Friday, September 12, 2008

book banning bitch

GOP campaign downplays Palin book-banning inquiry
By GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press Writer
Fri Sep 12, 11:59 AM ET
WASILLA, Alaska - The McCain campaign is defending Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's much-criticized inquiry into banning books at her hometown library, saying her questions were only hypothetical.
Shortly after taking office in 1996 as mayor of Wasilla, a city of about 7,000 people, Palin asked the city's head librarian about banning books. Later, the librarian was notified by Palin that she was being fired, although Palin backed off under pressure.

Palin's alleged attempt at book-banning has been a matter of intense interest since Republican presidential nominee John McCain named her as his running mate last month.

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.

Palin notified Emmons she would be fired in January 1997 because the mayor didn't feel she had the librarian's "full support." Emmons was reinstated the next day after public outcry, according to newspaper reports at the time.

Still, one longtime library staffer recalls that the run-in made everyone fear for their jobs.

"Mayor Palin gave us some terrible moments and some rather gut-wrenching moments, particularly when Mary Ellen said she was going to have to leave," said Cathy Petrie, who managed the children's collection at the time.

Recent outrage has been fueled by Wasilla housewife Anne Kilkenny, whose 2,400-word critique of Palin's legacy as mayor is widely posted on the Internet. Kilkenny described Palin's actions as "out-and-out censorship."

But the McCain campaign, in a statement, said the charge "is categorically false ... Governor Sarah Palin has never asked anyone to ban a book, period."

Emmons, a former Alaska Library Association president who now goes by Mary Ellen Baker, did not return calls seeking comment.

According to the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper, Emmons did not mince words when Palin asked her "how I would deal with her saying a book can't be in the library" on Oct. 28, 1996, in a week when the mayor had asked department heads for letters of resignation.

"She asked me if I would object to censorship, and I replied 'Yup'," Emmons told a reporter. "And I told her it would not be just me. This was a constitutional question, and the American Civil Liberties Union would get involved, too."

The Rev. Howard Bess, a liberal Christian preacher in the nearby town of Palmer, said the church Palin and her family attended until 2002, the Wasilla Assembly of God, was pushing to remove his book from local bookstores.

Emmons told him that year that several copies of "Pastor I Am Gay" had disappeared from the library shelves, Bess said.

"Sarah brought pressure on the library about things she didn't like," Bess said. "To believe that my book was not targeted in this is a joke."

Other locals said the dust-up had been blown out of proportion.

"That was many years ago and Sarah never had any intention to ban books," said David Chappel, who served as Palin's deputy mayor for three years. "There were some vocal people in the minority, and it looks like they're still out there."

Jim Rettig, a University of Richmond librarian who heads the Chicago-based American Library Association, suggested that lingering quarrel raises issues that are still relevant as librarians prepare to celebrate Banned Books Week later this month.

"Librarians are very committed to the principles of the First Amendment of the Constitution and that means we don't allow one individual or a group of people to dictate what people can or cannot read," he said. "Most librarians if they got that sort of a question would be curious as to what the intent of the questioner was."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Blues Brother's Were On A Mission From God Too....

From The Guardian UK:

There is a striking similarity between Barack Obama and his new nemesis, Sarah Palin - and it's not just that they are both big on basketball. They have equally set out on what Obama likes to call an "improbable journey" that will see one of them make it all the way to the White House on November 4.

In Palin's case, the improbable journey began here: a sprawling wooden compound that looks like a cross between an oversized McDonald's and a prison complex. It occupies a patch of barren ground on the edge of Wasilla, the tiny town in Alaska in which she spent her childhood and cut her political teeth. Above the entrance a banner announces that this is the home of the Wasilla Assembly of God, motto: "To know Him, and to make Him known!"

It was here Palin was baptised, or "saved", as she describes it, and later had her children baptised. It was here she was inducted into the peculiar rituals of her fundamentalist faith - the charismatic preaching, the laying on of hands, the tears and cries of joy of the Pentecostal church. "I grew up in the Wasilla Assembly of God," she once said. "Nothing freaks me out about the worship service."

On the night I visit the church, the congregation is huddled in a group, arms raised or clasped around each other, as the senior pastor, Ed Kalnins, leads them in prayer. "Lord, we know that you have made this church a platform," he exclaims. "You are using the wonderful Governor Palin to get your message of the gospel across."

Pastor Ed, as his flock calls him, moved to Wasilla in 1999 - three years after the town elected Palin as its mayor. What struck him the first time they met, he has said, was that in her eyes religion came first, politics second. He thought to himself: "This person loves Jesus. That's the bottom line. She loves Jesus with everything she has. She is a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ before she is the mayor. Sarah Palin is the real deal."

Pastor Ed's language may be colourful. But he has put his finger on a central truth about the woman who in two months' time could become the next vice-president of the US. From her earliest days at the bottom of the political ladder in minuscule Wasilla, through to her sudden rise this week into international stardom, she has always been on a mission.

Her trajectory has run in parallel with that of her party. Her career took off precisely at the moment when the Christian right seized control of the Republican movement, casting out the fiscal conservatives who had traditionally held sway with their focus on such worldly matters as low taxes and small government.

The shift in the party's focus from mammon to God is illustrated perfectly in Palin's successful campaign to become mayor in 1996. All previous elections had revolved around such existential questions as how to improve the pavements and get litter off the streets. She ignored all that, campaigning instead against abortion and gun control and casting aspersions on her (Republican) opponent about his infrequent attendance of church.

Victoria Naegele was editor of the local paper, The Frontiersman, at the time and can recall the shock of the Palin revolution. "I remember thinking 'Wow! Are religious issues really germane to the job of being mayor of a town of just 5,000 people?'"

