FORBES: Palin Gets Booed in Philly! This is sure to be the headline splashed across television and newspapers Sunday morning, the day after the Republican Vice Presidential candidate and hockey mom from Alaska drops the puck at the ceremonial face-off for the Philadelphia Flyers’ home opener on Saturday night at the soon-to-need-a-name-change Wachovia Center. What will be missing from the news: the jeers were deserved. As every sports fan knows, no one is safe in front of Philadelphia fans—they have never needed a reason to boo anyone in their ballpark, stadium or arena. As usual though, the boring chorus of media scrutiny will chalk the behavior up to the stereotypically described obnoxious Philly fans. This time, especially, they will be wrong. […]
She has partly herself to blame. During her last visit to Philadelphia during the weekend of September 27, 2008, she made two huge blunders that did not go unnoticed by Philadelphians. The first, as reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer last Sunday, October 5, 2008, is that she actually attempted to leave her hotel for a jog wearing a New York Rangers’ jersey. The second, in response to the first, is that she displayed how little she knows about hockey and sports, to one of sports’ most passionate fan bases. No hockey fan in their right mind would show up in Philadelphia wearing a jersey of a New York team, or vice-versa, without expecting some sort of fight to ensue. Certainly trouble was not on Palin’s mind. So it begs the question: is Palin really the hockey fan she says she is? […]
The other one who will bear responsibility for any fan misconduct is Ed Snider, the Chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers. He announced this event for Palin, and while he claims it has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the Flyers “Ultimate Hockey Mom” contest, he is a known Republican who has donated $25,000 to the McCain campaign. Further, he has found no similar event to extend such an invitation to Biden, who represents Delaware, home of many Flyers’ fans. Undoubtedly some of the boos hurled in Palin’s direction will be by Flyers’ fans who are angry at Snider for misusing their hard-earned recreation time to promote his own political interests, especially after they scrounged to buy their ticket and pay for parking. When Snider is wiping the embarrassment off his face, he should remember how unfair it was to deny fans what it is they paid for—a night of hockey free of politics. MORE
SLAPSHOT: Let me start this off by saying, I would object to this sideshow whichever political party it involved. Having vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin drop the ceremonial first puck at the Flyers’ opener Saturday night was problematic not because it was Palin — Flyers owner Ed Snider’s decision under the flimsy excuse of “honoring” hockey moms — but because it is injecting politics in a place it should not be. MORE
Note how the arena raises the music volume to drown out the booing.
It has also been suggested that pre-recorded cheers were piped in over the PA.
Alaska Inquiry Concludes Palin Abused Powers
NEW YORK TIMES: One of the paramount reasons that Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband have given for voicing their concerns to Alaska public safety officials about Trooper Michael Wooten, her former brother-in-law, is that they and their relatives live in fear of him. They have complained that Trooper Wooten made threats of violence against the family, used a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson and has generally struggled to control his anger. But an independent investigator for the State Legislature, who has concluded that Ms. Palin abused the powers of her office by pressuring subordinates to dismiss the trooper, contends that the claims of fear were a facade to mask a maneuver in a family dispute. In a report released Friday, the investigator, Stephen E. Branchflower, said evidence, like the governor’s decision to reduce the manpower of her security detail, showed that “such claims of fear were not bona fide and were offered to provide cover for the Palins’ real motivation: to get Trooper Wooten fired for personal family related reasons.” MORE
TIME: But the Branchflower report still makes for good reading, if only because it convincingly answers a question nobody had even thought to ask: Is the Palin administration shockingly amateurish? Yes, it is. Disturbingly so. The 263 pages of the report show a co-ordinated application of pressure on Monegan so transparent and ham-handed that it was almost certain to end in public embarrassment for the governor. A harsh verdict? Consider the report’s findings. Not only did people at almost every level of the Palin administration engage in repeated inappropriate contact with Walt Monegan and other high-ranking officials at the Department of Public Safety, but Monegan and his peers constantly warned these Palin disciples that the contact was inappropriate and probably unlawful. Still, the emails and calls continued — in at least one instance on recorded state trooper phone lines.
