Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011 - Part Two

I. Today, about 450 to 500 people gathered at the Mat-Su Valley's Veterans Wall of Honor, just off the Parks Highway, to the south of the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. The weather could not have been better, with light breezes, and a temperature working its way up through the 60s.

I was there to play Taps at the formal ceremony's conclusion. I've done that here and elsewhere many times on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day.

I played at the site's inaugural Memorial Day, back in the early 1990s. In 1995, I directed the combined Anchorage Community Concert Band and Mat-Su College Community Band in a patriotic concert there on Memorial Day, recognizing the 50th anniversary of VE Day in Europe. Scores of World War II Veterans attended that event. Most have since passed on, including my own dad. I've played bugle at some of their funerals or memorials in the intervening years, including Dad's.

When I play at these public ceremonies, I dress up. Other than the U.S. Army honor guard and uniformed military personnel on duty, I was by far the most "dressed up" person there. In the 20 years I've been doing this, public officials dress up less, each year. I can't. Perform Taps in polo shorts?

None went so far as Sarah Palin did yesterday in DC, wearing black leather and stiletto heels, but I find it disturbing that Sen. Charlie Huggins, Rep. Carl Gatto and Wasilla Mayor REDDI Rubereich had to look like they couldn't wait to put on their golfing shoes or hot dog BBQ aprons. The 150 bikers who were there showed more awareness in their attire:

Laddie Shaw, whose label in the public safety and vet affairs community is that of usefully contrarian yet loyal apparatchik, gave the keynote. It centered on the American demi-fascist meme "it isn't the politician, artist, bureaucrat, reporter, (fill in the space here) who gives you your "freedoms," it is the soldier (or sailor, airman or Marine).

Of course there is a lot of truth in that notion. Yet the way this narrative often plays at these ceremonies negates the beauty of the message, as either the speaker or the audience interpolates too easily the most recent object of their political, ideological, racial or sexual hatred into the unfilled spaces.

No mentions of the struggles that are ongoing for recognition of the seriousness of traumatic head injuries.

No cry by the dependable laddie, Shaw, for justice for our gay patriots.

No call to reach out to potential soldiers who fluently speak the languages and understand the cultures of people we are so relentlessly bombing every fucking hour.

I was pissed. My mouth was getting dry in the heat, as I sat between some Harleys, trying to figure out where it would be best to play Taps in the growing breeze. As the Scottish pipers began Amazing Grace - the beginning of the ceremony's close - I realized the best place to play would be under the POW/MIA flagpole, facing the monument and its hundreds of honored names, so the sound would reflect back over the audience as the breeze carried it toward them.

The pipers were playing, and people turned away to look at them. I walked toward the flagpole. A reporter saw me with my bugle in hand. I was already thinking of getting ready to play. He asked, as I walked by, "could I have your name?"

I replied "It's at the bottom of the program." It probably came off as curt, but I just wanted to think about breathing and getting the dryness out of my mouth for those 24 very serious notes.

II. After the ceremony, I went home, changed out of the white shirt, tie, slacks and blazer. Grabbed the dog and truck, and purchased more building materials for new steps and ramps down to the lake's waterline. When I got home, Eric, my faithful assistant for many things, was waiting to start hacking away at 4 X 6's for the steps. I suggested a beer and fishing poles. Eric caught the first Rainbow of the season. Strider was in dog heaven, watching the loons and grebes and fish.

Judy hiked Lazy Mountain with her friend Pam. Judy took this picture as she approached the peak.

What a great Memorial Day picture conclusion.

Memorial Day 2011 - Part One

Above: The Sitka National Cemetery

Below: at the Ft. Richardson National Cemetery

images - Philip Munger

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 71: Those Pesky Taiwanese Animators Almost Get RAM's Head to Implode

sorry for the ad. hat tip to Politicalgates

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 70: George Will, Palin and the H-Bomb

There was a reason I used the image below to illustrate my initial post about Sarah Palin and the End Times, back in September, 2008:
For a long time, since watching Dr. Strangelove and On the Beach and reading books like Red Alert, I've felt that fundamentalist religions and weapons of mass destruction do not mix. Any fundamentalist sect, whether it be in Pakistan, India, Israel, Iran, the USA or Russia, to name the most obvious. Unfortunately, fundamentalist sects are gaining more political leverage in all of the above countries. It does not bode well for a planet that can't even deal with peaceful uses of the power inherent in splitting the atom. Anyone who believes as does Palin that their Lord will return to Earth in their lifetime should be kept miles away from nuclear launch codes.

George Will, who is often wrong, is quite good sometimes, however, at stating the blindingly obvious:

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 69: Palin Bombs at the Vietnam Wall in DC

--- by 11 Bravo

OK, Sarah, Now It's Fucking Personal

For some time now, you have been an amusing, albeit mostly incoherent annoyance. But today you crossed a line. With that high cut helmet, carefully designed to allow your professionally coiffed hair to flow freely, you have tried to hijack a moment that you can't even begin to understand. You decided that an event that has for years been intended to call attention to our POW/MIAs would make a really cool photo-op, as well as a great kick-off for your next get-rich-quick scheme.

Well, Sarah, you picked my war this time. I had several buddies, two of whom died within a couple of meters of me, and you zoomed right past their names on The Wall today; winking and smiling all the way. You weren't invited, you weren't welcome, but when has that ever stopped you?

