From the SoapBlox Community up North…

Luckily for me, up here in Alaska, there’s a massive cold snap (well-below zero for almost two weeks in a row…which is exactly how long it’s been since my truck started).  Today it was 24- below-zero when I woke up and it was so cold in the house, I turned on my oven and went back to bed until it warmed up a little.  

I say “luckily” because I didn’t read about the SoapBlox hacking until approximately 3:00 PM EST, when Paul at SoapBlox had stopped the Chicken Little routine and it was obvious that some wonderful techie folks had stepped up to the plate to help.  I was also fortunate that I am obviously not on the same SoapBlox server with those blogs like this one that went down…and mixed with that relief is also empathy at what you went through!

I made my decision that I’m going to stick with SoapBlox for now.  I’m hoping that this wake-up call will cause Paul at SoapBlox to get permenant techie help and a structured policy on how to deal with crisis situations.

And he’s going to need to do so…It remains to be seen what the motivations for this particular hack-job may be.  It could be as simple as the perpetrators were well aware of SoapBlox’s vulnerabilities and wanted to make a splash or, even simpler, that someone has a grudge against Paul or someone else using the platform…who knows?  

However, we will will probably be facing much more of this in the future.  While China is (allegedly) repeatedly hacking the Pentagon, right and left-wingers were hacking political email accounts and websites leading up to the 2008 election.  Now that the Dems are in power, Conservatives will be that much more motivated…Clinton’s presidency directly led to the rise of right-wing talk radio.  What remains of the Republican Party also includes every faction of right-wing-fanatics.  Learning from the awesome Obama machine, they are trying to recruit a new group of tech-raised youth who will be able to drag them kicking-and-screaming into this century.  Remember, I said “fanatics,” which means this is a “holy war” for them.  Some will also do whatever it takes to push their agenda.  

I’ve already tangled with TeamSarah.org, a rather-impressively-set-up website with 70,000 members whose primary goal is to get their messiah, Sarah Palin, into the Presidency in 2012.  Their website was busted by a local blog for racist, homophobic, scary-religious-fanatic anti-Obama stuff that will curl your hair.  In response, they learned from their mistakes by taking a page out of Governor Palin’s defense manual.  Since the article they’ve tried to hide the worst of it, have accused those who post anything like that of being “infiltrators” and have blamed the rest on…yup, you got it, us:

TeamSarah.org, an online community of over 63,000 who admire Sarah Palin and all she stands for, currently is experiencing an attempt at framing the whole community as guilty of unsavory racist behavior.  This apparently is part of an overall attempt by the the worst elements of the progressive faction, conduct for which all liberals should be ashamed to be associated, even indirectly.

(Redstate.com is another site trying to “build a Conservative army” like TeamSarah.org.  As they are big Sarah supporters, I believe they are building the same army, but…shhhhhh…don’t tell them!)

I bring all of this up because we all know that Progressive sites far outnumber the Conservative ones.  We also know that what’s left of the “Republican base” is infiltrated with the “fringiest” of fringe elements.  Those two realities probably won’t change anytime soon.  The most attention these sites get now is when the media feels the need to mention them so they look “unbiased” when talking about political web sites. For some of them, it may just seem easier and more profitable to find ways to sabotage the sites than to try and drown out the Progressive sites with their much smaller numbers.

So, in this situation, the reason the vast majority of affected sites were Progressive may just be because the vast majority of blogs already ARE Progressive. There’s as much chance that this was not politically motivated as the alternative.

That may or may not be true the next time but the only thing that’s guaranteed…there will be a next time somewhere.

So, we in the blog community just had another, closer-to-home wake-up call.  I know a number of us have had techie friends screaming at us to back up our information.  We’ve all told them, “Yeah, I’ll get around to it.”

I guess it’s time to get around to it!

P.S. If anyone knows the best way to do that, please let me know! (more…)

(Soon-to-be-Senator) Mark Begich reassures Rachel Maddow…and the rest of the country

I love Rachel Maddow…I really do.  However, in the case of the Alaska election she was definitely getting her information from folks who were not directly hands-on with the process.  The Begich Campaign has had boots-on-the-ground since long before Election Day.  They have had people all over the state the entire time.  No one was more frustrated by the early conspiracy-theory panic than they were…because the folks who were spreading it weren’t talking to them.  It also seemed like there were folks out there with a lack-of-understanding of Alaska’s unique challenges, transportation and otherwise, who turned this into something it was not.  At the very least, they sounded the alarm bell rather prematurely.  

