Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: 6/15/08 - 6/22/08

Friday, June 20, 2008

Heading out for my weekend of slammin' salmon!

Going to catch a bunch of fish in about an hour. Setnetting and dipnetting happens for 10 days during the summer at the mouth of the Kasilof River (setnetting) and the mouth of the Kenai (dipnetting) We go to the mouth of the Kasilof.

Here are pictures from past setnetting outings.

The view of the Kenai River from my Mother-in-law's house.

Picking the fish off of the net. I'll take a better picture this year of us hauling the nets in.

Strategy meeting.

Morrigan on the beach (her cousin in the distance) when she was just 6 years old. She's so big now!

Adjusting a stake during low tide. The nets work on a pulley system using 3 stakes that you pound in while the tide is out. You can hook a 4-wheeler to the rope and haul them in and out - or use a whole bunch of kids the same way!

Team "Blue Oasis" preparing for Denver...and Writing Raven is on board!

I know this was discussed early last week, but I'm excited to announce that Raven will definitely be part of our "Team Blue Oasis" attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver!

Heck, I'm excited and frankly stunned that we actually have a team!

I have never been more excited about our "team" than when I applied for credentials yesterday to "The Big Tent" blogger extravaganza!
The Big Tent will be the place to be for new media journalists, bloggers, reporters, and non-profit leaders covering the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer.

We're creating a 9,000 square foot, two-story structure that will house the work space for journalists, bloggers and new media, a Digg Stage with prominent national leaders, as well as a Google Retreat with a YouTube kiosk where you can make your own YouTube videos. The Big Tent will be open throughout the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 25- 28.

In the New Media Lounge, your pass will be a ticket to to enjoy all the benefits of the blogger / new media lounge, including free WiFi, work space, television-coverage, as well as free food and drinks. And you get to hang out with some of the top bloggers, new media journalists, and non-profit leaders in the country.

And in the Public Space, you can participate in panel discussions with top national leaders on a range of hot topics. There will also be workshops on blogging, community organizing, and new technologies.

The Big Tent will host sponsored happy hours each day from 4 to 5, followed by live coverage of every minute of the Democratic National Convention until 9 p.m. each night. When the Convention ends each day, the Big Tent will still be going with late-night entertainment, including concerts and films. Check back at BigTentDenver.com for additional details as the convention nears.

Can you say, "geek paradise?!"

My team consists of me, Writing Raven, Monocot, Kaerick and of course, the only one who DOESN'T have an internet name, my 10-year-old daughter/photographer Morrigan! As it doesn't appear that my daughter will be able to join me on the floor of the Convention Center (I haven't totally given up hope), this will be a nice alternative.

As you may all recall, Raven contacted me as the result of a column I wrote for the Anchorage Daily News on race and diversity in the DNCC Blog Pool. Raven's new blog is "Alaska Real" and I believe she's the first Alaska Native blogger who is actually focusing on Alaska Native issues.

I'm pleased that we as the Alaska member of the State Blogger Pool will bring a gender and culturally diverse team.

Here are the stats for the record:

4 female (80%) and 1 male (20%)
3 Caucasian (60%), 1 African American (20%) and 1 Alaska Native (20%)
1 disabled (20%)

Per Alaska's 2006 Census:

- Female population 48.3%
- Black population 3.7%
- American Indian and Alaska Native population 15.4%.
- Persons experiencing a disability 12.4%

We beat the stats! I hope that other State Blogger teams do the same!

News on the GI Bill - from IAVA

The "transferability" amendment Senator Ted Stevens supported did make it into the bill, but NOTHING was cut to be more in line with the wimpy Sen. Bill Graham (McCain) offering. There were also no changes made to appease the bogus "retention" argument...one frequently made by Stevens:
The GI Bill included in the war supplemental funding bill voted on today includes the entire World War II-style GI Bill that IAVA has been championing for over a year. The final bill will also allow service members who stay in the military to transfer their education benefits to their spouses and children. The next steps in the GI Bill fight will be for the Senate to sign off on this version of the supplemental and get this hard-fought legislation to the President's desk.
Per my email:

We just received some great news from Washington, DC and I wanted to share it with you right away.

The White House and Congress have reached an agreement on the new GI Bill. The bill will now be included in the Emergency Supplemental Funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House of Representatives gave their overwhelming stamp of approval to the plan on Thursday afternoon with a vote of 416-12. Once the Senate passes the updated version of the bill, it will go to the President's desk for his signature.

Last week, Paul told you about the final hurdles facing the new GI Bill. The President was threatening to veto it, and a small group of representatives in the House was planning to stall the bill on a technicality. But people like you have shown extraordinary support for this bill over the past several weeks. By keeping the pressure on the President, you truly made a difference.

In fact, on the Senate floor yesterday, Vietnam veteran and Senator Jim Webb mentioned your impact when he said, "I would like to again express my appreciation to the veterans' service organizations, many of whom communicated their support of this bill directly to a skeptical White House."

Our hard work in fighting for the new GI Bill continues to pay off. The White House and members of Congress put aside their differences to come together and show real support for our troops. This fight will be remembered as a great example of Washington choosing patriotism over partisanship.