Did you make a few extra bucks for your PAC? If so, I hope that helps you sleep tonight. Because you see, Sarah, my buddies have been sleeping for 40 years; and if they knew that a two-bit grifter like you would one day be making money off of their sacrifice, they might not be resting as easily as I hope they are tonight.

I'm a Christian, Sarah, and I don't say this lightly ... God damn you, Sarah Palin.

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 68: Al Jazeera Interviews Max Blumenthal on Palin's GOP Prospects

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Putting In the Garden

Our target time for putting in our vegetable garden has been Memorial Day weekend since we moved to our house on Neklason Lake in 1995. Usually, the weather offers us warmth and sunshine to work in. Friday, it got up to about 79 degrees F. Saturday, it got into the high 6os.

Above are the trays of plants I grew from seed in the house and greenhouse, hardening outside early last week.

Below is a view of most of what I put in on Friday and Saturday.

In the photo below, beets are on the lower left, corn on the lower right. Zucchini are at the top.

Below are green beans and seven kinds of lettuce.

Below are various kinds of radish, broccoli and cabbage. Off to the right are parts of 14 rows of carrots. Tomorrow, I plant the potatoes and peas.

Catching Up With Erin and Hig - The Most Beautiful Photo of Herring Eggs I've Ever Seen

In April, Erin McKittrick, Bretwood Higman and kids went down to Sitka during the herring harvest. Among the pictures they took was the one above. Erin has made jewelry, and I suspect her art helped inform how to frame this amazing picture of impending life and its unfathomable richness.

Back in 1975, Judy's first trip to Alaska was to help me harvest herring roe on sea vegetables near Bligh Island on Prince William Sound. The beauty of the combination of the roe's transparency or opacity upon the green or gold or brown of the underwater vegetation, especially when gleaming in the late April sunshine in mid-afternoon, was glorious. The rich smell of the loads of herring-laden kelp, as it came out of the water and onboard our skiff was sometimes overwhelming in its signal that life goes on and reappears miraculously.

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 67: I Thought This Was a Parody..... It Isn't

David Rovics' Latest - Israel Geography 101

The shrinking map:

On the Dana Loesch Interview with Frank Bailey - Part One

Frank Bailey's book tour is cranking up. Bailey is very conservative. His co-authors are not. The book, published and marketed by a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster that specializes in conservative Christian inspirational fodder, is looking more and more like an ideological cipher. Although that might be a good thing, Bailey is way too dense to handle explaining what message there might be in this tale he keeps describing as his own personal redemption.

Andrew Breitbart understudy Dana Loesch interviewed Bailey for about 15 minutes Friday. She was not only somewhat hostile, her prep people had gotten her up to speed on some Alaska issues. They missed others, but Bailey seemed ill-prepared to go far from the typical book tour questions he's been fielding:

More later on this interview.

image - Ann Coulter and Dana Loesch

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside Hits Alaska

This evening, at the Snow Goose, the Portland Indie Band, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, begins its Alaska tour, with their only Anchorage gig. Then it is on to Trapper Creek and Kodiak.

They got a good write-up back in April in the Alaska Dispatch. Ben Anderson wrote an excellent, comprehensive article about the relationship between Alaska musicians and the burgeoning Portland Oregon rock scene, detailing the AK roots of Portugal the Man, and the relationship between several local bands and the Outside Indie scene. Ben's article mentions former students of mine who are struggling to make it here, like the multi-talented Winston Monticello, now playing with Turquoise Boy and T.I.A.

Beside the fact that Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside features two Alaskans, drummer Ford Tennis and bass player Tyler Tornfelt, their lead guitar is my nephew, Jeff Munger. Jeff has developed a wide variety of styles to back up Sallie's voice, which is unique, and has been compared to Janis Joplin, Bessie Smith Etta James and Tom Waits.

Their new CD, Dirty Radio, came out last week, and is getting a lot of positive reviews.

They'll be playing at the Snow Goose, beginning at 8:00 p.m.

Tomorrow, they'll be playing at the Trapper Creek Music Festival. Sunday, they will be in Kodiak, for the Crabfest, at the Harbor Convention Center.

Here are two songs of theirs:


Dirty Radio:

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 66: Do Non-Candidates Do Bus Tours Like This?

Sarah Palin's 2012 campaign people have announced a new bus tour, beginning this weekend:

WASHINGTON -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is beginning a bus tour of the eastern United States in the nation's capital over Memorial Day weekend, the latest in a string of moves that indicate she may be moving closer to running for the Republican presidential nomination.

"Starting this weekend, Sarah Palin will embark on a One Nation tour of historical sites that were key to the formation, survival, and growth of the United States of America," said Tim Crawford, treasurer of Palin's fundraising group, SarahPAC, in a statement provided to The Huffington Post. "The tour will originate in Washington DC and will proceed north up the east coast. More information will follow."

Palin will kick things off Sunday by taking part in the "Rolling Thunder" motorcycle ride -- comprised mainly of U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War -- that begins at the Pentagon and concludes at the Vietnam Memorial on the National Mall.

Planning for the trip kicked into high gear only a short while ago. Palin has rehired two former advance aides to President George W. Bush, Doug McMarlin and Jason Recher, to plan the trip and execute logistics. The details of where the 2008 vice presidential nominee will go remain fluid, and have been closely held within Palin's small world of trusted advisers.

