Friday, November 28, 2008

Two Important Alaska Legislative Sessions - 1990 & 2009

Alaskans for Truth was turned into a political action committee this month, to aggressively and creatively engage the issue of ethics reform in Alaska government. We hope to influence, encourage and lobby the upcoming legislature, particularly on issues of reform of the executive office.

We're trying to initially raise $10,000 to further these goals. After just over a week, we're almost a third of the way there. Please help!

At the same time I'm thinking about how we might actually get something positive done in this regard, I'm reminded by a statement the Governor's press chief made at the end of last week:

"Tomorrow, Governor Palin could do an interview with any news media on the planet. Tomorrow, she could probably sign any one of a dozen book deals. She could start talking to people about a documentary or a movie on her life. That's the level we are at here.

"Barbara Walters called me. George Stephanopoulos called me. I've had multiple conversations with producers for Oprah, Letterman, Leno and 'The Daily Show.' "

The Associated Press writer further describes:

Agents from the William Morris Agency and elsewhere have come knocking. There even has been an offer to host a TV show. [Palin] is juggling offers to write books, appear in films and sit on dozens of interview couches at a rate astonishing for most Hollywood stars, let alone a first-term governor.

Alaska has never quite been in a situation like this before. How much of what is having to be fielded here has to do with the people of Alaska and the functions of our government? Surely, people fielding phone calls about book deals and right-wing docudramas should not be drawing their salaries from the State. But the AP article and McAllister's statements there and elsewhere offer no hint that there's a mechanism in place to funnel the funding of what must by now be at least one full-time job away from the State coffers.

I'm waiting for the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU-TV to ask her office serious questions with followups on this, that could be composed in any high school civics class. Once again, when it has to do with Palin's ethics, I'm not holding my breath.

Supposedly, the Governor will be moving back to Juneau by the beginning of the first full week of December. The renovations and upgrades to her mansion should be finished by then. Reportedly, progress is being made on a budget that will assure Alaskans that our cost-cutting, tax-cutting, corruption-fighting, pipeline-building, thanks-but-no-thanks, mavericky ethics pioneer chief executive is doing all that is humanly possible to keep Hugo Chavez away from our shores.

Come January, in the 2009 legislative session, Alaskans for Truth will be pushing for meaningful ethics reform.

Reading Dr. Riki Ott's new book, Not One Drop, I came across a passage yesterday that shows how little things have changed during the session over the past 19 years. Here's her introduction to the 1990 session:

Marna [Schwartz] and I got a rough start. No one paid attention to us. Money talked and we had none. We were trying to ante into a poker game for high rollers without any chips. There were bar deals, bedroom deals, vote-trading deals, fast talk, double-talk, and lots of downright lies, which, when spoken from the lips of high-salaried oil lobbyists, were taken as gospel until proven otherwise. Most legislators were quick to dismiss what we had to say because it ran counter to the established oil lobby, back in force after its disappearing act last spring after the [Exxon Valdez] spill.

Ott goes on to describe their hilarious and perilous adventures, as they actually forced through meaningful legislation. It is a great read, as is the rest of the book.

They had to fight and outwit the oil lobbyists. Alaskans for Truth only have to fight this wacky governor, uncourageous legislators, and indifferent media. If we can do half the job Ott did, we'll get a lot done.

You can help!

image - Riki Ott

Phone Bank for Jim Martin in Georgia? -- I'm Trying to Set It UP!

Are you an Alaskan interested in phone banking for the Jim Martin U.S. Senate campaign? He's in a runoff against authoritarian, semi-nutcase Saxby Chambliss. The runoff is Tuesday.

I'm trying to set up a way for Alaskans to call Georgia voters, with a targeted list provided by the Martin campaign. I'm hoping to have this set up by tomorrow, 2:00 p.m. AST. I've suggested that they help us target people who might be hunters, NRA members, Veterans, or who believe Sarah Palin is credible (she will be throwing raw meat campaigning for Chambliss Sunday and Monday).

If you are interested already, contact me at mungerniklake at gmail dot com.

You can start phone calling for Martin on your own by going to this site, set up by Barack Obama. Georgia should already be selected. If you've called for Obama in the past, your account should already be set up.

Here are the two most recent campaign ads of the candidates, as a contrast. The first by Thomas, is straightforward:

This one, by Chambliss, is totally weird at the end. Watch his right hand reach over his granddaughter:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

President-elect Obama's Thanksgiving Message

Alaska's 2008 Muckraker of the Year - Dr. Riki Ott

This will be FUN!

I missed last year's Muckrakers' Ball in Homer. Ray Metcalfe was honored there then, as 2007 Alaska Muckraker of the Year. I'll be at 'Koot's for this one.

Riki Ott may be the most deserving candidate for this honor there is. The honor being bestowed upon her by Cook Inlet Keeper is fitting, in time, if not in place.

The party should be - if there were a green way to do it - somewhere on Prince William Sound. At sea. With a lot of Cordova and other Alaska fishers. We would be able to bring plaintiffs from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, who have since passed away, back from beyond, to help us celebrate.

Dr. Ott wasn't the first to predict the Exxon Valdez catastrophe before it happened. She was the last.

