August 29th, 2010

The cookies (republished)

Note: I decided to re-post this entry, see below why.

After a bit of (non-extensive) internal discussion, we decided to remove all tracking code from the nest. This is one of the reasons the Media Matters widget has disappeared. *)

We try to keep this site clean (as in, “non evil) so we got rid of that. Now you WILL receive a few cookies when you decide to log in, but that of course is not mandatory. As an advise, at least tell Firefox to broom out your cookies after it closes (under Preferences, Privacy, Use custom settings for History.

Added 08/29: CityKid dropped me a private comment about flash cookies that left me a bit “huh? what’s that?”. Until I checked out, yes only today, what he was talking about. I urge all readers to understand what it is here and here, then, if you haven’t done already, switch to FireFox, and install this plugin. I was completely shocked (but not suprised) there is a very active “parallel cookie universe”, that is handled NOT by the browser and it’s setting at all, but by our dear, most used, evil, plugin Flash. All the more reason to dump it. With HTML5 coming around fast now, we don’t need flash anymore.

Added 09/18: Put MediaMatters back, checking things out a bit.

*) We think Media Matters are good guys. Here is a link to them.

August 25th, 2010

The death penalty

In Europe, only Belarus still has the death penalty.

In Switzerland, capital punishment was abandoned in 1942. Before that, the method of execution was the guillotine, and before 1867 decapitated with the sword. In line with the “new firmness” or “refreshing shift to the right” as the proponents call it, a group of people in Switzerland is now allowed to start campaining for 100.000 signatures, which again is needed to start a referendum for re-introduction of the death penalty; a lot of legislation in Switzerland is made using the referendum proces.

I have written quite often about this theme here, so I won’t do that again. My personal opinion is that it is not a sign of sophistication. Oh well.

Added 08/28: So it seems a hot item again. In Japan the current Justice minister is fighting an uphill battle against a 86% majority in favor of retaining the ‘unavoidable’ death penalty. And an interesting strategy she choose: inform, show.

Japan, along with the U.S., is one of only two Group of Eight rich countries that retain capital punishment. It currently has 107 inmates on death row.

There are 107 people on death row.

Seven people were executed in 2009.

Inmates are kept in solitary confinement in seven detention centres.

Death row inmates are notified on the morning of the execution day, usually about an hour before the execution.

Execution is by hanging. Medical experts have said that a person who is hanged immediately loses consciousness and their heart stops in about 15 minutes.

While the law says an execution must take place within six months after the sentence is finalised by the court system, in practice it usually takes several years.

August 24th, 2010

A trend in the US – and maybe elsewhere?

Seems to me the anti-corporate Left/Right thing might be catching on. Of course there are many, important, wedge issues in the way – but it’s hard to argue that clipping the ears of the big corporate defense contractors (and food producers) and their paid sponsors in Congress and in The White House is probably one of the most critical issues we face.

WSJ 2010 August 19:

“Where Left and Right Converge;
Anticorporatist views are becoming more and more common.”

RALPH NADER

Earlier this year, Barney Frank and Ron Paul convened the Sustainable Defense Task Force, consisting of experts “spanning the ideological spectrum.” They recommended a 10-year, $1 trillion reduction in Pentagon spending that disturbed some in the military-industrial complex.

Other members of Congress were surprised by this improbable combination of lawmakers taking on such a taboo subject. But the spiral of bloated, wasteful military expenditures documented by newspapers has reached the point where opposites on the political-ideological spectrum were willing to make common cause.

A convergence of liberal-progressives with conservative-libertarians centering on the autocratic, corporate-dominated nature of our government may be growing. To be sure, there are obstacles to a synthesis of anticorporatist views becoming a political movement.

