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A Quick Thank You Note to My Alaska Colleagues

3:22 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

First of All – Good Job, Everyone – In Alaska and elsewhere.

Special thanks to some key Alaskans, dating back to 1996:

John Stein and the late Karen Marie
The Wasilla librarians
Andrew Halcro
Rick Steiner
Lyda Green
Dennis Zaki
Linda Kellen Biegel
Andree McLeod
Frank Gwartney
Jesse Griffin
Shannyn Moore
Les Gara
Anne Kilkenny
Kim Chatman
Fred James
Hollis French
Jeanne Devon
Steve Aufrecht
Peter Dunlap-Shohl
Walt Monegan
Michael Carey
Michelle Meyer

— and many, many others

Second – the letter:

October 5, 2011
Wasilla, Alaska

After much prayer and serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for President of the United States. As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order.

My decision is based upon a review of what common sense Conservatives and Independents have accomplished, especially over the last year. I believe that at this time I can be more effective in a decisive role to help elect other true public servants to office – from the nation’s governors to Congressional seats and the Presidency. We need to continue to actively and aggressively help those who will stop the “fundamental transformation” of our nation and instead seek the restoration of our greatness, our goodness and our constitutional republic based on the rule of law.

From the bottom of my heart I thank those who have supported me and defended my record throughout the years, and encouraged me to run for President. Know that by working together we can bring this country back – and as I’ve always said, one doesn’t need a title to help do it.

I will continue driving the discussion for freedom and free markets, including in the race for President where our candidates must embrace immediate action toward energy independence through domestic resource developments of conventional energy sources, along with renewables. We must reduce tax burdens and onerous regulations that kill American industry, and our candidates must always push to minimize government to strengthen the economy and allow the private sector to create jobs.

Those will be our priorities so Americans can be confident that a smaller, smarter government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people can better serve this most exceptional nation.
In the coming weeks I will help coordinate strategies to assist in replacing the President, re-taking the Senate, and maintaining the House.

Thank you again for all your support. Let’s unite to restore this country!

God bless America.
– Sarah Palin

Beer-thirty came two hours early today.

Politico’s Kenneth Vogel Adds To The Pile Of Trig-Centric Articles – Updated

2:25 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Kenneth P. Vogel has written an article about recent attention paid to Sarah Palin, published last night for, that reminds me of the Kuskokwim River – long, shallow, cold and murky. In it, Vogel mischaracterizes the overall impetus behind many who question the authenticity or viability of Sarah Palin:

This self-styled anti-Palin movement — whose members span the globe and are mostly but not exclusively liberals — has been behind some embarrassing revelations about the former Alaska governor, her family and allies. But some of their leading theories have been thoroughly discredited and earned them widespread criticism. (See: ‘Mama Grizzly’ Sarah Palin back on the prowl)

Yet that only seems to have hardened a commitment to accomplishing what they profess to be their ultimate goal: the absolute and complete exposure of Palin as a fraud unworthy of a role in American civic life. And now, with Palin edging back into the political spotlight in the face of flagging poll numbers, they believe that they are closer than ever to achieving it. (See: Poll: The incredible shrinking Sarah Palin)

Vogel concentrates on aspects of attention toward Palin by writers, journalists and bloggers that tend to be salacious, or controversial in ways one sees most often in coverage of celebrities. Beyond the gossipy bullshit that Palin relishes because it keeps people from looking more closely at how she has dealt with substantive issues, Vogel seems out of his league. Here’s his intro to author Geoffrey Dunn:

St. Martin’s Press has scheduled a May 10 release of “The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power,” by Santa Cruz, Calif.-based author and documentarian Geoffrey Dunn, who has joked that he might need three or four volumes to adequately cover the subject matter suggested in the title.

He told POLITICO he decided to write the book after hearing stories from Alaskans about Palin’s “childhood through her governorship that were troubling to me.” He said his goal is to frame Palin’s career in the contexts of both an Alaska political scene “plagued by a culture of corruption” and also in “the larger tradition of American political populism and demagoguery.”

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Our Letter to Sen. Begich on the Treatment of PFC Bradley Manning – Will You Co-sign?

3:04 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Saturday March 5th, I wrote a letter draft to Sen. Mark Begich, regarding the treatment of Army PFC Bradley Manning. I sent a copy of the letter to 27 progressive Alaska bloggers and writers, asking whether or not they were willing to co-sign the letter. So far, I’ve heard back from Kelly Walters, Deirdre Helfferich, Mel Green, Jesse Griffin, Stephen Taufen, and John & Heather Aronno, all of whom want their names attached. Additionally, award-winning progressive activist, writer and blogger Howie Klein from California asked to have his name attached.

Thanks, friends of justice and decency!

Here’s the letter. If you want your name attached, please let us know in the comments.

I am adding names as people request their names be added.

I will attach instructions directing Sen. Begich’s staff to the URL of this post in the letter, which I will hand deliver to his local office Tuesday afternoon (March 8):

March 8, 2011

Hon. Sen. Mark Begich
144 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Sen. Begich

Since May 2010, U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning has been held as a pre-trial prisoner at the brig located at Marine Corps Base Quantico. During his incarceration there, PFC Manning has been subjected to what many view as outrageous practices, some have characterized as torture.

