Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: 2/24/08 - 3/2/08

Saturday, March 01, 2008

My memory of William F. Buckley - doesn't everyone have one?

When I was 16-years-old I met William F. Buckley Jr. in Philadelphia along with about 5 other girls from my class at Archbishop John Carroll for Girls.

My impression of him - he was incredibly arrrogant, a lousy public speaker and quite brilliant.

Calling him arrogant speaks for itself. Why I called him a lousy public speaker - a good speaker directs their words to the audience in front of them. He directed his words to Harvard graduates when it was an audience full of Catholic High School students. While I (mostly) understood him (I was reading on a college senior level by then) I was angered that he seemed to go out of his way to use words that were obscure even to folks with excellent vocabularies.

I also thought he might be different in person...he wasn't. The five or six of us who ended up speaking with him afterwards got the same treatment...he just seemed like he needed to emphasize his superiority at all times.

Anyway, that was my impression at the time. It was back in 1978 and for years it colored how I looked at him and his writings.

As I get older, I now view his shortcomings with High School students as possibly the same reason why Einstein was a rotten teacher. He was unable to address anyone who was not at his present level of knowledge and understanding. I noticed that age also seemed to be effecting Buckley in the same way; he seemed less likely to couch his words in the obscure. He seemed more able to write for a larger audience - intelligent but not necessarily top-shelf intellectuals. His writing also seemed to "reach across the aisle" more and I found myself actually agreeing with him on occasion.

When he started criticizing the war in Iraq, he redeemed himself quite a bit in my eyes.
Mai Lai Again?
by William F. Buckley

"Is the American public refusing to believe the story of what allegedly happened at Haditha? On the grounds that Americans simply could not be guilty of such acts? Surely what happened reflected not base instincts, but chaos and anarchy?

In a brilliant essay in National Review, Christopher Levenick of the American Enterprise Institute reviews "My Battle of Algiers," by Ted Morgan, recalling the bestiality of that wretched war. And yet French soldiers who committed torture routinely went on to successful careers. "Indeed," writes Levenick, "it is not uncommon to learn that such men are capable of living out the rest of their lives without any sense of guilt for their actions. It remains a basic truth of human nature that a uniform is all that many men need to dissociate themselves from the evil they commit."

The reactions of the Kool-Aid-drinking Bushies were swift and nasty - rejecting Buckley as a "traitor" to conservatives even as Buckley systematically demonstrated the opposite - that Bush had been the actual traitor.
Buckley finds himself parting ways with President Bush, whom he praises as a decisive leader but admonishes for having strayed from true conservative principles in his foreign policy.

In particular, Buckley views the three-and-a-half-year Iraq War as a failure.

"If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign," Buckley says.

In a National Review piece titled "The Waning of the GOP," Buckley addresses and explains the current status of the Republican Party and his foreboding of its future:
General Petraeus is a wonderfully commanding figure. But if the enemy is in the nature of a disease, he cannot win against it. Students of politics ask then the derivative question: How can the Republican party, headed by a president determined on a war he can’t see an end to, attract the support of a majority of the voters? General Petraeus, in his Pentagon briefing on April 26, reported persuasively that there has been progress, but cautioned, “I want to be very clear that there is vastly more work to be done across the board and in many areas, and again I note that we are really just getting started with the new effort.”

The general makes it a point to steer away from the political implications of the struggle, but this cannot be done in the wider arena. There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican party will survive this dilemma.

Wall Street Journal writer John Fund pens a tribute to Buckley in a piece for Huffington Post:
"He was that rarest of revolutionaries -- someone who unfailingly set about to change the world, largely succeeded and yet retained a zest for the non-political, a gentleness of spirit and a boyish charm into his 80s. He set a standard we all should emulate for having friendships across the political divide."

At the end of the Bush blot in American history and beginning of a new chapter in this country, I can only hope that we can find more revolutionaries who "reach across the political divide" in this sea of partisan pundits.

Friday, February 29, 2008


A very good mommy I was today
we were up at 7:00 then on our way

For a simple breakfast of muffins and juice
celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss

(I was hoping to eat some green eggs and ham
but the regs said "You can't, Sam I Am.")

