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7.31.2009

Moving right along... sort of.

Rumor has it the Palin family are shopping for a place in New York. Zip it up, Van Flein, you effen wanker tool! RUMOR, not fact. A Faux News job following weepy-dangerous idiot racist Glenn Beck right before that smug dickweed assclown Hannity much, perhaps? Surely this is merely coincidental but considering her failure as Mayor of Wasilla wherein heads rolled and people were fired by her for wanting to provide library access to some not-so-Wasilla-esque approved texts at their local library, this story seems like the community of East Hampton, Long Island MAY be paving the way for the Palin horde. As usual, I'm just sayin'... but it sounds eerily familiar doesn't it? "Heaven forbid the underprivledged kids have, you now, access to actual information and progressive points of view like science and stuff, also, too!"

Follow the links in the story from one of my favorite boingboing contributors Cory Doctorow for, as ol' Paul Harvey always said, "the REST of the story".

-Laz

("Page Two!")

The sky was falling, the sky was falling!

As mentioned in my previous post, my good friend Linda at Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis talked me down from my original apoplexy over the missing Palin press releases on the official State of Alaska Governor's website. She posted an update and sent email with the proverbial "remain calm!" command. Since I implicitly trust her and her word -- and I have absolutely no reason not to -- I went frosty. It probably prevented a coronary. She had found the missing evidence at an archive website and shared the URLs in an update to my diary post at the Oasis. Whew.

Allow me to state for the record that I certainly don't mind playing the role of Chicken Little if it brings attention to something potentially as troublesome as the destruction of public records, most especially if those records were potentially libelous and could be used in a lawsuit against the issuer of said libel. Did I overreact? I don't think so. Until Linda revealed her online find it DID appear that the records were illegally expunged. Do I feel embarrassed for all the work I put in on the larger blog post, sleuthing out the truth? Not really. Linda has skills, skills she used to help "talk me down" (ala Rachael Maddow) and for that I give her a big, huge, she just won the Masters Tournament loud and not so polite golf clap. Bravo, I say! Brav-effen-O! Well played! Well played indeed.

Here's a link to the article Lisa Demer at the Anchorage Daily News posted about the incident including the part about my "tizzy". Heh. Tizzy is such a nice word compared to the abject dismay and sinking feeling I experienced at the time. The word "tizzy" seems most kind and motherly, considering... so thanks, Lisa. A polite golf clap for bringing in info from both Linda and I and then adding in some necessary back story to her column in the "dead trees" sponsored main stream media of ADN online. I say it this way because I believe her post is only available online and is fairly well burried. Nonetheless I appreciate the article and the effort. It's not front page news nor do I necessarily think it should be... unless it proved to be true that all of the records were deep-sixed. THAT would have been front page news.

So here are the archives of the records removed from the SOA governor's website, safely held at a site that Sarah and her minions do not and cannot control. I'll give you the raw links:

http://www.archive-it.org/
http://www.archive-it.org/collections/1200

My thanks to everyone involved including the Alaska State Library system for having the foresight to preserve this warped little bit of Alaskan history, for better or worse. I have many librarian friends and the real reason most of them are dead sexy is because many of them know and fully realize that information and free access to it is and should be a right. Especially if it is public records.

Now ladies and gentlemen, START YOUR LAWYERIN' ENGINES! Or satisfy your historical curiousity. Either way, for now I'm moving on to other more important things. Like getting a good single payer/public option health care plan in place. I will try to ignore S.P. v. 1.0 as much as the rest of America and the MSM now seems to be doing unless and until she finally works up the nerve to follow through on her "twitter promise" to let the "...less politically correct twitters fly frm my fingertps outside the state site...". Like they were ever PC. And wait -- does that sentence mean her fingertips are outside of the state [site]? Always pushing the word salad envelope, Sarah. Baffle 'em with bullshit, as usual. You stay classy, Sarah Palin. You maverick.

If she ever IS allowed by her lawyers to unleash the dogs of her twitter stupidity again, you can bet Alaskan progressive bloggers will be all over her like a defenseman on Scotty Gomez. Like lipstick on a pitbull. Like. Stink. On. Shit. Because in many ways Alaskan progressives have been the ONLY ones to attempt to hold this elusive hockey mom, to use her own words, "transparent and accountable" during her brief reign of seemingly unethical and unlawful terror as governor of the great state of Alaska.

-Laz

7.28.2009

Thankfully, THE Diva "talks me down"...

And thus I and perhaps WE collectively can all commence breathing once again...

Linda at Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis has updated my original panicky post there and I for one am grateful. Follow the links posted there...

That notwithstanding, it was sneaky and underhanded the way that they went about hiding important public documents. I understand that Parnell wanted a clean break from the past, I really do. I also appreciate the idea that to continue to display possibly libelous and personally vindictive documents POSING as "press releases" might cause them exposure to future lawsuits, but that does not excuse they way they did it nor does it correct the problem of the documents STILL not being available for archival purposes on the official SOA website. Are they public documents or not, Governor Empty Suit? Are you going to make us pay $500K to request copies of documents we as citizens already OWN instead of the usual 25 cents per page copy fees that most if not ALL states governments and institutions charge?

-Laz

7.27.2009

UPDATED: Anatomy of a potentially scandalous cover-up...

Yes, I was personally horrified that all links to Sarah Palin's vitriolic and targeted press releases to exact "fair play" or the threats of potential lawsuits against progressive Alaskan bloggers including Shannyn Moore and Linda Kellen-Biegel, seemed to have vanished entirely from the SOA (state of Alaska) website! Who wouldn't be? Keep in mind that those bloggers here in Alaska are merely expressing their first amendment rights in the form of "freedom of speech" by blogging about the alleged abuses of power and ethical complaints against Sarah Palin in her official capacity as Governor of the state of Alaska. With that principle in mind I went to the sites I like to check every day to read whatever new crazy thing is designed to attack us bloggers. I went to the official State of Alaska website and got a shock that I feel should rock us all to our very core.

I went to the SOA (state of Alaska) site because in some way I kind of expected the sort of underhandedness I discovered therein. Call me a cynic. I'll gladly wear that badge with pride. But at this point I can't help but get the feeling that my fears are being proven correct with each and every step along the way of my personal investigation. I feel that many, many important public records have seemed to have gone missing from the official governor's website today (7/27/09) and I think for good reason. Allow me to present the Google Cache and search evidence.

I'll explain why exactly these documents are important. First and foremost, since they were issued as press releases on a state owned website, they are supposed to be public records. As such they should be preserved in toto for the sake of history and full disclosure. Often times Sarah Palin's "official" press releases of the past took the tone of a "mean girl" high school rival, filled with vitriol and suggestions that "fair play" be exacted by Alaskan supporters of Sarah Palin against Alaskan bloggers, an ugly idea openly expressed by her chief of staff, Mike Nizich. Try browsing to the official SOA website here. Dumps you right into a blank page from the present S.P. v. 2.0 (Sean Parnell) page, doesn't it? Now click on the underlined press release link from this page at the "Palingates" website...

Hmmm. Not working anymore is it? All links to official documents are broken and dump you back at S. P. v. 2.0 's main site or essentially a blank page. Why do I feel this is an important development in what I feel is a possible cover-up? Because these documents could be the very basis of future lawsuits against her and certain members of her staff (Mike Nizich, Ivy Frye, &tc. et. al.) to prove both libel and slander on their part. Without them we have to rely upon anecdotal evidence or what is referred to within the legal community as either "dictum" or hearsay. I feel this is a sinister development and is nothing less than Palin and her minions still implanted deeply within the Parnell administration to prevent the prosecution of potential future rightful and justified lawsuits. Even if one were to enjoin a lawsuit against her or Parnell and declare that these documents are both important and ESSENTIAL to prove their case, one would come up "snake-eyes" or empty-handed even through a lawfully ordered judicial discovery process. Were your lawyer to demand through the discovery process that they "produce the documents", they won't and can't because they appear to have been scrubbed entirely from the records archive. They are virtually shredded without explanation or any justification whatsoever!

This is possibly best classified as "obstruction of justice" and would be frowned upon by just about any reasonable judge (again, in my opinion) as being a deliberate destruction of important public documents on the part of a plantiff (potential and future in this hypothetical instance as no one has yet to file a suit against her or members of her administration). It is wrong, wrong, oh so VERY wrong and is potentially deeply criminal. Lets look at the captured images from my search as I lay out the case.

