Friday, October 31, 2008

#81 Top 100 Bush Moment

#81 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

This is actually pretty darn funny. Bush makes fun of himself in a speech. If you don't think about all the death and hardship behind what he's making fun of, it's hilarious.

It also made me wonder if he understood the script he's reading from? Does he get all those jokes? Kudos to the speechwriters.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's keeping me awake at night

My bigger mistake today was purchasing the new Times magazine, with the cover article entitled, "7 Things That Could Go Wrong On Election Day." Only read it if you have serious concerns, and are in a position to do something about it. Otherwise you'll be a lone voter in Alaska with our three electorals, somehow trying to mind-transfer the will-power to battleground state voters to go vote.

Seriously, I am having nightmares of 2000 happening all over again, of not knowing who our next president will be until December, and, worse yet, that McCain will be our next president. I've been wishing the election was here already, but now that it is looming before us, I'm not so sure I want to know.

But I think I'm seeing something to trump it all. I mean, we've seen that Alaska is in a lose-lose situation. Win this election or not, we get Palin as VP or back as our governor. But Celtic Diva recently posted something that I thought was far-reaching, which we now see as a frightening ambition in reality. Celtic Diva supposed that Palin was vying for Ted Steven's spot. I mean, I thought it was pretty shocking how quickly she was willing to throw him under the bus. But she now seems to be doing just that. Palin in 2012. Shudder.

If anyone else is suffering from Election Insomnia, I can only give a few suggestions:

1. Go vote. Now. Yesterday. The early voting booths are open. Just do it.

2. Consider taking some time off to help a campaign this weekend, or Monday, Tuesday. Although I'm doing this to help, it also has a pleasant side effect of getting me out of any area I could possibly be plastered to a screen all day.

3. If in any way you are denied the right to vote - DO NOT LEAVE UNTIL YOU CAN VOTE. There are very few exceptions to every citizen being able to vote, so if you are not a convicted felon who is still under parole, and you are registered to vote, do not let anyone deny you this right.
The Time's article - and I've seen this on some news broadcasts - suggest at the bare minimum that you vote on a provisional ballot, but that is supremely the last ditch effort. A provisional ballot stands a good chance of not getting counted. In any case, don't be afraid to make a nuisance of yourself if you are told you cannot vote, for whatever reason. There are generations of people behind you who fought for you to have the right to vote. Don't let their efforts go wasted.

4. If you can avoid it, just don't watch TV. Really. I'm not sure what I think the next news program is going to tell me that the last one didn't, but if you've made up your mind, there's a possibility you can just be drven crazy by this. This election has been so up and down, it's hard to tear away, but at least get out for a few minutes. I was surprised to find that it is winter, and apparently it has been for several weeks now. Most of my views of outside are of Lower 48 stadiums, so I'm surprised when it's not sunny and 70 degrees instead of cloudy and 15 degrees. Let me tell you, that's a disappointment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

#82 Top 100 Bush Moment

#82 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

This one is actually pretty amazing to me.
I mean, you can just see Bush's wheels turning, wondering why on earth journalists would be wondering why he lied to them, when it was so important to. It has a very Palin-esque "I'm going to tell them exactly how I'm not going to answer their questions" about it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Confession about Sen. Stevens

I admit it. I don't hate the guy. I don't hate Sen. Stevens, and I'm not doing a victory party over the fact that he got convicted on all seven counts. I don't disagree with the verdict - I'm simply living out what so many politicians have said.

The "it's a sad day for Alaskans" refrain is not just a sound byte - it really is a sad day for Alaskans. I strongly support Mark Begich for Senate, but I don't think it's doing a disservice to him to say this about Sen. Stevens - that this really brings a sad end to what has really been a legendary career.

"Uncle Ted" has, without a doubt, done a lot for Alaska. I don't agree with all of it, but believe, maybe naiively, he was acting in Alaska's interest for most of his career. I don't think many in the Lower 48 could hate a senator who had done half as much for their state.

Although he has not been quite as supportive in recent years, Ted Stevens really did do a lot for Alaska Native people in the past. More important to me, he came out for Native rights when it wasn't popular - before statehood when the "No Natives or dogs" signs were still hanging in storefronts. For this alone, I will continue to respect much of his past record.

With that being said, no past actions forgive corruption of any kind. A jury of his peers - and I think certainly a more objective jury than he would have had here in Alaska - has listened to the evidence and arguments, and decided without a doubt that he is a felon, and deserves punishment for that. That is certainly good enough to convince me. We trusted Ted for many, many years to do the right thing, and in recent years he's been leaning a bit more outside of that trust. This conviction brings a truly sad end to his political career.

I wish that Ted would have called it quits many years ago. We would have had a senator who - hopefully - would be out there with new energy, fighting the fights Stevens used to champion. Stevens could have retired with accolades and wide respect in Alaska, with none of the tarnish he's now put to his name.

Sen. Stevens seems to, like Don Young, have grown so accustomed to his role as an elected official, that he has come to view it as his right. The feeling of entitlement is an unfortunately common trait in politicians, and Stevens has, like so many before him, fallen prey to his own greed and disregard for the ethics of the people.

Although Stevens has done so much for our state, my father reminds me that we elected him to do just that. We literally entrusted Stevens to represent Alaska for decades - and he ran on a platform of doing what was right.

I wish I could meet the Stevens of so many years ago, the man who championed Native rights and fought for Alaska's statehood, and interests. I think he would be an amazing man to meet. But we haven't seen that Stevens in a long, long time, and I don't think I'm alone in Alaska in saying that I'm sad it had to end this way for him.

It will be an interesting experience now to go pick someone up at the Ted Stevens International Airport, or drop someone off in front of the sign at the Native hospital saying "Thank you" to Sen. Stevens. So much honor given to someone who turned out to be another corrupt politician.

In the end, he has lost my respect, and my vote.

#83 Top Bush Moment

Just 83 days to go, with the #83 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

McCain taking advantage of Bush's state of the union. He he. Can you blame him, really?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Indian Country Today endorses Obama

My favorite Native American/American Indian (Lower 48 Native anyways) news source, Indian Country Today, has officially endorsed Barack Obama for president!

Obama has had a wealth of endorsements from so many Native people and Native organizations, that it might not be surprising, but I'm still glad they did it. Indian Country Today makes a point in the article to point out that McCain has, in the past, supported Native issues, but has not decided to make Native people an important part of his plans for the next four years.

In contrast, they praise Obama as having "redefined American politics:"

"American Indian voters, especially those who support Obama, seized their right to vote like never before and have embraced political participation as a new ethic. We are certain that Native voters will make a noticeable difference in the presidential race and in local ones as well... Throughout this long campaign, Obama did not just talk about Indian issues; he talked with Native peoples and brought their messages to the national stage."

