Sarah Palin’s Preacher Problem. End Times Coming?

2 09 2008

Good Lord. Another ‘gate’. Just talked to one of our local progressive radio talk show hosts (yes, we have them in Alaska!) and she said her head is spinning. Mine is too. No one knows where to turn. Keeping up with the tidal wave of what’s hitting the fan in Alaska is fast becoming a full-time job. It feels like that old-time video game “Centipede”. It’s easy at first to blast those little centipedes as they work their way down the screen, but the longer you play the faster they come and bigger they get, and the more you have to work to keep them in check.

There’s fundraising for indicted senator Ted Stevens’ 547, not actually knowing “what the VP does all day”, her affiliation with the secessionist Alaska Independence Party, earmarks after earmarks for her small town projects, zero international experience, Troopergate, Babygate, Dairygate, Bridgegate, Toddgate, and now…..Churchgate.

I’ve picked this particular centipede today, (shall we call it the Jesus-pede?) because this is something that crosses the line between a candidate who is unqualified, and a candidate that is not using the same play book as most of the rest of us.

I did a drive-by of Palin’s church when I was traveling through Wasilla yesterday, not realizing the furor that would be churning the blogosphere less than 24-hours later about a speech Palin delivered there only three months ago. Here’s what she said regarding the war 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.”

Let that sink in a minute. A task that is from God. Sarah’s war is a holy war. It’s not, apparently from the God that says “turn the other cheek” or “I am my brother’s keeper” or “the greatest of all these is love”. It’s not about diplomacy, international relations, figuring out why we are so despised in the Middle East, keeping Israel secure, revamping how the U.S. deals with its unsustainable dependence on foreign oil, combating poverty and desperation that leads young men to terrorism. Nope. This war is God’s will. It’s God’s holy war. She went on:

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.

So the plan is to pray for a plan? Perhaps it would have been better to pray for a plan beFORE we went to Iraq. Better still to sit down and create a plan – a thoughtful, intelligent, human-type plan.

Knowing that Palin has only been out of the country once, in 2007, to visit the Alaska Guard in Kuwait, we rightfully wonder what might influence her international policy. How will her decisions be made? What is her style of governance? Well, folks, this might just be it. Pray for a plan and hope it’s the right one.

Beyond that one speech she made in June, what else do we know about Palin’s church? Good question. Anchroage residents, who comprise the vast majority of the population in this region of Alaska, know that Wasilla is the heart of Alaska’s Valley Bible Belt. This is evidenced by the dozens and dozens of roadside churches, the Christian schools and bookstores, and how many people are wearing crosses in the local supermarket. But I, and most others I know really don’t know much more than that. But, the press, bloggers, and curious citizens are now McCain’s post-facto vetting team, and they are opening can after can of worms.

Let’s break the vacuum seal on that latest can, shall we? (giant sucking sound, behold worms) This is from Ed Kalnins, the senior pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God. Palin attended here for most of her adult life, until her new affiliation with a similar church in the state’s capitol, Juneau:

What you see in a terrorist — that’s called the invisible enemy. There has always been an invisible enemy. 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. Listen, you know we can’t even follow him unless you are willing to give up your life. … I believe that Jesus himself operated from that position of war mode. Everyone say “war mode.” Now you say, wait a minute Ed, he’s like the good shepherd, he’s loving all the time and he’s kind all the time. Oh yes he is — but I also believe that he had a part of his thoughts that knew that he was in a war.

How will the Republican party and the pundits handle Palin’s “Reverend Wright Moment”? Did McCain vet her on matters of her religious ties, knowing how devastating the impact of his church selection turned out to be for Obama? You’d think. But maybe McCain knew all along, and thought it was no big deal. Which scenario is more sobering? And how do non-Christians in the rest of the country and in Alaska feel about the “end times” philosophy of this church?

Is this one more step toward the End Times of the McCain-Palin ticket? Let us pray.





A Photo Safari of Wasilla, Alaska – Home of Sarah Palin.

1 09 2008

 

Time for a caption contest!  Anyone?

