Sunday, August 31, 2008

An extraordinary night

We're waiting in Seattle now, and the Democratic National Convention is really over for us. With all the news in the past days, the Republican VP pick, hurricance Gustav, what happened in Denver has been pushed back.

I've had trouble trying to put it into words, and feel almost as if I am doing a disservice to the whole night in trying. But of course, I will try!

But what happened in Denver has been a long time coming. How incredibly appropriate for the the first black man to be nominated for President of the United States to accept his nomination on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Martin Luther King III had the whole crowd silent for a moment, then erupt into appluase when he said that his father would be proud of what was happening, proud of Barack Obama. Just 45 years ago, to the day, a man gave a speech that resonated around the world, dreaming of a time when people of all colors would be seen as equals. Maybe we are not "there" yet, but I really do wonder if Dr. King could have imagined this coming true, and that his own son would be there to mark the day a black man would be nominated by millions of people, all around the country, as their choice for President.

I was looking forward to the presentation they were going to give about Dr. King for weeks. But I was not prepared for how emotional I would be just watching the video about him. I wasn't the only one.

The screen flashed images of the times, the hosings and arrests, the "White's Only" signs, the marches, the images of a time that really wasn't so long ago. Dr. King's words were played throughout the video.

I found myself thinking of the signs that used to be up in Alaska: "No dogs or Indians," signs I knew my grandparents and great-grandparents saw as part of their day. I thought of the struggle in Alaska for Native people to be accepted, first as citizens, having to throw out their culture just for the privilege of doing so. I thought about their struggle for equality, to be given an even chance at education and livelihood.

Here we were, in a convention in which the "minorities" were the majority. I, a mixed Tlingit/Athabscan woman, sitting next to a half black, half white girl and a man from Ethiopia. The Alaska delegates were a majority of women, (as was the convention as a whole) with black men, Alaska Native men and women, white men and women - all sorts.

One of those Alaska delegates was Cal. He surprised me the morning of Obama's acceptance speech by being introduced as someone who had been there, 45 years ago, at the march on Washington. He heard Dr. King's speech, and he would hear Obama's speech.

When he spoke, he spoke about the time, and what it meant. He spoke to the Alaska delegation about a different time, but we could see it through his words.

Two members of the Alaska delegation were there on that day 45 years ago, and I couldn't help but wonder if they saw this possibility then, coming in their lifetime.

I asked Cal today if he imagined at the time a black president within his lifetime. He at first said he didn't really think of it at the time, and then realized that just the idea that it wasn't thought of meant no, he didn't really think of the possibility of a black president. He said that being from the south, at that time, listening to that speech, that what really felt more possible was getting someone in office - a white man - that would speak for them, an advocate.
I asked him what he was thinking of during Obama's speech, and he said he wasn't really thinking of the people present - that he was thinking of all the people who had gone before, the people who had died who worked so hard for exactly this.
I can't help but echo what he said in what I was thinking during much of that last night. The people who had gone before, who worked so hard to see this result, and so much more to come. I thought of my grandmother's work in Alaska Native education and rights, I thought of those who came before her, of Roy and Elizabeth Peratrovich and the countless Native civil rights activists. I thought of my grandmother's mother and father, a white man and a Native woman. An auntie had once pondered what my great-grandfather and grandmother had done, walking through town where one could go inside a store, and one was not allowed.
During the Dr. King presentation especially, I finally got the full meaning of the phrase, "Standing on the shoulders of giants."

After many, many speeches and presentations, the crowd erupted again when they began to show a video of Barack Obama - a little bio of his life. First, an "Aww..." for a baby picture, followed minutes after by more when Michelle was talking about him (At first she just thought he was a nerd with a funny name, before he talked her into dating.)

You got a real sense Barack as a person after the video, and the crowd knew who was coming next...

I don't know if they actually announced his name, because as soon as a glimpse of Barack Obama - the crowd roared. I also don't know how long he was standing there as the crowd wouldn't stop cheering, but a pretty long time.

I have tried to describe the speech, but come up with really inadequate words like, "awesome" or "inspiring." It was not just an exercise in emotional speech-giving - you got a real sense of this man's intelligence and fervor for change with his words. The most touching part, again, was his mention of Dr. King. I won't slice the speech hear, but will post it when I get back to Alaska tonight.

The man on the right was from Ethiopia, now living in Denver. He was on the edge of his seat during the whole speech, and I don't think anyone realized how long the speech was - we could have listened to much, much more. Although we just met, after especially good points, or very astute observations, he would look at Morrigan and I and just go, "Wow" or not say anything. Such was the case around the arena. Everyone wanted to share the experience with everyone else.

I talked to several people after that were not that supportive of Obama before. They believed the hype that he was all rhetoric, no substance, or that he was just some winner of a superficial popularity contest. What they saw, listening to the speech, was quite the opposite, and everyone had changed thier minds when I talked to them. He told everyone exactly what his plan was, and just how we, as America, could get there. More importantly, he pointed out that it wasn't going to be just him - it was going to be all of us, working together, to get it done.
I had done my research months ago, not wanting to be a part of some "celebrity" emotional pull, and knew his background, knew his substantial plans for things little and big in the country - including a great plan for First American issues. But listening to him that night, you get the greatest sense of how intelligent this man really is, and just how big the plans for change he has for the country are. When he said that this campaign has not been about him, it has been about "you," it was not the ring of empty rhetoric - you know he meant it, because that is what the whole campaign is about. He touches so many people through his speeches because he is merely backing up the actions he has taken for so long.