This development comes at an especially fitting time, since we're only a few days away from the 64th anniversary of the original GI Bill being signed into law.

We are about to make history ourselves. While we wait for the President's signature, I'd like you to know how inspiring your support has been throughout this fight.

Thank you for standing with us.


Patrick Campbell
Iraq Veteran
Legislative Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Senator Johnny Ellis on Gasline Goals

June 20th, 2008


Friends and Neighbors,

I took an oath to the Alaska Constitution to develop our resources for the maximum benefit of the people of Alaska . In order to fulfill that oath, I have four bottom-line goals for a gas pipeline:

- Get an economic project moving now
- Good jobs and business opportunities for Alaskans
- In-state use of our gas
- Maximum revenue for the state
- Foster a gas exploration rush on the North Slope through an enhanced open-access pipeline. This is where the most long-term jobs and state revenue will come from.

Point Thomson

As the on-going statewide gas line hearings have progressed, a variety of topics have come to the forefront. This week’s discussions in Anchorage have centered around the dispute between the State of Alaska and ExxonMobil, the operator of the Pt. Thomson oil and gas field, and the effect it could have on a future gas line.

Historical Timeline of the Pt. Thomson Unit

- 1975: Hydrocarbons are first discovered in the area
- 1977-1983: Exploration continues, with 7 additional wells drilled and two other distinct units identified
- 1990’s: Hydrocarbons are discovered at Badami, just west of Pt. Thomson. Production begins in 1998.
- 2006: Exxon’s 23rd Plan of Development is rejected by the Murkowski administration, and the rejection is upheld by the incoming Palin administration.
- Today: The State is in litigation to recover the leases from Exxon on the grounds that they have failed to produce the resource in order to re-lease the lands to a willing partner.

According to the state Department of Natural Resources, Pt. Thomson contains between 8.5 – 10.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and between 1 – 1.5 billion barrels of oil. This oil is in two parts – an oil rim around the gas reserves and a condensate form which is mixed in with the gas.

Under Alaska law, resources must be produced to minimize waste. Because of the mixture of oil and gas and the specific geologic and chemical properties of the basin, the oil must be produced before the gas if it is to be produced at all. This means that gas production must wait to get underway until most of the oil has been recovered, which most estimates put at 10-15 years.

What does Pt. Thomson have to do with AGIA?

Exxon claims that no gas pipeline is economic without the additional gas that Pt. Thomson would produce. The state and independent economists dispute that, saying that the combination of Prudhoe Bay and the extensive but undefined resources on the rest of the North Slope are more than enough.

This debate raises a number of questions. First, the major North Slope producers, including Exxon, proposed a gas pipeline of similar size and scope under the Murkowski administration. The geology of the Pt. Thomson field and legal production requirements have not changed since that time. Second, BP and Conoco, also owners of Pt. Thomson leases, have proposed the Denali pipeline, which is designed to carry an equal amount of gas. What is it about these proposals that allows them to go forward, while dooming the plan that the administration and TransCanada have put forth?

The statewide road show will continue through the next two weeks in Palmer, Soldotna, Barrow, and Ketchikan , and these and many other questions will continue to be addressed. The legislature will reconvene in the capital on July 9th. I predict a lively debate and a final vote before the middle of July.

Summer Solstice

Tomorrow is the longest day of the year – I hope everyone has a chance to get outside and enjoy summer. There are a number of fun events, from running (or cheering) at the Mayor’s Marathon and Half-Marathon at West High School, to AWAIC’s summer solstice festival at the Park Strip, or maybe just time with family and friends before winter starts to creep up on us all once again.

FISA vote today...A President with a 29% approval rating is calling the shots?

Olbermann's discussion of FISA from last night's "Countdown":

per the AP:
The House was expected to pass the bill Friday, potentially ending a monthslong standoff about the rules for government wiretapping inside the United States.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the bill "balances the needs of our intelligence community with Americans' civil liberties and provides critical new oversight and accountability requirements."

The issue of legal protection for telecommunications companies that participated in warrantless wiretapping has been the largest sticking point. The Senate passed a bill that immunized them from lawsuits, but the House bill was silent on the matter.

The White House had threatened to veto any bill that did not shield the companies, which tapped lines at the behest of the president and attorney general but without permission from a special court established for that purpose, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. On Thursday, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the bill met the standards sought by Bush and that the president supported it.

Warrantless wiretapping went on for almost six years until it was revealed by The New York Times. Some 40 lawsuits have been filed against the companies by people and groups who think the government illegally eavesdropped on them.

The compromise bill would have a federal district court review certifications from the attorney general saying the telecommunications companies received presidential orders telling them wiretaps were needed to detect or prevent a terrorist attack. If the paperwork were in order, the judge would dismiss the lawsuit.

So what do the Dems get in return?
Under the compromise, the district judge would for the first time be allowed to read the top-secret letters from Bush administration officials — usually the attorney general — to the companies requesting domestic wiretaps without court orders, according to Democratic aides. Each company got around 40 such letters, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Someone explain to me how that even matters if we're not going to do anything about it?
The compromise bill would also require the inspectors general of the Justice Department, Pentagon and intelligence agencies to investigate the wiretapping program to determine both its scope and legality. The report is due in a year.

