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Tilting at Windmills

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October 10, 2008

TROOPERGATE ENDGAME.... In all sincerity, I saw this headline this morning, "Palin pre-empts state report, clears self in probe," and assumed it was satire. Those under investigation don't get to clear themselves. I have this image in my mind of Nixon, in July 1974, issuing a statement: "I've looked into this whole Watergate thing, and I've decided I've done nothing wrong. Time to move on."

And yet, here we are. With the final report of the independent investigation into Sarah Palin's abuse-of-power scandal due today, Palin decided to release her own Troopergate report that exonerates herself from any wrongdoing. The word "chutzpah" comes to mind.

As for what we may learn later today, the New York Times has a detailed front-page report today on just how far Palin, her husband, and her aides went to pressure Alaska's former public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, who came to realize the Palin administration was "obsessed" with the governor's ex-brother-in-law.

Ms. Palin has denied that anyone told Mr. Monegan to dismiss Trooper Wooten, or that the commissioner's ouster had anything to do with him. But an examination of the case, based on interviews with Mr. Monegan and several top aides, indicates that, to a far greater degree than was previously known, the governor, her husband and her administration pressed the commissioner and his staff to get Trooper Wooten off the force, though without directly ordering it.

In all, the commissioner and his aides were contacted about Trooper Wooten three dozen times over 19 months by the governor, her husband and seven administration officials, interviews and documents show.

About a month ago, Josh Marshall had a good item on Palin's scandal, and concluded, "We rely on elected officials not to use the power of their office to pursue personal agendas or vendettas. It's called an abuse of power.... The available evidence now suggests that she 1) tried to have an ex-relative fired from his job for personal reasons, something that was clearly inappropriate, and perhaps illegal, though possibly understandable in human terms, 2) fired a state official for not himself acting inappropriately by firing the relative, 3) lied to the public about what happened and 4) continues to lie about what happened. "

As additional evidence has become available, those four points appear increasingly accurate.

We'll know more after the legislature's report is released, but I'm still unclear as to why Troopergate isn't getting more play. We have a largely-unknown Republican VP nominee in the midst of a fairly serious ethics controversy. The evidence suggests she abused her power and lied about it. The evidence also suggests she broke her word about cooperating with an independent probe, and has taken multiple steps to obstruct the investigation. Usually, for the national media, this would be like waving red meat in front of a hungry dog.

Isn't this a bit more important than Obama serving on a Republican-created board with some '60's-era radical?

Steve Benen 8:43 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Here's the "letter" I just posted at the Anchorage Daily News re their story on this:

Hi, (wink!),

Doncha know it's too late for all this stuff. We already wrote my own report - the hero John McCain and all - and guess what . . . I didn't do a gosh darn thing wrong!

And the report even says that if you believe that Todd and I ever talked about Trooper Wooten-scum and that there, that you can jump in the lake because that's just terraist talk or Democrats or even worse!

So you just keep on wasting the good people of Alaska's tax money on all this stuff we debunked already and what's the deal with me not being okay with taking my kids on trips and all? Sheesh!

Later. And a big shout-out to all my friends up there. And extra credit to the report-doers down here at Palin/McCain headquarters too.



Posted by: Paris Sailin on October 10, 2008 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

The articles I've seen didn't specify whether or not she waterboarded herself during her investigation. If she didn't, how can we trust the results?

Posted by: tomeck on October 10, 2008 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: RalphF on October 10, 2008 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

I think the media is just waiting for the report to come out, since they're already being tarred and feathered for having an apparent bias. I am sure there will be a big write-up if she's found to have used her office for inappropriate activities. But, they don't want to look Dan Rather-like before the report comes out.

Posted by: Margaret on October 10, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

"Isn't this a bit more important than Obama serving on a Republican-created board with some '60's-era radical?"

Not if you are a Republican witch doctor that does "rally calls". Palin is what she is and no damned negative report from a bipartisan committee will ever change the undying love her lemming followers have for her charm, wit, and gams. In an increasingly dangerous world it's nice to know that we can all be safe knowing these qualify her for face-to-face conversations with world leaders out to destroy the fabric of our culture. I know I'm feeling safer. ..

