Friday, November 21, 2008

They will rest in peace... but we have work to do

Yesterday, I lost a coworker and a friend. She was young, not yet thirty, a person of snappy humor and great ideas. She could be both strong and strongly empathetic. And the hospital corridors filled to bursting with people who will miss her so much.

People were still calling and finding phone numbers to tell them about this incredibly untimely death when we were given another blow.

On the same day, almost exactly twelve hours apart, another sudden death of a coworker. This man, a man who mastered both respect and experience, was one of the few people you could say that everyone who met him liked him. He was an advocate, and a man who sacrificed a lot for a cause he believed in.

As we wrestle with these shocks, as we fight to keep our breath under the weight of the double blow we received on one day, I am engaged in my own battle between sorrow and anger. These two people did not have a lot in common, except in their death.

Both deaths were directly due to alcohol.

It was not their fault, and so it is not an anger that we direct at them. Maybe an anger later, at arraignments, at denials - but for now, everyone I speak to is moving between feeling so deeply, deeply sad, and so angry. The anger is directed at everyone and no one - most do not understand their anger, and many have moved beyond the anger into an uneasy numbness.

I am starting to understand my own rage tonight. It is the anger of being robbed, the anger of an injustice that no matter what, will never be made "okay." It is the anger of two lives taken from us, with no purpose, no reason. It was not fair, it made no sense, and there is nothing we can do about it. It will not be made right.

I was treated recently to a presentation on the high rates of alcohol in Alaska. People talked so neatly, succintly about The Problem. But I wonder, would more help come if our leaders could see the face of it?

Would drunk driving stop if all those future offenders could come and hold the hand of a mother who must decide what color her daughter will wear to the grave?

Would treatment be made more available, and easy to get to, if the funders were in the same room with coworkers literally throwing up in their grief?

Would we all be less judgemental, and more empathetic to an alcoholic crying out for help, if we witnessed friends desperately trying to get to their friend's side to say a last goodbye before the doctor turns off the life support?

Would we go out of our way to help them if we knew how many friends couldn't make it in time?

When I first saw my friend in the hospital, she was clearly suffering, and I felt so much sadness for her, a helplessness to help. I didn't want to see her after she died. I didn't want my last memory of her to be the look of suffering I saw. But when I did see her, truly at peace, her hair in braids and her mother by her side, I no longer felt sorrow for her. She was truly "resting in peace."

There has been, and will be, anger at what could have been, what should have been, but the heaviness I felt was for the dozens of people surrounding her. The people who miss her so acutely, who will cry for the loss of her again tonight, and many nights to come.

I don't have the answers today on how this must stop - I only know that this must stop. Yesterday these two wonderful, funny, caring, passionate people were with us. Today they are not. And it was entirely preventable.

The regret of the much, much longer lives they could have lived will be with me, and so many others, for the rest of my life. Today I can only pray this drives me forward, doesn't hold me back. That the people will never just be statistics, that those needing help will never find my arms unwilling.

Though reality and wishes don't often match, I never want to experience another day like yesterday. And I don't want to wake up on another morning like this morning, realizing that no, it was not all a nightmare.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Soon-to-be-Senator Mark Begich's to-do list for Obama

Can I say one more "Yea!" for Begich!?

With the win over forever-Senator Ted Stevens a certainty tonight, I want to emphasize just how much I believe our new Senator is going to get done. He's always got something going on, a new plan, new implementation of something, and I don't know how many times he's pushed something ahead and I've gone, "Ooh - good idea!" He's a smart guy who surrounds himself with smart people.

I hope to soon be sharing his accomplishments and hard work in D.C. One of his most recent newsletter announcements (before the win was certain):

Begich Offers “To Do” Suggestions for Obama. President-elect Obama should develop a national energy policy and visit Alaska to see first-hand Alaska’s enormous energy potential and our unmatched natural beauty. That’s Mayor Mark Begich’s suggestion for two items on the new president’s “to do list” requested by MSNBC. Begich was among 205 mayors in 48 states who responded to the news network’s request for what Obama should focus on. “As America’s energy storehouse, Alaska should play a central role in supplying our nation’s energy needs, including the oil and gas beneath ANWR and development of Alaska’s enormous natural gas reserves," the mayor said. As the only state he has yet to visit, Begich invited Obama to Alaska. See the full story at:

#64 - #62 Top 100 Bush Moments

In honor of the big celebration so many Alaskans are having tonight, and in honor of Sen. Stevens birthday, I'm offering up some of Bush's celebration/birthday moments.

#62 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

The man really can't dance, but that sure doesn't stop him from trying... all over the world...

