Thursday, March 31, 2011

More on Alaska HB 88 - and My Apology to Pamela Geller

I. Alaska media coverage of HB 88 so far:


So many religious issues have insinuated themselves into the 26th Alaska legislature's current session, it boggles the mind. The Alaska press has always been so careful when treading religious waters in their political coverage, nobody will ever claim they were trying to walk those waters. Unfortunately, the result has been that radical religious figures are increasingly powerful in our political structure. Gov. Parnell has nominated a clearly unqualified guy to the Alaska Judicial Council, Don Haase. The nominee is so Old Testament, Papa Pilgrim might have to give up his pew to him.

It's easy to argue that had the Alaska press been more industrious in coverage of religious issues, things would not be any different. The voters electing and reelecting Vic Kohring, Wes Keller, Carl Gatto and others aren't making their decisions based on what Alaska reporters wrote. They're listening to their pastors.

Essentially, one of the most important components of the drift of Alaska politics from the center to the right is the influence of religious forces. The press misses this. Quite consistently. When something like HB 88 comes up, they're at sea, figuratively.

II. Apology.

I wrote Wednesday that Pam Geller was being brought to Alaska to testify on HB 88. It was inaccurate. She testified telephonically. That saved some money, eh?

The bill is a total waste of time and money, though. We don't need this shit.

Unfortunately, part of the waste of time thing, I guess, is that coverage of why Gatto, Lynn and Keller are wasting any time on this is important.

III. Pamela Geller's testimony on HB 88:
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to legislation that "prohibits the violation of an individual's right under the Constitution of the State of Alaska or the United States Constitution.” This very simple and clear cut legislation should be the proverbial no brainer. And yet the fact that it being met by so much resistance both overt and covert indicates how very needed it is.

How can anyone oppose a law that seeks to prevent foreign laws from undermining fundamental constitutional liberties? We all accept that state and federal const’l rights to a jury trial in CIVIL cases can be waived almost by default (thus two parties agreeing to be bound by German or French law where there is no jury trial right in a civil matter) would not be affected by the bill since the jury trial right is perthe law waived by default.

But there is no jurisprudence in the federal system and none in any state that would allow a party to waive Equal Protection—that is, could an african american agree to be discriminated against by the state? Absolutely not, so why would we allow a party to “waive” an equal protection claim in court where the state’s police power is being used to enforce an offensive foreign law?

We now have groups that has ever come to this country with a ready-made model of society and government they believe to be superior to what we have here and are working to institute it.

For example, Islamic law contravenes American freedoms in numerous particulars.

We have seen sharia law in New Jersey. Back in July 2010, a Muslim husband raped his wife, and the judge determined that no sexual assault occurred because Islam forbids wives to refuse sex on demand from their husbands. Luckily, the appellate court overturned this decision, and a Sharia ruling by an American court was not allowed to stand—this time. But there have been over a hundred cases of Sharia jurisprudence in the US, and Jeffery Mittman of the ACLU has testified that “all have been overturned by a higher courts, therefore there is no problem since the American constitutional system worked.” Of course, this begs the question of why should this have happened in the first place. Secondly, it is simply not true that all cases have been overturned. In fact, there are cases in CAL and MD in which trial courts were overturned by appellate courts, the latter of which turned the blind eye to the threat from shariah.

There are also ongoing initiatives to compel businesses to adopt Sharia norms. In March 2007, Target stores in Minneapolis shifted Muslim cashiers who refused to check out pork products to other jobs in the stores.[1] The J. B. Swift meat packing plant in Greeley, Colorado in September 2008 fired Muslim workers who turned violent and walked off their jobs when denied special break periods to end the Ramadan fast at the appointed time.[2] The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, however, sided with the Muslim workers and forced Swift to reinstate them.[3] Ultimately, Swift added footbaths and bidets to its plant for the Muslim workers.[4] Cab drivers in the Minneapolis airport several years ago tried to stipulate that they wouldn’t carry passengers who had alcohol with them – passengers had to conform to Sharia law or not get a cab.

In November 2008, a federal judge ordered Gold’n Plump, Inc., a chicken processing plant, to pay $365,000 to Somali Muslim workers for firing them for walking off the job to pray, and for making new hires sign a form acknowledging that they may have to handle pork on the job.[5] And in February 2010, a group of Muslims in Colorado sued Wal-Mart, claiming that they were fired in order to provide jobs for local non-Muslims, and that they had been denied prayer breaks while on the job.[6] Mind you, it is not necessary for a Muslim to pray at a certain time if necessity makes it impossible to do so. These actions are merely devices in which to impose Islam on non-believers. Prayer is not absolutely required on a strict schedule, and Muslim prayers are commonly “made up” after work or school. This is true even in Muslim countries, i.e., Iran.

The irony is that the ACLU would oppose a law that seeks to prevent foreign laws from undermining fundamental constitutional liberties.

