Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Disgusting Intensity and Depth of Joe Miller's Dishonesty

Joe Miller's campaign claims the long series of tweets emanating from Washington DC late Wednesday, around the time he was involved with rightwing GOP figures and C-Street luminaries, were the product of " a volunteer who will no longer have access to the account."

Why wasn't access to the twitter account severely limited after the campaign claimed Miller wasn't the person who tweeted (I'm paraphrasing) "Lisa Murkowski is a whore!" at about the same time Miller caused a three-car pileup in Fairbanks?

Was yesterday's volunteer in DC with Joe?

Who was the volunteer?

If not, where was the volunteer when he or she tweeted away?

How many people have access to Joe Miller's twitter account?

Since April, have more people had access to Joe's twitter account than were working on making sure this sleazy political grifter was complying with Federal Elections Commission regulations and other reporting requirements?

How many people is Jo(k)e now employing to make sure that he won't have to file his FEC political disclosure paperwork before November 2nd?

If the Alaska media does its job on this, they might finally earn their chops, by proving Sarah Palin wrong.

She developed her derogatory meme "lamestream media," from her dealings with the Alaska press. That she's still there, able to utter this now, is a tribute to your disabilty she so stridently touts as "lame."

The carefully orchestrated environment of hatred and intolerance claims another victim

[keninny - who is one of the main writers at Down with Tyranny! - posted the most poignant tribute I've yet read to young musician, Tyler Clementi, who recently took his own life, after being photographed while having sex, by two fellow students at Rutgers University. ken has permitted me to post his entire article.]

--- by ken

In the national condition of cretin-based militia-like rage, we've known for some time that there were going to be real, live victims, or maybe not-so-live victims.

Concerned parents and activists all over the country have been trying for years now to focus attention on the apparently worsening problem of bullying in the schools, and there have been sporadic gains reported in some localities in establishing legal inhibitions, though even more sporadic reports of meaningful enforcement of either new or old laws. It's hardly surprising that in the climate of hatred and intolerance fomented by our noisiest and most irresponsible sociopaths, doing their best to make verbal assaults on anyone who is different in any way from their diseased version of rigid social orthodoxy -- aided and abetted by the corporate interests use the sociopaths to create an atmosphere of terror and blind obedience which they deem beneficial to those interests -- we've been hearing more and more frequent accounts of both violence inflicted on victims of bullying and, utterly intolerably, of suicides and suicide attempts by those victims.

A week ago today, a freshman at Rutgers University (New Jersey's most prestigious state university), jumped off the George Washington Bridge, which joins the states of New Jersey and New York. Today, it was reported by law-enforcement officials and a lawyer for the family of the student, Tyler Clementi of Ridgewood, NJ, that, as reported by The Record's Evonne Coutros, Nick Clunn, and Stephanie Akin, he "did so after he was secretly recorded having a sexual encounter in his Rutgers University dorm room that was broadcast live on the Internet."

The New York City Police Department said a body has been found at the Broadway Bridge, which spans Manhattan and the Bronx just east of the confluence of the Manhattan and Hudson rivers. The bridge is located about two miles north of the George Washington Bridge.

Police have yet to identify the body.

At least two people spotted a man believed to be Tyler Clementi standing on the south walk of the bridge near the New York side at 8:50 p.m. last Wednesday, authorities said.

When police responded to the walk, the man was gone, but they found a wallet belonging Clementi, authorities said.

"He was quiet,” said Johanna Nahrwold of Bayonne who lives in Clementi’s dormitory. “He kept to himself. And on campus everyone is just shocked. Nobody really knew him or spoke to him. Nothing."

Two Rutgers University students have been charged with illegally taping Clementi having sex and posting the images on the Internet.

Rutgers police have charged Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro and Molly W. Wei of Princeton with two counts each of invasion of privacy for using the camera to view and transmit a live image of an 18-year-old student on Sept. 19, the Middlesex County prosecutor and Rutgers police said.

Ravi, Clementi’s roommate, faces two additional counts for attempting to view and transmit another encounter involving the same student on Sept. 21, authorities said. . . .

Diane Wade, a violinist who sat beside Clementi in the Ridgewood Symphony, which he joined as a second violinist but was quickly promoted to the firsts (the orchestra's second-violin principal, Rob Rubin, "said he quickly realized that Clementi was one of the most talented violinists in the orchestra"), told The Record:

He was so incredibly talented -– I could not believe how good he was for such a young boy. Such a nice kid all the way around. . . . As a parent, he was the way you want your kids to be -– polite, courteous, serious about the work he was doing and a hard worker.

A statement issued by Steven Goldstein, chair of the New Jersey LGBT activist organization Garden State Equality, said in part (emphasis added):

There are no words sufficient to express our range of feelings today. We are outraged at the perpetrators. We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind. And we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others' lives as a sport. As this case makes its way through the legal system, we can only hope the alleged perpetrators receive the maximum possible sentence.

That the victim's roommate was also a freshman, just months out of high school, demonstrates once again that our high schools are not doing enough to educate their students that harassment, intimidation and bullying of other students is unacceptable in every instance. It is grotesque to think that people such as these alleged perpetrators went onto college without, apparently, ever having been taught basic life lessons of decency -- and that they made their way through the educational system before allegedly committing this unconscionable act.

Garden State Equality is currently working on a new anti-school bullying bill that if enacted, would be the nation's strongest such law. It would follow the three anti-bullying laws the state has enacted since 2002, all of which include bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. . . .

We are sickened.

The highlighted paragraph seems to me to deserve sustained attention. We have networks of "opinion leaders" in this country, many of them princelings of the national plague of Crap Christianity, who profess to espouse "family values." They need to be exposed for what they really are: hate-mongering charlatans and liars and, yes, murderers.

Joe the Teabagger Gets Caught Measuring the DC Drapes on Twitter

From the New York Times' Caucus Blog:

Last night, Mr. Miller, the Republican and Tea Party-backed candidate for Senate in Alaska, released a string of Twitter messages that verged on the presumptuous, alluding to his future plans in Washington as the next senator from Alaska.

