Karl Rove Comes to Alaska…

12 09 2008

Les Gara and his entourage on Primary Night at Election Central in Anchorage.

Please give a big Mudflats welcome to our guest poster for the evening, Les Gara.  Les is a Democratic State Representative from Anchorage.  He’s also a former Assistant Attorney General (Exxon Valdez Litigation Section), and has been in office since 2003.  


I took that photo of Les at the Primary Night festivities at the Egan Convention Center in downtown Anchorage.  That’s him being interviewed for a local news cast.  He had the best signs, I thought.  You can only do so much with red, white, and blue.


Here’s Rep. Gara’s  take on McCain’s spin and interference with the bi-partisan “Troopergate” Investigation. 


Politicians are good at spin.  The McCain camp has brought a whole new level of it to our small state – in what looks like an effort to show they can play the same Karl Rove-like political games that have haunted this country for the last 8 years.  I like Governor Palin on a personal level.  But I don’t like what the McCain campaign is doing to our state.  I don’t like deception.  And I don’t like politics as usual.


Alaskans are starting to see evidence of a Karl Rove-like effort to stonewall what started as a non-controversial, bi-partisan “Troopergate” investigation.  A little deception here.  A few personal attacks there.  And the kind of spin you see at an amusement park tilt-a-whirl station.  


This investigation was started by a Republican-dominated Alaska Legislature to look into Governor Palin’s conduct in seeking the termination of a State Trooper, once married to the Governor’s sister, Trooper Michael Wooten.  The McCain camp wants to stop it by saying it’s a “democratic” investigation.  Apart from facts, and the reputations the McCain folks don’t mind destroying, there’s not a lot standing in the way of this strategy.


Until August 29 “Troopergate” was a small state investigation Governor Palin, and every Republican and Democrat in a Republican-led Legislature had agreed was appropriate.  But things changed the day Governor Palin joined the McCain ticket.  His handlers went ballistic that the Governor agreed to an investigation they now needed to stop.


I know Senator McCain is now running on a political platform of “change.”  Leave aside how he’ll fight to change what he’s voted to do to this country for the last 8 years.  If you ask me, the only thing he’s changed so far is Governor Palin’s position – her decision to cooperate with this once-small investigation. 


This is one of those cases where there’s a clear truth.  It’s a clear truth – about a bi-partisan investigation – that I hope McCain’s operatives will ultimately fail at spinning into a “partisan” plot against his running mate.


To get their way, and prevent sworn testimony from leaking out on what I suspect was probably a minor breach by Governor Palin, McCain’s operatives have come to Alaska to add invective in a state where people generally get along.  They’ve chosen to vilify: 1) one of the state’s most respected public officials, Senator Hollis French; 2) the state’s most respected law enforcement official, Walt Monegan; and 3) a highly respected former DA and Victims Rights advocate a legislative committee voted 12 – 0 to hire to conduct the investigation, Steve Branchflower. 


It’s the ghost of Karl Rove.  Say something untrue enough times – like that Al Qaida is training with Saddam Hussein’s help – and people will believe it.  Not this time.  I’m not sure if I mentioned a few important facts.


Did I mention that no one ever attacked the Troopergate investigation by Alaska’s Legislature – started long before Governor Palin was placed on McCain’s ticket – until August 29?  That was the day Governor Palin joined the McCain bid for the White House. 


Did I mention that before the McCain camp got involved, the Governor stated of the Legislative investigation:  “That being the route they choose, so be it.  I’m happy to comply, to cooperate.” (KTUU.com, July 24, 2008).  She repeatedly stated she’d comply, and that it was the right thing to do.


Did I mention the personal attacks against our local public officials only started after Sen. McCain sent his flacks up to our small state on August 29?  They came with a mission to make America believe a Republican-initiated investigation, started with a unanimous committee vote of 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats, was a “partisan” plot.  That’s only a tough sell if people know the facts.


Did I mention they now claim the Legislature cannot legally proceed with an investigation into government misconduct (I thought Republicans didn’t like attorneys who made frivolous arguments), and that they are threatening to to go to court to stop it?   The Governor’s attorneys started writing those letters on – you guessed it – August 29.  Before then they agreed the investigation was proper.


Oh, and what about this.  Last week the McCain camp put our Governor in a bizarre position.  They told her to file an ethics complaint against herself!  Yup, again after her VP nomination.  Too weird?  What’s behind this move?  You guessed it.  Lawyers.  


