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Was Palin’s Latest Quit Enough Reason to Write Another Chapter of “Saradise Lost”? – After Watching Broomfield’s “You Betcha!” – Nah

10:43 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Palin+toast-1

[author's note:  My real name is Phil Munger, as most longtime fdl pups already know.  I've lived in or near Wasilla since 1983, and have known Sarah Palin since 1990]

The announcements at the end of last week, broken first at Malia Litman’s blog, that Sarah Palin would not be renewing her contract with FOX News, didn’t surprise many.  It certainly didn’t surprise me.

It did drive Palin back into the news for a few brief hours, though.  She even made it to the top of Twitter for about six hours.  It may be the last time she’s able to do that.

Her supporters don’t view it that way.  I commented at TBogg’s obligatory post on her latest quit, in response to monoceros4:

monoceros4:

She’s gonna run for office again, I predict, with no real intention of winning. It’ll just be about making a lot of noise and (more importantly) collecting all that sweet sweet campaign money.

Edward Teller:

Her followers are chipping in already:

We should all go to Sarahpac and donate today, in a show of thanks and solidarity!! I’m going right now.

I soooo wish I had some extra money right now!!!

Me too!

I know, the economy is not the greatest, Obama is blasting us every day, it is after the holidays, etc. Hopefully a lot of people will at least be able to scrounge up a few dollars to make a statement in quality if not in quantity!!

I all but stopped writing about Sarah Palin after October 5, 2011, when Palin announced she would not be a GOP primary candidate for the 2012 presidential race.  I’ve got enough to do already, with 2.5 jobs, and with my wife handling more work than that, and sometimes needing my support.

And there’s another thing.  Even thinking about what Palin brought me, a lot of my friends, Wasilla – where I live, Alaska, and people outside Alaska through, gives me the creeps.

Even though I no longer feel compelled (until now) to write about Palin, a lot of others do.  Basically, they fall into four camps:

1).  Her avid devotees The Zombies.

2).  The Palin haters, most of whom still standing represent die-hard Trig Truthers.

3).  Unfortunate reporters, assigned the Palin beat at their media outlet.

4).  Gossip columnists who still get an uptick in hits when her name is in a headline.

Back to Palin giving me the creeps.

When she first made national news in late August 2008, I was torn between getting the truth out and an inner fear that someone might harm me, my family or one of our pets.  Some of the news reports, blog articles and books about Wasilla and Palin that have come out in the succeeding 4.5 years have thoroughly documented that my concern was warranted.

But I got sucked into the phenomenon of close Palin coverage.  And I did my job, which was to just plain get the fucking truth out about an incredibly poor VP choice, from a local perspective.  After Palin and McCain went down, the important part of the job was truly over, but Palin was such a changed governor, that the ride went on.

When she quit as governor, I was ready to quit the Palin beat too.  Unfortunately, she was already riding the rise of the Tea Party and her resonance with the rural, less educated part of the GOP base.

Then, when she made her “blood libel” remarks after the Tucson shootings, most knew she was finished as a national figure.  However, she was making a lot of money through SarahPAC, and – let’s face it – she was no more of a clown than any of the other GOP primary candidates in early 2011.

Palin did strike out at some of the local Alaska bloggers who wrote critical articles, and who were interviewed for national media stories:

The first was Linda Kellen Biegel, who had filed an ethics complaint about Palin wearing snowmobile company-provided clothing with their logos, while officiating at an opening ceremony in which her husband participated.

Then she attacked radio commentator and blogger Shannyn Moore, for merely reporting there was speculation Palin was resigning as governor because of a criminal investigation.  I had reported the same thing, but Moore was more of a threat, so she was threatened with litigation.

Far worse, Palin’s supporters sought to utterly destroy Anchorage blogger, Jesse Griffin, for his persistent articles questioning the Trig Palin birth narrative.

When I posted a poll at my blog, asking whether the term “saint” or “slut” (the former term got 15%, the latter got 85%) was more applicable to Palin, a Palin Zombie blog recommended following me, posting my address, calling my employer to complain (all of which had happened to Griffin).

Three weeks later, my Outback’s engine seized up, having been drained of the oil I had checked and topped off 280 miles earlier.  It took me a while to figure out how it had been done.  Had to get a new engine.

I now lock my cars.  And we constantly check our oil.

As irrelevant as Palin should always have been outside Alaska, there must be some lessons to be learned here.  The summations in Geoffrey Dunn’s The Lies of Sarah Palin, Joe McGinniss’ The Rogue and other critical works on Palin’s rise and stumbling only go so far, as she was still a “player.”

Dunn’s book was dignified.

McGinniss’ was hilarious.

Nick Broomfield’s film on Palin, for British media, You Betcha!  made me throw up.