We already know that the cynic in me prompted a visit to the official website. First I pulled up the main page, it's link and captured image is above. Hmmm. Everything looks like a smooth transition to the new administration thus far. Next I went to the governor's main page. Whups! Problem. which prompted me to dig deeper. Where are all the press releases from Palin? I can understand Parnell wanting a clean break and separation from the special brand of vindictive "crazy-sauce" often offered up by Palin in her not so recent past, so I "rubbed some dirt on it and walk[ed] it off" before digging deeper. Though as soon as I saw this page (at left), I knew I was going to need a much bigger shovel. Why? Because I immediately got a bad feeling that informed my senses "I betcha they buried the Palin press releases so deep that I may have to dig all the way to China to unearth the truth". I feel that I wasn't wrong. Thankfully the state of Alaska website has a built-in search tool powered by Google. Ahh, Google! Light of justice and all that is good and powerful on the web. Well, mostly. I expect that after this blog post they'll remove this tool, which by the way would be a travesty and further proof that the Parnell administration has no desire to conduct government business in an open and transparent manner... but I digress.

Next, I type in what you see in the picture at right in the address bar of Firefox. I searched for "Palin press release" + "bloggers". This is a very powerful way to narrow your search to specific quoted items found within pages on the web. The quotes allow Google to look for exact matches to the terminology you input, instead of stupid crap like "Moms who wear jeans like their daughter's jeans" as the Microsoft ad promoting their search engine suggests. From my past experience as a corporate buyer of bulk computer parts for upgrades, I can narrow a search like a shark mounted with a "frikken' laser" on its head. You don't get the cheapest and most available parts as a reseller by typing generic search terms into a powerful search engine like Google by using inexact terminology. You want the exact info for which you search, most especially if you're doing it on the boss' dime and looking to turn a profit from your opportune online discoveries. But again, I digress -- enough with my search engine skill bona fides. Let's look closely at the last image as I break it down a bit. In the blue highlighted line that says "Search" you can clearly see my search items, now scan down and look at the actual URL, the line in green that gives the actual address to the documents for which I actually was searching. Make a mental note of the "&ersand;type=1" at the very end of that line. It's important. Why? Well it is a classification for the internal SOA (state of Alaska) website as to the specific type of classification assigned to a document by their webmaster. While I am certainly not privy as to how they classify their documents I can tell from the image at left that if it is "=1" it means "State of Alaska>Governor>News>News Archive as shown in the image at left under the large "Press Archive" heading highlighted in blue. Lest I say cornflower blue, even? Also note how the address bar (to the right of the little "house" home page icon -- it's Firefox with Ad Block Plus and No (java) Script enabled for you Firefox wonks out there...) indicates the same. How is this significant? It only shows that the results of following the link to SPECIFIC documents listed and shown in the last image resulted in SQUAT. NOTHING. Not because my search terminology was bunk and bullshit, but rather and perhaps more importantly because, in my opinion, they have flagged ALL documents that the former Palin administration deems as potentially damaging to them in a court of law by precisely that tag designation if the search criteria is also "Palin". Anything that meets that criteria of "type=1" brings up the empty page you see here. Don't believe me? Follow the links yourself and report back to me! I insist.

[added 09/28/09: Note also that I love to tweak URLs in the address bar by deleting part of it (for instance the "&ersand;type=1") and reloading the page. Normal HTML behavior would either do nothing, leaving the page as it is, or in most cases default back to an index. This did not happen in my search. They all basically redirected to the blank page shown in this post. People may argue that my search terms were flawed and I can counter by saying that these documents were available the day before, using the exact same search terms... thus another indicator that someone at the state website is burying them on purpose.]

Other documents that show Palin in a favorable light ARE NOT TAGGED in such a manner and display normally when clicking upon the listed green link. Those they wish to suppress and apparently hide from public view and public disclosure refuse to display. You get a variation of the same theme as shown in the image above. A mostly blank page of void and nothingness as presented by the Parnell administration. Way to go, Governor Empty Suit! Sad to see you have yet to "grow a pair" enough to truly distinguish yourself as being something other than Sarah Palin version 2.0 (aka S. P. v. 2.0)!

One commenter on this blog made a statement about Frank Murkowski and his documents being available on the press release archive page, as if to say that it's normal to get rid of the old governor's public documents and to answer that, I present the following captured image. Look closely in the cornflower blue "Press Releases" line... that's 452 hits for that search. Yes my search was more generic and yes it could be "a statistical anomaly", but I highly doubt it. It's not like Murkowski was more prolific at issuing press releases, nor was he, as a single term governor, in office much longer than Sarah Palin herself. Yet look at all those available documents! See many of them with the new tag "&ersand;type=1"? Nope. Were you to go to that search page, I can assure you that each and every damn document will display as is and NOT take you to a blank Governor Sean Parnell page as do the displays of Palin related press releases do. So who's zooming who here? Me or the state of Alaska? Demand further proof? Here's a screen capture of a "positive" Palin press release, one of only a limited few I was able to pull up in my browser.

At this point I am nothing less than spent. I literally pay $600 a year for my internet connection (because I like the high speed connection) and am NOT being paid by "partisan political operatives" as Sarah Palin herself continues to claim. She may be lying to Alaska and Alaskans even as she continues to attempt to suppress OUR FREEDOM OF SPEECH RIGHTS while she illegitimately and disgustingly wraps herself in the flag and the illusion of being a "patriot" and a rabid, fervent "supporter of our troops who have fought and died for rights". Unfortunately it appears that freedom of speech only applies to HER freedom of speech and not that of ALL Alaskans and ALL Americans. If anything she is the worst offender in this particular cultural battle -- one who continues to "make stuff up".

As far as I know NONE of my progressive Alaskan blogging peers are paid a dime and yet we continue to allow Palin and her small army of minions and operatives to frame the debate with outright LIES. Meanwhile, the main stream media, most especially outlets like the Anchorage Daily News, continue to fawn over her like she's a godess incarnate. I say that their medium and their way of exposing the truth about most things is purely "phoning it in" at this point, with no offense meant to Brendan or Sean whose day jobs depend upon them being "journalists", punching the clock for the "man". And in this case, the "man" is a corporation owned by out of state interests.

Main stream media is dead. Stick a fork in it and with this post I continue to present to you the brave new world that IS blogging and bloggers with all the ascendant abilities to use and utilize this new medium of the internet for the greater good of all Americans. I say, get used to it, people. As I'm sure many of you already are. We are underpaid (or as is my case, not paid at all) and overworked but we (and by we I mean, in this instance, Alaskan progressive bloggers) have a passion to dig up the truth and present it in a manner that is both meaningful and significant to all of us as citizens, using the tools of this new medium in ways that the mainstream media couldn't even imagine. It is my hope that all Alaskans and all Americans wake up to the new paradigm, the one where we all can report and participate in news events as they happen. Like the narrative presented above.

I encourage you to follow the bread crumbs, as it were, for yourself if you are so motivated. I almost insist that your participation is vital. That's how it is on the internet. It's your universe and my only purpose is to perhaps point you in the right direction and to expose things that make me and hopefully YOU righteously indignant about the way the world is presently run by corporate overlords. It is up to all of as as individuals to remain vigilant lest we be lulled into a hypnotic state by those who seek to control public opinion by manipulating the OLD paradigms of a stone cold dead fourth estate. Are you with me?

-Laz

Let the cover-up commence... Palin's vitriol on official site VANISHES!

I knew this would happen and it demands action now! I am personally calling the "new" administration with statutes in hand to ask them why they appear to have scrubbed the entire archive of press releases by ex-governor Palin from the state governor's website. Yes you read that correctly. All the tantrums, all the veiled threats, all the quotes from Nitzche threatening bloggers -- gone.

This is definitely a story I'm going to be following up on at my blog OMFGAK... I'm just throwing it out there NOW so ALL the progressive Alaskan bloggers are aware of it and can move quickly to expose this apparent cover-up in the making. I assert that as public records this action is an illegal one designed to destroy archival public information. It appears at this point that is exactly what they have done!

I'm hyperventilating... having a Maddow moment about this so somebody PLEASE "talk me down!" because this is serious shit. Try clicking on any bookmarks from her press releases. They all go to the root of the new governor's site. That's what is known as "scrubbing"... if we act quickly perhaps we can catch them in the act of this destruction through Google Cache browsing.