“Think I’ll do some house hunting while I’m in DC #teaparty #tcot #tpp #alaska #ak,” he wrote in his first message.

“Guess I should pick up some office furniture, as well, while in DC #teaparty #tcot #tpp #alaska #ak,” he followed up. “Then there’s the matter of a name plaque for the door #teaparty #tcot #tpp #alaska #ak.”

Mr. Miller ended with one last post: “My sincere appreciation for the warm welcome, including from future colleagues in DC #teaparty #tcot #tpp #alaska #ak.”

The campaign of Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent Republican senator who is now running a write-in campaign after Mr. Miller defeated her in their party’s primary, quickly seized on Mr. Miller’s Twitter stream, capturing a screen grab and sending it out under the subject, “Hubris.”

Mr. Miller has since deleted the Twitter messages — the most recent item on his stream is now a link to an interview he did with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren — but they are still being circulated around the Twittersphere.

“I think I’m going to quote someone else who Tweeted this,” said Steve Wackowski, a Murkowski campaign spokesman, when asked for comment. “For someone who wants to be a freshman senator, this is pretty sophomoric.”

This is not Mr. Miller’s first mishap on Twitter. In August, he released a message that many interpreted as him comparing Ms. Murkowski to a prostitute, in which he wrote: “What’s the difference between selling out your party’s values and the oldest profession?” The message was soon deleted, and his campaign later apologized.

As Shannyn Moore observed yesterday on her radio program, regarding Miller's violation of the same Federal Election Commission rules that got Sen. Stevens into hot water, "Who's Joe gonna blame for this one?"

The Mudflats has a post up on this, with a screenshot of the tweets.

Murkowski's Ads - A Lot of Villages Could Use the $$$ She's Spending to "Educate" Alaskans - for Their Schools

Here are the three Lisa Murkowski ads currently running:

Essentially, by failing to take Joe the Teabagger seriously back in July, she's now forced to spend 2/3 of her campaign resources on "educating Alaskans" on how to fill in a write-in candidate's name on the November 2nd ballot.

At first glance, the ads appear to be effective. The challenge is formidable, as no write-in candidate for statewide office has ever been successful here before.

The amount of money Murkowski will be spending on her "education program" could rebuild three village schools in the impoverished Wade Hampton census district.

Meanwhile critiques of the methodologies on recent Alaska US Senate race polls are beginning to roll in, even as Miller's popularity seems to be in a free fall down to its inevitable base of the 25% of Alaskans who would prefer a pregnant 12-year mom die bearing her dad's kid than see the fetus terminated.

Joe's their guy, and he knows it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Did Joe Miller lie on his mortgage application? It's a serious federal violation

--- by Andree McLeod

Joe Miller’s Indigent license was purchased in 1995 -- the income to qualify was in the preceding 12 months and needed to be under $8250.00 household income annually.

Miller's mortgage in 1994 with Countrywide for the house on the hillside was a 7-year, $92,000loan @ approximately 8%. (Monthly payment approximately $1400 for interest and principle only.)

Add insurance and taxes and the monthly is over $1600. $1600x12=$19,200. Substantially more than the $8250 annual gross family income limit for an indigent license.

Miller family's gross income in 1994 (qualifying year for 1995 indigent license) included income from the sale of a portion of his Kansas farm acreage, Joe's Army Reserve pay as a First Lt., his farm rental payments from Farmer's Coop, Alta Vista, Kansas, his farm subsidies, legal intern salary from Condon, Partnow & Sharrock (May, 1994) and from the Alaska Dept of Law (June through December, 1994, at least $2,000/month) and child support Kathleen received for two children.
The total is greatly in excess of $8250 and was enough to qualify them for the $92,000 mortgage from Countrywide.

Additionally, in 1996, his wife again applied for a Class 5A license - claiming gross family income of less than $8250 when she was still receiving child support, Joe was still receiving Army Reserve pay, farm rental income and subsidies and had gone to work in May 1995 (1995 was the qualifying year) at Partnow, Condon & Sharrock for $70,000 year.

If he was truthful on the fishing license application then he had to have lied on his home loan application which means:

Mortgage Fraud can be prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. § 1010 (2007) for HUD & FHA Fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1010).

It is a crime for a person
- for the purpose of obtaining any loan or advance of credit from any person, partnership, association, or corporation
- - with the intent that such loan or advance of credit shall be offered to or accepted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for insurance, or
- - for the purpose of obtaining any extension or renewal of any loan, advance of credit, or mortgage insured by such Department, or the acceptance, release, or substitution of any security on such a loan, advance of credit, or
- - for the purpose of influencing in any way the action of such Department,
- make, pass, utter, or publish any statement, knowing the same to be false, or
- alter, forge, or counterfeit any instrument, paper, or document, or
- utter, publish, or pass as true any instrument, paper, or document, knowing it to have been altered, forged, or counterfeited, or
- willfully overvalue any security, asset, or income.

The punishment under this section is a fine, imprisonment for not more than two years, or both.

Mortgage Fraud Prosecuted Under 18 U.S.C. § 1014 (2007) (False Statements on Loan Applications)

18 U.S.C. § 1014 (2007).

Under section 1014, it is a crime for a person to
- knowingly make any false statement or report, or
- willfully overvalue any land, property or security,
- - for the purpose of influencing in any way the action of the
- - - Farm Credit Administration,
- - - Federal Crop Insurance Corporation or a company the Corporation reinsures,
- - - the Secretary of Agriculture acting through the Farmers Home Administration or successor agency,
- - - the Rural Development Administration or successor agency,
- - - any Farm Credit Bank, production credit association, agricultural credit association, bank for cooperatives, or any division, officer, or employee thereof, or
- - - of any regional agricultural credit corporation established pursuant to law, or
- - - a Federal land bank, a Federal land bank association,
- - - a Federal Reserve bank,
- - - a small business investment company, as defined in section 103 of the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 (15 U.S.C. 662), or
- - - the Small Business Administration in connection with any provision of that Act,
- - - a Federal credit union,
- - - an insured State-chartered credit union,
- - - any institution the accounts of which are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,
- - - the Office of Thrift Supervision,
- - - any Federal home loan bank,
- - - the Federal Housing Finance Board,
- - - the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,
- - - the Resolution Trust Corporation,
- - - the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation, or
- - - the National Credit Union Administration Board,
- - - a branch or agency of a foreign bank (as such terms are defined in paragraphs (1) and (3) of section 1(b) of the International Banking Act of 1978 [12 U.S.C. § 3101(1) and (3)]), or
- - - an organization operating under section 25 or section 25(a) of the Federal Reserve Act,
- - upon any application, advance, discount, purchase, purchase agreement, repurchase agreement, commitment, or loan, or any change or extension of any of the same, by renewal, deferment of action or otherwise, or the acceptance, release, or substitution of security therefore.