His film may be the last major attempt to portray Palin’s Wasilla background that gets major play.  It has been available for months, and segments on youtube for weeks.  I’d been avoiding it, as I knew it would be creepy, and suspected I’d be in it.  I am (beginning at 31:36).  I truly did not want to immerse myself back into this for 90 minutes, but given the coverage of Palin’s fallout with FOX, and its significance, I had to watch it.

It is creepier than I imagined it would be.  It should be.  The cheap, Twin Peaks music is actually appropriate.  Watching it, and hearing people I’ve known for years express their fear of Palin’s hold over her advocates didn’t just give me the willies.

About 15 minutes into the film, I went out into the two feet of snow behind my boat.

I puked.

And puked.

Again and again.

Until all the bile having had to think about her for the past three days had brought was purged.

Thank God it is far from my garden, far from my well.

I covered it up, so my dog won’t find it before the ravens do.

You Betcha! – by Nick Broomfield:

Comparing Four Books That Critically Address Sarah Palin

4:32 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Four Palin Books

[I'll be hosting author Joe McGinniss here at the firedoglake book salon next Sunday, September 25th.  This is not the introductory review, but rather a comparative assessment]

I. I finished reading Joe McGinniss’ new book about Sarah Palin, The Rogue, last night.  It is due to be released Tuesday, after having gotten more pre-release coverage than any of the other books critical of Palin had managed to garner.

Since the end of the 2008 presidential election, four critical books that either solely addressed Palin’s shortcomings, or devoted a portion of the volume to them, have struck me as outstanding in one way or others:

Bloggers on the Bus by Eric Boehlert
Going Rouge edited by Richard Kim and Betsy Reed
The Lies of Sarah Palin by Geoffrey Dunn
The Rogue by Joe McGinniss

Blind Allegiance by Frank Bailey, with Jeanne Devon and Ken Morris, seems to have fallen flat, though, mostly because it is a dull read, and when one finishes it, one suspects the collaboration didn’t manage to gel into something that could have combined the strengths of the authoring partners, but mushed instead into a poorly disguised coverup for what Bailey didn’t want us to know, and a wounded representation of what might actually be in those emails.  Geoffrey Dunn, who reviewed Blind Allegiance for The Anchorage Press in late August, is even more critical of the book’s shortcomings:

Like Palin in Going Rogue, Bailey leaves out some critical information in Blind Allegiance – information that he had most certainly access to, because it’s information that involved him. And in so doing, he made me realize that Blind Allegiance, for all its inside revelations is, in fact, a second, albeit more subtle, cover-up involving Troopergate.

Dunn goes on to describe material that was leaked to him “subsequent to completing my book.”  He writes:

The documents were records of statements given during the Petumenos investigation by Bailey and his sidekick Ivy Frye, and, taken with the findings and conclusions of the Petumenos report, point to a conspiracy of sorts in framing the collective response by Palin’s inner circle to the Troopergate investigation in the late summer and early fall of 2008.

Dunn then lays out aspects of the conspiracy in such a way that one can’t but wonder why Devon and Morris could have felt they had clean hands while working with Bailey.  After all, the two collaborators have supposedly seen thousands of the emails that didn’t make it into Blind Allegiance.  Whether they were merely incurious, or accommodating in helping Bailey in what Dunn seems to indicate may be a possible criminal coverup, we may never know.  Based on Andree McLeod’s findings in going through the emails released by the State of Alaska, I’ve believed for some time that this may be the case.

Dunn questions the honesty of Bailey, regarding the latter’s sworn testimony to the Petumenos Inquiry:

When the Petumenos Report was released on November 3 – the day before the national election – Bailey says “I welcomed what I eventually came to understand was undeserved vindication.” Say what? “Eventually came to understand?” Bailey knew at the time it was undeserved.

According to Bailey, in finding that there was “no probable cause Governor Palin violated the state’s executive branch ethics act in her dismissal of Walt Monegan,” Petumenos “relied predominantly on [Palin's] testimony to arrive at this conclusion.” But Petumenos made no such claim in his report. In fact he cited the testimony of several witnesses who “gave sworn depositions to independent counsel” – among them (guess who?) Frank Bailey, who made no mention of this deposition in his book. In fact, Petumenos specifically identified Bailey (page 36 of the Petumenos Report) as providing corroborative testimony that Palin knew nothing about activities being directed by her husband and Bailey against Wooten.

In fact, Petumenos devoted significant attention to Bailey in his report. He goes over in detail Bailey’s now notorious conversation with Lieutenant Dial. Bailey’s testimony, according to Petumenos, directly contradicted that of Walt Monegan and also Colonel John Glass of the Alaska State Troopers. Bailey makes no mention of this in his book, either. Moreover, Petumenos noted that “Bailey also corroborated the Governor’s assertions with respect to her concern about the Commissioner’s lack of progress on trooper recruitment as part of discussions regarding replacing Commissioner Monegan with Mr. Kopp in July of 2008.” Again, no mention of this in Bailey’s book – the fact that he was a corroborating witness to Palin throughout the investigation.