The idea “presented by Muslim Brotherhood groups that ‘Sharia Law’ is not actually ‘law’, but religious traditions that provide guidance to Muslims regarding the exercise of their faith” or that ‘Sharia Law’ differs depending on the country in which the individual Muslim resides is patently false. For example, in the Oklahoma case against the foreign law prohibition, the plaintiff stated that marrying more than one wife is permissible in Islam but in the United States, where that is illegal, Muslims do not marry more than one wife because Sharia in the United States mandates Muslims to abide bythe law of the land and respect the law of their land.”

And yet in August 2007, when asked how common polygamy was among Muslims in the United States, unindicted co-conspirator CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper said that a “minority” of Muslims here were polygamous, and added: “Islamic scholars would differ on whether one could do so while living in the United States.”[7] He didn’t say anything about Muslims in the U.S. being given pause by the fact that the practice remains illegal in the United States. Iman Aly Hindy, has stated this about the relationship between Islamic law and American law: “This is in our religion and nobody can force us to do anything against our religion. If the laws of the country conflict with Islamic law, if one goes against the other, then I am going to follow Islamic law, simple as that.”[8]

Apparently many Muslims in America as well as Canada think the same way. A May 2008 estimate found between 50,000 and 100,000 Muslims living in polygamous arrangements in the U.S., in defiance of American law.[9] This shows that we need to stand against Sharia or Muslims will continue to defy American law and instead live according to Shariua dictates.

Legal expert David Yerushalmi, a pioneering legal authority in the drafting of such state laws, points out that “the global jihad leadership against which we have aligned most of our military and intelligence resources since 9/11 informs us in Arabic, Pashtu, Urdu, Persian, and even in English that the global jihad against the West is fundamentally directed and determined by Islamic law, or sharia. The jihad leaders further tell us that their ultimate goal, in addition to that of the ‘defensive jihad’ incumbent on every Muslim to rid the Islamic world of an occupying infidel presence is the implementation of sharia law as the law of the land in any place Muslims step foot.”

“Surveys in the Muslim world consistently evidence that somewhere between 50% to 70% of the global Muslim community desires to create a unified Caliphate for all Muslims and to order that political hegemony according to a strict al Qaeda-like sharia.”

The separation of mosque and state is essential to preserving American freedom and our way of life. Yet the Islamic supremacists have made real inroads. We have seen over the last few years the encroachment of Islam on the secular marketplace. Muslims have demanded, and received, special accommodation in public schools, in the workplace, in our government, and in privately owned businesses.

One only needs to look at the disintegration of Europe and the establishment all over that continent of enclaves in which Sharia is enforced and the law of the land disregarded, to glimpse a bleak future made possible by “good intentions” and the failure of multiculturalism. In those areas of Europe, women and non-Muslims suffer institutionalized discrimination, and there is no freedom of speech or freedom of conscience.

It is time to stand up for American rule of law and individual rights for all.

If you go to Geller's web site, the footnotes at the bottom of the testimony have HTML links.

IV. Gatto has to go.

We need a coalition to take him out. Or maybe a rogue GOP candidate who might crash both Gatto and our guy. He's wasted so much time on this bullshit. What's next, a bill for an official state militia?

Will the Fukushima Evacuation Zone Be Expanded?

That report was from Wednesday. Here's a more recent report from RT TV:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30th is Global BDS Day

My diary on this at firedoglake.

Carl Gatto Brings Notorious Floozy Drunk to Juneau to Testify

The Associated Press noted yesterday that pioneer blogger-vlogger Pamela Geller will be testifying today in Juneau, in front of the House Judiciary Committee, in favor of Rep. Carl Gatto and Rep. Bob Lynn's HB 88. Last week, they brought up Arizona attorney David Yarushalmi to testify. Yarushalmi wrote their bill, as he has written similar bills for 15 other states.

Here's what the AP wrote about Geller's Juneau appearance:
JUNEAU -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for a speaker invited to testify to Alaska House Judiciary Committee to be pulled from Wednesday's lineup. Council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says Pamela Geller, head of advocacy group Stop Islamization of America, should not be allowed to testify on House Bill 88 because of what he calls her anti-Muslim rhetoric. Geller didn't immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment. The bill from Rep. Carl Gatto, a Republican from Palmer, would prohibit the use of any foreign law in state courts if it infringes on a person's constitutional rights. Gatto also wasn't immediately available for comment. He previously has said that the measure is designed to guard against Islamic Sharia Law.
Geller was an early blogger, and was one of the very first bloggers to add video content to her blog, Atlas Shrugs. In one of her notorious early vlogs, she got totally wasted, drinking a large quantity of red wine before she had the good sense to stop her rants long enough to shut the video camera off. It appears to have been removed.

She's well known for her vamping routine, where she swoops down upon some unsuspected middle-aged male politician, and starts rubbing up against him. No wonder John Bolton wrote the forward to Geller's book.

Earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center named Geller's organization, Stop Islamization of America, a hate group:

Manhattan blogger Pamela Geller and her posse of anti-Islamic protesters have been branded a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Stop the Islamization of America was included in the civil rights organization's annual roundup of extremist groups - a rogue's gallery that includes everything from the Ku Klux Klan to white supremacists and Nazis.