-Laz

Update from Facebook:

(I) heart Google! You have to do a search on Alaska.gov with "Palin press releases" to find her old threats, vitriol and vendettas against progressive Alaskan bloggers who merely were exercising THEIR rights to FREE SPEECH. So perhaps a bit of a panic-y "chicken little" moment [on my part] but it still appears that some of the ones that are libelous and/or slanderous have been scrubbed from the site. All links on the main governor's website no longer link to the previous administration and instead plop you down at the main page. This is not right. I understand S. P. v. 2.0 wanting to make a clean break and a fresh start but to "deep six" official public documents and make them harder to find reeks of a cover-up in the making...

-Laz

http://www.gov.state.ak.us/arc...

http://omfgalaska.blogspot.com/

7.26.2009

Her last act was her best act...

Here's the most complete video I've found of Sarah Palin's last speech as governor, in Fairbanks at the Governor's Annual Picnic, moments before officially aborting at mid-term her sworn duties to the state of Alaska as governor by quitting. This was quickly followed by the swearing in ceremony of Lt. Governor Sean Parnell as new governor of the state of Alaska, which was followed by the even more procedurally odd swearing in of General Campbell to the position of "Temporary Lt. Governor":



It's incredibly long by her standards and I do not recommend using this as a method of torture against our enemies. It would simply be too inhumane. This many crazy half-processed thoughts and the mish-mash of the usual word salad would likely choke your average healthy Clydesdale horse. Ramp up to it brave people! Take it in small doses if necessary. You've been warned.

By the way, does anyone know if Campbell has resigned his commission with both the Air Force and Alaska National Guard yet? If not, the moment he took the oath of office he was in contraversion of official federal military policy.

-Laz

Release the Hounds!

I have an idea that Alaska is going to be a theoretical legal political testing grounds and perhaps even more shockingly a paramilitary/milita testing grounds as well in the next 18 months -- something that could make Palin's antics of the past 2 1/2 years pale by comparison.

Sean Parnell may as well have Sarah's arm up his ass working his lips FOR him for as much independence of policy and agenda he has shown since the announcment of her quitting on Alaska. I have an idea that Palin and all her appointees who remain may attempt to play puppet master to our current Governor, "Temporary Lt. Governor" and "Interim Attorney General" both of whom are in a present state of legal limbo precisely because of them being unconfirmed by the legislature as required by Alaska's constitution... all actions by them are quasi-legal until confirmed in my opinion and as clearly cited in our own state constitution. Remember that the timing of all these events have been set in motion by Sarah herself.

I have discussed this state of affairs with a government official who is more official than the officer he presently serves under, assuring me in email that the language of the constitution expresses that they are assumed to be "official" until confirmation with all the inherent duties, powers and responsibilities. Problem with that is, what if the legislature does as they did with Wayne Anthony Ross and votes AGAINST confirmation? What about the legality of any rulings or actions executed by them while serving as temporary, unconfirmed officers? I don't think I'm exaggerating too greatly here when I say that the legal gray area is a vast, vast chasm of pitch black void as it pertains to existing state case law, waiting to be filled with case (after case, after case) work from hungry Alaskan lawyers and paralegals.

At present, Campbell is expected to be discussed in special session but we have to wait until JANUARY for senate discussion of Sullivan at AG. Talk about having your legal ass in the wind! Anything and everything could happen. Hang on Alaska, we're in for a VERY bumpy ride! And I say "discussion" in both cases because, like I said above and cannot repeat often enough, both are still temporary until they get an up or down vote from the Senate.

Now -- to get the "crazy ball" rolling at full speed I'm just going to toss out a couple of "feelings" about "possible scenarios" that I'm getting from all this, during our first baby steps into the golden dawn that IS this new and exciting "post-Palin" political era. First Joe Schmidt didn't take the Lt. Governor job because that would impede his ability to cooperate and help from the inside with longtime personal friend Todd Palin in acting as shadow government and puppet-masters, exerting their influence over all the Palinistas and Palinbots still planted deeply within our state government. Second, the possibility that all these actions and the present quasi-legal status of our AG may have been specifically designed for the hidden purpose of Sarah leading a drive, once and for all, for Alaska to stand up with her and Todd
and "all good, decent, God fearing people" AGAINST "that evil Socialist Obama" and succeed from the union. AIP wins! AIP wins! The nightmare only gets weirder, folks, and I swear I'm as sober as a baptist preacher at the moment so at least these are NOT the wild ideas of an alcohol fueled and/or drug crazed mind. Unless you count Crunch & Munch's high sugar content as a drug, that is.

If I'm not right, at the very least it would make a great plot for a spy novel and if I am right I'm going to be either too effen flabbergasted to say "I told you so..." or too effen dead for stumbling upon their evil master plan and publishing it here live. Again it's only a "feeling", not fact, not even rumor -- but an idea such as this makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! Consider yourself lucky I don't work for them and suggest they pursue such machinations! Thank your lucky stars that OMFGAK (moi, aka Laz aka Randy) is NOT holding up a big glowing red neon sign that reads "Evil Genius -- Will Work For Grift". You needen't worry much. I have a low tolerance for working with idiots. One earns karma points working AGAINST idiocy.

Oh and by the way, I don't care what Bill McAllister calls them -- until confirmation Daniel S. Sullivan is "acting or interim Attorney General" and state officials should be required by law to call him that every time they say anything about him. Same with Campbell. He is "acting or interim Lt. Governor" until confirmed as required by Alaskan constitution law. All official documents must reflect this as well. Even the ones online, Bill. It twists my nipples as a citizen of Alaska to hear these guys being referred to by the official titles of the positions they would assume AFTER confirmation. It isn't a done deal yet and in my opinion it ought to be illegal to play them off as being official until the "fat legislature sings". Period.

-Laz

Progressives spotted in the wilds!


So I went to the governor's picnic yesterday. It was about what I expected though not nearly as much wailing and gnashing of teeth from Palinistas and Palinbots. Darn. There were some obvious displays of support such as these folks... that's Rebecca Palsha, a reporter from KTUU on the left. I don't think she was working though.

KTUU's ass-kissing story of the day was filed by future political media lapdog, Jason Lamb. Make sure and watch the video at their sight. Especially if you feel like throwing up in your mouth a little bit. His story was glowing, mentioned no problems about her administration and was already framing this as the second to the last day "before she bursts onto the national scene...". Okie dokey Jason, thanks for your objective and unbiased attempt at ACTUAL journalism. (WHIFF! So close! NOT.) I'm sure you were just sent to the scene by your evil overlords to cover the picnic itself but there were no interviews with the "loyal (to Alaska) opposition" included in the story as aired, even though some were interviewed. So atta-boy Jason! You can take your lips off Sarah's ass now.

Anyhow, there weren't many overt displays of Palin support... small signs, Alaska flags, the usual -- but no rabid foaming at the mouth supporters. The lady in the flag shirt above also carried the Alaska flag (not pictured). Also, too -- nice touch of "flair" on her part with the kool aid packet pinned to her shirt pocket. Polite golf claps all around. Negative points though for not realizing the irony of such a personal statement. The gentleman in black in the middle attended with his wife and kids. Nothing much to say about him other than to note that a little earlier he had been wearing a HUGE gold cross (not pictured). Don't know where it went or what he did with it. Doesn't really matter. It's America so he is as free to express his opinion as any of us. It's just that I personally, as an ex-Christian have always felt a cross -- any cross -- as being an ironic symbol of Christianity. Wearing the symbol of the torture device with which their savior was murdered. Brilliant! It would seem to me akin to Tupac Shakur fans wearing a 9mm Glock on a chain around their necks to express their love and remembrance of him, no? Not that I'm saying Tupac was anyone's savior or comparing him to Jesus. It's just that it seems creepy to me that people would venerate as a religious icon something that was used to kill the object of their worship, be it Tupac or Jesus. Yeah... I like my irony with a steamy hot mug of hyperbole, too.

I did manage to snap a distant picture of Palin and Parnell during their brief speeches. That's her in a regal purple pile jacket with gold brocade around the collar at stage left. Her buddy and unconfirmed Lt. Governor appointee General Campbell is next to her. At far right is Parnell in a grey or dusky green pile jacket, blending into the background as he is so adept at doing, and his wife. If you squint really, really hard, I believe "you can see Russia and Putin rearing his ugly head..." in the background. Nobody said much that was memorable in speeches that seemed to only last a mere thirty seconds each. Sarah would perhaps disagree since I'm sure she probably felt she touched upon her important issues of God and country, patriotism and supporting our troops. I agree with that last "supporting our troops" part. The rest from her, at least to my ears, were platitudes that seemed like burnt ashes upon lips. Only dust and smoke.