What I finally understood on the last night of the convention, was that this really was a celebration. It was a process, yes, to officially elect Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee. But it was a celebration of who we were electing, why we were electing him, and a rememberance of the years that came before. The years in which this kind of election would have been impossible.
Everyone I spoke to imediately leaving had something of the same reaction - "He just has to be President."
It is this sense that no less than the fate of the world actually hangs in the balance that many of us left with. But not in the fear-promoting kind of way so many employ - we did not leave with worry that if the other guy won we would be fearing for our lives, or concern that our lives would be over.
As Obama so aptly reminded us, a young preacher, 45 years ago could have spoken of fear and anger. He could have played to all of our worries for ourselves and the country. But he didn't. He spoke of dreams like "hope" and "change," and reminded us, black, white and in between, that we can. We can make the impossible possible, we can live in a world without anger and hate, and it is ourselves, it is the people that will do it.

I am sure I have not done the speech, or Obama justice, and, wading between the news of the GOP VP pick, the hurricane, and everything else, there is actually quite a bit about this historic night, and this great man. Here is one article I really like from a former Hillary supporter, her "conversion" after going through the convention. On that note, it still amazes me that there is so much in the media about how "separated" the Hillary and Obama sides are. You certainly got no feeling of that in the convention - there was a gennuine feeling of unity, with those who were against it on the far, far minority. I hope you will spend some time examining Obama, his background and his plans.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin - Alaska Native issues

As the madness ensues, with the bizarre pick of Palin by McCain, we spent our last full day in Denver trying to be tourists - trying to take a mini-break from the political zoo this has become. It didn't work so well - pretty much everyone that found out we were from Alaska had questions about just who this "Sarah Palin woman" was: "Who is she? Is she any good?"

Up until yesterday, I was not too pleased to discover what Alaskan's were politically known for in the Lower 48 - the Ted Steven's indictment. I had thought it would be ANWR - but no. It's Ted.

Until yesterday, of course. When McCain chose Palin, all of a sudden we found ourselves answering the question, "Who is she and what has she done?" over and over.

Unfortunately, the TV news crews were scrambling, and in the meantime just shot off whatever they could find out (I swear they were using Wikipedia or something.) Own the Sidewalk commented on an earlier post: " media report I've seen since the VP news broke has been able to sum it up without error or significant omission of fact."

No kidding. I wanted to tear my hair out just listening to all these things that really, I don't know where they're pulling from. Even a Palin supporter I talked to in Alaska was wondering why on Earth they just seemed to make up facts as they went along.

One of the more frustrating for me as an Alaska Native woman is how much is coming out now about Todd Palin's Alaska Native heritage. Not that it is mentioned that he is a quarter Alaska Native (and that her children are an eighth.) But that it is being used as if this means Todd and Sarah will, by default, be supportive of any Alaska Native/American Indian issues.

No way.

Grassroots Science sent me a whole slew of media reports mentioning, or even playing up, his "native Eskimo" heritage.

Let me try and make a comparison about why it is so frustrating to have this mentioned in the media - when I am so proud of Alaska Native people and want to see our causes forwarded:

I am proud to be voting for and supporting the first Black/Mixed race President. But I am not voting for him because he's black. I'm voting for his ideas, his plans, his experience, his obvious desire and will to change America for the better. "Any black man" will not do. He's the man for the job, and it's a bonus that he will also be breaking the racial "glass ceiling." But he's done plenty for black America, from legistlation on racial profiling to his work in Chicago - he was a civil rights lawyer!

But this is the kind of stuff that concerns me about the Todd Palin mentions (from the Baltimore Chronicle):

Married to a native Eskimo, and with four mixed-race children, she can
expect to appeal to many non-white American voters, on whose support the Obama campaign is counting.

I cannot stress enough - Sarah Palin has done nothing for the Alaska Native community - a community that includes her own children.

Any venture into the Alaska Native community has been superficial at best. I can't even take issue with her Alaska Native policies, because she has NOTHING of substance. She has ignored Alaska Native people from before she took office as governor - an act all the more harmful because it is her own children's heritage she is not acknowledging.

The only thing I know she's "done" for Alaska Native people - fire them. Or not hire them in the first place. The more recent one is Walt Monegan. I absolutely don't believe she fired him because he was Native - I believe she fired him because he wouldn't fire her ex-brother in law- despite the investigation that had already been done on him, with findings and reprimand.

The most troubling part of all of that was, here was a man who was finally doing something about the horrible rates of violence and abuse in Rural Alaska - and for Alaska Native people. He was passionate about these issues. So she fires him. To "go in a new direction." The problem was, she hired a guy to replace Monegan who had been reprimanded for sexual harrassment. And she never could explain what that "new direction" was.

I don't know what Sarah Palin's views on Alaska Native issues are, mostly because she hasn't said what they are. She's skated by without addressing those issues so far. But before she fires any more staffers for personal reasons, she needs to remember we're here, and that these firings can affect Native people in a big way.