Dunn goes on to tackle that subject. He details Petumenos’ attention to Bailey’s relationship to Palin administration emails, raising this question in conclusion:

Again, no mention of this Petumenos finding in Blind Allegiance. But it raises the obvious question: Does Bailey have access to any other relevant emails that were not provided Petumenos and which are relevant to Troopergate? Certainly the October 3, 2006, email had direct probative impact on the scope of the Petumenos investigation and was not included in the “exhibits” of evidence provided as a formal addendum to the Petumenos Report. Are there others?

Of course there are.  Essentially, many feel the authors of Blind Allegiance have a lot to answer for before that book can be fully assessed historically.

Bailey’s book pays scant attention to bloggers in Alaska or elsewhere.  It leaves out a lot of previously known information about Palin’s absorbtion in new media and social networking tools.

II. All the way back in early 2009, Eric Boehlert’s look at how such tools, particularly those of the netroots blogging community, Bloggers on the Bus, gave national readers a glimpse of what was then a tightly knit community of progressive new media writers here who were openly sharing information with the journalists, videographers, writers and others, who flocked north in the fall, to begin reporting on the startling pick of the McCain campaign for a running mate.

At the time, Boehlert and others were skeptical of the meme that Sarah Palin might not be the birth mother of TriG Palin.  He constructed Chapter 13 of his book around a contrast between bloggers like me, who he felt reported about that issue and others responsibly, and those who he felt had not, naming the chapter after my long series on Palin here, Saradise Lost.  By the time his book came out, I was more skeptical of Palin’s story than I ever had been, and wrote Eric about that, including pictures that had surfaced since his publication, indicating Palin may well have faked the pregnancy.

More important than the TriG coverage in Boehlert’s account, is his understanding in the book that new media and social networking tools have changed political communication irreversably.

III. The Lies of Sarah Palin, which I reviewed in detail in May, takes up a lot of room describing the 2008 campaign, and paints it vividly, with remarkable detail and vignettes.  Author Dunn brings up Boehlert’s attention to Alaska bloggers on page 213:

Independent voices from the internet “influenced and altered the road to the White House” in ways never before imaginable.  Moreover the intrepid band of bloggers from Alaska did the public vetting of Sarah Palin that the media failed to do.  They were ahead of the curve every step of the way.

Dunn’s assesment of Andree Mcleod as an “Anchorage-based good-government activist” is the most thoroughly symaptheic portrait of her yet penned.  Where Bailey et al seem to demonize McLeod, Dunn managed to put McLeod into the context of bipartisan political activists in Alaska who truly do want, and – as in McLeod’s case – demand good government.  Both Bailey and Dunn contribute to the huge volume of material that shows Palin’s claim to have been such an activist to be the smelliest kind of bullshit.


IV. The Rogue is a helluva read.  It is the fifth book by the author I have read, having read The Selling of the President and Going to Extremes multiple times.

Although McGinniss’ book, like Bailey’s contains no index (Dunn’s has a superb one), I’m almost willing to forgive that.  Bailey’s book looks from inside a gubernatorial administration mostly.  Dunn’s concentrates largely on the 2008 presidential campaign from August 28, 2008 on.  McGinniss’ book is largely about Wasilla, where I live.  As with the community, the book is populated with many, many of my friends and adversaries over the years.

I feel almost too close to a lot of the content to be able to review the volume.  It does bring up, once again, a subject Judy and I have discussed fairly frequently over the past three years – how much we’ve forgotten about Palin, that we knew, and that we knew was really awful.  McGinniss addresses the climate of fear the Palin camp has created in the Wasilla area since the mid-1990s, better than anyone else has.  Far better.  He lived through it.

Here’s one example.  My longtime friend (since 1974, in Seattle, before he moved to Alaska), Dewey Taylor, used his truck to bring some chairs over to McGinniss’ new rental next to the Palins.  Apparently, some of Palin’s advocates took note:

Then I hear that at about four o’clock this morning somebody shot out the driver’s side window of Dewey Taylor’s truck, which was parked in his driveway

I call him and offer to pay for a new window.  “Don’t be reidiculous,” he says, “it was probably just a coincidence.”

“How long have you lived there?”

“About twenty years.”

“Ever had a problem with a vehicle parked in your driveway before?”

“Nope.”

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”

A couple of interesting things should be noted here.  I see Dewey a lot.  He’s never discussed this incident with me.  Strange, eh?  Maybe not, as three months earlier, Palin-loving vandals (a week after this incident) had drained the oil from my Subaru (probably using a Jabsco pump), cut the oil warning light wire, and cost us $3,500.00.  And I’ve never shared that with Dewey.  We’re both “I’ll move on” kinds of people – Dewey more than I – but did fear of even dwelling on the vandalism help us keep our mouths shut?

