modi'in Illit is being bankrolled by American real estate developers and by Angola diamond merchant Lev Leviev, whose contract employees have been accused "of participating in practices of 'humiliation, whipping, torture, sexual abuse, and, in some cases, assassinations.'"

So that the diamond merchant's and the NYC real estate developers' expansion plans can be fulfilled, peaceful resistance to that expansion has been criminalized by the Israeli occupation authorities. It is a long-standing practice.

The American pro-Zionist real estate developers behind the expansion of Modi'in Illit get a tax break from our IRS for what they do there at Bil'in's expense.

But here's a kicker: Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the Palestinian school teacher and emerging Gandhi, is being indicted for possession of arms.

The arms the Israelis are going to try him for possessing are spent tear gas canisters the Israelis have been shooting at Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters to the expansion of these Israeli settlements.

Your tax dollars bought those tear gas canisters.

In Abu Rahmah's proceedings, he will not be allowed an attorney. He is being held in conditions that might make Guantanamo seem mild.

Here's a picture of the Palestinian Gandhi (at far right) David Gottstein said doesn't exist, with President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Demond Tutu, Palestinians and Israelis, at the grave of a protester to the expansion, for which American investors get tax write-offs, who was killed by the IDF:
top image - some of the spent Israeli gas canisters seized as evidence in Abu Rahmah's indictment

Third Cloture Vote on HCR Passes in the Senate - and a Warning from Jane Hamsher

The cloture vote:

The warning:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Saradise Lost Book 4 - Chapter 30 - The CW Bans Bloggers at "Paid Event" - ADN Bans Comments On the Banning - Updated x2

More messy aisle cleanups regarding the Crazy Woman today. In chronological order, they played out this way:

Early morning: Alaska blogger Jesse Griffin and reporter-videographer Dennis Zaki drove from Anchorage to north Wasilla, to cover the book signing of the pathetic and outrageous collection of lies penned under Sarah Palin's name, titled Going Rogue, being held at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex and Community Center. When they got there, they were refused entry, because it was a private event and the security personnel claimed they were concerned for Griffin's and Zaki's safety.

Late Morning: Andree McLeod's lawsuit, seeking release of emails that the CW and parts of her retinue possibly illegally sent and received on private accounts before she quit her public job to get more involved in "private events" began. Although KTUU-TV was there, and ran coverage of the opening arguments on Tuesday's broadcast news, they haven't yet posted a story on their web site.

Tuesday Evening: The Anchorage Daily News, in their story on the Wasilla book signing, as they added new material on the banning of Griffin and Zaki, cut off comments to their article on this, and disappeared earlier ones. It is the only story featured on the ADN page web edition that currently offers no comment opportunity. No explanation has been provided.


Today's overall coverage of Palin is just the latest example of how willingly much of Alaska media merrily continues to go along with enabling this flaky, narcisistic, destructive, dangerous personality, as they so selfishly continue to indulge a fetish that brings them cherished web hits. The ADN article on the Wasilla Sports Complex banning incident, though it permits no comments, seems to be overly incurious, to say the least. And the article links - as always - to the ADN Palin Shrine.

At least the ADN Palin shrine no longer always appears directly under the ADN masthead. The week Bob Poe filed as a Democratic Party candidate for Governor, Progressive Alaska requested that they remove it from the front page, and the ADN complied.

I suppose that, among other things, my friends and colleagues Griffin and Zaki (apparently other progressive Alaskan bloggers - along with their web-based color photos are on the list) were banned for:

Observing that a couple of weeks ago, on a national venue, the CW stated that she has provided a public copy of her youngest child's birth certificate. It was a bald-faced, brazen lie. We covered it, the Alaska media ignored it.

Observing that Palin has, for the past 14 months, reached out almost fervently to the darkest recesses of the basest base of the GOP, through sometimes coded, sometimes over-the-top imagery, and got an ugly response that endangers our president and our Republic. We covered it, the Alaska media ignored it.

Observing that, by instead of going to Western Alaska last winter as our chief executive, the CW chose to instead go there in company with a televangelist who seeks to destroy our Alaska Natives' heritage through surrender to a creed that makes that heritage and its 10,000 years of development meaningless. We covered it, the Alaska media ignored it.

Observing that Palin, by choosing the awful Wayne Anthony Ross to succeed the worst Attorney General in Alaska history, Talis Colberg, had made an historically inappopriate decision. Not only had Ross left a HUGE trail of racist bullshit behind that the ADN and other media sources might have easily pulled up from their own archives, he was more universally reviled by Alaska's Native community than any cabinet nominee in our state's history. We covered it, the Alaska media largely ignored it.

I could continue this list for several more pages, but I am just too fucking sick and tired of wasting time and electrons on Palin. I have been for months.

Will the Anchorage media find out who else was banned? I doubt it.

Will they ever openly admit to their readers that the CW quit because the questions citizen activists like Andree McLeod and Linda Kellen, and Alaska's other progressive bloggers asked about Palin's legal defense fund and book contract forced that resignation? I doubt it.

I've been writing this post for 90 minutes. The ADN comments are still shut off on this story, and this story only.


Updated - Wednesday - 10:00 a.m: The ADN finally has begun allowing comments, beginning at 9:54 a.m. Alaska time. The influential national blog, Talking Points Memo, is leading with this story.

