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Alaska Native Women React to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s Racist Vote on VAWA – Updated

11:02 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Portait of Lisa Murkowski

Alaska's Senator Lisa Murkowski continues to defend a Violence Against Women Act special rule that many call racist.

A battle is brewing in Alaska over how to interpret Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s involvement in, and final vote upon, Senate Bill 47, the Violence Against Women Act.  Murkowski was a co-sponsor of the bill, and has been proclaiming for weeks her progressive role in this important legislation. On February 27th, her main media supporter in Alaska, the Alaska Dispatch posted:

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski reached out to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) along with two of her Senate colleagues and urged the Speaker to take up the Senate-passed S.47 Violence Against Women Act reauthorization act.

The Violence Against Women Act reauthorization – which Senator Murkowski co-sponsored –passed the Senate two weeks ago with the support of 78 Senators and over 1300 organizationsrepresenting domestic and sexual violence groups like the AWAIC shelter in Anchorage. A champion of this legislation, Murkowski joined Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) in writing a letter to Boehner advocating for action on the Senate version of the bill.

Yet, as the bill approached final voting and passage, Murkowski insinuated herself into its structure regarding the vast majority of Alaska Native women:

Our senior senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, added a “Special Rule for the State of Alaska” to the VAWA. That rule effectively bars 40 percent of American tribes from being able to protect their women. Our senator excluded 229 Alaska communities from that part of the act.

The Association of Village Council Presidents and the Aleut community of St. Paul Island spoke out against the Alaska exclusion. The Alaska Inter-Tribal Council said it “objects to anti-Alaska Tribal Provisions in the Violence Against Women Act.”

The Tanana Chiefs Conference opposed it. The Native American Rights Fund led the charge against it.

The AFN wrote to the senator: “Although Alaska Natives comprise only 15.2 percent of the population of the State of Alaska, they comprise 47 percent of the victims of domestic violence and 61 percent of the victims of sexual assault.”

Murkowski ignored their requests.

The above, written by Anchorage Daily News opinion columnist Shannyn Moore, got under Murkowski’s skin.  On Facebook, she wrote:

I am discouraged by Ms. Moore’s research and I am disheartened by the attempt to score partisan points on an issue that should be above politics.

Apparently, Murkoski had second thoughts, because the comment is no longer there.  See Update.

The Native American Rights Fund issued this statement on Murkowski’s racist stance:

Almost 100 tribes in Alaska had opposed this exclusion. The Association of Village Council Presidents (A VCP), representing 56 tribes, and the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island (ACSPI) had both issued very clear and direct press releases opposing the Alaska exclusion. The Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC), representing 37 tribes, also opposed the Alaska exclusion. Taken together, this represents one sixth of the tribes in the United States that demanded the Alaska exclusion be removed. Senator Lisa Murkowski, who authored the Alaska exclusion apparently at the urging of the Alaska Attorney General’s office, rebuffed all requests to remove the exclusion.

“We are tired of the separate but equal treatment that Alaska tribes receive from courts and Congress,” said NARF Staff Attorney Natalie Landreth. “They are tribes just like tribes in the Lower 48 and they are entitled to be treated like all other tribes. These exclusions, which have found their way into numerous bills over the years, say to Alaska’s tribes that they are different and lesser than other tribes. In the case of VAWA, it means that Alaska Native women are less deserving of protection, less important. I find that unconscionable.”

Commenters at Moore’s ADN op-ed are livid:

As an Alaska Native woman, I feel personally “targeted” by Murkowski’s move to leave so many communities (229!), mine included probably, out of the Violence Against Women’s Act. As one of her constituents, I feel that she did me a great, and very personal, disservice! I hope that those who practically moved little bits of heaven and earth to get her re-elected remember it at the next election.

It also doesn’t seem “kosher” for a governor, and Attorney General of a state, to NOT push for more safety measures to fight violence against women, anywhere. So much for Parnell’s “choose respect” campaign. Not only is his stance disrespectful to women of a certain race, it is going against the very “choose respect” stance that he says is so important in rural Alaska. All of their actions smack of blatant disrespect, in more ways than one. Elected politicians are to seek and ensure protections for their constituents, not obstruct them.

Many other commenters expressed similar concerns.

Shopping today in Anchorage, I bumped into a longtime friend, an Alaska Native woman, employed by a large Native corporation, dependent upon Murkowski’s Senatorial largesse. Asking her about the Senator’s vote, she all but spat out, “That bitch!  She Fucked us!  Don’t quote me on this….”

Why did Murkoski fuck over Alaska Natives in this racist way?  Moore explains that it is over resources and the senator’s ties to the Parnell administration:

Read the rest of this entry →

Alaska Blog and Media Coverage of the Kulluk Grounding – Updated

4:12 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Kulluk aground

A number of Alaska bloggers have been making efforts to inform their regular readers and others drawn toward the news story of the grounding of and salvage efforts toward the Shell Alaska drilling rig, Kulluk.

