Palin Lies: One Man’s Protest on the Juneau Cruise Ship Docks.

19 09 2008

The huge Anti-Palin rally in Anchorage last weekend got a tremendous amount of media coverage, and support from around the nation. People needed to know that not all Alaskans support Palin as the VP nominee, or share her values.  Some may even like Palin as a governor, but find her completely inappropriate on the national (nevermind international) stage. Huge rallies are great, but sometimes a powerful statement can be made by just one person. Here’s a wonderful story sent to me from Doug, a Mudflatter in Juneau, Alaska.

Thanks for standing up and speaking out when it was not easy or comfortable to do so.

Palin Lies: One Man’s Protest on the Juneau Cruise Ship Docks

For starters, I can see the Governor’s Mansion from my front deck. By the McCain/Palin campaign’s standards this would make me an expert on Governor Palin and her family. The problem is that the Palins don’t live in the mansion, unlike the Russians who actually live in Russia.

Last weekend my wife spoke with her Dad who lives in New York. He was concerned that his neighbors had just returned from an Alaskan cruise and had confidently reported that “everyone in Alaska loves Governor Palin.”

So last night I took a piece of cardboard from the garage, found some of my son’s tempera-paints and made a sign. It read “PALIN LIES”, in big green letters. It wasn’t clever, it wasn’t profound. It was just the way I felt.

I vowed to my family that I would go downtown the next morning and mount a one-man protest.

I would start my protest at the State Capitol, go to the Governor’s Mansion then end up at one of the Cruise Ship Docks near the center of town.

I somehow saw myself victoriously squatting on the Capitol steps flashing my sign to dignitaries and legislators (maybe even lawyer Ed O’Callaghan). But once I got downtown I realized that most people entering or leaving the building at this time of year are State administrative staff. I figured all of them already know the deal, and they would shun me anyway, in fear of losing their jobs.

On second thought, the Governor’s Mansion was a no-go as well. The Governor wasn’t at home. No one was at home. One lonely maintenance guy was raking the yard and all the houses in the neighborhood sported Obama signs either on their lawns or in their windows. I’d be preaching to the choir.

No, the cruise ship docks were the biggest bang for my protest buck. Thousands of people from all over the country, maybe world would see me. I had found my audience. I opted for the Holland America dock. It was close to the Red Dog Saloon, a local landmark, and near a series of steps that went from the dock to the street. People would be coming and going. Perfect.

I parked my car by the McDonald’s and went to a nearby barber shop to get a haircut. I didn’t want to be mistaken for a bum during my protest. I returned to the car pulled my sign out, careful to turn the “message” side toward my leg so no one could read it. I walked down to the dock and sat down on one of a series of wide arching steps that led up to a large platform, then the ship.

I positioned myself on one side of the walkway so as not to impede traffic. I put the sign in front of me and balanced my hands on top. I was ready to take my stand. I promised to keep any conversation on point. I was here to let visitors know that not all Alaskans supported Governor Palin. If pressed I would outline a few of her recent lies as they pertained to earmark spending, Troopergate, Alaska’s role as an energy producer and maybe some informative patter about the “Bridge to Nowhere”.

From the start people directly and indirectly stared at the sign. I was surprised how many people smiled. There were out-and-out grins, secret tilted-head grins and the little nod-and-grins. Some folks even turned to face me head-on and flashed me a killer smile with a thumbs-up sign. I was also surprised how many folks said “you are brave to do this.” As if any minute a black SUV was going to pull up and spirit me away.

I was approached by men and women from all over the USA and the world. A middle-aged couple stopped and told me they were from Wisconsin and that they were voting for Obama. Others really wanted to know about the “lies” and many said they had a “bad feeling about her.” A couple from Britain thought her selection to be “ridiculous” and wanted to talk at length about the campaign.

Even a young couple from India joined me, the husband enthusiastically snapping my picture as his wife kneeled behind me saying “this is the first time I have done anything political”. The Canadians and Australians were troubled by her selection and glad to see me “standing up to it.”