To create the legal argument that the Legislature cannot investigate government misconduct, the McCain team has had her file a complaint against herself before something called the State Personnel Board.  That’s a 3 member group of Republican Gubernatorial appointees – that, if it started this week, wouldn’t get an investigation done, and reported to the public, until after the November election.  Convenient.


Hmmm.  The Legislature has announced they’d have their investigation done – if witnesses would cooperate like they were until August 29 – by October 10.  I can’t imagine why the McCain camp would prefer an investigation that doesn’t get finished until after November.  Any ideas?


So what about the claim that this investigation is some sort of partisan plot against a Republican ticket?  A legislative committee of 8 Republicans and 4 democrats asked former Assistant District Attorney Hollis French, a Democrat – to hire a legislative investigator in July.  He did.  He’s not doing the investigation.  So the complaint that he’s a Democrat who supports Barack Obama  is, well, weak.  He’s a Democrat who supports Barack Obama, who was appointed before Governor Palin was a VP candidate.  More importantly, he’s a Senator who has the confidence of a majority Republican Senate. 


He once said to the press the results of the investigation are likely to be troubling.  He shouldn’t have said that.  But the Governor’s said it too.  The newspapers have said it.  We all know it.  The public record already contains evidence that the Department of Public Safety was contacted roughly 20 times by Palin senior staff, and her husband Todd, about firing Trooper Wooten.  The Governor has conceded that based on this evidence, the public could conclude the Department could have felt pressure from above to fire Trooper Wooten.


The investigator, Steve Branchflower, is a former DA and Office of Victims Rights head (a job he was appointed to by a Republican Legislature).  He’s actually conducting the investigation.  Attacking Senator French doesn’t really work if he’s not investigating the case, or making any findings.  So the McCain folks have attacked Mr. Branchflower.  And they’ve tried to stop him from issuing subpoenas to the witnesses now directed not to talk.  Today the McCain folks suffered a setback.  A bi-partisan committee of Republicans and Democrats authorized Mr. Branchflower to move ahead to subpoena those witnesses.


And for good measure – the McCain folks are attacking Walt Monegan – the Public Safety Commissioner Governor Palin fired.  The Troopergate investigation involves claims that Monegan was fired for not agreeing to fire Trooper Wooten, the Governor’s brother in law involved in a very ugly custody dispute with the Governor’s sister. 


I don’t begrudge the Governor for not liking her brother-in-law.  I don’t really like him either, from what I’ve read.  I do begrudge those who’d attack Commissioner Monegan, a quintessential public servant who’s worked for both Republican and Democratic heads on the state and local level. 


These three public servants deserve better.  What they’ve received so far, is a little dose of ugly Washington politics in a state where we don’t see that stuff too often.


I stood on the sidelines when this investigation started.  When Governor Palin fired Commissioner Monegan, my advice was to end the flap and just hire him back. He does good work.  He’s well respected.  Unfortunately, my advice sometimes isn’t that good, and the Governor didn’t agree.


Then McCain’s staff of outsiders came to town.  And they began to launch personal attacks on people I respect.  They started proving that the same old politics that have caused dissatisfaction with Washington insiders these past 8 years are going to be the bread and butter of the McCain campaign.  


So – here I am today.  I support an Obama presidency because he shares a vision I believe in.  I’ve publicly supported him since the race started last year.  I also think Governor Palin originally did the right thing in agreeing to take some small lumps by proceeding with a legislative investigation Republicans and Democrats, and much of the public asked for.   


But unfortunately Alaska is the bull’s eye in a national presidential race today.  When told by the McCain folks that she needed to change her position, she did, as a loyal running mate.  I understand that.


As an Alaskan I’m not really angry at our Governor for this mess.  I do blame John McCain for the ugliness he’s brought to our state this week.   His folks have come to my small state to attack my friends, and people I respect, for political gain.  In my book, that’s not OK.  We all mess up time to time.  But this crosses the line. 


In small states, like small towns, people who act like the McCain folks apologize.  Until that happens, I’ll keep defending 3 public servants who deserve better.



Dueling Palin Rallies in Anchorage.

12 09 2008

OK folks, it’s heating up here in Anchorage.  Get ready for dueling rallies!

Before she heads out of state to resume campaigning with John McCain, Sarah Palin will attend a rally in her honor Saturday morning at the new Dena’ina Convention Center in Downtown Anchorage.  The doors open at 7:30am, and the rally begins at 9:30.  We were uncertain if a rally would be scheduled, but they made the announcement late this morning.

