Elise Sereni
Tuesday, April 03, 2007

John McCain has gone completely insane and Hillary Clinton now has enough money to buy the White House.  It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:23 AM •
Monday, April 02, 2007

If there is any doubt that Karl Rove deserves to go to hell for eternity, it was wiped away by the sight of him rapping and doing what I can only assume he thought was rap dancing in a tuxedo.  They may have to legalize a lot more drugs to help me move past this moment.  I wake up screaming in the night. My eyes...my eyes… NOTE TO ALL MIDDLE AGED AND OLDER WHITE MEN IN DC - YOU CANNOT RAP. YOU CAN BARELY DANCE.  YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN’T RAP AND DANCE AT THE SAME TIME.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:57 AM •
Sunday, April 01, 2007

Does anyone actually listen to all those recorded messages from politicians running for office, special interests wanting you to vote one way or another on a proposition, etc. etc. ad nauseam? I just came back from all of 90 minutes away from my desk and almost the entire recording time on my answer machine was filled up with them because Anchorage has an election coming up on Tuesday. I couldn’t hit delete fast enough.  It’s enough to make me want to vote AGAINST the people who are annoying me so much with these damn recordings.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:53 AM •
Saturday, March 31, 2007

I lost my favorite gardener and all around wonderful person to cancer this month.  I know her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are all missing her very much. As for me, I have to believe she is in heaven advising God on how to plant Her spring garden and gently telling Her which are weeds and which aren’t.  And if God has any sense at all, She will listen to Pat’s advice.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:29 AM •
Friday, March 30, 2007

Well, I guess I have my answer now. If your dogs are loose and threatening me when I walk, it’s my problem.  Animal Control not only is of little use, but if you complain, you get a call from someone who makes it sound as though you are the annoyance and those poor people with the loose dogs are being harrassed. At least I know where I stand now.
By the way, Anchorage Animal Control, you should screen your officers better and only let certain ones actually have contact with the public. The others should stick to animals who won’t catch the tone of annoyance and condescension in their voice when they talk to you.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:24 AM •
Thursday, March 29, 2007

I know that when someone invokes their Fifth Amendment rights I should not automatically assume they are guilty of something and covering up. But I do. And I bet you do too. What’s scary is when the person doing it is from the highest levels of the Department of Justice.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:06 AM •
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Due to local elections, my column has been bumped to next week in the paper so it won’t show up here till then either. So this is my week off. I don’t have to sit here staring at the blank computer screen trying to come up with a topic that will hold my interest long enough to write about it.  Wow.  You’d think I’d feel more relieved than I do.
Meanwhile, for all Alaskans reading this, please vote no on the advisory vote to deny same sex couples health care benefits. First of all, let’s not codify discrimination into our constitution. That’s just wrong. Secondly, it isn’t trying to redefine marriage.  Since we’ve already put into law that marriage is between a man and a woman, I think that’s pretty safe.  Of course, I still find myself wondering how someone’s marriage is threatened by someone else getting health care benefits. I’m even more confused that most of the people who want to deny this basic benefit to same sex couples are claiming to do so in the name of Jesus.  If they are referring to the same Jesus I read about in the New Testament, I have to say I think he’d be pretty pissed to think people would use his name to be mean and hurtful to someone. I think he’d say judge not, let ye be judged.  Or love thy neighbor as thyself. Or he who is without sin, cast the first stone. Considering the number of Christians who admit to cheating on their spouses, their taxes, their business partners, their shareholders...well, you get the picture. There are few without sin.
So let’s be fair and honest and decent and allow people the health care benefits we should all have available to us.  It’s the Christian thing to do.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:34 AM •

OOPS! Guess the column did run in the paper today, so here it is.

As a GAL in this state, I am thrilled that the issue of full staffing for OCS and the need for more foster parents is actually catching some attention, if not more money, down in Juneau.  Usually, issues like this take a back seat to gas line talks, revenue projections and whether Mr. Whitekeys should be named the new state fossil.