The state’s head of personnel, Annette Kreitzer, called Monegan and had to be warned that personnel issues were confidential. The state’s attorney general, Talis Colberg, called Monegan and had to be reminded that the call was putting both men in legal jeopardy, should Wooten decide to sue. The governor’s chief of staff met with Monegan and had to be reminded by Monegan that, “This conversation is discoverable … You don’t want Wooten to own your house, do you?” Monegan consistently emerges as the adult in these conversations, while the Palin camp displays a childish impetuousness and sense of entitlement.
Another amateurish sign: Todd Palin’s outsize role in the mess. Branchflower said it was out of his jurisdiction to pass judgment on the First Gentleman, but his report paints an extralegal role for Todd Palin that would have made the Hillary Clinton of 1992 blush. In the report, the head of Gov. Palin’s security detail says that Todd spent about half of his time in the governor’s office — not at a desk (he didn’t have one), but at a long conference table on one side of the office, with his own phone to make and receive calls. It became a shadow office, the informal Department of Getting Mike Wooten Fired. MORE
NEWSWEEK: A new Alaska legislative report finding that abused her power and violated state ethics laws spells new trouble for the McCain campaign. […] But there could be more land mines ahead. Some weeks ago, the McCain team devised a plan to have Palin file an ethics complaint against herself with the State Personnel Board, arguing that it alone was capable of conducting a fair, nonpartisan inquiry into whether she fired Monegan because he refused to fire Wooten, who had been involved in a messy custody battle with her sister. Some Democrats ridiculed the move, noting that the personnel board answered to Palin. But the board ended up hiring an aggressive Anchorage trial lawyer, Timothy Petumenos, as an independent counsel. McCain aides were chagrined to discover that Petumenos was a Democrat who had contributed to Palin’s 2006 opponent for governor, Tony Knowles. Palin is now scheduled to be questioned next week, and the counsel’s report could be released soon after. “We took a gamble when we went to the personnel board,” said a McCain aide who asked not to be identified discussing strategy. While the McCain camp still insists Palin “has nothing to hide,” it acknowledges a critical finding by Petumenos would be even harder to dismiss. MORE
FRANK RICH: No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler, the mid-century Hearst columnist famous for his anti-Semitism, racism and violent rhetorical excess. After an assassin tried to kill F.D.R. at a Florida rally and murdered Chicago’s mayor instead in 1933, Pegler wrote that it was “regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara shot the wrong man.” In the ’60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: “Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.” This is the writer who found his way into a speech by a potential vice president at a national political convention. It’s astonishing there’s been no demand for a public accounting from the McCain campaign. Imagine if Obama had quoted a Black Panther or Louis Farrakhan — or William Ayers — in Denver. MORE
TIME: With so much at stake, and time running short, Virginia state GOP Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick did not feel he had the luxury of subtlety. He climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” he said. “That is scary.” It is also not exactly true — though that distorted reference to Obama’s controversial association with William Ayers, a former 60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. “And he won’t salute the flag,” one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, “We don’t even know where Senator Obama was really born.” Actually, we do; it’s Hawaii. MORE
CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS: “As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign,” Lewis said in a statement. “Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.”
The veteran Democrat even invoked one of the most divisive figures in recent U.S. history. “During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama,” said Lewis.
He warned, “As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better.” MORE
TAMPA TRIBUNE: The U.S. Secret Service is looking into reports that a crowd member yelled,“Kill him!” while Gov. Sarah Palin was talking about Sen. Barack Obama during her Clearwater rally Monday. The incident reportedly occurred after Palin questioned Obama’s patriotism because of his acquaintance with William Ayers, a Chicago university professor who was an anti-Vietnam War radical in the 1970s. Apparently the only public evidence of the “kill him” shout is a Washington Post news story Tuesday by reporter Dana Milbank, who covered the rally.
