So, What’s Next for Sarah Palin?

5 11 2008

palin-183

Sarah Palin has taken the collective soul of national politics, divided and conquered. In eight short weeks, a political unknown from Alaska went from hockey mom Governor, to national megastar, and finally came to rest with the simultaneous titles of “Conservative Rising Star” and “Most Feared Woman in America”. It’s been quite a ride.

Alaskans are sitting here wondering exactly what will happen. A political hush has fallen on the land. There’s been a lot happening up here while our Governor was whisked away to tour the nation, soak up the limelight in front of cheering crowds, and get a taste of political life outside her borders. She was confident, she told us. Confident in her readiness. She was wired for the mission. And no one who was paying attention would argue that point.

But, what IS the mission? When Palin was asked, months before her selection as the VP running mate for John McCain, if she was interested in the position, she came back with her now famous quote, “I’d have to know what it is that the VP does every day.” But, she then went on to say that she would need to know that the position would be “fruitful, especially for Alaska.” She finished up the interview by saying, “This job is pretty cool too.” That made Alaskans feel good. It made us feel like our Governor was special enough to be considered for a spot on the presidential ticket, but wans’t interested in all that. She was thinking of us first, and her commitment to the people of Alaska.

Then a strange transformation began to happen before our eyes. After the surprise nomination, and the subsequent campaigning, our hometown girl started acting differently. Maybe it was the crowds, maybe it was the taste of power, maybe it was Neiman Marcus. But suddenly here was our governor talking about expanding the powers of the Vice President, dropping tens of thousands of dollars in other people’s money on fancy clothes, smearing local politicians and public servants back home, and dropping hints that she’s entered the national scene and may not want to leave, at least for the long term. That was a lot to take for many Alaskans.

We sort of feel like the high school sweetheart whose steady girlfriend went off to the big city and found somebody better, somebody more worldly, somebody with more money, and dropped us like a hot potato. Only now he broke up with her, and she’s on her way back. Awkward.

It remains to be seen if Alaska, the jilted boyfriend will take Sarah back. There are lots of fences to be mended, and relationship counseling in our future. While there are many Sarah fans who will welcome her back with open arms, there are many who have turned their back, and others who feel downright vengeful. It will be a tangled knot to untie.

The Alaska Legislature upon whose bipartisan support Palin depended to actually accomplish things is now fractured. She never had solid Republican support, and depended heavily on friendly Democrats…friendly Democrats that she didn’t think twice about throwing under the bus during the Troopergate investigation. Keep in mind that when I refer to “the Troopergate investigation”, I mean the real one, conducted by the Alaska State Legislature. I don’t mean the one that Palin instigated herself, to investigate herself, to clear herself which was conducted by a 3-person board, appointed by the governor, that reports to Palin herself. Just so we’re clear on that point.

Chances are, too, that the very engaged, very motivated Obama supporters in Alaska were not too pleased with our Governor as she whipped crowds across the nation into a froth about their candidate “palling around with terrorists (plural),” resulting in shouts of “Kill him” and “Terrorist”. We now learn that Palin decided to bring Bill Ayers into the picture without clearing it with the McCain campaign, and that the Secret Service reported an upsurge in threats against the President Elect and his family right around the time that Palin began amping up the divisive rhetoric.

And don’t forget, Palin asked for Republican Senator, and Alaska political icon Ted Stevens to step down after his seven felony convictions for failure to disclose gifts on his Senate disclosure forms. This may seem like an eminently rational thing to do, but remember that Stevens is currently out front in this hotly debated Senate race. The results are so close, we won’t know for two weeks whether Alaskans have indeed elected an 84-year old convicted felon to the U.S. senate. But about half of Alaskans like him enough, despite that fact, to vote for him anyway. This is Stevens country, and Uncle Ted’s troops will be looking at Palin with a critical eye when she pops back into our lives, after shoving him on to the ice floe in front of the nation.

This is the new Sarah Palin, who went from an approval rating hovering at 90% after her election, to inspiring the largest political rally in the history of Alaska – not a rally to congratulate her, but a rally to demand that she come clean with her promise of “open, honest, and transparent” government. And then there was the second-biggest political rally – Alaska Women Reject Palin. And the third biggest – Alaskans for Obama. Any way you look at it, there is now a rabid, engaged group of considerable size that opposes Palin with every fiber of their being, where there used to be none at all.