On February 4th, acting in his role as a member of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Dennis Kucinich wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, requesting he be able to visit Manning at the Quantico brig:

Dear Secretary Gates:

I write to request that I be able to visit Private First Class Bradley Manning at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia.

As you know, I am concerned about reports of his treatment while in custody that describe alarming abuses of his constitutional rights and his physical health. A March 2009 article by surgeon Atul Gawande discusses the effects of solitary confinement on prison inmates and prisoners of war: “Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.” Studies highlighted that such prisoners, months after being released, revealed severe brain abnormalities mirroring those who had endured significant physical head trauma[1] .
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Rasmussen: Joe Miller Down from 47% in PPP Poll, 50% in Early Rasmussen to 42% in Today’s Rassie Poll

8:52 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Prior to information emerging yesterday that Fairbanks divorce attorney Joe Miller took thousands of dollars in Federal farm subsidies for apparently doing nothing on Kansas farm land while Miller resided in Alaska, a new Rasumussen Poll shows him losing 8 points of support in 18 days, in the first post-Murkowski write-in campaign poll made public. At this rate, Miller could easily be in the 30-something point area soon, should media questions about why he was discharged early from his military obligation reveal more about the pattern of evasiveness so uncomfortably shown in his responses to investigations by The Mudflats and The Alaska Dispatch.

Dispatch had earlier linked a Joseph W. Miller — Miller’s legal name — to farm subsidies for land in Kansas sent to a post office box in Anchorage when Miller was working in the city as an attorney. Miller’s campaign was asked last week whether the candidate was the Joe Miller who got those funds but refused to answer until late Monday. Since the question was asked, Alaska Dispatch linked candidate Joe Miller to that address — P.O. Box 112926 in Anchorage.

This is the Anchorage address at which the attorney and his family received Permanent Fund dividend checks; it is the address Miller used on his state hunting and fishing licenses; and a Freedom of Information Act request has now revealed it is the address to which the U.S. Department of Agriculture mailed 61 farm subsidy checks worth a total of $7,235 from 1991 through 1997.

The Miller campaign’s response to queries from The Dispatch on the subsidy payments show a disturbing trend from a candidate who is already fully disliked by 52% of Alaska’s voting public:

[Miller spokesman Randy] DeSoto said that it was standard practice for farmers to receive the subsidies in Kansas and that the nation was in a much better financial situation at the time that Miller received the funds.

“This was back in the 90’s, the situation the country was in was far different than now,” he said.

Hey, Joe! I just pulled out my well-thumbed copy of the U.S. Constitution. I’m looking for the consitutional argument for taking Federal farm subsidies for not growing anything, and living a few thousand miles away from the land. Looking in the index for the term "standard practice," I’m drawing a blank, Joe.

Joe’s lies and distortions about his past and present bode ill for the Tea Party prima donna. The only things he has going for him at this point are the supine nature of Alaska’s mainstream media outlets, especially the Anchorage Daily News, and the Alaska voting public’s strange love affair, amply demonstrated over the years, for crooks and liars.

Hats off to The Mudflats and The Alaska Dispatch for their work on this.

Democratic Party nominee Scott McAdams has a tough fight ahead, as the Rasmussen poll clearly indicates. But the Murkowski campaign is just getting started, and their target will not be Sitka Mayor McAdams. As a commenter at Daily Kos observed the other day, briefly encapsulating Murkowski’s probable motive for fighting on:

She wants to fuck up Palin and the dude that called her a whore…

Stay tuned. There is no way in the world Joe the Teabagger’s negatives are going down at this point in the race.

As Even Chris Wallace Seems to Tire of Joe the Teabagger, Where Does One Find the Real Joe?

2:05 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Watching Chris Wallace’s growing frustration in trying to get a straight answer out of Fairbanks divorce attorney Joe Miller this morning reminded me of Rep. David Guttenberg’s statement about Miller’s shallowness:

I beat this fool when he ran against me in 2004. Miller speaks drivel.

He clearly cares nothing about the lives of Alaskans just about this constitutional double talk. If I was a Tea Party supporter, I would worry about this guy being my champion. I believe he is a career wanna-be big high mucky muck, who wants to be in charge of your life.

Wallace kept on trying to get Miller outside of his arrogant little box, outside of his 10th Amendment "drivel," as Rep. Guttenberg, the last guy to beat Miller, so accurately described it.

It’s almost refreshing to watch Wallace keep on going after Miller to get off of his 10th Amendment bullshit, and provide some clear answers. Or even one.

Last week I lamented that listening to Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger, two excellent Alaska writers, fluff Miller for minute after minute on Dan Fagan’s KFQD AM talk program was aggravating. And so too is most of the "lamestream" Alaska media coverage of Miller so far. Like their coverage of Sarah Palin before Miller, their refusal to write comprehensively about how Miller’s evangelical religious beliefs limit how he could govern is a serious departure from reality.