Milbank later was quoted in an interview with the Politico Web site as saying he thought the shout may have been a reference to Ayers, not Obama. Milbank was quoted Thursday saying he had been contacted by the Secret Service about the matter. A Secret Service spokesman confirmed that the agency was aware of the report and looking into it. Spokesman Ed Donovan said no Secret Service agent heard the threat, nor was it reported by local law officers or the public. Federal law makes it a crime to threaten to kill, kidnap or harm a presidential candidate. MORE
BALITMORE SUN: John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain. You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.
GEOGRAPHY OF HATE: The Noose Tightens
FACTCHECK.ORG: Bill Ayers’ notoriety dates from the radical, anti-Vietnam War group he helped to start in 1969, splintering off from the activist Students for a Democratic Society. The members of the new group, the Weather Underground, favored shows of violence to further their cause. On March 6, 1970, though, three of them blew themselves up in a Greenwich Village townhouse during a bomb-making session gone badly awry. Ayers and his fellow Weathermen, as they were called, soon dropped out of sight.
Barack Obama, who was born Aug. 4, 1961, was 8 years old at the time.
The Weather Underground continued setting off bombs, including one in a men’s lavatory in the Capitol building in 1971 and another in a women’s restroom in the Pentagon in 1972. Nobody was killed, due to evacuation warnings the Weathermen sent out in advance. After the Vietnam War ended, the group’s activities petered out. In 1980 Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, another member, surfaced and turned themselves in to police. Because of illegal federal wiretaps, pending charges against Ayers for allegedly inciting a riot and conspiring to bomb government sites had been dropped. Dohrn pleaded guilty to separate charges of aggravated battery and jumping bail; she was fined $1,500 and given three years’ probation. Ayers and Dohrn, who had had two children together while in hiding, married in 1982.
Several other Weather Underground alums, including Kathy Boudin, along with some members of a group calling itself the Black Liberation Army, were involved in a bungled 1981 robbery of a Brinks truck in Nanuet, N.Y., in which a security guard and two policemen were killed. Ayers and Dohrn have never been publicly tied to the incident, which took place after they had turned themselves in. Dohrn was jailed for seven months for refusing to provide a handwriting sample to the grand jury investigating it. Dohrn is now a clinical associate professor of law at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. Ayers is a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Locally, Ayers’ radical past hasn’t been much of an issue. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet wrote last spring that it “was no big deal, or any deal, to any local political reporters or to the editorial boards of the Sun-Times or [Chicago] Tribune.” Ayers was named a Chicago citizen of the year in 1997 for his efforts in the field of education.
In Chicago, Ayers is seen less as a “terrorist” and more as a prodigal son of the local establishment. His father was a prominent corporate executive and civic leader. Thomas G. Ayers was president and chief executive of Commonwealth Edison, the electric utility that lights Chicago and northern Illinois. There is a residence hall named for him at Northwestern University, where he was a trustee for 30 years. Bill’s brother John Ayers, according to Education Week, headed a school-reform group called the Leadership for Quality Education, which represented business leaders’ interest in schools. John is now a senior associate of the Chicago-based National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Despite the fairly mainstream life he lives now, though, Bill Ayers’ image took a hit with an article that appeared in the New York Times on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Ayers was quoted in the lead paragraph as saying, ”I don’t regret setting bombs” and “I feel we didn’t do enough.” The interview had been conducted earlier, in connection with the publication of Ayers’ memoir of his years as a fugitive. But when the quotes appeared on the same day thousands died at the World Trade Center and elsewhere, they enraged his critics.