But, this is also the same Palin who got a hundred or so supporters to line the streets in Wasilla before daybreak to wave signs as her motorcade passed on the way to the airport to join John McCain after she voted in Wasilla on the morning of the 4th. And this is the same Sarah Palin on the presidential ticket that won the state of Alaska handily, despite the amazing organization of the opposition.

Palin has sliced her state down the middle and polarized her constituents in a way that I would not have imagined possible just a few months ago. The majority of Alaskans still support her, but her negative ratings have soared as Alaskans and the rest of the country have gotten to know her, and her political life will not be the cake walk it once was. And there are many investigations, and skeletons in the closet that are just beginning to emerge.

As for her future aspirations? She refuses to give a clear cut answer about 2012, saying that “Oh, you know, it seems like so far.” But Palin has tipped her hand as a political opportunist, and as one who has tasted power, celebrity and adoring crowds, and she likes what she sees. How will she handle going back to li’l old Wasilla? It’s anyone’s guess.

Her next opportunity to move upward on the national politial scene comes if Ted Stevens is elected, and subsequently expelled by the Senate. She is not able to appoint herself or anyone else to the seat, but she is eligible to run for that seat in a special election. Failing that, the next window of opportunity comes in 2010, when Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski is up for re-election, as is Republican Congressman Don Young. It is also the year she would run for her next term as Governor. There are many options, but there is a lot of ground to cover between now and then.

Has she so damaged herself politically in the state, that she will become an ineffective Governor, and one-term wonder? Has her foray into national politics captured the imagination of the people so much that they will want to see her back in DC, perhaps making her own presidential bid? Has the national Christian Conservative base found their dream girl? Or has the country, perhaps, in its landslide election of President Elect Obama shown itself to have evolved beyond the culture wars, and to have transcended the divisive politics of the past which Palin has now come to symbolize for so many.

It may be that Palin has found her national niche, but that this niche, with the help of a two-term Bush presidency and a weary nation, has proven too narrow to wield any actual power in turning a national election. Whatever the outcome, there is no question that Sarah Palin has been let out of the box.





What the VP Does…Every Day.

21 10 2008

I remember when this clip first came out:

That’s when I sat here smugly, thinking, “Well, there goes THAT!” We had heard rumors about Palin being on the short list for VP, but this clip cemented it in my head. Nobody, I mean NObody could possibly pick this woman who actually admitted on camera that they have no idea what the VP does. It would be political suicide! She’d be a mockery, and so would the one who picked her! (chuckling) Whew! Case closed.

At the time this interview was done, there had been plenty of talk up here about Sarah Palin as a potential VP. She knew about this…it wasn’t just a question she was asked out of the blue.

So, if you knew that you were being considered for the position of Vice President of the United States, AND you realized that you did not in fact know what the responsibilities of the postition were, wouldn’t you…I don’t know… look it up?   Just out of curiosity?  It’s not like the job responsibilities are tucked away in some dusty book vault, and you have to apply for a permit to get in and research it.  It’s all right there in the Constitution. 

Not bothering to figure it out, and saying that “someone will have to explain to me” goes beyond intellectual laziness. It’s intellectual disinterest.

OK, now imagine that you were actually chosen to be your party’s VP nominee. You still haven’t found out what the job responsibilities are…you’d better get with it! You can either Google “US Constituion” or check out the Wikipedia entry, or you could ask somebody, because you’re now surrounded by people who ought to know these kinds of things. Here’s WIkipedia.

The formal powers and role of the vice president are limited by the Constitution to becoming President should the President become unable to serve (e.g. due to the death, resignation, or medical impairment of the President) and acting as the presiding officer of the U.S. Senate. As President of the Senate, the Vice President has two primary duties: to cast a vote in the event of a Senate deadlock to cast a vote in the event of a Senate deadlock and to preside over and certify the official vote count of the U.S. Electoral College. For example, in the first half of 2001, the Senators were divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats and Dick Cheney’s tie-breaking vote gave the Republicans the Senate majority.

The informal roles and functions of the Vice President depend on the specific relationship between the President and the Vice President, but often include drafter and spokesperson for the administration’s policy, as an adviser to the president, as Chairman of the Board of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a Member of the board of the Smithsonian and as a symbol of American concern or support.