One is over-concern with labels and abstractions by both political factions. Yet once they take up the daily injustices—credit-card ripoffs, unsafe drugs and contaminated food—affecting people everywhere, common ground can be found. Another obstacle is that the concentrated power of big money and lobbies have so overtaken both political parties and controlled the parameters of political conversation that progressives and libertarians fail to recognize their similar, deep aversions to concentrated power of any kind. Finally, the anticorporatists in both camps are reluctant to collaborate in principled action because they have battled over issues for so long where they do not agree.

Yet this reluctance may be fading as abuses of corporate power, especially when supplemented by state power, become more plain to all. The multitrillion dollar bailout of an avariciously reckless Wall Street rammed through Washington, without any input from an angry public, epitomized shared outrage.

This perceived feeling of being excluded, disrespected and then taxed for the crimes and abuses of big business has been building for years. The loss of both sovereignty and jobs have produced a lasting resentment toward the antidemocratic North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and unpatriotic U.S. corporations that hollow out communities as they shift industries to China and other repressive regimes.

I have received earfuls on these matters during my three nationwide presidential campaigns from both workers and taxpayers who call themselves conservatives or progressives. The Main Street versus Wall Street figures of speech bespeak a deep sense of loss of control over just about everything that matters to people’s lives. In their daily discourse they know that big government beats to the drums of big business or, to use the elegant words of conservative philosopher Russell Kirk, “a host of squalid oligarchs.”

Because corporatists falsely assume the mantle of conservatism, they keep agendas that the left and right would agree on—such as cracking down on corporate crime, fraud and abuse against consumers, taxpayers and investors—from being heard and talked about and acted upon. The issues that don’t get nearly the attention they deserve include opposition to the arbitrary erosion of privacy by the Patriot Act and to the daily collection and storage of personal consumer information in corporate databases; resistance to tax-funded sports stadiums, the Federal Reserve’s out-of-control powers, unconstitutional wars and monopolistic practices against small business, and to the swarm of corporate welfare subsidies, tax havens, handouts, giveaways and bailouts.

Corporate abuse is recognized by elements in our society that might surprise you. Some years ago, at a sizable gathering of evangelical Christians, I denounced the rampant direct marketing to children of junk food and violent programming, undermining parental authority and furthering childhood obesity and mental coarseness. As people of faith, as parents and citizens, the audience responded enthusiastically.

No matter how often corporatists call themselves conservatives, the two hail from very different moral, historical and intellectual antecedents.

The powerful nuclear power industry discovered this difference in 1983, when a tight coalition of conservative, environmental and taxpayer groups defeated the deficit-ridden Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Tennessee. More recently, in 2008, demands coming from both the left and right that Congress ban genetic discrimination by health insurers overcame the corporatist lobby.

In several polls, including ones by Businessweek and Gallup, a sizable majority of Americans say that corporations have too much control over their lives, that both major parties are failing and that America is going in the wrong direction.

Once this slowly awakening giant of American reform shucks off the corporatists who divide, distort and deny many common identities, a dynamic civic force for freedom, fairness and prosperity will define and advance its own political and electoral agendas.

—–

Mr. Nader is a consumer advocate and the author of “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us” (Seven Stories Press, 2009).

August 17th, 2010

The distribution of media

Yes I know. This is getting old, but again a real life story on how even new distributors or missing the boat, or are forced to miss the boat.

A true story: A few days ago, a US based friend needed a specific soundtrack for a project. As it was needed now, downloading was the only option. She found three sources: amazon.de (the German variant), amazon.co.uk, and a site called legalsounds.com. Both amazon sites refused “due to geographic restrictions”. The legalsounds sounded fishy to her, so she asked me if I could maybe find it. I tried to purchase it too. I am not in Germany, nor the in the UK, and not suprizingly, I got the same refusals. Legalsounds was pay first try later and a simple whois showed the site was registered in Russia and the company based in Canada. Err, maybe not eh?

So, what to do? I found a torrent and had the entire album in under 25 minutes, no hassle (by the way, using Transmission, standard application on the Ubuntu install). Dropped the files to her and be done.

