Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: 8/17/08 - 8/24/08

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Delegate Party, Pike's Market in Seattle and now WE'RE HERE just in time for a VP candidate!

Holly Miowak Stebing, the Alaskan chosen to be backstage with Barack at the Thursday speech, was at the Delegate Party. I was very impressed by her intellect, candor and insight regarding her experiences and research of Alaska Native issues.

So, it's been radio silence for a bit but now we're here!

Before we left, I went to the Delegates Party at Club Soroya--it was a great time and a great job! Thanks Cal and Barbara for putting together a great time for all!!!

The Samoan dancers were a wonderful addition to the party!

We took off from Anchorage Airport after 1:30 AM and flew to Seattle where we had a six hour layover. We decided to hit Pike's Market, have breakfast and walk around. What inadvertantly happened is we became incredibly depressed over the difference in prices between Seattle and Anchorage--we Alaskans are so ripped-off!

We then took a walk on the waterfront in Seattle. It was about 65 degrees but I forgot that the dampness in Seattle makes it feel colder. Morrigan was smart and was wearing her new kuspick.

We got back on the plane and arrived in Denver at 4:45 Mountain Time--picked up by my friend Erick. We passed out almost immediately after we ate a yummy beef stew cooked by my friend Kim (Erick's wife) so we didn't get the text message about Joe Biden until I got up at about 7:30 AM. (He was the best choice, by the way.)

Anyway, I'm going to be mostly relaxing today until the media party this evening (the kickoff for the Democratic Convention) which I'll write about tonight. Tomorrow I plan to attend the Faith Gathering and I have media credentials for the Cheryl Crow and Dave Matthews concert! We'll all be putting our heads together over the next two days to come up with a planned schedule (which will probably change constantly) so folks have an idea what I'm planning to do. By the way, feel free to make suggestions!

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Off to Club Soroya!!!!!

See you there!!!!!!

A quick post about Begich and the annoying, biting insect called Ray Metcalfe

Running for office, he is...fooled you into thinking he's a real candidate, he has

No, I don't have time for this today but I couldn't help it...much of my respect for Ray Metcalfe is eroding after the crap he's pulling in regards to Mark Begich.

The latest is in regards to the debate on KAKM:
...Ray Metcalfe told Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich he suspected him of taking a bribe from developers.

Metcalfe said he doesn’t believe Begich’s statement that he received an interest in the Midtown Calais Towers as compensation for a reduced commission for a 2002 real estate deal.

Metcalfe said he’s long been in the real estate business.

“I’ve never seen anybody pay a real estate commission in the manner that you described it and I don’t buy it…I’m asking you to meet your commitments of openness by dispelling my suspicions of bribery and by allowing the public to see your 2002 tax returns and your broker’s information showing where it went through your broker,” Metcalfe said.

Begich said he’s answered the question. He said he was in the real estate business at the time, not in office, and “was paid a reduced commission of $22,000 for that transaction you talk about, a couple of months later I received a share of the Calais buildings…everything about me is an open book,” he said.

I couldn't take it anymore so I posted this on the ADN Alaska Politics blog comments:
Ray, you know damn well why this will never amount to anything: Begich was not in office at the time.

Not in office=no bribe.

Not only was he NOT in office, let's not forget that Begich only won the 2003 election by 11 votes over the number needed to win--there was NO WAY to guarantee or predict that he WOULD be in office!

If it was meant as a "bribe," that would make Rubini kind-of stupid, no?

Gee, Ray, a jeweler friend of mine made me two necklace and earring sets in exchange for advertising on my blog. Oooooh Nooooo...she threw in a couple of extra necklaces for my daughter and I've thought about maybe, possibly running for office in 2010!!!

Does that look like a bribe to you? Quick, get the 'cuffs!

(Actually, I think the correct "b" word here is "barter.")

Another important point: you can demand to see his tax returns or other financial records from 2002 all you want...you are not entitled to those records as none of us are entitled to the records of any private citizen. If you have a problem, take it up with the IRS who are the only ones entitled to that information. I'm betting you already did, though, and they threw it back at you as did everyone else.

For the record, I wouldn't open up my private finances to any non-friendly type demanding to see them. I have nothing to hide it would be purely on principle and the fact that it sets a dangerous precedent regarding privacy. I think most Alaskans feel the same way. If I were Begich, I'd have told you to "get stuffed" a long time ago but he's a lot nicer than I am.

Speaking of principle, Ray, did you ever take care of that "little problem" you were having with the FEC?