#63 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

This has a bit of the above dancing as well, but I really like the second, much, much more awkward dancing. You can just feel the "get me outta here" dripping from him. Maybe it's not Bush's war policies and active destruction of other countries that makes him so unpopular - maybe it's the lack of groove...

#64 Worst Bush Moment

And of course, Bush's most famous birthday debacle, the Hurricane Katrina birthday party. On the day Katrina hit, this shows what Bush was up to...

Happy Birthday Ted.

On this, the 85th birthday of Uncle Ted, the era of Ted Stevens is over.

I thought I'd feel a little sad, as I did on his conviction. As I said that day, he HAS done a lot for the state, and he was fighting for Native rights when it was unpopular to be doing so. Although he deserves to lose his seat, and be exposed for what he's done, it was sad to see such a long career ending on such a note.

Instead, I'm happy that Alaska made the right choice. Mark Begich will be a great senator, and I can't wait to see what he gets done. It really is a time for change, and I think Alaska has been lagging behind for too long. Our new president will have the help of a great Senator, and I can only hope Begich will enjoy a long, successful career in the United States Senate. I know our country, and our state, will be the better for it.

But I recognize that people will disagree with his politics, my politics, etc., and Alaskans tend to vote strongly Republican, and esepcially strongly Ted Stevens. Though it was close, Alaskans were able to cross party lines and NOT vote in a man convicted on seven felony counts. There is a limit, and I'm glad Alaska found it.

I'm also glad for Stevens. If he can just accept this, he won't end his career being kicked out of the Senate. I don't care whether he goes to prison or not - I think the legendary status and respect he's lost is enough of a blow for this (very old) man. If sentenced to prison, Steven's will have earned it, but I think Alaskans were able to deal the real justice.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Michelle Obama and "just a mom"

I heard one more comment today about Michelle Obama and her "mom in chief" statement - her plans to be focused more on the girls than anything else right now. So many people - democrats! - are talking about her either selling out, Barack's "poor" view of women for making her take this role, the bad example she's showing young girls by giving up her own practice to "just be a mom", the sexism that is still "clearly" given in this.


I thought we could move beyond all that. At least that's what I try and tell myself when I see my friends defending their decisions to "just be a mom" and not have to "work." When did it become mandatory for a mom to go outside her own home to find an outside job? Like child-rearing isn't the hardest job on earth? ESPECIALLY if you're doing it right.

Yes, Michelle is an accomplished woman with more than a small ability to go do good works and make a statement in the business, medical and/or political world. But to villify her as backwards or not enough of a feminist in making the decision to focus on her children for the time being?

I wonder if these will be the same people to villify her if she chose to start up a practice and then "ignored" her kids.

It is arrogance to think we can choose the best way for another family to raise their children, and the people who think Barack is making his wife stay home should say that to Michelle's face, and see whether she thinks Barack is "making" her do anything.

I didn't really like the movie "Mona Lisa Smile" except for one big point they made in it. Through the whole movie, Julia Roberts is challenging these smart young women to become more than just a trophy wife. For the most part, she succeeds in making several of them choose careers, not settle for a husband who treats them bad, etc. But one woman, who gets into law school, chooses to start a family and stay home with them. When Roberts tries to talk her into going one last time, thinking she's throwing her life away, the girl reminds her that she taught them they could be anything they wanted to be. This should include "just being a mom."

I worked in child care with low-income families for several years. Many, many of the parents - mom or dad - would give their right arm to not have to get an outside job, and instead focus on their children. Study after study comes out that says the child is best off if at least one parent can stay home with them. So why is it such a horrible, anti-feminist thing for Michelle to focus on being "Mom-in-Chief", as she says?

I think between being "just" a mom, and being a lawyer, she chose the more difficult one. I want to send her a congratulations for choosing her children. I would love it if more families chose this route, and would love it even more if more families were able to choose this route. Hopefully, we will soon live in a society where both parents don't have to get outside jobs. They can choose to get an outside job, or choose to stay home, but aren't forced into either.

And though this goes into the realm of judging another family's child rearing choices, can you imagine what those two girls are going to have to deal with for the next four to eight years? I moved a lot when I was little, and that is life changing for a child in itself. But to move into the biggest, brightest spotlight in the world, where you better do good in school lest your "F" on a spelling test be plastered on the Internet, where the choice of your family pet is front page news around the world, and you have a bunch of new black-suited "friends" whose job it is to keep you from neo-Nazis and KKK who want to kill you and your family? I commend Michelle for wanting to see them a bit settled in.