Posted by: stevio on October 10, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

One can only imagine the horrific vendetta that Bullwinkle Barbie and her zealots will go on, once they lose this election. She's no better than the mullahs of the Taliban in their minarets, extolling the virtues of strapping on suicide vests and driving car-bombs into vegetable markets.

Actually, she's worse---because the mullahs of the Taliban are "over there," and she's "over here...."

Posted by: Steve W. on October 10, 2008 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, there is unfortunately only one way for the media to get off its collective ass and focus attention on this, but it's a very simple solution:

Barack Obama needs to appoint Sarah Palin *his* running mate.

Then, the media will investigate her incessantly.

Or, Bill Clinton can sleep with her.

Either of these two things would rouse the media. Nothing else is likely to, because for now, an investigation into her actions will not hurt Democrats.

Hence, the crickets.

Posted by: Chris on October 10, 2008 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

I wish I could remember who said this today, but one of the people on NBC said that after such a surge of vetting in the first couple weeks after the Palin announcement, people let the media know that they knew enough.

I guess that plays right into this quote from Palin yesterday in Wisconsin, talking at a rally about the media treatment of Obama/Ayers (and also aired on NBC this AM):
You guys are gonna hafta start askin' the questions even more adamantly also, and holding people accountable when they're in a position also to get those answers from the opponents.

Posted by: Danp on October 10, 2008 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

The post below says it all:

Posted by: John R on October 10, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm still unclear as to why Troopergate isn't getting more play." DUH! The republicans still own the media!

Posted by: captain dan on October 10, 2008 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

From the very first phone call Monegan had received from Todd Palin, Monegan knew that his job was in peril. He could have pulled a McCain/Palin and just fired the trooper. But he chose the honorable route.

Posted by: lou on October 10, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, wasn't Joe Biden caught on the same stage with a politician who has a serious ethics problem?

What do we know about Joe Biden?

Why is he lying about palling around with criminals?

McCain! Take over! Release your pitbulls! That's a real game changer! Your october surprise!

Posted by: Vokoban on October 10, 2008 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

You have to give credit to AP for the headline. That single sentence reveals the entire farce.

Posted by: JoeW on October 10, 2008 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Why no more play than we're seeing? Look, Democrats are nothing but a bunch of dirty fucking hippies bent on the destruction of the United States, the deflowering of pre-teen girls and advocates of widespread dissemination of drugs and pornography. Hence any personal or professional scandals merit serious inquiry and media exposure if only to serve as vehicles for destroying them and thus saving the union. Democratic scandals are a gift from God. Ignoring them risks His wrath. Now, as to Republican crimes, what to do? Little or nothing must be the default response. After all Republicans are the party of God and family, patriots all, manning the barricades against those wanting the U.S. to fail (see: Democrats). Republican crimes and personal failings are to be overlooked, for Republicans were put on Earth for a higher purpose. Those advocating the punishment of Republicans are guilty of transgressions even greater in severity than the very crimes they want pursued, for it is this very advocacy that is a crime in and of itself. Democrats must be made to see the error of their ways or driven from the land. Only this will please God. That and immunizing Republicans for any crimes or violations of the U.S. penal code.

Posted by: steve duncan on October 10, 2008 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, wasn't Joe Biden caught on the same stage with a politician who has a serious ethics problem?

Maybe I'm dense here, but is this a reference to Palin?

Posted by: Danp on October 10, 2008 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not be naive about this, Steve. This is just more of the same.

If Obama were involved in anything even close to such an abuse of power how do you think the national media would react? Don't bother to answer. We know.

Rethugs wear Teflon. Democrats wear Velcro.

Posted by: rich on October 10, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

"Isn't this a bit more important than Obama serving on a Republican-created board with some '60's-era radical?"

Ummmmm.....apparently, no. Wait, was this supposed to be rhetorical? This is just more proof that the "mainstream media" is clearly run by "liberal elites." Man I hate elites, what with their "knowledge" and "sentences."

Posted by: Justin on October 10, 2008 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Or, Bill Clinton can sleep with her.


I'll do it for the good of America.

Posted by: Bill Clinton on October 10, 2008 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

The typical approach, if you want to clear your name, is to testify, under oath, to make sure your side of the story gets due consideration. But it's much better to talk "directly to the American people." Especially after your legal options (shenanigans) to avoid having to say anything have been exhausted. Damn that rule of law!


Posted by: Aaron Cass on October 10, 2008 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

So I assume McCain will release election results on Nov 3, showing he won by 100% of the vote - and we can just ignore that silly actual voting thing, since it obviously has a {D/d}emoctratic bias.

Posted by: phalamir on October 10, 2008 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus, can it possibly get any crazier? The European markets are all crashing, the DJI is down 254 pts BEFORE the opening bell! And all the shit about wiretapping citizens, and Bush used it to spy on his own soldiers? I sure hope the asshole is building a huge fence around Crawford.


Sorry for the OT, Steve, but the situation is so dire and that McCain's campaign is forcing this bullshit on us as distraction just pisses me off even more.


Posted by: MissMudd on October 10, 2008 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone have a link to the actual press release from Palin? I can only find other articles that refer to it - but not the actual campaign release. It would be very interesting to read.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on October 10, 2008 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

>Hey, wasn't Joe Biden caught on the same stage with a politician who has a serious ethics problem?

Maybe I'm dense here, but is this a reference to Palin?


Posted by: Vokoban on October 10, 2008 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

For Obama/Biden Ayers affair, the key words are "Republican Created Board." I have yet to hear either Obama or Biden bring up the fact that Ayers was serving on a Republican created board.

Posted by: Kasv on October 10, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

The media has to play this down because to do otherwise would contribute to a complete collapse of the race, and that wouldn't be good for ratings. I don't think it has anything to do with bias, although there certainly is. It has everything to do with revenue of the news organizations.

Posted by: jhill123 on October 10, 2008 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

This is both sad and hilarious, and I do hear Nixon's voice "The people of America have a right to know if the President of the United Syayes is a crook. Ladies and gentleman, I am not a crook." (If SNL has guts, or Letterman --and they seem to -- they'll use this as a bit.)

What may prove to be even more laughable is if the Branchflower Report -- as, according to THE PUBLIC RECORD (still don't know the reliability of the site) says it will -- concentrates not on Monegan, but on Wilkes. To use a sports analogy, the whole defence is moving to one side of the field, and the quarterback throws a long TD pass to the other.

But now is the time to use the whole Palin story -- I listed some of the pieces in yesterday's open thread. This is a woman whose whole career has been built on lies, starting with her first election against John Stein, when she ran as 'the first Christian Mayor of Wasilla.' (Stein was a Lutheran, btw, despite the echoes of his name.)

Keith is fond of being considered 'the new Murrow.' But Murrow's 'finest hour' was his demolition of McCarthy. It is time for him to put together a whole half-hour on Palin, not just the horrible stuff in the campaign, but all of it.

Even, btw, the background on “‘Sarah Barracuda’ — she’s proud of that name now, she uses it in her campaigns,” said her former mentor. “But she got that name from the way she conducted herself with her own teammates. She was vicious to the other girls, always playing up to the coach and pointing out when the other girls made mistakes. She was the coach’s favorite and he gave her more playing time than her skills warranted. My niece was on her team; she was a very good player. I used to sit there in the stands, and I would wonder, Why on earth is Sarah getting so much playing time?”

Can we please pull all the pieces together? A search of Salon, of the ADN, of Mudflats and "Alaska Real", and a piece in the Seattle Times should give anyone enough info to do this story right.

Steve, a bug in Rachel's ear, to be passed on?

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on October 10, 2008 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

I'm going to repeat the comments made in the Open Thread -- I hope you'll accept this, Mr. Moderator -- because they need more play.

The first:
The Troopergate story will be a lot bigger than you realize, especially if the Wilkins matter is a main part of it, since this is simple extortion and corruption on a level that will either force Palin off the ticket or let Obama pretty much run the table. (I've edited for emphasis and grammar.)

It will give some decent writer a chance to pull all the parts of the Palin story together -- and there are so many. Let's just list a few:

Running for Mayor against John Stein (a Lutheran despite his "Jewish-sounding" name -- and her first political mentor) as "the first Christian Mayor of Wasilla. (And there is a LOT more to this story -- Google "Palin Stein Christian Mayor")

The book-banning story

The hockey rink and the raise in taxes and the mismanagement that cost the town a million dollars to fix

The unnecessary, duplicative 'dispatch center' she got an earmark for because she didn't want to share one with a rival town

The hiring of a lobbyist for Wasilla and the debt she left.

The firing of the first police chief -- and the wrongful-termination suit it engendered

The 'victim pays for the rape kit' story (confirmed by contemporaneous newspaper reports and never debunked)

Her office redecoration -- using public funds -- as Mayor

Her hiring of unqualified cronies -- and her attempt to put a known exremist on the Council (Thanks, Max Blumenthal and Dave Niewert)

Her "Bridge to Nowhere" lies

Her tanning bed

The Muthee story -- not just the 'witch hunter' part but the anti-American rant that begins it about needing only 'true Christians in office, schools, and banks' -- and the anti-Semitic comments about Israelites.

The AIP connections, both of Todd and herself

Just as a starter.

(I have hundreds of reasons to oppose McCain, but maybe the single strongest is the fear of the words "President Sarah Palin." We might survive 4 years of McCain, barely, but not the succession by Palin.)

We ARE Obama's surrogates. Let's start asking everyone, once the Branchflower Report gives us a pivot, whether we can risk those three words.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on October 10, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

The word "chutzpah" comes to mind.

No, the word has now been replaced by "Palindikh."

(for those who don't know Yiddish, the "-dikh" suffix means, roughly, "like" or "having the character of")

Posted by: Ahistoricality on October 10, 2008 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't this a bit more important than Obama serving on a Republican-created board with some '60's-era radical?

Silly liberals! Sarah is a pretty, vivacious, white, jaaaayyyyzus-humping, female republican - nothing bad about her is newsworthy. Obama is a ni**er and a democrat - every ridiculous lie about him is breaking news every time it's repeated.

Sheesh, isn't that obvious by now?

Posted by: Yellow Dog on October 10, 2008 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

And the second one: (There are a LOT of things I am missing here, please add to the list.)

I didn't even discuss the objectionable positions she has taken, particularly in 'family-related' issues.

Her refusal to commit to a position -- in the infamous Eagle Forum questionaire -- on length of compulsory schooling (and, btw, the AIP opposes compulsory schooling)

Her 'no exceptions at any time' anti-choice position. (She's a member of "Feminists for Life" but one of their planks, which she has not, to my knowledge, is opposition to the death penalty as well)

Her support for 'abstinence-only sex education.' (In her own home, apparently, judging by the results, typical in abstinence-only districts)

Her total lack of a leading position against violence against women and rape (two things Alaska leads the nation in, and has for 23 of the past 30 years).

Her choice of a sports arena (that is still losing money) over museum funding

(And one other point. Palin, despite being married to a "Native Alaskan" -- as is Monegan, btw -- has a wretched record on their issues. But one candidate has a full page of proposals on "Native Alaskan" issues -- separate from his equally detailed discussion of "Native American" issues. Nope, not, John McCain but "That One." Yes, even though he's never been to Alaska, has little chance of winning the state, and didn't before Her Excellency was named VP, he cared enough to develop programs for this least noticed of minorities.)

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on October 10, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

There is nothing mysterious going on here.

The MSM is owned and/or controlled by people that are still hoping for a Palin/McCain win.

Challening questions will not be asked until they decide to abandon Palin... if that point is reached, she will become fair game.

Posted by: Buford on October 10, 2008 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

I though I was reading The Onion this morning when I read this.

Posted by: on October 10, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Breaking news:

OJ Simpson has issued the findings of his latest investigation, and he has concluded that he is innocent of all charges.

After his release, he will continue looking for the killer of his ex-wife following a quick round of eighteen holes...

Posted by: Ranger Jay on October 10, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Palin clearly is channeling Nixon and needs a good exorcism. "I am not a crook." Or was it "The President is not a crook?"

Posted by: biosparite on October 10, 2008 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the thing that amazes me. This only came to light because Monegan was convinced he was fired because he did not yield to the Palins' pressure. Since then, we have seen a LOT of evidence that they did indeed exert that pressure.