There were also lots of casual rubber-neckers and picture-takers but it wasn’t all roses. Some folks were briefly belligerent. The most popular pro-Palin comment I received was “Why don’t you have a job?” When I mentioned to one man that I was a small business owner he said “where is your office, on the sidewalk?” Surprisingly none of these guys asked me any other questions. Just a quick insult and back to the ship for the buffet.

The middle-of-the-roaders looked at me and said “all politicians lie.” I bet I heard this ten times. It took a while for me to formulate my response, which was “But some lies are more hurtful than others.” Later I realized that I sounded just like my grandmother.

Another man, middle-aged in a crisp blue jacket passed me and said “So do you” (as in lie). I don’t know why, but I stood up and called back “What did you say?” He stopped, turned around and faced me. He was standing a couple of steps above me which made him about a head taller. I told him that I was only here to express my opinion. He actually apologized and quietly walked away.

Passing cars honked. Taxi drivers gave me the “thumbs-up” sign.

I was having an oddly good time until the vendor from the Kettle Korn stand across the street started yelling at me. At first I thought he was drunk. He was obviously opposed to my being there. “Get out of here before I come over and kick your f****ing ass!” he screamed. “I mean it! I’ll come over there and kick your ass!” I didn’t really relish the thought of having my ass kicked, but was more afraid this guy would spoil my quiet protest. Of course he also screamed that I should leave “because school kids pass by here.” So school kids would be traumatized by my “Palin Lies” sign and not the sight of some popcorn vendor beating the crap out of a mild-mannered protestor. Go figure. He kept it up for about five minutes. The 20-something tour guides working the booths behind me started to yell back at him. I was afraid it might all end in a little battle royal (popcorn flying, ravens circling) right in front of all the tourists. Finally he stopped, although I noticed afterwards that he was filming me with a video camera. Later, I was told that he is a member of a local Evangelical church.

Shortly thereafter, I was accosted by a couple of 60-year old women from somewhere in the South. They quickly grouped me into an unsavory collective “you-all”. Suddenly they were quoting Palin’s approval rating and Obama’s record as America’s most liberal senator (reminding me they got their information straight from CNN). They were joined by their husbands and a couple of other tourists. They stood over me and shook their fingers. Did I want to be a socialist? Did I remember Jimmy Carter’s administration? Was I really for health care for “all” people? Then they brought out the big gun: “How about Ronald Reagan?” I have to admit at first I was a bit angry, but once Reagan was mentioned I had to laugh. I said something about Reaganomics. More clucking, head shaking and pointing. Finally I defused the situation by asking if they were enjoying their cruise. This seemed to settle everyone down and they walked away with only a small chunk of my butt between their teeth.

I talked with a few more people and decided it was time to go, besides I was starting to get cold. I stood up and headed down the street (opposite the Kettle Korn Stand). I walked less than two blocks when I ran into a group of Veterans for Peace. About ten guys were waving signs and generally having a good time. I flashed my “Palin Lies” sign and got a big cheer and lots of good natured laughs. My morning was complete.

All in all, I’d say about 70% of the folks who saw me were in favor of my little protest (out of probably 200-250 people). My picture was taken about 50 times, and I was featured in a couple videos. I was passed by the local police once and cruised by U.S Customs once (both probably unrelated). My ass was threatened with a “kicking”. My back was patted and my hand was shaken. I was even given a thumbs-down by a 70-year old woman who looked at me, pursed her lips and gave me “the raspberry”. I was called a liar, and also called “my hero”. So here I am at home pouring over the news and thinking… I should go out there again.


Troopergate Investigation Continues!

19 09 2008

The Ethics Investigation into what has become known as Troopergate lives to fight another day.

After waiting 35 minutes for Todd Palin and two state administrative employees to appear under subpoena before the state Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Hollis French condemned their refusal to testify and the attorney general’s broken promise that seven other witnesses would testify who were not subpoenaed.

