Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Saturday, January 16, 2016

Is it just me or do you too think that Cruz and Trump should be running for office in North Korea where they would be more comfortable with general state policies?

Elise Patkotak • 11:58 AM •
Thursday, January 14, 2016

Maybe I’ve missed this, but in the weeping and gnashing of teeth that is the Republican response to anything Obama does, where and when did they reveal their plan for health care in America? They keep attempting to repeal Obamacare but I missed the announcement of their plan to replace it. Or do they just expect people with pre-existing conditions to go back to no coverage? That’s one way to sock it to that kid born with diabetes. Shouldn’t people who want to repeal Obamacare have to have an alternative? Perhaps most important, knowing they have no chance of overriding the inevitable presidential veto, why are they wasting their time and our money when there might just be other issues that need attention?

Given two of the bills pre-filed by our Republican legislative leaders focusing on issues that have little relation to the financial tailspin we are experiencing in Alaska, I guess Republicans like putting the spotlight on anything but the problem for which they have no viable solution.
For those of you who missed the announcement, bills have already been filed in Juneau to reverse the Medicaid expansion and to allow civil servants to pick and choose to whom they will provide their services, despite the fact that the people they are denying services to pay taxes just like everyone else. Given that no one in Alaska has yet gone to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, this sounds suspiciously like a solution looking for a problem. Or maybe it’s just another diversionary tactic to keep us from realizing just how bankrupt our current legislative majority is when it comes to handling Alaska’s financial crisis.
Despite the fact that every financial analyst who has looked at the state budget has firmly declared that simply cutting the budget will not close the gap, all we seem to hear from our supposed leaders is that we need to cut – cut schools, cut education, cut health, cut oil company tax breaks… oh wait, that last one is actually never ever mentioned.
In case conservatives haven’t been paying attention, trickle down economics has yet to trickle down to the middle class. In fact, the disappearing middle class is seemingly evidence that trickle down economics is the voodoo economic theory so many reasonable people tagged it decades ago. Yet here we sit in Alaska with a huge budget deficit, talk of cutting basic services to the poorest and most vulnerable flowing out of Juneau, and yet not a word about the benefits the oil industry accrues on a yearly basis thanks to our legislators generous tax package to them. Why is that not also on the chopping block?
I guess in the end it’s just easier to be negative about every new idea that is proposed than it is to actually come up with new ideas on your own. The health care issue that opened this column is the classic example. Congress is wasting time passing bills they know will be vetoed rather than dealing with the real issues in this country. Now our state legislature is following suit. Rather than dealing with the economic crisis, they file bills to solve problems that don’t actually exist.
Quite frankly, if you are not willing to carry out the duties of your job, then you should find another job. Issuing a marriage license to a same sex couple is an exercise in civil law and has nothing to do with the clerk’s personal beliefs. Unless, of course, this bill also covers Muslims or Jews who don’t eat pork and so when you show up at the checkout counter with your bacon, they can tell you to get in the back of some Christian checker’s line. Or maybe they won’t wait on you because you are a woman whose hair is exposed.
Is it really that hard to ask our legislature to actually deal with the real problems facing us and stop wasting time filing bills that avoid today’s financial realities? Or are we entering another session in which nothing will get done for the first 89 days and then on the 90th we will suddenly hear that they don’t have enough time to finish their work. Drop the extraneous bills and focus on your core responsibility – steering the state through the bad times while praying for the next boom.

Elise Patkotak • 03:39 AM •
Tuesday, January 12, 2016

If it were African-Americans or Native Americans occupying that bird sanctuary in Oregon would we still be watching a peaceful standoff or would we be in the midst of recriminations over the violent end of the stand off with the feds blasting their way in?

Elise Patkotak • 08:50 AM •
Monday, January 11, 2016
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Snowy jumps up on the bed every night as I’m in the bathroom preparing for bed. By the time I get to “my spot” on the bed, his butt has warmed it up. It’s zero out but I get to curl into a pre-warmed butt spot and feel all cozy right away. It’s just one of the reasons to always have a dog with a butt bigger than yours.
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Elise Patkotak • 11:32 AM •
Saturday, January 09, 2016

Maybe I’ve missed this but in the weeping and gnashing of teeth that is apparently the Republican go to mode for anything Obama does, where and when did they reveal their plan for health care in America? They keep attempting to repeal Obamacare but I guess I missed the announcement of their plan to replace Obamacare. Or do they just expect people with pre-existing conditions to go back to no coverage? Or kids under 26 still trying to finish school… will they just be kicked off their parents’ insurance with no affordable substitute available? Shouldn’t people who want to repeal Obamacare have to answer some of these questions? And perhaps most importantly, knowing they have no chance of overriding the inevitable presidential veto, why are they wasting their time and our money when there might just be other issues that critically need attention?

