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Did Palin try to ban books from the local library?

Over the past couple of weeks, a number of claims made for and against Sarah Palin have been debunked. One persistent charge made by her critics is that she tried to remove objectionable books from the public library in Wasilla, Alaska, where she was mayor. In a generally critical examination of Palin's record in yesterday's New York Times, the reporters revive the story and provide a few fresh details. As the Times frames the allegations, they fit a narrative in which Palin is a religious extremist imposing her ideology on the town's institutions:

The new mayor also tended carefully to her evangelical base. She appointed a pastor to the town planning board. And she began to eye the library. For years, social conservatives had pressed the library director to remove books they considered immoral.

"People would bring books back censored," recalled former Mayor John Stein, Ms. Palin's predecessor. "Pages would get marked up or torn out."

Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.

But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book "Daddy's Roommate" on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.

"Sarah said she didn't need to read that stuff," Ms. Chase said. "It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn't even read it."

"I'm still proud of Sarah," she added, "but she scares the bejeebers out of me."

There are two different episodes recounted here. One involves an alleged attempt by Palin to remove books when she first became mayor in 1996. The other involves the qualms she is supposed to have expressed about the book Daddy's Roommate when she was a city council member in 1995.

As for her actions as a new mayor in 1996, it's undisputed that Palin did have conversations with the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, during which Palin asked about library policy for the removal of objectionable books. The conversations, and the ensuing controversy about them, were reported in the local newspaper, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman on December 18, 1996. If you're interested in the issue, I advise you to read this contemporaneous account for yourself.

The short of it, as I read the 1996 newspaper article, is that Palin and Emmons disagreed even back then about what was said during these conversations and, more importantly, about how to interpret what was said. For her part, Palin claims that her inquiry about removing books was hypothetical. She was a new mayor and simply wanted to learn more about the library's policies, just as she wanted to learn more about all city departments. But she was not taking steps to ban any books. Consistent with what she said in 1996, Palin recently told ABC's Charlie Gibson: "I never banned a book, never desired to ban a book. When I became mayor in our town, it was the issue of: what if a parent came into our local public library and asked for a book to be taken off the shelf, what's the policy?"

However, Emmons charged in 1996 that Palin's inquiries were more pointed. "She was asking me how I would deal with her [Palin] saying a book can't be in the library," Emmons told the local paper. Emmons said she responded that she would fight any attempt to remove books. It's a "she said/she said" dispute, and one that may involve genuine misunderstanding about the motives behind Palin's inquiries.

At any rate, several weeks later Palin fired Emmons, which at first looks suspicious. But Emmons was fired along with several other city department heads appointed by the incumbent mayor she had defeated, John Stein. (Emmons was among those city officials who had publicly backed Stein.) There is no evidence Palin fired Emmons for resisting censorship. According to a report in the Anchorage Daily News on February 1, 1997, Palin reinstated Emmons after Emmons reassured her that she would support Palin's plan for a merger of the city's library and museum. The newspaper account of the reinstatement doesn't even mention the earlier book-banning controversy. The fact that Emmons, head of the Alaska Library Association at the time and an outspoken opponent of censorship, continued to work under Palin suggests that Emmons had satisfied herself that Palin would not be pushing to ban books from the library.

The other incident involves concerns Palin allegedly expressed as a city council member in 1995 over the book Daddy's Roommate, which introduces kids to a family headed by a gay male couple. The presence of the book in public libraries, along with Heather Has Two Mommies, has been especially irksome to religious conservatives over the past two decades.

While Palin may indeed have indicated a desire to remove Daddy's Roommate from the public library, there are a couple of problems with the account in the Times. One is timing. Unlike the 1996 dispute between Palin and Emmons, which was on the public record at the time, the 1995 conversation is only now coming to light, thirteen years after the fact. No contemporaneous accounts of the conversation are known to exist, and this incident was apparently not aired in any of Palin's subsequent campaigns for public office. Only now that Palin is a candidate for Vice President have we heard about it. Another weakness is possible bias against Palin. One of the sources is Stein, the incumbent mayor she defeated in 1996. The other source is Palin's 1996 campaign manager, Laura Chase. While Chase is quoted as saying she's "proud" of Palin, she also says Palin "scares" her. This suggests Palin and Chase may no longer be on good terms. I'm not saying Stein and Chase are deliberately lying, but they aren't exactly disinterested witnesses. At the very least a frank conversation in 1995 about Palin's moral objections to homosexuality may have morphed in their minds into a full-blown attempt to start banning "pro-homosexual" books.

Taken together, the 1995 and 1996 incidents can be interpreted either as (1) an aborted attempt by Sarah Palin to ban books from the public library or as (2) the responsible actions of a new mayor anticipating future disputes and desiring to know how the city was prepared to deal with them. If you take Palin to be a religious crusader hellbent on imposing socially conservative policies, you're likely to see these episodes as supporting the former view. If you think of her primarily as a competent and tough administrator pursuing an agenda of reform and accountability in government, you're likely to see them as supporting the latter view.

Unless we get more information, or some further corroboration of the story told by one side or the other, here's my bet about what happened. In 1995, Palin was a young mother and religious conservative concerned about things like abortion and homosexuality, in addition to taxes, spending, and government waste. She was aware of the controversy over Daddy's Roommate and other books and discussed the controversy with others, probably expressing her own discomfort with children accessing the book. But she made no effort to "ban" any books. As a new mayor, Palin anticipated some parents' protest over the presence of some books and genuinely wanted to know how such protests would be dealt with. She probably would not have fallen on her First Amendment sword to save Daddy's Roommate or other books in the event protests began but she wasn't herself eager to start a controversy over it. When she got resistance from Emmons, and public criticism when she fired the popular librarian for other reasons, she backed off on any fleeting thought she might have given to removing any books from the library shelves.

If I'm roughly right about this, there are a couple of things we learn here about Palin. First, her instincts and personal views on social issues do indeed lie with religious conservatives. If it were costless to implement a socially conservative vision of the world, she would do it.

But the second the thing we learn about her is more important: she is not a crusader for a religious agenda in her capacity as a public official. She's a pragmatic reformer and a quick study who learned as a new mayor that there are some things worth fighting about and others that aren't. She has learned to prioritize. Cutting waste and consolidating departments in city and state government are worth ruffling feathers and making enemies (as she has); removing a book from the library is not. There is no evidence that Palin made any further effort as mayor to ban books, or even expressed further qualms about any books. If she was a book-banner back in 1996, she wasn't a proud one since she denied it at the time, and has long since given up such ideas.

This emphasis on small-government conservatism over social conservatism fits her record as governor, where she has mostly ignored the "family values" agenda. She opposes abortion, even in cases of rape, but hasn't pushed new anti-abortion legislation. She believes in creationism, but hasn't forced it on the state's public schools. And she may personally believe that many aspects of modern culture are corrosive and immoral, but there isn't even a hint of book-banning in her post-1996 public record.

To many people, it wouldn't matter one bit if Palin still wanted to ban from public libraries books like Daddy's Roommate and others disliked by religious conservatives. It would even be a plus for some. But it would bother me quite a bit, even apart from whatever constitutional issues such actions raise, because it would suggest an unsettling degree of anti-gay obsession and, more generally, a willingness to use government to suppress opposing views. We may learn something more in the coming weeks that gives more ground to doubt her commitment to liberal values in government, but we aren't there right now. There remain fundamental reasons to be concerned about her candidacy, and some of them are contained elsewhere in yesterday's Times article, but my provisional view is that book-banning isn't one of them.

Kevin!:
What an incredibly positive view of Palin's motives. Isn't by far the simplest explanation that Palin wanted to ban books from the library, but simply never pushed for it?

"Backed off on any fleeting thought" indeed.

Look, maybe Palin should just be honest about this. She was uncomfortable with a few pro-gay books and wanted them gone from her library, because kids could get to them. After deliberation, she decided not to push it. This all happened in 1996. Is that really so bad? Isn't it worse to keep forcing supporters to wedge themselves into these sorts of contortions?
9.15.2008 11:07am
rarango (mail):
Another Palin post. I am Palined out with 7 weeks left. At the risk of being overly cynical, and while I appreciate the conspirators views, this must be really making your stats spike, which doesnt hurt add revenue.
9.15.2008 11:14am
alkali (mail):
Unlike the 1996 dispute between Palin and Emmons, which was on the public record at the time, the 1995 conversation is only now coming to light, thirteen years after the fact. No contemporaneous accounts of the conversation are known to exist, and this incident was apparently not been aired in any of Palin's subsequent campaigns for public office. Only now that Palin is a candidate for Vice President have we heard about it.