I’m finally home with high speed internet, and able to post the photos from my little trek through Wasilla and the Mat-Su Valley this weekend.  First a big hat-tip to my spouse who chauffeured me around Wasilla for two hours this afternoon and obeying dutifully every time I yelled “STOP!!”  I tried to capture the spirit of what makes the Valley unique, so I didn’t photograph Home Depot, or Walmart, or Lowe’s. 

There were some interesting signs of Palin around.  And I ran into a friend who was sporting a McCain – Palin t-shirt.  I said, “So you’re a fan?” and she said, “I LOVE Sarah!  She’s my hero.  I just need to get some duct tape to stick over the McCain part.”  A new and interesting perspective.  There are lots of them.

I have good friends and family who live in Wasilla and other parts of the Valley.  The Valley is quirky, occasionally scary, often funny, and sometimes just downright unexplainable.  Anyone from the area will recognize many, if not all of the places I photographed.  All the Wasilla photos were taken on main roads.  Click on the photo to get a caption.

I hope you enjoy your virtual Alaskan safari through the Valley, where Sarah Palin has lived and was raised since infancy.  This is her world folks, and her executive experience before she became Governor in 2006.  Buckle up.

Use the photos as you will but please credit https://mudflats.wordpress.com if you do.  Thanks.

Enjoy!

 

And Wasilla City Hall as seen on CNN.  Hat tip to the Ragin’ Cajun and Mad Skillz.





Sarah Palin’s Vetting Problem.

31 08 2008

On my first post that surreal morning when I awoke to the news of Sarah Palin’s unlikely choice as VP candidate, before I had even made a cup of coffee, or rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I said, “Didn’t McCain hire a fact checker?”  Was she vetted….at all?

It’s been over 48 hours, and now….seriously…was she vetted at all?  The possibility that the answer is no, is almost inconceivable.  But we Alaskans have found out that background checks are sometimes optional when hiring important government officials.  Just look at Palin’s unlikely and inappropriate choice of Chuck Koppto replace Dept. of Public Safety Chief, Walt Monegan, the center of the “Troopergate” controversy.

As soon as Kopp appeared before the public….literally on day one, something smelled fishy.  The revelation of a previous sexual harassment charge and subsequent reprimand and reassignment reared its ugly head. And Alaskans were left asking ourselves, “Didn’t Palin vet this guy?”  If she did, obviously not well enough.  Kopp’s explanation, after his now iconic denial, “I am not a sex harasser!” was that no one had asked him, so he didn’t volunteer the information…figuring that everyone already knew.

So, is it possible that since no one askedSarah Palin if she was in the middle of an ongoing ethics investigation, she just didn’t feel obligated to volunteer that information?  I mean, no one ASKed her if she was, or what the investigation might find, or if there were any other skeletons in her closet that might come out and start dancing in front of the national media.   I mean all you’d have to do is read the Anchorage Daily News and there it all is.  They obviously knew and it didn’t bother THEM…so….why mention it?  And sitting in the private jet, flying out to accept the nomination, did she think “Oooo.  It’ll sound really good if I said I stopped that Bridge to Nowhere!  I’ll say THAT. No one will check, I bet.”

Because, now, a scant two days after the nomination, the “gates” are already starting to swing open:  Troopergate, Bridgegate, and now Babygate.  Babygate?  I’ve stayed away from this one because, frankly, I don’t know anything for sure, and I don’t want to speculate about the smarmiest of ‘gates’ yet.  I’ll leave that to the professionals at the National Enquirer.  The rumors, though,  say one of two things:  either Sarah’s new baby is actually NOT her baby at all, but her 17-year old daughter Bristol’s baby, or the new baby is hers, but Bristol, a senior in high school is now pregnant.  Ugh, either way.

If the first case is true, then the grandma governor has been perpetrating a blatant lie on her constituents, and now the world.  If the second is true, then what 44-year old woman in her right mind would have travelled so late in her pregnancy and after her water broke and labor had begun, delivered a speech in Texas, boarded an Alaska Airlines flight with a stop-over in Seattle and bypassed the two main Anchorage Hospitals that are minutes from the airport to deliver in the local hospital near her home, almost an hour away by car.  In either case, bad judgement.