Elise Patkotak • 11:25 AM •
Thursday, January 07, 2016

From the December 31, 2015 ADN, here’s part of what State Representative Mike Hawker said about his retirement. “I’m 60 years old. I am beating terminal cancer. And I am fully vested in my retirement health benefits.” Wow. That came out of the mouth of a Republican. At the top of his list of reasons that he can now retire despite health problems is that he is fully vested in his retirement health benefits. I guess health care coverage is important when you’re sick and fighting for your life. If only there was some way to ensure that all people had that cushion in their lives.

The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, is certainly not a perfect solution to anyone’s problem with getting, keeping and being able to afford health care coverage. The rising rates in Alaska for buying that insurance are clear proof of that. But the need for health care coverage is also very clear. And Representative Hawker’s statement is further proof that this is a topic that tends to sit high on the list of issues people wrestle with on a daily basis. There’s not much else that matters after a cancer diagnosis other than getting to the care needed to eliminate the risk. Hawker can retire because between now and Medicare, he’ll experience no gap in coverage.
Republicans bitch and moan about Obamacare, but I have yet to hear a viable alternative from them. Clearly they understand the need for health insurance. Every one of our senators and representatives on both the state and national level has what amounts to the Cadillac of health care plans. Our vets should be so lucky. Or the majority of the middle class that struggles to make ends meet and stay healthy so hospital and doctor bills won’t bankrupt them.
Part of the problem is that America is the last civilized country on earth that allows everything from health insurance to drug prices to be for profit. The money any given pharmaceutical or health insurance company makes simply fulfills its requirement to provide profit to shareholders. The fact that those profits come on the backs of the sick and dying, the most vulnerable of our youngest and oldest citizens, is a national disgrace. The fact that a CEO can raise the price of a life saving drug 5000% and justify it as making a profit for his company should have us hanging our heads in shame. The profits made by these companies that get rich on the illness and death of your friends, neighbors and family is simply obscene.
Stories appear in the paper on an almost daily basis comparing health care costs in America to health care costs almost anywhere else in the world. We always come out looking pretty bad. A friend of mine went to India to have her cataract surgery because she figured out she could pay for it out of pocket, see India, spend a week in what seemed more like a spa than a hospital, and it would not cost her much more than her deductibles in America.
We are the richest country on earth despite all attempts by the uber-rich to bankrupt the middle class. No one in this country should suffer from hunger, cold or illness. While there are restrictions on what we can do for those who cannot help themselves either through mental illness or addiction, that is no excuse for not providing basic health care when needed. As someone who once worked in an ER as a nurse, let me be very clear that emergency rooms are not a substitute for doctors’ offices. In fact, many people are only in an ER because they lacked access to health care that would have allowed them to manage their illness before it reached ER status.
Mike Hawker has it right. When you are ill, your health insurance is one of the most important things in your life. Hawker is able to access some of the best treatment available for his cancer because he has a health care plan that will pay for it.
Health care should be available to everyone. Neither health care nor the cost of getting health insurance should bankrupt anyone. And no one should be making a profit off of your diagnosis.  If Obamacare isn’t the answer, then I’d sure like to hear what Republicans think is.

Elise Patkotak • 03:09 AM •
Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Hillary and Bernie!/Trump and Cruz

Elise Patkotak • 03:22 AM •
Tuesday, January 05, 2016
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Bird TLC is inundated with starving murres. Has been for months. Volunteers working more hours than they do at their day jobs to care for them. The reason for the die off can be attributed to many factors but pointing fingers is not saving these birds. The utterly limitless dedication of the volunteers at Bird TLC is at least giving some of them a second chance. And for those too starved to be rehabilitated, Bird TLC provides a gentle way to cross that Rainbow Bridge.
I know it’s after Christmas and you are busy paying off all those gifts you bought. But if you even have ten extra dollars, consider sending them to Bird TLC to help with our extra expenses. The birds and I both thank you.
http://www.birdtlc.net/

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Elise Patkotak • 03:13 AM •
Monday, January 04, 2016

For the second year in a row, it sucks! All ice, no snow. What the hell is this all about? I mean, the Republicans have assured us that there is no global warming so it must be something else, right?

Elise Patkotak • 11:31 AM •
Friday, January 01, 2016
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My brother and I in various stages of childhood. The years do fly by. Seems like it will be forever before you hit 18. And then it seems like the blink of an eye and you’re almost 70.
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Elise Patkotak • 03:13 AM •
Thursday, December 31, 2015

As I get older, I find the changing of the year less and less exciting because I become increasingly aware that I have fewer and fewer new years in my future. On the other hand, anyone who can look back on 2015 and not express some sense of relief that it’s over has clearly not been tuned in this year. Let me catch you up. Donald Trump, a man on his third wife who refers to African-Americans as “the blacks”, is actually a viable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. And he recently tied with Pope Francis as the second most admired man in America in a Gallup poll. Need I say more?

