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Author Joe McGinniss Passes

7:52 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Phil+and+Joe+McGinnis

 

From the Washington Post:

NEW YORK — Joe McGinniss, the adventurous and news-making author and reporter who skewered the marketing of Richard Nixon in “The Selling of the President 1968” and tracked his personal journey from sympathizer to scourge of convicted killer Jeffrey MacDonald in the blockbuster “Fatal Vision,” died Monday at age 71.

McGinniss, who announced last year that he had been diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer, died from complications related to his disease. His attorney and longtime friend Dennis Holahan said he died at a hospital in Worcester, Mass.

I got to first meet Joe in the fall of 2008 (at the time of the above image, taken by my wife, Judy Youngquist), when he came to Alaska right after the presidential election campaign. He was contemplating writing a book about Sarah Palin, and hung out a lot with the Alaska progressive bloggers, who were at that time a close team of colleagues. I had read The Selling of the President, Going to ExtremesFatal Vision, and Blind Faith, and had followed the controversies surrounding the latter books over the years.

We started writing back and forth occasionally, through email.  He often wrote to me after I had posted another installment in my long-running Saradise Lost series of articles.

In the spring of 2010, he came to Wasilla, Alaska, where he moved into a small lakeside house directly adjacent to the Palins’ cult compound. I helped him set up his own security perimeter, with signs, chains, padlocks and other stuff. My dog went over and pissed, possibly pooped on the Palins’ lawn. Joe was disturbed. I wrote about it, and Joe got more disturbed. We ended contact abruptly. The rest of the time he was in Alaska.

He could be prickly. So can I.

By the time he finished his book on Palin, we were back into regular correspondence. He named me or quoted me fairly extensively in The Rogue. Just before publication, McGinniss asked me to promote the book here at Firedoglake‘s book salon. We did that session on September 25, 2011.

Joe told me he was ill fairly early on. He stopped writing back to me sometime last fall. Just last week, I wondered aloud to my wife how he might be doing. And Sunday evening, watching Sarah Palin’s bizarre CPAC rant, I hoped he was enjoying it. It was Palin’s very best truly awful speech yet.

Before The Rogue‘s publication, Palin had already self-destructed after the Tucson massacre of  early January, 2011, when she blathered about critics of her target meme aimed at severely injured U.S. Rep. Gabielle Giffords’ 2012 campaign, as committing “blood libel” against Palin:

)

But Joe’s book was instrumental in putting what should have been the final nails in Palin’s political coffin. Too bad the spikes weren’t crafted in silver, eh?

As Palin re-insinuates herself into the lizard brain of paleo-conservatives, with her Putin putdowns and 8th grade snark, the headline to the New York Times review of The Rogue frames McGinniss’ last project well:

Sarah Palin Could See This Guy From Her House

Glad to have known you, Joe McGinniss.

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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

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[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:

FBI Informant Who Took Down Right-Wing Alaska Militia Claims Palin Was Already in Line for VP Slot in March, 2008

5:22 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

FBI informant William Fulton

Last week, William Fulton, the FBI informant whose testimony in the Schaeffer Cox conspiracy to murder trial was a key to the latter’s conviction, came out of his silence.  Since March 15th, 2011, Fulton has been protected by the Federal government, and had disappeared from his Spenard Avenue military surplus and equipment store, the Drop Zone, the day before:

Five days after members of an Interior Alaska militia group were arrested in connection with plots to kill Alaska State Troopers, judges and others, Anchorage businessman William Fulton — a man once identified as the “supply sergeant” for the Alaska Citizens Militia — went missing. He has not been seen since.

Fulton was the owner of Drop Zone, a military surplus store on Spenard Road. He gained some notoriety during the 2010 U.S. Senate race when, acting as security for failed candidate Joe Miller, he handcuffed and detained Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger at a public meeting.

On March 15, a Drop Zone employee arrived at work to find Anchorage attorney Wayne Anthony Ross waiting for him in the parking lot. Ross had documents, signed by Fulton, handing over the shop with all its debts and assets to the employee.