Palin has remained inscrutable about her political intentions to all but those who know her best, such as her husband, Todd. And while the external indicators suggest that Palin is increasingly serious about running for president, her aides caution privately against jumping to any conclusions.

But the evidence is beginning to stack up.
Yes, it is. Time for Newscorp to ask her to step down from her role at FOX News.

Mel Green Gets Scholarship to Netroots Nation

I'm Going to Netroots Nation

--- by Mel Green

Mel the reluctant political blogger is going to Netroots Nation after all — on full scholarship through the LGBT Netroots Connect initiative. Wanna know what I said on my scholarship application? Then read this post.

I wasn’t going to go. I didn’t want to go. When I ran into Shannyn Moore at the Bear Tooth back in February, and she suggested I apply for a Democracy for America scholarship to Netroots Nation, I told her that since I was trying to steer myself toward my writing — which feeds my spirit in a way that political blogging does not — I didn’t actually want to go to Netroots Nation. I directed the energy I might have used to fill out a scholarship application toward instead writing a post in support of the candidacy of my friend John Aronno of Alaska Commons — and, because he’s such a great ally of LGBT Alaskans, I asked Bent Alaska readers to support him, too. (And I’m happy to say that John won an NN scholarship in Round 1 of the competition. Shannyn is also going to NN.)

All of that was before I became as deeply involved with Bent Alaska as I now am: a coadministrator and behind-the-scenes geek, as well as an ongoing contributor.

So at the beginning of May, when Jeanne Devon of The Mudflats (aka AKMuckraker) wrote to me about an “interesting opportunity,” I went for it. Yeah, I decided. I do want to go.

The opportunity she put me onto was for a full or partial scholarship under a new Netroots Nation initiative, LGBT Netroots Connect, which — well, let the mailer tell the story —

For the past three years, an activist named Mike Rogers has taken it upon himself to organize LGBT bloggers, organizations and their allies at Netroots Nation. His efforts have been so successful that we’re making it an official part of our program—a new initiative called Netroots Connect.

Netroots Connect will bring small groups of progressives together for a day of strategizing around a particular issue. We believe the conversations that happen here will lead to the next generation of organizing efforts for key progressive issues.

And most importantly, we want you to be a part of it. You can apply to be part of this special strategy day for LGBT bloggers, organizations and allies, which will take place June 15.

Click here to apply for a spot.

The program also features some budget for full or partial scholarships to attend Netroots Nation in an effort to make sure the LGBT community is fully represented at the conference.

The day-long event will bring together those with a stake in a strong LGBT movement—bloggers, key activists and representatives from various LGBT organizations—for a daylong session designed to help form greater strategic alliances within the movement.

As of this writing, the “Click here to apply for a spot” link still takes you to the application form I filled out. But don’t bother filling it out — the deadline was May 6. But feel free to take a look, if you’re interested in the kinds of questions I was asked.

This scholarship didn’t have a public “support your candidate” component like the Democracy for America competition John & Shannyn were in, but I did keep a record of my most important answers. So I’ll supply those to you too.

Write a tweet: Who are you and why should you be at Netroots Nation?

I’m a writer, poet, & deep thinker who aims to educate & persuade with fact & opinion expressed with reason, clarity, passion, & respect.

In 50 words or less, what do you hope to gain from your participation in Netroots Nation?

I recently became coadminstrator of Bent Alaska, Alaska’s LGBTQ blog. I hope to get counsel on how to bring in other writers/bloggers to enrich Bent Alaska with more content from more voices.

In 50 words or less, what do you hope to bring to Netroots Nation as a participant?

I bring my perspective: I’m ambivalent about being a “political blogger” because politics, commonly understood, tends to be about political parties, ideologies, who’s got the most votes. I want a deeper democracy, in which every person has right of participation in any decision affecting her/his life and work.

Blogging/Online Qualification * Scholarship recipients must be a regular blogger with an average of 5 posts per week or engaged as an online activist for 10 or more hours per week.

• I blog 5 times per week on average for the past 4 months.
• Other: I’m principle investigator of the Anchorage LGBT Discrimination Survey (in progress); we plan also to conduct a statewide LGBT community survey.

Website names/address(s)

Do you work for an organization or company working in the on-line arena? Tell us a bit about your experience and the work you currently do.

I’m a 20-year staff member of the Justice Center at University of Alaska Anchorage, where I’m a publication specialist and web manager responsible for our large research-oriented website and online and social internet activities.

In 50 words or less, what issues do you focus on and what issues would you like to learn more about.

I’m eclectic. I write about writing, my life, health and mental health, the justice system, politics, religion, philosophy. Politically, my most important focus, especially on Bent Alaska, is LGBTQ equality. I’m especially interested in unlocking the lock rightwing Christianist ideologues have on religious discussion of LGBTQ people and issues.

Three links * Please enter three blog post links you would like to include in your application. (Important: Do not worry about design issues at all, this is about original content.)

[I also thought about these links, but opted for the 3 above. Actually, I thought about a whole buncha other links too, but opted for the 3 above.]

Here’s your chance…. Anything you want to share that is not covered above? This is the place.

I’ve accomplished some important work in Alaska toward LGBTQ equality, including blogging about the 2009 “Summer of Hate” in Anchorage regarding a sexual orientation/gender identity equal rights ordinance. I’m also known here for some of my in-depth posts on Sarah Palin, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, and efforts by rightwingers to overturn provisions of Alaska’s constitution on judicial selection and retention, among other “political” posts.