A year...the report would be due in a year. After the Bush Administration is long gone.

Those two provisions, immunity and investigation, are meant to balance two competing concerns. Advocates for telecom protection say the companies acted in good faith and that the wiretaps were necessary to avert another terrorist attack. Opponents to immunity say civil lawsuits are the best way to determine whether the Bush administration illegally spied on Americans.

So, Steny Hoyer has compromised us into paralysis.

Per Joe at Americablog:
It's a total cave in to George Bush. We thought the days of cowering before Bush were over. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Bush's approval rating is 29%. Yes, 29%. But, somehow, he's managed to roll the Democratic Majority Leader.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Obama opting out...once again, Olbermann gets to the heart of the issue as does Americablog, Fire Dog Lake, etc...

I posted about this earlier and discussed McCain's hypocritical outrage considering his own behavior.

I was not alone.

Joe at Americablog:
Now, granted, this is a bit complicated. But, it's important -- or it should be important for political pundits who write about John McCain. Yet, for some reason (probably because it counters the conventional wisdom), most of the punditry ignores this -- like Cillizza did today.

The last line in that passage above should have turned some heads. I'll repeat it: Knowingly violating the spending limit is a criminal offense that could put McCain at risk of stiff fines and up to five years in prison.

Jane at Fire Dog Lake:
McCain opted into the public financing system for the primary, then when it didn't suit his purposes he opted out. When FCC chairman David Mason said McCain couldn't just do that without the permission of the FCC, Bush had Mason removed. Like every other arm of the federal government Bush lays his hands on, the FCC is now politicized for the benefit of the GOP. This is the organization Obama is supposed to trust to oversee a fair election?

Rick Hasen from Huffington Post:
I find Senator Obama's decision completely defensible and unsurprising. The system is broken. We cannot expect opt ins by successful candidates, especially in the internet age which has greatly decreased the cost of fundraising from micro-donors.
Jack and Jill Politics:

The Obama campaign has 1.7 million donors. That IS Public Financing.

Man, what ever happened to Dell...

I used to like Dell, really. I liked the ability to configure my computers to my specifications. Their cases were also fairly roomy, which made it easy when you had to replace components. I just had a horrendous experience with Dell.

In May, my laptop died in mishap of comical proportions. I made a stupid mistake of underestimating my clumsiness, and spilled my drink all over the laptop. The computer shut off on it's own(bad) I popped the back case, and cleaned it off as well as I could, and then put it up in my closet out of the way to dry. I figured I'd check it after a week and see if it was salvagable or not.

That night, my cat finished off the job. She decided the laptop was a great lounging spot, and in the process, knocked the laptop down. The case was cracked, the harddrive went flying and about half of my function keys were shattered from the keyboard. Basically, a total wash as the repairs would cost more than the laptop. Since the laptop was a gift, I did not have my standard laptop accidental coverage.

Unfortunately, the laptop was a gift from my Dad. As I didn't want any awkward questions on the status of my laptop, I decided to order the replacement from Dell since the original laptop was a Dell. I placed my order on the website after fiddling with the config options for about half an hr. This time I got accidental spill coverage ;)

Then the waiting starts. After about 2 weeks, they send me a notification that my order is delayed. About 2 weeks later, they send another notification of a delay, and request that I confirm my order. I send confirmation of my order by email. 1 day later, they cancel my order. The cancellation letter states that I can email back for an explantion, but when I do, they tell me they cannot explain anything, just provide the status of my order and direct me to contact customer servicce. I called them up on the phone and spoke to customer service. No one could explain why or how the order had been cancelled, just that it had been. The woman I spoke to then transferred me over to sales.

Sales explains that they are backed up on orders, and that they have no way of placing my order back in the queue where it was, just to create a brand new order. He then goes on to explain that it will take over 25 days before they are able to ship my laptop at the current queue. I ask to have my order expedited as I did not authorize the cancellation of the work order, and should not be moved to the back of the line because of a mistake on Dell's part. No can do.. but they oh so helpfully offer to upgrade my shipping. So instead of waiting 58 days it will only take 56, well I guess that is helpful.....

I don't understand how a company can expect to survive when they consider it ok to take 2 months to deliver a computer. I also at this point don't feel comfortable ordering from them, as I have no guarantees they won't decide to do the same thing with my order once again after another month of waiting. So, it looks like I'll be going to Best Buy tonight instead.

- Monocot

Obama announces he's opted out of Public Financing -- also, his first general election ad

I got this via my email:

Jack and Jill Politics has an excellent analysis:
WHY did he opt out?

Because he has a serious advantage here. Because, for the first time in recent history, The Democrats have a serious money advantage.

While Obama has done his part to get most of the 527's to stand down, Senator Straight Talk is there saying that he can't control everything that The RNC does, let alone the GOP 527's.

Now, opting out of the Public Financing System,which means that Obama will be able to raise as much money as his donors will supply...

COUPLED with his devotion to putting into full throttle- The 50 State Strategy, which includes that voter registration drive in ALL 50 STATES...

means that Obama is playing serious offense.