In alphabetical order:

Just a Girl from Homer:  Shannyn Moore posts most of her essays first at the Anchorage Daily News, in her weekly op-ed, then at The Mudflats. (see below)

Progressive Alaska:  I’ve been writing articles at PA and at Firedoglake on aspects of Shell’s Arctic Drilling plans since last summer.  Since the Kulluk debacle began unfolding on December, I’ve posted a dozen articles here.  They are easy to find at the bottom right hand border of the blog, as they have been the only articles posted here since December 30th.  Most of those articles were cross-posted at the national progressive blog, Firedoglake.  And some of the Firedoglake articles have not been cross-posted here.

Of those, the most important was probably the one I wrote last night, List of Questions on Shell’s Alaska 2012 Arctic Drilling Fiasco Grows Longer by the Day.  I’m going to use some of that article as the basis for another one at PA, perhaps later today.

Of the articles I’ve posted at both places, the one that seems to have drawn the most attention was my interview with Alaska marine environmental icon, retired University of Alaska Prof. Rick Steiner.  You can read it here.

Because of my background, mostly in the distant past, working at sea in Alaska, on small and large fishing boats, as a charter boat operator, and as a deckhand on oceangoing tugs, including towing one of Shell’s key components of their drilling scheme – the Arctic Challenger – from Seattle to Barrow, and having participated in several salvage operations, I’m able to offer a little more to this subject than some might.

The Immoral Minority:  Jesse Griffin has posted three articles on the grounding.  They can be found and followed at IM under the tag, Shell Oil.

The Mudflats:  This high traffic blog has posted articles by both Jeanne Devon and Shannyn Moore.  Beginning December 31st, The Mudflats has offered two articles by Devon, one by Ryan Marquis,  from I Eat Gravel, one by Thomas Dewar, and an op-ed by Moore.  Four can be found under the tag Shell Oil.  Moore’s op-ed, which is a Must Read, can be found at this link.

Moore’s op-ed raises an interesting point that I don’t think anyone else had yet brought forth:

The 1990 Oil Pollution Act has a limited liability clause. It limits the amount non-tanker vessels can be forced to pay in the event of an accident. So, after Shell has incurred $28 million in expenses, it may be able to invoke its liability limit.

I quoted Moore in my Firedoglake essay on questions.  The questions that the limited liability clause bring to mind immediately are along the line of “how is it determined who has spent what?” and “how soon will we be able to corner Sens. Begich and – especially – Sen. Lisa Murkowski on this?”

Murkowski’s views are important, as she is a key figure in why this liability limit is so absurdly and unrealistically low.  And she is also a major recipient of political contributions from the builder of the vessel most responsible for this debacle, the Aiviq.

Like me, Moore has a maritime background in her past.   With her network of contacts that rivals the best investigative reporters in Alaska, as was illustrated in her breaking of the strange hiring of “Judge” Paul Pozonsky, Moore will probably have a lot more to add to the Kulluk debacle.

What Do I Know?  Once again, Steve Aufrecht has provided several fresh views of the response to the Kulluk debacle, from his viewpoint as a distinguished professor of public administration.  Steve has written seven articles on this, beginning on January 2nd.  His articles are important enough to be listed here by their individual titles, which are intriguing, as well as inviting: Read the rest of this entry →

An Interview with Rick Steiner on the Kulluk Grounding Impact on Shell Arctic Drilling in 2013 and Beyond

9:08 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Retired University of Alaska Professor Rick Steiner is, along with Dr. Riki Ott, regarded internationally as a first-rank expert on Alaska’s marine ecosystems.  Additionally, Steiner is a highly sought after expert on the effects of oil spills on maritime environments.  Like Dr. Ott, Steiner was recently awarded the Alaska Muckraker of the Year Award from the state’s pre-eminent marine environment advocacy group, Cook InletKeeper.

Since his retirement, Prof. Steiner has been able to act more independently, and travel significantly more, than he was able to do while working in a university atmosphere and schedule.  After leaving the University of Alaska in 2010, Rick began an organization, Oasis Earth.  Here’s the organization’s description of what Rick is currently doing with Oasis Earth:

Today, he conducts the Oasis Earth project – a global consultancy working with NGOs, governments, industry, and civil society to speed the transition to an environmentally sustainable society. Oasis Earth conducts Rapid Assessments for NGOs in developing nations on critical conservation challenges, reviews environmental assessments, and conducts fully developed studies. Steiner presents Oasis Earth: Planet in Peril to audiences around the world, a presentation on the global environmental crisis and urgently needed solutions, using over 500 images from the UNEP International Photographic Competition for the Environment and NASA images of Earth from space. He continues to work on oil and environment issues, including oil spill prevention, response preparedness, damage assessment, and restoration. His primary focus is now on ecological habitat and biodiversity conservation; establishing Citizens Advisory Councils to advise industry and government; conservation finance; and extractive industry and environment issues, particularly oil, gas, and mining, in the Arctic and globally. Oasis Earth seeks to persuade government, industry, and civil society of the urgency of the global environment crisis, and the necessary regional solutions, particularly in government policy to incentivize sustainability.