Correction: Grassroots Science pointed out that Todd Palin is Yup'ik and not Inupiaq, which I previously reported - or rather, re-reported from what other media were saying (should have known better.) I only knew that he was a BBNC shareholder - which is in Yup'ik country, so I really should have known!

You must watch this! Palin/John Stewart video

Kodiak Konfidential posted John Stewart's take on the Palin VP pick - nothing like taking the truth and showing just how tragically laugh-out-loud this pick is.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dem Convention Final Night #1

I tried to blog last night about the last night of the Democratic National Convention - Barack Obama's acceptance speech - but literally fell asleep at the keyboard. I jerked awake in time to type an "I'm tired" message, and slept until abruptly awoken by Celtic Diva about the whole McCain VP thing. We knew McCain was going to announce his running mate today, but I didn't think any of the likely picks was going to make much of a difference. Of course, that's before they picked our Governor, Sarah Palin. I've posted plenty (and I'm sure there will be more) but what I experienced this past week, and last night, goes so far beyond this desperate VP pick.

I will be posting multiple times about this convention, and will cover Barack Obama's part of the night, and the honoring of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 45th anniversary of his "I Have a Dream" speech, on their own posts. It was too incredible to try and even capture in a blog, but I'm going to attempt the impossible anyways.

When we heard that there was no way we could do a live blog from the last night (there was no hookups,) I was wondering if it would make any difference being there. From my time at the Pepsi Center (the venue for the first three nights of the convention,) although the experience of being there was incredible, being there in-person with all these great speakers, bumping elbows with some of America's best and brightest (or sometimes just famous,) you miss quite a bit about the speech itself, mostly due to audience applause, that you would see better on TV.

There is also a bit of surrealism, in that they doll up the podium area so much, with such great lighting, that you kind of feel like you're watching TV anyways. Not quite touchable, though you're just feet away. I was glad to say I could be there for Hillary's incredible speech, feel the energy of the crowd, and really be impressed with her words. But I still had to watch some of her speech online, to get what I missed from the audience applauses. Would it really be better to actually be there when Obama accepted his nomination?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

The whole thing, start to finish, I will remember forever. Though we were waiting for eight hours, though it was the longest line in history, though we had seriously nosebleed seats and were seated behind the podium, though it was hot and I think at some point I was suffering from altitude sickness - I would do every minute again, ten times over, just to have been there for this amazing, incredible, humbling, historic... well, not enough adjectives - moment.

I believe there was a lot about the line on television. We got a bit of an abrupt wake-up call after we got off the ridiculously crowded train (pics and posts on that ride later!) a stop earlier, because the line went all the way back to the further station.

My sister says the news reported the line was six miles long, and that is very easy to believe. We went earlier enough it wasn't that bad for us - probably about a mile long, and we were in line for a little over an hour and a half. There were some people who literally got in the door minutes before Obama's speech.

It was like 'Nam... but not really.

This is actually a shot from after the speech. We were lost in the wilderness of Denver. Didn't even know there was wilderness down there - but we found it! This was a grass field until thousands of speech-goers trampled through, in what I was slow to find out was not a clear direction. There were so many stations and roads cut-off by the Secret Service that even Denver-ites didn't know where to go to get home.

More on that, and the adventure of battling Denver creatures in the woods, later.

One of the reasons the line was so long - all the security checks. Although there wasn't quite as much security as I thought (it wasn't even as much as you'd expect at an airport,) there was about a million checkpoints.

One not-so-airport part of the security measures were the Secret Service - snipers!- on top of the stadium. They were staioned all around the top, and though sometimes they seemed kind of lax, the pair taking turns, they were extremely alert when some of the big names - Al Gore, Joe Biden, and of course, Obama - were speaking. They'd be looking both in and out of the stadium with binoculars, toting around big rifles.

The speeches have started, so why are huge sections of the stadium empty? If you look in the back, they're in the crazy long line to get in. The place was standing room only by the end, but it took right up until Obama gave his speech to get there.

The jumbo-tron reads "In the event of an emergency: Move away from the stadium."
Thanks for the tip.
There was a long presentation about just what to do in the event of some "emergency." Seeing as there's no earthquakes in Denver (so said our hosts,) it made me a little nervous to think of what those emergencies could be.
Of course, being at the tippy, tippy top of the stadium, when they explained the long process our section would have to go through to to get out, one of those seated by us commented, "So basically, if you're in this section, you're dead." But what a way to go!

Shawn Johnson! Yeah! She just did the pledge of allegiance - didn't speak outside of that - but the crowd was with her! The recent gold medalist also was one of my favorites for simply doing her part facing us. We were directly behind the podium, so I have a lot of pictures of butts and backs!
It was actually kind of neat getting a totally different perspective. We saw some of the behind-the-scenes stuff, and it didn't feel like you were just watching something on TV.

One of the best renditions of "Star Spangled Banner" I've ever heard! Really, Jennifer hudson was awesome! She put a little of her own spin on it, and her voice was beautiful.
To top it off, when the line "...and the rocket's red glare/the bomb's bursting in air" came up, they let off these "red rocket" fireworks off and scared the crap out of all of us. Yeah!

Because we were directly behind the podium, we could see the teleprompter and every word the speakers (and even singers) were supposed to be saying. And not everyone stays on - sometimes they mess up big time! But I won't tell who... much! :)

Morrigan waving a flag. Everybody who wanted one was given an American flag, and later an Obama "Change" sign.