The punishment for a violation of section 1014 is a fine of not more than $1,000,000, imprisonment not more than 30 years, both.

The deed in question (click to enlarge):

Joe Miller's Alaska U.S. Senate Campaign Goes Into Free Fall - Now Down 8 Points to Sen. Murkowski

Five consecutive polls, three of them with Sen. Lisa Murkowski being polled as an active write-in candidate in a three-way race show Teabagger Joe Miller at 50%, 47%, 42%, 36% and now - 30%. The last one, taken by fairly accurate pollster Craciun, puts Joe the Teabagger 11 points behind incumbent Murkowski, who he beat in a fairly closed GOP primary, back in late August.

Miller has lost .6 percentage points per day since the primary.

Unfortunately for progressives, Democratic Party primary nominee, Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams has stayed in the mid- to low-20s pretty much through all the polls. McAdams' best hope is for Miller-Murkowski to stay tight enough that they go so negative, voters end up choosing McAdams, who might seem the only adult in the room among the three.

Murkowski didn't poll well against Miller in the first polls to emerge early last week, when she announced her write-in candidacy. Late last week, and through this one, a series of disclosures about questionable actions by Miller in the past, and the poor way Miller's campaign has handled his attempted transition from Tea Party hero, to some sort of moderate that might appeal to the majority of Alaska voters who are not party members, have combined to make likely voters turn against him quite rapidly.

His campaign may be about to enter a free fall, down into the mid-20's, as one of the latest scandals sinks into the consciousness of Alaskans. He appears to have broken Alaska Department of Fish & Game laws in the way he and his wife applied for a moose hunting permit back in the mid-1990s, about the time they moved here from the mid-Atlantic area and Kansas:

And is it just me, or is anyone else a bit skeptical that Mrs. Miller went out and shot her own moose? Now, I’ve known many a fine Alaskan woman who has shot and killed moose and various other wildlife, and many more who are far better fisherpersons than I am, so it is certainly possible. But how likely is it that a recent Alaskan transplant, who apparently spent the greater part of a decade pregnant or recovering from giving birth, went out and shot her first moose in 1995?

The penalty for knowingly making a false statement or omitting a material fact in an application under AS 16.05 is a class A misdemeanor. AS 16.05.420(b); see also AS 11.56.210 (unsworn falsification). There is absolutely no question that Joe Miller was not a resident of the State of Alaska when he applied for these resident permits. It is likely that his wife was also not a resident when she applied for these same permits. Joe Miller should be penalized for lying on his application and saving himself $245, and his wife should likely be punished as well.

Of course, there is an additional issue: did Joe Miller lie about his income in order to get a further reduction in the cost of his falsely-obtained resident permit? (From $55 to $5) Perhaps the Alaska State Troopers need to take a look at Mr. Miller’s income in 1994 — I would suggest starting with his 1994 mortgage application and his tax returns for that year. I’m sure that the military has records of the payments it made to Mr. Miller for his service in the reserves, and I’ll bet that the USDA has a record of the farm subsidies that Joe received. There is also the small matter of the Kansas farmland that the Millers claimed to have sold off to buy their house, and whatever subsidies Kathleen received for home schooling whatever portion of their brood of children existed at the time.

Fish and wildlife are not just important in Alaska; they are fundamental to our lifestyle and our identity as Alaskans. Thousands of Alaskans rely on subsistence hunting and fishing to feed their families, and Joe Miller gamed the system to get permits illegally. He lied and cheated to save himself $295 and he stole a moose and an unknown number of fish.

Joe Miller is a poacher and a liar.

Just days before that, it was revealed that Miller took thousands of dollars of Federal farm subsidies on some Kansas land, for leaving it fallow. He had the money sent to the same post office box he'd set up in Anchorage, to get the moose permit as a state resident, while still going to Yale Law school, and supposedly not making enough money to pay the same I would for mine.

Today it was revealed that he hasn't yet filed the mandatory Federal Election Commission personal finance disclosure reports. They were due in April or May. His campaign is claiming it is an oversight, and Joe, confronted Wednesday outside a DC fundraiser, by, refused to answer questions:

Alaska GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller refused to answer questions Wednesday about his failure to file personal financial disclosure documents that were required by law to be filed several months ago.

While entering a high-dollar fundraiser in Washington D.C., on Wednesday evening, Miller stayed silent when questioned by POLITICO about the missing documents that were supposed be filed when he began his campaign for Senate in April.

There has been a lot of scrutiny about his finances. He seems to want to hide personal information in a number of ways, and he has a large staff. His staff's story, late Wednesday afternoon, that the failure to file the disclosure was "an oversight," is most likely bullshit. Everyone in Alaska knows that Ted Stevens got taken down for not making such disclosures.

More likely, there is information he or his campaign feels would hurt his chances, that they were hoping could slide by until later.

Miller Loses Eight Points in Three HOURS - Updated

Joe the Teabagger may have second thoughts about airing the campaign commercial he may have had Papa Pilgrim make for him before the latter passed away.

A new poll. this one by Craciun, has Sen. Lisa Murkowski clearly leading the sleaziest guy to make the finals in a statewide race since John Lindauer. And not since the Lindauer debacle, has a statewide Party choice lost so much support in a single day:
Update - 5:00 p.m: from

Alaska GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller refused to answer questions Wednesday about his failure to file personal financial disclosure documents that were required by law to be filed several months ago.