Two and a half hours later, at noon tomorrow, the group “Alaska Women Reject Palin” will be meeting at the corner of 36th Ave. and Denali St. to hold a sidewalk protest with signs.  This is a non-partisan rally that encourages creative signs that stick to policy rather than partisanship.

Seems simple enough.  Two rallies – two schools of thought.  However, Anchorage conservative radio talk show host Eddie Burke has stirred the pot.  He blasted the organizers of the second rally during his talk show today on KBYR, calling them ….sit down…. “a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots.”  No, I’m not kidding and I wish I were.  Welcome to the dark side of Anchorage that makes sane, thinking people cringe.  Burke also announced the particulars of the rally…so there may be some unwanted guests.

The media, no doubt, will be all over the first rally, and hopefully some will cover the other one as well.  In any case, I’m planning to be at both, and will report back with the un-mediatized version of the events.

I think a big turnout at the “AK Women Reject Palin” rally could be a powerful statement.  Men and kids are also welcomed.

It could be an interesting day…

Todd Palin Subpoenaed! Updated.

12 09 2008


The state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 today to subpoena 13 people — including the husband of Gov. Sarah Palin — in an investigation of whether Palin abused her power in trying to get her former brother-in-law fired.

Special investigator Stephen Branchflower said that Todd Palin is “such a central figure” in the investigation that he should be issued a subpoena.

A total of 13 subpoenas were issued authorized and also the cell phone records of Frank “the Pressurizer” Bailey whose taped phone call to the Troopers ramped up “Troopergate” to a new level.

Sarah Palin will not be subpoenaed, but Branchflower has said that he wants to interview her.

This is getting really really interesting….. More details as they become available.


Here are the other individuals who were authorized to receive a subpoena:

Frank Bailey – Director of Boards & Commissions. His call to troopers pressuring about Wooten was taped.

Diane Kiesel – Palin’s Personnel Director

Annette Kreitzer – Administration Commissioner

Nicki Neal – State Personnel & Labor Relations Director

Brad Thompson – State Risk Management Director

Mike Nizich – Former Deputy Chief of Staff, now Chief of Staff as of 8/28/08

Don Bitney – You tell me….  Could this be John Bitney, Palin aide that got sacked for having an affair with Palin’s married friend?

Ivy Frye – Special assistant to Sarah Palin

Kris Perry – Palin confidante who managed her gubernatorial campaign and now manages the Anchorage office

Janice Mason – Palin’s scheduler

Todd Palin – First dude, and private citizen

Randy Ruaro – Former special assistant to the governor, now Deputy Chief of Staff, promoted 9/1/08

Murlene Wilkes – Insurance adjuster handling a worker’s comp claim filed by Trooper Mike Wooten.

***Mike Tibbles, former Palin Chief of Staff was NOT subpoenaed despite the urging of Branchflower to authorize it.

State Senate President Lyda Green now must authorize them before they are issued.  Yes, she’s the one that was mocked and derided on a local radio show while Palin giggled.

Palin Friday Frivolity!

12 09 2008

Once in a while, in the middle of all this insanity, we all just need to sit back and have a good laugh. I’ve been compulsively chuckling over this one for the last 10 minutes.

We know that Sarah and Todd Palin like to name their children with sports/Alaskan theme names.

Track, who was born in Track and Field season.

Bristol, after Bristol Bay.

Willow, after the town north of Wasilla, or the Willow Ptarmigan (Alaska State Bird).

Piper Indy, after the Piper Cub airplane, and the Polaris Indy snowmachine (snowmobile for you ‘outsiders’). And an interesting quote from Palin has her saying Indy could also refer to “Independence”…. Hmmm.

Trig Paxson, after the town of Paxson, north of Wasilla.

So haven’t you ever wondered what your name would be if the fates had made Sarah and Todd Palin your parents? Now you can find out.

Behold the Palin baby name generator! Just type your name and find your Palin name instantly.

Get ready! Find YOUR Palin name HERE!

Have fun, and I’ll check in later.


Engine Nighthawk Palin

Alaskans React to “The Interview.”

12 09 2008

Sarah Palin has her first public debut since getting the VP nod under her belt. The first part of her series of interviews with ABC’s Charles Gibson aired last night. I anticipated that Alaskans far and wide from Juneau to Little Diomede would be glued to their TVs and hanging on her every word. I was very surprised when most people I spoke to this morning said, “I couldn’t bring myself to watch.” Lacking anyone to talk to for local reaction, I spent my morning coffee time perusing the reactions on the Anchorage Daily News blog. Interesting.

