The Alaskan White Knights are Waffling, and We Have Homework to Do.

25 11 2008

waffle

I have a couple questions.

What do you do when your Governor is accountable to your Attorney General, and your Attorney General is accountable to your Governor, and neither one of them will either acknowledge or administer consequences for bad behavior.  It’s like a kid whose Mom says, “Go ask Dad,” and whose Dad says, “Go ask Mom.”  Neither one of them wants to be accountable, and neither one of them has any  intention of answering the question.  They are hoping the kid will go away.

Now I have another question.

What do you do when the Legislature, the voice of the people who hired the Governor, also refuses to administer consequences for bad behavior, and simply stands mute?  And what do you do when that silence then turns into statements that run not only counter to the expectation of the people, but to their job description, and the bounds of ethics and the law? 

What do you do when your “voice” no longer speaks for you?

I have a small understanding about how people with Tourette syndrome, or muscular spasms must feel.   It must feel like a betrayal of mind and body when the things that are meant, on the most basic level, to represent you  (your voice, and your actions) are hijacked by unknown forces, leaving you making declarations and gestures that have no connection with your true intent. 

When the Alaska Legislature starts talking about how we’re all weary of Troopergate, and Governor Palin, Attorney General Talis Colberg, and those who ignored legislative subpoenas should just be able to continue without facing any consequences for violating the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, and the law,  I feel like shouting, “This is not me!  I’m not saying this!  I’m not doing this!”

I have often compared the Democrats of the Legislature to white knights. I’ve been blown away at times by their bravery, their conviction, and the fact that they put themselves out on a limb to do the right thing. And I’ve also given a pat on the back to Republicans who have planted themselves on the right side of the fence despite their party affiliation. In some ways the Repulicans had the harder job. When the bipartisan Legislative Council voted to make public the Troopergate report whose first finding was that Sarah Palin abused her power and violated the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, I was amazed. I began to…dare I say it aloud….have faith in my Legislature.  All of them.

Now, after the election, as Sarah Palin gets back to the business of the state (when she’s in town), I am beginning to lose that faith.  The white knights are starting to pull their punches, the horses are rearing like they’ve seen a snake, and the villagers are getting a horrible sinking feeling. We are wondering what happened to them? We wonder if they are breaking their vows to us, and justifying the betrayal in the name of “moving forward and working together on the issues that really matter.”

Call me crazy, but I think ethics really matters.   If you polled voters and asked if they’d rather have an ethical politician or an unethical one, you’d get the obvious answer. And if you broke down the results of this poll by party affiliation, I don’t think you’d find much difference.  Everyone wants ethical politicians. So, why, after a candidate has been elected, would anyone want to stop a process that was designed to find out if that politician is corrupt?  Why would you budget $100,000 for an investigation to find out whether a politician violated the ethics act if you were going to ignore the finding?  And why, if the findings showed that the politician had indeed violated the ethics act, would you decide to give them a free pass?  And why, if witnesses, and perhaps the head of the Department of Law violated…..the LAW, would you be just fine with that?

For right now, I’m going to give our White Knights on both sides of the aisle the benefit of the doubt.  I, on behalf of the villagers, am going to accept some responsibility for their waffling.   Perhaps we just haven’t been doing a good enough job of letting them know we’re here, and that we’re going to back them up.  Maybe they really think people don’t care.  Perhaps they feel like they’re headed off to battle with no ammunition.  That has to be scary.

So here’s your homework Mudflatters…  As a Thanksgiving present to the Alaska State Legislature, I want you to give them some ammunition.  Every email you send, every letter you write, every phone call you make is an arrow in their quiver.  Phone calls count as two arrows…maybe even three.

I want our white knights to be armed to the teeth.  I want them to ride into battle feeling invincible.  I don’t want them to feel like they were abandoned by the village.  Let’s hang a garland of flowers around their necks, and sent them off with a full quiver of public outrage.

I’m not willing to throw them under the horse just yet.

For emails to all Alaska State Legislators – Click HERE – then cut & paste them all into your email address bar.

For phone numbers of the Alaska State Legislators – Click HERE

Giddyup!





Mark “Stomach of Iron” Begich Speaks.