For that matter, I commend both Barack and Michelle - my guess is neither of them makes all the decisions, and it is unfair to think Michelle got "told" what to do. I just needed to hear one interview of hers to know this is not a woman who gets told to do anything.
Picture from the Daily Mail.

#65 Top 100 Bush Moments

#65 Best (or Worst) Bush Moments

This one kind of gives you a two for one - I really hated watching Bush debates because of the constant smirking and "can you believe this guy" expressions of Bush. Well, that and his constant lying and inability to answer. But I love that this one shows both the lying in the debate, and the carelessness of Bush about Bin Laden just six months after 9/11. He "didn't really think about him" that much.

I can gaurantee Bush that a whole lot of people in America were thinking about Bin Laden quite a bit six months after 9/11, and thought it was pretty important. And I don't think it's stretching it to say there just might be a few who STILL think about him... regardless of what the president thinks.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Secretary Speculation

Okay, I’ve seen a new “short list” (who knows how these things are actually playing out) and I must say, my mind is askew now on the potential Secretary of the Interior selections.

I’ve seen a lot of comments on how the Secretary of State, Defense, etc. are the “real selections,” the big ones to try and get, or Commerce for that matter, but the other ones aren’t just placeholders! For most Native people, the Department of the Interior is a shadow over you from birth. It holds the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and can have a great sway in Native life.

I first mentioned this when it looked as if one of the Secretary of the Interior short listed people could be Alaska former Gov. Tony Knowles. Nothing like our current governor, I promise. Has been quite involved in Native issues, not to mention major land management issues. Although he disappointed many Native people at the end of his second term, he has a strong history of supporting Native issues and Native people.

But now I’ve heard another hat thrown in the ring for Secretary of the Interior, and that’s Gov. Bill Richardson. Although I’m not as familiar with him as our former governor, he’s well known around the “Native nations” for his strong support of Native issues in his own state. He’s impressed me quite a bit this past year with his common sense approach to many issues, and the many, many, many occasions on which he appeared to campaign for Obama. He's een mentioned for both Secretary of State and Secretary of the Interior.

Now, I must admit there’s a Tony Knowles home state bias here – I’ve met the guy! (along with half of Alaska). But I would call it victory if Gov. Richardson got in, too.

After listening to the news about Hillary on the short list as well, I wonder that she’s not on the short list for Secretary of Health and Human Services? I KNOW, I know – it’s not the prestigious one, but really! Hillary’s baby is her health care plan – why not let her go for what she’s passionate about?

Of course, that’s not the way politics works… but hey. One can dream.

And John McCain a possibility? Really? This is sounding more and more like a TV show I love...

#67 - #66 Top 100 Bush Moments

#66 Best (or Worst) Bush Moments

Hang on country, just a little over two months to go... A few examples of the Bush justification and indignation.

#67 Best (or Worst) Bush Moments

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It takes a village... No really. It actually takes a village.

The Anchorage Daily News highlighted this Delta Discovery article, "Moms on Patrol".

Seems that the mothers of Akiachack (recently highlighted in the New York Times and the Yup'ik language vote court battle) are taking to the streets to get the kids home by curfew. It's making a difference in the children's school attendance and alertness already.

From the article:

“Oh, absolutely yes, the attendance got better,” said Kristen Peterson, who is the Literacy Coordinator and 10th grade teacher at the Akiacuarmiut School. “It is hard to enforce curfew in the village - the kids can run, the police do their very best but they are also doing other things. The kids were staying up later and having a hard time getting up in the morning and they were oversleeping or they wouldn’t come in at all. After we started walking and patrolling and telling them to get home, we noticed that attendance in the morning classes were better, definitely improved.”

Although I moved away from Rural Alaska by the time such an age beset me, I remember my sister and cousins adhering to the very strict curfew policy. The time I spent there one summer in high school, EVERYONE reminds you of when curfew is. And it works. I forget what time it was - I'll say 11pm, but by the end of the summer, the minute that clock hits 11 and you're not where you're supposed to be, it's programmed - you must get there, and you must not get caught.

Kudos to these communities taking "small" but hugely important steps to making sure their children are being raised right

#68 Top 100 Bush Moments

#68 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment with 68 days to go to inauguration!!

Bush doesn't realize we can hear what he's saying to Tony Blair, but I'm actually less concerned with that (he always says stupid stuff) and more asking, "Were you raised by wolves!?"

I have a "Don't chew with your mouth open" pet peeve, and Bush made my hit list.

Don't count us crazy yet! - UPDATED!

Begich (D) is now leading (convicted felon) Stevens (R) by THREE votes!

