Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: 6/29/08 - 7/6/08

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Senator Ted Stevens touts the book "America Alone"--should Alaska's Muslim Community (and everyone else) take notice?

When my daughter was about 18 months old, I was entertaining the idea of moving to the lower-48 in the Southern regions (yes, it was February in Anchorage). For the heck of it, I was checking out some "live-in" positions where high-powered, type-A folks were looking for personal assistants to be at their beck-and-call. I started talking to a nice, older couple...a retired oil exec and his wife who were heavily involved in foundations, fundraising and event planning. The position would have been perfect! I sent them my resume, samples of my writing and made sure they knew I had an 18-month-old daughter.

They were impressed with my abilities and tickled at the thought of having a child in the house again. It really looked like this was going somewhere. As a proud mama, I decided to send them a picture of Morrigan and I together.

That evening, I received a curt (at first) phone call saying they were no longer interested in my services. I was stunned and couldn't understand what was happening. I thought perhaps I had said something, that they thought I looked unprofessional (not thin enough) and was so baffled that I kept pushing for an answer.

I was told that they could not hire someone who was "a traitor to her race." I was one of the folks responsible for creating "the mud people" and therefore was "a mud person" myself, which meant that I was a few other choice words as well (mostly regarding my sexual practices). I was so stunned (after yelling numerous accusations about his heritage, his manhood, his IQ and the present location of his head) that it took the "off the hook" sound on my phone to remind me to hang it up.

One of the things that surprised me so much was that these folks were originally from the UK. However, after research I discovered that there was a strong undercurrent of anti-immigration-turned-racism happening in in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Enter Ted Stevens, with one of his "Grandfather Simpson" style rantings when he was asked about his stance on Real ID and the Patriot Act (he's for both of them) and was told about opponent Mark Begich's stance against them.

(7:48 on the video)

"Read the book "America Alone." A lot of people complain about that book...look at the demographic concepts of that book and just think about what's going on in the world and decide whether we want to become Italy or we want to become..."
Wait for it...

"...France, in terms of our society and how it's impacted by those who are really against us."
So, according to Mark Steyn's book "America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It," what does happen to Italy and France?

I went out and actually bought the book and started reading. However, I also discovered that an excellent review by UK journalist, Johann Hari summed it up nicely:
'America Alone' is a guidebook to a continent called Eurabia in the year 2020. Its old European shell looks familiar; "most of" the old Cathedrals and boulevards "still stand" in Rome and London and Paris. But the Islamic National Republican Coalition has just won the French elections - only the latest nation-sized domino to fall to the Islamists. Alcohol is already banned in the Netherlands and Denmark. The continent's women are veiled. The gay clubs are long since shut and shuttered, "relocated to San Francisco."
At least he gave the gays San Francisco.
The "mass evacuations" of white people began five years ago, as the "supposedly Greater France" began "remorselessly evolving month by month into Greater Bosnia." As they flee, the last Europeans curse the memory of mass immigration and multiculturalism. They now realise that 7/7 and France's 2006 car-burning banlieues were merely "the first stage of the Eurabian civil war." The continent that defined modernity is condemned to "societal collapse, fascist revivalism" and a descent into "the long Eurabian night." America is left alone, the last country to resist being "reprimitivized"...

And how do we resist? Because we have guns, you see. Guns will be the thing that saves us all in the long run from fanatic Islam, which supposedly becomes the goal of ALL Muslims rather than just the small percentage every person educated in Middle East politics tells us exists.

Here's where we get to Steven's "demographics" part:
...Steyn's story is - very loosely - based on demographics. His argument is simple. Europe's "white" population (a label he initially shies away from, but later embraces) is having fewer and fewer children. So to keep their social democratic economies spinning, these Europeans are importing Muslim immigrants - who are breeding rapidly. Although he offers no statistics on the European Muslim birthrate, he warns ominously that the most popular baby's name in Rotterdam is now Mohammed. This generation of young Muslims will represent "a literal baby boom". He asks sceptically, "Can the developed world get more Muslim in its demographic character without becoming more Muslim in its political character?" No. Because the "European races too self-absorbed to breed," they are unwittingly catalysing the "the recolonization of Europe by Islam."

An unassimilated, culturally confident Muslim mass will slowly become the majority, and demand the demoralised multicultural "natives" integrate with them. At times, Steyn implies this shift is the result of a conscious political conspiracy. Orianna Fallacci - whose "bravery" he praises - said that Muslims "have been told to come here and breed like rats." Steyn skirts close to his, warning: "Today, a fearless Muslim advance has penetrated far deeper into Europe than Abd al-Rahman... There are three strategies Islam deploys against a dying West: first, demography; second, conversion; and third, the murky 'intertwining' of modern technology and ancient hatreds."
So basically, the "demographics" that Ted Stevens mentioned forbodingly are as Phil Munger states a little more bluntly in his post title on Progressive Alaska; Steyn wants white folks to have more babies because (according to Steyn) the evil Muslim folks (did we mention they are mostly brown?) are multiplying like rabbits as part of a conspiracy to take over Europe and then the world.

And this is the completely-devoid-of-any-scientific-research-tripe that neo-cons like Dick Cheney and now Ted Stevens are openly touting as their influence for actual domestic and foreign policy strategy!

Now, I'm not someone who is going to randomly cry "racism" and cast the evil eye on everyone who might say something stupid. I was one of the folks who, while denouncing the Clintons and their surrogates for "race-baiting," did not confuse their sad opportunism with racism.

However, this book and these "demographics" being discussed in the most powerful offices in the land are ABSOLUTELY related to the old-fashioned "mud people" argument laid out 100-200 years ago by the KKK. The KKK (and later other "white pride" or "neo-nazi" groups) insinuated that black men specifically wanted to get white women pregnant so that the "mud people" could take over. They use the same stereotypes on "Muslims" that they've used on every other minority in the world. The worst false accusation is casting all Muslims in the same light with Osama Bin Ladin.

The sad fact is that Ted Stevens actually used the word "demographics" in his description of the book during the press conference, so he obviously knows exactly what it says.

Is this just one more thing for which the media will refuse to hold him accountable?

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Taste of Chicago July 3, 2008 Fireworks -- Happy 4th

Yup, I'm from Chicago, but I can say in a completely unbiased way that they have the BEST fireworks displays I've ever seen!!!! The best part is they combine it with The Taste of Chicago, which is all of the best food in the world on Navy Pier for a weekend.

This year, they went with a fireworks company that has the entire thing computerized so they only need one person to basically push a button. As I had a bad experience in the past with a fireworks display that went horribly wrong, I like the idea of people being safe.

Morrigan and I watched this on WGN last night and we were blown away by the show...well, as much as you can be on TV. The music was great and you can hear that in the first two videos.

The last video of the finale doesn't have music, but it was the best video of the finale on You Tube.

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Berta's Briefings: Energy Plans and Savings Programs

My State Rep. Berta Gardner puts out a great newsletter for her constituents. I like to post it when there is especially good information for all Alaskans.

AHFC Weatherization and Energy Rebate Programs:
Helpful Suggestions to Save on Energy Costs

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Last month, I sent out a postcard to get your feedback on Governor Palin’s energy relief program. Although the Governor’s plan has changed, I was pleased by the number of responses I received and I thank everyone who sent me comments by phone or email and those who participated in the online survey. I will try to respond personally to each of you, though I hope you will be patient as it will take me some time to do so.

On the questions of the proposed $100/month for each Alaskan, and of energy assistance to individuals and Alaskan businesses, respondents were about evenly split. It was clear that respondents did not want to see the State pick up 60% of the energy costs for individuals, businesses and government offices.

Representative Gardner speaks with a member of the public who participated in the public testimony on TransCanada in Anchorage two weeks ago.

The best part of the responses were the comments. People were concerned about the risk of establishing a new government giveaway program, especially when money is given to people regardless of need. Some expressed a desire to see the money used to support schools, nonprofits or public transportation. Others focused on projects with long-term benefits, such as weatherizing homes, enhancing public transportation, increasing use of renewable energy or building a bullet line from the North Slope. Several people expressed frustration that the survey forced either or answers when none of the options were accurate for them. I apologize for that and will try to improve the structure of any future survey.

This week the Governor has announced she is adding energy issues to the renewed Special Session beginning July 9. Your responses and suggestions will be part of my consideration as I listen to the proposals and the testimony.

In the meantime, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) weatherization program is available to help all Alaskans save money and energy by improving the energy efficiency of our homes.

An energy auditor will inspect the home and make recommendations on how to bring it up to energy efficient standards. A crew then will come and do the repairs, all at no direct cost to those qualify under the income guidelines.

People below 100% of the median income in their region qualify for the Weatherization program. In Anchorage, the median incomes are as follows:

Household Size and Income Limit:

1 person - $55,100

2 people - $63,000

3 people - $70,800

4 people - $78,700

5 people - $85,000

6 people - $91,300

7 people - $97,600

8 people - $103,900

Priority is given to the elderly, disabled, young children and families under 60% of median income. When an individual or family gets to the top of the waiting list, a weatherization crew comes in and does the needed work on the home.

To find out more information on the weatherization program please visit http://www.muni.org/cdbg/weatherization.cfm

Best regards to each of you,

I'm Berta, and I'm listening.

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The Ted and Sarah Show...conspiracy theories, misinformation...so many "gold nuggets," so little time.

Ted Stevens should never speak...never. I can just imagine how the Begich Team's mouth must have started watering when they saw the latest diatribes on ADN's Alaska Politics and Dennis Zacki's "Alaska Report" and Blog.

One tidbit was in regards to Alaska Democrats:

Watching this made me flash immediately onto Grandpa Simpson.

The Democrats won this round of "Rock 'em, Sock 'em Robots":
Anchorage, AK – The Alaska Democratic Party (ADP) reacted today to Senator Ted Stevens and called his recent allegations conspiracy theories. Yesterday, Stevens refused to answer tough questions about his record on oil speculation, which has caused gas prices to skyrocket leaving Alaska families behind. He then accused the ADP of being controlled by outside interests. The ADP issued the following statement in response:

"Senator Stevens continues to refuse to answer Alaskans’ tough questions. Instead, he dodges and distracts the public with conspiracy theories. It's absurd to think that anyone other than Alaskans run the Alaska Democratic Party. This is becoming a pattern – Stevens hiding behind expensive lawyers and national politics instead of answering questions about the FBI investigation and how he’s paying his legal bills. We expect Senator Stevens to answer hard questions and take responsibility for his record."

-- Kay Brown, spokeswoman for the Alaska Democratic Party.

If Ted's behavior remains consistent, I believe our rightful expectations will be disappointed.

Once again, Stevens speaks on ANWR:

Dennis's Blog as well as two excellent pieces by Phil Munger on Progressive Alaska covers Steven's and Palin's proclamations regarding ANWR and oil prices nicely.

Phil's comment here slices right to the heart of Steven's primary tactic during the last few years of his political career...and the reason for his success:
Robert Dillon, a very knowledgeable reporter, covered Stevens' full-frontal assault on the truth this week, by telling readers it was a sign that Stevens is ready to hit back at Begich, and hit hard. No, Robert, it is a sign that only when he has to, as a last resort, do something - his bullshit "energy blueprint" plan is in competition with 18 other bills dealing with this - he'll do as little as possible and make the most out of it he can. Trusting, all the time, that you'll help him tell his fucking lie his way.

This is the same point (though more eloquently stated) that I've been trying to make about Steven's alleged "support for the Veterans"...especially regarding the GI Bill. When Stevens can depend on a lack of research from the Mainstream Media and has a lacky like former aide Ric Davidge using pretty red, white and blue pastels to shade the truth, why would he need to exert any effort on behalf of Alaskans?

