Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weekend Wrapup

Dennis Zaki is teaching me a lot. I messed up so many good scenes in the interviews with John Ziegler and Eddie Burke, from doing goofy things I didn't know you couldn't do. But Dennis is a good teacher. I'm learning.

Here Dennis is trying to keep my hat out of the picture, while I'm asking Eddie Burke why he thinks Rev. Jerry Prevo is, as he put it, "Christ-like."

I'm hoping to pay Dennis back for the video interviewing lessons, by taking him out on Neklason Lake, and showing him around. This was late afternoon today, looking east toward Matanuska Peak.

Max Blumenthal's Latest Report from the Occupied Territories, as Israelis Continue to Expand by Stealing Peoples' Lands and Lives

What Max Blumenthal's video here demonstrates is that the Israeli Defense Forces in the areas of Palestine's West Bank, where Israeli settlements continue to expand unabated during the first four months of the Obama administration, are materially assisting the expansion activities and all their violence. All this is in contravention of International Law, U.N. Resolutions, Israeli Supreme Court rulings, and what Obama is claiming to be the current U.S. policy.

When Kim Jung Il says "Fuck you!" to Obama, the U.S. press jumps on Obama, right and left to be more decisive.

When Bibi Netanyahu says "Fuck You!" to Obama, the U.S. press either keeps quiet, or chastises our president for upsetting the Israeli Prime Minister.

Here's some of Max's article about what's going on over there while he's reporting:

Violence erupted in the Palestinian town of Safa today as fanatical masked settlers from the Jewish settlement of Bat Ayin set upon a group of activists from the peace group Ta’ayush, destroying their cameras and badly vandalizing one of their cars. According to Ta’ayush member Joseph Dana, the Israeli army scrambled to the scene with a “closed military zone order,” allowing the masked settlers to remain while ordering the activists to leave under threat of arrest. When the activists failed to leave rapidly enough, the soldiers also turned violent, forcing several of them into a jeep and hauling them away to prison. The army’s action directly contravened an Israeli Supreme Court decision ruling the army could not used closed military zones to prevent Palestinian farmers from working their land. The West Bank is a legal gray zone where even high court rulings are voided by the violent whims of soldiers and settlers.

Philip Weiss' blog, Mondoweiss, is running an article today about some perceptions that Obama is accomodating the Palestinians. But one of the commenters there noted that:

1. Obama promised to deliver an "undivided" Jerusalem to Israel after receiving the Democratic nomination;
2. Obama's Federal Election Commission has not investigated bribery allegations by AIPAC backer Haim Saban over the Hillary Clinton super delegate scandal;
3. Obama's Treasury is AIPAC hand picked. Stuart Levey has remained in place to launch financial blockades against Israel's foes, in the US and abroad, while keeping illegal settlement financial flows from the US "off the table."
4. Obama's Justice Department dropped the Rosen and Weissman prosecution despite an abundance of damning evidence, alleged spy Ben-Ami Kadish was let off with a $50,000 fine for billions in damages rendered to the US.
5. Obama has refused to obey the Symington and Glenn Amendments to the Arms Export Control Act, and refuses to admit to the American people what the world knows: Israel possesses an illicit nuclear arsenal.

Another commenter added:

When the two top officials of Aipac who were caught red handed passing U.S. classified intelligence off to Israel and the 9 time delayed trial was dismissed....that confirmed once again the power and influence of Aipac. When Rosen led the drive to take out Charles Freeman while being under indictment for his alleged crimes. That is power and influence. When Jane Harman's 'waddling" on over to interfere in the Aipac investigation and trial is dropped that is power and influence.

Stay safe, Max!

Bill O'Reilly - Accessory to Murder?

The Call:

The Responses:

From the comments appended to the above video:

He deserved to die.

Doctor Tiller deserved what he got no man like him deserves to live.

God be praised an evil man is dead and pray for the release of the killer who shot him

i am thrilled. i praise this hero for doing this.

death to all pro aborts . they dehumanize their preborn victims.

and on and on.....

A suspect was apprehended early this afternoon.

Shannyn Moore has already covered this murder.

One of the best national blogs on issues like what this murder brings up, is David Neiwert's blog,
Orcinus. David is on a break right now, but his article on how this murder ties in with the culture that supports it will be definitive.

Civil Disobedience Headed to the Yukon?

One of the most despised people currently working for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, is Alaska Department of Fish & Game Commissioner, Denby Lloyd. In early April, Lloyd, as chair of the meetings in Anchorage to determine new bycatch levels of Bering Sea Chinook salmon to be destroyed by the foreign-owned, Seattle-based trawler fleet, Lloyd actually proposed a bycatch level far in excess of the criminally excessive level eventually settled upon.