When we told her we were going to be sitting in the nosebleed section, she looked horrified:
"You mean my nose is going to have to bleed!?"

Go Alaska! The "guest pass" Alaskans all sat in the same section way up top - or should I say way up north? :P Sorry.
I don't know that our cheer when they mentioned Alaska was all that heard - but we sure did our best!!

Oh, those creative Alaskans! They're taping together sticks from the American flag to hold up the big Alaskan flag. One of the security measures beforehand was that you couldn't bring in any sticks or signs.

John Legend and! Yeah!
They recreated the Obama "Yes We Can" song from the viral video that it seems like everyone has seen. If you haven't, or just want to enjoy it again, check it out on YouTube. Best video ever!

I had just seen Sheryl Crow at the "Green Sunday" opening of the convention, but this was a little bit different tone. The concert was more... well, a concert. She was a bit more serious in this, even opening with her song, "A Change Would Do You Good." The second song she did, inspired by the Dalai Lama, I didn't catch the name to. It put everyone in a pretty serious mood, reflective.

This sign language guy was jammin'!
He was fun to watch. The other sign language lady was kind of bopping and swaying, but this guy was gettin' down with the music!

Stevie Wonder rocked the house!! While the other acts made you think, got you inspired - but Stevie Wonder got everyone on their feet and moving!
This was funny - the VIP's and speakers come out of these little doors underneath the podium/walkway. During the other performances, they stayed clear. But when Stevie came out, all these senators, congressman and other VIP's poored out from under the stage to catch his act.

The sun setting as Al Gore addresses the crowd. Fitting, as he spoke about Thomas Jefferson's assertion that sun energy would be the future.

It was nice to be able to see the granddaughter of Dwight D. Eisenhower... but she kind of lost the crowd. It was hot, we had already listened to a lot of speeches, and she was kind of all over the place. She had good remarks, but got a little overshawdowed by... well, pretty much everybody.

What an incredible night! Once the whole crowd was in, the energy of the place was just amazing. I don't know how many spontaneous chants broke out ("Yes We Can!" "Fired up - Ready to go!" "O-Bam-A!") but it was easy to get started a any provocation.

I don't know how well they played on television, but the "average Americans" chosen to speak were major crowd favorites. Their personal stories touched more people, I think, than a lot of the big-time speakers.
At one point, one of the average Americans - Barney Smith - started getting cheers by name, "Bar-ney Smith!!" Even Gore didn't get that!

I'll be posting lots, LOTS more about the convention, especially about Barack Obama's acceptance speech, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute. I was also able to attend the last breakfast meeting of the Alaska delegation, and will post about that.

Rural Alaska and Palin

Grassroots Science posted this in the comments below, from the Fairbanks Daily News Miner (one of the larger Alaskan newspapers) about how unqualified Palin is. Opening line:

Sarah Palin’s chief qualification for being elected governor of Alaska was
that she was not Frank Murkowski.
She was not elected because she was a
conservative. She was not elected because of her grasp of issues or because of
her track record as the mayor of Wasilla, an office she won in 1996 by
collecting 617 votes.

Grassroots Science also posts:

I guess the repubs are breaking out the epoxy to repair the cracks in the ceiling.

If anyone wants to know what thoughtful solutions Palin brings to
today's (and tomorrow's) complexities, they should watch her Charlie Rose
interview with Gov. Janet Napolitano.

If anyone wants to know what she has done for rural Alaska (real
Alaska) tell them the indigent scientist for the Unorganized Borough needs a
job. A $1200 sop will not do.

It is a return to the late 70s, the beginnings of the current
Bush-Cheney era and more of the same ol' tired rhetoric with concomitant action
for the few.NB-- just because the election sounds like a no-brainer, that's
exactly what a lot of turned out voters prefer. It's no time to let ourselves
and our neighbors down by "coasting to victory"

What she has done with State Troopers - i.e. firing an incredibly competent and great commissioner in Walt Monegan - has directly affected Rural Alaska and Alaska Native people. Monegan, an Alaska Native man himself, was the first one in a long time to really begin addressing the incredibly high rates of abuse, violence and other social problems in Rural (Bush) Alaska. He was getting the ball rolling, but after only a year and a half at the job, Palin abruptly fires him because "she's going in a new direction." The direction she went was with a new commissioner who had already been reprimanded for sexual harrassment. Not much hope he'd be tough on the sexual abuse, of which Rural Alaska suffers from the highest rates in the nation of.

As far as Alaska Native issues go, the only substantive things Palin has done for Alaska Native people and Rural issues is fire people that are actually getting the job done.

What Alaskans are saying about Palin for VP

Alaskans know Sarah Palin best, and I've heard a lot going both ways. 'Course, I'm down here in Denver for the convention. But what I've seen so far today from talking with, e-mailing and texting friends, family and many interested persons back home.

My talks with Alaskan Democrats:

"But she doesn't have any experience!"

"Is it because she's so pretty? Because she can't help him out any!"

"...totally a desperate grab for the Hillary supporters. I sure hope they don't bite."

"I was going for Hillary, but I sure hope she comes out against Palin. Hillary is what we need in a women candidate. Palin is just a beauty queen. Talk about playing to 'celebrity'! She must be his Paris Hilton pick."

