Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Palin Doctrine: Lie, Steal, Cheat, Threaten

Sarah Palin might not be able to identify the Bush Doctrine. But we are seeing the unmasking of what could be called the Palin Doctrine--and it isn't a pretty sight.

The Palin Doctrine is stunningly similar to what I've experienced here in Karl Rove's Alabama over the past eight years or so. In fact, I would call the Palin Doctrine a heavily chilled version of Rove's Deep South playbook, which "Bush's Brain" developed in Texas and then put to effective use for Alabama state-court races in the 1990s.

We learn much more about the Palin Doctrine from a splendid article by Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman, and Michael Powell in The New York Times.

What are the chief tenets of the Palin Doctrine? We will call them lie, steal, cheat, and threaten--or LSCT for short. These notions should be familiar to anyone who has witnessed Alabama's Republican-dominated government in action. Palin evidently has applied them expertly in the Great White North.

We will examine the tenets in reverse order and compare them to what I have experienced in Alabama:

* Threaten perceived enemies, even bloggers--Of course, we know all about this subject here at Legal Schnauzer. I was fired from my job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) on May 19, and it clearly was because of the political overtones in my blog. And we learn from The New York Times that the Palin administration has threatened Sherry Whitstine, a Wasilla resident who writes the conservative Syrin's Blog. Whitstine's blog evidently was not pro-Palin enough, so one of the governor's assistants called to complain. "You should be ashamed," Ivy Frye told Whitstine. "Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now." Whitstine appears to still be blogging, and I'm guessing that means she doesn't work full-time. If she did, she probably would have lost her job by now. The list of people Palin has fired, or tried to fire, seems to grow by the day. We learn from The Times that she fired museum director John Cooper because he represented a growing progressive element in Wasilla. After Cooper's dismissal, a Palin supporter told him, "Gotcha, Cooper." Classy. City attorney Richard Deuser was fired when a Palin supporter complained about a stop-work order Deuser had placed on a house-building project. Palin even tried to get the chief of staff of the Republican Speaker of the House fired.

* Cheat the public by practicing blatant cronyism--In Alabama, I've seen this in the form of state judges who repeatedly make unlawful rulings in favor of corrupt attorney William E. Swatek. This occurs, apparently, because Swatek's son has ties to Karl Rove, through Bill Canary of the Business Council of Alabama. In Alaska, Palin has hired former high school classmates, such as Franci Havemeister, to run major state divisions. Havemeister was named to head the state Division of Agriculture, a $95,000 a year job, and for her qualifications, Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows.

* Steal from the public--Perhaps the most blatant example of this in Alabama came when our state Supreme Court, in an 8-1 vote with the lone dissent coming from the court's only Democrat, overturned most of a $3.6 billion jury verdict against ExxonMobil and in favor of the state. In Alaska, Palin has repeatedly charged taxpayers for per-diem allowances on days when she has not been traveling. The allowances are designed to cover expenses for traveling on state business.

* Lie, lie, and lie--This is such a fundamental part of Republican activity in Alabama, that it's impossible to list all of the examples. One of our favorites involves Governor Bob Riley, who has repeatedly said he is against gambling even though he took millions of dollars in Mississippi gaming money for his campaign--and it was laundered through convicted felon Jack Abramoff. In Alaska, the extent of deception and coverup in the Palin Troopergate story is still unfolding.

So there you have it, the Palin Doctrine: Lie, Steal, Cheat, Threaten. It's a fascinating and evolving story on the national stage. But as I sit here in Shelby County, Alabama, and ponder what I've witnessed for the past eight years, I can't help but think, "Despite what the pundits say, there is nothing fresh and new about Sarah Palin. If you have lived in Karl Rove's Alabama, this kind of chicanery is old news."

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