He WILL force the GOP to defend places that they'd never thought they'd have to and spend money that they simply don't have. It's 'in-your-face' politics, and GOOD - the Democrats need to be playing that FINALLY.
Now, let's talk about McCain's "commitment" to public finance:
A bank loan that Senator John McCain took out late in 2007 to keep his presidential campaign afloat is complicating his desire to withdraw from public financing for his primary effort.

The Federal Election Commission, in a letter it released on Thursday, said Mr. McCain could not withdraw from public financing until he had answered questions about a $4 million line of credit for borrowing that was secured, in part, in December by the promise of federal matching money.

Mr. McCain sent a letter to the commission on Feb. 7 saying he had decided to decline the matching money for his primary campaign. His request for public money, in which the government matches campaign contributions, was made last year as the campaign was running out of cash.
McCain is trying to make this an issue when no one held McCain accountable for thrashing his "commitment" AND ILLEGALLY busted the FEC Cap while receiving public financing.

The media gave McCain a pass during the primary...they need to hold him accountable now as he tries to smear Obama.

Remember, Obama is still not taking PAC or lobbyist money. He's also told the 527s to back off.

Below is what he'll be doing with his money:

He's even running this in Alaska!!!!!!!!

Candidate Update--Eric Cordero Giorgana

Eric Cordero Giorgana, who is running for Lyda Greene's seat in the Valley, filed as a candidate then took a vacation to Germany. Much to his shock and surprise, Lyda Green pulled out of the race and now he finds that folks have all but awarded the seat to Palin-tapped candidate Linda Menard, as if she is a foregone conclusion. From his email:
My campaign will be about restoring faith in the public process and in the ability of government to be an agent of good. I believe in open, honest government and that, above all, our elected officials have to work for all and not just a few.

It is time to move beyond the divisive politics and power plays of our current leadership. It is time for a fresh perspective, new ideas, and renewed energy in our legislature. Everyone knows it, whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent.

Across all sectors - Education, Health Care, Energy, Transportation, etc, - Alaskans have very real problems to solve and a short time left to solve them. These challenges require strong leadership that unites rather than divides, and a willingness to bring everyone to the table.

Mrs. Linda Mendard and her supporters think that she is the virtual winner right now. I'm ready to disappoint her. She might have name recognition and funds, for now, but I plan on running a serious and honest campaign and will give Mat Su voters a real choice.

I need your help and support to make this happen. Your financial contributions will allow me to run a competitive campaign. There is a limit of $500 per person by law. If you would like to make a donation, you can mail a check to:

Erick Cordero for State Senate
1150 S Colony Way # 3 - PMB 167
Palmer, AK 99645

Thank you for your support. Please feel free to call me at 907-982-0353 if you have any questions or suggestions.

Erick is THE Progressive Candidate for this seat, despite what others might say to get the Progressive vote.

Excellent response to the mining/tourism post

This is in response to the post The tourism industry wants to lower their standards...again. But their stooges want different standards for mining? Patti Greene is one of the "before the Earthquake" Alaskans who lived on the Kenai Peninsula and in Kodiak "back in the day." Her experiences are an important addition to the discussion.

Hey baby, your most recent posting has my heart rate up. Why? Because I used to work for the Alaska Division of Tourism -- and I was part of the group in Juneau trying to (ahem) influence the outcome of the gold mine project slated for downtown Juneau. A substantial portion of my life has been spent researching the myriad issues related to these two industries.

If there's a common theme running through the issues -- and waste -- generated by mining and tourism, it's "the solution to pollution is dilution". Both industries ultimately say whatever amount of effluent/byproduct/waste they generate is effectively diluted to the point of being harmless, and therefore that should allow them to dump it into the local environment.

"The effluent will achieve drinking water quality," the mining officials reassured us --- though we were quick to point out that drinking water quality is pretty crappy compared to habitat or fish 'n' wildlife quality. "We only drink this stuff," is how we explained it to an anxious group at a Town Hall Meeting, "but fish have to live in it."

There must be zero discharge, zero effluent from any industry, period.

At this point, I must add the following. My family has lived in Alaska since 1963, in Homer, Anchor Point, Kenai, Kodiak, Juneau and Anchorage. Seven years ago, my father died far too young from some unknown cancer that destroyed his bone marrow. We suspect heavy metal poisoning as, in retrospect, we realized he had showed all the symptoms. My mother has leukemia, and suffers toxic levels of heavy metals, including astronomical levels of lead. My younger brother has the same type of leukemia and similarly suffers toxic levels of heavy metals. My own lead levels are the highest ever seen in someone my age, or so says my health care provider. My body is toxic with heavy metals. It is unknown whether I'll develop leukemia.

A bit of research into cancer hotspots in Alaska shows that we are a state of elevated statistics. In Kodiak, breast cancer is twice the national average. In Juneau -- home of the AJ gold mine and its 100 year old legacy of mercury and mining waste leaching into the environment -- leukemia is abnormally prevalent. A bit more research into SuperFund Sites shows that Alaska was for years the convenient dumping ground for industrial and military waste. And because of our location on the planet, we are continually dusted with airborne chemicals from Japan and Russia, Canada and the agricultural states of the Lower 48. The very winds in Alaska pose dangers to our health.