Per the Anchorage Daily News:

The elections division still has over 10,000 ballots left to count today and thousands more through next week, but the latest numbers show Mark Begich leading Sen. Ted Stevens 125,019 to 125,016.

The new numbers, reflecting nearly 43,000 absentee ballots counted today, are from all over the state. Election night, Ted Stevens led the Democratic Begich by about 3,000 votes.

The huge democratic push for early and absentee votes is paying off huge!

UPDATE: By the way, Begich won his first mayoral election by 18 votes! Just sayin' - the man can pull it off!

NEWEST UPDATE: At 8:37 Alaska Time (about 12:37 a.m. ET) the Anchorage Daily News announced it was 132,196 to 131, 382 - Begich leading Stevens by 814 votes!!

Palin's blogger comment

I was annoyed at Palin's comment (I heard it last night - believe it aired the day before?) about bloggers, but this post on Open Salon was pretty good about it.

The clip (below) was basically a comment discrediting (all?) "false allegations" against her (which seems to be her new favorite phrase now that the terrorists, Ayers and lipstick words have gone the way of her vice-presidential candidacy.) These false allegations are to be discredited because the media probably got it from some blogger sitting in their parent's basement in their pajamas.

This reminded me a bit of the community organizer comment she made (useless and mean-spirited) but a bit dumber. She might be reminded of that quote:

"Don't pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel."

She's taking on "the media," "journalism," and now bloggers too? What's funny if you watch parts of the Matt Lauer interview, she goes between blaming the media for the loss and (no kidding) talking about how she wished she could have done more interviews because the media is how you get your message out there.

From the Open Salon post:

And the irony is that her worst moment with the media in the campaign just concluded came not from a blogger in pajamas, but from well-dressed Katie Couric on mainstream CBS, who asked Sarah Palin what newspapers she read, and she couldn't name a single one.

Maybe she was getting her news from some blog...

I really don't think she understands that when you take a huge bunch of people, lump them all into one and dismiss them - or mock them, as she seems to like - it doesn't help your case any.

#69 Top 100 Bush Moment

#69 Best (or Worst) Bush Moments

The Vacation President

I don't know if we have the vacation logs on President Bush, but I think he thought the last eight years were kind of his retirement job. It doesn't say this in here, but for every month he works, he has a full work week off (with some to spare)?

I want the job that lets me do this.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Law and Order references Palin's family

Did anyone catch Law and Order: Special Victims tonight?

It was a story about a group of teenage girls who made a pact to become pregnant. One of the girls eventually commits suicide.

But one of the girl's excuses about "What's the big deal?" about teenage pregnancy is the "vice president lady's" daughter is pregnant.

The slew of pop culture references Palin and her family have spouted grows... though this is the most serious and to-the-gut commentary I've seen so far. The mention is made right before one of the detectives goes on a long monologue about the dangers of teenage pregnancy.

Remembering our veteran's today

There's not a whole lot I can say on Veteran's Day. I, like so many millions of Americans, have family and friends in Iraq, Afghanistan, or returned - or not. My cousins, my prom date, my high school classmates. What do I say to honor them?

I really can't. I've channeled my energy into what I believe would help them most this year, and that was getting the right people elected. Candidates who promise to only use our troops when absolutely neccessary.

Now that (mostly) all the campaigns have stopped, I quickly realized that was the easy part. Now, it's about making sure those officials are going to do what they promised.

To really show our veteran's we care, lets make sure they are taken care of before they leave, while they are serving, and when they come back.

It's not about putting a flag up and calling it good. Make sure the candidates we've elected are looking out for our soldiers, looking out for our veterans.

#70 Top 100 Bush Moment

For 70th day until Bush is out, this is another one that is not very funny - but Bush seems to think it is. It reminds me a bit of the Oliver Stone movie "w." that recently came out. A lot of people were thinking it was going to be a comedy - a lot of Bushisms. And you could definitely laugh at him in the beginning. But through the movie, you start to see just how not funny it all is.

This clip can be a bit jarring - the funny music with clips of our fallen soldiers and victims of the war. But it is meant to be. We cannot excuse Bush's war if he just says "oops!" and laughs it off. It's really, really not funny.

Monday, November 10, 2008

#71 Top Bush Moment

71 days to go until we have a president who answers questions! AND understands the questions...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Coolest election photos ever

Click on the photos to make them bigger.

Obama checks two things off my list in one press conference!

I was very pleased to go to a link Mudflats had pointed out, and be reassured how much President Elect Obama rocks!

I had posted a few days ago that one of my "honey-do" list items for Obama was to keep up what he's been doing with the Internet outreach, the accessability of his campaign, so it could really be a government "of the people, by the people and for the people."

