September 8th, 2008

barack obama

Good Morning!!

Banned books week is coming up. It seems like a good year to support it.

Check it out:

The fog is here, a delightful wrap.

I am reading Joe Biden's book, Promises to Keep, and I highly recommend it. I had no idea. What the Democratic party offers with Obama and Joe is exactly what the country needs. May the people listen enough to know.

Roger Cohen begin his morning column, Real Wars and the U.S. Cultural War, with this:


Published: September 7, 2008

The culture-war surge in the U.S election campaign has come at the expense of meaningful debate about the real wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s dangerous because they stand at critical junctures.

We’ve had Sarah Palin at the Republican National Convention setting a new low for foreign policy with her attempt to mock Barack Obama’s approach to international terrorists: “He’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.”

I’m sorry, Ms. Palin, but out there in Alaska, between moose shoots, did you hear about Bagram, Abu Ghraib, renditions, waterboarding, Guantánamo and the rest?
John McCain knows what happens when those rights disappear. He described his Vietnamese nightmare the next night: “They worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me.”

A man remembers getting broken: that’s why McCain fought the use of torture by the Bush administration. His condoning of those words from his vice-presidential candidate is appalling. Foreign policy be damned if you can score a God-fearing-macho-versus-liberal-constitutionalist point.

May this day be fruitful for all, with gratitude for an opportunity to read from the banned list books we might have missed. Our winter reading list has been generously placed in our face.
barack obama

Common sense and kindness!!

This is from a dear friend Lloyd Parker.



I listened with interest to CNN's fact check of the great story Sarah Palin told in her acceptance speech about selling the plane purchased by her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, a former Governor of Alaska, for use by himself and future Governors. Mrs. Palin said she thought the plane was "over the top" and claimed she had sold the plane on eBay. As it turns out, she didn't actually sell the plane on eBay; she couldn't find a buyer who would pay her asking price. The state did eventually sell the plane, but not on eBay, and not at a profit, as she apparently told John McCain; they lost a bit of money on the sale.

When I first heard CNN's fact check on Sarah's story, I thought, "Well, that's no big deal. She only "stretched" the "truth" a bit, in several places, to make a better story. After all, maybe she was just a little 'over-enthusiastic',  got 'carried away', when she was telling the story to the Republican Convention and millions of Americans, and just wanted to tell a more interesting and entertaining story to her first really big audience." Then, when I heard she and John McCain were repeating the story at campaign stops the next day, I started thinking a little more deeply about the matter.

After all, the famous Yellow-Cake Uranium story was probably not George W, Bush's first (or only) lie, before he got a little "over-enthusiastic" about involving the country in a stupid, totally unnecessary war, which had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11. It took some practice at truth stretching, before he became a good enough liar to bamboozle most of the country. I realized I didn't want a good young Christian, like Sarah, to start down the same path, especially since the plane story (and several other embellished stories) indicate she seems to have a tendency for "embossing" reality a trifle. For her own good, I determined, we need to insist on strict early education in telling the whole truth. This appears to be, given the Bush legacy, an especially valid and necessary lesson for young Republican politicians, particularly those who may be hanging out with not only George W. Bush, but also Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and other "good" and very "experienced" Republicans, known for their fervent desire to "tell a good story". Perhaps she'll thank us when she gets a little older.

"Seriously" though, Governor Palin, like many "true believers" from many different faiths, seems to believe she has been providentially blessed with the "sole'" and only "true" belief, and that it affords her comprehensive knowledge of the "best" interpretation of God's will for many, if not all, "sacred/moral", and even some more secular, political, and economic matters. How fortunate. Apparently, those so gifted have no need for further study or experience to handle complex issues. They also, it would appear, have been granted permission to not only instruct us as to the wishes of the creator on complex issues, but to embellish the instruction a bit, when plain "straight talk" does not suffice.

By the by, to be fair, Palin's firing of the state trooper, according to CNN fact checkers, does seem to be a valid action; the trooper in question, a former brother-in-law of the Governor, seems like a real bad egg. Though I am curious why it was also necessary to fire the person responsible for conducting the investigation of the trooper. Was he: just too slow for the Governor's need for righteous rapid response, perhaps a more thorough investigator, who hadn't finished investigating, or maybe a determined "evil doer" who was master-minding a cover-up? Given her record for truth skirting, it does leave room for some doubt.

For example, it is curious that the Governor, who cut Alaska's funding for Special Needs Children, told other parents of such children, in her famed and much lauded convention speech that, if she was elected, they would have a "friend" in the White House. One ponders if they need such a friend? I wonder if her cuts for Teen Pregnancy Assistance in Alaska might also be under review, given recent developments. Sometimes folks learn best when lessons are close to home. Let's hope this is the case.