Not long ago a dear, honorable friend of mine was running against someone for a president's position in a non-profit. His conniving opponent spread unfounded accusations far and wide about about the finances of my friend's own non-profit and demanded to see his records.

Problem: no one except the IRS is entitled to the financial records of a non-profit as they are private...like a private citizen.

I'm guessing his opponent was copying a page from your playbook.

Labels: , , ,


Getting Fired Up and Ready to Go!!!!! 24 hours until I'm flying to Denver!


- Not packed yet
- Need an additional laptop battery
- Need a cord to plug into the net by my seat at the Pepsi Center
- Need a new camera (if I can afford it after the other stuff, which I can't really afford either but I need them)
- Need another 24 hours to do all the other stuff on my to-do list!

Anyway, this was mainly an excuse to test-drive (and put in storage on my blog) the header I'm going to use for the live-blogging posts. That way folks will know which is specifically gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Convention.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Six Questions for Alaska Congressional Candidates--#4 Earmarks

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. Here is the answer to question number four from AK-AL candidates Diane Benson and Ethan Berkowitz, running in the primary on August 26th. I'll post the last two before I leave for the Democratic Convention tomorrow night.

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?


Earmarks are not the problem, the abuse of earmarks are the problem. Like the rest of America, Alaskan’s are not opposed to earmarks. Alaskan’s are opposed to earmarks spent on lobbyists and special interests rather than the people of Alaska.

When I’m elected to Congress I will propose two common sense solutions to greatly increase transparency. The first step involves transparency. If legislators believe the earmarks they put in bills are being ethically used then they should have no problem with the public knowing how much money they’re spending and where the money is going. It’s taxpayer money and taxpayers have a right to know. Second, rather than continuing the chaotic spending of billions of dollars in earmarks, I propose that Congress set aside a certain amount of the budget for direct congressional spending. By limiting earmark spending to a predetermined amount, and then dividing that amount per Senator or Congressperson, the American people would no longer need to worry about out of control pork barrel spending increasing the budget.

By proposing these two solutions, Alaskans can go from being regarded as the state known for “government waste” to the state that brought much needed reform to out of control government spending.


Alaska’s next member of congress has the challenge of restoring trust and transparency, of making sure that the public interest, not special interest is served. Against that backdrop, earmarks can serve a useful purpose. Take the Denali Commission, for example.

The federal bureaucracy sometimes fails to move quickly enough, or be flexible enough to respond to uniquely Alaskan conditions. Earmarks -- discretionary spending -- can correct those sort of problems. We just need to know who asked for them, that there is a clear process to examine them, and that they are not used to reward contributors and supporters.

Labels: , , , , ,

Diane Benson's New Ads

"Breaking Barriers"


It's official...she has the Harley vote!!!


(I love this B&W silent movie-style ad with Tony Vito as the "Dick Dastardly" character!)


This one is heart-rending.

Labels: , , , , ,

New Videos from the Begich Campaign

"On the Trail with Mark Begich"

"At Home with Mark Begich"

Labels: , , ,


Consgresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones became well-known as a strong Clinton supporter and spokesperson

I received this email just two hours ago:

Statement From the Office of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yesterday evening, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones was admitted to Huron Hospital after suffering an aneurysm while driving her car in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. At the present time Rep. Tubbs Jones' condition has stabilized and she is receiving the best care available.

Tuesday's condition followed a full day of activity, including planning for an upcoming forum on electoral reform, scheduled for September 4, 2008 at Cleveland State University. Congresswoman Tubbs Jones was scheduled to travel to Denver on August 24, 2008 to attend the Democratic National Convention as a superdelegate.

I just heard on CNN that Congresswoman Jones passed away so it must have happened within the hour. My heart goes out to her family, friends and constituents. CNN, AP and other sources are now recanting their story, explaining that Tubbs Jones is actually in critical condition.

I'm very sorry folks--I figured getting it on CNN as an AP story (and hearing it on Ed Schultz) made it a pretty safe story to report.

Labels: , , , ,

McCain's big mistake

Low water level in Lake Powell in Arizona (McCain's home state) as the result of long-term drought

Mark Twain once wrote the truism: “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.” Here on the arid land of the west, that statement has never been truer as McCain has ignited the ire of Coloradoans by threatening to take their water. Here is a particularly acerbic editorial from the Denver post on the issue:


Being from Arizona, it’s natural for McCain to want to negotiate more water for the lower states. Think of all the golf resorts in Palm Springs or recreation lakes in Vegas that would suffer forced to adjust to the realities of having been built in a desert…The problem is that he made these statements in Colorado, the source of that water. Colorado already receives a meager share of water as a result of the current treaty.

