Alaska Needs Your Help! In Which I Explain That the Creature from the Black Lagoon is a Good Guy.

24 11 2008

creature-from-the-black-lagoon

I’ve been talking for weeks now about goings on beneath the surface of Alaskan politics. I’ve fielded dozens of inquiries asking, “What can we do to help?” I’ve answered, “Don’t worry. News is coming. Things are happening. Just be patient.”

I’ve said it’s like bubbles in a pond that start small, and get larger, and clue you in that there’s something down there…and the bigger they get, the sooner you know it’s coming.

Now I want you to imagine a rowboat containing all those Alaskan politicians that don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, all those that have been stonewalling, and twisting the truth, and doing everything possible to stay comfortable right where they are. The boat is large, and the crew is pleased with themselves. They sit under parasols and straw hats, dining on little sandwiches without crusts spread with lies, and tiny cakes glazed with croneyism.

“Do you guys hear anything?….Sounds like bubbles.” says communications director A, with a mouthful of sandwich.

“I don’t hear anything. Can you pour me a glass of lemonade? Ooo…And take my picture!” says politician B, smiling.

“Yeah, I hear it. It definitely sounds like bubbles to me.” says Politician B’s husband.

“What’s that?” (shrieks spokeswoman C, peering over the side of the rowboat at the large growing circle of bubbles)

“Get away from the edge!” bellows Legislator D.

(The occupants all scoot over to the far side of the boat. It lists precariously from the sudden shift in weight distribution, and almost starts to take on water. All of a sudden, a large webbed hand emerges from the bubbles, grabs the rail, and pulls down hard. The boat is now upright again, and the picnickers gape in horror as they realize the boat is about to be boarded. Another webbed hand grabs the rail, and the creature, fueled by the moral outrage of the citizenry pulls its massive body out of the water with a terrible cry. It’s……

Alaskans for Truth! Hooray! (The creature places its webbed hand on its leathery abdomen, extends its leg backward, and makes a sweeping bow. Distant applause is heard over the water.)

The boaters realize with growing dismay that the crowd that has gathered on the shore has not come to help them fight off the beast. They are actually cheering for the creature who has boarded the boat! What can this mean?! Why do they hate us?! Quick, offer this thing a sandwiche or something!

But neither the creature, nor the townsfolk on the shore will be deterred. The creature has made itself quite comfortable on the boat, and is now sitting, and has actually begun to row the boat ashore (Hallelujah!) with the intent of delivering the trembling crew right into the middle of the mob of agitated townsfolk….

It’s amazing what can be brought to life with some good old fashioned community organizing. What all this means is that Alaskans for Truth is now an official Political Action Committee, registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. And they have issued a call to action.

Rather than to try to figure out how to get our creature to pull something out of his non-existant pocket, and read an eloquent call to action, I’ll just give you a link to the Alaskans for Truth website, which spells it all out. What do they want?

  1. Censure of the Governor for violating the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.
  2. Penalties for the state employees and Todd Palin who ignored subpoenas.
  3. Hold hearings on whether Governor Palin and her husband committed perjury in their sworn statement to Timothy Petumenos.
  4. An independent investigation into Attorney General Talis Colberg’s alleged witness tampering in the Troopergate investigation.

How is this going to happen? In two ways.

First, the call to action involves emailing the Alaska State Legislature and letting them know in no uncertain terms that these things still matter. A governor who is in violation of a state ethics act matters. An Attorney General who tells state employees to ignore legislative subpoenas matters. A Vice Presidential candidate and her husband who may have committed perjury matters. They are trying to tell us that these things don’t matter. But, they do.

And don’t for a minute think, dear Mudflatter, that what you do won’t have an effect. Do you remember when we were all biting our nails, wondering if the Legislative Council would release the Troopergate Report? It was touch and go. That report almost didn’t get released. I was there biting my nails in person, when they voted to release it. And one of the Legislators said, “Maybe I’ll be able to get through my inbox again…….”

That means you mattered. And you can matter again. Alaska is small, and every voice that speaks up may as well be using a megaphone. Nobody gets lost in the shuffle. Everyone is heard.

