Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Making Their Voices Heard

Many of us are embarrassed and angry at the failure of the United Methodist Church to change its unjust policies toward gay and lesbian people. When, on April 30th, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church at its quadrennial meeting, once again refused to change its pronouncement of judgment on gays and lesbians by a vote of 504-417, I suggested that our denomination hang this sign on itself: “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors—Not!”

When United Methodist denominational representatives met in five regional (jurisdictional) gatherings in July, the Northeastern and Western Jurisdictions
strongly dissented from the General Conference’s position, expressing support for pastors who in defiance of church policy perform services for same gender weddings.

Some local UM churches also disagree with national church policy and are determined to not allow those policies interfere with their welcome of gay and lesbian persons. I am proud that First United Methodist Church in Bend, Oregon is one of those churches.

Jubilate! The Women’s Choir of Corvallis and the Bend First United Methodist Church present an evening of artistic celebration Saturday October 11 at the church, 680 NW Bond St.
Love Makes a Family is a museum-quality traveling exhibit including photographs and interviews with families that have lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) members. Admission to the exhibit and the concert is free. Donations will be gratefully accepted.

A reception to celebrate the opening of the Love Makes a Family Photo Exhibit begins the celebration at 6:00 p.m. Jubilate! will provide several songs for this opening reception and will then sing a full length concert beginning at 7:30.

Jubilate! The Women’s Choir of Corvallis, was formed in 1994. Open to all women singers, Jubilate! exists to enrich the musical opportunities and experiences of our community. During its development, Jubilate! has become a remarkably diverse community of women, gay and straight, making music together.

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. – Albert Einstein

Are you doing something? Is your voice being heard? If you are in the Bend area, attend the exhibit and concert on October 11th. Contact “Love Makes a Family” and consider having a photo exhibit in your worship place, library, school, club, hospital, conference, or community center. And, if you are in Oregon, maybe you can arrange to have Jubilate! help you lift your voices. Whoever you are, wherever you are, let your voice be heard.

One day, when enough of us are singing, the powers that be—political and ecclesiastical—will join us in our song that all of us—straight and gay—are God’s children and how it is love that makes a family.

- Milo

Monday, September 22, 2008

White Privilege - The Stacked Deck

Rush Limbaugh doesn't get it, but neither does much of the rest of this country. One of the most prominent and respected anti-racist trainers in the country, Tim Wise urges white people to fight racism “for our own sake.” For most of us “white folks” that’s not an easy task, but it is probably the key reason he wrote White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son. In an article published on September 13, Tim wrote:
For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.
Before I share some of the items from his list, I want to tell you how I came by this article. It was sent to me from a good friend, who is a Mississippi son and who served with distinction in Alaska for a number of years. His perspective matters to me, especially on this sensitive subject.

Here are a few items from Wise’ list.
White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives near Russia, you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and Harvard Business School (George W. Bush), and still be seen as an "average guy," while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then Harvard Law, makes you "uppity" and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks.

White privilege is being able to say that you hate "gooks" and "will always hate them," and yet, you aren't a racist because, ya know, you were a POW, so you're entitled to your hatred, while being black and noting that black anger about racism is understandable, given the history of your country, makes you a dangerous bigot.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the "lesser adversities" faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech.
I hope you will want to take the time to mull over the examples I have cited and follow the link on “article” above and read the rest of them, as well as his follow up article. I believe he puts his finger on the heart of what this presidential election is all about. Or, as Tim says at the end of his list,
White privilege is, in short, the problem.
I believe that the election in November will be a defining moment in the history of this country. It will either be a sign that as a nation we are beginning to overcome our history of racism; or it will be a sign that we have yet to come to terms with the meaning of “white privilege.” The former will be a sign of hope, for our own people and the rest of the world; the latter an announcement to the non-white world that we continue to view the world through race-colored glasses and will most likely act accordingly. In our day that is a message we can ill-afford to send.
That’s how I see it. What about you?
- Milo

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Alaska Notwithstanding Global Warming Accelerates

[Updated Monday, Sept. 15: See end of post]
If you were in Anchorage this summer I hope you enjoyed both days of it. Those were the only days that the National Weather Service said the temperature reached 70 degrees.
"With only two days above 70 degrees this year, that sets a new record for the fewest days to reach 70,'' the weather-watching agency reported Friday.

