Casting the First Stone

How IS a niqab like a gay wedding?

That is my take on the furor going on in Canada right now (more on that later) but first let’s talk scarves and stuff. The Q’uran does not require Muslim women to wear any specific type of garb; it only mandates modesty (and it mandates that of men AND women) and makes oblique reference to scarves and outer garments. It is the fundamentalist interpretations of verses in an-Nur and al-Ahzab that results in some male Islamic leaders insisting on niqab, burqa, etc.  But it IS clear from the Q’uran that the underlying purpose here is modesty – the expressed intent is to avoid inflaming “base” desire.  This may be all well and good until the proscriptions are employed as a tool a) to demean/denigrate, or b) to make unidentifiable (the Q’uran specifically states that women should be known and thereby not abused.)

But the discussion above focuses on the purpose of this dress for Muslims. We can increase the social coScreen Shot 2015-10-09 at 1.56.47 PMmplexity of such proscriptions by adding cross-cultural interpretation. While one may see a specific act as an act of modesty, another may see it as an act of defiance, secretiveness, a token of second class status, etc. Hijab and yoga pants? Can you say form over substance? Frightened yet?

Now fundamentalist Christians are no strangers to ignorance and foolishness, knowing little both as to their own religious history and theology, and as to anyone else’s. They by and large subscribe to a ‘my way or the highway’ philosophy, a policy even more extreme than Islam. And the more ignorant the Christian, the more extreme the position.  Just consider the cross which arguably symbolizes victory over death, in the kind of twisted ass-backwards logic of Paul et al (and Paul was one whacked out nutter….) In other words, the cross is a symbol for many of a categorical rejection of reality, despite the fact that such a position was not historically or theologically present in their religion until long after the alleged Yeshu was dead and gone (as he apparently was born and died a Jew.)

And so, the French look to ban both in secular space because both could be seen as acts of civil violence much as Romans saw Jewish refusal to abide by Roman civil religion (which was not,  in today’s sense, religious at all.) Culture warriors like Scalia, talk about American civil religion; Scalia dreams of being a Roman patrician, and sees the United States through the same kind of rose colored glasses that some of our propounding pops did.  Meanwhile the French, who brought religious liberty to most of the world at the end sharp end of Napolean’s legions, are the ones who argue that the only real way to address religion in a secular state is to ban it from the public square.

I was reading a thread based on a piece by Paula Simons in the Edmonton Journal,  (and the Facebook commentary on that piece) and the thought occurred to me that in as much as the burqa etc are interpretations by fundamentalist clerics of the scriptural prescriptions intended to avoid inflammation of passions, how would the Court address the possibility that the burqa wearer might inflame the passions of another woman by exposing herself to a female Court staffer?  Not what the Q’uran said, but surely closer to what it meant than shrouding all women from head to toe?

At the core all have to realize that we are rapidly approaching, as the battle over rights for LGBT in the US evidence, a time when “religious belief” will equate to whatever any group of bigots decides upon at any given time. The modern state can neither function nor co-exist with such personal freedom. So yes, what is sauce for the goose comes with the gander, but that works both ways, and the arguments in Canada ring strangely similar to those in the US where “liberals” get snarky about “anti-science climate deniers” and then without batting an eye talk bloody jihad on Monsanto. It would be wholly inappropriate to promote any policy without exploring the eventual impact of that policy. And while I would not want to aid and abet a racist, even racists can stumble on something important from time to time (even if they do so for the wrong reasons.)

Neoliberals ignore the fact that Locke was fundamentally inconsistent, but did make it clear that while individuals should be free to elect whether to become a member of some polity on reaching some age of majority, once a member, that individual was subject to the tyranny of the majority. It is the Leviathan or anarchy, says Hobbes, and I think he is correct… Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 1.53.40 PM No line is required until a line is demanded, and as we discussed before, the genius of Canada, if you will, is that Canadians have been able to get by with greater vagary than their cousins to the South. The bigger question for Canada is not where the line will be, but whether they can manage to avoid drawing it…. and avoiding a line is the responsibility of EVERYONE.   Harper and his crowd may well be xenophobic racists twits (I think the evidence in support of such a claim mounts every time one of his crowd opens their mouth) but every bright line drawn renders the system a little more brittle, until the social contract shatters under the strain. Am I entitled to a law that says that I can marry a Doberman (as opposed to a Poodle?)