Geller's support for far right racist Geert Wilders has raised the concern of the B'Nai Brith's Anti-Defamation League:

In her blog postings and other writings, Geller regularly voices support for Wilders, whom she has described as "the Bravest Man in the world" and "our proxy in the trial of Western Civilization, protagonist vs Islam, antagonist." She has also indicated that she intends to help garner support for Wilders; she claims to have personally financed Wilder's February 2009 trip to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC. A few months later, she served on the host committee of one South Florida event held in Wilders' honor and defended him against criticism related to some of his other scheduled appearances in the area.

Gatto's conduct in this legislation is so far to the right of the far right, I'm scratching my head. Why isn't Alaska's media asking him some hard questions about the out-and-out religious fascists he is backing - Yarusahalmi and Geller in the case of HB 88, and Sean Parnell's nutty pick for the Alaska Judicial Council, Don Haase?

Here's more on Pamela Geller. First, one of her own vlog entries.

RT TV interviewing Geller last year, on the Alyona Show:

Here's footage from a demonstration in early March, in Orange County California. The demonstration was organized, in part, by Geller:

Author, journalist and blogger Max Blumenthal, has written extensively about Geller's ties to and direct support of far right organizations here and abroad:

Geller’s endorsement of the shadowy fascist group, called the English Defense League, highlights the reorganization of the British far-right around an anti-Muslim, pro-Zionist platform designed to cultivate alliances with influential online fanatics like her.

On the same day Geller posted her smear of White, she promoted a rally in defense of the Dutch anti-Muslim extremist Geert Wilders by the English Defense League (EDL) (Wilders has called for a “head rag tax” on Muslim women who wear hijab).

“How I wish I could be there to stand with the English Defense League,” Geller pined.

So what happens at a typical EDL rally? According to a report by Wales Online, at an October 2009 rally in Swansea by the EDL’s Wales-based affiliate, the Welsh Defense League, “onlookers were confronted with scenes of jeering men giving Nazi salutes.” At another rally in Stoke on Trent in January, intoxicated EDL activists in black masks attempted to break through police lines to assault anti-racist protesters around the block, injuring several police officers in the process.

Those are the allies of these people Carl Gatto and Bob Lynn are bringing up to Juneau at the taxpayers' expense.

Go ahead and let this slimy, race baiting floozy testify, but please - PLEASE - Alaska media, don't just sit on your fucking asses and let this woman come and go without doing an honest story on her.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hollis French's ADN Op-Ed & Kelly Walters' Tenacity

Tuesday's edition of the Anchorage Daily News contains an op-ed column by Alaska state Senator Hollis French. Even as the AK House is folding under the relentless pressure of Big Oil to throw out ACES, and as the two biggest turncoats in the history of the Alaska Democratic Party, Bill ("we'll finish it a decade late and at five times the cost") Sheffield and Tony (working for the National Energy Policy Institute on the side) Knowles spew one lie after another to rip Alaskans off for a couple of billion bucks per year, Sen. French is leading the battle in Juneau to keep the legislation from gaining traction in the upper house.

The ADN, according to media producer Kelly Walters, has published several op-eds supportive of ACES repeal: "This is the FIRST oped published in the ADN since February 23 that told the truth. There have been NINE, fact-challenged anti-ACES pieces and ONE neutral piece."

Walters is all over the commenters to French's ADN post, and he's challenging the industry-crafted proposed legislation's backers with arguments buttressing French, and with lots of HTML links to his sources.

Here's the text of Sen. French's op-ed, which doesn't appear to be copyrighted by the ADN:

Oil tax reduction is based on myths; oil industry grew since ACES began

--- by Sen. Hollis French

An advertising campaign is under way to persuade the Legislature and the public to go along with the governor's plan to reduce taxes on some of the richest corporations in the world. The campaign is founded upon several myths that do not stand up to close examination. Let's take a look at some of them.

Myth: Oil company investment is down on the North Slope since ACES passed.

Fact: Oil industry capital investment on the North Slope is up 35 percent since ACES passed. This data comes from the oil industry itself. This year capital spending on the Slope will be $2.76 billion.

Myth: Oil companies are leaving Alaska.

Fact: Repsol, an oil company with 40,000 employees and operations in 29 countries, announced plans a month ago to invest at least $768 million in oil exploration and development on the North Slope. This is new money coming to the state. One thing that attracted Repsol to Alaska was our stable political climate.

Myth: Wells are not being drilled on the Slope.

Fact: 164 development wells were drilled on the North Slope in 2010, an increase of 24 percent over 2009. That's right: Drilling was up last year, not down as some would have you believe.

Myth: The pipeline is going to be shut down soon.

Fact: This is highly unlikely. OCS development could add 1 million barrels of production into the pipeline. And just this month BP launched a $100 million "heavy oil" pilot project at Milne Point. BP is under time pressure to get its heavy oil reserves out of the ground as it needs to blend that oil with lighter crude to render it shippable in the pipeline. Heavy oil could, according to BP, amount to 250,000 barrels per day in a few years.

Myth: The oil industry is unanimously opposed to ACES.

Fact: Most industry business people think ACES is OK. The Fraser Institute Global Petroleum Survey asked 364 companies with exploration and development budgets totaling $161 billion about whether ACES was working or not. These are industry insiders, and fully 70 percent of them said that ACES either encouraged investment or was no deterrent to investment.

