Friday, June 25, 2010

Still Weathering This Summer of Our Discontent

At right:  the dusty bee wasp graveyard that is my woodstove.

Still out here folks, only occasionally breaking my news/blog fast long enough to realize that the world is still in the handbasket.  If anything, it has picked up speed.

After each foray into paying attention to the larger world, or even statewide Alaskan news, I've been convinced that it is not yet time to once again wax bitchy about things. In my defense, I offer the following linked stories that drove me straight back into willful ignorance:
Nope, not yet time. In the meanwhile, it's been all about the house and yard, Goldstream Valley fixer uppers both.   This being Squarebanks, we can get away with keeping the yard large au natural, occasionally making a mad sweep of things with the weed whacker.  It's been a successful endeavor so far -- I found a missing dog dish and a few tools that had been lost in the knee high vegetation.  I'm telling you, if we could just find a way to explore the possibilities of bird vetch as a biofuel, we could cut heating costs dramatically around here.  An invasive species, this stuff freaking thrives if left unchecked, covering everything in a mat of ... vetch.  I've long since abandoned any illusions of victory in The War on Vetch, it was already well established on my little acre when I bought the property, but I've accepted the idea of a permanent stalemate.

The bees wasps, however, are another matter.  It's been another high bee wasp year at our house, the annoyance punctuated by my discovery that they are probably nesting in the pipe of the woodstove.  Earlier in the week, while finishing up some interior painting (trim, and what a pain in the butt that is), I noticed this extremely loud buzzing sound.  Loud, as in, amplified bees wasps coming to you straight out of a large empty room.  Which they were - that loud empty space being the stove pipe.  I finally figured that out when I kneeled down and peered at the glass of the door of the stove and saw them bumping up against it.  I was too chicken to open it for a few hours and figured I'd find a one or two.  Instead, there was a veritable mass grave, hundreds of them all covered in ash at the bottom of the box.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Off Clamming, Back Later

Stunned into silence?  Astounded by the mushrooming idiocy coming from "The Right?"

Yes and yes.  Things have been dormant here for while, with Flic and I both gone to ground.  Same reasons.  As I've said in many other avenues than FBH, people have lost their g-damn minds.

And ya know what put me round the brink and off to sulk and brood and not even read Harper's Magazine fergodssakes?  It wasn't She Who Shall Not Be Named clearing millions with her Wasilla-based cottage industry shilling for a bunch of fanatical hypocrites.  It wasn't the Gulf tragedy, although that has certainly been on the mind.  It wasn't even that idiot woman walking around here with a loaded handgun in her hand (not holstered) who insisted the cops overreacted when they stopped her and oh-mah-God Obama is coming for our guns

No.   What convinced me that I needed a break from the greater world was a small occurance on the way home from work weeks ago.  Living in some of the best moose growing habitat in the world up here in Interior Alaska, one would think that folks would adjust to the idea that we have a lot of them and adjust their lives (and expectations) accordingly.  Watch out for them on the road, fence the damned garden, and enjoy taking pictures of the calves in the yard. 

So.  Weeks ago, driving back into the Goldstream Valley on Ballaine, as I crested the hill and followed the curve down I noticed a whole line of brake lights before me.  Seven or eight cars were at a complete stop on the back side of the hill, which could be a bit sketchy if you came round the curve and weren't paying attention.  I stopped, curious, and then noticed that the lead car had stopped to let a moose and her newish calf cross the road.  They were taking their time doing it.  But, ya know, no big deal -- it was maybe 20 seconds of delay on all our trips. 

They crossed, the line of cars began to move -- and the idiot in front of me slowed down as we passed the two moose, rolled down his window, and flipped them off.  I can think of no finer illustration of the self-centered, irrational rage that certain members of our society have been wallowing in since Obama got elected than that. 

Hope y'all are coping better than Flic and I.  We'll be back again -- I will after the long drive to the clamming beaches.  

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Brat Pack

It's been awhile since we here in District 7 have been plagued with the rattles of that viper Mike Kelly. Of course it's also been awhile since there has been any action here at the old basket. I have to say, in the interim of our resounding silence, we - as in we of the global world - have been on a rip- roaring ride to that nether region. With the oil Armageddon in the Gulf, the Gaza Strip crisis, the Afghanistan/Iraq mess, and a host of other human-generated calamities (environmental, political, financial, and military), we are no longer in a collective handbasket, rather we are perched on a fiery blazing rocket to Hell.

My reaction has been pretty much to hunker down, watch my chickens and tend to my dogs, garden, and bees. I have been too gobsmacked by it all to gin up commentary on anything. In fact, I might even say that I am looking at the state of the world and wondering if it is at all possible that those fundy wing-nuts might be onto something with their end-times yapping.

Alas, there is no mark of the divine here - it's simply those all too human traits of greed, stupidity and hubris finally catching us up. It will be interesting to see what survives these human times.

In the meantime here we have Mike Kelly and that blank who is our governor - Sean Parnell. I mean, how long now has he been in office? And still, there really is no public sense of the man, other than if he was Lt. Gov. to she-who-shall-not-be-named he must perforce be conservative, non-analytical, and prone to governing through the very narrow and rigid lens of his personal value system. Though he lacks the overt meanness of Kelly, I suspect Parnell is just as hypocritically judgmental and intolerant of others he considers his lessers; perhaps not so much a viper as a guinea worm.