Naegele remembers vividly too a second shockwave that came swiftly after Palin's election. Instead of easing her way into the role, she went in with guns blazing, demanding that six of the department heads of the council - none of them political appointments, several with many years' service - submit their resignations. When Naegele protested through the editorial columns of the paper at what she saw as the new mayor's heavy-handed style, she felt the heat. "It was a difficult time. I was lambasted as a liberal, when in fact I am a Christian conservative Republican, just like Sarah Palin."

Then, in an incident that is fast turning into the stuff of political legend, Palin was revealed earlier this week to have attempted to censor Wasilla's library. The idea is almost laughable when you see the library itself. Its small collection of books includes a prominent section on hunting and fishing, and no visible copies of Lady Chatterley's Lover. Yet in 1996, after parents complained about a book their child had taken home, Palin took umbrage. Frustratingly, no one can remember the volume concerned. What we do know is that Palin turned on the then librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, asking her in a council meeting what she would do if she were told by the mayor to remove certain books from the collection.

Local resident Anne Kilkenny was in the public gallery and heard the librarian's reaction: "She sucked in her breath, and replied that the books in the library were all acquired in accordance with professional criteria and she would resist completely."

Palin has since claimed her question was purely rhetorical. That is not how Naegele and Kilkenny perceived it at the time. A few weeks later, Palin sent Emmons a letter terminating her employment. "People in the town rose up in anger," Kilkenny recalls. "The library is an important institution in our city, as there's not a lot else to do here in the winter but sit by the fire with a good book. There was real public pressure, and Sarah was forced to rescind the letter."

Emmons survived. Others were less fortunate. The museum director, city planner and public works director all quit within months of Palin's ascendancy, and the police chief was sacked outright (he sued for wrongful dismissal but lost). Palin said the turnover was needed to clean out the "old boys' club". Others were not so sure.

Again, she was utterly in tune with the trajectory of her party. By the end of the 1990s the Republican leadership had adopted a modus operandi that also combined religious zealotry with managerial ruthlessness. Yet this development was not without its detractors within the party. One of the loudest critics was the very man who has put Palin on the national stage: John McCain. Paradoxically, it was partly his disdain for the grip that TV preachers came to hold over the Republicans that earned him a reputation as a maverick.

Since then, Palin has travelled a huge distance in her journey towards the White House. Two years ago she became Alaska's first female governor, with some of the most valuable natural resources in the US under her control. Stylistically, she's become much more sophisticated. But under the surface, the way of operating has changed little.

The religious mission is still front and centre of her politics. She opposes abortion in all cases other than those in which the mother would die if she were to give birth. She is a vocal opponent of gay marriage, and advocate of the teaching of anti-evolutionary creationism, or "intelligent design", in schools.

Her religious beliefs extend to a conviction that the Iraq war is God's will. When she returned to Wasilla in June to pray with her old congregation, she said of the troops being posted to Iraq, including her own son, Track: "Our national leaders are sending them out on a task from God. We have to pray there is a plan and that it's God's plan."

Most poignantly, she will not countenance sex education for teenagers, preferring instead to preach that abstinence is the only complete protection against pregnancy or venereal disease. It would be a cheap shot to suggest that this week's bombshell revelation that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is herself pregnant was Palin's comeuppance.

But it would not be unfair to point out that Alaska has the highest per capita incidence of chlamydia in the country, and that the rate of teenage pregnancies across the US, including within her state, has just risen for the first time in 14 years - a trend many blame on George Bush's preferment of abstinence-only education. "It's frustrating we aren't doing more to inform our children," said Brittany Goodnight of the Alaska branch of Planned Parenthood.

If the religious flame still burns bright, so too does the ruthless determination. In an echo of what happened to the librarian and police chief in Wasilla all those years ago, Palin is embroiled in a full-scale investigation by the Alaskan state legislature into allegations that she sacked the safety commissioner because he in turn refused to act against a police officer whom Palin wanted dismissed.

The officer, Mike Wooten, was the governor's former brother-in-law, who had been through an acrimonious divorce from her sister. Palin, her husband, Todd, and several of her aides tried to convince the commissioner, Walter Monegan, to fire Wooten, but he refused.

The casualties scattered along Palin's path continue to mount. Lyda Green, a neighbour of Palin's in Wasilla, has just become the latest. She is stepping down as a state senator after 14 years.

Green is the leader of the Republicans in the Alaskan senate and an old-style fiscal conservative. She voted against several of the governor's most important initiatives over the past two years, including a move to increase taxes on the big oil and gas companies. Green was surprised by the reprisals that followed. "I found early on that if you disagreed with her it was not taken as a disagreement with policy, but a personal disagreement."

First came the embarrassment of a radio interview between Palin and a local rightwing shock-jock in which the interviewer called Green a bitch and a cancer within the party. Palin's response on air? She laughed.

"She knew I'm a cancer survivor - she sent me flowers," Green says. "That was a very lacklustre moment."

Then Palin arranged for a friend to stand this summer against Green in the Republican party's selection process for her own senate seat. Green decided to stand down rather than go through a primary battle she was sure would be ugly. "There came a point when I thought it was no longer worth it," says Green. "I didn't need, in a community as small as this, to stand in the face of this very popular governor." Then she adds: "But it's not a way to run a government."

That's a pertinent observation, I suggest, in the light of the next destination Sarah Palin hopes to reach in her improbable journey. "It is pertinent," Green replies.

Sarah Palin IS a Pig

I will say it even though Obama didn't mean it that way.

From the Washington Post:

"You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, but it's still going to stink after eight years."

