Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: "The Progressive Curmudgeon" may have journalistic history, but I think he's making a mistake on this one. **UPDATED**

Saturday, September 06, 2008

"The Progressive Curmudgeon" may have journalistic history, but I think he's making a mistake on this one. **UPDATED**

****UPDATE**** Mr. James has only now added in my comment on his blog.


On a previous post, I had a reader named Franco leave a comment for me regarding an article on the blog "The Progressive Curmudgeon." One of the articles accuses Sarah Palin of saying some very serious racial epithets. (I'm not going to cut-and-paste anything from the article or link to it because of the accusations it makes, you guys can find it and read it yourself.) Franco asked me what I thought about it.

My first response to Franco in the comments:

If you are talking about the "racist epithets" article, I don't know. I've never heard anyone make that claim and I've lived here 25 years and have lots of Valley friends. Also, her husband is part Yupik...enough to be a member of the Native Corporation. That's no proof, of course, as people can justify anything in their heads. However, it would make the use of those epithets rather ironic.

I'm seriously considering asking my brother-in-law. He's one of the leaders of Alaska Right-to-Life, was an ardent worker on her campaign, writing on some of her speeches and dragged all of his kids out to carry signs for her during the election. I would hope he wouldn't want to so strongly support someone who is racist.

So I went to the "Curmudgeon" and read everything. I even posted. The results ended up in the second comment:

I wrote a comment on that article. I said that I was a Dem and if I could prove something like that was true, I'd post it in a heartbeat. However, in the 25 years I've lived in Alaska, of all the folks I know in Wasilla and the rest of the Valley who know Sarah Palin and including my bro-in-law, leader in Alaska Right-to-Life and worker on her campaign, I've NEVER heard ANYTHING about Sarah expressing racism in any form.

I also mentioned that his article was quite misleading regarding Alaska politics. I told him that many of the old guard, hard-core Republicans hate her. Some because she exposed Randy Ruedrich's inappropriate use of State resources (which she should have) but also many die-hard Conservatives because she's not a real conservative. She espouses conservative stances on social issues, yet while in either office never did anything to further them. She espouses conservative fiscal values but has run up the debt and increased spending both times in office. So his insinuation that she is "in" with the Repugs is wrong, which makes his article somewhat suspect to me.

Interestingly enough, he didn't print it. I did not write the comment anonymously unlike the others who criticized him so anyone reading it would be able to find their way to me and my blog. Also, all other disparaging comments printed (other than being anonymous) were also written by McCain/Palin lovers. I guess he knew their questions would be viewed as less-credible.

Additionally, he seems to have taken a lot of what he's saying straight from Anne Kilkenny's wonderful email-turned-call-to-action which has gone viral all over the internet. Anyone can use that sucker and sound like they know what they are talking about for awhile...until they try ad-libbing.

Do I understand anonymous sources? Obviously...all folks have to do is read the blog the last week and a half to know that. Is there a Lucille? Maybe...although I've NEVER heard anyone use the term "Aboriginal" up here to describe someone of Alaska Native descent. Even if there is a "Lucille," we don't know for sure that she is telling the truth.

Other things I find suspect:

In the 25 years I've lived in Alaska, I've worked in Prudhoe Bay, have spent time in Fairbanks, Kodiak, Juneau, Barrow and all over the Kenai Peninsula. I've worked in Construction for most of my career which is the reason for my...errrr...salty language. I have never heard the terms: "Aboriginal" (I explained that before), "Arctic Arab" or "Sambo" in reference to Alaska Natives or black folks. As I've heard a number of epithets in my time, especially those directed towards me since my daughter is black, I'd probably have heard that one before.

(Regarding "Sambo"--that's wayyyyy out of Sarah's and my generation -we're roughly the same age.)

Now, here's a disclaimer: his articles could all be true. His anonymous source could be real. His information could be attained from people who know what they are talking about.

However...while I went forward with the comment from McHugh Pierre about the McCain people coming to Alaska without naming my extremely-credible-source, that was with information that was not-at-all damaging to anyone on a personal level. (It annoyed McHugh, but who didn't enjoy that?) This information is not something I would ever take public without verification...it is very personally damaging to Governor Palin and I'd better be ready to back it up.

So, like I said, this could all be true and maybe someone will come forward who has experience with other examples of this behavior. However, for many of the reasons I previously stated I wouldn't be surprised if we never hear a peep.

