Saturday, April 30, 2011

Serge Prokofiev's 120th

I wanted to write something about the 120th anniversary of Russian composer Serge Prokofiev's birth back on April 23rd, when it occurred, but got too busy.

Surprisingly, Prokofiev is the most played 20th century composer after Richard Strauss. Strauss had a much longer career, but Prokofiev was more influential. His melodic gifts and sense of irony were among the greatest in the history of Western music.

Perhaps his most melodic longer work is the ballet, written between 1940 and 1945, Cinderella, which is a comedic masterpiece, portraying the stepsisters and stepmother as less ruthless, more idiotic or crazed, than most versions of the fairy tale.

Here's the dynamic ballerina Alina Cojocaru as Cinderella, with Johan Koburg, in the second act Pas de Deux, also known as "Cinderella and the Prince," from a 2003 Royal Ballet production:

In two weeks, I'll be conducting the Anchorage Civic Orchestra in Prokofiev's most popular work for young people, Peter and the Wolf, with Shannyn Moore as narrator. Here's our poster:

Breitbart and Maher Wax Sexist, Ignoring Laura Flanders, as They Compare Racist Notes

When I first started calling Andrew Breitbart a racist here and at firedoglake, people resisted. They don't anymore. The Shirley Sherrod episode settled it in many minds.

In this give-and-take at Bill Maher's place, both Breitbart and Maher tend to ignore any and all points Laura Flanders brings to the fore. As they are pointed toward Breitbart by Flanders, not toward Maher, you'd think Bill would be more neutral.

He isn't exactly sucking up to Breitbart, though. It is ironic that Maher, who starts out asking "Do you think you can be a racist and not know it?" ends up quipping rhetorically to Donald Trump, "I have a feeling, if you have such a great relationship with 'the Blacks,' walk through Harlem this weekend without security." The audience erupts in laughter.

Yes, Bill, you can.

Breitbart attempts to both suck up to Maher and bait Flanders with his statement, "We'd like to know about his relationship with ..... Prof. Edward Said, there's a lot of mysterious things in his background that people would like to....."

You can't even understand Flanders' attempt to get back into the conversation, as Breibart yells "What's wrong about that? I would like to know the three ....."

Breitbart attempts to paint some bizarre conspiracy having to do with Obama's movements and Said's, between Columbia University and the University of Chicago. The conversation drifts off into borderless territory Breitbart excels at scooping up the wreckage from, as he demands that we find out - turning toward Islamaphobe and Israel apologist Maher for his final appeal - "We'd like to know if he's pro-Israel, if his people are pro-Israel, we'd like to know what his orientation is, what kind of classes he took."

To his credit, Maher doesn't take the proffered bait and moves on to sum up the segment.

The Paradox of April - Part III

I call Cottonwood Creek "Wasilla Creek" on the video. Wasilla Creek doesn't even come close to Wasilla, but Cottonwood Creek runs right through it, including feeding Wasilla Lake.

Hopefully, the community cleanup will deal with this mess, eh?

Drudge Leads the Afterbirthers - Romney Leads the Lynch Mob

According to TPMDC, the Drudge Report spent a lot of time Friday pimping for a strange "study" of the newly released "long-form" birth certificate for Barack Obama:

In a predictable turn, conspiracy theorists are now rallying behind a bogus claim that President Obama's long form birth certificate is a Photoshopped forgery -- with a huge helping hand from one of conservative media's biggest names.

The fringe theory's rapid spread within hours of the certificate's release presents almost a perfect example of one of the White House's justifications for taking on the birther issue -- namely, that thanks to the internet, conspiracy theories can migrate quickly from the fringe and into the mainstream if left unchecked.

In this case, it took only hours. The forgery claim appeared to have first started as an offbeat blog post from an Atlanta-based art director at an ad firm, Bryan Michael Nixon, less than two hours after Obama's statement. By the end of the day it had become a headline on Drudge Report, one of the single most trafficked news sites on the internet. The debunked forgery revelation drew thousands of comments on messageboards, migrated to birther and truther conspiracy guru Alex Jones' site, while a video explanation was viewed over 160,000 times on YouTube.

Here's the Youtube:

Here's another Youtube, this one of Mitch Romney wanting to "hang the misery index around Obama's neck"

I'm no great fan of Obama, but this stuff - pandering to the white racists who can't accept Obama as American, or to references to hanging a black man, are intentional, and designed to subliminally create dread of Obama.

Saradise Lost Book 5 - Chapter 51: Reading Geoffrey Dunn's The Lies of Sarah Palin

I wrote some time back that there is a danger that at some point more will have been written about Sarah Palin than about everything else in Alaska combined. Who knows, we may have reached that point already.

A lot of what has been written about Palin has been web-based, but there are already more books about her than any other person in our state's short history. And several more are due to be released.

The only book on Palin I read fully was Going Rouge, the collection of critical articles about her, published in November, 2009. I had already read most of the chapters when they appeared as articles.

I didn't read either of the books published under her name. She had had somebody else write them for her, so I let somebody else - Jeanne Devon - read them for me. Her articles on both Palin books are hilariously illuminating, as she tore apart and deeply into the layers and layers of fabrication that are truly Palin's only imprint upon those books.

Friday, I received my review copy of Geoffrey Dunn's The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power. I'll be hosting the firedoglake Book Salon with Geoffrey on Saturday, May 7th, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Alaska time. Both he and I will be there on-line to answer any questions from people there (you have to be a member of firedoglake's commenting community to participate).

The Lies of Sarah Palin is a remarkable book. It goes far beyond any of its predecessors in its critical research into Palin, from her beginnings, and it ends with coverage of Palin's near meltdown this past January, in the wake of the awful Tucson shootings and murders.