With the revelations (no pun intended) of nutcase Christine O’Donnell’s strange confessions on a decade-old episode of Bill Maher this Friday, that have now led to her backing away from any public forum, one can’t help but wonder how many similar fragilities there are in Teabagger Joe’s closet that a good reporter might uncover over the next few weeks.

The Alaska blogs have done far more to search Miller’s past so far than have other media. By far the best expositions on Miller’s fragility have been these:

Legal Eagle’s four-part series (so far) at The Mudflats on the extremely high percentage of bullshit in Joe the Teabagger’s legal arguments that are the main underpinning of Joe’s rants:

1. Joe Miller – Liar or Idiot? A Legal Analysis:

"While it’s true that Yale Law is pass/fail, and while we can assume that Mr. Miller was grateful for that during his constitutional law classes, one would assume that he at least had given our founding document a quick skim."

2. Unemployment Benefits Unconstitutional? Time to Divorce Joe Miller:

"Yes, you heard that right: unemployment benefits, in existence since 1935, are UNCONSTITUTIONAL. It’s strange that Joe Miller is the first person to think of this….I never imagined that a divorce lawyer knew more than constitutional law scholars about the constitution. Go figure."

3. Joe Miller Thinks You’re Not Very Smart:

[Miller] recently told his hometown paper that despite the inflammatory Teabagger rhetoric that he used during the primary, he’ll request money from the federal government until we get our land back from them. Given that this will never happen, I believe that it’s safe to call Joe Miller a flip-flopper." [Legal Eagle goes on to destroy Miller's stance on Federal lands in Alaska.]

4. A History Lesson for Joe Miller: The Tenth Amendment:

"You see, one of the fundamental bases for Mr. Miller’s political philosophy (if we can call “say whatever they want to hear, regardless of truth or accuracy” a political philosophy) is that the federal government must be stripped of its powers. The basis for this argument is the 10th Amendment. ( Yes, not only is ol’ Joe a Tea Bagger, and probably a Birther, but he’s also a 10th’er. Naturally.

"Because of the problems with the Articles, a group of “Founding Fathers” led the charge in repealing them in favor of a stronger central government. Who was one of the proponents of this? None other than George Washington, the subject of many a 10th’er, Tea Bagger and Birther’s wet dreams (over original intent, that is). You see, Joe, George Washington knew that your proposed system of government didn’t work over 200 years ago — and that was with a small country with an agriculture-based economy. Why are you trying to shove it down our throats now? Oh, that’s right – you’re a Palin protégée. You’ll say anything to get elected, no matter how absurd, untruthful or just plain wrong. (Seriously, I’m conflicted: is he really this stupid? Or does he know better, but lies just to get elected?)

"So there you have it, Alaska. Joe Miller doesn’t know history, the law, or the Constitution. You know what to do."

Another Alaska writer, dealing with getting facts out about Miller as a comprehensive series is the relatively new Interior Alaska blogger, Wickersham’s Conscience. Here’s a listing of the most important articles so far, from older to newer:

Joe Miller, Tea Baggers and the Koch Brothers (August 31st)

Joe Miller Ignores the Law (August 31st):

"Joe Miller thinks the Social Security Act is unconstitutional. So did George P. Davis, a minority shareholder in Edison Electric Illuminating Company. Davis was so upset that in 1937 he fought the constitutionality of the Social Security Act all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And lost."

What WC is Reading: Joe Miller (September 9th):

"WC has gotten a couple of harsh comments for his criticisms of Joe Miller. So, in fairness and in response, WC offers a simple test for Joe Miller to show he understands constitutional rights and citizen responsibilities. Some fundamentalist preacher in Gainesville, Florida wants to burn a bunch of Qurans – the Islamic Bible – on September 11. Generals, the President, the Secretary of State and the Pope have all condemned the idea. Politicians running for office have been disappointingly silent. So Mr. Miller, how about a public condemnation of the preacher’s plans? Can you show us a smidgeon of moral, or at least political, courage?" [that same day: Joe Miller called the warnings that a Florida pastor’s plan to burn some 200 copies of the Koran could endanger Americans “kind of a red herring.”]

Questions for Candidate Miller (September 11th)

Miller’s Waffling and Flopping (September 13th):

"So what’s Candidate Miller talking about when he waffles? Which specific “land and resources” haven’t been turned over to “the people of Alaska”? What specific “promises made at statehood” have been broken? And if there are such broken promises, how do they justify earmarks? Flip. Flop.

"Or is it possible – and even likely – that Candidate Miller doesn’t have the faintest idea what he is talking about?

"WC has landed salmon that didn’t flop around as much as Joe Miller. But Joe Miller and WC’s salmon have this much in common: they’d stay out of trouble if they kept their mouths shut."

Correcting Miller’s "Misstakes," – Part 1 (September 17th update)

Other articles by Alaska bloggers also shed far more light on Miller than our media:

Club for Growth, Clubbing Alaska? – by Zach Roberts [The Club for Growth loves Joe the Teabagger]:

"The Club for Growth has endorsed Joe ‘the beard’ Miller. Who, or What is “The Club for Growth?”