Since I wrote this comment I've made contact with some other Valley friends. Realize, some of these folks have had close connections to either Sarah or her kids for many years. (Yes, he got that part right, they are scared...I wrote about that HERE and for Firedoglake.) The information I get from them is that NO ONE has EVER heard Sarah use racial epithets or anything like that. As much as they might like to see Sarah lose her VP nomination, they (like me) won't support lies which tarnish the whole Progressive movement.

I also have another reason for writing this: I refuse to have my credibility damaged by someone making claims that may be geared solely to "grab the limelight." Yes, Alaska is hot right now and it's amazing how many new blogs have sprung up both within and outside of Alaska. Suddenly, all kinds of folks are "Alaska experts" or "have a good friend with information." I welcome them...whatever it takes to get more folks in the blogosphere, I'm all for it.

However, I won't tolerate folks who don't know what they are talking about smearing the rest of us with bad journalism...and bad journalism can happen from folks who once had good reputations. I would rather waste valuable writing time posting this on the blog to distance myself from the "Curmudgeon" than be thrown into the same category next time I post legitimate information on all-things-Palin from a credible anonymous source.

(Photograph courtesy of "The Progressive Curmudgeon.")

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Anonymous Glennia said...

Thank you for this. I thought the article went too far, with little corroboration. I think it is what some people would like to believe about her, whether it's true or not.
I don't think that resorting to Republican tricks is the way to win the election. It occurs to me that it could be a plant to see if we take the bait so she can appear to be a victim of the "angry left."

9/07/2008 1:37 AM  
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9/07/2008 2:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are so many articles being written and posted, and that particular one was so extreme that I wondered. Thanks for this thoughtful response. I'm a Dem, too, and don't like her at all - but agree that there's plenty of truth to deal with without adding in the made-up stuff.

9/07/2008 2:51 AM  
Anonymous nytexan said...

Thank you for clearing this up. When I read the original story I was shocked. I was not willing to put it on my blog because it was fishy.

Even though I think Palin should have never been picked for veep and who I strongly disagree with, I will not smear her with lies.

BTW:I have added you to my blog roll. Down here in the lower 48 need to get more info on Palin the MSM always misses.

9/07/2008 7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bless you for standing up for the truth even when it doesn't appear to advance our side! I appreciate your commitment to journalistic integrity.

My wife had the same reaction to Sambo that you did.

9/07/2008 9:01 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Thanks for doing your part for fairness and honorable journalism. I especially appreciate the fact that you're on the scene, not relying on a comment by phone from a waitress identified only by her first name.
Good-at-ya, as Molly Ivins used to say!

9/07/2008 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Bruce Wolper said...

Super response!! I salute you and your integrity. It is important to keep things true, whether the facts support your position or not. The facts are the facts.

9/07/2008 11:09 AM  
Blogger Maia said...

Good stuff, CD.

Stooping to spreading untruths demeans the entire left. We can win this election the right way, without engaging in petty rumormongering and slander.

9/07/2008 11:29 AM  
Blogger NorahChristine RunningWolf said...

As the Yu'pik Corporation demands 1/4 blood quantum to be a member, Blanche Palin is a member at 1/4 bq.
Todd Palin at 1/8, and the children at 1/16 are of Yu'pik DESCENT, but not members of the Corporation, unless, of course, political considerstions make them so.
Our Peoples down here in the lower 48, politics would not suffice to force enrollment, but I hear that Alaska is very different and a law unto itself.
Many of our Tribes demand 1/2, such as the Navajo, (Dine').
This produces an awkward situstion for some 100%ers, as they may be a mix of many tribal peoples, but not enough of one to enroll.

9/07/2008 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Carl Overmyer said...

I am very glad to see your post and comments reaching those who are spewing. Nice to see that honesty can sometimes rise above the political fray. As well that you are will to speak it. It all kind of make me wonder about the rest of the posts out that that are claiming to know someone that knows something, but will not go on the record.

While we may not agree on many things, honesty is always the best policy. I'll make a point of returning to read your other posts later to see what we agree on and where we disagree.

Thank you for a bit of fresh air in this otherwise putrid environment we call politics!

9/07/2008 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you were never personally affected by racist language from Sarah. But, people speak very differently depending upon the company they are in. She was with her political colleagues. I absolutely believe that she made these statements. I, too, am Sarah's age, and I, too, spent years living in AK. I absolutely have heard the terms Sambo, Arctic Arab, and Aboriginal coming from people my age and younger and older. She's already on film calling Hillary a whiner, why is it such a stretch that she called her a bitch? I now live in the South, and I can tell you that Alaska is the most racist place I have ever lived. Finally, I personally know people in government positions in AK that have stopped using their personal cell phones and eprsonal e-mail to encourage friends and colleagues to vote Obama because they are so fearful of Sarah's vindictiveness. These are not whack jobs. These are highly educated professional people with very responsible positions in government.