What was a little surprising to me is that Indian Country Today came out strongly criticizing Palin's recent moves in the endorsement:

"Palin is both embraced and criticized by Native people. Much of the praise for Palin stems from her husband’s Yup’ik heritage and the inference that she will be sympathetic to Indian rights as vice president. Her detractors point to a record of opposing the subsistence rights of Alaska Natives. Palin’s involvement in a state ethics investigations and her willingness to exploit xenophobic conservative themes at campaign appearances add more reason for concern. If McCain’s selection of Palin was an attempt to attract Clinton supporters, it was an alarming miscalculation and an insult to that educated, open-minded voting bloc."

Some may not be surprised - it is, after all, quite true. But I didn't expect them to come out so strongly on the vice-presidential candidate. Such is the nature of Palin's inaction and stands against Native issues. It is also one of many in a line of endorsements (one of the more notable being Colin Powell) that come out strongly against Sarah Palin.

Mudflats recently posted on the Alaska Federation of Natives convention - the biggest Native gathering of the year in Alaska. She does a good job of giving a face to some of the attitudes behind Alaska Native people right now and Sarah Palin.

Obama himself actually wrote a nice piece in Indian Country Today, talking more about his Native American policies.

Another Indian Country Today Obama piece (they've had some good ones lately) about "real reason" Indians support Obama (don't know if I really agree with this one, but it is thought-provoking, nontheless.)

If you are wondering about more positions on the candidates and Native policies, check out my earlier posts for starters. There are opinions, but also a lot of links to their official statements (include to the side.)

In any case, the Native vote will be an important one in this election, and winds seem to be blowing in the direction of change.

#84-#87 Top Bush Moments

84 days to go! One week until we know who will take over Bush's reigns!

#84 - #87 Best (or Worst) Bush moments

Sorry, with the Alaska Federation of Natives convention, my mom and sister's back-to0back birthdays, and isn't there an election going on? My posting has gotten way behind, so I offer up this Letterman's Top Ten Bush Moments (I don't think any of them are Top Ten, but they mke the list) to make up for the lack.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

#89 and #88 Top Bush Moments

With 88 days to go, the #89 and #88 Best (or Worst) Bush Moments

AFN madness made me too tired to post last night, so here are two days worth of Bush Moments.

Be careful, in the first one Bush gives the one finger salute, and shows America what he thinks of us.

And in the second one, further proof that Bush is (especially off-camers) rude, and just a child.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

#90 Top 100 Bush Moments

With only 90 days to go, #90 Best (or Worst) Bush Moments

Bush's expert commentary on Wall Street.

Question: If Wall Street was drunk then, what is it now? Plastered? Comatose?

Alaska villages facing a generational problem

Today at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, Alaska Native leaders will be talking about the problem of inmigration. I have heard this covered in various Anchorage Daily News articles and on the local news, but much of the local coverage is focused on the local problems - more stress and impact on Anchorage. Mayor Begich and Superintendent Comeau recently released a letter to Governor Palin regarding the problem. Senator Murkowski had a meeting in Septmeber about it. This coverage and local focus isn't a problem - all politics is local. Mayor Begich yesterday in his newsletter:

Human Service Providers Focus on New Rural Residents.
As evidence mounts of a large number of rural Alaskans moving to Anchorage, Mayor Mark Begich is working with local agencies to improve public services, from affordable housing to food assistance. Begich met with about a dozen Anchorage human service agency officials last week. They reported hundreds of rural Alaskans moving to Anchorage, in part because of skyrocketing energy prices and lack of economic opportunities. The Anchorage School District has more than 420 new rural students and other agencies report increased demand for services. The officials are compiling their new service needs and plan to seek assistance from the State, which provides modest support at best.

And though this is a problem, it doesn't begin to touch the problem in the villages. The stress on the cities may be a problem - MAY, because I can't figure why a huge population increase is a "boom" and measure of progress sometimes, and just a stress on the city in others.

In any case, it is the villages that are really losing on this one. Just in school funding alone, each student lost is lost funding. There are some villages - big villages even - that are now at half the students they were just a few years ago. They are having to shut down classes, buildings, and in one case, at least, the principal of the high school became principal of k-12. Then, with further lost students, the superintendent became the principal. They're losing positions, classes, resources and students left and right. And that's just the effect on the schools, not the rest of the community.

The reasons for the inmigration are many, but the huge influx right now is mostly due to energy costs. Juneau has been fairly notorious lately for its high energy costs. Yet a nearby village's energy costs - after subsidies - is literally eight times the cost. A family in the village will spend several hundred dollars a month on electricity alone. Total energy costs for some families exceed $2,000 a month. Add that to less jobs, and lower paying to begin with, and you've got an energy crisis that is not an inconvenience - it is truly a crisis.

Jobs, leadership, a generation of children - so much is being lost from the villages, yet I think the economic impact is being focused on even more than the long-term effects. The cultural loss, the leadership loss, the impacts of children who might be raised in smaller classrooms with a culturally relevant base who will now be raised in a huge classroom with no cultural base - I can't even begin to cover all the impacts, really.

I don't think we will see the true effects for some years, maybe the next generation. But we have the evidence of the past - and not such a long time ago past - that shows us what can happen when a generation of people is suddenly apart from its cultural base.

Monday, October 20, 2008

#91 Top 100 Bush Moments

With 91 days to go until Bush is out of office, the #91 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment.

This one is not funny at all - just ironic and pretty tragic. It marks the 2000th days since President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq - and Dana Perino explains why "Mission Accomplished" did not really mean mission accomplished. The video is from this past May, the fifth anniversary of that date.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sarah shows us her hand again on Native issues

The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Convention begins today, the biggest annual gathering of Native people in Alaska.

Any hope of Palin treating the convention seriously this time around was dashed by this weekend's SNL performance. The Eskimo stereotypes that Alaska Native people have tried to get away from for so many years were struck a bit of a blow with the Eskimo rap, enthusiastically cheered on by our illustrious governor - herself the mother of Alaska Native children.

I can generally forgive Lower 48 people, who are fed only images of Alaska Native people as igloo-living, dog-mushing people who have yet to come out of the 18th century. If you haven't been here, there is little to counteract the images propagated by Hollywood.

But Alaskans should know better. Alaskans married to "Eskimos" should know even better. Our governor should know most of all the price to be paid for the stereotypical PR move that move was. I asked myself why I bothered trying to develop children's curriculum that fights the stereotype, when Alaska's most prominent leader will go on a comedy show and promote it.

But never mind. It may have set things back a bit, but at least she acknowledged at least some version of Native people in this state, albeit rapping Eskimos.

The real tragedy of the SNL skits was that Palin feels completely comfortable making fun of the fact that she won't answer any questions. McCain, Clinton and Obama all appeared on SNL, and were funny in their own rights. Obama - brief but the surprise factor for initially coming on with the mask and then the "witch" comment sold it. Hillary and Obama both had shameless plugging of their qualities, and Hillary had a great moment by making fun of her laugh. McCain's play that we should elect a "really, really, really, really" old guy is classic.