Lloyd was in the lower Yukon this past week, holding brief meetings with Native leaders and concerned citizens. Perhaps he and Palin's new rural advisor, John Moller felt their answers to the increasingly impoverished and desperate residents there were satisfactory, but - realistically speaking - they were not.

Saturday, the Anchorage Daily News' new rural writer, Kyle Hopkins, wrote a long article about the ADF&G commercial closures on the river, and the probable closures or limitations of most subsistence Chinook activities along the lower Yukon in June:

The state Department of Fish and Game plans to close commercial fishing on the river and bar subsistence fishing for the first pulse of Canada-bound chinook. When subsistence fishermen do get a crack at the kings, they'll have 50 percent less time to do it.

Hopkins, who has little experience in the past writing about fisheries issues (he is as close that the ADN has come so far to replacing experience but exceedingly out-of-state, foreign-owned interest and corporate-friendly, Wesley Loy), tried to write one of those measured, yet informed pieces, that attempts to tell "both sides of the story." He failed to get a good quote from John Moller, for instance, instead reiterating this point, which has been already made elsewhere:

Moller told Naneng the state couldn't legally declare a formal disaster on the Lower Yukon last year, partly because of changes the Legislature made to the law in 1999 and 2000. He said the state has done other things to help people in the region, including extending the moose-hunting season, signing people up for assistance programs and holding a job fair.

Hopkins did give the best overall update available on what is happening on this complex set of issues, though, and it is a reasonably good, informative article.

Hopkins did miss a very important point, though, that had been published hours before he finished his article, which failed to mention the serious possibility of open civil disobedience as soon as the fish show up in volume. The Tundra Drums printed the following, earlier Friday:

When the first pulse of kings come in I'm going to fish for the folks and myself just as all the families here plan to.

We had a long hard expensive winter, the extreme high cost of living bled us of our cash resources and we plan to stock up on our traditional and customary food source no matter what.

Please prepare to hear from us as we get ticketed in our attempts to feed ourselves as our ancestors did.

Right now, many families ran out of salmon (both dried and frozen) because we had no choice but to fall back on all subsistence foods all last winter as food and fuel prices climbed.

I am not afraid, I may get fined and perhaps jail.

This stance is to hammer the message that big business cannot win us over and destroy our way of life and living.

-- Nick P. Andrew Jr., Marshall
Executive Director
Ohogamiut Village Council

In the Tundra Drums' preface to Mr. Andrews' article, the editor noted the following:

Editor's note: In an effort to boost the numbers of king salmon returning to the Yukon River, state and federal managers have come up with a plan that drastically restricts fishing this summer.

This will affect villagers who are already reeling from a rough winter, when many said they were forced to choose between buying costly heating fuel and putting food on their table.

The state plans no commercial opener in the struggling fishery, a situation that will remove one of the few money-earning opportunities many villagers have.

Subsistence fishing will also be halved from the year before, with fishermen allowed to fish two 18-hour openers a week. Also, subsistence fishing won't be allowed during the first pulse of salmon, when about 25 percent of the run traditionally arrives.

Fishery managers say not enough salmon have reached their spawning grounds in recent years and they worry that the run could collapse.

But village fishermen feel like they're being asked to bear the brunt of the pain.

Meanwhile, the mighty Bering Sea pollock fishing industry will still be allowed to accidentally catch tens of thousands of salmon a year on the high seas, without consequence.

In 2007, the industry caught 120,000 king salmon, more than double what subsistence fishermen on the Yukon usually take.

Such a tone in an editorial comment to a letter about civil disobedience is interesting, to say the least.

Rural advisor John Moller has agreed to providing Progressive Alaska with what may end up being the most detailed interview he will have yet provided, since taking on his difficult job in the midst of a cascade of crises. I'm looking forward to helping him finish it.

The pictures accompanying this article, of lower Yukon fishermen from an earlier season, might not be possible this June. These brave men and women will have to sneak out in the dark, or in inclement weather, breaking the law, so that they can maintain their 7,000 year-old lifestyle, in the face of a ravaging of it by state-sanctioned piracy, by a fleet that didn't exist 35 years ago.

images by Oysters4me

PA Arts Sunday - May 31, 2009 -- Three Reviews of the Expanded Rassie Museum

There are three reviews available on the web now, of the newly reopened, klutzily renamed Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. I hope to get down there fairly soon, but don't know when. Meanwhile, three good friends have reviewed the new public facility, and each has his or her own take on it:

Mike Dunham, the Arts Editor at the Anchorage Daily News, wrote a fairly standard review of the finished space, that the ADN published on May 23rd. He describes the facility's new features in detail. In an otherwise totally straightforward article, Dunham's closest approach to snark is this:

The ConocoPhillips Gallery (not to be confused with the ConocoPhillips Gallery at Alaska Pacific University) will showcase contemporary art by Native Alaskans.