I’ve known Prof. Steiner for over 20 years.  I dedicated Shadows, my 1993 electroacoustic musical composition about the Exxon Valdez oil spill to Rick, honoring his leadership role in critical decisions early in the spill, that helped save the fledgeling Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation Sawmill Bay hatchery from extinction.

I’ve asked Rick a few questions about what the impact the grounding of the Kulluk might have on how the public perceives Shell as a viable operator in Alaska’s Arctic, and about the impact of damage to the vessel on Shell’s immediate future plans.  For the sake of clarity, I’ll use my real name in the interview, rather than my longstanding Firedoglake nom de blog.

Near the end of the interview, Prof. Steiner predicts the Kulluk fiasco will keep Shell from drilling at all in the Alaskan Arctic during 2013.  This is significant, as Steiner is one of the most knowledgable people around on this.

Phil Munger:  You’ve been questioning Shell Oil’s methods, plans and equipment for their offshore drilling hopes in Alaska for quite a while. Whether it has been Bristol Bay, the Chukchi Sea or the Beaufort Sea, you have drawn attention to specific shortcomings in each of the company’s projections. Are there common flaws in their efforts and planning that you’ve been able to discern?

Rick Steiner:  Yes. Shell continues to assert that the company knows what it is doing offshore in the Arctic, and clearly, it doesn’t. Essentially Shell says: “don’t worry, be happy…trust us.” Well, we don’t.

The Kulluk grounding is the most recent in a long line of calamities from Shell’s 2012 Arctic drilling program: the last-minute scramble to retrofit the two rigs, the countless problems with the Arctic Challenger response barge, the failed containment dome test, the near-grounding of the Noble Discoverer in Dutch Harbor, the cursory testing (for about 1 hour only) of the crucial capping stack that would be used to stem a blowout, the stack fire in the Discoverer, the propulsion issues in the Discoverer requiring it to be towed into Seward, the serious safety violations on the Discoverer causing the Coast Guard to detain it in port, and so on. Shell and the Obama administration are in such a rush to drill the Arctic OCS it seems they think they oil may leave…well, it won’t. They are behaving as though this is a Bristol Bay red salmon run, and unless they go and harvest it immediately, they’ll lose it. But this oil and gas has been there for millennia, and there should be no rush to pump it up into our disgracefully inefficient energy economy. These guys need to chill for a bit, and reconsider this folly.

The Kulluk grounding is only the most recent in an embarrassing string of failures not just for Shell, but for the Department of Interior (DOI) as well. (Shell’s Arctic drill plan has too many holes).

And that Shell and its contractors did not have a contingency plan for losing a tow on the Kulluk in heavy weather is simply beyond comprehension. It shows the poor safety culture, and contingency planning capability in Shell and the DOI. This is why we need an Arctic Regional Citizens Advisory Council (Arctic RCAC) to involve citizen stakeholders in oversight of all activities offshore.

Phil Munger:   Shell’s use of the Arctic Challenger, Noble Discoverer and Kulluk seem to be adaptation of proven, hardy hulls, built to withstand the ice, at first glance.  Yet the vessels’ age and long terms of non-use warrant notice.  Shell acquired the vessels rather inexpensively, but spent a lot attempting to update them.  Do you have any thoughts on why they pursued this strategy for important assets of such an expensive campaign?

Read the rest of this entry →

Joe McGinniss Issued Cease and Desist Order for Distributing Rival’s Palin Manuscript – Updated

3:47 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Beverly Hills law firm, Bonfante Steinbeck, has issued a cease and desist order to author Joe McGinniss.  McGinniss has been identified by numerous sources as the originator of copies of the manuscript to an unpublished draft of a book on Sarah Palin by her former confidante and state official, Frank Bailey.  Bailey was Palin’s Director of Boards and Commissions, an office more powerful than that of the Lieutenant Governor.

Representing Bailey and his collaborators on the book, Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon, Bonfante Steinbeck attorney Dean M. Steinbeck writes:

February 20, 2011
SENDER INFORMATION:
Ken Morris, Frank Bailey and Jeanne Devon

RECIPIENT INFORMATION:
Joe McGinniss

RE: COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Dear Sir:

I write on behalf of Ken Morris, Frank Bailey and Jeanne Devon (collectively, the “Copyright Owners”). The Copyright Owners are co-owners of the copyright in the unpublished manuscript entitled “Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years” (the “Work”).