13 11 2008

begich-kos

Mark Begich made a radio appearance on the Ed Schultz show today. He sounded pretty confident, but not cocky. He’s been through this before. When he was elected Mayor of Anchorage, he won by 18 votes. So his current lead of 814 seems like a landslide! His strong showing in districts with military bases, and out in rural Alaska speak volumes, coming from areas that have traditionally gone to Stevens.

He also discussed Sarah Palin’s potential plans for the future, including either throwing her hat in the ring if Stevens wins and is booted out by the Senate, running in 2010 for the Senate seat currently held by Lisa Murkowski, or running for President in 2012. He also used the word “debacle” when describing the McCain-Palin campaign, which made me smile.

Begich picked up on Palin’s recent quote, “I am not one to appoint myself or a member of my family to take the place of any [Senate] vacancy.” As you all know by now, she couldn’t do that anyway because it’s illegal…but it was a pretty obvious jab at Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was appointed to that position by her father Frank Murkowski when he left his Senate seat to become Governor of the state. He’s the one Palin trounced in the primary when she ran for the position. She may have Murkowski #2 in her cross hairs.

Begich also mentioned that his need to keep his operation going an extra week or two, means he is still welcome donations to the campaign. So, if you want to help him keep the staff he needs to make sure that this counting process goes smoothly, and keep everyone running full steam until the vote is finalized, you can throw him a little love at www.begich.com

Donations big or small would be most appreciated, I’m sure.





Alaska Senate and House Races Bring Surprises.

5 11 2008

It’s been an amazing day in American politics. President Elect Obama has heard the voice of America, and it is demanding change. The future seems full of promise and possibility for the first time in a long time.

But back on the Last Frontier, we know it just wouldn’t be Alaska if things went smoothly, or predictably. Any day now, I expect new Alaskan license plates to be released saying “Alaska” on the top, and “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” across the bottom.

Despite polling numbers that indicated comfortable leads for Senate candidate Mark Begich, and House candidate Ethan Berkowitz, both races are too close to call until the final absentee and early votes are counted. Yes, it seems that we now have a “Stevens Effect”, people who say they wouldn’t vote for a convicted felon to pollsters, but when they get behind the curtain, they just can’t seem to resist the temptation.

Mark Begich (D) vs. Ted Stevens (R-I)

At last count with 99% of precincts reporting Begich trailed Stevens by only 4000 votes, 46.5% to 48%. But don’t write off Begich just yet. There are tens of thousands of votes yet to be counted – almost 50,000 in all. Absentee ballots have yet to be tallied, and more are arriving daily. In addition, any early votes that happened between last Thursday and Election Eve, are still to be counted. What does all this mean? We won’t know the outcome of this race for two weeks.

If Stevens is elected, he will face expulsion by the Senate, Alaskans will have the dubious honor of being the only state to ever elect a convicted felon, and Stevens will face expulsion. It will require a 2/3 vote to remove him. Sarah Palin, who asked Stevens to step down so Alaskans could have a “real” choice would NOT be able to appoint anyone to fill the seat. I heard pundits last night speculating that Palin would appoint herself to the seat. That will not happen. The Alaska Supreme Court has already decided this issue and removed the right of a governor to appoint anyone to a senate seat. Period. That said, there is nothing to prevent Palin from entering herself as a candidate in the special election to fill that seat.

So, what happened?

There are as many theories and opinions as people. Here are a few.

  • Stevens is more like family than a mere politician. If he says he’s innocent, then he’s innocent. He was railroaded. He continues to have the support of Alaska’s other Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Congressman Don Young. The feds were just out to get him.
  • Some Alaskans, despite being presented with the facts, will never ever vote Democratic. Ever.
  • Stevens gained votes from the inflated Republican turnout that came out to vote for Palin.
  • If Stevens gets in and gets expelled by the senate, there’s another opportunity to get a different Republican in that seat and not create a potential Democratic dynasty. This was openly promoted by right wing talk radio before the election.
  • Some Alaska voters have voted for Stevens every election of their lives. They’re happy with what he’s done, so why stop now?
  • Alaskans are terrified of giving up seniority in the Senate. We’re ignored a lot, and we worry that if Ted isn’t there with his experience, his connections, and his doggedness, we’ll be up a creek.
  • Nobody “outside” (aka the Federal Government, the FBI and the IRS) is going to tell me who to vote for. (sticking out chin, crossing arms and feeling like and Alaskan “maverick”)