And don’t worry if you are not from Alaska. Because when Sarah Palin was foisted upon you as a Vice Presidential candidate, and when she was made an international celebrity, and when 77% of Republicans want to see her on the national political stage, this matters to you too. All you need to do is explain that, in case they don’t get it.

And the second way to help, is by donating. Alaskans for Truth wants to get their message out, and that means funds are necessary. The goal is to take out ads in the Anchorage Daily News, The Anchorage Press, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, The Juneau Empire, The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, The Tundra Drums…you name it. You’ll see the big yellow DONATE button on the website.

And here again, your voice matters. Alaska is one of the cheapest media markets in the country. Don’t think that a donation of $5 or $10 won’t matter. Everything will.

I once compared Alaska Bloggers, and citizens on both sides of the aisle who wanted the truth to get out to “Whos”, from the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a Who. Those little Whos, living on a dust speck, had to raise their collective voices to be heard by the outside world, and save themselves from doom. We in Alaska have been doing our best since August 29th to tell you our story, and to make sure that the rest of the country learned the truth. Just like the Whos, we have been yelling “We are here! We are here! We are here!” Do you hear us?

If so, then climb on board the rowboat, go to Alaskans for Truth, and start emailing and donating. The time has come to hold Alaska’s leaders accountable. The time for action is now.

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Sarah, Hit the Dirt! It’s Safety Bear!

13 10 2008

Alaska State Troopers' "Safety Bear"

As everyone gets to sift through the 263-page Troopergate report released by the Legislative Council last week, little tidbits about the Palins are emerging. Here’s one I had to share.

MR. MONEGAN: Well, Trooper Wooten, on light duty, had signed up for an overtime detail to work at the state fair in the costume of Safety Bear. And it’s a — it’s a costume, much like a mascot kind of thing. He was going to be escorted around, walk the fair grounds, but mostly around the area of the trooper recruiting booth, and meeting kids, talking to them, that kind of stuff. And so he wouldn’t have been recognizable inside a costume. But obviously the governor’s office was aware that he was going to be there, and they were — they did not want Wooten to be there.

MR. BRANCHFLOWER: And did you learn from Kris Perry, or anyone for that matter, how they knew that —

MR. MONEGAN: No. I —

MR. BRANCHFLOWER: — Trooper Wooten was going to be there?

MR. MONEGAN: I figured they had spies, honestly.

Sarah! Run for your life! It’s Safety Bear!!!

Can you iMAGine what might have happened if Sarah and Todd Palin’s spies hadn’t gotten wind of the Safety Bear plot?

(Women scream, State Fair goers scatter knocking down children with cotton candy and giant turkey legs, the table of giant vegetables is overturned, chickens and rabbits released from their cages run between the legs of stampeding parents trying to whisk their young children to safety, young lovers are stranded on the ferris wheel while fair workers abandon their rides and flee for the hills in abject terror!)

Every once in a while, something in this whole mess is so utterly absurd it makes me actually laugh until I cry. Last time it was the “Witch Hunter” (mopping eyes)….now, Safety Bear.





Through the Looking Glass With Sarah Palin.

12 10 2008

If there’s anyone else left out there who doesn’t believe that Sarah Palin can look you in the eye and tell you black is white, I have a present for you. Here is the transcript of a five minute conference call with Sarah Palin, Meg Stapleton, the Anchorage Daily News, and local TV stations KTVA, and KTUU.  The journalists got one question each with no follow up.

I’ve been struggling to find the right terminology for this.  She has jumped the shark.  She has landed on Fantasy Island.  She has slipped through the looking glass.  She’s Queen of Denial.  She has become the Head of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth…  choose whichever metaphor works for you.

Here is the transcript of Palin’s interview by these  journalists, after the Branchflower Report on the Troopergate investigation was released, stating that she had abused her power as governor.   As a matter of fact, let’s review Finding Number One as it is written:

“For the reasons explained in section IV of the report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.11(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. 

“The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”

The second thing we should review before joining Sarah Through the Looking Glass, is that the Legislative Council, made up of TEN Republicans and FOUR Democrats voted unanimously to begin the investigation, and unanimously to release the results of the investigation. Ten Republicans, four democrats.  Remember that, because it comes up later.