"I liked her when she started out, but she'll just be another corrupt politician in D.C."

"Do they know she's under investigation? Guess they don't care.

My talks with Alaskan Republicans:

"Holy crap! Are they crazy? She isn't qualified!"

"She just became governor after being mayor of Wasilla! How does that mean she should be VP, first in line for the presidency."

"I voted for her for governor, and depending on what they find with the whole scandal thing, I might vote for her again. But I wouldn't want her to be vice president."

From the Anchorage Daily News comments:

"I am all for Gov Palin But Mccain just made Obama the next president."

"Palin is known for being a maverick? Since when?"

"foreign policy experience
im sure BP sent todd and sarah to mexico, once or twice.."

"Any woman will do?
Did McCain just make the political calculation that grabbing the nearest female governor would reel in the Hillary Clinton votes? Isn't that kinda disrespectful of the Clinton supporters? Hey, look, we've got a woman over here!"

"I will vote for her because...
She is pretty, she is a woman, she was raised in alaska. she doesnt have much experience but she can hire who ever she needs to make the choices for her. she looks like a model."

"watch the investigation go away
All of a sudden, the republican investigation of the republican governor won't be a priority.
Thanks, McCain, for taking care of that."

Get the facts about Palin

The news reports are driving me insane. They keep highlighting her with these crazy things that so many people in Alaska are going, "Really?" right now. The Alaskan's I talked to this morning:

"Really? Well, that's one way to get her out of office."

"Seriously? But she doesn't have any experience!"

(A text message from a Republican friend) "WTF? But she hasn't DONE anything!!"

No kidding.

The media reports:

She's known as a reformer.
She was HOPED to be a reformer. The investigation she is embroiled in has already shown her to be just as corrupt as all the other Alaskan politicians under investigation, indicted or convicted. About two seconds into the investigation, they already found her to be a liar.
She kept saying over and over no one in her administration pressured Walt Monegan to fire her ex-brother in law, and not under her command. Then the tape comes out that her administration did, and why did it sound like he was doing so because Palin asked him to? "I don't know." Seriously. That's the answer from both Palin and her lackey.

She has just as much experience as Obama.
The bulk of her "experience" in big politics is mayor of a small town, with no diversity, who has done nothing for the Native people of Alaska (okay, threw that in their, but we make up nearly 20% of the population under her guidance, and she's still done nothing.) For as much as the McCain campaign has been toting inexperience as the reason Obama should not be a leader, they must really be expecting Palin only to be eye candy, to have her do nothing, and just pray McCain stays healthy enough to remain in office, so she won't have to actually do anything.

She's a champion for women.
Look at her record. She is getting the credit for being a mother and, well, being a woman. Like most of the women in the country. Yes, she's a mother, but just like being a POW doesn't mean you are qualified for being President, toting her motherhood as part of her VP resume is condescending to women. Women are smarter than that. She hasn't done anything for women except be one, and under that criteria, I'm qualified to be VP. Just as McCain asserts people shouldn't vote Obama in just because he's black, he wants us to vote in Palin because she's a woman.

She fights corruption (from McCain himself!)
You can't fight corruption if you're corrupt yourself! She's UNDER INVESTIGATION!
Goodness know I was rooting for this governor when she first took office. Although I didn't vote for her, she looked to be doing some good. But the past year she has been showing more and more of who she really is, and has disappointed so many Alaskans. Her administration has already been shown to pressure Walt Monegan to fire her ex-brother in law, after she adamantly denied they did.

Palin's inexperience, McCain's hypocrisy

“So I think it’s inexperience and judgment and vision … for the future of this country. And I think that’s what this campaign is gonna be all about,” McCain said when asked what he sees as Obama’s biggest weakness.

“I have the knowledge and the experience and the judgment to lead this nation," McCain said. "My opponent does not.”

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Sunday Barack Obama’s overseas visit is only serving to highlight the candidate’s inexperience in world affairs.

Lieberman on Obama's Russian/Georgia stand, "one had a kind of moral neutrality to it that comes I think from inexperience."

The McCain keyword for the campaign has been INEXPERIENCE. Despite what President Clinton pointed out them saying the same things about Obama's youth and inexperience as they did about him, the McCain talking points have only ever been INEXPERIENCE, INEXPERIENCE, INEXPERIENCE.

So he picks a running mate with absolutely no experience in Washington, with the majority of her political experience coming from a small, extremely NOT diverse town in Alaska?

I love my state, I love Alaska, and it's flattering to get so much attention to this state (for something other than corrupt politicians.)

But choosing someone who is showing herself to be corrupt is only putting her investigation under the spotlight, and McCain is showing his flip-flopping self again, desperate to compete with a much more passionate, intelligent and popular opponent by hypocritically choosing the most INEXPERIENCED running mate he could have possibly picked.

Confirmed. Palin. Crap.

In a truly desperate choice, McCain campaign insiders have confirmed it's Sarah Palin for his VP choice. McCain must have known he had to pick someone that would look good on TV - a young woman who used to be a beauty queen. He had to pick someone that could compete with Obama's "celebrity."

His biggest argument about Obama goes out the window - experience. SHE HAS NONE. Mayor of a town of less than 6,000 sure doesn't count. Governor of a state she's already under investigation under sure doesn't add to the resume.

