Archive for August 2011

Good Night Irene


Three of the eight projected tracks for Hurricane Irene (pictured above) show the center of the storm zeroing in almost directly on my house.

So if I don’t post for a while, please understand.

It’s nothing personal.

I’ll be in my storm cellar playing Leadbelly’s original version of Good Night Irene on my battery-powered CD player:  at least until the cellar floods.

And singing along, especially to these lyrics:

I wished to God I’d never seen your face
I’s sorry you ever was born

My hopes for minimal damage go out especially to all those in New York City, who face this unprecedented meteorological assault only two weeks before the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

See you on the other side, if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creeks don’t rise.

But a look at that storm track doesn’t offer much hope that the creeks won’t rise.


The difference between an obsessive and a professional

I had to laugh earlier today when I saw a cute little piece in the “Daily Intel” section of New York Magazine called “Inside the Palin Industrial Complex: The People Who Thrive on Speculating About Her Presidential Intentions.”

The writer, Noreen Malone, categorizes the various people who write or talk frequently about Sarah in public places.  Under the category of “The Obsessives,” she lists Andrew Sullivan and me.

Anyone who regularly reads “The Dish,” Andrew’s blog at The Daily Beast, is aware of the wide range of subjects that engage his penetrating intellect. Sarah Palin is only one among many.

The failure of mainstream media to acknowledge that even doubt about Sarah’s account of her pregnancy with Trig might be legitimate has prompted him to continue to express such doubt, even in the face of widespread ridicule and condemnation.

I would call that persistence, not obsession.

As for me, Malone writes:

“Reporter Joe McGinness [sic], for instance, famously moved to the house next door to Palin’s in Alaska so he could better gather intel for a book. His Rogue blog is a running chronicle of Palin’s movements, along with occasional Wasilla reportage…McGinness'[sic] book is out in a month — and it will good for sales if she runs.”

I signed a contract to write about about Sarah in November, 2009.  A year and a half later, working full time on it, I delivered the book.  Since then, in order to build interest in the book, I’ve been blogging–mostly about Sarah.

Does that make me “obsessive?”


It makes me professional:  I signed a contract to write a book, I wrote the book, and starting next month I’ll promote the book.  When the job is done, I’ll move on to the next job, as I’ve been doing for more than forty years.

If Nora Malone wants to meet people who are obsessive about Sarah, I suggest she look at some of the commenters on this and other Palin-related blogs.

Writing about Sarah day after day, often many times in the same day, without even getting paid for it–now that’s obsessive.

That’s all for now, friends.  I’ve got to get started on my preparations for Hurricane Irene, whose acquaintance I expect to make on Sunday.

One thing I need to do is shore up the sixteen-foot fence I built earlier this summer so my next door neighbor wouldn’t be able to see what I was cooking on my grill.


Is Sarah Palin too thin-skinned for a presidential campaign?

The Christian Science Monitor asks this question.

I suspect we’ll learn the answer on September 20, when THE ROGUE is published.

Or even during the preceding week, when snippets from the book will be judiciously released to selected media.

I’ve had two direct experiences with what I would consider Sarah’s hypersensitivity to words and events she cannot control.

The first came in spring of 2009, when I published a cover story in Conde Nast Portfolio titled “Pipe Dreams.”

My article told the true story about Sarah’s false claim that as Alaska governor she’d brought about the construction of a multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline.

Sarah and her honchos went berserk. “Hit piece” and “yellow journalism” are phrases I seem to recall, although not a single fact in the article was ever challenged.

And, by the way, how’s that AGIA workin’ for the people of Alaska now, Sarah?

More than a year later, when I temporarily moved in next door to her on Lake Lucille, Sarah and her honchos–which by then included Glenn Beck and Greta Van Susteren, as well as a pack of rabid right-wing talk radio bullies–came at me with teeth bared and mouths foaming.

I recall the terms “stalker” and “creep” being used, at Sarah’s behest.

That made for a few crazy weeks, about which I write in THE ROGUE.

So, based both on personal experience and on what I learned from many others who have incurred Sarah’s wrath over the years, I would–for the first time in my life–be inclined to agree with Karl Rove.

Sarah Palin does not have the mental and emotional stability that would allow her to survive the rigors of a campaign for the office of President of the United States.

Sadly, despite being obsessed with herself, she lacks the self-awareness that would enable her to recognize her absence of equilibrium.