How many other stories like that are there out here in the Mad Zoo?  The climate of festering fear or immediate retribution here – not just from the Palins, but from the nutty right-wing and Christianist zealots – should not be underestimated.

For those who complain about how McGinniss was purported to have taken advantage of informants in Going to Extremes, there won’t be much that I’ve found in this new book which will bring that back up.

McGinniss is even more scathing than Dunn in his assessment of the failures of Alaska’s main media outlets during Palin’s rise and short reign at the top of Alaska politics.  And, far more than Dunn, he observes Palin’s ability to play the media – and the media’s inability to shake itself of the Palin habit – up to the date of publication.

Six months ago, I would have totally disagreed with this McGinniss assessment of new media and blogs:

I sometimes wonder why anyone bothers to blog.  Almost nothing anyone writes changes anyone else’s mind.  Most people who read a blog already agree with the writer’s point of view.  The others read so they can write quick, nasty comments in response.  The whole blogosphere sometimes seems like one vast game of verbal paintball.

I’m not in total agreement with McGinniss on this, mind you.  And perhaps he hasn’t played paintball in the right setting yet, as it can be very enjoyable.  I learn something every day at one blog or another.  Blogs which Joe list at his own blog can be the way he describes - Palingates, Politicalgates, and The Imoral Minority, for instance.  Yet even at those places where the commenting communities are so predictably like Joe’s description, one can learn valuable information.  Others McGinniss lists, like The Daily Dish and Glenn Greenwald, are among the most valuble resources for reliable information anywhere (The Daily Dish does not publish comments).  And I’m tired, as Joe must be, of the pettiness commenters often show toward people and situations they show themselves to know little or nothing about.

Like Going to Extremes, The Rogue gets into amazing detail of daily life here, in this case from his perspective of spending the summer of 2010 on Lake Lucille.  A lot of what he writes about has been covered before, but his decriptions of the Heath and Palin families, along with the other assorted characters of this seemingly never-ending soap opera, are rife with raw humor.

He gets much more into the conflicts in the minds of central characters than any other author.  Sarah Palin’s predecessor as Wasilla mayor, John Stein, intially didn’t want to talk to or meet McGinniss.  I know, from having stayed in John’s house in Sitka, that Going to Extremes is in the library there.

Joe kept after John, who finally relented and invited the author over.  Their discussions are by far the best to cover Stein’s relationship with the young politician he was mentoring through the early 1990s.

The book has been criticized for leaving out interviews with Palin supporters.  However, as in Dunn’s book, one doesn’t need to be further illuminated in the goofiness of Palin’s devotees than we already have been.

The book concludes looking back at Palin’s very bad early 2011, particularly since her insanely self-centered respose to the January shootings in Tucson.  McGinniss is wary of not only the symbiotic relationship media has come to rely upon regarding Palin, but of his own, with the book coming out and campaign seasons ramping up:

This may be a strange thing to say in [opening] the last chapter about the star performer of the circus.  But no matter how much my book sales might benefit from a Palin presidential campaign in 2012, I sincerely hope that the whole extraveganza, which has been unblushingly underwritten by a mainstream media willing to gamble the nation’s future in exchange for the cheap thrill of watching a clown in high heels on a flying trapeze, is nearing its end.

The Rogue may be the best close look at how a small town in America related over a period of 20 years to a politician who had an uncanny ability to draw upon hatred, superstition, gang organizing and media incuriosity since Sinclair Lewis’ novel of 1935, inspired by Huey Long, It Can’t Happen Here.

Regarding the dustup over McGinniss’ role in the release of manuscripts of Blind Allegiance back in February, and how that might have had an impact on the Bailey book’s sales prospects, I’ll just say that with Bailey coming out of hibernation now to talk about comparisons, McGinniss book looks like it will help Bailey’s sell more copies, just as stores and the publisher were about to remainder Blind Allegiance.

note – the author of this article is referenced several times in The Rogue

Palin 2012 – “Game On!”

4:56 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

With those two words, Sarah Palin ended her abysmally empty, yet fully shrieky speech in front of about 1,200 or so Tea Partiers and 5,000 or so pro-labor protestors in Madison Wisconsin last Saturday.  Palin went after Obama at least 25 times in the 15-minute speech. Here’s the rest of the final line:

It starts here. It starts now … Mr. President, Game on!