I don't really care very much about this dispute, but I think the an argument based on the presumed completeness of the historical public record doesn't really work in this context. If you wanted to know, "Did the President ever meet with top Treasury officials on issue X?" the fact that you can't find anything in Nexis on that subject might be probative. The same is not true of the activities of small-town mayors.
9.15.2008 11:17am
cboldt (mail):
-- Isn't by far the simplest explanation that Palin wanted to ban books from the library, but simply never pushed for it? --
.
No, in part because she is free to do that in her capacity as a citizen, as other citizens of Wasilla have done. Doing so as a mayor would be obviously ham-handed. In fact, the accusation is so wacky, that those who make it are showing how ham-handed they are.
9.15.2008 11:20am
Curt Fischer:
How long until a libertarian comes along in the comment thread and mentions that this whole fiasco is due to government control of the library system?

I don't understand why democratically elected officials cannot influence which books are circulated by a government-owned-and-operated library. When someone answerable to the people tries to tell the library what books to have, it's "censorship", but when librarians decide what books to buy with government money, its just viewed as running the library. Even in government, funds are sometimes limited, and it would seem to be the prerogative of the democratically elected to make sure funds were spent in a way that they felt would serve their constituents.

(I should note two things: {i} I certainly wouldn't object / make a fuss over / inquire about banning any of the books Palin seemed concerned by, if were in charge, but my point is about books in the abstract, not a certain book, and {ii} I recognize that nowhere in the Palin scuffle with Emmons does it seem that anyone argued that the issue had anything to do with efficient use of funds.)

So I'm hopeful that a diligent libertarian type will come along and explain how some sort of a private library system would better serve the public interest.
9.15.2008 11:21am
The Ace (mail):
Did Palin try to ban books from the local library?

No, and this is a fact beyond dispute.

Zero, that is no, books were banned.
9.15.2008 11:27am
Cheggue:
For me the bigger question (and I'm not a lawyer) is how deciding which books should and should not be on the shelves of a public library is 'censorship.' Presumably, as the poster before said, the librarian had to make a positive decision to buy the book in the first place, and most libraries can't buy (or shelve) every book published every year. By removing a book from a library, the librarian (or whomever) is making it somewhat more difficult for some people to read the book, but the book is not 'banned.' You can still go to a bookstore, or Amazon (or wherever) and buy it. No one is stopping you (using legal mechanisms) from reading the book.
9.15.2008 11:30am
John (mail):
When we look at candidates we do so with an eye to what they might do in office. In this, a candidate's actual conduct strikes me as a much better indicator than whatever the candidate once said--or now says (what the candidate now says should almost always be disregarded--e.g., McCain's flip flop on amnesty--believe what he did, not what he says--or Obama's flip flop on taxes, oil, a long list...).

In Palin's case on this score, she did not actually do anything, even when she had the opportunity, so I'll go with that as her likely conduct for the future.

Furthermore, this issue is not going to change anyone's mind about her. Hell, there are books I don't want in my library ("How to Bomb Your Post Office" would be one). Her choices might be different.

The election is turning into one of "true reformers" against "more of the same." Right now, McCain &Palin are winning the public's view that they are in the first category and Obama &Biden are in the second. This may of course change, but this book banning story is not going to influence it.
9.15.2008 11:31am
Mad Max:
But it would bother me quite a bit, even apart from whatever constitutional issues such actions raise, because it would suggest an unsettling degree of anti-gay obsession and, more generally, a willingness to use government to suppress opposing views.

Yet putting those books in the library in the first place does not indicate an "unsettling" degree of homophilia and a willingness to use government to promote the pro-gay viewpoint?
9.15.2008 11:34am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
FWIW, my mother was a librarian, the "public", that is, any patron, frequently request books be removed from the shelves, and the requests are honored because it's a *public* library.

The books weren't unavailable- one could request them.

This has nothing to do with Sarah Palin, it's an illustration of what the "mechanics" of a situation like this can be as someone I know well experienced it.

As to Palin, it seems she has to be in lock-step with a particular kind of liberal thinking that matches her actions to be considered worthy- instead, she didn't like the book being on the shelves, and she didn't request it's removal.

I believe this is "tolerance"; it's rather a necessity for our style of governing to work.

"Acceptance", "approval", and "promotion" aren't required, and can't be demanded, except by the naive.
9.15.2008 11:35am
Deoxy (mail):
Isn't by far the simplest explanation that Palin wanted to ban books from the library, but simply never pushed for it?


In useful terms, no.

"People who would like to ban at least one book from the library but never actually put any effort into it" would encompass well over 99% of the electorate, making the label meaningless.

Someone who wants to ban at least one book, has the power to do so (mayor, then governor), yet never does anything with that power is not properly labelled as "someone who wants to ban books", in any useful sense.

Oh, and Curt's comment about "who chooses" is spot on, by the way. The cries of "censorship" about this are, at best, opportunism and nothing more, but almost certainly hypocritical as well.

Why? Suggest to these same people that the library stock something they find objectionable (say, something by David Duke, for an extreme example, but you could find much lesser things), and watch the fireworks.
9.15.2008 11:37am
Mad Max:
I don't understand why democratically elected officials cannot influence which books are circulated by a government-owned-and-operated library.

Who said we live in a democracy? We live in a Beamtenstaat. That's just how the liberals like it, and that's why they scream so loudly when the plebeian rabble tries to influence the decisions of the Beamter.
9.15.2008 11:39am
Tony Tutins (mail):
For her part, Palin claims that her inquiry about removing books was hypothetical. She was a new mayor and simply wanted to learn more about the library's policies, just as she wanted to learn more about all city departments.

This interpretation does not pass the giggle test. Imagine if she had asked the parallel question of the chief of police, "What if I asked you to let a prisoner free? Say it was a close friend or relative of mine? Realize that I have your undated resignation on my desk."

But on Monday, Oct. 28, Emmons said Palin asked her outright if she could live with censorship of library books. This was during a weak when Palin was requesting resignations from all� the city's department heads as a way of expressing loyalty.

“This is different than a normal book-selection procedure or a book-challenge policy,” Emmons stressed Saturday. “She was asking me how I would deal with her saying a book can't be in the library.”
9.15.2008 11:45am
Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
Agree with Kevin!. David, your "bet" as to what happened seems to be the version that puts all the facts in this particular post in their most favorable light, while discounting less favorable facts, and ignoring others altogether.

If you give the librarian the benefit of the doubt (she has less at stake here than Palin and so less incentive to lie), and take into account some other reports about Palin's mayorship, a good bet might be:

Palin, as a social conservative and mother, would have liked to see certain books removed from the library, as shown by her 1995 concerns. When she became mayor, she explored the possibility with the librarian with two motives: First, she really wanted to know whether the librarian would go along. Second, she wanted to know whether the librarian would be "loyal" to Palin. The librarian failed both tests and was fired along with others Palin perceived as disloyal. The motive for the firing was disloyalty, but one fact of disloyalty was the librarian's response to the query about banning books. After a community uproar, Palin rehired the librarian after securing a pledge to support Palin's policies.

To the extent you rely on the librarian's willingness to come back, it should be noted that she quit two years later because she found it difficult to work for Palin.

What larger points should we take from this? Though Palin might favor banning certain books, she's aware of the political realities and probably would not become a voice for censorship in Washington. But it tells us a lot about her leadership qualities and what she values in subordinates. It seems that like Bush &Nixon, loyalty is valued very highly. Personally, I find that more troubling than socially conservative views about banning books, which I expect most social conservatives have and which are of little risk because the vast majority of Americans do not favor book banning.
9.15.2008 11:47am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Did Palin try to ban books from the local library?

No, and this is a fact beyond dispute.

Zero, that is no, books were banned.


All that proves is that Palin did not succeed in banning books from the local library. The librarian -- apparently a staunch defender of our First Amendment freedoms as most are -- stood up to Palin, as documented in the news stories.

Palin's self-serving, weaseling spin proves nothing. No question your boss asks you is ever hypothetical, unless he identifies it as such.
9.15.2008 11:52am
byomtov (mail):
Not a very objective analysis, DC. You interpret all facts in favor of Palin, and leave out some, and then conclude that she was not trying to ban books.

For example,

I'm not saying Stein and Chase are deliberately lying, but they aren't exactly disinterested witnesses.

Are you seriously claiming that Palin is a disinterested witness? What is the likelihood that she would, today, admit to having wanted to ban the books?

And what of the fact that, appearing on ABC News, a Palin ally, Judy Patrick, confirmed that palin had asked the question at the council meeting?

The fact is that her pastor at the time was making an issue of some books in the library, and that her church, which provided strong support for her run for mayor, was anti-gay.

This one is not quite as silly as "I can see Russia," but I'd say the claim that she wasn't trying to ban books is pretty weak.
9.15.2008 11:53am
Just a thought:

This interpretation does not pass the giggle test. Imagine if she had asked the parallel question of the chief of police, "What if I asked you to let a prisoner free? Say it was a close friend or relative of mine? Realize that I have your undated resignation on my desk."

Sorry, that is not a similar hypothetical. A request to release a prisoner is absurd on its face; a request to remove a certain book from shelves is something which a librarian hears dozens of times a year from parents for any number of reasons.
9.15.2008 11:58am
Tony Tutins (mail):

a request to remove a certain book from shelves is something which a librarian hears dozens of times a year from parents for any number of reasons.