I remember heading out with a load of Tanner crab (snow crab, these days) pots to Unakwik Inlet, on the Cordova crabber, Jo-Be, in early December, 1975. As we crossed below Bligh Island, headed westward, our skipper, the elder Jerry Thorne, turned to me. We were up on the open flying bridge, enjoying a spectacular mid-afternoon sunset, as he drove us toward its ebbing gold, orange, pink and lavender cold warmth.

He blew his Pall Mall ashes off the end of his glowing cigarette butt with a quick nostril exhalation. He laughed. It wasn't a light laugh.

"That's where it'll go down," he blurted out, as he looked northward.

Jerry was pretty common-sense when it came to fishing, usually limiting his bridge talk to the boat, the route, the gear, the string we were about to lay out or pick up. But every once in a while, he reached into his wisdom, gleaned from observing what happens at sea, off the Northwest coasts, from Eureka to Dutch Harbor.

"What'll go down?"

"One of those goddam HUGE tankers. Right there - on Bligh Reef. I hope it's on the way in, not on the way out."

Two and a half years later, May 1978, I was at a conference in Anchorage. The pipeline was being built. Along with a lot of other "stakeholders" (the first time I heard that term), I was at the MESA Summit, where we listened to various officials, functionaries and politicians talk about how the pipeline and Valdez terminal and tanker routes would function when the line was done and the oil flowed.

I was there as Whittier Harbormaster. Another ex-skipper of mine, Pete Isleib from Cordova, was there too. He represented a lot of local knowledge. I think he was ostensibly there as the pre-eminent ornithologist from Southcentral Alaska, which he was. But he had also spent thousands of hours on the Sound, year-round, gathering data for various bird, marine mammal and fish surveys.

We were both in a focus group, headed by a couple of Coast Guard officers, on the proposed tanker traffic separation lanes and proposed safety measures. Pete and I sat next to each other.

The Coast Guard moderators and a couple of oil company and Alyeska focus group members waxed eloquently about how smooth it all was going to work. Pete kept shaking his head quietly, back and forth. I looked at him, wondering.

Finally, Pete jumped on the statement of one of the coasties, saying something like "You're talking like this sort of plan always works. It doesn't always work. It always breaks down!

"There'll be a spill. Within ten years or so, there'll be a spill.

"It will happen at Seal Rocks, or Johnstone Point, or Bligh Reef, or Potato Point. Most likely, at Bligh Reef. It always happens at one of those places."

In January 1980, while still serving as Whittier harbormaster, I got a call late at night. A tanker had lost power on the Sound. Valdez Coast Guard wanted a Whittier-based Crowley tug to assist. The weather was really, really shitty. I helped roust Crowley deckhands from one of the bars. I ended up going along.

The single-engined, single-hulled tanker, Prince William Sound, had been adrift for hours. In the SSE gale force winds, the loaded hulk had slowly drifted into the dangerous waters to the southwest of Glacier Island, headed for disaster. A Valdez-based tug had showed up, but it was far larger than the tug from Whittier we were on - the Avenger. The bigger tug had already torn two lines, trying to gain control of the tanker. The Avenger was requested to get in close and use its smaller size, lighter tonnage, to put on a tow line and save the tanker.

The crew did it. I watched. At any time, almost any of these guys could have been killed by a zinging, thrashing parted cable.

They managed to get the tanker under control. It was about a half mile from a group of rocks whose name I can't remember. Eventually, the Avenger was trying to pass the load to the larger tug, when the tanker's engineers managed a re-start.

Alyeska and the oil companies AND the Coast Guard issued statements about the incident that clearly lied about the last position of the Prince William Sound when it was rescued.

Just over eight years later, on March 23, 1989, the evening the Exxon Valdez last pulled away from its anchorage alongside the Valdez oil terminal, Riki Ott was addressing a town meeting in Valdez, telephonically from Cordova. The meeting, called by Valdez mayor John Devins, was about pipeline and tanker route safety.

Ott's voice, coming over the Valdez city council chambers speakers coldly intoned, "We're playing Russian roulette here. It's not a matter of 'if.' It's just a matter of when we get the big one."

As Art Davidson wrote, in his 1990 book, In the Wake of the Exxon Valdez (from which some of this account is taken - pp. 7-9), "While Ott was voicing her concerns and the Alyeska staff was celebrating its safety record, Captain Joseph Hazelwood was taking shore leave...."

Dr. Riki Ott isn't being honored for her oracular gifts on that occasion. She is being honored, rather, for her persistence, and for her continuing oracular gifts. If her persistence has long been recognized by environmental and ecological organizations like Cook Inlet Keeper, her more important sagacity and common sense, has been used far too little.

I'll be writing more about Dr. Ott over the next two or three weeks. I've admired her work from afar for years, dedicating my most heartfelt orchestral work to her efforts.

And I'll be at 'Koots, for the Muckrakers' Ball!

On Sunday, December 14th, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m, I'll be hosting Dr. Ott's Book Salon appearance at firedoglake. She will be discussing her new book, Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

My review copy came today. I can't put it down!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shrub Pardons His First Rapper -- Will This One Be Next?

President George Bush is pardoning people. Some are turkeys. Some are worse. Some probably deserve them. Some don't or won't.

He just pardoned this rapper:

Maybe he'll pardon this one too:

Ak Muckraker has a post up on a Stevens pardon, that includes a poll. Go take it!