It is somewhat eery reading such thorough detail about one's own town. Dunn spends six pages (pp. 41-46) on Sarah Palin in the 8th grade, for instance. I know almost all the characters, some of them quite well.

Page after page, I'm reminded of what Judy told me back on September 1st, 2008, as we were canvassing for Obama in Wasilla. At the time - a little less than a week after Palin's selection as McCain's running mate, she said, "I can't believe how much you've forgotten about Sarah." Two weeks later, after being questioned about all sorts of past events involving Palin, by one reporter or blogger after another, Judy admitted, "I can't believe how much I've forgotten about Palin."

One thing abourt this book that strikes me as seminal is how irrefutable much of what Dunn presents is. The lies Palin will have to spin denying the truths between its covers will most likely deserve another book by another author. Too bad Soapy Smith isn't around to appreciate all this.

A Wasilla Greenhouse on the Last Morning of April

More sun and warmth this past week would have helped spur things along, but the greenhouse is sheltering 356 containers full of growing, living plants:
nine kinds of lettuce
seven kinds of beets
four kinds of basil
four kinds of tomatoes (second and fourth generation home-grown seeds)
three kinds of zucchini
three kinds of broccoli
two kinds of cabbage
Japanese cucumbers
daikon radish
cilantro (14th generation home-grown seeds)
arugula (seventh generation home-grown seeds; we're already eating it)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 50: On the Veracity of David Weigel

Sarah Palin is like the little town of Whittier, Alaska. I lived in Whittier, Alaska for over seven years. One thing I observed near the end of my sentence there (we actually had T-shirts made back then, that read POW on the front and Prisoner of Whittier on the back), was that Whittier doesn't bring the best out in anyone. So it seems to be with Sarah Palin.

David Weigel
, who writes at, first came to Sarah Palin's defense after he was one of the prime victims of the JournoList fallout in June-July, 2010. He wrote then that he had learned to "stop worrying and love Sarah Palin" (a reference to the entire title of Stanley Kubrick's 1964 masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove - Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb):
Over the first churning forty-eight hours of this whole mess, I resisted — and then accepted — a new sympathy for a politician I'd never pretended to admire much: Sarah Palin. A political celebrity who raises money and appears on TV needs the media in a way that a reporter doesn't. But damn if I didn't feel sorry for the way every utterance Palin ever makes is taffy-pulled and inspected for lies. During the trial of a boy who hacked into Palin's private e-mail account, I debunked a rumor while appearing on MSNBC — where I am now a contributor — that she had "perjured" herself on the stand. She hadn't. She'd spoken correctly, if clumsily, about some of her old e-mails. Like I said: screwed, and then a new sympathy. (Of course, journalists would have had an easier time reaching me than Palin, who is notoriously difficult to get a comment from unless you happen to be a Fox News host.)
Weigel not only tried to identify with Palin in that Esquire column, through the empathy he described above, he aligned himself with Palin in the rest of the column too, no doubt unintentionally, by showing how pathetically narcissistic he is.

I don't have a lot of time to waste on this pimply, baby-fat saddled kid's tripe today, but one of his least satisfactory statements (or quotes - one can't quite be sure) in his story today, about calling the Mat-Su Regional Health Center earlier in the week regarding TriG Palin, was this:
Why'd I call the hospital? One of the original concerns Sullivan had with the Trig Palin story -- one that's based on an absent fact, and not on innuendo -- was that Mat-Su Regional did not list Trig Palin's birth on its website. There's a portion of the web site, the baby nursery, where newborns are listed. Trig, born on April 18, 2008, is not there. And that's somewhat curious. So: Is every baby born at the hospital listed on the web site?

"No, it's not automatic," said the clerk. "Truth be told, we do take security photos of all the babies, but if the parents want their babies listed on the web site, they can request it. We're really sensitive about it, though. I think the hospital took up the policy not to publish names automatically because of possible baby kidnapping issues."

The clerk, realizing that Washington, D.C. reporters don't typically cold call her hospital, asked me if this call was about "our former governor." It was. Was Trig Palin born there?

"Oh, that's not even a question," she said. (If my reception was better I could have heard her eyes rolling at this point.) "Yes. Everybody here remembers that. Yes, this is where the Palins come -- this is their family hospital."

Ideally, I would have gotten the family birthing center's director on the phone and gotten more confirmation with a name to go with it. But is anything preventing Andrew, or one of the Daily Dish's assistants, from making that call?
"Yes, this is where the Palins come -- this is their family hospital."

How sweet - "their family hospital." Perhaps it is, but had Weigel done the level of research he claims is Sullivan's inherent obligation, he could have discovered that the statement he uses to support his case, is wildly inaccurate and useless to back Weigel's claim.

The quote is used in a a way to make it seem that TriG was merely the latest Palin to have been delivered at "their family hospital." That would be impossible. TriG was born in 2008. The Mat-Su Regional Medical Center was finished in January, 2006. Piper Palin, youngest of the brood save for TriG, was born in 2001. At that time, the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center was a vacant, wind-swept field behind the Mat-Su Visitors Center and Veterans Wall of Honor.

Dave - you owe Andrew an apology.

I'll have more on Weigel soon. Suffice it to say, his rep from his Alaska trip last summer was way beyond Cheechako-ish. More like "fucking ingrate, don't let the door hit you on the way out."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

David Rovics: Still Waiting for the Change - His Best Song in a While

A song for President Obama.