It took a few seconds of joy before just getting really excited about the fact that he's done just that.!

It is not something just flung up in a few days, so his people have clearly been working on just that. You can check out the issues, get the news updates and blog, apply for an Obama administration job, and (my favorite parts) there are a few places to share your story, and share your vision for the country.

What made me even happier was to listen to Obama's first press conference as President Elect. It is something that he mentions just briefly, but it made me take notice - he joked that the puppy issue was the most commented on issue on the Web site. Seriously, have we ever had a president who was aware what people were talking about on the government Web site? For that matter, have we ever had a president that in touch with how the world is working?

Okay, I doubt seriously that Obama is scanning the blogs each night as he goes to bed and checking the forums, but hey, nobody burst my bubble on that visual.

One item checked off my list already....

But there was another item he already addressed, and that is the all-important puppy issue. As tongue-in-cheek as you can get about the gravity of this, it was actually a funny-topic-but-it-would-show-a-lot-about-leadership kind of idea to get a puppy from a shelter. How tickled was I when Obama announced in the same press conference that they would like to get a puppy from a shelter?

Check a second item off the list. Okay, so he hasn't actually done that yet, but I also get that it might be hard to be sure you're getting a hypo-allergenic one from the pound, so I'm getting him a check on this one prematurely.

I would also like to repeat my plea for the serious consideration of former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles for Secretary of the Interior. I PROMISE you that he is NOTHING like our current governor. Really. I would never have thought of this until I saw the possibility in the news, and as soon as I saw it knew how perfect it would be. Or he would be.

And America, make sure you check out the President Elect's site. I've also attached his first press conference.

#72 Top 100 Bush Moment

#72 Worst Bush Moment

Not a funny one today - this is certainly one of the things Bush needs to be remembered for though.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

#73 Top 100 Bush Moment

#73 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

Rehearsed? Most likely. But funny? You betcha! I will try and remember Laura Bush this way most.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Honey Do List from Alaska for Obama

I've tried very hard to put to words the emotion of the last few days, but I give up. Maybe in the following days, but really, I haven't seen anyone that has put it to words yet, so I'm thinking it's impossible. Anything I've attempted just doesn't seem big enough.

Instead, I'm going to follow my future president's lead and knuckle down to work. Well, I'm going to get to work doing all the things that have gone to the side in my own neck of the woods (and for the non-Alaskans watching national news, you'll see our election isn't over yet) and I think his mind is on other matters.

But while he's making all his plans, I'm stealing a bit from Rachel Maddow and doing up my own "honey do" list. I'm not putting the obvious, like "health care" and "please stop the economic apocalypse." Some of these have been touched on, some of these haven't, some have only become really apparent in the last few days. There's a few local, mostly national, but I hope that in four years, most of these have been accomplished.

1. Pass the Indian Health Care Reauthorization Act
This Act has been stalled for 11 years - going on twelve! It is not an act many know - or really care - about, except for those it addresses. This act finally passed the senate this spring, but Bush has been threatening to veto it for awhile. It has to go through congress, and my hope is that President Obama will see it safely through. Native people across this country have truly horrible health care conditions, and they are in need of modern policies and laws.

2. Fix Head Start
I want to see No Child Left Behind abolished and general preschool/early childhood policies bettered, but I think fixing so much of what Bush did to Head Starts (hugely impacting to Indian Head Starts) is something that hasn't gotten quite as much attention. Head Start is proven to work (and we can argue that later, if you are so inclined) and it is in trouble.

3. Continue the grass roots candidacy to the grass roots presidency
Part of what Obama had going for him was this amazing organization of ordinary (and extraordinary) people. One of the things that impressed me so much when I went into the Obama campaign headquarters here was the organization and community of such huge things. I hope he'll keep his Web site, the interactiveness of it, the organization of the campaign, and develop new ways to keep people involved. My mother commented that this made her want to work for the government in some capacity - can you imagine that comment just three days ago? Although we can't (and shouldn't) all work for the government, in a country created "by the people, for the people, and of the people," we can all be involved. Meaning - don't let this just be a presidency of Washington D.C. - make it of the United States.

4. Keep the promises about Native American policy
This includes the top advisor appointments, really sitting down to talk with Native leaders and communities - and not just the superficial kind that so many predeccessors have tried. Talking frequently and about real issues. This is an easily ignored population because of the small numbers, but the hope and promises of the campaign MUST translate to action in the White House. This is the deal breaker - and the only thing that will keep me up at night until I see movement. I know, I know, it's only been about five seconds, but Native people across the country have only hopes to go on with this. There has never been a president that truly sought and achieved the best for the Native people, and Obama could make a first for this to. He already gave us a "shout out" in the acceptance speech, now some good appointments and policy!Which brings me to number five...