French said the retired prosecutor hired by the Alaska Legislature to investigate Palin, Stephen Branchflower, will conclude his investigation by Oct. 10. Still, that report will not include testimony from the Republican vice-presidential nominee, her husband or most of the top aides Branchflower hoped to interview.

Sarah Palin’s allies hoped the investigation would be delayed past the election to spare her any troublesome revelations – or at least the distraction – before voters have made their choice. Palin’s reputation as clean-government advocate who takes on entrenched interests is central to her appeal as Republican John McCain’s running mate, and possibly at risk in the probe.

Palin initially promised to cooperate in the investigation, telling the Legislature to “hold me accountable.” Lawmakers were investigating accusations she dismissed the state’s public safety commissioner because he refused to fire her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper. She now opposes the investigation.

Palin spokesman Bill McAllister declined to comment Friday. The McCain campaign said there are concerns about the effect of political influence on the Legislature’s inquiry and Palin will provide any information needed to a separate investigation by the Alaska State Personnel Board.

The committee subpoenaed six people to appear Friday to testify or meet for private interviews with Branchflower. French said three of those six had complied. Todd Palin, special assistant Ivy Frye and Randy Ruaro, who is the governor’s deputy chief of staff, did not.

Todd Palin’s attorney sent French a letter Thursday listing Palin’s objections to the Legislature’s investigation of his wife. Among them, the attorney said, were jurisdiction questions, separation of power issues and an inconvenient travel schedule.

Subpoenas were approved on seven other government employees but not served because the state attorney general’s office had agreed to cooperate, French said. But Attorney General Talis Colberg earlier this week reversed himself, saying the governor declined to participate and that Palin administration employees would not appear.

French said subpoenas will be issued for those seven people, ordering them to testify on Sept. 26.

In an interview today on KUDO, Alaska Democratic Representative Harry Crawford said,

This is a perfectly good reason for not having an appointed Attorney General.

Alaska is one of only five states to have an Attorney General who is appointed by the governor, rather than chosen by the people.  Colberg’s reaction upon learning of McCain’s pick of Palin as his running mate was “a mixed set of emotions, kind of an odd sense of Alaska nationalism or pride.”  “It was an emotional thing to see the governor walk out with her family, and I say, ‘Wow, I work for her.’

Crawford rightly noted that “He’s suposed to be the state’s top law official. He’s supposed to be working for the people, and he thinks he’s there working for Sarah Palin, and that’s not right”.

When asked what can and should be done about the current situation, Crawford suggested:

1. Change the Alaska constitution to make the Attorney General an elected independent position.

2. Pursue some sort of recall against Talis Colberg.

I’ts obvious that Talis Colberg is working for the governor,  and that the McCain camp has taken over the state.  It’s not right that the Attorney General is urging people to ignore or break the law.  They [the McCain campaign] are in complete charge of what’s goin on in the state right now. They are trying to spin, or shut down anything that looks negative for the McCain Palin ticket.

Crawford does his best to separate his personal feelings, and his feelings about Palin as governor, from his feelings about her as a VP candidate.

I like Sarah Palin, I like Todd Palin. I think she did an amazing job on oil tax reform and the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, but as far as Troopergate, she’s said all along she’s going to be open and transparent,  and since the McCain people have come into this they have shut it down…put up a wall.  It’s obvious when we’re listening to what comes from Talis Colberg,  or any other administration people, they are parroting what [McCain lawyer] Edward O’Callaghan has had to say. We’re not givng you any more information,  we’re just going to stonewall.

On Walt Monegan and the reason for his firing?  Crawford’s understanding is that

“She fired him because they had a disagreement on funding, and what I’ve been told was that she wanted to cut $2 million from the public safety budget. He said he cound’t keep running the department on the current amount, much less $2 million less. There was a disagreement on what the safety of Alaskans required.  That’s a bigger story”. 

And about the evisceration of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan by the McCain campaign:

You’re not going to find anyone in law enforcement more honorable than Walt Monegan. He’s done a fine job since the time he was patrolman to the time he was Commissioner of Public Safety. I have compelte respect for him. 