Ethan Berkowitz (D) vs. Don Young (R-I)

This race is not as tight as the Senate race. In a stunning outcome that flies in the face of all recent polls, Don Young looks like he will pull it off. The bombastic, bloviating incumbent has a comfortable lead over the favored newcomer, and is up by more than 17,000 votes. The same 50,000 ballots have yet to be counted for these candidates, but that’s a pretty big margin to make up for Berkowitz. So, as excruciating as it is, and despite the fact that Berkowitz has not conceded, we may be sending Don Young back for his 19th term as Alaska’s one and only member of the House of Representatives. I would like to extend my humble apologies to the United States Congress. Forgive us, for we know not what we do.

So what happened?

Look back up at the “So what happened?” section above and insert the name Don Young, every time you see the name Ted Stevens, and add the following:

  • Just because he’s spent $1.2 million in legal fees, doesn’t mean he’s done anything wrong. He hasn’t even been indicted yet!

Asked if he was surprised at the way the numbers were running, Young said, “Not me. … The pollsters were wrong and they’ve always been wrong. … They don’t understand Alaska.”

The Anchorage Daily News has some good coverage of the Stevens-Begich race and the Young-Berkowitz race.

There are many chapters yet to be written.

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Ted Stevens’ Trial…Closing Arguments Begin.

21 10 2008

We’ve heard about massage chairs, sled dog puppies, and giant black furniture. We’ve heard from contractors, and former best friends, and Mrs. Stevens. We’ve been regaled with stories of male-bonding and wine drinking for weight loss in the desert Southwest. I refer, of course, to the Ted Stevens trial. All in all the trial has been very….Alaskan. Stevens faces seven felony counts of failure to disclose gifts on his Senate Financial Disclosure Forms.

Today is the day closing arguments begin, and the prosecution is presenting its case right now. By tomorrow, the jury deliberations will have started.

WASHINGTON – As prosecutors made their final argument Tuesday to jurors in Sen. Ted Stevens’ corruption case, they replayed a now-infamous recording of the senator, who told a close friend that the worst that could ever happen to him as a result of a federal investigation would be a little jail time, or perhaps excessive legal bills.

“Does that sound like someone who really believes he didn’t do something wrong?” asked prosecutor Joseph Bottini, an assistant U.S. Attorney from Anchorage who delivered closing arguments for the Justice Department this morning.

[snip]

Some of those things Stevens was given were smaller than others, Bottini acknowledged, such as a stained glass window and a generator. But none of those items were ever disclosed as gifts on his financial disclosure forms, Bottini said.

And “how he treats these smaller items speaks volumes about how he intended to treat the bigger ticket items, like the home remodel,” Bottini said.

His attitude was clear when he tried to figure out how to disclose the value of a sled dog his friends bought him at a charity auction, Bottini said. Stevens, in asking about the dog, wrote an e-mail describing the disclosure requirements as a “GD” disclosure form.

“He calls it his, pardon me, his “God Damn” disclosure form,” Bottini said. “That pretty much sums up his attitude. He’s not above the law and he can’t evade it simply because he doesn’t like it.”

Alaskans are sitting on the edge of their seats. The one furthest on the edge? Other than Ted himself, it’s probably Anchorage Mayor, and Stevens’ Democratic rival for the senate seat, Mark Begich. An acquittal for Stevens makes his job a lot more daunting.





Alaska Republicans vs. Gandhi

3 10 2008

“First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you. Then you win.” So said, Mahatma Gandhi. How can it not make a person chuckle when the McCain-Palin crew makes you think of Gandhi?

There’s no doubt that the Alaska Republican Party is not amused by the massive anti-Palin rallies that have been taking place here in the great city of Anchorage. The “Hold Palin Accountable” rally, which drew a crowd of about 1800 was the largest in Alaska history. It broke the record set two weeks earlier by 1500 who assembled at the “Alaska Women Reject Palin” rally. What was the third biggest? No one even remembers.