Still Waiting for the Change

I remember in 2008
A Democrat became head of state
His party won the Congress too
Then we watched to see what they would do
Vague promises and hopeful signs
Just try to read between the lines
These things take time, that's understood
And I know that patience can be good
And I'm no genius, but I'm not dumb
And I'm still waiting for the change to come

Many thought it had arrived
We felt lucky to have survived
All those years of rightwing rule
Using fear and hatred as the fuel
Now we're on the other side
And we're still swimming against the tide
The wars go on, good people die
Missiles rain down from the sky
Once I dreamed you were my best chum
But I'm still waiting for the change to come

The prisons fill up with the poor
Victims of the same drug war
Bankers fly in First Class seats
While families move into the streets
Across the country schools close down
In another bankrupt town
Oil sits on the sea floor
And now you want to drill for more
And like everybody where I'm from
I'm still waiting for the change to come

I don't know but I'd like to think
We can pull each other from the brink
I've heard it said with a sigh
This nation is too young to die
But the system's broke and what I glean
Is change must come by other means
Can you hear the whispers in the air
What we need is Tahrir Square
Until then in Washington
I'll be waiting for the change to come
Still waiting for the change to come

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 49: Revisiting Palin's Claim to Having Produced TriG's Birth Certificate

The TriG birth certificate push-back bullshit keeps happening today, as more columnists, journalists and political bloggers pile onto Andrew Sullivan, who - like Joe McGinniss and me - is, like Joe says, "Trignostic."

Here's Sullivan today, hitting back against Ben Smith and Justin Elliot in his essay's conclusion:

When a politician has publicly claimed she has produced a birth certificate and hasn't, is it illegitimate for the press to ask why she simply lied about this? Can any sane person misremember such a thing? And if she's claimed she has released it, what on earth is the ethical reason for not asking her to do it along with medical records? When she publicly derides skeptics in speech after speech, is it not the press's duty to see if her derision has empirical validity? Or are we skeptics supposed to just sit back and be mocked by a pathological liar putting her own credibility against ours?

We all have cognitive biases. I have one - profound skepticism of anything Palin says - and may be judging evidence in ways that others wouldn't. But so do Justin and Ben and Weigel who have an interest in dismissing the possibility that they may have missed uncovering the biggest hoax in American political history. That same cognitive bias question applies to Loy and Quinn. It does not mean they they may not be right. It just means that their cognitive bias is as real as my own.

It seems to me that when some simple, readily available medical records could end this excruciating debate in one easy swoop - and could have more than two years ago - it is professional negligence that the MSM won't even ask for such proof, and devote far more energy to defending their own past than the facts at hand.

Here's Palin claiming she had produced TriG's birth certificate on the Rusty Humphries Show, on December 4, 2009:

Here's my post on the December 4, 2009 show, from that same day, reprinted:
Thursday, on the Rusty Humphries radio show, Sarah Palin lied. She insinuated President Obama has never shown his birth certificate, and that she had shown her son Trig's. Both statements are lies.

About President Obama's birth certificate, here's the exchange:

HUMPHRIES: Would you make the birth certificate an issue if you ran?

PALIN: Um, I think the public, rightfully, is still making it an issue. I don't have a problem with that. I don't know if I would have to bother to make it an issue, because I think enough members of the electorate still want answers.

HUMPHRIES: Do you think it's a fair question to be looking at?

PALIN: I think it's a fair question...

About her youngest son Trig's birth certificate, here's the exchange:

HUMPHRIES: I mean, truly, if your past is fair game and your kids are fair game, certainly Obama's past should be. I mean, we want to treat men and women equally, right?

PALIN: Hey, you know, that's a great point. That weird conspiracy theory freaky thing that people talk about, that Trig isn't my real son, a lot of people say, "Well, you need to produce his birth certificate, you need to prove that he's your kid," which we have done, but yeah, so maybe we should reverse that and use the same type of thinking on the other one.[ emphasis added]

Sarah and Todd Palin have never produced a birth certificate for Trig Palin.

The only document they have produced regarding the boy's birth is a letter from Palin's personal doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, that was issued the day before the 2008 national election. At some blogs, the Baldwin-Johnson letter has brought forth as many questions (PDF) as the documents or purported documents related to George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard service raised.

As part of the messy cleanup on aisle CW caused by Palin's statement on the Rusty Humphries show, Palin's ghost facebook writer has issued the following clarification:

Voters have every right to ask candidates for information if they so choose. I’ve pointed out that it was seemingly fair game during the 2008 election for many on the left to badger my doctor and lawyer for proof that Trig is in fact my child. Conspiracy-minded reporters and voters had a right to ask ... which they have repeatedly. But at no point -- not during the campaign, and not during recent interviews -- have I asked the president to produce his birth certificate or suggested that he was not born in the United States.

Whooh! That cleared everything up, didn't it? No, it didn't.

I live in Wasilla and will have known Sarah Palin for 19 years, come February 2010. The doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, who wrote the letter Palin alludes to in the latter's statement, "you need to prove that he's your kid, which we have done" was one of my wife's doctors for both of our kids, and was both kids' pediatrician.

CBJ, as she was often called locally, was a very public fixture around Wasilla up to the time of Trig's birth. Our daughter attended ballet with one of CBJ's kids for years, and I often saw CBJ somewhere or another around Wasilla or Anchorage at least once a week for well over a decade. Between the time of Trig's birth - early 2008 - and the issuance of the election eve letter purported to be from her, CBJ was far less evident. Since the letter was issued, CBJ has been unavailable to comment on it or on any other matter related to Trig and Sarah Palin:

Cathy Baldwin Johnson has never given a simple statement that Trig Palin was born at Mat-Su Hospital on April 18th, that Sarah Palin is his biological mother, and that she - Dr. Baldwin-Johnson - was physically present at the delivery. She would not do this at the following junctures:

1. Back in April, when Trig Palin was allegedly born. She gave ambiguous statements to the press about the circumstances of the birth (several of which contradicted explicitly statements Gov. Palin made) and then she clammed up.

