The 2 million dollar meme

meme. n.  A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. [Ref #1]

That’s the definition given in the American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition.  The topmost collection of definitions, posted at the Urban Dictionary in 2003 by a user called Emme, provide some additional help in understanding the term, which was coined by the biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene:

1 :  an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture either vertically by cultural inheritance (as by parents to children) or horizontally by cultural acquisition (as by peers, information media, and entertainment media)
2 :  a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a parasitic code, a virus of the mind especially contagious to children and the impressionable
3 :  the fundamental unit of information, analogous to the gene in emerging evolutionary theory of culture….
4 :  in blogspeak, an idea that is spread from blog to blog
5 :  an internet information generator, especially of random or contentless information
[Ref #2]

One might add this definition: an idea that is fed by a less than truthful politician to a lazy mainstream media, which is uncritically transmitted to the public when the true facts are readily available & have even been reported on already — sometimes even by the same media source as the one now  passing on the prevaricating politician’s false information.

Case in point: from Sarah Palin’s July 3 resignation speech:

Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt. The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice. Over the past nine months I’ve been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations – such as holding a fish in a photograph, wearing a jacket with a logo on it, and answering reporters’ questions.

Every one – all 15 of the ethics complaints have been dismissed. We’ve won! But it hasn’t been cheap – the State has wasted THOUSANDS of hours of YOUR time and shelled out some two million of YOUR dollars to respond to “opposition research” – that’s money NOT going to fund teachers or troopers – or safer roads. And this political absurdity, the “politics of personal destruction” … Todd and I are looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn’t cost them a dime so they’re not going to stop draining public resources – spending other peoples’ money in their game. [Ref #3]

There’s actually a number of errors of fact in this brief passage of Palin’s speech, but this post will be long enough if I focus  on the one I’ve emphasized: Palin’s claim that $2,000,000 taxpayer (or rather, oil revenue dollars — this is Alaska, after all) have been spent on responding to ethical complaints against Palin.

Problem?  Just two days before, on July 1, the Anchorage Daily News, the Juneau Empire, and the Associated Press all reported on figures released by the Alaska Personnel Board about the actual costs of its investigations into ethical complaints against Palin & members of her administration. The costs were considerably less than what Palin claims: $296,042.58. [Ref #4, 5, 6, 7] Big difference.  Here’s what that difference looks like:

ethics1

What’s more, nearly two-thirds of that amount was attributable in no small part to an ethics case Palin filed against herself.  As explained by Patrick Forey in his Juneau Empire story,

[T]he timing, scope and other factors of the single largest expense appear to fit the case Palin filed against herself that cost $187,797 to investigate. That’s almost two-thirds of the total $296,042 of all Personnel Board investigations in the last two years.

The self-reported complaint was a means to have a legislative investigator’s findings in the “Troopergate” case reexamined by a Personnel Board investigator. She said publicly that her self-reported complaint was without merit. [Ref #6]

Without merit, huh? Do I hear the word frivolous?

Well, not exactly frivolous.  Palin had serious reason to file an ethics complaint against herself: it was her attempt to forestall, & ultimately to negate the “guilty of ethics violations” verdict of, the legislative Troopergate investigation conducted by investigator Stephen Branchflower. As Forey reports:

The Legislative Council, chaired by then-Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, had budgeted $100,000 for its independent investigation of Troopergate. Legislative investigator Stephen Branchflower concluded Palin abused her authority when she waged a campaign against a state trooper with whom she had a family dispute, but found she had the legitimate power to fire former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan who failed to take action against the trooper.

Branchflower’s report came out Oct. 10, 2008, in the heat of a bitter presidential campaign. Then, Palin filed her complaint against herself on Troopergate with the Personnel Board. Its report, done by the Personnel Board-hired counsel Tim Petumenos, cleared Palin and came out the evening before the election. [Ref #6]

This chronology is not entirely accurate: in fact Palin filed her self-complaint on September 1, 2008, more than a month before Branchflower’s report was released. (The Wikipedia article has a partial account of the Troopergate scandal — partial because it fails as of this writing to discuss reaction or consequences of the ethics investigations. [Ref #8]) A comparison of the Branchflower & Petumenos reports on Troopergate are beyond the scope of my energy or this post; suffice it to say that I’ve read both (follow the links & you can do so, too [Ref #9, 10]), & find Petumenos’ report to be weak & pitiable.  Andrew Halcro summed it up well at the time:

There appears to be a lot wrong with the report conducted by Personnel Board Investigator Tim Petumenos when compared to the Branchflower report and many questions remain unanswered.

* Conflicts in evidence that he missed or disregarded
* Misapprehension of the law
* Witnesses he never spoke with directly and whose credibility he could not have assessed
* Evidence he ignored
* An acceptance of statements by the Governor uncritically
* An unsupportable application of the legal standard of “probable cause”
* The failure to consider the evidence in the aggregate
* The failure to even acknowledge, let along evaluate, the circumstantial evidence (e.g., eight individuals all doing and saying the same thing, oftentimes in exactly the same words, 35 times over 18 months, permits a reasonable inference of direction and coordination)
[Ref # 11]

The Anchorage Daily News has more on the differences between the two reports. [Ref #12]; editorially, the newspaper also found much to doubt in Petumenos’ version. [Ref #13] Be that as it may, Palin has consistently ignored the findings of the Branchflower report, & accepted the inadequate Petumenos report, released the day before the presidential election that saw the McCain/Palin ticket’s loss to Obama/Biden, as completely exonerating her.  Besides bad press, the principal results of the Troopergate investigations were that 10 witnesses, including Palin’s husband Todd, were found in contempt by the Alaska Senate in February 2009 for failing initially to respond to Branchflower’s subpoenas the previous September [Ref #14]; and a few days later Palin’s attorney general Talis Colberg was forced to resign for having counseled the 10 to ignore the subpoenas [Ref #15].

Back to the numbers: Petumenos’ investigation of Palin’s complaint against herself, with which two other Troopergate-related complaints were combined (one by the Public Safety Employees’ Association alleging improper access of Trooper Michael Wooten’s personnel & worker’s comp files and attempting to engineer his firing; a second by fired Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan seeking a public hearing in order to clear his name & restore his reputation), took up nearly two-thirds of total expenditures made by the Alaska Personnel Board in responding to ethics complaints in FY 2008-2009 against Palin (note: the Alaska state fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30).  Here’s the complete breakdown:

ethics3

And here’s what it looks like visually:

ethics2

(Click through on any of these figures to get to my Flickr photostream, where they can also be viewed full-size.)

