Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Friday, June 24, 2016

I will revel in the peace and quiet of the weekend knowing that on Monday The Family descends on me for a week. My house if clean, my fence is straight, my porch has flowers and my refrigerator has milk for the boys.
Come on in, Mushovics! My home is anxiously awaiting you.

Elise Patkotak • 03:39 AM •
Thursday, June 23, 2016

Our Alaska Legislature wound down its special session with no bang and barely a whimper. I know you’re all shocked to find out that the Legislature has still been in session. The silence emanating out of Juneau during this last special session is a perfect encapsulation of the Legislature’s complete failure. Not that they haven’t accomplished anything. They’ve done the bidding of their industry overlords and made sure that while education, health care, children and the elderly pay for the crash in oil prices, their real constituents feel no pain. They get their subsidies. Meanwhile, Alaska faces downgraded credit ratings, an almost empty budgetary reserve, and a fairly bleak financial future, all because it’s an election year and the ins want to stay in.

You’d think for the amount of money these turkeys have been pulling down while their session stretched on endlessly that they would have come up with at least one or two decent ideas for what to do with our current fiscal crisis. Instead, it seems as though the time was spent taking positions that tried to straddle the great divide between what industry wanted and what their constituents needed. The oil lobbyists have clearly won this skirmish. As for the war, we barely have any ammo left to fight it.
I have to question how these people keep their jobs when they don’t do the one major task on their plate. They posture and pose and blame it on the other guy, the other party. Let’s be real here. Everyone is to blame. But whether they like it or not, the majority of the blame falls on the majority party that has a chokehold on the Legislature. They seemed incapable of compromising or making the hard decisions. In fact, the only thing some legislators seemed capable of doing is making sure the oil industry will fund their re-election bids this fall by doing everything asked of them.
These politicians currently congratulating themselves on passing a budget that relies on practically emptying the Constitutional Budgetary Reserve claim that fixing Alaska’s financial woes is hard, complicated work that can’t be done overnight. Well, duh!  We knew that. And they knew that going into this session. They knew it from last session. They knew it from the time the price of a barrel of oil dropped under $50. They promised us when they were begging for our votes that they were the ones capable of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. They lied. Watching the convoluted twists and turns of the past few months in Juneau it has become clear to most Alaskans with even half a brain that the only thing these legislators are capable of is lining their own pockets by making sure their bosses don’t have to feel the pain.
So now we’re at a point where next year’s legislature will face an almost empty savings account and no path to a future of financial solvency. These politicians will come home to campaign on the platform that they cut the budget and next year will finally get around to creating a realistic fiscal plan.  They sound like kids with a reading list for summer who wake up one day and find that it’s Labor Day and they haven’t even started. So they promise their mom they’ll do better next year but there is simply not enough time to accomplish the reading before school starts.
They will blame the other guys, whether those other guys are the governor, the Democrats or moderate Republicans, for holding up all their brilliant ideas. In case you weren’t paying attention, those brilliant ideas mostly sounded like giving money to the oil companies as well as giving them our oil while making sure Alaskans remain hungry, cold and illiterate. Great plan.
Governor Walker has called for yet another special session. The good news is that this will dramatically cut down on the amount of campaign crap filling our mailboxes and voice mail message boxes. The bad news is that they will still be collecting per diem and expenses. If they had any shame at all, they wouldn’t take it.
H.L. Mencken once said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” If Alaskans vote this car full of clowns back into office this fall, they will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was absolutely right.

Elise Patkotak • 03:41 AM •
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I’ll have Kodi, the Cache Crow, at the Botanical Gardens tomorrow from 12:30 until 2. Stop by and say hi. Bring lots of dollar bills. He needs to work for a living and can’t do that without your help. Kodi also graciously accepts fives, tens, twenties and hundreds, so don’t feel shy about giving him some big bills.

Elise Patkotak • 03:37 AM •
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It’s hot, sunny and beautiful all week and then gets cold, cloudy and rainy on the weekends.
Maybe we picked the wrong days to use as the weekends.

Elise Patkotak • 03:33 AM •
Monday, June 20, 2016

Call the legislature back in session immediately. I can already smell them here. Bring them back to Juneau and clear our air.
Sorry Juneau.

Elise Patkotak • 03:32 AM •
Sunday, June 19, 2016

Today is Father’s Day. Since my dad is gone, I don’t really pay much attention to it. But now I feel guilty (thanks for that, mom) about not even acknowledging some of the great men in my life who have been amazing fathers.
So you know who you are. Pat yourselves on the back for me and I’ll have a drink for you.