Palin seems to have missed the point. It's about making fun of things that everybody else can find funny too - Obama's "perfect" image, Hillary's laugh, McCain's age. But I don't find the FACT that she won't answer questions funny. I don't find it funny that she refuses to show herself to America. I have been able to laugh at Obama, McCain and Clinton on SNL this election, but I wasn't able to laugh at Palin. It was too seriously tragic.

One of the other "most watched" media events in the election in the last week was McCain appearing on Letterman on Thursday. For the few that don't know, it was his first appearance since lying to Letterman about canceling his appearance because he was "rushing" to the airport to save the economy - not quite the truth. He made a point of being quite exuberant about Todd Palin and his Native heritage (sometime during Letterman asking the questions so many media have been unable to get out of him.)

There have been a few more articles on Palin and Native issues, one in the Anchorage Daily News that seems to have been timed to come out for the AFN convention.

From the article:
"She's just sort of absent on issues. It's like an indifference," said Kookesh, the co-chairman of the Alaska Federation of Natives, which has its annual convention in Anchorage this week. He said Palin's much-touted ties to Native culture through her husband's family have resulted in "no measurable impact on the Native community."

There was also one by Indian Country Today on Palin's silence on Alaska Native issues.
Palin also promised to support tribal economic development and fishing subsistence issues, while noting personal fondness for Native culture. However, when she was ultimately elected governor, she ended up becoming the de facto head of several state lawsuits that some Natives believe have been detrimental to fishing and hunting subsistence issues, as well as tribal sovereignty and language preservation.

Yet it is still brought out about Todd's heritage at every stop, as if the very fact that he has Native blood will bode well for Native issues. It hasn't been so far - no evidence that it will be in the future. Sarah's given us just one more example of what she thinks of Native issues - maybe we should take solace in that Eskimos rapping with her is at least a step towards being noticed...

#92 Top 100 Top Bush Moments

#92 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

This kid is hilarious. You can just see his inner agony grow over the minutes.

To be fair, I think it is not unreasonable to think this could happen with pretty much any politician. I don't know many kids who would be thrilled to have to stand through any politician's speech.

This clip is from Letterman, who interviewed the kid after, but I can't find that video.

#93 Top 100 Bush Moments

With 93 days to go, #93 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

I didn't hear about this one until I started the 100 days countdown - and wouldn't have known why it was embarrassing unless the comments were printed on there.

Bush apologized later, not knowing the reporter was blind.

Some of his "needling" reporters make it on the list later on - doesn't he know there are just some people you should try not to "needle"? If only for the sake of us - the people that must try and hold our heads high when talking about our president?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

#94 Top 100 Bush Moments

#94 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

94 days to go America!

Bush takes yet another swipe at international diplomacy. I'm sure the queen didn't mind.

I think the funniest part about it is when Bush says she looks at him like "a child."

Don't we all?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

If you can't see "W." - rent one of these

I'm off to see W.! Okay - it doesn't open for a while, but I do plan on seeing the Oliver Stone movie this weekend.

But if you can't get out to see the movie (or refuse to see it until proof exists that Bush is actually out of the White House,) a list of my "Wish this was how Presidential politics really was" movie list:

10. Dave
This one onl barely makes my list - not because it's not enjoyable to watch, but I have trouble suspending my disbelief through much of it. Still, I like Kevin Kline it.

9. The Sum of All Fears
A Jack Ryan movie had to make it on, and why not this one? Even if this president almost gets us into World War III, he nearly got blown up, and at least had sarcasm.

8. Deep Impact
A president who only ever tries to look out for the good of mankind? Totally unbelievable.

7. Fail Safe
Okay, maybe I don't want the president to exactly act like this, but I can appreciate the moral dilemna. My dad introduced me to this movie years ago, and my jaw still hurts from dropping so fast.

6. Amistad
Okay, so John Quincy Adams wasn't president anymore when they did this, but I'd like to think of sage old president's giving wise advice beyond their reign.

5. Independence Day
Okay, Will Smith gets the real fan mail for this, followed by Jeff Goldblum, but here's a president who isn't afraid to strap in and defend the world against impossibly strong aliens. Would Bush do that for us?

4. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Jimmy Stewart! I don't watch really old movies very often, but this is one I could watch many more times. As much fun for it's sickly sweetness as for how it makes fun of the sickly sweetness.

3. Air Force One
Who can resist a president who can throw down? I mean, Harrison Ford single handidly taking on a dozen bad guys with big guns, armed only with his massive wits and furrowed brow.

2. The American President
This battles for my top pick just because I love Aaron Sorkin so much. But since West Wing, I must say that though Martin Sheen and Michael Douglas are a draw for president, Stockard Channing kicks Annette Benning's booty as First Lady (or First girlfriend) and John Spencer (ironically) kicks Martin Sheen's butt for chief of staff. Despite this, the speech at the end is worth the whole movie, as well as Michael J. Fox's performance.

1. Bulworth
Only in my version, Bulworth goes on to be president, Halle Barry becomes first lady, and Don Cheadle is an easy pick for defense secretary.

#95 - Top 100 Bush Moments

#95 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

Stephen Colbert roasts Bush... in front of Bush. And Dubya is NOT happy about it.

And the winner of the debate is...

Bob Schieffer!

Yes, I think the real winner here was the moderator. Someone finally got the candidates to talk about some of the issues going on and on in the media. They may not be "issue" issues, but I've certainly met more voters talking about Ayers and the VP's attacks than the candidate's health care plans. Maybe a sad commentary on American politics (I'm not totally sure of that) but I do believe most of the people who would be swayed by "real issues" have been swayed.

Meaning that anyone who is concerned enough about health care to vote based on the candidate's stand on it has gone to the trouble of looking it up. Anyone concerned enough by what the candidate's are going to do for education has looked it up. The people who are going to be swayed now are going to be swayed by "non-issue" issues, issues of character and personality, who can keep their cool, who comes off like a jerk or a hero.

A real good example of this is the economy. When the economic apocalypse started, neither candidate was actually saying exactly what they would do. But a combination of knowing Obama's stand anyways (and McCain's stand on deregulation,) as well as the bizarre behavior of John McCain made so many wavering voters run towards Obama.

The previous three debates (including the one between the VP's) had moderators who seemed so concerned about sticking to "serious" topics. I honestly do believe voters have all those serious topics covered now - if they really do care about them.

When you see interviews of undecideds, they are "unsure" about McCain or "don't know if they can trust" Obama. Although the news focus groups interview voters before, and they all talk about wanting to hear more about this issue or that, afterward, you can tell they already know what they stand for. They liked McCain talking about this issue, "but we know how he stands on that, and he wasn't credible."