But by far the most important work I’ve done for the cause of LGBTQ equality and progressive politics in general is to live openly and matter-of-factly as who I am — as a lesbian, yes, but also as a writer of poetry and science fiction/fantasy; as someone with a B.A. in Religion who continues to be fascinated by the human religious impulse; as someone who has struggled lifelong with depression/despair; and as everything else I am . That’s how I live my daily workaday life, and it’s also how I blog. Thus, I write about all sorts of stuff that I care ranging from day-to-day trivia to philosophical ponderings to the well-researched and documented political. I think it’s important to fight the political fights we fight, but it’s also important to live the lives those political fights are about — and to reflect our lives, with integrity, in how and what we write.

And so, this past Sunday night I got the word: I was in.

I did inform a few people — notably Jeanne Devon, who told me about it in the first place, and my co-admin at Bent Alaska, E. Ross, and my fellow members of the newly created Bent Alaska News Team — but didn’t get around to writing a post about it until now because, well, I’ve been busy writing other blog posts. Oh yeah, and doing some of that writing that I told Shannyn Moore back in February I wanted to do instead of any of this political blogging.

Besides, I also wanted to get my travel arrangements in place. I did that today, with the help of the very activist whose efforts over the past few years led to the LGBT Netroots Connect, Mike Rogers. Turns out that this is the Mike Rogers who’s the managing editor of Raw Story — and a really cool guy who’s looking forward to get an Alaska LGBT blogger down at Netroots so he can grill me about… well, you know which famous Alaskan he wants to grill me about. ;)

Now I really want to go.

You’ll be hearing more about Netroots Nation on both Henkimaa and Bent Alaska over the next few weeks, especially when I’m right there in Minneapolis: one of my obligations as a scholarship recipient is to write at least two 125+ word blog posts per day over the course of the conference.

(125 words? Ha! Think I could possibly ever right a blog post shorter than 125 words?)

Meantime, I want to thank Shannyn for thinking of me back in February, Jeanne for thinking of me back earlier this month, Mike Rogers, for deciding he’d like to meet me in Minneapolis on June 15, and E. Ross, who founded Bent Alaska in March 2008 and single-handedly made it the single most important source of news and information for LGBTQ Alaskans and their friends and allies.

(She really should be going to Netroots Nation herself, but unfortunately has other obligations.)

Bi Bi Pro America - by Noy Alooshe

Don't know if Bi Bi Pro America will go viral, but back in March, Noy Alooshe's earlier remix, the Zenga Zenga Song, did:

hat tip to Andrew Sullivan

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 65: Hannity Pimps The Undefeated on FOX

Although the impending release of Stephen Bannon's film, The Undefeated, has gotten more coverage today, it is mostly from the perspective of "does this mean Palin is going to run?" rather than what I wrote about yesterday, which is "when will FOX News ask her to step down?"

Outside of the closed world of the Palin shrine sites, even conservatives are viewing the descriptions of how this movie is going to turn things around for Palin rather skeptically. Here's Daniel Larison, for The American Conservative:

Palin’s documentary is supposed to “reintroduce” her to the public. It sounds as if it takes the her most tiresome, grating themes of victimization, resentment, and grievance politics and puts them in cinematic form. Maybe this is intended as a prelude to a presidential bid, or maybe it isn’t, but if it is I don’t see how it is going to work.

A sympathetic documentary changes nothing, and it isn’t likely to persuade well-disposed Republicans to believe suddenly that she is qualified for an office when they previously assumed that she wasn’t. As for unsympathetic Republicans, of which there are more daily, the documentary will come across as the latest in the series of embarrassing cries for attention and exercises in self-promotion. The documentary will become fodder for mockery, and it will be one more piece of evidence that Palin should not be allowed anywhere near the national ticket ever again. Palin would retain her dedicated cadre of admirers and supporters, and they would be enough to have a significant impact on the primaries, but rarely would they be enough to help her win anywhere.

The National Journal reports about the film's release timing:

It “seems to be a nuclear strike to preempt Michele Bachmann, who’s [Palin’s] biggest threat,” said Steffen Schmidt, an Iowa State University political scientist. Bachmann, who was born in Iowa, has said she will announce a decision about entering the presidential race in June, but Schmidt said the Palin production may alter her timetable.

“Bachmann is probably not going to want to wait [to announce] until after this movie comes out,” Schmidt continued, “because a lot of conservatives will flock to what’s bound to be a complete whitewash of Sarah Palin that makes her look like she can walk on water. And then Michele Bachmann is sitting there looking pretty silly, because no one’s bothered to make a movie about her.”

The two women, who share a similar conservative constituency, seem to have been playing a cat-and-mouse game in recent days. Hours after word about the Palin movie, first reported by Real Clear Politics, raced through social media sites on Wednesday, Bachmann sent a fundraising e-mail to supporters asking them to donate to a 24-hour “money bomb” campaign that would help “make Barack Obama a one-term president.” Last week, the day after Bachmann grew less coy about her presidential intentions, Palin showed up on several Fox News shows to say she's still "seriously considering" a presidential bid.