McCain won’t win any votes from Colorado by threatening to take away their water. This may eventually spark off a water war if he gets elected. I think it would be great to see Colorado embrace the new industries of rice production, or cranberry farms ;) It will be interesting to see how this gaffe plays out in the election.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The crazy-busy days before the Democratic National Convention! How you can keep up with the information (when I can't!)

Obama "wall of hope" at the Midtown Campaign for Change office in Anchorage, Alaska

Right now, I'm experiencing what I like to call the "shame spiral" leading up to leaving for the Convention on the Friday morning red-eye flight. I'm trying to wrap- up some projects while putting some on hold, getting my daughter ready to go back to school tomorrow and meeting with her teacher (which has turned out to be difficult) to get the work she'll miss, constantly reading/answering/RSVPing email that has more-than-exploded over the last few days (150-200 a day), giving interviews (keep your eyes on the New York Times), helping with the "Meet the Delegates" party this Thursday (6:30 - 9:30 PM at Club Soroya), etc...etc...

The "shame" part (it's a Catholic thing) comes from the fact that this frenetic activity is keeping me AWAY from the reason FOR all of this...the blog.

Add to it the myriad of press releases coming from multiple sources with information of every kind...speakers, more "green" activities, parties, etc...there is just so much communication I feel like my head is going to explode.

(It makes me look forward to switching over to the new blog platform when I get back so that folks can write diaries about their interests and I can include them...a real community effort! But I digress...)

In musing on all of this, I suddenly realized that I've never discussed the Rootswire aggregator...the widget to the right of my blog and what it means. Granted, it wasn't working properly for a short while but now it seems to be doing just fine. Blogger Steve Hanson ("Uppity Wisconsin") put his considerable energy and expertise into this project, which pulls from the feed of participating Convention bloggers as well as the DNCC Blog and the Democratic Host Committee. The aggregator also grabs stories about candidates and all things Obama/McCain.

In Steve's own words:
Many of you may have noticed the widget that has been displaying around this site for the last few weeks from RootsWire.org. RootsWire is an exciting project that we've been working on in conjunction with many of the bloggers who are covering the Democratic Convention. We are pulling together content from many of the best bloggers in the country in a single site, covering the convention from many angles, both in different parts of the planet and from different political viewpoints. This has been a great experience, and we're thrilled that so many well-known bloggers from around the world are participating.

So, when you check my blog throughout the Convention for the "Alaska view," make sure you click on the widget as well and see what bloggers from all over the country are experiencing. I think that collectively, we'll have the most comprehensive coverage ever seen!

Labels: , ,

Six Questions for Alaska Congressional Candidates--#3 Campaign Finance: Taking money from lobbyists and PACs

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. Here is the answer to question number three from AK-AL candidates Diane Benson and Ethan Berkowitz, running in the primary on August 26th.

(P.S. I've had several people ask why I have not been including any commentary on these posts. I wanted to present these answers to you as I received them from the candidates and allow everyone to analyze and decide for themselves.)

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?


Time and again I stood up in Juneau for campaign finance reform. For limits from big money, against easing restrictions on lobbyists – for more accountability and more transparency in our political process, and for measures that defended the integrity of institutions against corruption.

Those are the principles I have imparted to my campaign.

It’s about more than PACs. I believe that working families, and not just the wealthy, should have a voice in the political process and am proud to accept the support of labor unions. I am honored to receive the support of members of Congress. I am grateful that supporters of groups like Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign have found a way to pool their resources and support my candidacy.

I will continue to speak out for public financing of campaigns. I will continue to oppose corporate participation in the political process, and I will continue to be a proven voice for ethical government.


Let me be clear. Representatives of the people should not take money from lobbyists. It’s just that simple. I applaud Senator Obama and the DNC for taking such a bold stance on campaign finance reform. I believe that we as democrats, the party which represents the heart, the soul, and the voice of the average American, have an obligation to resist the temptation of special interests.

As many of you know, I’ve been calling for campaign finance reform since I ran to retire Don Young in 2006. I’m proud to run a campaign financed by people and not by special interests. This is why I’ve never taken money from lobbyists or Industry PACs. The simple truth is these sources don’t hand out large piles of money without expecting something in return.