Between February 16, 2011 and February 18, 2011 you were the recipient of an unlawfully distributed version of the Work. Although you knew that the Work was (i) distributed to you in strict confidence, and (ii) an unpublished manuscript, you choose to unlawfully distribute the Work to multiple news outlets, bloggers, political activists, and any one else you felt might be interested.

As a result of your actions, hundreds of articles and blogs have been published detailing the Work. Some of the publications have summarized the Work in great detail, and others have reproduced the Work’s content verbatim. As an author, you are well aware that your actions have significantly impaired the Copyright Owners ability to market the book.

The Copyright Owners believe your actions were done with the single intent of destroying the marketability of the Work. It is no secret that you are writing your own “tell-all” book about Sarah Palin. By releasing the Work prior to publication, you have limited the actual interest in the Work and thereby salvaged the marketability of your own book. This matter appears to be no more than that of a jealous author sabotaging a competitor via unlawful and unscrupulous means.

The Copyright Owners are currently reviewing their legal options and I can assure this is not the last time you will hear from them. Besides showing an utter lack of professionalism, you have, at a minimum, willfully caused significant damages by engaging in unfair competition and violations of copyright law. In order to minimize the damages caused by your actions, the Copyright Owners hereby demand that you cease and desist from distributing any portion of the Work. Additionally, the Copyright Owners demand that you provide a full list of the parties to whom you distributed the Work.

Several bloggers and news sources received the manuscript from McGinniss very early Friday morning last week.  Many of us have written to McGinniss, asking him why he sent the manuscript out.  To my knowledge, he hasn’t yet answered anyone.  Some articles have been pulled or heavily modified since Bonfante Steinbeck issued a general cease and desist letter late last weekend to media outlets that were carrying extracts from what the authors claim to be a rough draft.  Within the past few hours, Craig Medred’s article at the Alaska Dispatch, Why did Palin name a pro-choice judge to the Alaska Supreme Court, has been pulled from the Alaska Dispatch Blog.  Medred’s article’s subject was the same issue I tackled in my only post before this one on the manuscript’s unauthorized release:

The item that caught my eye most, though, is this one, posted at Jesse Griffin’s Immoral Minority:

“In BLIND ALLEGIANCE TO SARAH PALIN: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years, Bailey explores such key events as Palin’s gubernatorial victory, Troopergate, illegal coordination with the Republican Governor’s Association, never-before-revealed scandals such as a judicial appointment as payoff for a favorable child custody ruling for Palin’s sister.”

That, I believe, is a serious felony in the State of Alaska. Could it be that the State, by holding onto Palin’s emails for so long – they say the emails will be released in May – is covering up this crime and others by the Palin family until the statute of limitations makes prosecution improbable or impossible? If that is the case, then we need to see the emails the state has on why they’re holding onto her emails.

McGinniss’  release of the manuscript has been vexing to the Alaska bloggers who supported him while he stayed in Alaska last year.  I’m not one of them, though.  After setting up his security perimeter at the house he rented next to the Palin cult compound on Lake Lucille last May, he and I had a disagreement, resulting in no further contact.  Jeanne Devon, one of the parties to the book, helped McGinniss extensively throughout his stay here, though, and is deeply hurt by the author’s action.

McGinniss, it has been reported to me, has all but finished his book on Palin, as has author Geoffrey Dunn.  Unlike Bailey et al, McGinniss and Dunn have publishers lined up.  Supposedly the manuscript found its way to McGinniss, after it had been sent out to a number of publishers by the author, hoping to find a buyer.

Update – Tuesday 7:00 a.m. PST:

1.  Joe McGinniss emailed me late yesterday afternoon, declining to answer my query on why he released the manuscript.  He wrote “Now that Jeanne [Devon] has got lawyers involved, I’m just not able to comment.”

2. In the Tuesday edition of the Anchorage Daily News, an unsigned article notes that GOP activist and longtime Palin foe Andree McLeod:

is charging that Bailey, Morris and Devon are acting unethically by trying to make money off a book based on e-mails Bailey collected as a state employee. McLeod first filed an ethics complaint against Bailey last year when she found out he was working on the book.

The executive ethics act bars current or former public officials from using information gained during the course of their work for personal gain if the information hasn’t been publicly disseminated. Most recently, McLeod wrote Alaska Attorney General John Burns on Friday asking what he was going to do about it.

McLeod emphasized that Bailey’s agent wrote that the e-mails are “not subject to FOIA requests and therefore will not be included in the email correspondence scheduled to be released by Alaskan officials this May.”

Morris last week said that Bailey had thousands of e-mails from the Palins. The state is reviewing Palin’s e-mails for an expected spring release in response to public records requests, including those from news organizations and McLeod.

This is more of the kind of bizarre aftermath Palin’s sloppy tenure as governor has saddled upon Alaskans.  One Alaska blogger, Jesse Griffin, has finished the manuscript.  He writes this morning:

If you thought Sarah Palin was vindictive, you will not be disappointed by this book.