Now, before throwing theft accusations: the project is both professional and rather public, and license fees for the usage of the music will be payed. What I am trying to get across is: people willing to pay for a product, in this case a digital product), are being put off actually purchasing it, only to find it in no time for free. How that can be a smart business model is truly beyond me. And even if that had not been the case, only one willing friend in either Germany or the UK would have been the only thing needed.

ps: Same, but different: I want to have a Sony eReader PRS-600. Two clicks on (mark you) Sony’s website shows it does $ 169.99 in the US. The largest online book retailer in Europe now has a spectacular rebated price of Euro 249, roughly $320. Now guess where this eReader will be purchased? And mind you, local content for these devices here is roughly….. zero. English out-of-copyright content is fantastic though, i.e. http://www.feedbooks.com/

I just don’t get how business people make these kinds of decisions.

August 10th, 2010

The former senator, dead?

I know fox, but? Ted Stevens dead?

August 9th, 2010

The OS, again

This is a tech rant, but I expect to be working towards a happy ending.

Background. I tried to switch to Ubuntu earlier, but hey, I am getting a bit rusty, and there was never time and old habits die hard, etc etc. A few months ago, I got myself a new laptop, a dead cheap, but pretty nice Dell Inspiron 1750. I came from an old Inspiron 6400 with XP on it (managed to Dodge Vista, high five!). This friend came with Windows 7 pre installed. Now, I know a lot of people will not agree with me, notably the ones who DID use vista, as well as system administrators, but….. I hated it. From day one I hated it. I won’t go into much detail, but it was crap. Can’t find what I need, interferes with sound settings, craps up the software I earn my living with big time, etcetera. But I was in the middle of a project, so I suffered through.

Today, something snapped. Again, the details are unimportant, it was not ALL Microsofts fault, but hey, enough is enough. So, I bit the bullet, and now seriously.

  • Installed Ubuntu 10
  • Installed VirtualBox
  • Installed XP in VirtualBox (yes, all the way from my original ‘SP-0′ CD through all it’s updates till present time). For those who want to probe the water: VirtualBox can be run on a Windows host too.
  • Moved everything that was NOT OS dependant to my new Linux partition, including all my office files (I have been using OpenOffice.org for a long time, so that was a no-brainer, My truecrypt container (oh-yeah!), 4o+ GB of music, etc etc.
  • Installed Skype (too bad the Linux version is far behind)

I have a long way to go. Bear with me. It’s time for a change my friends. I’ll keep you posted.

Addition Aug 10 (I am taking this slowly, still dual boot).

  • Got my IBM Notes environment up in the XP Virtual machine. Was an unrelated issue. This means I can now do my WORK in this environment. Check!
  • Speaking of VirtualBox: I am really impressed. As Ubuntu cordially mounted my NTFS drive automatically, giving me access to all my “Windows” data native, I can bring up ANY folder, so that includes both that NTFS as well as the linux filesystem in a share in the virtual machine. I am really doing a soft-over, as all my data is in ONE place still. Check!
  • Printer: This may sound trivial, but it’s not. First of all, printing is never trivial, and second, my printer is a HP3600, which is a “host based rendering” printer. I did not expect a good driver for this but I was wrong. Out of the box btw. Whoa. Note that this printer does not work properly under Windows 7 and HP is giving everybody the finger. Check!
  • Goodbye, my friend Notepad++, hello gedit (included). Check!
  • GIMP (photo editing): Check!

Addition Aug 12

  • Citrix client, after some issues with not having the proper root certificate (Firefox’s root store anyone?): Check!
  • Blackberry desktop manager: ugh that has to go to the virtual XP machine (and right now, it is giving me a huge pain!). Note: well, over bluetooth it works, but I cannot manage applications. Seems to be related to USB handling change from Ubunto 9 to 10. Known issue.

