Friday, February 27, 2009

AK Death Penalty and Abortion Bills, Oh My!

Isn't it Sarah Palin who says government should be put back in the hands of the people?  Isn't she all about keeping government small and getting it out of the way?  Hasn't she repeatedly said that government is not the answer?

Government makes laws, and yet no matter how hard government tries, every law has the potential of doing some harm in spite of the good it intends.

There is a death penalty bill and an abortion law working their way through the Alaska legislature.  Both laws have the potential to do great harm.  Both laws have Sarah Palin's support.

Instituting the Death Penalty
(Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, sponsor)

Granted, some people have been guilty of committing horrible crimes. But there are also plenty of people who have been found guilty of horrible crimes yet they were innocent.  Innocent people have been executed in states that support the death penalty.  What greater harm could the state do?

What I don't understand is how a person can be adamantly "pro-life" and at the same time believe the state should kill people for their crimes.  Studies show that states without the death penalty have had consistently lower murder rates than states that do impose a death sentence. This tells me that the possibility of being put to death if caught does nothing to deter such crimes, which is the stated justification for the death penalty.

To strike a religious chord, the Christian Bible says that Jesus asked his heavenly father to forgive those who murdered him, "for they know not what they do."  (Luke 23:34)  I doubt Jesus would have supported the death penalty.

Parental Consent for Teen Abortions
(Alaska HB 35 and SB 6)

  On the surface, a law that requires caregivers to obtain the consent from parents of girls under 17 who seek an abortion sounds almost reasonable.  What harm could come of such a law? 

It is unrealistic to think that the only teens who get pregnant are delinquent, rebellious tramps with intact, loving, supportive, well-off families capable of providing everything a young mother and her baby needs.

Incest is real.  Rape happens.  Parents can be impoverished, or abusive, or addicts, or just single and struggling.  Some parents may believe the choice they make for their pregnant daughter, based on their own religious beliefs, is the right one.  They may be blind to the ramifications for their daughter's future.

Can a law force families to be whole, supportive, loving? Can a law insure that every child in every home has access to sex education and contraceptives in case abstinence doesn't work?  Can a law prevent incest or rape from happening?  Will the law insure that the special needs of a teenage mom and the child she may be forced to bear be met, during and after pregancy?  What about continuing support for the child as it grows up?  Or will the law provide free counseling for the teen mom if she has to put the baby up for adoption?

The main problem I see with the proposed consent law is that it is one-sided. The law does nothing to protect children, not the teen mother and not her child. The law only serves to cover for parents who failed to raise their children in an environment that made real communication between those parents and their children the norm.  

If a teenage daughter is unable, for whatever reason, to come to her parents when she discovers she is pregnant, that is not something the state can solve.

I think a law that prescribes penalties for parents who allow their children to procreate as teenagers makes at least as much sense.  But I doubt that Sarah would support that, now would she?

[Edited to add image credits, fair use claimed:
Hangman's Noose
In the Name of God (Pregnant Teenager)]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Does Ethics Mean to Sarah Palin?

The Alaska Governor's office released a statement from Sarah Palin where she announced,
I am gratified that this settlement explicitly recognizes and establishes ...  that I broke no laws or ethics rules.
This is not the first time Sarah has denied breaking ethics laws. In the matter of Troopergate, the Branchflower report made it abundantly clear that Sarah overstepped her bounds in pushing to get her former brother-in-law removed from his job as a State Trooper. Yet Sarah declared that she had been exonerated of any wrongdoing.


Since then, many respectable publications have raised serious questions about Sarah's ethics, covering not only Travel-gate and Troopergate but a multitude of other simmering scandals as well.

I started looking for a good definition of ethics and ran across an article published by The Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University titled, "What is Ethics?"  It's an excellent read.  I've excerpted some highlights below.

Feelings Being ethical is clearly not a matter of following one's feelings. A person following his or her feelings may recoil from doing what is right. In fact, feelings frequently deviate from what is ethical.
Religion Nor should one identify ethics with religion. Ethics applies as much to the behavior of the atheist as to that of the saint. Ethics cannot be confined to religion nor is it the same as religion.
Law Being ethical is also not the same as following the law. Laws, like feelings, can deviate from what is ethical (example-Apartheid).
Society Being ethical is not the same as doing "whatever society accepts."  An entire society can become ethically corrupt (example-Nazi Germany).
So, what is ethics? First, ethics refers to well based standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues.

Secondly, ethics refers to the study and development of one's ethical standards. [...] So it is necessary to constantly examine one's standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded.

When Sarah Palin excused travel expenses for her family by saying that her job should not keep her away from her children, she was operating on feelings.  It feels good for me to take my kids along with me, so I'm going to do it.