I really respect your integrity and thank you for it. I just happen to disagree with you and agree with Mr. James based upon my own personal experiences.

9/07/2008 1:28 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

I never said that folks weren't afraid...I wrote an article on how they are. Many of my connections are very concerned and remain anonymous.

My sources have known Sarah for years, have been around her for years, lived in the same town, etc...while they want her to lose that VP slot, they still can't think of a time they've heard her use racial epithets.

And whether you or I believe it is in the realm of possibility isn't really the issue...there is nothing, zero, zip, nada to back up the claim of an anonymous waitress. Every other explosive issue we Alaska bloggers have known about through email whispers and leading comments long before they were confirmed.

He didn't have enough to print this responsibly...bottom line.

Now, the "bitch" comment is an entirely different story. She is a pageant princess after all!

9/07/2008 1:55 PM  
Blogger Writing Raven said...

To norahchristine -

If the final count has Todd's mother at 1/4 blood quantum Yup'ik (I've heard so many versions of this!) than Todd would not be an ORIGINAL enrollee of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, with 1/8 blood quantum. But he is on record as a shareholder, so he is a MEMBER OF THE CORPORATION. This is easy to do - all his mother would have to do would be give him 1 of her 100 shares, and he is a shareholder.

Alaska certainly is different from the Lower 48 in regards to membership, and this is just one of the many ways.

One point of confusion is that being a shareholder of BBNC has nothing to do with his tribal affiliation. It is a corporation, not a cultural or political entity (okay, said that political part with almost a straight face), but a business entity. It was created to settle land claims with a generic "Alaska Native" group, not specific tribes.

For that matter, you could be 100% Yup'ik, but if you were born after December of 1971, you could not be an original member of any corporation, and would have to inherit or be gifted shares to belong.

What would be more interesting is his tribal affiliation. For instance, because I was born after 1971, I was only a descendant of Sealaska, not a shareholder. That meant I could attend events, apply for scholarships, but not have any say in the corporation. Last year Sealaska was the 2nd corporation to allow "afterborns" to become shareholders though, so I am now a shareholder. You still have to be 1/4 or more blood quantum, and a descendant of an original enrollee.

But outside of that, I have always been a Tlingit and Haida (tribe) member. This is my tribal affiliation, and I believe they accept up to 1/16? I could be wrong. It might be 1/8. But this doesn't have anything to do with the corporations - it is the "political" and cultural affiliation. A bit more like the tribal memberships in the Lower 48. Although most Tlingit and Haida members are also members of Sealaska, they could have enrolled at any corporation.

Also, you cannot be a dual member of any two corporations, but as I am a Tlingit and Athabascan descendant, I am members of three different village/cultural entities as well. This is for both of my parents - two separate villages - and my grandfather/mother - another village.

And we haven't even gotten into the Federal system yet!

Alaska Native affiliation and membership is extremely convoluted and difficult to navigate, and we are in fact the most legislated people group in the world. Think of the beauracracy of the Federal government compounded by the BIA, the beauracracy of a large corporation - the Feds looking over their shoulder the whole way - as well as village corporations. Plus the beauracracy of the state government, compounded by individual land claims by tribal groups, and the beauracracy of the tribal groups themselves, especially with the local municipality (except for one group, we are not part of reservations.) For good measure, we built about a million non-profits for things like health care and housing.

Okay, history lesson over for the moment. It makes me think I need to do a post just on this...

9/07/2008 3:38 PM  
Blogger Grimbles said...

I'm intrigued that Aboriginal is being regarded as a racial epithet: it's a technical term, basically an alternate to indigenous, and less ambiguous than 'native' in terms of foreign vs local.

Aboriginal is the official and - to my knowledge - entirely uncontroversial term for the majority of indigenous Australians (there being a distinction between the Aboriginals of the mainland and Torres Straight Islanders of... the Torres Straight Islands)

9/07/2008 7:30 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

Actually, it isn't being regarded as a slur at all by me and shouldn't be by anyone else. My comment was that "Aboriginal" is not commonly used in describing Alaska Natives up here.

I know that's obviously used in Australia and New Zealand, Grim and I suspect perhaps in countries who were under British rule longer than the U.S...like Canada, maybe?

