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Monday, October 6, 2008

7 Palin aides to testify in abuse-of-power probe

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Seven aides to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have reversed course and agreed to testify in an investigation into whether the Republican vice presidential nominee abused her powers by firing a commissioner who refused to dismiss her former brother-in-law.

There is no indication, however, that Palin or her husband will now agree to testify in the legislative inquiry, which has dogged her for the past several months and could hurt John McCain in the final weeks of the presidential race.

Palin, a first-term governor, is the focus of a legislative investigation into her firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan a year after she, her husband and key advisers began questioning him about getting rid of a state trooper who had gone through a nasty divorce with her sister.

Monegan says he was dismissed because he wouldn't fire the governor's former brother-in-law, but Palin contends he was dismissed for insubordination. McCain operatives called Monegan a "rogue" who repeatedly tried to work outside normal channels for requesting money.

Lawmakers subpoenaed seven state employees to testify in the inquiry but they challenged those subpoenas. After a judge rejected that challenge last week, the employees decided to testify, Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg said.

Democratic state Sen. Hollis French, who is managing the investigation, said that, following the court ruling, he again asked Palin and her husband, Todd, whether they planned to testify.

"We've had no response," French said Sunday.

Palin says the legislative inquiry has become too political and she believes that only the state's personnel board should investigate the firing. Todd Palin has agreed to speak with investigators for that panel but not for the legislative inquiry.

The governor has the authority to fire the members of the personnel board.

Alaska's Supreme Court, meanwhile, is considering whether to block the findings of the legislative inquiry. The high court scheduled arguments for Wednesday over whether the case is being manipulated to hurt Palin before Election Day on Nov. 4.

The decision by the state employees to testify will not affect that appeal, said Kevin Clarkson, a lawyer for five Republican lawmakers who brought that challenge.

The independent investigator conducting the probe plans to turn over his conclusions on the case by next Friday to the Legislative Council, the body that authorized it.

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Terrorists, Secessionists, Sarah Palin and Guilt by Association

I was appalled (and annoyed) this weekend by the newest wave of hypocrisy to come spewing perkily forth from the ever-smiling, ever-smirking, perfectly lipsticked mouth of Governor Palin. I'm actually starting to enjoy (for comedic reasons only) her interviews that are nothing more than disconnected prepositional phrases laced with stock GOP pablum. But accusing a sitting U.S. Senator of "palling around with terrorists" is crossing the line.

Finally informing us what she reads, Palin said that yesterday, while leafing through her daily copy of the New York Times, she came across a story on Senator Obama and William Ayers, the 1960s militant and member of the Weather Underground, the radical and violent anti-war group. And faster than you can say "Darn right!"she saw her opportunity - and her duty. Clearly, she must inform an unknowing nation that Obama is guilty by association with Ayers.

You, Governor, should know better. As I and many journalists have noted, you have strong ties to the Alaska Independence Party. While it was finally revealed that you technically were not a card-carrying member of the AIP, it was discovered that the First Dude, between his life of high adventure in helping you rule your northern fiefdom, his competitive snowmobiling and fishing, was a member of the organization for many years.

Yes, it is a free country. You get to associate or marry whomever you want, no matter how distasteful. Yes, Senator Obama served on a board with William Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground and now a college professor and activist in Chicago. However, Senator Obama has clearly distanced himself on numerous occasions from Professor Ayers' actions in the 1960's. This is a non-issue. Perhaps that is why you have decided to focus on it -- better a non-issue than having to learn and think about real problems that affect everyday people, like health care, the economy and education. Those, I suppose, are just too gosh darned hard.

All snarky comments aside, I do have a concern, Governor. A big one. You have never distanced yourself from a radical secessionist movement aimed at the breaking up of the Federal Union. You, Governor, have never stated a single time that the AIP is not only wrong-headed, but outright dangerous. Instead, you have videotaped welcoming comments for their annual conventions. Instead, you have a "close association" with a known former member of a radical, right-wing, well-armed and well-funded political party whose founder damned the United States as virulently as Reverend Wright did. While Reverend Wright enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame, and was rightly slammed for his vitriol by patriotic writers on both Left and Right, the AIP happily continued along its way, spewing anti-Americanism more in line with something Fidel Castro would say on a May Day celebration in Havana.