Clean government is THE defining issue in this election. Campaign finance reform is the best way of cleaning up government and is the primary difference between myself and my opponents. When our elderly are forced to choose between life sustaining food and life saving medicine, when telecom companies get off the hook for violating our civil liberties, or when Congress watches while families collapse under the weight of excruciatingly high gas prices; and yet refuses to act…we can bet it is because Representatives took money from big business lobbyists. Campaign finance isn’t just a matter of ethics. It’s a matter of making progress as a country. I hope that all voters will think long and hard between now and August 26th. Before the people of Alaska vote they need to ask themselves one simple question, “Do you want your Congressperson to represent you or lobbyists?”

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

Monday, August 18, 2008

Barack Obama's "Backstage with Barack" Campaign--one of the 10 folks is an Alaskan!

The Obama Campaign had a fund-raising drive where if you donated $5.00 or more within a certain time frame, your name would be put in the hat to be selected as one of 10 folks to be backstage with Barack Obama before his historic speech at Invesco Field a week from Thursday.

One of those folks selected is an Alaskan!

Per the email:

Holly Miowak Stebing of Anchorage, Alaska

Holly, a 20-year-old Alaska Native Inupiaq, is spending her summer break from Stanford University at the First Alaskans Organization interviewing native elders about their experiences with segregation. Holly is passionate about improving healthcare access for Native Americans, and protecting Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling. The 2008 presidential election is Holly's first as a voter. She says: "This was the first campaign I felt I needed to support. I don't have a lot of money, but I donate what I can because I believe in [Barack]." She will attend the convention with her mother who is the first Native American woman to pass the Alaska bar.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Six Questions to Alaska Congressional Candidates #2--Solutions for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

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. Here is the answer to question number two from AK-AL candidates Diane Benson and Ethan Berkowitz.

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?


Having worked in the field of violence and recovery, I find several conditions evident for both the Native and non-Native communities:

1) There are not enough shelters in the state of Alaska for the protection of family members suffering in fear of and at the hands of violence.

2) Alcohol and drug abuse constitutes the major cause of violent crime committed in Alaska, yet we are sorely lacking in funds for alcohol and drug addiction treatment let alone for family support programs.

3) Education for women of every age about self-defense, protection, and resources is lacking.

4) First responders and police need more training and support to meet quicker and adequate response time and reporting requirements.

5) Community leaders and health care providers need to be adequately educated and trained in sexual assault prevention, mandatory reporting and reporters, safe homes, rape kit requirements, and victim testimony etc.

The Amnesty International report that alarmed many as to the level of sexual violence in Alaska was unfortunately only a fraction of the actual chronic levels of violence. Some who work in the field speculate that the rates of violence are as high as 90% in unreported cases. As Alaska’s Congressional Representative I would actively pursue ending this crisis in Alaska and therefore would:

1) Work with the Department of Justice and advocate for more funds directed to sexual assault and family violence prevention
2) Work with the state to increase rural police and VPSO programs, and appropriate training for these and other first responders.

3) Act on local recommendations for alternative/tribal court development, funding crisis centers, and act on school and other child safety plans.

4) Advocate for an increase in funds for justice for victims of crime.

5) Make reporting safer.

6) Work with the state to increase drug and alcohol recovery programs, and awareness – and support such federal bills as the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act.

7) Support a mandate to end sexual violence in Alaska.

8) Listen.


Too many lives, too many families have been shattered by domestic violence and sexual assault. I worked on too many cases with too many victims, and know that this violence casts a dark, dark shadow over Alaska. The statistics impersonally convey the extent of the problem.

I know the humanity from experience.

I remember the dignity of a young woman, raped repeatedly, under circumstances too horrific to recount here. I remember the strength of an abuse victim, so badly beaten, her face swollen, her arm broken, supported by two officers as she made her way to the witness stand to testify against her attacker.

Those experiences as a prosecutor, my work with the Criminal Justice Assessment Commission, and my time in the state legislature make it clear that any effort to reduce crime depends on implementing a comprehensive strategy linking prevention, policing, prosecuting, and prison. It depends on making sure that victims can have a voice, and that they receive the counseling and treatment needed. It means making sure that government provides adequate resources so we can break these cycles of violence.

Rural Alaska suffers disproportionately because it lacks so much. There is simply not enough law enforcement in the Bush – more than eighty villages don’t have even a VPSO. There is a lack of drug and alcohol treatment, and a lack of probation and parole officers to help offenders reintegrate into communities. Too many places in Alaska lack a complete justice system. And too many rural Alaskans fall easy prey to predators when they come to our larger cities because the support they should have, the deterrence that should exist, and the prevention measures that should be in place are simply lacking.

Labels: , , , , , , ,