Palin on Banning Books.

10 11 2008

Welcome to the third installment of the dissection of Sarah Palin’s latest interview. When we last left Sarah Palin in the middle of her interview at her Wasilla home on Sunday, she was talking about all those “goofy” stories that the media could have gotten right, if only they had known how to do their jobs. If only they had dug a little deeper to get the real story. If only those hacks at the New York Times, and the Washington Post understood real journalism. Alas, this is the cross that Sarah Palin must bear. She explains.

Regarding information regarding my record that is now out there, much of it that was based on misinformation was a very very frustrating thing to have to go through when the record was never corrected. We would try to correct the record and too many in the media chose not to make those corrections or clarifications, and then I felt too often we were a bit defenseless in so many things that were reported wrongly that could have so easily been corrected just based on facts…

One of the examples she gave is this:

Banning books…that was a rediculous thing also that could so easily have been corrected by a reporter taking an extra step and not basing a report on gossip or speculation, but just lookin’ into the record…uh, the banning books issue, easily disproved when it was reported that I tried to ban Harry Potter, and it hadn’t even been written when I was the mayor.

First things first. Sarah Palin never actually banned books, and other than some exhuberant bloggers that jumped the gun, I don’t know of any reports that she did. Were the rumors rampant that she did? Absolutely. I fielded lots of inquiries when this story first came out, and I set the record straight every time. And the real story shouldn’t make us feel much better about things, because the answer to the question “Why didn’t Sarah Palin ban books?” is not that the thought of book banning offended her moral sensibilities, it was that she couldn’t get away with it.

A good summary can be found in a fascinating article by Noam Scheiber, in The New Republic. He recounts the book story after talking to Laura Chase, a Wasilla councilwoman.

As a rule, the city’s department heads attended every city council meeting. One evening, as the session wound down, Palin mentioned to Mary Ellen Emmons, the library director, that something had been bothering her – a book she thought was overly indulgent of homosexuality. “She said there was no room in our library for that kind of stuff,” recalled Chase. Emmons curtly disagreed, but Palin was adamant. She suggested the librarian could at least keep such books in the reference section, where visitors would have to request them. “We don’t believe in censoring books,” Emmons finally told her, at which point Palin trailed off muttering. [snip] Within a year, Palin had blown through her personal enemies list. She had demanded the resignation of Emmons, the librarian opposed to censorship (who successfully fought for her job)….

So, you see, she didn’t ban books…she just tried to fire a librarian who wouldn’t censor them. If someone is offended at the prospect of book banning, the “real” story certainly won’t make them feel any better.

On to Harry Potter. The reference to Palin wanting to ban Harry Potter came from an anonymous email. I got this email 3 or 4 times. There was no source cited, just a long list of “controversial” books that Palin supposedly wanted banned, including not only the first five Harry Potter books (two of which weren’t even written at the time), but Lady Chatterly’s Lover, James and the Giant Peach, and everything by Judy Blume. Not one serious news organization printed this. So when Sarah Palin whines about bad journalism, and the media not living up to their responsibility, and when she says “it was reported,” the reporters she’s talking about are simply people who forward controversial emails without knowing if they’re true.

So what books did she want removed from shelves? One that we know about is the book Pastor, I’m Gay by the Rev. Howard Bess. I had the pleasure of meeting Rev. Bess, and heard the story from his own mouth. It was also reported by David Talbot of Salon.

After she became mayor of Wasilla, according to Bess, Sarah Palin tried to get rid of his book from the local library. Palin now denies that she wanted to censor library books, but Bess insists that his book was on a “hit list” targeted by Palin. “I’m as certain of that as I am that I’m sitting here. This is a small town, we all know each other. People in city government have confirmed to me what Sarah was trying to do.”

What about the other books on Palin’s “hit list”? We may never know, but does it really matter? What if she supported banning some books and not others? The point is, we shouldn’t be banning any of them. Free speech doesn’t work if it’s only the free speech the mayor of Wasilla agrees with. Once you seek to ban one book, you’ve already lost the Constitutional high ground.

(More to come on this interview…)

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Palin on Goofiness.

10 11 2008

Welcome to the second installment of dissecting the Palin Wasilla interview. It’s kind of like eating junk food. If you consume too much at once, it can wreak havoc with your innards. So, now that I’ve digested that heaping pile of mental pork rinds, I’m ready for the next batch. (deep breath)

The theme for this helping? “Goofiness.” Are there other things we could be talking about? Yes. But Palin keeps bringing this stuff up.