Read that again, if you need to.  Got it?  OK, here’s Sarah Palin’s take on that.

Aw, that’s something that Piper would ask me, as a second grader, also. That’s a great question, Brandon, and a Vice President has a really great job, because no only are they there to support the President agenda, they’re like a team member, the team mate to that President. But also, they’re in charge of the United States Senate, so if they want to they can really get in there with the Senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom. And it’s a great job and I look forward to having that job.

That’s a question that Piper would ask?  Ahem…Governor?  That’s a question YOU would ask!  (See first video)

I think she must have just seen the words “President of the Senate” and then…..(cue harp music..everything goes gauzy and sparkly, as Sarah Palin walks into the Senate chambers with a big bull whip, clacking down the aisle in her shiny red pumps, and sliding in to the throne President’s seat….)  No need to read further.  Why ruin it?

Besides her obvious lack of qualification for the main duty of the VP (be ready to become President), there’s one Vice Presidential duty of which I was actually unaware, and frankly,  it makes me a little concerned. The Vice President is Chairman of the Board of NASA?  So, if she wins, Sarah Palin would literally be in charge of a board of rocket scientists? The mind reels. But there is one duty listed above in which she has already proven herself more than qualified. I think we can all safely say that Sarah Palin has truly become a “symbol of American concern.”

As I watched that second video, I was trying to figure out what the heck she was wearing…  It looked like some kind of plastic, red, zip-up thing.  Was it some kind of retro 80s thing?  Was she afraid it was going to start raining in the studio?  Was it the prototype for the new Republicanized NASA jumpsuit?    What WAS that??  Then I come to find out, it’s a brand new red leather jacket purchased for her by the Republican National Committee, along with the rest of the Palin family’s new $150,000 wardrobe.  Yes, they spent campaign money to deck out the Palins in some fancy new duds.  Joe Sixpack eat your heart out!   Guess she liked that jacket so much, she left it on for the interview.  Think she’ll sleep in it?

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Palin Rumored to Be Giving Interview

7 09 2008

My friends, the transformation is almost complete.  After sequestration with Joe Lieberman and the rest of the Republican political brain surgeons, the new and improved Sarah Palin, head now full of fun new facts about foreign policy, international relations, and the economy is nearly ready for her formal debut.

Rumor has it that she will be granting her very first interview since her selection as John McCain’s running mate on August 29th.  The lucky winner?  ABC news and Charles Gibson.  When?  Some time in midweek.  Where?  In Alaska, believe it or not.  This interview, which falls nearly two full weeks after her selection, far exceeds the amount of time taken by any other candidate in history to speak off script. It still comes earlier than many expected.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said Sunday that Palin would be made available “when we think it’s time and when she feels comfortable doing it.”

So, apparently, no thanks to all of us, Palin has somehow reached the level of personal comfort necessary to speak to the American people without a script.  Has she memorized enough 3×5 cards full of talking points to pull it off?  Will Charles Gibson throw softballs, or will he ask actual questions about her record, her preparedness, and her policy?  Will she crumble in front of our very eyes?  Or will the newly dubbed ‘Caribou Barbie’ live to fight another day?

The news of the interview was leaked under condition of anonymity, so we’ll have to wait and see how the details materialize.  But it does seem to indicate that her flight north will come in the next couple of days.  It also indicates that Alaskans may be running into Charles Gibson at Jammin’ Java in downtown Anchorage, or having a cold one at the Moose’s Tooth Pizza Pub. 

When will she actually have a press conference?  According to Davis, not “until the point in time when she’ll be treated with respect and deference”.  When the Republicans make THAT call is anyone’s guess.





Palin Sunday Funnies.

7 09 2008

Behold, Caribou Barbie from the fine folks at College OTR

Comes with everything you see here:  Dead caribou, M-16, snowmobile, sexy librarian glasses.  She even talks with such phrases as: “I’m a pit bull with lipstick!” “My family is off-limits” and “What is it that the VP actually does?”

  • There’s a Facebook group with 26,000 members called “I have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin.” Members talk about living next to Greeks or studying Spanish. You need an account to visit the spot.

 

  • Best joke of the week:  What’s the difference between Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney?     Lipstick.