If you thought the personal mythology about her family was bullshit, this is the book for you.

And if you thought that Sarah Palin uses her looks to get away with everything just shy of murder, this book will make that an absolute certainty.

A Quick Roundup of Reactions to “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”

8:01 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I was encouraged by Harriet Baskas, a travel writer from MSNBC, to watch “Sarah Palin’s Alaska on TLC (The Leering Channel) yesterday evening.  I missed the first six minutes because of a phone call, but managed to take in most of the rest.  Afterward, I wrote a short post for my blog.  Then I helped my wife get prepared for another week’s work mentoring first- and second-year teachers in the Alaska Bush, flying in small planes out to village schools in Native communities thousands of years old.

My observations were mostly mirrored at other blogs or in post-show news stories:  The scenery is spectacular, Todd appears perpetually annoyed, the kids are props, she would not be one of my rock climbing partners more than once, author Joe McGinniss – their next-door-neighbor last summer – has been slandered, and, and – that ghastly, screechy, cat claws-on-glass voice!

Here’s my rock climbing take:

The rock climbing episode was simply awful. I can sympathise with Sarah that the first step for a beginner is really, really hard, but most tyro climbers quickly realize how much energy it takes within a few vertical moves, how one can take advantage of staying close to the rock face, and how isometric the whole exercise is.

She kept on leaning outward and whining. Her pants seemed to restrict lateral moves of her legs, which wasn’t her fault. But her whining and self pitying was horrid. (I used to rock climb – 5.7 – 5.8-ish level)

The rock climbing episode was simply awful. I can sympathise with Sarah that the first step for a beginner is really, really hard, but most tyro climbers quickly realize how much energy it takes within a few vertical moves, how one can take advantage of staying close to the rock face, and how isometric the whole exercise is.

She kept on leaning outward and whining. Her pants seemed to restrict lateral moves of her legs, which wasn’t her fault. But her whining and self pitying was horrid. (I used to rock climb – 5.7 – 5.8-ish level)

Gawker posted an article with visual aids, titled The Five Most Ridiculous Moments from Sarah Palin’s Alaska Premiere:

5) Is Rock Climbin’ Hard? You Betcha!

4) The Requisite “Mama Grizzly” Reference

Palin watched two grizzly bears go at it—and then related it to herself and made a veiled political reference, obviously.

3) (Border) Fence Talk

Palin lamented the fact that a reporter moved in next door. Worse, this guy is writing a “hit piece” on her! So, Todd built a 14-foot fence to keep him away—and Palin thinks the rest of the country should do the same (to keep out illegal immigrants!)

2) Like Bristol, Like Willow

Palin’s daughter, Willow, had a boy over. Willow and the boy tried to go upstairs together, and Palin didn’t like this.

1) The Theme Song.

The comments at the Gawker article contain gems such as this:

A better view of the fence [with a photo of Todd's monstrosity], it’s beyond me why anyone would listen to this band of twits when they apparently can’t even be trusted to build a fence that doesn’t look fucking stupid.

Maia Nolan, arts & entertainment wonk at The Alaska Dispatch wrote a long article as she watched.  My favorite line:

After the Fox News interview, the family piles into a motorhome and cruises up the highway toward Denali National Park. Here is perhaps the most major difference between Sarah Palin’s Alaska and Maia Nolan’s Alaska: Members of the Palin and Heath families ride unsecured in the back of the motorhome, lounging on couches, getting up and walking around. That would have been heaven for us as kids. But in Maia Nolan’s Alaska, Dad the fishing guide was also Dad the paramedic, who would have been as likely to feed his children paint chips as to put them in a moving vehicle without seat belts.

Alaska blogger Jesse Griffin wrote about the series premiere at The Immoral Minority. His post centers on the Palins’ (and TLC‘s) trashing of McGinniss:

The fact that Palin uses this new program to deliver a little payback to the author who dared to cast his shadow on Casa de Palin, should come as no surprise to anybody who read “Going Rogue”, which essentially reads like one long Bitch-a-Palooza about everybody who Sister Sarah believes did her wrong.

However in THIS case Sarah and TLC were both warned by the author’s lawyer to remove ALL images of Joe McGinniss, pixelated or not, from the program or face possible legal proceedings.

As you can see from the CBS report above, neither Palin nor TLC took that warning seriously.

Perhaps this time Grizzled Mama will find that it is much harder to bully people people once they move thousands of miles away from Wasilla.

Living in Wasilla, as I do, I can attest that some of us are certainly not intimidated.

The UK Guardian (!) live blogged the episode:

9:06pm ET / 2.06am GMT: Sarah likes to do her “researching” on the porch, looking at the lake. She’s possibly looking for Russia because she doesn’t seem to have any papers in front of her.

