Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fear of retribution - a pattern amongst Alaskans speaking out against Sarah Palin

Protester at anti-Palin rally in Anchorage, Alaska. The sign reads: 'The Sarah I know would have me fired for this!'
The Troopergate investigation stems from the allegation by the head of the Alaskan police service, safety commissioner Walt Monegan, that Sarah Palin fired him (at least partly) because he refused to fire Trooper Mike Wooten.

Wooten is her former brother-in-law, who had been involved in an acrimonious divorce with Palin's sister Molly, and who was subjected to months of harassment by Sarah Palin and her family.

If Walt Monegan's allegations are true, it would be a serious abuse of the power of the governor - suggesting that Palin used her office and the office of many of the state's top functionaries to deal with an issue that was (and that should have remained) purely personal.

Palin and Troopergate: A Primer - Time Magazine, September 11:

...At first with prodding from his union, and then on his own, Monegan began telling people about the persistent pressure he claimed to have felt, in the months leading up to his dismissal, from the governor, her staff and her husband to get rid of a state trooper named Mike Wooten.

Why Walt Monegan got fired: Palin's abuse of power -, July 17:
Walt Monegan got fired for all of the wrong reasons. Walt Monegan got fired because he had the audacity to tell Governor Palin no, when apparently nobody is allowed to say no to Governor Palin.

Beginning in spring of 2005 and for the next ten months, over 25 formal complaints were filed by Palin and Heath family members against Trooper Mike Wooten. From drinking while driving his patrol car to making threats to shooting a moose without a permit...

...In all cases except one, the charges were ruled unfounded after an internal investigation. And the one charge that was valid, Wooten immediately admitted to...

...But it didn't stop there. Threatening phone calls, private detectives that were hired to follow Wooten, notes left on windshields, Todd Palin taking pictures then submitting them to Wooten's supervisor, all designed to intimidate Wooten into backing off from demanding equal child custody rights.

But every time they filed a spurious complaint, the Troopers would bring in an Administrative Investigator who after seeing more than two dozen of these ridiculous and time consuming complaints stated that in all his years he had never seen such a shotgun pattern against one officer.

Revenge and retribution. Abuse of power. These are serious allegations. Might Palin be the type of person to operate in this fashion? Does she have a history of this kind of behaviour?

It occurred to me today that many Alaskans who've given an opinion about Palin have done so off the record, or have asked to remain anonymous. Their reason? Fear of retribution from Sarah Palin.

Here are a few examples. You can see the pattern for yourself:

Fear And Retribution: Palin's Pattern Of Governance - Black Star News, August 31:
Currently under a state ethics investigation for the firing of Alaska state police chief Walt Monegan - a process in which Palin has clearly lied and attempted an extensive administrative cover-up - Palin has a record of controversial dismissals dating back to her days as mayor of Wasilla and for which she faced a political recall. One of those controversies surrounded the firing of Wasilla police chief Irl Stambaugh.

Reached at a remote cabin in Alaska, Stambaugh, 59, a lifelong police officer with a distinguished 30-year career, described Palin's administrative style as being based on "fear and retribution. That's how she operates."

About Sarah Palin: A Letter From Anne Kilkenny - The Presidential Candidates blog, September 3:
She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn't like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.


...Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that's life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

Saradise Lost - Chapter Twenty-Seven -- Fear of Retribution: Why Palin Stories Didn't Break Before the Nomination - Progressive Alaska blog, September 4:
A blogger told me that he needs to back off the more sensitive Palin information because he's afraid of getting shot by some of the more fanatical, hard-core "Palin-bots." I've been told that when media representatives attempted to speak to several members of Palin's former church, one member wouldn't speak out of fear of his/her life and the other declined out of fear of potential treatment by law enforcement who are also members of the church.

Wow. Can you imagine Sarah Palin with full access to all Departments of the Federal Government? Perhaps G.W. Bush wasn't the worst we could do after all.

There may be some Alaskans who are incensed by the deluge of national media into our state, especially Wasilla. However, I am grateful for their help and I offer my assistance to anyone who needs it. After all, what we are all looking for is change and unless for you that means a power-mad, inexperienced, vindictive former Alaska Governor one step away from the Presidency (and the button), we can use all of the research help we can get.