Not anywhere I've ever lived. Where in the Bible Belt does this happen?
9.15.2008 12:00pm
Kevin!:
The problem here is not really asking about banning books. So what if she looked into it, and wanted to do it? It was twelve years ago. We can all agree that certain books (bombing, at least) don't belong in the library. As mayor, she was elected in part because of her socially conservative background.

The problem is when she, in 2008, asks us to believe that her inquiry was just some sort of innocent administrative question.

As this post shows, believing this version requires an extremely long and torturous review of facts, discarding some and attacking the credibility of others.

Just face up to the obvious explanation. Palin wanted to ban pro-gay books in 1996. What do you think would've happened if the librarian agreed to remove books?

It's not necessary that she be ideal to vote for her. So don't gyrate like this; it's pathetic.
9.15.2008 12:04pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Palin, as a social conservative and mother, would have liked to see certain books removed from the library, as shown by her 1995 concerns. When she became mayor, she explored the possibility with the librarian with two motives: First, she really wanted to know whether the librarian would go along. Second, she wanted to know whether the librarian would be "loyal" to Palin. The librarian failed both tests and was fired along with others Palin perceived as disloyal. The motive for the firing was disloyalty, but one fact of disloyalty was the librarian's response to the query about banning books. After a community uproar, Palin rehired the librarian after securing a pledge to support Palin's policies.
Yes, the problem with this narrative is that it is spun in a misleading way. Palin terminated the librarian effective in two weeks; the next day, she met with the librarian -- who obviously did not promise to ban books -- and then rescinded the termination. (See, e.g., here. The librarian had supported her opponent in the mayoral election, and opposed Palin's plan to merge the library and museum. I don't think it's so unreasonable to hire someone who supports your vision and fire someone who doesn't.)
9.15.2008 12:04pm
The Ace (mail):
The librarian -- apparently a staunch defender of our First Amendment freedoms as most are -- stood up to Palin, as documented in the news stories.

Hilarious.

So, um, point us to the "news stories" where Palin instructed the librarian to remove a book and the courageous librarian said "No!"

Please. I dare you.

Again, where do you people come from?
9.15.2008 12:06pm
Anna:
Here's some sort of a back story from The American Thinker.

It describes some of the library controversies before she was a mayor and how the town eventually decided there should be a set policy on handling complaints about books (which they didn't have at the time). I tried reading the New York Times article yesterday but it was so toxic I couldn't make it past the first page.
9.15.2008 12:07pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"The librarian -- apparently a staunch defender of our First Amendment freedoms as most are -- stood up to Palin, as documented in the news stories."

Can you tell us what book Palin tried to ban?
9.15.2008 12:08pm
The Ace (mail):
Just face up to the obvious explanation. Palin wanted to ban pro-gay books in 1996

Then why can't you produce a piece of evidence demonstrating this?
9.15.2008 12:08pm
Just a thought:

a request to remove a certain book from shelves is something which a librarian hears dozens of times a year from parents for any number of reasons.

Not anywhere I've ever lived. Where in the Bible Belt does this happen?

In the 1990's, when the Daddy and Heather books came out, every area of the country was dealing with requests and inquiries about whether these books were appropriate. Just do a Google News archive search.
9.15.2008 12:11pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Can you tell us what book Palin tried to ban?

Palin asked for carte blanche. Any book she disapproved of. You'd have to ask her what she had in mind.
9.15.2008 12:13pm
The Ace (mail):
Any book she disapproved of.

Hysterical.

Another silly assertion you have no proof of.
9.15.2008 12:14pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
also of importance is the fact that Emmons was attempting to make the Wasilla book challenge policy consistent with the recently revised Mat-Su Borough (read "County") policy. The original borough policy placed the borough manager as the final arbiter of book challenges -- that was changed to having a committee be the final arbiter.

The American Thinker piece linked above by Anna provides as much background as one is likely to find -- and especially telling was the piece Emmons herself wrote as head of Alaska's ALA, which describes how she discussed library policy with Palin, and makes no mention of any censorship attempts by Palin.

One of the most dubious claims made by Palin's critics is that it was a "popular outcry" that saved Emmons job after she received a notice of termination on Jan 30, 1997 (effective Feb 13). Since that notice of termination was rescinded the next day, its highly unlikely that a 'public outcry' sufficient to change Palin's mind could have been organized -- and instead, the reason for the rescinding of the notice was far more likely to have been Emmons acceptance of the merging of the library and museum budgets.
9.15.2008 12:33pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Ace: The Mayor asked the librarian for a blank check. You can't criticize me for not knowing the specific amount she was going to fill out. Only she and her Creator know that answer.


In the 1990's, when the Daddy and Heather books came out, every area of the country was dealing with requests and inquiries about whether these books were appropriate.

No. The American Library Association prepares reports analyzing the book-banning cases reported to it. From 1990 to 1999, only 75 times were books requested to be removed because they discussed homosexuality. These requests covered schools, school libraries, academic, special, and other libraries, along with public libraries.
9.15.2008 12:35pm
The Ace (mail):
The Mayor asked the librarian for a blank check

No, she did not.

And you can't produce a single piece of evidence demonstrating otherwise.
9.15.2008 12:41pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
One of the most dubious claims made by Palin's critics is that it was a "popular outcry" that saved Emmons job after she received a notice of termination on Jan 30, 1997 (effective Feb 13). Since that notice of termination was rescinded the next day, its highly unlikely that a 'public outcry' sufficient to change Palin's mind could have been organized
The article I linked to above basically says that a couple of people got upset: "The actions have caused a stir in Wasilla, a town of about 4,600. City Councilman Nick Carney, who has been an outspoken critic of Palin, said he received several calls at his home Thursday night and Friday from outraged citizens." (Emphasis added.) Not this mass uproar that the New York Times is inventing.

And then she met with Emmons the next day, Emmons agreed to support her, and it was over. No censorship.
9.15.2008 12:42pm
Just a thought:

No. The American Library Association prepares reports analyzing the book-banning cases reported to it. From 1990 to 1999, only 75 times were books requested to be removed because they discussed homosexuality. These requests covered schools, school libraries, academic, special, and other libraries, along with public libraries.

Sorry, Tony, you're reading the chart wrong. (It's a little confusing as to which column goes with which topic.) Sexism was 75 times. Homosexuality was 497 times, Anti-Family was 193 times, Religious Viewpoint was 397 times, and Unsuited to Age Group was 1167 times (all of which categories the books could have fallen into.) And these were reported challenges. Obviously, unreported challenges were not considered.
9.15.2008 12:44pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Just a thought,

Nice work on interpreting the chart (they really did a horrible job with the labels on the X axis). IMO “Unsuited to Age Group” seems the most likely complaint that a library would receive about these books although there’s no reason that an objection has to be exclusive.
9.15.2008 12:55pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Palin asked for carte blanche. Any book she disapproved of. You'd have to ask her what she had in mind."

Does that mean you have absolutely no idea what book she wanted to ban, yet tell us she tried to ban books? If you can't cite a book she tried to ban, then we are simply dealing with your imagination.
9.15.2008 1:04pm
AntonK (mail):
Here's the Official List of Banned Books from Wasilla (via Instapundit)
9.15.2008 1:06pm
byomtov (mail):
The argument that because no books got banned Palin must not have wanted to ban any is incredible.

If someone tries to shoot you but misses, does that mean they didn't want to shoot you?

Is that what Glenn Reynolds teaches UT law students?

Some of this stuff is beyond absurd.
9.15.2008 1:17pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Sorry, Tony, you're reading the chart wrong.


You're right, thanks! I thought the second bar was "Anti-ethnic insensitivity." Still, 500 cases in ten years is 50 cases a year on average. Censorship attempts were twice as likely to occur in school settings as in public libraries, so this would work out to be some 17 cases a year through the nineties.

The American Thinker article is a tad bit mendacious. It claims that the AP article falsely claims no books were challenged in the Wasilla Library because Sendak's book was challenged in the Big Lake Library. However, the Big Lake Library is independent of the Wasilla Library, being run by the Mat-Su Borough government. So that part of the Thinker article proves nothing.

Taylor Griffin, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, said Thursday that Palin asked the head librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, on three occasions how she would react to attempts at banning books. He said the questions, in the fall of 1996, were hypothetical and entirely appropriate. He said a patron had asked the library to remove a title the year before and the mayor wanted to understand how such disputes were handled.

Records on the city's Web site, however, do not show any books were challenged in Wasilla in the 10 years before Palin took office.


The support the Thinker cites for Governor Palin's story also fails. The librarian wrote a column for the Alaskan Library Association's newsletter, describing the effect on the library of Palin's becoming Mayor. The Thinker claims that the librarian's failure to mention specifically the mayor's censorship attempts means they didn't occur.

But the Thinker fails to point out that keeping this to herself would be expected from a librarian who had been fired for "disloyalty." Airing Wasilla's dirty laundry in a statewide periodical would have been grossly disloyal to the Mayor. Anyone savvy with even office politics would know not to harpoon the boss in public if they wanted to keep their job.
9.15.2008 1:17pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Dale,

Great post.

It's not a GOOD thing that Palin's instincts are to remove books, but that's not actually her policy as governor.

Fortunately, she's far more interested in going after corruption.
9.15.2008 1:21pm
The Ace (mail):
The argument that because no books got banned Palin must not have wanted to ban any is incredible.

No, the argument is there is simply no proof Palin wanted to ban books.
9.15.2008 1:26pm
Sarcastro (www):
No books have ever been banned in Wasilla at the request of Sarah Palin, or anyone else. Further, only one of the five books challenged even occurred during her terms in office. (via confederateyankee)

She may have tried to ban a book, but the point is she failed!

I expect we can see this record reflected when she's Vice President. She'll try to quell dissent, but fail.

Freedom through government incompetence. It's the American way!
9.15.2008 1:31pm
Eric Muller (www):
Dale concludes: "Taken together, the 1995 and 1996 incidents can be interpreted either as (1) an aborted attempt by Sarah Palin to ban books from the public library or as (2) the responsible actions of a new mayor anticipating future disputes and desiring to know how the city was prepared to deal with them."

I think the even-handedness of this conclusion requires one to suspend our ordinary ways of evaluating human behavior.

Suppose, Dale, that the University of Minnesota were interviewing candidates for the deanship. In two separate discussions with you before becoming dean, a candidate asked you, "what would your reaction be if the law school asked you to place less emphasis on Lawrence v. Texas in your Con Law course than you're now doing?" And then, after becoming dean, he repeated the same question.

Would you think the dean was trying to signal something? Or would you simply think he was posing a rhetorical question?

Palin asked about the censorship policy three separate times.

DC: Eric, as you phrase it I would probably be bothered. But we don’t really know much about the context in which the issue arose. I’m not sure how I would feel about a dean candidate asking about these things. It would depend much on what had been said before on the subject, the tone in which the question was asked, the background of the dean, my past relations with him/her, and so on. One problem we have in assessing Palin’s discussions with the librarian back in 1996 is that we have very little of this context. We have just a bare-bones newspaper account. People will read into that what they want based on the impressions they have of Palin, and based on where their political preferences lie, quite apart from details of this specific controversy.

As I tried to say in this over-long post, I actually do think Palin probably gave some thought to possibly requesting the removal of some books, but that she backed off quickly. That, plus the complete absence of any indication that she repeated or supported such efforts in the ensuing dozen years, indicates to me that she didn’t care much about it and may indeed have changed her mind on the subject.
9.15.2008 1:37pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Does that mean you have absolutely no idea what book she wanted to ban, yet tell us she tried to ban books? If you can't cite a book she tried to ban, then we are simply dealing with your imagination.

Let's apply a little reductio ad absurdum to this argument. Take the case of the Texas Tower shooter. No one had any idea who Charles Whitman was going to kill that summer day in 1966. Yet we are fairly sure he wanted to kill someone -- he took a 35 caliber Remington rifle, a 6mm Remington rifle with a scope, a 357 Magnum Smith &Wesson revolver, a 9mm Luger pistol, a Galesi-Brescia pistol, a 30 caliber M-1 carbine and a 12-gauge shotgun up in the Texas Tower. So, even though we couldn't have cited a specific victim he wanted to kill, his murderous intent would not have been a mere product of our imagination.
9.15.2008 1:39pm
egrim (mail):
Tony Tutins,

Too much absurdum in your reductio ad absurdum. Try again with a better analogy.
9.15.2008 1:48pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Fortunately, she's far more interested in going after corruption.

Unfortunately, she seems to be going after corruption from the inside, because she has used her power as governor to once again try to get her ex-brother-in-law fired, and because she appoints her church cronies and her eighth-grade buddies to positions far above their qualifications.
9.15.2008 1:49pm
egrim (mail):
Tony Tutins,

You're reciting tired talking points. Do you have a bias, perchance?
9.15.2008 1:52pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Tony.
Whitman was well-armed, but murderous intent would have been a matter either of mindreading or finding something he'd written or told somebody earlier.
Quite simply, motivation is the hardest thing in the world to prove and one of the easiest to hide.
I would have been more concerned if he'd had one rifle, one pistol, and all the loaded magazines he could hump up the steps.
In order to show she wanted to ban a book, we have to show her trying to ban a book. Succeed or fail, if she tried to ban a book, we would know she wanted to ban a book.
You can speculate that trying to find out how to do it, whether the librarian would acquiesce, and so forth means she wanted to ban a book or books. But that's mere speculation. She might want to know how things work. That's just as plausible, and, since she never tried, more likely.
Maybe she'd thought about it and discovered it wouldn't be practical.
Maybe she hadn't thought about it.
But until we see an actual attempt, win or lose, we have nothing. A big, fat zilch.
And "nothing" means she didn't try.
9.15.2008 1:52pm
wfjag:

No, the argument is there is simply no proof Palin wanted to ban books.

Ace, haven't you learned -- the story is true, even if the documents are phony. Palin is a Republican, so, ipsi dixit, there's no need for proof.
9.15.2008 2:04pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Do you have a bias, perchance?

Yes. I think Governor Palin lacks integrity. She does not have the character I believe is necessary to become President if McCain pulls a William Henry Harrison. Frankly, she reminds me of the bad old days of the Chicago Democrat machine.

There are many high quality Republicans who would be a better VP. Bobby Jindal, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney come immediately to mind. Condoleeza Rice's fine mind, loyalty, and executive experience in State make her an ideal candidate. Were it not for fear of criticism of the Bush "dynasty," Jeb Bush would be a great choice.
9.15.2008 2:05pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

You can speculate that trying to find out how to do it, whether the librarian would acquiesce, and so forth means she wanted to ban a book or books. But that's mere speculation. She might want to know how things work. That's just as plausible, and, since she never tried, more likely.

I'm starting to like this plausible deniability argument. I'm going to ask my secretary how would she respond if I asked her to go to bed with me. If she turns me in for sexual harassment, I will explain the question was purely hypothetical, and I was just trying to see what policies she followed. Any thought she might have that I was trying to get her in the sack would be pure speculation.
9.15.2008 2:11pm
egrim (mail):

Frankly, she reminds me of the bad old days of the Chicago Democrat machine.


I cant help but note that Oboma, on the other hand, reminds me of the bright new day of the [corrupt] Chicago Democrat machine.
9.15.2008 2:27pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Dale - Since she is the most libertarian member of a major party national ticket since 1964, aren't your earlier concerns minor.

Besides:


She has ... negotiated a deal involving big corporate players, the US and Canadian governments, Canadian provincial governments, and native tribes - the result of which was a £13 billion deal to launch the pipeline and increase the amount of domestic energy available to consumers. This deal makes the charge of having "no international experience" particularly absurd.


And she does know when to take a shot and she (presumably) doesn't freeze on the trigger. Another important foreign policy skill that Barak almost certainly doesn't possess.
9.15.2008 2:38pm
The Ace (mail):
Ace, haven't you learned -- the story is true, even if the documents are phony. Palin is a Republican, so, ipsi dixit, there's no need for proof.

Heh, exactly!

Number of book ban requests: 0
Number of books banned: 0

In liberal land she is a book banner!
9.15.2008 2:39pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Tony.
Nice misdirection. But I'd be careful. Less obvious approaches--and even absolutely innocent remarks--have resulted in such actions.
Meanwhile, where's the I-challenge-this-book slip with Palin's signature on it?
Remember, the accusation is that Palin wanted to ban a book. That means evidence she tried. Got none, have you.
The rest is a stretch. I think I'm doing you more of a favor than you deserve presuming you even believe yourself. Let's put it this way. We both know better, and you ought to know that everybody else knows better, irrespective of what they, like you, claim.

I read "Bridge at Andau" with particular attention to molotov cocktails when I was in the sixth grade. You can speculate I wanted to blow up cop cars if you want. But until you have a picture of me lit up, arm cocked, with a cop car ten feet away, you have zilch. I might have been concerned about...I dunno, being in Eastern Europe for some reason when the balloon went up when I was a bit older. Or wondering how come they didn't blow themselves up with the first strike of the match.
But without the picture...you have zilch.
9.15.2008 3:01pm
SG:
I think it's quite possible, perhaps even likely, that she wanted to see some books pulled from the library shelves. But the fact remains that she didn't actually force the issue, and never did anything like it again.

So even taking the worst possible view of the situation, it's just not that bad. She doesn't have to be the perfect candidate, she only has to be better than the other choices. A low bar, but to my mind she clears it easily.
9.15.2008 3:10pm
Smokey:
Governor Palin has put four politicians of both parties into prison. Six more have been indicted, and plenty of other corrupt pols are shaking in their boots.

But Tony Tutins is one of several liberal mind readers in these posts. He pretends to know exactly what Governor Palin's innermost thoughts are.

Tell us, Tutins, why don't you take you mind reading prowess to the Vegas card tables? You'd clean up in no time. If you could read minds. Which, of course, you can't, so quit being such a blowhard.