Surah Al-Ahzab – The Noble Qur’an – القرآن الكريم

Surah An-Nur – The Noble Qur’an – القرآن الكريم

The Qur’an and Hijab | Hijab, The Muslim Womens Dress,Islamic or Cultural? | Books on Islam and Muslims |

A Peri-Patrick Pelagianation

As I sit in the evening sun this bright St. Patrick’s day,  I think it most fitting to give some thought to Pelagius, who was after all the target of Patrick’s assault on Ireland (no,  it certainly was not the snakes, unless, as one might consider Patrick thought, Pelagius was the snakes.)Pelagius

There is a dispute as to whether Patrick’s mission involved pushing Church orthodoxy (some arguing that Palladius, first Bishop of Ireland, was sent “ad Scotus” for that purpose, and not Patrick, the latter little more than a devout simpleton sent to Erin to bring the Celtic pagans to Christianity), as orthodoxy was a critical concern of Constantine’s Church, and the proclivity to identify heresies where ever it looked continued to be a hallmark of the Church in the 5th century.  What could Pelagius have written that would have the Church so wound up? If we turn to the Catholic Encyclopedia we find that Pelagius and his noble buddy lawyer, Caelestius, had the effrontery to suggest that:

  1. Even if Adam had not sinned, he would have died.
  2. Adam’s sin harmed only himself, not the human race.
  3. Children just born are in the same state as Adam before his fall.
  4. The whole human race neither dies through Adam’s sin or death, nor rises again through the resurrection of Christ.
  5. The (Mosaic Law) is as good a guide to heaven as the Gospel.
  6. Even before the advent of Christ there were men who were without sin.

And what, you might ask,  does that mean? Well, it means that Pelagius rejected a good deal of the nonsense that Augustine, and Paul before him, invented.  Original sin (the bit that suggests that we are all tainted with Adam’s sin, even new born babes)? In the trash. Mosaic Law? More than adequate; NT NOT obligatory. Redemption from sin only through Jesus?  Not likely.  And the final coup? You didn’t need the Church as a middle man…..  OH MY!!!!  Pelagius felt that one could find one’s way to heaven without the benefit of clergy. His heresy, in retrospect, is likely closer to the historical Jewish Jesus than much the world has seen since, and Mother Church was hearing none of it.

In Patrick the Church continued to take hard right turns,  rejecting the very message that supposedly gave rise to the Church in the first place, but cementing its authority, which arguably was Constantine’s intent, those many decades earlier.  For the 21st Century, we find ourselves celebrating Patrick’s feast day while complaining about the lack of social and economic justice, about the crisis of inequality, about rampant capitalism that invariably leads to wage enslavement. Instead, we should all be hoisting a pint to dear old Pelagius,


In addition to the Catholic Encyclopedia you might find the following interesting on whether Pelagius was, well, right: and the results of the vote:

The Horse Behind the Cart

Some weeks ago, Kathleen McCoy spent not a few column inches of the local rag  in her puff piece lauding UAA’s Terry Kelly, “Ethicist handles heavy issues with a light touch.” Unfortunately, one can only conclude that this is further evidence that UAA is not a real educational destination.

UAA’s Terry Kelly must be more a stand-up comic than an ethicist. According to McCoy, he argued, in the most bizarre example of political correctness to date, that if you act in such a way as to make some one else be suspicious of you, you have acted unethically. Yes, you heard me. By way of example, Kelly offered a homily where a husband and wife pledge to be sexually faithful, and then hubbie goes off to spend Friday nights reading at the whorehouse. Kelly claimed that hubbie is acting unethically because his pathetically insecure wife is banging her head against a wall. Really?