"Personally, when I first heard about “The Club for Growth” years ago, I pictured a sunny country club where rich people went to grow their inner feelings – maybe gain respect for the little people. Maybe get a soul.

"Sadly, the truth is nothing so kumbaya.

"To put it bluntly, The Club for Growth is a corporate front group run by the former CEOs of some of the largest companies in the world. wrote this in 2006 “The Club for Growth, which shares an office with Americans for Limited Government, is an offshoot of the Cato Institute… which was founded by the Kochs. We’ve heard that name before haven’t we.
Yes, the same Kochs, the same astro-turfing billionaires from Joe Miller’s home state, Kansas. Linda Kellen-Biegel has already written up all the details and the Alaskan connections."

$how Me the Money – The Alaska $enate Race
- by Jeanne Devon:

"His experience? The only public office he’s ever run for was State House, and he lost. To a Democrat. In Fairbanks.

"His platform? Tell the federal government to keep their stinkin’ money (also known as one third of the Alaskan economy).

"His primary campaign strategy? Distorting the record of, and disrespecting a well-loved sitting Senator who by all reasonable assumptions would have trounced him in a head to head general election, and making her many loyal supporters hate his guts.

"His past history with the party? He tried to overthrow the Alaska Republican Party two years ago by staging a coup and ousting Party Chair Randy Ruedrich. He failed."

More needs to be researched and written locally on Joe’s religious beliefs and the way they limit his thinking. His belief that a woman raped by her father, no matter how young, must bear the child, is no doubt deeply rooted in the same kind of superstition and male supremacism that brought us Papa Pilgrim.

A few Outside (outside of Alaska) writers have done stellar work on Joe the Teabagger. Perhaps foremost so far, has been Amanda Terkel, from her new perch at the Huffington Post. Amanda had the first great takedown up on Miller’s FOX News Sunday appearance. And her post-primary rundown on Miller stood out at the time as astute.

I’ve written a few articles on Miller for firedoglake’s The Seminal. Daily Kos has many Miller diaries of varying quality.

I’ll be quite surprised if our Alaska media really does reality or depth justice in their Joe Miller coverage between now and the first Tuesday in November. Too many reporters out there thinking a job in his press office would provide more job security than what they’re doing now.

Palin Confronted in Homer with Teacher’s “WORST GOVERNOR EVER” Sign

11:04 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Sarah Palin was in Homer this past weekend, making false claims that she is fishing commercially there, and confronted by and confronting people who don’t hold the half-term governor in very high esteem. Here’s documentation of one of the hilarious exchanges:

Here’s the transcript, courtesy of Shannyn Moore:

The following is the transcript of a cell phone video shot by Homeroid Billy Sullivan. Billy gave Kathleen permission to hang her banner (PALIN WORST GOVERNOR EVER) on his place of business at the Homer docks in clear view of Palin’s Discovery entourage.

Palin: like how? What’s up?

Kathleen: You swore on your precious Bible that you would uphold the interests of this state, and then when cash was waved in front of your face, you quit.

Palin: OH, you WANTED me to be your governor! I’m honored! Thank you!

Kathleen: I wanted you to honor your responsibilities. That is what I wanted. I wanted you to be part of the political process instead of becoming a celebrity so that you could (inaudible). And if that’s the best you could do, then good for you. If that’s the best you could do.

Palin: Here’s the deal. Here’s the deal. (inaudible) That’s what I’m out there fightin’ for Americans to be able to have a Constitution protected so that we can have free speech…And ALSO there…

Kathleen: In what way are you fighting for that?

Palin: Oh my goodness!

Kathleen: In what way?

Palin: To elect candidates who understand the Constitution, to protect our military interests so that we can keep on fightin’ for our constitution that will protect some of the freedoms that evidently are important to you too.

Kathleen: By using your celebrity status, certainly not by political status.

Palin Daughter: How is she a celebrity? That’s my question.

Palin: I’m honored! No, she thinks I’m a celebrity!

Palin Daughter: That’s funny that you think she is.

Kathleen: Well, you’re certainly not representing the state of Alaska any longer…even though…

Palin Daughter: She’s representing United States?

Kathleen: Yes, I know. You belong to America now, and that suits me just fine. Yeah.

Palin: What do you do here?

Kathleen: I’m a teacher

Palin: Oh. (Eye roll and protracted grimace)

Palin Daughter: Oh.

Kathleen: I also have a few other jobs. I’m married to a commercial fisherman. And so I fish.

Palin: Oh that’s cool. So am I! I married to-we probably have a lot in common!

Kathleen: Yeah. You know, I think that we do.

Palin: Hi! (waves to camera) Are we on video?

Kathleen: Too bad. I’m more of a still camera girl myself. (inaudible) I am, I am…I will tell you I’m very pleased to meet you.

Palin: I’m honored to meet you, I really am. And, no we both agree on the freedom of speech and the-

Kathleen: Yes we do.

Palin: you know – the protection of that. So, um, no I and, you know… best of everything to you too and Yeah.

Kathleen: Thank you for coming over.