Myth: Progressivity takes too much when oil prices are high.

Fact: Progressivity is the feature in ACES that raises the tax rate once profits climb. What you don't hear about are the credits the state grants for investment in Alaska. The credits reduce an oil company's taxes dollar for dollar. And according to the Department of Revenue, the credits granted in 2010 were nearly equal to the amount collected under progressivity. In other words, what the state takes in under progressivity goes back as credits to the companies that are actually investing in Alaska.

These facts are inconvenient for those who believe that giving $2 billion per year to the oil industry, which the governor's bill would do, will somehow lead to a full pipeline. Keep in mind that oil production has been declining on the North Slope since 1988. It has declined about 6 percent on average every year since then. Oil taxes were lower during much of that time. Why did production rates decline during a period of low oil taxes? The answer is simple. Because that's what the vast majority of oil reservoirs do. They decline.

Alaska does need new oil in the pipeline. The problem is that the governor's bill does not bring any assurances of more production. Don't take my word for it. This headline ran in this newspaper recently: "Parnell's oil tax gets BP's praise but no promises. Spokesman stops short of saying jobs or investment would result." The unfortunate truth is that we could pass the governor's bill and not see another dollar of investment.

A bill that actually stimulates new exploration and production without giving away the farm will get support in the Legislature. For example, we are considering a bill that focuses on granting credits for drilling in unexplored areas of the state. But the debate must be based on facts and not the myths and half-truths that some are peddling.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 43: The SFGate Geoffrey Dunn Interview - "Let Us Count Our Blessings"

Gloria Nieto's long interview in the San Francisco Chronicle with author and journalist Geoffrey Dunn, on the advent of the release of Dunn's book about Sarah Palin, is the richest, least sensational in-depth article about Palin's past, present and future of 2011. It is also informative in the sense that Dunn has much to say about Alaskans and our politics.

Nieto's not up enough about Alaska politics to ask about some of the nuttiness of the current legislative session, but she and Dunn were able to address the dynamics of Alaska party politics. Dunn was clear that this will be an important aspect of his look at Palin's rise:

Nieto asks Dunn:
I am curious about the people of Alaska. There is the liberal wing which seems to have become energized from her being up there and organizing more. Maybe it is because more people are paying attention, the blogs are getting more attention, the radio up there has been on fire. Even Rachel Maddow went up there. So what can you tell me about the folks up there you have known for a long time whose voices are finally being heard in the lower 48. It isn't so much a voice crying in the wilderness anymore.
Dunn's response is interesting:

Alaska's political culture is as complex as any I've ever seen in the world. People forget that it's an oil-driven economy and therefore it's an oil-driven political system. It̢۪s like Louisiana, circa 1933. In many respects, Palin was simply a symptom of Alaska's longtime political culture of corruption.

I do think the left was energized some by Palin's presence (after her nomination), but in the last election, Scott McAdams, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate and a great guy, only received 23 percent in a three-way race with two Republicans. Joe Miller, whose politics are somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, got 35 percent. So don't let Rachel Maddow's cameo in Anchorage fool you. I would say there's been a left wing awakening in Alaska--even a coalescing--but not yet a full-scale movement.

One thing I will say: Alaskans by and large are much more practical than ideological in their politics and the parties are less influential than they are in other states. Don't forget, Palin an against the Republican establishment for governor in 2006 and was elected as a "moderate.

Dunn isn't the first person to note recently how little "party" has to do with some of the basic dynamics of Alaska politics. He is also appreciative of three law enforcement officers whose problems with Palin he seems to have woven into the fabric of the book's narrative. He has apparently dedicated his book to them - Irl Stambaugh, the Wasilla police chief Palin inherited from the previous administration (and fired); Walt Monegan, the state public safety director Palin hired and then forced out; and Alaska State Trooper officer Mike Wooten, who Palin failed to get fired.

Dunn agrees with my assessment that Palin's reaction to the January 9th Tucson shootings finished her chances of ever becoming the GOP 2012 nominee:
Well, I'm a gambling man, and a few months ago I would have bet any amount of money that Palin would wage a race for the GOP nomination in 2012. That's why she quit her governorship; she hated being governor and wanted to be president. She has clearly been positioning herself for such a run since October of 2008. But her irresponsible remarks both before and after the carnage in Tucson has severely impacted her favorability ratings. I'd say right now her chances of running are 50-50. Her chances of winning the GOP nomination are now a very long shot. The Republican establishment is absolutely united in its opposition to her. Even her former lapdog, Billy Kristol, has signaled his opposition to her candidacy. As for winning the presidency, slim to none.

Let us count our blessings.
The atmosphere of sensationalism leading to fiasco last month involving the leak of Frank Bailey's Palin book manuscript, and the way the leak involved author Joe McGinniss, whose own Palin book is coming out soon, is completely absent from Dunn's interview with Gloria Nieto. No doubt, to keep from saying the same stuff over and over, as Dunn has more pre-release interviews, more details will emerge on what is in the book. Dunn claims the book morphed from one in which Palin was an important character to one in which she is the book's subject. Like millions of Americans, Dunn's views on Palin have changed.