When Sarah Palin excused her actions in Troopergate and more recently, Per Diem-gate, she insisted she had done no wrong because she had not broken a law.

I'm confident that Sarah would say her ethics are derived from her religious faith, but we have all seen repeated instances of hypocrisy here.  Does Sarah lie?  Yes.  Does she bear false witness?  Yes, on several occasions I can think of.  Does she envy the glamorous and lust after the things that belong to that lifestyle?  I think so.  Has she committed adultery?  There are a few people in Wasilla who are sure of it.  Does taking tax-free per diem money and family travel re-imbursements sound a little like stealing from the State?  It does to me.

And while it may be acceptable in Wasilla society to fake a pregnancy, that doesn't make it or any of the contortions and lies that necessarily follow ethical.

fair use claimed

Being ethical requires that
  • we pursue a continuous study, and self-study, of what constitutes good ethics
  • we make sure our decisions do not serve to take away anyone else's rights
  • we uphold our personal, professional and societal obligations regardless of whether they are written into any law or rule
  • we do no harm but instead improve life for our neighborhood, community and environment
  • we treat others as we wish to be treated, and
  • we make sure our actions and deeds are worth repeating by others
Where I work, part of being ethical is shining a light on apparent ethics violations so they can be examined and corrected if necessary.  Doing nothing can sometimes do harm.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Three Hundred and Twelve Nights, and Nine Family Trips

The Washington Post sums up Governor Palin's latest ethics antics:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin used a government "per diem" allowance to charge the state for more than 300 nights spent at home and spent another $43,490 on travel for her children and husband...

Alaska Daily News (ADN) closes the curtain on the Travel-gate episode:
Gov. Sarah Palin has agreed to reimburse the state an estimated $6,800 to cover assorted costs related to nine trips taken by her children in 2007 and 2008, but she's not admitting that she did anything wrong.

As for Per-Diem-gate, ADN reports:
Gov. Sarah Palin must pay income taxes on thousands of dollars in expense money she received while living at her Wasilla home...

Here are the main characters in today's tale - we've seen them before.

Sarah Palin
The Client

An Anchorage resident and retired electrical power lineman, Frank Gwartney, submitted an ethics complaint against Governor Sarah Palin last year when he learned she had charged the state for her children to accompany her on  travel.  News media also widely reported on Sarah's penchant for living at home and charging the State for meals and incidentals while she did so.

Thomas Van Flein
The Lawyer that Sarah Hired

We've seen Van Flein before.  He's been one of Sarah's BFFs and he can spin with the best of them!  In addition to parsing words on Sarah's behalf in Travel-gate, he was paid by the State of Alaska to defend Sarah during the Troopergate episode.  It must be nice when you are a governor under fire to have the state pay for your lawyer.  Hmm, I wonder if the Gov had to report the fair value of his legal counsel as income?

Timothy Petumenos
The Lawyer the Personnel Board Hired

And there's Timothy Petumenos.  The three members of the Personnel Board, who serve at the pleasure of Alaska's Governor, hired Mr. Tim to investigate the Travel-gate complaint.  Mr. Tim is the same attorney who was hired by the same Board to produce the second Troopergate report -- the one that said Sarah Palin didn't really violate any ethics rules. Mr. Tim said Sarah denied having conversations about firing Trooper Wooten with Walt Monegan, contradicting testimony gathered by the first Troopergate investigation.  He never looked into who was telling the truth, though.  Oh, and Sarah's deposed testimony has never been made public.

So how does Sarah Palin explain why she charges the State for travel for her children?
I am blessed to have a large and loving family, and the discharge of my duties should not prevent me from spending time with them.
The convoluted thinking on display in this excuse should be obvious to anyone with a brain who's had a real job.  Bring your family if you want, but the State didn't hire Piper or Trig or Bristol or Willow, and especially not Todd, as co-Governors.  You want 'em with you?  You pay for 'em to be there.  That's so simple -- to all but Sarah, I guess.

How did Petumenos see it?  USA Today reports:
Timothy Petumenos interpreted the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act to require that state only pay if the first family serves an important state interest.

After reviewing "over 40" travel vouchers, Mr. Tim determined that 9 of them simply wouldn't pass the smell test.  (I'd be real curious to know how he justified the others... at last count there were 72 in all.)  He said the Governor agreed "not to contest certain charges."  In return, he "agreed not to file a formal accusation or take the case to a hearing."

How did Van Flein spin it? From ADN:
"The governor has been exonerated of all wrongdoing in this ethics act complaint. There is no finding of wrongdoing and there is no ethics violation," Van Flein said in a news conference.
There's a major mistake in that statement from Van Flein. There was no hearing so there can be no exoneration.  There was a settlement, and as a result of that settlement, Palin will pay the state back for some of her children's travel expenses.  The settlement simply states that Sarah does not admit to any wrongdoing.  Color me surprised... not!