I admire Hillary - she's a smart and powerful woman with a great background. McCain is trying to pick a republican Hillary Clinton. Palin is not it.

As an Alaskan who had high hopes for this governor, NO, NO, NO!

More info from a Republican who is one of Palin's bigger rivals, and broke the story about her own corruption, Andrew Halcro's blog.

Sarah Palin??? NO!!

Celtic diva just woke me up on a tip she got - CNN is reporting that they believe our governor, Sarah Palin is going to be the McCain VP pick.


After his whole argument being based on Obama being inexperienced, he would choose someone who was mayor of Wasilla, and governor less than two years? And under investigation on something we've now seen went on??? She's being investigated for abusing her power - so I guess maybe it makes sense that she would be trying to step into the shoes of Bush/Cheney.

A desperation choice if it's true - he wants the Hillary vote, and doesn't care if she has so little experience (certainly far less than Obama!) and is under investigation. That she was mayor of a town with barely 5,500 people does not mean I want to give her the keys to the Oval Office. That she's been governor for less than two years, and already under investigation, is no reason to expect she can step in and run this country.

If you're not from Alaska, you may not know that Palin has recently been acccused of firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan because he would not fire her ex-brother in law, a State Trooper. Although denying anything of the kind, tapes came out about a second into the investigation that members of her administration, did, in fact, try and pressure the Troopers into firing him. She's getting a whole lot of credit for not being Gov. Murkowski - as a "reformer," all she had to do was come in, be a beauty queen, and follow a corrupt governor.

I as all for giving Palin the benefit of the doubt. Following Murkowski, anybody that wasn't him was a relief. He didn't even win the primary. But over the past year and a half, she's been showing her true colors.

Let's hope CNN is reporting incorrectly on a rumor - can you imagine total disaster that would befall us if Palin were a breath away from the White House? She's been absolutely hostile to the Southeast Alaska region - she won't even live there, in the capital. She's made so many decisions to favor her own area - the Mat-Su valley, and spit in the face of Southeast.

As someone nobody outside of Alaska really knows about, they don't know the woman we have come to know. She's going to get a lot of credit for being a woman, being pretty, being young, and coming in after a governor everyone hated.

This Alaskan is not voting for Palin.

Too tired to write

I will post on attending Obama's acceptance speech tomorrow - I am too tired to post anything more, but what a night.
This man must be president.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Catching up on the convention

While we're watching tonight's coverage, I'm trying to catch up on the sheer amount of information and visuals from last night. Tonight has already had its share of surprises, but Celtic Diva is blogging live from the convention tonight and can fill you in on that.

Though one of the first surprises was that Alaska still gave three votes to Clinton. From what we had been hearing, this was not going to happen. Linda's on the case, so keep a lookout on her blog. This pic is of Patti Higgins at the Alaska information station - where Alaska gets its information from some mysterious place within the convention, as well as where Patti, and Alaska, cast Alaska's votes for Obama tonight.

Hillary, of course, the other surprise, but I'm sure that will be analyzed in about a thousand different ways on as many different channels, so pick one to see it all go down!

There was an excellent bit honoring women tonight, noting that over half of the delegates for the convention are women!
This is also the case for the Alaska delegation. The Alaska delegation is represented by a majority women, and is This is last night's women's caucus Barack-in the Vote.

Nobody's kidding when they talk about the most diverse convention in history. The majority are actually minorities, not to mention the majority of women. I'm still surprised when I see some of the younger delegates, too. They barely look old enough to be out of high school!

I spoke with a young delegate from Minnesota who talked with a great amount of knowledge about who and what she was representing, and had a lot of energy for everything she wanted to accomplish.

A reporter from a daily Denver newspaper, Rocky Mountain News, who's interviewing me. The bloggers are getting a lot of attention. On yet another historic venture for this convention, the bloggers are representing in huge numbers!

This reporter actually interned at the Anchorage Daily News, before going on to quite a few other papers, and now Denver. He was there at the tail end of the whole Times/Daily News scuffle.

Former DNC chair Terry McAulliffe was a bit of a celebrity at the convention. He was being followed around by cameras wherever he went, but he made sure to stop by the Alaska delegation to talk about Mark Begich.

He knew the primary was the same night, and spoke with a few of the delegates, mostly cheerleading Alaska on to "Get that Senate seat!"

If you've wondered at all about all the various signs you see being held up in (kind of) unison, they get handed out by the whips shortly before the person you're supposed to hold them up for. It is not at all a spontaneous process - in fact, I think they've complicated it to the utmost!

It's not just handing a sign to wave during a general period. The signs will get handed to the delegation, and they'll say something like, "Wave this about four minutes in, after he says this key word." Or, "Wave this one when this congressman says this word, but don't wave it while he's waving this."

The red and blue signs saying, (blue) "Obama - the change we need" and (red) "McCain - more of the same" were the most complicated, as far as I could tell. The delegates were supposed to wave them only during a specific speaker, and the red ones were only after he said something negative (McCain), the blue if he said something positive. Only sometimes that was switched, so there were keywords to listen for. Most everyone kind of gave up.

Alaska stayed pretty on top of it, though, in part due to the efforts of Alaska delegate Cal Williams to keep everyone on task. He would listen to the speech, and on keywords shout, "Red! Red!" or "Blue! Blue!" Every once in awhile he would spot somebody waving the incorrect sign at the wrong time, "You! Not blue! Red! Red!"
I must say I was having a hard time paying attention because I was laughing so hard.