And then there was the delivery of the petition to remove Attorney General Talis Colberg from office for telling state employees to ignore subpoenas, and furthering the stonewalling of the ethics investigation known as “Troopergate” which looks into Palin’s alleged abuse of power.

They ignored the first rally, but they couldn’t ignore the second one, or the petition, which garnered much more media attention.

The second rally was dismissed by McCain-Palin as being a “pro Obama rally and nothing more,” or so said Meg Stapleton. Stapleton, Palin’s mouthpiece, and member of the “Truth Squad” was the subject of several of the scathing signs present at last week’s rally. She is now reviled by many Alaskans for slandering respected public figures who have dared to speak truth to power regarding Palin’s ethics investigation.

So, (counting on fingers)…that’s ignoring, and then mocking….what’s next? Ah…now they fight you.

Well guess what landed in my inbox last night? A plea from the Alaska Republican party! Please enjoy the email in its entirety:

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

Alaskans Call to Action

3 Ways to Show Your Support for Governor Palin!

Thank you for supporting the McCain-Palin ticket. Right now, we are calling upon all Alaskans to help in three simple ways.

  • 1. Sign our petition in support of Governor Palin. Barack Obama‘s operatives have attempted to smear and politically damage our Governor. Please print, sign and fax in the petition below to show your support. We need as many signatures as possible to put a stop to this politically motivated injustice.
  • 2. Join us for a McCain-Palin Victory 2008 vice presidential “debate watching” party at our Alaska Headquarters tonight, October 2nd, as Governor Palin and Senator Biden debate in St. Louis! The debate starts at 5:00 PM, so the party will start at 4:30 PM at our Anchorage Headquarters (307 East Northern Lights Blvd.). Don’t miss this important and historic opportunity to show your support for our Governor!
  • 3. Join us for a McCain-Palin Victory 2008 rally to “Support Governor Palin” this Saturday, October 4th! It will take place at the Anchorage Christian School Gymnasium (6401 E. Northern Lights Blvd, at the corner of Northern Lights and Baxter Rd) at 1:00 PM. All are encouraged to attend.

This is your call to action, and please forward it to friends. Please help us show Alaska’s support for Governor Palin to the nation and world. Thank you.

Petition in Support of Governor Palin:

Please print, sign, and fax to the Alaska Republican Party at (907)276-0425.

We the undersigned voters of Alaska, herby [sic] call for an immediate end to the Obama operative led inquiry in the Alaska Legislature, whose sole purpose has been to smear and politically damage Governor Sarah Palin. The Legislative Council’s Walt Monegan investigation has been hijacked by Obama supporters and as a result no longer has the support of its own committee. We urge our elected officials to stand up and put an immediate end to this political circus that is wasting countless taxpayer dollars and tarnishing the fair reputation of the great state of Alaska.

Print Name: ______________________

Signed:__________________________

No fax machine? You can also drop off your signed petition at one of the following places:

McCain-Palin/Victory 2008 Alaska Headquarters
307 East Northern Lights Blvd.
Anchorage, AK 99503

Alaska Republican Party Headquarters
1001 West Fireweed Lane
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

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

I just can’t stop smiling. I’m not sure how many people will show up at the Anchorage Christian School Gymnasium for the Pro-Palin rally, or why they have scheduled it at exactly the same time and day as the Alaska statewide Obama rally, which may break a record again. I also don’t know where these petitions are going to end up, or what they are actuallly asking for. But I am proud of them for providing the high-tech “fax it in” option for those who can’t drive to the Republican Party headquarters to submit them in person. Soon they will have mastered the spell check on their email, and it surely can’t be much longer after that before they master the free online petition.

And as for “tarnishing the reputation of the great state of Alaska”? I think Alaska politicians are doing a fine job of that without the help of “Obama operatives”. I wonder what conservative Republican Wasilla resident and State Senate President Lyda Green will think when she finds out she is an Obama operative? How about right wing radio pundit and columnist Dan Fagan? I wouldn’t want to be in THAT room!

OK….(fingers again)….that’s ignore, mock, fight… There’s only one left.





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.





Brutus Speaks! Palin’s Reaction to Alaskans for Truth Rally.