The Mudflats' AK Muckraker toured the museum on May 27th, writing about the experience the following day. The article at Mudflats is full of the wit one used to be able to find at local writing niches such as the Alaska Ear (alors and alas, that humor well has all but dried up!), but can increasingly discover at our Alaska progressive blogs:

So, when I got an email last week inviting me as a member of “the media” (!) to come take a preview of the soon-to-be-open new Anchorage Museum expansion, and tour the special exhibit “Gold,” I was rather beside myself. It’s a good thing I wasn’t asked in person because the bouncing up and down and hand clapping that ensued would have been embarrassing. Luckily, I was alone in the office, and I wrote back something like, “Thank you for inviting me. I look forward to it….Best Wishes….bla bla bla.” I sounded extremely adult about it, I’m sure.

And I did try really hard to control myself throughout the tour, while inside feeling like one of the golden ticket winners in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

AK Muckraker goes on to describe the tour's start:

There were a couple inevitable questions about why the new part of the museum looks nothing like the old part. The answer was that the “rectilinear shape” was consistent, but the material was more in keeping with snazzy new museums, and not the brick and mortar museums of the past. So basically they could have tried to make it look the same, or not. They chose not. Some people will hate it. Some people will think it’s great. Some people won’t care. It started to rain and we went inside.

And AK Muckraker, after describing various parts of the expansion project, concentrates on the American Museum of Natural History's Gold Exhibit, which will be featured until early August:

There was something for everyone from the chemist, to the adventurer, to the treasure hunter, to the art aficionado. They even had several stations set up for kids where they can electroplate objects with copper, make their own crown, and learn about density.

Steve from What Do I Know? posted a review of the new space this morning. Here's part of his detailed description of the architect's interior centerpiece, the staircase:

The stairwell!! This is positively and totally avant garde. And you thought we were some hicktown whose museum would feature local items of artistic and historical significance. No way. Our grandest new work of art, with a four story gallery all to itself, is an homage to Anchorage fitness - a stairwell. No wimpy escalators for us.

Steve centers his article around aspects of the staircase, and how its function is described in explanatory material posted along adjacent walls.

Both Steve's and AK Muckrakers excellent photographs are an additional treat, and are taken from entirely different photographer's philosophies. Steve also has a video posted of Yaqui traditional performance artist, Gabriel Ayala.

I can't wait to get there. It is interesting that fine arts coverage by Alaska's progressive blogs is becoming an important aspect of what some of us choose to cover. Steve, in particular, has covered scores of concerts, locally produced and/or written plays, Alaskan film festivals, and exhibits.

Over this past winter, there has been more coverage of Alaska fine arts events - particularly in the Anchorage area by local bloggers - than by all other Alaska media combined. The new online news sources, the Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Standard, haven't quite come up with a fine arts approach yet. I can't imagine that the Alaska Standard ever will.

Update: I neglected to include Maia at Own the Sidewalk. She writes for the ADN and sometimes covers the arts from her own place.

Additionally, I should have mentioned that Steve's coverage often encompasses entire festivals (as he does in non-arts spheres), resulting in multimedia, multi-post extravaganzas that go beyond what any media in Alaska has ever before accomplished.

images - AK Muckraker and Steve

Saturday, May 30, 2009

At Saturday's Wasilla Teabagger Picnic - Updated

Dennis Zaki and I were at Wasilla Wonderland Park this afternoon.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and family came, but, apparently, the governor didn't even get out of her silver-grey SUV. Todd and Piper did, as a Palin staffer came up to the car and talked to somebody in the rear seat.
Then they left.

At the time, Dennis was covering one side of the park, and I was on the other.
I'd been tipped off that the governor would be there briefly. We couldn't find anyone attending who had actually seen her. Eddie Burke, who was there when Palin visited, didn't see her. Weird, huh?

Additionally, both Alaska Sen. Charlie Huggins and Alaska Sen.
Linda Menard had been asked to speak, but didn't. Sen. Huggins hung around for about a half hour. When Sen. Menard got there, Charlie and his wife were starting into the parking lot, on their way out. Charlie spoke with Linda for a while, and left. Linda walked into the event area, spoke to about three or four people, and snuck out a side entrance. She was probably inside the event area for less than six or seven minutes.

I did two head counts, one at 2:30, one at 3:30. The first indicated about 185 people, the second, 225. This was a very poor showing.
It wasn't raining at all, and was sometimes sunny.

Representatives Bill Stolze, Wes Keller and Carl Gatto all spoke to the "crowd."
They all spouted teabagger talking points. The most truth challenged of the three was Stolze, who claimed that Obama's current FY budget contains more debt - or funds (he changed his take as he repeated the false mantra) - than all the Federal budgets in the history of the United States, strung end-on-end. Do these people actually believe that? They seemed to, by their applause and hypnotically induced arm waving, back and forth.

