Sarah Palin And The 1798 Sedition Act Are Connected

This weekend there has been a flurry of news stories about the truly weird timing and ‘substance’ of soon-to-be ex-Governor Sarah Palin’s press conference where she announced her failure at being able to finish her term in office.  Since the press conference raised far more questions than it answered, there has been a series of news organizations and bloggers trying to answer the most obvious question.  WHY?  Many bloggers are speculating that there is a federal investigation underway of the head of the Palin clan, and that her resignation was the most prudent step to take at this juncture.

Then something strange happened.

The legal team that is assisting Sarah Palin started making statements that were not factual concerning some of the bloggers, and others over the nature of what they could, and could not say or write about this story.  Were bloggers being threatened by following up on the rumors of a federal indictment?   This should rightly smack all as most un-American.

Some of my readers will know that on July 4th I posted a high recommendation for Joesph Ellis’ book  “Founding Brothers”.  As I read more about Palin, and her attorneys I thought back to a move undertaken by President Adams, that was discussed in the much loved book.

The Sedition Act was designed to make it a crime against those who publish “false, scandalous, and malicious writing” against the government or its officials.  How convenient then; how ironic now that the ghost of such an attempt would surface by the Sarah Palin team on this Fourth of July weekend.

The irony is that the original Sedition Act was passed by the Federalist Congress on ………July 4, 1798!  Now 211 years later to the day…..and Sarah Palin with the aid of her legal team is trying to achieve the same thing.

It should be noted that at the time of the original attempt a Republican editor of a newspaper had made reference to President Adam’s wide ass, and as such was hauled into court.  The jury returned a not guilty verdict  “on the grounds that truth was a legitimate defense”.

Today we know and appreciate the fullness of the First Amendment, and value the benefits it provides to the foundation of this nation.  So to have yet another conservative try to undermine the Constitution with the aid of lawyers speaks volumes about the state of the Republican Party, and the high degree of anxiety that exists within Sarah Palin.

P.S.  Let me conclude that I do not think for a moment that Sarah Palin is privy to any of this history, or if she is, could connect the ironic dots.

Sarah Palin Legal Team Trying To Limit Free Speech

When one huge national political joke (Sarah Palin) meets bottom feeders(law firm) what do you get?  In this case an attempt at suppression of free speech.  This is most remarkable.

I post in large part the link above.    First however, it need not be said that the blogging world will not be silent on the white trash politics of the Palin clan in Alaska.  Free speech is something that Sarah Palin and her lawyers may not understand, but for everyone outside tundra country we rather like that perk in the Constitution,  We use it, and will continue to use it.  In other words, they can eat our shorts.

There is an old expression which says, “In a crisis, do nothing.” Wise words indeed, which means that soon-to-be-ex-governor Sarah Palin no doubt would never heed them. She’s sort of adopted another philosophy. It’s more like, “In a crisis, fly off the handle, be reactionary and threaten to sue someone for defamation in the hopes of intimidating the entire blogosphere and all national print and televised media into not talking about something.” I’m not an oddsmaker, but this strategy seems destined to become a crumpled up tin can on the refuse pile of epic failure.

There’s no doubt that the week has been a bad one for the governor. It started with an unflattering Vanity Fair article

. This was followed by a CBS piece detailing several leaked emails in which she asked the McCain campaign to lie about Todd Palin’s 7-year membership in a secessionist party. McCain strategist Steve Schmidt responded to her request saying that Todd was a member, and it was a secessionist party and he wasn’t going to create an issue in the media if it didn’t exist already, nor would he lie for her.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

The statement you are suggesting be released would be inaccurate. The inaccuracy would bring greater media attention to this matter and be a distraction. According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews. If you are asked about it you should smile and say many Alaskans who love their country join the party because it speaks to a tradition of political independence. Todd loves his country.  
We will not put out a statement and inflame this and create a situation where john has to adress this.”

 

Palin’s week culminated, of course, in a strange, twitchy, impulsive announcement from her home on the shore of Lake Lucille, that she would be stepping down from office, and resigning. The last time Alaskans were this gobsmacked by the governor was when she said ‘yes’ to John McCain when he popped the question back in August.

Her reason for resigning? Here’s where it got really strange. The media was unfair. People were filing ethics complaints against her. Bloggers were making silly photoshops. She didn’t want to be a lame duck. The state would be better off without her. We kept waiting to hear the real reason, the reason that would explain it all. We waited for the reason that would come at the end, after all the silly stuff. But it never came. That was it.