He really is a super nice guy. I know this from my conversations with him as his idea for a book evolved, and he kept on trying to find a plausibly positive human face with which to portray Palin. Other people who dealt with Geoffrey during the book's composition have shared their delight in dealing with his persistent questions and hilarious stories. There's a sense of empathy in Dunn's assessment of Palin's trajectory:
Let me note that Palin HAD a decent shot of winning the GOP nomination, but she blew it. She was gifted with the instant celebrity that went with her selection by McCain--and celebrity now plays a role in the election of a president--and she had a solid brand that stood squarely in opposition to Obama. She is the anti-Obama, if you will. But she has blown it both tactically and strategically over the past two years. She can't put an organization together. She is absolutely dysfunctional. And she is a pathological liar, so she can't keep her story straight. Palin had it all handed to her--and her various pathologies have brought her down. It would be a Greek tragedy if she weren't such a farce and a lightweight. Her fall is a Shakespearean comedy.

And she has fallen.
I've been asked several times to write music about Palin - an opera, a musical comedy, a song or an overture. The closest I've come to latching onto an idea has been something that would encompass what Dunn describes in his comment above - an overture mimicking some of the great Shakespearean comedy musical themes, emphasising the farcical aspects of her "lightweight" personality. Unlike my imaginary overture, though, Dunn's book promises to be unsparing, if empathic:

One of the things that really pissed me off early on in the Palin campaign was her latching on to the "special needs" issue because of her son, Trig. As you know, I have a so-called "special needs" child, and the thought of Palin serving in any way as a spokesperson for special needs kids or for families with special needs kids made my stomach turn. She has never walked the walk. Ever. In fact, I wrote a piece about it for the Chronicle and it was picked up all over the country. So I suppose that was an early impetus.

Then when she began rattling off about "death panels" in respect to Obama's health care reform I hit the roof. It was a flat-out lie. As a survivor of very advanced and very aggressive colon cancer, I've had to deal with end-of-life decisions; I've had first-hand experience. You want to know who the death panels are? They're the medical insurance companies that prevented me from getting a colonoscopy before I turned 50, even though I had moderate symptoms. So I lost several body parts to the death panels. And I had to deal with my father's death in a VA hospital because he didn't have proper end-of-life counseling. Sarah Palin has never dealt with anything like that. My father had an old Navy phrase that fits her to a "T." I will refrain from using it.

I'm looking forward to all these Palin books. I haven't read any of the ones published so far. Who knows whether Bailey will find a publisher? His looks by far the least promising. Dunn's certainly looks very interesting. McGinniss has the capability and connections to write the book that finally nails the silver stake into the heart of the nutty Sarah Palin cult. But - again - as Dunn and many of us have observed - the cult is already in its death rattles.

Let us count our blessings.

Ralph Nader Questions the Credibility of U.S. Scientists on the Japanese Reactor Disaster

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Katie's 90th

Over 250 Alaskans honored one of Alaska's most vital political and equal rights icons Sunday at the train depot in Palmer Alaska. We honored former State Representative and Chief Clerk of the Alaska Constitutional Convention, Katie Hurley. She turned 90 this week. I saw and spoke with friends there I hadn't seen in five, ten - even 20 - years. So many smiles and hugs. Here are some images:

The cake:

The crowd:

Leading Alaska's Flag:

Singing Alaska's Flag:

Accompanying Alaska's Flag:

Howard and Vic - along with Katie, two of Alaska's preeminent freethinkers:

David and Kit - having a good time:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Late March Lake Pictures

Cottonwood Creek is starting to open up at both ends of Nelkason Lake. This is the lower, western end. There were hundreds of ducks about, but they wouldn't let me get close enough to catch them.

Below: the ice crystals are fractalizing in the lengthening days- sunlight and warmth.

A new shoot sticks its head above water in one of the pools near shore where the ice is gone.

An ice crystal spiral.

Looking down Cottonwood Creek, toward lower Neklason Lake, also known locally as Mud Lake.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Parnell Nominates Guy to Judicial Council Who Wants Bristol Palin in Prison - Updated

Those whacky Alaska Republicans are at it again. One day, Rep. Carl Gatto submits a bill banning Islamic Sharia law from Alaska, and the next, Gov. Parnell nominates someone to the Alaska Judicial Council who wants to submit Alaska to a Christianist version of Sharia law:
Paskvan: "What about premarital affairs -- should that be a crime?" Haase: "I think that would be up to the voters certainly. If it came before (the state) as a vote, I probably would vote for it ... I can see where it would be a matter for the state to be involved with because of the spread of disease and the likelihood that it would cause violence. I can see legitimate reasons to push that as a crime.
Haase needs to be pinned down on how people should be punished. If I were on the committee interviewing him, I'd pin him down on the Law based on Leviticus, on whether or not he believes the punishments described there are God's word, and whether or not he would be disobeying his God if he believed lesser punishments than stoning and so on for adultery would be appropriate. I suggest he should be asked what sort of sentence Bristol Palin might be given, since she appears to be having serial pre-marital affairs.