And Mr. Tim, the attorney hired by the state Personnel Board, declined to pursue charges.  Again, this is hardly surprising.  These are Sarah's pocket-people.  I wonder if they realize how dismal their future will be.  They will forever be remembered for their willingness to whitewash Sarah's questionable ethics dilemmas.

Back to Per-Diem-gate, though.  Why did Sarah think charging the State while she lived at home instead of the Governor's mansion was okay?  Because the Governor's mansion is in Juneau and that's more than 50 miles from where she lives, and she would rather live at home and hold court in Anchorage (much closer to Wasilla).  Juneau is her official duty-station.  Not Anchorage.  Sarah's spokesperson, Ms. Leighow, said it was perfectly alright if Sarah charged for meals while living at home.  She even said Sarah could have charged per diem for her children, too, if she'd wanted.

As far as I'm concerned there is still a murky line about how appropriate this per diem is.  In the world I inhabit, you can charge per diem when you are on official travel away from home, not at home.  Per diem allowances are calculated based on the reasonable cost to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a restaurant at your travel destination.  The cost of making meals at home is considerably less.  At least, I can eat for way less than $60 a day if I'm at home.  I would probably be fired if I put in for per diem for the days that I chose to work at home.  Heck, even if my office was being renovated and I had the capacity to work at home and did so to benefit my employer, there's no way I could charge per diem!

Sarah Palin is reported to have said, "I'll do what I want until the courts tell me I can't."  This is the Governor that claimed to be a champion of ethics, honesty, and transparency.  The Christian Bible says something like, "By their fruits ye shall know them.  Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?"  (That's Matthew 7:20.  Sarah's been quoting Matthew lately.)

Hey Sarah, we can see your thorns and thistles from all 50 states!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The House That Sarah Built

Several insighful articles have appeared concerning questions about Sarah and Todd's half-a-million dollar house (see list at bottom). It was built in a couple of months while Sarah was (unsuccessfully) campaigning for Lt. Governor. It was completed just before her term as Mayor of Wasilla ended, during which she successfully removed the need for any building permits. Sarah's house was built only a mile away from the rather remote location chosen for the Wasilla Sports Complex. The suppliers of the materials for the Sports Complex, the construction contractor for the Complex, and the design firm for the Complex all have significant ties to Sarah. The suppliers of the materials for the Sports Complex are the same people who provided the materials for Sarah's house.

Given Sarah's inability to separate personal from public -- ethically speaking -- questions have been raised about how this house got built, by whom, and at what cost. I'd like us to remember that House-gate is still a possible ethics issue, and until Todd tells us who his buddies were, and what they 'donated' toward the building of the house, we have every right to question what could be a Ted Stevens redux.

Wasilla Sports Complex, upstairs

Wasilla Sports Complex, main floor

Sarah's House, railing is reflected in glass

Sarah's house, with balcony railing

The glass-paneled balcony railing in Sarah's house looks pretty similar to the one in the Sports Complex.  Go figure.

Articles about House-gate - please read the details if you have not seen them yet:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Crisis in Southwestern Alaska

As eloquently described in several blogs (Mudflats, Immoral Minority, Diva's Blue Oasis, and Shannyn Moore to name a few), we learned that Alaska Natives needed help this winter.  The fishing season was extremely poor.  The winter came early.  Fuel for transportation and heat was locked in at an all-time high, based on last summer's oil prices.  Then a hard cold snap prevented a ship from delivering the bulk of the winter's fuel supply to the southwestern Y-K Delta.  People living there faced an impossible choice -- freeze or starve.

Yukon River Delta, courtesy NASA

You might think that the government of Alaska would recognize, value and try to preserve the life style of its native population.  Unfortunately, Sarah Palin's administration seems to have little love or appreciation for Alaska's real heritage.  Sarah should have known, at least as early as last July, that trouble was brewing for the villages in the delta.  The alarm bells kept ringing throughout last fall and as winter progressed they only got louder.  See a timeline for the Crisis in Rural Alaska here.


Seven months have passed since last July. Finally, Sarah Palin and Sean Parnell went to visit two villages a couple days ago.  They accompanied Franklin Graham, evangelist and missionary, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse, and the "I believe Islam is a very evil and a very wicked religion" preacher.  When Sarah was asked why go visit the villages now instead of 6 weeks ago, she told ADN's Kyle Hopkins,


Well from the day that Sean Parnell and I got elected, our efforts have been to make sure that we have a revitalized economy in Alaska. And that job opportunities would be seized by all Alaskans. Especially those in rural Alaska to recognize that instead of importing our workforce as we do today, to such a large extent, we want the young people in rural Alaska to get these jobs. That has been our effort from the day we got elected.