Here are Palin’s thoughts about her perceived unfair treatment by the media.

Regarding information regarding my record that is now out there, much of it that was based on misinformation was a very very frustrating thing to have to go through when the record was never corrected. We would try to correct the record and too many in the media chose not to make those corrections or clarifications, and then I felt too often we were a bit defenseless in so many things that were reported wrongly that could have so easily been corrected just based on facts and…

Q: What kinds of things are you talking about?

Oh, like um, oh some of the goofy things like who was Trig’s mom…uh, you know and well, I’m Trig’s mom, and do you want to see my medical records to prove that…and days would go by before uh mainstream media would even try to correct that, that yeah, OK, it’s proven that she is actually Trig’s mom.

OK, I’m going to talk a bit about this since Sarah brought it up first. To answer your question Governor, yes. A big enough deal was made out of this issue, right or wrong, that YES people did want to “see your medical records to prove that.” Wouldn’t Palin’s life have been simpler and less “frustrating” if she had done this? These rumors started the first week of her candidacy….back in the beginning of September and have been a huge distraction and topic of discussion ever since.

Even Obama released his birth certificate, just to prove once and for all that he was born in Hawaii, and was eligible for the presidency. Seems silly to have to do this? Yes. Did it answer people’s questions and fears? Yes. Did it put the issue to rest once and for all? No. Because people were still unconvinced, the birth certificate was made public from the hospital in Hawaii where he was born. Done. Rumors put to rest.

Despite the comment above (in bold), Palin has never released medical records that “prove” anything. She released a doctor’s note summarizing her medical records. But let’s just say that’s good enough for us, and we believe that she is Trig’s mother. She released the doctor’s letter less than 12 hours before the polls opened on Election Day. So….how, then, did “days go by before the mainstream media would even try to correct that” and say “OK, it’s proven she’s Trig’s mom.” There were no days to go by, and nothing released that actually proved anything. So, why is she bringing this up? (shrug)

Wouldn’t you think that by now, she would have actually released her medical records, and Trig’s birth certificate, just to settle the question? The longer this goes on, the more bizarre it gets.

And take a look at what Palin is wearing in the video.

Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, said his daughter spent the day Saturday trying to figure out what belongs to the RNC.

“She was just frantically … trying to sort stuff out,” Heath said. “That’s the problem, you know, the kids lose underwear, and everything has to be accounted for.

“Nothing goes right back to normal,” he said.

Heath dismissed the clothes controversy as “ridiculous,” and said his daughter told him the only clothing or accessories she had personally purchased in the last four months was a pair of shoes.

And yet, there she is in her new designer duds. You can be reasonably assured that if it’s sleek, shiny and black, Palin didn’t own it before she left. Maybe she’s just getting one more use out of the rental gear before it’s all shipped back to the RNC. Wouldn’t you think after all the bad press over the wardrobe, that when she dressed for the interview she would have left the Neiman Marcus stuff in the closet? (shrug)

As much as babies and clothing are the least of our worries, for some reason, Palin won’t let us forget them, and continues to be her own worst enemy whenever she opens her mouth to the very media she accuses of being the problem.

(Still more to come on this interview….had enough pork rinds for now…..ugh.)

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Palin Will Continue to Steal Cookies, She Says.

10 11 2008

cookies

A newly released interview of Sarah Palin by KTUU and the Anchorage Daily News has left me speechless. I had to listen to it twice before I could really believe it. It’s a little over nine minutes, but it’s so filled with red meat, it’s going to keep me busy all day.

Here’s the first installment:

Remember “per diem gate”? It was one of Sarah’s many “gates” that came to light shortly after her nomination, and was revealed at the same time as “travel gate,” both of which were discovered by the Washington Post back in early September. It was a little embarrassing that we needed the Washington Post to discover our governor’s dirty little financial secrets, but it was better to know than not know. This one may not have incensed the average voter in the rest of the country, but up here, the implications were huge.

Alaskans are not pleased by fiscal shenanigans. We are a frugal people and wasteful spending is not going to win you fans. Fiscal conservatism is the mantra that gets people into office. Remember former Governor Murkowski and his spendy private jet? Part of Palin’s fiscal conservative label came from selling that jet, which had become a symbol of outrageous spending that a sitting governor charged to the state. Here’s the background:

Washington Post – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a “per diem” allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.

Palin, who earns $125,000 a year, claimed and received $16,951 as her allowance, which officials say was permitted because her official “duty station” is Juneau, according to an analysis of her travel documents by The Washington Post.