Celebrities, kids and parents alike
will read Seuss stories in front of a mic

Even the Assembly and the mayor of town
wear funny hats and read when the chips are down

So as you enjoy your weekend, remember March 2
it's the birthday of a man that we all knew

By his talent for rhyme - a gift from above
that gave us so many of the books we love.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The FBI weighs in (sorta) and the APOC files complaints...no...really!

Alaska Politics Blog talks to the FBI:

FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said the FBI did receive a copy of the taped conversation between Assemblymen Dan Coffey and Bill Starr.

"We are reviewing it at this time," Gonzalez said. At this point, he couldn't say whether an investigation would follow.

This morning at the Alaska Public Offices Commission, Director Brooke Miles said she filed the APOC complaint against Coffey and Starr.

It's since been re-written into separate complaints for each Assemblyman.

Assemblyman Matt Claman provides some proof

On Shannyn Moore's show today, Matt Claman inadvertently backed up KUDO's story about the tape with some personal experience.

Claman said he understood how the tape could have happened as he recounted an incident where Coffey called and left him a message on his voice mail and then didn't hang up properly, leaving two minutes of a "boring conversation" for him to listen to.

He said that all he could think was, "can't you hang up your phone?"

Obviously, Mr. Coffey can't.

Bill Starr's Mea Culpa...sorta...

From Kyle Hopkins's Alaska Politics Blog:
Meantime, Starr sent this announcement today:

I am deeply saddened and hurt by recent implications that my re-election fund raising and campaign efforts are unethical and violate campaigning laws. I intend to cooperate fully with any investigation or research into my campaign efforts. Additionally, I will ask the Municipal Ethics Commission for a review of my actions and comments associated with my work on the Anchorage Assembly.

Campaign finance efforts of currently elected officials is particularly frustrating due to the increased potential conflicts and questions of motivations of those providing campaign support. In today's environment it would appear that any legal contribution must pass additional criterion. There is no easy solution to those needing to finance campaign efforts such as advertising and voter communications. I want to affirm that my efforts to obtain contributions and those received were obtained on the highest ethical measure.

The frustration remains for me that inappropriate dialogues or inference to future favoritism could occur. Other than the integrity and standards of the candidate there really is no guard against. For this reason I have decided to return all campaign contributions to date and rely solely on my personal finances for campaign expenses.

A pressing problem in my campaign and certainly others is the steady request to meet with unions, lobbies, and other vested entities. For the elected official seeking re-election this is very problematic as evidenced in my interactions with Police Unions, Teamsters and other vested stakeholders in the political process. My current job as Assembly Member and candidate come into conflict often in these situations. I will establish new personal guidelines on my constituent and city stakeholder interactions and communications.

I appreciate the opportunity to deliver this message and ask the citizens of Anchorage for their continued support as I perform my public servant duties.

Bill Starr, Member Anchorage Assembly

Candidate for Assembly Seat 2-C


Isn't it interesting that Bill Starr claimed last night that the tape was "spliced together."

He's not claiming that now, is he? In fact, he's saying something to the effect of "I didn't really do anything but I'm sorry if you guys think I did something and I promise I won't do it again even though I didn't do anything"

I wonder if he read my blog?

OK, OK, maybe it's wishful thinking...

Of course, no surprise to me, Dan Coffey is denying it all and playing the victim.

Man, I wish we had some recorded phone calls with his child-molester/drug dealer buddy!

An-ti-ci-pa-tion...is almost over for two big Alaska stories.

Mayor Begich has formed an exploratory committee into running for Senate!

Mayor Begich will be hosting a 10:30am news conference at his home to announce whether or not he's going to run against Ted Stevens.

I hope that I know which way he's going!

Also, a huge decision for Alaska is being taken up by the Supreme Court today. It will determine whether or not Exxon will finally have to pay 33,000 Alaskans the $2.5 billion they were court-ordered to pay 14 years ago in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

The defense presented their argument this morning with the plaintiffs argument coming later. The Court will have a ruling by June.

I guess the prediction is for a 4/4 split which would release the $2.5 billion to the plaintiffs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spliced together? Nice try, Mr. Starr...

I misunderstood JR's description of his editing of the tape. The only thing he did was enhance the volume so that we could hear as much of it as possible.

I have now corrected it below.

I apologize, J.R. and Aaron for putting out incorrect information.