While entering a high-dollar fundraiser in Washington D.C., Wednesday evening, Miller stayed silent when questioned by POLITICO about the missing documents that were supposed be filed when he began his campaign for Senate in April. Miller defeated Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski to win the GOP nomination last month.

hat tip - anonymous

Miller Loses Four Points in Seven Days

A CNN poll, just out today, has the Alaska U.S. Senate race at:

Miller --- 38%
Murkowski --- 36%
McAdams --- 22%

Papa Pilgrim's BFF, Jo(k)e Miller has gone, in the last four credible polls, from 50 to 47% to 42% to 38%. That's a 12 point drop since his primary victory over Lisa Murkowski. Additionally, this latest poll was taken before the most recent revelations on Miller's history as a scofflaw, cheat and crook had come out.

Disappointing in the latest poll, is that the only candidate who isn't going to sell out Alaskans, Scott McAdams, dropped three points from Rasmussen's poll early last week. If the public perception of Scott McAdams as a rational alternative to a sleazy teabagger or a fading political dynasty is going to take hold, it must do so soon.

But it is certainly beginning to look like Miller will not be November 2nd's victor. And that is a relief.

Meanwhile, let's keep on getting the word out that Scott McAdams, in this set of three candidates, is the adult in the room.

Crooked Joe Miller Facing $50,000.00 Federal Fine

From Think Progress:

ThinkProgress contacted the Senate Ethics Committee and the Senate Office of Public Records yesterday and discovered that Miller has not filed a personal finance disclosure as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, as required by law. According to Title I of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 and Senate Rule 41.1, candidates for U.S. Senate must file a disclosure form within 30 days of raising or spending $5,000. According to the Federal Elections Committee, Miller raised well over $5,000 as early as April of this year. Asked again today by ThinkProgress if Miller has filed his personal finance disclosure, or has contacted the Senate Office of Public Records with any request for an extension to file, a staffer with the Office responded:

“We haven’t received anything from him. He hasn’t sent us anything.”

According to law, “failure to file or report information required to be reported by section 102 of the Act may subject” Miller — a Yale Law School graduate — to a “civil penalty of not more than $50,000 and to disciplinary action by the Select Committee on Ethics and/or any other appropriate authority.” As of today, Miller is at least five months late with his disclosures.

And this isn't even the scandal that's going to bring this sleazy grifter down, folks.

Joe Miller - Crook!

The only question remaining is "How many laws did Joe Miller break?"

A number of reporters seem to have been working simultaneously on Joe Miller's non-Constitutional scam to save a few hundred bucks back in the 1990s, before he was an Alaska resident for the purpose of ADF&G regulations. Now the Alaska Dispatch's Craig Medred and The Mudflats' Legal Eagle have gone further than has the Anchorage Daily News' Sean Cockerham.

Here's Medred:

Others have been cited for illegally obtaining resident hunting and fishing licenses in Alaska after doing exactly what Miller did. And there have been some cases in which people who have been in the state 11 straight months without sojourns Outside have been cited because they did not wait the final month before getting such a license.

Here's Legal Eagle:

Ultimately, we are certain that Joe Miller either flat-out lied about his income or was exceptionally disingenuous on his application for indigent hunting and fishing permits. We also know for sure that Joe Miller lied about his residency status on these applications. It is likely that his wife Kathleen also lied about her residency status to get these permits.

And is it just me, or is anyone else a bit skeptical that Mrs. Miller went out and shot her own moose? Now, I’ve known many a fine Alaskan woman who has shot and killed moose and various other wildlife, and many more who are far better fisherpersons than I am, so it is certainly possible. But how likely is it that a recent Alaskan transplant, who apparently spent the greater part of a decade pregnant or recovering from giving birth, went out and shot her first moose in 1995?

The penalty for knowingly making a false statement or omitting a material fact in an application under AS 16.05 is a class A misdemeanor. AS 16.05.420(b); see also AS 11.56.210 (unsworn falsification). There is absolutely no question that Joe Miller was not a resident of the State of Alaska when he applied for these resident permits. It is likely that his wife was also not a resident when she applied for these same permits. Joe Miller should be penalized for lying on his application and saving himself $245, and his wife should likely be punished as well.

Of course, there is an additional issue: did Joe Miller lie about his income in order to get a further reduction in the cost of his falsely-obtained resident permit? (From $55 to $5) Perhaps the Alaska State Troopers need to take a look at Mr. Miller’s income in 1994 — I would suggest starting with his 1994 mortgage application and his tax returns for that year. I’m sure that the military has records of the payments it made to Mr. Miller for his service in the reserves, and I’ll bet that the USDA has a record of the farm subsidies that Joe received. There is also the small matter of the Kansas farmland that the Millers claimed to have sold off to buy their house, and whatever subsidies Kathleen received for home schooling whatever portion of their brood of children existed at the time.

Fish and wildlife are not just important in Alaska; they are fundamental to our lifestyle and our identity as Alaskans. Thousands of Alaskans rely on subsistence hunting and fishing to feed their families, and Joe Miller gamed the system to get permits illegally. He lied and cheated to save himself $295 and he stole a moose and an unknown number of fish.

Joe Miller is a poacher and a liar.

And there's more coming, Randy DeSoto. You may need treatment for clinical depression before this is over.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teabagger Joe - Papa Pilgrim's BFF

From this week's UAA Northern Light interview with Job Killer Joe the Teabagger:

Miller described himself as unequivocally pro-life. When asked about abortions involving rape or abuse, he responded with the shortest answer in the entire interview.

“If you say there’s an independent life then it doesn’t matter how that life was formed.”

Let's have some followup questions, journo majors. Duh.

More here.

Mike Dunham's Question on the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra's Honor to Ted Stevens

In the Anchorage Daily News, on the day the late Sen. Ted Stevens will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Mike Dunham, the paper's arts editor writes:

I keep thinking about Saturday's Anchorage Symphony Orchestra concert, which was preceded by a musical "tribute" and moment of silence for the late Senator Ted Stevens. That tribute followed a similar honor for long-time ASO cellist Art Braendel.