Kelly then went on to confuse matters with a retelling of the Clinton/Lewinsky gaffe, misrepresenting the facts and of course drawing the wrong conclusion. He finally tackled his real target (after an unfortunate attempt to hijack the theory of cognitive dissonance), which appeared to be the impact of government officials receiving gifts. He apparently closed with something along the lines of “trustworthy behavior is persuasive behavior, and untrustworthy behavior is unethical.”

Yes. Instead of arguing that trust is based on ethical behavior, he argues that ethical behavior is based on trust. Very inventive. Or delusional. The word trust comes from the Norse “traust” and is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “to have belief or confidence in the honesty, goodness, skill or safety of a person, organization or thing.” Trustworthy of course is to be worthy of trust. Ethics, per the Oxford Dictionary, are, “moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity”, and the entry goes on to explain:

Schools of ethics in Western philosophy can be divided, very roughly, into three sorts. The first, drawing on the work of Aristotle, holds that the virtues (such as justice, charity, and generosity) are dispositions to act in ways that benefit both the person possessing them and that person’s society. The second, defended particularly by Kant, makes the concept of duty central to morality: humans are bound, from a knowledge of their duty as rational beings, to obey the categorical imperative to respect other rational beings. Thirdly, utilitarianism asserts that the guiding principle of conduct should be the greatest happiness or benefit of the greatest number

So we can take ethical to mean, depending on the system to which you subscribe, compliance with some code of conduct. In sum, we may have confidence that others may conduct themselves ethically, but if we lack confidence how can that possibly change whether the erstwhile target of out attentions is ethical or not?

What Terry Kelly has proposed is nothing less than a feedback loop, a neurotic echo chamber where what is real is not what you do, but what someone perceives you to do. While in a very primitive form this may hearken back to the social psychology of the ’70s and the concept of the social construction of reality, it beggars the concept of ethics, for it renders ethics dependent on the feedback loop and enables insecurity. You can only be as ethical as you convince your observer you are. He has turned philosophy into advertising, for under his rules, one becomes ethical not by adhering to a code, but by convincing others that one does, and after all, that is what our politicians try to do today, and is exactly opposite of the point we think Kelly was trying to argue. Kelly has shifted the subjective lens, and lost sight of the situation entirely.

Anchorage making headway on valuing human life

Honestly, I have a hard time seeing putting a police officer on the street without a partner.  Just the effects of TV drama?  I don’t think so. I just see approaching a potentially violent situation without backup as creating unacceptable risks, and that goes for the police officer, the private citizen, and anyone close enough to be hit by flying lead.  While the law in Alaska expects people to retreat if possible (until Democratic State Senator Wielechowski has the opportunity to reintroduce the ALEC crafted stand your ground legislation he sponsored last session), what are our expectations of a police officer confronting an individual ‘wielding a stick’? Anchorage decided to find out earlier this week.

Police received a number of calls about a man creating a disturbance in Mountain View (blocks from a substation created to keep a lid on disturbance in this neighborhood.)  Callers indicated that the man was likely intoxicated and bellicose, was screaming and yelling and had just attacked a dog. One officer drove up 15 minutes later, apparently spotted the man creating the disturbance, who on seeing the officer started walking towards the officer in an aggressive manner with the stick. The officer fired several rounds at the man, killing him, as another officer drove up. A disturbance which had been going on for over 15 minutes without any apparent physical injuries to anyone was over in seconds with one man dead at the hands of the very persons called to resolve the problem.