2. On August 31st (when announcing it would have scotched the necessity of announcing – the next day – seventeen year old Bristol's pregnancy);

3. In the letter released before the election

4. To the ADN [Anchorage Daily News] in December when they asked AGAIN [PDF].

I've written about Sarah Palin a fair number of times, but have avoided taking up the"birther" subject unless it became germane to something Palin herself had said. I've written about the four most common birth scenarios involving Palin and Trig elsewhere, but not here - I'm not a "birther." But many questions have arisen, none of which have been answered by the Palins.

Regarding Palin's statement on the Humphries show, memeorandum now lists 49 articles and blog posts. Of them, only one seems to address the falsity of Palin's claim to have released a birth certificate for Trig:

So Palin is saying that he should show his because she has shown hers. Except she hasn't! And he did! And Palin-logic hurts. Where is the birth certificate, Sarah?

Is Palin going to get a pass on this?

Where's Dan Rather when you need him?

Here's part of the post I wrote the following Saturday (December 5, 2009):
A tribute to what Gryph calls "Sarah Palin's Least Favorite Blogs."

Last Thursday, Sarah Palin, as she often does, reverted to her Crazy Woman persona, when, during a radio appearance on the Rusty Humphries talk show, she stated, "That weird conspiracy theory freaky thing that people talk about, that Trig isn't my real son, a lot of people say, "Well, you need to produce his birth certificate, you need to prove that he's your kid," which we have done..."

The first part of Palin's exchange with Humphries, which was about the possibility that President Obama's birth certificate might not be genuine and that the issue deserves further scrutiny, garnered a lot of attention. Within a few hours, the news aggregator site memeorandum cited 47 articles about the first part of Palin's birth certificate exchange with the talk show host, but only one link to an article that noted the falsity of the second part of the statement. Now, 36 hours later, national attention, as tracked at memeorandum, is becoming focused on Andrew Sullivan's post on this, which uses information that wouldn't be in the public domain without Sarah Palin's least favorite blogs. Sullivan's curiosity about Palin's most recent pregnancy has been long-known nationally, but the mainstream Alaska press, since the Anchorage Daily News forays in this direction ended in a stone wall, has kept well away.
Sullivan's post has elicited responses from out-of-state blogs:
Robert Stacy McCain, dissing Sullivan, fails to mention Palin's Thursday lie.

David Horowitx, excoriating Sullivan, fails to mention Palin's lie.

Mark Milian, in the Los Angeles Times, while more critical of Palin over the first part of her Humphries statement, neglects to question the varacity of her own birth certificate claim.

Gottalaff, at the Political Carnival, while quoting Sullivan on his Palin birth certificate question, fails to really get into questioning Palin's veracity.

Riehl World View and the blog's commenters wander off to the tea party, blithely predicting Palin as next president, while dissing Sullivan.

Maria Newman, writing an abridged summation of blog posts for the New York Times, on Palin's Humphries appearance, totally neglects quoting Palin's lie.

Rick Moran, blogging for Pajamas Media, writes:
And no, not “a lot of people say” that we need to see Trig’s birth certificate. What planet is she on? Who, besides Andrew Sullivan and the same kind of fringe kooks on the left who mirror the righty loons wondering if Obama is eligible to be president, is concerned one whit about Trig’s parentage?
but neglects to observe that Palin's claim is false.

and so on......

Will Alaska's mainstream and non-progressive online mediaaddress Palin's most recent, most national lie? Checking the Saturday morning editions of all of them, the only sign of anyone noting Palin's radio appearance is a snarky, shallow post at the Alaska Dispatch by Scott Woodham:
According to comments former Gov. Palin made on conservative talk radio recently, she thinks it's fair for people to ask President Obama to provide proof that he was indeed born in the United States. While discussing the issue of what is "fair game" for press inquiry, she mentioned that some people have repeatedly asked her to provide proof that she gave birth to her youngest child. "Which we have done," she said (Andrew Sullivan must've not been invited to that press conference). She also said that ANWR is "frozen year-round," and thanked God for the leaked correspondence of climate scientists. Politico has an excerpt from the interview's transcript, as well as an embedded recording of the complete interview, here, (the birth certificate stuff happens around 9 minutes in).
Like many posts at the Dispatch, Woodham's statement has elicited no comments.

Chernobyl - 25 Years Later

25 years ago today Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl power station north of Kiev in the Ukrainian SSR exploded and caught on fire, releasing deadly radiation and melted radioactive graphite pollution over a wide area. Estimates as to the number of victims then and since from the disaster vary widely, but few doubt the disaster killed or injured more than the atom bomb blast at Hiroshima in August 1945.

The combination of the ongoing catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi complex in Japan, the need for a new containment regime at the Chernobyl site, and the 25th anniversary, should help people to more deeply contemplate the inherent dangers of the nuclear age and its legacy.

Here are some videos of aspects of the disaster's ongoing legacy:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Did Ron Paul Announce His 2012 Presidential Campaign Exploratory Committee on FOX?

Short answer - I don't know.

The reality from 2008 is that every news outlet, including FOX fucked him over - along with Mike Gravel and other major figures who should have been kept at the discussion table until the races came down to two obvious contenders.