 

The Gotcha Award:  Karl Rove talking about Obama’s potential VP selection, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

This one gets me every time.  Watch the explanatory hand gestures and finger pointing.  It makes it much easier to understand the concept.

Enjoy!  I’m off for a day of zen…





Palin on the Honor System. No Subpoena. Yet.

5 09 2008

Alaska legislators are preparing to issue subpoenas as part of an investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin’s handling of the “Troopergate” affair, but Palin herself won’t be hit with one.

State Sen. Hollis French, the Anchorage Democrat who is managing the probe into Palin’s firing of her former public safety commissioner, said legislators decided not to subpoena Palin as a gesture to calm what has become a tense standoff between the Legislature and the newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee.

“We’re trying to de-escalate the situation. We just want the truth, clear the air,” French said.

However, legislators still want their investigator to interview Palin.

Hollis French, who was just interviewed on KUDO progressive talk radio in Anchorage said, “The governor says she will cooperate, and we have no reason to disbelieve her.  She’s said it 6, 7, 8 times.  She’s said it so many times, it seems illogical that she wouldn’t show up.”  When asked what would happen if she did refuse to testify, he said, “We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.”  (*Note to Senator French – Please…no bridge metaphors.)

French also expressed disgust at Frank Baily, the Palin staffer who refused to show up for his scheduled deposition, noting that he’s currently on paid administrative leave and is “making $78,000 a year while he sits home,” refusing to testify and winning the prize for most irritating use of government funds in the state of Alaska.

State Senator Johnny Ellis (well respected and bipartisan) also made an appearance on KUDO, and stated that he firmly believed that no vetting process had happened.  He was in contact with anyone who’s anyone in Republican circles, and no one was contacted about anything.  Only Palin’s lawyer has claimed to have been contacted by the McCain camp, but never specified whether it was before or after she was selected.  He wrapped it up by saying that he felt if we asked ourselves the question in our heart of hearts, no matter how we may feel about Palin personally, she is definitely not qualified to be the commander in chief, and leader of the free world.





Palin Vetting Documents from 2006. For Hard Core Palin Addicts Only.

5 09 2008

In 2006, when Sarah Palin ran for Governor of Alaska, the Democrats (unlike the Republicans of 2008) vetted her. The documentation is extensive, and was published online.

Recently, the link from various websites including Politico to the documents went dead. Then it came back. Then it went dead. Then it came back. You get the idea. Considering the tendency for things to vanish these days, and thanks to a reader of Mudflats, you may now peruse the document in its entirety below.

It’s 63 pages, so be warned. I suggest using the table of contents on page two to guide you on this “more than you ever wanted to know about Palin tour.” I wonder how long McCain’s document was?

palin-2006-vetting





Hillary’s Mad…This Oughtta Be Good.

4 09 2008

When I heard, on Friday that Hillary Clinton had commented on the Palin nomination, I was ready for it. I’m not sure what I was expecting but when I heard her, I almost choked. I was expecting something forceful, something strong and assertive, something…well…Hillary. Instead was a lukewarm congratulations.

Gulp.

Perhaps Hillary was as much in shock as the rest of us, and needed a little time to regroup. I’ve been drumming my fingers, waiting for the regrouping to be complete, and honestly, I was starting to worry a little. The Clintons have the power to make people nervous. You never know quite what they’re up to. But the New York Times reported that Hillary’s miffed, and miffed big time.

Mrs. Clinton’s friends said she was galled that Ms. Palin might try to capitalize on a movement that Mrs. Clinton, of New York, built among women in the primaries.

Clinton advisers said they expected that a bloc of her female supporters would give Mr. McCain a second look because of Ms. Palin, and that Mrs. Clinton was probably Mr. Obama’s best weapon in response.

So back Hillary goes to the “Rust Belt” states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, presumably to talk some sense into the women who are considering a vote for Palin based upon matching body parts. I’d like to think that women as a collective are way smarter than that, but there’s no harm in bringing out the big gun if she’s willing and able.