The playing of Bach's "Air on the G String" has become customary for departed members of the symphony as more performers from the early days pass away. But this was the first time I recalled such a thing for a non-player.

Admittedly, Stevens had a strong interest in the arts. The statement from the stage that "he and a handful of other senators saved the National Endowment on the Arts" was a bit hyperbolic; last I looked it takes a majority of 51 senators - or ten handfuls plus Stevens - to enact anything. But the U.S. Senate is a mysterious place. And, if your soloist showed up with his or her violin still quarantined by customs - or vice versa - well Ted was exactly the person you wanted to call to straighten things out immediately.

But it strikes me as odd that I don't recall any similar tribute when Jay Hammond died. Or for Walter Hickel - though admittedly his contribution to the arts was primarily in the form of architecture. Or for George Sullivan, who was more directly responsible for the existence of Atwood Concert Hall, where the concert was taking place, than any other individual. Did I miss something?

Well, we're not going back to play funereal fanfares for all departed politicians, but I'd be interested in the thoughts of readers.

I posted Mike's question in its entirety for three reasons:

1). Mike left out part of Maestro Randy Fleischer's explanation about the honor, which included reminiscences of Fleischer's dealings with Stevens, when Fleischer was Associate Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, and the very important fact that Sen. Stevens saved the National Endowment for the Arts on more than one occasion.

2). Sen. Stevens' support, along with both his first wife, Anne, and his widow, Catherine, of many Alaska artists, Native and non-Native over decades. He supported me more than once, and I dedicated a song cycle, Wild Critters, to Catherine and Libby, to thank him for his support.

3). And I'm posting his question here, because more people might read it here than at the ADN arts niche at which it is posted.

The fact that Sen. Stevens' career end was humiliating is widely known, but shouldn't trump his earnest deeds on behalf of the arts and humanities. His efforts in support of the arts went way beyond those of Wally Hickel (who attempted to end the Alaska State Council on the Arts, and did cut the size and range of its programs), or Jay Hammond, whose administration didn't have much money for the arts anyway, until his last two years in office. George Sullivan? - Hah!

And, of course, Sen. Stevens' famous remarks about the internet, inspired artists all over the country to create videos, hip hop songs, digitized images and poems.

Hundreds of them.

Space Aliens Disarming Nuclear Arsenals? Really? My UFO Story

I. Claims being made Monday by ex- US military personnel about ET visiting our nuke sites, and those of other countries, to disable our weapons, jiggled my memory.

Back in the summer of 1968, I got involved with an organization in northern California formed by a Methodist minister who claimed to have been abducted by space aliens near Mt. Hood in Oregon. After he returned from the abduction, he quit his ministry and filed a series of patents that made him very rich.

Then he founded a Marin County-based group called Frontiers of Science. They met at least weekly, in a storefront at a strip mall off Highway 101. When Hamrick sold Syndyne Corporation, the company he formed after his abduction, he used some of the money to put up a down payment on an old fixture in the Lake County hot springs area, Harbin Hot Springs.

I had just been hired as a caretaker at the fallow resort, when about 100 Hamrick followers showed up in early July. At first, along with most of the other hippy caretakers, I resisted the semi-cultish interlopers. But there were some really lovable, whacked out people among them, including a few musicians who invited me to help with teaching music to the 20 or so kids that came with their parents, and to participate in setting up an event called Celestial Synapse.

Some of the people who had been attracted to Frontiers of Science came to Hamrick's San Rafael lectures in 1967 and 1968 because they also claimed to have had encounters with extra-terrestrials.

On September 21-23 1968, Frontiers of Science held a conference at the resort, which Hamrick had renamed Harbinger Springs. During the conference, Hamrick gave a series of lectures which had been distilled from his longer series, called Physiology of the Higher Body. Important figures from the World Council of Churches, IBM and fledgeling Silicon Valley think groups attended the September conference. So did several representatives of fringe religions on the West Coast, like Jim Jones and Love Israel.

I attended one group composed of people who related their experiences with extra-terrestrials. They compared notes, so to say. Going in, I wasn't just a skeptic. I thought all the UFO and ET stuff was total bullshit. Going out of the four-hour session, I wasn't so sure.

II. The thing that always made me the most skeptical about visitors from far away places was time. Do these beings live hundreds or thousands of years? Or something approximating "forever" from our viewpoint? Do they go into suspended animation on long trips? Can they move faster than the speed of light?

Or do they understand something beyond how we comprehend time and space? Is there more than a single time-space continuum occurring at once, only one of which most people can comprehend?

From my experience over the years, if the multiple time-space continuum scenario is valid, most of us don't deserve to go there, let alone learn how to deal with what might make 11th dimensional chess seem a breeze. We can't even handle the three dimensions we're in.

The movie Contact is the most popular attempt to take on this subject. Supposedly, the plans for the module that drops though some sort of electromagnetic field come to Earthlings in real time. But the resulting contraption goes somewhere very distant almost instantly, upon passing through the field. And afterward, when the politicians dealing with information on the event seek to hide the enormity of what has assuredly transpired, they dissimulate, just as politicians always do.

One thing rational beings often conclude, looking at the myriad galaxies exposed to us by the Hubble Space Telescope, is that the possibilities for life are plentiful, almost beyond current understanding.

III. Last week I had the pleasure of my first extended, one-on-one conversation with ex-Alaska Governor Tony Knowles. He sought me out. Partially because he had a bone to pick with me. But he claimed he wants to know what I think about a number of things, including current Alaska politics. After I asked him what he's doing now, though, most of our conversation centered on that.

Tony has been heading oil billionaire George Kaiser's National Energy Policy Institute since 2008. Here's a description of their goals:

For over three decades American political leadership has espoused the goal of ‘energy independence.’ Yet today we continue the downward spiral of ever increasing dependence upon foreign oil. The consequences are clear. The oil producing countries have hijacked America’s foreign policy, our economy and our environment. We have passively collaborated. What are we – finally – going to do about it? Somehow we must change from a de facto energy policy that is, in the words of some observers, the ‘sum of all lobbies’ towards a positive and aggressive energy policy that is the ‘sum of our best wisdom.’ The result will be clean energy security and the underpinnings of a dynamic expanding economy.