And you stood there Governor, like a caribou caught in the headlights. And you still stand there, but now with the audacity to stand at the top of your glass castle throwing rocks at other people. There is a big, big difference between a limited association with someone who had committed a crime 40 years before, and being married to a man who supports the destruction of the United States.

Who has the closest terrorist association, Governor? Who? If you believe Senator Obama to be the buddy of terrorists, don't make an unsubstantiated claim. Call the FBI and demand an investigation. If you are just grandstanding for a crowd of racist isolationists who fear the idea of a successful black man who worked his way up from nothing to become a success--a modern day Horatio Alger story if there is one--you should be deeply ashamed of yourself. Look to your own house before you start throwing rocks Governor. For who among us can cast the first stone? Seem like you can Sarah, seems like you are the only exception to the Scripture since about 32 AD.

I am a loyal American. When Election Day happens, and if the GOP wins, I want to know that the person who is literally a heart beat away from the Presidency is a person I can trust to do the right thing. Someone who will place national well-being above some perverted concept of secessionism, who will not associate with people who are worse, far worse, than a liberal college professor who was immensely foolish -- and wrong -- in the 1960s.

Yes Governor, I question your patriotism and your loyalty to this Republic. And I have a hell of a lot more evidence to question your loyalty to the Republic than you do to question Senator Obama's.

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Noonan Says Palin's Type Of Populism Is Bad For Country

Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, conservative columnist Peggy Noonan said that the "populist" tactics being deployed by Sarah Palin was "not helpful to the country" and painted her candidacy as built on class warfare.

"She is a natural," said Noonan, "But I will tell you, I feel increased concern about... what she thinks of as populism, as her populist approach. There are two ways, you know, her stuff about, 'I'm main street, you are the elite, I'm Joe six-pack.' She actually says 'I'm the Joe six-pack candidate.' This has me thinking, gosh, would Lincoln say 'I represent the backwoods type?' Would FDR say, 'the New York aristocracy deserves another moment in the sun, vote for me?' There's something weird about it. But there is also something, for me, concerning. Populism as a tactic is justified often in politics. 'I need this program, the people want it.' Populism as a strategy, 'we're the good guys, you're the bad guys,' is not good. And if that's the road they are going, that's not a good road to be on. It is not helpful to the country."

Noonan has been skittish about Palin's candidacy from the get-go, though not always publicly demonstrative about her concerns. She was caught, off camera, calling the vice presidential pick as cynical. But she has also, on occasion, praised Palin for energizing the Republican base and for her debate performance.

On Sunday, Noonan expanded on those compliments, arguing that Palin did an effective job on Thursday night but one that amounted to a political infomercial.

"I'll be frank, she convinced the American people -- though they had seen her crater in the interview after interview in the previous few weeks before that debate -- that she was capable of coming forward and simply debating," said the Wall Street Journal columnist. "I think she showed that she is a woman of great and natural competence about the show-business of politics, if you will: the ability to look over the camera, to think that the camera is your friend, all of that stuff. But there are questions about other areas."

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Palin's Attack On Obama's Patriotism Legitimizes Questions About The Palins' Association With Group Founded By America-Hating Secessionist

By Greg Sargent

Sarah Palin attacked Obama's patriotism today over his association with former Weatherman Bill Ayers -- a move that makes it perfectly legitimate to raise questions about the Palins' associations with a group founded by an Alaska secessionist who once professed his "hatred for the American government" and cursed our "damn flag."

In Colorado today, Palin seized on the big front-page New York Times story about Ayers and Obama, which concludes that the two men "do not appear to have been close," to launch her most vicious attack yet on the Illinois Senator -- a harbinger of what's to come.

"This is not a man who sees America as you and I do -- as the greatest force for good in the world," Palin said. "This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country."

If Palin is going to say this, it is now perfectly legitimate to point out that she repeatedly courted a secessionist group founded by someone who openly professed hatred of the American government, cursed our flag, and wanted to secede from the Union. Sarah's husband, Todd Palin, was a member of this group, which continues to venerate that founder to this day, for years.

As you already know, the group is the Alaska Independence Party, which sees as its ultimate goal seceding from the union. Todd was a member, with a brief exception, from 1995 until 2002, according to the Division of Elections in Alaska.

