Palin Ignores Mosquitoes at Her Peril.

11 11 2008

Turns out there was just too much in that little 9 1/2 minute interview to cover in one day. This is installment #4 in picking apart Sarah Palin’s interview by the Daily News and KTUU in her Wasilla home on Sunday.

I found this particular question to be quite fascinating…probably because I was involved personally in the incidents discussed. I covered extensively the protest rallies in Anchorage that occured while Palin was on the campaign trail. I’ll recap, just to clarify:

1) Alaska Women Reject Palin – This rally happened at the Loussac Library and had about 1500 attendees, mostly women. Nobody had ever seen anything like this. Anchorage rallies usually manage to round up a couple dozen people…if they’re lucky. This was epic. There was a sea of homemade signs slamming her positions on reproductive rights, aerial wolf hunting, troopergate, global warming and croneyism. Anyone at that rally knew that something had awakened in the Alaskan people, that had resulted in something unexpected – an engaged citizenry.

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2) Alaskans for Truth Rally – This rally happened at the Park Strip in downtown Anchorage, and had approximately 1800 attendees. The focus of this rally was to hold our Governor accountable for her actions, and to demand the immediate resignation of Alaska State Attorney General, Talis Colberg. Colberg advised state employees that they could disregard legislative subpoenas, and they did. Sarah Palin had promised to cooperate with the Legislative investigation, and she didn’t. The organizers were wondering if that first rally was an anomaly. They wondered if they could pull off a repeat. They did, and more. Speakers included local activists, progressive media, Republicans, representatives of the Native community and the Alaska State Troopers, and even Walt Monegan’s mom. The other purpose of this rally was to show support for former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan, independent investigator Stephen Branchflower, and State Senator Hollis French, all of whom had been mercilessly and unfairly slandered in the media by Palin and her mouthpiece, Meg Stapleton.

This rally got much more media coverage than the first one, and resulted in Mudflats having its busiest day ever, with more than 1/3 of a million hits in 24 hours. It was covered by the Anchorage Daily News, CBS, national blogs, local blogs and all local TV stations. The national coverage was not massive, but it was significant, and it’s doubtful that this went unnoticed by Palin, and it certainly didn’t go unnoticed by her staff still in Alaska.

So, yes….I was curious to see how Palin would answer this question.

Q. Governor, were you aware that during the campaign there were some large protests in Anchorage against your candidacy, as well as your handling of the Walt Monegan issue? What do you think about that and what can you do to bring those people back?

Palin: To bring those people back in terms of…..and I wasn’t aware of the protests ’til like after they happened. I’d hear about it. A friend emailed me or somethin’ sayin’ there were placards out there saying whatever they’d say. (waves hand dismissively) I think that’s the nature of a a national level campaign also some you know they evidence of that the opposition to our ticket on the national level that that’s going to be expressed here on the local level too.

The thing that really got me was the hand wave. She brushed us away like a mosquito. An annoyance. Not worthy of even breaking out the flyswatter. I hope this will be Palin’s big mistake. She underestimates those who have defected. Her approval ratings went from over 90% when she was first elected, to about 60% now. When one third of your supporters turn, it can make life difficult, especially when that 30% is angry, riled up, and out to change things.

An interesting thing has happened during this election, especially for progressives. All of a sudden, we feel like we’ve made a difference. We feel like we’ve taken our country back from the brink of something that no longer looked like the America we learned about in grade school. We have ushered in to office, the first African American president, who is a northerner, an educated, literate man with progressive ideals, and we’ve done it $5 or $25, or $100 at a time. We’ve seen a grassroots movement that actually shaped not only the future of our nation, but the future of the world. It feels pretty good.