Could I tie this all together and prove that my family is suffering because of old mining waste draining into Juneau's aquifer, or because there are thousands of barrels of toxic crap buried next to Boy Scout Lake in Kodiak? No. But then, I don't have to. What's done is done.

One question remains to be answered, however. How many other Alaskan families who live in Homer, Anchor Point, Kenai, Kodiak, Juneau or Anchorage are suffering heavy metal toxicity and don't yet know it? How many of our friends and loved ones have passed on, helping to expand the hotspot dots on Alaska's cancer map? Perhaps the only unusual thing about my family is that we decided to undergo heavy metal testing. Maybe everbody in Alaska is poisoned.

The environmental is personal and is political. My family and I stand as witness to the fallacy -- the lunacy -- of past practices as regards the environment. No longer is mercury dumped onto the ground in the gold mine heap leaching process. No longer is untreated sewage dumped out at sea. No longer should we assume our ocean environment or atmosphere can handle, much less dilute, the endless trickle of poison. No longer should we accept the promises of industry that they will leave only a small footprint in our environment.

One day, not too long ago, I heard Ted Stevens on the radio. He was addressing the Southeast Alaska business community, or maybe it was the Legislature. He pointed out that the mining industry in Southeast Alaska had been dealt a crippling blow by "extreme environmentalists". Funny, I never thought of myself -- or the hundreds of volunteer members of the community -- as extreme in anything except our concern for the health of our families, our economy, and our community. Quite frankly, we worked very hard to distance ourselves from purely environmental issues, pointing out that the project would deplete Juneau's water supply, put the landfill over capacity, and had potential to blow the entire town to Kingdom Come. What got my attention and spurred my involvement was the fact that they planned to put their surface facility in an avalanche zone and their tailings pond and dam on an active earthquake fault.

If this is extreme environmentalism, then, in the name of my father and my family, I'll accept Uncle Ted's label because goddammit, I think we've earned it. If I'm the new face of extreme environmentalism, Big Business had better gear up for a new kind of fight, because everybody is extremly concerned about fresh air, clean water, safe food, healthy children, long lives, and good health to enjoy the splendor and beauty that is Alaska.

Linda, there are people whose job it is to put a big, shiny, happy smiley face on some rather dirty industries, and we -- being dumbshit optimist human beans -- we believe 'em. But I remember the Exxon Valdez. I've learned to look behind the smiley face, and I don't like what I see.

[ And of course Pebble is "bribing" the local residents -- in other circles, it's called "public relations" and being a "good corporate neighbor". You shoulda seen the dollars the Large Canadian Mining Company spread around Juneau. Having watched Exxon, we learned to see behind that smiley face. ]

The Pebble Mine is a slow-motion environmental and economical disaster waiting to inundate every resident in the region. Period. It will benefit only the mining company. Anybody who says any different -- about anything -- stands to make some money and doesn't have to clean it up. Mark my words. Don't talk to me about mining new minerals when we can't even figure out how to recycle the old ones.

And if the cruise industry is using our scenic splendor for their Alaska cruise marketing campaigns, they should at the very least have the good sense not to shit in the hand that feeds 'em. Period. Alaska needs to wake up and realize that the cruise industry is to Alaska tourism what them L.A. "See The Stars Homes!" bus tours are to the magic and make-believe of Hollywood's movie biz.

Thanks for giving me something interesting to think about on this lovely day.

Patti Greene

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Countdown: What's REALLY behind high gas prices...and why McCain is a liar

This is the best report I've seen on the subject of "market speculation" regarding oil prices...as well as John McCain's ties to it.

1) But wait, I thought it was the "environmentalists" fault because their regulations wouldn't let us build enough refineries?

Oil Refiners See Profits Sink As Consumption Falls

However much the companies would like to raise gasoline prices enough to pass along the full increases in oil, analysts say they have been unable to do it. Oil prices doubled in the past year, while wholesale gasoline prices rose a mere 39 percent.

“Refiners are having a terrible time,” said Lawrence J. Goldstein, an economist at the Energy Policy Research Foundation...
Their answer? Cut down on refining.
...The rising oil prices have led to a sharp drop in refining profit margins, or the difference between the cost of oil and the cost of gasoline. These margins, at $12.45 a barrel on average, are 60 percent below their year-ago level, and in the lower half of their five-year range, according to a report by UBS.

In response to falling gasoline demand and rising costs, refiners have cut their production rates. Refining utilization rates, for example, slumped to a low of 81.4 percent in the second week of April, compared with 90.4 percent at the same time last year. Earlier this month, refineries were running at 85 percent of their capacity.

2) We need to drill for more oil...open up those offshore areas like McCain and Bush are suggesting.

Wrong...for example, ANWR sure wouldn't have made a difference. According to The Energy Information Administration, which is "the Energy Department's independent analytical arm":

...if Congress had cleared Bush's ANWR drilling plan the oil would have been available to refiners in 2011, but only at a small volume of 40,000 barrels a day -- a drop in the bucket compared with the 20.6 million barrels the U.S. consumes daily.