From tomorrow's ADN:

The recording sounds like a cell phone conversation between Coffey and Starr.
No...it doesn't.
Coffey said he can’t remember where or when the conversation took place. Starr said it sounds like the audio came from different conversations or was spliced together. "Or there’s been elements of it left out," he said.
No...it doesn't and there weren't.

Do I sound pretty sure of myself? Yup...here's why:

When I was five I didn't just sing along with the radio, I could already sing four-part harmonies. It turns out I had fully-developed "relative pitch" from an early age with a touch of "perfect pitch" (I can pull middle-C out of the air and find every other note from there - without benefit of a musical instrument.)

I entered Music School in college and majored in piano where I discovered that my sight-reading sucked because my ear was too good. I aced every Ear Traning class without ever cracking a book.

In the early 90's, I discovered that I could not only arrange songs for bands and choirs but I could figure out difficult dialects phonetically (Zulu) without benefit of written lyrics. It was in the 90's that I also found that I had an ear for mixing sound - I did so for several years at Blues Central which included numerous national Blues acts.

Yeah...OK...I'm tooting my own horn. However, it's so you understand that I can hear and interpret better than about 99% of the population.

This is my analysis based on my experience:

o This tape was recorded exactly the way Aaron said it was.

Coffey accidentally hit his redial button. That's exactly what it sounds like when a cell phone is on and in a pocket. It sounds the same as when friends have accidentally called my answering machine.

o This tape was not a call between Coffey and Starr, they were both somewhere together (probably riding in a car).

I'm pretty sure of this for a number of reasons:
- You hear the traffic noise and it's the same for both of them
- There is no echo for either of them - they are in a small place designed to absorb sound.
- We hear the "ding" sound several times for lights/keys/seatbelt. Either someone wasn't wearing their seatbelt and it kept going off and/or they were getting in and out of the car. It was also quite loud which makes me believe that Coffey was driving.
- It is much easier to hear Coffey than it is to hear Starr, which again makes me believe that Coffey was driving and had his cell phone in his left pocket...away from the passenger seat. When I've accidentally hit redial, it's happened when I had my phone in my left pocket and I closed the door.
- Coffey moving his arms while driving, as well as getting in and out of a car would explain the level fluctuations. This is also why I believe the phone was in a coat pocket...maybe a suit coat breast pocket. It wouldn't move as much in a pants pocket.

o This was one continuous conversation

Starr's claim of "splicing" is bogus.
- Yes, the tape was edited because, per Aaron Selbig's producer JR Zufeldt, there were long portions that were inaudible so the volume had to be enhanced.
- The conversations could not be "spliced together" - those "car dings" are a good reference point because you can hear them over top when BOTH of them are talking, not just one or the other.
- The "dings" are rhythmically perfect - which would be hard to do if there was splicing involved.
- Once again, the background noises are the same when each of them is talking together throughout the entire conversation.
- Also, the February 12th date is accurate, as this was taken from ACS voice mail, not an answering machine.

Granted, I could be wrong. But I don't think so.

I'd love to be a CSI for a day so I could use those high-powered listening devices and do more analysis!

HUGE Breaking Corruption Story - Dan Coffey "doling" out money for votes

I love Aaron and JR as they just sent me the transcript and the recording!


Aaron Selbig, host of the "The Aaron Selbig" radio talk show (3:00 to 6:00 pm)on KUDO 1080 broke the story. He was given a tape and a professionally-prepared transcript of a damning conversation between Anchorage Assemblyman Dan Coffey (Midtown) and Assemblyman Bill Starr (Eagle River) discussing "doling" out contributions in exchange for votes.

This tape was obtained as the result of an accidental voice mail message left on the machine of a third party. That third party consulted high-level legal sources, had the transcript professionally prepared, turned in copies first to APOC and the FBI then gave copies to Aaron this morning.

The most damaging part of the tape:

Coffey: "I'm--I'm doling it out at 250 a crack."

Starr: "That's good. It gives the message that we care."

Coffey: "Yeah, well, I'm going to be able to, hey, you didn't vote right last week, you don't get...

Starr: "Just what I want..."

Coffey: "...your second 250."

Starr: "Just what I want to hear."

Coffey: "Oh, god."

Starr: "You go my way or the freeway, you know..."

Coffey also named fellow Midtown representative Dick Traini as receiving the money. Interestingly enough, Mr. Traini is a co-sponsor with Allan Tesche on a resolution to support The Clean Elections Act.