Alright.  So here is the transcript.  The emphasis is mine, and used on those passages that defy reality, and/or leave me speechless.

Palin: Hey, thank you so, Meg. Thank you so much. Thank you also to our local reporters up there in Alaska. Even hearing your names make me feel like I’m right there with you at home. It’s good to get to speak with you. Let me talk a little bit about the Tasergate issue if you guys would let me and, Meg, you want me to just jump right on in there?

Stapleton: Sure governor, go ahead.

Palin: OK cool.

Well, I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that. Todd did what anyone would have done given this state trooper’s very, very troubling behavior and his dangerous threats against our family. Todd did what I think any Alaskan would do.

And he, Todd did what the state’s Department of Law Web site tells anyone to do if they have a concern about a state trooper. And that’s you go to the commissioner and you express your concern. And Todd did what our personal detail asked him to do. Bob Cockrell early on as I was elected and was asked are there any threats against ya, and Todd brought the concern as I did to Commissioner Monegan about the state trooper’s threats. He did what any – I think — any rational person would do so again, nothing to apologize there with Todd’s actions and again very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing.

(Stapleton invites the first question).

ADN: Governor, finding No.1 on the report was that you abused your power by violating state law. Do you think you did anything wrong at all in this Troopergate case?

Palin: Not at all and I’ll tell you, it, I think that you’re always going to ruffle feathers as you do what you believe is in the best interest of the people whom you are serving. In this case I knew that I had to have the right people in the right position at the right time in this cabinet to best serve Alaskans, and Walt Monegan was not the right person at the right time to meet the goals that we had set out in our administration. So no, not having done anything wrong, and again very much appreciating being cleared of any legal wrongdoing or unethical activity at all.

ADN: Have you read the whole report? (No response; Stapleton invites question from KTVA reporter).

KTVA-Channel 11: … The report that came out yesterday, do you think that the end result is partisan?

Palin: Yeah, I did think it did turn into a partisan circus to tell you the truth. Yes I did. You know from Day One it’s been the Personnel Board that clearly laid out in state statute there — Personnel Board deals with any issue of question regarding a governor, a lieutenant governor or an attorney general in the state of Alaska. What this legislative investigation — quote unquote — turned into was a political circus.

KTUU-Channel 2: Governor, so good to hear from you. Do you approve of the way that your campaign has handled themselves here in Alaska? We’ve had a lot of people voice concerns about what they call attacks of good people in our state while you are away.

Palin: Well I haven’t heard of any attacks on good people in Alaska from our campaign. If you have specifics there, maybe I could answer specifically. But no, in John McCain’s mission here, in taking the high road, as you’re going to see too with a lot of unfair shots he has taken in this campaign with some of his opponents’ supporters, McCain and I taking the high road, being positive. I wouldn’t support nor would I condone taking shots at any good Alaskans.

KTUU-Channel 2: Let me answer your question since you asked for specifics.

Palin: Sure.

KTUU-Channel 2: Walt Monegan was called “rogue.” How do you feel about that?

Palin: Rogue isn’t a negative term when you consider that in a cabinet you need a team effort going forward with a governor’s agenda. And our agenda has been to find efficiencies in every department and make sure that we are serving the people of Alaska to the best of our ability given the resources that we have. And remember I fought very hard to increase funding for state troopers so that we could fill positions there and goals not being met that included not being able to recruit and retain all the state troopers that I wanted to best serve Alaska. That could be characterized I think as a cabinet member who – it’s not a negative term I think — being rogue in terms of not meeting those goals.

Just for fun, let’s check out the definition of “rogue.”  *clears throat*

Rogue. Adjective.

  1. Vicious and solitary. Used of an animal, especially an elephant.
  2. Large, destructive, and anomalous or unpredictable: a rogue wave; a rogue tornado.
  3. Operating outside normal or desirable controls: “How could a single rogue trader bring down an otherwise profitable and well-regarded institution?”

He’s a vicious, solitary elephant who doesn’t meet his goals…in a GOOD way.