9/07/2008 10:58 PM  
Blogger NorahChristine RunningWolf said...

Thank you, Writing Raven.
How do you keep it all straight?
I you post further on this subject, I hope I make it back to read, as my internet service depends on how many pennies I have in my purse at the time.

As far as Sarah not being racist or making racist remarks because she is married to a man of Native descent, some of the nastiest remarks I have heard are from Euro-Americans who are married to Native Americans. It makes for some self esteem problems in their young.
I have never been to Alaska, to my regret, and at my age, even going to town is a chore, so I will never see the beauty I hear of from my Alaskan friends.
But they, too, speak of the racial epithets used up there by the Euro-Americans.

9/08/2008 7:21 AM  
Blogger Jeremy Mathews said...

I think the most important red flag you mentioned is Mr. James' article's reliance on Anne Kilkenny's email. While he attributes certain things to her, he gives the impression (without stating outright) that some of these nuggets came from a conversation with her, when in fact all the quotes are verbatim from her email. While he could justify that discrepancy, however, there's no denying the many comments he lifts from her outright without attribution.

For example, he writes:
"For good measure, she turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots."

From Kilkenny's email:
"•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR."

"For good measure, Palin booted the Wasilla police chief from office because, she told a local newspaper, he “intimidated” her."

Compared to Kilkenny's
"As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated” her, she told the press."

Like Kilkenny, he describes the nickname Sarah Barracuda as a reference to her ruthless personality, but I understand it was actually based on her basketball play.

Also, he uses "for good measure" too much.

The over-reliance on this prominent email suggests that Mr. James didn't do as much finger-walking as he claims. Or maybe he just made a lot of calls to people who wouldn't talk to him, and still didn't have enough for his article.

Either way, it makes his other material questionable at best. If I had been in his position with the "Sambo" quote, I would have felt compelled to track down other people who were at the restaurant during that lunch. If I failed to do so, but I still wanted to use that juicy quote, I would have at least secured verification of other racist behavior.

9/08/2008 11:12 AM  
Blogger NorahChristine RunningWolf said...

Meant to include this link in last post.
There has been enough damage to sovereignty, treaty rights, and trust monies without this, too.

9/08/2008 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. "I've never heard her say that" is just not good enough to refute the original article. You attack the journalistic ethics of another writer based on the notion that you haven't heard any racism in Alaska before. There is no state in this country in which racism doesn't exist. The idea that Alaska, with its profoundly complex racial dynamics does not have racism or have people who use racial slurs is just ridiculous. I don't know if Sarah Palin is one of them, but the idea that she couldn't have used the term Sambo because it's old-fashioned is just silly.

9/08/2008 4:20 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

You haven't really read anything I've said.

Of course I have experience with racism. From people saying things in front of me thinking that I agree just based on my skin color to hearing racial slurs as a result of being the mother of a black child.

The difference...people who know her well never heard her say any of that. And my comment about "Sambo" isn't that she couldn't have used it, it's that I find it very unlikely as do people who have known her for a long time.

And the reality...basing such explosive accusations on one shaky anonymous source with no one to back it up is plenty of reason to refute the first article.

9/08/2008 4:38 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

Ya know, I'm one of the few blogs left that doesn't monitor the comments and for now I will continue that practice. However, with the explosion of traffic, I will reserve the right to delete idiots.

Please don't post until you've:
1) read the entire article(s) on which you wish to comment
2) read enough that you become just a little familiar with who I am
3) Calmed down enough that you can behave

If you don't, I'm going to delete your comments.

If your comment has been deleted, feel free to comment again but the same rules will still apply

9/08/2008 5:32 PM  
Anonymous Charles said...

Discrediting the article partly based on the appearance of the word "Aboriginal" is premature. I originally read "Aboriginal" as being a minority, though not necessarily native to Alaska.

I am of the same generation and understand Sambo although I don't use it like other racist terms. I had a child's book my mother used to read to me called "Little Black Sambo" and used to pretend I was him when I ate pancakes in the morning although I am white.

My general personal experience with sharp criticism like this article is that there is probably some truth to it although I may not completely know what truth it is that is stinging the one being offended. A purely false article would be ignored.

9/08/2008 6:12 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

I had two major problems with this article 1) the two racial epithets attributed to Palin ("Sambo" and "Arctic Arab") and 2) the fact that he seemed to lift a bunch of non-attributed information from the Kilkenny email and presented it as his own writing.