29 09 2008

truth14.jpg

Sunday, organizers and rally-goers were basking in the afterglow of the “Hold Palin Accountable” rally. The rally got front page coverage in the Anchorage Daily News, and was featured on local and national broadcast news. It was also picked up by newspapers across the country. This was a big step up from the coverage of the last anti-Palin rally. We are being heard.

Shortly after the rally, we heard the official response from Sarah Palin, via Meg Stapleton. For a little background, Stapleton was a former news anchor at KTUU, Alaska’s most widely viewed news station. She has at various times also been Palin’s press secretery , and special assistant. She was offered and accepted a position as mouthpiece for the McCain-Palin campaign in August. People used to like Meg Stapleton, the way you do news anchors and assistants to popular governors.

Since Stapleton’s faustian bargain with the McCain campaign, she has been the smirking, smearing, condescending, fib-telling face of the “Truth Squad.” The very name of the Squad is Orwellian, and so is Stapleton. She keeps saying, “2+2=5”, and expecting the world to believe it. Not only has the Truth Squad been dishonest, but they have systematically and surgically attacked well-respected public servants, for doing their jobs with integrity and the best interest of Alaskans at heart.

Here’s a good summary from The Anchorage Press (9/25/08)

“Today, we reiterate and emphasize the ongoing cooperation in the truly independent investigation involving the only legal forum in the state for the Monegan inquiry,” Stapleton said Monday. “As you know, that is the Personnel Board.”

Except that we don’t know that. And that was never asserted prior to Palin’s August 29 selection by McCain as his running mate.

And that’s not the least of the inaccuracies and inconsistencies being peddled by Stapleton and O’Callaghan.

When Stapleton alleged that Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage) decided not to subpoena Palin’s former chief of staff Mike Tibbles, KTUU’s Jason Moore pointed out that it was actually Fairbanks Republican Representative Jay Ramras that requested Tibbles not be subpoenaed. Following that report on KTUU, according to TPMMuckraker.com, Stapleton called Moore’s wife and told her that Moore was calling Stapleton and O’Callaghan liars, then followed up by calling KTUU news director Steve Mac Donald to complain.

In trying to paint Commissioner Monegan as a rogue, the Truthers alleged that Monegan had sought to go to Washington, D.C. in July to seek federal funds to fight sexual violence in Alaska without the administration’s approval (the campaign called this “the final straw”). However, ABC News unearthed the travel authorization—signed by Palin’s chief of staff Mike Nizich—authorizing Monegan to go to Washington to attend a meeting with Senator Lisa Murkowski.”

OK, now we’re ready for the official response from Meg Stapleton about the rally that saw more than 1500 people converge in a downtown Anchorage Park. It is conveniently color coded for you in a lovely shade of muck…just to beat the point to death.

“Clearly this was an Obama rally and nothing else. The rally proves the point of partisanship which the Governor has been trying to remove from the investigation in an effort to get a fair and just result.

The Governor remains an open book and is fully cooperating with the non-partisan Personnel Board and its independent investigator, which are statutorily authorized to conduct an investigation.

As you no doubt noticed the personal attacks at this rally, it is unfortunate that while we discuss the Governor and her record, the Obama campaign is resorting to personally attacking those who will continue to stand with the Governor and Alaskans and against personal smears.”

Now you know why several people at the rally had signs directed squarely at Meg Stapleton. When Alaskans start quoting Julius Caesar’s “Et tu, Brute?” (Even you Brutus?) you realize the extent to which she is seen as the ultimate betrayer.

Strangely, the last time Meg Stapleton got national media attention was during her days at KTUU when a story she was filming made it to Jay Leno. While she was reporting a human interest story, at Christmas time, she knelt down by one of Santa’s reindeer. It got spooked and literally ran her over. Sometimes animals have pretty amazing instincts.






Ted Stevens Trial Gears Up.

22 09 2008

Today’s the day. After three unsuccessful attempts to get the case thrown out, jury selection in the Ted Stevens trial will begin today.