Isn't that abuse of power, regardless of whether it was the precise, identifiable, one-hundred-percent provable reason for his firing? I mean resignation? I mean transfer? Dismissal? I keep getting mixed up....

Anyway, whether Monegan had lost his job or not - isn't it still abuse of power to exert that pressure?

Posted by: The Answer Is Green on October 10, 2008 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Where can one find this report?

Posted by: crimelord on October 10, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

You write: In all sincerity, I saw this headline this morning, "Palin pre-empts state report, clears self in probe," and assumed it was satire.

Not satire. Just the logical conclusion of the Bush-Cheney (Republican) view of government.

Posted by: CMcC on October 10, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Nixon did, of course, investigate and clear himself, several different times, for example in his speech of April 30, 1973:

"As a result, on March 21, I personally assumed the responsibility for coordinating intensive new inquiries into the matter, and I personally ordered those conducting the investigations to get all the facts and to report them directly to me, right here in this office."

Posted by: Joe Bourgeois on October 10, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Certain important Troopergate issues are going largely unnoticed.


Palin's core narrative is to claim she was obligated to warn people about Wooten because he "is making threats against the First Family." She (directly and via surrogates) repeatedly claims he is "violent and abusive." Stapleton said Wooten "abused her [Palin's] sister."

But the DVPO was quickly dissolved because the judge found there was no evidence "of physical or implied violence." Molly McCann told police that "he [Wooten] has never physically abused her." Aside from the Taser incident, there has never been any finding that Wooten ever committed a violent act against any person. Palin admitted to police that the alleged threat to "bring down" Sarah was a threat "to make life difficult for Sarah," not a threat of violence. No witness outside the family has ever heard Wooten threaten anyone. The alleged death threat against the father was not reported to the father until a month after it happened.

Why is Palin still making defamatory claims that Wooten is "violent and abusive," years after those claims were shown to be unfounded?


In recent legal filings, Palin repeatedly asserts that until 7/08, her family did not know that Wooten was disciplined with a suspension. However, when asked to explain how Bailey knew confidential details from Wooten's personnel file, the Palin camp claimed that this file was in the "public domain," because Wooten released it to Molly's lawyers, in connection with divorce proceedings. And that details were conveyed to Bailey by Todd. But if the file was in the public domain, and Todd was conveying its details to Bailey, how is it plausible to claim that the family did not know about Wooten's suspension?


The Palin camp claimed Wooten's personnel file was in the "public domain," and this this is how Todd was able to convey personal information to Bailey (which Bailey then conveyed to Dial). But Wooten didn't release his file into the "public domain." He released it only to Molly's lawyers, in connection with the divorce proceedings. It was almost certainly improper for Molly to share this file with Sarah and Todd, and for Sarah and Todd to receive it.


Stapleton has referred to this decision as proof that French is manipulating the witness list. But it was Ramras' idea to not subpoena Tibbles, not French's idea. Also, how could a decision to not subpoena Tibbles be viewed as a partisan act that is unfavorable to Palin? Tibbles is free to present himself to Branchflower, with or without a subpoena. Branchflower asked for the subpoena only because Tibbles has declined to cooperate. If Tibbles had testimony that was favorable to Palin, why would he be refusing to cooperate?


Stapleton has referred to this decision as proof that the Branchflower investigation is partisan. But Ramras and other Republicans explicitly supported this decision.


Palin said the "restraining order … was lifted when [Wooten's] supervisors intervened." This is a serious charge of misconduct by the judge. Where is the proof?

Palin said "the troopers' investigation into Wooten was negligently or deliberately slipshod." This is a serious charge of misconduct. Where is the proof? And if troopers are performing "slipshod" investigations, what has she done to reform and correct this? She has never mentioned a failure to correct this problem as a reason for firing Monegan.

Detailed citations backing all these questions can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Public_Safety_Commissioner_dismissal

Posted by: jukeboxgrad on October 10, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

If there's one thing I know, it's that America needs a woman with sound judgment like this to have an army of eavesdropping wiretappers at her beck and call.

I'd sleep safer knowin' those durn turr'ists was under her careful watch. You betcha.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 10, 2008 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Alaska Panel finds Palin abused power in firing:


Posted by: SLWatson on October 10, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK



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