There were no evident Asian, Native or African Americans there. When one young skateboarder of color skated through, hundreds of sneering eyes followed his brave journey.

With Dennis, I interviewed Eddie Burke for about ten minutes on the teabaggers, John Ziegler, Jerry Prevo, equal rights, and other issues.
Dennis is pretty busy, so we'll see how long it takes for him to put something together.

Here are some pictures:

The event stand
Anti New World Order coat (where were they during the Bush years?)
Rep. Stolze
Rep. Gatto
Rep. Keller
Sen. Huggins - probably advising Sen. Menard the place was full of nutcases
Eddie Burke
Updated - Sunday 10:30 a.m: In the above post I described the scene around the silverish-grey SUV in which the Palins were sitting, in the northernmost Wasilla Wonderland parking lot. That description - of Todd and Piper outside the car, while another person appeared to be speaking to somebody in the back seat, was my own description, from what I saw of the Palins.

I was looking for Dennis Zaki's truck at the time. He had 3-ring binder for me, from Ray Metcalfe, in the truck. So I didn't focus on them directly, expecting the Palins to emerge from the vehicle and come into the park. A minute later I realized that the Palins' vehicle was leaving the parking lot. It headed then toward the main parking lot, but then drove by, leaving the scene for Glennallen.
all images - Progressive Alaska

Two Ways to Honor Alaska's Fallen

1. In short-short mini skirt and open-toed shoes, at the right, is Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, at the Alaska Joint Armed Services Committee Decoration of Honor Ceremony, at the Alaska Center for the performing Arts, on the Saturday before Memorial Day, 2009. One attendee described the Governor's inappropriate appearance at that somber event:

Despite several months of notice, the governor didn’t commit to be at the ceremony until the morning of the event-hence her conspicuous absence in the program. Before the program went to the printers, the governor had been given a deadline. Silence.

Perhaps she was waiting for Greta’s call. Governor Palin insisted she be sat on stage and demanded time for a speech. She spoke before the invocation and flag presentation as to not be “off program.” It was certainly appropriate for the governor to speak at such a high level ceremony, but her high level maintenance made it difficult for those that planned it.

Here's a photo of the Governor, later last weekend, at a Memorial Day ceremony in Fairbanks. Different shoes.

The Governor was well-paid for her appearances, as she always is.

2. Progressive Alaska editor and Bugles Across America member, Philip Munger, this morning, after performing Taps at a memorial service for a recently deceased Alaska veteran.

Munger volunteered his service, as he has hundreds of times.

Saturday Alaska Progressive Blog Roundup - May 31, 2009 - Part One -- The Quality of Writing at Our Blogs

Two articles by progressive Alaska writers at their blogs, posted overnight, are perfect illustrations of the extraordinarily high quality of writing no being produced within our growing community. Both Shannyn Moore and Mel Green wrote essays yesterday that beg comparison with some of the best writing on the web, or in any print media around, for that matter. I'll get back to that later. But there were lots of examples of how the growth in our blog community exemplifies PA's masthead motto, by themselves "spreading the word about the growing presence of progressive Alaskans and their powerful ideas on the web."

Meanwhile, the only coverage of the Anchorage appearance by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's most prominent advocate from the film making community, at the Alaska premiere of his movie, Media Malpractice, was by our progressive bloggers. Brendan Joel Kelley, from the Anchorage Press, may have tried to cover John Ziegler's Anchorage movie showing and talk, but looking at Kelley's YouTube, his brief appearance at the Fireweed Theater appears to have been more likely a lame attempt to duplicate Ziegler's USC incident, notwithstanding Kelley's attempt to explain what really happened in a brief post at the Press web site.

AK Muckraker did a long review of Ziegler's documentary yesterday. It is a thorough analysis of the film. Other Alaska blogs commented on aspects of Ziegler's body of work. Celtic Diva covered his weird YouTube legacy, and his self-centered persona, as typified by a segment Ziegler did on a weird Dating Game TV program, where he gets unceremoniously dumped.

The only media in Alaska consistently asking the question, "How much of Gov. Palin's claimed legal expenses, and how much of the State of Alaska's claimed legal and administrative expenses that are now being touted as waste of time and money, stem from Gov. Palin's fall 2008 investigation of herself, or from the behind-the-scenes plea bargain the Governor entered into, as she returned about $10,000.00 in illegal travel funds, and agreed to pay the state's cost of the Gwartney request?" appears to be our local progressive bloggers. Why?

We're writing about other important issues right now, but none is more important than the upcoming vote by the Municipality of Anchorage Assembly, on a new equal rights ordinance.