9:08pm ET / 2.08am GMT: Sarah and the slightly scary Todd are bitching about the reporter who rented a house next door to them. Todd built a 14ft fence: “This is what we need to secure our nation’s border”, says Sarah. “How would you feel if some dude who was out to getcha was 15ft away from your kids,” she wails. Aww, so protective of her kids! Admittedly she is complaining to a reality TV crew who are following around her teenage daughters and their boyfriends. But that’s totally different.

9:10pm ET / 2.10am GMT: My sofa companion asks: “Isn’t it strange that Palin’s first real attempt to show her suitability as a presidential candidate is, not to bone up on foreign policy or reinstate herself as governor of Alaska, but to be on a reality TV show?” Yeah, well, he’s an east coast elite. What can you expect? He doesn’t understand the Real People.

9:13pm ET / 2.13am GMT: Ooh now we’re seeing the raftin’ Palins approaching a bear fishing, just to prove how down with nature. Unfortunately, they were criticised yesterday by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance for breaking rules and getting too close to bears. But “rules” is just another word for “big government trying to control the real people and turn them all into communists and send them to death panels”, of course.

9:16pm ET / 2.16am GMT: “This is so cool” giggles Sarah as the bear that they’re harassing splashes about miserably in the water. “A lot of time they want you out of their territory,” she says, as ignorant of irony as ever.

The European blog, Palingates, carried a guest post by a woman who watched the episode with her 7-year-old daughter, Bella:

Todd, Sarah and Willow hop in a bush plane to head up to Ruth Glacier. The weather is too bad, so they are forced to turn back. When it is time to try again the following day, Willow says her back hurts and she is staying home. Sarah and Todd head out alone. Willow, no doubt, immediately calls Andy and they go upstairs. Meanwhile, out on Ruth Glacier, Sarah has to step over 100-foot deep crevasses so she doesn’t fall to the center of the earth. She whines and whines about how hard it is to climb a rock face, but that she Will. Not. Quit. Because she is NOT A QUITTER, doncha know?! Todd has a look on his face that says he is just repeating this over and over inside his head: “20 million dollars, 20 million dollars, 20 million dollars.” Then, out of nowhere, he says, “let’s go, juicy.” Yes — he calls her juicy. I don’t even want to know. Bella is bored by this scene. She says, “mom, why do you keep rolling your eyes?” I tell her I’m annoyed with Sarah. She says, “yah, she doesn’t seem very nice.”

Sarah has now faced death three times in this episode (bears, crevasses, scaling a rock wall), and all three times, she won. They make it to the top. The episode ends with Sarah saying, “how are we going to get back down?” I wonder, “how will I make it through 7 more episodes?”

“Well, that’s it,” I say. Bella says, “Mom, I have a joke for you. Why is Sarah Palin from Alaska?” Why, I say? “Because she is so cold.”

I’m not sure I could have said it better.

Nor could I.

Joe Miller Invokes East Germany as Security Model, Then Has Blog Editor Arrested by Thugs

11:10 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

At a town hall meeting Sunday afternoon(1) in Anchorage, U.S. Senate campaign GOP nominee Joe Miller was asked a long question on how we should keep illegal immigrants out.

His short answer: "If East Germany can do it, we can do it!"

After the meeting, Miller was approached by Tony Hopfinger, an award-winning journalist and editor of the on-line news source, The Alaska Dispatch. Here’s what happened next:

Hopfinger, who had learned at the last minute of Miller’s planned appearance at the public school, ducked into a hallway after the meeting to pose his own questions to Miller.

Hopfinger had been trying to ask Miller questions when two or three guards told him to leave or risk being charged with trespassing.

When Hopfinger continued to try to ask questions, one of the guards put the reporter in an arm-bar and then handcuffed him.

Hopfinger was released after police arrived.

The reporter was on public property where a public event was being held at the time of the incident.

Here’s KTUU TV’s early print coverage:

According to Hopfinger, Miller’s security team pushed him and he pushed back because he felt his personal space was being invaded. He says guards detained him and accused him of trespassing, although the town hall was a public event held at a public building.

Miller security guard William Fulton said in a statement Sunday that he was responding to Hopfinger’s actions.

“The Dispatch reporter repeatedly pushed a camera into the face of Mr. Miller,” Fulton said. “He continued to aggressively pursue him. I told the reporter several times that he needed to stop and that he was trespassing, he ignored me. He then proceeded to stalk Mr. Miller and even shoved an individual into a locker. Based upon this trespass and his assault, we detained him and escorted him from the premises.”

Hopfinger says he waited for about half an hour in handcuffs for police to show up. No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed.

Last Monday, under increasing pressure from the Alaska press to release more details of why his employment as an attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) ended in controversy, Miller scheduled, canceled, then rescheduled a press conference(2). At that event, Miller closed, stating:

We’ve drawn a line in the sand. You can ask me about background, you can ask about personal issues — I’m not going to answer. I’m not.