The speech, as theater, was pure disaster:

It did not get very wide coverage for more than 24 hours.  Her facebook and twitter spin doctors have gotten frantic early this week, as they try to create something positive about the Madison debacle to drown out the increasing interest in the rebirth of the TriG birthers.  Here’s Dave Weigel at Slate.com:

In the two years and eight months that Sarah Palin has been a political celebrity, I’ve never heard a conservative complain about the media ignoring her. Not until last night. That was when Palin’s web consigliere Rebecca Mansour loaded up Twitter and started tweeting at official media accounts to ask when they hadn’t given more coverage to Palin’s Tea Party speech in Madison this past weekend. She tag-teamed with Jim Nolte, the editor of Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood site — that’s why @jimnolte is mentioned in the tweets.

Weigel took screenshots of the frantic tweets.

What has Palin’s staff atwitter is the attention drawn to a “paper” written by a Northern Kentucky University journalism professor, Brad Scharlott.  A draft of it was picked up by the campus newspaper on April 7th.  Scharlott’s theme in the paper, titled Palin, the Press, and the Fake Pregnancy Rumor, is this:

[I]t’s fair to ask if the U.S. press should have treated the fake pregnancy rumor as untouchable, both in 2008 and up to the present day. After all, if there seemed to be any real chance that the rumor was true, that might mean that a candidate for the vice presidency had staged a hoax about the birth of a Down syndrome child and then used that birth to promote her political career. This article looks at what American journalists knew, and when they knew it, concerning the fake birth rumor – and it finds there was insufficient evidence for the press to conclude that Palin was telling the truth about Trig. The article then looks at what factors may have caused the press to give Palin more deference than she was due, and how journalists might have reacted differently. Finally, the article considers how the spiral of silence theory casts light on press performance relative to the Trig hoax rumor and, relatedly, the Obama fake birth-certificate rumor.

Geoffrey Dunn, author of an upcoming book, The Lies of Sarah Palin, (to be featured at the firedoglake Book Salon on Saturday, May 7th) wrote today about Prof. Scharlott’s conclusion:

1) that Palin “likely” staged “a hoax” concerning the birth of her son Trig;

and 2) that “a spiral of silence” prevented the mainstream U.S. media from adequately investigating the circumstances of Trig’s birth.

Dunn is among those lining up against the out-and-out TriG birthers. He’s also among the most reasonable.  Dunn’s article, titled Sarah Palin’s Version of Trig’s Birth May Be More Troubling Than The Hoax, is an excellent summation of the battle since April 7th between the TriG truthers and those who think Palin’s hiding of her 2007-2008 pregnancy was merely part of her attempt to kill the poor little guy.  (I happen to fall into the latter category.  Or at least I do today).

Here’s Dunn’s description today, of Palin’s “wild ride” (the term invented by Alaska progressive commentator Shannyn Moore for the TriG birth scenario as described by the Palin clan):

I cover the ensuing details of Palin’s so-called “wild ride” from Texas back to Alaska in considerable detail in my book, but in short–according to information she gave at a news conference immediately following her return–Palin claimed that she called her physician in the middle of the night from her hotel room in Texas to discuss what Palin referred to as “amniotic fluid leaking.” Despite the presence of this fluid–a strong indicator of impending birth and which potentially exposed Palin and her child to infection–Palin stayed in Dallas and delivered her speech later that day.

Rather than getting checked at a nearby hospital in Dallas before her departure (Baylor Medical Center was less than ten minutes away), Palin and her husband commenced on their return flight home to Anchorage via Seattle. They did not tell flight attendants of Palin’s medical situation. The failure of the Palins to inform airline personnel of her impending medical situation not only put her infant and herself at risk, it also potentially put all passengers and staff on the two flights at risk as well. As The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan (who deserves a commendation for keeping this story from being buried completely) dubbed it, Palin’s decisions were “reckless beyond measure.”

Once returning to Anchorage late in the evening of April 17, Palin claims to have bypassed the Providence Hospital in Anchorage (which has a neonatal intensive-care unit and is located only a few minutes from the Ted Stevens International Airport) for the roughly hour-long drive to the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, located just off the Parks Highway, roughly seven miles outside of Wasilla (and which has no neonatal intensive-care unit).

Three days after Trig’s birth, Palin and her husband held a news conference in Anchorage, with Trig joining them. The audio recording of the news conference provides a fascinating glimpse into the Palins’ mindset at the time of Trig’s birth and their chafing at criticism of their decision to fly back to Alaska. Again, I cite several passages from the press conference in my book, but what follows are some highlights:

Sarah Palin: Well that was again if, if I must get personal, technical about this at the same time, um, it was one, it was a sign that I knew, um, could lead to uh, labor being uh kind of kicked in there was any kind of, um, amniotic leaking, amniotic fluid leaking, so when, when that happened we decided OK let’s call her [her physician, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson].

The answer was classic Palin–evasive, circuitous, garbled and indirect. In fact, The Anchorage Daily News story the following day, by Kyle Hopkins, reported that Palin had not asked her physician “for a medical OK to fly.”