Shannyn Moore's post from early this morning, titled Hate, The Real Anti-Christ, looks into the depths of hate that thrive in Rev. Jerry Prevo's world:

In the 1970’s, the Anchorage Assembly passed a similar ordinance. It was vetoed by then Republican Mayor George Sullivan. His son, Dan Sullivan, also a Republican, was just elected mayor of Anchorage. His term commences July 1.

Local super-sized Church leader, Dr. Jerry Prevo, of The Anchorage Baptist Temple, has become the “not-so-Christ-like” voice of hate. His 8 page press release included bullet points of why he is against the ordinance. The last few pages read like a porn pamphlet.


I guess the recession is now hitting churches; Prevo’s trying to drum up business. He worked hard to secure a tax free status for his church, his home and the homes of his employees, yet he wants to take rights away from citizens who actually pay taxes. How does that work? The pastor’s fascination of men wearing women’s clothing is pure fetish. Historically, Jesus wore a “dress” to work, not a suit. But Prevo doesn’t base his teachings on the tolerance of Christ. He prefers Bible 1.0, the old law, abolished by the crucifixion.

Moore brings a lot of historical perspective in her essay, which also goes a bit into Rev. Prevo's long list of questionable stances and actions:

Prevo was wrong on apartheid in the 1980’s. Was that Old Testament teaching? As much time as he spends on television, most people don’t know he starred in the reality show “Repo Man.” What would Jesus repo, Jerry?

The real Anti-Christ shows up every day. It shows up in the fear, racism, homophobia, and hate in the very people who claim they work for Christ.

Mel Green, at Henkimaa, has posted what may be the most serious, sweeping and scathing indictments of Prevo's history yet penned, called Prevo's Devil Masks.

Columns written last week at Moore's blog, and at Progressive Alaska, spurred Green to go back into her history of opposing Prevo's immoral opportunism on several fronts, and write a brilliant essay. Here a couple of short excerpts:

Jerry Prevo had just returned from a trip to South Africa as part of a “Freedom Mission” headed up by Moral Majority leader (& Prevo friend) Rev. Jerry Falwell. This is the same mission at the end of which Rev. Falwell denounced 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu, stating, “If Bishop Tutu maintains that he speaks for the black people of South Africa, he’s a phony,” and called for Americans to support South Africa’s white-minority government by buying Krugerrands, its one-ounce gold coins, and by investing in companies doing business in South Africa.

At the time of the “Freedom Mission,” South Africa’s white-minority government had placed large portions of the country into a state of emergency in reaction to black demands for equal rights and an end to the apartheid system of government. As described in the Anchorage Daily News:

Hundreds of South Africans — almost all of them black, almost all of them shot by police — have died in that violence.

Since his return, Prevo has sparked considerable controversy due to his remarks made about the trip. The minister told reporters that South Africa’s white President Pieter Botha was a committed reformer, that blacks did not want a “one-man one-vote” democracy and that South African blacks did not want Americans to pull their investments from the country as a protest against apartheid.

Prevo and Falwell have encouraged Americans to invest in South African firms and to buy Krugerrands, South African gold coins.

What I especially remember is hearing Prevo talk about Soweto, the sprawling township designed to house white Johannesburg’s black workforce — a workforce whose members could not, by the segregationist laws of apartheid, actually live in the city where they worked. According to Prevo, Soweto’s black mayor told Falwell’s delegation that he didn’t want Americans to divest their investments from South Africa. But was Soweto’s mayor truly representative of black South Africans — more so, say, than Bishop Tutu, whom Falwell denounced?


Besides members of the Anchorage Baptist Temple, Prevo’s audience that day included several Anchorage-area black leaders, including NAACP president Andonia Harrison, Henry M. Lancaster II, and Rex Butler, counsel for the NAACP. It also included at least two people who later joined the protest outside: Eleanor Andrews, at the time serving as Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration, and Jewel Jones, director of the municipality’s Health and Human Services Department, who told the Anchorage Daily News that she’d gone to hear Prevo’s sermon because “I wanted to hear what he had to say,” but found that “What he said was worse than I’d imagined.”

Green goes on to deeply detail enough of Prevo's past to make on wonder very, very deeply, why the editors at the ADN are giving this distasteful person another free ride.

Steve, at What Do I Know? adds a touch of humor to the debate, in Men Jerry Prevo Would Ban From Anchorage Schools, his photo essay about men wearing what could be taken to be "female" garb.

That's all there is time for this morning. I'm off to the old Anchorage Cemetery, to perform Taps at a veteran's memorial service, then up to Wasilla, to work again with Dennis Zaki, as we take on the teabaggers' picnic.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Alaska Progressive Blogs Coverage of John Ziegler Continues While The ADN (Once Again) Comforts the Comforted

I. Brian the moose has been getting around a lot lately. While Brenda stays home with the calves, Brian is visiting Thom Hartmann and Vic Fischer, or haunting John Ziegler.