Schmidt said Palin's entrance into the race could be the kiss of death for Bachmann. “Even though they seem similar, they are in many respects very different,” he said. “Palin was a vice presidential candidate, and I would imagine she’s raising a lot more money with all her enterprises and TV shows, so she has deeper pockets there. I think if she wants to get in, she’ll be able to choke off the oxygen on Michele Bachmann.”

Ouch! - a catfight.

In Alaska, Jeanne Devon, taking a break from non-stop promotion of stridently anti-choice, anti-union, anti-birth control, anti-women's rights, anti-gay rights Frank Bailey's tome writes:

“Really? You think she’s running?”

I’ve been asked this question dozens of times by incredulous-looking people with furrowed brows.

Yes. Yes, I do.

Devon goes on to list her choice of Palin's reasons:

a) She believes in unforeseen and extraordinary acts of God.
b) She can continue to bask in the warmth of the body heat of cheering people and the golden rays of the klieg lights.
c) She and her new inner sanctum can have fun and slam people they don’t like.
d) They can also make buckets of money.
e) It’s a competition, and “the undefeated” doesn’t like to lose.
More seriously, though, what emerged over the past 24 hours on FOX News appears to be what may be the most brazen attempt by a so-called news organization to promote one of their own employees in a political arena in recent American history. Here's Sean Hannity's introduction of how he is going to be exclusively running stuff from the film:

At my post Tuesday at firedoglake on this, one commenter asked:
When does equal time for the networks become a legal problem? If Sarah is running de fecto and putting this film out in Iowa is a Presidential move then can’t the Dems demand equal time?

FCC regulations should start fining Fox right or will Obama decline to prosecute yet again?
I replied:
If anything, the Obama administration will do everything they can behind the scenes to NOT get in her way. For the FCC or FEC to complain about her whoring on FOX will only play into her followers’ “victim” meme.
Besides that, the Obama administration knows Palin. As Geoffrey Dunn so clearly illustrates in The Lies of Sarah Palin, the day after McCain picked Palin, the Obama camp had more background on her limitations than did McCain's.

In a sense, it's beginning to look like Sarah is Obama's BFF, in that his people know her better than her own people, and welcome her presence in the GOP race. They'd be the last to complain about Palin's continuing presence at Newscorp.

More likely, the complaints will come from her competitors.

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 64: -Cenk on Bailey's Book and the Hat in Trash Episode

Feeling the Ignorance at AIPAC 2011

--- by Max Blumenthal

On May 22, thousands of supporters of America’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, converged on Washington for the group’s annual conference. For two days they watched Democratic and Republican congressional leaders pledge their undivided loyalty to the state of Israel, and by extension, to AIPAC’s legislative agenda. Speeches by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the conference, with Obama attempting to clarify his statement demanding that 1967 borders be the “starting point” for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

I interviewed several AIPAC delegates in the streets outside the conference. While few, if any, of them were able to demonstrate the slightest degree of sophistication in their understanding of the Israel-Palestine crisis, they had been briefed inside on how to respond to critics. No one I spoke to would concede that Israel occupied any part of Palestinian territory; none would concede that Israel had committed acts of indiscriminate violence or that it had transferred Palestinians by force; one interviewee could not distinguish Palestine from Pakistan. With considerable wealth and negligible knowledge — few had spent much time inside Israel — the delegates were easily melded by the cadre of neoconservative and Israeli “experts” appearing in AIPAC’s briefing sessions.

As the day wore on, many delegates waded into confrontations with members of Code Pink and Palestine solidarity demonstrators who had set up a protest camp across the street. With conflict intensifying on the sidewalk, Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin invited AIPAC delegates to express themselves from the protest stage. There, their most visceral feelings and deeply held views about Israel-Palestine crisis were revealed. See it for yourself.

image by Steve Aufrecht

The Hero of AIPAC 2011 and the Netanyahu Politburo Speech

Rae Abilea, the young Israeli-Israeli activist, who was assaulted, tackled, ejected from and arrested for her activities at AIPAC 2011 and Israeli Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu's address to the Joint Session of the U.S. Politburo Congress, is my hero of the week.

Here's a bit from an interview with her by Jay Kernia at CNN's In the Arena:
How did you get into the House of Representatives to disrupt the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

A friend gave me a ticket.

What did you shout out?

I held a banner that said “Occupying land is indefensible” and I shouted, “End the occupation; stopIsraelwar crimes; equal rights for Palestinians.”

Your father is Jewish and an Israeli. Why did you decide to protest?

Judaism teaches us to love our neighbors and work for justice.

I see Israel’s brutal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people as contrary to Jewish values. Because I am a Jew and an American, I feel an added responsibility to speak out against these violations of international law that are being committed in my name and with my tax dollars. My great uncle was one of the first Israeli conscientious objectors in 1948 and I feel I am following in his tradition of non-violent resistance to oppression.

What happened after you protested? There are photographs of you surrounded by what look like security personnel?

As I stood up and spoke out, members of the audience tackled me, covered my mouth and violently threw me to the ground. Several of them were wearing badges from the powerful pro-Israeli government lobby group AIPAC. Amidst the assault, the police came and dragged me out of the gallery. They took me to an ambulance for urgent care, and later placed me under arrest at the hospital.

Also, there were five people who disrupted Netanyahu during his speech to AIPAC on Monday night and they were roughly treated as well. (Video is on the website.)

After your protest, Netanyahu said to his Congressional audience, "You can't have these protests in Tehran," he said. "This is real democracy." How do you feel about his reaction?