Now, if the Republican Convention would hurry up and be over with, we can get on to the real campaigning. Obama/Biden, for the first time broke the 50% barrier in national polling, garnering an 8 point lead over McCain/Palin. The polls were taken over the weekend, so at least initially, the Palin pick showed no bounce. She may see a bouncelet after her acceptance speech last night. She speaks with energy, and sincerity, and as it has been said, “Sarah Palin will look you straight in the eye and tell you black is white.” She dazzled in comparison to the parade of wrinkly old white guys that preceded her, but the effect may not last through the media vetting, and the debate with Joe Biden. And there are many more scandals coming down the pike.

So Hillary, come out, come out, wherever you are!





A Letter About Sarah Palin from Anne Kilkenny

4 09 2008

This letter has been circulating for a couple days now, and I thought I’d post it in full for those who haven’t had a chance to read it. One of the best ways to become informed about local politics is by attending city council/assembly meetings. I know this from mind-numbing, clock-staring, experience. There’s no substitute for butt-in-the-chair observation, no matter how awful it is to sit for hours on end listening to a bunch of bloviating local politicians. But it’s difficult not to show who you are.

This letter is written by someone who knows Sarah Palin, lives in Wasilla, and has city council lurker cred. (There ought to be a badge for that.) I think that babygate is on the way out of the news cycle, and the next aspect of her life to come under scrutiny will be her tenure as mayor. This is a good place to start. And thanks to Anne Kilkenny for speaking out. Wasilla is a small town. It takes a certain amount of conviction and downright bravery to lay it all out there like this. So a hat tip and a big sweeping bow to Anne.

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992.
Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a
first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her
father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a
first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more
City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the
residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular
girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and
won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because
she is a “babe”.

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She
kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents
for seven months.

She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby.
There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out
there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a
champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly
sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his
work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or
so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their
major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything
like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She’s smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000
(at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about
670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running
this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been
pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had
gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had
given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6
years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over
33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the
City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation
(1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she
promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they
benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration
weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed
money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it
with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage
the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said
she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a
new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a
multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece
of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was
still in litigation 7 yrs later–to the delight of the lawyers
involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the
community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it
would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that
could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office
redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus
in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will
make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she
proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she
recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while
she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s
surplus, borrow for needs.

She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas
or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by
her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the
basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected
City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from
the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents
rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s
attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew
her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the
Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for
Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin
fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as
Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people,
creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally
grateful and fiercely loyal–loyal to the point of abusing their power
to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the
case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated”
her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top
cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure
and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that
an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t
fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation
for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen
contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she
later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to
replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded
for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew
her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in
help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town
introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council
became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She
abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t
like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything
publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got
the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one
of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no
background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great
job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the
high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the
structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this
Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party)
engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some
undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all
her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and
garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a
gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit,
exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from
Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel
politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to
nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget
guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing
projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative
action restored most of these projects–which had been vetoed simply
because she was not aware of their importance–but with the unobservant
she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party
leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated
them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a
fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah.
They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and
predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly
stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made
point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah’s
mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and
experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package
of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march
to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to
global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state
initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from
pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the
state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s
lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar
bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a
heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more
knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are
regretting it.

CLAIM VS FACT
•“Hockey mom”: true for a few years
•“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary
school, not since
•“NRA supporter”: absolutely true
•social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill
that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships
(said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to
promote it.
•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby
BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life
legislation
•“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has
residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska.
No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on
supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city
administrator to run town of about 5,000.
•political maverick: not at all
•gutsy: absolutely!
•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at
explaining actions.
•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores
and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city
without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built
streets to early 20th century standards.
•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on
residents
•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city
government in Wasilla’s history.
•pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union
doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim
that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

WHY AM I WRITING THIS?

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed
voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting
programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny +
Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local
government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen
when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because
few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out
of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no
fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will
cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100
or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s
attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to
say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

CAVEATS
I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in
spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor)
from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of
Wasilla, and I can’t recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust
for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible
for a private person to get any info out of City Hall–they are
swamped. So I can’t verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the
population of Wasilla, ranging from my “about 5,000″, up to 9,000. The
day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the
current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was
5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to
2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.

Anne Kilkenny





Palin-Palooza Wrap Up.

