Monday, July 6, 2009

Sarah Palin Attacks 1st Amendment

There are a number of Alaskan bloggers writing about Sarah Palin and a number of non-Alaskans who write about her as well, but she's the topic of the moment and one I've followed since she burst on the national scene.

Many people have questioned my continuing interest in her, particularly after the election, saying "She lost, get over her." Unfortunately, she remains extremely popular, has a large and growing base, a PAC that is well-organized and raises a lot of money and is well-placed to monitor the blogs to attack anyone who works against her, and her Alaska Fund Trust, set up to fund her legal bills, has money pouring in - even after the announcement of her resignation. No one knows what her plans are, although everyone agrees that her stated reasons for resigning come nowhere near the real reasons for leaving office.

The word-salad of her resignation speech, given at her home in the presence - oddly enough - of husband Todd and daughter Piper, but not daughters Willow or Bristol, or son Trigg or grandson Tripp - verged on the incoherent and was clearly written by Sarah herself. Despite her statement that this had "been in the works for months," Todd had reportedly had to leave his fishing boat unexpectedly to attend this press conference and Sarah's father stated that he had no idea this was going to happen. Definitely odd not to mention something so major to your immediate family if it's been "in the works" for months.

The transcript of the speech, posted on the official website, contains weird capitalizations, disconnected and rambling streams of consciousness, and obvious notes to self, as well as numerous exclamation points as if to remind herself of what was important.

Oddest and most remarkable to me? The point that has kept me following Sarah Palin throughout? Her incredible ignorance of the concept of truth. And, her complete ignorance of the Constitution. She loves to wave the flag, to be photographed wrapped in it or waving it, and she loves to cite the Constitution, but has no conception of what it actually is or what it means.

Every speech references it, every speech references the troops, Alaska, her family, and whatever else she thinks is necessary to score political points and make herself look good. She poses for photographs in Runners World not realizing how inappropriate they are for a woman in her position, not realizing how offended people will be at the use she puts the flag to in those photographs, but instead is concerned only with how well she appears physically and how many votes she might gain - never mind how many she might lose.

After her speech, rumors that have been swirling for months got louder. Bloggers that have been discussing many issues, including some that Sarah discussed in her speech, got calls from mainstream media and requests for interviews and Shannyn Moore, a radio talk show host, blogger, and regular Huffington Post contributor, appeared (as she does on a regular basis) on MSNBC to discuss the whole situation with David Schuster. In a post Shannyn described threats of legal action for reporting on some of these rumors in her blog and discussing them on MSNBC.

In her resignation speech, Sarah Palin reference the Constitution twice. She said, "We’re protectors of our Constitution – federalists protect states’ rights as mandated in 10th amendment." And later, "We need those who will respect our Constitution ..." referring to bottom-up government rather than top-down government but combing it with some mixed metaphor of calling an audible and passing the ball. Weird.

But the true irony? Let's take a couple of sections of Sarah's speech and look at them.

"...the State has wasted thousands of hours of your time and shelled out some two million of your dollars to respond to “opposition research” – that’s money not going to fund teachers or troopers – or safer roads. And this political absurdity, the “politics of personal destruction” …"
In a press release dated May 21, 2009, the Governor's Office announced signing the operating budget for fiscal year 2010 at $8.7 billion. Two million is barely a ripple in that, not to mention that there is an ethics committee whose sole function is to deal with ethics complaints. And, if Sarah had a better understanding of the truth, ethics law, and Freedom of Information Act rules, there would be likely little need for citizens to file ethics complaints to find out information she should be providing to them as a matter of routine.

"I've never believed that I, nor anyone else, needs a title to do this - to make a difference... to help people. So I choose, for my State and my family, more "freedom" to progress, all the way around... so that Alaska may progress... I will not seek re-election as Governor."
No, probably not, but people seek higher office because it has been demonstrated, over and over again, that the higher the office you hold, the more you are able to accomplish.

"And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn’t run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks… travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade – as so many politicians do. And then I thought – that’s what’s wrong – many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and “milk it”. I’m not putting Alaska through that – I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! That’s not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old “politics as usual.” I promised that four years ago – and I meant it."
And because I'm a maverick, and go my own way, the only way to prevent Alaska from having a "lame duck" governor who "milks it" is to quit. How stupid can she be? Can you say circular thinking? I'm governor. I'm only going to have one term, therefore the moment I decide that - even if it's the day after I'm sworn in - I have to quit. Dumb. What if she decides to run for re-election? And loses? Does she quit the day after the election? Or what if she wins? Does she still quit the next day? After all, she won and immediately becomes a lame duck, because after all, she can't run again.