5. Appoint Gov. Tony Knowles to the Secretary of the Interior!!
Okay, this isn't really a deal breaker for me, but really guys, give Alaskans a chance to show the world that we don't only elect corruption and ineptitude. Gov. Knowles was a twice-elected democratic governor in an extremely republican state. He was very popular - still is - and as Secretary of the Interior (for Natives, this translates "overseeing the Bureau of Indian Affairs") he could have a major impact on Native issues. There was some division in his Native support at the end of his career (strong support for most of it), but I believe this was less because he "betrayed" anyone, and more because he was never a single-issue politician. He would make and EXCELLENT choice - trust me on this guys! As much of an embarassment as Palin was for Alaska, Knowles was and is a source of pride, as well as a smart and capable candidate for this position. The released short list for this position is excellent, but Knowles would be GREAT. PLEASE Mr. President, I beg you as an Alaskan wanting to redeem our state, give us this chance!

6. Get the puppy from a pound
Okay, not exactly a deal breaker either, but I heard this was an idea, and I hope it is true. In one fell swoop, you've made a statement for animal rescue and you've made your daughters happy! Two-fer! This actually underscores some hints at environment and animal policies Obama already made, something I hope he'll be a real leader on. Leading in both big and small ways will go a long way.

7. Be a leader in true care for our veteran's
Again, address the big and the small. I'm counting on Obama to end the Iraq war, but I'd also like to see more than just words about how good veteran's are. President Obama can be a leader in how they should be treated before deportment (their families, their education, their training), while they're serving a tour (big - funding for what they need, choosing quality defense leaders, seemingly smaller - encouraging "small" things like care packages and caring for families while they serve), and after they get back (health care - including behavioral health care, transition care)

8. Make healthy living for children not just a good idea, but a priority
This means making healthy food for schools affordable and popular, getting physical education pumped up, getting creative ideas to encourage "fun" again (including things like the WiiFit for kids, etc.), getting parents involved - basically help to make being active and healthy popular. Junk food marketing outspends government health education by something like 20 to 1 - the answer isn't always spend more, but clearly we can do something here.

9. Take a look at the Alaskan rural energy crisis
I know, this is something the state is supposed to look at, but our governor is NOT looking at it. She may be forced to soon, but we need some more pressure from the federal government, or rural Alaska is going to go down, and I don't mean in twenty years. There is already a village in Alaska in which all the resident were encouraged to move out due to them not being able to pay for the city energy bill - and our governor did nothing. Although this will probably mean something more in policies about energy all around, I encourage you to visit some of these places and get a real look at it. And that brings me to my number ten...

10. Come take a REAL look at Alaska!
Don't take Sarah Palin's word for it. Come and spend more than the few minutes most presidents have spent on their way to Japan or something. Take a look at ANWR for yourself, take a look at our villages, spend a good amount of time here. It is the only state Obama has not visited, and to be president of the whole country, I hope he remedies this soon. Palin has pumped herself up as an energy expert, yet has touted only the oil and gas part of it. Alaska has teh capabilities to address so many alternative energy options, we could be a leader in this. Unfortunately, we are not. Maybe we just need a presidential nudge?

#74 Top Bush Moment

74 days to go, with the #74 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

#75 Top 100 Bush Moments

#75 Best (0r Worst) Bush Moment

George Bush showing his pride for America in Beijing this summer.

What a difference 40 years makes

Ohio, 1968

Ohio, 2008

The streets of South Carolina, 1968

The streets of South Carolina, 2008

London gathering, 1968

London gathering, 2008

Grant Park in Chicago, 1968

Grant Park in Chicago, 2008

Jesse Jackson, 1968

Jesse Jackson, 2008

In 1968, America really believed, "Yes We Can."

In 2008, America said, "Yes We Did."

Yes we did!

President elect Barack Obama. Sounds so sweet...

Better get with the parties! Harlem? Kenya? Philidelphia? Seattle?

Pick a party and get with it!

#76 Top 100 Bush Moment

#76 Best Bush Moment

I don't have the heart to actually show Bush on this historic day. Or technically, it's just after 1am Alaska time, so last night. A bunch of George Washington University students celebrate outside the White House, which, I'm sorry, but if I lived in D.C. I think I'd want to be doing the same. This is the point at which they break into the "Star Spangled Banner."

Nonetheless, it is certainly one of my favorite moments involving Bush in his entire presidency.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted, I Volunteered, Now I'm Going Stir Crazy

I went to the voting booth today excited, but didn't expect to get quite as emotional as I did.