4 09 2008

Part of me really didn’t want to watch last night. Several of my friends here in Anchorage couldn’t bring themselves to do it, and I understand why. Doubtless there are many others in Alaska who were glued to their sets. I knew Palin would deliver the speech well, considering her sportscasting experience. I knew she’d look good, and have an air of sincerity and straight talk. But I also knew she didn’t actually write the speech, so this was going to be more a test of delivery rather than a thoughtful dissertation full of policy details. But I watched anyway. It was kind of like a personal test of strength. I passed.

The stunner of the speech for me? “I said thanks, but no thanks to that Bridge to Nowhere”. Frankly, I was surprised she said it the first time, shocked she said it the second time, but again? Almost incomprehensible. This must be her test to see if that old George Bush theory that if you say something enough, people will just believe it, is true. No other explanation seems possible. This is easy to fact check. Really easy. Palin decided she didn’t want the bridge when she learned that Alaska would have to pay too much for it. If Stevens and Young had been able to pull it off, we’d be motoring to Gravina Island right now.

The nastiness of the speech surprised me a bit too. I had imagined that she’d be playing the Mom card – sensitive, caring, tough when she had to be, but the feel-good human side of the Republican party. It would have made it much more difficult for Joe Biden to flay her in the debate without looking mean. But time and time again, she stuck it to Obama with relish, and not on policy either. She talked about elitism, lack of ‘executive experience’, did the whole “parting the waters and saving the world” snark, mocked the use of the dreaded columns at Mile High Stadium, and criticized the Obama logo. Are we really reduced to logo bashing? McCain has been on the wrong side of so many issues that matter to people in this election, there’s obviously nothing left. And that’s what gives me comfort.

But the cherry on top was her sneering, snarky comment about how being a mayor was like being a community organizer, only with “actual responsibility”.

A commenter on this blog summed it up so well: (hat tip MH& metafilter.com)

“Jesus was a Community Organizer, and Pontias Pilate was a Governor.”

Can we cram that all on to a bumper sticker, or will we only be able to make t-shirts…

The fact that this derision of community organizers was met with rousing applause by the delegates did nothing but cement the fact for many viewers that this is really the opinion, and the spirit of the Republican ‘base’. What did all the good-hearted Republican community organizers out there watching the speech think, not only of the comment, but of the reaction from their own party? Whoever the speech writer was, it became apparent rather quickly they were going for zingers, barbs, and clever one-liners, and not really thinking much about how the non-bloodthirsty segment of the viewing audience would feel about it.

Sarah Palin was the Hail Mary pass of the GOP. The McCain campaign is counting on voters being dazzled by the package, enchanted with the newness, and pumped up by the fightin’ spirit of this unusual political figure. And they are also counting on the fact that most people will go no deeper than that.

Soon the Republican convention will be wrapping up, and we’ll be ready to move to the next phase of the campaign. How will Palin fare in an actual interview? What will happen in the debate with Joe Biden, who just said he would be “unrelenting” in his challenge of Palin? What will Hillary Clinton have to say about this? Stay tuned.





Palin’s Pitbull Problem.

4 09 2008

Hoo. OK. Before I get out the mud boots and shovel my way through the steaming pile of speech that Sarah Palin deposited on the stage of the Republican Convention last night, let me mention one thing that might be lost to most Americans – a telling little footnote.

Believe it or not, despite the unbelievable political news that’s been happening in Alaska lately (indictment of Senator Ted Stevens, investigation of Rep. Don Young, and all of the Palin antics) there’s really not that much else going on here. If you went throught the Anchorage Daily News wtih a pair of scissors, and removed the stories about politics, you’d end up with a quirky assortment of news that most people in the Lower 48 would consider not very newsworthy. The local news covers the high school basketball games.

Just so you get the idea, here are a few headline, front page news stories from the past few weeks:

Electronic scarecrows haze ravens from utility equipment

Orphaned Bear Cub Eludes Fish & Game Agents

Missing Hikers Found in Denali

In a small community, these are the kinds of things that really ARE news.

So last night, as I watched Palin’s debut on the national stage, something struck me. First, of course, she was polished and poised and handling her new found celebrity with confidence. She even pulled off an ad lib that was her greatest laugh line of the night. In response to the homemade “Hockey Moms for Palin” signs that were being held aloft, she said, “I love those hockey moms. You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick!” (thunderous laughter and applause from the crowd)

Now let me share with you another of those headline stories from three weeks ago:

Child Taken Off Life Support After Pit Bull Attack.