Palin: Well, okay. It’s nice to meet you anyway.

If I ever take up the invitations I’ve had to write an opera on Palin, a version of this scene might become a part of it. The combination of strangenesses in it, those weird boots, the voice that sank the McCain campaign, the eyerolling disdain for an educator, and so on – magical in a dismal sort of way.

Other Alaska bloggers covering this:

Just a Girl from Homer

The Mudflats – version of the same article, different comments

The Immoral Minority

And, from Europe, Palingates, where they unravel more of Palin’s Homer falsehoods.

I’m on the road today in Washington – headed from Seattle to Leavenworth and Wenatchee.

Did I Over-React to Threats from Sarahbots Late Last Week?

3:54 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

On February 2nd, I posted an article at my blog and a diary here, suggesting Palin apparatchik Rebecca Mansour, the writer of most Palin Facebook posts, may be the person behind the Palin attack on Rahm Emanuel. Soon afterward all hell broke loose.

Early February 4th, I started getting emails suggesting I would soon come under more scrutiny at work and at home, from Palinbots. I live in Wasilla, and have dealt with this kind of stuff from the far right here since the mid-1990s. Since I started writing the Saradise Lost series in 2008, the threats increased, but not much.

Between the end of Palin’s book tour and the Tea Party party, I’d shied away from writing about her, but important stuff came out:

Andree McLeod’s motion for reconsideration

The State of Alaska’s release of thousands of pages of Todd Palin-related emails

Questions about the Palin’s tax filings on one of their properties in Alaska

At the end of last week, like many other progressives, I was appalled that so much attention was devoted to Palin’s upcoming appearance at the first annual Tea Party Convention in Nashville. Last August’s Netroots Nation attracted thousands of participants, yet almost no national media coverage was devoted to the well-structured event, featuring dozens of nationally prominent politicians and experts.

I’ve been to Wasilla PTA candidate forums that attracted more audience participation and better speeches than we witnessed at TeabaggerFest 2010. It pissed me off. I wrote about it. More threats came in.

I may have then over-reacted.

I wrote another diary about this and about Palin’s palmprompter for The Seminal. At the version of it for my blog, I titled the article What a Slut!

I’d never used that term in writing before. Many readers thought it to be both an ad hominem attack (it was) and sexist (my record on women’s issues over the years stands in opposition to that premise).

I then may have compounded the trouble caused by the headline, by posting a poll at my place that is still active:

Which Term More Accurately Describes Palin to You?



Needless to say, Saint is not winning, in spite of efforts by a Palin fan blog to encourage readers to vote.

Soon after I posted the poll, the blog, Conservatives4Palin – widely read in my part of Alaska – posted another critical article about me. One commenter suggested people photograph, me, my house and car, call my employer, etc. Here’s my description of what happened within an hour or so of the comment:

As I was fueling up the snowblower, I heard a diesel truck idling at the bottom of our driveway. People sometimes come up the long, narrow, hilly driveway in error, and get stuck trying to back out, so I went out to check.

There were two guys outside of a big red Dodge 3/4-ton crewcab. One appeared to be taking pictures of the driveway, the back of my shop, boats and vehicle. When they saw me coming, they ran to the vehicle, which was already turned around, and quickly left.

It was about 12:15 p.m.

A while later, I read a comment at PA (and a couple of emails from friends, alerting me to it) that states this:

Uh Oh Phil…The Urine of Sea has got you in their sights. Saw this comment today:


Can we get his address and post it on the web….along with a picture of him, his house, and the car he drives?
Today, 10:26:54 AM
– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Phil, you know better than to poke "The Crazies"(hey, isn’t that a movie coming out soon?)

Here is the link:

Soon afterward, three fellow Alaska progressive bloggers wrote critical posts on the ethics of my use of "slut," which I then reposted:

Progressive bloggers on Palin: Civility versus namecalling – by Mel Green. Mel thought the "slut’ headline and poll to both be sexist, inflammatory and demeaning.

Blogger Tourettes – by Steve Aufrecht. Steve reiterated some of Mel’s points, and presented the unique argument that I can’t resist swearing (I write "fuck" fairly often) and scatology in some posts.

Is it possible to reason with Palin’s "Rebiblicans"? – by Linda Kellen Beigel. Linda defended me, as she detailed her experiences of frustrations, threats, intimidation by Alaska and Outside rightwing zealots, how they don’t want to engage in dialogue, and how over-the-top reaction might be not only understandable, but a better way.

The comments to these critical articles are from across the spectrum, as I don’t limit access to Progressive Alaska, past occasional cleanups of really yucky messes.

I’m interested in hearing from members of the Seminal and Firedoglake community on this, before I post a response at PA at the end of the Saint-Slut poll voting period.

Did I over-react by calling Palin a slut, and polling the way I am?

Forget Levi – Celtic Diva Corners Sarah Palin

1:55 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

When Linda Kellen told me last winter that she was going to file an ethics complaint with the State of Alaska about then-Governor Sarah Palin, parading around in personalized gear from the snowmachine manufacturer Arctic Cat, while representing the State as chief executive, I agreed that Linda had an issue.