Because of this, the moderator wins for getting the candidates to talk about attacks in the campaigns, their vice presidents (despite what history has told us, VP's ARE making a difference in this campaign,) and even Roe. v. Wade/ supreme court justices.

I don't mean to say he dumbed down the debate - there was plenty of policy stuff there. But the previous debates have been exercises in how to get the candidates to speak their issue statements out loud.

Some of the credit for making this more of a real back and forth had to go to John McCain - he was out for blood tonight! He didn't get any, but the effort was noticeable and made the debate interesting. I will say, that bit about, "I'm not George Bush" was pretty good. He must have wanted to say that for a while, and it barely came off as pre-prepared.

It would have worked even better had he been directly responding to something Obama had said, instead of "you know that thing you said back there, here's what I got to that." Obama was bound to bring it up again. Clinton was way better at getting the timing for snappy comebacks down.

In any case, I'm glad the debates are over. I don't know that the last one made any difference, except to solidify the character and temperament of the candidates though. I think one moderator had it right, with a description of, first a strong McCain, then slipping into "Cranky McNasty."

So, final score, unruffled, kinda boring guy beats erratic Cranky McNasty... again, but Schieffer steals the win by getting them to talk about what voters are talking about.

Though Joe the Plumber gets an honorable mention.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

#96 Top 100 Bush Moments

#96 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

"I know humans and fish can coexist peacefully!"

I like this one a lot though, sort of an existential quality to it. You know that saying, "A bird may love a fish, but where would they live?" (Who on earth said this... besides Drew Barrymore, I mean?)

Bush is more about world peace than I thought.

Another Palin personnel problem

Palin's Rural advisor quit, which is pretty interesting timing. I don't know that anyone outside of Alaska would much care about the position - or for that matter anyone who doesn'thave concerns with Rural Alaska. But the timing of it makes me think "something happened." I mean, besides the barrage of media surrounding Alaska politics right now, and the governor running a pretty embarrassing campaign for Vice President. The timing around usual Alaskan activities interesting too.

I received a copy of the letter, written by Rhonda McBride, the outgoing advisor, which I will try and break down a little for those not familiar with Alaska (or Alaska Native) politics:

I wanted to let you know that I’m leaving my job as Rural Advisor. My last official day on the job is Wednesday, October 23rd.

The date is not meant as disrespect toward AFN. I certainly appreciate all the support and encouragement you’ve given me in the last year – and your efforts to include me.

(When she mentions AFN, she is talking about the Alaska Federation of Natives - more specifically, the "date" is in the middle of the annual AFN convention. It is the biggest gathering of Native people during the year, and many of the initiatives regarding Native people start here. For the state's Rural Advisor to leave in the middle of this convention is a pretty big deal.)

In all honesty, I have never felt authentic in my role. And I am convinced that Senator Kookesh was correct, when he said this position needs to be filled by an Alaska Native -- because there are too few Native voices on the Third Floor, and for that matter, the 17th Floor here at the Atwood Building.

(State Senator Kookesh is an Alaska Native senator, very well respected. Yet, he certainly wasn't the only one saying that this position should be filled by a Native person. McBride's position was just one that many thought should go to an Alaska Native person. And the Third Floor - and 17th Floor - is about state authorities.)

I think the Native community deserves more. An Alaska Native in this role would, by virtue of who they are, serve as an inspiration to the Governor’s staff – and would have the moral authority that a non-Native cannot. Authenticity is a powerful force, not to be underestimated.

The Palin administration is well-intended. Its efforts to help the legislature restore Community Revenue Sharing and expand Power Cost Equalization are steps in the right direction. My personal opinion is that the Division of Community and Regional Affairs needs to be restored as a department, so that Rural issues get the attention they so desperately deserve. While that may no longer be politically practical, the DCRA director needs more of a voice at the highest level of Government. Perhaps the director could become a quasi-cabinet level position.

(Okay, this is pretty critical of how Rural affairs are being handled. There's a whole lot being said in very few words, but clearly a cry for change. Which I think most involved in Rural affairs would agree is desperately needed. I myself -please see earlier posts- don't believe Palin's administration has done an eighth of what should be going on right now.)

One of the basic underlying issues in Rural Alaska is the crumbling of local government, which the dissolution of DCRA accelerated. It is tragic that some communities no longer have the capacity to complete the paperwork for PCE and Community Revenue Sharing – monies that they are entitled to as citizens of Alaska.

Tribal Governments are doing the heavy lifting in Rural Alaska, with little acknowledgement for their efforts.

(Here here! But they do get the blame when things go really wrong though... so it's kind of equal...)

I have much appreciated the mentoring I have had from Commissioner Emil Notti and former Commissioner Walt Monegan.

(This was most surprising to me. Clearly, support of Monegan is an unpopular issue in Palin's administration right now. A strong disagreement with the tone Palin's administration... which she will still be part of until next week... has taken about Monegan. It also speaks to the great respect that people had for him - and continue to have - before and after his firing.)

My job here has given me a deeper appreciation of the issues that I did not have as a journalist.My plans are to return to reporting, where I feel I can be of more use to Rural Alaskans, by bringing Alaska Native issues to the forefront.

Thanks again for all your kindness, support and advice. I hope I can continue to turn to you for help in the future.

(I don't know that I made it clear, but this letter was addressed to Alaska Native leaders.)

With respect and appreciation…

Rhonda McBride

What I hope is happening here is a greater attention - and movement - on Rural and Alaska Native issues. Although so much of the news is negative right now (i.e. firing of Monegan, a great supporter of Alaska Native issues, resignation of Palin's Rural advisor,) my hope is this is the beginning of a spotlight on these issues.

Of course, that is my hope. These personnel issues are indicative of some things that aren't going on also - namely a functioning, concerted effort on current Rural and Alaska Native issues.

#97 - Top 100 Bush Moments

#97 Best (or Worst) Bush moment with 97 days to go!

Bush groovin' again. At least he's not saying something to offend the culture this time so much as sharing the inability of some American men to dance or... well, keep beat.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Palin's reaction is dumbfounding

I am absolutely flabbergasted by Sarah Palin's reaction to the Troopergate report released on Friday. I was expecting one of two things - 1) The continued assertion that this heavily Republican legislative council was completely bipartisan... against her, the Republican governor. Or 2) Take the "good" parts of the investigation - i.e. By Alaska constitution she can fire anyone she wants and ignore the rest.

What Palin has come out with is something akin to "Hey look, your shoelace is untied!" and running into the arms of the ever-hateful crowds where they will readily accept anything she says.

Or, more accurately, it reminds me of a story I saw on TV about Michael Jackson. He was doing a presentation at an awards show, and while he was on stage, he thanked the organization for giving him the award. To the embarrassment of the organization and to Michael - they were not giving him an award. Even more, such an award did not exist. Awkward!