Sarah declined to say what, if anything, she'd done on a personal level to help her fellow Alaskans in need, citing scripture to explain her reluctance to answer.  She repeatedly stressed (as far as I could tell after deciphering her trademark word salad) that government was not the answer, and the tribes might need new leadership to get their people to leave the villages and get jobs elsewhere.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Alaskan government appears to have done only the following so far:
  • In February, sent a team of officials out to gather information
  • In late January, filled the Rural Affairs Advisor position that had been vacant since last October
  • In late January, extended moose hunting season in certain areas for a month, but only for those who have not gotten a moose yet which doesn't help those who cannot afford the fuel to get to the re-opened hunting areas
From ADN's report on the evangelical mission

What should Sarah have done besides fly out to a village in Franklin's private jet for a photo-op? If she valued the indigenous life style of the Alaska Natives, she might have been active in developing and promoting initiatives for growing sustainable agricultural, dairy, and wild game enterprises, for example.  But she's never asked the right people or tasked anyone with coming up with such plans.

I'm reprinting the following comment with permission from a poster who goes by "I can see the Village from my House."  (See recent entry at Mudflats blog.)  It goes to show that there are plenty of ideas out there.  Now, if only Sarah would listen.

Sarah’s hitching her wagon to a Monday Morning Quarterback evangelical relief effort bothers me at so many levels, but that she goes ahead and says that we need new leadership to address our problems is so insulting to our Elder respected make-up.

She wants our youth to get all mavericky.

And she came baring fresh baked cookies? What I would have given to slap that processed sugar out of her hands.

Why the hostility? Her vision for the village workforce is such that we have to leave home.

Where is the aggressive fiscal responsibility in that? Making villages accountable with meaningful economy? Why can’t we have the State invest in putting in greenhouses for year-round produce like those dear potato’s that Ann exalted over? It would create jobs to boot! It wouldn’t be a costly endeavor, truly, no more costly than that multi-million dollar failure of the MatMaid debacle.

We could have a regional dairy operation to ship out fresh milk products also too. And we used to herd reindeer for commercial butchering, why not institute a domestic cattle/muskox (wild game) station for regional disbursement - that precious protein that she’s been bragging about lately?

All of these scenarios creates jobs and makes us less dependent on importing commercial food sources that would serve to supplement our traditional diets. It’s a win-win for the State and the villages.

But no, I’m not going to invest in your community, that is not the governments job, I’ve got to reign in spending and progress North Slope workers via drilling, baby drilling! And let’s make sure we break up families and send our youth out so that they lose touch with their culture and values. So they can come home and be disappointed with what is lacking after they are exposed to amenities offered elsewhere.

Thanks Sarah, you really are the answer to Bush Alaska’s future.

Friday, February 20, 2009

One-Armed Midgets, Hip-Hop, and Bloody Monkeys

"We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles.
But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings."

So hey, New York Post, is this funny too? By the way, your non-apology sucked but not as badly as the original cartoon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An Elaborate and Systematic Plan of Action

Bristol Palin's answers to Greta Van Susteren's questions included several key words that we've heard Sarah use before:  advocate, had to grow up a lot faster, focusing on getting through school, I just am so blessed...

So it struck me when Bristol used the term "game plan" not once but twice in the interview, that those were not her words, either.  Here's the relevant section of the interview to put this phrase in context (bolding is mine and the transcript comes from Fox):

VAN SUSTEREN: And I imagine [your mom and dad] had some guidance for you, or some thought.

BRISTOL: Yes, they just wanted us to sit down and make a game plan, like, what we were going to do and stuff.

VAN SUSTEREN: Had you told Levi's family?

BRISTOL: No, not yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: When did that come about?

BRISTOL: That came about probably, like, the following day.

VAN SUSTEREN: And how did that go over?

BRISTOL: Well, his mom was -- she was scared for us, too. Just we needed to sit down and make a game plan. But she was excited. We were all excited for the baby, of course.

What sort of "game plan" do you need to sit down and devise when your high school junior tells you she's pregnant?  Here's a definition for "game plan" from an online dictionary: plan - (figurative) a carefully thought out strategy for achieving an objective in war or politics or business or personal affairs; "newscasters speculated about the President's game plan for an invasion"
scheme, strategy - an elaborate and systematic plan of action plan - (sports) a plan for achieving an objective in some sport
athletics, sport - an active diversion requiring physical exertion and competition
scheme, strategy - an elaborate and systematic plan of action

Schemes, strategies, achieving objectives, and sports metaphors -- that sure sounds like Sarah and not Bristol to me.  So what kind of "game plan" exactly was needed?  You don't have to make a game plan to figure out what maternity clothes to wear.  Or when to have pre-natal visits.  Or how to get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs during pregnancy.