During this past week, press hostility toward Miller understandably grew. As a result of Miller’s refusal to sign a release allowing the FNSB to release his employment records, the former mayor of Fairbanks, Republican Jim Whitaker made a public statement(3) on Miller’s job performance there:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller was nearly fired from his job as a borough attorney in 2008 after using borough computers in an attempt to oust the chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska, former borough Mayor Jim Whitaker said Wednesday.

Whitaker said Miller’s actions violated the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s ethics policy but did not result in a termination because the borough needed Miller to continue working on its lawsuit about how much to tax the trans-Alaska pipeline system.

Miller eventually resigned from borough employment on Sept. 1, 2009. “I’m speaking now because this occurred on my watch as mayor, because I know the truth, and because I have an obligation to tell the truth,” Whitaker said in an interview with the Daily News-Miner.

He said that, as a former mayor, he would prefer not to be involved in “the political melee.” “I also felt it was appropriate to give Mr. Miller enough time to come forward himself,” Whitaker said. “It’s clear with his statements of the other day, he’s not going to do that.

That was Wednesday. Alaska legal blogger, Wickersham’s Conscience made a case that Whitaker’s information indicates Miller engaged in criminal activity in his abuse of co-workers’ computers:

So Miller was allegedly was using other folks’ computers, without their permission or knowledge, so he could pretend to be sending votes by someone else in the contest for Republican Party State Chair. He is alleged to have been stuffing the electronic ballot box, using Borough computers. Alaska’s criminal laws have something to say about this.

WC goes on to list the felony statutes Miller appeared to have violated. The Miller campaign was quick to deny that Miller had done anything wrong. On Late Thursday, Miller’s dad, Rex, sent out an email that leaked out through the Tea Party Express grapevine by Friday. In it, Rex Miller asserted that what his son told him he had done with the computers was different from what former mayor Whitaker had described:

One noon hour, on his own time at the borough, Joe participated in an online poll voting against Randy,” Rostad wrote in the e-mail, recounting the Thursday morning conversation he said he had with Rex Miller. “He used four office computers in the office to do it, thinking this was his chance to boost numbers to get rid of Randy. He emptied the cache files on the computers so the users wouldn’t know what he had done.

Here’s WC‘s response to Rex:

WC is glad that Miller committed his felonies on his lunch hour and not on the Borough clock. However, it’s irrelevant to the real issue. Note that Joe Miller wiped the computers’ cache files afterwards. That’s the one of the places where a computer user leaves “digital fingerprints” of what he or she has done. (Not the only one, Joe.) And that’s very good evidence that Miller knew what he was doing was wrong. He was attempting to conceal the fact a crime had taken place. He was trying to wipe the fingerprints off of the crime scene. That’s certainly evidence he knew he’d done something criminal. Oh,and that’s a separate crime, by the way. Tampering with Evidence, AS 11.56.610, and possibly Tampering with a Public Record, AS 11.56.820.

Polls are being taken over the weekend. I was polled yesterday, and two friends relate that they were polled yesterday and today by firms that asked different questions from those I was asked. The late week Rasmussen Poll, showing Miller at 35%, Lisa Murkowski at 34% and Democrat Scott McAdams at 27% (plus or minus 4.5%) shows a very close race, with McAdams making his biggest jump since the race has been polled.

This race will continue to tighten. Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Ethan Berkowitz, in a statement issued as I’m writing, has asked Gov. Sean Parnell to look more closely at Miller:

Ethan Berkowitz had a strong reaction upon hearing the news that Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger was detained and handcuffed by a private security force hired by Senate candidate Joe Miller.

Berkowitz said, "In this country, journalists have a job to do, which includes exercising their rights and responsibilities under the First Amendment. A free press means that journalists must work without fear of muscle or muzzle.

"The fact that this was a private security guard hired by a U.S. Senate candidate in the heat of a political campaign makes this story even more outrageous. The actions of Mr. Miller’s agents against Mr. Hopfinger must be investigated and prosecuted by the State for violation of criminal statutes."

Berkowitz continued, "Even though Sean Parnell continues to stand behind Joe Miller, I call on him to follow my lead and condemn the Miller campaign for its chilling attack on a free press. That behavior has no place in Alaska, or in any free, representative democracy."

Berkowitz has been pounding Parnell on many issues and that race is tightening up quickly too. Late Friday, Republican Republican Bill Walker, who lost to Parnell in the GOP primary endorsed Berkowitz. Walker has many fierce advocates from the center and from the faction of the GOP that never liked Sarah Palin. Sean Parnell is derisively called "SP version two point zero" by many Republicans, mimicking GOP Rep. Don Young’s categorization of Parnell, for his blandness, as "Captain Zero." In the primary, here’s the way the votes broke down:

Sean Parnell (R) ————– 54,125
Bill Walker (R) ————— 35,734
Ethan Berkowitz (D) ——— 22,607
Hollis French (D) ————- 18,018

Both Walker and French have endorsed Berkowitz, and only polling conducted this coming week will reflect whether Walker’s embrace of Berkowitz will help significantly.