In other words, not only is Palin’s figure of $2 million for the ethics investigations a wild exaggeration, but turns out that nearly two-thirds of the “THOUSANDS OF HOURS” in “frivolous” ethics complaints were “wasted” by Palin’s complaint against herself. [Ref #5, 6]

Complaints by persons other than Palin against Palin cost only $108,294.66.  That’s a far cry from $2 million.

But why can’t we tell which costs went with which other cases?  Sean Cockerham explains why in his Anchorage Daily News story:

The newly released expense list doesn’t specify the nature of each case listed. It only provides internal case numbers followed by the total expenses incurred for each one of the cases. The board won’t say which case numbers correspond with which complaint, or provide a detailed breakdown of the expenses. Under state law, ethics complaints are secret unless the subject of the complaint waives privacy. [Ref #5]

However,

It is possible to deduce which expenses could correspond with some of the known ethics complaints filed against the governor.

The chronology of the expense list suggests that the second most expensive case, which cost $43,028, could be a complaint filed by Anchorage activist Andree McLeod. McLeod contended Palin and some of her staff members used their influence to get a Palin supporter a job in state government. [Ref #5]

That case, also investigated by Petumenos, found Palin innocent of any ethical wrongdoing, but Petumenos recommended that Palin aide Frank Bailey be given ethics training because of some questionable emails. [Ref #5] (This is the same Frank Bailey who was suspended with pay for two weeks for some questionable behavior in the Troopergate affair. [Ref #8])  Andree McLeod herself speculated that the cost of investigating her complaint might be attributable to the fact that Palin was on the vice presidential campaign trail at the time, resulting in high travel costs for Petumenos to interview her — something also affecting Petumenos’ Troopergate investigation.  As explained by Sean Cockerham,

McLeod said her complaint might not have been so costly to the state had Palin not been traveling around the country on the vice-presidential campaign trail.

Petumenos travelled to St. Louis to interview Palin at least about the Troopergate allegations. McLeod said she understood that Petumenos also raised her allegations in that same interview.

“They had to go down and follow her all over the ends of the Earth to get her deposed,” McLeod said. “Sarah Palin is costing the state a hell of a lot more than just this amount.” [Ref #5]

Cockerham went on to speculate:

The third most costly one, which was listed at $29,962, could be a complaint made against Palin for having the state pay for her children’s travel. Palin ended up settling that complaint by agreeing to reimburse the state about $8,000 for several trips. [Ref #5]

If Cockerham is correct in that speculation, that would mean that the state paid a net total of nearly $22,000 to “dismiss” an ethics complaint against Palin that never would have come up had Palin not inappropriately claimed her children’s travel expenses as “state business” and charged the state for them. The resolution of this particular complaint was not, in fact, a “dismissal”: it was a settlement agreement agreed upon between Palin and — guess who? — Timothy Petumenos.  As reported in the Anchorage Daily News by Lisa Demer,

So was she exonerated?

“To be exonerated suggests a hearing on the merits and a conclusion. That was not what happened here,” Petumenos said.

As Petumenos described it, the governor agreed not to contest certain charges. He agreed not to file a formal accusation or take the case to a hearing. [Ref #16]

Not exactly the “dismissal” Palin has claimed it to represent.

What about other ethics complaints? Of the known complaints compiled in an Associated Press checklist published on June 21, 2009, I’ve already discussed five (# 4, 5, & 6: the three Troopergate complaints; #2: Andree McLeod’s August 6, 2008 complaint; and #8: the Travelgate complaint). I’ve also discussed #1 on the list, the Troopergate investigation conducted by Stephen Branchflower which in fact found Palin guilty of ethical violations — but Palin, as always, ignores this one. #7 was a complaint to the Federal Elections Commission, which found no jurisdiction (& is certainly not a State of Alaska agency).  #3 was filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. [Ref #17]

All the rest were filed with the Alaska Personnel Board.  There are one or two still pending; of the rest, all are claimed by Palin as “frivolous.”  Certainly one of them was:

12. Jan. 12: Complaint alleging interference in a job hiring was filed under the name of Edna Birch, a busybody character on the British soap opera Emmerdale. Palin’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said no one by that name could be found living in Alaska and the filer refused to use a real name, so the complaint was dismissed Feb. 20. [Ref #17]

But it’s hard to say with the others.  I wouldn’t be the first to notice that there’s something of a conflict of interest in a personnel board comprising three appointees who serve at the governor’s pleasure ruling on ethical complaints against that selfsame governor.  Nor are any of the facts or findings on those cases — other than the bare facts of them being dismissed — available to the public.  We have only Palin’s word — reliable or not — against that of whomever lodged the complaints that they were “frivolous.”  I don’t have time to look into them all for this post — but you can betcha I’m not going to trust Palin’s word alone.  Not after having found so many factual errors already in what she claims about the costs to the State of Alaska of these complaints; whether the Travelgate case fit her characterization as a “dismissal”; & whether Petumenos’ Troopergate report truly exonerated her of ethical violations, in contradiction to Branchflower’s findings.

One more matter about these costs: I’ve mostly been talking about the report of costs to the State of Alaska as found in the Alaska Personnel Board’s report of costs.  But there are still one or two Personnel Board cases pending, and two of the three completed cases were with state agencies other than the Personnel Board: the legislative Troopergate case (#1 on the Associated Press checklist) and the APOC case (#2).  Could those cases make up the difference between $296,000 and $2 million?  According to Pat Forgey ‘s Juneau Empire article, the Alaska Legislative Council budgeted $100,000 for the Branchflower investigation [Ref #6]: if used in full (sorry, no time to look up the final cost tonight), that would bring state costs to $396,000.  It’s very difficult to believe that the APOC case and the one or two remaining Personnel Board cases could cost $1,604,000.  It’s quite clear that Palin’s numbers are way out of whack.

Oh, and by the way — contrary to Palin’s speech of resignation, in which she claimed

Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt. The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice.” [Ref #3]

— every complainant identified in the Associated Press checklist who filed their complaint with an Alaska state agency, except for the obviously bogus Edna Birch, was an Alaska resident. [Ref #17]

So: where did Palin come up with the number $2 million?

