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Friday, January 28, 2022

Cruz to Wasilla

Fueled by Jitters coffee and a sugar cookie the size of a frisbee, I was as ready as I was ever going to be. I and two companions were on a political road trip north to the Valley. As we arrived in Wasilla, a small plane flew laps over the AT&T sports center, towing a sign that read “Sullivan for Senate.” In a media market filled to capacity with political ads, this apparently was the only air time left.

Inside, Toby Keith, Neil Diamond, Eminem, Corey Hart, and an unlikely play list of songs presumably chosen for themes of freedom, America, and Jesus, filled the auditorium. Astroturf had been rolled over the polished gymnasium flooring to prevent scuffing, and clumps of blue and gold balloons stood in bunches by a raised platform that would serve as a stage. Dan Sullivan for Senate signs speckled the walls, and people were finding seats on the bleachers at the side of the room. There was a sign in table, and a “No on 2” guy handing out stickers with a giant pot leaf surrounded by a red circle with a line through it. A veritable Who’s Who of Republicans filtered in to the room – Senator Charlie Huggins, Mayor other Dan Sullivan and his wife Lynette, Former Lt. Governor Loren “the Undertaker” Leman, Rep. Bob Lynn, Rep. Wes Keller, conservative talk radio host Glenn Biegel, and former Republican Party Chair Randy Reudrich.

The introductions to the crowd of about 350 were made by Glenn Biegel, followed by the national anthem, and the pledge of allegiance, and a prayer for Dan Sullivan, and finally the man of the hour, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Yes, the guy who spearheaded the government shutdown in 2013 which slowed veterans benefits and Social Security services, put 5,000 Alaskan military base employees on furlough, left fishermen and crabbers stranded at the docks without permits, FAA aviation inspectors unable to work, and on and on… Yes, that Ted Cruz was pleased as punch to cut Alaska’s largest employer off at the knees, and then come to pay a visit.

The Tea Party darling stumped his heart out for Sullivan, the DC beltway insider who worked for the Bush administration and its assault on civil liberties that everyone wants to forget about now.

And of course, the carpetbagging Senate candidate from both Ohio AND Maryland invited a Canadian-born Texan to come tell Alaskans what to do.

The irony was thick in all directions.

The next hour was fascinating, disturbing, mesmerizing… a sociological, anthropological “cluster” (as Sarah Palin would say) of epic proportions.

Both Cruz and Sullivan looked awkward in what I can only assume was their attempt to dress “Wasilla casual,” each wearing a button-up cowboyesque shirt with no tie, and brand new matching dark blue mom jeans with belts. Cruz shook hands down the front row as they approached.


The two took the stage, and the series of obligatory jokes were made about Texas being small.

A woman handed me a Voter Guide from the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

Cruz was speaking to the flock – charming, funny, at ease. His speech could have been a “How To” manual for whipping up an uninformed crowd. Cruz worked the room like a charming snake oil salesman/Baptist preacher. He knew what everyone wanted to hear, and he went down the list from one hot button topic to the next. He said pretty things, made pretty promises, spread the flattery like cake frosting with fear sprinkles on top. What he said had no bearing on either reality, or on the man he was here to help put in office, but that didn’t matter.

Begich, Obama, Harry Reid!

Harry Reid, Obama, Begich!

And let’s not forget Obama, Begich and Harry Reid!

If we want to keep out the illegals, just line up 10,000 IRS agents on the border! That’ll make ’em turn around, said Cruz.

“If you want fundamental tax reform to abolish the IRS, vote Dan Sullivan!

“If you want to open up ANWR, vote Dan Sullivan!

“If you want to restore America’s standing in the world, vote Dan Sullivan!

“If you want to repeal every blasted letter of Obamacare, vote Dan Sullivan!

“If you want to preserve the first amendment, the second amendment, the fourth, fifth, and tenth amendments… ALL of the amendments, then vote Dan Sullivan!”

Each line was met with thunderous cheers.



He told church stories, and tales of the contents of sermons and prayers under government scrutiny. The government has no business knowing the content of our prayers, he said to gasps and exclamations from the audience. He spoke extensively on the “assault on religious freedom.” A couple members of the audience shouted out words of agreement, and he said they knew just how to make a southern Baptist feel right at home.

Obamacare was high on the list of evils, and Cruz told the story of a woman who came to him and said she had a bunch of children and was working five jobs, and her husband had left her and she was having trouble clothing her kids, but none of her employers would give her more than 30 hours a week because “that’s when Obamacare kicked in.” The audience groaned in dismay. We need to fight for the underprivileged, he said, like single moms.

At this moment, my inner voice yelled (just like a good southern Baptist) “That’s right, brother! Yes on 3! Raise the minimum wage! AMEN!” My outer voice was inoperable as I heard Cruz talk about how we need to help the underprivileged.

Now of course, Cruz didn’t say that he’d like to take away that poor mom’s right to decide whether to have any more children or not, and he didn’t say that her employer should decide what birth control if any she can claim with her insurance, or that he wants to defund the clinic where she might get that birth control, or that he wasn’t fond of “entitlements” such as welfare or food stamps, or SCHIP, and he’s not in favor of increasing the minimum wage, or single-payer healthcare for all, or subsidized school lunches. He didn’t mention what he’d like to do with her social security, or medicaid. But we’ll all be relieved to know that he is “pro-life from the moment of conception until natural death.” Oh, natural death except if it’s the death penalty, because he’s totally for the death penalty. You know… PRO-LIFE.