As a person who works in newspapers, I am deeply offended by Barack Obama’s suggestion that the product I help put out is fit only for wrapping fish. I hope he will apologize for this unfortunate print-ist statement.

Come on. I’ve covered a lot of incredibly trivial and ridiculously hyped campaign controversies, but the McCain campaign’s feigned outrage over Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” comments has to take the cake. I mean, no offense to bakers.

“Offensive and disgraceful,” pronounced Maria Comella, Sarah Palin’s spokesperson. “He owes Governor Palin an apology."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift, on a conference call with reporters, upped the rhetorical ante to “disgusting” and said Obama was “comparing our vice presidential nominee, Governor Palin, to a pig.”

Never mind that Obama was not talking about Palin at all. He was dismissing John McCain’s claim that he would bring change to Washington.

“It seemed to me a gendered comment. There's only one woman in the race,” Swift insisted. “As far as I know, she's the only one of the four - the presidential and vice presidential candidates - who wears lipstick.”

You have to give the McCain campaign credit for pulling this one off with a straight face, lipsticked or not. Of course, Obama blundered by venturing into the dangerous territory of cosmetics in the aftermath of Palin’s famed pit bull remark. (Hey, was that a gendered comment?)

But if any of the delicate flowers in McCain-land were actually offended by what Obama had to say, well -- pass the smelling salts.

In fact, if you want to get all huffy about “gendered comments,” I’d suggest keeping an eye on the McCain campaign. It has taken to calling Obama “fussy” and describing the campaign as “hysterical.” As in, “I saw Obama’s rather fussy and petulant response today to the tire gauge” (Nicolle Wallace) or, “Senator Obama appears to get fussy when asked tough questions” (Brian Rogers). Or, "the Obama campaign’s hysterical statement questioning John McCain’s honor (Rogers) or “The only explanation for their hysterical attacks...” (Rogers).

Are they trying to suggest that Obama is a girly-man? These are not random, off-the-cuff word choices, but part of a deliberate effort to evoke an image of Obama as effeminate and weak. Or maybe that’s just me, being fussy and hysterical.

By Ruth Marcus | September 10, 2008; 1:14 PM ET

Pitbull With Lipstick...and Guns.

From the Washington Independent:

The wolf is an intelligent, handsome creature and, for many visitors to Alaska, an integral part of the state’s wild appeal. Wolves live in complex social structures, mate for life and don’t attack humans — it’s easy to see in them the family resemblance to mankind’s best friend.

That’s what makes it so painful to look at the video of an aerial wolfhunt in Alaska that has been circulating since Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated as Sen. John McCain’s running mate on the Republican ticket.

In a program begun by ex-Gov. Frank Murkowski, and intensified by Palin, Alaska has sponsored the aerial hunting of more than 800 wolves since 2002 — out of a state population of perhaps 9,000. Pilots chase the wolves through the deep snow, sometimes for miles, until the exhausted animals have slowed enough to be blown away with shotguns. Then the plane lands and finishes the job, unless the wounded wolf has managed to crawl into the deep woods to bleed to death in solitude.

Palin, who won office with the support of powerful hunting groups, has intensified the “cull.” She pushed to offer a bounty to hunters who brought in a left wolf paw (lopped off with a chain saw) and extended the kill order to grizzly and black bears — including sows and their cubs. Before a state court ruled the practice illegal, she offered a bounty of $150 for every slain wolf.

Hunting groups support the program, arguing that it increases the availability of game for poor Alaskans, and the sporting chances of hunters like Sarah and Todd Palin themselves, who have their sights set on moose. But wildlife viewing brings far more tourist dollars to the state, where only 14 percent of the population hunts.

Grey wolf (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services)
As John Toppenberg of the Alaskan Wildlife Alliance puts it, the 60,000 square miles where the cull takes place are mainly used by “fat-ass trophy hunters on all-terrain vehicles, not Native peoples who need them for subsistence, with rare exceptions.”

Critics say Palin has shown a strong bias for hunters. Her staff recently wrote a statute that would permit her hand-picked Board of Game, whose seven members all favor killing predators, to operate without written guidelines. Another bill, currently undergoing legal review, would prohibit Alaskans from putting pro-wildlife propositions on the ballot, by declaring wildlife a “state asset” whose fate can be determined only by the state .

To fight a ballot measure against the hunt, Palin’s government spent $400,000 to produce a report countering arguments that the hunt is inhumane and scientifically dubious. Meanwhile, 174 members of the American Society of Mammalogists wrote to Palin, unsuccessfully, to ask her to reevaluate the science.

In 1996 and 2000, Alaskans voted in favor of ballot initiatives to end the aerial hunt. This time, Lt. Governor Sean Parnell put the measure on the primary ballot, ensuring that Republicans — who were turning out in larger-then-usual numbers to vote on their scandal-ridden congressman and senator — would make up the bulk of the voters.

In the Aug. 26 primary, the measure to end aerial predator hunting failed winning only 44 percent of the vote. Parnell’s special assistant, Jason Hooley, said the state was obliged by new statutory language to put the measure on the primary ballot.

Many hunters oppose the aerial kills as cruel and unfair. Interestingly, the stomach-churning film that is circulating on YouTube (it was produced by Defenders of Wildlife), in fact depicts government hunters shooting wolves with tranquilizer darts, in order to study them. “The reality is much more gruesome,” says Toppenberg. “They get hit with buckshot, it goes right through and their blood splatters all over the snow.”

The hunts often take out alpha males, leaving younger animals that don’t know where to make dens or find ungulates at certain times of the year. “Then you have them going into rural villages and eating dogs,” Toppenberg said. “You’re creating wolf problems rather than solving them.”