Addition Aug 13

  • Winscp (a must if you need to securely connect to non-Windows host): Simply not needed! Ubuntu’s file manager connects as easily to Windows hosts as well as FTP, SSH, and a plethora of other protocols through Places > Connect to Server. Check!
  • PdfCreator: Not needed. A PDF printer is standard available (as is a pdf viewer). Check!

Addition Aug 14

  • JetAudio (I mean come on, Windows Media player never did it for me ever!): again, not needed. Ubuntu’s included Totem Movie Player does everything I need. Check!
  • eReader: I switched to the ePUB plugin for Firefox. Not the best reader in town, but works for me and platform-independent. Check!
  • Oh and speaking of eReader, I also installed Calibre, as I want everything I ever download in unencrypted EPUB format. Note: small addition here: I like Calibre’s reader better than the Firefox plugin actually.

INTERMEDIATE CONCLUSION

I have done this conversion so far without a lot of pain. I was seriously worried about needing to dive too deep into technicalities. So far nothing has been a real show stopper. I currently only use the windows emulation for the Notes environment and the Blackberry desktop. My data is still in NTFS and I will probably keep it that way for a few months, as to not burn my ships, just in case (yes, I am a wimp).

I am truly surprised how much functional software is already either installed or can be installed with literally 2 mouse click from Applications >> Ubuntu Software Center. No downloading msi’s and installers, no heading out to Java, Adobe, ectetera. This all saved me tons of hours that I am used to spend doing a clean windows install. Again, this is totally against my expectations.

One thing though that has eased this move tremendously, apart from the insane work of the Open Source community, is that I switched to Firefox (from IE) and OpenOffice.org (from Office) years ago. I urge everybody who is contemplating of leaving windows to start with that.

Addition Aug 17

  • Audacity (audio editor, which I already used under Windows): Check! Again, since I already used Open Source software for this, instead of, say the Adobe flavor, I could switch to Ubuntu without literally any change. Same user interface, same program, same everything and installing was literally 2 mouse clicks, the string Audacity, one mouse click.
  • Miro (on demand TV for free channels, as I cannot think of a better way to describe): See Audacity: Check!

Addition Aug 18

  • Eclipse (programming): Check!
  • And for the great fun of it: Stellarium, your private nightsky emulator. Really cool: Check!

Conclusions

I am going to wrap up this post. It looks like I am on Ubuntu to stay. I feel more at ease than in Windows 7, and so far I have not ran into total show stoppers. If this is a route you like to follow without deep technical involvement, I would advice to take exactly the approach I took, and in this sequence:

  1. Be very conscious on what applications you use. This really step one and you should start doing that months before taking the dive. The open source community is a good starting point, as most OSS is written for multiple platforms. This takes the edge out of switching operating systems. Examples above. Of course you can skip in the build-ins.
  2. Do a side-by-side installation of Ubuntu. This will give the ease of mind of being able to “go back”. Even if you won’t (you won’t) :)
  3. Leave your data for a while on the Windows partition. Ubuntu supports NTFS out of the box, and Windows surely does NOT supports ext4 out of the box! Again, this might not be the most efficient way of running your system, but it supports the ease-of-mind.
  4. Install VirtualBox to run your die-hard Windows programs.

In the spirit of Open Source Software I herewith offer to help TWO people make the same transition, on the sole condition that they too, will make the same offer to others.

August 7th, 2010

The faith of comrades in the liberal revolution

This is a shameless, rough translation from a newspaper article. I thought it might be nice to see some “other perspectives”, if I may be so patronising.

Edit: See Citykid’s comment: “Liberal” here in Europe usually means “laisez faire”, free market thinkers, right-end of the political-economical spectrum. I realize again in the US it is far more connected to a leftish, or as we would call it “social-democrat” way of thinking. . Please read the following with the European setting in mind. If you like, replace neoliberal with neocon, but I am not sure that would be entirely fair, as we’re not talking  about the con men we usually attach to that word :-O

Added Aug 18th: My friend V. actually bought me this book, so soon enough I’ll read it all.