Should the veteran officer have simply kept his distance until back-up arrived? Who really wants to second guess an officer who perceives himself being attacked? I think such questions simply scapegoat the officer while the real culprits skate by. The real issue here is that the officer really had no non-lethal option, and the real reason that a non-lethal option wasn’t available is named Mayor Dan Sullivan. No, Mayor Dan was not there at the time,  but in a very real sense he might as well pulled the trigger himself.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, while ‘Alaska State Troopers and some law enforcement agencies in the Lower 48 outfit all officers with Tasers, but in Anchorage only about 35 to 40 percent of officers carried the “less-than-lethal” devices last year, according to funding request the department made to the 2011 Legislature.’ And the paper goes on to state that an Anchorage Police Department spokesperson, Dave Parker went on to indicate that, ‘In the case of the Mountain View shooting, police procedures likely would not have allowed the officer to use a Taser even if he had one, Parker said. That’s because at least two officers would need to be on hand, one to use the Taser and one to back up with lethal force, if necessary.’

What we are seeing, then, is a very cynical approach to urban law enforcement. The current administration apparently believes that the true cost of the lives lost to such exchanges is less than the cost of ensuring that no APD officer has to address street crime without a partner.  One can imagine the Anchorage Risk Manager tallying things up; what’s the cost of killing half a dozen ‘unimportant’ people as compared to the cost of putting enough of those greedy union cops on the payroll? You want to know what the average value of a police killed citizen in Anchorage is? This week it was arguably about $100,000, but wait till the end of the year and divide the cost of providing adequate police officers by the number dying such unnecessary deaths. There you will find Mayor Dan’s pound of flesh.

Why is “Planning” a Dirty Word?

For those watching, “21” now seems to be generating as much nervousness as “666”, from the world-wide cabal associated with Agenda 21, to the purported local attempt to enslave Anchorage through the initial Title 21 rewrite. It seems that the crypto-conspiracists see “planning” as anathema to civil liberty. While those less hysterical may simply see the hands of the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers at work (is there something about the letter “K”…..)  the unfortunate truth is that, as a society, we often produce lousy planning.

An old saw, likely promoted by those who have been recently offered their freedom from employment, advises, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” It is the small stuff, however, that ensures your that Mars probe doesn’t crash into the planetary surface, and the same applies to designing the urban environment of Anchorage’s future.  Take the example of the newly redone bicycle trail that passes by the corner of Bragaw and Northern Lights Boulevard (you’ll find me at the fancy green railing on the south side of the street.) But watch your step!   You probably don’t want the water pouring across the trail from the black, brackish pools of the fen to the south soaking your new kicks.

This piece of trail,  the most important bike path in the part of Anchorage most heavily used by bicycles, connecting Muldoon to downtown,  was closed for two years during construction of an extension, that while very nice, did not need to close down this critical thoroughfare.  A year after the trail opened again, the cracks are already appearing and here, at the corner of Bragaw and Northern Lights, you’ll notice a length of some 30 feet of trail covered with run-off making its way to the street across the trail (and yes,  it IS treacherous in the Spring and Fall when it frosts and freezes.) From here to Nunaka Park this sight is all too common, and will eventually result in expensive repair, or worse, a decaying infrastructure. Why?  Because someone at the MOA Planning Department didn’t sweat the small stuff.

If the Municipal planners can’t manage a bike trail that has proper drainage and doesn’t turn into crumbs in 2 years, can we depend on them to do much else? Conspiracy? No. Just sloppy, negligent work. Do you want the person who is responsible for the water running over the bike trail also responsible for planning the storm sewer next to your home?  I thought not.

Voting Issues in the US; HAVA na gila

Oregon has been experimenting with voting by mail. While there may be downsides to accompany the positives (see, e.g. The Carter-Baker Report suggests that Vote by Mail (VBM) may increase turnout by 10% in low profile election and does not bring new voters to the process,  but it does appear to have an impact on ballot integrity . Washington also does vote by mail.  Oregon is now moving to include e-mail voting  and even offer the ability to vote by ipad.  The Oregon voting site is at

While the efforts in the Pacific North West may improve the voting experience by increasing the period during which one may vote and providing alternatives to to using suspect voting machines, most jurisdictions in the US still use one of the least “fair” voting systems available,  and most Americans haven’t a clue about the relative benefits of PR, or Proportional Representation, as opposed to the “single-member district plurality system” in use in most jurisdictions in the US today.

Douglas J Amy at Mt Holyoke College has put together an online library on the subject. Amy is also the author of a number of books on the subject, one of which is available online in pdf format and another which is a comprehensive extension of the materials published on the Mt. Holyoke web site.   He not only explains the difference between the typical US system and PR,  he also provides an accessible explanation of different types of voting systems.

Some other resources on voting systems?

  • Of course there is a wikipedia page,  which affords a decent introduction to the subject as well as some excellent links and references for further study.
  • My friend David Lippman has a published a wonderful online book, Math in Society, which addresses voting issues in various systems and would be a welcome addition to any high school math teacher’s arsenal of resources. It can be downloaded from David’s site as well a accessed online via scribd
  • Another excellent resource on voting systems, this one with a European twist, is provided by the Electoral Reform Society

The title of the note? “Gila” is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word for joy, and “na” is us. Together with “hava” (be) they are used in the Hebrew song “hava na gila”, or let us be joyful.  Of course, HAVA in this case is the Help America Vote Act:  For a list of resources on the Act, see,

Homo Omnivorum

You will find my entry in a Times essay competition below, and the finalists here. You be the judge 😉


From the sophistry of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe with its cajoling moveable feast to the authoritarianism of The Bible with all its “do”s and “don’t”s, it must be clear (even to those who are blind as bats) that there is something fishy here. While we appear sheepish on the question of gobbling our own, we remain bullish on slaughtering whatever is at hand when it suits us, and we feel it’s as appropriate to kill for food as for sport or when our “interests” are threatened. Though we may scatter a few red red herrings to confuse our critics, any claims that it is ethical to eat meat (forget about the manner in which said meat is obtained) duck the same question, “Says who?”

“Because these have been given to me”, argue some religious types, advocating a shallow dominionism. It is as easy to invent a deity who whispers the following day’s ingredients in your ear as to pull a rabbit from a hat. “Chicken and egg”, argue those suggesting that magical realism is perhaps more prevalent in the politics of North America than in the literature of its neighbors, opining that they have beef with self-serving myth. And far away there are those, just as religious, who would instruct these Westerners all about sacred cows. Looking for proof in the Kate and Sydney pudding has produced little more on the topic than magazine contests.

But to tilt the frame of reference by a dimension, consider the contact between our species and another. Any alien confronting us would as likely stamp us out as a nasty, brutish infection or pop us into their gaping maws. While horror flicks may explore the possibility that another species might find us unpalatable (or, more intriguingly, yummy), the sensitive might cry out, “How could a sentient creature consume another sentient creature?” Indeed. And the brutal answer that comes echoing back through the cosmos is the same as that we see when we look into the still quiet water. Because we can. Those who live by the menu may well end up on the menu.

Taboos are just monkeys on our back, and we will eat our own, should it come to that. No, the one and only ethical basis for eating meat is the brutal calculus inherent in old Mother Nature. It is the ancient imperative, and though it could be forsaken by some, it is still worshiped as we worship fire, water, earth and wind. Eating anything at hand is our nature, and it would be unethical to be untrue to our nature. We are but pigs at Darwin’s trough, and to our own nature must we be true. Ecce Homo.

Nor will we find much in the way of alternative. It would be exceedingly difficult at present to avoid eating all life, for if we are to excuse ourselves from eating some life, then we must find some line between life and unlife, and such a voyage will prove no lark. Already there are those who argue that plants enjoy pleasant conversation. The same arguments that might preclude us from eating Cousin George might apply with respect to genetically modified corn as you never know what some geneticist may have slipped into that genome (George’s or the corn’s.)

No, Popeye had it right when he said, “I am what I am”, and we are what we are. Hamburger, anyone, or spinach?