The program was disturbing enough to have provoked Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) last year to introduce legislation designed to curtail predator-control programs, except as a last resort. Palin denounced the bill, applauding her own programs as “widely recognized for their excellence and effectiveness.”

But Steve Stringham, a wildlife biologist and author of six books about bears, says Alaska has never established what numbers of moose and caribou can be sustained by the environment. If they shoot too many wolves and bears, he noted, “the potential for overgrazing may be high.”

Stringham has lived closely with Alaskan wildlife. He spent the winter of 1972 in the Wrangell Mountains, 100 miles from the nearest grocer. Bagging a moose for eating was a matter of life and death. “In those situations you don’t have a great appreciation for wolves, until you bag your moose. Then you don’t mind the wolves so much.”

He has raised orphaned wolf pups, and had friendly wild wolves sit a few feet away from him. He’s also been out snowshoeing when packs of wolves surrounded him, a harrowing experience. “Part of you is saying to yourself, ‘There’s never been a reported case of wolves attacking and killing a human in North America.’ The other part of you is going, ‘Of course, this wouldn’t be a reported case either.’”

“But trophy hunters were a bigger problem. Before I got my moose I felt like shooting the damn trophy hunters out of the air. “

I reached wildlife biologist Vic Van Ballenberghe on his cellphone in vast Denali National Park, where he’s spent parts of the past 28 years observing moose. Van Ballenberghe is sickened by the atavistic hunting of predators from airplanes, but he’s also worried that willy-nilly wolf slaughter will hurt the moose and caribou.

When moose and caribou get too numerous and overbrowse, the plants don’t grow as well and the resulting food shortage can weaken the animals, leading to disease outbreaks. In the 1970s and ’80s, the slaughter of wolves in the Tanana Flats area, south of Fairbanks, led the moose population to explode from about 2,800 to the current level of 17,000. The moose in that area are sick, Van Ballenberghe said. “We’re waiting for a bad winter and that population will crash.”

The current predator-control program reminds Van Ballenberghe of the 1930s, when Alaskans shot, poisoned and ran down as many wolves and bears as they could. “Blasting wolves from an airplane is not something most people think is a good practice,” he says. “ You can call it anything you want but it’s a pretty ugly business.”

And there’s no convincing evidence that moose or caribou populations are particularly low in most of the area where the hunt is taking place. “Hunters always say there’s not enough game,” said Van Ballenberghe. “No matter how much there is, they always want more.”

In the recent campaign, hunting groups sent fliers to every voter in the state — warning that wolves would kill their dogs, threaten their kids and take food off the table. Some voters found the wording of the initiative confusing.

“We got more than a hundred calls from people who said they’d mistakenly voted the wrong way,” says Toppenberg. Hooley, Parnell’s spokesman, said the wording of the measure had been in place since 2005 and was well-reviewed by its proponents.

Palin’s dismal environmental record makes environmentalists cringe. She’s not convinced that global warming is man-made, sued to stop the listing of polar bears as an endangered species, and moved forward a mining plan that some believe threatens wildlife in Bristol Bay—her daughter’s namesake.

None of this seems to bug Alaskans overmuch. “We’ve got a lot of, ‘Kill them all, let God sort ‘em out’ mentality up here,” says Toppenberg, who was a cop in Colorado before moving to Alaska in the 1990s. “Hopefully, the lower 48 will become aware of the extremeness of Sara Palin’s positions. She’s for cut, kill and drill. Frankly, that’s not even good for tourism.”

Read the story and see the video here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah, Sarah, Why You Buggin'?

From :

Washington, DC - John McCain and Sarah Palin continue to show the voters that they won't let the facts get in their way of their misleading campaign rhetoric. Whether claiming Governor Palin fought the earmarks she so actively sought or arguing that John McCain put principles ahead of the party line despite voting with President Bush more than 90 percent of the time, Sarah Palin's remarks in Missouri today bear almost complete disconnected from reality. The following are the facts behind Sarah Palin's false and misleading claims on the campaign trail today:

PALIN TODAY: "And then there are those like John McCain who use their careers to promote change. Americans, this is a moment when principles and political independence matter a lot more than just a party line."


McCain Has Voted With Bush 90 Percent Of The Time In The Senate. According to Congressional Quarterly, McCain has voted in support of President Bush's position 90 percent of the time since the beginning of his administration. [Congressional Quarterly, 8/15/08,]

Arizona Republic Headline: "In Tight Senate Votes, McCain Not A Maverick. When It Matters The Most, He Seldom Bucks His Own Party." "Over the years, Sen. John McCain has publicly condemned Republican Party leaders and occasionally voted against the GOP on selected issues. But an Arizona Republic analysis of his Senate votes on the most divided issues in the past decade shows that McCain almost never thwarted his party's objectives." [Arizona Republic, 5/7/08]

McCain: On The "Most Important Issues Of Our Day, I Have Been Totally In Agreement And Support Of President Bush." In a June 2005 interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," John McCain stated that he was a strong supporter of President Bush: "I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I have been totally in agreement and support of President Bush." [NBC, "Meet The Press," 6/19/05]

PALIN TODAY: "Senator McCain has called the two of us a team of mavericks and knows that we've done some shaking up there in Alaska."