Add to the lack of heat and sunshine what the agency calls "an astonishing 77%" of days colder than normal, and you get the picture.

This summer was every bit as bad as you thought it was.

Gardens didn't grow. Salmon returned late. Bees didn't make honey. Swallows didn't breed.
One of those in Anchorage who commented on the story couldn’t be blamed for asking “Does anybody know the whereabouts of Al Gore?”

Alas, a day later the Anchorage Daily News also
how an ice shelf almost the size of Manhattan had broken away from Ellesmere Island in Canada’s northern Arctic indicating how warmer temperatures are shaping the Arctic frontier.
Derek Mueller, an Arctic ice shelf specialist at Trent University in Ontario, said the 4,500-year-old Markham Ice Shelf separated in early August and the 19-square-mile shelf is now adrift in the Arctic Ocean.

"The Markham Ice Shelf was a big surprise because it suddenly disappeared. We went under cloud for a bit during our research and when the weather cleared up, all of a sudden there was no more ice shelf. It was a shocking event that underscores the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic," said Mueller.

This comes on the heels of unusual cracks in a northern Greenland glacier, rapid melting of a southern Greenland glacier, and a near record loss for Arctic sea ice this summer. And earlier this year a 160-square mile chunk of an Antarctic ice shelf disintegrated.

Martin Jeffries of the U.S. National Science Foundation and University of Alaska Fairbanks said in a statement that the summer's ice shelf loss is equivalent to over three times the area of Manhattan, totaling 82 square miles -- losses that have reduced Arctic Ocean ice cover to its second-biggest retreat since satellite measurements began 30 years ago.

"These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present," said Mueller.

During the last century, when ice shelves would break off, thick sea ice would eventually reform in their place.

"But today, warmer temperatures and a changing climate mean there's no hope for regrowth. A scary scenario," said Mueller.
According to Warwick Vincent, director of Laval University’s Centre for Northern Studies and a researcher in the program ArcticNet, the loss of these ice shelves means that rare ecosystems that depend on them are on the brink of extinction.

While the focus of much of the world was on the Beijing Olympics, the Democratic and then the Republican conventions, William Faulk, editor of The Week magazine was looking at some important stories that were being overlooked. One was what he called “Going with the Floes”. Putting this important story in stark terms, he
Last summer, warming temperatures melted more of the Arctic ice cap than at any time since measurements have been taken. This summer’s data indicate that 2007’s melt was not a one-year anomaly. With the ice still melting, the total amount of Arctic sea ice was approaching last year’s low, and polar bears, which use ice floes as platforms on which to fish and rest, were spotted swimming in the open sea. Some were headed toward the edge of the ice shelf, 400 miles away — far beyond their endurance.

In as little as five years, said a NASA scientist, Jay Zwally, the North Pole in summer will be ice-free. “Climate warming is also coming larger and faster than the models are predicting,” Dr. Zwally said. “Nobody’s really taken into account that change yet.”
I don’t know how the coldest summer on record in Anchorage relates to the summer’s warming in the Arctic, or for that matter how the hottest summer on record in Taipei, Taiwan fits into the picture. But in some great atmospheric science scheme I imagine they do.

