Sunday, July 5, 2009

You Won't Have Sarah Palin's Higher Power to Kick Around Anymore

Ms. Jayne Mansfield. Again, when you're
going to throw a hissy fit and go into
great detail about financing residential
construction, you really have to start 
This is going to be a very angry note, written by a very cranky guy. When I find myself getting cranky-angry, what helps is to think on people who are gentle cats; the kind of people we (here, I really mean “me”) should try harder to emulate. Lucky for me, my friend Bob is exactly one of those people: he is, by any measure, a good guy. Thinking on Bob helps me to be less angry. 

Now that I am also less cranky, I will say that when the final roll is called up yonder, I will do my level best to ensure my friend Bob (among other accomplishments) is also known for two things. First, “Chicken Bob” which is a delicious way to prepare barbeque chicken (see infra), and “The Bob Rule.” 

I first met Bob when I was a low level flunky at the State Legislature, and Bob was a medium-high level state employee, doing a bunch of testifying or advising or some such. After one particularly trying day of fighting for Truth, Justice, and The Oregon Way (don’t ask), Bob and I were heading home when he turned to me and said “You know what it takes to be a successful politician? Not brains, talent, ambition, savvy, common sense—none of that. To be a successful politician, you have to have only one thing, and that’s absolutely no sense of self-consciousness or embarrassment.” I stopped dead, and thought about every political person I knew or had read about, and realized that Bob had found the one common denominator they all shared: everyone of them were able to say something completely crazy in all good conscience, even if they knew what they were saying was crazy.

That conversation was over twenty years ago, and nothing that has happened since then to put even a dent in The Bob Rule. I am telling you the story of Bob, because the latest twist and shake of the Sarah Palin saga has brought The Bob Rule back to the fore.

By now, certainly everyone reading this is well aware that Alaska’s own Sarah Palin has seen fit to resign as Governor. 

Princess Grace. Say what you want 
about The Princess, but all her public
statements had good grammar and 
correct punctuation.
You are also probably aware of the contradictory and nonsensical nature of her statement “explaining” why she was resigning. If you have not read it, here it is. I urge all of you to read it. At another time, I will go into how appalled I am at the poor punctuation and grammar of seemingly everyone in the Alaska Governor’s office (What--no one owns a copy of Strunk & White?), but suffice to say, this statement raises many more questions than it answers.

So, intrepid people that we are, legions (we are called “Legion,” for we are many) have leaped forward to suggest reasons as to why Governor Palin resigned. For example, my niece the notorious troublemaker suggested that Governor Palin resigned, because Governor Palin felt bad after reading all the terrible things I wrote about her. I wish. 

But apparently, some Bloggers (not me) have really hurt Governor Palin’s feelings. On July 4 2009, Mr. Thomas Van Flein, an attorney representing Sarah Palin, released a statement, threatening legal action against said Bloggers (again, not me. Damn it!). I cannot find the actual statement, so if you have the link, let me know and I will include it. Here is the Associated Press article where I took this quote from Mr. Van Flein’s statement:

"To the extent several websites, most notably liberal Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore, are now claiming as 'fact' that Governor Palin resigned because she is 'under federal investigation' for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing, we will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation . . . This is to provide notice to Ms. Moore, and those who re-publish the defamation, such as Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post, that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law."

Ms. Ava Gardner. After you've been
married to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw,
Howard Hughes, AND Frank Sinatra,
people know better than to threaten 
Well, shut my mouth. I have no idea whoShannyn Moore is (besides the fact she seems to be from Homer, AK), but I have seen the allegations that Mr. Van Flein is talking about. I am going to repeat them RIGHT HERE, courtesy of Facebook and Samsara Samizdat. Why? Because manuscripts don’t burn, as they say where I (kind of) come from.

What is it with politicians in Alaska? The Mrs. and Uncle Ted Stevens were able to “remodel” a mountain cabin, by getting $410,000. of work, with only having to pay $160,000. I guess the secret is hiring the right building contractor, which in Senator Stevens’s case was the chief executive of an oil services company that (back in the day) did a whole bunch of government work. If you want to know more about The Ted Stevens Story, you can go here.