Lucy in Alaska - Librarians Against Palin blog, September 4:
I have worked in Alaskan libraries for 20 years and can assure you that the story about Mary Ellen Emmons is true. After Palin was elected she did her darndest to work with her but the pressure to censor materials got to be too much and Mary Ellen resigned and moved across the state where she rebuilt her life and continues to work in a library. She is reluctant to bring up that part of her past. We all wish she would make a statement to the press, but you forget that Palin is still our Governor and she is one mean, small minded woman and we may need her support for our libraries in the future. There is SB119 waiting for funding right now, which would provide matching funds for new library construction and $$$ for our school libraries, for instance. Once you cross Ms. Sarah, she keeps you on her list for life.

The View From Wasilla - God Help Us if Sarah Palin is Elected - Huffington Post, September 5:
But what really struck me was the picture this author paints of Palin's ruthless, unbridled ambition, and willingness to try and fire or destroy anyone who stands in her way. Even though national reporters are hunkering down in Alaska, the details of Palin's life and political career emerging from her hometown will probably be distorted and whitewashed. Her own neighbors are afraid to speak out about what they've witnessed during her quick rise to power, scared to cross her, fearful of retribution.

If this side of Sarah Palin was more widely known, it would frighten and disgust most of the U.S. voting public. Haven't we had enough of incompetent, crony-driven leadership from George W. Bush over the past eight years? Do we really want someone in national office who believes rabidly partisan, personal political loyalty tests should continue to be the sole qualification for government employment? Someone who keeps enemies lists, and surrounds herself with appointees who are "loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda"?

Alaskans Speak (In A Frightened Whisper): Palin Is "Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean" - LA Progressive, September 5:
It's not easy getting people in the 49th state to speak critically about Palin - especially people in Wasilla, where she was mayor. For one thing, with every journalist in the world calling, phone lines into Alaska have been mostly jammed since Friday; as often as not, a recording told me that "all circuits are busy" or numbers just wouldn't ring. I should think a state that's been made richer than God by oil could afford telephone lines and cell towers for everyone.

On a more practical level, many people in Alaska, and particularly Wasilla, are reluctant to speak or be quoted by name because they're afraid of her as well as the state Republican Party machine. Apparently, the power elite are as mean as the winters.

"The GOP is kind of like organized crime up here," an insurance agent in Anchorage who knows the Palin family, explained. "It's corrupt and arrogant. They're all rich because they do private sweetheart deals with the oil companies, and they can destroy anyone. And they will, if they have to."

"Once Palin became mayor," he continued, "She became part of that inner circle.'

Like most other people interviewed, he didn't want his name used out of fear of retribution.

But when a local reporter dared to suggest that the reformer Empress has no clothes, Palin tried to get her fired.

"She came at me like I was trying to steal her kids," said the targeted reporter, who now works for an oil company in Anchorage. "I heard she had a wild temper and vicious mean streak but it's nothing like you can imagine until she turns it on you."

Sarah Palin and Me - LA Progressive, September 6:
As I've been doing for 40 years, when I'd finish interviewing one source I'd ask them if they knew anyone else I might call. Thus, one source frequently begat a second which, often, begat a third. Thus, a picture of Sarah Palin began to emerge and the result was Alaskans Speak.

Do I wish more people would have spoken to me on the record and for attribution? Absolutely. Do I regret writing a piece that relied upon so many anonymous sources? Not one bit.

Private and Public Infidelities: The Vetting of Sarah Palin - Black Star News, September 7:
Stambaugh said that the recall effort [of Palin as Mayor of Wasilla] eventually dissipated not only because Palin agreed to reinstate Emmons but, more importantly, because of Palin's reputation for political retribution. "People had to worry about their standing in the community," he noted. "They had to worry about their jobs, their businesses, their careers, their families."

Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes - New York Times, September 13:
But an examination of her swift rise and record as mayor of Wasilla and then governor finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics - she sometimes calls local opponents "haters" - contrasts with her carefully crafted public image.

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.

The administration's e-mail correspondence reveals a siege-like atmosphere. Top aides keep score, demean enemies and gloat over successes. Even some who helped engineer her rise have felt her wrath.

Dan Fagan, a prominent conservative radio host and longtime friend of Ms. Palin, urged his listeners to vote for her in 2006. But when he took her to task for raising taxes on oil companies, he said, he found himself branded a "hater."

It is part of a pattern, Mr. Fagan said, in which Ms. Palin characterizes critics as "bad people who are anti-Alaska."