This is what I feel about Palin right now. Embarrassed for her, that she seems to be so clueless as to think this will work (instead of completely backfiring on her, as the press has even more reason to cover the exact wording now.) But even more, embarrassed for myself and pretty much everyone I know, as Alaskans.

If I had known this would be her defense, I might not have spent the better part of a three-day weekend (refusing to call it "Columbus Day") reading the 263 page document.

Oh, all right. There were a few moments in which my eyes glassed over, and one occasion in which I fell asleep and couldn't find where I stopped. Never, EVER try and read such a long ducoment on a computer...

Palin even held a comical "press conference" for local Alaskan press (each organization was allowed one question with no follow up.) In it she says, "...I'm very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing ... any hint of any kind of unethical activity there."

That is actually the point I became dumbfounded, and stayed that way for a good couple of hours.

No "hint of any kind of unethical activity?"

I don't think she read the report.

If she had read the report, she would have found, listed as FINDING NUMBER ONE:

"For reasons explained in Section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute...."

I guess it makes sense if Palin does not view abuse of power as unethical behavior...

There are some points that I have mentioned before, that seem to be getting drug up again:

1. To the argument that Wooten was a bad Trooper - yes, absolutely! Several people in the report, including men in positions of power to do something about it, state that he shouldn't be a Trooper. That is way outside the point. What Palin (and her husband... and her chief of staff... and half the rest of her staff...) was trying to do, however, was Double Jeopardy.

There had already been actions taken against Wooten for the accusations, and he was punished. Whether that was "enough" or not is not the point (I, personally, don't think so.) But Monegan was in a position where, if he had done what the governor was wanting him to, would be unethical and illegal. As a longtime cop, he knows what Double Jeopardy is. He looked into it, saw there was nothing new to pursue, and told them so, repeatedly.

2. Monegan was not Wooten's boss until Palin made him so. He was previously with the Anchorage (city) Police - the Troopers are a state entity. He was not Wooten's boss when all the allegations were first made, when Wooten was investigated, or when he was punished. He was not Wooten's boss until much later, when Palin appointed him to be.

3. Palin was not afraid of Wooten, certainly not afraid of him harming the "first family." She reduced the security detail on her and her family to one full time and one part time guy. When initially asked if there were any security concerns about her family, she told them no. It wasn't until later she drug the whole thing up as Wooten being a "risk" to her. And even then, she still didn't get a bigger security detail. In fact, she began using the detail less, the further into her short administration. Including driving from Anchorage to Wasilla and back, one of the more likely places she would have seen Wooten. She even got into a car accident a few months back in this drive - no security detail.

4. The ridiculous consistent accusations about the moose "poaching" has just got to stop. Besides the fact that it's been investigated, Sarah's father took part in the "poaching." (And take a look in the report how Monegan had discussed that issue in the report - very gratifying to hear reason.) They did have a permit, and Wooten shouldn't have shot the moose, but ask about every Alaskan just what happens to "who catches exactly what" when the fish are running, and you'll see something similar to this case. Many, many four year olds catch their limit in fish. The permits are to manage the wildlife, and in this case, the wildlife was managed.

When Monegan, and others, told Todd and Sarah that if they wanted to pursue action against Wooten, they would have to pursue action against her father for this as well. He participated in the crime, after all. But they didn't want that - they stated they only wanted Wooten charged.

Uh... right. If only wishing made crime so. If someone robs a bank, can we choose to only charge the robber, not the get away driver? I mean, as long as we're able to choose...

Todd and Sarah show in that instance, and so many others, that they are not actually out for justice, but for personal vindication. If they are so concerned about these procedures, why not come out on the procdeures so this won't happen to others? Why are they continually badgering state staff to do something about one Trooper, when they are in a position to do so much more, for so many people?

An article from The Atlantic that had some pretty good points as well.

#98 - Top 100 Bush Moments

#98 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

98 days to go!

Americans attacking Americans and "offending" America

I had actually only read this in quotes, and it's amazing when you actually hear him say it out loud.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Let's at least remember the real Columbus

Yet another Clolumbus Day rolls around, and every time it is mentioned, I stop myself from rolling my eyes. It seems that some people even forget about the holiday, but for those that do, I hope they are at least remembering there is a different perspective on just what Columbus meant for the world.

While so many remember Columbus as a great savior who "discovered" a whole new world and brought the old and new together - the beginning of what would become a great nation, even - for the indigenous people of both North and South America, it was a black day indeed.

For those that might say, "History is history - it's in the past... leave it there."

Umm... exactly. While we're at it, let's stop dragging up the past when we remember a man who treated two continents of people as little better than animals, and contemplated the conquership strategy on day one. When we celebrate his memory, why is it we must only celebrate the false image generations of bad history lessons have given us?

I fell about Columbus the same as I feel about President Andrew Jackson (you know, the "Trail of Tears" dead Indians are the best guy?) Why do we continue to hold these people up as good people? Can we remember them with honesty?

I have heard that Adolf Hitler did some good things to Germany's economy. Does the "good" he did excuse the horrors he committed?

Quotes from passages of the Columbus' voyage - ship's diary:

Day One:
(of the Native people they are encountering)"It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion."

Day Four:
(of the Native people they encountered)"I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I pleased."

Day Five:
(of an indigenous man)"...and give him his property, that he may carry a good report of us, so that if it please our Lord when your Highnesses shall send again to these regions, those who arrive here may receive honor, and procure what the natives may be found to possess."

Really? This is the guy I should honor?

Yes, it was a pivotal moment, but we do not remember the attack on Pearl Harbor with the same rose-colored glasses. Surely Pearl Harbor ranks up there with days that changed the world. Or maybe September 11? Far less people died because of the terrorist attacks, but we shudder at the men and women who have made martyrs of the terrorists.

I have heard arguments too, that "it was just the time and culture." Yet any time that there is gross social injustice, it is people of the time and culture that must change it. Not fifty years ago, it was socially acceptable to be racist. It took the people of the time saying, "No, it is not acceptable" to change the culture. People know right and wrong, and have always had the ability to discern between them.

And yes, the Native people of the Americas - for that matter every culture EVER - have committed great atrocities of their own. But I am not suggesting we make a holiday of their actions. From my own heritage - the Tlingit people and the Haida people regularly made slaves of each other in their warfare. I have never tried to hide that, and I have certainly never tried to make a hero of those who did it.

We can celebrate the good that came of Columbus' voyage (and yes, there were some) without making an idol of the man himself.

#99 - Top 100 Bush Moments

# 99 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment
I think this video alone sent the DOW plunging 100 points. I've seen a few videos of him dancing, but I think this one at the White House is the most disturbing as "Commander in Chief" material.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

#100 - Top 100 Bush Moments

I'm celebrating today. Just 100 days left, and we are saying goodbye to good ol' Dubya.

That's right, just 100 days left folks.

I could wax poetic on what this will mean for America, but I think I'll just let Dubya speak for Dubya.