I particularly enjoyed the shot of the gentleman in the foreground wearing his "thinking cap" though I would have enjoyed it more if it had a picture of Sarah on the front with "What Were We Thinking Cap" on the back. But I digress. Who am I, a guy dressed in cargo shorts, black pile vest and Teva sandals with socks to talk fashion choices? I was surprised at how convoluted the lines going to the BBQs were, one cutting diagonally across the field, blocking access to the stage itself and had to spend a little bit of time trying to figure out how to get closer for better pictures. This is, believe it or not, the result of that effort. Less than stellar but I never claimed to be a stunning photojournalist in spite of my roots as one. I was however fairly impressed with the quality on the 5 megapixel camera built into my phone (and no it's NOT an iPhone). I should have gotten some video with it as well, but the world is filled with low resolution shaky-cam video, my adding to the sum total of same was unnecessary since Dennis Zaki was there.

Speaking of ashes, dust and smoke, once the politicians were done the volunteers fired up the grills in earnest, laying down a nice smoke screen so Sarah could make her way over to the ACS sponsored serving "pavillion" -- that little white pup tent affair on the right of the picture. As I said the line to the food was long and cut across the middle of the Park Strip diagonally. That ACS booth is where it terminated and was where you could get food. I didn't feel like standing in line with a couple thousand of my "new best friends" in order to get a hot dog and maybe some potato salad or pork and beans, so I skipped it and took this shot instead. Again, if you squint real hard I think you can see Putin and his evil devil horns hiding under the cover of smoke in the distant background behind the guy in the black and white stripped jacket. Or maybe that's just one of those kiddy bouncy carnival ride-y things. There were a lot of State Troopers present, Anchorage Police, Alaska National Guard/Air National Guard, FBI and tons of volunteers wearing little vests that said Police Volunteer or FBI Volunteer, &tc. The National Guard were easy to spot owing to their cammo outfits. You can see some of them in the background of the first picture. Most surprising to me was the presence of people who were probably unofficial volunteers. People who one assumes were there as supporters of Sarah. People like the man I mentally called "Mister Three Clips and a Glock".

Yep. That's him, "Mister Three Clips and a Glock", at right. Oh, and the third clip, for those of you who are counting, is IN the gun (hopefully with the safety set to the ON position), by the way. I blurred out the URL on his shirt not because I oppose their message nor that I particularly oppose gun ownership, because I don't... I did it because I choose not to use my blog to promote their website. I'm sure they'll be just fine without any additional promotion on my part. So the reason is as simple as that. I stood near them most of the time while at the picnic. They discussed their position with interested people and handed out business cards. As Robert Heinlein once said, "an armed society is a polite society..." and everyone at the picnic was at the very least civil, if not overtly "polite".

These gentlemen were a small cadre of around five rugged manly men dressed in matching blue t-shirts, but this one was the only one of the group who was openly packing his weapons and ammo. At a political event. With kids and senior citizens. And liberals and progressives standing less than ten feet away. Yeah, I know -- only in Alaska. Others were probably packing as well, I mean it IS Alaska after all, but thanks to Sarah, they could keep their weapons concealed instead of walking around in a group of thousands of people without feeling the need to have a figurative 2nd amendment "your fly is down" display moment. While I didn't feel the need to speak to any of them (I have my own defense methods, thanks) I did get to overhear something and perhaps catch a glimpse of the true nature of one of their members when he uttered an overly nationalistic/racist comment about Italians aloud. And no, I'm not Italian. I'm sure however that he probably meant it as a joke and within seconds of expressing his feelings in something other than his "inner voice", he realized he wasn't in the midst of a private meeting of his armed and potentially dangerous drinking buddies. He literally bit his lower lip and looked around sheepishly to see if anyone heard his smart-ass crack. Yeah buddy, I did. Self correcting in public but undoubtedly and unfortunately unfiltered in private is my educated guess. It's extremely sad that some people present two faces to the world as he did at that moment. His own look of personal embarrassment as our eyes met the moment he uttered it spoke volumes to me and I needed not say anything verbally to let him know that his comment made him both look and sound like an ass. Ask my son... I'm sure he'd agree that I've got the "chastising with my eyes alone" look down to an art form. Why waste words when you can look into and pierce through someone's true inner being with a single look, eh?

So I suppose I had fun. I got to meet several Alaskan progressive bloggers. Linda from "Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis" (an old friend) was there. Shannyn Moore from "Just a Girl from Homer", too. I was able to spot and introduce myself to Gryphen from "Immoral Minority" and (the lady whose REAL name I still don't know ;)) "Alaska Muckraker" from "The Mudflats". How did I spot the last two without ever having been introduced to them before? Cheetoes stains on their fingers, natch. All in all, good to see everybody and good to be seen and I'm thankful that it is the last time I'll ever see Sarah Palin in person with her as my governor. Lastly, my apologies for the misleading headline... I didn't actually get any pictures of my progressive blogging friends and I frolicking and cavorting in the "wilds" of the Anchorage Park Strip. At least not on camera. I have some wonderful pictures and experiences in my head however and I'll print them as 2D images to upload here as soon as some genius invents an interface. For now, hopefully this "word picture" of the event will suffice.

-Laz

7.25.2009

Maybe she was drunk? Drunk with power...

I'm not on Twitter nor do I follow anyone on their "short attention span blog" but occasionally I do check out Governor Palin's twitter page(*) whenever I need a laugh:

"
Great 3rd(& final) Governor's Picnic in hometown tonite;loved the focus: honoring military&Blue Star families;no politickin' just patriotism"

was posted first on Friday night July 24th, very late... and it's ummm, well partly it's a lie. The part about the Wasilla picnic (the first one in a series of three) being "3rd& final". Perhaps inaccurate would be a kinder word. Or maybe wishful thinking on her part and a ham-fisted attempt at "FUD" (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) purposefully spread by her to discourage attendance? She might even have been ripped on the sauce while "drunk tweeting"... again. Who knows? My guess is a combo of the last two.


Her hometown is Wasilla. It hosted the first of three picnics (they're held every summer, though this year just seems "extra special"). The second one is today in Anchorage at the traditional Park Strip location and I plan to be in attendence. The "3rd(&final)" one is to be held in Fairbanks tomorrow where Lt. Governor Sean Parnell (S.P. v. 2.0) will supposedly be sworn in as governor when she officially aborts her term a litte over half way through it.

Damn though... this woman has enough minions to keep her scheduling straight and keep her "on message" so why the misinformation or error? Ivy Fry busy asking people to "STOP BLOGGING! STOP BLOGGING NOW!"? Meg Stapleton busy fininshing off her updated resume? Kristan Cole busy shredding documents? VanFlein busy carting wheelbarrows full of ill gotten money to the bank (laughing all the way)?

Minutes later, perhaps after a sobering pot of coffee she self corrected:

"
Tomrrw host Anch Gov's Picnic; LtGov Parnell/I love these events- literally getting to serve you!Then Sunday Frbnks Picnic/Transition speech"

Frankly I'm praying the "momma bear" in her doesn't rise up, catch a glimpse of Russia and Putin "rearing his ugly head" and decide she's gonna fight and stay on as governor at the last minute. Hey -- it could happen with this crazy woman. I personally am not going to exhale until Parnell smiles weakly from his "empty suit" and acknowledges it's a done deal with a limp wave. He could score extra points in my book if he also danced around like Muhammed Ali in his prime and yelled "YEAH! YEAH! IN YOUR QUITTING FACE!", shaking his fists, circling, pointing at and taunting Palin after the swearing in ceremony. Not likely to happen but it would be wonderful. Maverick-y, even. An action like that could 1.) get him his balls back from locked safe where Palin has recently kept them and 2.) revive a flagging political career now ruined by the stink of being too closely associated with bat-shit crazy former "Governor Half-Measures". (I'm just sayin', Sean... once it's official, layeth downeth the smacketh! "Can you smell what the Sean is cooking?!?" Do it Sean. Doooo eeeeet! Man up! You know you wanna.)

But anyhow -- atta girl, Sarah. Her inaccurate late night tweet shows me she'll always be "just Sarah, being Sarah". Remember though -- as in carpentry, "measure twice, cut once". Or in her case, don't bother to measure at all and just keep cutting
(turkey necks , anyone?) -- something, anything -- as long as it gets media publicity for her to "progress" whatever the hell it is she thinks she's progressing. So here, in what I hope will be my last blog post EVER about her while she's still governor, allow me to offer a little friendly, albeit unsolicited advice for our soon to be ex-governor before she, by all rights, SHOULD begin her new Twitter account as a private citizen, and that advice is this: Before sending email, posting to a blog or "tweeting", please be kind (mostly to yourself but also to others) and re-read what you've typed before hitting SEND. Do it for the kids. Do it for Alaska. Do it for America!