Anyway, here it is:

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 48: Thoughts on Vogel's Politico Article

Kenneth P. Vogel has written an article about recent attention paid to Sarah Palin, published last night for, that reminds me of the Kuskokwim River - long, shallow, cold and murky. In it, Vogel mischaracterizes the overall impetus behind many who question the authenticity or viability of Sarah Palin:

This self-styled anti-Palin movement — whose members span the globe and are mostly but not exclusively liberals — has been behind some embarrassing revelations about the former Alaska governor, her family and allies. But some of their leading theories have been thoroughly discredited and earned them widespread criticism. (See: 'Mama Grizzly' Sarah Palin back on the prowl)

Yet that only seems to have hardened a commitment to accomplishing what they profess to be their ultimate goal: the absolute and complete exposure of Palin as a fraud unworthy of a role in American civic life. And now, with Palin edging back into the political spotlight in the face of flagging poll numbers, they believe that they are closer than ever to achieving it. (See: Poll: The incredible shrinking Sarah Palin)

Vogel concentrates on aspects of attention toward Palin by writers, journalists and bloggers that tend to be salacious, or controversial in ways one sees most often in coverage of celebrities. Beyond the gossipy bullshit that Palin relishes because it keeps people from looking more closely at how she has dealt with substantive issues, Vogel seems out of his league. Here's his intro to author Geoffrey Dunn:

St. Martin’s Press has scheduled a May 10 release of “The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power,” by Santa Cruz, Calif.-based author and documentarian Geoffrey Dunn, who has joked that he might need three or four volumes to adequately cover the subject matter suggested in the title.

He told POLITICO he decided to write the book after hearing stories from Alaskans about Palin’s “childhood through her governorship that were troubling to me.” He said his goal is to frame Palin’s career in the contexts of both an Alaska political scene “plagued by a culture of corruption” and also in “the larger tradition of American political populism and demagoguery.”

Rather than ask Dunn what the top five, ten, twenty, fifty or 200 lies Palin has told or promoted might be, Vogel moves on to what promises to be a a strange read:

A couple of weeks later, a Simon & Schuster imprint is set to offer a tell-all memoir by Frank Bailey, a disgruntled former top aide to Palin, using her personal emails to paint an ugly portrait of her as a vindictive and vain dilettante obsessed with her public image, who allegedly broke election laws and targeted a state trooper by leaking damaging information. (See: Former Sarah Palin aide's tell-all coming to bookstores near you)
As the even more gossipy Sheila Toomey, in one of her few quips to have gotten me to chuckle in the past decade or so wrote Sunday:
Based on the manuscript famously leaked by a rival author a few months ago, this is not a great work of art. It's a sad tale about the betrayal of an uncomplicated guy who never does understand what happened to him. However, it remains Ear's favorite from the tree-killing epidemic prompted by Sarah.
After his mini-book reviews, Vogel moves on to bringing up recent articles on TriG, the Obama birthers, Palin's family on TV and Andrew Sullivan. Vogel does a decent job in his interviews with Jesse Griffin from The Immoral Minority and Sherry Whitstine (Syrin).

From there to the end, Vogel's article, short version, is: Trig, gossip, Trig, more gossip, Trig, more gossip, Trig.

This morning, commenting at The Immoral Minority's article on Vogel's piece, I wrote:

[T]he article was pathetic overall: It didn't get into any of the hundreds of lies Dunn has catalogued so well, and didn't delve deeper than a mm or so into why so many of us feel she is so unfit to govern her own home, let alone be in charge of the launch codes to a thermonuclear apocalypse. Stayed entirely clear of her wacky religious beliefs and those excruciatingly painful months as governor between mid-November 2008 and July 2009, when, combined with her own terrible decision making, we drove her over the edge, and as my 92 yo mom put it in 2009, "Chased her out of Alaska so that she can destroy the Republican Party for the next 20 years."
The Alaska Dispatch's linking article to Vogel's called his piece a "profile"
Politico has posted a long profile of several main "gadflies, bloggers, and authors" who have been conducting a campaign to discredit former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a political figure. Politico's paraphrase of their self-declared goal: "the absolute and complete exposure of Palin as a fraud unworthy of a role in American civic life."
I commented:

What is stated here is inaccurate. "A long profile of several of the main 'gadflies, bloggers and authors'" the article certainly is not. If it comes remotely close to profiling anyone, that would be Jesse Griffin, who is treated fairly, but not comprehensively enough for his coverage to be a "profile."

"[H]ave been conducting a campaign to discredit former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a political figure" may be technically accurate in a narrow sense, but misses the important point that most of what these people do in regard to Palin is look more deeply at her serious inadequacies than do other on-line journalists, commentators or bloggers.

That mentioned Geoffrey Dunn's statement that it might take volumes to reveal all the lies of Palin, but then neglects to deal with any of them, was telling. So was the article's total incuriosity about how some bloggers covering Palin have raised important questions about how her unfitness may be related to her religious beliefs, which are not mainstream.

Rather, Kenneth Vogel's article was seemingly targeted to get hits for the salaciousness of some of the questions hovering around Palin and her past.

The media - and this article is an excellent example - when they turn their attention toward the work of the alternative press, bloggers, authors and so on, prefer to bring up Trig and Bristol and claims of unfaithfulness, or whatever. Often. Seldom do they discuss the work by many of these same people and others that looks into her batshit crazy views on religion and the universe.