Protesting Palin - Alaska Dispatch, September 13:

Masked protester with sign at anti-Palin rally in Anchorage, Alaska. The sign reads: 'The Sarah I know would have me fired for this!'
But underlining the protest was a sentiment that couldn't be quipped, that no sign was big enough to contain. It was something that I had been hearing only in snippets for the past two weeks, but until today, I hadn't heard articulated. This was from a state worker, who, for fear of reprisal, didn't want their name used (it wasn't the first state worker who expressed the same fear at the rally - some even wore masks to conceal their State of Alaska identities). This is what this person told me:

"I just feel exploited. I feel like they're using this state like they use products in commercials. It is like, 'OK, what can we sell?' And Alaska and Palin are what they chose. They're selling our state out, and she's allowing it. It almost feels like a violation."

As Mayor of Wasilla, Palin Cut Own Duties, Left Trail of Bad Blood - Washington Post, September 14:
Palin's replacements included a public works director who lacked engineering experience but was married to a top aide to a former Republican governor, and she made a former state GOP lawyer city attorney, according to the Daily News. Langill, the former councilwoman, said the new hires fit Palin's management style.

"Sarah always did and still does surround herself with people she gets along well with," she said. "They protect her, and that's what she needs. She has surrounded herself with people who would not allow others to disagree with Sarah. Either you were in favor of everything Sarah was doing or had a black mark by your name."

'Barbies for War!' - New York Times, September 16:

Masked protester with sign at anti-Palin rally in Anchorage - 'Sarah, please don't put me on your enemies list'.
I covered a boisterous women against Palin rally in Anchorage, where women toted placards such as "Fess up about troopergate," "Keep your vows off my body," "Barbies for war!" "Sarah, please don't put me on your enemies list," and "McCain and Palin = McPain."

A local conservative radio personality, Eddie Burke, who had lambasted the organizers as "a bunch of socialist, baby-killing maggots," was on hand with a sign reading "Alaska is not Frisco."

"We are one Supreme Court justice away from overturning Roe v. Wade," he excitedly told me.

R. D. Levno, a retired school principal, flew in from Fairbanks. "She's a child, inexperienced and simplistic," she said of Sarah. "It's taking us back to junior high school. She's one of the popular girls, but one of the mean girls. She is seductive, but she is invented."

Sarah Palin's wasteful ways - Salon, September 17:
"After all her boasting about her executive experience, what did she do?" asks a longtime borough official, who, like many in local circles, requested anonymity because of Palin's reputation for vengeance. "The borough takes care of most of the planning, the fire, the ambulance, collecting the property taxes. And on top of that she brought in a city manager to actually run the city day to day. So what executive experience did she have as mayor?"

Sarah's Way--or the Highway - The Nation, September 17:
While a majority of Alaskans are thrilled their local beauty queen is center stage, some are horrified.

Her populist persona--the "just plain hockey mom"--is preposterous, her notion of decency defective, her ambition unbridled, her compassion counterfeit, her actions extreme, her intelligence limited and her judgment flawed.

Fearing retribution, only one of the more than twenty elected state and city officials, lawyers, doctors, health administrators, librarians, clergy and just plain residents I interviewed while in Alaska and over the phone agreed to be named.

"It's Sarah's way or the highway," claim many who've worked with her. As one state representative confided to me, "the public doesn't know the real Sarah Palin."

Sarah Palin's dead lake - Salon, September 19:
A city official in nearby Palmer, who has lived in the Mat-Su Valley his whole life, sadly admitted: "Sarah sent the growth into overdrive. And now they're choking on traffic and sprawl, all built on their ignorance and greed.

"I try to avoid driving to Wasilla so I won't get depressed," added the official, who asked for his name to be withheld, to avoid Palin's "wrath."

"You get visually mugged when you drive through there. I take the long way, through the back roads, just to avoid it."

It's interesting to note that John McCain has a reputation for being extremely bad-tempered, abusive, and as one who has been known to hold a grudge for many years:

McCain: A Question of Temperament - Washington Post, April 20:
Since the beginning of McCain's public life, the many witnesses to his temper have had strikingly different reactions to it. Some depict McCain, now the presumptive Republican nominee for president, as an erratic hothead incapable of staying cool in the face of what he views as either disloyalty to him or irrational opposition to his ideas. Others praise a firebrand who is resolute against the forces of greed and gutlessness...

...Former senator Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican, expresses worries about McCain: "His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him."

During a campaign stop at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, [McCain] opened a window on what swirled inside him during his school years...

..."As a young man, I would respond aggressively and sometimes irresponsibly to anyone who I perceived to have questioned my sense of honor and self-respect. Those responses often got me in a fair amount of trouble earlier in life."

"In all candor, as an adult I've been known to forget occasionally the discretion expected of a person of my many years and station when I believe I've been accorded a lack of respect I did not deserve," he said at Episcopal.