While “change” has become the rallying cry of both campaigns for the U.S. presidency, I hope we are ready to deal with the change that is occurring in the Polar Regions at a faster rate than anyone imagined possible. Sooner than we think, like the polar bears swimming toward an ice shelf four hundred miles away, we may find ourselves reaching for solutions beyond our endurance.
- Milo
From "FundaMental Transformation" comes this explanation:
What's melting the ice -
- is not the air in Alaska, it's the warmer water that the ice is sitting in - The ice's foundations. It could be that because the warmer water has put greater levels of humidity into the air in Alaska that therefore has produced more precipitation, storms and cooler whether.

The reason the scientists are finding themselves shocked by the 'reality' overshooting the 'expectations' is that they failed to consider feedback loops that had not been fully evidenced at the time the models were made.

Ok, I know I get wordy in these explanations, but this is something I learned all the way back in '05. Here's an example of a feedback loop that appeared and hastened the collapse of an eco-system.
There was a forest in Germany whose trees began dying at a shockingly rapid rate. There were no signs of disease and parasites. So, they hired scientists to discover what was killing off the trees.
This is gonna sound wild, but remember "secret life of plants".

What the scientists in that German forest found was that the trees were sending 'suicide' signals. The trees somehow experienced danger or a threat - believed to be due to the imbalance of proper oxygen/CO2 levels - for such an extended period, that rather than wither and die slowly, they were giving up their lives to alter the system they sensed would destroy them anyway. Kamakazi trees.

Anyway, they were able to determine that there was a chemical feedback loop going on with the trees communicating, whereby the process of destruction was hastened. If someone says: What there can't be a chemical feedback loop! Think of how you speed up ripening fruit by putting it in a sealed container. That's kinda what's going on. It's own gases hastening it's demise.
I know, trees - ice, WTF? I say this to give an example of a feedback loop. Which is what I believe is the reason the warming is happening faster than originally expected. The problem is, how do you predict something like that before there are any signs?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Friends' Concerns about Sarah Palin

The first comes from a friend with many years in Alaska:

The following links are available to you to explore. There's a good explanation of the difference between intratextual religious fundamentalist systems and intertextual religious communities.

When I saw the signs "Palin Power" and "Country First" at the Republican convention, the grand old flag suddenly (metaphorically) became a red one. Every single totalitarian government on the face of the earth has monopolized the mind of it's constituents by demanding unilateral commitment to a country or a personality. What happened to the once conservative Christian values of "God first, family, and community service?"

The first web site is a book review, which will give you some clear distinction between fundamentalist religious systems and non fundamentalist religious groups. It also addresses the relationship between fundamentalist religious systems and terrorism. It is a summary of some very good reading material.

The second web site is an insightful article written in 2005 by a professor at Ohio State University, Walter A. Davis. This article addresses the following: Four basic beliefs as fundamental to Christian fundamentalism. (1) Inerrancy or biblical literalism, the belief that every word of the Bible is to be taken literally as the word of God; (2) conversion or the experience of being reborn in Christ; (3) evangelicalism or the duty of the saved to spread the gospel; and (4) Apocalypticism or Endism, the belief that The Book of Revelations describes the events that must come to pass for God's plan to be fulfilled. An example of apocalyptic fundamentalism would be, "In the end times, folks are going to flock to Alaska to be saved and raptured." Those who read the Davis article may not agree with everything the author asserts. Yet, there are worthwhile insights into how the fundamentalist mind can become a psychological dysfunction that adversely infects and sabotages the web of psycho-social relationships.

Every mainline denomination in American Christianity is struggling right now with ideology of both the far right and far left. There are many of us that fall somewhere in between and we are not happy with the extreme and single issue domination. Right now, I believe that a great gift to the whole of America would be for individuals to educate themselves regarding the fundamentalist mind so as not to hate or resent but to say, "No thank you, now let's move on with some serious attention to these complex issues. Let us reach some intelligent resolve that doesn't put all children of the globe at serious risk." Let mainstream Christians who see don't see themselves in any extreme begin to speak out with questions in strength and confidence.