Along with Linda, I felt this was a violation of our state’s ethics statutes.

I told her then that I wanted to concentrate more on getting state law pertaining to conduct of public officials to be more transparent. Alaska is the least "sunshiny" of states when it comes to oversight of elected officials, and I felt that her complaint would go nowhere, and might keep Alaska bloggers and other citizen activists from concentrating on more important issues.

I was wrong.

The ramifications of Linda’s Arctic Cat complaint are still playing out, even three months after Palin quit her job, so that she could go out and start a third party movement or a new religion, or something else.

Linda’s actions in the way the Arctic Cat complaint is playing out may have had more to do with Palin’s resignation than any other set of events. Combined with activist Andree McLeod’s continuing questions on chief executive accountability, Linda’s remorseless peskiness is one of the highest achievements of our notorious Alaska bloggers.

This past week, Palin’s people have filed her final Public Officer Financial Disclosure. It is incomplete, dishonest and may be so rife with enough purposeful lies, to be material evidence for a Federal or State of Alaska criminal indictment.

Linda has written two essays at Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis on the disclosure report. The first concentrates on the omission of information about Palin’s legal defense fund, the Alaska Fund Trust. Palin doesn’t even list the Trust as a financial interest, yet it was formed within the reporting period. Kellen makes some prescient observations:

1) Palin "blew off" Investigator Daniel in July. By sometime in August, he should have "served a copy of an accusation" upon Palin. If he had, the Personnel Board would no longer be able to hide behind the "confidentiality" claim, as all further proceedings would be public.

2) If Palin and the Board, as Debra English may have hinted they were trying to do during the last Personnel Board Meeting, had reached a "settlement," that too would become public information and would have required an announcement.

According to the ADN [Anchorage Daily News], Kristan Cole (fund trustee) did not respond to their questions. Back in July, she said the fund would be "frozen" until the legal issues were "resolved."

Readers may remember that an East Coast lawyer did an exhaustive analysis of the "trust agreement" that Palin’s people have out for inspection on the AK Fund Trust website:

"There is NOTHING in the official purpose of the AFT related to legal defense or legal proceedings or ethics complaints. In fact, the purpose of the trust is for any expense at all incurred by Sarah Palin "as a result of the fact that she is Governor . . . or as a result of the performance of her duties as Governor." Those are the only limitations instilled by the purpose clause.

So the purpose of the AFT is to collect money for…basically anything and everything, short of overt criminal activity. This includes legal expenses, of course, along with everything else under the sun. It also covers her family and staff, as well as ‘any other person determined by the Trustee.’"

Linda continues, observing that the avoidance of listing the Trust, obviously valued at far more than $1,000.00 (it is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars), is a serious concern.

The initial premise of the trust was linked to Palin’s being governor and expenses that might accrue because of that job. Its life was supposed to end when she ended that job:

The AFT’s purpose, as ambiguous as it may be, is clear about one thing – the purpose was set up for Palin "as Governor." As soon as she resigns, the trust loses its purpose.

Linda Kellen regards this purposeful reporting omission as a severe test of the integrity of both the Alaska Personnel Board and the Alaska Public Offices Commission. I’ll go further and observe that none of our press seems remotely interested in the depth of corruption and collusion Palin’s submission of such an incomplete document on such an important issue indicates.

It gets better, though, in Kellen’s second essay – regarding an issue she owns, the Arctic Cat snowmachine sponsorship of Todd Palin, and how that figures into Palin’s final disclosure and into all of her previous ones. And this subject gets into why I think Linda is as courageous as she is persistent.

Linda brought this issue up weeks after last winter’s Iron Dog snowmachine race. Soon afterward, during a fundraiser to raise the money the state had told her she needed to pursue a document request, Kellen was the first of the Alaska bloggers to get threatened with a SLAPP.

Essentially, the Palins may have lied for years about the material benefits of their relationship with Arctic Cat, the manufacturer of the snowmachine Todd Palin has used in all of his Iron Dog Race runs. Kellen observes that this final filing by Palin raises an entirely new set of questions regarding veracity:

The whole "Arctic Cat" issue began with:

the ethics complaint I filed against Sarah Palin with the Personnel Board,
its subsequent dismissal and
–my attempt at an appeal.

This all led to a simple question asked by Andree McLeod during public testimony at an APOC meeting:

You (Sarah Palin) have reported a "discount on snow machines" by Arctic Cat for Todd Palin. Was this discount exercised during calendar year 2008 and what was the amount of it?

Ms. McLeod was referring to Palin’s Financial Disclosure for calendar year 2008. The only thing disclosed as coming from the Arctic Cat sponsorship was a "50% discount" on a snowmachine and no actual monetary figure was included. This violates APOC’s requirement that anything over $1,000.00 needs to include the value if it was higher than $1,000.00.

As a result, APOC sent that question in the form of a "letter of inquiry" to Sarah Palin and received a response back claiming the amount of the snowmachine discount was "50% of the factory cost" and was therefore a "trade secret."

APOC rejected that claim and gave Palin a deadline to report the information.

