Saturday, September 20, 2008

North to Alaska, They're goin' North, the rush is on


Alaska Women Reject Palin rally

Some years ago, a friend's wife was working on her Doctoral Thesis. The topic was based on the idea that junkies are the best liars; they would do/say anything convincingly for their fix.

In today's politics, lying seems to be reflex for some folks, especially on the Right side of the dial. Witness Sarah Palin:
Fighting back against allegations she may have fired her then-Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, for refusing to go along with a personal vendetta, Palin on Monday argued in a legal filing that she fired Monegan because he had a "rogue mentality" and was bucking her administration's directives.

"The last straw," her lawyer argued, came when he planned a trip to Washington, D.C., to seek federal funds for an aggressive anti-sexual-violence program. The project, expected to cost from $10 million to $20 million a year for five years, would have been the first of its kind in Alaska, which leads the nation in reported forcible rape.

The McCain-Palin campaign echoed the charge in a press release it distributed Monday, concurrent with Palin's legal filing. "Mr. Monegan persisted in planning to make the unauthorized lobbying trip to D.C.," the release stated.

Yeah, well. Except:
But the governor's staff authorized the trip, according to an internal travel document from the Department of Public Safety, released Friday in response to an open records request.

The document, a state travel authorization form, shows that Palin's chief of staff, Mike Nizich, approved Monegan's trip to Washington, D.C., "to attend meeting with Senator Murkowski." The date next to Nizich's signature reads June 18.

Kagro X at DKos thinks this may actually be a Palin ratf*ck:
Another backstab. Par for the course with Sarah Barracuda. Approve the trip, then claim you fired him for going.

How curious that she seems to have spent more energy bird-dogging and setting up Monegan than she ever did keeping Wooten away from her sister.

That's the real crime in the Palin family: getting in between Sarah and something she wants.

Someone better check the brake lines on the Straight Talk Express!

Maybe. There's other evidence that Palin knows how to administer the shiv:
In the middle of the primary, a conservative columnist in the state, Paul Jenkins, unearthed e-mail messages showing that Ms. Palin had conducted campaign business from the mayor’s office. Ms. Palin handled the crisis with a street fighter’s guile.

“I told her it looks like she did the same thing that Randy Ruedrich did,” Mr. Jenkins recalled. “And she said, ‘Yeah, what I did was wrong.’ ”

Mr. Jenkins hung up and decided to forgo writing about it. His phone rang soon after.

Mr. Jenkins said a reporter from Fairbanks, reading from a Palin news release, demanded to know why he was “smearing” her. “Now I look at her and think: ‘Man, you’re slick,’ ” he said.

Also troubling about this is that the Monegan backstab involved sexual issues. Alaska leads the nation in violent rapes, yet instead of this being a hot-button for Palin, it's a turn-off:
The governor did increase funding for victim assistance by 2% this year. But a larger and much more comprehensive anti-rape effort put together by the state's Department of Public Safety stalled when it reached the governor's office last summer.

Why? Because Palin famously didn't like the man who headed the department:

Days later, Palin fired [the proposal's] chief proponent, Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, after he declined to dismiss a state trooper Palin accused of threatening her own family members. Palin has said she fired Monegan because she wanted to move his department in a "new direction," and he was not being "a team player on budgeting issues." The dismissal is now at the center of a hotly-contested investigation by the state legislature.

The status of the plan, which would have "fast-tracked" sex crime cases via a dedicated group that included specially-trained investigators, judges and prosecutors, is unknown. "I'd ask the governor," said one official with knowledge of the plan. Numerous inquiries to Palin's campaign spokeswoman went unreturned.
Seems to me that moderate women voters may be interesting in knowing about this.

Palin seems to be tone-deaf on this topic. From Anchorage Daily News, 2007:
One in three Alaska Native and American Indian women will be raped during their lifetime and it's the federal government's fault, an Amnesty International study reported Tuesday.

. . . During the press conference, Larry Cox, Amnesty's executive director, recounted a brutal rape in a Western Alaska village in 2005, when a man beat his wife with a shotgun and barricaded himself in a house with four children. During the four hours it took troopers in Bethel to get to Nunam Iqua, 150 miles away, the man raped a 13-year-old girl on a bed with an infant crying beside her.

The slow responses, plus the lack of manpower, causes victims to underreport crimes. They have little hope attackers will be prosecuted, he said.

Walt Monegan, public safety commissioner, acknowledged there's not enough law enforcement in Alaska. He's drafting plans to create a system that will encourage villagers to become local officers and, eventually, state troopers. It will require legislative approval and should be introduced in Juneau next year, he said.

Gov. Sarah Palin hadn't seen the Amnesty report, said spokeswoman Sharon Leighow early Thursday afternoon.

Palin "has heard the message from the rural communities that they need more law enforcement" and is working with Monegan to increase law enforcement there, she said.

But that hasn't worked out so well for the women of Alaska. Again, the rape issue seems less important than it might. More from ABC News:
Evangelicals and social conservatives have embraced McCain's vice presidential pick for what they call her "pro-family," "pro-woman" values. But in Alaska, critics say Gov. Sarah Palin has not addressed the rampant sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence and murder that make her state one of the most dangerous places in the country for women and children.