The second comes from Art McEldowney with many years in government service:

Boy Scouts know it, Girl Scouts know it and members of the military know that to wear the flag of the United States of America as an article of clothing is to show disrespect and contempt for that flag. Until struck down by the U.S. Supreme court there were laws against such activity and the Congress of the United States continues work toward re-establishing flag desecration laws.

Apparently some of the people running for the highest office in the land care less about the flag, one of the most recognized symbols of U.S. unity, than they do about what they believed would be a cute political stunt.

Sarah Palin’s wearing of the U.S. flag in a full page picture in a major news magazine (Newsweek, September 15, 2008, p. 29) published around the world for all to see is flag desecration. If wearing of the flag was done out of ignorance, then a widely published apology is due the people of the United States. If wearing of the flag was indeed to show disrespect, voters will need to decide how best to deal with that disrespect at polling time.

See United States of America Flag Code, section 8 for reference.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mistaking Victory for Justice

That the king can do no wrong is a necessary and fundamental principle of the English constitution. -Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1765

No living Homo sapiens is above the law. (Notwithstanding our good friends and legal ancestors across the water, this is a fact that requires no citation.) -Vincent Bugliosi, 2008

The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched." –Supreme Justice Robert H. Jackson at Nuremburg, 1945

What will it mean to end the war in Iraq “responsibly” as Obama promises he will do? “Responsibly” does not mean the same thing McCain means by “victory.” “Victory is coming,”
said four-star General James Mattis speaking in our community this past week:

“The mission in Iraq will be complete when security can be turned over to local police, as has recently happened in Anbar province… We now have a victory coming in Iraq. We’re still a long ways away, but victory is coming.”
That eventuality—placing security completely put in the hands of Iraqis and claiming victory—neither justifies the invasion nor constitutes a responsible ending. Justice cries out to get our troops out of Iraq as soon as logistically possible, and bringing to account those who got us there under false pretenses. The American populace will be tempted to allow the smell of “victory,” however defined, to sweeten the stench of a criminal invasion.

But there are some determined that shall not happen.

I hope that at some time in the near future a courageous U.S. attorney general, U.S. attorney, state attorney general, or district attorney in America who is committed to the rule of law and who has dedicated his career to enforcing the law fairly against all who, big or small, violate it, will hear the cries for justice from the graves of the thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children who had their lives violently cut short because of the lies of a man who smiled through it all. And that, with a sense of uncompromising righteousness, he will take the ample case I have laid out in this book before an American jury to let them decide whether George W. Bush is guilty or not guilty of murder, and if so, what his punishment should be.

Even if this doesn’t happen and what I have said in this book receives all the attention of a new fly in the forest, I do know that someone had to say what is written on the pages of this book.
Vincent Bugliosi wrote these words in the closing paragraph of Part Two of his indictment, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, published May 26, 2008.

If President Bush intentionally misled the American people to justify the invasion of Iraq, does that mean that he is liable for criminal prosecution for murder?

I understand that you may not want to think about this subject right now. You are probably right to assume that if Obama made an issue of it, it would be a recipe for his defeat in November. Besides, Bugliosi is some sort of sensation-seeking nut, right?

Not exactly! Bugliosi has been successful in two fields, one as an author and as a lawyer. In his career at the L.A. County District Attorney’s office, he successfully prosecuted 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, including 21 murder convictions without a single loss. His most famous trial was the Charles Manson case. His excellence as a trial lawyer is
attested to by his peers:

“Bugliosi is as good a prosecutor as there ever was,” Alan Dershowitz says. F. Lee Bailey calls Bugliosi “the quintessential prosecutor.” “There is only one Vince Bugliosi. He’s the best,” says Robert Tanenbaum, for years the top homicide prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.’s office.
As a best-selling true crime author, his classic was the story of the prosecution of the Charles Manson case, Helter Skelter, the biggest selling true crime book in publishing history. His Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, is probably the most extensive debunking of conspiracy theories about the assassination likely to be written.