The Mudflats has an excellent review of Ziegler's film, Media Malpractice. And a couple of the commenters went to the film last nigh too. Here's a comment by Far from Fenway fan:

I, too, attended the screening. Given the cool rainy evening, I was surprised by the light attendance AND that Todd was there. I went expecting - indeed hoping for - a professionally done production that would make me think about media coverage and be thought-provoking. I even brought my 2 teenage sons to what I thought might be a good civics lesson.

The film was, in short, ABSURD. The language used to narrate it was highly prejudicial and emotionally-charged. I mean it was LOADED. But the main critique I have is that to support the basic premise of media bias, the film focused predominately on clips from …. MSNBC and CNN!! How ridiculous is that? Gee, let’s make a documentary about Fox favoring right-wing candidates and claim bias. DUH!

There were extensive clips from an interview w Sarah after the election in which she whines about being treated horrendously by the media and saying that she wouldn’t have been treated that way if she were running with Obama. Well, ya know what, you were treated that way because you never said anything of substance or anything that made any sense. And second news flash, Obama would NEVER have chosen you.

It was like McCain didn’t even run in the election. He was barely mentioned or shown. And there was a LOT of racial innuendo regarding Obama. Disgusting. My poor 16 year old son sat there squeezing his temples and shaking his head.

The film in several clips made a big deal about Palin’s “I can see Russia” quote and Tina Fey’s use of it on SNL. The gist of the EXPOSE was that Fey/SNL misquoted Palin: she didn’t say “see Russia from my house” she said “see Russia from Alaska”. They thought this was making fun of Palin by slightly changing what she actually said. Of course, you CAN see Russia from Alaska. No one who knows anything about living here disputes that or finds that humorous. What is ABSURD is that Palin made that statement in response to “how does Russia’s proximity to Alaska enhance your foreign policy experience?” Her response was parodied by SNL because it was STUPID!

So, dear muddies, we went, we saw, we listened. And we’ll vote for Obama in 2012.

AK Muckraker's
review itself, has some important observations:

Then there was the red leather jacket interview about what she said to the second grader who asked what the vice president does. Palin explained that the VP was the head of the senate, and helped make policy decisions that affected families. This had most of the country aghast, realizing that she still really didn’t have a handle on what the duties of the VP are. Then the film voice explains that the reason she gave an incorrect answer was that she was speaking to a child. “What was she going to say?” that the Vice President sits around and “waits for people to die?” the voice asked. If theatre-goers had been listening carefully they would have heard my chin hit the floor.

Oh, and of course, we were treated to a discussion of the infamous “pallin’ around with terrorists” rallies. Seems that all those things people were yelling like “Kill him!” and “Terrorist!” weren’t true at all, and Joe Biden is actually the one who traveled around the country whipping up the hate. After a while it started to feel like I’d gotten a deep injection of novacaine right into the frontal lobes.

Next clip was Katie Couric talking about the “what do you read” question. And yes, they played the whole interaction with Katie Couric, somehow imagining this would look good for Palin. Couric was shown being interviewed later, and said that she was surprised that nobody followed up with that question. Flash to Palin saying in her best mean girl voice, “Because you’re not the center of everybody’s universe. Maybe THAT’s why nobody followed up!” Then we were told that Palin’s interview debacles were the result of her fear that they would try to “trap her on the abortion issue,” and that she was rightfully “paranoid.” I never quite figured that one out.

And AK Muckraker has some observations about Ziegler's testiness that are similar to my own:

Then we were treated to a Q&A, in which Ziegler acted as though he were bestowing the magnanimous gift of his own time and presence. He was short with people who were thanking him, and only took about 5 questions, leaving many hands in the air.

Here’s where he talked about how he’s appealing to everyone, and not just the conservative base. Why, he’s only given money to Democratic candidates, we hear. Well only one candidate. And it’s a guy he knows. And he disagrees with him on policy but gave him money because he felt like he had to. But at least it allows him to claim neutrality in his film.

Ziegler strikes me generally as being somewhat of a misanthrope. He's charitable toward almost nobody. While he was kind enough to grant me an interview (Dennis is working on the remainder of the stuff), I found it hard to get him to reveal much. Maybe he was waiting for me to turn on him, but that wasn't my goal. I've observed that he doesn't play well with others, and that once you get him to blow up, any meaningful exchange from then on is right out the window.

My count of something short of 300 attendees last night is generally accepted. I did a walk-through head count right after the movie began. It is remarkable that after Bob & Mark and Eddie Burke pimped this gig for weeks, and on a cloudy, rainy day, that so few showed up.

One more thing. From my considered professional opinion, the film's music and creepy sound effects were some of the worst or hokiest I've recently experienced. And I spend a lot of time at YouTube, where that kind of stuff abounds.