The government isn’t there to improve your quality of life. And neither is your employer. So… just… work more, or bootstraps or something.


The key to getting the country back, he said, was putting a Republican majority in the senate. And Alaska will decide that, in no uncertain terms. And the Mat-Su Valley will decide Alaska. And the people in this very room will decide the Mat-Su. As the AT&T Sports Center in Wasilla goes, so goes the nation!

Sullivan nodded vigorously as Cruz spoke, occasionally repeating “Yeah!” and clapping his hands. He stood more like a pretend cowboy than a Marine, with his thumb in his pocket, and slouched over at the shoulders. His face was flushed, and he kept gazing out over the audience, wide-eyed, like a kid getting his first applause after a performance in the school play. And then gazing at Cruz almost like a weird fanboy.

Sullivan spoke briefly when Cruz was done, and made a couple more Texas jabs, and Begich/Obama/Reid jabs. The Mat-Su Valley he said, though he might get in trouble with some other folks, was the most patriotic part of Alaska. It reminded me of Palin’s “rill America.” The legislators from the Valley are also the best in the state, according to the Senate hopeful.

Gorged on red meat and adrenaline, many stayed to talk to Sullivan and Cruz after the event.

Only one thing needed to be done.  The opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t pass it up.


Brian the Moose with Senator Ted Cruz, with a bonus – former Lt. Gov. Loren “the Undertaker” Leman’s head sitting on Ted’s shoulder. Brian may never forgive me for this…

And then, out into the crisp air and the waning light of day. The electronic flag waved on the sign board that showed the time. And slowly the crowd trickled out with murmurs of “liberals” and “getting our country back.”

Despite Cruz’s assertion, it will all depend not on the people I’d been among for the last couple hours, but on who turns out the vote on Tuesday.





9 Responses to “Cruz to Wasilla”
  1. Dagian says:

    What is it with politicians and plaid shirts (flannel optional) anyway? Why do none of them seem to own a pair of jeans that they’ve worn more than once a year, too? I mean, the whole image is ludicrous but it’s made more so by a new pants and a particularly ugly shirt.

    Speaking of jeans – does anyone know who sells 100% cotton jeans for women anymore that do NOT cost more than a tank of gas? With a waist that actually comes to your waist (so you can have front pockets that hold stuff)? If you’ve ever had poison ivy exploding over your body, you will know why anything that has even the slightest bit of nylon or lycra is not welcome.

  2. Jean says:

    Thanks for the great reporting. I’m going to vote in the morning, and hope the turn-out here in town is enough to counter the Wasillabilles.

    Rafael Cruz makes my skin crawl, if these folks stay in power I may have to emigrate…

  3. Carol Anne Wolfe says:

    Awesome photo of Brian and Cruz—you did good–poor guy didn’t know he had been “moosed”.
    Mudflats you are the best and keep up the great work–you are appreciated by rill Alaskans…

  4. slipstream says:

    Some of my relatives, from two generations back, one day were along the road outside a small town in Iowa. An expensive black car pulled over under a shade tree. President Warren G. Harding got out. My relatives watched as President Harding took off his nice black coat, his nice dark tie, and his nice white shirt. The President then put on a plaid shirt, rolled up the sleeves, got back into the car, and was driven into the town where he spoke at a campaign stop for a local politician.

    Yep, Senator Cruz, the plaid shirt will convince us to vote for your guy. We are just that dumb.

  5. DonnaB says:

    Were the jeans polyester? Because that’s what the shill pushing the intertie years back wore to impress us yokels how with us he was. I mean. Nothing says “we’re just country boys same as you” like stiff, really blue, jeans….. or polyester ones.

  6. Mag the Mick says:

    Here’s what disturbs me about him. (Besides everything.) He isn’t even comfortable enough about himself or his father’s ethnicity to use his own name. His name is Rafael Eduardo Cruz. There’s nothing wrong with that name. Yet he, along with “Bobby” Jindal think they need to white-bread it to the point where it will appeal to their elderly white male supporters. I am grateful for and thankful to President Obama for many things, among which is that he is strong enough to use the name his parents gave him.

  7. juneaudream says:

    Esp. enjoyed the portion..dealing with new jeans..and, since they will have only planned on wearing them…mere they did not even, have them, washed first. ‘ Jewels’..will have been exposed to most unhelpful dyes..and I could happier.

  8. leota2 says:

    My father calls people like Cruz, Sunday chicken eating preachers.

    They come to your house, slap sugar all over your family and tell camp stories.
    Then they stay long enough to get invited to dinner and eat all the choice morsels
    of food, smile, laugh, bless you and take a doggy bag for the poor widow down the street (allegedly).
    You feel good at first, but after a while you notice you are hungry—-but you don’t remember why.

  9. Mo says:

    Ooooo, those wicked liberals, we hates them, Preciousss, yessss we do…