No, Bugliosi can’t be dismissed as a quack. How, then, can his newest work be so completely ignored by the mainstream media? Well, the subject may have something to do with it; the book is the basis for an indictment of George W. Bush for murder. Bugliosi
argues that impeachment does not fit the magnitude of his crime:

If we impeach presidents for that (what Clinton did), then if the president takes the country to war on a lie where thousands of American soldiers die horrible, violent deaths and over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, including women and children, even babies are killed, the punishment obviously has to be much, much more severe. That's just common sense. If Bush were impeached, convicted in the Senate, and removed from office, he'd still be a free man, still be able to wake up in the morning with his cup of coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice and read the morning paper, still travel widely and lead a life of privilege, still belong to his country club and get standing ovations whenever he chose to speak to the Republican faithful. This, for being responsible for over 100,000 horrible deaths? For anyone interested in true justice, impeachment alone would be a joke for what Bush did.
There is no doubt that the book has been ignored. In a New York Times article Tim Arango writes that there has been

…nary a peep from the usual outlets that help sell books: cable television and book reviews in major daily newspapers.
And he proceeds to chronicle the blackout, network by network and media outlet by media outlet. When asked by Arango what he thought about it, Bugliosi responded,

“They are not responding at all,” he said. “I think it all goes back to fear. If the liberal media would put me on national television, I think they’d fear that they would be savaged by the right wing. The left wing fears the right, but the right does not fear the left.”
Being ignored by the mainstream media not withstanding, the book has sold 130,000 copies and is climbing the NYT best-seller list. Newsweek’s editor, Jon Meacham, acknowledged that the Internet community might have something to do with it.

“If it’s selling well,” Mr. Meacham said, “it’s another sign that the traditional channels of commerce have been blown up. If a dedicated part of the Internet community wants to move something, it doesn’t need a benediction from the mainstream media and might benefit from not having one.”
Bugliosi wonders if his plea will be ignored as “a new fly in the forest.” Thanks to the Internet community his book is getting out. Next weekend Bugliosi’s case will be getting out in another way. On September 13 and 14 the “Justice Robert Jackson Conference to Plan the Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals” will convene in Andover, Massachusetts.

Lawrence R. Velvel, Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law and Convener said the Conference’s purpose is

“to hold high U.S. officials accountable in courts of law and, if guilt is found, to obtain appropriate punishments. Otherwise, the future will be threatened by additional examples of Executive lawlessness by leaders who need fear no personal consequences” for their actions, leading to “the possibility of more Viet Nams, more Iraqs, and more repression.”
The issues to be addressed, Velvel said, include:

# What international and domestic crimes were committed, which facts show crimes under which laws, and what punishments are possible.

# Which high level Executive officials — and Federal judges and legislators as well, if any — are chargeable with crimes.

# Which international tribunals, foreign tribunals and domestic tribunals (if any) can be used and how to begin cases and/or obtain prosecutions before them.

# The possibility of establishing a Chief Prosecutor’s Office such as the one at Nuremburg.

# An examination of cases already brought and their outcomes.

# Creating an umbrella Coordinating Committee with representatives from the increasing number of organizations involved in war crimes cases.

# Creating a Center to keep track of and organize compilations of relevant briefs, articles, books, opinions, and facts, etc., on war crimes and prosecutions of war criminals.
Scheduled to address the Conference include:

# Famed former Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, author of the best-selling “The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder”(Vanguard).

# Phillippe Sands, Professor of Law and Director of the Centre of International Courts and Tribunals at University College, London. He is the author of Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values (Penguin/Palgrave Macmillan), among other works.

# Jordan Paust, Professor of Law at the University of Houston and author of Beyond The Law.

# Ann Wright, a former U.S. Army colonel and U.S. Foreign Service official who holds a State Department Award for Heroism and who taught the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare at the Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg, N.C. She is the coauthor of Dissent: Voices of Conscience.

# Peter Weiss, Vice President of the Center For Constitutional Rights, which was recently involved with war crimes complaints filed in Germany and France against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others.