Palin/Van Flein responded, now claiming ignorance as to the details of the contract, even though some of the details were revealed in the previous letter and even more of the contract details were shared in this one. For example:

-The racers receive their Arctic wear for free while for others (through them) it was 50% discount and,

-Todd Palin receives a "sponsorship fee."

The APOC Staff made a recommendation, somehow coming to the conclusion that Palin had "revealed enough."

The Commission rather soundly rejected the staff recommendation during their September meeting and instead tasked them with finding out even more information from the Palins, including the amount of the "sponsorship fee" described in the last letter from Van Flein/Palin to the APOC.

This is where the investigation of last year’s Financial Disclosure form stands at this moment.

This brings us back to Monday’s "Final" Financial Disclosure.

Regarding the Iron Dog and sponsorship benefits for the Palins–according to the paperwork, the only mention of ANYTHING Iron Dog (other than listing Todd’s "winnings" as $3,500.00) is identifying Arctic Cat as a sponsor. The only monetary value: "Arctic Cat discount on snowmachines is $3,252.00". So, the Palin’s are claiming that the extent of Arctic Cat sponsorship value to Todd Palin is $3,252.

That’s an interesting figure for a few reasons:

1) On Palin’s Financial Disclosure for calendar year 2007, she lists the total value of the Arctic Cat sponsorship as $7,500.00. That was the year that Davis/Palin won the Iron Dog and the rewards for that win should have been reaped during the 2008 race…the year that Palin failed to attach ANY monetary value to the Arctic Cat sponsorship. 2008 was also the year that Sarah was the Republican VP candidate. The Palins are asking us to believe that the value of the Arctic Cat sponsorship has GONE DOWN by over $4,000.00 AFTER their latest win and the former-Gov’s new national stature?

2) They have still dodged listing that pesky "sponsorship fee" that already has them under investigation for last year’s POFD. During the September APOC meeting, the other Commissioners were enlightened by Commissioner Frederick, a lawyer from Wasilla who also happens to be a musher savvy about sponsorships

Linda Kellen’s pursuit of the issues involving the Arctic Cat sponsorship stands out among the efforts of the rest of our citizen activists here regarding Palin’s breaches of trust in her official duties. I have to honestly say that compared to Linda, I’ve been a dilettante.

Nobody knows where this might go next. There are many overflowing cans of stinky, moldering worms that the Crazy Woman left on our doorsteps. But Linda’s approach, and her diligent attendance at personnel board and public office commission hearings and meetings serve as the best example in the North Country of what the earnest purpose of citizen blogging represents.

Watching Max Blumenthal Grow to be a Major American Writer

2:14 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

One year ago, as Alaska’s fledgeling progressive blogging community was assisting one Outside writer after another come to terms with just who John McCain’s running mate, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was, I got a call from one more writer – Max Blumenthal.

David Neiwert had already alerted me that Max would be in Alaska to do research on Palin’s past ties to the Wasilla Assembly of God, and to Rev. Thomas Muthee. I wasn’t nearly as familiar with Max’ previous work as I was with David’s. I was familiar with his July 2007 video, Rapture Ready. I was also aware that Blumenthal had been a key figure in getting the truth out on the 2008 ABC "docu-drama," The Path to 9/11.

Max was able to spend well over a week in Alaska, dividing his time between Anchorage and Wasilla. While he was in Wasilla, he stayed with my wife and me. Our son had just left to go to college in California, and we were in a totally empty nest for the first time. Judy took him in as if he were another son.

Like I had done for a few other reporters, I went with Max to the Wasilla Museum, where Palin had caused an uproar among employees when she was the town’s mayor. I took him to the library, where Palin had let the employees know she wasn’t happy with gay-friendly books. Max noted shelves full of complete sets of the LaHayes/Jenkins Left Behind series. When he asked a librarian if the library had a copy of a book Palin had hoped to ban, Pastor, I Am Gay, by Rev. Howard H. Bess (a local Baptist minister and gay rights activist), Max was told that the library was very full, and didn’t have room for some books.

I also took Max to Chimo Guns in Wasilla, Todd Palin’s favorite gun store. Watching Max sincerely ask store employees and customers his simple, straightforward questions, I began to appreciate the genius Max has for quietly confronting the people he is interviewing, with a disarmingly modest demeanor.

Where I didn’t take Max was to the local churches, where he managed to film some very bizarre practices. As he suited up for his church attendance – putting hidden and not-so-hidden microphones and video cameras on his person, and practicing speaking in tongues by rapidly reciting the first names of Michael Jackson’s siblings, and other made-up words, I couldn’t help but laugh heartily. I realized then that not only is Max charmingly confrontative, he’s very brave.

Max’s two videos made in Alaska, Sarah Palin’s Secessionist Pal Speaks, and In the Land of Queen Esther, rank among the best material gathered about Palin last year. Combined with the work of the California-based Wasilla Project‘s work, Max’s videos helped damn Palin’s image to the truthful niche the McCain campaign should have seen as possibly looming, before she was chosen for the VP candidate slot.