At peak production, ANWR could have potentially added 780,000 barrels a day to U.S. crude oil output by 2020, according to the EIA.

Nor would it have made a difference with foreign oil:
The extra supplies would have cut dependence on foreign oil, but only slightly. With ANWR crude, imports would have met 60 percent of U.S. oil demand in 2020, down from 62 percent without the refuge's supplies.

But McCain has now changed his tune and is heading down that dead-end drilling route:
Sen. John McCain plans to call Tuesday for lifting the ban that prevents offshore oil and gas drilling along much of the U.S. coastline — but would give states like Florida veto power over opening up their shores.

McCain, who plans to unveil his proposal in detail Tuesday, said Monday that lifting the decades-old moratorium should be a "very high priority'' with gasoline prices soaring. He said that allowing states to explore for gas and oil "and perhaps providing additional incentives for states to permit exploration off their coasts … would be very helpful in the short term in resolving our energy crisis.''
So 5 to 12 years is the short-term to him?

Back in January, he felt a little differently about drilling in Florida:
As far as ANWR is concerned, I don’t want to drill in the Grand Canyon, and I don’t want to drill in the Everglades. This is one of the most pristine and beautiful parts of the world.

I guess not so much now.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Michelle Obama on the View--ABC covers "Obama vs. McCain," ...as in Mrs...--McCain as "The Creepy Guy" on SNL

One of my favorite parts of the summer is when my 10-year-old daughter crawls into bed with me in the morning after my husband leaves for work. We usually flip on the radio to KUDO 1080 and discuss the news (between naps). However, when I did so this morning my daughter immediately said, "But Mommy, Michelle Obama is on the View today!

Wow! My daughter remembered this and it was important to her!

So after listening to the radio for an hour, we turned on the View. Of course, that's when my daughter fell back asleep. She said she remembered it FOR me.

I'm glad she did, actually. What a difference from watching the vapid 2nd Mrs. McCain!

And speaking of Mrs. Obama vs. 2nd Mrs. McCain, Michelle Obama is winning.
Forty-eight percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll see Obama favorably, vs. 39 percent for McCain, a 9-point Obama advantage. Slightly more, though, also view Obama unfavorably – 29 percent vs. McCain's 25 percent.
It may mean that the McCain Campaign may have to reign in those supporters who are the source of attacks on Michelle Obama...or distance themselves from those attacks.

Finally, Americablog asks: Who would want this guy to be President?


Breaking: DNCC Red-to-Blue Announcement--Ethan Berkowitz selected

I just got this email from the DNCC:

Wanted to pass along the good news -- a local candidate has made the DCCC’s competitive Red to Blue and Emerging Races list. Our press release with the announcement is pasted below and up on our site at http://dccc.org/redtoblue/



Brandon English
Online Communications Manager
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

This is huge for the Berkowitz Campaign as it will mean a substantial influx of money and support from the National Party.

Per the above-referenced Red-to-Blue website:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced today the next round of candidates who earned a spot in the DCCC's highly competitive Red to Blue program. These 14 candidates qualified for the third round of the Red to Blue program by surpassing demanding fundraising goals and skillfully demonstrating to voters that they stand for change and will represent new priorities when elected to Congress. The DCCC also released a list of 20 emerging races, where Democratic candidates are running strong campaigns that are generating excitement in their districts.

"The candidates for change being named to the DCCC Red to Blue program are running strong campaigns and are committed to making things easier for middle class families in their districts," said Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "With less than five months to make their case for change to voters in their districts, the Red to Blue program will give these candidates the financial and structural edge to be even more competitive in November."

The list of candidates:

Ethan Berkowitz (AK-AL)
Paul Carmouche (LA-04)
Gerry Connolly (VA-11)
Joe Garcia (FL-25)
Martin Heinrich (NM-01)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Frank Kratovil (MD-01)
Bob Lord (AZ-03)
Betsy Markey (CO-04)
Raul Martinez (FL-21)
Mike McMahon (NY-13)
Glenn Nye (VA-02)
Harry Teague (NM-02)
Dina Titus (NV-03)

While I congratulate the Berkowitz Campaign on their success, I cannot help but feel frustrated when it comes to the Benson Campaign. I had hoped that this time, Diane would not have to "go it alone"...especially when polls have shown either of them could beat Young.

Promoting Native Culture - Joan Hamilton passes away

Writing Raven at Alaska Real pointed me in the direction of this Anchorage Daily News tribute:
Joan Hamilton, one of Alaska's most energetic proponents of Native culture, civil rights and health care, died of natural causes on Saturday at her home in Scappoose, Ore. She was 65.

A Cup'ik Eskimo, Hamilton was well-known in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. But she enjoyed a moment of national fame as the "stink head chef" when the National Geographic cable television network featured her preparing the regional delicacy made from fermented fish heads.
I was really interested in reading the rest of her history:
At a time when Alaska Natives, especially Native women, were denied equality, she became a licensed practical nurse at several hospitals in Alaska and the Lower 48, supervisor of the Northwest Free Clinic in Salt Lake City, program director of the Alcohol/Drug Abuse Prevention office of RuralCap in Anchorage, administrator of the Tundra Women Coalition and chairman of the board for KYUK public broadcasting in Bethel.