Libs are purely speculating on what Gov. Palin didn't do -- they're just so sure that she was secretly planning to ban all those unnamed books. But let's look at what their messiah actually admits to: regularly using cocaine. [Cigarettes, too, even after he told everyone he had quit -- speaking of liars].

Here's more definitive proof that 0bama is still using cocaine, than any non-existent 'proof' that Gov. Palin is a book-banner: click

Those cocaine users seem to have problems keeping their thoughts straight, don't they?
9.15.2008 3:22pm
Annie (mail):
Did Palin ban books? No, apparently not. Did she entertain the idea of banning books, even going so far as to ask the librarian whether she would oppose the practice? Absolutely. In fact, according to contemporary accounts in the The Frontiersman, Palin asked the librarian about banning books on three occasions, both before and after she became mayor. Let us remember, 1995 and 1996 are not so very far apart.

Furthermore, the letter that informed the librarian that she was being fired was vague enough—citing only insufficient support for the Mayor Palin's policies—that it's reasonable to assume that the librarian's rigid stance against censorship might have been one issue (among how many? mayors and librarians don't generally butt heads in my experience) that played into that decision. The librarian was only reinstated, remember, after a public outcry. (And yes, in a town as tiny as Wasilla, a scattering of complaints does constitute an outcry.)

For this liberal, anyway, the issue illustrated here is not whether Palin is a book banner. It's about how Palin used her power as mayor to intimidate people who disagreed with her. She fired a nonpartisan city worker without letting the public in on her reasons for doing so. In my opinion, that's an abuse of power, and I don't favor putting someone in the vice presidency who has a history of these sort of loyalty tests. And if you look at the organization of the piece, that's clearly the pattern of behavior that the Times article is exploring.

By the way, you libertarians who actually believe the government has no business buying books—god help you. Governments have tried that, you know. Lending libraries in the 19th century all used to be private. But a comparatively tiny proportion of the population then knew how to read; more than half were not allowed to vote. Information should move as freely (scratch that, more freely) than money. Shutting down public libraries would be a giant step backward.
9.15.2008 3:28pm
Smokey:
Annie:

Rather than try your hand at being another amazing mind-reader like the amazing Tutins; and the amazing byomtov ["The argument that because no books got banned Palin must not have wanted to ban any is incredible"], and other amazing liberal mind-readers, why don't you just answer the challenge that has been posed repeatedly here: show some real and substantial proof, in black and white, that Sarah Palin is a book banner. C'mon. Produce it. If you can. You'll be the very first.

Amazing mind-readers need to put up or shut up. So far, they've put up nothing but wishful thinking and one-sided speculation. Amazing, aren't they?
9.15.2008 3:54pm
Annie (mail):
As I very clearly stated, Sarah Palin is not a book banner. That doesn't mean I don't find her behavior disturbing.
9.15.2008 4:01pm
SG:
It's about how Palin used her power as mayor to intimidate people who disagreed with her.

Perhaps, perhaps not. Certainly there are circumstances where this is wrong, but there are also circumstances where it's right.

Suppose Obama really tries to change things. There are undoubtedly people who will resist his changes. How should he act toward those people? In order to effect change, he has to either convince them to come on board or terminate them. The only other option would be to abandon his agenda as he wouldn't be in charge, the bureaucracy would be in charge.

The ultimate basis on whether it's right or wrong to intimidate and fire people who disagree with you goes to what the motivation behind the action is - not simply that you did it. Book banning from the library is not a good reason. Firing a bureaucrat who doesn't support your decision to reorganize their department, and then rehiring them when they make clear they will support your actions? Perhaps.
9.15.2008 4:07pm
Federal Dog:
"Palin asked for carte blanche. Any book she disapproved of. You'd have to ask her what she had in mind."

This claim is either intentionally deceptive or unintentionally delusional.
9.15.2008 4:23pm
Annie (mail):
Look, I don't think it's always wrong to fire people who are thwarting your plans or undermining your leadership. But those circumstances do not accurately describe the pattern of behavior reported by the New York Times. The article documents an incident just four months ago where an assistant to Gov. Palin tried to intimidate a blogger by haranguing her on the phone, a dispute between a city attorney and a developer (who'd contributed to her campaign) which she solved by firing the attorney, a habit of extreme secrecy with city records, several instances where she or her husband let personal feuds affect hiring and firing (even trying to influence decisions made by elected officials in other branches of government), and cronyism in Palin's appointments to state agencies.

My point is, hiring and then firing a librarian is not necessarily the best way to implement a policy that the librarian disagrees with. The librarian left for a job outside Wasilla within a few years. Talented people don't always stick around when you've treated them callously—Palin has shown herself perfectly willing to take that risk, even when she had other options.
9.15.2008 4:36pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Yes. I think Governor Palin lacks integrity. She does not have the character I believe is necessary to become President if McCain pulls a William Henry Harrison. Frankly, she reminds me of the bad old days of the Chicago Democrat machine."

Nonsense. The old Daley machine would have succeeded in banning the books. Have you figured out what titles she actually tried to ban? If not, maybe you can tell us what titles she wanted to ban?
9.15.2008 4:45pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Considering the old Daley machine got Obama elected by, coincidentally, leaking two sealed divorce cases, I expect they could get books banned.
Or truculent librarians put into wheelchairs.
Palin vs. Daley. You could sell tickets.
9.15.2008 5:02pm
byomtov (mail):
Smokey,

It hardly takes mind-reading to infer that someone who asks about banning books is interested in banning books.
9.15.2008 5:04pm
Smokey:
Annie:

Your first paragraph above is a perfect example of the Clintons' modus operandi.

And your second paragraph shows that you have never held elective office [I have; statewide]: The librarian was opposed to her boss's agenda, and also consorted with her political opposition.

Mayor Palin was extremely generous with her. Neither the Clintons nor Obama would have tolerated the librarian's open disloyalty, which had nothing to do with banning books.

Trashing Sarah Palin for being a nice person is disingenuous -- when the liberals' own candidate still treats Hillary Clinton like crap He wouldn't consider her for VP, and he even gave her the finger, repeatedly, in public. It escapes me why women would flock to a guy who disrespects women like that.
9.15.2008 5:12pm
Jay Myers:
David, if it is "a willingness to use government to suppress opposing views" when someone wants a public library to not carry a book, does that mean that it constitutes using the government to promote a certain viewpoint when the library does carry a book like Daddy's Roommate?

If so, which is more offensive, wanting the government to not promote a position on a controversial social issue or wanting the government to promote a position on a controversial social issue?
9.15.2008 5:16pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"It hardly takes mind-reading to infer that someone who asks about banning books is interested in banning books."

Actually, it does take the Great Karnac. One can be very interested in the topic because it is of interest to constituents, and is likely to become an issue at some future date. One can also be interested because other municipalities are wrestling with the issue.

From what we have learned about the Wasilla Library, the proper answer to Palin's question would be, "I'd ask you to complete a request to have the book removed, your request would be evaluated like any other, and the results of the evaluation would be publicly available."
9.15.2008 5:25pm
Smokey:
byomtov:
It hardly takes mind-reading to infer that someone who asks about banning books is interested in banning books.
Well, Mr. Mind Reader, your inference is that this happened in a vacuum. It didn't.

It never occurs to liberal elitists that Sarah Palin gets her 80% - 90% approval ratings because she listens to the concerns of her constituents.

She discussed library issues because many of her constituents were concerned. In the end, she did nothing. But she listened to the citizens. Sometimes that's all they want: for someone to listen their concerns.

In fact, it is the liberals' projection that is the root cause of their assuming someone else wants to ban books, as the David Duke comment upthread pointed out.

Witness also NASA's James Hansen, who has publicly demanded that those scientists skeptical of global warming should be put in prison! Hansen is a true liberal. He's one of you. Hansen would ban books, if he could.

Accusing Gov. Palin of wanting to "ban books" is psychological projection on your part: it is liberals who want to ban books -- and they are disingenuously imputing their own book banning desires onto Sarah Palin.
9.15.2008 5:29pm
paul lukasiak (mail):

In fact, according to contemporary accounts in the The Frontiersman, Palin asked the librarian about banning books on three occasions, both before and after she became mayor.


Like most of those with PDS, Annie doesn't even know that Palin asked about the issue only twice -- once when she met with Emmons before being inaugurated, and once later at a public meeting.
9.15.2008 5:36pm
Sarcastro (www):
A politician can try anything they want so long as the following condition is met:

He/she fails to actually do anything.

You see, there's always gonna be at least one constituant that wants you to check into that book banning/spying on everyone/killing all the darkies initiative.
9.15.2008 5:40pm
Annie (mail):
Smokey:

My first paragraph above is a summary of the article Dale Carpenter linked to. I don't know what you're talking about.

I'm an ardent feminist and have been a supporter of Obama's since before the primaries. In that time, I have not seen a single instance in which I felt Obama or his campaign disrepected women, although sexism was certainly in evidence in the culture and media during the race in general. It's ironic that Rs are suddenly becoming concerned about sexism, but I concede that Palin has been the target of some sexist commentary, notably when people question whether she can raise a family and be VP at the same time.

