Palin


By Ray LeMoine


TNR runs a “Photo of the Day” of Palin holding her down syndrome baby Trig, the quarterback kid (named so because he’s tossed around like a football), at a rally in PA. But the baby wasn’t the best part of the pic. Rather, it’s the boots she’s wearing. So Death’s Head chic!

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By Ray LeMoine
Last month I worked production on a film about Sarah Palin in Alaska. It aired in the UK last week and was later placed on YouTube, receiving 8000 hits in a few days. Today the film was mysteriously taken off YouTube. I was told that if there was a copyright violation (there wasn’t—and all characters signed release forms), YouTube would contact us. They didn’t. So I tried to call them from the Contact Us page at the number below.

Our Address
You can contact YouTube at the address below.

YouTube, LLC
901 Cherry Ave.
San Bruno, CA 94066
USA
Phone: +1 650-253-0000
Fax: +1 650-253-0001

But the Google/YouTube service recording said they “do not at this time provide customer service representatives.” I then made a formal press inquiry (see below) but have yet to hear back.

RE: Removal of Sarah Palin film‏
From: Ray LeMoine (Editor’s note: personal email address removed)
Sent: Sat 10/11/08 1:34 AM
To: press@youtube.com
Cc: (Editor’s note: again, personal email adress removed)

Hello,

I am a journalist who worked production on a film about Sarah Palin in Alaska. The film aired in the UK. We placed it on YouTube and received some 8000 hits in a few days. Then today the film was yanked off YouTube. The film did not violate copyright and its characters all signed release forms. I was wondering who I can speak to for a comment on what happened. I also cced both the correspondent and director who worked on the film.

Here’s the link to the removed film:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1126074661319289940&ei=N9LrSJjqHYHCjgL1kJCcBg&q=journeyman+palin&vt=lf

Thanks,
Ray LeMoine

Oddly enough, the Palin film in question is about censorship. Specifically: Palin’s alleged attempts as mayor of Wasilla, AL, to remove the book “Pastor, I’m Gay” (really) from a public library in the mid-90s. If anyone knows about YouTube and this kind of hacker censorship, please contact me. I’m wondering if our First Amendment rights have been violated by a Palin pirate—and if this is a widespread campaign. If so, the layers of irony are endless. And would YouTube prosecute these hackers like kid who guessed Palin’s email password?

Anyway, the film is back on YouTube here.

By Ray LeMoine

Preview party tonight: filmmaker Richard Parry spent 15 (!) years following photojournalist Robert King (Polaris) through Bosnia, Chechnya, and Iraq. The resulting film, Blood Trail, premiered at Toronto Film Festival and has its NY debut tomorrow at IFC Theater on 6th Ave. Come to the friends and family party tonight! Both Parry and King will be in attendance.

We’re also showing Inigo Gilmore’s The Moosehunter, a short film about Sarah Palin, Alaska, and her attempts to band the book “Pastor, I’m Gay” (I swear). Of course, the Sox game will be on too.

Monday, Oct 6th, 7-10pm 88 Greenwich St at Rector 24th floor. Booze. DJ Anthony Pappalardo. With your host, Sean B Dorsey. Presented by Street Attack.

By Ray LeMoine

Record audiences tuned in to last night’s VP debate, which Joe Biden so clearly won it’s sickening to hear the media giving Sarah Palin any credit. Sure, Palin’s not a moron. Despite all her flubs with Couric this week, it’s obvious that anyone who rises so fast is no dimwit. But as a politician—not a personality—Palin so lost the debate.

A democratically elected politician’s job is to take the will of the polity and create policy. Last night Sarah Palin showed so little policy understanding it was scary. In fact, she dodged one of the most important policy questions. When asked what was worse, a destabilized Pakistan or nuclear Iran, Palin answered about Iraq. Yet the media’s been calling the debate a tie, and some are even giving her high marks.