Ted Stevens is kind of like Queen Victoria, or Ramses the Great. Many of his ‘subjects’ simply can’t remember a time he wasn’t in power. To imagine someone else in the Senate, filling that seat, is almost impossible. Stevens, now 84, has been serving Alaska in this capacity since Christmas Eve of 1968. This means he’s literally been in the Senate since before most Alaskans were born. He has been President Pro Tem of the Senate. He has been the chair of important committees, including the Senate Appropriations Committee. He has brought multiple millions of dollars to the state over the years. He even has his name on the shiny new granite-tiled Ted Stevens International Airport, which was built mostly with earmark money.

For all the good Stevens has done, there are many who think his time is over. Ex-Governor Walter Hickel, who appointed Stevens to his senate seat in 1968 has even said it’s timefor the very senior senator to retire. Stevens has deteriorated a lot in the last few years. His frequent stammering is almost incomprehensible. His belligerence is alienating many Alaskans who used to revere him. And sometimes he’s just downright embarrassing… Wearing a tie featuring the Incredible Hulk on the Senate floor, and his reference to the internet as a “series of tubes” has begun to define his national image, more than his actual policies.

Then came the summer of 2007. Sitting in my office, minding my business, the news came over the radio. The FBI and the IRS were raiding the home of senator Ted Stevens in the small town of Girdwood, south of Anchorage. People in the Girdwood area started calling local talk radio stations with on-the-scene reports. Gawkers drove to Girdwood and parked outside ‘the chalet’, as Stevens calls his home, to see what was going on.

Photos were being taken of gutters and barbecue grills, electrical outlets and wrap-around decks, and onlookers stared in stunned silence at the black SUVs and the guys in suits and glasses swarming the Stevens’ home. The raid was stunning, and it was the talk of the state for weeks. Then, finally on July 29, 2008, one year later, the indictment came. Stevens was accused of accepting more than a quarter of a million dollars in home renovations, and personal gifts that were never paid for, and were never reported on his Senate disclosure forms. The source of these gifts, which included raising the entire house and adding another floor, was Veco, an oil services company. The CEO, Bill Allen, and the VP, Rick Smith plead guilty to bribery, and is now ‘telling all’ to the FBI and the IRS.

Sarah Palin is not the only soap opera in Alaska politics.

The witness list for the trial includes some well-known names: longtime friend Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and former Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Quite a list of power brokers. Now here’s the interesting part, just to give it a little Alaskan twist.

Also on the witness listare a Fairbanks strip club manager, and the underaged ‘coke-for-sex’ former mistress of key prosecution witness, former CEO of Veco, Bill Allen. And there are all kinds of accusations about paperwork that the newly sold and renamed Veco Corp. (now CH2M Hill) refuses to turn over to the defense.

So for those of you who are suffering from Sarah-fatigue, take heart. Alaska is an endless source of the strange, the sordid, and the knee deep muck of Alaskan politics.

Here’s the Ted Stevens classic. Enjoy the “series of tubes”.





Alaska AG Says None Will Testify in Troopergate Probe.

16 09 2008

Well, if anyone had any doubt about how dirty this would get, wonder no more. The Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg (3rd in line for the Governor’s throne should Palin win the VP slot, and Lt. Governor Sean Parnell win the House seat) has announced that none of the 13 people state employees who were issued subpoenas in Palin’s ethics investigation into the “Troopergate” scandal will testify, unless there is a unanimous vote from the full Senate or the entire Legislature.

In other words, the Attorney General has stated that nobody who is subpoenaed will show up.

Either the AG and the McCain campaign are genuinely afraid of what this investigation will uproot, or they are just trying once and for all to illustrate that the guy at the anti-Palin rally in Anchorage on Saturday who held aloft a sign reading “Bush in a Skirt” was right. My money is on the former.

Oh, and five private citizens from the Fairbanks area today filed suit to halt the investigation on the grounds that the entire thing is unconstitutional. And of course Palin herself has folded her arms, crinkled her nose and said she will no longer be cooperating in this investigation that she “welcomed” just a few short weeks before she was assimilated into the world of Republican politics on the national scale.

I keep searching for the appropriate Alaskan metaphor for overkill. Swatting a mosquito with a sledge hammer? Shooting a moose with a cruise missile? Whatever metaphor you choose, the message is the same. There’s a whole lot of legal muscle, big league strategy, and nasty DC Rovian politics descending on our poor little town in the Last Frontier. Makes you wonder what exactly there is to find, and how desperate they are to make it go away.