Elise Patkotak • 02:35 PM •
Friday, June 17, 2016

Last night I reached up to turn off the reading lights over my bed and was struck with the realization that, except for a few brief years, these lamps have lit my night since I was three years old. When I left home, I left them behind. When my mother decided to redecorate, she was going to toss them. I had her send them to me instead. They are absolutely from the fifties - square box with glass front on which a ballerina dances - and in great shape except for a small spot where my mother washed the paint away from the ballerina’s feet because she thought it was dirt.
The only thing in this world that has been around me longer than these lights is my brother. I can still see under the lights where the switch is and find my name as I wrote it in pencil over sixty years ago. All I have to do is see that and I am instantly back in my childhood. It’s a great way to fall asleep.

Elise Patkotak • 03:38 AM •

I am fascinated with the discussion about Trump having his finger on the nuclear arsenal’s go button. I am fascinated at the debate and discussion over how he couldn’t push the button on his own because of all the safeguards built into the system.
But what I find most fascinating is that the Republicans have nominated someone to carry their presidential campaign banner who has necessitated this discussion.
Every time I think we’ve reached bottom, the floor opens up and shows us that we aren’t even close.

Elise Patkotak • 03:00 AM •
Thursday, June 16, 2016

I grew up at a time when the only glass ceiling I ever heard about was in London’s Crystal Palace during the 1851 Great Exhibition.  Women had a very specific place in the world and that place was in the home. Girls got engagement rings as their high school graduation present and no one thought they were too young to marry. When I graduated from college, getting your MRS was almost, if not more, important that getting your BS or BA.

I am well aware that there are people who view Hillary Clinton as the devil’s mistress. But how you feel about her is, at least momentarily, secondary to what she just did. And what she just did is mind blowing for those of us of a certain age. So whether you like her or not, you can’t deny her achievement and how hard she had to fight and scrape to make it in the totally male dominated world of politics. 
I grew up in Atlantic City and remember the first feminist protest of the Miss America pageant. I had watched that pageant my entire childhood. It happened just down the block from our family apartment. I’d sit in the living room in front of our little black and white TV and dream of one day floating in a gossamer gown down a runway while thousands of people acknowledged me as their beauty queen. As an overweight, highly allergic and slightly asthmatic being, this was not a dream likely to come true. Yet in that time and era, it was the ultimate dream little girls dreamed because the rest of the world was off limits.
There are so many things that have happened in my lifetime that I never thought I’d see. Most relate to issues I’d never heard about in my very conservative Catholic Italian childhood. Birth control? Good Catholic girls didn’t need it because we would never have sex outside of marriage and inside of marriage we would only do it to procreate. Gay rights? The gayest person I knew growing up was… no one. Pot? The only pot I knew was the one I dried after my mother scrubbed the Sunday sauce out of it.
Now I live in a world where gay people serve openly in the military and enjoy the same marriage fun as heterosexuals. Pot is not only legal in one form or another in multiple states and the District of Columbia, but has been proven to have many of the health benefits that the “fringe” has been proclaiming for years. In fact, a recent study found the only health issue related to long term pot use is gum disease because, let’s face it, once you’re stoned flossing just seems like too much trouble.
In my lifetime, women have gone from being secretaries to being Secretary of State. They have left the home for the workplace and I can’t imagine what it would take to try and again confine them in those homes. Women head major companies and are no longer viewed as an oddity if serving as a Congressperson or Senator. They have children at their discretion and on their time schedule thanks to that birth control that so twists Catholic theologians into a knot. African-Americans have gone from being Negroes to being president. My life has spanned the generations from when Doris Day played a housewife in pearls and heels while admitting she simply was too silly to be able to handle a checkbook to Tina Fay and Amy Pohler. That’s one heckuva ride.
So even though I know Hillary is not everyone’s favorite person, I reserve the right to step back from the politics for a moment and savor her achievement. When Geraldine Ferraro was selected as Walter Mondale’s vice presidential running mate in 1984, she shattered some of her own ceilings. But basically she was still just following a man. Hillary Clinton has stepped up into the big boy’s box. She is running for president, which means that in my lifetime I may see a female president.
That chubby little asthmatic girl sitting in front of the TV watching the Miss America Pageant would be happy to hear that before she died women would be acknowledged for something more than their looks and waist size, especially since her waist size was never her proudest moment.

Elise Patkotak • 03:14 AM •
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A study has shown that chronic pot users have a higher incident of gum disease than the general population. Whew! I knew if they looked hard enough they’d find something. Sadly for all the doomsayers in the group, that’s the only thing found. Other than that, pot users not only didn’t have any diseases specifially related to use but actually showed some health benefits.
So by all means, let’s keep alcohol and tobacco legal but pot illegal.
Whoever came up with this crap?

Elise Patkotak • 03:25 AM •
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Today is/was my parents’ wedding anniversary. I don’t know why I always remember this. I just do.

Elise Patkotak • 03:24 AM •
Monday, June 13, 2016

So it was a mostly gorgeous weekend here in Anchorage. I stayed inside the entire time except for an eagle release I attended. I was very happy. In fact, the only place I can say I ever really wanted to be outside was in the Arctic. The minute I set foot in the Arctic so many decades ago, it felt as though I was taking my first deep breath ever. I was home. And now I’m done with being outside. While the sun shone and the neighbor kids played, I did an hour on my stationary bike inside and was quite content.
I don’t care if it is weird.

Elise Patkotak • 03:21 AM •
Friday, June 10, 2016

No, not Trump’s hair or suspiciously tiny hands. No, what I am sick and tired of is this new look of see through dresses and skirts and boobs so pushed up and out and then taped like a prisoner of war. Either go naked or wear clothes. But naked clothes are so over. I don’t want to see you ass sticking out from under a see through pair of pants. I don’t want to see side boob. I don’t want a slit that goes up the vagina.
Wow. I really needed to get that off my chest.

Elise Patkotak • 11:31 AM •
Thursday, June 09, 2016

Not since Al Gore tried to kiss Tipper onstage at the Democratic National Convention have I seen an embrace as uncomfortable as the one happening between Donald Trump and the Republican Party. It reminds me of dancing with boys for the first time at an 8th grade mixer where neither the boys nor the girls have a clue how to actually dance. Couples clumsily wander across the floor with absolutely no synchronicity. That, in a nutshell, defines the embrace between Republicans and Donald Trump.

It’s actually hard to decide which is more appalling. Is it the Republicans who say they will vote for Trump but won’t actually come out and endorse him? Or is it the Republicans who have come out in support of Trump and then announced their disagreement with just about everything the man they are endorsing proclaims?
Our congressional delegation is doing this dance. They are supporting their party’s candidate with some “reservations”. I’m assuming those reservations include questioning whether a presidential candidate should be issuing thinly veiled threats to the judiciary that he will come for those judges whom he deems unworthy.  I’m hoping those reservations include concerns about handing over nuclear codes to a man so thin skinned that he takes offense at someone pointing out that he’s been married three times.
I’m assuming the Christian conservatives who are clumsily embracing him also have some concerns about how tight the embrace should be. For a party that claims to represent family values, Republicans are endorsing a man who twice divorced his wife to marry his mistress while bragging about cheating on all of them. That simply doesn’t sound like a Christian value to me. And where is that obligatory picture, expected of every other candidate, showing the candidate and his or her family leaving Sunday church services at their regular parish. I’m guessing Trump would have trouble pointing out just which New York City church is where his family regularly worships.
So as the campaign season progresses, it will become more and more interesting to watch Republicans twist themselves into knots swearing they support their nominee while simultaneously disclaiming just about every position he takes. At some point they will have disavowed so many of his positions that we will finally have to point out to them that the emperor has no clothes on. Then they will have to explain their continued support of someone whose positions they can neither adopt nor embrace.
Many Republicans say the only reason they will vote for Trump is their hatred of Hillary. That might be an acceptable statement if Trump was any kind of viable candidate. If there was any chance that once in office he would surround himself with people who actually were qualified to run the government, supporting him might be acceptable. If there was any chance this was all just bluster and show and once in office he would actually grow into being a statesman, supporting him would have at least a modicum of viability. But this is a man who will take orders from no one, who is petty and vengeful, who has no concept of foreign policy, who would compromise our judiciary’s independence, who would – according to economists on all sides of the political spectrum – destroy our economy with his policies. Supporting this man is supporting the destruction of all that once made America great.
So how long can the Republican establishment endorse this man while running as fast as possible away from everything he stands for? How much more outrageous does his Twitter feed have to become before they step back and wonder if betraying their morals and principles to support him is truly a viable option?
Oh wait, that’s right, these are politicians. They have no morals or values that they won’t stomp on to get power, to get re-elected, to make sure their nest is nicely lined for the future. If you’ve spent any time wondering how low politicians will go in order to retain their power, money and influence, I think this election will clearly show us that low spot.
I once again have to wonder… is this really all a plot by the Democrats to destroy the Republicans? Are we sure Trump doesn’t have an offshore account somewhere being filled by Democrats? Sometimes I think that can be the only logical explanation.

Elise Patkotak • 03:39 AM •
Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Ahchoo. Ahchoo. Ahchool.
Son of a bitch. Where’s the cold and snow that will kill these living things that are trying to kill me?

Elise Patkotak • 03:29 AM •

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