And the Mudflats Award for Bravery Goes to… Wasilla Democrats!

10 09 2008

Obama supporters in Wasilla, Alaska!  Yes, you heard right.  A group of intrepid Obama-Biden supporters stood in the rain beside the highway in downtown Wasilla, waving signs and cheering as people headed home from work.

Several rally-goers called in to Alaska’s progressive talk radio station KUDO to report on the event.  By 5:15 they had about 25 people at the rally.  OK, before you think that’s not much…trust me…it’s a LOT, especially for Wasilla and especially considering that this is, basically,  the heart of enemy territory.  According to one caller, there were lots of people honking and giving the thumbs-up.  Of course, there were also those who chanted Sah-rah out the window.

Meanwhile, up in Fairbanks, another form of rally is taking place.  The “Welcome Home” rally for Sarah Palin.  And yes, I’m sure it is better attended.  And yes, they are handing out McCain-Palin buttons featuring a creepy line drawing of a pit bull with big red human lips that I cannot bear to post here.  (shudder)

But the fact that the Wasilla event happened, that 25 people showed up, that passers-by honked and gave the thumbs up at ALL is amazing.  So, a big hat tip and a sweeping bow to the bravest folks in the land!

(Anyone out there in Wasilla get pictures?  Email

And for those of you who feel compelled to look…..the pit bull button is HERE.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Stevens Will Stand Trial.

10 09 2008

Ted Stevens on Primary Night 2008 in Alaska

Anchorage Mayor and Democratic Senate Candidate Mark Begich

Looks like the best efforts of Ted Stevens’ attorneys came up short. They tried to get his ongoing corruption case thrown out on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, and that some of the charges exceeded the statute of limitations. ‘No dice’, sayeth Judge Emmett Sullivan.

Stevens was charged on seven felony counts for accepting home renovations and gifts in excess of $250,000 from the oil services company Veco, and failing to report them on his senate financial disclosure forms. In 2006, to the shock of Alaskans, the FBI raided Stevens home in Girdwood, a small town south of Anchorage. There were guys in baseball caps and mirrored sunglasses crawling all over the house, which Stevens refers to as ‘the chalet’. They took pictures of the roof, the deck, the gutters, electrical outlets,  the ginormous Viking barbeque grill…you name it. And that was just the outside. Nobody could figure out what on earth was going on.

Turns out that Bill Allen, head of Veco, was handling all the renovations. What a pal.  Stevens, who said that he paid every bill “that was sent to him”, failed to disclose all he didn’t pay for. We have recently learned about other ‘gifts’ he failed to disclose – among these, a new SUV for his daughter, a massage chair, and even a sled dog worth $1000. Yes, we Alaskans have to add a little ‘local color’ to our political scandals.

So, while many Alaskans love and revere Stevens, who has been our senator since 1968, many others think it’s time for him to bow out gracefully. Others think it’s time for him to check in at the grey-bar hotel. There is nobody that doesn’t have an opinion about Stevens.  And whether you love him or hate him, it will seem strange when he is no longer the Senior Senator from Alaska.

Stevens easily beat a flock of competitors in the recent Alaska Republican primary. Despite smelling blood in the water, none of these challengers were even able to come close to toppling this Alaskan icon we know as “Uncle Ted”, and the longest sitting Republican member of the Senate.

But, Stevens, for some inexplicable reason, seems to be benefiting from the recent Palin phenomenon. Palin’s approval ratings have remained virtually unchanged, hovering around the 80% mark both before and after her nomination. (They had dipped to 67% after the Troopergate scandal broke, and then rebounded) However, Stevens, who had trailed the Democratic challenger Anchorage mayor Mark Begich by 13 points in late July, has seen his numbers surge to within 2 points of the challenger – a statistical dead heat.  It’s suddenly a horse race.

So, is it possible that Stevens will actually be re-elected, despite his indictment? Yes. He did, after all, win his primary after he was indicted. Why? I wish I could tell you. The only rationale I have heard is that Stevens has ‘done a lot for Alaska’. This is true. He has funneled mega-doses of federal money into the state, particularly as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He has been a bulldog. He even gave that Bridge to Nowhere thing a pretty good shot (with the full support of Gov. Palin, I might add).

MARK BEGICH, Anchorage’s hugely popular mayor, will give him a run for his money in the senate race, though. He is smart, young (46 compared to Stevens 84), and full of energy. He’s progressive (by Alaska standards) which means he is against No Child Left Behind, for drilling in the ANWR, pro-alternative energy, acknowledges climate change, is pro-health care reform, for closing loopholes in the new ethics reform bill, and getting troops home from Iraq.

It was looking like Begich had the whole thing sealed, until this latest Palin bounce, that strangely didn’t affect Palin’s numbers in the state at all. 

But first things first…Stevens’ jury selection will begin on September 22nd.  You know, if it weren’t for this Stevens trial, we’d be sooo bored with politics up here.

Palin is on Her Way Home.

10 09 2008

Palin is officially on her way back to Alaska. It’s been less than two weeks since she scurried out of the state to meet the McCains at their Sedona, Arizona home. (I think that’s home #3, right?) After accepting McCain’s invitation to join her on the ticket and addressing the adoring masses at the Republican National Convention, she’s been avoiding the press like the plague, and appearing at campaign stops around the country.