Why is Chambliss Gambling on This "Closer"?

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the most polarizing figure in recent American politics, will be at a Sunday evening fundraiser, and four big Monday rallies for the closing day of Saxby Chamliss' narrowing U.S. Senate race. Is she there to throw red meat to "morans," or is she there to muck things up?

Sarah Palin will spend part of Sunday and most or all of Monday, campaigning for Senator Saxby Chambliss, in his bid to keep his seat from the strong challenge of Jim Martin. This move on the part of the Saxbee campaign is being widely perceived as one to use her ability as a "closer," that is - somebody who can cinch a deal.

Certainly, Palin has proven she can make her base base salivate. And many appearances by her in the Southeast United States during September and October drew huge, enraptured throngs. I'm sure Saxby's campaign will love throwing scraps of red meat out to the crowds greeting Palin. But her rabid stump style might just as well drive undecided voters toward Martin.

No doubt, the group plowing a lot of money into Georgia right now, the National Republican Trust PAC, has sent her the talking points she will use Sunday and Monday:

Barack Obama is just one seat away from TOTAL CONTROL

Obama will enact crushing new taxes to pay for immediate citizenship for 15 million illegal aliens

Obama is getting ready to enact a RADICAL AGENDA

Her NRT PAC and Our Country Deserves Better PAC handlers have already emailed or faxed the talking points to her. Her Sunday and Monday appearances will combine elements from their material with the disgustingly false strain exhibited in the NRSC ads that began airing Tuesday in Georgia.

Although we can only hope for another Palin moment (see definition #15), or even the long-hoped-for "Macaca" moment (it's coming sometime, trust me), Mooselini's Georgia appearance isn't merely a gamble. It may well also be a way to insert "the Palin Effect."

The anomolies of Alaska voter turnout on November 4th, 2008 haven't been adequately explained yet. National electronic vote manipulation experts are still poring through the remaining - and continuing - strangenesses. Essentially, Alaska voters reacted far differently in the booth on election day than pollsters had predicted, particularly in two statewide races.

Anchorage mayor Mark Begich was supposed to handily beat Senator Ted Stevens, who had been convicted of seven Federal felonies only days before. Begich narrowly squeaked by. Former Alaska Legislative House minority leader Ethan Berkowitz had been predicted to either soundly best or even trounce Rep. Don Young, who spent well over a million dollars on criminal legal fees his past year, and - by his own admission - is under multiple Federal investigations. Instead, Ethan Berkowitz was soundly trounced by Young.

The most often-used explanation in Alaska to these developments was that Palin turned out to be far more of an attraction for voters, than people expected. The most recent explanation has been that only polls conducted before early voting began here can be considered valid.

Whatever the reasons for these disparities, the two weeks after the election were very uncertain, as votes seemed to keep popping up in various categories. A few races are still in doubt. I'll call the mainstream narrative on how and why this occurred "The Palin Effect."

Even if Sarah screws up in Georgia - she'll probably be too tightly controlled for that to happen - if the vote there between Chambliss and Martin is quite close, or if it tends away from pollter's predictions in favor of Chambliss, watch for pundits and GOP apparatchiks to gather around the "Palin Effect" meme.

Not only will Georgia voters decide this important race Tuesday, but that day will also see President-elect Barack Obama meeting in Philadelphia with most US governors, at their annual U.S. Governors Association conference. In Anchorage yesterday, Palin's spokeseunuch, Bill McAllister attempted to pimp the possibility Obama might meet with Palin.

If Palin campaigns as negatively as I predict she will in Georgia on Sunday and Monday, it will be one of Obama's most generous gestures yet to the opposition.

We'll see.

Meanwhile, in some pre-Thanksgiving snark toward my turkey of a governor, I posted a thread early Wednesday afternoon at DailyKos, that asked, "If Obama offers Palin a job in his administration, what should it be?" I'm paraphrasing myself, but the thread turned into an interesting, sometimes hilarious read.

this article has been cross-posted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Mooselini's Upcoming Georgia-Philadelphia Trip

There's only one big election happening next Tuesday in the USA. That is the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff between GOP candidate Saxby Chambliss, and Democratic Party candidate, Jim Martin. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will appear Sunday night at a Chambliss fundraiser in Atlanta, followed by Monday rallies in Augusta, Savannah, Perry and outside of Atlanta.

Then she's off, late Monday night or Tuesday morning, to Philadelphia, where she has already spent a lot of time, during the late summer and fall campaign season. Palin will be there to attend the National Governors Association annual conference. Also attending on Tuesday, will be President-elect Barack Obama

Palin spokeseunuch, Bill McAllister, has tried to make something out of the possibility, dim as it might be, that Palin might meet Obama one-on-one, while there. I'm not going to say that such a meeting is improbable, but it might be unlikely, given what Palin will be doing in Georgia on Monday - throwing red meat to large crowds of people, drawn from her base base.

I posted a diary at Daily Kos early this afternoon, snarkily suggesting that Obama might offer Palin a post in his upcoming Team of Rivals. Besides the obvious suggestions - Ambassador to Russia (she can see it from....), Ambassador to France (she's already spoken with the Prime Minister) and Ambassador to Turkey (you betcha! -also suggested, "Ambassador to turkeys"), there have been more creative solutions. Here's one of many:

... Under Secretary of Data Utility Management, Business Administration Security and Services (DUMBASS) in the Department of Education. Then she could serve as an example to the nation's schoolchildren about the dangers of where you could end up if you don't stay in class and study hard to at least learn the English language.