II. This morning the Anchorage Daily News published an editorial that is sort of a refinement of one they did back on May 3rd. Both editorials are about citizens' ethics complaints. The last editorial was so bad, several of the Alaska progressive bloggers commented on it, most notably Celtic Diva and The Mudflats. This morning's is, as I commented at the article itself:

Although this editorial is better than "Our view: Abuse of ethics complaints turns good law into bad politics," from May 3rd, it is still poorly written, incurious, and lacking in meaningful context.

The major problem with the ADN's stance in this scenario is that until we know how much of Palin's and the state's expenses in these so-called "complaints" surround her own complaint against herself, and the travel expense payback plea-bargain (which shouldn't be characterized as a dismissal), to batch the others in with these two skews the public's ability to accurately assess what we face in terms of the costs of these proceedings. Go do your research job, ADN - otherwise our Alaska bloggers will beat you to the story. Again.

Another commenter there, sophiem, wrote:

Many statements in this editorial are illogical or use faulty logic:

1. Assumption that because Personnel Board says so, ethics complaints are "frivolous."
2. Inference that denial of ethics complaints means complaint is frivolous.
3. Inference that denial of ethics complaint means Governor's conduct complained of is ethical.


The ADN editors seem to feel they can safely continue to ignore how much of these, so far, undocumented "expenses" have to do with the two cases that would have quite obviously have become expensive - the Palin complaint against herself, that resulted in the Petumenos Report, and Frank Gwartney's complaint, which appears to have resulted in hours of haggling and research.

The Petumenos Report required Gov. Palin to be deposed out-of-state. The investigator was reimbursed at some sort of standard fee, no doubt, but his efforts, as sketchy as the product was that they produced, took lots of billable time. And Palin's attorney was deeply involved in this. No doubt, her attorney was also deeply involved in the return of illegally taken funds too.

More and more, it seems that when Alaska's progressive bloggers come down on one side of an issue, the ADN editors come down on the other.

III. Dennis Zaki and I will be covering the Alaska Teabaggers' picnic at Wasilla Wonderland Park. Working with Dennis is one of my favorite activities. He's sort of like the opposite of John Ziegler - open, trusting, curious, ready to engage people on their terms (rather than his), sincere, and - happy! Eddie Burke will be there, passing out more T-shirts to go with the teabags. Here's a link to information.

I hope to interview Cheryl Brooks about her WE THE PEOPLE STIMULUS PACKAGE, that I posted here earlier in the week. It is an absurd document that contradicts itself at several places. I'm especially concerned about what number 19 means:

19. Christianity will again be restored as our main religious entity.

Wasilla Wonderland Park used to be one of our favorite places. It was built in 1995 and 1996 through thousands of hours of work by community groups and individual volunteers. The project, headed up by Karl Schleicht, was heavily supported by the City of Wasilla. At that time, the mayor was John Stein. Sarah Palin, planning to run against Stein in the fall, hardly showed up to help, if at all.

I was asked to write a new march to commemorate the park's opening. I called it Wasilla Wonderland March. Here's a performance of it from November, 1996, at a concert that now-imprisoned, ex-Representative Vic Kohring introduced, and Sarah Palin attended.


Brian the moose with John Ziegler - The Mudflats
Phil with DZ and Wasilla Wonderland - PA

Three Clips from My John Ziegler Interview Thursday Night

I interviewed film maker John Ziegler for about ten minutes yesterday evening, after the Anchorage showing of his new film, Media Malpractice. Here are three segments, edited by the Alaska Report's Dennis Zaki. He comments here abut local journalist Brendan Joel Kelley, Daily Beast journalist Max Blumenthal, and film maker Michael Moore:

Propagandist John Ziegler on Alaska reporter Brendan Joel Kelley from Dennis Zaki on Vimeo.

Republican propagandist John Ziegler rips award-winning journalist Max Blumenthal from Dennis Zaki on Vimeo.

Republican propagandist John Ziegler rips filmmaker Michael Moore from Dennis Zaki on Vimeo.

Kelley was on Eddie Burke's KBYR talk program this afternoon, between 3:08 and 4:00. Kelley spent some of the time disparaging Alaska's liberal and progressive bloggers. He provided no specific information about why he feels as he does.

Although my interview with Ziegler went reasonably well, Kelley was thrown out of the theater, after he and Ziegler had a somewhat confrontative conversation. Here's the YouTube Kelley had made of his unpleasant experience:

Kelley writes about the experience in a story for the Anchorage Press.

I'd like to thank KBYR for helping to set up my interview. Hopefully, Dennis Zaki will have the interviews I conducted after the movie with filmgoers ready soon.