This was the big news story in Alaska for several days that week. A child and her babysitter were viciously attacked by the family pet pit bull. The owner surrendered the dog, waited for the girls father to return from his deployment in Iraq, and watched as his six-year-old daughter was taken off life support after she went into an irreversably vegetative state.

I don’t know how other Alaska residents felt about the pit bull joke, and obviously her audience loved it, but most of us here in “small town America” probably didn’t find it particularly funny.

Cross posted on Huffington Post





Alaska Progressive Radio is Online! Breaking News.

3 09 2008

The revamping of local Anchorage progressive talk radio station KUDO 1080am came at a bad time. Little did they know Palin would be in the national and international spotlight this week.

But, they now have a live feed. The local programming is excellent and will give you a good idea of Alaska reaction.

7am-9am – Cary Carrigan Show

3pm-6pm – CC and her show Cutting Edge.

Shows are listed Alaska time, which is one hour earlier than Pacific time.

CC is on right now talking about the Republican party’s calling our legitimate questioning of the Palin choice as a “phony media scandal to destroy her.”

Also breaking news on the Monegan case. Palin has just filed an ethics complaint against…herself. This is not a joke. This is the only way she can activate the 3-person Palin-appointed board whose job is to deal with ethics complaints, thereby circumventing the Alaska State Legistlature’s investigation that she thinks may come down against her. I just heard a caller say the word “impeachment”.

Check it out – HERE





The Alaskan Independence Party. We Are Outta Here!

3 09 2008

The Alaskan Independence Party…. Everyone is wondering what it’s all about.

First, it’s important to understand that Alaskans’ party affiliation is quite different than the rest of the country. More than 50% of registered voters are registered as Independent or Non-Partisan.

Alaskans don’t like being put in a box. And although political opinion varies widely, there is a common thread that runs through most Alaskans, regardless of their party affiliation, or lack thereof – Libertarianism. You’ll find Conservative Libertarians, Liberal Libertarians, and Independent Libertarians.

Living in Alaska is very much like living in another country as it is. We are geographically, financially, and philosophically isolated and we like it that way. People don’t live here because they want to be connected, and in the middle of it all. It is not uncommon for Alaskans traveling to other states to say, “I’m going ‘to the states'”, or “I am going outside” (and they don’t mean to the backyard). This is something that doesn’t sink in with most tourists and visitors. We love tourists and visitors. But we like it when they leave, and Alaska gets back to normal.

When I first moved to Alaska, I was astounded by how often people talked about being Alaskan, doing Alaskan things, supporting Alaskan owned businesses, ….Alaska Alaska Alaska. I thought, “What’s with all this Alaska talk?” After almost two decades, I realize that being up here, thousands of miles from the nearest U.S. city, fosters a ‘band of brothers’ mentality. For those of you who have never been here, imagine boarding a plane in Seattle and flying four hours north. We may be technically part of the U.S., but we are far far away. Hawaiians may understand what I mean.

Many old time Alaskans who were here long before statehood, look back on those days fondly. They reminisce fondly about the time before the Federal Government locked up our land, told them where and when they could hunt, fish, mine, and where they could use all terrain vehicles. Things were just fine up here before the damned government stuck their noses into our business and started running our lives. Those over-educated, elitist, radical environmentalists are out to rob us of our way of life….grumble, grumble. This is how many Alaskans, especially rural residents, think. The term “radical environmentalist” is used routinely, mostly by the republican party, in stump speeches, TV interviews, and campaign materials as an example of everything that’s wrong up here.

So. That being said, I asked my spouse, who was born way up in rural Alaska, before statehood, about the AIP. “What a bunch of wackos”, was the answer. Don’t get me wrong, no one is going to lock up their children if they see the AIP coming, but they are kind of like the craziest uncle in a family of crazy uncles. You love your crazy uncle, but he’s still a crazy uncle.

The party was founded by Joe Voegler, a true Alaskan ‘character’, and captain of the crazy uncles. Voegler, an uber-Libertarian, was known by many old timers who were here before the pipeline days in the 1970s that brought in all the ‘oil people’ from Texas and points south. Real old timers don’t like THEM either, but that’s another story for another day. The 70s also saw huge areas of Alaska land locked up as Federal, and Native lands.