I reckon she pulled it out of thin air, or an air thickened perhaps by the sense of persecution she seems to feel over these ethics complaints.  The furthest I’ve so far traced it back to is a Office of the Governor press release from June 23, 2009 (announcing the dismissal of case #14 in the Associated Press checklist), which asserts,

In the past two years, the state of Alaska has spent millions of dollars processing ethics complaints, public records requests, and related lawsuits. [Ref #18]

This claim was pretty quickly picked up by Phil Munger of Progressive Alaska:

I suspect that statement is complete bullshit. Millions of dollars means from $2,000,000.00 on up, if I am correct. [Ref #19]

A little more than a week later, on July 2 — the day before Palin announced her resignation, but also a day after the Alaska Personnel Board had released its figures — Steve of What Do I Know? picked up the story, pointing out that Sean Cockerham’s story — while helpfully explicating the figures — failed to mention the discrepancy between Palin’s “million of dollars” claim and the actual costs:

It seems to me that the most significant part of this story is the gap between the Palin allegation last week and the actual cost of the complaints. Deducting the Troopergate costs – which resulted from Palin filing a complaint against herself so that the friendlier Personnel Board would review it instead of a Legislative Committee – the cost of complaints was down almost to $100,000. [Ref #20]

But Steve also noted,

OK, the press release adds in public records searches, but the way they figure those charges is also grossly inflated and seems to be aimed at preventing people from gaining access to public records. At best it would still leave a huge magnitude of error. [Ref #20]

Steve’s link was to a prior post of his, in which he did the math on the Palin Administration’s bill of $65,000 for a public records request by Linda Kellen Biegel of Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis, & finds the Palin Administration to be arithmetically deficient. [Ref #21, 22] Linda, not having $65,000 lying around to gain the Palin Administration’s fabled “transparency,” modified her records request. The new price-tag: $5552.64 [Ref #23] — funds which Linda shortly began to raise. [Ref #24] An interesting fact about this particular records request: it relates to attacks by two local media luminaries — rightwing talk radio host Eddie Burke and Anchorage Daily News reporter Sheila Toomey, who authors the weekly political gossip column “Alaska Ear” — and their ties to the Palin Administration, specifically in relationship to what appear to be coordinated attacks by Burke & Toomey on Andree McLeod, who is responsible for a number of the ethics complaints against Palin.  As Linda writes,

[B]oth [Burke and Toomey] seemed to be participating in a coordinated smear campaign of citizen watchdog Andree McLeod. Both received inside information from the Administration that they discussed in their respective mediums. Both made claims that they were receiving/had received documents from requesting records of the State. Knowing how it works and knowing the timing required, that seemed highly unlikely if not impossible.

So, I did my own records request(s) looking to see what kind of communication between the Palin Administration and these media figures was actually going on. [Ref #23]

The point of this is that public records requests don’t, in fact, cost the State of Alaska anything, because the State recovers the costs to provide those public records through fees. Pretty exorbitant fees, too.  Unless — if Linda’s speculations are correct — those public records are requested by certain media figures with close ties to the Palin Administration who perhaps just shoot a couple of emails Palin & co.’s way, & perhaps get copies of the requested public records — for free?  It’ll be interesting to see what Linda’s public records request turns up.

Meanwhile, so much for the Palin press release claim that some of the fabled $2 million in costs to the State come from public records requests.  Not at the rates the State, under Palin, is charging.  And thus, another untruth in Palin’s lakefront speech:

And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn’t cost them a dime so they’re not going to stop draining public resources – spending other peoples’ money in their game. [Ref #3]

Seems to me that I took $20 out of my own pocket, & a whole lot of other people donated even more, to help Linda raise the funds for that public records request.  It costs us considerably more than a dime, Gov. Palin.

Having already read Steve’s and Phil’s blog posts on the matter, I was alert when Palin repeated her 2 million dollar fabrication during her lakefront resignation speech. I was alert when I began to see the 2 million dollar meme repeated uncritically, first on July 4 by reporter Don Hunter in the very same newspaper — the Anchorage Daily News — where Hunter’s colleague Sean Cockerham on July 1 had reported the true costs of the ethics complaints. [Ref #25] And then, more alarmingly, when I began to see the meme reported in national mainstream media sources like the New York Times [Ref #26] and the Wall Street Journal, which reported,

Over recent months, [Palin's] tenure has been marked by sparring with local bloggers and other citizen activists in the state, some of whom bombarded her office with public-records requests. In all, Gov. Palin has faced 16 ethics inquiries of one sort or another in Alaska since last year.

All but one have since been resolved. Still, they appear to have weighed on the Republican governor in the days before her decision, announced Friday, to hand over the reins to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell. Mr. Parnell said on “Fox News Sunday” that her decision was primarily prompted by her concern over $2 million a year the state has spent on records requests and the ethics inquiries.

“I think she used the word ‘insane’ in describing those costs,” he said. [Ref #27]

And so we come back to my addition to the definition of meme: an idea that is fed by a less than truthful politician to a lazy mainstream media, which is uncritically transmitted to the public when the true facts are readily available & have even been reported on already — sometimes even by the same media source as the one now  passing on the prevaricating politician’s false information.

But strange — the politician the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are acting as stenographers to is not, this time, Sarah Palin.  It’s Palin’s successor, the man who is supposed to take the oath of office as Governor of Alaska on July 26 in Fairbanks: Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell.  Both stories give as the source for their uncritical repetitions of the $2 million dollar lie a statement Parnell made on Fox News Sunday. As recounted with dismay by Phil Munger in Progressive Alaska on July 6:

The most distressing statement Parnell made in the FAUX News interview, was his repeat of this Palin lie: “… and the fact that it was, uh, costing just about $2,000,000.00 of the state taxpayers’ dollars just to fund the staff, uh, to deal with the records requests and the like, and that was, uh, just over-the-top, uh, and I think she used the word “insane” in her, in her, uh, remarks.” [Ref #28]

We’ve learned in the past few days that Parnell, when he assumes the office of governor, plans to continue the policies laid down by his predecessor.

Tell me, Mr. Parnell: does that include the policy of the lie?

Addendum

Just after posting this, I discovered that among the Anchorage Daily News stories posted late last night (well, tonight actually — but before midnight, whereas now it’s past 3:00 AM) was one by Sean Cockerham with new words from Palin about the ethics complaints.  I was glad it was by Sean Cockerham: I knew he wouldn’t forget the real cost of the complaints.  But turns out Palin has a new explanation for her $2 million figure. Worth a lengthy quote; empasis added:

The governor repeatedly returned to the subject of ethics complaints filed against her during her 10-minute interview with the Daily News, saying she spent “most of my day, and my staff, most of their day and the department of law, a lot of their day on the frivolity.”

There have been 18 known ethics complaints filed against her. The governor’s office said they’ve been dismissed so far with no finding of wrongdoing, although she did settle a complaint over state-paid travel for her children.

The state personnel board put its cost of dealing with the complaints at about $300,000 — around two-thirds of which was in addressing the “Troopergate” issue last fall. Palin herself initiated the personnel board investigation on “Troopergate,” saying that the state Legislature’s investigation of the matter was politicized and she was seeking the appropriate venue to deal with it.