Indeed, she's even been more than insensitive, she's been outright obstructionist. From Shannyn Moore's Alaska Report blog:
Much can be learned about the Palin Administration’s family values from reviewing their spending priorities. Former Chief of Police Irl Stambaugh included forensic rape kits (up to $1,200 per kit) in his budget requests. He was fired by Palin in 1997. In her termination letter, Palin wrote, “…I do not feel I have your full support in my efforts to govern the city of Wasilla. Therefore I intend to terminate your employment. . . ” Staumbaugh headed the police department since it was created in 1993. Before that, he served 22 years with the Anchorage Police Department rising to the rank of captain. Sarah Palin hired Charlie Fannon as the new Wasilla Chief of Police and said it was one of her best decisions as mayor. Fannon eliminated the forensic rape kits from the budget. Though the number of rapes weren’t reported, Fannon claimed it would save Wasilla taxpayers $5,000 to $14,000 a year.

When Eric Croft, a Democrat Legislator from Anchorage, learned of Wasilla’s policy, he drafted HB 270, which Governor Tony Knowles signed into law. The new law made it illegal for any law enforcement agency to bill victims or victims’ insurance companies for the costs of examinations to collect evidence of a sexual assault or determine if a sexual assault actually occurred. Upon signing the law, Governor Knowles said, “We would never bill the victim of a burglary for the cost of gathering evidence, nor should we bill rape victims just because the crime scene happens to be their bodies.”

Wasilla Police Chief Fannon protested the new law stating it would require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams. Really? Are the true costs of sexual assault and forcible rape in a community only measured and reflected in the dollars spent on the forensic rape kit?

Alaska has the nation’s highest per-capita rate of forcible rape. A disproportionate number of rape and sexual assault victims are Native Alaskan women. Alaska Native people in Anchorage were 9.7 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than others living in the city between 2000 and 2003. Alaska crime statistics never seemed to make a “Northern Exposure” episode. But this isn’t about statistics-real lives were affected by Palin’s regressive policies. One thing Alaska can’t seem to export is the fundamental information around a woman’s rights. Alaska “liberalized” abortion laws before Roe v. Wade. Our dirty secret had to do with a woman’s right to be safe from rapists. This right to choose was not only threatened, but abolished with Sarah Palin’s archaic policy as Mayor of Wasilla. The rape kit included emergency contraception. To be sure, emergency contraception is not, nor does it cause an abortion. In fact, ec prevents pregnancy and therefore reduces abortions.

Under Palin’s Administration, “Life Begins at Rape” for women unable to pay for their forensic evidence gathering. Justice is served to women who can afford it and denied for those who can’t. I live in Alaska-the wealthiest of the 50 states! Forcing rape victims to pay for their own forensic rape kits is something one would expect to find in a fundamentalist country overseas. I have outrage fatigue. I can’t decide which facet of this policy is more upsetting. Is it the denial of justice for the poor? Is it the punishment of women who had been raped? Is it the political policies of a woman so entrenched in the “Pro-Life” movement she would deny justice to a victim? This is not a “Pro-Life” policy. This is a “Pro-Rapist” policy, and forced pregnancy policy.

It should be noted Joe Biden introduced legislation to fund rape kits to women in America. John McCain voted against it.

Seems Monegan was cut with a two-edged sword. Not only didn't he act on Palin's personal grudge, but he was attempting to help the women of Alaska who are too often the victims of rape. Both reasons seem to bring out Palin's anger.

Will she get any support from women? Sadly, yes, hopefully no:
Palin supporters ought to be taking a much closer look at her record on these types of issues (charging rape victims for evidentiary examinations so their attackers can be brought to trial) than whether she can juggle five children and the vice presidency. This, more than anything, should push women, pro-life and pro-choice, away from the McCain-Palin ticket. It's one thing to oppose abortion on moral grounds. It's quite another to charge crime victims for their own forensic examinations. Such a policy is nothing short of outrageous.

funny pictures

And one of my best investigators, my Mom, sends me this email forward that is hopeful:
[The] Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage. Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men. I had no idea what to expect.

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It's probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally 'a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots,' and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received some nasty, harassing and threatening messages.

I felt a bit apprehensive. I'd been disappointed before by the turnout at other rallies. Basically, in Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, it's a success. So, I thought to myself, if we can actually get 100 people there that aren't sent by Eddie Burke, we'll be doing good. A real statement will have been made. I confess, I still had a mental image of 15 demonstrators surrounded by hundreds of menacing 'socialist baby-killing maggot' haters.

It's a good thing I wasn't tailgating when I saw the crowd in front of the library or I would have ended up in somebody's trunk. When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep! I could hardly find a place to park. I nabbed one of the last spots in the library lot, and as I got out of the car and started walking, people seemed to join in from every direction, carrying signs.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn't honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn't happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up. He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn't be heard. Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high.

So, if you've been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin's rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say.