Updated - Wednesday - 1:30 p.m: ADN Editor Pat Dougherty has provided his version of an explanation on why they arbitrarily turned the comments off on the Wasilla book-signing story:


Some of you have asked why comments on this story were turned off. The answer is that because of a defective update of the Pluck commenting software, we have been unable to delete comments anywhere on since last weekend. And because commenters on Palin stories are unusually prone to violating our commenting guidelines, we were not willing to host those comments without the ability to moderate them. The software was fixed this morning and we can once again moderate comments. You can find a more discussion of our handling of comments on Palin stories on the Editor's Blog.

Pat Dougherty

Here's a link to the discussion at the ADN Editor's Blog.

Once again, Dougherty is treating Palin as some sort of special case. If one goes back through articles at the ADN regarding the actions of citizen activists like Andree McLeod or Linda Kellen Biegel, there are hundreds of instances of commenters "
unusually prone to violating our commenting guidelines." These comments weren't moderated,or at least they don't appear to have been. Yesterday and today, for instance, commenters at Richard Mauer's short article about Andree McLeod's Tuesday court appearance have been quite rude and crude toward Andree.

In Praise of the Alaska Public Radio Network

While researching how coverage of the arts has changed in Anchorage and statewide this past year, with the continuing demise of the Anchorage Daily News, expansion of arts coverage by the Alaska Dispatch and other matters, I checked through the 131 stories listed so far in December at the Alaska Public Radio Network's news site. There wasn't much arts coverage, which is too bad. Ten to twenty years ago, APRN's Alaska arts coverage was the best statewide reporting available. APRN's Johanna Eurich was and is one of the best arts reporters in Alaska history, and it is too bad the network hasn't found a way to keep her coverage going like they once did.

Another subject all but missing from APRN's news site was one that is ubiquitous at the ADN, the Dispatch, at at many of Alaska's progressive blogs, including Progressive Alaska: Sarah Palin.

Of the 131 stories, here is my accounting of the subjects covered. I assigned each story only one tag, even though some covered more than one of topics listed:

Human interest, various community stories ------ 26
General environmental subjects -------------------- 15
Tribal & Alaska Native subjects --------------------- 13
Alaska economy and infrastructure ---------------- 10
Gas & oil industry (and their problems) ----------- 9
State politics ----------------------------------------- 8
Health care ------------------------------------------- 8
Alaska Congressional delegation ------------------ 7
Fisheries --------------------------------------------- 7
Education -------------------------------------------- 5
Gov. Sean Parnell ----------------------------------- 4
Anchorage politics ----------------------------------- 3
Cruise ship industry --------------------------------- 3
Game and game regulation ------------------------- 3
Mining ------------------------------------------------ 3
Sarah Palin ------------------------------------------- 3
Logging ------------------------------------------------ 2
Alaskans of note in action outside the state ------ 2

Of the three Palin stories, one was about Andree McLeod's latest request for clarification of executive ethics statutes, and two were about Palin's Elmendorf Air Force Base book signing.

APRN's stories from December 1st through the 21st were almost universally of a very high standard, and attempted to portray important events throughout this huge, challenging news environment that is Alaska.

Good job. APRN!

Monday, December 21, 2009

PA Arts Monday - Georg Frideric Handel, the First Ecumenical Composer

The London from which Handel created most of his wondrous art was the most religiously tolerant city in the world at that time.

17th Century England had seen the great Civil War, the Cromwellian Commonwealth and scores of thousands of deaths in religious wars and disputes.

The 18th, the century in which Handel composed music in England from 1710 to 1752, still struggled over religious rights of those not adhering to The Church of England. But Handel's London sheltered Christian religious dissenters from Europe (many on their way to the American colonies), Catholics and Jews.

From day to day, Handel wasn't a notably religious person. None of his Italian language operas - unlike Verdi's, for instance - touch upon biblical subjects. But his great late creations, the mature English language oratorios are on biblical subjects, most taken from the Old Testament.

Many think that
The Messiah was Handel's first oratorio. It wasn't. It was his first huge blockbuster oratorio. Its success, coupled with Handel's frustrations over the costs of mounting staged operas (oratorios have no costumes, sets, expensive special effects and even more expensive Divas) led him to devote most of the energy of the last 15 years of his creative life to the composition and production of oratorios.

Up until Handel's oratorios, no composer had created masterpieces that might inspire Catholics, Protestents and Jews alike. But Handel's Old Testament oratorios did just that. He even went further in the oratorio, Judas Maccabeus, which recounts the events that led to the contemporary celebration of Hannukah.

Here's the duet and Chorus, Hail, Hail Judea, Happy Land:

Handel's most successful ecumenical oratorio was Israel in Egypt. Here is the chorus, Sing Ye to the Lord:

One might say that the ecumenism of Handel transcended his life in ways he couldn't have known. My favorite over-the-top version of his most famous oratorio movement, the Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah, is this rendition by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, representing a religion that didn't yet exist when Handel penned the masterpiece:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

PA Arts Sunday - Celebrating the End of Zappadan 2009

Zappadan, the annual festival that commemorates the period between December 4th and December 21st - the interval between composer Frank Zappa's birth and death dates (in reverse order) - may not be as widely celebrated as the far shorter Festivus, but it does break the tedium of the regular holiday schedule, and is an important part of the War on the Commercialization of Christmas.

I celebrated the penultimate day of Zappadan by finishing composition of Bamyan Voids for orchestra, a piece Zappa might have enjoyed.

Here's Zappa conducting a cover of Maurice Ravel's Bolero, during his famously disastrous unfinished 1988 tour. This performance was on May 17, 1988 in Barcelona, Spain: