Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: 8/10/08 - 8/17/08

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'm so excited...Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis will be a Community Blog!

Yes, that's right...I haven't posted today because I've started work on the new site for this blog, divasblueoasis.com!!!!

As you can see, I have a long way to go and though it would be nice, I doubt seriously I'll have it ready by the Convention. However, this will be what I'm transitioning to as soon as possible! The diary function will mean that anyone who registers can post their own diary and if we like it, we can move it to the front page!

Anyway, take a look at it but don't bother to post there right now. While you may see some diaries from Kaerick and Monocot, those are just test diaries to help me with formatting. It's also on a completely separate feed and I'm not going to fix that until I'm ready to go.

Anyway, take a look at it and tell me what you think!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Jim Wallis--"A Step Forward on Abortion"

I found myself in a deep discussion/debate on this topic many months ago at Radical Catholic Mom's Blog. We discovered, after many attempts at refining and communicating our views, that we absolutely agreed that we could enthusiastically work together on the issues that could take the pressure off women so they wouldn't feel they needed abortion as an option. These issues are homelessness, poverty, birth control, affordable child care, livable wages, etc...

RCM and I found the "meeting place." I believe that there are many of us on both sides of the abortion debate who were waiting for someone to build that bridge between us so that we can work together towards a solution.

I believed that Barack Obama was the candidate that would attempt that common-ground within the Democratic Party and it looks like that is correct.

Here is a great piece by one of my favorites, Jim Wallis.

Abortion is a moral issue, felt deeply on all sides of the debate. That debate has also been deeply divisive, becoming a "third rail" of American politics. It often influences outcomes of elections, and therefore the direction of the country in other important policy areas. Consistent polling shows that most are between the polarized extremes, simplistically named "pro-life" and "pro-choice." A majority is both concerned, even alarmed, about the abortion rate in America, yet is hesitant to criminalize it. We have sorely needed new common ground that focuses on reducing the need for and number of abortions. Such common ground could be supported by both sides and affirmed by many in the middle.

This past weekend, the Democratic Party's 2008 platform language was approved. Many have been waiting to see their language about abortion for this election season. The 1996 and 2000 Democratic platforms contained a clause that read, "The Democratic Party is a party of inclusion. We respect the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue, and we welcome all our members to participate at every level of our party." The draft language of the 2008 platform builds on that clause by supporting two choices that a woman might make--both of which the Democratic Party "strongly supports."

First, the platform states that the Democratic Party "strongly and unequivocally supports Roe vs. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right." That traditional position of the Democratic Party was to be expected.

Then the platform says the Democratic Party "also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions."

The platform takes a significant step forward in affirming those whose moral convictions lead them to make a different decision than abortion. It reads, "The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs." That position will help make room for people, especially in the religious community, who have strong moral convictions about abortion. Many pro-life Democrats (and there are many in the party) have been looking to be heard, respected, and given a valued space in their own party (as pro-choice Republicans have in their party).

There is indeed some chance for common ground here in the mutual respect for different moral convictions and a shared desire to decrease the need for abortion. There is also a deep and growing conviction among evangelicals and Catholics that the "life issues" also extend to the 30,000 children who die globally each day from poverty and preventable disease, issues of genocide in places like Darfur, human trafficking, the domestic issues of poverty and health care, the foreign policy issues of war and peace, and even in threats like climate change. This election provides us with a pivotal opportunity to transcend old polarities and attempt to bring people together on common ground in a "consistent ethic of life" across a range of issues.

There is a "parallelism of choice" here in the Democratic platform that is a good and new direction that will make many people feel more welcome. The party is now on record in "strongly" supporting both a woman's right to choose abortion or to decide to have her child with promised support, creating common ground in agreeing for the need to reduce abortions.

All that is a step in the right direction: supportive of individual conscience, of the different decisions a woman can make, and of reducing the need for abortions. By supporting the fuller range of women's choice, the Democratic Party would be empowering more women, including low-income women who might like to carry their child to term for personal or moral reasons, but often lack the support to do so.

The rate of unintended pregnancies among poor women (below 100 percent of poverty) is nearly four times that of women above 200 percent of poverty. The abortion rate among women living below the federal poverty level is more than four times that of women above 300 percent of the poverty level. Three-fourths of women who have an abortion say a reason is that they cannot afford a child.

Policies and programs that focus on reducing poverty--also strong planks in the Democratic platform--would increase the economic stability of women and thus also help reduce the abortion rate. Policies that prevent unintended pregnancies through accessible family planning, including contraceptives, age-appropriate sex education-- including abstinence education--reducing teen pregnancy, economic support, accessible and affordable health care, adoption reform and incentives, are all critical and are pointed to in the platform.

The Democratic platform has taken an important first step. They took an important step beyond the traditional position on Roe vs. Wade by also supporting a woman's decision to have her child. They also sought and listened to input from moderate religious leaders.

Republicans have long made a strong opposition to abortion a central issue in their platforms and campaigns. Yet their symbolic commitment to making abortion illegal, even with a Republican in power, hasn't made any change in the rate of abortions in America. Religious leaders should also now urge the Republican Party to move forward. It's not enough to affirm their traditional support for making abortion illegal; they should also adopt the policies on reducing abortions. The bottom line for many Christians is how to save unborn lives.

Of course, it is now up to the Democratic candidate to interpret the platform and shape the issue. In an interview with Christianity Today, Barack Obama said, "I do think that those who diminish the moral elements of the decision aren't expressing the full reality of it."

Acknowledging that abortion is a moral issue, no matter what side you are on, is a way to respect the moral convictions of both sides, and begin to find some common ground. We could truly make reducing the abortion rate in America a nonpartisan issue and a bipartisan cause. It is a common-sense approach that could unite the vast majority of Americans around a goal that leverages support for women, instead of coercion, to dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America.

--Jim Wallis


Jim Wallis posts a "Response to his Readers" because of the overwhelming number of comments on his article.

I would encourage those critics to listen to the comments of Doug Kmiec, a Republican judicial appointee of Ronald Reagan, a Catholic intellectual, and Chair & Professor of Law at Pepperdine University, who cares deeply about abortion but now thinks the Democrats have a good chance to reduce the abortion rate. During a conference call that Sojourners hosted this week with evangelical and Catholic leaders, Doug said, "What this does is commit the Democratic Party to supply real support for the child and for the woman facing this question in terms of pre- and post-natal healthcare, in terms of income support, the kind of support like paternity leave, family leave and an improvement in the accessibility in adoption. These are tangible things and very much related to Catholic social teachings." He also sees a positive step in the Democratic Platform language in the affirmation of abortion reduction and the practical solutions that would support that goal; rather than just repeating a symbolic ban. I agree with him.

I encourage a respectful debate in the comments...with the emphasis on respectful. Don't make me have to moderate!

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yup, I'm getting "those" emails about the Governor and her Monegan SNAFU too

There is someone I've been talking to for awhile about the entire Monegan issue. This individual has a rather close relationship with the State Troopers through a third party and has been very agitated by Walt Monegan's treatment at the hands of the Governor. However, this person's sensitive position means that he/she has been unwilling to even let me put in a quote anonymously...until now.

I've redacted whatever I believed was necessary to maintain anonymity yet I believe I kept the clarity of the message:

"I have some serious beef with the Governor. I didn't realize the tactics she was going to use against Monegan, and much of that means I REALLY can't comment on it. Much of her basis for firing him was about recruitment - that he "didn't do enough" to get more trooper positions filled.

[phrase redacted] ****** worked for them in the recruitment division for several years, and seriously - what Palin said is offensive on so many levels. I know - and even occasionally assisted ***** on the recruitment efforts, and I can tell you they were doing more for trooper recruitment than I've seen any other company/organization do for anyone. They don't just put out newspaper ads and hope for the best.

I know you were just talking about people going "you need to talk about this" a lot to you, but I'll add another to the list. I really would talk about it [phrase redacted] but I think (it) would get noticed in the wrong way."

I cannot even imagine how many folks in DPS and the Troopers have been holding in frustration like this. Talk about a morale killer.

Walt Monegan hasn't earned these people's loyalty through charm. Walt Monegan earned their loyalty because he made it clear THROUGH HIS ACTIONS that his employees and the people of Alaska were his priorities and he was willing to do the job that needed to get done to solve the root of the problems...not just slap a bandaid on them and call it good.

That kind of integrity lost him his job.


Andrew Halcro has some interesting "rumors" on his blog about the Monegan firing.

However, the part I noticed most was showing how Palin contradicted herself when she said the recruiting was one of the issues leading to his firing:

"Unfortunately as my term progressed, Commissioner Monegan was not making headway on key goals, such as filling numerous trooper vacancies." Governor Palin 8/13/08
What she said in her State of the State speech:
"In Public Safety and Corrections, after years of positions left vacant, we've doubled academy recruits." Governor Palin 1/15/08
So after telling Alaskans that Monegan had doubled academy recruits to fill vacancies, she turns around and says she fired Monegan because he wasn't attracting recruits to fill vacancies.

My head hurts.
Yeah, I think that Alaskan's demand for Ibuprofen is going to spike in the next few months.

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Another McCain myth bites the dust--Troops deployed abroad give to Obama 6:1

The John McCain Campaign's constant drumbeat of his military experience as a POW is meant to make you believe that he is a friend of the military and veterans.

I have made many posts discussing how that is not true and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have verified it as well.

It seems that deployed U.S. soldiers have also figured that out:
During World War II, soldiers crouching in foxholes penned letters assuring their sweethearts that they'd be home soon. Now, between firefights in the Iraqi desert, some infantrymen have been sending a different kind of mail stateside: two or three hundred dollars -- or whatever they can spare -- towards a presidential election that could very well determine just how soon they come home.

According to an analysis of campaign contributions by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Democrat Barack Obama has received nearly six times as much money from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions than has Republican John McCain, and the fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain's haul.

Despite McCain's status as a decorated veteran and a historically Republican bent among the military, members of the armed services overall -- whether stationed overseas or at home -- are also favoring Obama with their campaign contributions in 2008, by a $55,000 margin. Although 59 percent of federal contributions by military personnel has gone to Republicans this cycle, of money from the military to the presumed presidential nominees, 57 percent has gone to Obama.

While the totals are much closer, Obama is still significantly ahead among all military personnel:

Obama, Barack--------------------------$335,536 859
McCain, John---------------------------$280,513 558
Paul, Ron------------------------------$232,411 537
Clinton, Hillary-----------------------$167,050 376
Republican National Cmte---------------$135,902 219
Huckabee, Mike-------------------------$66,751 127
Thompson, Fred-------------------------$46,400 93
Romney, Mitt---------------------------$43,307 96
Giuliani, Rudolph W--------------------$22,050 47
National Republican Senatorial Cmte----$21,885 26
DNC Services Corp----------------------$16,873 53

I don't think Hillary Clinton's or Ron Paul's donors will be going to John McCain.

The McCain camp needs to realize the military is wise to where he really stands on the issues.

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Six Questions to Alaska Congressional Candidates

I submitted six questions to all of the Progressive candidates for the Alaska At-Large Congressional seat (running against Don Young) as well as the U.S. Senate seat (running against Ted Stevens). The ones who responded were Ethan Berkowitz, Diane Benson and Mark Begich. For the next six days, I will present the answers to each of those questions from AK-AL candidates Diane Benson and Ethan Berkowitz first, before the Alaska Primaries.

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?

Ethan Berkowitz

A friend told me yesterday that his gas bill for a commute from the Mat-Su to Anchorage will be more than $500 a month. Every time I go to the grocery store, the cost of food goes up and up. Fairbanks has declared an energy emergency. Juneau saw prices increase five-fold when an avalanche took out its power polls. Kenai has shutdown Agrium and its good-paying jobs because they couldn’t afford to run it on Cook Inlet gas any longer. And in rural Alaska – prices will soar when the next fuel barges arrive; heating oil keeps setting record prices, in too many villages the cost for electricity pushes closer to a dollar per kilowatt hour. This is all happening as oil goes past $140 a barrel and the state is awash in a budget surplus.

The goal for energy policy is energy security and energy independence – to make sure that energy bills don’t break the budgets for Alaska families and Alaska businesses, and that high prices don’t strangle choices and opportunities.

Short-term solutions include a combination of structural changes to prices, conservation, and local energy production. In addition, we must continue funding and improve the state Power Cost Equalization (PCE) program.

Structural changes include state coordination of bulk fuel purchases, so that communities are guaranteed the lowest possible price for energy. It also includes payment of utility infrastructure debt, so that consumers won’t pay have to include interest payments as part of their fuel bills – when the state paid off the remaining $2 million on Cordova’s hydro project, it took a load off Cordova’s fuel bills.

Conservation can have an immediate impact. Juneau responded to its price jumps by cutting back on consumption, and was able to scale back power use considerably. The state put $300 million towards a weatherization program that will improve the thermal efficiency of homes across Alaska, reducing energy costs. There are a lot of options for conservation – for example, work at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center shows that we can build or retrofit structures to make them much more efficient.

Local energy production offers both short and intermediate term answer to energy costs. Every time we import a dollar’s worth of diesel, we export a dollar and export a job. It’s time to innovate, to be bold, to invest in transformative technology so that we’re never held hostage to global energy markets again. We all hope to bring North Slope gas on line (or from other sources, including Nenana Basin or Cook Inlet), or oil from new fields. We also have considerable sustainable, renewable energy sources. We could put wind power in the eighty villages that have a good resource for approximately $150 million. Cook Inlet has the largest tides in the United States, and Alaska has 90 percent of the country’s tidal potential. There are in-river hydro opportunities all around. Geothermal energy, whether small scale like Chena Hot Springs, or large scale, such as Mt. Spurr, makes great sense – the country of Iceland gets 95 percent of its power from geothermal sources. 160 communities could make use of biomass – in some areas we’re already converting wood to energy, capturing methane gas at the downs, and turning fish waste to a diesel equivalent. And, occasionally (not often enough this summer!), solar power is part of the energy mix of solutions.

Price relief assistance can come in many forms. Emergency business loans and tax breaks for investment in conservation and energy production can change the economics of family and business decisions. Energy assistance, such as Gov. Palin has proposed can help stressed family budgets as the state bridges to longer term energy solutions.

Longer-term solutions build on these initiatives. Energy is at the core of my campaign for Congress. I have long made it a focus – I was the first lawmaker in Juneau to propose a statewide energy plan. I led the way in promoting renewable energy resources (and in the private sector set up an alternative energy company), and I believe that developing the right resources offers full spectrum solutions to many of the issues that confront America. Doing energy right means lower cost utility bills and jobs. It means taking the responsible course on climate change, and it helps free American foreign policy from its dangerous addiction to foreign oil. It means energy security and energy independence.

Diane Benson

Everyday I talk to Alaskans who are frightened by the prospect of paying thousands of dollars in heating costs; families who pay more to heat their homes than they pay to live in them. And workers who pray that they have enough gas in their cars to make to and from work. This energy crisis is spiraling out of control and the people of Alaska need help today, not tomorrow. In fact, they needed help yesterday.

I’d love to wave a magic wand and tell the voters who read this, I can pass a bill and solve all their problems. But the truth is, by the time that any of us running on the federal level take office in January 2009, the people of Alaska will be months into the harsh winter. The only real short term solutions lie in the hands of the state legislature. Luckily, the State seems to be on the right track. With a state surplus in the billions, it only makes sense to provide a refund of some sort to help families make it through the winter. Other short-term solutions have been proposed that involve managing assistance through fuel distributors thereby helping those in the most danger.

But the bigger question often lost in our conversations about energy is “what we will do about next winter?” Long term solutions are the key to solving Alaska’s energy crisis once and for all. We must take advantage of the wealth of resources that currently exist in this state. Whether it’s the ocean crashing on to the beach, the sun shining or the wind blowing there are a plethora of opportunities for developing renewable energy.

Once I’m elected I will call on Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit for the next 10 years sin order to promote development in our renewable resources. Furthermore, I will increase tax incentives for individual homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient. And most importantly I will fight to ensure that Alaskans are the primary benefactors from Alaska’s oil and gas resources rather than major corporations.

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Writing Raven from "Alaska Real"-- Real Native Myths and Legends #4

Here is the next installment in the important series by "Alaska Real" blogger Writing Raven. Raven will be blogging with me from the Democratic National Convention in Denver and will provide a much-needed viewpoint from one of Alaska's First People.

Indians and Eskimos

Indian. Eskimo. Native American. Tribe. Clan. People group. First Nations. First Peoples. American Indian. Indigenous. It's dang confusing sometimes, I know, and I've grown up with all these terms. I have some sympathy for every (non-Native) friend I've ever had who has worked up to (usually unsure of how to approach it) asking me, "So… what do you call yourself?"

There are actually many different forms of this question, but it boils down to, "How on earth do I say what you are?" I know there are those who will argue we should be "color-blind" and not look at a person's culture. I disagree. I think we should honor and celebrate a person's culture, we would be robbing them of a huge part of who they are not to – we just don't have to judge a person by their culture. It's also just a reality – having to define someone's background is not going anywhere.

Kind of reminds me of a discussion I had about this topic in high school, and my "African-American" friend was asked how to address his race. He said, "We're 'Black' now. But I'll let you know if it changes."

If you ask the government, they would consider me from the "Indian" people group (as opposed to "Eskimo" or "Aleut". On a federal document I am "American Indian or Alaska Native." On my Certificate of Indian Blood, I am from the Tlingit "tribe."

If you ask me, I will tell you I am Tlingit or Alaska Native, depending on where I am and who you are. I will not say the Tlingit tribe – no such thing. There's also no "Tlingit Nation". I won't tell you I am Indian – as far as I'm concerned, Indians are from India. I won't tell you I'm Native American, and I won't tell you what tribe I'm from – as far as I know, I have no tribe.

Much of the problem stems from trying to group an entire continent's worth of culture into one identifiable group. Even here in Alaska, the cultures are incredibly diverse. I have a Yup'ik friend that I share values and experiences with as an Alaska Native woman, but when it comes to so many other cultural values, she seems to be speaking another language (though, often times, she quite literally IS speaking
another language.)

There is also the problem of Native people only just being able to define how they were called by the general public in the last generation or two, and so it seems quite changeable, and no two people agree on the perfect way yet.

Last year at the World Eskimo Indian Olympics (WEIO,) one of the assistants came to get our dance group, "We need the Indian groups!" A dozen sets of furrowed brows and he quickly answered, "Hey, if I have to be Eskimo, you have to be Indian!" Fair enough. Point is, even our own institutions are outdated in the terms we use.

But all the background and why and how aside, there still remains the issue of, "What do I call you?"

The simplest answer I can say is, "Just ask."

I have often wondered if this is not a very "polite" thing to do outside of Alaska Native cultures. Maybe the sensitivities of being PC or a Western etiquette – but generally when I am asked it is with an embarrassed tone, usually an apology. A "I'm sorry if this is rude, but…" Recently, a friend of mine described a non-Native woman who was offended when a Native woman asked her race.

Although I am generally loathe to group such diverse cultures into one "group think," my own experiences in my culture and other Native cultures in the state is that the first thing you want to do is get to know someone's background. As an example, a dialogue of me meeting another Native person:

"Nice to meet you – so where are you from?"


"That by Fairbanks?"

"Bethel area."

"Cool – you know John James?"

"Yeah, he's my cousin."


And we switch. I threw in my own lack of geographical awareness in there for realism. But basically, I now know where he's from (and can deduce his 'people group' from that,) and who his general family is. Actually, if it were really real, we would find out all the different people we know and/or are related to in common. Many times we will ask and talk directly about what racial background we are from.

In short, the "polite" or friendly thing to do in the culture I know is to introduce and let your own background be known. Many Native people who are born in urban areas will identify themselves as being "from" whatever village or rural area their family is from. I was delighted to meet a man "from Klawock" last Summer, very near where I was born, but then he said, "Oh – but I've never been there." I have a feeling as more and more Native people are born in Anchorage, this will become even more common.

I believe the Tlingit people have elevated introductions to an art. My Yup'ik friend is fond of telling me that "Tlingits complicate everything!" Maybe true, but there are some pretty solid reasons behind it.

Do you know that scene in "Lord of the Rings," where the trees are talking amongst themselves all day, and when they finally talk to the Hobbits, you find they've only just introduced themselves? I believe that this must have been based off of a traditional Tlingit celebration. You introduce pretty much your whole background and
genealogy. Basically, when I begin my speech, you should know my name (or names,) my parents, my teachers, my grandparents and great-grandparents, my moiety, clan and sub-clans, where I am from – or my family is from, and where I live now. And that's the short version.

Although I cannot tell you what all Native people would like to be referred to as – even between my siblings and I this would vary – I can tell you it doesn't hurt to ask. Of course, basic politeness applies here too. I don't suggest a "So what's your racial make-up?" or questions at times that would be ethically inappropriate - job
interview anyone?

A few tips:

-Start with asking where they are from. It wouldn't hurt if you knew
(in general) where people groups were from.

- Don't ask anyone if they are "Eskimo." Really. I mean it. The few people who are okay with being identified by others as such will let you know in good time, but this will lose you more respect than it will gain. And don't assume because one person of that background prefers to be called "Eskimo" the next is. A friend and I will joke around, calling each other "Eskimo" and "Indian," but I made a mistake thinking I could joke like that with another coworker - she did NOT appreciate being called Eskimo, although from the same background as my friend.

- As an Alaska Native person, the above also applies to the word "Indian." From what I understand, in the Lower 48 this can be a pretty common identifier, but not so popular up here.

- Don't attach a "tribe," "clan," "nation" or other grouping word when asking. I get asked a lot if I am from the Tlingit tribe, or what tribe I am from. Federally, this is correct. There are people groups in the U.S. which embrace the word. But no Tlingit person I know identifies themselves this way. Likewise, there is no Tlingit clan. I DO belong to a clan, as well as a house and a moiety, but the same will not be true of every Alaska Native culture.

Basically, just see how the person identifies themselves, and treat them with respect. You do not have to do things "traditionally" - most Native people do not address or introduce traditionally, unless in a formal setting, and do not expect that of you. But to "gain friends and influence Native people," showing a respect for their individuality as a person, and within a culture, will go far.

--Writing Raven

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Andrew Halcro = best sources--Sarah Palin admits Monegan was pressured to fire Wooten AND she DID pay-off Chuck Kopp!


HERE is the raw feed from Palin's press conference courtesy of Alaska Politics.

Two stories on Halcro's Blog that I've been watching the last several days:

1) You say potato...I say loose ends
Reportedly the Department of Law put acting commissioner John Glass under oath and questioned him yesterday.

So if this really is the excuse the Palin administration is using to explain very questionable behavior, that Branchflower requested it, then the press needs to find out if they questioned the governor and her staff under oath about Monegan's firing.

2) Hush Money?

Yesterday I received an email from a unknown reader who asked if I could put them in touch with the special investigator who was hired to investigate the firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

His email stated "I have a bit of information for him that he might find interesting in his investigation. It relates to a payment made to Chuck Kopp by the AG's office."

Halcro's sources were correct and now we know (sorta) why Palin was "questioning" everyone.
Gov. Sarah Palin says a recently discovered conversation recording one of her staffers pressuring the Department of Public Safety to fire a state trooper who went through a bitter divorce with her sister will be turned over to a legislative investigator.

Palin has been under heavy criticism since firing former Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

In addition, the state paid a $10,000.00 severance package to Monegan's replacement, Chuck Kopp, the former Kenai police chief who resigned under pressure last month, according to Attorney Gen. Talis Colberg. That's in addition to his salary, he said.

So my question-- was the real reason for her internal investigation that she could find out how many folks had heard about the phone calls from her Administration so that she could figure out the best ways to do damage control? I don't believe for a second that she was learning about all of this the first time.

HERE is the severance agreement with Kopp, which includes mention of the $10,000.00.

HERE you can find the phone call of the man chosen to fall on his sword, Frank Bailey.

And please, Sarah claims that she didn't tell Frank to do this...except that here's what the recording caught:
Bailey says: "Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, you know: Why on earth, why is this guy still representing the department, he's a horrible recruiting tool. And from their perspective, everybody's protecting him."

And later: “She (Palin) really likes Walt a lot, but on this issue she feels like it’s, she doesn’t know why there’s absolutely no action for a year … it’s very troubling to her and the family. I can definitely relay that.”

Yup...all on his own...no influence from the Palins at all.

It's getting harder and harder to swallow Palin's assertion that the Wooten issue had nothing to do with Monegan's firing.

Let's also be clear on another issue--Palin's sister has been divorced from Trooper Wooten for a few years now. There can only be a couple of reasons this has continued with the intensity we have seen:

1) The "Heath Clan" wants "hillbilly justice" by crushing the man who cheated on one of their little princesses

2) If he loses his job, it's a good bet he'd lose standing in the custody of his kids.

Either one of those reasons are disgusting and as things have developed, both of those reasons are very plausible. Alaska needs to ask if we are going to accept that kind of abuse of power from our Governor?

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New Obama Ad and another Obama Campaign Office opening today in Anchorage!

From Laurin Manning, Obama On-line Communications:
CHICAGO -- Today the Obama campaign announced a new TV ad focused on the economy to air beginning Thursday in 16 battleground states. The new ad entitled Book highlights Obama's plan to break with the failing economic policies of the past eight years and put America's middle class first. The ad will run in AK, CO, FL, IA, MI, MO, MT, NM, NV, NH, NC, ND, OH, PA, VA, and WI.
Also, from a press release by Jeff Giertz, Obama Campaigns Alaska Communications Director:
Ames Luce, former campaign advisor to Republican Governor Jay Hammond, will cut the ribbon to open the fifth Alaska Campaign for Change office today. Luce donated the office space, which was used by Gov. Hammond as a transition office after his successful 1974 campaign.

The opening will occur today at 12:00 noon at 1015 W. 7th Avenue downtown.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Republican Mayor of Fairbanks-Northstar Borough Endorses OBAMA

Via my email--Obama Campaign Press Release from Jeff Giertz:

FAIRBANKS, AK – The Barack Obama campaign in Alaska today announced the endorsement of Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker. Whitaker is a registered Republican.

Whitaker said, “Barack Obama has the unique ability to bring people together from all political backgrounds—Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Partisan business-as-usual has crippled Washington. It’s time for a president who will work to unite our country and bring about the change we need.

“Barack Obama will stand up for Alaska’s families. As president, he’ll support the Alaska natural gas pipeline and work to lower the skyrocketing fuel prices that have caused an energy crisis here in Fairbanks. He has a plan to move this country forward and will be a president who is as independent as Alaskans are.”

Barack Obama said, “I’m grateful for Mayor Whitaker’s support. Fairbanks residents are paying some of the highest energy prices in the country. Mayor Whitaker knows firsthand the importance of solving our energy crisis. He believes as I do that we need to bring people together in order to solve the many challenges our country is facing right now, from energy to the economy.”

Jim Whitaker has been the mayor of the Fairbanks-North Star Borough since 2003.

I made a post back in June where the importance of Obama supporting the gasline was discussed. I also posted about Obama's Energy Policy and the teleconference last week:
In a brilliant move on the part of the Obama Campaign, Rouse stated that in this "Federal partnership" with Alaska over the gas line, "Exxon should not have a disproportionate influence over the timetable for construction of this important national project." Rouse stated that Obama wants to move the project forward as what is best for Alaska and nation. Also, Rouse pointed out that "McCain opposed tax incentives to build the pipeline."

This endorsement is an example of why the move by Obama was so brilliant. I think it's only the beginning.

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OK, I FINALLY finished my Community Voices column for the Anchorage Daily News...after four tries!

This is what I submitted for publication. Hopefully, it will fly.


It didn't...here's the new version.

In a previous column, I talked about the selection of my blog (Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis) by the Democratic National Convention to represent Alaska. I also discussed the debate over a lack of diversity within the ranks of selected State Blogs and I encouraged any writers-of-color to come forward and add their voices to my blog or start one of their own.

I was not disappointed.

Tlingit writer “Writing Raven” contacted me, created “Alaska Real” (alaskareal.blogspot.com) and immediately dove into the deep end of politics from an Alaska Native perspective. In a very short time, she has received much well-deserved praise for her writing. I’m happy to say that she will be coming with me to help split the blogging at the DNC, covering the Native American Caucus and many other events.

Dennis Zaki, who runs the high-traffic Progressive media website AlaskaReport.com, is also credentialed for the DNC.

According to the Democratic Party, Dennis, Raven and I are the only credentialed Alaska-based media outlets. When I say “the only media outlets” I’m including television, radio and newspapers from Alaska…none are going. Also, Alaska Report is the only Alaska-based media outlet credentialed for the Republican National Convention, so the only Alaskan covering the RNC is a Democrat.

Oh, the irony.

Both Parties’ conventions have fully embraced blogs, indicating that these and other independent media sources have established themselves as news-gathering organizations in their own right. However, there is a debate as to whether or not this is a good thing.

Many mainstream media sources, especially newspapers, have been losing viewership/readership and revenue for years. While some blame increasing Internet access for this (and that claim has some merit), bloggers also point out how 20 years of corporate media consolidation has limited the number of differing voices and available news outlets. Whatever reason, mainstream media focus is shrinking, causing local media to depend on affiliates, etc…A backlash of some sort was inevitable, thus blogs and other forms of independent media began a rise to prominence.

This attention to blogs during this presidential campaign has caused some to question whether bloggers are “journalists.” Folks think of “journalists” as unbiased “reporters” so confusion arises since blogs generally have some level of overt bias. However, the words “journalist” and “reporter” are not interchangeable. According to Merriam Webster Online, a “reporter” is a writer who “reports news”…indicating a level of objectivity. A “journalist” is a writer who “aims at a mass audience.” Bloggers “aim at a mass audience,” whether it is conservatives, liberals, dog-lovers, etc…

Regarding my own writing, “Community Voices” columns are “journalism.” The articles on my blog where I do research and/or interviews I would also put in the journalism category. Whether or not they are “good” journalism is a matter of opinion…the same as it is with mainstream media. And like the “MSM,” readers let me know through their readership (blog traffic), email or comments.

Of course, the rip-roaring rants are not something one would find in a newspaper or other mainstream media source. Occasional snarkiness may not be “journalism” but it is one of the perks of a blog owner!

In eight days we fly down and in ten days our work at the DNC will begin in earnest. I hope we make our Alaskan supporters proud. I also hope that the volcanoes take a break!

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Breaking: Supreme Court declines to hear Exxon's argument against interest pay-out

Per the ADN:
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has declined to decide whether Exxon Mobil Corp. must pay interest to victims of the nation's worst oil spill that would roughly double the $507 million judgment the high court approved in June.

In a brief order today, the court said the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, should decide the matter of interest arising from the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

This could be considered a victory for the victims of the spill looking at past decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit in the Exxon Valdez settlement.

I believe this was declined purely for political reasons. As John McCain stated unequivicably to a reporter:
"I've said a thousand times on this campaign trail, I've said as often as I can, that I want to find clones of Alito and Roberts. I worked as hard as anybody to get them confirmed. I look you in the eye and tell you I've said a thousand times that I wanted Alito and Roberts. I have told anybody who will listen. I flat-out tell you I will have people as close to Roberts and Alito [as possible], and I am proud of my record of working to get them confirmed, and people who worked to get them confirmed will tell you how hard I worked."

Declining this case takes the media spotlight off of their most recent obviously pro-business decision, to slash the punitive damages down to the equivalent of several day's worth of income for Exxon...something Dems and the Obama camp would (should) most surely highlight.

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I'm still here--just FRUSTRATED while working on my ADN column...

...and I'm struggling.

It's hard when I know I've already done my quota of political pieces.

I'll post something on the blog later today.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Focus on the Family's "intimidation through 'prayer'" part II: "Fixing" Gays in Anchorage this September!

I mentioned in a previous post (hat tip, Kaerick) about FotF's most recent call for un-Christian prayer--praying for a "downpour of Biblical proportions" during Obama's nomination speech at Invesco Field.


Well, E Ross over at Bent, Alaska has discovered that tourist season is running a little later this year, at least for the "Ex-Gay Industry"
The anti-gay groups Focus on the Family and Exodus International are bringing their de-gaying conference to Anchorage's Abbott Loop Community Church on September 13, 2008.
"Are you concerned about the growing prevalence of homosexuality in our society? Focus on the Family cares and wants to equip you with the tools necessary to show the love of Christ to those affected by homosexuality. That's why Focus on the Family has created the Love Won Out conference. This dynamic one-day seminar comprehensively addresses the issue of homosexuality."

The conference agenda explains that "same-sex attraction is a preventable and treatable condition." Personal testimonies by supposed ex-gays teach us how to 'pray away the gay' and maintain a heterosexual lifestyle.

General sessions describe the "root causes" of male homosexuality ("the family dynamics that can lead to the development of same-sex desires") and female homosexuality ("relational deficits, gender identity rejection, and sexual abuse. The heart of lesbianism, emotional dependency, will be highlighted and defined.")

Most of the breakout sessions teach the local evangelicals how to oppose LGBT civil rights.

In the second installment on the "Focus on the Family" visit, Bent, Alaska describes ways that other communities have approached the "Ex-Gay" conference. The above video is just one example of how PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) peacefully dealt with it in Orlando, Florida. The video below is a press conference in Orlando where Wayne Besen of "Truth Wins Out" exposes the harmful "ex-gay" industry. According to E Ross, Wayne Besen has agreed to come up here with his presentation.

As mentioned on Bent, Alaska--September is the Mayor's Diversity Month and his next (last) organizing meeting for that is August 21. I have been thinking about Alaska bloggers having a "Bloggers Diversity Week" in September with each day a different diversity issue. I nominate September 13, 2008 GLBT Day!

Anyway, post at one of the links to let the folks at Bent, Alaska know you want to help. Or, you can just go ahead and comment here. I'll let them know.

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