Neoliberalism presents themselves as a matter of course. It is the system that occurs when the government let things run their course, the natural situation. The average neoliberal sees himself as a realist. The dreamers are the others. He cherishes no illusions, he knows that man is in essence just let unrelenting self-serving.

In his recent book “The utopia of the free market” the philosopher Achterhuis  makes it convincingly clear that this is a fallacy. Neo-liberalism, like communism, is an utopia: a doctrine based on a schematic and highly idealized worldview.

Achterhuis, who since the seventies with some regularity tore down established opinions is hardly slowing sown since since his retirement in 2007. Less than two years after his last book, full of criticism of fallacies in leftist intellectuals thinking, there is another new book.

In “The utopia of the free market”, he again demonstrates an unprecedented eagerness. He sucks in everything from newspapers to books and makes no distinction between the great philosopher Michel Foucault and Times reporter Peter de Waard. Both make him think and so both are mentioned in his book. Achterhuis is not afraid to look at is own thinking in a critical way.

This time he takes the blame on himself that it took so long before he saw that neoliberalism was an utopia. “What I knew very well theoretically, but in practice di not realize was that every ideology presents itself as an inevitable and natural view of reality. Thus it remains largely invisible. It is the glasses that almost everyone wears. ”

Neo-liberalism, like communism, is a creation, emerged from a group of fanatical believers who – like Lenin and his faithful – succeeded in spreading their vision over a large part of the world. It lifted one of the many instruments of social organization, the market, to a sacred principle.

The main ideologue of neoliberalism is a woman according to Achterhuis: Ayn Rand (1905-1982). She is born in 1905 in St. Petersburg named Alissa Rosenbaum. The October Revolution, twelve years later, brings the Rosenbaum family to beggary. The family members wander for years through Russia and Alissa learns to hate communism and socialism. In 1926 she was given the chance to travel to the United States and she would never come back.

In the United States, she creates a unique philosophy: Objectivism and she wrote a book, Atlas Shrugged, in which she describes her favorite society. In Europe, the book never reached a large public, but in the United States it is considered by many the most important book after the Bible.

In Rand’s utopia it is the individual first. The collective, the idea that you help each other, has been eradicated. Charity does not exist. The Robin Hood in the story, Ragnar Danneskjöld, robs Government ships to give the money back to the exploited super-capitalists. And workers self control is seen as no less than a crime against humanity. “Remember this – remember it well – it is not often that you’re face to face with undiluted evil.”

Also sexually, anyone in Atlantis can follow just their own interest. The main character has passionate affairs with three male protagonists. While making love, no shared, collective interests may be pursued. Sex is there for personal pleasure and certainly not because you want to express the love for one another. “Her sex scenes often come across as semi-rape” writes Achterhuis.

Rand brings her sexual ideal in practice. She has an 18 years long affair with Nathaniel Branden, a psychologist who, according to the doctrine of Objectivism, is to be considered a superman. If he decides to exchange Rand for a much younger sample, the great philosopher is less rational than could be expected from “Atlas Shrugged”. Branden is expelled from the group and a smear campaign is started.

If the Rand was the Karl Marx of neoliberalism , Alan Greenspan was Lenin. The later president of the Fed, the U.S. central bank, at the age of 26 came into contact with the close circle of Ayn Rand Objectivists and was almost immediately a believer. He also believed strongly in a “capitalism with minimal government intervention as the ideal form of social organization”.

In Alan young revolutionary sentiments rose. “I took part in the nights of passionate debates and wrote commentaries for her newsletter with the fervor of a young disciple who is attracted to a whole new set of ideas,” Greenspan writes about it himself.

His love for Rand went well. New friends were always immediately introduced to her and when Branden was excommunicated, Greenspan, in the best Soviet tradition, signed a letter in which he stated that no longer would maintain any contact with Branden.