Or better yet, just "STOP TWEETING! STOP TWEETING NOW!"... perhaps then she can restore some personal credibility and help relieve some of the embarrassment that all Alaskans have had to endure during the circus that is (for now) and will forever be her embarrassing administration.

-Laz

-----
* Additional humor in this blog post unwitting contributed by Sarah Palin

7.22.2009

Cancel the August Recess NOW!

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon pops up today to say he's willing to cancel his vacation plans to push health care reform forward. He's just THAT progressive. I mean how many of us get an entire month off WITH pay every year? Though I must say that I am very disappointed by Pelosi's non-answer. If you know that the issue of health care reform is this important, I encourage you to do what I have already done. Please contact your elected representatives and tell them. It is your right and your duty. Check out more on this story at one of my favorite political web sites, Crooks & Liars.

-Laz

7.20.2009

President Obama, please STEAL THIS PLAN... NOW!

I was quite disappointed the other day to see Senator Ron Wyden's name listed alongside the blue dog Democrats opposing the current health care plan being hammered out in the House and Senate. Why? Because I grew up in Oregon and I have personal experience with some of Oregon's progressive health care policies, some of which Wyden supported in spite of his personal feelings precisely because he realizes he is a representative of his constituents and as a public servant is duty bound to listen to their will. More on that later. Ron Wyden has always been one of the better progressive politicians representing Oregon. Wyden started his political career as a member of the House in 1980 and took his Senate seat in 1996. After reading his plan entitled "The Healthy Americans Act" I have an idea that it would be better for America to drop the present doomed plan being argued over in D. C. like a hot potato and embrace Wyden's plan like a long lost and deeply loved brother.

Here's why -- structurally the present plan has been set up for failure by the forces of anti-progression, let's just call them 'regressionists' or better yet 'obstructionists', with the addition of 160 untenable and unworkable amendments attached to the bill by Republicans looking to either delay or torpedo the whole shebang long enough so they can go back home to their respective districts and attempt to whip up their constituency over the August recess into a populist froth against ANY bill being passed. Then, they reason, they can come back to D. C. in September when congress reconvenes and continue to tell even more lies and half-truths to an enabling main stream media in order to sway public opinion and help apply pressure to kill the bill off entirely. No matter the will of the people, as long as the obstructionists can pay lip service to actually listening to their constituents, they can pretend to be caring, feeling, responsive representatives of the people as they continue to push their own agenda forward, completely ignoring the 72% of Americans IN FAVOR of a public plan health care option or universal health care. Instead, these naysayers wish to portray themselves in the role of an earnest Van Helsing, eager to slay the dreaded Dracul Obama and his evil 'socialist' public option plan or ANY form of affordable universal health care by pounding their obstructionist stake into the heart of the present bill, killing it once and for all. Well you may be shocked but I say good. Let them. It was dead before they even started thanks in part to their idiotic amendments. Good riddance. Now please support the Wyden plan, thank you. It's logical, workable and has been extensively vetted by the CBO. Oh and please pull your head out of your ass, obstructionist assholes.

We, as their constituents need to insist that all of our elected public servants quit dicking around, some of whom offer no plan of their own other than to continue to obstruct. It is time to get on with it already! People's lives literally hang in the balance as these idiots continue to stand there, as empty headed as they are empty handed. To fail to act NOW is to offer more death and suffering to all uninsured Americans and yet even more outrageous cost and denials of service for 'pre-existing conditions' to those who are actually insured. I am one of those uninsured Americans and yes, because of complications after my dual cancer surgeries, I too am in desperate need of medical treatment that I cannot afford. I need a real plan, a public option plan, right NOW. If these obstructionist idiots, so long held in the back pockets of the health care lobbyists who have donated massive amounts of "campaign money" (see also: "bribes") to them (yes, even to Wyden, but at least the man has a reasonable plan) think they hold the moral high ground on this issue then I and many others suggest they resign from the free and excellent health care plan offered to all legislators in D.C. and walk a mile in my and millions of other American's uninsured shoes. Feel MY pain, motherfuckers. Feel the pain of millions of Americans. Even the very threat of voting these idiots out of office is an empty one at that as they get to keep their benefits FOR LIFE, thus making the rest of us health care 'serfs' to their politically favored 'landed gentry'!

Every single day I fight against the re-infection and bleeding of scar tissues, conditions caused by debris ("disintegrating" subcutaneous stitches that never disintegrated) that remain floating around in my system, exacerbated by poor post-operative medical treatment that was ultimately denied insurance coverage or any payments whatsoever because of my pre-existing condition, namely, cancer. It has just become a reality of my existence, so I have learned to deal with it for many years, but I can tell by the signals my body is now sending me, my time is running out. I've got a horse in this race. My own body. I'd like that horse to cross the finish line of good health and wellness with me, it's jockey, still in the saddle. (Cue the patriotic music...) Their continued opposition to a public option or universal health care plan is in absolute contradiction of ALL of our rights as Americans to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." itself and I don't care whatever they say, whatever their excuse --that's just un-fucking-American. Don't even get me started about the ex-legislators now working FOR the health care lobby. You want "traitors to America and Americans"? That's what I call them. Hired mercernaries with absolutely NO moral compass whatsoever other than a duty to fill their bank accounts with vast sums of blood money.

For the most part, very few of my friends or co-workers know about my problems because I am usually never one to discuss such things. I never asked the old band I was in years ago to have a fund raising concert to help me out when things were at their worst. I never gave specifics as to the type of cancers (bone and testicular, by the way, both thankfully in remission) or complained about the complications afterwords because I truly, up until now, didn't want to burden anyone with such personal details. Instead I manned up, gritted my teeth, grinned and bore it and pushed on, moment to moment. Every moment a joy to experience because every moment is yet another breath, another moment spent on this planet as a human being, suffering or not. It's what I do. I persevere in the face of insurmountable difficulties. As I'm sure is the case for thousand upon thousands of Americans each and every day as they bear the brunt of their health problems without help or support. We don't want to be a burden, really. But we seriously can't afford effective medical treatment any longer, let alone piss-poor treatment and now we're ALL as mad as hell and we ARE NOT going to take this bullshit any longer.

Republicans and "Blue Dog" Democrats have already confessed their obstructionism to a public option or universal health care plan. Jim DeMint wants to "cause pain" to his fellow senators on the present bill and in fact perhaps all public options and/or universal health care plans, characterizing his "reasoning" in this manner: "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." Senator, is it not time for politicians to quit gambling with the lives of their constituents who lack health insurance and begin to show actual human compassion through direct action rather than more of the same petty partisan squabbles as you, in your role as an obstructionist, are doing right now? Senator DeMint and friends, you are NOT "breaking Obama" or causing "pain" to your fellow legislators. You are literally KILLING me and thousands of other people like me. Period. All in order to be able to high-five your ideological buddies scoring political points with them that you're going to "take down" President Obama, a man trying to do the right thing for America and all Americans, not just the uninsured. I believe it is well past time for action and after reading the details of Ron Wyden's plan I have an idea that his plan is the way. Let the idiots like DeMint, Nelson and Kristol (who even though is not a politician remains influential in right wing political circles -- and lord let's hope he remains consistently wrong about this issue as he has with every other opinion he's offered his winger pals in the last decade) argue about the present bill that they've purposefully worked to poison. Use it as bait while President Obama 'headfakes' and passes the ball like a health care point guard, switching at the last moment to Ron Wyden's more reasonable and realistic bill. For the sake of me and thousands like me it is our elected representatives utmost duty to "preserve, protect and defend" the constitution (and, by extension the bill of rights) of the United States of America as they swore when they became PUBLIC SERVANTS. It remains their sacred duty to DELIVER on the promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...", not just pay it lip service.