Clear Cutting Parks for Public Safety

#Anchorage #Parks and Rec Chief John Rodda recently appeared before the Northeast Community Council to respond to claims that P&R were again trying to disembowel Russian Jack Springs Park.  While Rodda was serving in Eagle River the last time P&R tried to clear cut RJSP, he took “full responsibility” for “thinning out” the woods along major trails in the Park as he was only “responding to public safety concerns.” See,

If Rodda received any calls (and that is dubious and may be a smokescreen – see below) such complaints make vivid one element of Anchorage’s polarization;  emigration is arguably turning our community into a village of Outside Wusses. I use the term wusses because it has been in the press of late, but I am not talking about code for too little testosterone.  I am talking about people who move to the “Last Frontier” and then want to turn it into downtown LA. People who want to kill all the geese, moose, and other wildlife because they have unreasoned fear of the unknown.  And these same folk are afraid of the dark, are afraid of the woods (“dark and deep”.)  Deliver us from fearful folk trying to save the world from their own shadows!

Parks and Rec simply does not “get it”. They apparently will happily cut down as much growth as possible to satisfy a hand few of whiners while ignoring hundreds of thousands of others. Why? The only way this makes sense is if that was their intent in the first place (remember the P&R proposal to clear cut a major chunk of RJSP??)  I think this betokens an attitude that parks are only grassy places, and trees should only be an occasional ornament. I mean, now that we have an urban forester I at least thought he might have something to say about letting a bunch of criminals wantonly hack down our park forest.  I apparently don’t have a clue as to what a forester does in Anchorage,  because he apparently doesn’t having anything to say about whacking down our urban forest!

In any event, back on the East side of Wussville, the NECC was having none of it. Pelted with questions Rodda admitted that he had no record of the calls he had received complaining about the trails, was not present and did not supervise the cutting so had no personal knowledge of what was actually done, knew that the inmates who were employed were not supervised by P&R staff, knew that at least in one case work done in the Park went amiss because of lack of supervision.

In fact, P&R had sought grant funds indicating they intended to thin out the forest in RJSP and did not share those ambitions with the public (perhaps because, as we saw last year, the public is not agreeable to efforts by P&R to cut down trees in the MOA, especially in a Park designated as a preservation zone!) What becomes clear is that a) P&R is not credible, b) P&R has an agenda that is not public, c) that private agenda includes disemboweling RJSP.

Rodda also indicated at the NECC meeting that at a “briefing” held at the Mayor’s conference room to discuss private attempts to create a destination park in the north side of the Park (which is near several existing playgrounds) he heard nary a negative word.  But the meeting was only informational  (i.e. it was a dog and pony show for the private agency to parade about their intentions) and the President of the NECC was there and did express the NECC’s opposition.  Moreover, Rodda admitted that he has received and reviewed ALL the resolutions from the NECC (some half a dozen over the period of the last year) castigating the attempt to allow private agencies to dictate park development.

RJSP has a Master Plan and the Plan sets out some important points, including but not limited to establishing a preservation zone. Rodda intentionally acted to violate the Master Plan in that respect, has indicated he has no compunction with violating other aspects of the Master Plan AND is alleged to have said that he would rather see the $750,000 (less money wasted to date) held by the Anchorage Park Foundation sent back to the legislature then spend a penny of it on updating the Park Master Plan. He has indicated that in his mind the nameless few stating support of matters important to him are far more critical than the thousands represented by the NECC or testifying against clearing forest in the Park.

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving, in the proper noun sense familiar to all in the U.S.,  is offensive to so many on so many levels its hard to know where to start.  Perhaps that is one reason (or many) that the culture warriors of the religious right take it up as a cause celebre (see for example Kate Zernike’s piece ) much as they bemoan the attack on Christmas, or the war on Christians in general.  And despite the learned efforts of Richard T Hughes and others, it would appear that the ignorance of the mass of Americans is a tide that will not be turned.