One of the better things about reaching a ripe old age is that you’ve seen things that horrified you, but experience has shown that this too shall pass. Remember, there was a time when Sarah Palin was actually considered a viable candidate to be second in line for the presidency. Wow, just writing that down still kind of makes me a little nervous. But I know Donald Trump will pass, as did Sarah Palin, as nothing more than an aberration of our normally fairly respectable political campaigns. OK, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. Respectability has never been part of our political process.
If we look for the good in the year that’s about to end, we need to look elsewhere than in the political realm where all sense and sensibility has been eliminated and replaced by something that only makes me very sad. So while Americans debated the merits of a brain surgeon who is convinced that the pyramids were built by Joseph to store grain, and a national buffoon whose lies are accepted as SOP by his admirers, let’s see what was happening elsewhere.
There was Pope Francis’ visit to America which seemed to prove that no matter how many Kardashian shows we watch, we are inherently a religious country looking for uplift and spiritual renewal from someone who actually seems to understand Christ’s message. That was pretty awesome.  Then there was that video of Michelle Obama rapping to get kids moving. Finally, something the medical community has been saying for years about how Americans have to change their lifestyle if they want to be healthy has clearly stuck. For the first time in more than a decade, the rate of American obesity and diabetes has leveled out.
Our esteemed legislature, or some committee thereof, actually voted to move out of the Taj Mahawker into a space a little less spectacular and a little more in line with Alaska’s current fiscal situation. How those legislators will be able to throw trash away without trashcans that sense their need and open automatically is a big question. I wish I could say I have faith that they are all bright enough to figure it out. But I don’t.
Of course, we have to include the presidential visit into any round up of good news in Alaska. Whether or not you like Obama, he’s the first sitting president to ever come to the State of Alaska, thus solidifying our position as an actual state. Now if we could convince 48 other states that we are part of the continental US, we wouldn’t all be forced to buy at Amazon Prime for the free shipping. The other states would understand that when they said free shipping in the continental US that includes Alaska. Unless, of course, they can name the continent they think we’re on.
Here’s something else for which we can all be grateful. Americans continue to be some of the most generous and giving people on earth. And it’s not just in the field of military armaments and equipment that we give so abundantly. Most Americans seem to understand that no matter our political differences, we are all in the same boat and we all need to help each other. Not all Americans are as generous as others, but there are enough to give us continued hope for the future.
May 2016 bring you joy and peace, contentment and fulfillment. If you need help finding those things, they’re not far away, at soup kitchens, shelters, safe houses and any number of other charities that could use your help in their mission. You’ll be the better for the giving.

Elise Patkotak • 03:48 AM •
Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I realize that yesterday’s post was rather much of a downer. Wish I could find something to lift us up. But I can’t get that poll out of my mind or stop wondering about when America lost its collective mind.

Elise Patkotak • 03:51 AM •
Tuesday, December 29, 2015

In a recent Gallup poll, Donald Trump tied with Pope Francis as the second most admired person by Americans. We cannot possibly hang our heads low enough in shame at this.

Elise Patkotak • 03:49 AM •
Sunday, December 27, 2015

I spent part of Christmas Eve watching one of my parrots try to mate with my hand.
Note to self for 2016: Get out more.

Elise Patkotak • 03:34 AM •
Saturday, December 26, 2015

Bird TLC education bald eagle “Leuco” has been transferred to the Alaska Zoo!

After 12 years of service as an education bird, Leuco the bald eagle has been transferred from the Bird Treatment and Learning Center to the Alaska Zoo! Among other health issues, Leuco had developed cataracts which made it difficult for him to travel to presentations. We’re happy to report that ophthalmologist Dr. Alan Brightman donated his time to perform surgery on both of Leuco’s eyes, and the cataracts were successfully removed!

About Leuco: In 2003 a fishermen in Valdez noticed a young bald eagle on the ground that appeared to be injured. After much coaxing with fish, the kind fisherman was eventually able to capture the bird and send him to Bird TLC. No significant injuries were found, but it was assumed that the young eagle had suffered a head or neck injury, possibly from falling or being kicked out of the nest before he was able to fly. He was determined to be non-releasable, so the eagle was added to Bird TLC’s education program and was named Leuco (short for the latin name for the bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Lovingly cared for over the past 12 years by Bird TLC volunteer Gloria Beckman, Leuco has served his community well, acting as an excellent Bird TLC ambassador eagle and helping to teach thousands of children as well as adults about bald eagles and the habitat in which they live. Needless to say, we’re overjoyed with the wonderful home and quality care that the Alaska Zoo is able to provide for Leuco. Stop by the zoo and tell him hello when you get a chance!

About Dr. Brightman: Dr. Alan Brightman has been a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists for more than 28 years. He served as full professor of ophthalmology at Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine and specializes in the entire spectrum of medical and surgical ophthalmology of all animal species. He is the author of more than 90 publications, has 28 years of clinical experience, and has pioneered a number of surgical procedures. Bird TLC will be forever grateful to Dr. Brightman for restoring Leuco’s eyesight, thank you Doctor!

Elise Patkotak • 03:25 AM •

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