As for the librarian "consorting with [Palin's] opposition"—are you referring to the fact that the librarian supported her opponent in the election? I don't think that's grounds for firing a popular librarian. We're talking about a librarian, for gosh sake. She was hardly a threat to the world order. And if she were, Palin wouldn't have rehired her.

Would you like to try to justify all the other bizarre and vindictive ways Palin has used her power? Because that's what you're doing—scrambling to justify all sorts of misbehavior on the assumption that Palin is an effective manager. The evidence points to another conclusion.
9.15.2008 5:41pm
Sarcastro (www):
There's PDS and ODS and BDS! See, everyone who dislikes people I like must be deranged. How can they KEEP DISLIKING these people?! I mean the people I like are so cool, not to be melted by their charms would take a crazy person.

It's like I'm the only sane person in a crazy world!

It's enough to drive someone nuts!
9.15.2008 5:46pm
Annie (mail):
Paul:

Derangement happily acknowledged--what else is politics good for?--but here's my source: an ADN article about the exchanges. Inaccurate? You should ask for a correction.
9.15.2008 5:47pm
wfjag:

It's like I'm the only sane person in a crazy world!

You are.

For further insights, listen to "Life's Been Good" by Joe Walsh.
9.15.2008 6:01pm
Bad English:
"But those circumstances do not accurately describe the pattern of behavior reported by the New York Times."

The fact that the NYT is claiming certain conduct by a politician it opposes requires skepticism. Until independent and reliable sources corroborate those claims, rational people seeking to base political decisions on fact cannot accept on faith unsupported accusations made by the NYT.
9.15.2008 6:18pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
You see to the left it matters not that Palin didn't even TRY to get books banned. That she wanted to do it in her HEART is the key thing. Punish her for thoughtcrimes. Liberals = Inner Party of Oceania.

IGNORANCE IS FREEDOM
9.15.2008 6:29pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):

Annie (mail):
Paul:

Derangement happily acknowledged--what else is politics good for?--but here's my source: an ADN article about the exchanges. Inaccurate? You should ask for a correction.


Heresay, and inadmissible in this court! One more time counsel, and I will hold you in contempt of court!
9.15.2008 6:30pm
SG:
Would you like to try to justify all the other bizarre and vindictive ways Palin has used her power? Because that's what you're doing—scrambling to justify all sorts of misbehavior on the assumption that Palin is an effective manager. The evidence points to another conclusion.

I don't think the evidence is any way conclusive. If she were what she is being claimed to be - an effective reformer - I would expect exactly these sort of stories. There would be a trail of people who's jobs were cut or whose programs were shrunk, who would be complaining about how she had governed. Omelettes, broken eggs and all that.

Of course, if she were a venal, petty executive who carried out vendettas, I'd expect exactly the same stories. These Palin stories don't disprove either hypothesis.

They are very effective at identifying Democrats and Republicans, though.
9.15.2008 6:46pm
wfjag:
Annie, if I understand EIDE, his comment reflects this significant qualification in the Alaska Daily News article you cite as authority:


The stories are all suggestive, but facts are hard to come by.


The ADN article isn't necessarily "inaccurate" as much as qualified as to the point of irrelevance. Do you have any proof? Or, merely because you are a long-time Obama supporter, do you expect the rest of us to accept your assertion as a matter of faith? (I'm not being snarky. Rather, we're a long way into this thread, and proof has repeatedly been requested, and so far, not provided).
9.15.2008 7:18pm
Smokey:
Annie:
"I'm an ardent feminist and have been a supporter of Obama's since before the primaries. In that time, I have not seen a single instance in which I felt Obama or his campaign disrepected women..."
Annie, I've tried to be gentle. But sometimes people need a wake-up call.

Please review these short clips of Obama giving the finger to Hillary -- and then get back to us on how much he has never disrepected women:

0 givin' Hillary the finget #1

0 givin' Hillary the finger #2

NOW you have Sarah Palin, a woman who is ready to blaze a new trail; to break through the glass ceiling on behalf of all women... but liberal gals prefer to be grossly disrespected by an odious, woman-insulting man. Go figure.
9.15.2008 7:19pm
Dan Hamilton:

I'm an ardent feminist and have been a supporter of Obama's since before the primaries. In that time, I have not seen a single instance in which I felt Obama or his campaign disrepected women,


You really have not looked.

The best is after Palin was picked Obama repeated called her Mayor Palin not Govenor Palin. THAT IS DISRESPECT! If Palin had been a Dem and Obama a Repub you would STILL be screeming about how he disrespected her.

Several instances of Disrespect by using Mayor instead of Govenor and by Obama HIMSELF.

Try and get around THAT.
9.15.2008 7:45pm
Annie (mail):
@Smokey: Yep, I've seen that clip and, especially in the second angle of the same act, it's clear Obama lifts two finger and uses his middle finger to scratch his cheek. Big deal—he's not saying f-u. And you disrespect me and all women voters by introducing silly YouTube videos instead of debating policy and management style.

Sarah Palin would be the first female vice president, and that's exciting. But that landmark (which I believe will occur soon enough) is not enough for me to ignore her beliefs and policies. In primaries, I voted mainly on the basis of character. (I appreciate Obama's intellectual slant, and felt that the instances in which Clinton used Obama's present votes in the Illinois state leg to claim that he was soft on abortion rights were way over the line.) In the general election, though, character is almost beside the point. I would never vote for a candidate who disagrees with me on taxes, Supreme Court appointments, the environment, health care, AND education. I generously assume you feel the same way, albeit with different priorities.

But Palin is way worse than McCain in that she doesn't have his credibility on torture, she disbelieves in evolution despite the evidence, and she doubts that humans have an impact on global warming. Plus she seems like a manager in the groupthink, crony-favoring mold of Bush and Cheney. I would be embarrassed about her if she were on my favored ticket. Was Kay Bailey Hutchison not available or was she just too ugly for McCain's tastes?

@wfjag: Well, the ADN story is qualified on the question of whether Palin banned books. I have come down on the side that she did not ban books. But I have no reason to doubt that the reporter is incorrectly citing the Frontiersman when she writes:


In December 1996, Emmons told her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman, that Palin three times asked her -- starting before she was sworn in -- about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose.


So, yes, this report is coming from the librarian, but, um, who would be better qualified to say how many times Palin asked her about banning books?

Three times, people, unless you CITE EVIDENCE to the contrary.
9.15.2008 7:57pm
Annie (mail):
@Dan: That sounds like an honest mistake to me. McCain has compared his second wife to a trollop and addressed her as "you c--t." There is no way of misinterpreting that.
9.15.2008 8:00pm
Silly:

@Dan: That sounds like an honest mistake to me. McCain has compared his second wife to a trollop and addressed her as "you c--t." There is no way of misinterpreting that.


You have the video of this, yes? Oh, you don't? You just have the claim from a book, and you've decided it must be the truth? And then you've used it to help justify your own personal hate. That's sad.
9.15.2008 8:37pm
subpatre (mail):
Annie wrote "....fired a nonpartisan city worker without letting the public in on her reasons for doing so"

Bzzzz! Wrong answer; the phrase is "should-have-been nonpartisan, but took sides in the election anyway"

Everyone --Palin's opponent and former mayor John Stein, librarian Emmons herself, and Palin herself-- have stated that Emmons (an appointed employee) took Stein's side during the election.

All three also agree that Emmons initially refused to cooperate with Palin's plan on consolidating the library and museum. All agree that after her letter of dismissal, Emmons agreed to cooperate with the new mayor's directives on consolidation, and was rehired.
9.15.2008 10:05pm
byomtov (mail):
She discussed library issues because many of her constituents were concerned. In the end, she did nothing.

Yeah. Because the librarian stood up to her.
9.15.2008 10:17pm
subpatre (mail):
Annie whines: "But I have no reason to doubt that the reporter is incorrectly citing the Frontiersman ..."

Well, yes, actually you do. Numerous other cites give the number as two times --two occassions only-- and your own source might say "three" but only shows there were two occasions. [You have to actually read the article to grasp this, Annie]. Nonetheless, here it is:

The Frontiersman article. Two times, not three. Annie's source lied.
"Library Director Mary Ellen Emmons last week said Palin broached the subject with her on two occasions in October - once Palin was elected mayor Oct. 1 but before she took office on Oct. 14, and again in more detail on Monday, Oct. 28. Besides heading the Wasilla City Library, Emmons is also president of the Alaska Library Association. --Frontiersman

Annie continues (to dig in): "So, yes, this report is coming from the librarian, but, um, who would be better qualified to say how many times Palin asked her about banning books? Three times, people, unless you CITE EVIDENCE to the contrary."

Your source says that "Emmons told her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman, that Palin three times asked her...". So Annie lied. The report is not from the librarian. That's one reason why courts don't allow hearsay.

