Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is it legal to have a legal defense fund? Yes.

As you probably recall from the overly ecstatic way some news sources trumpeted it as the biggest story of the week (or, at least, a much bigger story than the eroding support for President Obama's health care takeover), the allegation was made that the Alaska Trust Fund (the legal defense fund to support Sarah Palin, who was inundated with frivolous ethics complaints during her last months in office) was itself in violation of ethics laws.

(And if you were under a rock last week, here's the story again, courtesy the NYTimes.)

Previously, Kristan Cole, the trustee of the fund, issued a statement about the legality of the fund. In it, she states:

This Trust was created by a team of expert lawyers from around the country. It was thoroughly vetted for compliance with federal and state law and trust law...Every aspect of the Alaska Fund Trust follows the law.

Now, today, the lawyer who actually created the fund, Randy Evans, wrote this column about the legality of the fund, in an attempt to tell "the rest of the story". Interesting information abounds:

As with the other trusts (which were subject to intense media scrutiny as well as scrutiny by well-financed political opponents and experienced lawyers of both parties), there is and was no impropriety in the creation or operation of the trust and any suggestion to the contrary is candidly absurd...

The Alaska Fund Trust was drafted and created to mirror the language used by the John Kerry Trust fund (named the "Fund for Truth and Honor")...

The John Kerry Trust Fund was drafted and created by a very well respected international law firm named Perkins Coie, a huge presence in Washington, D.C. Indeed, Perkins Coie is the lead counsel for the Democratic National Committee, President Obama, and many other national Democratic leaders. Its website touts its reach and expertise in political law matters on behalf of a virtual who's who of Democratic politics.

Given its expertise, when an outside firm was selected to spearhead the investigation of The Alaska Fund Trust, it was not surprising that Perkins Coie's Alaska office would be selected...

Make no mistake, the Alaska Fund Trust is the exact same structure and fund created for and used by President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State and former Presidential candidate (then Senator) Hillary Clinton, former Presidential candidate (then House Minority Leader) Richard Gephardt (also represented by Perkins Coie), Senator Ted Stephens, and many, many others - from both political parties.

I'd love to quote more, but I'm guessing I'm about to run afoul of "fair use" rules if I do.

Anyway, it sure seems as if everything is on the level with this legal defense fund, and yet Sarah Palin's name is being dragged through the mud, yet again. But I suppose that doesn't matter to the many, many people who have disregarded facts in order to keep their present mindset about her. I'll have more to say about those later. In the meantime, please check out the links above, and keep an open mind.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bill Whittle on the Campaign to Destroy Sarah Palin

Bill Whittle at PJTV breaks down here what exactly was done to Sarah Palin in an attempt to take her down, how it was done, and which groups of people were doing it. The video is 13 minutes and is well worth watching. (As far as I can tell, there's no way to embed the video here.)

(Hat tip: Why Mommy is a Palin Supporter)

What Did the Mopac SWAT Standoff Teach Us?

If you live in Austin and weren't aware of yesterday's SWAT standoff involving the man threatening suicide on the Barton Creek greenbelt, and the fallout from said standoff, including the shutting down of Mopac in both directions, consider yourself lucky. But here's the Statesman's article, if you're interested.

Anyway, speaking as someone who was unfortunately caught in it (heard the warning on KLBJ at 4:25 or so, got off Mopac, and then immediately spent the next hour and change stuck on Lamar) I noticed several things about how things were handled, good and bad:

  • There are no alternate routes in Austin. Whoever designed the freeway and street systems here ought to be ashamed of themselves. (Aside: one local blogger said here that this should be an incentive to get people onto buses or bikes. That would be great, if I weren't coming back from a client's office in Georgetown. Some of us need our cars, and there's no getting around it. (Aside to the aside: the link I just posted invited comments from people who couldn't switch to buses or bikes, but there was no way to leave comments.))
  • It takes very little to make a lot of people lose their patience. Both the blogger I just mentioned and I heard people on the radio wondering whether it would have been better to let the man--I think this was the phrase used on KLBJ--"off himself" and get the roads open again. Yikes. (I heard someone a little more humane as well, who said they should have used a tranquilizer such as for large animals, but I don't think that was on the radio.)
  • I can understand the closing of Mopac...if the highway hadn't been closed and, God forbid, something had happened, the cops would have been excoriated for it. But come on, guys, why in the world was there no one directing traffic at Mopac and 360? Reports were that ten cars got through at a time, and that particular light is not a quick cycle.
Some of these issues, of course, have no quick solution (at this point, there are no solutions on the table for traffic, as far as I can tell), but I think there needs to be some evaluation of the way police handled the freeway shutdown process.

Or they could just make 360/Mopac into a full freeway interchange and finish the 290/360/Lamar and 290/Mopac interchanges already.

Monday, July 27, 2009

About Sarah Palin's Resignation Speech & Her Naysayers

The stepping down of now-former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin included a very nice 19-minute speech by the former governor. The speech, along with the transfer-of-power ceremony, can be viewed right here, for your convenience.

(Thankfully, this clip is courtesy C-Span...the only other place at which I could find Mrs. Palin's speech was at CBS News. No thanks.)

Now, there are very, very few perfect speeches, and this wasn't one of them. I did like the tone of the speech (and I take exception, for example, to CBS News's characterization of her speech, especially the use of the word "angrily", which she wasn't), and I thought she did a good job of talking about what the Alaska state government accomplished during her administration, as well as her timely warnings about depending on the largess of government.

With that said, Sarah Palin could have given the most perfect oratory ever seen on the face of this earth, and there would be people whining that: 1) she wasn't smart enough to write such a thing (because, you know, everyone else who gives speeches writes their own, right, President Obama?); 2) she's a quitter (meh, I'll give that a whole paragraph in just a moment); 3) she's a polarizing figure (that will also get a paragraph shortly); and on and on and on. There are people who have as their goal to destroy Sarah Palin at any cost. Notwithstanding that this is a sad goal for people to have (how about something positive?), these ankle-biters have succeeded in convincing some people that somehow a total and complete idiot managed to hoodwink an entire state into electing her. And, when she tries to correct the record, they file frivolous ethics complaints against her in the attempt to bankrupt her.

And the ethics complaints deal directly with the reasons of Sarah Palin for leaving office. Is it good for the state of Alaska to have to spend outrageous amounts of money and time to answer all these frivolous complaints? Of course it isn't. (Yes, it's also hurting getting her agenda through, because a lot of people in the Alaska state legislature personally do not like her because she wouldn't play politics their way, and also because there are national forces who would like nothing better than to bring her down.) And so Palin resigned, not because she is a quitter, but because it was the best choice for her state, for her family, and for herself.

Oh, and by the way, President Obama all but quit on his job in the Senate when he started campaigning for his current job. So why do Democrat operatives feel that they can, in good faith, try to stick a "quitter" label on Sarah Palin? Sarah Palin is not a quitter, despite what anyone says, and I invite anyone who disagrees to use actual facts, rather than rhetoric and name-calling, which is all most Palin-haters have at their disposal.

And yes, I'd say Sarah Palin is a polarizing figure. So what? So is President Obama, and so are many others. Heck, if Jesus wasn't a polarizing figure, then I'll eat my hat. Polarization is not necessarily bad. There have to be distinctions drawn between different sides of a discussion, and there are necessarily going to be things that people will not come to agree on. That's fine. Without polarization, we end up with squishy types such as Arlen Specter, who seemingly votes for whatever works out best for him personally.

I myself hope that for Sarah Palin, to quote Churchill, "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." Particularly in a time like this in which the federal government is expanding at such an alarming rate, I hope to hear from Mrs. Palin for years to come regarding the true and proper role of government.

Thank you, Sarah Palin.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Elise Hu to leave KVUE

(Note:  if you came to this blog entry after January 2011, you will find more recent news about Elise Hu here.)

Count Elise Hu as the latest journalist to join Evan Smith's new Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune, once it starts, promises to be a force in Texas with investigative reporting, specifically in regard to politics. (More info on the Texas Tribune here, courtesy the NYTimes. If you haven't signed up to be notified when the Tribune launches, it'd be worth it to do so.) Ms. Hu, currently known as KVUE's "Political Junkie", will be leaving that position in late August to move to the new venture.

So, congrats to Ms. Hu on the new job (and further congrats on her very recent engagement).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Emmis/KLBJ Cancel "Todd & Don Show"

Just announced over the air on 590 KLBJ: the Todd & Don Show is canceled effective immediately.

Nothing is on the KLBJ website as of this writing, but according to the on-air announcement (during the 1:30 newscast), Todd Jeffries will be retained as KLBJ's newscaster, while Don Pryor will be reassigned to off-air duties, as the fallout from last week's July 15 broadcast continues.

Update, 7/20 1:45pm: KLBJ has pulled the Todd & Don Show page down since I posted originally. The original story of the suspension of the show (announced last week) can be found, among other places, via KXAN.

Update, 7/20 4:50pm: KLBJ finally got the announcement up on their site. Money quote:
...we determined that the cancellation of the show was the right thing to do for our employees, our station, our company, Emmis Austin Radio – part of Emmis Communications – and for the community.

Comments over there seem to be trending against this decision. What's your take?

p.s. Hi, KVUE, don't think I didn't notice that you visited my blog 30 minutes before your story went about some love?

Update, 11/17, 10:35pm:  The show is returning.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oh, look! It's time for another KEYE weather team shakeup

I'm not sure, but I believe KEYE may have installed a revolving door for their weather team.

Less than a year after rudely shoving chief meteorologist Byron Webre out the door, and just a couple of months after Megan Campbell left for Knoxville (which I missed...was that her choice?), the station has now annouced (and you've already seen, if you watch KEYE news) that Mr. Webre's predecessor, Troy Kimmel, will return to their weekday evening newscasts.

The Statesman, as mentioned in the previous link, was unable to get confirmation regarding what will happen to the previous occupant of the weekday evening weather chair, Susan Vessell, who moved from mornings to replace Mr. Webre. I have heard whispers that she may return to mornings, but no real confirmation of anything, well, at all.

So, if we at the Snowed In blog hear anything...then you'll probably have already heard it elsewhere, given my current frequency of updating this thing.

Edit: Jim McNabb reports that Ms. Vessell is not going to be around KEYE much longer. Best wishes to her.

Media Malpractice: A Review

I finally ordered and received my copy of John Ziegler's Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Got Targeted, which I've been wanting to see ever since I wrote about what was then an upcoming documentary eight months ago.

So, here's my take on the movie. My take on the DVD itself will follow when I've viewed everything on the disc.

Media Malpractice does a good job of laying out the timeline of the 2008 presidential election, positing the idea that the mainstream media presented their news in a way that put now-President Obama in a good light and put his opponents in a bad light, with the worst of the treatment given to Sarah Palin (though Mr. Ziegler gives a good amount of time to showing how the media turned on then-frontrunner Hillary Clinton). Now, from one viewing (admittedly the evening after I watched a Harry Potter midnight movie, so I may be too tired to remember), I did not remember a clearly-given reasoning for the media's sudden turn to Obama as their chosen candidate (but if someone corrects me, I'll retract that).

Now, it's easy to say that the media was in the tank for President Obama. Heck, I'll say that right now. What Mr. Ziegler does so well in this doc, though, is to use many, many clips from the different news channels and sources to show that: 1) stories that contained information damaging to the Obama campaign were portrayed as of little value or, in some instances, not even mentioned; 2) stories that were damaging to other candidates were highlighted and usually repeated over several days; 3) ideas about then-Senator Obama were presented as facts by pundits, sometimes even when they were debunked by a pundit's same network within an hour; and 4) some media sources would repeat multiple times little concerns about anything damning regarding Palin rallies or supporters, rather than to present any real portion of what Governor Palin was actually saying. One of the most damning items in the movie is where Mr. Ziegler shows that not once, but twice, the most informative portion of the GE/NBC conglomerate, with regard to stories showing either Obama or Democrats in general in a bad light, was Saturday Night Live.

With all that said, there were a few issues I had with the movie. Most annoying to me, almost for the entire length, was the incidental music. I didn't like it, and I found it distracting. Also, there were some statements made by reporters which Mr. Ziegler used to show a definite bias ("we had to make several trips...", or something like that), when I thought that didn't necessarily mean anything (as a reporter covering Obama, of course she had to go with him on these trips). I also would have liked to see more refutation by Governor Palin of some of the more laughable assertions repeated by Carl Cameron of Fox News (which he got from anonymous "insiders"), since portions of her interview (the entirety of which I have not watched yet; it is presented as a special feature on the DVD) do address some of the other major attacks toward her.

Anyway, I realize that as a supporter of Sarah Palin, I may not be the most objective person to speak about the 2008 campaign. (Oh, like you are, Gentle Reader!) But with that said, I thought Media Malpractice was good, not great, but definitely thought-provoking. It's worth a look.

(I think tonight I'm watching Die Hard; it's great and not thought-provoking.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Open Letter to Dale Dudley

Dear Dale Dudley:

During one of my rare forays across the radio dial to your morning show (to which I'm not giving a link), I, yet again, heard you slamming Alaska's soon-to-be-ex-Governor Sarah Palin. That, I'm used to hearing from you, just as I expect certain CBS late-night hosts to be one-sided and bitter. (Actually, you seem to be on a similar track, but I digress.) You, of course, are entitled to dislike Governor Palin, just as I am entitled to dislike your show.

Your entitlement, however, does not give you carte blanche to make totally unfounded comments about Governor Palin, as you blatantly did during your show of Friday morning, July 10. If I remember correctly (as you might expect, I was not recording the show), and I believe I do, you called Sarah Palin a liar for stating that her family had amassed personal debt related to the filing of, to date, 19 ethics violations, most of which have already been dismissed as frivolous (and I have no doubt that the remaining ones will be dismissed as well).

While I am sure that some of your listeners will be quick to believe that an Austin radio personality knows more about Alaska state law than the governor of said state (who happens to be on the other side of the political spectrum from said radio personality), I can show that you are factually incorrect about the situation. The answer to your assertion may be found in this Weekly Standard article by Matthew Continetti. While the whole article is very informative, the specific phrase that refutes your assertion is the following:

Furthermore, because state ethics law requires the accused to pay for her own defense, the Palins' personal legal bills add up to around $500,000.
That's right, she does, in fact, have to pay her own legal bills for her defense. She wasn't lying when she said that. And you, Mr. Dudley, in your ongoing quest to crucify the woman, slandered her on air.

Who's the liar now?

p.s. I regret that I will not be listening to your show to hear the apology you ought to be delivering to Governor Palin, as I can only take a little bit of your show every couple of weeks, and only when every other station is at a commercial. (Yes, that happens in Austin radio...they all seem to break right around :45 after, except for your station.) But I don't expect you to apologize anyway; I expect you to continue to be your charming self. Stay classy.

Unfairly Forgotten Song #6: Love Me All Up by Stacy Earl

By 1991, contemporary hit radio (top 40) was splintering. There were still top 40 stations playing the full spectrum of songs that were actually on the top 40, but some stations were trending toward more of a hip-hop sound. At the same time, some stations (notably in this part of the country, 97.1 the Eagle (KEGL) in Dallas/Ft. Worth) trended toward rock, while still other formerly great stations (such as, off the top of my head, KAY-107 (KAYI) in Tulsa) turned to a format called "adult top 40", which they advertised as having "no hard rock and no rap". Basically, adult top 40 was watered-down radio.

Anyway, some of these adult top 40 stations, such as, for example, KAY-107, didn't even play some of the best dance tracks from the period, such as this one from Stacy Earl, who recorded one album and then disappeared for some reason. "Love Me All Up" was Ms. Earl's first hit and made it to the top 20 before inexplicably being dropped from the playlist of pretty much every station everywhere (though it occasionally pops up on Ron "Boogiemonster" Gerber's "Crap From the Past").

Incidentally, "Love Me All Up" was co-written by Richard Rudolph, who was the husband of Minnie Riperton.

(Note: most information in "forgotten songs" entries comes from the always-reliable Wikipedia; as such, its veracity may be questionable.)