Here’s a great example of what’s wrong with American politics: On ABC.com, George Stephanopolous wrote a post-VP debate wrap-up where he judged Sarah Palin’s and Joe Biden’s “strategy,” “style,” and “accuracy.” What’s missing? Oh, how about “command of subject” or “answers of substance”? Debate is the art of “logical argument, which only examine the consistency from axiom, and factual argument,” not a strategic, style show down. On every question, save energy policy, Joe Biden had a far better command of facts. (Biden was no slouch on energy policy, rather it’s Palin’s bread and butter issue—state oil dividends literally provided every Alaskan with $3500 cash this year—and she knows her stuff.)

When “style” and “strategy” are more important than policy, is it even politics? That’s more like a talent/game show—ie America’s Most Stylish, Accurate Debater! Whatever, this country sucks.

But Joe Biden, wow, what a night. The guy’s been waiting three decades for his chance to be in the national spotlight. And it showed. He came out like a man who’d just drank eight Red Bulls and taken four Ritalins. His rapid-fire responses backed by fact-filled policy examples and recommendations were not only impressive they were often dead-on. I always questioned Obama’s choice of Biden over Hillary. But seeing Joe in Full Biden last night changed my opinion. His cordial, expert performance was a walk-off.

John McCain will not see a poll bump from the VP debate. Unless America really is dumb enough to put “style” over substance.

By Ray LeMoine

Sarah Palin backed a despicable policy as mayor of Wasilla, AK: making rape victims pay for their own post-crime exams. The story hits the Boston Globe editorial page today. Of all Palin’s mid-90s shadiness—from book banning to dinosaur denying—this is the sketchiest. Many in Wasilla told me it was the inclusion of a morning after pill that made Palin’s administration cut funding for rape victims. Alaska leads the nation in a rape, by a factor of two, and it’s appalling that a woman would make victims pay for treatment.

Wasilla made rape victims pay
October 1, 2008
ONE QUESTION that Sarah Palin should answer during tomorrow’s debate is why, during her tenure as mayor of Wasilla, the town started charging rape victims or their insurers for hospital emergency-room rape kits and examinations.

The policy so outraged the Alaska Legislature that in 2000 it passed unanimously a bill forbidding such fees. But Palin has never explained why, under her leadership, the town stopped picking up the cost of the swabs, specimen containers, and tests.

A spokeswoman for Palin wrote to USA Today that Palin “does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test.” But that was the practice in Wasilla while she was mayor.

If Palin were like most vice-presidential nominees of the past, reporters would have long since had a chance to quiz her on this subject, and many others. So far, though, the McCain campaign team has treated her as though she were in the witness protection program, permitting just three interviews with television personalities and no open-ended press conferences.

After the Alaska Legislature banned the fees, Palin’s handpicked police chief, Charlie Fannon, complained that the state’s action would force the town to spend $5,000 to $14,000 a year to cover the costs. “I just don’t want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer,” Fannon said.

But the policy on rape kits may have had less to do with easing the burden on taxpayers and more to do with Palin’s position on abortion. She has said she opposes it even in cases of rape or incest.

Generally, victims of sexual assault have the option of an emergency contraception pill, which some opponents of abortion consider tantamount to abortion itself. Does Palin support the decision two years ago of the US Food and Drug Administration to allow over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception pills?

Whether the fee-for-kits policy reflected Palin’s budgetary zeal or her extreme view on abortion, voters deserve to know. As Alaska’s governor in 2000, Tony Knowles, put it: “We would never bill the victim of a burglary for finger-printing and photographing the crime scene, or for the cost of gathering other evidence.”

But in Wasilla they would, if the crime was rape.