As Max worked on Republican Gomorrah over the 2008-2009 winter and spring, he also began collaborating with Philip Weiss, perhaps the leading figure on the web in the realm of coverage of "American foreign policy in the Middle East, from the progressive Jewish perspective."

While Phil Weiss was in Cairo late last spring, covering President Obama’s speech at Cairo University, Max was in Jerusalem, making a video that was so explosive, it was removed from YouTube, the Huffington Post, and other web sites. The video, Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem on the Eve of Obama’s Cairo Address, is a set of interviews with young Americans and Israelis who have had too much to drink. Their expressions of hatred toward Obama are quite shocking. The fact that they were also into their cups made it convenient for YouTube, Vimeo and Huffington Post to censor Blumenthal’s work.

Blumenthal’s defense of the interviews makes for interesting reading, but the defense itself has been censored from some sites.

Over the summer, Max continued covering aspects of the intersections between politics, hypocrisy, religious superstition and secret or behind-the-scene connections amongst these and other elements of contemporary life. He’s been watching the Tea Party movement. He’s kept an eye on Palin’s sputterings and twitterings, even as he and I have witnessed the seeming demise of some of Palin’s most ardent supporters, most notably, mockumentarian, John Ziegler.

With the publication of Republican Gomorrah, Blumenthal has now emerged as a major writer. Recently it pegged number 15 on the New York Times bestseller list. Perhaps the best proof beyond the book itself that Blumenthal has emerged from the formative period of his writing and video and into maturity, is his short op-ed printed in the New York Times, recently. In it, Max explains how President Dwight Eisenhower was prophetic about how and why the GOP’s new right would depend upon the very elements Blumenthal covers so fully in Republican Gomorrah. Blumenthal notes that in a letter to an ailing Veteran named Robert Biggs, Eisenhower took the trouble to dissect the incompleteness and paranoia that was beginning to consume some GOP religious conservatives:

Eisenhower also recommended a short book — “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer, a self-educated itinerant longshoreman who earned the nickname “the stevedore philosopher.” “Faith in a holy cause,” Hoffer wrote, “is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.”

Though Eisenhower was criticized for lacking an intellectual framework or even an interest in ideas, he was drawn to Hoffer’s insights. He explained to Biggs that Hoffer “points out that dictatorial systems make one contribution to their people which leads them to tend to support such systems — freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions.” The authoritarian follower, Eisenhower suggested, desired nothing more than insulation from the pressures of a free society.

Alluding to Senator McCarthy and his allies, Eisenhower pointed out that cold war fears were distorted and exploited for political advantage. “It is difficult indeed to maintain a reasoned and accurately informed understanding of our defense situation on the part of our citizenry when many prominent officials, possessing no standing or expertness as they themselves claim it, attempt to further their own ideas or interests by resorting to statements more distinguished by stridency than by accuracy.”

I’m working my way through Republican Gomorrah. It is easy to read, because of the fluid narrative. It is hard to read, because it quietly, modestly asks the reader, without being at all explicit, "How did we let these dangerous people gain so much control over our lives?"

I’m now reading it side by side with Susan Jacoby’s The Age of American Unreason. They complement each other nicely.

Meanwhile, one of Max’s most endearing qualities, his understated sense of humor is developing too.

Alaska Blogger Shannyn Moore Wins 2009 Steve Gilliard Journalism Grant at Netroots Nation

3:20 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Who is Shannyn Moore?

She is Alaska’s most courageous, outspoken and mercurial independent commentator. She can build a log cabin or remodel an upscale urban house. She can pilot a limit seiner through a storm in the Gulf of Alaska. She can field dress a moose or a bear.

She can also field dress a lipstick-encrusted pitbull.

Friday morning, at the Netroots Nation Conference in Pittsburgh, Shannyn Moore was awarded the 2009 Steve Gilliard Journalism Grant. Although the amount of the grant, $500.00, isn’t large, it is a great honor for Shannyn, and Alaska bloggers are very proud of her. I’m sure Steve Gilliard would be proud to have his name associated with this gutsy, truth-seeking fighter for liberal values.

As Markos Moulitsas observed about Gilliard:

When reporters ask me when I first started thinking Daily Kos would become something more important, I tell them about the Dean campaign, or about the traffic explosion during the run-up and start of the Iraq War.

But that’s pretty much bullshit. Because the reality is much more mundane, much less sexy — It was the arrival on the site’s comment boards of two people — Meteor Blades and Steve Gilliard.

They were a real revelation to me — I couldn’t believe that people like them, so brilliant, so insightful, so talented, would spend time at my little corner of the world. They inspired me to keep writing, keep building this place. Because if nothing else, I needed to make sure they had a platform upon which to speak.

So they ended up being two of the first contributing editors on Daily Kos. Steve, in fact, was the first person I ever approached with the "guest blogger" offer. And he didn’t waste time getting started, drawing on history of the region and the British occupation of Iraq in the late 1910s to set the stage for what the US would soon face in Iraq. He was frighteningly prescient on Iraq, and it wasn’t the only topic he would consistently nail. He was a credit to the progressive blogosphere.

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