Lawsuit to Stall Troopergate Investigatioin Fails!

2 10 2008

Sorry to interrupt the Republican “Non-Implosion is Victory” party, but there was some breaking news in Anchorage tonight that came out a couple minutes before the debate.

An Anchorage judge today refused to halt the Legislature’s investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin and denied the state attorney general’s attempt to throw out legislative subpoenas.

Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski heard arguments from both sides this morning and ruled just before 5 p.m. this afternoon.

“I think it’s great. It’s a big day for the state of Alaska,” said Peter Maassen, the lawyer representing the Legislative Council, which ordered the investigation.

Maassen said he expected the other side to attempt a last-minute appeal to the state Supreme Court.

It’s last-minute because the investigator hired by the Legislative Council, Steve Branchflower, is to present his report in a week. Branchflower is looking into Palin’s dismissal of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, and whether she improperly pressured him to fire a state trooper divorced from her sister. There is intense national interest in the outcome now that Palin is the Republican nominee for vice president.

Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg said he didn’t know whether he’d appeal or if he’ll now advise the subpoenaed state officals to cooperate with the investigation. He said he needed to consult with them.

“I’m going to talk to the clients before I talk to you,” he said.

Five Republican state legislators sued to stop the investigation, and Colberg, a Palin appointee, asked the judge to throw out the legislative subpoenas. The governor’s husband, Todd, and nearly a dozen state officials have refused to honor the subpoeanas ordering them to testify, and they face the threat of possible jail time.

Thomas Van Flein, the Anchorage attorney representing both Todd and Sarah Palin, watched the court hearing today. He said in an interview afterward that, if the judge refused to throw out the subpoenas, he would expect Todd Palin to testify after all.

“Short of appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court, which no one has talked about, I don’t see why we wouldn’t just have Todd testify,” he said.

The plot thickens…

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Live Blogging the VP Debate.

2 10 2008

Adult beverage – check.  Sarah Palin Bingo card – check. Tums – check.

Mudflats chat is up and running – check.

7 minutes. (takes drink and checks off the free “Air Space” Palin picture in the center of the Bingo card).

Ahh!  Just announced that judge dismissed the lawsuit filed to stop the Troopergate investigation.

I don’t like the set. WAY too much color. And where’s the babbling brook?

Here we go.

Biden won the coin toss.  Bailout question.  Focus on the middle class, not just wealthy.

Palin:  Soccer game! Parents on sideline! Betcha! Fear Fear Fear! Reform. Freddie & Fannie (Bingo card!) Country first.

Q: Polarization

Biden. Talking about experience. Reaching across the aisle. Republican friends. “Fundamentals of the economy are strong” said McCain. 9:00 the economy was strong, 11:00 we are in crisis. 

Palin:  Fundamentals means work force. Greatest in this world.  Governor, mayor, track record of reform. Maverick! (Bingo card)  Barack Obama 96% along party line. Energy, reform.

Q” Who was at fault in the meltdown?

Palin: Lenders. Deception. Greed. Wall Street. Getting rid of corruption. Joe six-pack! Hockey Mom! (2 bingo card marks!)  Heck! (Bingo card)  I can’t keep up!

Biden: Let Wall St. run wild. John McCain wants deregulation. Believed Wall St. could self-regulate. John McCain called for deregulation 20 times.  Wants to deregulate healthcare industry. Deregulation is the promise. Story about Joey Danko who can’t fill his gas tank.

Palin: Darn right! Obama voted for largest tax increase. Obama voted to increase taxes 94 times. Need private sector. Keep what we earn. Government needs to be more efficient. Tax relief.  Obama raised taxes on middle income families.

Biden: Charges not true. Budget procedural vote. Didn’t raise taxes. McCain supported deregulation.

Palin: I’m still on the tax thing.

ARgh…lost connection

Back.

Palin: Health care plan is detailed. $5000 tax credit. Smart to do. Doesn’t cost anything. Obama wants to mandate health coverage.  Trying to be cute. Gee shucks… Budget neutral.

Biden: Don’t know where to start. Exxon Mobil $4 billion tax cut.  95% small businesses make less than $250,000/yr. No tax increase.  Health care. John McCain pays for health care by taxing health benefits.  20 million people will be dropped.  “Ultimate bridge to nowhere”.  First laugh of the night!

OK…..shaking out hands….drink.