I suggest we all read Ron Wyden's bill carefully and insist that ALL of our elected representatives read it and fully understand it as well as soon as possible. I know I will. I'm sending Begich, Murkowski and Young a link to this very blog posting tonight. I'm sorry for the crude language (at times, though I'm sure Young will get a giggle, Don being Don and all) but this issue IS of the utmost importance to everyone. Sometimes it just takes a nice hard whack against the skull of a zombie to get their attention. Allow ME to be that bat. Wyden's plan is compact, succinct, workable and burdened with NONE of the ass-hattery of the 'obstructionist' blue dog Democrats nor their conniving Republican cohorts, both of whom, according to the reports of donations made to them by health care lobbies and big pharma, are totally beholden to their lobbiest masters. Their obstructionist course is crafted only to score partisan political points when in reality their plan, or lack thereof, is set up to continue to cause America and uninsured Americans even more future pain and suffering, fiscally and otherwise. It is our duty as citizens to give them ALL this jarring wake up call today. Swear if you have to, but dammit give them the facts and INSIST that they act now. Right now. This very second. Before it is too late, not just for me because of my own selfish reasons, but for all Americans who suffer and continue to suffer because of inaction and obstruction.

Oh and about that personal experience with Oregon's progressive health care policies? Less than five years ago, my mother after being diagnosed with breast cancer went through surgery and two courses of chemotherapy. After a long battle wherein she fought like a crazed banshee for her life, she was told by her doctor that the cancer had metastasized spreading to her liver and lymphatic system. She called me, told me the bad news and I hopped on a plane to Oregon the very next day. I had not seen her in a couple of years owing to being poor after my cancer treatment. By the time I arrived at her bedside later, gasping at seeing the frail whisp of a woman formerly hale, hearty and robust -- a woman who thoroughly cherished life itself, as we all do, I did my best to suppress my tears and held her hand. She knew her death was rapidly approaching and I knew she did her best to grit her teeth, grin and bear it and press forward towards the inevitable. As she spoke to me quietly, softly squeezing my hand with whatever strength she had left, she shocked me by telling me what I needed to hear as the oldest son of my family. She said that she had decided to be cremated (in a million years I would have never thought she'd do that) and that she had decided that if the pain got to be unbearable she was going to be administered a potent enough dose of morphine to ease her out gently. Both things floored me absolutely because I always though they weren't permitted by her religion. By this time I was weeping as quietly as possible which only made her want to comfort me more -- an absurd proposition considering the sorry state she was in... but that's what mothers do. I quietly asked her one question: "Do you feel as though you've lived a full life, leaving nothing undone so as to have no regrets?" She focused on me intently, opening her eyes ever so slightly and smiled saying, "Of course, dear. I've loved every minute of it, both tne good and the bad times, even through this final pain and suffering. Everything is in order, nothing left undone, no regrets." I kneeled at the edge of her bed absolutely still and silent for several minutes, just holding her hand. Being with her. Lost in my own thoughts as she continued to rub and squeeze my hand gently. Soon she said she was very tired, naturally, so I told her I'd be nearby if she needed anything. She replied, "only a little rest..." so I excused myself and returned to my Grandmother's house next door, leaving my sisters to watch over her. For the next three days Mom would rest awhile, then talk briefly with her sisters, my sisters, Grandma and other friends one by one much the same I'm sure as she had talked with me, intermittently resting, visiting with those she loved and those who loved her, then resting again. On the final day, early in the morning, my oldest sister came over to get me, warning me her condition had worsened. It had. Her breathing was labored, she no longer could talk or even acknowledge anyone's presence in the room. This was it. She had gritted her teeth long enough, fought the good fight, making peace with all her friends and family and most especially with her cancer and her impending journey towards what ever unknowable situation would greet her after life. When a registered nurse friend of ours showed up with the morphine, she seemed to sense it, breathing even harder and ultimately lapsing into what can only be truly described as a "death rattle" in her breathing pattern. It was, to say the least, quite disconserting as I had heard of the term before but never actually witnessed it in person. As it got more loud and more intense, me, my sister, and my aunt who is a hospice care giver, nodded at the nurse and he administered her the morphine as she had requested be done for her in her living will. In less than a minute her labored breathing had quieted. She looked peaceful, happy even. She gently slipped away from life within the hour, me still holding her hand, surrounded by some of the people she loved, some of the people that loved her.

And what does Ron Wyden have to do with this last and very personal revelation? Because he and other progressive politicians like him supported or in some cases sponsored Oregon's "Death with Dignity" law, EVEN THOUGH IT WENT AGAINST HIS OWN PERSONAL FEELINGS ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH. Because he listened to the will of the people of Oregon who voted to pass this law and for allowing my mother to die with as little pain and suffering as possible in this, her final moment, I will be forever thankful to all of them.

-Laz

***

Update 07/21/09 8PM

A reader by the name of Patrick (aka Budo7 in the comments section) pointed out some discrepancies or at least a failure of memory on my part for which I am more than happy to correct and provide the citation links. This issue is THAT important.

Allow me to correct some numbers: 79% of Democrats "Strongly Favor" or "Favor" health care reform. Only 23% of Republicans do. It averages out overall to 56% of all Americans. So my number WAS off and I freely admit it and apologize. I underestimated the Dems and overestimated the Repubs, but that not withstanding THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS favor health care reform. Just like the majority of Americans favored Obama in the last election, Patrick. Including even me, a person who identifies as a progressive Republican.

I did not provide the citation because I assumed most thinking individuals actually read the news at WaPo and other sites, but perhaps I'm more of a political junkie than Patrick, taking my sources from a WIDE variety of sites rather than just purely partisan political sites with an agenda to push. Silly me. I admit I was going from memory which wasn't too far off, but I promise that if Patrick were to ACTUALLY read the news with an open mind rather than one clouded with partisan ideology perhaps he too could see reality for what it is.

It was an ABC News/Gallup poll from which my faulty memory derived the numbers, though I believe Nate Silver at 538.com had much the same results. As did the WaPo/ABC poll which actually pegs the approval rating at 62% overall as shown here.

Regardless of the numbers, (remember please "lies, damn lies and statistics...") -- I have an Idea that most Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We are sick of being gamed by the unaccountable executives of large private insurance corporations who deny, deny and further deny us, claiming "pre-existing conditions" in order to enhance the profitability and bottom line of their corporations. They are nameless and faceless bureaucrats in their own right who have NO ACCOUNTABILITY WHATSOEVER to those individuals who dutifully pay their premiums month after month. A public option plan would change that.

I've got to say in all honesty that the momentum, (whether you either believe it, like it or not Patrick) is for change. NOW. No amount of neocon talking points/lies continually repeated on Fox News is going to change that simple fact and any obstruction he and others of his ilk present with contrary numbers is just more obstruction upon the path that leads to the goal... health care reform. Patrick's position is pure insult added to the injury of ALL thinking Americans nationwide. I predict this stubborn wrongheadedness is ultimately going to come back and bite neocons in the ass come 2010 and 2012. It is nothing less than the further implosion of what is left of the hollow shell of a once proud and thoughtful Republican party who could get things done while holding to the real tenents of fiscal conservatism and smaller, more effective government.

I agree it is a very complex and challenging task to reform health care. But the numbers Patrick cited in his comment have no bearing on the plan as presented from Ron Wyden. It is readily apparent to me from his response that he didn't even bother to read the Wyden plan otherwise he wouldn't even be citing numbers about taxes. The neocon wet dream talking point about tort refom is absolutely laughable. Sure, malpractice insurance costs are out of control but what you and all of us are witnessing is a gaming of the system from BOTH sides of the insurance lobby. They rip off Doctors, they rip off patients, they screw America to enhance their own profit margins. Prove me wrong, Patrick, prove me wrong.

Had Patrick read the Wyden plan he might have realized that it pays for itself and even is predicted by the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) to approach nearly a HALF TRILLION dollars in health care savings overall. Lower costs for Medicare and Medicaid because of competition and lower costs for Americans who choose to stay and are happy with their present insurance plans. If he actually READ my blog post he may have discovered that I OPPOSE it because of the 160 obstructive Republican "amendments" (though admittedly something is better than nothing at all). Those amendments were placed there specifically to torpedo the bill and need to be reconciled out in order to make it workable. As to Patrick's claim about unfair taxes to pay for the present proposed bill those taxes would be placed upon the TOP 1% of the American taxpayer income bracket. SO is Patrick actually telling us that a meager 47% of the top 1% of the most richest Americans oppose reform? That is HARDLY a majority of Americans.

My post was mostly about the uninsured like me, but again I doubt he had the attention span to have READ my post entirely (and I apologize for demanding so much of all of my readers attentions spans but I have an idea you can handle it). So -- I'm sorry Patrick but you fail. If you want to have a REAL debate about health care reform I absolutely INSIST you first learn to think for yourself.