By Ray LeMoine

Wasilla, AK

One of the most devious policy’s Sarah Palin backed as mayor of Wasilla was the charging of rape victims for post-crime exams. It’s especially damning considering Alaska leads the nation in rape and sexual assault by a factor of two. I’ve written about Palin and rape here and here. Finally the story’s gone big-time national, hitting the Times’ editorial page and sky-rocketing to the number one most emailed story on nyt.com. Here’s the whole must-read piece:

September 26, 2008
EDITORIAL OBSERVER
Wasilla Watch: Sarah Palin and the Rape Kits

By DOROTHY SAMUELS
Even in tough budget times, there are lines that cannot be crossed. So I was startled by this tidbit reported recently by The Associated Press: When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, the small town began billing sexual-assault victims for the cost of rape kits and forensic exams.

Ms. Palin owes voters an explanation. What was the thinking behind cutting the measly few thousand dollars needed to cover the yearly cost of swabs, specimen containers and medical tests? Whose dumb idea was it to make assault victims and their insurance companies pay instead? Unfortunately, her campaign is shielding the candidate from the press, so Americans may still be waiting for answers on Election Day.

The rape-kit controversy is a troubling matter. The insult to rape victims is obvious. So is the sexism inherent in singling them out to foot the bill for investigating their own case. And the main result of billing rape victims is to protect their attackers by discouraging women from reporting sexual assaults.

That’s why when Senator Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, drafted the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, he included provisions to make states ineligible for federal grant money if they charged rape victims for exams and the kits containing the medical supplies needed to conduct them. (Senator John McCain, Ms. Palin’s running mate, voted against Mr. Biden’s initiative, and his name has not been among the long list of co-sponsors each time the act has been renewed.)

That’s also why, when news of Wasilla’s practice of billing rape victims got around, Alaska’s State Legislature approved a bill in 2000 to stop it.

“We would never bill the victim of a burglary for fingerprinting and photographing the crime scene, or for the cost of gathering other evidence,” said Alaska’s then-governor, Tony Knowles. “Nor should we bill rape victims just because the crime scene happens to be their bodies.”

If Ms. Palin ever spoke out about the issue, one way or another, no record has surfaced. Her campaign would not answer questions about when she learned of the policy, strongly supported by the police chief: whether she saw it in the budget and if not, whether she learned of it before or after the State Legislature outlawed the practice.

All the campaign would do was provide a press release pronouncing: “Prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault is a priority for Gov. Palin.”

Eric Croft, a former Democratic state lawmaker who sponsored the corrective legislation, believes that Wasilla’s mayor knew what was going on. (She does seem to have paid heed to every other detail of town life, including what books were on the library’s shelves.)

The local hospital did the billing, but it was the town that set the policy, Mr. Croft noted. That policy was reflected in budget documents that Ms. Palin signed.

Mr. Croft further noted that right after his measure became law, Wasilla’s local paper reported that Ms. Palin’s handpicked police chief, Charlie Fannon, acknowledged the practice of billing to collect evidence for sexual-assault cases. He complained that the state was requiring the town to spend $5,000 to $14,000 a year to cover the costs. “I just don’t want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer,” the chief explained.

“I can’t imagine any police chief, big city or small, who would take on the entire State Legislature on a bill that passed unanimously and not mention to their mayor that they’re doing this,” Mr. Croft said. Even if he didn’t inform her, the newspaper article would have been hard for her to miss.

In the absence of answers, speculation is bubbling in the blogosphere that Wasilla’s policy of billing rape victims may have something to do with Ms. Palin’s extreme opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape. Sexual-assault victims are typically offered an emergency contraception pill, which some people in the anti-choice camp wrongly equate with abortion.

My hunch is that it was the result of outmoded attitudes and boneheaded budget cutting. Still, Ms. Palin has been governor for under two years, and she’s running for vice president largely on her experience as mayor of tiny Wasilla — a far superior credential, she’s told us, to being a community organizer. On the rape kits, as on other issues, she owes voters a direct answer.

Ms Samuels’ hunch that Palin’s policy was “the result of outmoded attitudes and boneheaded budget cutting” contradicts what many in Wasilla and Anchorage told me. In fact, rather than attitude and budgets it was the inclusion of morning after pills in the rape kits that made Palin cut the program.

By Ray LeMoine

Matt Taibbi hates half of America

Portfolio Media critic Jeff Bercovici destroys Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone RNC essay (thanks for sending me this Jeff N). Taibbi, RS’s National Magazine Award-winning political writer, may have extraordinary writing talent, but he rarely gets beyond name-calling and cliche. Here’s the best stuff form Bercovici’s take down:

What is the point of Matt Taibbi?

His rhetorical style consists of little more than in-your-face vulgarity, hyperbole and cliché. Read his latest column, on Sarah Palin, if you don’t believe me.

Reporting from the convention, Taibbi sets the scene by describing the “four-chinned delegates from places like Arkansas and Georgia” and “their turkey-necked female companions.” (The resort to physiognomy is classic Taibbi, by the way — greedy politicians are always fat, and hypocrites are always ugly.) Palin, we’re told, is a “provincial tyrant.” Her “meanness” is “of the small-town variety as understood by pretty much anyone who has ever sat around in his ranch-house den dreaming of a fourth plasma-screen TV or an extra set of KC HiLites for his truck.” She is “a two-bit caricature culled from some cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne.” (Certainly, two-bit caricature is something Taibbi knows about.) And she was chosen, he says, in the hope that:

“John Q. Public will drop his giant sized bag of Doritos in gratitude, wipe the sizzlin’ picante dust from his lips and rush to the booth to vote for her. Not because it makes sense, or because it has a chance of improving his life or anyone else’s, but simply because…that image on TV reminds him of the mean brainless slob he sees in the mirror every morning.”

Oh, yeah, and he also compares Republicans to Nazis (“It was like watching Gidget address the Reichstag”).

What’s he trying to accomplish here? If his language or imagery were a little fresher, his towering contempt for average Americans and their ways might at least be humorous. But Doritos and double chins? Not exactly virgin comic territory. Yet as a serious bit of commentary, it fails utterly: No attempt whatsoever is made to understand his subject except in terms of the broadest stereotypes. I can’t imagine Taibbi’s going to win over any wavering swing voters by insulting them and the culture they inhabit.

The only real achievement of writing like this is to encourage already like-minded readers to congratulate themselves on their superior tastes and disdain for the other side….

Here’s some more hyperbole from Taibbi’s RNC story:

Sarah Palin is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the modern United States. As a representative of our political system, she’s a new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of puppeteers like Karl Rove. But more than that, she is a horrifying symbol of how little we ask for in return for the total surrender of our political power. Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV...

How many different ways can you say one thing? “All that’s wrong with America,” “too dumb even for daytime TV.” Really? All that’s wrong with America is best summed up by the air war waged over Pushto civilians, by torture, domestic spying, and Iraq—not the female Governor of the Frontier State. Ask anyone in Alaska about Palin and the last thing you’ll hear is “fraud.” In fact, I was up there last week, and both Democrats and Republicans alike described her with words like “natural,” “charming,” and “brilliant.”

Yes, Palin’s disgusting anti-gay, pro-life social views may be a window into a lot of America’s wrongs. But her record as Gov actually isn’t that bad. She never pushed her social views as state policy. And she was often more popular with centrist Democrats (ie, Alaska’s Obamas) than the GOP establishment. Even the left-wing editor of Anchorage’s biggest paper admits he underestimated Palin and that she’s been tough on big oil and “great spectator sport.”

Taibbi admits, “The Palin speech was a political masterpiece, one of the most ingenious pieces of electoral theater this country has ever seen.” He then goes on to call Palin a “puffed-up dimwit.” Where’s the credit for the “dim-wit” who gave the masterpice speech? And where’s the mention that Obama’s rise is of a similar ilk—luck combined with hard political tact.

Look, there’s a lot to dislike about Sarah Palin, but Rolling Stone shouldn’t be publishing blatant, baseless hit jobs of national political figures. The Palin story is complex; she’s obviously not a moron, having risen so fast so quickly. Journalists are supposed to try and present true portraits. Matt Taibbi has failed.

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