Palin: Took on oil companies. Exxon. Conoco Philips.  Bless their hearts, they’re doing what they have to do, but they’re not my fans.  Bless their hearts??  Bless Exxon’s heart?!?!?  (Big drink)

Biden: Alternative energy.  Why is he adding $4 billion additional to Exxon. Windfall profits tax. Palin supported it in Alaska and gives her credit for it….  good one.

Palin: John McCain’s calls for reform. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac.  We have John McCain to thank for warning us all and putting his campaign aside….bla bla. “Main Streeters like me”.

Palin: STILL wants to talk about energy.  East Coast politicians who don’t want to talk about oil. Tap into domestic energy.  Flowin’. Heckuva lot. Energy future.

IFill:  What is true what is false about climate change.

Palin: Alaska feels it more than any other state. Don’t attribute man’s activities alone to climate change.  I don’t want to argue about the causes. Clean up this planet.  Blizzard of words. Reduce emissions. Energy independent. All the more reason to have an “all of the above” approach.

Biden:  Clearly manmade.  Fundamental difference. If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s impossible to come up with the solution. 3% of reserves of oil, consume 25%.  McCain voted against alternative energy.  He’s doing really good on this one…

Biden has flag pin.  Palin has flag pin with pole and rhinestones.

Drill drill drill. 10 years for oil to come.

Palin corrected him!  The chant is “Drill Baby Drill!”   Oh. My. God…..(hits head on desk. Drinks more wine).  Called him Senator O’Biden?  It is safe to drill and we need to do more of that. Offshore drilling.  Nukular.

Biden: Why did John vote 20 times against funding alternative energy.

Ifill: Same sex benefits?

Biden:  Yes. Absolutely. Joint ownership, hospital visits.  It’s only fair. Same constitutional benefits as heterosexual couples do.

Palin: Not if it goes closer toward redefining marriage as anything but “one man one woman”.  I am tolerant and have a diverse group of family and friends. 

Biden: Don’t support redefining marriage.  Leave it to faiths.  Glad governor feels there should be no distinction in constitutional rights.

Ifill:  Both have sons in Iraq.

Palin:  Surge is working.  General Petraeus! (bingo card)  Obama voted against funding troops. Got to win in Iraq. The surge has worked.  Put more troops in Afghanistan.  Al Qaeda (bingo card!)

Biden: “With all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan” 1 point Biden!  McCain voted against funding the troops because of the timeline.  McCain has no plan to end the war.

Palin: “You waved the white flag of surrender”.  Not what our troops need to hear. Commanders on the ground will tell us when to end the war. (Yeah, that’ll work well).  You said you’d be honored to run with McCain on the ticket, and said Obama wasn’t ready to be commander in chief.  Don’t know how you can defend obama when he voted to cut off funding.

Biden: McCain voted to cut off funding for troops.  He repeated it twice.  He voted against it because the amendment had a timeline and he didn’t like it.  I said we wouldn’t be greeted as liberators and we’d be there a decade.  John McCain has been dead wrong on the fundamental issues related to the conduct of war.  Those are the facts.  Another point for Biden!

Ifill:  Nuclear Iran or Pakistan?

Biden: Iran is not close to getting nuclear weapon. John continues to tell us the main focus is Iraq.  The real threat is Afghanistan/Pakistan border.  Build schools, win hearts & minds.  Will go for Bin Laden.

Palin: General Petreus is the one who said the central war on terror is in Iraq.  Nuukular.  Then Nuclear.  Think of the creek Sarah, think of the creek!  Stinking corpse reference.  Obama willing to meet with leaders without precondition.  Goes beyond naievete and is downright dangerous.  Nucular.  She had a great conversation with Kissinger.  THey hate our freedoms and our respect for women’s rights!!!! (Except their reproductive rights!!! Head slam)

Biden:  Clarify. Not true.  breathe….  Theocracy controls security apparatus in Iran. Friends and allies want us to talk. His experience is showing here… McCain said he wouldn’t even sit down with the President of Spain! (hehe)

Ifill: 2 state solution in Israel Palestine?

Yes. Israel is strongest and best ally. “Seek to destroy” (bingo card)

Finger cramp! Must take break.

Palin: Cutsie, patronizing. Finger pointing, your party is looking to the past and people will get tired of it.  Totally patronizing….ugh.  Change is comin’

Biden: Past is prologue.  Haven’t heard about how McCain’s policy will be different than Bush’s.   He is cleaning her clock on foreign policy.

Ifill:  Nuclear weapons.  Should there be a trigger when nuclear weapons are put into play.

