Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Truth from Alaska

Sarah Palin: The view from Alaska @ Salon.

Affectations aside, there’s plenty about Palin we Alaskans do recognize, and all too well. She’s already proven to us that her promises of transparent government, attendant to the will of the people, are bear pucky. We know about her private e-mail accounts and her systematic obstruction of the Alaska Legislature’s investigation of the so-called Troopergate scandal. But let’s turn to her environmental record, where a similar pattern of obfuscation continues.

This is too familiar. The folks who call her George W. Palin are right.

First, Palin pushed hard, along with sport hunting and guiding interests, to help defeat a ballot initiative that would have stopped the state’s current aerial wolf control program, which had been criticized by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council for flawed science. Now her administration has pointedly refused to respond to repeated public information requests (I’m one of the petitioners, and a potential litigant), regarding the apparently illegal killing of 14 wolf pups at their dens on the Alaska Peninsula this spring by state personnel, including two high-level Department of Fish and Game administrators. A biologist at the scene admitted to an independent wolf scientist that the 6-week-old pups were held down and shot in the head, one by one. This inhumane practice, known as “denning,” has been illegal for 40 years. But a simple request for information on the details of this operation, including to what extent the governor was involved in the decision, has resulted in a typical Palinesque roadblock and a string of untruths.

Our I-love-Alaska governor was also instrumental in defeating a ballot initiative to stop development of a gargantuan open-pit mine incongruously known as Pebble near the headwaters of the most productive salmon watershed in the state, Bristol Bay. The current mine design calls for building the world’s largest earthen dam to hold back an enormous lake of toxic waste — this in a known earthquake zone. Crazy stuff, yet Palin openly opposed the initiative, in lock step with international mining corporations that invested millions of dollars in a misinformation campaign.

But Palin’s certified anti-environmental whopper is her lawsuit against the Bush administration (of all outfits) for listing polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. She claimed Alaska’s own experts had completed a review of the federal data and concluded that the listing was uncalled for. The truth was, state biologists had come to the opposite conclusion. But that report was never released, and her researchers had a gag clamped on them. Palin simply didn’t want anything to get in the way of offshore oil drilling in moving pack ice — where there is no way to contain, let alone clean up, catastrophic spills.

Oh, and look, lying about what the experts say. That's familiar too.

And then there's the dead lake -- all style and no substance:

Sarah Palin’s dead lake

Every morning she’s at home here, Sarah Palin wakes up to a postcard view from her lakeside home. Out the windows of her two-story wood-framed house stretch the serene, birch-lined waters of Lake Lucille. Ducks go gliding by the red-and-white Piper Cub floatplane docked outside. With the snow-frosted Chugach and Talkeetna mountains looming in the distance, the scene seems to define the Alaska that Palin celebrates: rugged, majestic, unspoiled.

And, yet, the lake Sarah Palin lives on is dead.

“Lake Lucille is basically a dead lake — it can’t support a fish population,” said Michelle Church, a Mat-Su Valley borough assembly member and environmentalist. “It’s a runway for floatplanes.”

Palin recently told the New Yorker magazine that Alaskans “have such a love, a respect for our environment, for our lands, for our wildlife, for our clean water and our clean air. We know what we’ve got up here and we want to protect that, so we’re gonna make sure that our developments up here do not adversely affect that environment at all. I don’t want development if there’s going to be that threat to harming our environment.”

But as mayor of her hometown, say many local critics, Palin showed no such stewardship.

Proof's in the pudding, folks.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ambien, Amnesia, and a McCain Presidency

Holy crap.

An Ambien amnesia presidency

So why does McCain taking Ambien matter? Lots of people take sleeping medication. It's prescribed by a doctor, so it must be okay.

Sure, but lots of people don't have to worry about being drugged up on Ambien and getting a call at 3AM that affects the lives of 300+ million people.

. . . .

More disturbingly, in a crisis, how is the White House staff supposed to know if the President is truly aware of what's going on or not? Whether he's under an Ambien haze or truly himself? I've had a couple of experiences with people in exactly this situation, under the influence of sleeping pills, and the reality is you can't tell that they're under the influence. I've had a face-to-face conversation with someone who had taken Ambien and not fallen asleep - the next day they didn't remember any of the hour long discussion. The scary part? I had no idea that I was speaking to someone who wasn't fully conscious. To me, it was like having a regular conversation and I had no idea the person across from me was completely out of it. The prospect of a President "sleep-driving" the country on Ambien is terrifying.

So let's not elect him.

Sympathetic but Miffed

You know, I understand how it can be on the IT side when customer's email or some other service doesn't work. I've been there, staring at a computer program (more often than not, in my area, rather than a server) that steadfastly refuses to work FOR NO REASON. Literally. You're standing there saying to yourself, "well, sh**, it worked yesterday. What changed?"

But. My personal email has been out for 2? 3? days? Possibly since Monday. My work accounts are fine, but that's not where I get the bulk of my email. What this means is my personal interaction is being reduced to near-zero, and I can't tell anyone except by posting on this blog.[*]

It's strange, too, realizing I've moved from one "firefighting" profession to another. in IT, you put out fires, and, if you're really lucky, maybe prevent some. Lawyers, yeah, it's mostly fires. IT people mostly get ignored until something breaks. And they get pizza, sometimes. Lawyers? Well, we get to be the butts of jokes about how it would be great if we were all dead. This is not a step up.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

I do have to say, about this election

There is the fun of shocking the unwary with "Sarah Palin is from my hometown."