Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: 2/3/08 - 2/10/08

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Obama: Saturday Night Sweeps!


WASHINGTON - Sen. Barack Obama swept the Louisiana primary and caucuses in Nebraska and Washington state Saturday night, slicing into Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's slender delegate lead in their historic race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Illinois senator also won caucuses in the Virgin Islands, completing his best night of the campaign.

"Today, voters from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to the heart of America stood up to say 'yes we can'" Obama told a cheering audience of Democrats at a party dinner in Richmond, Va.

He jabbed simultaneously at Clinton and Arizona Sen. John McCain, saying the election was a choice between debating the Republican nominee-in-waiting "about who has the most experience in Washington, or debating him about who's most likely to change Washington. Because that's a debate we can win."

Maine holds their caucuses tomorrow, Maryland, Virginia, DC and overseas Americans have their contests on Tuesday. Pundit speculation is that tomorrow and Tuesday chould go well for Obama as he has been dominating in the small states and at caucuses.

I think Obama is playing it smart by sticking with campaigning in the smaller states. It's not going to do Hillary a lot of good if she wins Texas but loses everything else.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Alaska Democratic Caucus..."Oh what a night..."

What a chaotic, insane, amazing, historic night!

I could go through a whole list of "lessons learned" to pass on to the Democratic organizers but I have nothing but empathy for them. I suspect that a good chunk of the folks who showed up tonight were like me - Undeclared voters who decided to become Democrats. There's no way they could have known that was coming!

According to the Anchorage Daily News, somewhere between 3,700 and 4,700 folks showed up at the Begich School. At the 2004 caucus, there were 250.

OK, so even though there were good reasons for such craziness, maybe I will say a couple of things:

- Next time, each volunteer should have a clipboard with the district map on it. Try cramming 2000+ people in front of one district map on the wall with teeny, tiny writing!!! Also, one person should have been at the main map answering folks when they wanted to know which District they are in. I was pretty dang sure that most of the folks perma-camped in front of the map didn't know how to read one.

- Give each volunteer a brightly-colored t-shirt so we can tell who they are. I can't count how many folks I asked questions of who looked at me like I was crazy.

- Don't allow people on a microphone who don't know how to use a microphone. I believe that's enough said there.

- Choose organizers who have experience with large events - they would be prepared
to smoothly make changes on the fly in case of such a huge turn-out.

- Rent more walkie-talkies!

District 23 could have used the assistance of some experienced Kindergarten teachers to get us all in proper lines and clearly direct us where to go. We could have used a few bean counters to do the count more methodically. Although I think part of the reason the count took so long was because some of the folks didn't believe that there were 392 folks in the room!

Once we started "fanning out" it was pretty clear that it would be an Obama blow-out!

District 23 count:

Obama - 10 state delegates
Clinton - 3 state delegates

Alaska count:

Obama - 75%
Clinton - 25%

Again, according to ADN", more than 8600 Democrats showed up statewide. Interestingly enough, the Republicans stated they had a "blow-out" night too - about 9000 showed up for their Caucuses.

Let's compare blow-outs...

Alaska's registered voter breakdown is 15% Democrat, 25% Republican and 50-something-percent Undeclared. Yet, Democrats produced close to the same number of Caucus-goers statewide as the Republicans.

I'd say that bodes well for the National election.

All in all, it was worth participating in such a history-making event. The shoulder-to-navel crowd reminded me of fighting to the front at concerts when I was in High School. (I won't admit which band, but they did regularly appear in "Tiger Beat." The difference now is that it involves squeezing through a small gap in the crowd along with several other ladies of my age, size and physique. In preparation for such an...ahhh...intimate encounter, I apologized to the ladies in advance by saying, "I'm sorry that you are about to get to know me better than you EVER wanted to!"

My 10-year-old was a trooper. She was enthusiastic about the process before the 1 1/2hour car ride from Lake Otis and Nothern Lights to the Begich School on Debarr. However, she got a little teary at one point because of the constant claustrophobia associated with such a huge crowd. (she was horrified when she was pressed up so close to someone she could feel their cell phone vibrate!) That plus the long hours, the problems with parking, the walk in the cold and everything we had to go to just to be counted as an Obama supporter overwhelmed her. Still, she helped me constantly...especially with her impeccable sense of direction (is that something we lose when we get older?).