According to Patti Epler at the Alaska Dispatch, Rep. Carl Gatto, in his committee session on Haase, stifled his colleagues:
At that hearing, House Judiciary Chairman Carl Gatto refused to allow members to question Haase too closely about his politics. He defended the applicant and dismissed concerns by saying that everyone has some sort of opinion on issues.
This is the same Gatto who introduced HB 88, that seeks to stifle people whose opinions on issues might depart from those of Gatto.

Should Haase manage to get onto the Alaska Judicial Council, he will be joining the eminently unqualified Kathleen Tompkins-Miller, wife of serial liar Joe Miller. That's the Joe Miller who is obsessed with people planting kiddy porn on his computer.

What is it with these kinky GOP folks and their strange views on human sexuality?
Update: Wickersham's Conscience is linking to an article written there last year, which explains how Mrs. Joe Miller (that's not her above, that's one of Joe's "close friends") got onto the Alaska Judicial Council:

The good citizens of Alaska elected Sarah Palin Governor of Alaska on her promise to fight corruption. She quit, of course, but before she quit, WC can point to at least one case of blatant political payback by Caribou Barbie. And it involves candidate Joe Miller.

Shortly after the Alaska Legislative Council undertook its investigation of Troopergate, Joe Miller, on September 16, 2008, representing five Interior Alaska citizens, filed a lawsuit to stop the Alaska Legislative Council from looking into the scandal. He also wrote an opinion piece for the September 22, 2008 Catholic News Agency, extolling his theories and a pretty distorted statement of the facts. On October 16, 2008, just a month later, he voluntarily dismissed the case after a parallel case in Anchorage had been shot down. Think about it: the Judicial Branch telling the Legislative Branch what it can and cannot do about the Executive Branch. WC would assume a constitutional expert like Candidate Miller would know about the doctrine of separation of powers and know not to go there.

But before quitting, Palin demonstrated her gratitude to Joe Miller for his efforts. The Alaska Judicial Council selects nominees for judgeships in Alaska. Three of the positions are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. It’s a compensated position. Palin nominated Kathleen Tompkins-Miller – Mrs. Joe Miller – to fill one of those three seats. Her qualifications, as shown in her resume and at her confirmation hearing on February 20, 2009, seem to have been she was the mother of 8 kids, worked in her husband’s law office and “knew a lot of lawyers.” And, of course, her husband had been helpful to Sarah Palin.

You don’t have to go to law school in Chicago to see the obvious connection.

Some of WC’s readers may think irony is rusty water. WC thinks irony is Palin running against corruption, and then engaging in patent Chicago-style political patronage and cronyism. And avowed maverick candidate Joe Miller jumping at the chance to put his wife in a six year part-time job.

100 Years Ago Today - The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in NYC

Thursday, March 24, 2011

GOP-Based Family Association Director Bryan Fischer Says "Jews Have No First Amendment Rights"

According to Fischer:
"Judaism has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Judaism. Judaism is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment."
He has called Judaism a "treasonous ideology," and wants our country to have "No more synagogues - period!" That's because hew believes "every single synagogue is a potential terror training center or recruitment center for Zionism." He wants us to "handle Jews like we handle neo-Nazis."

Actually, he came close to saying this. Only he expressed it in more acceptable terms for Americans.

First he went after the Jews Muslims....

Who Whacked Roland Valenzuela?

Was it a bar-room fight, as reported at the time? Or was it an effort by the Honduran coup organizers or US intelligence, to silence a guy who knew way too much about the Obama administration's involvement in the 2009 toppling of the government there?

The Center for Constitutional Rights wants to know. On Wednesday they filed a freedom of information act request, along with the Honduran Commission on Truth, for access to documents that might resurface accusations against the US, made by Valenzuela, shortly before his murder:
Some of the documents requested so far relate to an allegation made by Roland Valenzuela, former minister under ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who was murdered shortly after making public statements about the origins and planning of the coup, notes Jeremy Bigwood, an investigative journalist who made a number of FOIA requests relating to these events. In a radio interview nearly a year after the coup, Valenzuela asserted that he had documentation and information revealing the architects of the coup, their planning and that U.S. officials were aware of their intentions.

“Valenzuela stated in the interview that he was afraid he would be killed for coming out with that information. And in a matter of days, he was dead,” Bigwood said. “If the U.S. has information that can shed light on these events, it is imperative that this information is made public – in the interests of transparency, accountability and to head off a deteriorating human rights situation.”
Honduras has long been one of the US's prime areas for exerting control on the politics and economics of Central America. Ousted president Manuel Zalaya, before the coup, was becoming more critical of US policies, growing closer to viewpoints held by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Although the US media has largely ignored what has gone on in Honduras since the coup in the summer of 2009, it may be time to once again focus on how our neighbors to the south are dealing with the Honduran government:
As long as Mr Zelaya is away, a hard core of governments, including Brazil, Argentina and left-wing allies of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, will have nothing to do with Honduras. While they freeze the country out, Honduras has little chance of rejoining the Organisation of American States, a regional group that is one of the remaining obstacles to a normal existence on the international stage. And since Nicaragua's president, Daniel Ortega, is one of those who still boycotts Honduras, previously routine co-operation among Central America's leaders has got harder.
The human rights situation there has deteriorated since the coup. Now that the rebellions in North Africa and the Middle East are highlighting US concerns about such rights, it is worth noting that this is happening in Honduras:
Honduran human rights defender Bertha Oliva stated that her organization, the Committee of Relatives of Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), has documented over 120 murders of members of the Honduran resistance, including union leaders and members of the LGBT community. COFADEH also reports that by October 2010 there were at least 157 resistance members with some level of leadership in their communities who have gone into exile due to political repression. Many of the murders, as well as the killings of journalists, have occurred after the controversial elections the U.S. recognized as legitimate and after it normalized relations with Honduras. [emphasis added]