There were not nearly as many supportive answers as I expected. Here’s a quick tally:

Bravo – 17

Boo Hiss – 51

There were some interesting subsets of comments as well.

Eyerolling at the “You can see Russia” comment – 5

I am so embarrased – 5

Charles Gibson was trying to ‘trap’ her – 5

Negative comments about Obama – 4

The Dems are Desperate – 4

Vote Bob Barr – 1

Vote Ron Paul – 1

Here’s a smattering of comments for your reading pleasure. If you want to read them all, go HERE.

Bravo Sarah! Good job on a interview that was not a calk [sic] walk.

What an idiot!! She has no idea what she is talking about. Having her in there with her religious ideas is scary enough. But couple that with no understanding of world politics is horrific. Vote Obama and Biden and save our country from these lunitics.

It’s sad really. That people just look past how completely unqualified and unprepared she is for this position. Why? Because she’s from Alaska? Because she’s pretty? Charming? Listen to what she’s saying! She may be a great governor, but that certainly doesn’t mean she’s ready to lead the country. Seriously – you can see Russia from Alaska – so that makes her qualified to do what exactly?

Sarah is my ticket for VP. I’m a Democrat. It doesnt matter what any NBC reporter says, or what the OBAAMA dems mythbuster compagne conludes in Alaska, and quit frankly I don’t care what her qualifications are at this point because she will learn as she goes. She has less polical blemishes on her record as compared to any long term politician. Yes…she may have less experience about foreign policy affairs but I know she will do a good job. Sarah is the fresh new face we need as VP. With all the false claims the dems have made has made me change my view about OBAAMA’s tackics. I say keep up the false accusations and more folks will be changing sides to McCain and Sarah.

I think Palin is likable and does come off as an average person, but that is why Bush got elected and I am hoping the last eight years has taught us that one thing we don’t want in the white house is someone who is average and likeable.

Isn’t the candidate supposed to know more than the interviewer? Sarah should go back to TV sports reporter and let Gibson have her slot as VP candidate.

Great job Sarah! We support you and John McCain.

Message to the citizens of the United States of America: Welcome to Mayberry.

Keep it up SARAH, tell Charlie what we’re about, it makes him mad when you stuck to your guns, he was trying to get you to admit, nice try, but, didn’t work, He’s worried that your interviews with him will look good! and Its good that WE are doing this, because it shows how important our COUNTRY is! your doing a GREAT JOB.

Bobbing and weaving. Our Gov can duck and block better than a boxer with no punch.
Cramming for a test and then getting a passing score doesn’t mean you have a real understanding of the problems.

The bashing continues, the liberals are rabid, Sarah continues to push the McCain/Palin ticket higher in the polls. The Democrats have again given the the republicans the election, putting Joe Biden in as VP was a gift and as the saying goes shows the liberals are “dummer than a box of rocks”.

I think McCain mght be voting for Obama in this election because by now he MUST have figured out that he himself is just not the right candidate for the job, considering who he picked for his VP running mate. By now he must be thinking he would really, really like to go in the “way back machine” and change his mind about his choice. Poor guy must be black and blue by now from smacking himself in the head every time she opened her mouth and answered one of Charles Gibson’s questions. Yikes!

My pit bull is smarter than Palin. She’s doing all the tricks the McCain campaign taught her to do. Very trainable.

I’m sure that those who saw the interview and aren’t likely to blog on the Anchorage Daily News site probably had a more favorable reaction. And I suspect from some of the comments I read that the focus will be “Why didn’t anyone ask Obama if he thought he had enough experience?” And “Charlie Gibson was aggressive and tried to trap her!”

Good thing all those world leaders she hasn’t met yet will play nice.

Sarah’s “Grand Plan for This World.”

12 09 2008

I confess to being a little nervous about tonight’s interview of Sarah Palin by Charlie Gibson of ABC News. I wasn’t too worried that she’d hit it out of the park.  Why?  Because she really doesn’t know anything.  There are only so many talking points you can memorize.  And even if you memorize one and parrot it back perfectly, there are still those damned follow-up questions, and that annoying ‘nuance’ you have to deal with.  I was worried that Charlie Gibson would ask her to talk about her lapel pin, or ask her about her favorite recipe for moose stew.  Gibson exceeded my expectations, and Palin didn’t.