So let’s recap.  The report states she has abused her power as governor, and she’s really glad she’s done nothing wrong.  Todd did what any “Alaskan” would do.  She thinks the mostly Republican legislative council has turned into a partisan circus, but she hasn’t heard anything about attacks on anyone in Alaska from her campaign.  The McCain campaign is taking the high road and being positive. And being a rogue cop isn’t a bad thing.  Any questions?

If you want to read Lisa Demer’s full account, and hear the interview in the Governor’s own voice:  CLICK HERE.  That way you can just, you know, hear her talkin’ to the people, and bein’ what she is, also, and gettin’ her statement out there and rufflin’ feathers so as to serve the people of Alaska there also.

This must be the sound it makes when a house of cards collapses.






The Release of the Branchflower Report.

10 10 2008

It was a long long day in the halls of the Legislature.  What many thought would be a couple hours of waiting turned into an eight hour day.  The hallway outside the conference room was jammed with media, ABC, BBC, CNN, NPR, the whole alphabet soup.  There were bloggers and journalists, camera crews and members of the legislature, Palin folks and Alaskans for Truth – all staring at the clock, and each other,  and waiting for any crumb of news.

Outside the building, standing in the rain, were about 40 Palin supporters with signs saying, “We love our Gov.” and “We are proud of you.”

Every once in a while a legislator would pop out of the room and say, “It’ll be another hour or so,” and back they would go.  Eyeballs pressed against the venetian blinds could see through the little string holes that Stephen Branchflower was talking, going through the report page by page.

There were Hollis French sightings, and Bill Weilechowski sightings.  Les Gara was there, as was Fred Dyson (one of the ‘gang of six’ who filed the lawsuit to stop the subpoenas).  Palin’s spokesman Bill McAllister paced the halls.  Shannyn Moore and Eddie Burke exchanged a brief hello.  It was like a big melting pot of the Alaska political and media world in one little hallway…..all.  day.  long.

The Palin supporters headed over for coffee at a local coffee shop, and after the coffee was made, they found out it was a “liberal” coffee shop and took off without paying, leaving the coffee behind.

Finally, late in the afternoon, the doors opened and the 50+ members of the media flooded in to the room.

A roll call revealed that 12 of the 14 members of the Legislative Council were present.  The two missing members were Rep. Samuels, and Rep. Wilken (known to Mudflatters as Rep. “I don’t care what the rest of the country thinks. Move to Alaska and then you can lobby me.”)

Senator Lyda Green made the motion to release the public parts of the report to anyone who asked, and to not release the confidential portion of the report.  Rep. Stoltze objected for purpose of discussion.

Discussion followed:

Stevens:  The Legislative Council originally voted unanimously, and laid out the rules of the investigation.  It was designed to be non-political.  He’s sorry it was “taken into the political realm”.  Feels it would be a mistake to just read the findings and not the rest of the report.  Urges caution, and thinks the report should be read “with a jaundiced eye.”

Stoltze:  He had some differences with the report, but thought the process was thorough.  Felt the release of the report was a “no brainer.”  It utilized public funds, and is a public document.  He said he had received hundreds of emails from all over the country urging him to vote to release the report, and was hoping if the report was released he’d be able to get through his inbox again.

Wilson:  Felt the report was well done.  There is some speculation in it and she doesn’t agree with everything, but feels Branchflower did a good job.  The full report is more than 1000 pages.  The public will not have all the information.

Coghill:  He was pleased with the professionalism displayed by Branchflower.  He feels the politicizing has “settled down a bit” and didn’t feel it had an affect on Branchflower’s findings.

Guttenberg:  Thanked Hollis French, and Stephen Branchflower.  Says to remember that the report is about “a family”.  Feels that the legislature has done a good job and has served the public well.

Cowdery:  He “can’t fault the Palins for trying to defend their family,”  but will vote to release the report.

Elton:  Thanked everyone for staying up late, going through the 1300 pages of the report.  This was not an easy job.  Thanked French and his staff.  Thanked his own staff.  Thanked Judge Michalski and the Alaska Supreme Court.

By this time it had become pretty apparent that the vote would pass, and sure enough as the list was read, we realized the ruling was unanimous.  I have to say I wasn’t expecting that.