Frank Schaeffer wrote an article today for Huffington Post that has a title which has as much to do with writers like Vogel, as it does with American politicians themselves - The "Biblical" Root of American Stupidity. Part of Schaeffer's conclusion is this:
Respect for religious stupidity is -- by extension -- why the media gives Trump, Bachmann et al platforms from which they can spread falsehoods. Trump isn't remotely religious but the sort of people ready to believe in someone like him (or the Tea Party) have been fed a steady diet of mythology that has literally altered the way their brains work. If a scientist, an expert or the "liberal media" says something is true then ipso facto the opposite -- no matter how harebrained must be true! Actually believing that the Palins, Becks, Trumps of this world are serious people is just the political version of giving creationists a "serious" place on textbook committees.
Speaking of books. Here's a screen shot of some of the books that were in the Wasilla Public Library when she left, that weren't there when she became mayor.
Oh - Vogel's average comments for his previous ten articles at - 87. This one - 905 and counting.

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 47: Wild Ride - The Full Version

The Palin-centric European blog,
Palingates, has posted a long essay that addresses aspects of Palin's improbable "wild ride" (a term created, I believe, by Shannyn Moore) scenario. They've addressed this issue before, and this essay is a sort of compilation with additional information and updates.

Additionally, Regina at Palingates, has created a video, titled
Sarah Palin - Wild Ride - Full Version:

David Rovics' Latest - No Fracking Way

Here are the lyrics:

No Fracking Way

There was a knock one morning, a man was standing at my door
He said, hello, I'm from Halliburton, have you heard of us before?
We'd like to lease your backyard to drill for natural gas
It's called hydraulic fracturing and it is the very pass
For a clean energy future above the Marcellus stone
Plus we'll give you lots of money and a new mobile phone
I said you are a corporate crook, I don't believe the things you tell
And you can drive right of my property and then go straight to hell

No fracking way! (2x)
I don't trust corporate salesmen, whatever they may say
No fracking way! (3x)

My neighbor was out of work and things were looking grim
So when the fracking guy came knocking he had better luck with him
The company said don't worry, everything will be just fine
So just sign your name right here, sir, on this dotted line
Pretty soon the water was tasting pretty dire
One day I lit a match and the water caught on fire
I thought about a lawsuit, then stumbled upon the fact
That fracking is exempted from the Clean Water Act

...Is that how democracy works here in the USA

As if the situation weren't sufficiently unattractive
We tested the water and found it was radioactive
Now my property is worthless and there's a tumor in my brain
Half of my neighbors are sick, the rest are just in pain
Maybe I should take the money, move off to live somewhere
But all the places I look at, they're fracking there
Our choices now are simple, lose that which we hold dear
Or communicate the message in a way that's unstoppably clear

...Tell these frackers to frack off, both tomorrow and today

The Fairbanks Anti-Government Protest Today

Ex-Alaska legislator and former BFF of Veco President Bill Allen, is the guy behind the puppet strings in a rally being held this afternoon in Fairbanks:
FAIRBANKS — A heavy-hitting lineup is expected to step to the podium Wednesday to speak at a “Fed up with the Fed” rally on Wednesday at the Pioneer Park Civic Center.

Speakers will include Congressman Don Young, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Corey Rossi, director of Wildlife Conservation for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The rally, which runs from 4-8 p.m., is being sponsored by the wildlife conservation group Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. Young, Murkowski and Rossi will be speaking between 6-7 p.m.

There will also be a dozen “issue booths” manned by a group or agency fighting a specific issue of federal management, such as wildlife management, oil and gas permitting, access issues, mining restrictions, EPA issues and the Endangered Species Act.

Local SFW members Ralph Seekins and Craig Compeau will be emceeing the event.

The rally also is serving as a fundraiser for Jim Wilde, the 71-year-old Central man who was arrested and handcuffed by the National Park Service in September for failing to stop for a boat safety check on the Yukon River. Wilde contested the charges in a trial in Fairbanks earlier this month and a federal judge is currently deliberating the case.

For a suggested donation of $10 or $20, participants can guess how much money the National Park Service spent on the Wilde case. The five guesses closest to the amount, which has yet to be revealed, will win prizes. The top prize is a free picnic lunch and scenic tour at “Gestapo Point,” the spot where Wilde was arrested and handcuffed by gun- and Taser-wielding rangers. Other prizes include a Taser (second); a pair of handcuffs (third); a box of shotgun shells (fourth) and a replica Gestapo badge (fifth).
At the Fairbanks News-Miner, after the rally's references to the Gestapo were criticized in the comments, some have been coming to Seekins' defense for using the term:
What a bunch of misinformation. The Feds joined the Allies in World War II and stabbed Hitler in the back while he was at war with communist Russia during Operation Barbarossa. Read your history Don Young.
Here's the rally poster:
And here's a breakdown of some of the contributions Seekins received from Bill Allen while the former was in the legislature:

Top image - Ester Republic

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Paradox of April in Alaska - Part II

Almost all the snow is gone from our neighborhood. The lake is still mostly covered in ice, but - except in the early morning - nobody wants to walk on the rapidly deteriorating structure. Our front yard still has a large, silt and micro debris-laden drift, just inside the riparian berm we created when we landscaped the place in 1996. The drift is still almost four feet deep in a couple of places. It will be gone soon, if the sun comes back out much.

Inside the greenhouse hundreds of plants are growing. Since Wednesday, it has been mostly cloudy and chilly, so growth has slowed, especially among the smallest seedlings. But the plants that have grown some foliage are able to grasp enough energy from the ambient sun to still grow fairly rapidly, as with these zucchini.