Fulton resurfaced to testify in Cox’s Anchorage trial, then disappeared again until Schaeffer Cox’s and some of his co-conspirators’ sentencing last week.  Now Fulton has been interviewed by news outlets, beginning with Salon and  Huffington Post, on January 11th.

In the HuffPo interview, Fulton revealed that 2010 Alaska U.S. Senate GOP nominee Joe Miller began wearing a bulletproof vest after the nomination.  Fulton was in charge of candidate Miller’s security during many of the Tea Party- and Koch Brothers-backed candidate’s public appearances throughout the late summer and fall of 2010:

Alaska Tea Party favorite Joe Miller wore a bulletproof vest the night he beat Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to become the Republican Party’s 2010 Senate nominee, his former private security guard told The Huffington Post.

“As we’re finding out that he’s winning, I’m in the bathroom putting a bulletproof vest on the guy,” William Fulton said in one of several interviews this week. Describing Miller as “paranoid,” Fulton said the underdog conservative was afraid he’d be targeted at election headquarters in Anchorage on that August night. “It was fucking ridiculous.”

Monday morning, the Palin-centric (still!!!) Alaska blog, The Immoral Minority featured an extended interview between Jesse Griffin, the blog’s owner, and Fulton. Griffin ran a teaser on the interview late last week, promising that on Monday he would run the Fulton interview, and that readers would then have a chance to ask Bill questions.  Griffin, as recently as this weekend, commenting on the ongoing power struggle within Alaska’s GOP, between the realists and the Teas Party Jihadists, noted:

I am reasonably certain that Russ Millette is only a puppet, and that his strings are being pulled by Joe Miller, and more than likely, Sarah Palin.

No WONDER the Alaska GOP is trying so hard to keep their hands off of the Republican money!

Not very people believe Palin has much of a hand in GOP struggles anymore.  From my perch in Wasilla, I find the idea of Palin continuing to have a significant following absurd.  But Griffin’s followers view Palin as some sort of a Zombie force with talons creeping into every nook and cranny of Alaska politics.

Griffin’s interview with Fulton is interesting, though.  The questions Gryph’s cult followers ask vary between quite good and inane and bizarre. Griffin wrote, at the bottom of the interview:

Now as I mentioned before Bill will answer some of YOUR questions next.

What we have worked out is that you can submit them in the comment section, he will choose the ones he feels he can answer, and then I will type them out in a later post, either tomorrow or the next day depending on time constraints.

Please remember that there are still certain questions that Bill will not be able, or willing, to answer.

An occurrence that keeps on coming up is a meeting that was held in the Captain Cook Hotel, on the morning of March 14, 2008, at the Alaska State GOP Convention.

Interestingly, that’s the same morning I met Schaeffer Cox.

Here’s Fulton’s rendition of aspects of that in Monday’s interview with Griffin (emphasis added):

Q: Well that’s an understatement, however could you please elaborate on why this meeting, which was ostensibly about forcing Randy Reuderich out of the Alaska GOP Chairman’s seat and taking over, suddenly changed direction?

Fulton: Well yes the original intent was to shitcan Reuderich and replace him with somebody else. But then they decided not to do that it so that it wouldn’t distract from the last minute decision to run Sean Parnell against Don Young. 

Q: What changed?

Fulton: I’m not entirely sure, but it had something to do with the fact that Sarah Palin was going to be tapped as the VP candidate.

Q: Really? This was happening in March of 2008, according to Palin, AND the McCain campaign, they did not choose her until the very last minute, late in August of 2008, which is why they did not have time to vet her carefully.

Fulton: Bullshit. Frank Bailey and Joe Miller discussed the nomination as if it was a done deal, and claimed that she was already being vetted.

Q: In March of 2008?

Fulton: Yes, in March of 2008.

So Fulton is at odds with a lot of narratives, including that of the book and movie, Game Change.