We were left scratching our heads. A woman who was the Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party, and who has been deemed in some circles to be a plausible contender for her party’s presidential nominee in 2012, is quitting her job as governor, 17 months before the end of her first term, because people are picking on her? This just didn’t compute. Even in the wildest contortionist spin of her most ardent supporters, this was not going to improve her chances in 2012.

What this means is that now, the line on her resume right underneath “Almost-one-term governor” reads “Mayor of a small Alaskan town with a population of 7000 people.” This is not the way to be taken seriously. Yes, she draws crowds, but so does Britney Spears, and I sure wouldn’t vote for her to take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Naturally, with the overwhelming doubt in the minds of the public that these could possibly be the real reasons she was stepping down, questions were asked. Phones started ringing in Alaska from friends and relatives who wanted the “real story.” Alaskans were even asking each other what they thought was really going on. Questions were many and answers were few.

There seemed to be dozens of rumors circulating about the governor at any given point in time, and this week was no different. People were muttering about personal family problems, about new ethics complaints, about legal cases involving her use of personal off-the-radar Yahoo email accounts to conduct state business. Then there was talk about the legality of her legal defense fund which is currently being questioned, or maybe even personal illness. But the ones that seems to have gotten under the governor’s skin were reports involving rumors floating about town that there was some kind of shenanigans going on with the simultaneous building of the governor’s house, and the Wasilla Sports Complex, and a supposed IRS investigation. Was this the infamous rumor of an “iceberg” that could sink the S.S. Palin as had been reported on another Alaskan blog? Are any of these rumors actually true? Who knows. Are they being talked about in open conversation at holiday barbeques all over the state today? Oh, yes.

And all this brings us to the issue at hand which involves Palin, her attorney Thomas Van Flein, and a certain Shannyn Moore. Moore is a radio personality, a Huffington Post blogger, and frequent guest on MSNBC”s Countdown with Keith Olbermann. There were scads of blogs, both local and national that reported on the rumors above, many in greater detail and with more certainty than Moore did. But Moore really got under the soon-to-be-ex governor’s skin. Why? Presumably because Palin watches TV more than she reads.

Today Van Flein issued a four page letter regarding the reporting of these rumors and it was sent by SarahPAC spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton to media outlets across the state.

Van Flein’s letter threatening legal action specifically pointed the finger at Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore as “most notably” claiming as “fact” that Palin resigned under federal investigation.
Van Flein, asked why he singled out Moore, said it’s because she went on national television and talked about it. Moore was on with MSNBC’s David Shuster on Friday, the day Palin said she will resign.

“There is a scandal rumor here that there is a criminal investigation into some activities and that’s been rumored for about, I don’t know, probably six weeks or two months,” Moore told him.

 

Despite the fact that she specifically refers twice to the report as a “rumor,” Van Flein says she portrayed the story as fact. The only fact is that there are rumors. I know because I’ve been hearing them since last October. They even have a name – “Housegate.” If you Google “Palin Housegate,” you get 8,600 references, beginning back with an article that appeared in the Village Voice. Googling “Palin sports complex scandal” gets you 230,000. How many mentions are required to constitute a rumor? It’s probably less than 230,000. I’m not exactly sure how the legal dynamic duo of Palin-Van Flein is planning to un-rumorize almost a quarter of a million online references to a rumor that started 8 months ago, but it will be interesting to watch.

“I’ll sue you for defamation!” is the toothless wonder of the legal world. The bluster is meant to scare people, intimidate them, and get them to be quiet. In this particular case, it’s not going to work. Moore has already discussed the threat on her radio show, where she said emphatically, “Bring it on.” She said she already gotten legal advice, and has a long list of attorneys who had emailed her, stepping up and eagerly offering to depose Sarah Palin in such a case. Now that would make for some damn good blogging material.

So why would this bizarre comical scenario be taking place at all? Remember how McCain strategist Steve Schmidt had to intervene and explain to Palin that it just wasn’t a good idea to over-react and start making grand statements to the media about negative things being said about her? He firmly told her no. And he had to do it twice. Her personal attorney, on the other hand, is being paid to do what she wants. After a recent online fundraiser, Palin’s legal defense fund may be well stocked, so it’s no skin off the nose of her legal counsel who has been appearing on talk radio shows, and now writing intimidating letters. And there’s obviously nobody in Palin’s inner sanctum who feels like telling her it’s a really bad idea. So she marches on.

Using the substantial might of the Executive branch of government to bring down unenforceable legal threats on a private citizen in Alaska, and attempting to curtail free speech through intimidation on the Fourth of July? Not a particularly brilliant PR move. By specifically singling out and naming Moore, Palin has done two things; she has shown herself to be a reactionary immature politician, and she has made Shannyn Moore a lot better known. And she is not the only one in Sarah Palin’s crosshairs, mind you. You stand warned Huffington Post, New York Times, MSNBC and The Washington Post! You just better knock it off!