And, of course, there always has to be an official reason given for the stonewalling. And it’s usually a good laugh line, so here it is, from AG Talis Colberg:

“This is an untenable position for our clients because the governor has so strongly stated that the subpoenas issued by your committee are of questionable validity.”

Ahh. It would be uncomfortable to testify because the governor doesn’t want them to. Now, I get it.

The silver lining in all this? The more paper they throw, the more tantrums they throw, the guiltier they look. Long ago, Rep. Les Gara suggested to Palin that she confess to a bad judgment call, and hire Monegan back. She didn’t listen. And now the act of firing Monegan, which has gone so far to illustrate her temperament, her decision making ability, and her judgment, has come back to haunt her, with help from the McCain campaign.

There is a growing sense in the blogosphere, in local and national media, and among people I know, that the bloom is off the Palin rose.





Palin Refuses to Cooperate with Ethics Probe. What a Surprise.

15 09 2008

This one didn’t surprise me.  The Associated Press is now reporting that Sarah Palin will no longer be cooperating with the Troopergate investigation.  Actually, I’m not sure if she ever was cooperating with the Troopergate investigation.  So far her cooperation has involved:

  1. Saying she was going to cooperate.
  2. Reiterating that she was going to cooperate.

and….that’s about it.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A campaign spokesman says Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin won’t speak with an investigator hired by lawmakers to look into the firing of her public safety commissioner.

McCain campaign spokesman Ed O’Callaghan told a news conference Monday that the governor, the Republican nominee for vice president, will not cooperate as long as the investigation “remains tainted.” He said he doesn’t know whether Palin’s husband would challenge a subpoena issued to compel his cooperation.

The campaign insists the investigation has been hijacked by Democrats.

And I have yet to have anyone explain to me how a Republican dominated Legislature could have voted unanimouslyto proceed with the investigation by special investigator Stephen Branchflower, and have been “hijacked by Democrats.”   That story may cut it with her new-found friends in the Lower 48, but it’s not cutting it here in Alaska.  I think that this move lost her a lot of respect with Alaska lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and with a lot of Alaskan voters.  There are plenty in Alaska who are caught up in Sarah-mania, and will defend her no matter what she does, but not everyone.

The only reason Palin was not issued a subpoena, is because the Legislature actually believed her when she said she would cooperate.  They actually took her at her word.  (Patting Legislature on head) Oh, you trusting souls. 

Alaskans know corruption.  They know what it feels like to be kicked in the teeth by their elected representatives.  They recognize the signs of guilt, and the twisting and squirming, like a bug on a pin, that our corrupt politicians display when the heat gets turned up.  This is not new.  We’ve danced this dance more times than we care to admit in the last two years. But this one was supposed to be different.  THIS one was supposed to be “clear and transparent.”  THIS one stood up there in her lipstick and her red blazer, and her mantle of change and said, “Hold me accountable.”

We know what’s tainted this investigation, and ‘taint the Democrats.

OK, Legislature.  The ball is in your  court.  Dust yourselves off, because it’s your play.

 





She’s Baa-aack! Palin in Alaska. What She Didn’t Say.

11 09 2008

Sarah Palin returned to Alaska yesterday, and was greeted in Fairbanks by a crowd of 3,000 cheering fans.

She said a lot of what you’d expect. She giddily told the crowd about everyone in the Lower 48 chanting “Drill Baby Drill!” everywhere she went. Remember that Alaska is a pro-drilling crowd of the highest order. One of the reasons John McCain came in dead last in the Republican primary, after Ron Paul, is his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He also didn’t wow evangelical voters either. But he seems to be tip-toeing his way in the “pro-life”, pro-drilling direction lately. Go figure.