In the end, I don't think she'll ever forget how important it was to me. I hope some day it's just as important to her.

Catch you in the funny papers...

So I actually have a "photo shoot" scheduled on Thursday.

No, I'm not going to take up modeling - there isn't a camera on Earth that could pull that off!

As it happens, I was selected to be one of the new "Community Voices" at the ADN for the next six months!

I'll let you know when the first piece comes out. However, I generally "test drive" my articles here on the blog anyway. The polished version ends up in the paper!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Tuesday here we come!!!

So, tomorrow I'm doing something I've never done before - I'm changing my party affiliation from Undeclared to Democrat.

Yes, the outcome of this Democratic nomination is that important to me!

I'm surprised by the mixed emotions I'm having. On one hand, this is exciting because I actually get to participate more fully in the political (caucus) process! On the other hand, being Undeclared carried with it a kind of "trump card"...the "I'm not swayed by a party but by the issues" argument.

Like I said, this is important enough to put those feelings aside.

I had a call from the Obama people - it was fun to chat openly about supporting him and amusing to have their Alaska rep welcome me into the "Obama Family."

I'm looking forward to tomorrow - the process seems to be a throw back to right around when the Declaration of Independence was signed. It actually involves people moving around the room like herd animals into different groups. I'll report back more tomorrow after I go through it but it looks to be an interesting and exciting day!

23 Years Sober

Today I celebrate 23 years of freedom from mind-altering substances.

Over the weekend, the Anchorage Daily News ran an editorial on the problem of sexual assault in Alaska. That plus my sobriety birthday drove me to write this piece that I submitted as a Compass article:

"I was encouraged to see the Daily News editorial regarding the recent report on sexual assault in rural Alaska. I hope that it generates, as the editorial states, “a real determination to help victims, stop predators and prevent more of the same.”

However, I fear that it may be awhile before the public gives the benefit of the doubt to many who have survived sexual assault.

I became clean and sober in February of 1985. For the first couple of years I kept myself in a sort of cocoon between meetings and hanging out with other recovering folks. However, every sober person gets an additional wake-up call at some point in their sobriety…an opportunity to examine their past with clearer eyes.

Mine came in 1988 in the form of the movie “The Accused,” where Jodie Foster brilliantly played an alcoholic woman gang-raped in a bar while folks watched and cheered. (The story was inspired by a similar incident in 1983, New Bedford, Massachusetts) The acting was brilliant, terrifying, and raw – it dredged up excruciating memories from years ago. It felt as if some kind of exoskeleton was being ripped from my body right there in the theater, exposing every nerve ending.

That pain gave me a new clarity. Previously I had wondered why recovering-alcoholic men could easily joke about their drinking stories while women stayed silent about their experiences. It dawned on me that the reason was simple…many of our stories are rife with verbal, physical and sexual assault.

I concur with those who stated in the report that “alcohol was not involved in a majority of the incidents reported” when it comes to influencing the behavior of the perpetrators. However, alcohol makes women more vulnerable targets, a reality which society has long found entertaining.

In college, I stood by while some frat-rat hauled an inebriated woman out of a party and up to his dorm room. The sound of laughter from the other party-goers followed them out the door. That scene was repeated when I was the woman being carried out.

It’s easy to understand and believe the social stigma about alcoholic women that says we “ask for it.” Heck, I believed that same stigma about myself for years. In reality no victim “asks” for anything. Perpetrators go for the most easily accessible and vulnerable like trusting family members, friends, or women and children who live in the shadows.

It can’t be a coincidence that many missing or murdered women were “last seen” at a social setting involving alcohol since a crowd can easily give a false sense of security. It’s already difficult for a woman to protect herself when she has a clear head and all of her faculties. The danger increases exponentially when the senses are dulled by substances.

This month I celebrate 23 years of sobriety. I’ve been blessed with a husband and daughter who have never seen me use a mind-altering substance. While it took me years of painful work to get here I have something that was unthinkable 23 years ago – a normal life. I still carry scars and I am grateful that my loving husband has the patience to support me at those times when demons from my past come back to haunt me. I hope that my sisters who still suffer may also find the better life waiting for them through sobriety or at least find a way to be safe.

To those who would judge those victims of sexual assault afflicted with addiction: while our disease makes us more vulnerable it doesn’t taint the truth of our stories nor does it make us deserving of such violence. "