Phil is absolutely dead-on when he talks about Ted's deteriorating communication skills (which were pretty poor in the beginning) and when he questions whether blatant inaccuracies are purposeful lies or merely a signal of a fading memory. Even the accusations of alleged wrongdoing which sparked the FBI investigation, if true, seem to signal a desire to benefit from past accomplishments and associations...calling in markers at the end of a long career.

It makes one wonder if the rational part of him is begging for retirement while the "pit bull" part just can't stop fighting?

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

RIP Madame Marie from Bruce Springsteen...4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

Bruce Springsteen pays homage to Madame Marie upon her death at 93:
Back in the day when I was a fixture on the Asbury Park boardwalk, I'd often stop and talk to Madam Marie as she sat on her folding chair outside the Temple of Knowledge.

I'd sit across from her on the metal guard rail bordering the beach, and watched as she led the day trippers into the small back room where she would unlock a few of the mysteries of their future. She always told me mine looked pretty good - she was right. The world has lost enough mystery as it is - we need our fortunetellers. We send our condolences out to her family who've carried on her tradition. Over here on E Street, we will miss her.

--Bruce Springsteen

Here's a video of the boardwalk that I found on You Tube, for those of you who've never been there. It shows Madame Marie sitting in her "booth."

In high school in Philly, my best friends were this wonderful, geeky crowd...several of whom had houses in South Belmar at the Jersey Shore.

I have great memories of running the Asbury Park boardwalk during those summers in the 70's and that included seeing Madame Marie wait for someone who wanted a reading.

She was an Asbury Park institution before Bruce ever wrote the song.

Here's Springsteen and the E Street Band performing the song. It's such a slice of Americana and my past, it feels patriotic to listen to it for the 4th of July!

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Kudos to Ethan Berkowitz for being the first to answer my six questions to the candidates! Grats to David Shurtleff on his first day there!

(Photo of David Shurtleff courtesy of Steve at "What Do I Know")

On June 19th, I sent an email to Begich, Benson, Berkowitz, Vondersaar and Metcalfe with six questions for them to answer. I told them that each question would be a blog post between now and the primary. I also requested that they try and answer them by June 30th.

I know that it's busy, busy, busy out there for the candidates and while I asked for June 30th, I didn't REALLY have expectations that would happen. However, I thought that maybe ONE person would make it!

Alas, no one did!

However, I received an email yesterday from David Shurtleff, on his first day working for Ethan's campaign, apologizing and saying that Ethan would have those to me today. Damned if I didn't get a phone call from David today and sure enough, they were in my email!!!!

My hat's off to you, David and Ethan!

(Photo courtesy of the Juneau Empire)

Sooooo...I'm extending the deadline until July 15th when I will start writing posts on each question and answer. If I don't get any other responses, then I guess we will have 6 posts focused on Ethan Berkowitz!

By the way, did I mention that I was going to submit these as diaries to Daily Kos, Pam's House Blend as well as articles for Crosscut.com which is a high-traffic Northwest online news outlet??

Anyway, here are the six question I emailed to the Progressive candidates (Berkowitz, Benson, Begich, Vondersaar, and Metcalfe). Note: I did not ask these from the standpoint of a journalist...I asked these from the standpoint of a voter and constituent who has a VERY personal investment in the answers:

1) Energy Policy: What short-term solutions do you offer towards immediate emergency gas-price relief…especially for places like Rural Alaska, Fairbanks and Juneau ? What long-term solutions do you see in Alaska’s/the country’s energy future and what steps will you take to get there?

2) Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault: Do you have a plan to address and provide solutions to protect the mostly women and children affected by this chronic problem? Can you address solutions especially geared towards the Alaska Native Community considering the frighteningly high number of Native victims in proportion to their population?