Our experiment of starting beets in seedling planters to transplant in the outside garden in late May worked so well last year, that may be the only way we plant them in 2011. Some of last year's transplants became huge - over a pound apiece. But those we planted in the ground suffered from the chilly temperatures of late June through mid-August, and were very small.
Some of these tomatoes - Stupice and Black from Tula, are growing from seeds saved from 2010.
This morning I began clearing Judy's very large rock garden of winter debris and dead foliage from 2010. First I picked up the sticks and large objects. Then I clipped off stems of iris, columbine and other long-stemmed flowering plants. Then I sucked up leaves and debris with the leaf blower. Then I switched it to blower and cleared the area off.


About four hours later - after:

With the old stuff gone, signs of new life were rampant.
Up in the vegetable garden, we've already used new chives in a couple of fresh meals.

A perennial onion set emerges from under the cleared debris.

Last year's broccoli remains, about to join the compost universe.

An Easter Treat - The Definitive Alaska Rendition of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus

Georg Frideric Handel's The Messiah is meant for both Christmas and Easter, yet the Hallelujah Chorus is much more often rendered sat Christmas. Handel regarded this chorus as Scene 7 of the second part of the oratorio, subtitled "Passion." Its text, taken from three passages in Revelations, centers on the words "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." Those words are about the Resurrection myth, not the birth myth.

Here are the kids from Quinhagak School, in their version of this masterpiece of the late Baroque:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Humanity of Andrew Sullivan

British blogger Andrew Sullivan was one of the first conservative commentators to go "Whoa!" about Sarah Palin. He has also linked to Alaska bloggers' stories on Palin several times over the past three years, especially to the work of Jesse Griffin and Jeanne Devon. He even linked to Progressive Alaska once, if I remember correctly.

Sullivan was lumped in with the TriG Truthers in some of the shotgun blasts from all over the place this past week regarding the articles emanating from Prof. Scharlott's look into how the media handled questions about TriG's origins. Sullivan has been remarkably calm through all this, but his Saturday column, Trig Wars, shows his genuine humanity. I'll risk posting it in its entirety, as his views on this and mine are quite close:

I'm going to respond to Justin Elliott's alleged "definitive debunking" of the questions surrounding Sarah Palin's maternity of Trig in due course. It deserves more than an instant reaction - and adds two new sources to the dozens that have now emerged to shed partial light on the story. In the end, there are two stories here: the actual story and the meta-media-story. I'm interested in both equally. And the visceral contempt and dimissal for me personally is sadly a part of the latter.

One aspect of the meta-media-story is media intimidation - from within and without. MSM reporters tackling anything to do with the Palin pregnancy have to overcome what they know will be the spin from the Palinite right: that they are just liberal maniacs bent on destroying this real and talented hope for conservatism, precisely because she is such a hope for conservatism. This dynamic is one MSM reporters have internalized, making what would be routine questions and investigations of a public figure in, say, reality TV or national politics into exceptional and career-risking gambles.

Imagine a huge media backlash and internal restraint about, say, Lindsey Lohan's drug use or Britney Spears' romantic and pharmaceutical forays. No, I can't imagine it. But when politics and tabloid truth combine - think of the John Edwards story - the MSM can suddenly find itself mute. Part of this is genuine: the desire not to pour salt onto the wounds of Elizabeth Edwards or to make the life of a new-born kid with Down Syndrome any more challenging than it might already be. Part of it is simply discomfort. Wouldn't it be less fraught to cover the budget negotiations? Part of it is about status: all of this is beneath me, and hurts my reputation as a Serious Journalist, respected by my peers.

But then there's this. What Wonkette published about a completely innocent little boy was, as I said as soon as I absorbed it, despicable. Whatever may be the truth behind all the Palin pregnancy stories, even if the zaniest theory is true, Sarah Palin is taking care of a child with Down Syndrome who deserves respect and privacy even if his own mother refuses to give them to him. To mock him, the most defenseless figure in this whole saga, is just foul. I've made my position on this question very very clear from the beginning. The only person who truly deserves protection from this media mayhem is Trig himself. I'll go further and repeat what I have written from the very start. I deeply admire and respect Palin for doing what she has done in giving this child a home and a life. It is more of a sacrifice than I will ever know. And more of a joy than I will ever know. We can be journalists but we can also be humane toward children and see the good that someone has done as well as the bad.

But the blowback has not just been rhetorical. It has been to bring the entire site to its knees. The buycott of Wonkette's advertizers has led to almost all of them fleeing immediately:

Starting with Papa John’s Pizza, the companies began to run. It grew from there. As of Friday afternoon, the list was 30-some strong, and includes brands like Huggies, Vanguard Group, Nordstrom, Bob Evans, and StarKist Charlie—the tuna mascot. [See the list of Wonkette’s remaining advertisers.]

I feel as queasy about this flexing of Palinite muscle as I do about the original, disgusting, asinine story. In some ways, I see a legitimate come-uppance for a tacky site that published a simply inexcusable piece of mean-spirited dreck using a child who cannot defend himself, treating him as if he were subhuman, which he most definitely isn't. But I also recoil from mob action like this, for the impact it has on fearless free speech and the chilling effect it will have on an already cowed and defensive MSM when covering the truly tough stuff about Palin.

Sullivan will be a guest on Sunday's Chris Matthews Show on MSNBC, obstensibly to talk about recent events in the UK. I suspect this will come up, though.

Feeling the Hate on Easter Eve - Israeli Program Crucifies a Mock Jesus

Back in 2007, an Israeli TV program ran the segment posted below. The program, Toffee VeHa-Gorilla, features a scantily clad young woman, a monkey, a big red couch with yellow pillows, a huge pink washing machine, and other props.

There isn't much on the web about the program in English, perhaps deservedly so. Over the past two days, though, this video, in which the girl crucifies her monkey for contemplating "assimilating" himself into Christianity, is getting noticed.