There is more reason to doubt the ADN reporter. She got the facts wrong; hard to do when you plagiarize copy another paper's story. Anyone reading the article realizes it is almost all hearsay.

Annies 'source' also didn't talk to Palin, didn't talk to Emmons, didn't talk to Don Moore, didn't talk to John Stein, or talk to anyone in or near Wasilla. In fact, Annie's flawed source only talked to "June Pinell-Stephens, chairwoman of the Alaska Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee".
The issue became public last Wednesday [Dec. 11, 1996], when Palin brought it up during an interview about the now-defunct Liquor task Force. Palin used the library topic as an example of discussions with her department heads about understanding and following administration agendas. Palin said she asked Emmons how she would respond to censorship." --Frontiersman

No books banned. No attempts to ban any books. No attempts to have books removed, technically different than banning. Obamabots are turning to anything --literally anything they can find-- to avoid facing the real issues. Like a monkey flinging feces before scampering off into the brush, Annie's last cheapshot was ... an Obama-like cheapshot.
9.15.2008 10:21pm
Annie (mail):
Sigh. McCain has never denied the trollop quote directly; perhaps he cannot tell a lie. (Ha!)

Town librarian is not a partisan office. It's correct to call Emmons nonpartisan even if she supported someone else for mayor. It blows my mind that some commenters think this is a perfectly legitimate reason for firing someone. Since it only took a day for the woman to come to heel, it's entirely likely that she could have been persuaded through less drastic measures. And so what if she didn't want to merge with the museum? That's a legitimate position for her to take. All this shows is that Palin can't tolerate dissent—a disastrous attitude we've seen over and over again from the Bush administration.
9.15.2008 10:25pm
AKD:

Just face up to the obvious explanation. Palin wanted to ban pro-gay books in 1996. What do you think would've happened if the librarian agreed to remove books?



When did she ask for specific books to be removed providing the librarian the opportunity to agree or disagree to remove them?
9.15.2008 10:26pm
Annie (mail):
@subpatre:

OK, thank you! Somebody finally bothered to cite the source. I couldn't find it, so thanks.

I now see where the confusion is coming from. The correct number is three. Here's why. According to the Frontiersman article,

Library Director Mary Ellen Emmons last week said Palin broached the subject with her on two occasions in October - once Palin was elected mayor Oct. 1 but before she took office on Oct. 14, and again in more detail on Monday, Oct. 28.


It also says, later in the article, that "Palin called Emmons into her office Monday to discuss the censorship questions again." The article was published in December, so that third occasion was not in October.

Mystery solved.
9.15.2008 10:33pm
subpatre (mail):
Annie says: "Town librarian is not a partisan office...."

Usually that is true.

Annie says: "...It's correct to call Emmons nonpartisan even if she supported someone else for mayor."

No. The definition of "nonpartisan" means NOT publically supporting one candidate over another.

Emmons abandoned the protection of nonpartisanship when she publically supported John Stein over Sarah Palin for mayor. Emmons was partisan, and as such should be summarily fired.

Annie says: "...And so what if she didn't want to merge with the museum? That's a legitimate position for her to take."

The (legal) directions of Mayor Palin were legitimate; a department head defying the mayor was not 'a legitimate position'. That's why the librarian changed her mind.
9.15.2008 10:46pm
fullerene:
So why ask three times? I think Palin's justification is actually quite reasonable on its own. If a member of the public were to ask her to remove a book, something that probably does happen to mayors from time to time in a town that small, she would probably want to know what a knowledgeable person close to the subject would think. A librarian would be one such person you might want to talk to. Nonetheless, I still don't know why you would ask three times. Again, I am no mind reader, but I would say that this looks like more than a simple quest for knowledge. Otherwise, Palin's excuse sounds reasonable.
9.15.2008 10:53pm
Annie (mail):
OK, the M-W definition you link to is "not partisan ; especially : free from party affiliation, bias, or designation."

The librarian wasn't affiliated with a party--the mayor's office in Wasilla was nonpartisan. She was supporting another candidate (who was also, as it happens, a Republican). The notion that she should have been "summarily fired" for this offense is ridiculous. Many, many politicians are able to play nice with people who opposed them in an election.

Ready to apologize for calling the ADN reporter a liar, subpatre?
9.15.2008 10:59pm
Smokey:
Admit it, Annie, you have lust in your heart for 0bama, which causes you to jettison all the progress women have made up to this point. You would rather have a woman lose being elected Vice President of the United States ["I believe that will occur soon enough], than admit what everyone [except you] can clearly see: 0bama flipped off Hillary. Twice.

Say it, Annie: you crave being the next Monica.
9.15.2008 11:25pm
Silly:

Sigh. McCain has never denied the trollop quote directly; perhaps he cannot tell a lie. (Ha!)


The fact that he hasn't denied it doesn't make it true. If I were asked a question like this, I too would not dignify it by providing a yes or no.

I shall never understand, when there are hundreds of silly things that he has actually said and done in public, why do some continually want to grab onto those things that cannot be proven. Is that it? Is it just the ability to rake it through the mud again and again, because someone will not dignify it with a response? It certainly seems that way to me.

Or perhaps, it is exactly because these ones are meant to appeal to emotion rather than logic. If so, then these memes seem quite successful, to sucker in so many. My advice is, if something you hear is unverifiable, and it causes you to emote rather than think, you should probably iterate to the next item. There's a strong likely-hood you are about to do more harm than good to your side.



Town librarian is not a partisan office. It's correct to call Emmons nonpartisan even if she supported someone else for mayor. It blows my mind that some commenters think this is a perfectly legitimate reason for firing someone. Since it only took a day for the woman to come to heel, it's entirely likely that she could have been persuaded through less drastic measures. And so what if she didn't want to merge with the museum? That's a legitimate position for her to take. All this shows is that Palin can't tolerate dissent—a disastrous attitude we've seen over and over again from the Bush administration.


We have no way of knowing whether the librarian would have come around or not without the threat of losing her job. Having worked in large public and private entities, I would say that it is not at all unusual to remove an inherited subordinate that is actively working against your goals.

If Palin decided to merge the entities, and if it was within her right to do so, the librarian had no grounds to resist. At the moment she refused, she put herself in the spot to be disciplined or terminated. Any H
9.15.2008 11:30pm
Silly:
Errant Clicking.

If Palin decided to merge the entities, and if it was within her right to do so, the librarian had no grounds to resist. At the moment she refused, she put herself in the spot to be disciplined or terminated. Any HR group I have ever worked with would have supported the mayor in this dispute.
9.15.2008 11:31pm
Annie (mail):
So who's willing to concede that Palin asked three times? Subpatre? Waiting....

McCain may not have called his wife anything, but Obama almost certainly did not intend to flip Clinton off. I saw the utterly unconvincing video from two angles. People obviously have different standards when it comes to their favorite candidate. Don't you dare say I "have lust in my heart for Obama"--disrespect, anyone? I don't lust after married politicians--if you aren't willing to acknowledge you have lust in your heart for McCain.
9.15.2008 11:34pm
Annie (mail):
By the way, I'm not saying Palin wasn't within her legal rights to fire the librarian. She was. But it was a dumb move, and it indicates Palin would be a similarly vindictive and petty vice president.
9.15.2008 11:37pm
subpatre (mail):
Annie says: ""Palin called Emmons into her office Monday to discuss the censorship questions again." "

That was Monday [Dec 16 1996] after the "Wednesday [Dec. 11, 1996], when Palin brought it up during an interview about the now-defunct Liquor task Force." This is the same Monday that Palin had a press conference and released a written statement on the issue.

The same Monday the librarian said --in an interview with the paper and after meeting with Palin-- that Palin broached the subject with her on two occasions in October.

So now Annie is calling the librarian a liar. Annie already called Palin a liar. Soon Annie's story alone will be 'truthy' and the people of Wasilla --all those people who witnessed and recorded this-- will all be 'liars'. LOL

Next! Annie reveals the 24 incidents when Mayor Palin said the word "book"!


This thread validates Horowitz's claim of the "quintessential leftist habit of judging politics by its intentions, not its acts."

No books were banned or removed, no attempts made to do that. Yet the Left needs a strawman, so they attribute the intent of doing this to Palin. Disregarding facts, feces-flinging Obama supporters will hurl baseless allegations that their opponents intend great harms.
9.15.2008 11:43pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I know this won't make any difference, but....

Some people think there was sufficient meat on the story of Bush bailing on the TANG to make a difference. But after CBS got busted being over anxious, all the real evidence in the world wouldn't have made any difference. Some, back then, claimed that it was a Rovian plot, although I was never sure they were serious. Point is, it was such a terrific inoculation--presuming there were facts against which to be inoculated--that it worked out beautifully for Bush. So beautifully, in fact, that it had to be Rove behind it. Which means, if Rove is blamed, it must have been damned good at inoculation.