One thing for sure, though. Palin challenges the snark level of a lot of liberals and progressives. Genuine conservatives, too...

image - Saxby Chambliss

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Palin Administration Non-responsive to PFD Corp. Queries?

The most recent articles in the Alaska press i've found on communications between the Palin administration and the Permanent Fund Corporation are from back before Palin was selected s Sen. John McCain's running mate.

The first week of November, the Anchorage Daily News covered the fund's loss of about 25% of its value in the time since Palin had been selected. Meanwhile, there have undoubtedly been further serious losses.

Yesterday, on his KFQD-AM call-in program, Dan Fagan claimed that the Palin administration is not communicating back with the PFD directors, after they have requested advice on important matters concerning the current state of the fund in this extremely tenuous investment climate.

PA has been highly critical of the fluff coverage and coverups accorded to Palin and her cronies by the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU-TV, over a range of issues. It is time for them to seriously look at how the Palin administration is handling concerns by the PFD Corporation about the fund's status and future.

Update - 11:10 a.m: Gov. Palin is off to Georgia to campaign for Saxbee Chambliss, in the U.S. Senate runoff there. This will be her second trip to the U.S. Southeast since the election. I believe the last time our governor was in S.E. Alaska or the capital of Alaska was mid-July.

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 15 -- Letterman & Olbermann Pile On

and --- a bonus:

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 14 -- DU Does Palin Caricature Thread

Democratic Underground has a great thread up right now. It is named:

Put Your Favorite Palin Anecdote or Photoshop Here....

There are scores of hilarious photos, photos with captions, photoshopped pics, political cartoons, and miscellaneous other stuff.

Who says Republicans can't inspire great art?

Here are two more of my favorites:
This one almost mimics some typical Alaska hunting art:
hat tip to Shannyn Moore

Monday, November 24, 2008

AK4Truth PAC - Day One Coverage in Alaska

Both KTUU-TV and the Anchorage Daily News covered today's press release by Alaskans for Truth. In the press release, we announced that we've formed a PAC, and described some fairly modest goals.

KTUU's Jason Moore filed a print report, that stenoed parts of the press release, and got a sound bite from KUDO's CC. Moore's short, somewhat hasty report then ended with this:

But some lawmakers don't see it that way.

Legislative leaders say Alaskans are weary of "troopergate."

A second investigation by the State Personnel Board found Palin did not abuse her power.

True enough, Jason. But real journalism usually has you ask one of your unnamed "leaders" to comment on the premise of the organization upon which you are reporting. Looking for your followup. I'm sure you'll "get back atcha" on AK4Truth.

Scanning some of the almost 200 comments to the ADN poliblog entry, here are some that assert Alaskans for Truth are seeking reasonable, practical goals:

nickjeant -- Actually, this request from "Alaskans For Truth" seems fairly minimal. It doesn't include most of the new ethics concerns that have come up since she became VP nominee. If she's smart, she'll deal with this now before additional issues begin to fester and really cause her some problems.

This is serious. It's not about name-calling or whipping people into a frenzy. It's about a group of Alaskans who have serious questions about their Governor and want those questions answered.

Governor Palin (for whom I voted, by the way) said she would run an open and transparent office. If she still believes that, then the request from Alaskans For Truth should be no problem.

rockAK -- I don't think we need to get off the subject of holding this governor accountable for all the things that have been questioned. She has been unethical and knows that she has been. She better be called upon to answer these charges.

smirkie -- I as a Republican am still angry over the unethical behavior of our governor not to mention her lying and deceitful campaigning. I want to she Palin answer about the EMAIL accounts (and yes there were hacked into and it's a no brainer as to why she shouldn't have had these email accounts), kiddie travel expenses, donations to her favorite church(es), Todd Palin involved in Alaska politics, per diem and the contractors and billing of her new home. How can we continue supporting this governor without a full investigation by the people and for the people of Alaska. Our governor is not above the law! We have a right to question her actions or we will remove her.

Eddie Burke -- Hey Truth Commandos...I want to speak to all the action figures out there. Do the words "Get a Life" mean anything? Remember, there was no “grassy knoll,” there are no black helicopters, Evils and KFK are dead and so is Trooper Gate.

hresz -- Thanks, but no thanks to the turkey from nowhere.

Stags Leap -- I say take her down. How long are we going to tolerate the blatant lying? Her antics won't stop. She can't help herself. As such, I say we pursue charges and hold her accountable. She needs to walk the walk. The crush is over.

And on and on. Essentially, though, many ADN blog commenters see the goals of Alaskans for Truth, in the matter of Alaska executive ethics, to be both laudable and doable.

Alaskans for Truth is Now a Political Action Committee

Alaskans for Truth began in response to the outrage many Alaskans felt when the John McCain campaign came into Alaska, with a team publicly headed by lower-48 torture advocate Ed O'Callaghan, and attempted to shut down or discredit the Alaska Legislative Council ethics investigation into aspects of Walt Monegan's termination as Alaska Director of Public Safety.