Honduran Judge and Advisor to the Association of Judges for Democracy in Honduras, Ramon Barrios Maldonado, described the deepening institutional and judicial crisis stemming from the coup. He noted that widespread impunity and remilitarization leaves the population defenseless and without access to justice in the face of systemic political violence and human rights abuses.
The CCR FOIA request may be viewed at their web site.

Color of Change Wants Arianna to Dump Breitbart: Add Your Voice - Updated

--- by Teddy Partridge

Color of Change, a great organization with many successes behind them (including the superb action to get Glenn Beck’s advertisers to stop giving FOX News Channel money to air their ads during his program) has a new media action. Please join your voice to all of ours, to ask Arianna Huffington not to provide a platform for infamous race-baiter and notorious liar Andrew Breitbart on her new AOL joint venture.

You can sign the Color of Change letter here:

Dear Ms. Huffington,

I am deeply disappointed that The Huffington Post has chosen to give a platform to the notorious liar and race-baiter Andrew Breitbart. I urge you to stop promoting his work immediately, and publicly explain why Breitbart’s work was promoted to the front page.

Breitbart’s long history of attacking Black people and institutions — from ACORN to Shirley Sherrod to Black farmers who were compensated for years of discrimination — has few parallels among mainstream media figures. Worse, these attacks were based on deceptive editing and willful distortion of the truth. That Huffington Post would choose to elevate Breitbart when news outlets from ABC to Fox News have distanced themselves from him is both tone-deaf and insulting.

It’s especially galling that The Huffington Post seeks to attract Black audiences with its planned “Global Black” venture, even as its main site provides a prominent platform for Breitbart to continue spreading lies that have a real impact on Black people.

If the Huffington Post is to be taken seriously — whether by Black audiences or any other — then prominent placement should not be given to someone like Andrew Breitbart. I urge you not to promote his work at The Huffington Post.


[Your Name]

Please take a moment to add your voice to the many who’ve signed this letter already. We need to hold citizen journalism accountable, just like we hold Legacy Media accountable. The Color of Change action will help do that, and will be stronger with your name on it.


Update: 1:30 p.m: Huffington Post, citing concern by Color of Change and others, has now yanked Breitbart from their front page:

Huffington Post yanks Breitbart from front page
By Greg Sargent

After standing by Andrew Breitbart yesterday, the Huffington Post has made the decision to yank him from their highly-trafficked front page, in the wake of some vicious comments Breitbart has since made about former White House adviser Van Jones, a HuffPo spokesman confirms to me.

HuffPo had come under increasing criticism for giving Breitbart a major platform from groups like Color of Change, which argued that he has a history of racially-charged and factually-challenged political activism that has no place on a reputable news and opinion site. While Breitbart will still be allowed to post at HuffPo, the decision to yank him from the front page and downgrade his visibility effectively gives the critics what they’d asked for.

and, in an e-mail to Teddy:

The Huffington Post is committed to fostering a lively and often provocative debate about the issues of the day and encourages a wide range of voices from all perspectives to participate. Andrew Brietbart’s ad hominem attack on Van Jones in The Daily Caller — right down to calling him a “commie punk” and “a cop killer-supporting, racist, demagogic freak” — violates the tenets of debate and civil discourse we have strived for since the day we launched. As a result, we will no longer feature his posts on the front page.

He is welcome to continue publishing his work on HuffPost provided it adheres to our editorial guidelines, as the two posts he published on HuffPost did — guidelines that include a strict prohibition on ad hominem attacks. Our decision today recognizes that placing posts on the front page is an editorial call that elevates some posts over others, and is an indication of how seriously we take these judgment calls.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Red Square Nebula

From NASA's picture-of-the-day web site:

What could cause a nebula to appear square? No one is quite sure. The hot star system known as MWC 922, however, appears to be embedded in a nebula with just such a shape. The above image combines infrared exposures from the Hale Telescope on Mt. Palomar in California, and the Keck-2 Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. A leading progenitor hypothesis for the square nebula is that the central star or stars somehow expelled cones of gas during a late developmental stage. For MWC 922, these cones happen to incorporate nearly right angles and be visible from the sides. Supporting evidence for the cone hypothesis includes radial spokes in the image that might run along the cone walls. Researchers speculate that the cones viewed from another angle would appear similar to the gigantic rings of supernova 1987A, possibly indicating that a star in MWC 922 might one day itself explode in a similar supernova.