During her campaign for governor of Alaska she had a free ride, because the Alaskan media was almost non-existent, and because she charmed the pants and skirts off those reporters who should have been casting gimlet eyes upon her, instead of viewing her through rose colored glasses.

As soon as she was faced with criticism, after she was defeated in her bid for the vice presidency of our country, she quit.

In my opinion, her behavior over the years–especially her callous disregard for others–has left her with very few people close enough to her to be in a position to offer her their own genuine insights.

THE ROGUE is by no means an attempt at psychobiography.

Enough others claim to be able to see into Sarah’s mind, heart and soul.

But everything I’ve learned in researching and writing THE ROGUE leads me to conclude that however much she wants to be president, and however much she believes that her God has “mantled” and “annointed” her to turn America into a theocracy, Sarah will listen to the few who are telling her that she just wouldn’t be able to take the heat.

Thin-skinned is a nice way of putting it.

Being a nice man, I’ll leave it at that.

For now.

Karl v. Sarah: why is this happening?










Uh-oh: if you haven’t been watching “How the GOP Swings in the Wind,” you might have missed the new episode, in which Karl says Sarah was mean to him by opining that despite his hard-earned credentials as one of the biggest buffoons of the 21st Century, he has no right to talk about her ambitions, even though she is an even bigger buffoon.  (Note to self: check whether there is such a word as “buffooness.”)

To give you a quick update:

Sarah said she might or might not run for president.

Karl said she probably would, and she might even announce on Sept. 3.

Sarah said that she might or might not, but that even if she did, she wouldn’t say so on Sept. 3,  because that might make Karl look smart.

Karl said–and he said it to Sarah’s best gal pal, Greta Van Susteren, on Sarah’s own station, Fox News–

“I never said she is going to declare..I’m mystified. Look she is all upset about this, saying I’m trying to sabotage her in some way. And how dare I speculate on her future. If she doesn’t want to be speculated about as a potential candidate, there’s an easy way to end the speculation: say ‘I’m not running.’ …I’m saying the schedule leads me to believe she is going to be a candidate. I’m not privy to her thought-making process. It is a sign of enormous thin skin (that) if we speculate about her she would be upset.”

The concept of a potential Republican presidential candidate with “enormous thin skin” sort of scares me. Makes me think of an elephant that suffers from both hemophilia and psoriasis.

But I can’t help but hope we’ll all have front-row seats as this final round of Fox News’s Extreme Paintball plays out.

We’ve all been patient: THE ROGUE will be published four weeks from today//UPDATE: a clarification

And here’s the full cover:






Crown Publishing has done, is doing, and will do everything needed to assure that THE ROGUE will receive maximum national and international attention, and the widest possible readership around the world.

One of the things they suggested months ago that I could do to help in their effort was to start this blog.

And so I started, in April, in the hope that the blog would increase advance interest in the book.

According to Webalizer, I’ve had almost 650,000 visits here in four and-a-half months, which translates to more than 200,000 “unique” visitors.

On a daily basis, an average of 5,000 people visit this site.

A very small percentage of them offers a comment on any given post.

A much smaller percentage offers comments on almost every post.

And an infinitesmal minority become obsessed enough to comment dozens of times per day.

A few members of this infinitesmal minority apparently have had their feelings hurt by some of the things I’ve written here, either in response to their comments, or in my posts, or (most likely) by my saying that as of September 1–less than three weeks before publication of THE ROGUE–I’ll no longer post comments.

A very few have expressed their outrage at me for actually engaging with them by loudly and proudly announcing that they’re canceling their advance orders of THE ROGUE.

If you’ll send your names and mailing addresses to Sarah Palin, I’m sure she’ll dash off a quick note of thanks.

This not-quite-tempest in a dollhouse-sized teapot reminds me of my days as a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

One morning, Walter Annenberg, whom Richard Nixon later appointed as U.S. ambassador to England, and who owned the Inquirer, summoned me to his office.

No one in the newsroom could ever recall any mere columnist or reporter being summoned to Annenberg’s office.

Friends in the newsroom expressed their regret, said they were sorry to see me go, and wished me well in the future.

Annenberg’s office was on the thirteenth floor. It could be reached only by private elevator that usually no one but he was permitted to ride.

I pressed the “private” button, wondering how I’d explain to my wife that I’d just been fired.

