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Murkowski & Begich – A Tale of Two Senators (and some guy from San Francisco)

It was a busy week last week. The giant metal gears in Washington D.C. were busy grinding up the hopes and expectations of those who voted for the President in 2008.  And then, just as suddenly, something hopeful started to happen.

Alaska’s story of the last week is one of the more interesting ones. We are the only state in the union that has not had its 2010 Senate election results certified. Joe Miller, who is raising legal challenges to the apparent write-in victory of incumbent Lisa Murkowski, still has several courses of action he can take. We’ll know Tuesday whether he plans to appeal the latest ruling to the Alaska Supreme Court.  After that, we’ll learn if he plans to demand a hand recount of the Alaska election.  But in the meantime, Murkowski holds her seat in Washington, D.C. and votes on bills, as Miller takes heat for being a sore loser and not knowing when to give up.  Murkowski has called for his concession.

When Joe Miller won the Republican primary, stunning Alaskans, the Senate Republican leadership was very quick to turn their backs on Murkowski’s write-in bid. And then it was Murkowski’s turn to take heat for being a sore loser and not knowing when to give up. Miller called for her to stick with her concession. (Sensing a theme?)

It’s here you can picture two bands of sixth graders on the playground.

Band 1 – You’re a loser. Give it up. More people like me than you.

Band 2 – Nuh uh. YOU”re a loser. You’re the biggest loser on the planet.

Band 1 – Yeah, well you can’t even spell “loser”

Band 2 – Can too. What do you know?

Band 1 – Well spell it then. You can’t because you’re a LOSER!

Band 2 – L-O-O-S-E-R!!!

Band 1 – (pulls out pocket dictionary) You’re totally wrong. Loser!

Band 2 – Well, you know what I meant and in this school insulter’s intent will trump spelling any day of the week. So suck it. Loser.

Band 1 – You guys have bug eyes!

Band 2 – You guys talk like you have marbles in your mouth!

We could go on with this all day, but you get the idea.

The apparent Murkowski win is plainly the result of many Democrats, Independents and moderates who wrote in votes for Murkowski, believing that she would now be free from the shackles of Republican repression. No longer bound to take her marching orders from the likes of Mitch McConnell and Senate Leadership, she’d be her own woman, free to cast votes from the heart, her conscience unburdened of the party pressure that is so pervasive in the nation’s capital. Her neck was out from under the boot. Free at last, free at last.

“America is the loser when it denies those who are willing to make the great sacrifices demanded of our men and women in uniform the opportunity do so on grounds of sexual orientation,” she said in a statement Wednesday.  This, of course, thrilled the progressive and GLBT communities. And the villagers rejoiced, and high-fived each other and said, “We knew it!”  The word they didn’t hear, however was… “however.” Murkowski’s support came with a caveat. She’d loooove to support equality, and end discrimination, however… the Republicans have to be able to insert things and add amendments. Otherwise, no dice. Equality is fine and all, but only if the politics work out for her side.  And make no mistake, the Republican side is still her side.  There’s been no epiphany, no 11th hour conversion, no sitting bolt upright in the middle of the night sweating after a revelatory dream about her power to aid working class families.

Mitch McConnell and the rest of the pack are still comfy – like a worn shoe. Which led Senator Murkowski this week to do several things, one of which was to vote No on cloture for the Defense Authorization Bill containing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Basically what that means is even though she said she’d love nothing more than to give her fellow Americans an equal opportunity to serve this great nation, she’s not going to even vote to talk about it, nevermind vote for the actual bill itself. That’s like Lisa saying she’d love to go on a date with you and she would totally say yes because she thinks you’re really great, but that she won’t answer the phone, or the door, and she’ll ignore your emails. And Facebook pokes. And direct tweets. And smoke signals.

Oh, and this.

Republican lawmakers…blocked action on a Social Security cost of living supplement, stalled collective bargaining rights for public safety officers and stonewalled stronger mine safety laws. Republican leaders have vowed to halt all Senate action until the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy are brought to a vote.

If you’re not feeling the Be-her-own-Independent-woman love, you’re not the only one. It was an especially tough week for you if you were a gay first responder who joined the military and have parents on social security.