But what are the rumours of “embezzlement” and “other criminal wrong doing” targeted at poor Sarah Palin? Well, it involves the family homestead. From the Daily Kos, here is a picture of the two story, four bedroom, four bath, 3,450 sq. foot lakeside shack that the Palins call home, valued at $552,000. All well and good. What’s not so good is that some people are asking where did the house come from. The Official Story is husband Todd Palin built the house with “a few friends [unspecified] who were contractors.” 
The Palin Plaza. Just a little something Todd & the boys threw together one afternoon. Kind of.

What’s getting “re-published” is that at the same time that La Casa Palin was built, just down the road the Wasilla Sports Complex, a $12.5 million public works project, was built by Howdie Inc., a primarily residential contractor owned by one Mr. Howard Nugent. Who is Howard Nugent? Among other things, he’s a financial contributor to Sarah Palin. Many of the army of subcontractors building the Wasilla Sports Complex were also Palin contributors. If you want to see the whole laundry list, here is a link.

One of the bigger subcontractors for the Sports Complex was Spenard Builders Supply (SBS). To be fair, SBS is described as Alaska’s leading supplier of wood, floor, roof, and other building materials. However, SBS is also a sponsor of Todd Palin’s snowmobile racing team, and hired Sarah to act in a statewide television commercial in 2004. In 2002, SBS supplied the materials for both the Sports Complex, and the Palin home.

Ms. Hedy Lamarr. She has nothing to do
with this note. I needed to include her
in my hissy fits on same-sex 
marriages, because she had a boatload
of Reno divorces.
So, what’s the story?

Here’s what gets the Palins (and their attorneys) all excited: the story circulating the “liberal blogosphere” (as opposed to the usual suspects that make up the Unrepresentative Eastern Liberal Media Establishment (the UELME)) is (part one) SBS and the contractors who built the Wasilla Sports Complex are the “buddies” who “helped” Todd Palin build the Palin home, (part two) they built the Palin house in exchange for then Mayor Sarah’s awarding of contracts for building the Wasilla Sports Complex. And (part three) Sarah Palin suddenly decided to resign as Governor not because everything is going great in Alaska (it’s not); nor because Alaska is projecting a $1.3 billion budget gap for fiscal year 2010 (which is 30% of the state’s total budget), and Sarah Palin is not up to the demands of dealing with the fiscal crisis (she’s not); but because she is trying to head off an investigation into who gave the Palins’ their home, and what benefits they received in exchange for the largess. 

The Palin camp’s self-righteous chest thumping centers around allegations that there is a pending “criminal” investigation or a “federal” investigation. For example, in a July 4 2009 article, the Anchorage Daily News quotes Van Flein saying “I can say definitively I am aware of no criminal investigation whatsoever involving Sarah Palin. Zero.” What does that mean? Well, it could mean there is an ethical investigation, which is civil as opposed to criminal. Or it could mean there is an investigation involving the Palin home, as opposed to investigating Sarah Palin personally. Or it could mean there are boatloads of investigations of Sarah Palin—only Van Flein is “not aware” of them. But does Mr. Van Flein’s statement mean that SBS and Howard Nugent did not build and pay for the Palins’ home? Not even vaguely.

Still, the same Anchorage Daily News article goes on to quote Mr. Van Flein saying “[t]he Palins used a combination of personal savings, equity from the sale of their private home, and conventional bank financing to build the house, like millions of American families.” Okay----but did the Palins get a deal, like Uncle Ted, in that they paid in the neighborhood of thirty cents on a dollar for work and materials? Proving that would be easy enough, but apparently Mr. Van Flein’s statement failed to include particulars.

So, ‘splain it to me, Ricky: why is the blogosphere in an uproar?

Ms. Jane Russell. I have to start spicing
it up, because my note is really starting
to lag here.
First, we have Ted Stevens failing to disclose on his ethics statements that he received $410,000. of cabin renovation, but paid only $160,000. Did the Palins receive such a deal? When I bought my fixer-upper house, it needed re-wiring, re-plumbing, a new roof, replacing roughly a third of the sill, and gutting the bathroom. Now, let’s say some conservative gadfly claimed that rumour has it the Democratic National Committee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the ACLU, and the First Church of Satan (Reformed) together pooled their funds to rebuild my house—all in an effort to secretly support Samsara Samizdat. Unfortunately, I can show that the roofers, plumbers, electrician, and carpenter were all paid one hundred cents on the dollar by me, and (despite my best efforts) they did not give a rat’s ass about my opinions on anything. There is no reason why the Palins could not do the same.