It’s ironic that Netanyahu said this just after I had been assaulted by members of the audience, dragged out by the police and later arrested while I was in the hospital. This sounds eerily similar to the alleged democracy in Israel where Palestinians—and Israelis—are routinely assaulted, arrested and jailed for speaking out against the Israeli occupation.
Rae was interviewed briefly this morning on Democracy Now:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The New Float - Part Two

The frame, with the 2" x 4" inner part complete, and the first of the 2" x 8" outer boards being clamped and screwed into place.

Below, my Milwaukee drill motor, which has been one of my tools since I bought it in Cordova, in 1975.

The frame, after being finished, was turned over, and Eric and I screwed the plywood into place, and then put three coats of marine enamel on it. Nice day to do this kind of stuff.

Saradise Lost - Book 5 - Chapter 63: Time For FOX to Ask Palin to Step Out of the News Room

Scott Conroy, one of the authors of the 2009 Palin quickie bio, Sarah from Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar, penned an article today for that gives out more details of what is obviously Sarah Palin's 2012 presidential campaign strategy, than has appeared elsewhere. It is a long article, mostly about a film recently finished by Stephen K. Bannon, titled The Undefeated, that Bannon hopes to show in the early GOP primary and caucus states, in an effort to galvanize Palin's base and others there to vote for her:

"This film is a call to action for a campaign like 1976: Reagan vs. the establishment," Bannon told RealClearPolitics. "Let's have a good old-fashioned brouhaha."

RealClearPolitics was recently given an exclusive screening of a rough cut of the now finished film, which Bannon designed, in part, to help catapult Palin from the presidential afterthought she has become in the eyes of many pundits directly to the front lines of the 2012 GOP conversation.

The schedule of when the film will appear where is highly political:

Bannon intends to premiere the film in Iowa late next month before expanding the release to New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. After the initial rollout in the four early voting states, the filmmaker will eventually release it to somewhere between 50 and 100 markets nationwide.
Bannon met recently with Palin to discuss the finished product, and details of its release schedule:
The result is a two-hour-long, sweeping epic, a rough cut of which Bannon screened privately for Sarah and Todd Palin last Wednesday in Arizona, where Alaska's most famous couple has been rumored to have purchased a new home. When it premieres in Iowa next month, the film is poised to serve as a galvanizing prelude to Palin's prospective presidential campaign -- an unconventional reintroduction to the nation that she and her political team have spent months eagerly anticipating, even as Beltway Republicans have largely concluded that she won't run.
According to Conroy's article, Palin is already using themes from the film in her media appearances:

The film's coda is introduced with an on-screen caption that reads, "From here, I can see November." It is here that Mark Levin alludes to Ronald Reagan as a Palin-like insurgent who was also once distrusted by the GOP establishment.

Palin is then shown firing up a rally that occurred just last month on the steps of the state capitol in Wisconsin. "What we need is for you to stand up, GOP, and fight," Palin, in vintage campaign form, shouts to the crowd. "Maybe I should ask some of the Badger women's hockey team -- those champions -- maybe I should ask them if we should be suggesting to GOP leaders they need to learn how to fight like a girl!"

Following an extended in-your-face riff by Andrew Breitbart in which he repeatedly denounces as "eunuchs" the male Republican leaders who decline to defend Palin, the film ends with one last scene from the April rally in Madison: "Mr. President, game on!" Palin shouts before a martial drumbeat ushers in a closing quotation by Thomas Paine, which also appeared in "Going Rogue." The implication is neither subtle nor easy to dismiss.

In a telling sign of how the film's message has already resonated with her own thought process, Palin made reference to the Paine quotation during an appearance on Greta Van Susteren's Fox News show last week shortly after she viewed a rough cut of the film for the first time.

The film, and its cast of good guys - prominent Islamophobe Mark Levin, racist Andrew Breitbart, among others, will resonate with Palin's base base, but it probably won't resonate at all with a wider audience. On the other hand, apparently the director wants to paint former Wasilla Mayor John Stein as "one of the film's villains." That will be impossible to do without resorting to flat-out lies.

John Ziegler, whose 2009 Palin paean was almost universally panned, wasn't able to help Palin at all with his sycophantic rant, Media Malpractice. Bannon, who is partnering up with both former Ziegler producer David Bossie, and who has gotten - like Ziegler in the past - financial help from Citizens United, may be a more upscale version of Ziegler, but from the looks of the narrative of the film, as described by Conroy, The Undefeated will have a high probability of being the unseen.

Conroy's description of Palin as an all-but-announced 2012 presidential candidate brings up her relationship with Newscorp:

Palin has been tight-lipped about which way she is leaning in regard to running for president next year, but her team of advisers is operating under the notion that they are laying the groundwork for a future campaign, until they are told otherwise.

Palin's future presidential bid might be based in the Phoenix area -- where Bristol Palin also recently purchased a new home -- but Palin's aides have yet to reach out to potential venues for a campaign headquarters in Arizona.

Despite Palin's apparent desire to wait as long as possible before making her decision, aides acknowledge that they will soon have to establish a more campaign-like operation in order to begin a more concerted effort to raise money and take other steps that would be required -- even for a potential candidate as unconventional as Palin.