3) Campaign Finance: Senator Barack Obama, as the new leader of the Party has told the DNC that they are no longer permitted to accept money from lobbyists or PACs. For his own campaign, this requirement has been so stringent he’s returned small, personal donations to anyone who identifies him/herself as a “lobbyist” of any kind. Will you be incorporating that directive into your own campaign and refusing money from these sources?

4) Earmarks: While the use of earmarks by Senator Stevens and Congressman Young has given Alaska a black eye throughout the rest of the country, that practice has also made them popular with many Alaskan businesses as well as individuals. Do you think it’s possible to juggle Alaska ’s dependence on earmarked government projects without making some of those same mistakes and/or further damaging Alaska ’s reputation? If so, how will you accomplish that?

5) How would you end our occupation of Iraq? Would you recommend getting out completely or maintaining a long-term presence? Would you pull out the contractors and other civilians as well? How long do you think it would take?

6) Veterans: The treatment of our Veterans is not just a recent problem as the VA has been chronically under funded for decades. This has precipitated questionably ethical money-saving practices by the agency such as forcing their employees to remain “temporary” so they don’t have to pay benefits. Veteran’s care has often been the first thing on the chopping block. However, it is often cut in ways that defy sound bite explanations so is therefore ignored by the media and the public, including the utilization of the OMB Circular “A-76” and other outsourcing practices which led to the Walter Reed Hospital debacle. Members of Congress have touted their “support of the troops” through bills that are simply window-dressing, avoiding the real “spendy” issues of Veteran’s health and long-term care. How will you address these issues and come up with permanent, long-term solutions?
I hope to hear from everyone else soon!!!!

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Alaska's Scottish Highland Games 2008

(Crow Creek Pipe and Drum Band)

One of my family's favorite things to do together is to attend the Highland Games each year out in Eagle River, Alaska.

We all enjoy it because there are things that each of us likes to do. For Morrigan, there are kids activities and games. My husband enjoys watching the games themselves. I love the "Tea Tent," shoppping at the booths and especially the bands they bring up every year.

This year was no exception...the "Tea Tent" was perfectly placed to not only drink pot after pot of "Bewley's Tea," but also to enjoy watching the girl's Highland Dancing.

It was also the perfect spot to listen to the band "Stand Easy" featured John McClean Allan, who has played with an amazing number talented Celtic artists. We listened to their mid-afternoon show and I now believe that the bagpipes can be a true rock instrument!

Of course, what most folks come to watch are the games themselves.

Scottish Games involve "strong man" events--in other words, making heavy things go high or far by either throwing them or carrying them. All weights are traditionally in "stone" (14 US lbs = 1 stone) but in Alaska, they list it in pounds for the newbies.

The events include: the hammer throw, stone put, weight for distance. In my opinion, the most impressive events are the weight for height, the "caber toss" and the "Farmer's Walk." "Weight for height" involves throwing the weight over the head so it also goes over the bar. It can't hit the bar or it doesn't count. The "caber toss" is a little different. It's basically picking up a telephone-pole-sized log and throwing it so it flips end-over-end. The use "clock" references to determine points. The most points are attained by achieving a "twelve o'clock" throw, less points for 11:00, 10:00, etc...

Probably the best "crowd participation" game is called the "Farmer's Walk." It involves carrying a weight in each hand (each weighing 173 lbs) and walking as far as possible. There is a 100 ft measuring tape stretched out on the ground between two stakes. The competitors have to walk around the stake on each end to continue carrying the weights. (I understand that's the hardest part.)

This year, the farthest walk was a record...457 feet.

The "crowd participation" part is when you find yourself screaming for each and every competitor to keep going just a little bit farther...just one foot in front of the other...and then shout encouragement when they finally drop the weights.

I've been a fan and participant in Scottish Highland Games for many years...since I was a teenager in Philadelphia and worked a booth. However, our Games up here have a uniquely Alaskan feel whether it's the booths of Alaskan seafood, the beautiful mountains of Eagle River surrounding the event or the energy of the close-knit Celtic Community.

I'm already looking forward to next year!

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Gear Junkies Editorial by Patti Greene

"Gear Junkies" is the free, premier weekly newsletter sent via email to the Alaska music community written and edited by the Goddess of the Alaska Music Scene, Patti Greene

About once a year I get a call asking whether busking -- playing music on the sidewalk for tips -- is legal in Anchorage. Each year I call the city offices and every year the answer is pretty much the same -- nobody seems to know. This week's call was a bit different in that one of my favorite Gear Heads said he was playing in front of the old Court Building, directly across from the 4th Avenue Theatre, when one of the rent-a-cops came out and told him he was trespassing AND panhandling on Federal property. I'm thinkin this guy probably moonlights on the Sullivan Arena security crew.

Anyway, a call to the City Clerk's office (343-4311) connected me with an unhappy young lady who said that musicians are required to get a roving vendor's permit, which cost $150 a year and limits where one can play (basically, you can't play anywhere near downtown). I'm thinking that, when this code was written, The Hot Dog Lobby wanted to keep the Ice Cream Mafia from parking in front of the hot dog stands and scooping the competition -- har har -- and taking up parking spaces.

When pressed for the specific code that defines musicians as "roving vendors", The Unhappy Girl in the City Clerk's Office could only read the definition of vendor ["... providing food, products or services ... "], saying that, in HER opinion, musicians were providing a service.

Well, I said brightly, in MY opinion, some of 'em are providing a DIS-service!!!

What The Unhappy Girl in the City Clerk's Office fails to grasp, in MY opinion, is that in traditional commerce, a price is negotiated and the service is provided. That's why it's called "trade". Buskers, however, attach no price to the performance. People are free to enjoy the music without paying a dime. So in MY opinion, this is neither "providing service", nor is it panhandling. It's yet one more thing that's free in this mean ol' world!

Basically, Gear Heads, nothing in Anchorage municipal code defines musicians as vendors or panhandlers. There is no law that specifically prohibits busking. Until there is --- and The Unhappy Girl in the Etc. promised that "we're rewriting the code" -- I'll bet you are, it's what you do! -- just go on ahead and play on the sidewalks of downtown Anchorage. It helps if you make friends with one of the food vendors and set up in their space. It helps if you can pack it up and run, because nobody seems to know what the law is and somebody's bound to hound you. They're less likely to hound you if you can actually play your instrument, keep the volume low, and are for the most part agreeable. Don't block the sidewalk and don't set up in a fire lane.

But this all begs the question --- > why bother? Let's think Outside the Municipal Cubicle, shall we? Why not pick any one of the local malls and approach the management about playing for their patrons? Having live music -- in the form of busking -- might be the next cool thing they haven't thought of yet. And what's not to like about a climate controlled gig, better parking, better access, and benches ! PLUS better acoustics than can be found out of doors on Fourth Avenue. Best of all, you're not limited by the season or the weather -- think of that holiday cheer, baby --- PLUS you might be providing inspiration to some young'un who is learning to play. As always, thanks for listening. ---- patti

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Downtown flowers the last day of June--Town Square Park

The signing of the GI Bill, the shameful politics of Bush, McCain and Stevens surrounding it and Sen. Webb's response on Countdown

I got this email over the weekend:
Entry on DailyKos: " McCain takes credit for Veteran's Bill he OPPOSED" !

Dear Celtic Blue,

I would have "pasted" the article to you, but I don't know how, exactly.

As a Marine Vet, this DISGUSTS me....

I just think everyones attention should be brought to this, especially the IAVA, and I just thought that you were just the Lady to do it up right.


A faithful trader in Soldotna,
THIS was the post he was talking about and below is the video:

I can't even explain the rage I felt when I saw that video.

I have written extensively about the GI Bill and how McCain, Bush and Stevens not only didn't support it, they supported an alternative Bill that didn't come close to providing the same benefits the Webb Bill does.