Ayers called the story a deliberate distortion of his views. In a response on his blog, Ayers wrote:
Ayers: My memoir is from start to finish a condemnation of terrorism, of the indiscriminate murder of human beings, whether driven by fanaticism or official policy…. I said I had a thousand regrets, but no regrets for opposing the war with every ounce of my strength. MORE
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: It’s strange to realize that 61-year-old Bernardine Dohrn was once branded a dangerous woman. Former member of the Weather Underground, poster girl for militant, revolution-spouting anarchy, she is now the mother of three and a professor of law at Northwestern University in Chicago. Still politically active—she’s appalled by the recent U.S. military action in Iraq—Dohrn is warm, funny, extraordinarily articulate. She lives a quiet life in Chicago with her husband, Bill Ayers, a fellow veteran of the Weather Underground and a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and takes care of her 91-year-old mother, who is in the last stages of Alzheimer’s.
Dohrn and Ayers have three sons, each raised in an environment, they say, where politics was constantly discussed but never imposed: Zayd, 26, is a playwright and graduate student in New York; Malik, 23, studies and teaches in Guatemala; and Chesa, 22, is a Yale graduate, Rhodes scholar and the only activist in the bunch. Chesa is the couple’s adopted son and has lived with them since he was 14 months old. His parents, former Weather Underground members Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, are maximum-security inmates in the New York state prison system, incarcerated for their roles in a 1981 Brink’s robbery in upstate New York, in which a guard and two police officers were killed. […]
In March 1970, the fate of Weathermen shifted when Terry Robbins, Ted Gold and Diana Oughton died in a bomb blast at a Greenwich Village townhouse. The bomb that was being assembled, probably by Robbins, had accidentally exploded. Dohrn, Ayers and their fellow radicals went underground, and changed their name to the Weather Underground. They took aliases (Dohrn was Rose Bridges, Ayers became Joe Brown); concocted ways to obtain false identity papers; grew beards or dyed their hair; moved frequently; and developed a secret code or “Weatherese” to avoid suspicion. The Weather Underground became “the Eggplant,” dynamite was “ice cream” or “pickles,” the fact of their fugitive status was “the Joke,” as in “I don’t think anyone here knows the Joke.”
“We each brought our longings and our desires, mostly intact,” Ayers writes in his 2001 memoir, “Fugitive Days,” “and we brought our homesickness, a memory of something whole. . . . We were exiles within our own country.” It was their growing family, Dohrn says, that prompted them to surrender to federal authorities on Dec. 3, 1980. They remember the day: the pandemonium at the Cook County Courthouse in Chicago, being grabbed by marshals, the surreal jolt of watching their press conference on TV that night at the home of Ayers’ brother John. Amazingly, because the government had used illegal methods to pursue the fugitives, the charges against Dohrn and Ayers—crossing state lines to destroy property and crossing state lines to create a civil disturbance—were dropped. Instead of going to prison, the couple were allowed to go free and Dohrn was put on three years’ probation for a misdemeanor dating back to a 1969 anti-war demonstration. In 1982, she spent eight months in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury about the Brink’s robbery that involved Gilbert and Boudin.
Dohrn acknowledges that she and the Underground “made a lot of mistakes,” but neither she nor Ayers would admit regret about the violent actions the group committed. “When you look back at the extreme situation of that illegal, immoral war,” Dohrn says, “and the kind of incredible racist behavior at home, and you think of how relatively restrained the opposition was, I think that’s remarkable. There weren’t people attempting assassinations, there weren’t people kidnapping, except for Patty Hearst. There weren’t people putting bombs and chemicals into public subways. Of course, I wish we’d done things better, tidier, nicer. I wish we’d spoken more articulately. Our rhetoric was way off the charts. I mean, we thought revolution was imminent. We thought U.S. imperialism was doomed, and this was the turning point in the U.S.” The Weather Underground legacy will always be with them. When Ayers’ book came out in September 2001, he says, “the state of Illinois launched an investigation into why I was hired (at the University of Illinois, he holds the title “distinguished professor of education and senior university scholar”). The coincidence of my book coming out at the same time as 9/11 caused many right-wing politicians in Illinois to pressure and threaten both our universities to fire us. That continues.” MORE