Like it’s not bad enough. I’ve been hearing loons talk about secession up here my whole life. In Alaska, the three top ballot seats: President, Senate and House of Representatives, have candidates on the ballot from the secessionist Alaska Independent Party. In two of the three, the AIP holds at least 4% of the vote. The felonious Ted Stevens looks like he has convinced over a hundred thousand Alaskans what he couldn’t convince 12 jurors of a few weeks ago.
Now, Keith Olbermann has the temerity to ask if it’s too late to sell Alaska back to the Russians. Repeatedly. America’s liberal boy-wonder is breaking up with me. He’s not the only one suggesting putting Alaska up on eBay, but I can only handle one break up at a time. Consider this partner counseling; the circle of truth; the trust tree.*
I’m like many Alaskans, just not the one you've been forced to get to know lately. I know what newspapers I read. I know Africa is NOT a country. I know Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada, and I know he has T.V. perfect hair. I know who makes up NAFTA – which I thought was a crock when it passed. My favorite birthday present this year was the return of Habeas Corpus in a 5-4 US Supreme Court decision on June 12th.
I’ve never been to New York City, but I wanted to puke in my mouth watching the Republican National Convention’s “9/11 Tribute to Fear.” I wasn’t born in the 60’s, but I know what race baiting is. I know the public executions of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, and RFK-all in a five year span-drove the American progressive movement into a coma for nearly 40 years. A once empowered, liberal generation sat like Terry Schiavo watching balloons float by; Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II. Wars, the corporate job-exporting economy, the perilous environment, expanded human rights violations, erosion of civil rights, The US Constitution compromised; none of it registered due to blunt force trauma on the American psyche.
Barack Obama’s voice blends many of those faint martyred messages cut short; human rights, hope, justice, peace, change. His inspirational urgency moved a generation politically paralyzed to stand up again. New generations learned to walk, on their own power, to change their futures. This promise is precarious. People my mother’s age hold their breath, pray he is safe, and bravely look forward from a painful past. I know, it takes one lone crazy, living in the apartment over his grandma’s garage; walls covered with “Pin-up Palin” shots who doesn’t need much more than a wink, a “pallin’ around with terrorists”, and her silence while “supporters” answered “terrorist!” and “kill him!” to her question of “Who is Barack Obama?” Even now, she’s still talking about “associations.”
I was born here, Sarah Palin was not. I don’t have a fabricated “Fargo” accent that sounds like I make casseroles with tater tots and mushroom soup. Many brilliant, artistic, articulate and cultured citizens call Alaska home. On November 4th, you got to shake your shoes of our Governor. You sleep easier now. Gone are the train wreck fantasies that kept you up at night; a 3am phone call and she, a heart beat away from the “nukular” codes. You now invest casual interest as you would a People magazine while waiting for dental work. BUT, SHE’S BACK HERE AND READY TO RULE!
Progressive Alaskans have a target on their backs for speaking out about her archaic philosophies and faith-based policies. January’s 2009 Legislative Session may see a bill allowing the aerial hunting of the exotic, but endangered species; “Alaskan Liberal.” I have a public creed of “painting a red state blue, one stroke at a time,” and you’re dumping me, Keith? Really?
Many suffer from PTSD-Post Traumatic Sarah Disorder. It comes with a long list of political collateral damage and shrapnel wounds. The McCain-Palin campaign sent Belmont level horsepower to Alaska to throw the Governor’s “enemies” under the Straight Talk Express Bus. NYC would have spit; Alaska gagged and swallowed.
This afternoon, the AP just called Alaska’s Senate race for Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. But for two weeks, it looked like we elected a felon. Ted Stevens has been a senator since before I was born. People here are torn between nostalgia and history. No matter where you travel in-state, you bump into establishments named after him; The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport; Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute; Ted and Catherine Stevens Center for Science and Technology Education and the Stevens Family Chalet at the Hilltop Ski Area in Anchorage. Many can’t imagine Alaska without him, but I can!
I can imagine Ted making license plates wearing an orange jumpsuit! My friend, Phil, says Stevens’ punishment should be overseeing the re-naming of all his institutional namesakes. I’m a recovering commercial fisherman, and I know he sold us out. His confirmation of "conservative" judges paved the way for the recent Baker vs. Exxon case that robbed many Alaskan fishermen of damages incurred by the 1989 Valdez Oil Spill. The R.A.T.S. (Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia) saw fit to cap the award at ten cents on the dollar after 19 years. Translation to Exxon: four days profit for environmental terrorism-the cost of doing business. Translation to Alaskans: F*@# YOU! Bend over, we’re driving.
The only thing Uncle Ted liked better than the Patriot Act was the Military Commissions Act. His “Incredible Hulk” tie trumped the Constitution more than once. I broke up with him a long time ago. Do I seem bitter?
Mark Begich is Senate seat-worthy. I begged him to run for higher office when he was a weekly guest on my local radio show. I called him the “Fairy-God Mayor” for making many of my municipal dreams come true. During one of our weekly chats, I asked the Mayor what he liked on his pizza. (I have a secret theory people order up their life like they do pizza.) He said, “Oh, just put it all on there. If I don’t like something, I’ll pick it off.” I loved that answer; low maintenance and not afraid to try it all. (BTW, according to my theory, if you don’t like pizza you may need some hotline help.)
Part of wanting Mark to run for higher office was nostalgia for his father’s brilliant political career tragically cut short. Congressman Nick Begich was lost in a plane crash with Louisiana Congressman Hale Boggs in October of 1972. A few weeks later, though presumed dead, Congressman Begich beat his challenger Don Young by 12.4%. A s pecial election was then called which Don Young won. He still holds the seat today.
Truth be told, I wanted a Begich to take the seat back from Don Young, who squandered it. Seeing Mark Begich take the Senate seat has more historic healing for many old time Alaskans than seeing Stevens retain it.
Not to get too “professor” on you, Keith (think hair up, glasses, short skirt, high heels. Oh wait, never mind!) I want you to know what you’re ready to cut loose.
First Alaskans thrived in a frozen land for thousands of years and left no foot print. In 1867, Russia gave you a hell of a deal at 1.9 cents an acre. The Klondike Gold Rush was a quick pay back, and gave Charlie Chaplin some great material.