Now all three of them are trying to claim they were friggin' responsible for it.

From Sen. Ted Stevens page:
The U.S. Senate tonight passed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, which now heads to President Bush to be signed into law. The legislation included numerous provisions championed by Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to increase veterans’ education benefits and funds for active duty military service members.

The bill substantially increases G.I. benefits for veterans who have served since September 11, 2001. Senator Stevens worked diligently to improve the Webb-Warner G.I. Bill, which was included in the overall spending package.

Do you feel nauseous yet?

Part of what Stevens is making a big deal about is the issue of "transferability," which means the benefits transfer to the family upon the death of the veteran. Sen. Webb's responds to that in his Countdown interview, which I'll discuss below.

So, first Sen. McCain takes credit, then Sen. Stevens takes credit. Last, but not least, Bush is finally pressured into signing it and then HE takes credit and GIVES credit to whomever he feels like!

I don't think it was coincidental that Bush ignored the original Republican co-sponsor of the 21st Century GI Bill...anti-Bush Republican Chuck Hagel.

There have been diaries on Daily Kos all day asking for Sen. Webb to respond to the outrageous behavior of these Republicans.

Thank you Keith Olbermann!!!!

Sen. Webb: "This president missed a real opportunity to show leadership and to show true respect for the people who served..."

Sen. Webb regarding the "transferability" issue supposedly "pushed" by Sen. Stevens: "We accepted this transferability provision, which, by-the-way, had been in the law for six years; this isn't a new idea."

As repugnant as the behavior of Bush and his lackeys has been, Sen. Webb stated on Countdown and Paul Rieckhoff of IAVA wrote in this email excerpt the most important issue to take out of this:
Generations of veterans to come will benefit from this bill. Your support in this fight has been overwhelming- very few bills in recent history have received such an outpouring of public support. Together, we can be extremely proud of this victory.

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Why General Wesley Clark is right (and the Obama Camp must distance themselves...without chastising him)

Back in March, I was riveted by a Daily Kos diary from diarist Timothy Smith. He wrote about his old teacher, friend and mentor, Phillip Butler, PhD Cdr, USN (ret.) who was a POW at the same time as John McCain and in the same facility. The difference: he "went on to be a national leader of Veterans for Peace and a respected activist for many local and national causes."

He was also there for eight years compared to John McCain's five.

Philip Butler wrote a letter titled "Why I will not vote for John McCain" where he identifies himself as a friend of John McCain. However, he also set the record straight on a number of points regarding the "McCain legend." Some examples:
...Was he tortured for 5 years? No. He was subjected to torture and maltreatment during his first 2 years, from September of 1967 to September of 1969. After September of 1969 the Vietnamese stopped the torture and gave us increased food and rudimentary health care. Several hundred of us were captured much earlier. I got there April 20, 1965 so my bad treatment period lasted 4 1/2 years...But my point here is that John allows the media to make him out to be THE hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals.

...Because John's father was the Naval Commander in the Pacific theater, he was exploited with TV interviews while wounded. These film clips have now been widely seen. But it must be known that many POW's suffered similarly, not just John. And many were similarly exploited for political propaganda.

...John was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for heroism and wounds in combat. This heroism has been played up in the press and in his various political campaigns. But it should be known that there were approximately 600 military POW's in Vietnam. Among all of us, decorations awarded have recently been totaled to the following: Medals of Honor - 8, Service Crosses - 42, Silver Stars - 590, Bronze Stars - 958 and Purple Hearts - 1,249. John certainly performed courageously and well. But it must be remembered that he was one hero among many - not uniquely so as his campaigns would have people believe.

...There were many heroes in North Vietnam. I saw heroism every day there. And we motivated each other to endure and succeed far beyond what any of us thought we had in ourselves. Succeeding as a POW is a group sport, not an individual one. We all supported and encouraged each other to survive and succeed. John knows that. He was not an individual POW hero. He was a POW who surmounted the odds with the help of many comrades, as all of us did.