And by the way, please let me know your favorite Bush moments! With the plethora of options from eight LONG years of this man in the media, (and... you know... "running" the country,) there's just too much to catch all of them...

#100 - Best (or Worst) George W. Bush moment.

This is actually my sister's most favorite Bush moment ever - to the point that it has become her catch phrase when she hears an especially Dubya moment.

The quote: "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, it's probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. If fool me... We can't get fooled again."
Countdown image from

Friday, October 10, 2008

Palin "Troopergate" report released

The Branchflower (Troopergate) report was UNANIMOUSLY voted to be released today, finding Palin did abuse her power. Alaskans were shocked.

Okay, not really.

It was actually kind of an interesting reaction I saw. Relief that the report was released and not squashed, but also like, "Well... yeah. The report pretty much confirms what we know about her now." I think people were so caught up in the "officialness" of what it would say that we (okay, maybe just I) didn't realize that the fact that she and her administration heavily pressured Monegan, and others, to get Wooten fired is out there and... well, FACT. Todd Palin confirmed it in writing, Palin held a press conference admitting she "discovered" some members of her administration "may have" pressured Monegan. And the recorded tape confirming that.

I only skimmed the 200 and something page report though, so I'm going to hunker down this weekend and actually read the whole of it. The link above will take you to the ADN story on it, and they have a pdf copy for the interested.

Some other places to go for more on the release of the report and Troopergate in general:

Progressive Alaska

Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis

Alaska Report


Meet Sarah!

Mudflats has a really good account of actually waiting outside the council's door all day (yeesh). A bit from the blog:

Stoltze (one of the legislators): He had some differences with the report, but thought the process was thorough. Felt the release of the report was a “no brainer.” It utilized public funds, and is a public document. He said he had received hundreds of emails from all over the country urging him to vote to release the report, and was hoping if the report was released he’d be able to get through his inbox again...

...When Stoltze talked about all the emails he received, you could see the knowing looks on the faces of all those who were there. They knew they had an important decision to make, and they knew that people across the world were watching...

...It isn’t often that good people resist political pressure and do the right thing. I’ve seen things like this go the wrong way, time and time again. Today renewed my faith in the political process. I think I’m going to send out one more set of 12 emails saying, “Thank you."

Some other news of interest:

The angry McCain/Palin rally people have gotten the McCain camp some bad press lately, and in McCain finally addressed it. Of course, he was booed for saying we should treat Obama with respect.

Though I do like the part where he says you don't need to be "scared" of an Obama presidency (their basic campaign strategy at this point.) But even in an interview with McCain and Palin on Fox (and I can't BELIEVE I'm quoting this from Fox) when talking about the withdrawal from Iraq, Hannity mentions that Palin has "used the word dangerous" about Obama in the debate. Palin, "Yes."

HANNITY: Beyond naive, beyond irresponsible. Dangerous for the American people.


One of McCain's most smear-worthy ads out (in which he seems to create the image that Obama is bad-talking our troops when the speech he took the comment out of is ironically trying to get the troops more resources) the woman ominously says of Obama - "How dangerous..."

So he's dangerous... but we shouldn't be scared?

McCain can only play on the fears of Americans now, and it's pretty blatant now - it's just a bit funny that he's now forced to correct some of the fervor he's stirred up. Will Palin now be forced to say something to her crowds when they yell things like, "Kill him!" or shout racial slurs at members of the attending media? So far she hasn't, but the polls certainly haven't improved for them since they started the outright fear campiagn (instead of just the undercurrent one.)

Verdict in: Palin finds Palin innocent

In a truly awe-inspiring display of objectivity and fairness, Gov. Palin released the findings of the ethics complaint she filed against herself. Remarkably, she found she did no wrong.

Well, we can put that one to rest, then.

But really folks, there's a pretty good chance that the findings from the real investigation have been released by the time you read this. The "countdown to truth" SHOULD end today, with the release of the Troopergate report done by Branchflower.

Or not.

There's also a good chance that our state legislators are going to quash the findings so that the truth won't get out - at least until after the election.

It is hard to know how this investigation is getting covered in the Lower 48, not to mention all the madness that is this election season. For instance, is it common knowledge that Sen. Stevens (i.e. Alaska Senator for Life) is in his own tril right now? I get e-mail alerts several times a day from our local paper on new developments in the case, but is it common knowledge elsewhere? Begich is consistently running a little ahead of him, but there's still a pretty good chance that Alaskans will be voting him in again, convicted or not.

A reader emailed me and wanted to know why Alaskans seemed "obsessed" with this Troopergate thing, and the "real" issues we should be focusing on are McCain, McCain, McCain.

Well, I don't know about other Alaskans, but I feel that we have a lose/lose situation going on with the election. If McCain/Palin were to win (you must visualize me turning around three times and spitting) we get her as VP/presidential candidate 2016 (if she can withhold the knife from McCain's back that long.) If they were to lose (looking more likely every day) we get her back. And she hasn't even been Gov. for two years yet, so we've got her back for awhile.

To understand the "obsession" with Troopergate is to have to look at Alaska politics over the last few years. You'd have to visit Progressive Alaska or Celtic Diva or Alaska Report for more detail, because I've simply lost count of how many of our state legislators are under indictment, in jail, or under investigation. (Despite what the Gov. will imply, she didn't have anything to do with that - those were all FBI.) In fact, that Sen. Ted Stevens is on trial now was a surprise not because people didn't know it was coming - but everyone thought Ben Stevens would be indicted first.

It does not seem to be a surprise to many Wasilla folk, but much of Alaska (you've seen the high numbers) was really hoping Sarah Palin would be different. She seemed to come in as a reformer, promising politics that weren't the same as the rest of her party. She hasn't done much of that reforming yet, but still, hope.

When Troopergate hit, it was all sort of, "We knew it was too good to be true." There were already red flags popping up with her, some more in the know than others, but I think it wasn't so much the initial accusation that was shocking, but the proverbial nail in the coffin. Even her hiring the "sex harrasser" in place of the guy she fired was just like, "Well, maybe she just sucks at hiring people (she's done a lot of that.)"

The nail in the coffin (for me anyways) was after however many times she or her administration said there was absolutely no pressure put on Monegan to fire Wooten - none whatsoever - not so much as a nudge or wink.

Then the tape gets discovered and she holds the press conference that essentially says (let me just paraphrase), "Just kidding."

Now even Todd Palin is "proudly" saying (or at least writing) that yes, he was aggressively talking about getting Wooten fired... and, wierdly enough, maybe some of the "real" reason about bad blood was the audacity of Monegan sending a heads up to Mama Palin about a report from a legislator that she was not putting her baby in a car seat. Uhh.... really? The absolute nerve of the top law enforcement official to, you know, make sure the top government official in the state was following the law? (Not to mention making sure her child was being protected.) That's the argument?

Hopefully, you are reading this with full knowledge already of the investigation's findings, and it has been released without the legislators stopping it from coming out.