Palin Has Refused to Say If She Will Support Indicted Senator Stevens' Re-Election Bid. "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is not saying whether she will vote in November to send the indicted Ted Stevens back to the Senate for a seventh full term. The indictment has put Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) running mate in a tricky position. If Palin endorses Stevens, it will appear that she is undermining her message of taking on the GOP establishment and cleaning up corruption in her state. But should the popular governor oppose his reelection, it could deliver a blow to Stevens's campaign and give Democrats ammunition as they try to pick up one more Senate seat. Palin's spokesmen in the McCain campaign have not responded to several inquiries seeking comment on the governor's position on Stevens. A spokesman for the McCain campaign told the Alaska-based Peninsula Clarion that Palin has yet to endorse Stevens, the paper reported on its website Friday." [The Hill, 9/5/03]

The Usual Alaska Suspects - Ted Stevens, Don Young, And Lisa Murkowski Fundraised For Palin. "Will we see Ted Stevens stumping for Sarah Palin? Palin said this morning that Stevens appeared at a fund-raiser for her in Ketchikan and gave a speech about 'moving Alaska forward.' But does that mean he'll pop up in any advertisements? (Remember his arguably pivotal role at the end of the Knowles and Murkowski Senate race?) Palin said she doubts it and hasn't asked… She said Don Young came to one of her fund-raisers two days ago, and she expects Lisa Murkowski at an upcoming event. Tonight she planned to talk with John Binkley, who she says is writing a letter to his supporters on her behalf, and she planned to meet with Frank Murkowski tomorrow morning." ["The Trail" blog, Anchorage Daily News, 10/13/06]

PALIN TODAY: "I champion earmark reform. You'll hear about this from the Senator. To stop Congress from wasting public money on things that don't serve the public interests."


In 2008, Alaska Got More Earmarked Federal Funding Per Person Than Any Other State. "Arizona, the second fastest growing state in the nation, will receive just $18.70 per capita in federal earmarks this fiscal year. By comparison, Alaska -- with roughly a tenth of Arizona's population -- is set to receive $506.34 per capita, the highest in the nation, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group which tracks earmarks. The state of Alaska receives about three times as much as Arizona receives in actual dollars, $346 million to $119 million." [USA Today, 3/22/08]

Alaska Asked for Over $589 Million in Federal Pork Requests During Palin's Tenure as Governor. According to Citizens Against Government Waste,, under Palin's tenure as Governor the state of Alaska has asked for $589,599,715 in pork barrel projects. [2007 and 2008 Pig Book,]

Washington Post: Palin's Administration "Remains Eager For Many Other Earmarks." "But her administration remains eager for many other earmarks. In February, Palin's office sent Sen. Stevens a 70-page memo outlining almost $200 million worth of new funding requests for Alaska." [Washington Post, 9/2/08]

PALIN TODAY: "We took on the old politics as usual in Juneau and we broke the monopoly that had controlled our state and that was the special interests and the lobbyists surrounding the big oil companies."


In Her 2002 Campaign for Lieutenant Governor, Palin Raised 'About 10 Percent Of Her Campaign Fund' From Veco, An Oil Company Under Federal Investigation. "While mayor of Wasilla, Palin ran for lieutenant governor in 2002. She gathered $5,000 -- or about 10 percent of her campaign fund -- from Veco officials or their wives along the way." [Anchorage Daily News, 9/6/06]

Palin Said She Had Begun Working With the White House and Even Talked With Dick Cheney About Alaska's Energy Policy. In her 2007 State of the State Address, Palin said, "Of course, the primary focus of our long-term energy plan can be summed up in three words -- NATURAL GAS PIPELNE! This gasline will fuel our homes, our economy, and careers for Alaskans - for generations. The gasline is critical not just for our future, but for the nation's future. It's also an essential component of our nation's energy policy. Truly, for energy independence, the nation will look to Alaska. We've already begun working with the White House. In fact, I had a nice conversation with Vice President Cheney today. And we are also blessed to have a strong ally in former State Senator Drue Pearce, who's been tasked by the President to get the gasline built. The energy industry is also engaged and I look forward to working with Congress and our legislators - our "partners" to deliver our natural gas to market." [Excerpt from January 17, 2007 State of the State Address]

Palin Took $13,000 from Lobbyists Representing the Oil Industry in Her 2006 Campaign for Governor. The lobbyists who donated to her campaign represent a range of industries, including oil and gas, tobacco, education and the Native Alaskan community. "She's fought oil companies and party bosses and do-nothing bureaucrats and anyone who puts their interests before the interests of the people she swore an oath to serve," Mr. McCain said Friday at an Ohio rally to introduce her as his running mate. But since Mrs. Palin leads a major oil-producing state, that industry is one of her top donors. She collected nearly $13,000 from lobbyists who represent oil and gas industries in her primary and general campaigns, according a review of her campaign donations and 2006 registered state lobbyists. [Washington Times, 9/1/08]

PALIN TODAY: "I told Congress thanks, but no thanks, for that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted to build a bridge, we would build it ourselves."


Palin Was for the Bridge to Nowhere Before She Was Against It. In 2006, Palin was asked, "Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?" She responded, "Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now--while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." [Ancorage Daily News, 10/22/06, republished 08/29/08]

Politifact: Palin's Stance On "The Bridge To Nowhere" Is "A Full Flop." Politfact, a service of CQ and the St. Petersburg Times wrote, "McCain said Palin has 'stopped government from wasting taxpayers' money on things they don't want or need. And when we in Congress decided to build a bridge in Alaska to nowhere for $233-million of yours, she said, we don't want it. If we need it, we'll build our own in Alaska. She's the one that stood up to them.' Nevermind that Alaska didn't give the money back. It spent the money on other transportation projects. The context of Palin's and McCain's recent statements suggest Palin flagged the so-called Bridge to Nowhere project as wasteful spending. But that's not the tune she was singing when she was running for governor, particularly not when she was standing before the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce asking for their vote. And so, we rate Palin's position a Full Flop." [Politifact]

Monday, September 8, 2008

From my cold dead hands...