Again, since he seemed to have missed the multiple posts on my blog where I admit to being a PROGRESSIVE REPUBLICAN (now including this one), he thinks my motives partisan and frankly that couldn't be further from the truth. In this instance it's about human life and human dignity, it's about holding our elected representatives accountable and FORCING THEM, if necessary, to deliver on the promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." not just pay it lip service while accepting millions and millions of dollars in "campaign money" from the health care insurance lobby or what I call blood money extracted from the suffering and death of our fellow Americans. It's all about saying "GAME OVER" to health care insurance and big pharma corporations as well as their conniving lobbyists who profit from suffering and death. Pack up and go home, boys -- there's a new sheriff in town.

The only way for reformers to plow through the lies, damn lies and statistics of neocon partisans who wish to further obstruct health care reform is to step on the gas even harder, injecting FACTS into the debate so as to cause them to look like clowns parroting their corporate masters. My pedal isn't even half way to the metal Patrick, so if you want to debate this further (even though I suspect he has NO PERSONAL EXPERIENCE to bring to the discussion table) then I am left with only option he may understand and that is to quote someone who I assume is one of his personal heroes, G. W. Bush: "Bring It!"

Though next time please try and bring intellect and reasoning to this battle of wits. Unless you LIKE takin' a beating every time, Patrick. I've been brick flaming chumps like you, overwhelming them with FACTS since before you were born.

Though I must extend my sincere thanks to Patrick because he has allowed me to refocus on the important part which is getting a health care plan passed NOW. It's not about my personal woes, it's about making sure the uninsured have an option, one we do not have now. Personal experience is important but one must keep in mind that there are millions of Americans with experiences similar to mine. It is both our and our legislator's duty to make a positive change for the better now.

-Laz

7.19.2009

NOW who's "palling around with terrorists", Sarah?

The list of grievances many Alaskan's have with Exxon over the legacy of the the Prince William Sound oil spill is long and deep. Not only did they despoil a huge swath of pristine coastline, they added insult to injury by repeatedly appealing the 9th Circuit Court ruling against them to pay for their damages. Through countless years, spanning decades in fact, they were able to throw money and lawyers at the problem. Blood money from exorbitant and greedy profits earned, in many ways, by extracting it directly from the wallets of hard working Americans through artificially inflated and market manipulated high oil prices.

So when recent news reached Alaskan's that Sarah Palin had figuratively "climbed in bed" with a corporation many of us see as the enemy by holding closed door meetings with Exxon to push her AGIA agenda forward, we were shocked. Appalled, even. Not only were they responsible for permanently damaging beaches, killing fish and wildlife as well as destroying the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen who depended upon the resource of that particular ecosystem, they successfully whittled down the original settlement to one tenth of it's original size! It went from being one of the largest settlements ever awarded to a state against a corporation for it's wrongdoing down to something that wouldn't even compensate the fishermen for the loss of that single season, let alone a generation or more of fishing seasons. In many areas to this very day, one only need dig down a few inches to reach the oil sludge that remains on beaches from that episode.

Following the Federal Supreme Court ruling that reduced the damages down to less than one tenth of the original award, which had already been pared down twice through appeals to reach a figure of $2.5 billion, Exxon had the audacity to whine about paying less than $500 million claiming that it would hurt the company. To my knowledge they still haven't yet paid out a plug nickel. They grudgingly agreed to release $383 million with no indication when the remaining amount would be paid and that was BEFORE interest charges (see below) were added! A company pulling down profits of double digit billions PER QUARTER. Not gross, not income but profits, people. A half billion barely makes a dent in the mega profits they have made as a corporation since the spill. At the very least they should have had the grace to acknowledge and pay up as an "ooops, we fucked up" tax, then move along AFTER making and implementing policies to insure the possibility of such a thing occurring in the future wouldn't even be an issue. But they didn't. And they haven't.

They whined and cried again in the press that the reduced damages ruling was still unfair. As mentioned above and perhaps as a lesson to Exxon for showing their lack alacrity and grace in meeting their severely reduced adjudicated obligations as badly ruled upon by the supreme court, the 9th Circuit slapped them with close to another $500 million in interest charges as punishment for all their legal foot dragging along the way. The whine turned into a howl. The status of payouts remains in limbo while the court addresses new claims against Exxon and as Exxon continues to resist and push back against the ruling on interest payments.

Which leads us all to the incongruity of this interview by Palin coupled with her decision to tap Exxon as a partner in AGIA which should be enough to make most Alaskan's feel sick to their stomachs. I have an idea that this unitary, closed door decision by her may perhaps one day become her worst legacy as Governor of Alaska. Especially in light of this report of seemingly terroristic behavior on the part of Exxon with some of their Texas prospects. If these reports prove true, their behavior and policies as a corporation show them to be exactly what they may appear to be -- terrorists and thugs, not interested in successfully developing and producing resources for the benefit of all, including themselves, but as yet another greedy resource development corporation, fucking us and the entire planet over in the name of their own bottom line.

Oh and in case you thought things would be better with Sean Parnell (S.P. v. 2.0), you are sadly deluded.

-Laz

This explains *everything*...

Now it all makes sense... it's not "word salad" when she speaks -- Sarah Palin is a poet and she doesn't even know it. Not convinced? Another unintentional ghostwriter gives some of her statements the poetic treatment.

Thus proving that the majority of the "mainstream gotcha media" are a bunch of knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers with little or no appreciation or understanding of fine poetry. Think about it. Her style and approach to public speaking always has seemed, at least to this listener, as though one was attending a poetry slam.

I add a recent tweet of hers, a little bloaty to be true haiku:

Elected is replaceable;
Ak will progress!
+ side benefit=10 dys til
less politically correct twitters
fly frm my fingertips
outside state site

So there you have it. She sort of lost me with the mathematical symbols but that's just Sarah being "edgy". She's so good that way, progressing poetry for us all, for the benefit of humankind. Personally I would have spelled them out to go for the cheap rhyme scheme. As an unofficial and temporary editor, might I suggest "tweets" rather than "twitters" because of it being easier to find a rhyme for that word AND most especially because she should probably avoid using any words containing the word "twit"?

Is it time for a "twitter-vention"? Must we scream in unison, using our best Ivy Frye voices, that Sarah needs to "Stop Tweeting! Stop Tweeting NOW!"?

-Laz

7.16.2009

Holy Sh*t!

Does ANY of this sound familiar?



Frankly I've always harbored a certain suspicion of anyone who feels as though they are "God's chosen people". I mean, nothing personal but if you go around believing you can commit any sin, any possible atrocious act against your fellow human or the planet and automatically receive a "get out of jail free card" morally and ethically, you are sadly mistaken grasshopper. Actions always have consequences. Oh and congrats to C-Street hypocrite loser number three.

You see I have an idea that when we separate things as "God is up there" and "we are over or down here" one mentally separates the very creator from creation! What is it that isn't a part of "God" or that we are not part of? It is all interconnected. A living, breathing organism to some, a mutually inclusive shared delusion to others. Or both. Or neither. It's your journey, right?

But to commit crimes, to sin amorally and with avarice with no remorse for one's actions or personal responsibility is to throw the whole creation out of whack, out of balance. One works against one's own best interests this way when in actuality we should all naturally prefer to enjoy happiness, prosperity, comfort and longevity and work together to share and wish the same for ALL of our fellow humans during our mutual short existences upon this planet. Otherwise we only repeat the cycle of suffering if one doesn't realize that each and every one of us, indeed each and every single interconnected molecule has an equal and important role to fill in this crazy clockwork of a world.

Or maybe that's just the the "godless" Buddhist in me talking.

-Laz

(note: I edited this a day later to remove gender from the "remove the creator from his creation..." line. Why? Because attaching a gender to something as ineffable (a most excellent word, by the way) as the concept of 'creator' is about as silly as arguments over what people choose to call this 'creator', this animus, this unknown and perhaps unknowable 'thing'. Personal sensibilities usually allow me to avoid attaching any 'thing-ness' to the ineffable as most occidental religions insist. Frankly it offends those sensibilities that much of the world seems to be too busy staking out, dividing, claiming ownership and fighting long standing bitter wars over what essentially boils down to a mental construct, this ineffable. Cast as something that requires both faith and belief to accept. In their eyes, if you don't have exactly the same faith and belief as them then you are the enemy, which is oh so very wrong headed and counterintuitive to the survival of the human race itself. Whereas discernment might inform one that fluidity of the potentiality of ideas and our ability as humans to manifest compassion directly as ACTION rather than just words is where the balance of our mutual co-existence on this planet should reside. - 7/18/09 12AM

***
Updated 7/20/09 6:30PM

More horrifying details of "The Family" came out today in an article by Jeff Sharlet of Salon. The list of politicians associated with the C Street house is practically a laundry list of all the bigots who oppose Obama not because of reasoned argument against any particular policy of the administration but because these people see themselves as Christian warriors on a mission, directly communicated to them by God. I kid you not. The more light that gets shone upon their delusions of grandeur the better. Again, Jesus himself said "the kingdom of heaven is not of this Earth..." -- isn't it about time people like these started listening to the actual words their savior instead of their own pompous egos?