Hopkins also contacted an obstetrician in California, Dr. Laurie Gregg, active in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who said that “when a pregnant woman’s water breaks, she should go right to the hospital because of the risk of infection. That’s true even if the amniotic fluid simply leaks out.”

As for the distinction that Palin was trying to make between “breaking” and “leaking,” Gregg was not buying into it. “To us, leaking and broken, we are talking the same thing,” Gregg asserted. “We are talking doctor-speak.”

The Palins were clearly irritated by the direction of the questioning. “There’s a lot of new doctors out there on the streets in the last couple of days,” Todd Palin asserted irritably.

There still are, Todd.  And I have to say that the TriG birthers have a lot of material that makes sense.  The three sites which are most relentless are the Alaska site, The Immoral Minority, and two out-of-state sites, Palingates and Politicalgates.  They are sometimes backed up by Andrew Sullivan, now over at The Daily Beast.

With release of Dunn’s book in early May, the release of Palin ex-chief-of-staff Frank Bailey’s tell-all tome (to be published in late May by Christian book publisher, Howard Books – their big hit last year was  Pastor Rick Warren’s The Purpose of Christmas) Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin in late May, and Joe McGinniss’  The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, coming out in late September, Palin’s staff will only get more tweaked.  Not only the two May books are coming out soon, but the State of Alaska has finally stated it will release piles and piles of Palin emails next month.

Palin may have come up with 25 reasons to diss Obama as she was booed by thousands in Madison, but she’s about to be assailed by several more thousand emails, articles, op-eds and author interviews that will challenge her very second-rate publicity machine.

All I can say is – “Game On, Sarah!”

The SFGate Geoffrey Dunn Palin Book Interview – “Let Us Count Our Blessings”

7:57 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Gloria Nieto’s long interview in the San Francisco Chronicle with author and journalist Geoffrey Dunn, on the advent of the distribution of Dunn’s book (release date – May 10th) about Sarah Palin, is the richest, least sensational in-depth article about Palin’s past, present and future written yet in  2011. It is also informative in the sense that Dunn has much to say about Alaskans and our politics.

Nieto’s not up enough about Alaska politics to ask about some of the nuttiness of the current legislative session, but she and Dunn were able to address the dynamics of Alaska party politics. Dunn was clear that this will be an important aspect of his look at Palin’s rise:

Nieto asks Dunn:

I am curious about the people of Alaska. There is the liberal wing which seems to have become energized from her being up there and organizing more. Maybe it is because more people are paying attention, the blogs are getting more attention, the radio up there has been on fire. Even Rachel Maddow went up there. So what can you tell me about the folks up there you have known for a long time whose voices are finally being heard in the lower 48. It isn’t so much a voice crying in the wilderness anymore.

Dunn’s response is interesting:

Alaska’s political culture is as complex as any I’ve ever seen in the world. People forget that it’s an oil-driven economy and therefore it’s an oil-driven political system. It’s like Louisiana, circa 1933. In many respects, Palin was simply a symptom of Alaska’s longtime political culture of corruption.

I do think the left was energized some by Palin’s presence (after her nomination), but in the last election, Scott McAdams, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate and a great guy, only received 23 percent in a three-way race with two Republicans. Joe Miller, whose politics are somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, got 35 percent. So don’t let Rachel Maddow’s cameo in Anchorage fool you. I would say there’s been a left wing awakening in Alaska–even a coalescing–but not yet a full-scale movement.

One thing I will say: Alaskans by and large are much more practical than ideological in their politics and the parties are less influential than they are in other states. Don’t forget, Palin an against the Republican establishment for governor in 2006 and was elected as a “moderate.

Dunn isn’t the first person to note recently how little “party” has to do with some of the basic dynamics of Alaska politics. He is also appreciative of three law enforcement officers whose problems with Palin he seems to have woven into the fabric of the book’s narrative. He has apparently dedicated his book to them – Irl Stambaugh, the Wasilla police chief Palin inherited from the previous administration (and fired); Walt Monegan, the state public safety director Palin hired and then forced out; and Alaska State Trooper officer Mike Wooten, who Palin failed to get fired.

Dunn agrees with my assessment that Palin’s reaction to the January 9th Tucson shootings finished her chances of ever becoming the GOP 2012 nominee:

Well, I’m a gambling man, and a few months ago I would have bet any amount of money that Palin would wage a race for the GOP nomination in 2012. That’s why she quit her governorship; she hated being governor and wanted to be president. She has clearly been positioning herself for such a run since October of 2008. But her irresponsible remarks both before and after the carnage in Tucson has severely impacted her favorability ratings. I’d say right now her chances of running are 50-50. Her chances of winning the GOP nomination are now a very long shot. The Republican establishment is absolutely united in its opposition to her. Even her former lapdog, Billy Kristol, has signaled his opposition to her candidacy. As for winning the presidency, slim to none.