Palin said Monday she didn’t view the cost as just the $300,000 for the personnel board — but rather $2 million for the state. It is a figure her administration now uses — not meant to be actual checks written by the state but to also reflect time of state employees.

It is a per-hour calculation that the Palin administration put together, involving time spent by state lawyers deciding which public information to release as a result of all public records requests, time spent by governor’s office staffers responding to media inquiries about ethics complaints, and time technicians spend on retrieving requested e-mail, among other things.

Palin, asked why she allowed the ethics complaints to consume her so much, said she did not take the complaints personally, and that for her it was about state resources being spent on attacks that followed her run last fall as the Republican vice presidential nominee.

“That huge waste that we have seen with the countless, countless hours that state staff is spending on these frivolous ethics violations and the millions of dollars that Alaskans are spending, that money not going to things that are very important, like troopers and roads and teachers and fish research,” Palin said. [Ref #29]

A hearty thank you to ADN reader WatchingU, who rebutted with the following comment at the ADN website this morning at 2:50:19 AM (on about page 4 of reader comments):

Two Million: It is a figure her administration now uses — not meant to be actual checks written by the state but to also reflect time of state employees.**

Liar liar pants on fire. The ethics complaints are dealt with by the personnel board who are not paid except per diem, they don’t have regular meetings and don’t work a normal schedule,l they have outside jobs, the lawyers hired to investigate are not state employees, and their fees are outlined in the personnel board costs, her lawyer is not a state employee, does not use state time and since the constant statement is that these are frivolous complaints they should not need excessive investigation to be so quickly dismissed as the Governor often brags.

Record requests and email requests have charges associated with them. It is not done for free, and the charges are outrageous. The time associated with doing these things is more than adequately compensated for by the fee’s charged. [Ref #29 reader comments]

Glad I included above the discussion of the hefty fees charged for public records requests, too.  Tip o’ the nib to you, WatchingU, for paying attention, & catching Palin out on this latest rationalization.

See also the related story by Richard Mauer discussing Palin critics’ defense of their use of public records requests & the Alaska ethics complaint system:

But two of Palin’s more prolific critics say that public records laws and the ethics complaint process were used by them as designed — as a way for citizens to watchdog their government and keep abuses in check. [Ref #30]

The “prolific critics” mentioned are Andree McLeod and Linda Kellen Biegel (Celtic Diva). Tip o’ the nib to both of you, too: thanks for all your work to keep Alaska government as honest as we can make it.

Related posts

There’s several of them: follow the tag Palin ethics complaints.

References

  1. “meme.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. <Dictionary.com>. Accessed 6 Jul 2009.
  2. “meme.” Urban Dictionary. Accessed 6 Jul 2009.
  3. 7/3/09. “Transcript of Palin’s speech” by Sarah Palin (Anchorage Daily News). Sarah Palin’s July 3, 2009 speech of resignation as governor of Alaska.
  4. 7/1/09. “Troopergate looks to have dominated state costs for ethics complaints” by Sean Cockerham (Alaska Politics blog at ADN.com, 8:43 am).
  5. 7/1/09. “Ethics investigations cost state $296,000 — FEES: Troopergate cost almost two-thirds of the total” by Sean Cockerham (Anchorage Daily News).
  6. 7/1/09. “State spent nearly $300K investigating Palin ethics complaints: Most expensive investigation may have been driven by Palin herself” by Patrick Forgey (Juneau Empire).
  7. 7/1/09. “State of Alaska logs $296,000 probing Palin complaints” by the Associated Press (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner).
  8. 7/7/09. “Alaska Public Safety Commissioner dismissal” (Wikipedia). Accessed 7/7/09.
  9. 10/10/08. Report to the Legislative Council, Volume One: Public Report by Stephen Branchflower (Alaska Legislative Council).
  10. 11/3/08. In re Ethics Complaint dated September 1, 2008: Report of Findings and Recommendations by Timothy Petumenos (Alaska Personnel Board).
  11. 11/8/08. “Troopergate: The final words?” by Andrew Halcro (AndrewHalcro.com).
  12. 11/8/2008. “Is this the end of troopergate? Opposing conclusions from investigators leave no clear path to resolution” by Megan Holland and Lisa Demer (Anchorage Daily News).
  13. 11/7/08. “Our View: Taking Palin’s side — Petumenos’ report gives her strong benefit of the doubt” (Anchorage Daily News [editorial]).
  14. 2/6/09. “Senate finds ten in contempt over Troopergate subpoenas — TODD PALIN, OTHERS: No punishment urged in troopergate matter” by Sean Cockerham (Anchorage Daily News).
  15. 2/10/09. “Colberg resigns amid legislative pressure over ‘Troopergate': Palin cites ‘harsh political environment’ as reason for abrupt exit” by Sean Cockerham (Anchorage Daily News).
  16. 2/24/09. “Palin to reimburse state for family travel — $6,800: She admits no wrongdoing but will pay for a few of her kids’ trips” by Lisa Demer (Anchorage Daily News).
  17. 6/21/09. “Ethics complaints filed against Palin” by the Associated Press (Anchorage Daily News).
  18. 6/23/09. “Fifteenth Ethics Complaint Dismissed” (Office of the Governor, State of Alaska). Press release No. 19-155.
  19. 6/23/09. “Saradise Lost – Book 2 – Chapter 68 — Palin’s Biggest Lie Yet?” by Philip Munger (Progressive Alaska).  Commenter LisanTX theorized, “She does seem to confuse amounts SHE spent with amounts the state spent and make references to them interchangeably.”
  20. 7/2/09. “Catching Palin’s Numbers” by Steve (What Do I Know?).
  21. 5/31/09. “How much is $54.84 * 16?” by Steve (What Do I Know?).
  22. 5/22/09. “Palin’s transparency-for-sale: At what cost? For this Alaska resident, about $65,000…” by Linda Kellen Biegel (Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis).
  23. 6/15/09. “And the final amount for getting the Palin Administration to cough up public documents is…” by Linda Kellen Biegel (Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis). The punchline: $5552.64.
  24. 6/19/09. “Help shine a light on the Palin Administration–FAQs about this fundraiser” by Linda Kellen Biegel (Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis).
  25. 7/4/09. “Palin’s career has been one surprise after another —’MAVERICK': GOP’s bright light became target of complaints and allegations” by Don Hunter (Anchorage Daily News).
  26. 7/5/09. “Legal Bills Swayed Palin, Official Says” (New York Times)
  27. 7/6/09. “Growing Criticism at Home Took Toll on Palin” by Jim Carlton (Wall Street Journal).
  28. 7/6/09. “Sean Parnell, the Suckup Buttercup, Disses Alaska’s Senior Senator, and Repeats Palin’s Biggest Whopper from Last Week – What a Way to Start, Sean!” by Philip Munger (Progressive Alaska).
  29. 7/6/09. “Palin says ethics inquiries were paralyzing — INTERVIEW: Governor says she resigned because of frivolous complaints” by Sean Cockerham (Anchorage Daily News).
  30. 7/6/09. “Palin critics defend their actions — COMPLAINTS: Public records laws were used as designed, they say” by Richard Mauer (Anchorage Daily News).
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65 Responses to The 2 million dollar meme

  1. Heather says:

    “Prevaricating”, Mel? What a pleasure it was to read. Thank you for your meticulous research, once again. I bow in appreciation, and wish the major news networks would put in half the effort you do.