It was similar to being in Denver, waiting for Obama to make his acceptance of the nomination speech. Exactly 45 years, to the day, of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.

I related this in a post months ago, but I was remembering it as I entered the booth. That morning, one of the Alaska delegates, Cal, had surprised me when he was introduced as one of two in the Alaska democratic delegation who had been present during Dr King's speech.

When I asked him, as we boarded the plane back to Alaska, if he thought that he believed back then, listening to the speech, that there could be a black president in his lifetime. After some thought, he said that no, back then, and originally from the south, he guessed he didn't really think of that as a possibility. They hoped, back then, to be able to elect someone who could be an advocate for black rights, for civil rights.

I watched this morning on television as the news covered many people getting overcome with emotion as they voted, or even just before they voted. I am not black, but as a minority - or more importantly, simply as an American - it is moving to me that we are truly staring Dr. King's dream in the face.

Dr. King did not dream of a black president. I think that is too simplistic. He dreamed that "one day" his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of the character.

Is this not what we have achieved today?

I was so proud of everyone I saw in those lines today. Here in Alaska, long lines just aren't ever a problem. But I watched the coverage of state after state of people willing to get up to go to the polls at 3am, and wait until they opened. Or people waiting for five, six, seven hours to vote. They showed some states had over half the state's voter population vote - by yesterday! The black population is voting in unprecedented numbers - and yet still all of America is voting in unprecedented numbers. The next president, if nothing else, will be decided by a true majority of the people.

A moment of humor at polling place, as well. My family all live within about a mile and a half of each other (I know, we didn't spread our wings well) and have the same precinct to report to. The tradition has been that the first one to vote begins the phone tree - because they know everyone who hasn't voted yet. Within a few hours, we all trek the quarter mile to go vote. We have, in times past, been called the "viting family." Not catchy, but a little bit of pride.

Today, there were different volunteers than usual. I was about midway in the family line of voters, and they commented that there were already several of us in (we all have the same last name.) The last to vote, my sister just an hour ago - the lady exclaimed, "Wow - there are a bunch of you!"

I'm proud to have voted today, and proud of a country that is coming out in full force to demand a change for the country. Even if the vote goes for McCain (at which point you won't be hearing from me for several days,) it has been truly a historic day in which the country was able to vote for a black president.

I leave you with the full text of Dr. King's speech:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of injustice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the
heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every
mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

The polls are open...

Okay, they're not really open up here for another six hours. But my election day insomnia has kept me awake long enough to watch the polls open in ten states, including a bunch of battleground states. By the way, if you are in one of those states and you waited in one of those horrendously long lines, the next time you make it to Alaska, I would like to buy you a drink!

I don't understand why there are still undecideds, but there seem to be. So I will both cast my (public) vote, and make a last ditch effort for both Alaskans and non-Alaskans alike.


Barack Obama

For me personally, his Native American plans are pretty key, but if you're really wondeirng where he wants to take the country, his website is a big help. Early childhood education, the war in Iraq, health care and the environment - there are many, many issues that I agree with Obama about. I've previously covered some endorsements by major Native American leaders and organizations, and it really is because they see their future as best in the hands of Obama.


Mark Begich

Much has been made of this election, as one of the senate seats that could very well switch parties. But outside of paty politics, I wish people could really take a look at Anchorage before Mark, and Anchorage after. It wasn't a cesspool before, so I think people don't get the contrast as much. But we're much improved, we have so much development, yet unprecedented measures taken for the environment. My household is now able to do curbside recycling! Add to this a great candidate to advocate for Native issues, education and early childhood plans that make sense, and finally someone who is looking at the social problems as problems to fix.


Ethan Berkowitz

To this, I hope I do not do a disservice to Berkowitz in acknowledging I don't know much about him except for his stated issues, and a few public appearances. I agree with most of the stands he takes on the issues, but hope to see him take some strong stands, and get work done, in the future for Rural Alaska and Alaska Native people, energy (not just oil, but real energy reform) and education. Everything I've seen points to a smart, energized candidate, and that is enough for me to give him a chance for the the next few years.

Now if you haven't voted yet - stop reading. Go vote.

#77 Top 100 Bush Moment

#77 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

With just 77 days to go, we are finally electing a new president. Evidence below as to why this is important...

A "B" in Econ 101?

Monday, November 3, 2008

If there is a last straw with Palin, this is it

Let us put the "Palin's not using her husband's heritage to her advantage" arguments to rest.

In case you missed that, when asked what Palin is going to do to encourage more minority involvement...