And now I’d like to thank all of you who spent time writing to the Legislative Council with your concerns about releasing the report, and passing the information to others.  I have no doubt that this was a contributing factor.  When Stoltze talked about all the emails he received, you could see the knowing looks on the faces of all those who were there.  They knew they had an important decision to make, and they knew that people across the world were watching.

After the vote, there was a mad scramble by the press to grab their homework for the weekend – a big fat 263 page green-covered, spiral-bound report entitled:  Report of the Investigation of the Circumstances Surrounding the Termination of Former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and Potential Abuses of Power and/or Improper Actions by Members of Governor Sarah Palin’s Administration.  Volume I – Public Report.

And you yourself may have your very own copy (minus the spiral binding and the green cover)

Just put on some comfy sweats, grab your favorite evening-time beverage, and click HERE

It isn’t often that good people resist political pressure and do the right thing.  I’ve seen things like this go the wrong way, time and time again.  Today renewed my faith in the political process.  I think I’m going to send out one more set of 12 emails saying, “Thank you.”





There They Go Again! Emergency Motion Filed With Supreme Court to Stop Troopergate Investigation. Updated*

3 10 2008

Boy the McCain-Palin campaign REALLY doesn’t want anyone to know the results of the Branchflower report. This report, due out next Friday contains the results of the ethics probe known as “Troopergate.” An emergency appeal was filed with the Alaska Supreme Court, after Judge Michalski ruled Thursday that the investigation should move forward,

They’re asking the state’s high court to decide by the close of business today whether it will hear their appeal.

The action comes the day after Anchorage Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski threw out their lawsuit attempting to halt the Legislature’s investigation of what’s known as Troopergate. The suit was filed on behalf of a group of Republican state legislators who oppose the investigation.

Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute and Anchorage attorney Kevin Clarkson, representing the group of anti-investigation legislators, want the state Supreme Court to decide their appeal by Thursday.

That’s because Steve Branchflower, the investigator hired by the Legislative Council, is set to finish his report by next Friday. 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.

“The plaintiffs and Alaskans will suffer irreparable harm if the investigation at issue continues and if the resulting investigative report issues as planned on Oct. 10, 2008,” the lawyers for the anti-investigation state legislators said in their emergency appeal.

The lawyers argued that allowing the investigation to proceed would threaten the right under the Alaska Constitution to a “fair and just” investigation by the Legislature. They also argued the Legislative Council overstepped its authority in investigating.

The state legislators whose names appear on the appeal are Wes Keller, Mike Kelly, Fred Dyson, Tom Wagoner, Carl Gatto and Bob Lynn.

Judge Michalski, in dismissing their lawsuit Thursday, ruled the conduct of the Legislature’s investigation did not violate the right to fairness.

He found much of the argument against the investigation is not for the courts to decide but is rather “business to be left to the legislative branch.”

The judge Thursday also threw out the argument of Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg, a Palin appointee attempting to quash subpoenas ordering state officials to testify in the investigation.

The attorney general’s office has not joined the appeal to the state Supreme Court. Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said Colberg would not be saying what his next move would be until he has a chance to discuss it with the subpoenaed state officials.

And who are these lawyers warning us of the “irreparable harm” that the state of Alaska will suffer?

Liberty Legal Institute is a far right-wing legal firm based in Texas.

The institute has taken on a variety of cases in defense of conservative Christian positions. Anchorage attorney Kevin G. Clarkson said he and the Texas group were donating their work on the suit. “We just want to take the politics out of it and bring fairness back into it.”

Clarkson said he and Liberty Legal Institute were donating their work on the suit. “There is no nonpartisan reason to complete this investigation until after the election,” he said. “We just want to take the politics out of it and bring fairness back into it.”

(eye roll)

This is all moving quickly. We’ll find out soon if the court has made a decision today.

UPDATE: 

Yes.  The Supreme Court of the State of Alaska will hear the emergency appeal.

In a written order issued about 4:30 p.m. today, the Supreme Court said it would hear oral arguments on the appeal at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and agreed to rule by the end of the next Thursday.

The urgency on timing is because Steve Branchflower, the investigator hired by the Legislative Council, is set to release his report next Friday.

OK, break out that big red Sharpie you save for circling important dates in Alaska politics on your calendar.  Wednesday at 3:00.  The game continues…