That resolution will be discussed at tonight's Assembly Meeting. The meeting starts at 6:00 pm but public testimony will be later in the evening.

I ended up not going to the meeting, but I'm watching it on Channel 10. It was an interesting moment when Aaron was standing in front of Chairman Coffey to find out when they were going to hear his testimony.

Of course, they told him they would put him at the end. I promise you they'll never get to him and will push it off until next meeting.

Stop AP's Obama-smearing Campaign

From Firedoglake:

ACTION: Tell AP Papers to Stop Smearing Obama’s Patriotism

It was pretty much world-record speed with which the smears against Barack Obama's patriotism alley-ooped from the right wing attack machine into the pages of legitimate media, neatly laundered into the AP by Nedra Pickler. It then quickly leapfrogged onto CNN where a poll inquired as to whether Obama had sufficient patriotism to be president...

...The AP probably doesn't care a whole lot about what you think, but it does care what the papers who subscribe to their wire service think. So we've set up a page where you can plug in your zip code and automatically send an email to the papers in your area who syndicate the AP and let them know this is beneath what you expect their coverage to be -- for this election cycle and beyond...


Here is the body of my letter:

I hope McCain's Campaign is paying Nedra Pickler because she sure is doing a good job for them.

That's the only explanation I can come up with when a "journalist" (and I use that term lightly) spreads doubt about the patriotism of a U.S. Senator who started his political career by organizing and helping the less fortunate.

Of course, purveyors of "infotainment" don't let a little thing like "facts" get in the way of a good story. Perhaps AP has decided to start competing for the National Enquirer's market share?

As contentious as this fight for the nomination may be, the ultimate fight for the White House will be much worse. When a wounded animal is cornered, it will do just about anything to survive so I expect to see a flood of half-truths and misinformation along with digusting attacks from the conservatives. What I don't expect is to see Ms. Pickler jump into the fray - at least if AP expects to retain any semblance of respectability.

Wow - two crabby political encounters in one day!!!!

Tuesday Obama defense!

I've been busy today.

I woke up pitifully early (6:30 am Alaska time) and started scanning the sites.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was this post on Americablog:

Clinton surrogate says Obama is really from Somalia

...Tubbs Jones is saying this in order to accomplish several Republican messaging goals:

1. Suggest that Obama is un-American (he's from "over there," and a very black over there to boot).
2. Remind people that Obama is black.
3. Reinforce the hate emails alleging, falsely, that Obama is Mulsim.
4. Remind people that Obama is from a country that viciously killed American troops in the 1990s.

This is the sixth time, at least, I believe, that the Clinton's and their surrogates have launched racist attacks on Obama. It's not just abominable on its face, it's absolutely astounding that the Clinton campaign is now using Republican hate-emails to create their talking points about Obama.

I was incensed and considering a) I was born and raised in Ohio b) I was one of the MoveOn.org folks who made phone calls in Ohio for the Dems in last year's elections, I decided to call the Congresswoman at the phone numbers that John Aravosis kindly posted.

The phone call made me crabby.

The campaign person answering the phone says that it was "unfortunate" that some "Obama fans" "chose" to interpret her words that way.

Excuse me?

I explained that I had the transcript in front of me and that if that twinkie could, please explain exactly how Rep Jones was NOT saying Somalia was Obama's native country.

I then said that "just because it comes out of the mouth of a black woman, doesn't stop it from being racist."

She didn't like that.

I know that being a white mom of a multi-racial child does not "entitle" me to any special knowledge in comparison with black folks. (though I do have the "pleasure" of occasionally being called some choice names by the "Deliverance" crowd) However, I'm a lot more likely to call "bullshit" when folks of color are exhibiting racism.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Chalk this up to the "Where Have I Been?" Department

Am I the only person that didn't know about the Tom Cruise Scientology video?

WOW! This reminds me of the game we used to play when my brother and I were kids riding in the back seat of the car. (OK, we stole it from Monty Python) It was called it "Spot the Loony" and I think I just won this round.

You can see more Tom Cruise/Scientology wackiness at the gossip website GAWKER.

Kaerick and Monocot told me about this today (they visit WAY more blogs than I do) and even if it's late news, I'll ALWAYS jump at the chance to show the psycho side of Tom Cruise.

Ya know, he could really use some of that medication he's always preaching against.

Democratic Convention Connection!