One of the other people highly amused by these signage efforts was this gentleman, Ambassador Friis Arne Petersen of the Royal Danish Embassy. He would even try and help, chuckling as he heard a keyword and tried to get the Alaska delegate's attention (yeah, we missed a few ques.)
I'm not totally sure what Ambassador Petersen was doing - he did a whole lot of note taking, and listened in on the speeches and the goings-on around him. We talked about Greenland, and similiarities between Greenland and Alaska both with environment and people (Inuit, Inupiaq, etc.) I believe this was an environmental mission of his, but I can't help but think he was taking notes on the craziness of a Democratic convention and reporting back about nutty American politics (like we'd disagree.)

Both funny and frustrating today

Is Morrigan really that interested in Alice Germond and Nancy Pelosi?

No! She just spotted her mom on CSPAN!

Alaska is cast most of their votes for Obama (3 for Clinton.) Did everyone check out the button blanket!?

Morrigan just got a prepaid cell phone today, and is already banned from calling her mother anymore. She called her for the first time when they were about 30 seconds out the door.

Morrigan, at least, is very anxious about this vote. She's concerned, and wants to make sure Obama gets the nomination.

The Alaska delegation has been getting a lot of attention for thier kuspuks, and are pretty easily identified by them, too. Although I do not wear one of the "official" kuspuks, I wore my own yesterday, and was stopped a few times - everyone knew immediately I was Alaskan.

Sure beats those funny hats.

As we settle down to "watch for Morrigan's mom" (Celtic Diva will be covering the live blogging from the convention today,) she got a kind of funny look as the priest gave the opening prayer. In his prayer, he prayed that everyone would "bow their heads in thanksgiving" for bringing everyone together.

Says Morrigan, "What does Thanksgiving have to do with any of this?"

As for even more additions of Native Americans in the convention schedule, Robert Moore of the Rosebud Sioux tribe just sang the national anthem. And way to go Idaho! They named off all the tribes in Idaho as they gave their votes! Montana also mentioned they had the most Native American delegates of any delegation. There have been more and more references to Native American delegates or history (the birthplace of Sacagewa!), and our host just said, "There's been a whole lot of Native American mentions during this."

Yeah! We rock!

Morrigan sang every word along Moore. And I think a few additional words. She's actually still kind of singing.

Along with laughing, I've been doing some cringing as I check on the Alaska political scene. For the non-Alaskans checking in, Alaska held the primary last night.

So far:

Dem. U.S Senate -

Mayor Mark Begich with 84% of the vote! Yea!

Rep. U.S. Senate -

Sen. Ted Stevens with 63% of the vote

(A lot of people here are surprised that Stevens pulled off the primary, but Alaskans pretty much knew that there was no way he was going to lose the primary. The general on the other hand... Go Begich!)

Dem. U.S. House -

Ethan Berkowitz with 53% of the vote

Diane Benson put up a great showing with 37%, and everyone down here in Denver is proud of her!

Rep. U.S. House -

Too close to call!

With all but two precents reporting as of writing this, only 152 votes separate Congressman Don Young and Lt. Governor Sean Parnell. There are still several thousand absentee ballots to be counted, so this will be drug out for awhile.

The ballot measures, I won't even talk about.

Alaska Delegate reactions to Hillary in Denver

For the two of you that don't know, Hillary Clinton addressed the Democratic National Convention crowd tonight (technically last night, at this point.) I've never heard a longer standing ovation!

Honestly, I just wasn't that much of a fan of the whole "Clinton for President" bid. But after hearing her speak, I could see her making a real nice VP. Her words were both moving and forceful - "high expectations" is a bit of an understatement for the speech. But pretty much everybody leaving there that night was impressed with some aspect of the speech - whether it was specific words, rallying calls, or the woman herself.

Governor Tony Knowles -
"She's a powerful political symbol and leader... It was a seamless transition from her to Obama."

I spoke with Alaskan Clinton delegate just before Hillary took the stage. When I asked her how she felt about Hillary addressing the convention:
"Thrilled... I expect her to bring unity to the party, to the decision. I expect her to blast McCain, and the things he's doing. I think she'll get people pumped up - she's a great speaker. And let's face it, she's a hero to the American woman... I just believe that this is a good thing."

Representative Lindsey Holmes:
"I thought Hillary knocked it out of the park."

After hearing the speech myself and talking to so many people after Hillary spoke, it amazed me to come back to where we were staying and hear so much about delegates that were unhappy. In my limited view, delegates unhappy enough with the way things went to not vote for Obama were the extreme exception - not at all the rule. In fact, the only delegate I saw that was still adamant about Hillary for President was on TV.
Much more the case was the conversation about how the speech was exactly what was needed. From the convention floor as it was cleared, from the long walk to the buses, in the long wait for the buses, and on the bus ride back - Hillary supporters were thrilled, and Obama supporters were impressed. Even somewhat cynical news crew members around us were grudgingly ackonwledging that it was exactly right.
The only flaw I can see is that she gave the speech on Tuesday - there's two full days of speakers who are going to have to compete with that, including President Clinton!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


With all this attention on the national politics, there's still big news coming in the local (state) politics! I'm not hearing the greatest news coming from the primaries in Alaska, but that's just the earliest looks.