I wonder if Republican voters see the irony of non-stop media coverage, tens of thousands of Republicans waiting on line for hours, and chanting Sa-rah Sah-rah. It’s almost like she was a……(ominous organ music)……celebrity. And we all know how we feel about celebrities, and the mindless, fawning, wide-eyed ‘followers’ that worship the ground they walk on.

I digress.

There’s a big “Welcome Home” rally planned for her in Fairbanks tonight. Tomorrow she will speak at the deployment ceremony for the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright. Her son, Track, is about to deploy to Iraq with that unit.

At the end of the week, she’ll return to the Mat-Su Valley, but no public events have been scheduled, and she has refused to meet with any local media. At some point during her travels, she will de-bunker herself and meet with Charlie Gibson of ABC news for “exclusive interviews.”

There is some talk of a rally on Saturday in Anchorage, but nothing is official yet. There is, however, another type of rally. There’s an email circulating inviting Anchorage women, and the men who love them, to a rally hosted by the newly found group “Alaska Women Reject Palin”. It is being touted as a bipartisan group whose purpose it is to make it known that Palin does not have the support of all Alaskan women, and that this election is a matter of issues, not gender, or personality.

UPDATE:  The AKWAP (Alaska Women Against Palin) group is meeting at noon on Saturday in front of the Loussac Library in Anchorage.  Wear hot pink and black….if you have it.

Newsweek Sinks its Teeth into Troopergate.

10 09 2008

Count among the few things that have cheered me recently, this excellent article in Newsweek on the Troopergate scandal. Despite the fact that I have been following every aspect of this sordid tale available in the Anchorage media, there were a couple things I didn’t know.

Court documents show that Judge Suddock was disturbed by the alleged attacks by Palin and her family members on Wooten’s behavior and character. “Disparaging will not be tolerated—it is a form of child abuse,” the judge told a settlement hearing in October 2005, according to typed notes of the proceedings. The judge added: “Relatives cannot disparage either. If occurs [sic] the parent needs to set boundaries for their relatives.”

and later in the article

As the divorce case dragged on, the judge’s concern about family “disparagement” appeared to deepen. In an order signed Jan. 31, 2006, which granted Palin’s sister and Wooten a final divorce decree, Judge Suddock continued to express concern about attacks by Palin’s family on Wooten. The judge even threatened to curb Palin’s sister’s child custody rights if family criticism of Wooten continued.

In monitoring how a joint-custody arrangement worked out, the judge said in his order that he would pay particular attention to problems noted by a “custody investigator,” specifically “the disparagement of the father [Wooten] by the mother [Molly Hackett, Sarah Palin’s sister] and her family members.”

“It is the mother’s [Hackett’s] responsibility to set boundaries for her relatives and insure [sic] they respect them, and the disparagement by either parent, or their surrogates is emotional child abuse,” Judge Suddock wrote. He added that: “If the court finds it is necessary due to disparagement in the Mat-Su Valley [the area north of Anchorage where Palin and her extended family live], for the children’s best interests, it [the court] will not hesitate to order custody to the father and a move into Anchorage.”

Judges and custody investigators don’t threaten things like that lightly.

It’s fascinating as stories begin to emerge from the national media. Alaskans are gasping a bit. They’re not used to the national attention, and they’re not used to what it sounds like to get an objective opinion. As an Anchorage resident, I can tell you it’s hard to be objective in a town with only 94,000 households. Everyone knows everyone, or knows someone who knows them.

There were a couple things, though, that the story didn’t say. One has to do with the infamous tasering incident in which Trooper Wooten is accused of ‘tasering his 11-year old son’. When you hear about someone tasering an 11-year old, or even ‘allegedly’ tasering an 11-year old, it’s pretty hard to give them the benefit of the doubt. That’s why I was glad that the head of the Public Safety Employees Association, John Cyr, was interviewed two days ago on KUDO radio, and explained the seemingly unforgivable tasering event.

First, the incident happened when the boy asked to see what it felt like, and prove to his friends that he wasn’t a “Mama’s Boy”. Wooten agreed to do it. According to Cyr, Wooten was a taser instructor, and used a training cartridge on the lightest setting and used alligator clips on the boys shirt, rather than the usual skin contacts. The burst was less than one second. Wooten’s wife was in the room at the time, and the entire family knew of the incident. It became an issue ONLY when divorce papers were filed. Wooten acknowledged bad judgment and was disciplined.

Another accusation that gets mentioned frequently is that Wooten was drinking beer in his squad car. This charge was investigated by an independent investigator who found the charge to be “unsustained”. However, Colonel Julia Grimes, who reviewed the investigation, decided to change the finding of the report to “sustained”. She changed the report on her own and gave no reason. When John Cyr, who, in 30 years, had never seen a member of the command staff change the report asked her why she did it. She replied, “Are you willing to call Sarah Palin a liar?” He said, “yes”. She didn’t respond, and the report stayed changed.

It’s interesting to note that Grimes had received a two page typed email from Palin in 2005, calling Wooten a ‘loose canon’ and a ‘ticking timebomb’, discussing his marital infidelity and a host of accusations which have since been investigated. All allegations were settled in 2006 after a thorough investigation. The investigation resulted in a misdemeanor game violation, and improper use of state equipment. No charges or complaints have ever been filed against Wooten by any member of the public, other than the Palin family and friends, according to Cyr.

Read the email Palin sent to Col. Julia Grimes – HERE.