It seems that my dear absent collaborators on this blog, Denver residents Monocot and Kaeric, will be participating in the organization of the Democratic National Convention! They will be posting about the committee meetings and Convention progress in the very near future.

We'll also get to keep up-to-date on Kim's preparation for a triathalon.

Alaskans got run over by some reindeer...

Welcome to the 36th Annual Anchorage Fur Rendezvous festival!

As the name might suggest, this celebration is meant to mirror gatherings held in the pioneer days when the trappers would come into town at the end of the seasonto party and sell their furs
Of course we have a Fur Auction but also events like Snowshoe Softball, the Annual Championship Dogsled Races (sprint racing), Snow Sculpture contest, craft shows and contests, an old-fashioned melodrama, pancake breakfasts, tons of music, and a carnival for the kiddies. .!

We missed most of the events last year so we wanted to make up for it this year so Morrigan and I went to the fireworks. Today, the three of us took Josh's brother's girls Karina and Julianna to the Carnival, where they had a blast! I didn't get nearly the number of pictures that I wanted. Luckily, I can suplement with those from the Anchorage Daily News.

Anyway, they added some new events this year that have gotten folks excited AND angered PETA at the same time! I'm all for thatFor the first time, Anchorage has her own version of the "Running of the Bulls" in Pamplona, Spain. What else could it be but the "Running of the Reindeer?"

I haven't read any PETA crabbiness yet on the whole issue. I expect that it's forthcoming...as they are already gearing up for their anti-Alaska fishing campaign this season!

I've included a video from YouTube for your entertainment!

They broke the race up into two heats, men and women. It's hysterical watching these folks trying to run in their costumes! Also, you'll notice there are about 500 participants in this - and only 10 reindeer!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The candidate who wouldn't leave...

How are houseguests like fish? After seven days, both start to smell!

The same goes for presidential candidates.

Years ago, John Belushi played a hilarious houseguest from hell in the Saturday Night Live skit called "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave."

Clearly Ralph Nader missed that night or didn't get the message. He was already stinking to high heaven during his fourth presidential bid. This time, we are going to need gas masks to prevent wretching from the stench.

It's unfathomable that Nader can possibly see an actual benefit for the country by running for president a fifth time. The only explanation I can come up with is that his ego has completely blinded him in his old age.

Well, that's not the only explanation...

I got so fed up over this that I looked up Ralph Nader's email on his website The Nader Page. This is what I came up with - after edits of course.
Mr. Nader:

Stop it! Just stop!

Of what benefit could your entry into the presidential race possibly be to this country? What issue could you possibly bring to the mix that isn’t already being discussed? Poverty, corporate influence, war, government corruption, unsafe imports, NAFTA, the environment, the economy…I have heard all of those things discussed during what seem like never-ending candidate debates. The only thing your candidacy could possibly accomplish is to put John McCain squarely (and unfairly) in the White House.

Or is that what this is all about? Does your income now consist of a huge checks signed by the GOP every four years? Twelve…even eight years ago I scoffed at that accusation. Now, I’m not so sure.

Sir, your name used to strike fear and loathing in those you worked to expose like corrupt politicians and greedy corporations. Now, I’m sad to say, it has that effect on those of us who voted for you when your candidacy meant something. For the first time in decades, we have smart, articulate, qualified candidates for this country’s highest office. For the first time ever a woman or a black man may become the new leader of the free world…something long overdue.

But your ego and ambition blind you to believing no one can contribute the same way you can and in some ways that is correct. You are probably one of the few folks out there with the potential to set this country back ten years and ensure another white guy gets into office.

As a politically viable candidate, your time has long-since passed. You still have much to contribute to the world of consumer advocacy or issues near-and-dear to Green Party sympathizers. Instead, you choose to threaten this country with four or eight more years of continued disaster for the poor, for the environment, for the economy and for the soldiers serving in Iraq. After all, McCain is talking about 100 more years of war.

Mr. Nader, I’m begging you to reconsider. We have hundreds of thousands of new voters flocking to the polls…they have hope for the future at the hands of the candidates we already have. Don’t let your historical contribution be that you helped to stop an entire movement of change in this country.

Linda Kellen Biegel

My husband reminded me that hundreds of much smarter and more influential people than us have probably told him exactly the same thing. However, I sent this so I can feel just a little bit better.