Making that transition begins with accepting the fact there is no silver bullet. We must relinquish the worn out delusion of good public policy based on anecdotal, self serving, and single interest manipulation.

Real progress towards a solution will require accepting a broad portfolio of strategies, selected on the basis of a rigorous comparison of effectiveness and cost of accomplishing universal goals. There are two clear and simple universal goals – reduce the amount of imported oil and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

Each strategy must be measured and ranked on the cost per barrel of reducing imported oil and cost per ton of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Other social and environmental costs, in addition to the scale of individual strategy results, must be considered to establish effectiveness and feasibility of each strategy. The results will become the basis for decision makers to advance a comprehensive rational national energy policy. From this policy we can generate through technology transfer, basic and applied research and targeted public action and incentives an era of new job creation and new business development.

Our institute is committed to conducting independent, expert analysis for clean energy security in conjunction with job and business incubation and thus will help answer the urgent call to a safer and better 21st century.

Tony was animated as he tried to describe to me how he's trying to get some visionary people on the board he heads for Mr. Kaiser. I suppose I'm not free to name some of the people he mentioned, but they aren't industry hacks, and one is one of our great environmental visionaries.

As Tony vividly stayed on point, articulating how to "advance a comprehensive rational national energy policy [that] can generate through technology transfer, basic and applied research and targeted public action and incentives an era of new job creation and new business development," I was beguiled by his description of the complexity's challenge, but wondered where he thinks our human race actually is in terms of CO2 emissions.

We also discussed the ongoing BP Gulf catastrophe. He agreed that it will have worse long-term effects than have been acknowledged. I asked him if he would consider putting Dr. Riki Ott on is board. He was hesitant, seeming to lean more toward somebody like his former Lieutenant Governor, Fran Ulmer, who is currently on Obama's Gulf Task Force.

I described how I see the CO2 battle:

"You just described a very complex set of moves we have to make, running a ponderous carbon-burning machine we call human civilization. Imagine the last voyage of the Exxon Valdez. You seem to think we're just leaving Valdez Harbor with our load of crude we might deliver safely, should we navigate some perilous passages.

"I think we're somewhere between Potato Point and Bligh Reef. Not only that, Tony, people like Bill McKibbon are yelling that the Busby Island light is on the wrong side of the bow.

"That's how close we are."

He laughed, coming close to agreeing.

IV. What does this have to do with little green men taking over nuke bases? More than almost anyone imagines. Whether or not there are multiple simultaneous time-space continuums, it is very hard to turn the clock back. Or change the course of ponderous global civilization whose endgames in energy, armaments and public health make the maneuverability of the Exxon Valdez headed toward Bligh Reef look a lot like Rudolf Nuryev compared to where we now are.

Mythology is replete with stories of situations where a supernatural being or beings from another place or dimension has to rescue us from foibles ranging from a "God" being caught in bed with a mortal or mere demi-goddess, to bailing out the sub-prime mortgage with dwarves and giants on Valhalla, to ending worldwide deluges. The events today, surrounding these ex military personnel feeling now is the time to tell their tale may be a bright shining object from another dimension.

Or not.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Berkowitz-Benson Fundraiser at Our Place on the 1st - Come on Over! - Updated

We've got some Alaska gas to cook the fish and other stuff.

Fresh garden veggies and live jazz. Diane Benson will be speaking about how to fix education in Alaska. We may even be having a special guest who did more to enhance early childhood education in Alaska than anyone else.

Come on over!

Update - Monday 9:40 a.m: to the idiot who commented at #1:

PA Arts Sunday - Part One: Erin McKittrick's Recent Photos from Northwest Alaska

Erin, Hig and Katmai have just concluded their summer expeditions. There were several of them, but the three most important were to the sites of the proposed Chuitna River mega coal mines west of Anchorage, the Healy area mines northeast of Denali National Park and to the northwest Alaska coast, from Point Lisburne to Kotzebue. All of it, coal country.

From the first moment I looked at their blog in November 2007, on a tip from my friend Steve Johnson, I've thought "these two are going where nobody has ever gone before." It wasn't just the audacious non-motorized journey, mostly on foot, from Seattle to Unimak. It was the whole package - the trek, the packrafts, the blog (wherever they could find wifi or internet), the videos, the photographs and the meetings in small communities along the way, where they discussed their vision of a more informed long-term energy awareness.

Since then, they've completed the book about the trip, had their first child, done a book tour and expanded their goals. And they're getting ready now for another child.

Erin's photography is quite good. It may rank among the finest of nature photography in our state's history. It is impeded by the reality that it is just part of the package. Great nature and landscape photographers in Alaska have usually been mostly photographic artists, with the taking of their pictures being their primary goal on their trips. In the past, the main exception to that rule was probably Bradford Washburn.

Erin's photography is getting better. The few photos presented on the blog and the fewer in the book and slide shows are a mere sliver of what she's been able to get, from what she told me in 2008.

I hope she has time to plan a gallery show of her art.

At the top of this post is the Noatak River. Below are two young girls, unfurling Katmai's wrap in the breeze at the school in Kivalina.

Below is Katmai, going through stuff being prepared for the northwest coast trek.

Below is a misty dawn, along the Noatak.

all images by Erin McKittrick

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Christine O'Donnell - "Why Aren't Monkeys STILL Evolving into Humans? - Updated

Christine O'Donnell is priceless. I have to admit, that she appears to have been a bit better at being the abstinence goddess than has been Bristol Palin. This evolution stuff, though?

Has any reporter in Alaska asked Joe the Teabagger yet why monkeys aren't still evolving into humans?

Update - 2:15 p.m: Juan Cole, of all people, has taken up the issue of this O'Donnell clip, and what it informs us of, regarding how the USA is starting to fall seriously behind in areas of education, science and research:

The practical implications of O’Donnell’s nonsense should not be lost sight of. Her anti-scientific way of thinking harms education in the biological sciences, and in turn harms the prospects of American leadership in biotechnology.