  2. HistoryGoddess says:

    WOW! Very impressive article and thank you for providing the references. Perhaps you should send a copy to both Palin and Parnell so they can do some studying up on those pesky facts.

    I remember reading the high costs charged to news agencies early in the VP vetting process (post Aug 29th.) Is there a record of how much money has been paid to AK for records requests? In accounting, wouldn’t that be considered revenue? Those costs were so high that, if paid, may almost be considered fundraisers for AK. Kudos on the article!!!

    • Mel says:

      “Is there a record of how much money has been paid to AK for records requests? In accounting, wouldn’t that be considered revenue?”

      I imagine there’s a record, but don’t know if it’s consolidated anywhere, or who’d keep track. Dept. of Admin? … dunno. I would certainly think it would be considered revenue.

      Thanks for the good words, both of you!

  3. GA Peach a/k/a Lance the Boil aka Crust Scramble says:

    Directed here from Mudflats. Great job, Mel. Love the ‘visuals’ and references.

  4. the problem child says:

    Wonderfully well written and great research. Thanks for the bibliography, too! You might consider submitting this for publication at some “real” media sources. Oh, say, like Mother Jones, Washington Post, ADN, NY Times. (I’m serious.)

  5. Geese Whalebone P says:

    Thank you Mel. From start to finish, This is an most excellent post!

  6. BRT says:

    This as been the most succinct and credible analysis I have read.

    Excellent work!

    I’m just sorry that it will not appear in a mainstream newspaper, or other news outlet. It should be read by all.

  7. LiladyNY says:

    Meticulous research and rebuttal. This needs to go to the MSM as well as Huffington Post, Crooks and Liars and Daily Kos post haste!

  8. BRT says:

    Oh, just one more thing, Sir, I think I found a small typo that you want to correct:

    “A little more than a week later, on June 2 — the day before Palin announced her resignation, but also a day after the Alaska Personnel Board had released its figures ………”

    I think you want to make that date July 2. I’m not trying to be picky, but I’m sure you want to be precise.

    Also, I don’t really expect this comment to be posted, I just wanted to help.

    Once again, great work and thank you.

  9. Georgia in NC says:

    excellent work! It is gratifying to see detailed and factual information offered to “progress” the meme that Sarah Palin is a stinkin liar.
    I agree with the other comments – go nationwide! send it to Rachel Maddow – this piece reminds me of how she approaches complicated stories.

  10. trisha says:

    Great work. The media needs to get-with-it. I keep hearing them report Palin’s figures as if they are undisputed facts.

    Here is something else I find interesting and deserves attention.

    Palin said, state staff is spending on these frivolous ethics violations and the millions of dollars that Alaskans are spending, that money not going to things that are very important, like troopers and roads and teachers and fish research,” Palin said.

    Now, compare that to what she said to Hannity a few weeks ago about the huge budget cuts that will need to be made based on lower oil revenue. She said, that cutting the state budget (by something like 85%) would be a good thing for the families of Alaska—because if the state HAS money—they just spend it. HUH?

    So, I guess she isn’t too concerned about money being lost that could be spend on education, troopers, roads, teachers–if she thinks that cutting the budget by 85% would be good for the State.

    Someone needs to call her on this statement.

  11. ak Constant says:

    I am no supporter of Palin, but I can imagine other costs. Attorney General’s time. Palin’s time. Kris Perry’s time. The time all of the folks being interviewed by the Judiciary Committee. The time and travel of the members of the Judiciary Committee and Legislative Council. All of those expenses are the cost of doing business, but I can imagine they added up really quickly.

  12. Mel says:

    Not much time to reply to comments (work calls), but everything I’ve looked at indicates that (1) Palin mostly pulled the $2 million figure out of thin air & (2) to the extent she isn’t, she’s talking about executive branch costs. Judiciary Committee, Legislative Council: those are on the legislative branch side of things.

    I’ve also seen a couple of sets of calculations that make it a bit clearer how much time it would take for $2 million in work time to accumulate. Will try to find that stuff later. Right now: work.

  13. Mitch says:

    Great post. Thank you.

  14. Pam says:

    Excellent analysis, Mel. This was a public service. I hope it is widely circulated — I’m linking this wherever I can.

  15. Steve says:

    Thanks Mel for showing the world what bloggers can do!

  16. Joansie says:

    MSNBC is still waiting for the public records they requested last September (when they were initially told the price tag could be as high as $15 million):
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31727233/ns/politics/

    • Mel says:

      My current theory: Palin was attempting to diversify Alaska’s economy by decreasing our dependence on oil revenues. In a couple of years, instead of an oil windfall to add to our Permanent Fund Dividends, it’ll be public records request windfall. Thanks, MSNBC!

  17. Micheli says:

    Thanks Mel…very informative…hope this makes it to the front page of Huffpost..

  18. Phala says:

    I am a 58 year old, life-long registered Independent (37 years). As a non-partisan who thoroughly fact-checks every candidate, well-researched and comprehensive information such as yours provides me an invaluable and indispensable resource… and, yes, I also will email your article to Rachel Maddow and Thom Hartmann as well. In addition, David Brooks at the NYT needs to read this and even Fox’s Shephard Smith might be receptive to your “fair and balanced” factual truth.

    While not a resident of Alaska, I have have many friends and family there and have traveled extensively throughout your magnificent state. From my observation, I conclude that Sarah Palin and her small cadre of supporters do not represent the majority of resourceful, self-reliant, fair-minded, and independently-geared Alaskans. Also, as a candidate who campaigned on “ethics reform”, her comment that, “… ethics inquiries were paralyzing,” is both disingenuous and reveals a level of hypocrisy I’ve seldom encountered in your fellow Alaskans.

    Therefore, I must ask, how did such an unqualified candidate such as Sarah Palin, with her checkered past, thin resume, history of obfuscation, and vindictive manipulation, attain a position of such local (and now national) prominence? I believe the answer lies in the fundamental election flaw of closed partisan primaries (as well as the lack of mandated publicly financed campaigns) .