-Laz

Your political contributions at work, Alaskans...

When you donate hard earned money to your favorite cause or political campaign, the last thing on your mind is that it will somehow be misused. Yet it happens all the time. Sometimes it approaches a high level of absurdity, such as with Palin on the campaign trail last year and her now legendary and whopping $150,000 shopping sprees in New York for expensive clothing intended to remake her image and the image of her entire family. But silk boxers, Todd? Really? Tighty-whities (in his case perhaps appropriately named) not GOOD enough?

I get BVD boxer briefs, $15 for a pack of three. A pack of three, Todd! When I'm feeling rich and powerful I even buy two packs of three! It's like total cheap thrill underwear nirvana, Todd. I can take the money I saved and turn it into some pocket T-shirts or the always desperately needed odd pair of socks AND if I have anything left I can slip off to Cinnabons while the "old ball and chain" is busy shopping for second hand Manolo Blahniks. Bonus! C'mon Todd, you've been to Eagle River, right? You know what I'm saying, buddy. Even though you're a north slope BP employee, it's not like you're made of money. Hell the secret Arctic Cat money barely pays for the expenses and clothing graft for you, your sweetie and your brood at the Irondog! Good thing those sleds are "at cost", eh?


Since I am powerdiving dangerously close to Maia Nolan territory here (on a return flight from Celtic Diva-land) I had better get back on track... I mean it's not like most people other than Madonna are parading around in underwear attempting to project some sort of image. Most people don't care. Underwear is a minor issue precisely because normally nobody sees your delicates. It's why they're called UNDERwear.


But why is it that we get our figurative panties in a knot over money given by the RNC to Palin and yet hardly anyone questions why and exactly how much campaign money Congressman Don Young is spending on legal fees? And for WHAT, exactly? Those little shopping spree gaffes by the Palin horde unleashed upon the Big Apple, now generally accepted by most level-headed and reasonable people as a misuse of campaign contributions, pale in comparison to expenditures of campaign contributions towards legal fees and legal services by Don Young. Like $266,835 spent on legal fees and $1,036,808 on legal services. That's over $1.3 MILLION! Why? Who knows?

The reasons for these fees are as hidden and unknowable to us as is the style, design and manufacturer of Todd's cushy boxers. Personally, the Palin episode is almost laughable as a misuse of campaign contributions compared to what Don Young is spending to pay off his lawyers. Sure, $150,000 is a lot to spend in a few weeks on clothes. I doubt I've spent that much on clothing in my entire life, but $1.3 MILLION of possibly misused campaign funds by our only congressman? WTF? That's ridiculous. More ridiculous is that the people who have contributed to Young's campaign aren't getting out the pitchforks for his wasting their hard earned money.

And yet Don remains mute, no doubt when pressed for details, claiming attorney/client privilege. The second to last refuge of scoundrels. (Quitting is the NEW "last refuge of scoundrels", by the way). Do the folks that give Mr. Young money to campaign care so little about how their contributions are being spent that they are willing to mindlessly bypass any accountability whatsoever? Man I wish I had that kind of "chump change" lying around. I might even buy myself an EXTRA three pack of BVDs!

-Laz

7.15.2009

And a word about THIS blog...

Often times I am busy at my glamorous job as a LitSupport person (see previous posts) and don't have time to work up the righteous indignation necessary to spew another rant on OMFGAK. Mostly it's mindlessly mindful work, feeding huge collections of legal documents into digital scanners but I also do very complex computer work that absolutely demands 100% of my attention. Thus sometimes why I am quiet. That being said there are also times that I can sneak a quick peek at facebook or do a quick mini-spew with afterburners on to the blog... or check email.

One thing however I know for certain is that I have personal ethics. I have worked on Alaskan cases that would turn your hair gray (see my facebook profile picture) or curdle milk. But always -- always, always, always I will never leak or disclose anything about those cases. I fully understand attorney/client priveledge. I understand the risks of breaking that confidentiality. So I refrain. If it is Palin related I have officially recused myself from working on it with both the owner of the company and my direct supervisor. I just say no, sorry. Because I do NOT want to open myself up to accusations of unethical behavior or unlawful disclosue. Thus far it has worked. Vaguely speaking at this moment, "I heard some things", but those things were never within my sight nor control. Thus why I can stand up against your average "freeper" or Neotheocon and look them square in the eye with an absolutely straight face and proclaim that I truly do not hate Sarah Palin, I do not have a vendetta against her personally nor have I ever (or will I ever) use inside information to discredit either her or her legion of minions. I don't have to. Their saga of ineptitude practically writes itself. I'm just the conduit. As are many of my fellow progressive Alaskan bloggers (see the blog roll to the right).

Personal responsibility and ethics prevent me from even looking at any Palin related cases after the fact. Besides, when half a million pages of OTHER legal documents are staring at you, begging to surrender themselves to a scanner, you do NOT have time to read anything. Seriously. I've got deadlines, obligations and responsibilities. And even though I sometimes come off as a smart ass, I take my job quite seriously. So those confidential things you will never see here, not even alluded to in a sideways manner. That's just the way I'm wired as a Buddhist.

Although I do have some knowledge of the players in this enormous traveling dog and pony show, ney 'circus', we call Alaskan politics, I am sworn to confidentiality. Sure I've met Tim Ptumenos. Ate breakfast at Humpy's a couple of times while seated across the bar and his daughter (who is studying to be a social worker I believe) was taking my order. We didn't talk and I'm not sure he even knows who I am or even of my existence. Nor do I care much, really. He's got his job to do, I've got mine. His daughter is a sweetheart and quite beautiful and I am glad to know her even if it is only at a customer to bartender level. Though if she could not be quite so perky at 11AM when I may or may not be in the thrall of a wicked hangover on a Sunday morning BEFORE I've had had any coffee, that would be great. "Thanks, Krista. More coffee? Yes, please!"

You see, all it really amounts to is that I don't want to be "that guy". I do not want to be "an anonymous source" or "Deep Throat". No way. My role, at least as I see it, is to use the power of search engines, the internet and direct conversations to my elected representatives and other government officials to basically get to the root of what pisses me off personally. I've already stated here and elsewhere it is essentially "writing therapy" from a writer perhaps desperately in search of a good editor. And then to blow THAT up, all technicolor and 3D into the bombast that sometimes is OMFGAK in the form of a string of prose similar to what you now hopefully consume with eyeballs and higher brain functions hungry for exactly this.

And yes, that's a self-referential link back to this very article. Why? Because I'm whacking this medium like an overloaded two-bit mule. Because I can.

No actual mules were harmed during the creation of this post.

-Laz

A quick note...

I got a comment that mentioned my text size might be too tiny so I bumped them up a bit in size. In my eyes and using Firefox at 'normal' text size settings they almost look too big. So give me feedback, please. I finally enabled an email address as well, available by clicking on the 'Profile' link.

I'll close by pointing out that with Firefox at least, you hold down the Ctrl (Control) key and spin your mousewheel up or down to decrease/increase the size of of text on webpages and once you do that it remembers your settings for that page. So I agree. Small text sucks, but Firefox rocks. I have no idea how the page looks in Explorer, Chrome, Opera or Safari as I don't personally use any of them and most especially avoid using Explorer like the plague because of known security issues. Whether that remains the case or not with Explorer 8, I don't know. I've always been more of a Netscape/Mozilla man and until I find something I like better, I'm sticking with it.

Again, feel free to email or post comments on this thread with your feedback. And as always, thanks for taking the time to stop by and participate.

-Laz

7.14.2009

Open Mouth, Insert Foot (AGAIN)...

Another day, another horrible gaffe for Sarah. Another case of "I was *FOR* it before I was against it". See also "Bridge to Nowhere", "Alternative Energy Stimulus Money", &tc.

Along with many of my progressive friends, I have a high degree of doubt that she even wrote the WaPo op-ed piece. With the exception of the continued misuse of the word "progressing", none of it seems or reads as though it came from her brain.

-Laz
(with apologies for posting without self-editing ;) stinkin' day job requiring my attention...)