There never were hidden ballots, no “lost ballots” or “found ballots.” There never was a “mystery” as to where the ballots were.  It was taking a long time because:

a) 1/3 of ALL ballots are either early vote, absentee or questioned…that is an unheard of number in Alaska until this year.  That fact is NOT A DANGER SIGNAL EITHER!  The Begich Campaign was in every village, every city pushing early and absentee voting right along with the Obama Campaign!  Guess what?  It worked!

b) This year, there is a new procedure where EVERY BALLOT had to be double checked to make sure no one accidentally voted twice…absentee and on Election Day.  Why was that procedure established?  Because 26 people during the primary voted twice and they wanted to close that loophole.  Who is the one that motivated this new procedure?  The Democratic Party!  

c) Due to the Bush Administration’s war on unions and desperate desire to privatize mail delivery under one of his corporate buddies, the amazingly efficient US Postal Service has had their budget repeatedly whacked as of late.  As a result…and because of the outrageous cost of aircraft fuel in Alaska…they have had to cut back on mail deliveries to Rural Alaska.  Since that’s how most of their ballots travel, we’ve had to wait. (more…)

Stolen election in Alaska? Five reasons why that accusation is premature.

Many people are shocked that convicted felon Ted Stevens could possibly be ahead of Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich in the fight for his US Senate seat, or that under-investigation Congressman Don Young has probably held on to his seat against Ethan Berkowitz.  This seems especially dubious as polls that were correct in every other state were seemingly way off in Alaska.  An article in the Anchorage Daily News titled “The pollsters missed the mark” discusses this:

“The real question is where were the all the Democrats?” Dittman said, noting the voter turnout was supposed to be in record proportions. Instead, only an estimated 57 percent of registered voters had a say – a far drop from the 66 percent turnout in the 2004 presidential election, according to state elections division figures.

The issue of the incorrect polls has triggered some concern both here and in other parts of the country, especially on the “interwebs” where folks have raised the specter of a “rigged election.”  It’s understandable that we’re all having flashbacks to Alaska 2004, where the Division of Elections reported some precincts had over 100% turnout.  (Voting “early and often” is not just a tongue-in-cheek saying in Chicago!)  

However, we should all subscribe to the “Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” mantra of “Don’t Panic!”  I can think of at least four reasons why:

1) Per the Division of Elections, there are three different types of ballots that still must be counted:  1/2 of the early voting ballots (9,500), the absentee ballots (48,000) and the “questioned” ballots (16,000). (“Questioned” ballots come from registered voters who go to a different precinct and are allowed to vote the Congressional and Presidential elections or un-registered voters who go to a precinct and are allowed to register and vote in the presidential election only.  All of these votes are checked by hand to determine the voters status.)  

That’s 73,500 ballots which equal about 15% of all registered voters in the state of Alaska.  That’s a lot of votes yet to be counted.

2) While Ted Stevens is making the claim that absentee votes “always break conservative,” we are operating in an entirely new world because of Barack Obama’s campaign strategy.  As the result of an Obama and Begich Campaign “Get Out the Vote” juggernaut, it’s quite possible that those absentee, early voting and questioned ballots will break Progressive (I know mine is in there)…completely turning that “conventional wisdom” on its head.  Also, the absentee ballots are often military-dominated, which has caused them to trend towards conservative in the past, polls and FEC records have shown this election cycle that both the oversees and US-stationed military have heavily favored the Democratic presidential candidates…specifically Barack Obama…over the McCain ticket when it comes to political donations.  The “conservative assumption” no longer carries any weight.

(more below the fold) (more…)

Have Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young been reelected?

Nope.

There are still 50,000 votes left uncounted:

…the Division (of Elections) is doing things differently this year when it comes to counting absentee ballots.

Normally, some fraction of absentee ballots would be included in the election night numbers…

the roughly 40,000 absentee ballots cast so far won’t be included in the official count until later.

That’s to double check the ballots and make sure no one is double-dipping.

About 23,000 people have voted early, according to the Division. Of those ballots, about 14,000 will appear in tonight’s numbers. (Generally, if you’re an early voter who cast a ballot before Thursday, you’re vote will likely be included tonight.)

Add thousands of questioned ballots to the uncertainty, and any close races will be very much in the air tonight.

As of right now, Ted is only ahead by 3,352 and Don Young is ahead by about 14,000.  

Considering how hard the Obama and Begich Campaigns were working to promote early voting, not even 14,000 is enough of a lead to declare victory before 50,000 votes are counted. (more…)

Alaskans for Truth “Holding Sarah Palin Accountable”

We’re having a rally today to try and focus attention on what’s happened to the “Troopergate” Investigation, to State Government and to our understanding of Sarah Palin since she started running for Veep.  We know that not only are we doing this for us, we’re doing this for the rest of the U.S.  Troopergate is the best way to tank Sarah Palin altogether, as there is clearly something to hide.  Our focus is a letter-writing campaign to the Legislators asking that they vote to release the report this October 10th…McCain Campaign is pressuring the Repugs not to release it.

Here is the Press Release we’ve sent out with the flier:

“Hold Palin Accountable Rally”

Saturday, September 27th, noon – 2:00 pm

Downtown Park Strip; between I & L streets and 9th & 10th.

Main stage at the VA Memorial, east end of the park near L street.

Join your Alaskan neighbors in demanding that:

– Gov. Palin uphold her promise to us for an “open, honest & transparent” government.

– Gov. Palin uphold her promise to us to cooperate fully with the independent investigation as initiated by the bi-partisan Legislative Council.

We, the People of Alaska, also:

– Demand the immediate resignation of Attorney General Talis Colberg.

– Demand the McCain Campaign immediately remove itself and its influence from our state and local government.

– Demand the McCain Campaign ends its attorney, Ed O’Callaghan’s unlawful intrusion into our Department of Law.

I’ll report back with things YOU can do!

(more…)

Troopergate opens up another can ‘o worms for Sarah Palin

**************NOTE****************

AlaskaHockeyMomsForObama.com has a LINK for folks to sign a petition about Troopergate.  All folks from all across the U.S. (not just Alaska) are encouraged to sign.  We have to get the word out that if the McCain Campaign can come into Alaska and take over our Department of Law, the same thing could happen to any state.

**********************************  

Everybody was talking Saturday about the the Anchorage Daily News editorial because of it’s strong insistance that Palin should come home to “explain to the Alaskan people” about Troopergate.

However, it seems no one was paying much attention to another Op Ed piece by Conservative talk show host Dan Fagan.  I admit, I usually avoid his editorials as well but I’m glad I read this one.  It was probably the best summary I’ve read all week of the egregious ways the McCain-Palin people have taken over Alaska’s Department of Law.

Yes, I just paid that very large compliment to hard-core right-winger Dan Fagan…hell hath frozen over.  Sarah Palin’s idiocy is causing us to make very strange…errrr…bedfellows.

However, there was another very important piece in his writing that reflects what a number of us have been saying this week…with additional information:

Why do she and her new handlers in the McCain camp believe there is something in Troopergate that could cost them the election?

The real damage to Palin from Troopergate comes with an injury claim involving trooper Wooten when he hurt his back while in the line of duty.

Independent investigator Steve Branchflower testified recently he believes someone in the governor’s office tried to block Wooten’s workers’ compensation injury benefits.

Harbor Adjustment Services, the company hired by the state to process, evaluate and decide on workers’ benefit claims, had great financial incentive in bowing to pressure from the governor to deny Wooten’s injury claim.

Obviously, the state is Harbor Adjustment Services’ largest client. The owner of the company denies the governor’s office pressured her to deny Wooten’s benefits. Why wouldn’t she? Ratting out the governor could cost her the lucrative state contract.

But Branchflower says an employee with Harbor Adjustment Services contradicts the owner and has testified the governor’s office did apply pressure to deny Wooten his benefits.

Branchflower says the unnamed employee testified, “I don’t, you know, care if it’s the president who wants the claim denied. I’m not going to deny it unless I have the medical evidence to do that,”

We know which employee is testifying about this to Mr. Branchflower.

(more after the fold) (more…)

Troopergate Question #6: When will the “Hit Squad” claim an “incomplete report” can’t be released?

****************UPDATE******************

I got this in “the emails”:

Just read your latest post, I totally agree with you, but I think you’re missing another aspect. Buried in the AP article yesterday was a McCain spokesperson saying that Palin is “co-operating” with the investigation currently underway with the State Personnel Board.

So just watch–we’ll have dueling reports–one from the Personnel Board that exonerates Palin, and the one from Legislature which will be damning. And of course, Palin will say that the ONLY report that is valid is the one from the State Personnel Board!

All this nonsense this week has been carefully orchestrated. Why else would Colberg refuse to honor the subpoenas, and then the next day Todd Palin announced he wouldn’t honor it either. And then Colberg goes on “vacation” in Kansas. This stinks worse than dead fish from Lake Lucille.

This is an excellent point…I remember reading that about the Personnel Board and thinking they were going to play the two investigations against each other, but our emailer is inciteful in taking that thought several steps further regarding the reports.

*******************************************

I’m going to put HUGE money on this in Las Vegas!

I mean, that’s why they’ve refused to honor the subpeonas, right?  

Because it’s never been about preventing Branchflower from finding out more information from those specific people who dodged him.  That list of folks consist of the supreme “bots” of ALL the Palinbots.  They are the ones who drank the biggest quantity of loyalty kool-aid and would probably fall on a sword in front of a court rather than reveal anything negative about Sarah.  (Except for Todd, all he needs to spill the beans is a few beers at the Governor’s picnic.)

No, it’s not been about what he might find out from the folks he hasn’t talked to; it’s about what he already learned from the witnesses he HAS interviewed!

(more below the fold)

(more…)

Troopergate Question 3: What do the Obama or McCain Campaigns have to do with Troopergate?