One notable thing about John Ziegler was that he wasn't charitable toward anyone in the press, left, center or right; he was dismissive of every politician who came up, save one - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Eddie Burke's John Ziegler Show at the Fireweed

Between 275 and 290 people attended the highly publicized showing Thursday evening of conservative documentarian John Ziegler's Media Malpractice, at Anchorage's Fireweed Theater. The film's maker was there. He was gracious enough to give a full interview to Progressive Alaska, after the showing.

More on that later.

Here are some quick photos.

A car in the theater parking lot

Bob and BLSoS introducing the film

An audience image

John and Eddie counting up the take

John signing Eddie's poster

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 53 -- Disrespect for the Living and the Dead

hold those knees together, Queen Esther
hold those knees together for our war dead

hold them like that forever
if you hold them there forever, you will be abstinent

teach your kids to hold them together

you are our general, the commander of the Alaska Guard
your son is sacrificing on your alter

when you thought of him,
while sitting there with your knees together
you might have thought,

"we respect your sacrifice for us
as long as you keep your knees together
and - between crusading and not getting into trouble,
think of me us

"do our toes show less than those generals' decorations?

"can our toes wink?"

or, you might not have thought about that

who knows?


poem by Philip Munger - for David Cheezum
image - Shannyn Moore

Thursday, May 28, 2009

As the Palin Administration Continues to Hide and Obfuscate Important Information from the Public, More Citizens are Attacked for Their Courage

I. The labyrinth through the dark corridors of what is or isn't ethical conduct, what is or isn't freely available public information and what is or isn't a "dismissed" ethics complaint is getting to be well-worn here in Alaska.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is no stranger to filing ethics complaints. She filed ethics complaints against co-workers when she worked in the Frank Murkowski administration. Before she was governor, she filed piles of complaints against Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten. Since she has been governor, she has filed at least one ethics complaint against herself.

Palin claims that the ethics complaint filed by Frank Gwartney, protesting thousands of dollars the Palins collected in state-provided travel benefits, was dismissed in her favor. She states that she returned almost $10,000.00 in illegally taken travel funds, and is paying her own legal expenses, and the State of Alaska's expenses, in that matter "voluntarily."

The governor is also claiming she has accrued over a half a million dollars in legal expenses because of "meritless ethics complaints," but has provided no proof whatsoever that this is actually the case. And as for a breakdown on which cases have been billed, and for how much, I doubt that information qualifies in her mind as being part of her "open and transparent" universe.

Most interested observers suspect that almost all of Palin's legal expenses so far are related to her own ethics complaint, and to negotiating a way out of serious trouble regarding her illegal billings for children's travel, as a result of Gwartny's efforts. The amount of money she took in the travel case, after all, far exceeded the amount of money her former mentor Vic Kohring, went to jail for having taken. Today, AK Muckraker also covered the reality that most feel the preponderance, if not almost all, of Palin's legal bills stem from these two cases. AKM observed this morning at The Mudflats:

This isn’t taking paper clips and sticky pads out of the supply cabinet. This is $10,000 worth of illegal travel expenses. The governor’s office framed it as “a mistake” that they “corrected.” Oops!

The term people are using for these citizen filings is "ethics complaint." People need to realize that what filers like Frank Gwartney, Andree McLeod, Linda Kellen and others are doing, is requesting clarification of interpretations of statutes that have very little or no case law or enforcement history behind them, at least as far as knowledge of their history being in the public domain goes. I'm not sure that "ethics complaint" is the most accurate term for what some of these actions really are or have been. By characterizing them that way, these requests, which will be used by future governors or executive branch employees as guidelines, are being personalized in a way they will not be, in the long run.

In regard to obtaining e-mails and other kinds of correspondence from the executive branch, and the outrageous costs the government is assigning to information retrieval, some states' "sunshine laws" make it far easier for citizens to obtain this kind of information than does ours.

The thrust of the governor's office, the members of the ethics commission, of right-wing AM radio, and the Anchorage Daily News editors, has been that these clarification requests are unnecessary, burdensome, and that their continuance may reflect a need for filers to bear the burden of expenses for requests that do not result in a ruling against the person about whom the clarification action is being requested.

For this to happen, in a state whose recent reputation is as allowing our politicians' a virtual free rein from adequate public oversight, is both sad and tawdry.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

At the Alaska House Democratic Campaign Committee Fundraiser

I stopped in for the Alaska House campaign fundraiser this afternoon in Anchorage. Here are some pictures, taken shortly after the event began:

Ray Metcalfe, with a new petition, requesting that the FBI and US DOJ aggressively continue their investigations of Alaska political corruption:

The crowd at about 5:45 pm:
Looking the other direction:
Rep. Les Gara, rousing the crowd with his vision of a growing Democratic Party in Alaska:
images - Progressive Alaska