No, I think this "game plan" refers to something much larger -- a plan to achieve an objective that requires careful thinking-out, diversions, and a flexible strategy.  What was the objective of the "game plan" that Bristol and Sarah and Todd (and possibly Sherry and Levi Johnston) worked out?  If we hypothesize that Bristol is Trig's birth mother, we might have this plan.

The Trig Plan

Cover for underage, unwed daughter Bristol's pregnancy by making it look like Sarah is having the baby instead.

  1. Avoid embarrassing the Governor and disrupting her political ambitions
  2. Avoid embarrassing the family members
  3. Gain sympathy from community and church
  4. Use DS baby as a political pro-life credential
  1. Hide Bristol during last 4 months of pregnancy by sending her to Sarah's sister in Anchorage.
  2. Preemptively deny rumors of Bristol's pregnancy to the press, to 'nip it in the bud.'
  3. Wait until 4-6 weeks before Bristol's due date, then have Sarah announce she is pregnant and due in 2 months.  This will cut down on the amount of time Sarah has to fake her pregnancy.
  4. Have Sarah start wearing scarves, jackets and coats to disguise body.
  5. Explain away lack of sharing the news of Sarah's "pregnancy" with family and staff as needed.
  6. Keep Bristol and Trig out of sight if the baby comes too early. 
  7. Get Sarah's picture taken with a fake belly a couple of times.  Release them if necessary.
  8. Announce the birth of Trig after Legislative session is over and Texas speech delivered, saying he was born 4-5 weeks prematurely.  Refer to him as a gift, a joy and a blessing.

Another quote from the transcript noted above leads me to think there was also a "game plan" for Tripp.  Sarah mentions twice that Bristol's pregnancy was a shock.  In the context she says this, I take it to mean Bristol's second pregnancy was a shock since who would have thought Bristol could get pregnant again so soon?

SARAH PALIN: I'm still getting used to having a -- you know, my last child, Trig, much less that, you know, knowing that we would have another little bundle of joy in our midst. So yes, it was a surprise. It was a shock.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you give her hell or were you -- at first? I mean, what...

SARAH PALIN: Yes, I kind of did. I mean, I was...

BRISTOL: We were all surprised.

SARAH PALIN: We were all surprised. Let me put it this way. And this is -- I think Bristol's kind of an example of, truly, it can happen to anybody. [...] But still an absolute shock that it happened.
Sarah says, "I'm still getting used to having a -- you know, my last child, Trig..." Why would having recently had Trig contribute to Sarah's shock on learning of Bristol's pregnancy with Tripp?  One answer is that Sarah couldn't believe that Bristol went and did it again.  So then, we have need for another "game plan."

The Tripp Plan

Get the most benefit out of releasing information about Bristol's (second) pregnancy, in light of already being nominated for Vice President.

  1. Use the announcement to quell rumors that Sarah did not give birth to Trig.
  2. Sarah gains sympathy by being supportive of Bristol.
  3. Sarah gains further cred with the religious right because Bristol made a mistake getting pregnant but at least she is going to have the baby and get married (we'll see about that).
  4. Bristol will become an 'advocate' for something... like the benefits of abstinence, or why you should just say No, or what a pain it is being an unwed mother unless you are a Governor's daughter, or...
  1. Preemptively announce Bristol's pregnancy as soon as possible after the VP selection announcement (throw her under the bus) to quash Babygate rumors.  After all, McCain has made his choice and can't back out now.
  2. Have some anonymous aide say that Bristol is about five months along, which will be about one month too early for her to have also birthed Trig.
  3. Keep Bristol on the bus as much as possible to avoid speculation on the stage of her pregnancy.
  4. Once the campaign is over, hide Bristol away.
  5. Push the supposed birth date out from middle to late December, and then announce it just before the year ends no matter what.
  6. Procrastinate if magazines come calling to get baby pictures.
  7. Keep Bristol hidden until she does give birth.
  8. As soon as Tripp no longer looks obviously newborn, get a friendly TV personality to do an interview with Bristol and finally show the new arrival.
  9. Use the interview to start Bristol's career as an 'advocate' for something and as another way to get Sarah's political positions on prime time TV.
[Disclaimer - I have never seen a real Palin family "game plan."  This is just what I imagine one might have looked like.  YMMV!]

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

In the Pure Gossip Category

I thought of Crystal Gayle's song when I heard, from more than a couple people, that Bristol Palin's "fiance" has fathered another child besides Tripp.  This is being whispered by a few sources... and then I listened to Bristol's very vague answers about Levi Johnston during her recent exclusive interview with Greta, available here on YouTube.  "Eventually, we'd like to get married," said Bristol.  It sure doesn't sound like there are any firm plans.  We all thought the wedding was to take place last year, before Tripp's birth.  And then the wedding was supposed to happen this summer.  Could Levi's dallying around have anything to do with the hesitation?