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 42: Catching Up

I. The assertion made by some, including MSNBC's Chris Matthews, that Palin, by seeming to balk at going to Bethlehem from Jerusalem, put her into a different league than other GOP or American politicians, was absurd. While many American politicians visit Israel, not many go to Bethlehem. For one thing, it is not in Israel. It is in the occupied West Bank of Palestine.

She has been to Bethlehem Pennsylvania, and she's in Naples, Florida late this week, but this statement by Matthews is total bullshit:
She skipped Bethlehem. She skipped the easy ones. She skipped the church where Jesus was born and where he died. Why would you skip that?
The church where Jesus was born and where he died? OK, Chris. I guess catechism class was a long, long time ago. But Matthews' assertion that Palin somehow skipped something other American pols routinely do deserves scrutiny.

If you google the names of a lot of American politicians, as in "Mike Huckabee visits Bethlehem," you get no indication they have. What you mostly get is either a lot of articles about Palin not visiting Bethlehem, or a story about the politician going to Bethlehem Pennsylvania. There are exceptions, though:
John Kerrry visits Bethlehem (Kerry has visited Gaza and the West Bank, though)
George W. Bush visits Bethlehem (he did in January 2008)
John McCain visits Bethlehem (he did last month)
Mitt Romney visits Bethlehem (he did not)
Newt Gingrich visits Bethlehem (he did not)
Tim Pawlenty visits Bethlehem (he did not)
Haley Barbour visits Bethlehem (he did not)
It appears that Palin's trip to the checkpoint and turnaround is yet unexplained. But by not going there, she wasn't exactly skipping a mandatory stop on the way to a viable 2012 presidential candidacy.

II. Cenk on Palin's fading 2012 viability:

III. Palin responding to Greta's question about slimeball Bill Maher calling her a "twat":

So articulate, eh?

Meet the Racist Fascist Bob Lynn and Carl Gatto Adore

Imagine if Arizona attorney David Yarushalmi's testimony early this week, in front of the Alaska legislative committee looking into Rep. Carl Gatto and Rep. Bob Lynn's kooky HB 88 had opened with this line:
"There's a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote."
or this line:
"Some races perform better in sports, some better in mathematical problem solving, some better in language, some better in Western societies and some better in tribal ones."
or this line, about Jews:
"[Liberal Jews] destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite."
That's Rep. Carl Gatto and Rep. Bob Lynn's new BFF, gang. What a guy. No wonder they brought him up to Juneau to testify in favor of these two kooky legislators' newest waste of taxpayer money, their anti-Sharia law bill, that would - perhaps not coincidentally - further erode Native sovereignty here in a number of areas. Carl and Bob tend to have their own kooky moments.

The bill is scheduled for further hearings on March 24th and March 30.

From the state's Basis page for the bill, I decided to read Rep. Gatto's sponsor statement in which he describes the need for the bill. I decided to copy a phrase that appeared to be a few stories above Gatto's notoriously deficient vocabulary, from "his" bill's explanation and paste it into google:
"In addition, just about all Muslim countries have a de jure or de facto sharia supremacy clause which effectively does not allow any "secular" law."
The google result led me to David Yarushalmi's home page, where I read:
"In addition, just about all Muslim countries have a de jure or de facto sharia supremacy clause which effectively does not allow any “secular” law...."
No - Yarushalmi's not referring to Gatto's letter. Gatto's letter lifted this - and the text of his bill - from Yarushelmi-supplied materials.

We're not the only state suffering from this racist fascist's efforts. Sixteen states have been pushed into similar bills by Yarushalmi. The most recent one other than ours to make local headlines was his bill for Tennessee:
The wave of Islamophobia continues to spread across the United States, as a Tennessee bill now on the table would make “following the Islamic code known as Shariah law a felony, punishable by 15 years in jail.” The author behind this bill, one of 15 similar pieces of legislation being considered in states around the U.S., is a notorious, far-right figure: David Yerushalmi.
Gatto's anti-labor legislation, like this bill, was boiler plate garbage, concocted by out-of-state extremists with an anti-American agenda. It is one thing that this dense, selfish (both he and his wife collect tier one public employee benfits - plus, Gatto collects a state disability), ineffective legislator can't craft his own legislation. But it is quite another that his useless bills cost taxpayers lots of money to waste time on listening to racist nutcases like Yerushalmi.

On the other hand, with the scores of mosques and dozens of madrassas being constructed in the Mat-Su valley, maybe Gatto and Lynn are just in time. Snark aside, I doubt these bills will get anywhere this session.

Both Judy (2008) and I (2004 - Greens; 2010 - Democrats) have been approached to run against Gatto in District 13. Both of us love our jobs and would not want to have to leave them, even to serve in the legislature. As if we'd have a chance of winning. Heh. If Jesus came back and ran against Gatto, Carl would paint Jesus as a dirty fucking hippy extremist that deserves to be crucified. And Gatto would win.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Erin and Hig on APRN's Talk of Alaska Today

Erin and Hig, Alaska's most intrepid trekkers, will be interviewed this morning on APRN's Talk of Alaska.

10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

91.1 FM in Anchorage, on KSKA.

Here's a link to APRN.