But never you mind. Because the day will be very good for you (assuming Murkowski can officially win this thing) if you are a Native Corporation. They are the ones who footed the bill for almost $2M. that bought Murkowski in this election. So don’t let it be said that she has NO loyalties. They’re just not to the actual voters. (We wait to see what happens with Sealaska, and the Tongass, and logging old growth forest when the time comes, among a host of other things)

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell may end up winning the day down the road. Murkowski may even vote for it. Just don’t go thinking you’re all special, LGBT community, or the military, or the American people. You come second, and “however” came first. I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just saying.

That’s what one of Alaska’s Senators was up to this week. What about the other one?

Senator Mark Begich (D) was one of several who presided over the Senate on Friday so that Vermont Senator (I) Bernie Sanders could take the floor for a staggering 8 and a half hours to speak frankly, clearly and directly to the American people, his colleagues, and the few lucky ones watching from up in the senate gallery. He spoke powerfully about the middle class, about tax cuts, about the deficit, and about the bill we could have, versus the one for which the President and others are advocating.

Senator Begich also, along with seven other Senate Democrats, signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressing their desire to amend the deal to protect social security and renegotiate the tax cap for the wealthy and restore tax rates for incomes over $1million to previous Clinton-era levels.

He also said last week:

“We’re not sitting around waiting to get our head kicked in every day; we’re going to present our ideas, win or lose,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), in discussing Schumer’s new role. “If people are for them, they are for them; if they are against them, they are against them. … We’re not just going to sit in the backrooms and figure out how to cave in.”

In a state where Democrats can sometimes skillfully (or not so skillfully) masquerade as Republicans, and Centrists can sometimes do the same thing, it’s nice to take stock and recognize a moment when the differences pull into sharp focus.

Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich (along with every elected official) would do well to listen to Gavin Newsom, the outgoing Mayor of San Francisco who becomes California’s new Lt. Governor in January. In this clip he talks about marriage equality, but his conclusion and assessment of what makes a good politician transcend any one particular issue.

I can’t “tone down” something as fundamental as someone’s rights.  And for politicians to put down someone else’s rights so that they can get ahead politically? You’ve got a million politicians that wish to do that. I’m not going to be that person. I never will.  I don’t mind. I never came into this for a career in politics.

But one thing I said when I got into office… I said,  “I’m never going to look back and become one of those politicians that says, ‘I coulda, woulda, should’ve’…” There’s nothing worse than an ex-politician who says. “I coulda, woulda, should’ve…”

And there’s nothing more insidious than the politican who says, “I’m with you. I agree with you.” And then they go out publically and say something totally different, and you say, “What? Why?” Or wait for a public opinion poll and say, “You know what? I have a different…I have evolved on this position.”

Maybe that doesn’t make me as viable as other politicans. But that’s fine. I get to sleep at night.

UPDATED:

Well, so much for that.  Sorry to burst the bubble, but Senator Begich and Senator Boxer abandoned the other letter-signers, and the effort of Bernie Sanders and voted for cloture on the bill that would extend the Bush tax cuts for another two years. His number is 202-224-3004.

Soldier on…

Comments

comments

Comments
63 Responses to “Murkowski & Begich – A Tale of Two Senators (and some guy from San Francisco)”
  1. Diane says:

    Lest I get in the way of you eating your own, I would like to offer this insight into why Begich’s vote is not a bad thing and in no way shows that he doesn’t stand up for what he believes in. Begich wanted tax relief for middle income Americans..that’s in the bill, he wanted a year-long extension of unemployment benefits for the working stiffs who are now out of work thanks to the deregulated financial industry pigs who tried to lead our economy into the toilet-tjhat’s in the bill; Begich wanted tax incentives for clean energy jobs and that is also in the bill. Did he want tax cuts for the rich and famous, no. Did the party of Lisa fight tooth and nail for their rich benefactors (You know, the ones who put up a few million to buy elections so that they could save a few billion down the road?)? Yes. Did Begich vote for two bills that gave cuts to everyone but the million/billionaires and did Lisa’s Party kill those bills? Yes. Get you Liberal heads out of your Liberal behinds and recognize that Begich is a man of the people; doing his best to do what’s right within a system that has a lot wrong with it.

  2. barbara says:

    i love the way you got one of the most common misspellings into this. lol

  3. AKjah says:

    I was thinking of commenting on how to spend the 2% of Social Security that i get when this bill goes through. When i thought how do you get 2% of nothing? Which i am sure you all know that’s what we are looking at. They will give away our Social Security. I will never again call or email Begich. Murky was always a waste of energy calling or other wise. Mark lost my vote. We can call for vitamin democracy but it don’t exist. Write and call in one hand….