From the LA Times:

So let us ask the question that should be on the mind of every thinking person in the world at this moment: If John McCain becomes the 44th president of the United States, what are the odds that a blood clot or falling object will make Sarah Palin the 45th?

The actuarial tables on the Social Security Administration website suggest that there is a better than 10% chance that McCain will die during his first term in office. Needless to say, the Reaper's scything only grows more insistent thereafter. Should President McCain survive his first term and get elected to a second, there is a 27% chance that Palin will become the first female U.S. president by 2015. If we take into account McCain's medical history and the pressures of the presidency, the odds probably increase considerably that this bright-eyed Alaskan will become the most powerful woman in history.

Photos: Sarah Palin, north starAs many people have noted, placing Palin on the ticket has made these final months of the already overlong 2008 campaign much more interesting. Is Palin remotely qualified to be president of the United States? No. But that's precisely what is so interesting. McCain not only has thrown all sensible concerns about good governance aside merely to pander to a sliver of female and masses of conservative Christian voters, he has turned this period of American history into an episode of high-stakes reality television: Don't look now, but our cousin Sarah just became leader of the free world! Tune in next week and watch her get sassy with Pakistan!

Americans have an unhealthy desire to see average people promoted to positions of great authority. No one wants an average neurosurgeon or even an average carpenter, but when it comes time to vest a man or woman with more power and responsibility than any person has held in human history, Americans say they want a regular guy, someone just like themselves. President Bush kept his edge on the "Who would you like to have a beer with?" poll question in 2004, and won reelection.

This is one of the many points at which narcissism becomes indistinguishable from masochism. Let me put it plainly: If you want someone just like you to be president of the United States, or even vice president, you deserve whatever dysfunctional society you get. You deserve to be poor, to see the environment despoiled, to watch your children receive a fourth-rate education and to suffer as this country wages -- and loses -- both necessary and unnecessary wars.

McCain has so little respect for the presidency of the United States that he is willing to put the girl next door (soon, too, to be a grandma) into office beside him. He has so little respect for the average American voter that he thinks this reckless and cynical ploy will work.

And it might. Palin's nomination has clearly excited Christian conservatives, and it may entice a few million gender-obsessed fans of Hillary Clinton to vote entirely on the basis of chromosomes. Throw in a few million more average Americans who will just love how the nice lady smiles, and 2009 could be a very interesting year.

Tune in next week and watch cousin Sarah fuss with our nuclear arsenal ... .

Sam Harris is a founder of the Reason Project and the author of "The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation."

I'll Take "Mavericks" for $500, Alex

From Wikipedia:

In October 2005, Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska became the object of strong media criticism when he opposed diverting the Gravina and Knik Arm Bridge funds to help aid recovery from Hurricane Katrina.[8] In his speech on the Senate floor, Stevens threatened to quit Congress if the funds were removed from his state.[9]

In 2005,[10] Congress stripped the specific earmark allocation of federal funds for the two bridges, without changing the amount of money allocated for use by Alaska.[11]

"In September [20th], 2006, Sarah Palin showed up in Ketchikan on her gubernatorial campaign and said the bridge was essential for the town's prosperity." [12][13]During her campaign for Governor, Sarah Palin visited Ketchikan in September of 2006 to address her support for the Gravina Island Bridge project. At a forum in Ketchikan, Palin was seen holding up a t-shirt designed by a Ketchikan artist, Mary Ida Henrikson with "Nowhere Alaska 99901" on it, referencing the buzzword of Bridge to 'Nowhere', and the primary zip code of Ketchikan, Alaska. At the same forum, she was quoted: "OK, you’ve got Valley trash standing here in the middle of nowhere,” Palin said. “I think we’re going to make a good team as we progress that bridge project."[14]

On October 21, 2006 Alaska gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin was quoted saying she would continue state funding for the bridge. "The window is now, while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist," she said.[15]

At a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Wasilla on October 27, 2006, Knowles criticized Palin for supporting the Knik Arm Bridge, Ketchikan's Gravina Island Bridge and the road north out of Juneau instead of rebuilding the Parks Highway. Then when Knowles got to Juneau he promised to build the Juneau road, plus a second bridge to Douglas Island. Only Palin is consistent in support all of the projects...[16]

In August 2007, Alaska's Department of Transportation stated that it was "leaning" toward alternative ferry options, citing bridge costs, despite having already received the funds from the federal government.[17]

The project was canceled in 2007 by bridge supporter [18] [19] [20] [21] Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who changed her view [22] [23] after national public opinion turned against the bridge for being wasteful spending[24]:

“ Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer. Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.
~ AK Gov. Sarah Palin[25]

Asked why she initially supported the bridge, Palin's communications director Bill McAllister said, "It was never at the top of her priority list, and in fact the project isn't necessarily dead … there's still the potential for improved ferry service or even a bridge of a less costly design... She changed her mind, he said, when "she saw that Alaska was being perceived as taking from the country and not giving ..."[26]

On August 29, 2008, when introduced as Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain's running mate, Palin told the crowd: "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere" — a line that garnered big applause but upset political leaders in Ketchikan. Palin's campaign coordinator in the city, Republican Mike Elerding, remarked, "She said 'thanks but no thanks,' but they kept the money." Democratic Mayor Bob Weinstein also criticized Palin for using the very term 'bridge to nowhere' that she had said was insulting when she was in favor of the bridge.[27]

Thanks, but no thanks, Sarah.


What would Dr. Laura do? Who really cares, she's a crazy freak, and even a crazy freak isn't down with Sarah Palin. She will, however, still vote for McCain.

From Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s blog:
I am extremely disappointed in the choice of Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate of the Republican Party….
I’m frankly and sadly caught in the dilemma of having to balance policy versus example in touting a candidate for the office of the First Family…
Role models are very important. Children and young adults look to those who are visible and successful as a road map of what is acceptable behavior and emulate those actions over the morals and values their parents and churches have taught and tried to reinforce. It’s a tough go these days, when the “bad that men or women do” is used for entertainment purposes without judgment, or is excused because of political or financial considerations.
I’m stunned - couldn’t the Republican Party find one competent female with adult children to run for Vice President with McCain? I realize his advisors probably didn’t want a “mature” woman, as the Democrats keep harping on his age. But really, what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down Syndrome, and then goes back to the job of Governor within days of the birth?
I am haunted by the family pictures of the Palins during political photo-ops, showing the eldest daughter, now pregnant with her own child, cuddling the family’s newborn. When Mom and Dad both work full-time (no matter how many folks get involved with the children), it becomes a somewhat chaotic situation. Certainly, if a child becomes ill and is rushed to the hospital, and you’re on the hotline with both Israel and Iran as nuclear tempers are flaring, where’s your attention going to be? Where should your attention be? Well, once you put your hand on the Bible and make that oath, your attention has to be with the government of the United States of America.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

we're supposed to leave her family alone BUT...

John McCain is allowed to say...
"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.”
– Sen. John McCain, speaking to a Republican dinner, June 1998.

And how about that poor, dumb future son-in-law, Levi. Talk about "screwed the pooch!"

How about this ULTRA creepy video of McCain meeting Bristol & Levi. WHAT IS HE DOING TO THEIR ARMS?

As if we needed any more reasons...

1: Palin Tried to Ban Books From Local Library

Thanks to Bush, the Republican Party is not strongly associated with intellectualism. But Sarah Palin has apparently taken the conservative derision for book-learnin' to a whole new level: Timereports that as mayor Palin asked the town librarian how to go about banning books from the local library. News reports from the time show that the librarian, who, strangely enough, was opposed to a tactic commonly employed by totalitarian regimes, had her job threatened for not giving her "full support" to the mayor.

The People for the American Way have issued a statementcondemning Palin's actions and demanding an explanation from her:
People can disagree about a lot of things, but censorship is completely beyond the pale. Our democracy was founded on the belief that government shouldn't tell people what kinds of books to read or what kind of beliefs to hold. No one with that kind of history should be anywhere near the White House. Sarah Palin needs to clarify her stance on freedom of speech immediately, and John McCain needs to explain why he chose a running mate with so little regard for the Constitution.
So far the McCain campaign has been quiet about Palin's attempts to legislate what books people should be allowed to read.

2: Palin Apparently Doesn't Put 'Country First'

A central and integral part of the McCain Campaign's message is "Country First." McCain is a POW who has always put country before personal gain, as he and his handlers have reminded the public time after time after time. So if the vetting process of Palin was as thorough as McCain's people (and McCain himself) have been claiming, how is it that they missed this:

Officials of the Alaskan Independence Party say that Palin was once so independent, she was once a member of their party, which since the 1970s has been pushing for a legal vote for Alaskans to decide whether or not residents of the 49th state can secede from the United States.
And while McCain's motto -- as seen in a new TV ad -- is "Country First," the AIP's motto is the exact opposite -- "Alaska First - Alaska Always."

Lynette Clark, the chairman of the AIP, tells ABC News that Palin and her husband Todd were members in 1994, even attending the 1994 statewide convention in Wasilla. Clark was AIP secretary at the time.

"We are a state's rights party," Clark -- a self-employed goldminer -- tells ABC News. The AIP has "a plank that challenges the legality of the Alaskan statehood vote as illegal and in violation of United Nations charter and international law."

"Alaska First, Alaska Always." Huh, I don't suppose there's a unless-you-are-nominated-to-be-Vice-President clause is there? No, probably not.

3: Palin's Love Affair With Earmarks

McCain, when introducing Palin on Friday in Ohio, praised her as a champion for "reform to end the abuses of earmark spending." When it was Palin's turn to speak she mentioned her claimed opposition to the famous pork barrel project, "the bridge to nowhere" as an example of her tough stance on earmarks. Well we all know it turned out that she was actually for the bridge long before she was against it. Apparently her love affair with earmarksdoesn't end there:

… under her leadership, the state of Alaska has requested 31 earmarks worth $197.8 million in next year's federal budget …

But hey, it was her first shot at being Governor of Alaska. Maybe things were different when she was mayor?
As mayor of the small city of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin appears to have made use of the system she now decries, hiring a Washington lobbyist, Steven Silver, to represent the town.

After he was hired, the city obtained funding for several projects, including a city bus facility that received an earmark valued at $600,000 in 2002. That year a local water and sewer project received $1.5 million in federal earmarks, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog organization.
Hmmm, Steven Silver, why does that name sound familiar? Talking Points Memo is quick to remind us:

… Silver appears to have additional ties that could further undercut Palin's image as a squeaky-clean reformer. According to Senate lobbying disclosure reports examined by TPMmuckraker, from 2002 to 2004 Silver listed as a client Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig. On Greenberg's behalf, Silver lobbied the federal government on "issues relating to Indian/Native American policy," "exploration for oil and gas" and "legislation relating to gaming issues" -- the very issues that Abramoff headed up for Greenberg at the time. In other words, Silver appears to have been a part of "Team Abramoff.

So this is the breath of fresh air that McCain wants in Washington? Earmarks aplenty and links to the infamous Jack Abramoff? If that's a step in the right direction I don't want to see the step in the wrong one.