This woman does not know how to think beyond the end of her nose. How on earth did she get a college degree from an actual college? Her family isn't rich so they couldn't buy her one. They didn't have on-line degrees to buy back then. Really puzzling.

"My decision was also fortified during this most recent trip to Kosovo and Landstuhl, to visit our wounded soldiers overseas, those who sacrifice themselves in war for our freedom and security… we can ALL learn from our selfless Troops… they’re bold, they don’t give up, they take a stand and know that life is short so they choose to not waste time. They choose to be productive and to serve something greater than self... and to build up their families, their states, our country. These Troops and their important missions – those are truly the worthy causes in this world and should be the public priority with time and resources and not this local / superficial wasteful political bloodsport.

May we all learn from them!" [emphasis added]
This is a kicker. Her decision was fortified by visiting the troops because they don't give up so she comes home and quits! Yeah. That makes sense.

Then, after Shannon appears on MSNBC Sarah tweets on her Twitter account the next day a link to a letter written by her attorney, Thomas Van Flein, which, by the way, states on page 3 that "this is to provide notice to Ms. Moore..." and also references the New York Times, MSNBC, the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post as they reported on the story, that they have defamed Sarah Palin and this is actionable. Pretty big, fancy words, don't you think?

What is even more interesting, is that this letter was not sent to Shannyn Moore. It was forwarded to her. It was actually emailed by Meghan Stapleton, head of SarahPac, to her entire email media list. hmmmm. I guess Sarah really did need a way to knock Jacko off the front page after all.

But as a true fan of the Constitution and especially the 1st Amendment, I love the fact that some attorneys will do anything for money. Including writing letters for clients that include threatening lawsuits that they know will never be filed, or if filed, laughed out of court. What's in it for Mr. Van Flein? National media attention of course. I'm sure Mr. Van Flein has GOP stars in his eyes. Or maybe FOX News legal analyst stars in his eyes - after all, how did Greta Van Susteran get started? Remember OJ?

Of course, good attorneys will actually give you good advise. They'll tell you when something you want to do is a really bad idea. But, Sarah Palin has probably had reasonably good luck in Wasilla sending out threatening letters to people who probably don't make very much money and depend on someone in her circle of friends for their job, so her threats have probably worked very well in the past. Maybe as governor, with all her high school buddies as department heads and cabinet members, they've worked pretty well, too. The only problem for Sarah Palin, is that it just won't work anymore and it certainly won't work in the rest of the country.

Sarah is a government official, still. It is totally inappropriate as a government official, especially as a governor (heaven forbid she ever made it to VP or President) to attack your constituents. Their complaints are part of the job. People aren't going to like you. They aren't going to like everything you do. They're going to disagree. They're going to write letters to the editor, and blog. The other party is going to campaign against you and opinion writers are going to write editorials opposing you and your policies.

Tabloids are going to be out looking for dirt, and sleazy journalists are going to make stuff up - sort of like, oh, "hanging out with terrorists" kind of stuff, or, "not really an American" or "secretly a Muslim or a Fascist" kind of thing that is kind of inflammatory. Or, like your buddy Joe the Plumber said 2 weeks ago referring to Senator Dodd, "How come nobody has strung him up yet?" He actually said that 3 times in one speech, and funnily enough, nobody said a word against him. I sort of thought it sounded like inciting violence - or even assassination - against a government official - but then, that's just me. Sometimes speech is a crime - inciting violence, shouting "Fire" in a movie theater - but frequently, it's only enforced against certain people.

Sarah Palin wants her free speech rights enforced and people like Shannyn Moore sued to protect her rights, not understanding that freedom of speech is designed to protect journalists (Shannon, the New York Times, MSNBC, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, et al), from government (Sarah Palin), not the other way around. You can't defame (or libel) a public figure unless you what you are saying is false (Shannyon was reporting rumors). By the way, has anyone watched Glenn Beck? Bill O'Reilly? Sean Hannity? Any of Sarah Palin's campaign speeches? Want to try that libel part again?

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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