The product of the Legislative Council's independent investigation, known as the Branchflower Report contained a number of findings, some of which require action during the upcoming session of the 27th Alaska Legislature.

Although the subsequent release, on November 3, of the State of Alaska Personnel Board investigation, known as the Petumenos Report, found that the Branchflower Report was based upon a flawed interpretation of Alaska statutes, the Petumenos Report's methodology on that finding, and overall thoroughness, have been called into question.

Since the November 4th election, Alaskans for Truth have noticed a softening in attitude toward the well documented ethical lapses of Governor Palin, as brought out in the Branchflower Report, in numerous articles in the national and Alaska media, and in other credible reports. Those of us who have followed Alaska political corruption for a long time, see in this softening a pattern we have seen time and time again. Too often, a big political scandal in Alaska has brought momentary outrage, but no long-term solutions that stop the abuse. We feel that we've once again arrived at one of those moments.

This past week, Alaskans for Truth became a political action committee. Here is the press release:

Alaskans for Truth, a non-partisan group organized to hold Alaska’s leaders accountable, has issued a Call to Action to all concerned citizens to join them in insisting that the Alaska State Legislature respond to the findings of its own Legislative Council’s Investigation, known as “Troopergate”, as conducted by Special Counsel Stephen E. Branchflower and take the following actions:

** Censure Governor Sarah Palin, who the Branchflower Report found to have "abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act" which provides “The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.

** Seek contempt charges against the Governor’s husband, Todd Palin, and the state officials who willingly ignored the Legislative Council's subpoenas during the investigation.

** Hold hearings on whether Gov. Palin and her husband, Todd Palin, committed perjury in their sworn statements to Timothy Petumenos, in his function as independent counsel to the Alaska State Personnel Board.

** Call for an independent investigation to determine if Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg or others, engaged in criminal witness tampering in advance of the Branchflower investigation.

** The Legislative Council’s investigation cannot be de-legitimized. Though the Personnel Board tried to do so with their own report, the findings in the Legislative Council’s investigation stand. Now it’s up to the Legislature as a whole to follow up on the ethics violation and the other serious matters, let alone potential crimes that may exist.

** Gov. Palin campaigned on the promise of an open, honest and transparent administration. It’s our responsibility as citizens of this state to stand together and uphold the ethics in which Governor Palin believes.

(‘Alaskans for Truth’ is a Political Action Committee (PAC) organized under Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) rules and regulations. It is not affiliated with any political party. Any appearance of affiliation is purely unintentional and was neither initiated nor supported by Alaskans for Truth)

The Alaskans for Truth web site now has a Pay Pal button, so you may contribute to our PAC, whether you live in Alaska, or in one of the other states.

Alaska bloggers directly assisting Alaskans for Truth are:

Writing Raven at Alaska Real
Linda Kellen at Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis
Shannyn Moore at Just a Girl from Homer
Gryph at the Immoral Minority
AK Muckraker at the Mudflats
Phil Munger at Progressive Alaska

We've all posted or will post essays on the progress of the newest liberal/progressive/non-partisan political action committee in Alaska.

Please help us bring truth and accountability to Alaska politics!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Was Wondering When Joe the Writer Would Show Up

As Alaska's strange mix of politics, corruption and crime brewed over in the 12 and half months Progressive Alaska has been up and running, I've thought back more than once about how much I learned from Joe McGinnis' 1980 book, Going to Extremes. It came out at the end of one of the three periods since I've been in Alaska, when our state became a big national story - the pipeline era. Or, more accurately, the pipeline building era.

The other two times our state gained national attention since I moved here were the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and Sarah Palin's selection to be John McCain's running mate in the 2008 election.

Last year, when I was blogging the Vic Kohring trial with Fred James, Joe's name came up more than once in discussions with other people attending and covering the event. McGinnis didn't come up because of Going to Extremes, but because of two of his other books about crime, Fatal Vision and Blind Faith. And, going through my three legal pads full of Kohring trial notes, I can't figure out exactly how Joe came up.

When Ted Stevens, of whom Joe writes in Going to Extremes, was indicted, I thought that McGinnis might end up coming back to Alaska. He didn't then, but he's been up here now for three weeks, working on a long article about this place. A Juneau friend called me last week to tell me McGinnis was headed to Anchorage and Wasilla. Then Shannyn Moore invited me to a dinner she and Kelly were hosting for Joe and some other local progressive folks.

Going to Extremes was an incredible book for its day. It did not fluff up or pastoralize (a word I've made up, derived from pastorale) about Alaska's future, as did many articles in the late 70s and early 80s about Alaska's prospects at that time. I've read it twice, and after meeting Joe today and talking with him for awhile, I'm going to read it again.

Joe had a lot to say about how Alaskans are dealing with our current notoriety. Like a lot of the writers who have come up to Alaska over the past three months, he had generous praise for our small team of Alaska progressive bloggers. Unlike almost all the other reporters and writers who have been here since Sarah Palin's selection as the anointed one of the GOP far right, McGinnis has lived here. And, he'd like to come back and write another book about us.

McGinnis is a writer who seems to recognize how important web logs are to the direction of American journalism and truth seeking at this point in time. Like about 99 other Outside writers I've spoken with since August 29th, he expressed disappointment both in the level of research help he's been able to get from local print and broadcast journalists, and in the depth of the product the mainstream media are managing to produce.