# Benjamin Davis, Associate Professor at the University of Toledo College of Law and former American Legal Counsel for the Secretariat of the International Court of Arbitration.

# David Lindorff, journalist and co-author with Barbara Olshansky of The Case for Impeachment: Legal Arguments for Removing President George W. Bush from Office(St. Martin ’s Press).

# Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, responsible for drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, and the U.S. implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

# Lawrence Velvel, a leader in the field of law school education reform, has written numerous internet articles on issues relevant to the conference.

One of the hopeful things about this Conference is that it is a “planning conference,"

one at which plans will be laid, and necessary organizational structures will be set up, to seek prosecutions to determine guilt and, if guilt is found, appropriate punishments.”
I hope the Internet community will be present at the Conference and reporting. I don’t expect any more coverage of this event by the mainstream media than of Bugliosi’s book.

I don’t know what will come from this Conference or from Bugliosi’s work, but I believe they are defining what justice requires to end the war “responsibly. “ At this moment in history they are the conscience of our nation’s ideals, at a time when the citizenry and its leaders are wont to mistake victory for justice.

- Milo

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Four More Years of Big Oil?

With Alaska Governor Sarah Palin added to the Republican ticket one may justifiably assume that there will be more pressure to drill for oil in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) despite the fact that oil companies are already sitting on 68 million acres of leases that they aren’t even drilling. The graphic at the top of the page is based on 2008 data from the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service and Bureau of Land Management records.

Art McEldowney sent me the map with this note:
It is hard for me to understand how the entire U.S. energy future is tied specifically to drilling in ANWR. Does that mean that sufficient amounts of oil do not exist in the areas depicted by the colored portions of the attached maps, including those immediately adjacent to ANWR? Is there a political reason or some other ulterior motive to drill in ANWR?
These are questions that should be addressed to John Drill-here-and-now McCain and Sarah Palin. In her just completed acceptance speech in Minneapolis she
said that Americans need to produce more oil and gas.
And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: we've got lots of both.
I can understand why Palin makes that statement; eighty percent of Alaska’s state government revenues come from just one source, oil. If you are governor of Alaska being pro-oil is a given, and she is. Because she wants nothing to stand in the way of those revenues she has attempted to discredit the science of global warming and the listing of the
polar bear on the endangered species list.

In only a slightly tongue in cheek piece titled, “
Red State,” Leighton Wood captures the oil ethos in which Palin governs:
When pundits refer to Alaska as the 'reddest of red states,' they could as easily be referring to its oligopolistic resource extraction-based economy and its redistributionist state taxation regime as to its electoral tendencies. Eighty percent of Alaska's state government revenues come from just one source, oil. That's just ten percent less than in Saudi Arabia and thirty percent more than in Venezuela. Because of this enormous oil wealth, Alaskans don't pay state-levied income or sales taxes, and have the lowest tax obligations in the country. In fact, Alaska residents are paid out directly from the industry, in the form of annual checks of up to $2,000 from the oil industry-financed "Alaska Permanent Fund."

… it's instructive to bear in mind, as conservative Republicans laud her record as governor, that much of Alaska's social welfare is based on what amounts to a socialist principle of taxing big corporations for their use of publicly owned resources and returning a portion of those profits back to regular working people trying to pay their heating bills. That Palin has been a champion of that principle is a fact that her Weekly Standard cheerleaders might just as soon forget, and that she, no doubt, will also forget as soon as she steps into the White House -- should she ever be so lucky.
A few years ago when I was leaving Alaska, my friends gave me a gift they knew I would appreciate: a
print of a Sandy Jamieson’s painting, which hangs here in my study. Jamieson lives in Ester just outside Fairbanks and understands the economy and culture well.

We’ve had eight years of Big Oil with Bush and Cheney. Can we afford another four of Big Oil with McCain and Palin?

- Milo