Palin: Not prepared for this question, obviously.  Nucular nucular blizzard of words.  “Can we talk about Afghanistan too though?”  Surge principles need to be implemented with Afghanistan.  Obama said all we’re doing is killing villiagers.  Reckless comment.  We’re building schools.. What is she talking about?

Biden:  Facts matter. Commanding General said that the surge principles used in Iraq WILL NOT WORK IN AFGHANISTAN.  I love Joe Biden.  3 weeks in Iraq we’ve spent what we have in 3 years in Afghanistan.

He knows how to say nuclear!  And he keeps saying it right! 2 points for Biden.  Obama reached across the aisle to Dick Lugar and wrote serious and real legislation.

Palin: I have no idea what she is saying. I still have no idea what she’s saying.

Biden: I don’t think he knows what she was saying either.

Biden is now talking about intervention in Darfur genocide, and Palin is standing there with a stupid smile on her face.

Palin: Americans are cravin’ straight talk. She’s rediculous.  Heck, gee, I’m a Washington outsider and I don’t know how you guys operate.  Bat bat bat.

Ifill: How would a Biden administration be different from an Obama administration?

Biden: Going over all Obama talking points. Health care, middle class, engage allies, find Osama Bin Laden, alternative energy, new jobs, clean energy. This is the most important election you will all vote in since 1932.  I agree with every major initiative he had suggested.

Palin: What do you expect?  A team of Mavericks.  We agree to disagree on ANWR. MccCain talking points.  REality from Main St. Wasilla brought to Washington.  BINGO!!!!!  Wasilla was my final bingo square!

Biden:  Goes to Home Depot, he’s a regular guy too.  People in his town recognize McCain is four more years of Bush.

Palin: There you go Joe, pointing backward again.  She is truly a caricature of herself.  Tina Fey has nowhere to go.

Ifill:What does the VP do every day???!!!

Palin:  Heck it was a lame attempt at a joke.  Be supportive of President’s policies.  Energy independence, reform of government, special needs children. I said, ” I can’t wait to get there and go to work with ya!”

Biden: History of getting things done. Record shows that.  Point person for legislative initiatives.  Obama wanted someone with independent judgment who wouldn’t be afraid to disagree.

Ifill:  Do you agree with Cheney who says VP isn’t part of executive branch?

Palin:  Looks like she’s reading.  Agrees with Cheney. We’ll do what we have to do to administer plans.  She has executive experience. Governor, Mayor, business owner.

Biden: Cheney is the most dangerous VP in history! (WOW!)  Bizarre assertion to aggrandize the power of the VP and it is very dangerous.

That was an awesome exchange.

Palin:  I’m a hockey mom. We’re a shining city on the hill. Reagan (Bingo square).  I’m worried about a son in the war.  Force for good in the world. How will we afford college?

Biden: Crime bill, violence against women act, Bosnia.  He’s also a single parent. I understand kitchen table. The notion that somehow because I’m a man I don’t know how to raise a family… I understand what it’s like sitting around the kitchen table. They are looking for help. They’re not looking for more of the same.

Palin:  Maverick. Maverick.  Change change. Took on her own party. Both sides of the aisle.  Lieberman, Giuliani, Romney and Lingle all think he’s the man we need to lead. We have to win the war. Entrenched partisanship.  Change is coming and John McCain is bringing it.

Biden:  McCain is no maverick.  (THANK you.)  War, education, tax cuts, hasn’t been a maverick on anything that people talk about around the kitchen table.  “Maverick he is not”.

Ifill:  Change opinion?

Biden: (missed it…..phone rang.)  Judicial philosophy matters.

Palin:  Passed budgets she didn’t veto.  Times she wanted to zero base budget and cut taxes and didn’t.  Never had to compromise because she’s accomplished everything she wanted to in Alaska.

Ifill:  How do you be bipartisan.

Biden:  Track record of doing it already.

Palin: You appoint people regardless of party.  At the end of the day as long as we’re all working for the greater good it’ll be OK.  Lower taxes, build infrastructure, rein in government spending.  Obama will increase taxes & spending, off she goes.  Clear choice is on November 4th.

Closing statement:

I like being able to answer tough question without the main stream media filtering what they’ve heard.  We’re going to fight for America, average, everyday family like mine.  I know the hurts. I know the joys.  I’ve always been proud to be an American.  Reagan quote. Really long Reagan quote. Only one man who has ever fought for you and that’s John McCain.

