Friday, September 12, 2008

Librarian Reached

Returning to yesterday's debunking of the Palin smears, specifically the alleged book banning. You may remember the Time magazine going to print after wrapping up its meticulous fact checking with:

That [librarian], Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment.

While Time was stonewalled, by some miracle, ABC News got the goods. Ellen The Librarian, was apparently run down in the remote Alaskan bush, hog-tied, and forced to give this statement:

The librarian at the center of a 1996 controversy with then-Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin says she can't recall any effort by Palin to ban specific books from the town library.

In her first public statement since Palin was named the GOP vice-presidential candidate, Mary Ellen Baker said today, "I simply do not recall a conversation with specific titles," Baker told

To put it in Washington DC investigation-speak: Er, ah, I have no recollection of that Senator.

The librarian's statement does corroborate the account that then Mayor Palin inquired about the theoretical possibility of removing obscene books. (Something Palin has already openly discussed). But that's as far as the "book banning scourge" goes. Please adjust your reality meters for future media coverage of this story.

The whack-a-mole exercise starts with this story from the local Democrat party activist funded website Minnesota Independent (rimshot). Excerpts of their Q&A with some author warning of the impending theocracy if McCain/Palin are elected:

MnIndy: She does seem to have a lot of inclinations that would be commonly termed theocratic. I'm thinking of the dust-up over her trying to fire the town librarian in Wasilla, Alaska, who would not cooperate in helping her ban books.

Sharlet: I think her instincts are theocratic. We saw that in the book [banning effort]. That's essentially an authoritarian thing, especially if you look at the books she wanted to ban, one of which was called Pastor, I Am Gay, which was written by a local Christian conservative pastor who took a gentler approach to this. So there's another level to this. It's one thing to censor a book; that's frightening enough. It's an even more frightening thing to try and censor your neighbor, to try to put tape over the mouth of someone who lives right next to you and is a conservative Christian himself. That shows a real attention to detail that one finds in figures such as Stalin. I think there is a Stalinesque streak to her personality.

Yep, she's got a Stalinesque streak. Meaning multiple instances. There is the well known and outrageous attempt at denying the citizens tax dollar funded access to the deep well of wisdom that is Pastor I Am Gay. And, of course, her earlier attempt at starving out the Little Ukraine section of Wasilla back during the Wonder Bread shortage of aught-two. She's Stalin, I'm telling you!

Except .... she never tried to censor Pastor I Am Gay. True, she did not require that it be read aloud by all citizens in the town square every hour on the hour. (That's usually enough to get you called a Stalinist by Democrat activists.) But, according to the primary actors in the drama, she never, ever tried to censor it from the library.

The allegation that she did comes from a man named Howard Bess. He's a pastor in Wasilla, a political rival of Palin, and the author of such best selling and heart-warming classics as Pastor I Am Gay.

Again, from ABC News:

Palin's church at the time, the Assembly of God, had been pushing for the removal a book called "Pastor I Am Gay" from local bookstores, according to the book's author Pastor Howard Bess, of the Church of the Covenant in nearby Palmer, Alaska.

"And she was one of them," said Bess, "this whole thing of controlling information, censorship, that's part of the scene," said Bess.

To me, that man sounds bitter. I imagine he's clinging to his guns and religion too. Maybe Obama will fly up there soon and get his mind right. But you get the sense that a lot of small town gossip, rivalries, and back biting is being blown up to epic proportions, in the service of an agenda here. Putting this situation in the national spotlight as a primary qualification of Sarah Palin's fitness is equivalent of Dave Thune getting nominated for VP and the national press devoting all of its resources to publicizing Mike Costello's opinion of him.

Back to the specific allegation being promulgated by Minnesota Independent (rimshot), the latest facts on the case of banning Pastor I Am Gay:

The local newspaper reporter who covered the controversy, Paul Stuart, claims he was later told by the librarian that Palin wanted three specific books removed from the library.

In her statement to ABC News, the librarian said, "I am unable to dispute or substantiate the information Paul Stuart provided to you."

Well, that's odd. Are you telling me that, just maybe, the original reporting in the Wasilla Frontiersman was flawed? Don't they have editors and fact checkers up there? Time magazine can empathize, they've dealt with librarian Mary Ellen "Stonewall" Baker too.

Another possibility, maybe the witness here was willing to say one thing when only the locals were paying attention, but now that the white hot glare of the national spotlight and accountability is on her, she's correcting the record.

Another possibility, Karl Rove is using an orbiting Halliburton satellite to beam down evil mind rays thus warping her memory and creating confusion about the very real book bans of Wasilla, Alaska.

Watch for Time Magazine and/or the Minnesota Independent (rim shot) to be following up on the latter charge soon.

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