Babies, Babies, Who Are Those Babies?

The baby that Sarah Palin brought into camera range as Greta was talking to Bristol could be, finally, the missing Tripp!  We didn't get to see much of him close up, but during the interview, several photographs of babies floated on the screen, interspersed with the live shots.  Just to play devil's advocate, we saw no attribution for any of the photos, nor any dating for the photos.  We should not assume that all the photos were of the same baby. Especially that one image of a grumpy-looking wide-nostriled baby sitting up. Just sayin'...

The Birth Date Issue

Since we have no way of verifying Tripp's birth date, I spent some time looking at babies on YouTube...

Here's a baby at 4 weeks:

And here's one at 7 weeks (Tripp's age if he was born 12-27-2008):

A seven-week infant seems to have more awareness of its surroundings, and responds more affirmatively to stimulus.

The shot we had of "Tripp live" could be at four weeks, five, six or seven weeks of age.  From what I've read, it is not at all uncommon to get pregnant again within 2-6 weeks of giving birth.  A little fudge on Trig, a little fudge on Tripp, and you've got a creamy bowl of Mudflats #4 winner of the new Sarah Palin Ben & Jerry's flavor:  "I Can See Fudge From My House!"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Xe = Blackwater

We all know the name Blackwater.  It is now synonymous with killing civilians without repercussions.

But now we learn that Blackwater has changed its name for its mercenary services... now that company and its employees shall be known as Xe. 

Xe????  Pronounced, btw, as the letter Z.

See story at TPM here

If you'd spent millions advertising your name and building the recognition, why would you change the name unless you were ashamed of what your former name meant?  Answer:  you wouldn't.

Color me unsurprised.  Also, color me very aware of this sleight-of-hand, and still angry at what now Xe's employees did to chip away at any good will others who represent the US may have been trying to create while working with Iraqi factions.

Shame on you, Blackwater.  And double shame on you for changing your name in what can only be a shameless attempt at sending valid inquiries off into the invisible yonder.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Caption This Image

It's you-know-who's birthday! Here's a picture in need of a good caption. I've started off with a few -- add yours in a comment!

Caption this image!

Where am I gonna find another AG with strong morals, also, like Talis?
Darn it, where's Bristol. I told her to have Tripp here by my birthday.
Can ya believe that Ashley Judd? I'd like to take her up in a plane with my rifle...
Gonna have to get Muthee to do his prayer thing on me again, too, this time for protection also from those pesky pajama-wearin' basement bloggers!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This Just In...

Talis Colberg, Sarah Palin's appointed Attorney General, turned in his resignation last night. It was effective immediately.

ADN has the story here.

SanityRant talks about it here.

Sarah said,
...and as the search for a new attorney general begins, I will look for someone with the same strong moral character as Talis.

Things That Make Me Go "Hmmmmm"

April 2008 was a busy month for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  She had a budget bill to sign, polar bear protecting environmentalists to dissuade, a speech to deliver at an energy conference in Texas sponsored by oilmen, and a documentary shoot scheduled with Israeli filmmaker Elan Frank.  Her most avid supporter, blogger "Elephantman" (aka Adam Brinkley), joyfully announced the publication of her authorized biography, Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down.

I'll come back to the Elan Frank film in a minute. But this information, from the first chapter of the Sarah biography, was just too interesting:

Born in Sandpoint, Idaho on February 11, 1964, Sarah Louise was the third of four children born in rapid succession to Chuck and Sally Heath.  The family moved to Alaska when Sarah was two months old... Her older brother, Chuck Jr., was two years old, Heather had just turned one, and Molly was soon to come.
Chuck Jr. was two, Heather just turned one, Sarah was two months and Molly was "soon to come."  [counts fingers, scratching head]

This means that Sarah was born just 10 months after Heather.  It also sounds like Sally was pregnant again just two months after Sarah was born.

Hmmmm.  I'm wondering if Bristol inherited this rapid-repeat-pregnancy tendency from Sally.

But back to Elan Frank.  He decided to do a documentary on 'women empowerment' and chose Sarah Palin as one of his subjects.  In early March, 2008 he was in Los Angeles preparing for his trip to Alaska when Sarah called him (from LA) and said she'd like to meet.  This get-together took place about a month before Frank traveled to Alaska to do his filming.

After Sarah was announced as a VP candidate, Frank remarked, "I was elated, it's like my best friend was picked for the job," and proceeded to sell his footage to Fox News.  In September, 2008 Fox aired a documentary that used substantial portions of that footage.

Elan Frank in Sarah's office, circa April 8, 2008

I can't find a video of that Fox program.  However, there is a video about Elan Frank recording Sarah Palin in which Frank describes his experiences shooting this documentary footage.

In a related Ynetnews story titled "Sarah Palin mesmerizes Israeli filmmaker", Frank says,

"I met her in my Hollywood office and we talked for over an hour… we instantaneously clicked and we had a blast. The funny thing is," he added, "that a few days later I got an email from a friend in Alaska telling me she was seven months pregnant. I didn’t notice a thing until later, when we were filming.

"I guess she's one of those women you can't really [tell] when they're pregnant, and she was probably dressing to hide it a little. You wouldn't know to look for it."
I can understand why Frank would be confused.  On one day he filmed Sarah slapping her squarish jelly-belly.  But a day or so before, she looked like this:

The 'fashion-assisting' scarf hangs straight down

The image above is a frame from the video about the documentary footage that Frank shot.  We see Sarah, Blackberry in hand, going out of her office, down some steps, and onto the sidewalk to greet daughter Piper who gets off the school bus. The only adjustments I made to this frame were to crop it and remove the letters that ran across the bottom.

For reference, here's the original frame, about the 00:02:03 mark:

By all accounts, Elan Frank shot this roughly 10 days before Trig Palin's official birthdate.  That would mean Sarah is supposed to be 33-34 weeks pregnant here.  I scrolled through more than a hundred pictures of women who are 34 weeks pregnant, and there's no reasonable comparison.

The author of a article about Frank's filming of Palin, titled Shooting Sarah Palin, tells us,

So yes, Frank seems to have fallen under her spell.  But Frank is no [sucker or fool] himself. This is a war hero who spent seven years in the Israeli army fighting a wily foe. He knows all about deception. He doesn't trust easily. He can tell real from fake and tough from soft.

"If Sarah Palin is anything," he says, "she's real and tough."
Hmmmmm.  Was Elan Frank mesmerized or not?  Was he under Sarah's spell?  Do seven years in the Israeli army enable you to tell the difference between a real pregnant belly and a fake one?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Doing the Math

Some time ago, originally as a comment on Mudflats blog, we read a post from one "Sue Williams."  Sue told us that Bristol Palin was rumored to be pregnant.  She said she had heard it from close to 20 people who are all long-time friends of the [Palin's] family.  She goes on to state that the rumor was rampant in April 2008, issuing from Willow's boyfriend who "wouldn't shut up about how Bristol was pregnant."

Then, we also have Bill McAllister's statement (former TV reporter, now currently working for Sarah Palin) who said that Sarah approached him, at some point before she announced her pregnancy ,
She said it's not true about Bristol.
Before Sarah announced her 5th pregnancy on March 6, 2008, she approached McAllister in an effort to stem rumors that Bristol was pregnant. That means she was telling McAllister sometime PRIOR to March 6 that rumors of Bristol being pregnant were not true.

So, we have two sources that place rumors of Bristol's pregnancy at least as early as April 2008, and very likely, back to February 2008.

Let's take a look at a pregnancy chart.

Conception occurredApril 5, 2008
First Trimester endsJune 14, 2008
Second Trimester endsSeptember 27, 2008
Estimated Due DateDecember 27, 2008

If we believe Bristol was pregnant and gave birth on December 27, she would've conceived early in April.

Unless the rumors we heard from at least two different sources were both wrong, how could there even have been any rumors in February or March or April 2008?  Based on this chart, Bristol was not even pregnant before April 5, 2008.  There would have been no need to pull her out of school in December 2007.  Nobody, not even Bristol, would know about her pregnancy before mid-summer 2008.  Willow's boyfriend could not have known in April that Bristol had just .. JUST .. gotten pregnant.

If anyone has any other explanation for the existence of the rumors, please let me know.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Help Wanted - Bracelet Bloodhound

I've spent the better part of the afternoon looking for information on the bracelet Sarah Palin was seen wearing frequently during the campaign.  Some people suggest it is made of whalebone, and I also read someone refer to it as a "magic bracelet."  I've spotlighted it in the photo here that was taken on September 9, 2008.

Sarah Palin signing autographs in September 2008

cartoon image of Sherlock HolmesIs the bracelet a good luck charm?  Does it ward off witches?  She is pictured wearing it on several official and casual occasions, including her State of the State address last month.

Where did this bracelet come from, and why is it such a favorite adornment?  When did she acquire it?  Anyone know anyone who might know?  Anyone feel like playing a sleuth?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Okay, Acting Like a Dick Won't Fix Anything!

Had this in my "great little song" category, and thought, given well, stuff and all, that it might be a nice thing to lighten our moods and also provide some subtle advice.

As a bonus, there's even a snippet of SWSNBN* in the video!

I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I do. Really, I do.

*The acronym stands for She Who Shall Not Be Named.  I use it when I've burned out on saying her name.  :)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Weird Things Palin Said and Did...

Here are a few gems from the Dallas News (bolding is mine):
Struggling to accept that her child would be born with Down syndrome and fearful of public criticism of a governor's pregnancy, Palin had concealed the news that she was expecting even from her parents and children until her third trimester.

...Palin sent an e-mail message to her relatives and close friends about her new son, [sister Heather] Bruce said. She signed it, “Trig's Creator, Your Heavenly Father.”

...At her baby shower, Palin joked about her long months of secrecy, [friend Marilyn] Lane said. “About the seventh month I thought I'd better let people know,” Palin said.

“So it was really great,” she continued. “I was only pregnant a month.”
  1. How does one keep a pregnancy secret for 7 months from one's immediate family?
  2. Who assumes the persona of God when sending e-mails?
  3. Is the "I was only pregnant a month" statement more revealing than she thought at the time?
And this, from Alaska Daily News (bolding is mine):
An announcement from the state said that Palin's "labor began (Thursday) while she was in Texas at the governor's energy conference, where she gave the keynote luncheon address, but let up enough for her to travel on Alaska Airlines back to Alaska in time to deliver her second son."
Adding to this, we have the following from Newsminer (bolding is mine):
The governor did not feel the need to inform the airline of her condition, Leighow said.

Palin told her staff that she would not have boarded the plane had she thought she or her baby were in danger.
Then there's this, from Alaska Daily News:
"I am not a glutton for pain and punishment. I would have never wanted to travel had I been fully engaged in labor," Palin said. After four kids, the governor said, she knew what labor felt like, and she wasn't in labor.

..."It was smooth. It was relatively easy," Palin said. "In fact it was the easiest of all," probably because Trig was small, at 6 pounds, 2 ounces.

  1. So, which was it? Labor started on Thursday or she wasn't in labor?
  2. Real labor is relentless and unstoppable.  False labor can stop and start.  However, "If you're not yet 37 weeks, don't waste precious time trying to figure out what's going on [with contractions]. If you notice any signs of labor, call your doctor or midwife right away in order to rule out preterm labor."
  3. Complications from PPROM (preterm premature rupture of membrane) to the baby include the need for resuscitation, infection, cord compression, and compression anomalies to face, limbs and lungs.  On what basis did Sarah decide that she and her unborn were not in danger?  And what about the other passengers on the plane and possible inconveniences to them... do they count?
  4. I recall reading that Sarah had no problems with her first four pregnancies, so she was not worried with the early onset of labor with Trig.  If Trig "was the easiest of all..." is this some sort of recommendation for premature, induced births?  In what way was he the easiest?  Were all her labors 26+ hours long and did they involve medical intervention to take place?
Such are my thoughts this chilly February evening.  I would've never said my pregnancies lasted only a month, and each labor and delivery was poignantly memorable.  One took 3 hours, one 6 and one 12... but I would never have called one easier than the other.  And I never pretended to be God when I informed friends and relatives about the birth.  But that's just me. 

New Comments Tool Debut

As of this post, comments will be handled by Disqus (pronounced "discuss" -- just follow the link for a summary of what it does).  There is currently no need to register, but you will need to provide a name and an e-mail address when posting.  If you want, you can also join the Disqus community and get an "ID" there, which will help you track your own comments over time, making it easier to find what you (or someone else) said.  I'm hoping it will also make it easier for me to keep track of some of the great comments you make.

So, try it out and let me know (in a comment of course!) what you think.

In the meantime, another real post is in the works:  Weird Things Palin Said ... about her 5th pregnancy and birth.

Monday, February 02, 2009

About Those Superbowl Promo Sightings

I'm not sure that the pictures from Alaska Dispatch showing scenes from a taping done at Sarah Palin's "Superbowl Commercial" show us much more than the Guv's love of cameras.

It is pretty clear that Trig is in the crowd, along with Chuck Heath, Sarah's father.  Then there are two girls who trade off holding Trig.  One wears a reddish top and the other, a white sweatshirt.  Neither of those girls looks pregnant or post-partum.

The images below show the best shot I can get of the girl in red (reportedly taken in late January 2009), and then press photos of Bristol and Willow Palin around September - October 2008.  The second image of the girl in red has been de-speckled and sharpened somewhat.

Original image

Sharpened image

Bristol profile

Willow profile

The girl in red's nose/mouth/chin looks wrong, that is, if we suppose it might be Bristol.  Bottom line, the images from the Alaska Dispatch are too poor quality-wise to tell very much.