She was also a board member of the Alaska Civil Liberties Union.

In the 1990s she became the director of the Yupiit Piciryarait Culture Center in Bethel during a period when that museum helped create major collections of historic art and craft from the region, including a groundbreaking exhibit of Yup'ik masks and the "Yuungnaqpiallerput" exhibit currently on display at the Anchorage Museum.

She contributed essays to the Daily News on topics ranging from Native foods to the epidemic of suicides in rural Alaska.
It's a sad loss for the Community.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Gas Line Road Show - Anchorage public testimony tomorrow

This is just a reminder of the hearing schedule for the Road Show. Who is planning to testify?

--(6:00-8:00 PM Public Testimony)
--(6:00-8:00 PM Public Testimony)

Anchorage Location:

--Howard Johnsons 239 W. 4th --corner of 4th and C
--9am - 5pm - Testimony (by invitation)
--June 18, 19--6:00 to 8:00 PM --Public Testimony

Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, the only gay couple married in LA County on the first night (Mon) that same-sex marriages are legal in California.

They deserve special treatment, though, as it was their case that started the whole thing!

Congratulations, Robin and Diane!

(Photo courtesy of Americablog)

The tourism industry wants to lower their standards...again. But their stooges want different standards for mining?

I had a really interesting conversation with another Democratic blogger recently. It actually started on the gas line but we ended up talking about the cruise vs. mining industries and between the two of them, who does the most environmental damange and who we could trust.

The jury is out for me on who is more trustworthy (if either) but while I do have concerns about mining, the cruise industry has PROVEN that we can't trust them.

In the history of violations, at least that have been made public, fines have been a wrist-slap when they have existed at all.

Well, the industry is not happy with the impending requirements to more stringent wastewater requirements: removing metals that can contaminate fish.

So they are tackling the issue in typical industry style--schmoozing the ones who can make the difference. Per the Anchorage Daily News:
The tour begins in places cruise-ship passengers never see: the sewage treatment room at the bottom of the hull, the garbage room where crewmen sort paper and plastic amid the unmistakable smell of landfill.

It ends in a plush onboard restaurant called the Pinnacle Grill, where the guests are treated to a lunch of tiger prawns, beef tenderloin and chocolate brownie decadence.

Who gets such a weird tour of a luxurious cruise ship?

State legislators, local government officials and members of civic organizations such as Rotary and the chamber of commerce.

Cruise industry advocates are staging the tours in Alaska ports where more than 30 large cruise ships bring hundreds of thousands of glacier-gazing tourists each summer.

Their message is that cruise ships are clean, discharging far less dirty water and toxic wastes into the sea than they once did.

Yeah, so what about all of that expensive technology they already use? Doesn't that fix everything? Per Seattle PI:
"They make such a big deal about the systems they have bought for treating wastewater, but what they don't tell you is that after those fancy filters are done, they dump this concentrated crap into the ocean," said Fred Felleman, a Bluewater Network environmental consultant who is active in maritime environmental issues.

As can be seen in the above-referenced list of offenses that still happened in 2006 and 2007, there are still a number of fuel spills, graywater spills and wastewater spills in spite of this technology. Not surprising, considering the dismal record of catching and/or punishing them.

So the timing of all this involves the two year "anniversary" of the August 2006 ballot initiative
In 2006, Alaska voters passed a ballot initiative requiring large cruise ships to carry "ocean rangers" to monitor their environmental performance. The initiative also levied a $50 state tax on each cruise-ship passenger, and required operators to have new state permits setting limits on the level of certain pollutants in wastewater the ships flush overboard.

But Binkley and other industry advocates say the permit limits are so tight they could force ships to hold and haul waste for dumping in seas under federal jurisdiction farther offshore.

That could shorten the time some ships and their free-spending passengers can stay in Alaska ports, or eliminate some stops altogether, they say.

By law, state legislators can change an initiative's requirements two years after voters pass it, and Binkley said the industry will seek adjustments.

What's more persuasive than a fancy lunch?
Cruise ships still discharge wastewater from toilets, kitchens and sinks into Alaska seas, but the discharges are far cleaner than they once were, the tour guides explain. And hazardous wastes such as photo processing or dry-cleaning chemicals are either collected for disposal on shore or are no longer used, they say.

The tour moves to the Lido Deck atop the ship, where passengers can relax in a pool or hot tubs beneath a retractable roof and a huge sculpture of frolicking dolphins.

On the bridge, the ship seems to tower above downtown Juneau.

The tour wraps up in the Pinnacle Grill, where our Dutch server pours wine and delivers the sumptuous entrees.

"Bon appetit," he says.

There have already been constant assaults on any attempt to regulate the tourism industry by Legislative lapdogs like Jay Ramras:
Rep. Kyle Johansen, R-Ketchikan, introduced a bill that would replace the onboard monitors with port-side observers. The bill was amended by Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, who said the $4 a head from the tax intended to fund the program would be better spent on Johansen's proposed monitors at ports, plus the creation of a marine ecology research and projects fund.