Biden:  Most important election in your life.  In the last 8 years we’ve been in a deep hole. No credibility.  Need for fundamental change economically and foreign policy.  We don’t measure success by tax breaks to Exxon.  WE measure it by paying mortgage, health care, troops.  Honesty, work hard. Obama will bring that back.  God bless the troops.

The families are up on the stage…..

No trainwreck, but I’m calling it pretty convincingly for Biden.  Palin started strong, but started to falter as soon as it went to foreign policy.  Biden hit his stride halfway through, and finished strong.

And of course, she didn’t answer questions, and basically admitted she wouldn’t at one point.  She was “folksy” to the point of pain.  She was a talking point machine, and a drill baby drill one-trick pony.  She had nothing to say in the face of actual experience.  I don’t know if she hurt John McCain, but she surely didn’t help.  And the “I agree with the Cheney philosophy of governing” was downright scary.

Absolutely no gaffes or bloviating from Biden.

Official Mudflats take:  Biden by a landslide.





Palin-Biden Debate Countdown!

2 10 2008

The most anticipated Vice Presidential debate in history will begin in just a few short hours.

  • I will be live blogging the debate here at the Mudflats blog.
  • If you want to chat live with fellow Mudflatters during the debate, go HERE where Sephyroth and your other wonderful Mudflats volunteers will be hosting and moderating the event. Tune in about 1/2 hour before the debate begins at 5:00 Alaska time. (6:00 Pacific Time, 9:00EST)
  • To print out your very awesome Debate Bingo card, go HERE. You can print one of four bingo cards, or make your own!
  • You still have time to run to the store if you need adult beverages, Pepto Bismol, Tums, popcorn and Jujubees.

So, what will it be?

She’s set the bar so low, that anything will make her look good?

Blizzard of words, and comedy gold for Tina Fey?

Katie Couric style blank stares, and evasion?

Pitbull with lipstick goes for Joe Biden’s throat?

A slow motion trainwreck?

The ‘old’ Sarah Palin who sounded like she knew what she was doing in the Alaska gubernatorial debate?

Wired (or wirelessed) like Bush in 2004?

The outdoor debate prep by the creek was the secret and she now has a staggering command of economics, international relations, and global politics?

Any pre-debate predictions, Mudflatters?





Stevens Mistrial?!

2 10 2008

Is it possible that the VP debate won’t be the biggest story in Alaska politics today?

The case against Sen. Ted Stevens threatened to collapse today when his attorney demanded a mistrial or dismissal of charges over the failure of the government to turn over evidence favorable to Stevens.

The chief prosecutor in the case apologized and called the error a mistake – though she asserted Stevens’ rights weren’t violated.

But for the second time in a week, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan reprimanded the government, this time accusing it of directly violating his orders. He sent the jury home for the day and ordered both sides to submit briefs on whether he should send jurors home for good.

A hearing is set for 4:30 p.m. EST (12:30 p.m. Alaska time) to determine whether to drop the case, declare a mistrial or continue on. A mistrial would allow the government to try Stevens again.

Man. That panda tie may have been lucky after all…. I’ll post more as I know.

UPDATE:  Trial Continues!

WASHINGTON – Prosecutors have seriously bungled evidence and witnesses, but Sen. Ted Stevens’ corruption trial will proceed as planned, a federal judge ruled this afternoon.

The case against the Alaska Republican had threatened to collapse earlier in the day when his attorney demanded a mistrial or dismissal of charges over the government’s failure to turn over evidence favorable to the senator.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan was angered at prosecutors for their handling of evidence that might help Stevens’ case but was “not persuaded” the violations were serious enough to declare a mistrial. The trial will resume Monday.

Judge Sullivan asked whether the defense attorneys wanted a few extra days before continuing with the trial and suggested they could make a new opening statement to jurors.

“Thank you for asking, but we believe there should be a dismissal,” said Stevens’ chief lawyer, Brendan Sullivan. “If not a dismissal, then a mistrial.”

The chief prosecutor in the case apologized and called her team’s oversight a mistake, though she asserted that Stevens’ rights weren’t violated. The defense team was looking for weaknesses and found one, said Brenda Morris, the lead prosecutor on the Justice Department team.