If you are reading this, and it has been hushed up by the legislators, I can only say I hope you find out the reality of it as still "our Governor" and not "your Vice President."

Update - 2:40pm Alaska Time (6:40 EST) Oct. 10:
The Anchorage Daily News has a guy waiting outside the legislative council's door, posting photos and updates throughout the day. They're still in there. Warning though - most of the posts are akin to "Nope, still nothing... No, still nothing. The guy across from me fell asleep." But there are a few good bits.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Make sure you take a second look

A friend from Akiachak sent me a story recently published in New York Times about the place, "Remote and Struggling, but Still a Bit of America." I could identify with my friends' feelings about the article - proud that her hometown was highlighted, yet disturbed about the way the village was portrayed.

It is a line I myself struggle with. There are real problems to address, in the villages as well as, well, pretty much every where else. But these villages are not cesspools - they are not without great warmth and beauty.

My dad recently asked me, "What do you say when people ask you where you're from?"

Because of my dad's job, I grew up all over Alaska. Although born in in "Rural" Alaska, by the time I was twelve I had moved twelve times, between both Rural and urban. I spent only nine months of my life away from Alaska - my first year of college - and that was about all I needed to know I would never leave the state. But I still don't quite know how to answer the question - except to say where I was born and, "I'm from Alaska."

As both insider and outsider to Rural Alaskan life, I can't say I have quite the same connection to village life as some of my "village to city" friends do. Yet I was a preteen when we finally made the move to the "big city" - Anchorage. (Don't laugh - it's big when you spent all your life previous "off the road system!")

I can say, without hesitancy or shame, that my absolute best memories from my youth are from playing in the shores and rivers of Southeast Alaska and Kodiak Island, eating herring eggs until I was stuffed at my grandparent's house, and getting any number of scrapes, bruises and muddy skirts from the "no playground" backyards of relatives.

We have major, major problems, yes. I think few Americans are unaware now that we have the highest rates of... everything. Suicide, sexual abuse, child abuse, domestic violence... and on... and on... Things are serious - but I am sad to think that this is the only view we might leave.

This came up again when I read a post by Mudflats about "Another Alaska."

Yes, the facts are there, and there is concern, but things are not ONLY bad. The New York Times article brushed by children speaking in Yup'ik in kindergarten. In kindergarten! A serious judge of how strong a language is are the number of children in the culture speaking the language. In this extremely important piece of rebuilding cultures and lives, Akiachak is a leader.I wish the communities I come from could boast the same.

The post in Mudflats has some of the bad, but it is not always. Not having a playground is not the worst thing that could happen. My fondest memories of childhood were not on the playground - they were in the wilds (and sometimes backyard wilds) of the most beautiful land in the country.

The problem with stating this is that then people sometimes go, "See! They are happier living exactly as they are!"

No community in the world is perfect, and a community that can't save itself from a fire, or prevent a girl drowning in raw sewage had serious problems indeed. But the answer is so many times, "If you want to change one thing, you have to change everything."

You see, Native people who do not live in the villages of Alaska do not enjoy remarkably better rates of the social problems that plague the villages. In fact, many of the rates go up. It is not an entirely "infrastructure" problem. It is not even an entirely energy problem. The problems go back far into the past, and crop up now not because people have dirt roads and no plumbing - the problem is deep and rooted too far for that.

Many well-meaning people call only for the infrastructure - and are then frustrated when it does not work. "We got these people good plumbing, and they're still in trouble." The problems are not as simple as that. Yes, we need to get to a healthy standard of living - one that all agree should happen.

But a Native child in Alaska has a better chance of being sexually assaulted before he or she is grown than attending college after he or she is grown. A MUCH better chance - about four times more likely (visit the State of Alaska's Web site for much more grim facts.) The chances of this happening to a non-Native child in Alaska are not much better.

But it is happening in the cities as well as the villages. The indoor plumbing and access to fire stations is not the underlying problem.

The problems and solutions are much too big to describe in all detail - I will once again cite an excellent resource, the Alaska Natives Commission Report.

But the beauty of the cultures, the people, the land - those are all too big to describe in all detail as well.

New financial strategy - cross my fingers and ignore the ulcer

All right, all right, I'm back. I promise I'm back to posting every day again.

I finally had the last push today to get back on the horse and start writing again. After all, I can't stare at the news in abject horror and digust - with spurts of elation - all day...

No really, I wasn't just doing that. Though when the financial guy responded to an anchor's concern about the DOW plummeting with, "Well, the real financial experts aren't scared about the DOW. (here I start to feel reassured) They're looking at credit lines for a real indication, (I can breathe again) and you know, they're REALLY scared about that! (and I black out.)"

Okay, my real financial problem is that I looked at my 401(k). I didn't even care about that until earlier this year when a financial guy met with us. Then I realized I had a little bit of money in there, and that if I wanted to stop working while I still had, you know, vision and the ability to walk, I would have to invest at least 10% of my income while I still could. So I did.

My punishment for this came a mere six months later. When, supremely ironically, 10% of everything in there was stripped away in less than a week. Granted, I only had a few years worth in there, compared to some people with decades, but still. They told me not to look, but I did. I regret it.

I then vowed not to look at the thing until I was at least 40. When I used to be REALLY poor (okay, yeah, that was about two seconds ago) I would hide an extra $20 from myself in a book or something, when I had the rare surplus. Then I would find it months later, and had a bonus $20 (because I was almost certainly even more broke than before.)

This was my new financial strategy. Hide it in the account, lose my password, and not look at it for a few decades. Then, when I'm in my middle-ages (that sounds a bit historical...) I can discover it again, be surprised at all the money that's racked up (because of those fabulous eight years of an Obama administration, of course) and plan the rest of my life accordingly. All the financial genuises on TV say that people my age shouldn't even be worried about it, right? I mean, our jobs may be the first to go, but, should we ever get them back, our 401(k)s would be the first to recover...

So that strategy lasted less than a week. I peeked again, and soon thereafter developed an ulcer.

Now, my new strategy is taking the sage advice of Sen. Obama and just simply "not panicking." My oh-so-newly acquired savings is being threatened, but instead of pulling everything out and making my mattress my new retirement account, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping Bush can't actually make us even worse off in the few months he has left. I mean, really, what else can he screw up?

No, don't answer that. I feel my ulcer coming back.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I don't know about the deadline in other states, but if Alaskans want to vote in the November 4th election, the deadline is Sunday!

Go out and register, and make sure everyone you know is registered too!

I have a link to Rock the Vote on the sidebar that can get you to registration for all the states, or Google your state's division of elections.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Begich and Comeau make sure Palin knows this is an emergency

I first saw this bit of news in the public newsletter I receive from the Mayor's office.) I don't know how familiar non-Alaskans are with our Anchorage Mayor, but Mark Begich is currently running against LONG time Sen. Ted Stevens for U.S. Senate.)