  4. AKMuckraker says:

    Remember that open thread is still active! :0)

  5. merlinAK says:

    There is always a ‘however’ with Lisa. Remember the confirmation of Sotomayer? She’s wonderful, I like her . . . however, I won’t vote for her. Lisa wants to appease certain groups while pretty much sticking to the Repub party line. The screechers call her a RINO but I don’t see it. It would be nice to think that she might become a bit more progressive since she owes her re-election at least in part to a substantial number of democrats and independents and was thrown under the bus by the repub party leadership. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • fishingmamma says:

      Everything Lisa says is conditional “I support this, but…” “I would vote for that, however…”

      I think we should send her this message: “We really want to support our Senators, However….”

  6. Waay Out West says:

    Just what you wanted to hear, Joe is appealing, arguments are set for Friday.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/us/14brfs-GOPCANDIDATE_BRF.html

    Any bets on further appeals if this one gets denied?

  7. Alaska Pi says:

    oh for crying out loud Mark!!!
    crap…

    • just sayin' says:

      What?! and for a brief moment I had some hope that he stood with the common man…and common sense…what are these reps thinking? More debt to China, more burden on the poor…it’s unbelievably discouraging to even pretend there is a light at the end of this tunnel of greed and stupid…why do they hate America so much?

  8. Lacy Lady says:

    — Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Rep. for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has died.
    What a loss. He will truly be missed.

  9. bubbles says:

    hmmmmm. interesting question.

  10. Moose Pucky says:

    Well, Sen. Begich was NOT one of the seven senators voting today to keep debating the tax bill.

    Here are the seven who are the real deal:

    Sen Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

    As for Lisa, nothing short of pathetic.

    • ks sunflower says:

      Do you think the moderates and Democrats for voted for her are feeling the love now?

    • leenie17 says:

      Yayyy, Kirsten Gillibrand! And that’s why I voted for her last month! She’s smart, she’s honest and she has integrity.

      Also, too, I’m glad to see Russ Feingold appears to have found his misplaced spine. It seems to have been missing for some time.

  11. Moose Pucky says:

    Well, Sen. Begich was NOT one of the seven senators voting today to keep debating the tax bill.

    Here are the seven who are the real deal:

    Sen Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

    As for Lisa, nothing short of pathetic.

  12. thatcrowwoman says:

    Begich and Boxer hve some ‘splainin’ to do.
    Sheesh.

  13. huntforfood says:

    One good thing Murkowski said she would do, is continue to pursue a case against Bill Allen inre allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls. I was happy to hear that, and frankly, I’ll take any small bit of good news these days to heart.

    • Simple Mind says:

      Bread and circuses

    • fishingmamma says:

      She is throwing a bread crumb.

      • Simple Mind says:

        What I meant by “bread and circuses” is that while prosecuting sexual misconduct is certainly in the interest of justice, Murkowski’s sudden interest and effort to publicize this very juicy prosecution seems ….. coincidental – like maybe all those moderate and socially concerned folks who crossed party lines to vote for her might get mad at Bill Allen again and be distracted from the fact that Murkowski is back to slavishly following the Party of NO line. Maybe we won’t notice that she joined the Republican boycott of any Senate business unless and until they got the extension of the Bush tax cuts for people making over $1,000,000/year or reversed her word to join the Republicans in blocking the repeal of DADT.

  14. AKMuckraker says:

    There’s an update to the post.

    Grumble grumble…

    • ks sunflower says:

      Grumble indeed. Even though I myself have been going back and forth on the issues involved because our family needs that refund and we know people who need that unemployment continuation, it is still discouraging to see the disarray on the Democratic side.

      This has been the problem all along these past 22 months or so, hasn’t it? Democrats are from all points of the conservative to progressive continuum, and slit off into too many subsets to create effective legislation or get votes passed quickly. Grumble, grumble . . . .

      • ks sunflower says:

        Er — split off into (not slit off – though sometimes they can drive me crazy with their bickering to where I vaguely consider slitting my own throat to escape – nah, just being theatrical).

      • jojobo1 says:

        That’s my rationale what would happen to those who needed the extension although I wondered about new layoffs and how many actually have not used up their 99 weeks!!!!Again a rock and a hard place or damned if ya do damned if ya don’t .