Compared to her usual Alaska Governor persona, she seemed tense, and scripted.  And someone must have told her to use people’s names when talking to them, because she must have said “Charrlee” a dozen times in the first 10 minutes.  All in all, I give her low marks.  Why?  Because basically, she sounded like she had no idea what she was talking about.  It was all pep talk, and no substance.  All memorized sound bytes that sometimes were repeated verbatim like a broken record, and no sincerity.  A few things stuck out, like when Gibson asked if she hesitated after being asked to be McCain’s running mate.

PALIN: I didn’t hesitate, no.

GIBSON: Didn’t that take some hubris?

PALIN: I — I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink.

Gibson nailed it.  Hubris indeed, and Palin has lots of it.  How else can you have no foreign policy, national or international experience, and NOT HESITATE? Palin is most definitely focused on the mission.  And she is ready because she is confident that she is ready.

GIBSON: But this is not just reforming a government. This is also running a government on the huge international stage in a very dangerous world. When I asked John McCain about your national security credentials, he cited the fact that you have commanded the Alaskan National Guard and that Alaska is close to Russia. Are those sufficient credentials?

PALIN: But it is about reform of government and it’s about putting government back on the side of the people, and that has much to do with foreign policy and national security issues Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that’s with the energy independence that I’ve been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, that I worked on as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, overseeing the oil and gas development in our state to produce more for the United States.

GIBSON: I know. I’m just saying that national security is a whole lot more than energy.

PALIN: It is, but I want you to not lose sight of the fact that energy is a foundation of national security. It’s that important. It’s that significant.

Her foreign policy experience is energy.  McCain said it today in Maine, and Palin said it in Alaska.  They’ve said it from coast to coast, and repeated themselves.  So it must be true.

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” Are we fighting a holy war?

PALIN: You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words when he said — first, he suggested never presume to know what God’s will is, and I would never presume to know God’s will or to speak God’s words.  But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that’s a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God’s side.  That’s what that comment was all about, Charlie.

She was quoting Lincoln…  I can almost see the former Bush PR people frantically Googling “God quotes” and trying to find one that came close.  But as for her intentionally quoting Lincoln, and not mentioning she was quoting Lincoln when she was quoting Lincoln?  This is the woman who, when asked what she thought about keeping ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance said, “Absolutely. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me!”  She was only a couple hundred years off. But she memorizes Lincoln quotes…

PALIN: I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  That, in my world view, is a grand — the grand plan.

I don’t like it when recent mayors of small towns and first term governors start having “grand plans for this world.”  It makes me nervous.  And didn’t someone just say ‘hubris’?

GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?

PALIN: They’re our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

This one had me laughing out loud.  Ready for a lesson in Alaska geography/International Affairs?  Off the coast of Nome, 532 miles northwest of Anchorage (the closest city) is an island called Little Diomede.  Little Diomede is 2.4 miles east of the island called Big Diomede, which is in Russia. 

Little Diomede, Alaska has a population of 146.  It is 2.5 square miles in area. There are 42 children in the school.  Nobody drives to work.   Big Diomede is a whopping 26 square miles.  On a clear day you can see the Island of Big Diomede from the western shore of Little Diomede. Therefore Sarah Palin is capable of negotiating with Putin and Sakashvili to peacefully settle the violent conflict that has been burgeoning in the separatist enclave of South Ossetia. 

Why Everyone in Alaska Has Foreign Policy Experience. Big Diomede, Russia (left), and Little Diomede, Alaska (right).

Why Everyone in Alaska Has Foreign Policy Experience. Big Diomede, Russia (left), and Little Diomede, Alaska (right).

GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don’t think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

GIBSON: So if we wouldn’t second guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would cooperative or agree with that.

PALIN: I don’t think we can second guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.

GIBSON: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right.

PALIN: We cannot second guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself.

Can you find the talking point in the above exchange?  I’ll bet you can.

And I’ve saved the worst for last.

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN:  In what respect, Charlie? (no clue what the Bush Doctrine is)

GIBSON: The Bush — well, what do you — what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view. (Hopeful)

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

He eventually went on, after she talked in circles for a while, and bailed her out by telling her exactly what the Bush doctrine IS, and all about pre-emptive war and how that’s OK in George W. Bush’s world.  Once she knew what it was, she agreed. 

It’s going to be a long 53 days.  Don’t blink.