Alaska was given a choice in 1958 to vote on one of the following:

1) Remain a Territory.
2) Become a separate and Independent Nation.
3) Accept Commonwealth status.
4) Become a State.

The vote never happened, but we did become a state. The AIP feels gyped, and wants that vote. They have been holding this lack of closure close to their hearts for the last 50 years, and they will. not. give. it. up. Now, obviously Alaska did indeed become a state. So it’s pretty obvious that if #4 was a popular choice with the AIP, they would have no need to exist. There may be those out there that would cast their vote for #1 or #3, but I’ve never met them. I know a few people who are members of AIP, and they are all pro-secession. If they could wave a magic wand, Alaska would be its own country. Pling! (magic wand noise)

The reason they are not regarded as dangerous anarchists is because of the pervading philosophical climate of Alaska, and it’s naturally independent streak. They are just one end of the ‘normal’ political spectrum here. If you lived in Colorado, and joined a political party that was seeking to make Colorado its own country, it would fall much farther outside mainstream thinking.

From the AIP website:

The Alaskan Independence Party can be summed up in just two words:

ALASKA FIRST!

Until we as Alaskans receive our Ultimate Goal, the AIP will continue to strive to make Alaska a better place to live with less government interference in our everyday lives.

That’s the message. ALASKA FIRST, in contrast to the theme of the convention at which Palin will speak tonight, ‘Country First’. Reports are conflicting about whether Sarah Palin was a member of the AIP. The current party chair says yes, but the official records don’t jibe. But her husband Todd was a member of AIP for several years, and his membership clearly implies a preference for secession. Otherwise, why join?

The thing to remember here is that the Alaska First mentality runs deep in Sarah Palin. When she first was asked on camera about her opinions on becoming the VP candidate, and after saying she’d need to find out “what it is that the Vice President does every day”, said that she would only accept if she thought her position there would be “fruitful” for the state of Alaska. Her son Track has a tattoo of the state of Alaska (and a Jesus fish tattoo). Do people from California, or New Mexico, or Pennsylvania have tattoos of their state map? Probably not. Here? Pretty mainstream. Even her children all have “Alaskan” names. Bristol? Bristol Bay. Piper? Piper Cub airplane. Willow? The town north of Wasilla. Trig Paxson? Another town further north of Wasilla. Track? Generic outdoorsy, but we’ll take it.

When Alaskans travel outside the country, and people ask us where we’re from, we don’t say The United States. We don’t say “We’re Americans”. We say that we are Alaskans. We really think of ourselves as Alaskans first. (And people in foreign countries tend to not hate us as much).

The other important thing to note is that Sarah Palin did deliver the opening address at the 2008 Alaskan Independence Party convention saying that the Alaskan Independence Party “plays an important role in state politics” and that she “shares [the party’s] vision of upholding the Alaska constitution”, with the implication that she supports ‘the vote’, and wishes them luck on a successful convention. She was present, and encouraging and supportive.

So, should everyone down in “the states” be concerned about Todd and Sarah’s affiliation with this group? Alaskans would probably say no. ‘Outsiders’ would probably say yes. There’s no real chance that AIP candidates will take over the state, and Alaska will secede from the union. AIP candidates don’t win elections. All 50 stars will remain on the stars & stripes, so no need to race out and buy stock in flag manufacturing companies just yet. But understand that the “Alaska First” mentality is very real, and that Sarah Palin was born and raised with this mentality and has a fierce loyalty and dedication to all things Alaskan (except polar bears). For a country of people who have, until recently, barely even given Alaska a thought, understand that Alaska will be very very high on the priority list of your potential next Vice President. Alaskans know this and that is why many Alaskans are so supportive of this candidacy. Many feel sad at the prospect of losing her as governor, but this is mitigated by the fact that they know Alaska’s priorities will become top of the list. Although Alaska is geographically the largest state by far, Sarah Palin has lived in a very small world. And that world is very self-focused and for the most part looks at the rest of Americans as distant cousins.

Some here would call AIP a group of independent mavericks. Some would call them whack jobs. Some would argue there’s a fine line. Most would agree with the “Alaska First” slogan.

So, if the AIP got their way and had that vote they never got in 1958, would we vote for secession? Probably not. But, it might be closer than you think.