For Rand, Greenspan is the bridge to the government in Washington. He is a key economic adviser to Republican presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. In 1987, it culminates when Reagan appointed him president of the Fed. In that capacity he can manipulate the entire world to his will. And he does. He keeps interest rates too low for 19 years, allowing the free market to flourish more than ever. Greenspan makes no attempt to rein in market forces.

In the early seventies the first country converted itself to the new faith: Chile. The consequences are disastrous at first: the economy shrinks 15 percent and unemployment rose to 20 percent.

Faced with this misery, Milton Friedman, another major neo-liberal, shows a reflex that was also often observed in communists. If economic performance was disappointing, it was not because communism was no good. No, the real reason was of course that it is not Communist enough. According to Friedman, the only solution that Chile should be more neoliberal. “The only medicine. Absolutely. There is no other. ”

The former Soviet Union is also to be converted overnight according to the new utopians. Public Properties fall into the hands of a new class of super-capitalists. Factories from one day to another are closed, many women saw no other option than to prostitute themselves. Pensions were wiped out in one blow and life expectancy is falling rapidly.

The pain is so great that even Alan Greenspan also doubts his faith – there are no social services to be created? – But he recovers quickly. “If we succeed we must break completely with the past.”

Many neo-liberals show the same perseverance and emotionless nature as Ceausescu when Romanian villages were destroyed and everyone had to live in large flats. Or, as Mao was with his Cultural Revolution, wanted the final clean-up. “Only when the downfall and destruction of the old world is complete, is it possible for them build the new economy of the utopian free-market capitalism,” writes Achterhuis.

In the Western world the the neoliberal revolution proceeds more gradual. Since the early nineties governments begin to retreat, state companies were privatized and subjected to market discipline.

The Netherlands, after Great Britain, is the greediest convert of all European countries to the New Thinking. The natural enemy of liberalism, social democracy turns itself off. In both countries the social democrats convert explicitly to the Third Way. They therefore no longer believe in a strong government, or anything collective, and believe much more good will come from the free market.

Sociakl democrat leader Wim Kok did not even notice that he is converted. He defends its own words just a ‘pragmatic’ and ‘realistic’ policy. Later, when he was commissioner at ING bank, and he agrees to a huge salary increase for the top, he not even acknowledges that as a change. Achterhuis has an explanation. “That Kok
(…) enriched himself to three times the prime ministers salary shows how far the ideological maelstrom can draw in a pronounced pragmatist. ”

The world view of the neo-liberals is as schematic as the worldview of the Communists. Both hold a limited and somewhat impoverished view of humanity. The Communists forget that the average person suffers from greedy and selfish instincts, so he’ll never sacrifice himself for a fully collective ideal. The neo-liberals forget that man also suffer from unselfish love, loyalty and compassion, and so be controlled by blind self-interest only. Both groups of revolutionaries presuppose a rationality that is alien to the average man. They do not see that there are irrational fears and desires. John Maynard Keynes, the great British economist, for example, saw this. He called them animal spirits, and because everyone is possessed with them, we need a strong government to take us – if necessary – on the right path.

Achterhuis finally draws the conclusion that neo-liberalism hasn’t done the world a lot of good. The upper and middle classes have certainly benefited – classes who saw their wealth and salaries only increase – the underclass pays the price.

He has been particularly persuaded by Marcel van Dam, who with his documentary “The Unprofitable” tried to show that large groups of Dutch are economically expelled, and by the British historian Robert Skidelsky, who compared the global economic growth in the period 1951-1980, when Keynesianism – that believes in a strong government – was the dominant economic trend to the period 1989 -2009, when neoliberalism conquered the world. In the first period, growth was 4.8 percent. After the glorious rise of the neo-liberals ran it fell to 3.2 percent. Achterhuis: “For me this was the definitive end to the utopian belief that I apparently still had in the economic performance of neoliberalism.”