    As in the majority of states, Alaska’s closed primary facilitates and promotes divisive partisanship. I believe this is the one over-riding reason we continue to elect “panders-to-the-base” demagogues and not plurality-focused officials.

    Furthermore, there is nothing in the US Constitution that establishes or even recommends political parties of any size (let alone equal strength). Whether left, right, or centrist, once a party elects their candidate – the “winner-take-all” mentality invariably ensues. Division is now the institutionalized norm; and, in our seemingly endless cycle of elections, we all continue to lose.

    I believe it’s way beyond time for all Americans to demand that all our respective states adopt an Open, “Run-off”, or similar type of primary. When the ballot is not restricted to one party and the top two candidates advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation, elected individuals are beholden only to constituents and not to entrenched party influence- peddlers.

    We must work together and initiate fundamental election reform. Until we do, the self-absorbed, staus quo, party-hacks will only continue to serve their self-interests and further misrepresent the collective desires of ‘we the people’.

    Again, thank you for your contribution and your willingness to expand both your local and our national dialog.

    Phala A. Ray
    Whys=Wise

  19. jo says:

    Please send this to MSM, she has already been shown to be a liar, I don’t know why they believe anything she says. She needs to be exposed time and time again that she is not to be trusted. Thank you!

  20. mudkitten says:

    Excellent work. I agree that this should be passed on to other news organizations to reach a wider audience.

    I also wish that someone (you??) would do a little fact checking on Palin’s clain that she has $500,000 in legal expenses. First, I don’t understand how defending herself against the Personel Board’s investigation would cost her anything, let alone that kind of money. If she had to answer questions or provide documents all that cost was time.

    Second, if it did cost her some money, how could it cost nearly twice as much to defend herself as the investigators spent? Especially if she was innocent? That just doesn’t make sense.

    Third, she has never, at least as far as I know, documented that claim of her legal expenses whatsoever. How come these so-called journalists are repeating that figure ad nauseum again and again and again? Can you pretty please do something about it?

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you Mel, for your work on this. Every time I hear/see Palin interviewed about this in the MSM, I find myself waiting for the reporter to call her out on some of the details of her statements, particularly the $2M price tag.

    It’s pioneers in the Brave New Media like yourself that are going to bring about the new age of journalism.

  22. Syrin says:

    Bravo!!! I appreciate your time and effort to do the research. Thank you

  23. baja says:

    I am going to check Websters and see if I can find your name under journalistic integrity. You should be because you are one of Alaska’s best. Thanks for all you contribute and keeping us truthfully informed.

  24. KaJo says:

    I hope you don’t mind — I sent your URL of this story to the e-mail address of “Nightly News – MSNBC” with the hopes it gets to people who could re-edumacate Andrea Mitchell. :)

  25. emrysa says:

    excellent work!

  26. lowandslow says:

    From the newsminer.

    “The governor’s office says its expenditures totaled more than $425,000 in nearly 6,000 hours of staff hours.”

    Who is going to believe that she had three people in her staff addressing these complaints full time for a year? Why does she do thing like this?

  27. lazarhat says:

    Priceless! Seriously, Mel. Genius! Bravo!

    -Laz

  28. AK Sandhills says:

    That is a very well researched article. I have also noticed this blind repetition of lies that keeps on going through the news cycle that is simply the result of lazy reporting. How do we get this information disseminated through the MSM?
    For a long time now Palin has sent out “truth-challenged statements” but there only seems to be a cursory attempt to counter them. She is so used to not being called out on her statements, that she simply operates under the notion that she can release whatever she wants to the media & any questions will probably be buried under the headlines. And you know what – SHE’S RIGHT!

  29. AKMFan says:

    Thank you for an interesting and informative article. I’ve never been to your site before, but I will be checking back more often now that I’ve found it.

    One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned is this. Palin says that the 2 million isn’t meant to be “costs of actual checks cut” and that the money was for state employees time. She also states that the money is not going to essential services like troopers, teachers, roads etc.

    That money (since it’s not actual checks being cut) wouldn’t be going to those things anyway. It’s not like they hired 10 new staff and those new employees salaries are taking up the money which could have been used for new teachers or troopers or road improvements.

    That money would be spent on exactly what it is being spent on now…state employees salaries. If she is directing her entire staff to spend all their time on dealing with ethics complaints (which is really the responsibility of the personnel board) that is, once again, HER wasting the state’s money.

  30. WatchingU says:

    Hey, Thanks for noticing my comment on the ADN. I have learned to pay attention to what Governor Palin and her administration says as they are often misleading or even downright untruthful in their claims.

  31. WatchingU says:

    AKMFan says…
    If she is directing her entire staff to spend all their time on dealing with ethics complaints (which is really the responsibility of the personnel board) that is, once again, HER wasting the state’s money.

    ________

    The problem with that is there is no need for her to direct her staff to spend time dealing with all these ethics complaints. Ethics complaints are directed to the personnel board for investigation. That is their job. They hire outside attorney’s to investigate the charges/complaints. If they are all so frivolous as is oft repeated by the Palin administration then the investigation time should be very minimal.

    I will fully accept the claim that the people who are in charge of doing the email/record requests might be working more since Governor Palin became a national figure, and many more record request or email requests have been brought forward, but the charges that are associated with doing a records request is astronomical and should by any normal standard not only cover the costs of doing the searches, but for hiring additional personnel if needed.

    For example, the Palin administration has been on record as saying that to do a single email account search will take 16 hours. Multiply that by the charge of $54.84 (the hourly rate they charge) and it comes to $925.44 for a search of a SINGLE email account.

  32. AKMFan says:

    Perhaps I was not clear in my sarcasm :) I fully agree that her staff shouldn’t be doing much of anything with the ethics complaints. It’s the personnel board’s area and they should be doing the bulk of the work. I tried to convey that by my parenthetical comment about the personnel board.

    I have never seen it suggested anywhere that they have hired more people to do records requests. I may have missed it. Certainly the amounts being estimated for the running of the requests, which were astronomical during the election (some of which STILL have not been fulfilled apparently) are meant to cover the entire salary of the employee(s) doing the requests (and to be a deterrent to actually getting information).

    I, personally, believe that if someone filed a lawsuit over the charges being estimated that it might be an issue. There are normally limits on the amount of money considered “reasonable” for this type of thing.

    They appear to be charging the employees hourly salary for running searches that are, no doubt, running in batches overnight when no one is actually sitting in the office working. If they are not running them that way, that is a problem with their IT dept and shouldn’t be borne by the requester, imo.

  33. Valley Independent says:

    Mel, you are marvelous! Thank you for your very informative piece.