The dems, libs, and nutroots are inoculating Palin in ways the repubs couldn't buy. And that's before we have any idea if there's anything requiring inoculation.
9.16.2008 12:11am
Dr. Guest:
Annie,

I actually agree with you about Obama and the finger. It's at least a close enough call that I wouldn't just automatically infer it (even if some in the audience clearly did). Too bad, though, you don't have the decency to acknowledge that Obama was being incredibly condescending to Palin when he referred to her as a mayor without acknowledging that she was the governor of a state. In fact, you really ran from that altogether and just said "McCain said something worse." If McCain said what you claim he did, that is worse. Fine. But Obama's comments were at a minimum boorish and, I suspect, if it had been a Republican man saying that about a female candidate, you'd have no trouble moving the meter from boorish to downright sexist.

No doubt there are a lot of people on the right who suddenly care about sexism, making their cries a little hard to believe as anything other than politically calculated (crazy, in an election season even!). But don't give up intellectual honesty by acting as if Obama is free of sin on the sexism front. As bad as the alleged McCain remark? Well, the C-word is about as bad as it gets, so if the allegation is true, no. But it was bad enough that you should at least not hide from it.
9.16.2008 12:36am
Jay Myers:
Annie:

I'm an ardent feminist and have been a supporter of Obama's since before the primaries. In that time, I have not seen a single instance in which I felt Obama or his campaign disrepected women

Maybe you haven't been paying attention, sweetie. Does not giving women equal pay for equal work count as disrespect? Women in Obama's Senate office earn 83 cents for every dollar that their male coworkers make. In McCain's office women take home $1.04 for every dollar their male coworkers make.
9.16.2008 1:19am
Tony Tutins (mail):

It's about how Palin used her power as mayor to intimidate people who disagreed with her.

I don't care about some penny-ante pol throwing her weight around some frontier outpost she runs. Presumably Palin had the right to fire all her direct reports. I do care about a librarian's boss threatening to fire her for being unwilling to remove books from the library at the boss's request.

Threat to fire: Boss requested and obtained undated resignation
Proximity in time to book-banning request: next day, repeated later
Book Banning Request: Boss asked if librarian would remove books at her request. Librarian said no. Failure to agree to remove books on demand noted as "disloyalty" to Palin.
No indication, then or later, that request was "hypothetical" till Palin got called on it.

But I do note that this threat fits into a pattern of Palin abusing the power of public office to punish her enemies evidenced in Troopergate. Sarah used her power as Governor to obtain Wooten's personnel file and workman's comp file, attempting once again to get him fired from the State Trooper file. Palin fired Public Safety Commissioner after he failed to fire Wooten, replaced him with known sex harasser.

Knowing that Nixon's administration got the IRS to go after their enemies, I advise no one to cross Governor Palin.
9.16.2008 2:25am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
She discussed library issues because many of her constituents were concerned. In the end, she did nothing.

Yeah. Because the librarian stood up to her.


The last time I saw a rationalization like this, it was after a religious leader had told her flock that the world was about to suffer a nuclear holocaust. When said holocaust failed to arrive on schedule, the flock were told that the leader had prayed really, really hard and the catastrophe was averted.

You're in good company.
9.16.2008 2:40am
subpatre (mail):
Tony Tutins said "Knowing that Nixon's administration got the IRS to go after their enemies, I advise no one to cross Governor Palin."

... like Tutins just did by calling names ... showing how little Tutin believes his own garbage.

Tutins forgot to mention the new mayor had resignations from all department heads (like the police chief) who'd taken partisan sides during the election. That version would make the police chief's firing over library policy too! LOL
9.16.2008 8:30am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
sub.
You forgot to mention that the police chief was also fired because of his views of library/museum amalgamation.
9.16.2008 8:36am
Smokey:
Annie:
Obama almost certainly did not intend to flip Clinton off.
He certainly did. At least twice. There is no doubt, as you can tell from the instant explosion of hooting and hollering from the audience that they knew exactly what Obama had just done.

The audience, like Obama, has a visceral hatred for Hillary, for the threat she posed to their messiah -- just as the very same people hate Sarah Palin for the threat she poses. And Palin is a genuine threat: she has more credible experience running for VP than the Affirmative Action HE-RO has running for president. Hard to explain, no? Giving women the finger is much easier.

If Annie were to admit that Obama disrespected and crudely insulted his female opponent, which he clearly did, then Annie's entire world view would come crashing down, and she would be forced to see Obama as just another no-class/low-class guy giving the finger to a woman in public.

So Annie willfully blinds herself to reality, in order to argue that Obama is her kinda guy. It's really her only option.
9.16.2008 10:04am
Annie (mail):
Seriously? I couldn't care less whether a man flips off a woman in public, provided he has a good reason for doing so. I can't recall ever crying sexism about that particular act before. But I simply don't think it's likely that that's what Obama intended to do. The audience members who hooted are entitled to their interpretation, but most of them weren't sitting at the (better) angle of the second videographer.

You all are, in any case, distracting from the issues that matter to women. Obama supports abortion rights, equal pay for equal work, universal access to health care, and a more equitable tax structure—all of which are good for women. McCain holds the opposite views.

I don't hate Clinton; I admire her. I don't hate Palin either. She's obviously a savvy politician and a skilled gatherer of earmarks for her constituents. But she shows little sign of being the kind of manager I'd want in the vice president's office. She also has an irritating habit of lying about her record on the notorious Bridge to Nowhere. I prefer my politicians to be subtler about their false statements. And she subscribes to irrational beliefs like young-earth creationism. Thanks, but no thanks.

@Sub: I have literally no idea what you're talking about. I said the librarian said Palin had talked to her about censorship three times. That is substantiated by the Frontiersman article. The librarian wasn't lying in the least, unless December is actually October. Give it up.
9.16.2008 10:27am
Annie (mail):
Jay: Obama apologized when he called a female reporter "sweetie." I'll wait for you to do the same before I bother responding.
9.16.2008 11:05am
byomtov (mail):
Mike G,

That congregation seems no more gullible than Palin admirers. Certainly the preacher had nothing on her defenders when it comes to spinning out BS explanations.
9.16.2008 11:36am
Elliot123 (mail):
"I do care about a librarian's boss threatening to fire her for being unwilling to remove books from the library at the boss's request."

Can you tell us what book Palin tried to get banned? If not, can you imagine what book she wanted banned?
9.16.2008 11:46am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
The book-banning incident and Troopergate both show that Palin makes statements that need to be interpreted creatively.

When Palin made multiple inquiries about banning books, we have to be creative enough to realize that this was her way of making clear that she had no interest whatsoever in banning books.

Likewise, consider what Palin said to Monegan on 2/7/07:

This trooper is still out on the street, in fact he's been promoted … It was a joke, the whole year long 'investigation' of him … This is the same trooper who's out there today telling people the new administration is going to destroy the trooper organization, and that he'd 'never work for that b****', Palin'.) … He's still bragging about it [moose kill] in my hometown and after another cop confessed to witnessing the kill, the trooper was 'investigated' for over a year and merely given a slap on the wrist … Though he's out there arresting people today for the same crime! … He threatened to kill his estranged wife's parent, refused to be transferred to rural Alaska and continued to disparage Natives in words and tone, he continues to harass and intimidate his ex. -- even after being slapped with a restraining order that was lifted when his supervisors intervened … He threatens to always be able to come out on top because he's 'got the badge', etc. etc. etc.) … For police officers to violate the public trust is a grave, grave violation -- in my opinion. We have too many examples lately of cops and troopers who violate the public trust. DPS has come across as merely turning a blind eye or protecting that officer, seemingly 'for the good of the brotherhood'.


Consider also that Palin said to Monegan on 7/17/07:

[I want to mention] my ex-brother-in-law, the trooper, who threatened to kill my dad yet was not even reprimanded by his bosses and still to this day carries a gun, of course. … We can't have double standards. Remember when the death threat was reported, and follow-on threats from Mike that he was going to 'bring Sarah and her family down' -- instead of any reprimand WE were told by trooper union personnel that we'd be sued if we talked about those threats. Amazing. . . . So consistency is needed here … No one's above the law. If the law needs to be changed to not allow access to guns for people threatening to kill someone, it must apply to everyone.


Was Palin pressuring Monegan to fire Wooten? We have to be creative enough to understand that she was not. After all, on 7/19/08, Palin said this:

… absolutely no pressure [was] ever put on Commissioner Monegan to hire or fire anybody, at any time … no pressure was ever put on anybody to fire anybody.


See? Those words Palin said weren't "pressure." And not just that: they can't even be perceived as pressure. After all, on 8/13/08, Palin said this:

I do now have to tell Alaskans that such pressure [to get rid of Wooten] could have been perceived to exist although I have only now become aware of it


On 8/13/08 she was obviously aware of the emails she herself had sent to Monegan in 2007. So her statement on 8/13/08 amounts to her telling us that those emails could not even "have been perceived" as pressure.

So making multiple inquiries about banning books doesn't mean she was interested in banning books. And complaining that Wooten "is still out on the street" is something that could not even be perceived as pressure to fire Wooten.

It all makes perfect sense, as long as you look at things creatively.
9.16.2008 1:46pm