The New York Times and Washington Post haven’t written anything about this, but Van Flein said he believed they were asking questions. “What I’ve been informed is that they’ve been interviewing people in Wasilla about this, and have tried to interview the governor’s parents about it,” Van Flein said.

OK, in the case of The New York Times and the Washington Post, you’d better stop even thinking about asking questions about it.

In solidarity with my friend and fellow Alaskan blogger, may I be the next to report to the team of Palin-Van Flein, and to the entire blogosphere at large:

THERE ARE RUMORS.

There. I said it.

Sue me.

(Dekerivers adds,  “Now eat my shorts”!)

Meet Rod Blagojevich’s Barber

It is early, and I am scanning the online newspapers where  I found this nugget, and need to share.  Finally we meet the man behind the hair (as opposed to under the hair) of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  A great Sunday newspaper read!

Once every three weeks, former Gov. Rod Blagojevichrides a tiny elevator to the sixth floor of an unremarkable building on one of the city’s most chic blocks. There he sits in the same fake leather chair, one of four chairs at Mr. Barber on Oak, as a Soviet immigrant named Peter Vodovoz spends 20 minutes tending to what is one of the most famous haircuts in the world.

“He has always been a super guy to me,” says Vodovoz. “Yes, he has a lot of hair, but cutting it is easy.”

He has been cutting that hair for more than a decade, beginning when Blagojevich was a populist Democratic congressman with ambitions for national office and a hairdo that was of modest interest.

“It was a curiosity, the fact that he had an aide carrying the ‘football,’ a briefcase containing his hairbrush, just as the president has an aide toting the nuclear code,” says Rick Pearson, the Tribune’s chief political writer who has closely observed Blagojevich for two decades. “I always thought of his hair as an odd affectation rather than some sort of phenomenon.”

The hair became the object of loud and widespread ridicule in the wake of Blagojevich’s Dec. 9 arrest, Jan. 29 impeachment and April 2 indictment on 16 counts of racketeering, fraud and extortion.The View.” David Letterman let loose with “I hope that thing on his head doesn’t bite me.” Conan O’Brien added, “According to a new survey that just came out, the most admired profession is doctor. Doctor is the most admired profession. Yeah. The least admired profession? Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s barber.”Drew Peterson talked to me at a local restaurant. What was the conversation? Well, he asked me to pass the ketchup.

The hair humor started to take on a derogatory and nasty tone as the story gained national attention, fed in large part by Blagojevich’s seemingly insatiable desire to appear on every television program short of “Cops.”

The hair was famously mussed by co-host Joy Behar on “

Vodovoz has not closely followed the jabs. But he has heard and read enough.

“Some of that has been disturbing to me, and not any of it has been funny,” Vodovoz says. “This is a man who was elected by so many people [1.8 million in 2002, 1.6 million in 2006] that he deserves better until his situation is finished in the courts.”

As energetically as Blagojevich has courted media attention, Vodovoz has avoided it.

“There are many, many people who call and come in here looking for information about Rod,” he says. “What does he talk about? Does he have secret meetings here? I have been offered money to talk to these people. I have been offered money for pieces of Rod’s hair. I turn all of this down because I have respect for my customers.”

There is, of course, no such thing as barber-client privilege. For Vodovoz, it’s a matter of trust.

“My customers have a right to know I don’t talk about them behind their backs,” he says.

He has many famous, wealthy and influential customers. He does not envy them.

“I am the one who is living the American dream,” he says. “I work hard, ever since I come here, and I have my business and my family and my house in the suburbs where there are trees and peace. I know many of the troubles that some of my customers have, but that is nobody else’s business. What we talk about, we talk about here and no place else.”

That’s an admirable trait in an age in which people are willing, even eager, to share the particulars of their encounters with celebrities or newsmakers, no matter how trivial, tangential or insipid. Yes, I’ll never forget the time

Another reason for Vodovoz’s public silence: He feels no need to defend his handiwork.

“For me, it is a simple thing. A man walks in and asks to have his hair cut a certain way. Who am I to tell him different?” he says. “You do not walk into a bar and order a beer and have the bartender say, ‘No, no, you should have a Scotch.’ You tell me what kind of haircut you want, you get that kind of haircut.”

Vodovoz — who has a relatively simple hairstyle — is a personable and forthright person.

“I know the trouble that [Blagojevich] is going through, but we do not talk about it,” he says. “We talk about all sorts of other things. We talk about sports and the weather and our families.”