  34. The Rubber Room Hotel says:

    This is a very well done article. From an Alaskan I thank you very much for such fine and thorough work.
    I truly hope that the MSM will read your article and maybe learn a few things.

  35. LiladyNY says:

    Mel: I think you should send this to the AP immediately so they can 1. See what real investigative journalism looks like, and 2. Can clarify their stories which only state the $2,000.000 number without any research to back it up.

    info@ap.org

    This is my first visit to your site, but it will not be my last.

  36. tealwomin says:

    wow, LOVE THE DETAILS. Never read it in such a ‘broken-down’ fashion…

    Should go to Village Voice, NYT,WashPost….far better than the offering of AK newspapers

  37. tealwomin says:

    forgot to say, the daily Kos is another option

  38. trisha says:

    Great work and I hope that there is at least one journalist who is willing to do some fact checking and question the numbers that they are being fed from Palin and the Governors office. I am so disappointed to hear journalists all over the Country (cable, newspaper, network,etc) all repeat Palin’s version of the truth.

    I also agree that the 500K figure that Palin mentions is used again and again. Who says it has cost them 500K except the Palin’s? Also, I heard this reported yestday on some cable news and they didn’t even mention that Palin has been collecting money from the public to pay for her legal fees. Has any of this even cost them a dime?

    How about Anderson Cooper? Has this been forwarded to him?

  39. trisha says:

    Regarding MSNBC’s request for records back in September (that they still haven’t received)…Seriously? What are they doing? Purging files? Unbelievable.

    What ever happened to all those emails that the Gov tried to hide by using private email accounts for state business? Have they ever released those emails?

  40. Martha says:

    WOW…….does not begin to cover the effort that you have put into this, but as I sit here with my mouth agape, that is all I am able to utter.

    All Alaskans should be proud of you for submitting yourself to the insanity Palin calls logic and coming away with this concise, coherent body of work.

    Applause………applause!

    Take a bow…..take a bow

    I am going to forward this to as many folks as I can, in the hope that someone will take an interest.

    Thank you

  41. CatM says:

    Pretty sad that the so-called “real media” can’t bother to do its job. They wonder why they are losing revenue and blogs are growing in popularity. Bloggers actually do real research rather than just repeating what someone like Sarah Palin says without question.

    Good work on doing the media’s job for them. If they were smart, they would take a look at this and consider writing an article about the truth. IT would certainly generate a lot of readership.

  42. Ennealogic says:

    Remarkable work, Mel. I’ve visited here before but never realized what a true gem you are. If only the “real” media would take the time to investigate the ridiculous claims made by one soon-to-be ex-governor, there’s no way she would have even 30% approval.

    Thank you, and thank you again.

  43. nono says:

    Palin is a liar, hypocrite and fraud.

    Facts are stubborn things.

  44. trisha says:

    Bloggers are the new investigative journalists.

    Regarding these complaints, Palin’s lawyer was on Greta today and was basically saying that it was the Democratic Party in the lower 48 who filed these complaints to destroy Palin. He mentioned that numerous complaints were filed under psuedonums, so the assumption is…..it was an organized effort the Dems. What lies!!!!!

    Isn’t there an official spokesperson for the Dem Party that can issue a press release, or hold a press conference to speak the truth about these complaints? Palin and her lawyer are the only ones who have the media’s ear right now, and they are spreading lies thicker than mud. No one in the media is doing the digging to get to the truth, and they are just taking Palin’s word as fact.

  45. Mel says:

    Thanks everyone for all your comments. I’ve been rather overwhelmed by the incredible response really: Before yesterday & today, the most hits in a day I’ve gotten on my blog was 288. Yesterday it was 1298, & today (so far) 880 — most of them on this one post.

    I’m not really a political blogger (I have been telling myself). Last night I finally admitted to some friends — okay, I’m an occasional political blogger. And I just spent part of my lunchtime writing a post explaining that. And also some of the limits to how much political blogging I can do.

    I will try later tonight to address at least briefly some of the important points & etc. people have been making here. I couldn’t last night because I was spending most of the evening at an Anchorage Assembly meeting — part of my status as an occasional political blogger comes from the battle we’ve been fighting here in Anchorage for the last couple months for an equal rights/nondiscrimination ordinance for lesbian/gay/bi/trans people, against an extremely vile campaign by Christianist “Truth is not hate” hate speechmongers. Today, of course, work.

    Another thing… I noticed that there’s been a big increase in visits to my About me page, I guess by people wondering who in hell it was who wrote this thing. info there was pretty thin, so I spent another part of my lunchtime filling it in. Might even be interesting. And since I’m only an occasional political blogger, maybe there’ll be something in there to recommend return visits for other reasons as well.

    See you later tonight with some comments back to your comments, possibly another blog post. (Not necessarily a long one: I need my sleep, & tomorrow night I’ll be catching a red-eye.)

    I can’t say how much I appreciate your visits & comments. I feel much as AKMuckraker must’ve felt when her first truthtelling post about Sarah Palin, after Palin was first tapped to be McCain’s running mate, went viral. You all are great. Thanks.

  46. Mel says:

    Just read my email — informed by Phil Munger of Progressive Alaska about this AP story that’s been running today:

    Palin’s office details complaint costs

    The Associated Press

    Published: July 7th, 2009 05:23 PM
    Last Modified: July 7th, 2009 05:23 PM

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Sarah Palin’s office has released a nearly $2 million cost breakdown detailing what the resigning Alaska governor says the state has paid tackling ethics complaints against her.

    The spreadsheet compiled by the governor’s office totals more than $1.9 million reportedly spent by various state agencies to handle the complaints as well as public records requests.

    Palin, who steps down July 26, has racked up more than $500,000 in personal legal debts on top of that.

    According to the cost breakdown, expenditures by the state Department of Law added up to more than $850,000.

    The governor’s office says its expenditures totaled more than $425,000 in nearly 6,000 hours of staff hours.

    Palin’s staff released the numbers to back up her contention the onslaught of “frivolous” ethics complaints have cost the state millions of dollars and thousands staff hours.

    However, nobody knows anyone (including apparently the AP itself) who has actually seen the spreadsheet. You can bet when they do, Alaska bloggerdom (including me to the extent available) will be all over it. It has seemed to me that Palin’s story about the $2 million being attributable to staff work across several state agencies was just her shifting ground to a new explanation when Sean Cockerham interviewed her Monday (the quote Included in the “Addendum” part of this post), because Cockerham of course had also been the ADN reported who reported on the Alaska Personnel Board figures, & knew that the real figure was not $2 mill but $300,000. I’m betting the Gov’s office has been working overtime to try to justify her shifting ground explanation ever since.