Grassroots Science posted this - she got a Yup'ik "I voted!" sticker! The decision about Yup'ik language help with voting was so recent - how great is this!

Go to Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis

If you're looking at this during the convention Tuesday night, head over to Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis. I'm live blogging from there!

But if you haven't voted yet (in Alaska) go vote!

Everybody loves Begich

Or at least all the convention-goers love Begich! From all across the nation, these Democrats love to talk about Mark Begich.

I assumed people would not know him by name, being an Anchorage mayor. Although everyone is mentioning the Stevens corruption (more on that later in the week,) I figured that Begich would be more known as just "the democrat" that is finally really challenging Stevens - and not well-known outside of Alaska.

Boy was I wrong.

From the more expected places, like the AFL-CIO rep at the delegate meeting (see earlier post) shouting (and I mean shouting!) "God bless Mayor Begich!" - to delegates to press to people we meet on the street and light-rail, the people are rooting for Begich. Some of them have asked us to "Tell Begich, 'Good job!'" or "Tell that Mayor of yours to keep it up!"

I met these two gentlemen (above) when they were talking right by me, and I overheard the name "Mark Begich." The guy on the left, from Trick or Vote (actually a pretty cool idea - take a look) laughed when I interrupted and asked if they were talking about Mayor Begich - "You must be from Alaska!"

But the guy on the right, the one who brought up the name Begich, is from London! (That's like the third guy I've met from London...) He's absolutely certain Begich will take the election.

These are two Texas delegates, and were so excited when they heard we were from Alaska. They are cheering on the "red to blue" movement, but were really cheering on Mark Begich. They gave us some encouraging messages to take back to him (I think everyone also assumes all Alaskans know all other Alaskans,) and actually knew a decent amount of his political and personal background.

Celtic Diva wears a Begich button, to which I've witnessed a few, "Mark Begich... hey, are you from Alaska?"

Just yesterday alone, I talked with people from Wisconsin, Colorado, California, Washington (state), Tennessee, Florida, West Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon, Iowa, Maryland, Texas and England who all knew of Mark Begich and his run for the U.S. Senate seat, and were cheering on Alaskans to get him there.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Remember to check out the live blog!

Although I will be covering various aspects of the convention, the "live blogging" from the convention floor will be done on Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis - she's the credentialed Alaska blogger. I will be going on the Pepsi Center floor Tuesday (for Hillary!), but will still be doing all the live blogging from the Blue Oasis. I will post more "niche" type posts later on my own blog.

The live blogging will roughly be between 1pm (probably more like 2) and 7pm ALASKA TIME.

And is there something you want to know about the convention? Right there on the floor? Do you want to hear from Alaska delegates, other state's delegates, Dan Rather? :) Do you want to know about the security, the speeches, those silly hats?

Let us know!!

Your Alaska Delegates

The Alaska Delegation met this morning at 7am sharp for breakfast, updates, guest speakers and credentials. A lot of confusion with the constantly changing convention schedule, abrupt transportation cut-offs and with only a few spare credentials and passes.

Celtic Diva will solely be covering the breakfast meetings after this - at $25 for guests, I have to bagel it.

This national rep from the AFL-CIO got the Alaska crowd fired up! Especially with:

"Thank God for Mayor Mark Begich! He could be our 60th senator!"

Delegate Brockhurst - one of the "young" delegates - watch for him on CSPAN!

Guess where the Alaska delegation rates in the delegate "green" challenge? 100%! The Alaskan delegation has been great with carbon offsets and making sure they are all green!

Julie Anderson, a rep from the Obama campaign, came to speak to the Alaska delegation. She focused on the environmental message of Obama - that he's introduced a bill to raise fuel efficiency standards, wants to increase tax credits for hybrid and electric car owners, and, for Alaska, would like to look and incentivizing renewable energy.

And then she said the "A" word....

That's right, ANWR. Specifically, "I don't think Sen. Obama believes that is an appropriate place to be drilling at the moment."

Now, she did get a cheer from one of the delegates, but for the most part... well, do you know the whole "elephant in the room" analogy? I was wondering if anyone would say anything. I needn't have feared.

Well Alaska, if you're wondering if your Alaska delegates are working hard down here - wonder no more! They were all over the ANWR issue. I mean ALL over it.

Some of it was in regards to off shore drilling versus on land.

Delegate Rex Okakok, "ANWR is my neighbor. We strongly believe we can safely develop on-land drilling. But on off-shore drilling - we should not even talk about it... Think of those of us that breathe and live and eat because of that ocean before you even think about off-shore drilling."

Delegate Blake Johnson first asked Anderson if she'd been to ANWR, if anyone had. When she said she hadn't, but would like to, he made sure to say, "You need to come up and see it. Reserve judgement until you do."
Several other delegates commented on drilling (ANWR, off shore,) as well as Pebble Mine. Anderson said that Bristol Bay had come up quite a bit from the Obama campaign in Alaska, and they were looking to address it further.

The delegates received their bags and credentials at the end of the meeting. The fun part about the hotel the delegation is in - the delegations from Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and Minnesota are also housed there.

Delegates Chuck Degnan and Rex Okakok. This is Rex's first time as a delegate:
"The weather took some getting used to. But today - today I feel good."