So I hate to be the one to point out any flaws in this plan to hire more social workers, but I will. The simple fact is that if you increase the number of social workers, you increase the intake valve of the system so it can handle more cases earlier with more attention to detail.  That intake of families with problems gets fed down a pipeline that narrows dramatically as you reach the middle. Simply put, there aren’t enough services to meet the needs of families already in the pipeline, let alone adding to the number.
Families with domestic violence and/or substance abuse problems have enormous needs.  To reunite a family, those needs must be met in as short a time as possible. Study after study has shown that damage to children starts pretty early when they are in a drunken, abusive atmosphere. Pull them out and plop them into a stranger’s home and, no matter how loving and kind that foster family might be, you compound the damage even though it has to be done for the child’s safety. So you have a very narrow window to do the work needed to keep a family together in a healthy fashion that promotes the welfare of the child.
Healing families with these problems takes a lot of human resources.  You need family counselors, addiction counselors, domestic violence counselors, parenting counselors...well, you get the picture.  It not only take a lot of human resources to reunite the family, but it then takes a lot of continuing resources to support the family so there is no relapse. Because even worse than taking a child from a family the first time is repeated removals from the home which leaves a child’s sense of security and safety blown to bits.
Unfortunately, what we have the least of in this state is what we need the most of, especially if we plan to increase the number of social workers so that we can reach more troubled families earlier. We already have long waiting lists for the few programs available in the state. 
So the question that must be asked is how long we think even the most accomplished of social workers can keep a family from imploding when they are on a waiting list of six to eight months for the services the family needs to start healing. 
There was a push a few decades ago when we were flush with oil money to make services locally available throughout the state and to make them culturally relevant.  That dream was one of the first victims of our falling revenues. While some programs still exist in the Bush, most are now in urban centers since that makes the most financial sense.
So the situation we have today is an overwhelming amount of need and a very finite amount of resources to fill that need.  What that means for the future is that for every cent we don’t allocate today to help families in need, we will spend five time that amount when these children grow up. Because study after study shows that these are the people who fill our prisons, psychiatric hospitals and substance abuse treatment facilities. These are the people who all too often grow up to be non-productive members of our society who drain our coffers without offering any return on our dollars.  If we help when they are little, at least we have some hope that they will enter society as healthy, contributing members.
When you are a troubled family with multiple substance abuse problems and domestic violence issues waiting for an opening in a crowded facility, each day that you wait is another day when you can slide back into total chaos. And each slide backwards is a devastating blow to any child in that home trying to make sense of life and how it should be lived.
Social workers are not miracle workers.  No matter how many you have, if you don’t have the support services they need to offer to these families, it’s like sending a soldier into battle with a thousand comrades and no weapons. You’ve lost before the enemy has even been engaged.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:33 AM •
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I was interviewed by a high school student about the March on Washington in the fall of ‘67. Not only is my youth now officially history, but her mother informed me that the dear child had no idea what a draft board was so my telling her about joining sit-ins there was like speaking a foreign language.  Ditto for the words Quakers, Society of Friends, Abbie Hoffman and levitating the Pentagon. Sigh.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:44 AM •
Monday, March 26, 2007

In the eyes of conservative moralistic Christians that listen to all those televangelists, Hillary Clinton would have more respect from their corner if she’d divorced Bill like Gingrich and Giuliani and McCain did with their spouses. In fact, based on their support for Giuliani and Gingrich, they should be wild for Bill since they seem to embrace men who cheat. Oh wait, that’s right. Clinton went back to his wife and they seem to be at least making a surface effort to keep their marriage together. That’s his problem. Had he dumped her for one of his bimbettes, he would have had their full support.
Yep, it’s nice to know where those fundamentalist Christians really place their values.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:41 AM •
Sunday, March 25, 2007

It wasn’t that you fired those prosecutors. It was that you lied about it. How hard can that concept be to understand? And why does each new generation of politicians seemingly have to learn it over again? Don’t they remember Watergate? Irancontra?  For god’s sake, Bill was impeached for lying under oath, not for screwing with Monica!  It wasn’t the initial act that brought them down. It was the lies and cover ups.
I guess it is true that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:46 AM •
Saturday, March 24, 2007

It’s officially spring in Alaska. I know this because the robins are singing through the snow that’s falling.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:04 AM •
Friday, March 23, 2007

It’s supposed to be Thursday. I need another day this week.  Help!