4: Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms

Not many pregnant teens are as privileged as Bristol Palin. And for those who are not, Sarah Palin made things a little harder a few months ago when she used a line-item veto to cut funding for a transitional home for teen moms in Alaska. According to theWashington Post:

After the legislature passed a spending bill in April, Palin went through the measure reducing and eliminating funds for programs she opposed. Inking her initials on the legislation -- "SP" -- Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million. Covenant House is a mix of programs and shelters for troubled youths, including Passage House, which is a transitional home for teenage mothers.
According to Passage House's web site, its purpose is to provide "young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives" and help teen moms "become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families."

(It certainly doesn't sound like the teen moms were joyriding in Cadillacs on the government's dime, but you never know.)

In classic "compassionate" Conservative fashion, Palin opposes programs that teach girls how not to get pregnant, lobbies against their right to decide whether to have a child, then kills social programs that exist to cushion the impact of those policies. She then has the gall to trot out her own pregnant daughter as a symbol for "family values."

5: Crazy Reverend, Crazy Church

From the age of 12 and for most of her adult life, Sarah Palin attended the Wasilla Assembly of God. Apparently, Sarah Palin's God was a vengeful God; one that made Himself helpful to the Bush Administration from time to time by damning critics of the President, Democrats, and other irredeemable sinners. The Huffington Post writes that the Church's preacher Ed Kalinins:

… preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted to heaven; charged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq were part of a war "contending for your faith;" and said that Jesus "operated from that position of war mode."

Kalinins also offered a nuanced view of foreign policy, preaching that 9/11 and the Iraq war were part of a greater struggle over Christianity, with Jesus playing an important role as a very exacting General:

"What you see in Iraq, basically, is a manifestation of what's going on in this unseen world called the spirit world. … We need to think like Jesus thinks. We are in a time and a season of war, and we need to think like that. We need to develop that instinct. We need to develop as believers the instinct that we are at war, and that war is contending for your faith. … Jesus called us to die. You're worried about getting hurt? He's called us to die.

It can't necessarily be assumed that Palin agrees wholeheartedly with her former pastor. But in an address to the church three months ago, Palin also used disconcertingly religious language to frame the conflict in Iraq:

"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God," she exhorted the congregants. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

Considering how much flak Obama got for the statements of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, this is an issue Palin needs to address.

6: McCain Picking Palin Reeks of Sexism

The McCain campaign is already doing their best to deflect all the negative stories that are coming out about Palin by calling Democrats sexist, and by claiming that they are the party that values women's rights. Of course, Dems had a woman on the presidential ticket in 1984 (Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro) so Republicans aren't breaking glass ceilings here but are actually 24 years late to the party. When it comes to sexism, it seems the party that isn't for equal pay or for a woman's right to choose should take a quick look in the mirror before accusing others of sexism. In fact McCain's idea that women will vote for the McCain/Palin ticket just because Palin has a vagina is incredibly condescending, as Ann Friedman at the American Prospect writes:

Palin's addition to the ticket takes Republican faux-feminism to a whole new level. As Adam Serwer pointed out on TAPPED, this is in fact a condescending move by the GOP. It plays to the assumption that disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters did not care about her politics -- only her gender. In picking Palin, Republicans are lending credence to the sexist assumption that women voters are too stupid to investigate or care about the issues, and merely want to vote for someone who looks like them. As Serwer noted, it's akin to choosing Alan Keyes in an attempt to compete with Obama for votes from black Americans.

A candidate should be chosen because they are qualified for the job, not because of their gender. Any hard working woman whose been passed over for a promotion could have told the McCain campaign that.

7: Palin Can't Even Run a Car Wash

Many politicians have a strong background in business: CEOs, executives, business presidents, self-made millionaires, etc. The thinking is that a businessperson is economically savvy, has executive experience, and can make tough calls and quick decisions. Well Palin has some experience in the private sector: while she was Mayor of Wasilla Palin had time to open up a car wash in Anchorage. Good for her, nothing wrong with a little public service cushioned by some private business while raising a family. But by the time Palin was Governor of Alaska her business had run into trouble, as Matthew Mosk reports for the Washington Post:

State records show the business ran into trouble with Alaska's division of corporations business and professional licensing after Palin became governor of the state in 2006.
A Feb. 11, 2007 letter to the governor's business partner advises that the car wash had "not filed its biennial report and/or paid its biennial fees," which were more than a year overdue.

The warning letter was written on state letterhead, which carried Palin's name at the top, next to the state seal.

On April 3, 2007, the state went further and issued a "certificate of involuntary dissolution" because of the car wash's failure to file its report and pay state licensing fees.

The least you can accuse Palin here is of mismanagement (of a car wash!) and at worst she was abusing her political clout by trying to cut corners. Either way Palin doesn't come off as the kind of executive you'd want running your business, let along your country.

8: Lied About Foreign Travel

In an attempt to inflate her non-existant foreign policy credentials, Palin's spokespeople stated shortly after her nomination that shehad travelled to Germany, Kuwait, and Ireland: you know, the three countries most likely to give rise to catastrophic national security emergencies in the next four years.

But not only is Palin's travel history unimpressive, it was also being blatantly misrepesented. According Jim Aravois an Irish blogger has just revealed that Palin was in Ireland for a brief refueling layover.

And as Aravosis argues, Palin's lack of travel experience outside of "duty-free-diplomacy" has major implications:

… John McCain, who is 72 and has had 4 bouts of cancer, [has] picked Sarah Palin to replace him as commander in chief should he die or be incapacitated in office.

Taken from:

Decide how crazy Mrs. Palin is here.