But setting aside the mythology associated with the day, the fact that it commemorates to many ethnic cleansing on a continental scale, the institutionalization by President Lincoln at what was arguably the temporal acme of the Christian fundamentalism rampant in the early 19th Century, the current economic function as the eve of “Black Friday”, not to mention the gorging, the turkey pardoning and the celebration of one of the most brutal “games” known to humankind; is there something to be salvaged from all this?

I have to argue that the fundamentalist take on Thanksgiving, i.e. giving actual thanks to a living deity actually involved in the day to day affairs of humanity, was as preposterous to our Deist forefathers as it is to most of us today.  Deists, and by extension many of us, give thanks to “Providence” not on the basis of any intercession, but as a way of expressing our recognition of that which we have and our acknowledgment that  things could always be worse (much worse.)

But in comparison to the rabbinic view of a holiday such as Yom Kippur,  I have to say that the Deist approach falls short, in that while Jews are expected to not only atone to God but to each other, acknowledging Providence is a far cry from engaging in any interpersonal expression of appreciation.

As I type this I am all too aware that my wife is, as she is every year, embarked on an herculean task familiar to many households in the U.S.; creating and setting a holiday meal, presided over by a huge not quite rampant turkey of impeccable pedigree.  She (my wife, not the turkey, which is a tom this year after all) is an easy target for my thanks, but not so the many others who may have contributed to our well being (especially those who did not so intend.) And while it is one thing to have appreciation in our heart, it is quite another to acknowledge, personally, all those who should be thanked.

How easy it is to forget the hundreds who in one way or another cared for my recently injured son,  the girl friends, boy friends dogs, rabbits, cats and others who care for or being cared for by our family have enriched our year. Those who have asked for help have given me something to do, and I am as thankful for that as for the ineptitude of those who seek to diminish my community, my state and my country; thank you – each and every one.  Thank you.

And as I watch my home gently blanketed with fresh snow (acknowledging that the roads may be soon safe again) I have a feeling that despite the horrible baggage Thanksgiving may entail, and the famine, homelessness, violence and abuse endemic to our species,  I will nevertheless savor the a few moments this evening with family, friends and a deceased tom.

I wish one and all a day to give thanks for.

Alaskan Patrinots

Having determined that the kid papering my neighborhood with literature from the  “Conservative Patriots Group” was clueless about U.S. history, civics and government (apparently because he was home schooled by a member of this group), I thought I had better see who was responsible for this horrendous educational miscarriage.

CPO has a web site (  that simply reiterates much of the nonsense one is accustomed to hearing from the ultra radical right.

CPG’s Directors/Officers include both Frank and Jennie Bettine; Frank is an engineer and attorney listed by the Bar as located in Houston and his wife Jennie, the President, who describes herself as a JD (i.e. she has not passed the Alaska Bar) is arguably a better dog musher than lawyer.  These folk are regarded as “crazy” even by people who live in Palin country (for an example of responses to the Bettines see, .)  CPG’s Vice -President is David Jenkins, apparently not the tea party wonk living in Virginia ( but a Palmer resident not otherwise on the radar. Also on the Board is Amy Thomas. Ms. Thomas apparently has a checkered history of involvement in the health industry (one wonders if this is the same Amy Thomas refused an Alaska nursing license for failure to disclose a prior drug related conviction.)  The web site indicates that Rick Bryant is also a Director, but State documents indicate that the seat is held by Kevin Hite, President of the Alaska Snowmobile Association.  As the group has incorporated both as a for profit and as a non-profit corporation in Alaska, the names and addresses of the officers/directors identified at are available here and  here , together with the articles of incorporation.

Moving through the site one sees that this organization is linked by cross-membership with the “Free Range Patriots” whose web site can be found at  One avid participant is Jon Watts of North Pole (, whose web site offers further evidence of the groups perspective.

The good news is that in a State that competes with Texas for having the craziest electorate (though the folk that elected Congresswoman Bachmann have to get a nod here)  this group has less than 150 members.  The bad news is that like Eddie Burke, these folk don’t want to hear anything that might disturb their delusional alternate universe.