Before it became public knowledge that William Fulton had been working undercover to bring down Schaeffer Cox and his colleagues, the former was best known for his arrest and handcuffing of Alaska Dispatch reporter and chief editor, Tony Hopfinger, at a Joe Miller rally in Anchorage, on October 17th, 2010.  Fulton’s act was more instrumental in the write-in victory of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, in a strange three-way race, than any other single event.  Miller’s reaction to the Hopfinger incident struck some as paranoid (emphasis added):

Q: And on that note how do you think Joe Miller feels now knowing that you were working with the FBI while you were also working on his security detail?

Fulton: I KNOW how he feels. He has been writing about it on his blog. He thinks I was a plant that was dedicated to sabotaging his campaign from within. 

Q: Were you?

Fulton: No. I just did what Miller hired me to do. He also has complained that my version of fitting him for body armor in the bathroom due to his paranoia is an exaggeration and that I had “followed him around the convention center warning him of threats.” 

Q: And did you?

Fulton: Hell no! Nobody needed to help Joe Miller feel paranoid.

After the 2010 election Alaska political activist and muckraker Ray Metcalfe and I bought the handcuffs Fulton had used on Hopfinger:

Craig says “Fulton has now told the Huffington Post that he thought putting the cuffs on Tony Hopfinger, the co-owner and editor of Dispatch, while working for Miller, a conservative Republican, appeared a great idea. Fulton said it bolstered his image with the militias.”

When Ray Metcalfe and I bought the same handcuffs Bill had used to cuff Tony at Begich Middle School, Bill told us “If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it all over again.”

He sold them to us a bit below cost for new ones, but they were used – S&W Model M-100. Charged us $40.00.

We later gave them to Tony as a gift.

You can see an image of them here.

Miller+time

(photo I made of the handcuffs, before giving them to Tony)

Fulton reiterated what he told Ray and me in 2010 in today’s interview with Griffin:

I still feel that the bust was legitimate, and my people and I had done the same thing at various events and concerts all over town. However because of who Joe Miller was, and the way the media was portraying him, the arrest served as the perfect catalyst to give the media permission to define him as somebody who would hire jack booted thugs to rough up reporters who tried to question him. 

In fact I performed my duties to the best of my abilities, and would do so again in similar circumstances.

Schaeffer Cox is now on his way to a 25-year stint in a Federal Penitentiary.  Bill Fulton says he wants to keep on working for the government:

I am looking to teach a law enforcement course dealing with extremists and infiltrating their ranks. I am also planning to write a book about my experiences in Alaska, and with the militia up there.

As for Joe Miller, whose star shone so brightly, if briefly, in the Alaska political firmament, here’s from a statement that came out at his web site shortly after the Fulton interviews began to be published last week:

I have no idea what makes people like Bill Fulton and Schaeffer Cox tick. But I do know this: Joe Miller has an extreme love for this country and its people and will continue to fight selflessly to restore Liberty.

Too many have become weary in their efforts against increasing regulations and decreasing rights. William Wilberforce did not give up after all his years of failure in Parliament and because of it slavery was abolished in England.

Joe Miller and I believe in a limited government that stays out of the way of its citizens freedoms. I hope you will join the cause of Liberty and support the people who champion her cause.

Hang in there, Joe.  You’re extremely fun to watch.

At+the+AK+State+Fair+2010+#4+-+Miller+going+overboard

(Joe Miller and close friend berating me at the 2010 Alaska State Fair)

Watching “Game Change” with Katie Hurley and Friends in Wasilla

1:53 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Wasilla 4th of July 2009 – Katie Hurley Grand Marshall – image by PA

More like watching the movie near Hatcher Pass.

Saturday late evening, Judy and I went to a potluck-movie showing of Game Change held by the Mat-Su Democrats.  There were enough people to keep two big screens in big rooms full of long-time progressives.

Many attending have known Palin far longer than me.  I’ve known her for over 20 years.  One of her high school teachers was there.  A woman who had taught in the same school as Palin’s dad.  And so on.

Katie Hurley, one of the very few players in the formation of the Alaska Constitution still among us, was  animated.  Hurley was the first highly successful woman in Mat-Su Valley politics.  The comprehensive story of her relationship with Palin hasn’t been written yet.  Hopefully, it will be.

Katie was LOL about fifteen times in the flick.  She caught some of the inner campaign operation jokes in the movie more quickly than any of us, some a third her age.