Update: The first video has emerged. It doesn’t show much, but Miller’s assertion that Hopfinger was violent doesn’t appear to hold any water:

_____

(1) See also "Miller town hall in Anchorage Sunday," http://community.adn.com/node/153735

(2) See also "Miller Refuses to Answer Any More Personal Questions," http://aprn.org/2010/10/11/alaska-news-nightly-october-11-2010/

(3) See also "Former mayor: Miller ‘not truthful’ about borough employment," http://www.ktva.com/topalaskanews/ci_16330640

Alaska Senate Candidate Miller Announces, Cancels, then Holds Press Conference Where He Refuses to Answer Any Questions

3:40 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

In what may be the first solid signs of a U.S. Senatorial campaign about to go off the rails, Tea Bag Express star, Sarah Palin favorite, and GOP primary nominee Joe Miller, went through a bizarre set of moves in Anchorage early Monday. Miller scheduled an 11:00 a.m. press conference. Then he cancelled it. Then he participated in an 11:45 a.m. senatorial campaign forum, held by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Then, he did this:

Update, 1:55 p.m.: Republican nominee Joe Miller just told reporters that he will not be answering any more questions about his personal background for the remainder of the campaign.

He made the statement at an impromptu news conference after today’s debate at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. He took no questions and immediately walked out of the room.

Early Monday morning, the Alaska Dispatch announced it has filed suit against the Fairbanks-North Star Borough, to gain access to Miller’s complete personnel file for the period when he worked as an attorney for the borough:

Alaska Dispatch sued the Fairbanks North Star Borough on Monday for the release of U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller’s employment records. The suit comes after accusations that Miller was politicking on borough time.

Miller worked as a part-time attorney for the borough for seven years until his resignation in fall 2009. In the months since announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, questions have been raised about whether Miller resigned to avoid being fired, and more recently, about whether he once used borough computers for his own political activities.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity told Alaska Dispatch that Miller was caught using borough equipment in an attempt to unseat Alaska GOP party chair Randy Ruedrich. The Miller campaign has neither denied nor confirmed the claim. A press conference was reportedly set for 11 a.m. Monday to address Miller’s past employment with the borough; however, a spokesman for Miller said the campaign had decided not to hold a conference before Monday’s noon Anchorage Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum but might speak with reporters afterward.

The activity Miller is accused of is similar to what got Ruedrich in trouble in 2003 when it was brought to light that he was using state computers and e-mail to conduct Republican party business while working for the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. His then-co-worker Sarah Palin blew the whistle on Ruedrich’s activities, and he ended up paying a $12,000 state ethics fine. Palin is a strong Miller supporter, as is the Tea Party Express.

There is a lot of speculation about other reasons Miller might be uncomfortable with materials in his personnel jacket. As reported this morning by The Immoral Minority:

Well I certainly hope "other issues will be covered as well" because the voters of this state have a lot of questions.

Such as:

"Why did you only serve three years of active duty after leaving West Point when the requirement is five years of service?"

"You told Phil Munger that you were a seriously disabled veteran. What is the nature of your disability and do you collect disability compensation from the military?"

"You have advocated cutting federal spending which includes having Alaska refuse federal dollars. Since one third of our economy is based on those federal dollars how would you replace them? And are you considering reinstituting state income taxes, which we currently do not pay, to cover that loss?"

"And finally how do you get your beard length to say halfway between pre-adolescent teenage boy and a real Alaskan man’s facial hair? Do you suffer from a hormonal imbalance perhaps? Or is THAT the ‘serious disability’ that you told Phil about?"

Snark aside, and teasing aside, Miller’s refusal to even answer questions on why he won’t be answering questions is very reminiscent of gubernatorial candidate John Lindauer’s last appearance in front of the Alaska press in September 1998, just as his campaign began to quickly unravel.

This morning, the Tea Party Express announced it is holding off on starting its big ad campaign up here on Miller’s behalf. There may or may not be significance in that announcement.

Murkowski’s most recent report shows she’s holding about $1.2 million in her campaign chest at this point.

There will be more stories on this throughout Monday – and beyond. I’ll post updates in the comments section. I’ve got a busy day and evening, helping deal with aspects of two coal mining projects, one in the Mat-Su Valley, the other across Cook Inlet from Anchorage.

Meanwhile, feel free to learn more about Scott McAdams, the Democratic Party candidate in this race:

I posted this diary by my friend Mel Green this morning, on Scott’s speech Saturday at an LBGTQ conference.

Here’s Scott’s web page.