Meanwhile, the news about Palin's initial effort to commission a film project to highlight her political record is sure to put additional pressure on Fox News to demand an answer from one of their star contributors on whether she intends to run for president or continue working as a political analyst on the network that may soon find itself reporting on her campaign.

Palin will run. It is hard to see any logic in her doing that, but I've been convinced since her disastrous Madison speech last month, that she will run.

My favorite line from Conroy's article?
Even more daunting will be finding a way to explain persuasively just how it was that ethics complainers and liberal bloggers -- whom other politicians in her shoes might have largely dismissed as relatively minor nuisances -- succeeded in forcing her of office.
Undefeated? Nah.

Foreign Prime Minister Gets 29 Standing Ovations Before Joint Session of US. Congress - Compared to Obama's 25 At the SOTU

Watching this right-wing blowhard being adulated reminded me of something George Washington wrote in 1779:
It gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.

Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

Monday, May 23, 2011

TEPCO Acknowledges Three Reactors in Meltdown

TOKYO - TOKYO Electric Power Co, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disabled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, confirmed on Tuesday that there were meltdowns of fuel rods at three of the plant's reactors early in the crisis.

It had said earlier this month that fuel rods in the No. 1 reactor had melted, but officials of the utility, known as Tepco, confirmed at a news conference that there were also meltdowns of fuel rods at the plant's No. 2 and No. 3 reactors early in the crisis.

Thoughts on Obama's Sunday Morning AIPAC Address Lecture

First of all, here's the speech, in case you missed it:

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

I used AIPAC's version of it, because there are several other versions of his speech out there, and this one clearly shows how positively Obama's speech was received, irrespective of the fact that he is the president.

It might not be his best speech, but it certainly was one of his most courageous, in the sense that no previous president, nor this one, has had to address this conference in such a hostile climate. Israeli Prime Minister Netenyahu has repeatedly managed to kick him, Vice President Biden and Secretary Clinton in the nuts or ovaries, and get away with it. When he objected to the way Bibi kicked Biden in the nuts in 2010, the U.S. Senate, including Mark Begich, told him to bite his tongue and take it like a eunuch. His Middle East speech last week was pilloried severely by all the usual suspects and then some.

So was the AIPAC speech. Here's the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin:
He was not booed when he entered; most stood and offered brief applause. Still, the crowd during the speech had long periods of stony silence, and audible boos were heard when he brought up his plan to base an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal on the 1967 border lines. President Obama took nothing back from his foreign policy speech on Thursday and blamed the press for any controversy. He doubled down, making this upcoming presidential election a time for choosing for friends of Israel.

Obama must be very certain that liberal Jews will enthusiastically support him no matter what. And there is evidence he is right. Josh Block, senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and a former AIPAC spokesman, e-mailed: “It [the speech] was a strong reaffirmation of the US-Israel relationship, and was an important and positive change from his remarks on Thursday. It reflected an important continuity of US policy going back to President Johnson.”

This is the sort of spin that pro-Israel Democrats use to justify voting for Obama. But there is a reality that can’t be avoided. This president once again has proved an apt negotiator on behalf of the Palestinians and a thorn in Israel’s side. Now is a time of choosing for the American Jewish community, for Israel and for Congress. And if Obama should be reelected in 2012 one can only imagine how hostile he will become toward the Jewish state.

Here's Pamela Geller, who was there, predictably over the top:

When BHO was introduced, he was given a standing ovation. One has to wonder: if Hitler came to AIPAC, before the world became aware of the Holocaust, would he, too, have received a standing ovation, out of respect for a head of state? No, I am not equating Obama to Hitler; what I am saying is that not every head of state is worthy of respect just because he is a head of state. And many did not stand up. Obama fell off the teleprompter when he was describing Iran as wanting to wipe Israel off the "face of the map." If Sarah Palin had said that they wanted to wipe Israel "off the face of the map," "face of the map" would be the new bumper sticker and the crawl at CNN all through the news cycle.

Once again, he cited "the new generation of Arabs changing the region." As if this new generation of goosesteppers have any other intention than to destroy the State of Israel -- which is why the peace treaty with Egypt is now in jeopardy.

Obama began to whine that his call for a return to the Auschwitz borders was not his original idea. But did anyone really think he was capable of an original idea? His copout was that these 1967 borders had been whispered about behind the scenes for years by previous administrations. But this weak excuse rings hollow. You don't publicly start negotiations with your end position. The Muslims in Gaza, and in Judea and Samaria, have given nothing, have agreed to nothing. Their only movement has been toward radicalization by aligning with Hamas.

There were many more right-wing denizens either claiming he was poorly received or that he had somehow betrayed America.

Philip Weiss thought it to be a better speech than I take it to be:

Today’s speech by Barack Obama to AIPAC was a historic speech, maybe the most remarkable speech he has ever given. For a masked and calculating man, it was incredibly sincere. For just below the politically-hogtied phrases and praises for the Israel lobby that controls his future, it was filled with rage. When he spoke over and over of a Jewish democratic state and then said that the world was changing, and spoke about that Jewish state upholding universal values that Americans also share, I heard vicious irony: You want a religious state, you have the power to demand it of me, because you are the Israel lobby, well time is running out on you.

And when he finished his speech by reminding the Jews before him that we are fellow Americans, I thought it was a jab at their dual loyalty.