    • Moose Pucky says:

      Yep. Called that Begich number and left a message. This is not leadership, not fiscally responsible.

      Did you know many folks in Alaska and elsewhere are also being prematurely cut off from their federal extended unemployment benefits already previously approved–effective this week?

      http://www.nelp.org/page/-/UI/2010/exhaustion.explanation.dec.10-feb.11.pdf

    • North of the Range says:

      Ugh. It appears AK is now represented by the Sibling Senators WTF.

      As in,
      Who TF (the uncertified R seat)
      and What TF (spina-poofida D seat)

      • Moose Pucky says:

        Please, AKM, retitle this blog post “Sibling Senators WTF–Who TF (the uncertified R seat) and What TF (spina-poofida D seat)” and add those lovely titles to the tags also.

        Laughter does help a bit. Thanks, North of the Range!

  15. Millie says:

    I’ve grown to dislike Murkowski as much as Palin…..both make me physically sick to my stomach!
    I called Murkowski’s office over her DADT vote and was suppose to receive her reasoning for switching and to date have received nothing. I was nice, polite and gave them my email address.

    • ks sunflower says:

      You’re not alone. This happened to me all the time with my Republican Senators from Kansas. At least the office doesn’t laugh and hang up when you ask for the rationale.

  16. delnorteco says:

    My son is a Marine…So I asked him how he felt about gays in the Marines.(I really hate saying it that way..these are people)..the answer he gave me is ..mom,we don’t give a damn..in his platoon there was a gay guy..he fought right next to him and every other guy there..They simpliy do not care….this is just political BS

    • ks sunflower says:

      You have raised a good son. Of course, you already know that.

    • Bretta says:

      I agree – why should anyone care about another’s sexuality unless they want to go to bed with that person?

      (Rhetorical question – just spouting – I have a bi daughter)

      • ks sunflower says:

        Valid spouting, though. That is the real question that needs to be asked. It sure would stop a lot of the homophobes from ranting, I think (and hope).

    • Thank you, you and your son make me so proud…perhaps your son doesn’t realize just how courageous he is being! You and he are truly proof that the lord works in mysterious ways……’

    • Let me explain…I did not mean that the lord works in mysterious ways-although if you are a believer, that is true(I am not)- so I think it was due to the wee hours that I was reading Mudflats and just closed with familiar words- something I have heard a million times! What I intended to say was: DADT WILL be repealed….and it will be repealed by every single one of us speaking out and standing up for our gay friends…because it is the right thing to do.

  17. jwa says:

    I’m convinced equality is coming, I know it’s going to happen. I keep telling myself it’s coming. As MLK said, the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice.

    But, I have to say…in my very, very red part of the country, I am continually dismayed at the depth of ignorance and hatred toward GLBT. It is just reflexive and assumed. People here will be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world, but it won’t be easy or quick.

    That in itself puts the lie to arguments to wait until people are ready. People are NEVER ready. Gradualism does NOT work. Make the change that is the right thing to do and people will adapt – even if they don’t want to.

    • ks sunflower says:

      Exactly!

    • sarafina says:

      “That in itself puts the lie to arguments to wait until people are ready. People are NEVER ready. Gradualism does NOT work. Make the change that is the right thing to do and people will adapt – even if they don’t want to.”

      x1000

    • leenie17 says:

      If we waited until people were ‘ready’, we would still have separate drinking fountains, schools and miltary units, women would not be allowed to vote or serve their country, and only white, male landowners would be running our government.

      Throughout our country’s history, civil rights legislation was enacted because it was the RIGHT thing to do, not because everyone was ready for it. The world didn’t end and we’re a better, stronger country for it.

      The members of the military are trained to follow orders. If the law says that LGBT people can openly serve in the military, the troops will adjust, like they always do.

    • fishingmamma says:

      “Give to every human being every right that you claim for yourself.” ~Robert Ingersoll

  18. Ali girl says:

    ALL our sevice men & women have rights to serve. What if they all stuck together and said I’m gay or a lesbian? What would our military do then? Bad enough some are doing it already to get out or committing suicide. Why is it anybodies business what goes on in private between 2 consenting adults. DADT is so unfair.

    • ks sunflower says:

      I agree, Ali girl!