There has been a bit in the news - as well as my blog - about the migration and extremely high fuel costs of the Alaskans villages (Bush). Basically, think about the highest price you would ever pay, and then triple it. People have been leaving the villages in droves, because they just can't afford it. Teens moving in by themselves, now homeless, because they can't afford to live in the village. Most of this population is Alaska Native.

Even more recently, I was trying to report on a small village in Alaska, Adak, in which the residents were flat out being told to leave. They had run out of cash to pay for their fuel, and were going dark. Few, including our governor, seemed to be paying much (or any) attention to this story. I am still having something of a time trying to find out information, but from what I hear there has been a temporary agreement - including the corporation supplying the fuel requesting the mayor step down for the town to receive it - and they have electricity temporarily.

In any case, not a small problem. Begich and Comeau (Anchorage's school superintendent) have released a letter sent to Gov. Palin addressing the issues of out migration from the villages, and some of the problems this is creating. From the mayor's newsletter:

Anchorage Officials Call for Action to Help Rural Communities.

With numerous indications of a migration from rural to urban Alaska underway, Mayor Mark Begich and Anchorage School Superintendent Carol Comeau are urging the governor to form an emergency task force. In a letter to Gov. Sarah Palin today, the two say deteriorating economic conditions in many rural villages are forcing families to move to Alaska’s cities. “A prosperous, culturally diverse Alaska depends on both flourishing villages and thriving cities, so we cannot stand by and tolerate the deterioration of rural Alaska,” they write. Comeau says Anchorage school district enrollment from rural communities is increasing as village families are hard-hit with $2,000 monthly home heating bills. Begich and Comeau say they want to work on an emergency task force with other local, state and federal officials.

I agree so heartily with the stress that THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. The $1,200 has not done much for rural families (as was argued about before Palin pushed for this stop gap) and this is something that cannot take a theoretical or casual approach. People, families, lives are in need right now.

Anchorage Daily News article about the letter, and some of the migration issues.

ADN provided the pdf copy of the letter.

Letter to Gov. Palin from Mayor Begich and School Superintendent Comeau

A bit from the letter -

Dear Governor Palin:

We write to express our deep concern over what appears to be an unfortunate realignment underway in our state where challenging conditions in many rural communities are forcing a migration to urban cities. A prosperous, culturally diverse Alaska depends on both flourishing villages and thriving cities, so we cannot stand by and tolerate the deterioration of rural Alaska.

As you know, Alaska’s rural communities are facing school closings, record high energy prices, lack of economic opportunities and public health and safety concerns, which are resulting in an unprecedented out-migration to urban centers. We urge your administration to form an emergency task force with local, state and federal officials to take immediate steps to stem this trend taking place in our state. We would like to participate on this task force.

Certainly, the recent distribution of Resource Rebate and Permanent Fund Dividends checks may help in the short term. But we fear we are seeing only the first wave of families leaving rural Alaska because they cannot cover the record energy and food costs they face this winter. ...rural communities pay about 40 percent of their annual income on home energy use, compared to just 4 percent in Anchorage... Today, fuel oil prices in some remote villages have reached $11 a gallon, forcing some families to pay more than $2,000 a month to heat their homes. High fuel prices also make travel to subsistence hunting and fishing grounds prohibitive while also raising commercial food prices...

(the highlighting is mine)

There was also an interesting opinion piece in the ADN following the news piece. It talks about what needs to be done in Anchorage right now to address the influx, and that the real emergency is here in Anchorage with the people coming in.

My vote? Both. And I think that's some of the point. I do know there have been efforts to address the people moving in, including literature as resources, a "guide" to Anchorage specifically for rural migrators, the new charter school is geared around introducing a lot of rural students to a big city school, and so many of the Native-based non-profits have been hitting this pretty big in the last few years. I also know there have been efforts to address some of the migration, but I think before it's not been in quite such an urgent voice, probably because it hasn't happened quite this rapidly - the migration I mean.

Opinion in ADN about the Begich/Comeau letter

Why would anyone except the people this directly affects care about what is happening in some remote villages in Alaska? Because this is happening in your country, in a modern world. Because although now it is only people you can't imagine having their lives upturned, literally moving from places some families have lived for millenia - all because of the state of our economy - it is an indication of things to come for everyone else.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Bush who cried wolf

With the economic apocalypse looming, I find myself in a strangely reflective mood. Could be that things are just so campaign-crazy I have checked out, but a lot of it has to do with witnessing a bunch of people thousands of miles away fighting like school children over my money. It is watching them try their darndest to afix blame, and I honest to goodness don't care if it was the Democrats, Republicans or the Easter Bunny - I'd just like them to talk it out.

What is most striking to me about the whole thing is how completely irrelevant Bush's influence is. When he speaks, you want him just to please, be quiet and don't make things worse.

I try and imagine what it would be like if there was a strong leader in his shoes. One who had... what's that word...?... oh. Respect. I mean, the infamous "fool me once" gaffe Bush made eons ago is tragically applicable here. After crying wolf so many times, how can he expect anyone to listen to what he wants?

After 9/11, people were so scared and the country in such shock, we said hardly a word as we were quickly stripped of so many civil liberties. I mean, hindsight is 20/20, but I try to imagine a president who, instead of constantly reminding us of how much danger we were in and telling us to go shopping, was both realistic and reassuring, and gave us real, helpful suggestions on what to do to help the cause. It's not as if our intelligence was bad to begin with - we had the memo. I have no doubt the government has stopped many bad situations we don't know about both before and after 9/11 - but I don't think that Americans living in a constant state of fear has done a bit of it any good.

Then, of course, the Iraq war. We MUST do something now. Or else.

Or else what? I remember a whole lot said at the time of some mighty big weapons that were going to rain down on my head if we didn't act immediately. So soon after being atttacked in such a horrific way, how easy was it to believe that such a thing could be possible?

Now Bush actually really, really needs that credibility. I honest to goodness do not know if what his administration's plan has cooked up is the right thing - though unfettered control over something sounds eerily familiar - but I do know that if he honestly believes acting right now, immediately, no questions asked is the best thing for the country, he used up that argument quite a while ago. As I watched him arguing his case on CNN, I couldn't help but think of the boy who cried wolf. When the wolf was actually breathing down his neck, nobody would believe him.

Unfortunately, the wolf is not breathing down his neck so much as 99% of the rest of us. I think the top dogs, the ones who can afford to lose a few million, are going to be just fine. But I made the unfortunate mistake of looking at my 401(k) and confirmed that I'd lost about 10% of what I had. And it's not even "the worst" yet. The wolf is breathing down my neck, and it seems there's not a whole lot I can do about it but hope our elected representatives get a handle on things. Soon.

In the end of the fable about the boy and the wolf, it is not the boy who gets eaten by the wolf after all. It is the flock.