The governor’s daughters and husband charged the state $43,490 to travel, and many of the trips were between their house in Wasilla and Juneau, the capital city 600 miles away, the documents show.

Now, this is a sore spot with many Alaskans. Palin is not a fan of Juneau. She’s there as little as she can possibly manage. State lawmakers even wore buttons saying “Where’s Sarah?” in protest. Working in Juneau is part of the job. It is, after all, our state’s capitol, even though some wish it wasn’t. There have been a couple attempts to move the capitol from Juneau to Wasilla, or another location that is on the road system. But for right now, travel to Juneau by plane is just part of the package and everyone knows that going in.

From the Juneau Empire:

“Palin has spent little time in Juneau, rarely coming to the state capitol except when the Legislature was in session, and sometimes not even then. During a recent special session called by Palin herself, she faced criticism from several legislators for not showing up personally to push for her agenda. Someone at the Capitol even printed up buttons asking, ‘Where’s Sarah?’”

Many Alaskans figured that the fact that Palin was charging the state a per diem fee, while in the act of shunning our state capitol so she could stay home in Wasilla would be her undoing. THEN when we found out about her children showing up at events when they were uninvited, unexptected, and on the state’s dime, that was just too much. Swanky hotel rooms for her daughters, expensive multiple one-way flights…you could almost feel the fiscal conservatives, and budget watchdogs bristling. She was going to be in biiiiig trouble.

So, right up front in this interview came the question:

Q: One of the things that came up during the campaign is that you charged the state per diem for time spent here in Wasilla. Is that something that you are going to continue to do?

Palin: Oh, we’ve always followed the law and fully disclosed all that and the choice there in many months of the Juneau mansion being replumbed and um all the …all the improvements being made in the infrastructure in the Juneau house where we weren’t gonna be there anyway, knowing that in the end it would have cost the state more money to do what other governors had done and that is either charge the state for hotel rooms or the state renting an apartment like they did for Governor Murkowski. We said no, we just won’t sell our house knowing that we’re going to spend quite a bit of time here, especially those months when the remodels were taking place in the Governor’s mansion, and we would disclose my per diem. We wouldn’t try to hide it. But as long as this is about full disclosure, not trying to take anything from the state, just trying to do my job and part of my job is with the first family, having them with me at some of these events. I’m going to continue to do my job, and my family is going to continue to be a part of it.

She’d rather work from home, so she did. She says It would have cost the state more to have her working in Juneau where her actual job was located, but she didn’t feel like being in Juneau, so she decided to work from elsewhere, and charge the state for meals and incidental traveling expenses despite the fact she was eating in her own kitchen and sleeping in her own bed. And she charged the state for travel expenses to stay home. And somehow this is OK. And the state of Alaska paying for Bristol’s fancy New York hotel and over $20,000 in family travel? That’s OK too.

It was as though Sarah was caught with her hand in the cookie jar when mom and dad walked into the kitchen and turned on the light. “What do you have to say for yourself, Sarah?” ask Mom & Dad. “Well, Mom and Dad, I’m not doing anything wrong, and I’m fully disclosing the fact that I’m taking cookies, and I’m going to continue to do that.” Huh? This is one of those moments as a parent when you have to think long and hard about how you react, because there’s obviously a fundamental lack of understanding about who is in charge, and how this relationship works.

So…..what do Mom and Dad (the State Legislature) do? If you listen to legislators, they’re sounding awfully concilliatory lately, and it’s making those who want to hold Palin accountable uneasy to say the least. I’ve heard Democratic legislators saying that we all need to work together for the good of the state, and they’ve worked with Sarah in the past, and we all need to march ahead and let the healing begin, and so on. I’ve heard them squirm around about the makeup of the new Legislature, and that there aren’t as many Democrats as they would have liked. I’ve heard them cite the fact that Alaska voters have given Palin a 61% approval rating as evidenced by how many voted for the McCain-Palin ticket. In other words, the Alaska State Legislature sounds an awful lot like the U.S. House of Representatives under George W. Bush. If only things were different, we could hold him accountable to the law….sigh….

I am assuming that all members of the Legislature will be watching this video, and I hope that each and every one of them realizes what it is. It is a dare. As a matter of fact, it’s a double-dog-dare. The Governor has just said that she is going to continue being unethical, and she’s going to do it right. in. your. face. “What are YOU going to do about it?” says the child with her hand in the cookie jar.

So, what are you going to do about it, Mom and Dad Legislature? You have two choices.

1) Well…..OK, honey. But you really shouldn’t have done that. You can keep taking cookies but you just need to let Mommy and Daddy know first, OK? Kiss on forehead.