Overall, the audience thought the movie to be fair.  The portrayal of John McCain was thought to be too sympathetic.  Harrelson’s portrayal beat Moore’s in a hand count I held in the room I was in.  The inaccuracy of the accent was what did Moore in in Wasilla, by people who have had to put up with Palin’s antics and statements for a long, long time.

The movie’s portrayal of the Palins as a family struck me as deft.  If the Palins complain about what appears to be an earnest effort to explain them, it won’t surprise me, but they don’t really have a case.

Why Join Firedoglake? Because It Is the Warmest, Most Courageous On-Line Community I Know Of

12:20 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

fire - dog - lake - labtop

fire – dog – lake – labtop

It was early 2005.  The Iraq War was approaching its worst stage.  I was spending more time on-line, reading the news articles one couldn’t (and still cannot) find in the traditional media.  Political blogs were blossoming up like mushrooms after a warm Autumn rain.

One day, reading an article at Majikthise, one of the few blogs where I would occasionally comment, I followed a link to a blog with a strange name – firedoglake.  The next day, some other blog linked to an article here.  I bookmarked the site and started reading it regularly.

Soon, I decided to comment here.  It was risky, as I didn’t feel very knowledgeable on the issue at hand – can’t remember what it was – but felt I might add a little.  Within a few minutes, my comment was greeted by Jane Hamsher, who welcomed me, Edward Teller.

The blog was new then, and like a lot of lefty or lefty-ish sites then, it was much smaller, a pure labor of love by Hamsher and Christy Hardin Smith.  firedoglake was the first blog outside of Alaska where I began to regularly write comments.  I began to make a fair number of friends here.

As the campaigns in 2006 began to warm up and get going, I was able to introduce Diane Benson, the very progressive Alaska civil rights leader, running against Rep. Don Young, to a wider national audience through comments here, and articles at Down With Tyranny! Feedback on my comments here encouraged me as a writer, and helped me improve the way I organized essays.  Other commenters at “the lake” encouraged me to start my own blog, which I did in the Fall of 2007. Read the rest of this entry →

Compare and Contrast – Three Palins

10:31 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

When the movie trailers for Game Change (debuts March 10 on HBO) and Iron Sky (debuts in theaters on April 4) came out, a few Alaska blogs covered them.  Even though I live in Wasilla and have known Palin for far too long, I’ve pretty much stopped covering her, as she’s no longer the major danger to the direction of political discourse she once was.

Palin pretty much did herself in, which was inevitable.  But as the GOP presidential primary and caucus scene gets more complicated, we’ll see Palin doing everything she can to attempt to be part of what might end up being some sort of an arbitration process.

Her speech Friday at the end of the CPAC Convention has been hailed by supporters and critics as one of her better efforts.  The Christian Science Monitor even went so far as to insinuate Palin back into the center of the GOP vortex – “Sarah Palin wows CPAC. But has the race for the White House moved beyond her?”

We’ll see.  Jesse Griffin, an Alaska Blue Dog blogger and Obama apologist, who basically survives off  of nipping at Palin, writes quite effectively of the CPAC speech:

Palin is fired up like we have not seen her since the 2008 campaign.

Clearly this is what she has been preparing for during the last several months.

Her big comeback.

As much as I hate to say it, she hits EVERY note that this crowd wants to hear, and throws out more red meat than a train slamming through a herd of caribou.

Just a sample: “The Tea Party rose up, because Americans WOKE up! And our movement, it is bigger than one person. It is bigger than one candidate. It is bigger than one party. It’s about one country united under God. We aren’t red Americans.  We’re not blue Americans. We’re red, white, and blue, and President Obama we are through with you!”

Even at the 7:00 mark the OWS protestors cannot stop her momentum.

She not only leads the crowd in a chant to shout the protestors down, which evolves into a chant of “Sarah, Sarah, Sarah,” she then takes a victory lap at the end, in which, bathed in the crowd’s adulation, she trumpets her victory over the interlopers, “See you just won! You see how easy that is?”