Ramras received considerable amounts of criticism from both the public and other lawmakers on his amendment and said he would withdraw it during the bill's hearing today in House Judiciary Committee.

Ramras said he had hoped the bill would pass as is and eliminate the need for hiring some 80 Ocean Rangers as called for in the initiative's original language. Eighty monitors could find themselves working for six months and collecting unemployment for the other six months if Johansen's bill failed, he said.

"I don't think the voters would have agreed to that if it had been proposed as a separate ballot initiative," Ramras said.

Yes, because we voters are too stupid to know the details of the initiatives on which we are voting.

So Ramras, interestingly enough, is also anti-Pebble Mine:
The complaint states that Ramras, who has implicated the heads of Pebble Mine for bribing villagers to support the mine, has done so amid sponsoring House Bill 134 — which could not only halt the mine, but also "impair the ability of the Village Corporations and the Regional Corporations to develop their own lands responsibly." The plaintiffs have also expressed concern that the state will send Alaska State Troopers to observe the hearings, which could influence the outcome by intimidating those who may choose to speak against the bill.

Not surprisingly, his "support" seems to coincide with big money members of the tourism industry:
Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, opposes Pebble, and described it as an “ill-conceived project” because of its geographical location at an Alaska Miners Association meeting in Fairbanks last December. “Bob Gillam, who is very unique individual, has a mind to assert a public ballot initiative to tax the industry depending on the industry’s posture toward the Pebble mine,” Ramras told the AMA. “That is like an ultimatum and something that you might want to consider because it would put together pretty draconian measures that would be pretty punitive to the industry,” he added.

So, I'm not willing to expect more out of the mining industry than I am out of the cruise ship industry and neither should anyone else. Unfortunately, there's no one who knows how to wine and dine quite like tourism folks:
Rep. Doll said she supported the cruise-ship initiative and will face a tough decision if the industry seeks changes.

"I've been on the hot spot here in Juneau," she said, having been lobbied by the tourism industry on one side and environmentalists on the other.

Her husband, Bob Doll, said the cruise ships and the thousands of tourists they pour out onto the docks are a hugely important part of the city's economy. The cruise lines, he believes, have cured their pollution problems.

"I don't believe it's an issue," said Doll, standing on the dock after his Zaandam tour. "We've had a tangible demonstration today of why it is not."

Obviously, it works...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Senator Obama's Father's Day Speech - "any fool can have a child...it takes a man to raise a child"

This is a pretty amazing speech even for Obama. In it he takes men to task for abandoning their children/families...especially black men. It's especially poignant when he describes growing up without his own father and the sacrifices his mother had to make. He also discusses how we must help and support single mothers who are giving everything to raise their children...and that is why he is running for president.

My daughter and I feel a special affinity to Barack Obama because of his childhood. I was fortunate to meet and marry a wonderful man, but I was a single mom for the first 3 years of my daughter's life and her biological father was almost non-existent. My daughter had led me to believe that she didn't remember her father until very recently. She unexpectedly ended up recounting a memory of her father, then cried and ran out of the room and wouldn't discuss it anymore. It was a wake-up call to me that no child whose father abandons him/her is unaffected no matter how young.

Even before the election, Obama's candidacy is changing the dialogue in this country. How could a McCain presidency even compare?

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Right-wing making Michelle Obama a "target" - bloggers fight back

I passed along a very interesting story on "The First Mrs. McCain", her car accident and 23 surgeries and the fact that John dumped her for Cindy. I also did a post on Faux News's unbelievable designation of Michelle Obama as Barack's "Baby Mama."

Bloggers have their own plans to combat this. I loved this diary by bkmn on Pam's House Blend:
Here is my plan going forward:

1) I will only refer to Cindy McCain as Sen. McCain's second wife...the one with a history of stealing drugs from the American Voluntary Medical Team, oh and that was after she was working for the Keating Five as an accountant who couldn't keep track of receipts.

2) At the same time I will bring up Carol McCain, referring to her as Sen. McCain's first wife, the former swimsuit model and the one who was crippled and debilitated following a car accident. When he returned from Vietnam, he proceeded to go skirt chasing...at which time he met Wife #2, which he married 1 month after divorcing Wife #1.

The right takes marriage and fidelity very highly...they just need some education about John Sydney McCain.

When we get done, NO woman should vote for McCain!

Garage Sale summary and Denver expenses...note the "donation" button on the right

Wow, we were whipped after it was all said and done. We never even made it to the social event/birthday party of the year (sorry Shannyn!).

Looks like our profit was about $100.00...respectable but we've got a way to go yet. I figure we'll need at least $1,250.00.

I have 30,000 miles which will get us about 1/2 off (up to $250.00) on two tickets. So, tickets will cost us (if we hurry) about $750.00

We are staying with friends so the actual cost of lodging is free but I'll want to give them some money for expenses. Plus, we'll need meal money and for whatever activities they'll have us do. I figured $250.00 each for that.

So...$1,250.00. Now...$1,150.00

More fundraising will be announced and if anyone feels moved to donate via paypal, you can find that button on the right of the screen. Thanks!