My hunch is that this feeling is not going to help the likes of Sarah Palin. Why? Because people feel empowered to make change. I don’t know if Alaskans will sit idly by while our Governor charges the state per diem to sleep in her house, or charges the state for her children’s one way tickets and fancy hotel rooms, or while political appointments are based on religious idealogy and/or presence in the Wasilla High School year book. I don’t know if we’ll be willing to swallow an administration that fires people and sullies their reputations because of a personal vendetta. I don’t know if Alaskans will forget the “other” Sarah Palin who incited cries of “Kill him!” when she said that our President Elect was “palling around with terrorists.” I don’t know that Alaskans were able to deposit their permanent fund checks, and their energy rebate checks this year, and square that with watching our Governor sling accusations of “socialism” like it was a four letter word, and “spreading the wealth” like it was a moral crime.

Who knows. Maybe I’m wrong. Alaskans have surprised me before….like when they voted en masse for a convicted felon.

But anyone who lives here, does not underestimate the power of a mosquito. There’s a joke that the mosquito is the Alaska State Bird. And when you get a whole lot of them agitated and looking for blood, you can definitely affect some kind of change in behavior. I’ve seen a giant bull moose standing in water up to its nostrils just to get relief from big black clouds of those pesky little creatures. So why not a state government?

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“Alaskans for Truth” are Hopping MAD!

24 09 2008

Shhh. Those of you in the Lower 48 (+Hawaii)…be verrrry quiet…. Hear that? You may just be able to make out the sound of a whole lot of Alaskans throwing open their windows, leaning out, and yelling, “WE’RE MAD AS HELL! AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!” (Remember that movie?)

Who’s yelling? Progressive talk show hosts and Conservative talk show hosts, Democrats and Republicans, Indpendents and Non-Partisans, Libertarians and Librarians, Lawyers and Teachers, Politicians and Political Junkies, Hockey Moms and State employees, Legislators from both sides of the aisle, and ….pretty much anyone up here who is paying attention. Those are the kind of people that always seem to gum up the works for those who try so hard to get away with things. We’re such an annoyance, us damn attention-payers…

This contingent of strange political bedfellows have just about had it with Sarah Palin, John McCain and the shenanigans they are pulling with our state government, specifically the department of law. They’re also sick of watching the insidious influence of nasty national politics (in the form of McCain lawyer Ed O’Callaghan) turning once respected local journalists like former KTUU reporter, now Palin mouthpiece, Megan Stapleton into vicious attack wolves who seem to have no qualms about sinking their teeth into the necks of revered public servants and giving them a good shake. To quote a certain presidential candidate, “ENOUGH!”

So what’s an angry mob to do? There have been letters to the editor, opinion pieces in the Daily News, open letters from Legislators, ceaseless clacking on the keyboards of inflamed bloggers, talk show hosts that sound like they’re going to have cardiac arrest…but it just didn’t feel like enough. People kept asking, what can we DO??

Enter “Alaskans for Truth”, a grassroots organization that has come together to give Alaskans a venue to come and vent. Sometimes there’s just nothing like torches and pitchforks signs and bullhorns. A major rally is being organized that will take place on Anchorage’s Park Strip, a downtown park with plenty of grass and plenty of visibility. Guest speakers are planned.

So, if you are in Anchorage, or within driving distance of Anchorage, mark your calendar, make your sign, bring your friends, and bring some good ol’ moral outrage.

Here’s the official press release:

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Hold Palin Accountable Rally

Saturday, September 27th, Noon – 2:00 pm

Downtown Park Strip between I and L Streets, and 9th and 10th.

Main Stage at the Veterans’ Memorial, east end of the park.

Join your Alaskan neighbors in demanding that:

  • Gov. Palin uphold her promise to us for an “open, honest & transparent” government.
  • Gov. Palin uphold her promise to us to cooperate fully with the independent investigation as initiated by the bi-partisan Legislative Council.

We, the People of Alaska, also

  • Demand the immediate resignation of Attorney General Talis Colberg.
  • Demand the McCain campaign immediately remove itself and its influence from our state and local government.
  • Demand the McCain Campaign ends its attorney, Ed O’Callahan’s unlawful intrusion into our Department of Law.




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

19 09 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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