As Alaska's progressive bloggers have monitored the late vote count, and the organization of the new legislature, and a softening attitude toward our inept governor on the part of our Alaska legislators, we've felt frustration, as we've fallen a bit into infighting, and have had our suggestions for further ethics reform on the state level dismissed as undoable in the upcoming session. McGinnis told Shannyn and me to straighten up and keep pushing. Hard.

We didn't talk much about the turkey pardon fiasco. But when I got home, reading through emails and a couple of progressive Alaska blog posts, I realized, we are pushing back. Hard.

Linda Kellen has thrown the lie of both KTUU TV and the Palin press office back into their faces, with details about how the ambience of the turkey slaughter video happened in real time. She pretty clearly demonstrates that Palin's press office statement on this, to wit:

Palin's spokesperson tells ET the bird butchering wasn't going on when the shot was set up, and a cameraman "ignored" the governor's staff's request to remove the graphic sight once cameras were rolling.

"We're unhappy about it and the station is not happy either," Palin's rep tells ET, adding, "this was an attempt to lighten up and do something non-controversial."


Not only that, but ADN coverage of the playout of the governor's fiasco is lamentable. Here's AK Muckraker's description of what happened:

Of course, Palin or her staff could have stopped the interview at any time if this had been the case. Considering there were many people there who saw and heard exactly what happened during this interview, and that I know one of them personally, we can feel confident in saying this desperate attempt on Entertainment Tonight to rescue Palin’s image from the turkey pile sounds like exactly what it is - a big fat lie.

Once again the media becomes the whipping boy for Palin’s incompetence, lack of judgment, and inability to understand how she is perceived by others.

Dennis Harris, who has written a few guest posts at PA, put it boldly today, in a letter to the ADN writers covering this, and the ADN's publisher (I somehow doubt they will publish it):

Shame on you for believing Sarah and Bill McAllister about her inept handling of the turkey slaughter. She is lying about how the scene was shot and her awareness of what was going on behind her, which she said was just fine with her while the crew was shooting. In the full length video on YouTube, it's obvious that she's aware of what's going on behind her.

If you had checked with the actual camera crew, as Mudflats did, you would have had the true story, not Sarah's lies. When will the ADN stop regurgitating what Palin says as fact, and start checking the validity of everything she says? The woman is a pathological liar, and Bill McAllister, who I know and who I used to admire, is no better when he attempts to cover up her lies. says

"Scott Jensen is the one who filmed the scene. He’s local station KTUU’s award winning chief photographer. He told CC from KUDO radio yesterday that Sarah Palin, who was standing next to her personal assistant throughout the entire interview, chose the spot on which she stood for the “turkey slaughter interview” that quickly went viral on the internet, and received wide coverage in the news media. The turkey slaughter was already underway when the governor chose the spot. The photographer pointed out what was going on and asked her if she wanted to move. She said, “No worries.”

Several of her staff were present the entire time while the journalism-major-turned-governor spoke to the people. And then there was the actual footage of her looking at the guy while he was killing the turkeys.

This was pretty much covered on the day it happened in various reports of the horrifying pr debacle. So why bring it up again?

Because now, Palin is denying it, and saying she had no idea of what was going on ten feet behind her while she gave the interview, and is basically calling the photographer a liar."

I suggest that you talk to Scott and if he was quoted correctly by Mudflats, run a STORY about the Governor's attempt to cover the true facts, not just a correction in the box on page 2.

Sorry, Dennis, not a chance. We have a governor who has a far higher chance of adding a few pages to the DSM-IV manual than getting her fucking TC pipeline built, and the ADN and KTUU will continue to enable her, and enable her, and enable her and.....

.....and back to Joe the Writer. I'm glad he feels our Alaska progressive bloggers can do the job nobody else seems to have the courage to perform,

images - Phil the composer with Joe the writer - by Judy Youngquist; turkey termination spot - by Linda Kellen.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saradise Found - Chapter Three -- "Thank You, Sarah Palin!"

I know what you are thinking, "Gryphen you simpleton, clearly that is a joke!"

Au contraire, mon ami. It most certainly is not.

Those are the actual Sarah Palin supporters just doing their gosh darnedest to let her know how much they appreciate her.

I know that you expect me to just rip into this video, and pick it apart, leaving the bits and pieces scattered all over this page. But that just shows how little you know about me.

You see I have been inspired to take the time to add my "thank yous" for Sarah Palin as well.

Sarah Palin thank you.

Thank you for being so completely inept at your job that even mentioning the word "recall" or "impeachment" draws immediate interest and support from all around the world.

Thank you for being such a habitual liar that even the casual observer cannot help but notice the inconsistencies.

Thank you for breaking Alaskan ethics laws like saltine crackers with never a thought as to who has to clean up the mess or that the trail of crumbs leads right back to you.

Thank you for demonstrating on the campaign trail that there is literally NOTHING you won't do to smear and damage anybody that you perceive as a potential threat, whether it be a highly respected law enforcement professional, an inspirational leader who is working to repair the deep divides in this country, or even your own teenage daughter.

And finally a big thank you for standing in front of that turkey holocaust so that the world could see how terminally clueless you really are, and for making the job of Alaskan Progressive Bloggers just that much easier.