2) Listen young lady. We don’t need any of your backtalk. Put that cookie down and go to your room because we need to have a serious conversation.

It’s your choice Legislature. Alaskans are tired of corruption. And don’t forget that Palin may still have a 60% approval rating, but before her VP run, it was over 80%. The more we know, the less we like. And Alaska voters don’t get to vote on the law. It’s not a popularity contest to see who has to obey the law and who doesn’t. Dealing with law is YOUR job. That’s why we put you there.

I hope there are some strong statements forthcoming from our elected officials. I don’t think I voted to have representation that gets cowed by a kid who just got nailed swiping cookies.

(More to come on this interview.)

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Stevens and Stevens. Like Father, Like Son?

10 11 2008

Just in case anyone wasn’t sure, here’s Harry Reid’s take last night, on convicted felon Ted Stevens’ chances of surviving in the Senate should he be re-elected.

“He’s been convicted of seven felonies,” Reid said on CNN’s “Late Edition.” “He’s not going to be in the Senate.”

The majority leader was a bit more gentle about Stevens’s close friend, Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), who campaigned for the Republican in Alaska during the time-consuming trial and will soon assume the chairmanship of the powerful Appropriations Committee after West Virginia Sen. Robert C. Byrd announced Friday he would be stepping aside.

“I just said Senator Inouye is wrong,” Reid said. “All the Republicans, John Ensign [Nev.], head of the Republican senatorial campaign committee, Republican leader [Mitch] McConnell [Ky.] and a long list of people said that he’s going to be kicked out of the Senate. Of course he is. He is not going to survive.”

(Tangent: So Senator Inouye who is 84 years old, is trying to help Ted Stevens who is 84 years old, keep his job. And he is also replacing Robert Byrd who will turn 91 next week, as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Can anyone say “Term Limits?!?”)

Not sounding too good for Uncle Ted. I wonder if he’s secretly hoping to lose, so that he doesn’t have to face the humiliation of expulsion. What a way to end a career of four decades in the Senate. Ouch.

There’s another thing that nobody seems to be talking about much. This may not be the only trouble in Ted Stevens’ future. There’s a whole lot of unanswered questions, and ongoing investigation into some dealings with Ted, and his son, former State Senate President Ben Stevens.

Back in September of 2007, while local talk radio personality Dan Fagan was talking about the legal problems of the Stevenses, Ben was listening in. And Ben decided to call the radio station. Now, keep in mind that Ben Stevens had his Senate office raided by the FBI back in 2006.

Ben Stevens is under investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the the National Marine Fisheries Service, but maintained his innocence and called this whole investigation a “feeding frenzy” and a “blood bath.” The show’s host, Dan Fagan asked him about the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board, where Stevens and his father’s former top legislative aide, Trevor McCabe, served together while simultaneously accepting consulting fees from the very companies they awarded federal grants. The grants themselves, of course, came from Ben’s dad.

“I didn’t receive anything [while on the board],” Stevens told Fagan. “I’ve got a 30-year relationship with the fishing business. I’ve been working for many companies and many entities and some of that overlapped, but it didn’t have anything to do with what happened on that board.”

Unfortunately for Ben, the facts don’t support his story. Stevens and McCabe founded their fishing consulting company in the last week of 2002, immediately before the marketing board started accepting applications for federal grants. It’s unclear how much money the duo raked in running the company, Advance North, but Stevens listed accepting $775,435 from nine fishing companies on his public disclosure forms between 2001 and 2005.

And how did Stevens and McCabe get these nice seats? The elder Stevens created the marketing board and funded it with $29 million, but Ben claims nepotism played no part in his getting the job of chairman.

“My father didn’t appoint me to the board, Dan,” Stevens said on the radio. “I was appointed to the board by the governor and confirmed by the Secretary of Commerce. The board members elected me as the chairman, not my father.”

He forgot to mention who submitted his name for nomination — that would be his dad.

And yes, Alaskans know all about this one too. They do seem to harbor fonder feelings for Stevens the Elder than they do toward Stevens the Lesser, who stepped down from his State Senate seat to…..wait for it…..spend more time with his family. It was almost universally believed that Ben Stevens would be convicted first. When people heard the news, they kept saying, “Ted? Are you sure it’s not Ben? It’s TED?!?”

So this whole “Failure to disclose gifts on Senate Disclosure Forms” may only be the tip of the iceberg. The FBI works in mysterious ways. Now that the election is (almost) over, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to hear from them again.

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