    • Ripley in CT says:

      It would be enough for all the gay servicemen and women to up the ante and come out all at once, on the same day, same hour. Are they going to kick them all out? And if they did, how would they screen their replacements without asking “the question”? This entire debacle that Clinton instituted is unconstitutional and it hurts Americans… all of us. I cannot imagine being in the military with the hatchet ready to strike and take away my career at a moment’s notice. It’s so unfair. The homophobes and bible-thumpers are the ones who need to be discharged for discrimination. Or hate crimes; you KNOW those happen and we don’t hear about them.

    • ks sunflower says:

      As hopeful as I am that our society is finally maturing, I was reminded by the following article that even amidst the most enlightened setting, homophobia is alive and well. Sometimes I despair for the human race’s ability to transcend ignorance, stupidity and cruelty.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/13/books-gay-issues-vandalized_n_795828.html?ir=College

    • stef g. says:

      That’s a good idea. We could call it the ‘King of Denmark’ strategy.

    • I have a great suggestion. Ian Hoopingarner, of East Lansing, Michigan actually did this. He donated money(any amount)- in the name of the Westboro Baptist Church to any gay-friendly group (like Aids Awareness-or LGBT or PFLAG..! Think of it…by donating money in the name of a hate group, like the WBC, we can turn hatred into an act of kindness! This would work with ANY group..! For Black people…the very same thing…the racists will have their name associated with doing GOOD. Now, the only thing we need to do, is SPREAD THE WORD..tell as many people as you can…! There’s no violence, as much, or as little money as you care to donate..! It’s a PERFECT way to take care of this dirty business….!

    • jojobo1 says:

      Ya know I think back when people had no real choice about service,I remember two brothers who went into the military and could not hack it went awol than If I remember right claimed to be gay to get out quickly.It was an easy way to get out of the service even if you joined of your own free will.

  19. ks sunflower says:

    That was such a thoughtful, gracious and non-threatening “I told you so” about Lisa Murkowski, AKM. Well done. I wish you could hear me applauding your post!

    Wild applause also for Begich and Newsom! As long as they walk their talk, I am great admirers. Better to go down with integrity intact than to slip and slide like Lisa as she descends deeper into the mire that is now the GOP/Tea Party (the dreaded GOPTP or other distasteful acronym).

    I truly enjoyed this post and feel re-energized because of it. Thank you.

    • Bretta says:

      I thought AKM said, in the last paragraph, that Begich turned tail – abandoned – and so voted to maintain the tax cuts for the wealthy?

      • Bretta says:

        Oh – I see the updated part; I’m late to the party as usual.

      • Diane says:

        Hold on…Begich’s priority was extending the middle class tax cut, extending unemployment benefits to the people out of work because of the financial industry’s reckless, unpatriotic and greedy misuse of the system and cutting the payroll tax to help the working poor. All those things were in the bill that passed and that’s why he held his nose and supported it. Unlike, Lisa, who used the excuse of “they won’t let us blab on and on about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” on the floor for the next week, so I am voting against the whole Defense Authorization bill…which represented the first real hope for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Gee, would Joe Miller have voted any differently? Noooo, but Scott McAdams sure as shite would have! For smarty-pants liberals, we sure do have a hard time separating our emotions from the facts. Mudlflats, how come you listed Mark’s number so people could complain and not Princess Lisa’s?

  20. That’s why I love San Francisco so much and now California has Newsom as lt. governor and Jerry Brown as governor, both good men. Good things are bound to happen for the people of California. I am happy one of our senators, Begich is fighting for what is right. Murkowski just seems to go which ever way the wind blows.

    • sarafina says:

      “Murkowski just seems to go which ever way the wind blows.”

      I disagree. Murkowski is sticking with the Rs, which means she is for the richest 2%, and only for the GLBT when there’s an election. Any belief she might become independant was foolish, and only believable by people who hadn’t noticed her record in the recent past.

      Remember the tale of the Scorpion and the Frog?

      One can’t change their nature.

      • Bretta says:

        That’s why I voted for McAdams.

        I truly did not believe that Murkowski could or would change, even if she shudda.

    • Pinwheel says:

      I’ve been waiting for the synopsis. So what do we have now, Don Young, Congressman for all Alaskans who voted for him!!

      I believe that we must pressure all of them. Begich has to know we shall remember. Alaska politics is becoming a full time job.

      nem