I had committed many offenses. I had written in favor of the civil rights movement, and against club-swinging police commissioner (and later mayor) Frank Rizzo. I’d gone to Vietnam and, for six weeks in late 1967, I’d sent back daily columns that made it clear that American involvement in that country’s war was a tragic mistake: a view with which Annenberg and his editorial page wholeheartedly disagreed.

Then, in spring of 1968, I’d written a column in praise of Robert F. Kennedy, supporting his insurgent campaign for president.

I’d just spent hours with him, in his open car, on a motorcade through suburban Philadelphia. (You can read about that–and many other things–in HEROES).

I knew how right-wing Annenberg was, and many in Philadelphia had marveled for months that he’d allowed me to write what I wanted to write.

But I suspected I’d finally crossed an invisible line: this was the end.

I was eventually led into his office. He sat behind an enormous desk. He did not invite me to sit.

“So, you’re McGinniss?” he said.

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you know how many people have canceled their subscriptions to this newspaper as a direct result of your columns?

“No, sir.”

“Well, it’s just gone into the thousands. How do you feel about that?”

“Actually, Mr. Annenberg, I feel pretty good about that.    It shows I’m writing things that cause reaction.”

Suddenly, he beamed.

“I feel pretty good about it, too,” he said. “Before you came along, nobody ever canceled a subscription.”

Then he told me that whatever my salary was (in fact, it was $180 a week), he was ordering it raised by twenty percent.


I’ve had a lot of great comments here, including some that have criticized me harshly.

I’ve criticized others harshly over my nearly fifty years of writing professionally, and I can get as good as I give (as witness the comments on this blog that I’ve not deleted.)

As I’ve said, I’m always willing to learn, and I do learn something new almost every day.

Today, for example, I just learned how much a new pair of eyeglasses cost.

But when a few obsessives spoil things for everyone else through comments that are little more than–oh, what’s the word? “flames,”–I reserve the right to draw the line.  Or to drain the pool.

It’s like peeing in a swimming pool: you might feel better after you’ve done it, but do you ever think about anyone else?

What I’ve been most surprised by is the outrage of those who’ve said they feel “used” because they finally realized that one of the purposes of this blog was to increase advance interest in THE ROGUE.

Frankly, I’ve also been amazed by the outrage of those who accuse of me writing books in order to earn a living (i.e. “He’s only in this for profit!”)

Folks, I’m not NPR. Since leaving my last paying job in 1968–at the Philadelphia Inquirer, after billionaire Annenberg had approved my pay raise to $230 per week–I have supported myself and my family solely by writing books and magazine articles.

(Full disclosure, I’ve taught part time in college for a total of six semesters over forty years. Trust me: it wasn’t for the money.)

Take another look at the book cover displayed above.

I’d like THE ROGUE to sell a lot of copies, both because I think it tells a story that America would benefit from hearing, and because the more copies it sells, the easier it will be for me to pay my bills over the next few years, during which I’ll be writing yet another book.

Anyone bothered by the fact that professional authors get paid–just like (though in most cases far less than) professional athletes, or professional actors, or professional doctors, or professional lawyers–should recognize that if we didn’t get paid for our books we couldn’t write blogs for free, and you’d have nothing to bitch about.

As Samuel Johnson said on April 5, 1776:

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”


UPDATE: I am not closing this blog on September 1.  I will continue to blog.  But I am planning to shut down comments until after I’ve finished doing publicity for THE ROGUE, because I won’t have the time to administer the comment function and to reply to comments that I think warrant a response.

I’ve deleted or chosen not to post less than one percent of the thousands of comments received here so far.  But the time it takes to read them all and to reply to many is time I’m not going to have in September and October.

To repeat:  I am planning to temporarily close down the comment section.  I am NOT shutting down the blog.

And thank you to everyone who has responded to this post with expressions of good wishes.

Tea Party expects “major announcement” by Sarah at Indianola Balloon Grounds on Sept. 3

Fox News reports that the co-founder of Tea Party of America says, “All we’re being told is that she’s going to make a major announcement,” at the hot air balloon grounds on Sept. 3.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is citing “fresh hints from Sarah Palin that she could jump in.”

And a story in The Guardian today points out that Sarah has “just released a fancy election campaign-style video, entitled “Iowa passion”, that suggests more than anything else she’s done of late that she’s about to jump into the race. And the date? According to the video, it could come on 3 September when Palin’s scheduled to address a major Tea Party rally in Iowa…”

Anybody want to read tea leaves?