Let us count our blessings.

The atmosphere of sensationalism leading to fiasco last month involving the leak of Frank Bailey’s Palin book manuscript, and the way the leak involved author Joe McGinniss, whose own Palin book is coming out soon, is completely absent from Dunn’s interview with Gloria Nieto. No doubt, to keep from saying the same stuff over and over, as Dunn has more pre-release interviews, more details will emerge on what is in the book. Dunn claims the book morphed from one in which Palin was an important character to one in which she is the book’s subject. Like millions of Americans, Dunn’s views on Palin have changed.

He really is a super nice guy. I know this from my conversations with him as his idea for a book evolved, and he kept on trying to find a plausibly positive human face with which to portray Palin. Other people who dealt with Geoffrey during the book’s composition have shared their delight in dealing with his persistent questions and hilarious stories. There’s a sense of empathy in Dunn’s assessment of Palin’s trajectory:

Let me note that Palin HAD a decent shot of winning the GOP nomination, but she blew it. She was gifted with the instant celebrity that went with her selection by McCain–and celebrity now plays a role in the election of a president–and she had a solid brand that stood squarely in opposition to Obama. She is the anti-Obama, if you will. But she has blown it both tactically and strategically over the past two years. She can’t put an organization together. She is absolutely dysfunctional. And she is a pathological liar, so she can’t keep her story straight. Palin had it all handed to her–and her various pathologies have brought her down. It would be a Greek tragedy if she weren’t such a farce and a lightweight. Her fall is a Shakespearean comedy.

And she has fallen.

I’ve been asked several times to write music about Palin – an opera, a musical comedy, a song or an overture. The closest I’ve come to latching onto an idea has been something that would encompass what Dunn describes in his comment above – an overture mimicking some of the great Shakespearean comedy musical themes, emphasising the farcical aspects of her “lightweight” personality. Unlike my imaginary overture, though, Dunn’s book promises to be unsparing, if empathic:

One of the things that really pissed me off early on in the Palin campaign was her latching on to the “special needs” issue because of her son, Trig. As you know, I have a so-called “special needs” child, and the thought of Palin serving in any way as a spokesperson for special needs kids or for families with special needs kids made my stomach turn. She has never walked the walk. Ever. In fact, I wrote a piece about it for the Chronicle and it was picked up all over the country. So I suppose that was an early impetus.

Then when she began rattling off about “death panels” in respect to Obama’s health care reform I hit the roof. It was a flat-out lie. As a survivor of very advanced and very aggressive colon cancer, I’ve had to deal with end-of-life decisions; I’ve had first-hand experience. You want to know who the death panels are? They’re the medical insurance companies that prevented me from getting a colonoscopy before I turned 50, even though I had moderate symptoms. So I lost several body parts to the death panels. And I had to deal with my father’s death in a VA hospital because he didn’t have proper end-of-life counseling. Sarah Palin has never dealt with anything like that. My father had an old Navy phrase that fits her to a “T.” I will refrain from using it.

I’m looking forward to all these Palin books. I haven’t read any of the ones published so far. Who knows whether Bailey will find a publisher? His looks by far the least promising. Dunn’s certainly looks very interesting. McGinniss has the capability and connections to write the book that finally nails the silver stake into the heart of the nutty Sarah Palin cult. But – again – as Dunn and many of us have observed – the cult is already in its death rattles.

Let us count our blessings.

Joe McGinniss Issued Cease and Desist Order for Distributing Rival’s Palin Manuscript – Updated

3:47 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Beverly Hills law firm, Bonfante Steinbeck, has issued a cease and desist order to author Joe McGinniss.  McGinniss has been identified by numerous sources as the originator of copies of the manuscript to an unpublished draft of a book on Sarah Palin by her former confidante and state official, Frank Bailey.  Bailey was Palin’s Director of Boards and Commissions, an office more powerful than that of the Lieutenant Governor.

Representing Bailey and his collaborators on the book, Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon, Bonfante Steinbeck attorney Dean M. Steinbeck writes:

February 20, 2011
SENDER INFORMATION:
Ken Morris, Frank Bailey and Jeanne Devon

RECIPIENT INFORMATION:
Joe McGinniss

RE: COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Dear Sir:

I write on behalf of Ken Morris, Frank Bailey and Jeanne Devon (collectively, the “Copyright Owners”). The Copyright Owners are co-owners of the copyright in the unpublished manuscript entitled “Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years” (the “Work”).

Between February 16, 2011 and February 18, 2011 you were the recipient of an unlawfully distributed version of the Work. Although you knew that the Work was (i) distributed to you in strict confidence, and (ii) an unpublished manuscript, you choose to unlawfully distribute the Work to multiple news outlets, bloggers, political activists, and any one else you felt might be interested.

As a result of your actions, hundreds of articles and blogs have been published detailing the Work. Some of the publications have summarized the Work in great detail, and others have reproduced the Work’s content verbatim. As an author, you are well aware that your actions have significantly impaired the Copyright Owners ability to market the book.

The Copyright Owners believe your actions were done with the single intent of destroying the marketability of the Work. It is no secret that you are writing your own “tell-all” book about Sarah Palin. By releasing the Work prior to publication, you have limited the actual interest in the Work and thereby salvaged the marketability of your own book. This matter appears to be no more than that of a jealous author sabotaging a competitor via unlawful and unscrupulous means.

The Copyright Owners are currently reviewing their legal options and I can assure this is not the last time you will hear from them. Besides showing an utter lack of professionalism, you have, at a minimum, willfully caused significant damages by engaging in unfair competition and violations of copyright law. In order to minimize the damages caused by your actions, the Copyright Owners hereby demand that you cease and desist from distributing any portion of the Work. Additionally, the Copyright Owners demand that you provide a full list of the parties to whom you distributed the Work.

Several bloggers and news sources received the manuscript from McGinniss very early Friday morning last week.  Many of us have written to McGinniss, asking him why he sent the manuscript out.  To my knowledge, he hasn’t yet answered anyone.  Some articles have been pulled or heavily modified since Bonfante Steinbeck issued a general cease and desist letter late last weekend to media outlets that were carrying extracts from what the authors claim to be a rough draft.  Within the past few hours, Craig Medred’s article at the Alaska Dispatch, Why did Palin name a pro-choice judge to the Alaska Supreme Court, has been pulled from the Alaska Dispatch Blog.  Medred’s article’s subject was the same issue I tackled in my only post before this one on the manuscript’s unauthorized release:

The item that caught my eye most, though, is this one, posted at Jesse Griffin’s Immoral Minority:

“In BLIND ALLEGIANCE TO SARAH PALIN: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years, Bailey explores such key events as Palin’s gubernatorial victory, Troopergate, illegal coordination with the Republican Governor’s Association, never-before-revealed scandals such as a judicial appointment as payoff for a favorable child custody ruling for Palin’s sister.”

That, I believe, is a serious felony in the State of Alaska. Could it be that the State, by holding onto Palin’s emails for so long – they say the emails will be released in May – is covering up this crime and others by the Palin family until the statute of limitations makes prosecution improbable or impossible? If that is the case, then we need to see the emails the state has on why they’re holding onto her emails.

McGinniss’  release of the manuscript has been vexing to the Alaska bloggers who supported him while he stayed in Alaska last year.  I’m not one of them, though.  After setting up his security perimeter at the house he rented next to the Palin cult compound on Lake Lucille last May, he and I had a disagreement, resulting in no further contact.  Jeanne Devon, one of the parties to the book, helped McGinniss extensively throughout his stay here, though, and is deeply hurt by the author’s action.

McGinniss, it has been reported to me, has all but finished his book on Palin, as has author Geoffrey Dunn.  Unlike Bailey et al, McGinniss and Dunn have publishers lined up.  Supposedly the manuscript found its way to McGinniss, after it had been sent out to a number of publishers by the author, hoping to find a buyer.

Update – Tuesday 7:00 a.m. PST:

1.  Joe McGinniss emailed me late yesterday afternoon, declining to answer my query on why he released the manuscript.  He wrote “Now that Jeanne [Devon] has got lawyers involved, I’m just not able to comment.”

2. In the Tuesday edition of the Anchorage Daily News, an unsigned article notes that GOP activist and longtime Palin foe Andree McLeod:

is charging that Bailey, Morris and Devon are acting unethically by trying to make money off a book based on e-mails Bailey collected as a state employee. McLeod first filed an ethics complaint against Bailey last year when she found out he was working on the book.

The executive ethics act bars current or former public officials from using information gained during the course of their work for personal gain if the information hasn’t been publicly disseminated. Most recently, McLeod wrote Alaska Attorney General John Burns on Friday asking what he was going to do about it.

McLeod emphasized that Bailey’s agent wrote that the e-mails are “not subject to FOIA requests and therefore will not be included in the email correspondence scheduled to be released by Alaskan officials this May.”

Morris last week said that Bailey had thousands of e-mails from the Palins. The state is reviewing Palin’s e-mails for an expected spring release in response to public records requests, including those from news organizations and McLeod.

This is more of the kind of bizarre aftermath Palin’s sloppy tenure as governor has saddled upon Alaskans.  One Alaska blogger, Jesse Griffin, has finished the manuscript.  He writes this morning:

If you thought Sarah Palin was vindictive, you will not be disappointed by this book.

If you thought the personal mythology about her family was bullshit, this is the book for you.

And if you thought that Sarah Palin uses her looks to get away with everything just shy of murder, this book will make that an absolute certainty.