Wednesday, March 11, 2009
More Alaskan Horror Stories: Promotion-gate, Pension-gate, and Prison-gate
So the young, strong, independent and oh-so-fierce love between Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, was...pretty much a big campaign lie, and the breakup is nasty, with yet another person close to Sarah losing respect for BS as time has passed. Palin's official bio "Trailblazer" offers supporting evidence that Bad Sarah lied about being Trig's mother, BS's omni-present youngest Piper never seems to attend school, and the Shadow Gov hubby Todd must always wonder along with us, "Did my best buddy take a test ride on my wife?"
What would Aaron Spelling call "The Palin Reality Show"? Palin Place? Palin 99801?
It's not news that Palin can't manage her own house. What's important is that Alaska's house under her leadership is in disorder, disrepair - just plain dissed, really. Since this blog serves as a monument to Palin's essential lack of fitness to hold public office, much of what is reported here isn't breaking news, simply because The avalanche of incompetence that defines Palin defies digestion on a daily basis. Most of it gets lost in the shuffle. Even after absorbing as much news as possible during the '08 election, we are all still finding stories on BS that were under-reported or are simply worth a closer look now. New or old, as long as it has to do with the mismanagement, misuse and abuse of the elected office which Palin still holds in defiance of both natural and man made laws, then it has a place here.
The scandal plagued home life of Palin is the bright side of the story. The other side is the one that so many Palin supporters refuse to look at - the shadow side of Palin's public life. Promotion-gate appears to have a shiny happy ending at first, but it involves the effective corruption of a military man who spoke the truth, then gave in to temptation. Palin in her temptress mode offered a fat prize for this man's personal sell out. And it had to be that way, because Major General Craig Campbell, Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard couldn't really be gotten rid of or silenced any other way. The military man in question started off by telling the Associated Press in no uncertain terms that Palin as Governor had nothing to do with deploying or commanding Alaska's National Guard. This was a big problem for the Republican vote getting machine which was busily propping up and hyping Palin's pretend role as commander-in-chief of the Alaska Guard. After explaining to the press in crisp military terms a couple of times that the GOP's description of Bad Sarah as a commander was pure bunk, Major Campbell mysteriously changed his tune all of the sudden - and got a big fat promotion just two days later. "The adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard and commissioner of the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, received his third star, signifying Governor Sarah Palin’s support of the Guard and her commitment to reinforcing the cooperation between federal and state military assets."
Whoopie! Just for appearing on Fox News and saying "National Guards are state military forces run by governors, and Sarah Palin does it great" in complete contradiction to his statements just days earlier, savvy Campbell didn't just move up to the top of Alaska's chain of command, he became one of the two highest-ranking state National Guard officials in the country.
Aside from peddling promotions for personal gain, there are other severe problems with the National Guard under Palin's watch. Basically, the Veteran's For America (VFA) watchdog group conducted their own study of Alaska's National Guard which began before Bad Sarah was lifted into the limelight last fall. Their conclusions were dismal. They found that Alaska's Guard under Palin is the least prepared in the entire nation to handle the rigors of pre and post deployment demands on soldiers and their families, and recommended that they not be deployed at all until these deficiencies were addressed. They made specific suggestions for Palin that fall within her realm of responsibilities. To date there are still no reports that Alaska's National Guard troops are getting the services and medical assistance that they are sorely lacking under Palin's "mom-in-chief" guidance - not such a great leadership record for a woman who is willing to go to war at the drop of a hat for certain causes. Oh, but these troops did get a shiny new military leader in Campbell and a band playing at his big promotion! They don't call these high ranking military guys "brass" for nothing, do they?
Pension-gate is just a tiny, little story about how as Mayor of Wasilla Bad Sarah lost 25-50% of the city's pension funds over the course of her term. "For example, when Sarah Palin became mayor of the village of Wasilla, the village’s pension funds were healthy - funded at 97.5 percent of its obligation, with just a 4.3 percent unfunded liability (measured as a percentage of payroll). By 2002, however, Wasilla’s pension funds were in a shambles. The funding of the village’s pension obligations had dropped dramatically to just 73 percent, and the unfunded pension liability Wasilla faced had risen to 52 percent." It's a tiny, wee tale - unless you are a worker whose retirement fund got squeezed out from under your nose because Palin's breed of "fiscal conservatism" was allowed to roam unleashed where you kept your money.
Here's where the tales turn really nasty, uncovering all kinds of festering wounds in Alaska's prison system under Bad Sarah. This is hardly surprising, since with her usual flair for flagrant cronyism, Palin took office and picked a high school buddy of hers to run Alaska's prison system - and run it into the ground he did. For the first time ever Alaskan prison guards - who can't exactly be a bunch of delicate flowers - revolted at the conditions they have to work under because of the poor management of the Department of Corrections under Palin's buddy Joe The Plumber, sorry, Joe Schmidt. In this revolt, the guards specifically placed the responsibility for diseased working conditions and the use of "phantom" guards on Joe's policies, and they held a vote - the first in Alaskan penal history - in which the overwhelming majority of corrections officers declared "No Confidence" in Joe's leadership. Then they appealed to their Governor to please hear them out. BS did absolutely nothing but ignore, belittle and demean the grievances of some 500 prison guards (out of a total of 733), calling them all just a bunch of "disgruntled employees". To add insult to injury, it is Palin's stated belief that this very Joe Schmidt should be the one to assume the mantel of power as Governor of Alaska should anything happen to herself or the lieutenant governor.
There are more twists and turns to prison-gate, but the worst part is the brutal three day rape of a prisoner, who was then treated for verifiable injuries, but denied the extensive therapy that even the State Troopers thought he needed. He filed a civil lawsuit against Palin, who took a page out of Rove's playbook and simply actively ignored the lawsuit. And the courts played a little dirty trick on him, to make his lawsuit go away. Abuses might happen in prison, but we'll go out on a limb here and assert that three day ongoing prisoner-on-prisoner rapes are uncommon anywhere. Even in countries with notorious human rights violations, some shred of humanity may be retained. But not in Alaska, at least not for this man. The total torture and dehumanization of this prisoner, who was being held awaiting trial on suspicion of second degree theft, is a nasty and ghoulish horror story beyond the pale, but not beyond the Palin.
Prison-gate is a story that was recently broken by the investigators at Palingates. The details may be found here.