At the press conference, the McCain Campaign surrogates had this chart as well as a handout with the same pictures.  The insinuation was that the Alaska Legisature was pursuing this investigation at the behest of the Obama Campaign.

Often, the “guilty” party accuses the “innocent” party of what the “guilty” party is actually doing…in this case, interfering in the investigation…in order to deflect attention.

Per the ADN:  (below the fold)

(more…)

Sometimes, the most important stories are told around a dining room table…

I just spent the evening having dinner with Alaska’s most influential bloggers: What Do I Know?, Progressive Alaska, Alaska Real, Mudflats and Immoral Minority, a former Anchorage radio talk show host, friends and a video team from the U.K.

Most importantly, I met a man I’ve revered for 14 years, retired Valley Baptist Pastor Howard Bess.  Howard is the man who wrote the book, “Pastor, I Am Gay”…the book Sarah Palin specifically targeted to be removed from the Wasilla library.  

(I respected him long before that. He supported those of us in 1993 fighting for an Anchorage Ordinance to add “sexual orientation” to the protected classes in Municipal employment.  It’s what made him and his book a target in the first place.)

I happened to meet the U.K. film crew at the women’s rally and they took an interest in me as a blogger.  When I was invited to this dinner, I askedk our host if they could come as well.  He said yes.

I watched and participated tonight while this U.K. film crew got Howard’s story on video. Since the journalist from Salon.com couldn’t come and the reporter from “The Nation” had to leave (the folks who were the reason for the gathering) it would have been a missed opportunity to really get this story out had it not been my “chance” encounter with this quirky film crew.

There are no coincidences.

There was something really powerful about watching Howard speak in simple terms about the threats, intimidation and his eventual forced retirement and his church’s excommunication from the American Baptists over his stances on LGBT issues and that book.  

It’s easy to forget how frightening truth in the form of the written word can be to the enemies of truth.  It’s also easy to forget that while our countrymen and women fought and died for over 200 years to protect our access to that truth, our friends in the U.K. did the same centuries before us.  

Listening to the film crew, they are quite literally terrified by the thought of someone like Sarah Palin being in the White House only a heartbeat away from being the “Leader of the Free World.”  Sadly, the U.K. seems more terrified than most in the U.S.

I was glad that David Talbot of Salon.com (the other reporter who was supposed to come to the dinner) got his interview with Howard Bess and he did a great job.  However, I think that the story will be much more powerful on film.  This ordinary-looking plain-speaking man and his wonderful wife are heroes because they believe that God loves everyone equally and worshipping Him in ANY church is a right as children of God.  

They show every Christian and any other religious person the true meaning of the words “Love Won Out.”

(more…)

In Alaska, the Blue forces are fighting back! At least they are this Saturday!

UPDATE FROM PAM: Jeremy at Good As You has video of Sarah Palin’s former pastor, Larry Kroon, explaining his support of Love Won Out, saying the program is designed to “heighten understanding about homosexuality.” Right.


At a time when Alaska’s conservatives have managed to unify more cohesively behind VP candidate Palin than any time in the last two years with her as Governor, it seems that the “Blue Brigade” will be taking to the streets of Anchorage this Saturday in response.

Focus on the Family’s “Love (Hate) Won Out” Conference will be at the Abbott Loop "Community" Church this Saturday, September 13th.  I know you Blenders are quite familiar with this conference but this is the specific one that Sarah Palin’s Church has been promoting which has been broadcast all over the news.

Per Bent, Alaska:

On Saturday morning, PFLAG families, supporters and allies will come together in Anchorage, Alaska as Love Won Out brings its so-called “ex-gay” conference to our 49th state. PFLAGers will gather outside the conference to offer support for youth attending and information for parents and families.

“Families never win at Love Won Out,” said Jane Schlittler, president of PFLAG’s Anchorage, Alaska chapter. “The conference’s organizers maliciously target often well-meaning parents who are dealing with a difficult issue in their lives, and in the process put their kids’ well-being at risk. Make no mistake: There is far more ‘preying’ than ‘praying’ taking place at these meetings, and far more harming than healing in the doctrine of Love Won Out.”

I haven’t talked to anyone specifically about the turnout, but all of the attention might ensure that it’s fairly large.  PFLAG is bravely following the example of Orlando, Florida:

In additional response to Saturday outside the church, the LGBT Community and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) will be hosting three excellent events starting on Thursday September 11th and ending on the 18th.

This is only the first “big, blue event” going on in Anchorage on that day.

Top progressive radio talk-show host, Ed Schultz, is coming to Anchorage and having a “Town Hall Meeting” that night at 7:00 PM.  The event will be recorded and played back Monday, September 15th on all of Schultz’s national affiliates coast to coast.

And yes, there is even a third event: (more…)