Smith admits to not liking McCain, a point he has often made over the years to reporters. "I've witnessed a lot of his temper and outbursts," Smith said. "For me, some of this stuff is relevant. It raises questions about stability. . . . It's more than just temper. It's this need of his to show you that he's above you -- a sneering, condescending attitude. It's hurt his relationships in Congress. . . . I've seen it up-close."

For Johnson, McCain's call raised questions as to whether he bore a lasting animosity against anyone who ever challenged him. "Everyone in [Freestone's] office thought it was all ridiculous . . . and petty," remembers Johnson, a devout Republican conservative who today is an Arizona state senator.

"Senator McCain says he has no recollection of ever making a phone call to block a job for Karen Johnson," Salter said.

During roughly the same period, McCain requested the firing of an aide [Judy Leiby] to Arizona's senior U.S. senator, Dennis DeConcini, according to two top figures in DeConcini's office...

...Episodes such as the Johnson and Leiby incidents, along with McCain's oft-chronicled blowups on Capitol Hill, have led critics to say he has a vindictive streak, that he sees an enemy in anyone who challenges him.

One man's bulldozer is another's bully. "I don't think that he forgets anyone who ever opposed him, that he can ever really respect or trust them again," said Karen Johnson, the targeted secretary-turned-state senator. "That goes for people here and overseas."

McCain's history of hot temper raises concerns - McClatchy Washington Bureau, September 7:
McCain called Cornyn's claim "chicken-s---," according to people familiar with the meeting, and charged that the Texan was looking for an excuse to scuttle the bill. Cornyn grimly told McCain he had a lot of nerve to suddenly show up and inject himself into the sensitive negotiations.

"F--- you," McCain told Cornyn, in front of about 40 witnesses.

It was another instance of the Republican presidential candidate losing his temper, another instance where, as POW-MIA activist Carol Hrdlicka put it, "It's his way or no way."

There's a lengthy list of similar outbursts through the years: McCain pushing a woman in a wheelchair, trying to get an Arizona Republican aide fired from three different jobs, berating a young GOP activist on the night of his own 1986 Senate election and many more.

A Reality Check On 'Change' - Newsweek, September 13:
Part of the problem is McCain's explosive temper. He blows up, then apologizes and is quickly forgiven. The forgiveness is "directly related to an appreciation of what he has suffered [in Vietnam]," says a Democrat who didn't want to be named talking about a colleague. "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Republican Sen. Thad Cochran told The Boston Globe in January. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me." Cochran, a McCain supporter, now says McCain has learned to control his emotions better. But I've spoken to four senators and two former senators in recent weeks who believe Cochran's concerns are widely shared in the Senate. Five of the six think that McCain is temperamentally unsuited to the presidency. None would speak for the record.


So the Republican Presidential candidate has a reputation for having an explosive temper that he finds hard to control. He has been accused of hurling abuse if he doesn't get the respect he feels he deserves from people, and those who have done it know that to speak out against him invites retribution. He is reported to hold a grudge forever, and goes out of his way to get back at anyone he believes has slighted him - even to the extent of trying to have them fired.

Meanwhile the Republican Vice-presidential candidate has a reputation for being mean, vicious and vindictive. She is accused of abusing her power in order to get what she wants, and people are afraid to speak out against her for fear of retribution. She is reported to keep those who cross her on her 'enemies list' forever, and will go out of her way to make life difficult for those on the list. She is currently under investigation for firing the guy who wouldn't fire the guy she (for personal reasons) wanted fired.

No wonder McCain called her his "soulmate".

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artquest1 said...

Woooo hoooo! Your blog has made today's Daily Kos!

You're famous again!

artquest1 said...

whoooo hooooo! Looks like Daily Kos picked your blog as one of the best of the day. Nice to know you're still famous.

webweaver said...

I know! How cool is that? I've never been on the Rescued Diaries list before - I was thrilled!

phydeaux3 said...

Hey I hadn't visited in awhile, nice work and congrats on the Rescued Diaries list at Dkos.

Also wanted to give you a off-topic heads up, since you were an early adopter of the Blogger Archive Calender - you might not have noticed but the links under it are broken. If you check my blog it's got a brief explanation why, and how to update the code. You just have to copy/replace the script portion.


webweaver said...

Hey phydeaux!

How are you? Long time no see!

Thanks heaps for the heads-up on the script - I hadn't even noticed. Anyway, it works fine now, seems faster too - great job!

I can't believe how many people have mentioned my blog being on the Rescued Diaries list - but then I guess DKos does get over 2 million hits a day now... I think I must still imagine I'm the only person that knows it exists... heh.