There is little doubt that this speech, chock full of attacks on the President, will inspire her followers to start throwing money at her again by the truckloads, while fantasizing that THIS clearly means that she has reconsidered and is now ready to throw her hat into the ring and save the country from the evils of the Obama administration.

And that is exactly why she showed up.

It is.   And her nutty supporters will send her scores of thousands of dollars for her effective use of a teleprompter.

But she’s as doomed as a political fixture as Thomas Eagleton was in the late summer of 1972. The two movies, coming out over the next couple of months, will be the final straw. Read the rest of this entry →

More – Much More – On Newt’s Lies on Palestine

11:41 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

In the last few days before the ABC News GOP candidate debate this weekend, Newt Gingrich managed to get the most prominent headlines from among the set of them, with his statement Friday to the Jewish Channel Cable TV Network:

“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state,” he said. “I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and historically part of the Arab community and they had the chance to go many places.”

In a diary here Saturday about this, I speculated:

The goal of these candidates, in bringing up Israel, is not so much designed to court Jewish Republican voters, but to court Christian Zionists.  78% of American Jews voted for Obama in 2008, and most will vote for him again. Fundamentalist Christians who believe in the necessity of repopulating the “Holy Land” with Jews to facilitate the coming of the end times represent a high percentage of the GOP voters who will determine their party’s candidate in the caucuses and primaries.

In a post-debate panel discussion Saturday on Current TV, Cenk Uygur pressed his panel on this same point:

Uygur seemed more animated in bringing this up than any of his panelists.  But he was able to do that.  I doubt he would have been cleared to go down this line if he was still at MSNBC.

After the Palestine issue came up during the debate, while it was still happening, Max Blumenthal tweeted:

Sawyer & Stephanapoulos smile & avoid pointed follow-up questions to racist and ahistorical invective against Palestinians

“Racist and ahistorical invective” it was.  Though Sawyer and Stephanapoulos (and Al Gore on Cenk’s panel) were far beyond merely glib, other news sources did follow-up.

The Washington Post fact-checked Gingrich’s debate claim about Palestinian textbooks:

“These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, ‘If there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?’ We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. ”

–Gingrich

During the debate, Gingrich reiterated his controversial claim the Palestinians are an “invented people,” which has been criticized in some Republican quarters. But he also raised a new charge about Palestinian textbooks, which he said the United States pays for “through our aid money.”

This funding claim is correct only in an indirect sense: The United States is the largest single-state donor for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), providing nearly $250 million in 2011. As a recent Congressional Research Service report made clear, this funding is closely scrutinized by Congress. But UNRWA underwrites the schooling of Palestinian refugees and thus provides money for textbooks

The issue of Palestinian textbooks is controversial, one the Palestinian Authority says it is addressing. We cannot immediately find evidence of the statement claimed by Gingrich, and it is not clear if he is referring to a statement in one of the newer textbooks.

There have been a number of reports by pro-Israel groups that say the textbooks in Palestinian schools reinforce hatred of Jews. But one Palestinian expert has argued that studies in English that claim to show such bias in Palestinian textbooks are “based on innuendo, exaggeration, and downright lies.”

Here is what the State Department’s human rights report said about the new Palestinian text books:

The PA Ministry of Education and Higher Education completed the revision of its primary and secondary textbooks in 2006. International academics concluded the textbooks did not incite violence against Jews, but showed imbalance, bias, and inaccuracy. Some maps in Palestinian textbooks did not depict the current political reality, showing neither Israel nor the settlements. Palestinian textbooks, used in Palestinian schools, as well as in Jerusalem municipality-administered schools in East Jerusalem, inconsistently defined the 1967 borders and failed to label areas and cities with both Arabic and Hebrew names.

But the Israeli media has reported that Israeli educational system “is hardly better than the Palestinian one when it comes to inserting political messages in textbooks.”

The WaPo story didn’t address the issues of Palestinian authenticity, the “rocket every day” canard, or unwillingness of Palestinians to cut a fair deal with the Israelis, because, Newt alleges, they instead want that ” not a single Jew will remain.”