The video was posted onto Youtube in September, 2010, but from the comments at its place there, it appears to have only started getting a lot of hits this past week. Now it is being posted at several sites, including some in Israel.

My prediction is that now that this disturbing segment appears to be going viral, it will be pulled down.

Prepare to be disturbed:

Japan Nuclear Watch, April 23: Can You Rebuild a Cooling System Inside a No-Go Zone?

--- by Scarecrow

The good news is that over the last two weeks or so at the Fukushima Daiiche Nuclear plant, there have been no futher spectacular explosions, no new massive breaches of containment or as far as we know, massive releases of radiation, though there continue to be dangerous levels inside the reactors, in nearby water and in surrounding areas.

The bad news is the Japanese authorities have been unable to make substantial progress against the massive quantities of contaminated water still leaking from the damaged units. In the last three days, for example, they attempted to pump contaminated water out of the flooded trench outside Unit 2′s turbine building, but managed to lower the water level by only a few centimeters. In previous weeks, they would pump some out one day, but then find the water rising back the next with varying degrees of radiation, because water injected into the reactors leaked and found its way out and downhill.

Also discouraging, as they slowly and haltingly begin to take a closer look inside the reactor buildings — see TEPCO photos here — they’re discovering such massive structural damage that each day’s plans and assumptions get scrapped. They’re now on ad hoc plan #xqb and tomorrow it may be #yrz.

As lobster reported a week ago, the utility owner, TEPCO, released what it called a “roadmap” and some news media called a “blueprint” but which was neither. To me, it seems a package of optimistic goals laying out in logical sequence the problems that must be overcome, with some vague timeframes — three months, six to nine months — designed to reassure the Japanese people and themselves that there is hope things will get better over time.

I thought the most important revelation then was TEPCO’s acknowledgement that their best case recovery plan, which assumed the normal cooling systems could be restarted soon after external electrical power and controls were restored, has been abandoned. This was not suprising; it always seemed likely that critical pumps, valves, seals, meters and controls that operate those cooling system would have been at least partially damaged by the 9.0 quake that greatly exceeded design capacity.

The only question was: how much damage had these systems sustained? And indeed, in the weeks after external power was restored to the control rooms at each unit, TEPCO admitted that various pumps and valves were too damaged to repair and would need to be replaced. It sounded like they just needed to order a few parts. That was then.

The “roadmap” documents let us know that TEPCO now realizes that if it wants something better than its current ad hoc water injections, it must completely rebuild the cooling systems, or even create an entirely new cooling system. The new system would replace the current ad hoc approach of just dumping water from above (Unit 4′s spent fuel pool) or injecting it from the outside (Units 1-3 reactors) through external hoses and pumps.

The current system is not a closed loop, and it leaks badly; they inject water one day, and it boils off or leaks out the next, requiring continuous reinjections with more and more water. And that’s just to stabilize the assumed level of fuel exposure and melting that’s already occurred in the Units 1-3 reactor vessels and Unit 4′s spent pool. The new system would presumably be a closed loop, just like the original system, so that if water boiled to steam, the steam would be captured, condensed back to water, cooled and returned to the reactor vessel for more cooling, while keeping the core covered.

That immediately raised the question, which I’ve not seen even discussed, is how do you build such a system? It would be one thing to take a never used reactor vessel outside a contaiment structure and refit it with new injection/release pipes and seals and attach those to valves, pumps, pipes, controls, etc. But how do you do that to the still hot reactor vessels inside the contaimment structure at Units 1-3 that have full radioactive cores and that have to be continuously cooled with the existing ad hoc water injection? If there’s even a conceptual design for that, I haven’t seen it mentioned.

Let’s take the problem one step further. Let’s assume that eventually they can do better than the tiny robots that have only managed to crawl a few meters into the reactor building to take photos and measure radiation. They’ll need much larger robots and heavy equipment to clear away the explosion debri and allow radioative cleanup crews to make it possible to work inside for more than a few minutes. What next?

In the April 2 post where I summarized the AREVA presentation on the accident sequence, we explained a sequence in which the space between the outer containment structure and the reactor vessel inside that containment could gradually fill with radioactive steam and hydrogen. Some of that steam could condense and leave water inside the containment structure. As we explained elsewhere, water is also probably leaking into the containment structure from, for example, damaged seals for the piping that carries water/steam to/from the reactor vessel, making it difficult to keep the core covered, because the leak points are below the top of the fuel rods.

About the same time, the New York Times had a report describing other concerns by US experts. One of those concerns, buried at the end of the story, was that the ad hoc measures to pump outside water into the system would gradually fill up the containment structure, which was not designed to hold lots of water. Water is heavy. The weight/force of that water on the structure, coupled with continuing afterquakes, might eventually cause the containment structure to fail.

Now it seems that warning is being taken seriously. According to this report, TEPCO is now worried about how much water the containment structure at Unit 1 can safely hold if there is another significant afterquake. And if that’s a problem at Unit 1, it could become a problem at Units 2 and 3.

Is excessive water injection also a concern at Unit 4? Apparently so. This NHK World report says TEPCO is now worried that the pace of water dumping into Unit 4′s spent fuel storage pool — and remember, that exposed pool has a full core load of non-spent fuel — could make the storage pool walls and steel lining vulnerable to a serious afterquake. It’s a concern similar to that at Unit 1, except the pool is totally outside any containment structure. If the integrity of that pool, which may already be leaking, is suspect, their “roadmap” boils down to hoping Mother Nature gives them a break.


NHK World
Kyodo News
Hi-res photos
IAEA Updates
Union of Concerned Scientists