As a change of pace, here’s something SERIOUS to get your knickers in a twist about…

The New York Times reports today that “Broad areas around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant could soon be delcared uninhabitable, perhaps for decades…”

On his Progressive Alaksa blog, Phil Munger quotes a Japanese official as saying that the radiation released at Fukushima equals that of “more than 29 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs.”

Being as eternally optimistic as he is, Phil also cites folks who say that sunflowers fight the effects of radiation.

I hope he and they are right. My understanding of radiation poisoning is that nothing stops it from killing those exposed.

I learned a bit about this in the 1980s when, with the help of my friend Boyd Norton–a nuclear physicist, who quit the field in order to become a wilderness photographer, and someone I first met on a hike through the Brooks Range in Alaska in 1976 (see GOING TO EXTREMES)–I spent more than six months researching life at Los Alamos during the building of the first atomic bomb.

In the end, as with the OJ Simpson trial, and with a cruise around the world I took in 2005, I decided not to proceed with the book I’d envisioned.

But, as always, I learned a lot.

Boyd was particularly fascinated by the story of Dr. Louis Slotin, a physicist and chemist who helped build the first atomic bomb.

In 1946, while, as he called it, “tickling the tail of the dragon,” Slotin accidentally dropped a piece of beryllium on to a hunk of plutonium, thereby triggering a burst of radiation that he took head on at close range.
It was worse than a gunshot

He died of radiation poisoning nine agonizing days after the accident.

During my research, I talked to both Slotin’s brother, in Winnipeg, and his sister, in New London, Connecticut.

Slotin was playing Russian Roulette with radioactivity, and he lost.

But he, at least, knew what he was doing, and he was doing it not for kicks, but to advance the cause of science. He made a conscious decision to sign on to the Los Alamos project, and then to perform hazardous experiments.

The people of Fukushima were not given a choice.

Nor were the rest of us, who might be adversely affected (i.e. “killed”) over time, as radiation from the Fukushima disaster infects the atmosphere.

I’m all for the planting of sunflowers. Even if they don’t soak up radiation, they sure are pretty.

But in thinking about Fukushima–and Chernobyl and Three Mile Island before it–I’m reminded of the Pete Seeger song from the 1950’s: “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”:

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Maybe Sarah could reach out and help someone close to home: Steve Menard hits bottom by trashing Sitka hotel room

Steven Menard, currently a member of the Wasilla City Council, is the son of Alaska state senator Linda Menard, of Wasilla, one of Sarah Palin’s closest friends.

He is also the brother of the late Curtis Menard, Jr., who many commenters on this blog assert was the father of Sarah Palin’s oldest child, Track.

That Steve’s mother is Linda Menard is a fact.

That Steve’s late brother actually fathered Track Palin before Todd and Sarah married is the sort of scurrilous speculation that makes me feel better about my decision to soon suspend comments on this blog.

Having said that, Steve Menard is a man in desperate need of help.

Alcoholism is a dreadful, and inevitably fatal disease, and you don’t need me to tell you that.

I can no more label someone as suffering from alcoholism than I can diagnose a psychopath.

But in the case of Steve Menard, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman has done so here.

Granted, this is the same newspaper that last summer advised Sarah and Todd Palin, editorially, that they would be within their legal rights to kill me if I trespassed on their property (although they later sort-of-apologized), so it is not the font of all wisdom, journalistic or otherwise, but what they say about Steve Menard is right and true and brave.

And I hope Steve reads it and does seek help.

In fact, I hope he’s already turned to Alcoholics Anonymous.

He represents one of Wasilla’s first and finest families, and if he can recover from his disease he can offer many years of valuable public service to the people of both the city and the Mat-Su Valley.

But here’s how the Frontiersman said he recently behaved in Sitka:

“Damage to Menard’s room included two mattresses and a chair [that] had been urinated on, vomit on the carpet, removal of a screen from a window, a burned mattress, all bedding was ruined and there had been smoking in the room, which was prohibited. The room was out of service for three days while staff cleaned and made repairs.”

Once again, Wasilla makes an impression on the outside world.

But there’s no way to blame this on Sarah, even if a few of you are sure–on the basis of absolutely no evidence–that Steve is really Track’s uncle.

Once again, I say: please don’t fall into the trap of believing that everything anyone has ever said about Sarah must be true.

Neither Steve Menard’s problems, nor his illness–for which we should all hope he soon receives treatment–are Sarah’s fault.