Let’s examine the authenticity issue.  On Friday, in the JCCTV interview, Gingrich said:

“Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman empire.” He added that Palestinians were “an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs”.

Give that historian an “F-minus.”

The most authentic early mention of Palestine that has come down to us from an author outside of the Levant, is that of Herodotus, in his 420BCE book, the Histories.  He described “Syria Palaistine” several times.  But no Israel.  The earliest local authentic description of a word used elsewhere to identify the geographic area known more recently as Palestine, was about 700 years earlier, with the use by the XX Dynasty of Egypt (c. 1150 BCE) of the term “Peleset.” But no Israel.  That term did not exist to define a physical place until later.

1150 to 420 BCE were important times in the history of Judaism, and fundamentalist Christianity.  But a lot of what has and has not been found archeologically, that might show evidence of a strong state in the area of Palestine, that was predominantly or solely Jewish in a sense we might recognize, leaves immense holes in any assertion that accepts much of what early-date Biblical material fundamentalists believe as fact.  Many of these supposed historical events that fundamentalists accept as fact are not.  They are myths.

Since Herodotus called the area Syria Palaistine, the area now comprising Israel, Gaza and the occupied West Bank, has been called something like that by post-Alexandrian Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Caliphs, Crusaders, Ottomans and British.  They have called the place “Palestine.”

So many tribes have moved into and out of the place over the thousands of years, that the political constructs of Arab and Jew, or Palestinian and Israeli are just that – political.  In countries that call themselves Muslim states or Jewish states, politics IS religion all too often.

The argument Gingrich is attempting to bring to the fore here isn’t just calculated to gain a few fundamentalist votes in Iowa and elsewhere.  It is a conscious effort by an experienced candidate to dig down into the lower reaches of the ideologies of GOP primary likely voters, to begin bringing out the same enthusiasm Palin could pull off in 2008.

Gingrich’s main inroads right now may be among Christian Zionists who were supporting Cain, and from a peeling away of evangelicals who were trying to digest Romney.  Maybe somebody reliable is polling that.

We’ll see if he can pull it off.  Maybe having Franklin Graham re-convert him to fundamentalism after Newt carries Pennsylvania (April 24th) would help cinch the deal.  After all, this is the most cynical and desperate set of major candidates many of us have ever witnessed.

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.

FDL Book Salon Preview: The Rogue – By Joe McGinniss (The Hate Continues)

1:41 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Rogue - Searching for the Real Sarah Palin

The Rogue - Searching for the Real Sarah Palin

[This is the extended version of the preface to Sunday's Firedoglake Book Salon, which was limited to about 1,000 words.]

I. Longtime journalist and award-winning author Joe McGinniss’ newest book, The Rogue, is the latest – but by no means last – book about Sarah Palin.  Palin is not only the most famous Alaskan in history, she has uniquely combined political activity, celebrity, motherhood, grandmotherhood, a spousal relationship, borderline religious beliefs, professional victimhood, the American gossip universe, pop culture, legal obfuscation, new media and social networking.  Increasingly known for being thin-skinned and somewhat lacking in spatial awareness,  Palin, more than any American politician in a generation or so, almost begged McGinniss – or any investigative author – to move next door.  As I wrote here last year, a couple of days after McGinniss was able to do just that:

[A]uthor Joe McGinnis, who is writing a critical book about Sarah Palin, was looking for a place in Wasilla to rent this summer, as he continues his research. He was offered the house next door to the Palins’ Lake Lucille cult compound-in-progress. He wasn’t looking for the place. It came looking for him. What would you do?

Having spent time with McGinniss at the crucial point between when he moved in, and the Palins’ reaction to their new neighbor set in concrete the scene for how the book played out, I can say that Joe really was hoping to be able to just be their next-door neighbor.  He did not want to make waves, and was hoping to sit down with Sarah and Todd socially, perhaps professionally, and go through notes with them as work proceeded.  I’m not kidding.

What ended up happening was another over-reaction by Sarah, similar to many those of us who had been watching her for a long time had witnessed before.  Her facebook people went all professional victim for her and, to quote Palin in another context – “Game on!” Read the rest of this entry →

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