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 01:03 PM •
Thursday, March 22, 2007

I think this picture says it all.  No this is not one of my dogs. But it could be. This dog is owned by the person who taught me how to make my dogs understand that I am in charge in my home. Master, your pupil has learned her lesson well.  By the way, do you bring your dog breakfast in bed too?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:32 AM •
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ah yes, the “babe” factor.  Our governor has it and yours doesn’t.  Our governor has it to such a degree that even Barack Obama could stand to take a few lessons from her.  Anyone doubting the power of the babe factor need only look at her approval ratings.  More than three months into her administration and her numbers hover in the 70% favorable.  Now that’s a babe factor and a half.

There are some who might argue that Palin has those huge numbers as a direct result of the unbelievably low numbers registered by our former head of state - a kind of rebound effect.  We disliked him so much by the end of his administration that we simply have to like her just to prove to ourselves we can like the person we elected.
Some might argue that she generates those numbers because she is a fresh new face that doesn’t travel with a posse and still looks like the person who could be standing in line next to you at the grocery check out stand sneaking a look at the latest pics from Anna Nicole’s funeral in some gossip rag no one ever actually admits to buying.
But the truth is, despite this being 2007, despite all the years of women’s lib, despite all the fights to be taken on an equal footing with men, to be respected for what is in our heads and hearts and not for the shape of what covers them, women still possess that one great advantage.  Most men can’t resist a babe. And once we, as women, get over viewing that as insulting, we might be able to see just how easily we can turn it to our advantage.
Listen...can you hear it? That’s the sound of thousands of women screaming in horror at that last sentence. To all of them I say, with all due respect, get over it.  Babes have always had the advantage and babes, if they have an ounce of brains to go with their looks and body, will use that advantage every chance they get.  If men fall for it, that’s their problem.
I can still hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me, as I entered the dating years, to keep my mouth shut and not let on how smart I was because men didn’t like smart women.  Apparently, it was my duty as a woman to let men think they were brighter and better than me because their self-esteem related directly to how much they would like me.  As anyone who knows me will tell you, I failed miserably in that womanly duty.
I never could play the cute young thing very well. I didn’t improve when it was time to be the pretty young lady. And I certainly blew it completely as a flirtatious adult female.  Those of us who never could be the babe sometimes resented those for whom babedom came so easily.  But now I have to wonder.  Was mother right all along? Should women take advantage wherever they can find it? Because playing dumb and flattering a man into thinking he is smarter and better is nothing more than taking advantage of the sometimes frail male ego, isn’t it?
I’m not saying this is what our governor is doing.  On the other hand, if her dazzling smile and beauty queen looks gets her agenda passed because it blinds some male legislators, then who’s to say she is wrong to use that.  Isn’t that a male problem more than a female problem? And I feel safe in saying a man would use it to his advantage if he could without a second thought.
We’ve had male governors who came close to the babe factor. Tony Knowles, despite his puzzling hair style choice, was somewhat of a babe. Steve Cowper certainly had that going for him.  And Jay Hammond...well, he was the ultimate male babe, every woman’s dream of the tough, tender, real Alaska man. The problem was that these male babes were, for the most part, dealing with all male legislatures that were seemingly resistant to their physical charms and attributes.
I don’t agree with Sarah Palin on a lot of her positions. Being a female, I am not blinded by her babe factor into ignoring our differences.  But for every male who is, I say more power to her.  Pour it on, Governor.  Take every advantage you can.  Vanquish your enemies with your dazzling looks, great body and astounding mind. 
If men still fall for that in this millennium, then they deserve what they get.  Eyes up, gentlemen. A woman’s brains are in her head. You ignore this fact at your own peril.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:33 AM •

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