For all of that, and more, I would like to say THANK YOU SARAH PALIN! We simply could not do this without you!

Friday, November 21, 2008

How Skinny of a Tightrope is the FBI Walking Here?

According to ex-Anchorage Daily News reporter Tataboline Brant, in a story filed for the ADN in early 2004, but no longer available for free on-line, when Alaska Industrial Hardware owner Josef Boehm was busted at an Anchorage crack house, he wanted to come clean:

In a police station restroom in December after his arrest on a crack cocaine charge, Anchorage businessman Josef F. Boehm teased an officer with a remarkable comment: He could, he suggested, tell police something about missing women in Anchorage.

According to transcripts of court proceedings, the officer, after hearing the remark, took Boehm to FBI headquarters downtown to talk to federal authorities, where Boehm went further: He said he might have information on two female torsos that washed up on Turnagain Arm shores last year.

Anchorage and Alaska have a long history of mysteriously unsolved sex crimes involving prominent Republicans and their supporters. Robert Hansen, the Anchorage serial killer from the late 1970s through early 1980s, was a prominent skeet shooter at many high profile Alaska GOP shooting events during that period. He has not accounted for all the women he killed.

In 1992, while working for Bill Weimar as the director of his Anchorage Cordova Center, I had to deal with the Department of Corrections' unwillingness to send a serial rapist back to prison, for his conduct while a resident at the Cordova Center. In the hearing, held at Anchorage's Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility, sitting in the shadows, intimidating the hearing officers, was Wally Hickel's cleaner/plumber, Jerry Ward.

I almost lost the hearing. I wanted this sick fuck kid back in prison forever. Ward wanted him on the street, so his grateful dad would feed more money to Wally, and possibly Ward. But, just as the hearing officers seemed to be ready to accommodate Ward, a courageous probation officer, who had a hunch on this kid, came into the hearing room, and handed a long fax to the hearing chief. He looked at it a long time.

The fax was from the King County Washington Sheriff. They were interested in this kid, based on information the probation officer and I had shared with them. The kid is still in prison.

Ward was pissed that I had won.

As I've been saying, we'll hear more about Jerry Ward soon.

images: Boehm, Hanson, Ward (the last by Ken Erickson)

Tim Smith to Perform Totentanz Saturday in Anchorage

Noted Franz Liszt interpreter, Tim Smith, will be performing Franz Liszt's most interesting work for piano and orchestra, Totentanz, this Saturday, at Bartlett High School. He will be accompanied by the Anchorage Civic Orchestra, directed by Tai Wai Li, in the ensemble's Autumn Concert.

Also on the program will be Mozart's Overture to the Magic Flute, his 39th Symphony, Bartok's Rumanian Dances, and Vaughn Williams' Fantasia on Greensleeves.

Totentanz is remarkable for the amount of virtuosic percussive effects Liszt incorporated into the pianist's role. As long as most piano concertos of the early to mid-Romantic period, Totentanz places a far greater role upon the piano soloist than does any piano concerto from the same period. The work is in theme and variations form, with the theme based on the medieval Gregorian plainsong, Dies Irae, "day of wrath." Many of the variations highlight the piano almost exclusively, and a few feature the pianist in extended solos.

Liszt's lifelong fascination with death, the fate of the soul and the macabre saw its greatest expression in this work, and in his Faust Symphony. Unlike the Faust Symphony, though, Totentanz has always been a popular concert work, since its first performance in this version, in 1859.

Saturday's Anchorage Civic Orchestra concert is an excellent deal, with all tickets pricd below $20.00 The afternoon concert starts at 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 13 - Palin's Weirdness Reaches New Heights

How many governors pardon turkeys before Thanksgiving? On TV? Not many, I can assure you.

How many governors who pardon turkeys before Thanksgiving, manage to get a weird YouTube of the unpardoned turkeys, being whacked and/or bled out in the background, posted and viral within minutes? Uh, how about one.

Guess which one? Turkey, meet Dodo:

Here's the Anchorage Daily News fluff version:

Here's some of the the raw footage:

The raw footage version has (as of 11:40 p.m. Thursday) gotten 1,617 comments at Huffington Post, and 82,048 views at YouTube. It is titled at YouTube as "KTUU 2008 Sarah Palin Turkey Interview," but I can't find such raw footage at KTUU.


Update - Friday 10:30 a.m: 3,411 comments at HuffPo and 479,348 views at YouTube

Update - 4:45 p.m: 4,126 comments at Huffpo (slowing down), but 1,020,418 views at YouTube

Update - Saturday 11:00 a.m: 4,904 at
Huffpo, 1,683,897 at YouTube

World Leaders to Bush - Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out!

Senator-elect Mark Begich's Record on Gay Isues

--- by E. Ross

Democrat Mark Begich defeated Republican Ted Stevens to become Alaska's new senator!

"We are jubilant at the Begich headquarters!" said Stef Gingrich, a campaign volunteer.

When Mark Begich was on the Anchorage Assembly, he was the principal sponsor for the temporarily successful effort in 1993 to add sexual orientation to the city's non-discrimination ordinance, according to Gingrich. He also helped to obtain funding for Out North.