Shoot yer m
outh first, ask questions later

So, first we have Parnell signing HB 186, the Alaska Firearms Freedom Act (oh pul-leese), sponsored by Kelly. This so-called "freedom" act exempts anyone in Alaska manufacturing guns or ammo or firearm accessories from federal regulation. No matter that there aren't any gun manufacturers in Alaska - Parnell & Kelly just want to send a message to Obama not to mess with Alaskans. After all, those durn federales are running roughshod over us: taking away guns, shoving socialism down our throats and paying our wimmin to have abortions. It's ironic hypocritical that the governor and a state representative would be so vocal about keeping the feds out of Alaska when Alaska is so much on the federal tit. In their zeal to put their boots across the throat of the Obama administration, Parnell & Kelly come across like petulant teenagers acting out against their overly-indulgent parents. The Alaskan brat pack indeed.

It's also rather pointless, since the Obama administration has done nothing to indicate our right to bear arms is threatened; quite the opposite. Under this administration, it is now legal to carry loaded firearms in national parks. Predictably, Denali Park has reported its first bear killing (probably since the days of market hunters) by a park visitor just one month into its seasonal opening. I used to spend a lot of time hiking and working in not so remote places with trail access, and my biggest fear was not of bears, but jumpy men with .45s who were uncomfortable in the back country, but were too macho to admit to the fact.

Throw that baby out with the bath water

Pointless and annoying, but the AFFA doesn't much impact our communities (except perhaps our ursine ones), unlike Parnell & Kelly's other little tantrum, which is turning out to be not so little at all. I refer to their shit-canning of the proposed increases to the Denali Kid Care program. Kelly was one of three representatives (Tammie Wilson being another - Fairbanks flops on this one) who opposed the bill, because he felt it encouraged fiscal irresponsibility (more on that in a moment).

Parnell, although supportive throughout, suddenly lost his senses and vetoed the expenditure because of his "recent realization that the program paid for abortions"(yes, Sean, 0.18 of the program funds, as it turns out - which quite likely also included counseling that helped at least some women decide against an abortion, but never mind that little factoid).

In the three or so days since this news broke, its critics have been making headlines, so there is not much new to contribute to the debate. Frankly, Parnell was doing pretty much OK with women and kids with his efforts to bring some exposure to the horrific domestic violence problem in this state, but he just zorched his karma points with this stinker.

Denali Kid Care is not Planned Parenthood; it is not a family-planning program. It's health insurance for low income children - from birth through 18, and for pregnant women that meet certain guidelines. You would think that the "Kid" in Kid Care might have been a tip-off to him that this isn't about women's health, it's about keeping kids healthy so that we have healthy adults.

Denali Kid Care is win-win for everyone: for the relatively low costs of providing health insurance to children of families who can't afford it, our society is saved the greater costs of unhealthy kids and the unhealthy adults they become. Not to mention that it is the mark of a compassionate, caring and intelligent society to help those among us who are the most unable to do so for themselves. I think even the Brat Pack might agree that those would be babies, young children and teens before they are in their majority.

Do as I say, not as I (or my family) do

But as bone-headed as Parnell's statements were (doesn't he employ fact checkers on his staff???) at least he claimed to have some moral compassing going on, even though many might not agree with the direction his compass points. Mike Kelly on the other hand is just arrogant and mean (hardly a new observation for this blog), and rarely misses an opportunity to promote his belief that if people are poor or unable to make ends meet, it must be their own damned fault. And as is often the case with these arrogant blow-hards who wear their moral superiority like a super-weighty crown, he apparently has not done a terribly great job of making sure he and his family pass the sniff test.

Case in point: here is the state representative who votes against subsidized health care insurance for low to low-middle income children because, he believes, this sort of "entitlement" will just encourage all those people to laze around on their sofas and milk the system for all its worth (which is the real subtext behind his statement that middle income families should be encouraged in "financial responsibility").

Then there is one of his family members who, a number of years ago, worked for a local minority-run organization. Not only did she run her own private business out of this organization during business hours (even using her office to meet her personal clients), but she often and loudly stated that she stayed at that job because of the health insurance. At that time this organization had a Cadillac plan: full health coverage for employee, spouse and dependents, with zero employee contributions. She also was fond of informing her co-workers that she was only staying in the job because she wanted that health insurance through her pregnancy and to help cover the costs of her delivery and maternity leave.

Not long after the baby arrived, a golden, healthy baby with all its prenatal care and delivery paid for by the insurance provided by this organization, she packed her personal business and left.

Interesting. A Kelly scion receives totally free health care for a number of years, even while apparently not quite producing the work for which she received compensation, including those yummy free health bennies. Yet Pa Kelly feels strongly that upper lower income families (the majority of whom are undoubtedly working like wage slaves to make even the barest of ends meet) should absolutely under no circumstances receive subsidized health insurance.

Quite the double standard there the Kellys fly. But then, that is what we have come to expect from the Moral Right.