I had a problem with the epithets because none of the folks I know who have known Palin for years ever heard her use racial epithets period.

I had a problem with the Kilkenny issue for obvious reasons.

I mentioned the use of the term "Aboriginal" not because it was used as a slur in the article...it wasn't. I did so because I've never heard the term used up here by long-time Alaskans to describe Alaska Natives. (As I have a number of friends from Australia and New Zealand, I'm quite familiar with the term.)

9/08/2008 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The main reason you stated for not believing that Palin said the racial slurs is people that you know who know her haven’t heard her use racial slurs. You also stated that you would hope that your brother-in-law would not support someone who made such slurs and that “Sambo” and “Aboriginal” are terms you didn’t think she’d use. However, I don’t believe that your reasons are any more valid than James’ reasons for believing them sufficiently to print them.

First of all, I have known some people for years, whom I never would have believed were racist, sexist, or anti-Semitic, until I either overheard them accidently or they slipped in front of me. People only speak freely in front people they feel are like-minded or those who they don’t feel are important, almost invisible, like waitresses, sales clerks, etc. That people who have known Palin for years haven’t heard her use racial slurs may only mean that they do not fall into one of those groups. If your brother-in-law has worked on Palin’s campaign & wrote her speeches, she probably knows that you have a Black daughter and she is certainly smart enough to know better than to use racial slurs in front of him. Plus as a “ardent” supporter of both Palin & her anti-abortion views, to the point of having his children carry signs supporting her, it would be highly unlikely that he would think her capable of such slurs.

As far as the likelihood of her using those specific terms “Sambo” and “Aboriginal,” others that have commented here have stated that they are the same age as Palin and are familiar with the term “Sambo” and have heard the term “Aboriginal” used to describe indigenous Alaskans. Furthermore, I don’t find it that surprising that James could not find anyone to corroborate the waitress' story, even anonymously, since both you and James stated that people in Alaska are afraid to speak out against Palin for fear of retribution.

Although James did not convince me that she definitely did use racial slurs, given what I have read about her other behavior, I think it is totally possible. Her public and private behavior are hypocritical at best. The account of the birth of her youngest child, if true, shows a callous disregard for the life and well-being of the child, in direct opposition of her supposed concern for the sanctity of the unborn. In fact, if she truly did fly from Texas to Anchorage and then onto her little hometown AFTER her water broke, especially knowing she was having a child with Downs Syndrome, with all the medical problems associated with it, in my opinion, she should be charged with reckless endangerment. A woman who would do such a thing to her own child is certainly capable of saying a few racial slurs to potentially win points with her Republican cohorts.

9/09/2008 12:33 AM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

No...it's not equally as credible.

I didn't say she's not capable of using racial slurs.

I didn't say that I know she never uses them.

What I said is that folks who've known her for years have never heard her use them. Does that mean that perhaps she's just careful in public? Could be. However, that would also somewhat discredit her use of them where she could be heard in a restaurant.

Anyway, the point is there is NO OTHER source to support such a powerful claim other than his alleged anonymous source. Because of that, it's completely irresponsible to print it.

This is the last I'm going to respond on this thread and I'm closing the comments.

9/09/2008 1:06 AM  
Blogger NorahChristine RunningWolf said...

I am sorry you are closing the comments. I had hoped to hear more from Writing Raven about the Corporation thing.

9/09/2008 7:09 AM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

She's an author...she can still post (and anything in response to her will obviously get through)

I'm not being particularly selective on comments...I'm just trying to weed out the stupid or abusive people!

9/09/2008 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

But remember, Sarah Palin went to school in Idaho. I live in Utah and have several friends in Idaho, and I regret to say, I've heard the term "Sambo" used more than once by some of the somewhat older generations (those in their 40s and 50s, and up) in that particular state. It's very plausible that Palin invoked the term based on her experiences at college there.

Furthermore, who would have ever imagined that McCain would have the audacity to call his wife a "cunt" and a "trollop" in front of TV reporters? Perhaps he knew because they were broadcast journalists and hadn't finished setting up their mics yet, they wouldn't be able repeat his words without having a recording of it. I refused to believe it until I saw how he unequivocally refuses to answer the question about the alleged verbal abuse. If it weren't true, make no bones about it, he would deny it and he would deny it outright.

People will often say things that we never could have dreamed they were capable of thinking, let alone sharing.

In sum, I'm not saying outright that Palin's guilty -- but I wouldn't rule out the possibility with such certainty.

9/10/2008 2:25 PM  

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