Palin v. Supreme Court

2 10 2008

Sigh… Palin can’t name a single Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade. Not one. Now, there might be some reasonably intelligent people out there who can’t rattle off a long list of Supreme court decisions. And, picking one you don’t agree with while you’re on the spot might not be easy for most Americans either. Granted most Americans are not running to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency, but even if we cut Palin a little slack here, I’ll tell you why we shouldn’t. And I’ll tell you why this particular gaffe makes the blood of many Alaskans run cold.

The first time I watched this clip, I chuckled. Then it hit me. It hit me like a smack in the face with a dead fish.

Below is part of a piece I wrote back in June, when a Supreme Court ruling came down in a case known as Baker v. Exxon. Most of you will recall the devastating oil spill that occurred in Alaska in 1989 when the supertanker Exxon Valdez slammed into Bligh Reef, pouring 11 million gallons (some say over 30 million gallons) of crude oil into the pristine waters of Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Many of those in Alaska at the time probably either know someone affected, or were themselves affected personally by the spill. Many of you who were out of state, cut up your Exxon credit cards, watched footage of oil-soaked otters and sea birds, and deeply mourned the loss of a place you’d never even seen.

The Alaska Natives in the area, and those who fished the Sound lost their livelihoods, and their ‘holy place’. The loss on many levels cannot be overestimated. Today, in 2008, if you dig down about 8 inches into the sandy beaches of many islands in the Sound you will find thick black crude oil.

***********************************************************************

Screwed. (originally posted on Mudflats 6/25/08)

Well, the extremely predictable ruling came down from the U.S. Supreme Court today. In a 5-3 vote the court decided to hack and slash the original $5 billion settlement, which had already been hacked and slashed to $2.5 billion in punitive damages. Now the Supreme Court says the amount owed to Prince William Sound fishermen and Alaska Natives affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is $507.5 million.

First, condolences to the 32,677 plaintiffs, their families, and all those affected by the spill who have been waiting and watching for almost 20 years, while lawyers get fat sucking on the marrow of the oil soaked bones littering the beaches of Prince William Sound. This was hard to take for ALL Alaskans, but for the plaintiffs, and all those who love the Sound, it was twisting the knife.

Second, to all those people who have bought into the idea that the oil companies have been good to Alaska by donating to charities, sponsoring sporting events, and plastering their logos on anything that doesn’t move (and some things that do), listen closely. They. Don’t. Care. Exxon has been fighting this since the moment the $5 billion was awarded to plaintiffs in 1994. Think that’s a lot of money? It’s not. Exxon’s recorded profits last year were $40.6 Billion. That’s PROFIT. Doesn’t make $507.5 million sound particularly punitive, does it? If the health, well-being and welfare of the Alaska people mattered to Exxon Mobil, these people would have been paid 13 years ago. So when you see the oil companies doing something that looks ‘nice’, remember it’s the cost of doing business to shut us up.

Third, any Alaskans who are outraged by this announcement today, and are still planning to vote Republican in the upcoming presidential race – wake up. Who were the only supreme court justices voting with the Alaska people and against the interest of corporations? The progressives. Who were the ones that voted against the interest of Alaska? Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, & crew – those conservative judges that John McCain wants more of when he appoints the next 2 or 3 members of the court. Presidents are gone in four to eight years; Supreme Court Justices last a lifetime. A court like this is what we get when so many of us swallow the red Kool-Aid, and don’t think about the political ramifications of our votes to our own interest when the chips are down. So, in November, think. Please.

By the time all is said and done a huge portion of the $507.5 million has evaporated with the shrinking value of the dollar since 1989, another huge portion went to the lawyers, 8000 of the plaintiffs are dead, and the Sound has still not recovered, and won’t in our lifetime. They got about 10% of the oil, they think. Sometimes in life, you get a cheap lesson…this wasn’t one of those times.

Don’t forget this when they tell you Pebble Mine won’t destroy the Bristol Bay fishery. Don’t forget this every time we negotiate with the oil companies about anything. Don’t forget this every time you see a warm fuzzy TV commercial. Don’t forget that anyone who is in our state to develop finite natural resources is here for the money. Period. And don’t forget this when you vote in November.

**************************************************************************

Since that post, Exxon has reminded us that this $507.5 million figure is actually the upper limit of what they owe. And they are also balking at paying interest on that money. They are stalling, because they are literally waiting for plaintiffs to die.

So, I ask you, Sarah Palin, as the Governor of Alaska, a state whose land, water, wildlife and people have been ground under the wheels by corporate oil interests, backed up by a conservative Supreme Court put there by your party, is THIS one of those Supreme Court cases that you also disagree with? Or did you just forget about it?