But as I said in the headline of this post, I hope she’ll have the Christian charity to reach out and help this close family friend, who is so obviously in need.

If Steve needs to be in rehab for however long it will take him to get better, I’m sure that Sarah can help with the cost.

I hope she does.

And I hope she has the good grace to never take credit for having done so.

Rove says Sarah will announce presidential run on Sept. 3


Karl Rove said today that Sarah will announce her candidacy for president on the hot air balloon grounds in Indianola, Iowa, on September 3.

If she does, I’ll happily admit to being wrong in my prediction that she won’t run because she’s scared to do so.

In fact, I’ll send her a virtual hug. Sarah’s announcing her candidacy just over two weeks before THE ROGUE is published would be an even better gift than the blueberry pie she promised me last summer, but failed to deliver.

Please note: Karl Rove has often been wrong.

But he’s also often been right.

And when Karl Rove and Rachel Maddow agree, shouldn’t we all take note?

Andrew Sullivan will emerge as the most astute political prognosticator in America, because he’s never wavered in his conviction that Sarah will run. If he’s proven correct on Sept. 3, maybe more people will take note of his ongoing doubt that Trig is really Sarah’s baby.

“I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?”







I’ve been reminded of these horrific photos, I’m sorry to say, by comments on this site about the arrest of Craig and Shawn Christy, of McAdoo, PA–an arrest that resulted from a federal grand jury indictment in Anchorage on charges that they violated federal law by threatening the Palin family and the law firm representing the Palins with hundreds of obscene phone calls and email messages.

Incidentally, the heading of this post is what Rodney King actually said.  The media tried to make it a “better” quote by changing it to, “Can’t we all just get along?”  The recasting did not violate the spirit of Mr. King’s words, but given the brutality to which he was subjected, I think he deserves, at the least, to be quoted accurately.

Which brings me back to the subject of Craig and Shawn Christy.

In an earlier post I provided a link to the FBI affidavit that led to the grand jury indictment which resulted in the Christys’ arrest.  They are being transported to Anchorage to face charges.

What has disturbed me about the majority of comments made in response to my previous post is the irrational hatred of the Palins and the borderline paranoid conspiracy theories that commenters have proffered here.

Folks, I’ve got to tell you:  the comment section here is starting to resemble a mirror image of what we’d find on Conservatives for Palin.  I’m seeing fewer and fewer thoughtful comments and ever more hate-filled remarks from people who believe that Sarah Palin invented evil.

Fact doesn’t seem to matter.  If you hate Sarah enough, you can twist or ignore any set of facts that might interfere with your own irrational theories.

Frankly, I’m tired of it.  There are many other blogs that would welcome any and all attacks upon the Palins, no matter how crazed.

Please, express your opinions there, not here.

THE ROGUE, with its carefully documented and factual criticisms of Sarah Palin, will be published on September 20:  one month from now.

In preparation for that, I’ll be disabling comments on this site as of September 1.

I was going to have to do that anyway, given the demands on my time that will start in September.

But the comments in response to my post about the Christys’ threats against Sarah, her family, and her attorneys leave me with fewer regrets than I otherwise might have felt about having to suspend back-and-forth communication with all of you who have been kind enough to visit this blog since April.

I’ll keep posting, both before and after September 1.

After September 1, this will be the place to come for updates on the extraordinary series of TV, radio, and in person appearances I’ll be making from Sept. 19 onwards.

But for airing theories about how Todd is not Track’s father, how Sarah contaminated Curt Menard Jr.’s fuel tanks to cause his fatal plane crash ten years ago,  how Sarah engineered the Exxon Valdez disaster, how there are really three Trigs, and how the Christy family has actually  been victimized by the Palins:  you’ll soon have to go elsewhere.

I find it bizarre that virtually on the eve of publication of THE ROGUE–the book that will finally expose Sarah’s hypocrisy, stupidity, vacuousness, venality and viciousness–I’m in the position of having to defend her against the unsubstantiated theories of people as blinded by hatred of her as her supporters are blinded by hatred of President Obama.

I just want to say, you know, between now and September 1–and then beyond–can we all get along?

Can we dial down the hate?

Can we try to be at least a little bit better than the hate-filled crazies who worship Sarah?

Can we be slightly more rational?

Slightly more open to new information, even if it contradicts what we feel we need to believe?

Can we show just an ounce of charity, or even decency?

If not, please find another forum for spewing.