This put me in mind of something Walt Monegan said last week.  “I would gladly die for the governor, but I will not lie for her.”

So.  The troopergate investigation lives to see another day.  So go get your big red Sharpie and circle October 10th on your calendar.  That’s when Stephen Branchflower will wrap up the investigation, and we’ll be ready for the next chapter in the saga. The investigation will conclude before the election, with or without the cooperation of the governor, her husband, and the state employees who defied subpoenas.   I’ll bet when Branchflower agreed to come back to the state and out of retirement to do this investigation, he never dreamed how things would turn out.  None of us did.

Witch Hunter that Prayed Palin into Office is Coming Back to Wasilla!

19 09 2008

Pastor Thomas Muthee

Yes, you read that right. It really has gotten that absurd. I just had coffee with fellow blogger and Anchorage talk radio phenom Shannyn Moore. While we were fuming over the McCain hijacking of the Troopergate investigation, she got a call from MSNBC. They asked if she’d come on Keith Olbermann’s show tonight to talk about ‘the witch hunter’. The witch hunter, aka Pastor Muthee, was the guest pastor from Kenya that appeared at Palin’s church, The Wasilla Assembly of God, and “prayed over” Sarah to help her become governor.

Muthee began his life in ministry in Africa by hunting down a local woman named Mama Jane after proclaiming her a witch.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, six months of fervent prayer and research identified the source of the witchcraft as a local woman called Mama Jane, who ran a “divination” centre called the Emmanuel Clinic.

Her alleged involvement in fortune-telling and the fact that she lived near the site of a number of fatal car accidents led Pastor Muthee to publicly declare her a witch responsible for the town’s ills, and order her to offer up her soul for salvation or leave Kiambu.

After Pastor Muthee declared Mama Jane a witch, the townspeople became suspicious and began to turn on her, demanding that she be stoned. Public outrage eventually led the police to raid her home, where they fired gunshots, killing a pet python which they believed to be a demon.

After the witch hunting incident, Muthee founded the World Faith Church, also known as the “Prayer Cave.” The Prayer cave has birthed more than 400 churches across Africa – in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan and Rwanda.

While Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Muthee came to speak at her church. Here’s what Sarah Palin has to say about the experience, captured on video taken in the church. Keep in mind, this quote didn’t come from her long ago past. This happened IN JUNE, 2008…three months ago.

“As I was mayor and Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he’s so bold. And he was praying “Lord make a way, Lord make a way.”

“And I’m thinking, this guy’s really bold, he doesn’t even know what I’m going to do, he doesn’t know what my plans are. And he’s praying not “oh Lord if it be your will may she become governor,” no, he just prayed for it. He said “Lord make a way and let her do this next step. And that’s exactly what happened.”

“So, again, very very powerful, coming from this church.”

Muthee has spoken at the Wasilla Assembly of God church no less than 10 times, including the time he prayed over then Mayor Sarah Palin, giving her the divine shortcut to governorship. He didn’t ask questions. He didn’t blink. Now, he’s coming back. He is scheduled for multiple speaking engagements in Wasilla this week.

The official vision statement of Muthee’s church (taken directly from the website) is…are you ready?…

Touching lives for total community transformation, thereby taking cities and nations.

Taking cities and nations? Most of us would like our cities and nation to stay just where they are, thankyouverymuch.

When Shannyn was talking in a serious, businesslike way about coordinating with a major media outlet to discuss the ‘witch hunter’, it struck me how absurd this is. We both started to laugh so hard, we couldn’t stop. Our governor believes in the power of a guy who believes that demons live in pythons, and witches cause traffic accidents. She believes that a Kenyan witch-hunter prayed her into office. Ladies and Gentlemen, behold the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States of America, and tell me what that says about the Presidential candidate who nominated her.

When you decide whether to laugh or cry, let me know.

Meanwhile, grab a beer, or some popcorn, and tune in to Keith Olbermann’s show tonight, hear the conversation with Shannyn, and marvel at the frightening absurdity that we’ve come to know as Sarah Palin.