Palin also made reference to the $1200 energy rebate that’s about to land in the bank account of every Alaskan man, woman and child. This amount is in addition to the $2069 permanent fund dividend check from oil profits in the state that also goes in to the bank account of every man woman and child. As you can imagine, handing out wads of cash to people doesn’t hurt your approval ratings. The Permanent Fund Dividend (pfd) is something Alaskans have gotten every year since 1980, and has ranged from a few hundred dollars to this years biggest check ever. The energy rebate, though, is something new. Energy prices in Alaska are outrageously high. Despite our proximity to all this fossil fuel, we have the highest gas prices in the nation, and rural communities out in bush Alaska can be paying $6-$8 a gallon for gas. Winter is just around the corner here, and people are justifiably nervous about staying warm.

She talked about how this type of energy rebate is “unheard of in other states”. That one had to be for the national media, because, of course it’s unheard of in other states… the only reason we’re getting it is because the price of oil is so high, and as the oil companies make more money, so does our permanent fund, and so do we. We all know that. It got applause anyway – it’s cash. She went on to say:

“But we believed that you believed you could spend that money better than government could spend it for you.”

Also a bit strange, because Palin’s original idea was to give Alaskans an energy debit card that would have a certain amount each month and had to be used for energy expenses. Eventually, she was talked out of it, and just decided to stick with cold hard cash… which means many Alaskans are probably going to be getting big screen TVs and freezing their butts off this winter. But that’s another story.

So what didn’t she say? She didn’t use her famous, “commyuunity orrrganizer” line, and pulled back on the snarky comments about Obama. Obama won 75% of the caucus votes in Alaska, and turned the state (until recently) into an actual ‘swing state’ for the first time in memory. Don’t underestimate Obama’s support in Alaska.

She also didn’t say, “And I said ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ on that Bridge to Nowhere.” It’s tough to lie to the home town crowd. Besides, it wasn’t on the teleprompter.

Another thing that wasn’t seen was the crowd of Obama supporters that showed up at the rally. One Mudflats reader in Fairbanks estimated the Obama crowd at 70 or more. The Anchorage Daily News said it was more than two dozen. I guess 70 is more than two dozen. Either way it’s a good turnout considering only Palin supporters were encouraged to attend. One rally-goer, who made it into the hangar where Palin was about to speak, held up a sign that said “Palin: per diem fraud.”

Alaska State Troopers subdued him and escorted him outside at the request of the rally’s hosts, the state Republican Party.

“Subdued” him? I don’t have any details on that, but it doesn’t sound like, “politely asked him to leave.”

So, fellow Alaskan Republicans must have been really excited to see one of their own become such a rising star, and the darling of the Republican Party, right? Let’s hear from Fairbanks Republican Representative Jay Ramras who was at the event. What do you think about our Sarah, Jay?

“It’s dangerous up here to do any truth telling — we all want to have a future and she’s going to control the state for the next four years whether she’s vice president or governor or senator or turning the wheels from home in Wasilla. I mean she’s a powerful woman.”

Hmmmm.





Legislature Steps Up Palin Ethics Investigation.

5 09 2008

Hollis French and Sarah Palin - Photo from AP

If you’re marking your calendar with upcoming Alaska political scandal “Dates to Remember”, it’s time to get out your eraser. The release date of the Palin ethics investigation has moved…but not in the direction you may think.

ABC News has exclusively learned that Alaska Senator Hollis French will announce today that he is moving up the release date of his investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her office to get the Alaska public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, fired. The results of the investigation were originally scheduled for release Oct. 31 but will now come almost three weeks earlier, according to sources.

Friday is obviously a big news day up here in Alaska. And now, the latest on the jousting match between teams French/Branchflower and Palin/Van Flein. The Palin/Van Flein strategy has been to stall, stonewall, dig in their heels, grit their teeth, throw grenades, light fires, and jump in the bunker. It seems to be meeting with limited success.

Despite Palin filing an ethics complaint against herself to force an investigation by a friendly self-appointed board, the Legislature, under the leadership of Democrat Hollis French, chair of the judiciary committee, marches on. It remains to be seen how they will pull this off, but subpoenas must be just around the corner, because both Frank Bailey (the Palin staffer whose phone call to Troopers was recorded), and Sarah Palin who originally said she’d be completely cooperative, have refused to testify.

Also, Republican Rep. John Coghill is now asking for Hollis French to step down from his leadership role stating that because he’s used the word ‘impeachment’ more than once, and has stated he feels the whole thing will be ‘damaging’ for her, he is no longer impartial.