And though Sarah Palin herself was apparently not a member of this group, there's no doubt that she repeatedly courted this secessionist organization over the years. In 1994, Palin attended the group's annual convention, according to witnesses who spoke to ABC News' Jake Tapper. The McCain campaign has confirmed she visited the group's 2000 convention, and she addressed its convention this year, as an incumbent governor whose oath of office includes upholding the Constitution of the United States.

The founder of the AIP was a man named Joe Vogler. Here's what he had to say in a 1991 interview, only a few years before Palin attended its convention: "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government."

He also said this: "And I won't be buried under their damn flag. I'll be buried in Dawson. And when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home."

Vogler has also said: "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

McCain apologists will argue that Sarah Palin was not a member of this group. But Obama wasn't a member of any Ayers anti-American group, either. And again, Palin repeatedly courted the AIP, and her husband was a member for years.

The main takeaway from today's Times story is that Obama's ties to Ayers are, if anything, less substantial than commonly alleged. So if the Ayers association means Obama "palled around" with "terrorists," as Palin put it today, surely Palin can be said to have "palled around" with a secessionist party whose founder openly professed hatred of America.

If Palin is going to directly question Obama's patriotism over his association Ayers, surely all these facts are now fair game and freshly relevant.

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McCain Didn't Think Osama Bin Laden Was A BAD Guy in 1998!!!

In 1998, John McCain gave an interview to Mother Jones in September. His interview was published in the November/December 1998 issue. Here's the choice excerpt below from that damning interview:

Mother Jones: You not only have had combat experience in Vietnam, but you were also a prisoner of war. When you look at terrorism right now, with people like Osama bin Laden, do you have any reservations about watching strikes like that?

John McCain: You could say, Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that's depicted? Most of us have never heard of him before. And where there is a parallel with Vietnam is: What's plan B? What do we do next? We sent our troops into Vietnam to protect the bases. Lyndon Johnson said, Only to protect the bases. Next thing you know.... Well, we've declared to the terrorists that we're going to strike them wherever they live. That's fine. But what's next? That's where there might be some comparison.

This 1998 interview took place in mid-September, right after the August 7 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassy, which was attributed to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Here's more information about the bombings of the U.S. embassy, which killed over 200 people, including 12 U.S. citizens:

The U.S. Embassy bombings in 1998

On August 7, 1998, at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time, two Embassies of the United States of America, located in the East African cities of Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were attacked in coordinated truck bombings, later determined to have occurred approximately four minutes apart. In Nairobi, 213 people were killed in the blast, while 11 individuals died in the bombing at Dar es Salaam. The bombings were carried out by members and associates of Usama Bin Ladin's organization, known by the Arabic word "al-Qaeda", literally, "the base").

Interestingly enough, Senator Joe Biden knew that Osama bin Laden was definitely a bad "mother" in a Washington Post story in August 21, 1998.

Told of these criticisms, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, branded them "preposterous," and noted that Osama bin Laden, suspected of bankrolling the installations that were bombed, "is one bad mother."

And take a look at McCain's quote in that same story. He still didn't think the Clinton focus on Osama bin Laden was right, and kept on reiterating that view a month later in September in his interview with Mother Jones.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stressed the importance of a strong U.S. role in foreign affairs, and criticized the administration for ignoring problems other than bin Laden, including Iraq dragging its feet on arms inspections, "North Korea building nuclear weapons," a stalled Mideast peace process, and "thousands of people being ethnically cleansed in Kosovo.

"This administration for the last seven months has neglected compelling national security threats besides this," said McCain, a member of the Armed Services Committee. "I cannot say that they've been neglected because of Monica Lewinsky, but I can say unequivocally that they have been neglected."

It's a very interesting progression of McCain's views on Osama bin Laden, from first thinking he wasn't really a bad guy, that Clinton was wrong to focus on him, and now to his oft-claimed statement about "following Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell" except for the border of Pakistan where McCain refuses to use military force to go after Osama bin Laden.

One thing you can say about John McCain---he's consistently shown the WRONG judgement time and time again on the issues of great national importance to us. Can we afford another four years of the same foreign policy mistakes and wrong-headedness? We can't.

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