"We've got to be all about the equality. Our constitution preaches...Todd is Alaskan Native and if you go up to Alaska, we have a problem with him being a minority up there. We live it."

We're going to ignore the fact that she didn't even come close to answering the question - or understanding it - and move right on to You've Got to Be Freakin' Kidding Me?!

So Sarah "lives" it? Please, please, please enlighten me. No minority person can look at this video and take her seriously. Those of us who live in Alaska, and have actually faced some hardships due to race can take her less seriously still. It is absolutely unimaginable to me that this woman can look a man straight in the face and claim to be part of a vast injured party - a party she has done nothing for, and has unrolled too many initiatives against.

I have posted these before, but just a few of Palin's highlight - apparently the result of "living it."
Sarah Palin's Record on Alaska Native and Tribal Issues

Palin and Sexual Abuse Poilicies

An Alaska Native man about his governor

But what could Palin have done about it?

There are plenty more, but really, Palin is no friend to the Native people of Alaska. Many have spoken out, and many more would like to speak out but cannot out of fear of retribution (and in all honesty, I can't blame them.)

The "experience" of being a minority is not a singular experience. I have had my own experiences, my own upbringings, have known the joy and pride, the pain and frustration of being an Alaska Native woman in Alaska.

Sarah Palin does not know what this is like. She has not, for one second of her life, "lived it." I cannot tell you just how much this belittles what it is to be Native in Alaska.

You do not get a buy in from your associations, no matter how many times she has tried to use it - or deny it - in the past. With this line of thinking, she is also a card-carrying member of the Alaskan Independance Party. But it didn't work when she tried to be a union member by association, and it won't work now.

I think what has been most frustrating is how many times I've been told by Palin fans that she's not using Todd's heritage to her advantage - that's just the McCain campaign, and she can't do anything about that. Besides the fact that she absolutely can do something about it, can we at last put to rest the argument? I haven't seen anything yet that Sarah won't grab onto to further her ambitions, and her husband and children's heritage is no exception.

I have yet to crack the Sarah gibberish code to know even remotely what she means by "..we have a problem with him being a minority up there" either, but it doesn't bode well for future Native policies in this state.

If Sarah really knew what a "problem" being Native was in Alaska, she would be fighting for better sexual assault policies, not charging women for rape kits.

If Sarah really knew what a "problem" being Native was in Alaska, she would be paying attention to the mass exodus from the villages because they can't pay their $2,000/month energy bills, instead of paying off the citizens with an ineffective bribe.

If Sarah really knew what a "problem" being a Native in Alaska was, she would be fighting for a public safety division that would get the backup and funding it needed, instead of cutting millions from it and firing commissioners over personal issues.

If Sarah really knew what a "problem" being a Native in Alaska was, she would be meeting with Native leaders, instead of repeatedly blowing them off and ignoring the issues.

If Sarah really knew what a "problem" being a minority in Alaska was, she woud be addressing the issues, being a leader on the problems, instead of not being present at all.

To pull a line from her now infamous acceptance speech, "Being a minority is kinda like being married to a guy with Yup'ik bloodlines, only you have actual experience."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Your right is a privilege many fought for

Most of this post is from an e-mail I got sent - many of you may have gotten it as well. I wasn't going to post it, then I heard a few people comment that they might not vote if it meant standing in a long line. Long lines are pretty much unheard of hear in Alaska - in the few years I've been voting I've never once had to wait. But this amazing election has meant the early voting locations have big lines, and I can only imagine Tuesday will be a little crazier.

Too often we take our privileges as a right. That may sound weird - voting is a right, of course. But not everywhere. It is a right in America, but it is too rare a thing in this world, and it did not come without a mountain of people before us fighting, suffering, and dying. I'm not sure of the author of the following, but keep it in mind if the line seems to long.

First democratically elected leader of this country: 1789
Black men gained right to vote: 1870 (though some years before this was a reality, not just law)
Most women gained right to vote: 1920
Native people gain citizenship (not right to vote): 1924
All Native people gain right to vote (at least in New Mexico and Arizona): 1947
Native people can vote in Alaska without provisions (literacy tests, giving up culture): 1956

The people who fought for these rights are not ancients of generations past - 1956? This time was not so long ago.
From the e-mail:


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

(Lucy Burns)
And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

(Dora Lewis)
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.
For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and
government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.

#80-#78 Top Bush Moments

#80 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

This is an impersonator and W. together - funny but also frightening. Two Dubya's?

#79 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

Bush drinking, being a jerk.

#78 Best (Or Worst) Bush Moment

He he. Dubya "picks" a running mate.