The Israel lobby has never been so naked. Walt and Mearsheimer’s estimations of its character 6 years ago look meager now when the Wall Street Journal writes openly of “Jewish donors,” something Walt and Mearsheimer refuse to say, and when Obama begins his speech by reminding AIPAC of what a good boy he was back in Chicago 2004, when he reached out to “Rosey” when he thought abut running, Lee Rosenberg, the slightly cadaverous media executive who brought Obama to the podium today, and is surely hated by many in the room for doing so.

And all the boilerplate of the speech, the endless celebration of the deep ties between Israel and the U.S., came off as so much boilerplate, lobby speak. I know I have to say this, and you know it, too, Obama is saying, but it is boilerplate.

He is angry. I thought he wasn’t going to mention the word 1967 or the controversy it set off the other day. But he surprised me by saying it 3 or 4 times and going right into the controversy. So he is angry at being shown up by Netanyahu, whom he mentioned only once, in passing. He is angry that as John Mearsheimer said yesterday at Move Over Aipac, Netanyahu has taken on Obama three times and defeated him three times.

I agree more fully with Phil's observation:

The beauty of the speech for me was about the Arab spring and the impatience of history.

Obama said that time is running out on the endless peace process. I was abusing him through most of the speech but when he said, "The world is moving too fast," I cried out in pleasure. Obama knows what we on the left know: that because of the Arab spring and the millions on the Arab street whose demands he dignified today, and because of the disgust of peoples everywhere with the American-led peace process-- in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Arab world, as he reminded the lobby-- the world is sick of a Jim Crow state.

Josh Marshall, who sort of live blogged the speech, also thought this was a major foreign policy statement:

Sticks to commitment to policies that will secure Israel's future, even at the expense of opportunistic attacks and political controversy.

Obliquely and with respect to his audience, in his speech to AIPAC today, President Obama also responded to Prime Minister Netanyahu's repeated lies about what President Obama said only the day before.

Just as no man is an island, no country can be either. On its present course Israel is on its way to becoming a pariah state, a status in which it cannot indefinitely or even perhaps long survive. Neither the fact that Israel faces a profound cultural animosity among the region's Arab populations nor the bad faith that often greets its actions nor even the anti-Semitism that is sometimes beneath the animus changes this essential fact. The make-up of the 21st century world is simply not compatible with a perpetual military occupation of another people, especially one that crosses a boundary of ethnicity and religion. Only the willfully oblivious can't see that.

I've had so many conversations with American and Israeli hardliners who say essentially, why give up this land as long as the Palestinians won't do this or that thing? Such folly. As though the settlements of the West Bank were a thing of great value as opposed to a lethal threat. Like you insist on keeping the knife in your belly as opposed to removing it at the first opportunity because someone else you're negotiating with won't do what you want.

Netanyahu believes that US power is forever and that the US political consensus to support Israel in almost any policy choice it makes will never change. So he can simply ignore the currents of history and international affairs and thumb his nose at every other country in the world. But neither is true.

Serious critiques of this speech and its influence on both future Israeli and American policy, and on the budding 2012 contest for big bucks funding are starting to trickle in.

My assessment? People who stridently prefer the views of a controversial prime minister of a foreign country over those of our own president need to be evaluated about those views, no matter which foreign country that might be. Israel is no exception.

Obama brought more into his speech to AIPAC, in terms of attempting to deal with religion, tribal passion and the bottom line of Democratic Party campaign funding, than any politician or candidate ever has. In that sense, it was a very courageous speech.

I was pissed when I listened to it the first time, that he did not give Palestinians the humanity they certainly deserve. They're struggling against oppressive regimes as much as any disenfranchised population in the Middle East. I don't mean the Israelis so much as Fatah, Hamas, and the failed non-state that is the Palestinian authority.

Nor did he put his foot down on the fucking elephant in the room - the Israelis announced huge expansions of West Bank settlements this past week, and will no doubt announce more in response to the AIPAC speech. That would have diminished the power of the lecture, though.

It was a lecture.

A surprisingly well received one.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Diane Woodruff Makes It Official - Four in Wasilla Mayoral Race

Joining hundreds of people from all across the political and community spectra, who came by Alaska political and constitutional icon Katie Hurley's Wasilla house for a fundraising garage sale Saturday, was Wasilla City Councilwoman, Diane Woodruff. She is letting the word out this week that she is certainly in the October 2011 Wasilla mayoral contest.

She joins Bristol Palin's ex, and the father of Trip Johnston, Levi Johnston, council woman Taffina Katkus, and current mayor, Verne "REDDI" Rupricht.

It will be a tough battle for Diane, who has gained a solid reputation as a sensible moderate who hates government waste and projects that don't make sense.

Levi Johnston has a lot of, uh, name recognition, which counts. Wasilla has chosen poor candidates over solid ones in the past (see 1996 and 1999, for instance), after all. Johnston has so far failed to file his February financial update to his campaign information, which is mandatory for anyone who filed last year.

Katkus has sort of made this a one-issue negative campaign against the current mayor, who everybody seems to see more often in the local bars than in the mayoral office. And Ruppricht is involved in more than a few fights lately that will make it hard for him to get much positive press in the near future - the REDDI stuff, his request to have Wasilla employees treated differently by police dispatchers than other citizens, and the outdoor rifle range controversy, which is even angering many local gun advocates, and may be getting way too expensive over the growing legal battles associated with it.

More on this race soon. Judy managed to get a first paperback edition of Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird for a dime at the sale.