Biotechnology and pharmaceuticals not only have the potential of saving millions of lives and improving tens of millions of lives, but they are becoming a significant contributor to US economic growth. The sector has grown at a time when the rest of the economy is in crisis, and it will be key to global prominence in the rest of this century. If South Korea or France outstrip the US in this area, their citizens will grow wealthy and even more of ours will fall into poverty than already have.

I checked the Delaware Development Office web site, and was unsurprised to find that it touts biotech as a significant engine of the state’s economy, and is expected to grow as such.

O’Donnell and her like would, if sent to Washington, destroy that potential faster than you could sequence a gene. A dedication to ignorance and a demonization of science are a one-way ticket to being a poor, backward country of illiterate yahoos. In other words, candidates like O’Donnell are not just quirky potential senators. They are shapers of our future in their own image.

Quirky potential senators, eh? When I first asked Sarah Palin about her views on evolution, back in June, 1997, my interest was based on her being an advocate of what certainly appeared at the time to be a takeover attempt at the Mat-Su School District school board, by creationists. I asked her questions then, and later. Finally, in 2006, reporters half-heartedly took up the issue with her, during her gubernatorial run. Her responses were dealt with cursorily. No reporter, when confronted with her meme that "both sides should be taught," bothered to ask whether she meant in science classes, civics, history, or what.

If you google "Joe Miller Alaska evolution" you come up with no evidence that any Alaska reporter has dealt with the connection between anti-evolutionary science views by a potential US senator and how that might play out to help keep our national wealth, through hindering scientific education and research, to continue to plummeting.

I dare Kyle Hopkins, Sean Cockerham, Tony Hopfinger, the APRN crew, and any other Alaska reporters to confront Mr. Miller, not just on where the hell his DD-214 is, but on what his precise views on evolution are. And to see it through after he gives you a typical bullshit answer.

At least Maureen Dowd today, all the way over in New York City, Kyle, Sean, Tony and friends, has found a way, sort of like Prof. Cole above, to put Joe Miller into the mix on this:

In the Republican primary, O’Donnell beat Congressman Mike Castle, who had the temerity to support stem-cell research and acknowledge global warming. O’Donnell’s numbers are dropping, while Castle is still beating the Democratic candidate, Chris Coons, by almost 20 points in a theoretical matchup.

In 2007, O’Donnell frantically warned Bill O’Reilly, “American scientific companies are crossbreeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.”

--- snip ---

Sarah Palin will believe global warming is a hoax until she’s doing aerial hunting of wolves underwater. And in a 2009 clip, Sharron Angle, the Republican Senate candidate from Nevada, suggested that autism — a word she uttered with air quotes — is a phony rubric. She suggested that people are taking advantage of such maladies to get extra health benefits, adding that she doesn’t see why she should have to subsidize maternity benefits for other people either, especially since, as she said, she’s not having any more babies.

--- snip ---

Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, John Boehner, Jim DeMint and some Tea Party types don’t merely yearn for the country they idealize from the 1950s. They want to go back to the 1750s.

Joe Miller, the Palin-blessed Republican nominee for Senate in Alaska, suggests that Social Security is unconstitutional because it wasn’t in the Constitution. The Constitution is a dazzling document, but do these originalists really think things haven’t changed since then? If James Madison beamed down now, he would no doubt be stunned at the idea that America had evolved so far but was hemming itself in by the strictest interpretation of his handiwork. He might even tweet about it.

Evolution is no myth, but we may be evolving backward. Christine O’Donnell had better hope they don’t bring back witch burning.

I hope they don't. But I do hope we can bring back real journalism in Alaska - journalism that has the courage to ask questions that reveal the depth or lack of depth in important candidates, in ways that protect our state and country from superstitious yahoos.

Late September Wind Storm

The canoe, which had been put into the driveway after being on a car-top for an excursion on Cornelius Lake, made a swath through the garden resembling the work of a moose family.

A spruce and birch tree at the next-door neighbor's house. The spruce was 60 feet high. Now it is 60 feet long.

Another birch tree. I watched this one go down at about 8:30 p.m. yesterday evening.

One of my potato stacks. The plants got whipped around so much they almost look like a frost nipped them. I'll give them three days to bounce back. If they don't, they'll get pulled.

Our electricity went out around midnight last night, returning at about 7:15 a.m. this morning.

I wonder how well the Palins 15-foot high fence made it through the storm.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Israeli UN Delegation Boycotts Obama's UN Speech, Then Lies About It

Chutzpah and ingratitude don't have overlapping definitions, but the Israeli delegation at the UN came close yesterday in their explanation of why they failed to be at President Obama's UN speech, in which he dared include a long set of remarks that appear, by and large, to seek justice for Palestinians in the ongoing talks on ending the 63-year long conflict:

Amidst this upheaval, we have been persistent in our pursuit of peace. Last year, I pledged my best efforts to support the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as part of a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its neighbors. We have travelled a winding road over the last twelve months, with few peaks and many valleys. But this month, I am pleased that we have pursued direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington, Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem.

Now, many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that Israelis and Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too divided internally, to forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides will try to disrupt the process, with bitter words and with bombs. Some say that the gaps between the parties are too big; the potential for talks to break down is too great; and that after decades of failure, peace is simply not possible.

But consider the alternative. If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own state. Israelis will never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable neighbors who are committed to co-existence. The hard realities of demography will take hold. More blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our differences, instead of our common humanity.

I refuse to accept that future. We all have a choice to make. And each of us must choose the path of peace. That responsibility begins with the parties themselves, who must answer the call of history. Earlier this month, at the White House, I was struck by the words of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both people to live in peace, security, and dignity." President Abbas said, "We will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure these negotiations achieve their cause."

These words must be followed by action, and I believe that both leaders have the courage to do so. But the road that they have to travel is difficult, which is why I call upon Israelis and Palestinians - and the world - to rally behind the goal that these leaders share. We know there will be tests along the way, and that one is fast approaching. Israel's settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground, and improved the atmosphere for talks. Our position on this issue is well known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended. We also believe that talks should press on until completed. Now is the time for the parties to help each other overcome this obstacle. Now is the time to build the trust - and provide the time - for substantial progress to be made. Now is the time for this opportunity to be seized, so that it doesn't slip away.

Peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a responsibility to do our part as well. Those of us who are friends of Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires an independent Palestine - one that allows the Palestinian people to live with dignity and opportunity. And those of us who are friends of the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian people will be won only through peaceful means - including genuine reconciliation with a secure Israel.

Many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But these pledges must now be supported by deeds. Those who have signed on to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it real by taking tangible steps toward the normalization that it promises Israel. Those who speak out for Palestinian self-government should help the Palestinian Authority politically and financially, and - in so doing - help the Palestinians build the institutions of their state. And those who long to see an independent Palestine rise must stop trying to tear Israel down.

After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange land. And after sixty years in the community of nations, Israel's existence must not be a subject for debate. Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. And efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people - the slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance, it is injustice. Make no mistake: the courage of a man like President Abbas - who stands up for his people in front of the world - is far greater than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.

The conflict between Israelis and Arabs is as old as this institution. And we can come back here, next year, as we have for the last sixty, and make long speeches about it. We can read familiar lists of grievances. We can table the same resolutions. We can further empower the forces of rejectionism and hate. We can waste more time by carrying forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian child achieve a better life. We can do that.

Or, we can say that this time will be different - that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way. This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire. This time, we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem's soil as sacred. This time we should reach for what's best within ourselves. If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations - an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.

CNN, seeking clarification on the delegation's absence, got this:

Israel says its U.N. delegation was not able to attend the U.N. General Assembly session on Thursday because of the observance of Sukkot, a Jewish holiday.

"Due to the overwhelming number of calls and e-mails that we are receiving, even though it is the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, we feel that it is necessary to release the following statement," the Israeli consulate in New York said.

The delegation from Israel was reported by CNN, the Gateway Pundit and others of "boycotting" the speech.

Jason Ditz, writing at, comments on the official Israeli explanation:

Officially the Israeli government denies that this was an organized boycott and insists the absence of their delegation was planned well in advance, and was related to the relatively minor Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The weeklong holiday does not appear to have traditionally meant Israeli officially snubbing major international events, however.

Moreover President Obama’s speech sparked no small level of outrage among top Israeli officials, and a number of Israel’s ruling coalition MPs made public comments in condemnation of the president and the speech late last night. This is only adding fuel to the belief by many that the snub was about the speech and not the holiday.

AIPAC spokesmen angrily denied this belief, however, and insisted that it was a “malicious” lie against Israel. The empty chairs seem to remain an issue for many, however.

Any of us who were watching news items Thursday on this, and on reactions to the September 22nd release of the UN Human Rights Council's "Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance," (PDF) observed a very busy Israeli UN delegation all day long. So the concern about the delegation's absence is in no way a "malicious lie against Israel."

Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was launching "A PR war on the UN," all day long, holiday or not:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered the establishment of a "command post" in New York in an effort to counter a damning United Nations report on Israel's flotilla raid which left nine people dead.

The report, drafted by the UN Human Rights Council, charged that IDF soldiers executed Turkish activists on board a Gaza-bound vessel by firing at them from close range.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who is currently in New York, set up the command post along with Ambassador to the UN Meron Reuben and Consul General Ido Aharoni in order to coordinate Israel's diplomatic and PR activity in response to the report.

As of Thursday morning, Israeli officials are attempting to initiate a coordinated response by all Jewish organizations to condemn the UN report. All Israeli emissaries in North America had been briefed on their next moves vis-à-vis the media and foreign diplomats.

And, all day long, Israeli activists were working to spring traitor Jonathan Pollard from a US prison, in spite of his treachery having assuredly killed many U.S. intelligence assets in the USSR at a crucial point in the Cold War:

The Obama administration is publicly ignoring a reported offer from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend a settlements freeze in exchange for the release of Jonathan Pollard, the convicted Israeli spy.

Pressure to release Pollard, serving a life sentence since 1987 for providing thousands of secret documents to Israel, arises regularly, spurred by Pollard’s wife Esther and right-wing parties in Jerusalem.

But an even more powerful backlash from national security officials in Washington has repeatedly derailed the idea. Pollard also sold secrets to South Africa and advertised his services to Pakistan, they point out, while Israel used some of the documents he gave them as barter for favors from Moscow.

That report is from the beginning of the week. By late Thursday, during the "holiday," the week-long efforts behind the scenes by the Israel lobby were perhaps beginning to pay off:

Several United States congressmen have signed a petition calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to pardon Jonathan Pollard, jailed in the U.S. for over 25 years for spying, in order to advance the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Thursday.

Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 on charges of spying on the U.S. for Israel.

A statement released by Democratic Representative Barney Frank "notes the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel, as a strong indication of the goodwill of our nation towards Israel and the Israeli people."

"This would be particularly helpful at a time when the Israeli nation faces difficult decisions in its long-standing effort to secure peace with its neighbors," Frank's office continued in the statement.

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will face the first major hurdle in the next few days as Israel's moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements is set to expire. Reports have circulated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking Pollard's release in order to pacify the settler movement if he extends the moratorium.

Let me see if I can somehow get this straight. The Israeli UN delegation fails to show up on what may have been the most important speech given in decades by a US president on a keystone obstacle to Middle East peace, claiming it is a "religious holiday." During that religious holiday, they set up a "War room" in the USA to battle public perception of a UN document cataloging Israeli war crimes that happened less than four months ago. One of these crimes was the cold-blooded murder of a US citizen.

During that same "holiday" the Israeli government used every tool at its disposal to spring a spy who cost us billions, and whose stolen and then sold secrets led to the deaths of Russian anti-communists. The promise to us, should we spring the traitor, is a twelve-week long moratorium to the expansion of settlements that our country views as clearly illegal. Given that there really hasn't been a settlement expansion freeze, and that the Obama administration knows this meme to be a cynical fabrication, why does Rep. Frank even put his name down on a scrap of paper that promoted the lie's further propagation?

To get back to this seeming overlap of the definitions of chutzpah and ingratitude, how much does Obama or any president for that matter, have to do for Israel to not be subjected to the most offensive slurs one might possibly imagine from a so-called "ally"?