Second, people not from Alaska may ask why not just go look at the building permits, and see who were the Palins’ contractors? Here’s why not: as Mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin blocked an effort to require the filing of building permits, so there is no public record of just who the elves were who built the Palin home.

Not the contractors who helped Todd
Palin build the family homestead.
Next, despite the wide ranging accomplishments and skills attributed to Todd Palin in GOP hagiography, Todd Palin is still a fisherman and a part-time oil worker. While Mr. Palin may truly be “no stranger to construction,” as Mr. Van Flein claims, that’s a far cry from being able to build two story, 3,500 square foot home. Maybe Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney were able to throw together Broadway caliber shows in an Uncle’s barn with costumes left over from the school play—but that was in the movies. A handyman (no matter how handy) cannot build a two story home with the help of “a few buddies.”

Fourth, why is Governor Palin suddenly resigning now? On its face, her statement makes no sense at all. The timing is also strange: the Friday of a three day weekend? Either Sarah Palin truly is erratic and irresponsible, or there is some other reason she is rushing out the door. The sloppy nature of her statement also suggests the timing was rushed, despite Governor Palin’s insistence that “this decision has been in the works for awhile.” Additionally, the statement is especially bitter about what Governor Palin feels are frivolous ethics complaints, strongly implying that those complaints have driven her from office.

Ms. Mamie Van Doren. It only looks like she's playing in the sand. She's actually working on the foundation for a new Governor's mansion. Honest.
Finally, as the article in the Anchorage Daily News reports, rumours about how the Palins' house was built have been around since the house built in 2002. As I said, proving that the Palins did not receive any special “deals” on labour or materials would be easy enough. Why haven’t they done so? Because it is none of our business how they built their house and who paid for it? Sorry--but no. If you hold public office, it most certainly is my business who all is giving you free stuff—whether or not there are any “federal” or “criminal” investigations pending that you are “aware of.”

But getting back to The Bob Rule, that the single most important quality of a successful politician is to have absolutely no sense of self-consciousness or embarrassment, could you hope for a better example that this quote from Governor Palin’s “explanation” for her resignation: 

[I]t may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: “Sit down and shut up”, but that’s the worthless, easy path; that’s a quitter’s way out. And a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and “go with the flow”. (All punctuation and grammar in original).

Is it so hard to believe that like Senator Stevens, Sarah Palin honestly feels her public service entitles her to a free house, and that she should be excused from having to admit that she has received such a blessing? I'm just asking here.

In the meantime, New York Times v. Sullivan is still good law, and I fully intend to “re-publish” everything I see fit, regardless if in Mr. Van Flein’s view it is “defamatory,” and I will certainly do my part to “propagate defamatory material.” As for “answering to this in a court of law,” as they say in the mystery stories: Bring it. And don’t stop to pick any flowers.

Ms. Corrine Calvert. You will have to
makeup your own snarky comment 
about Governor Palin for this photo.
I've run out. Sorry.
Chicken Bob

This recipe is simplicity itself. First, make a marinade as follows. I can never remember the exact ratios, but it’s something like this: two part soy sauce and one part vegetable oil, add like half a teaspoon powdered ginger (more if you like it real gingery, less if you don’t want it so gingery). Put the chicken inside a ziplock plastic bag, to maximize marinade contact with chicken.

Now, Bob lets the chicken marinate between 45 minutes to an hour. I like chicken with lots of soy and lots of ginger, so I let it sit overnight. However you do it, discard the marinade, and barbeque the chicken over a medium fire, being careful not to overcook it (unless you like it that way).

Chicken Bob goes especially well with corn on the cob, and pretty much everything else.

1 comment:

Lance Boyle said...

Hi Bill, I’m enjoying your blog. Your writing is quite entertaining, and lagniappe-- Bob's chicken recipe. I followed you over from a couple Alaska blogs where you commented.

One thing, though, I don’t think Ted Nugent built Sarah’s house, although with his nickname being 'Uncle Ted', it's easy to see how the confusion...what? oh. never mind.

You got yourself one new regular visitor. Thanks.