As Mayor of Anchorage, Begich spoke at the Pride Conference, visited the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Anchorage (GLCCA), and came to the Celebrating Diversity Parade and Pride on the Parkstrip. This year, he read the Anchorage Pride Day proclamation from the stage, his son standing next to him.

In 2005, when the Alaska Supreme Court ordered the state and the Municipality of Anchorage to offer benefits for employees with same-sex partners, Begich supported the ruling and implemented the benefits for city personnel.

Begich promotes Diverse-City events that "combat bias and promote a respect for diversity," including sexual orientation. He appointed members of the LGBT community to the Equal Rights Commission, and has several members in his mayoral administration.

Many LGBT Alaskans worked on or contributed to Mark's senate campaign, and 90% of us voted for him, according to a Bent Alaska poll. He also has the support of the Human Rights Campaign, a national equal rights group.

In contrast, Senator Ted Stevens usually voted against us. Stevens, who was recently convicted on all seven felony counts in his corruption trial, had a mostly anti-gay record, voting twice for banning same-sex marriage, and voting against adding sexual orientation to job discrimination and hate crimes legislation. Stevens received a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign in 2006 and 2004.

Congratulations to Senator Begich and to all who worked on his campaign!

re-posted from Bent Alaska

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 12 - Palin's Pathological Pipeline of Lies

Two excellent articles came out today on the climate Sarah Palin finds herself in as her administration prepares the FY 2009 budget, and she has to settle down to doing her real job again, for a change.

Palin has never gotten along with big oil, which has always been fine with me in many respects.

Even before she was selected as John McCain's running mate, however, Palin often claimed more credit for both the higher extraction rate now charged oil companies for removing Alaska's minerals, and for the AGIA deal. On the campaign stump this fall, she constantly claimed all the credit for these events. Every single bit of it.

From several angles now, the AGIA deal with TransCanada is beginning to look more than a little dicey. Their financing package is nowhere near complete, and the environment for getting money now, both in small and large sums, let alone mammoth sums, is changing daily hourly.

Tony Hopfinger, at Alaska Dispatch, has written an informative article about Palin's appearance Wednesday morning before the Resource Development Council. Here's a revealing extract:

When Palin was introduced at the Resource Development Council's meeting at the new Anchorage convention center, she was met with modest applause. Nobody stood up and the claps lasted less than 10 seconds. She opened her remarks with what has become her post-presidential election stump speech in recent weeks:

“The last few months have been an amazing experience.... The time went so quickly... I got to briefly expand my wardrobe. I got to meet a few VIPs, you know, those that really impact society, like Tina Fey.”

No laughs for this laugh line from these hard-headed poker players, though.

Andrew Halcro has begun today what I think will be a series of articles on the prospects of both AGIA and Denali. He opens with this:

"Even in my own energy producing state, we have hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean green natural gas, and we're building the nearly forty billion dollar natural gas pipeline, which is North America's largest and most expensive infrastructure project."
--- Governor Sarah Palin - Vice Presidential Debate - 10/2/08

In the 1996 blockbuster "Top Gun", there is a scene where a young hot shot pilot gets called out by his commanding officer after a risky stunt; "Maverick, your body is writing checks your butt can't cash."

It seems history is repeating itself for at least one self proclaimed maverick.

After spending nine weeks travelling from one end of the country to another, promising the people of America that her leadership is building the largest and most expensive natural gas pipeline in the history of the United States, Governor Sarah Palin returns home to face the music; her leadership is building no such pipeline.

Maybe she thought she'd get elected and could leave the truth behind for others to handle. Maybe she thought Joe the plumber and the press had short term memories and would forget about her pipeline lies if she ran for national office again in the future. Or maybe, just maybe, Palin didn't see anything wrong with being extremely liberal with the truth when talking to the so called elite liberal media.

But whatever the reason for her being less than honest with Americans about her actual success in trying to manage the development of Alaska's economic future, this "Top Gun" looks more like the movies character Goose than the movies character Maverick.

Halcro goes on to describe a working relationship between the major producers and TransCanada that has deteriorated since the time AGIA went through the legislature and was signed by Gov. Palin:

And given all of her tough talk on the campaign trail about how she "took on big oil" and "broke up their monopoly" while jump starting this project, Palin now finds herself boxed in by her tough talk. Yes, it will be big oil who will decide the fate of this project, not Sheriff Palin.

The best explanation comes from Hal Kvisle, CEO of TransCanada, an independent pipeline company. "Eventually, it's come down to the big producers. ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP are the ones most likely to hold the shipping commitments, so whatever kind of project is put together has to be one that works for the producers," Kvisle said.

In fact, three days after the Alaska State Legislature approved Palin's pipeline plan to nowhere, where they granted Kvisle's company up to $500 million in taxpayer money and exclusive rights, Kvisle was quoted in the Toronto media as saying, "Nothing goes ahead unless Exxon is happy with it."

And my friends, Exxon ain't very happy.

Go read Andrew's article. It is informative, to say the least. You might skip Wesley Loy's blog entry at the Anchorage Daily News political blog niche. Unless you're looking for more evidence of how much better our Alaska blogs are managing to cover the new ground upon which celebrity Sarah is going to tread this coming legislative session. The ADN clearly doesn't get this yet. Loy manages to pimp pump up Palin, while dissing Senator-elect Begich at last twice.