Special Needs Kids and Pregnant Teens are both in need of more compassionate funding. Just as the Governor, as demonstrated by her battle to exclude polar bears from the endangered species list, though most scientists who study the matter disagree, appears to be in need of a compassion transfusion.

One final note, CNN fact checking also discovered, the Governor, though she first supported "the bridge to nowhere in Alaska", did refuse to spend the pork barrel money on the bridge the Republican Senator from Alaska had finagled for the project. Her opposition to the project, coincidentally, we must assume, only started when the undertaking started receiving massive negative national publicity. She did not deem it necessary, however, to return the tainted money to the federal government for very real needs in the rest of the country. She spent it instead on other, hopefully better, projects in Alaska. Funny how she somehow "forgot" to mention that small aspect of the story in her talk at the Republican Convention.

Let us hope the good Governor learns a lot during the rest of her full term as Governor of Alaska, while Barack Obama works as our next President solving the huge problems facing a nation despoiled by eight sad years of Republican malfeasance, including a very expensive unnecessary war, funded, almost entirely, by borrowed money from the Chinese, because Republicans did not want to raise the taxes of the abundantly rich.

Peace and Blessings,

The Reasonably Right Reverend, Henry Lloyd Parker, Little Davey Peartree Church of the Inner Vision

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Snopes has verified this as true -

Snopes called Anne Kilkenny and verified this letter as true.   She wrote it and sent it out to forty people she knew two days after McCain announced his choice of Sarah Palin.  Now, the letter is everywhere.  It shows the power of the internet.

She says, "I am pleased to know how idealistic Americans are.  They want information, not just the politics of destruction."


I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no
cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than
2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative." During her
6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over
$22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn't even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later — to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.

She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the "old boy's club" when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal — loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State's top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla's Police Chief because he "intimidated" her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's
ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the "old boys' club" when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects — which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance — but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as "anti-pork."

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as "AGIA" that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned "as a private citizen" against a state initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior's decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there's a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.


o "Hockey mom": true for a few years
o "PTA mom": true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since
p "NRA supporter": absolutely true
o social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
o pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.
o "Pro-life": mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some
pro-life legislation.
o "Experienced": Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska.
No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.
o political maverick: not at all
o gutsy: absolutely!
o open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.
o has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
o "a Greenie": no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
o fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
o pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early
20th century standards.
o pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents.
o pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history.
o pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn't make her
pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.


First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For
10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.


I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation
2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall — they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the

Anne Kilkenny
August 31, 2008

alan - purple flowers

Thomas Merton -

I read about all the rain on the East Coast and think how much we could use some here.  It continues dry except for the moist, smacky kiss of fog, which drips but doesn't really drench the roots.

Here is Thomas Merton:

Nothing can spoil this morning. The rain has stopped. The birds sing and starlings pursue a crow across the gray sky. Clouds still hang low over the woods. It's cool.

The whisky barrels by the woodshed stand or lie in wetness, one of them with wet weeds up the navel, others rolling in the soaked chips of wood and bark.

Someone has sawed a keg in half, and it is one of the most beautiful objects on the property at the moment. An example of wabi-sabi (simplicity) that Suzuki talks about. With joy, yesterday, I smelled the charred barrel. How beautiful to see it catch rain.

Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Lawrence S. Cunningham, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996: 281

barack obama

North to Alaska. Go North, the rush is on!!

The Gold continues to flow in Alaska.

The Permanent Fund Dividend for 2008 or bribe by the oil companies, as it should be called, is $3,269.00

$3,269.00 to each person who has lived a year in Alaska and you can have it directly deposited to your account, but of, course, Sarah Palin doesn't believe in hand-outs and entitlements, at least, not for those other than herself and her family.

Live there a year and you, too, can collect along with the members of your family. 

No wonder her mantra is:  Drill!  Drill!  Drill!

What a gift!!!  

Check it out:

alan - joshua tree bloom

Deepak Chopra -

Obama and The Palin Effect

 Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin's pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.
 She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of 'the other.' For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don't want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)
 I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palinʼs message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision. 
 Look at what she stands for:
 --Small town values -- a denial of America's global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
 --Ignorance of world affairs -- a repudiation of the need to repair America's image abroad.
 --Family values -- a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don't need to be heeded.
 --Rigid stands on guns and abortion -- a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
 --Patriotism -- the usual fallback in a failed war.
 --'Reform' -- an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn't fit your ideology.
 Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from 'us' pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of 'I'm all right, Jack,' and 'Why change? Everything's OK as it is.' The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.
 Obama's call for higher ideals in politics can't be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow -- we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

 From: Deepak Chopra | Posted: Friday, September 5th, 2008

alan - joshua tree bloom

Wendell Berry -

It has been suggested that my blog has not been quite as uplifting as usual the last few days, so where do I go for a lift.  I visit the enlightened Wendell Berry.  Here is one of my favorite poems.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry