Clear As Mud

Palin, Ruedrich call for Begich resignation


By Erika Bolstad
Published: April 2nd, 2009 01:06 PM
Anchorage Daily News (full story here)

WASHINGTON — The head of the Alaska Republican Party today called on Sen. Mark Begich to step down from the U.S. Senate, saying that the state’s voters would have re-elected former Sen. Ted Stevens had they known the U.S Department of Justice would abandon its prosecution of him.

The party chairman, Randy Ruedrich, said that the only reason Begich won his race was because “a few thousand Alaskans thought that Senator Stevens was guilty of seven felonies.”

He added that he thought Begich should step down “so Alaskans may have the chance to vote for a senator without the improper influence of the corrupt Department of Justice.”

Gov. Sarah Palin concurs with Ruedrich and believes a special election is appropriate, said a spokeswoman for Palin’s political action committee, Meg Stapleton. “I absolutely agree,” Palin said in a statement.

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Talk about hootzpah.  Beyond the obvious, I have two incredibly knot-in-the-gut reactions to this particular episode of the Convicted-Unconcivted Senator Stevens Election Debaucle.

1. When was it determined the U.S. Justice department is corrupt? Was there a trial? Did i miss it? Does President Obama know? Will there be hearings?

2.  When was it determined the governor and leader of opposing parties could ask a seated senator to step down because they think election results of several months prior may have gone differently had curent events been – umm – different? 

Senator Stevens was convicted of seven (that we know of) felonies. The fact the U.S. Justice department decided now that there were great holes in the prosecution’s case and he should probably have a new trial does not – in my book – constitute clearing Stevens of the charges brought against him of which he was subsequently convicted. it only talks to the prosecution of the case, not the validity.

It’s rather like watching the parents of a 12 year old caught taking money out of dad’s wallet being let off the hook because an older sibling was caught smoking pot – and the parents only have time and energy to do so much disciplining. Senator Ted would most likely be granted a new trial with a chance at being fully acquitted of the felony charges (were he younger and still in office) but that the U.S. Justice department has more pressing things to do with their time than retry an 85 year old man (who probably screwed the citizens of Alaska for years before he was caught, anyway) who no longer has the ability to repeat those crimes. Umm, unless of course he were to be re-elected.

I’ve read several articles reporting this decision but nowhere did I read the U.S. Justice department found Ted Stevens to be innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted, only that the department feels the original case was mucked up and he probably should have the original indictment dismissed and then have a new trial (with a new improved indictment?)  Oh wait not the trial – they don’t have time for that part. So I guess a new indictment would be out too then?  Without a new trial, an new indictment would be what – the indictment to nowhere?

Granted my knowledge of U.S. history is sadly lacking,  but I’m not at all understanding how the dismissal of an indictment or suggestion of a new trial is a claim of innocence, or how the court of appeals was by-passed here. How did the U.S. Justice department get involved with an appellate court decision in the first place? Do politicians have their own set of courts? Is it like health care where politicians get a better deal?

I welcome any input from readers that will help me get my head around this process.

And Sarah! I am dunbfounded. Asking a seated Senator to step down five months into his term because his convicted opponent may or may not have been guilty of criminal charges. So yes, hootzpah! Todd Palin may wear the pants in the family, but clearly Sarah is still the one who mans the balls.



U.S. to drop Stevens charges


WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has moved to dismiss former Sen. Ted Stevens’ indictment, effectively voiding his Oct. 27 conviction seven counts of filing false statements on his U.S. Senate financial disclosure forms.

“The Justice Department filed its motion to dismiss the case this morning, saying in it that “given the facts of this particular case, the Government believes that granting a new trial is in the interest of justice.” However, “the Government has further determined that, based on the totality of circumstances and in the interest of justice, it will not seek a new trial.

That just tears it. Seems to me justice would be better served if it waas actually served  in the first place. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow to find it was just an april fools joke…

(Full story here)

As few as six weeeks ago, everywhere that Sarah went, Trig, Bristol, Willow and Piper were in tow. Everywhere. On and off airplanes, in and out of convention centres, everywhere.

As few as four weeks ago, during interviews in their Wasilla home, Trig was always in a photo being carried by either Sarah herself one of the girls.

Where’s Trig now? He didn’t accompany mum to the Turkey Pardon Fiasco, the Governor’s Convention in Florida, or the Chambliss Campaign. I bet Obama would have liked to meet the little guy at his gathering in Philly but again, little Trig, the one time attached-to-the-hip Palin accessory of choice, was a no show.

I never saw an array of  ‘Thanksgiving photos of the Governor’s Family’ in the ADN even though at the Turkey Pardon Interview Sarah made a big deal out of being in charge of cooking the turkey for her whole family on the day.  

Her Staffers reported that Sarah kept Trig with her during April, May, June, July and August while she performed her duties as Governor, and yet there are no AP Wire or ADN  candid shots of mum and bub  in and around town as she did her job then or now.  So what’s the deal?

It’s 6 December 2008. Trig is fast approaching being 8 months of age. He’s a special needs bub. That means he has SPECIAL NEEDS. Surely his physical development is being monitored by someone? Who? Who’s looking after him medically? Who’s looking after him daily?

Is he crawling?

Can he turn over by himself?

Is he holding his head up?

Can he hold his own bottle?

Is he sleeping through the night?

Is he eating any solids yet?

 As the Republican Party’s calendar girl for mother of special needs kids, Sarah should be openly sharing her daily experiences so mothers of other special needs kids can feel more secure about their own.

So who’s looking after Trig and where is he?

Oh wait.

Bristol’s not around either, is she.

Well for a Governor who touts herself as the ultimate advocate for transparency in government, this is all clear as mud to me.

I was derailed today. And it’s another clear as mud moment in my life.

A lovely friend of mine, who for reasons which completely elude me, feels it’s necessary to do herself harm. She’s a cutter. I know this to be true as she bolstered the courage once, to show me some of her scars.

This time of year is hard for her. She had a miscarriage three years ago and has not recovered from the loss. In the past three years she’s tried to commit suicide at least twice. She has been seen by a psychiatrist, a psychologist and no less than two other therapists.

At the beginning of September, she and I spent a day making Christmas ornaments. She made one for her little lost soul, and was looking forward to hanging it on her tree. I took it as a good sign.

She’s been actively working through the self-harming pattern. She’s been buoyant and brave and even flown to NSW for a vacation with friends. She’s begun a new job and everyone adores her. She’s one of those incredibly sweet people you instinctively like and want in your world.

The day before yesterday my friend called to say she’d voluntarily admitted herself in hospital because she was afraid she would hurt herself. Really hurt herself. She was panicked. She wanted to be in a place where she felt safe. I was caught a bit off-guard as I didn’t realize she was still so vulnerable, but relieved at her decision to get help.

Last night she called to say she’d finally managed to sleep and her tone was positive. She gave me her number and we chatted about the storms we’re having in Southeast Queensland.

This morning her doctor discharged her. She called me, crying, and I kept her company while she waited for her mum. She was scared. I can’t begin to imagine what that must be like, to be afraid of yourself.

Out of all the educated, highly trained people taking care of my friend, her psychologist is the only one she trusts. And here’s the rub: Only the psychiatrist has the authority to issue medications or hospitalisations. And her psychiatrist thinks she’s faking, that all she’s after is attention. He’s officially diagnosed her as ‘A Borderline’ which evidently means ‘an attention grabber’ and dismissed her like yesterday’s bread.

I hope he’s right. Although I don’t understand how someone who hides cutting themselves is grabbing for attention, I do hope he’s right. Because if he’s not and my friend disappears from my world?  I won’t have any regrets when my knee accidentally makes contact with his testicles .

This part of Australian politics is just clear as mud to me: There are several parties here. The  two largest are Liberal and Labor. Next come the Independents (National Party)  followed by the Greens and Family First. The titles are self-explanatory. Here’s what isn’t:


Bits of parliament sessions are  televised both live, during the week, and in recap at week’s end. You constantly hear the phrase “Mr Speaker, the Opposition would like us to believe…” But there is no actual ‘opposition party’. The opposition referred to in parliament discussions or by the press is simply whatever party is not in office at the time.


There are actual, existing ‘opposition parties’ in other countries. There was once an actual opposition party in the US. But in Australia, we call whichever not-in-power-party voicing a concern, complaint or offering a different idea to those whose hands firmly grasp Australia’s helm – the opposition.


Needless to say, attempting to follow a parliament session is like trying to watch a football game with no less than five teams on the field, but only one is in uniform. The rest are all in jeans and tees or business suits or well you get the picture. Unless you know the names and faces of the players and with which teams they are each associated, it’s a bit of a struggle to keep up.


FOOTNOTE: And you won’t see this in the US Senate House I bet: It was determined this past year that our working mothers of parliament can breastfeed their bubs during session. I am so proud to have lived long enough to watch the old boys club up in arms and squirming over one of their peers breastfeeding on the job.


Hey, it’s only fair. I mean if the men can pick their noses whilst the camera is rolling…