We have not seen a major global revolt against the system so far. But perhaps it is because the ideology is now for the first time seriously tested by the current crisis. Will the neoliberal system within collapse in a few years yet with a thunderous roar? Or will the economy recover just wonderfully with the natural resilience a neoliberal economy has according to its proponents. The verdict is not out yet.

That is no reason for Achterhuis to advocate revolution or for the old Keynesianism system to be restored. He hopes that the world slowly adjusts and that the “ideological vacuum on the left of the political spectrum” is filled. At the end of the book he attempt to do so. The key to the solution lies not in the market or the government – then there is the risk that a new utopia is chosen – but in the people. “We citizens can change more than we think.”

August 5th, 2010

Senator Begich either caves in – or sells out

The New York Times has reported (2010 August 04):

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) has said he would not vote for the Democrats’ bill without changes to the liability language and inclusion of a revenue-sharing measure. He — along with Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) — are working on so-called compromise language that would address those issues…..

The language would likely raise the initial liability cap for companies involved in a spill from $75 million to $250 million, aides said last week. If damages exceed $250 million, then a $10 billion mutual insurance fund fed by industry would kick in. And if the economic damages associated with the spill maxed out that fund, payment responsibility would return to the company responsible for the spill with no limit on liability

Well, of course the header just reflects my opinion, but after what happened in Prince William Sound and all the people that suffered as a result of Exxon’s and BP’s actions up here in Alaska, how else do you explain Senator Mark Begich arguing for, along with Senator Lisa Murkowski, a liability cap to protect oil industry corporate giants from having to pay for any damages that might result from a catastrophic failure while those corporations are pursuing profits from our natural resources? Why is Begich siding with the minority? I can’t say I’m surprised considering how much money the big oil corps “pay” our elected officials and how much they spend to try and convince us that their companies deserve special treatment and protections. How much different is this from the days when “syndicate” henchmen claimed they could persuade members Alaska’s Territorial Legislature to vote their way with a bottle of whiskey?

We’ll see what the Begich compromise looks like – but I think the liability cap should be remvoed (wasn’t that the original proposal) while demanding guarantees that unlimited claims against the companies that drill in the U.S. can be covered (insurance); then we can let the “free market” sort it out.

August 4th, 2010

Lisa Murkowski is proof we need Campaign Finance Reform

In a recent Anchorage Daily News “Alaska_Politics” post “Scott McAdams: it’s not just about Miller vs. Murkowski,” Sean Cockerham wrote:

    McAdams didn’t get into the race until June 1 and raised $9,175 between then and June 30, according to the latest campaign disclosures, leaving him with $4,533 in the bank after expenses. That compares with about $2.4 million for Murkowski and $125,000 for Miller. McAdams, though, doesn’t have a competitive primary to worry about next month.[emphasis mine]

Yes, you read that right, Lisa Murkowski currently has $2.4 million dollars to fend off her challengers. Now where do you think she got a pile of cash like that? Do you think it was given to her by the people she would like to continue representing in The U.S. Senate? Well of course it was, because most of the greenbacks at Lisa’s disposal didn’t come from Alaskans – the money was given to her by some very big corporations.

I suppose I could ask if you really think those companies that have given big bucks to Sen. Lisa Murkowski have the best interests of Alaskans in mind? But, I think the answer is obvious, there isn’t anything more I need to say.

UPDATE 01: So using the 2009 census figures for Alaska, 698,473 residents, that means that Lisa has about $36 / citizen to spend. More actually, if you narrow what she has to spend down to voters; because the census figures include children and other persons who are not eligible to vote. Amazing.

August 2nd, 2010

Link: Don Mitchell, native Alaskan’s and politics

I don’t agree with all of what Don Mitchell has to say here. But Donald Craig Mitchell has been around the block and in the thick of things up here for a long time. If you give two hoots about Alaska or the folks who can really claim to have lived here for any length of time (colonists don’t count – four generations don’t cut the mustard – sorry), Mitchell’s essay at The Mudflats is a must read.

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