    Stay tuned — if I don’t have time to report on the spreadsheet here, check out other progressive Alaska blogs.

  47. leenie17 says:

    Like so many others I have become infuriated over the past few months at how the mainstream media has repeatedly dropped the ball when it comes to reporting on Palin. If it were not for the tireless efforts of bloggers like yourself, AKM, Celtic Diva, Shannyn Moore, Phil Munger, Gryphen and many others, the truth about her and her administration would be supressed. Thank you for your hard work and please keep it up!

  48. KASSANDRA says:

    BRILLANT

  49. Mel says:

    See my first take on the spreadsheet, & the spreadsheet itself, at The nearly 2 million dollar spreadsheet. There’ll be plenty more reporting on this I’m sure as more reporters & bloggers take a look a the figures for themselves. Gotta run.

  50. trish in SW FL says:

    Hi Mel,

    I followed the link from Linda’s, to read your entire article. Very impressive, excellent work!

    Thank you and all the other top notch Alaska bloggers for staying on top of Palin and her lies.

  51. sancticaris says:

    wow, kudos to u mel green.

    if you were to be paid according to palin’s math for the amount of research you’ve done here, i’m guessing you’d be getting a nice check courtesy of the alaskan taxpayers.

    again, awesome breakdown on palin’s faulty numbers.

  52. John Sawyer says:

    Phala:

    You ask “how did such an unqualified candidate such as Sarah Palin, with her checkered past, thin resume, history of obfuscation, and vindictive manipulation, attain a position of such local (and now national) prominence?”. While your own answer may have some bearing on this (“I believe the answer lies in the fundamental election flaw of closed partisan primaries (as well as the lack of mandated publicly financed campaigns)”, I believe some simpler truths apply too:

    Sarah Palin was in various beauty contests years ago. There, she learned, or merely honed, her skills related to speechifying (if not outright lying), looks vs brains, etc. The polls that were done right after McCain picked Palin as his running mate, showed Palin scored much higher with men than women–undoubtedly, many of these were easily deluded men who liked her looks, and decided to take her at her word, regardless of any evidence that detracted from her statements (typical of many lovestruck moon-eyed guys). For the women, she said she was a hockey mom–a surprising number of women (aside from the ones who saw right through her) said they liked her, believed her, and would vote for her based on simple things like this that they could “relate to”. In many elections, at least half of all voters operate according to what are, for them, easy to track (in other words, lazy) markers like this, that they think tell the truth about someone. I guess these voters live in communities where everyone is as upstanding as a Garrison Keillor community, and stories about underhandedness among people are considered tall tales about far-away lands, or about anyone who isn’t a Republican. Never mind the stories about Palin’s husband being a member of an Alaskan separatist movement, or the fact that she once spoke in front of that crowd, praising them, or other real indicators of a person’s character or intent, like those reported on here by Mel–what hockey mom would darest cross the line and engage in acts like that? Some people think that thinking the best about someone, with friendly trust, is a sign of their own good character, but too often the character trait it shows is a childish unwillingness to think like an adult, and look underneath someone’s public persona.

  53. ann says:

    Perhaps, alaskan taxpayers are somewhat unique. Maybe all of us are. Garrison Keillor may live in land of denial, where stories about underhandedness among people are considered tall tales about far-away lands. Reality is hard to embrace at times. FACE THE FACT
    Is a blessing to be able to think and post here.

    • Mel says:

      One of the really unique things about us Alaska taxpayers is that we don’t, in fact, pay taxes. At least not to the State of Alaska: no state income or sales tax.

  54. Johnny says:

    Look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She fits about 8 of the 10 signs, the most onerous of which is lying in the face of truth and getting rid of anyone who doesn’t go along. (Or quickly getting out of a situation where the lies are no longer believed.) Another one is “magical thinking”, i.e. a “law department” in the white house that will through out lawsuits. The list goes on and on. She’s a textbook, classic case of NPD.

    • Mel says:

      Ah well, I’ll leave the psychiatric diagnoses to psychiatrists, esp. seeing that I consider DSM-IV to contain a lot of fiction too. What I know about Palin is simply that the truth is whatever comes out of her mouth at the time. Thus, if challenged with facts on one “truth” — Colbert’s term truthiness would actually be more accurate — she will shift ground to an alternative truthiness, just as truthy as the last. Until the fact checkers come in & expose the errors of fact in the new set of truthinesses. The point for the fact checkers (in the case of these posts, me) isn’t to get Palin herself to adhere to the actual real factual truth, but to expose Palin’s errors of fact to the world. But she herself is a true believer in herself, & has a following of true believers who are completely willing to shift ground with her so long as the central narrative — of Palin as some sort of genius & savior of Christianist social conservatism & who is being persecuted on account of those very virtues — is upheld.

      Good book I’d recommend: The Religious Case Against Belief, which I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts, particularly in connection with our most prominent local Christianist pastor, Jerry Prevo of the Anchorage Baptist Temple. Currently leading the fight against an equal rights ordinance which would prohibit discrimination against lesbian/gay/bi/trans people in Anchorage. He’s a master of Christianist antigay rhetoric which carries many of the same characteristics that Palin has. He’s a true believer & has a following of true believers, who have obediently been getting up in public testimony to spew the same Christianist “Truth is Not Hate” truthiness-inspired hate speech. Prevo’s got some Palin connection too. The book I mentioned has been a great companion to the dynamic involved, which is essentially about people who believe that by virtue of their belief system they have all the answers, & make themselves willfully ignorant about anything new, anything unknown that might possibly contradict their belief system. They seem to feel that their selfhoods will be destroyed if they maintain an openness to the new, or of learning from what is now unknown but could become known. In the opinion of the author, its the very opposite to true “religion”, which recognizes that there are always new mysteries over the horizon, always something new to be learned — & are excited and joyful in that sense of always being open to new knowledge that can refine their existing knowledge… but never, ever perfect knowledge, because none of us can contain the full infinity of the universe. Prevo, Palin, Bush, you could probably name off all manner of others who fit the profile of the true believer who believes he or she knows all, & is in constant enmity with anything/anyone who does not share that same ideology. And you could probably name all kinds of other people who are always eager to learn anew, who are relaxed in the face of the unknown. And who tend not to have “conversion” experiences, b/c conversion is by its nature a setting of one thing up against another: the convert is “right”, everyone else — including the converts unconverted friends, is suddenly “wrong.”

      Anyway. Good book. I find it a much more useful guide to how people act in the world, than DSM-IV. Which itself is a somewhat closed-door belief system/idealogy. In my opinion.

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  56. MikeBoyScout says:

    GREAT post!!!!!!!
    Your investigation and sourcing in this post is EXCELLENT!

    thank-you.

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