(I advise everyone to go to the diary and read the entire letter. You'll see why I was riveted and you'll wonder why it didn't get more attention.)

The thing he said in his March letter that stuck in my head the most was this line:
I furthermore believe that having been a POW is no special qualification for being President of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate.
Sound familiar?

The media mischaracterization of Clark's comments as well as their "outrage" is shameful. If ANYONE has EARNED the RIGHT to question McCain it would be his brothers-in-arms, like Clark and fellow-POW Butler.

I recently received an email from a veteran on the Peninsula (which I'll include in my second post on veterans issues this afternoon) who was furious at McCain for his lies about the GI Bill requesting me to write about it. Working with veterans in Alaska has shown me just how many different "camps" there are and how they can all agree on one thing: the plight of veterans MUST improve and they want to support those people who are going to make it better. They will at least listen to other Veterans on these issues no matter what their political leanings.

I believe this scares the hell out of the neo-con right...a group who has taken the support of veterans for granted over the last 8 years. The reaction of the mostly-conservative-owned media to Clark's comments is a really good example of that shear terror.

Because only another veteran can level that kind of criticism at McCain, it is understandable that the Obama Campaign emphasizes Clark's comments ARE from Clark specifically and not from Obama. However, they need to stop before they actually level criticism at Clark...because he's right and he's one of the few guys out there who can legitimately call McCain on it.

Could someone direct Philip Butler to the Obama Campaign?

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(Picture courtesy of Alaska Politics Blog)

From Kyle Hopkins on Alaska Politics Blog:
Just got back from the Eklutna exit on the Glenn Highway, where Vic Kohring is waving to the whooshing flood of commuters next to a giant "THANKS ALASKA" sign.

Later this morning, Kohring expects to turn himself in to the U.S. Marshals. He said he's not scared of going to prison, but has been Googling the Southern California facility he'll live in for up to 3 and a half years. He could rattle off the population of the nearby town and the high temperature last week (103 degrees).

Said he might write an autobiography while in jail, call it "Absolutely Innocent." Plans to read a lot. Write a lot of letters.

Does he think this will make everyone forget that WE HAVE HIM ON TAPE BREAKING THE LAW?????

Wow...this guy doesn't just live in his own personal bubble, he's had it decorated and remodeled. These are the guys who NEED to go to "real jail" so they get some reality knocked into them.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Geeking Out--Yes, I WILL be getting the "Deadliest Catch" video game!

Kyle Hopkins talks about this at ADN:
VIRTUAL DUTCH HARBOR -- Minutes into your new career as a crab boat captain, the crew is already a headache.

"Captain, you've got help me. I've got a girl in my bunk and my girlfriend just showed up. Can you keep her busy?"

Do you help your crewman trick his girl, or tell him he's on his own? Choose wisely. Keeping your crew happy is a big part of "Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm," a new video game based on the wildly popular Discovery Channel series.

We all love the show "Deadliest Catch" at our house and my daughter and I have been eager to get the game.

Kyle's review isn't bad...the game seems to follow the mold of most of the "Sims" games as well as "Pirates"...keeping the crew happy while increasing your "treasure." However, I checked YouTube to see more footage of what I was more interested in...the game mechanics:

I'm pretty sure I'm getting this. I think I'll have to play it first, though, before I decide if Morrigan can have it too.

Here's an ad for the game that fans of the show can appreciate:

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela!!! The Concert at Hyde Park, London

I didn't get a chance to see this concert but I plan to tomorrow. Here is a great sampling of who all was there. I find the choice of Amy Winehouse performing "Rehab" to be interesting, but she does always rock!!!

It will be replayed several times online, including tomorrow at 4:00 PM ADT.

Learn about Mandela's 46664 Organization if you don't know already.

Since I just couldn't wait to see their latest performance, I had to post a video of my favorite band from a previous 46664 concert doing one of my favorite songs. I love Johnny Clegg!!!