But now the cleanup crew has started.  Palin’s praise of the Obama energy plan that was on her website?  Scrubbed.  Photos on the website during the time period she was supposedly to have been pregnant? Allegedly scrubbed too.  John McCain’s organized vetting team?  Supposedly on their way to Alaska right now.  (Note to McCain staffers:  Vet FIRST…it works out better that way.)  The National Enquirer?  Supposedly all over this already. Photos of the pregnant (or not) Palin are circulating everywhere. One thing is certain, the rumor mill has started, and there’s no getting this toothpaste back in the tube.

And if it’s true that Palin did not undergo a vetting process, then what are we all to think of a presidential candidate, the oldest ever, with a history of cancer, choosing a running mate he had spoken to only once before offering her the nomination, and not even vetting this candidate?  If this is true, then the choice was not ‘bold’ or ‘exciting’ or ‘a maverick choosing a maverick’.  It demonstrates not just poor judgement, but recklessness.

Keep watching because the Palin onion is going to be peeled in the national media in the coming weeks, layer by agonizing layer.  Welcome to Veepgate.

UPDATE:  Press releases of Palin’s response to Obama’s energy plan still available HERE (Hat tip to Clever Else)





Palin is McCain’s Bridge to Nowhere. Thanks, But No Thanks.

30 08 2008

Perhaps the brain was still a little fuzzy from the shock of McCain’s new VP pick, Alaska’s own governor Sarah Palin.  Perhaps it was still stuck in the endless loop of wondering – why? why? why?  Whatever the reason, it took more than 24 hours for Palin’s first big untruth to register with me.

Today, while I watched her hop out of the “Straight Talk Express” bus, and give the second reading of her acceptance speech, one of my fellow viewers said, “You know, I don’t remember her opposing the Bridge.”  And it hit me.  I don’t remember that either.  A quick double-check with the third member of our watch party confirmed our confusion.  We all live here.  We all watch the news, read the paper, and pay attention to the local political circus, but none of us connected Sarah with her claims of rebuffing the controversial earmark.  If you weren’t watching, here’s the quote from her speech:

“I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that Bridge to Nowhere. ‘If our state wanted a bridge’, I said, ‘we’d build it ourselves’.

Reeeeally.

Check out these entries from the Ketchikan Daily News:

“People across the nation struggle with the idea of building a bridge because they’ve been under these misperceptions about the bridge and the purpose,’ said Palin, who described the link as the Ketchikan area’s potential for expansion and growth.

Palin said Alaska’s congressional delegation worked hard to obtain funding for the bridge and that she ‘would not stand in the way of the progress toward that bridge’.
8-8-06

‘We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative,’ Palin said.”
Ketchikan Daily News 9-28-06

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens (currently under indictment) and Representative Don Young (currently under investigation) were the bridge’s two biggest proponents.  But they were unable to convince Congress to fund the infamous bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island at the levels it had hoped.  Now, instead of Alaska paying $160 million, the cost to Alaska skyrocketed to $349 million.

After federal funding had been slashed, Palin was asked if she was still in support of funding the project.  She said:

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.

Well that assistance never materialized, and Alaska’s congressional powerhouse is tumbling like a house of cards.  Senior Senator Ted Stevens is under indictment on seven felony counts.  Representative Don Young is under investigation and has spent more than a million dollars of his campaign fund on legal fees…and he hasn’t even been indicted yet.  And although Stevens just won his primary bid handily, Young is hanging on by his fingernails while a recount is performed to determine the winner of his contest.  His challenger?  Sean Parnell, Palin’s Lt. Governor and also the head of the Division of Elections that is in charge of recounting the votes for his own race.  You can’t make this stuff up.  The third member of the delegation, Lisa Murkowski, was appointed to the U.S. Senate seat by her own father, Senator Frank Murkowski who left the senate to become the governor that Sarah Palin defeated in the 2006 primary.  (Are you keeping up with me?)  I could keep going, but those are the highlights.

So, if Congress had gone along and coughed up what Stevens and Young had asked for, guess what….that bridge to nowhere would have become a reality during the Palin administration.  She supported the bridge every step of the way…until the funding was cut.  So we decided to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.  If we want a bridge we’ll build it ourselves?!”   Is that like the failed earmark version of “You can’t fire me….I quit!”

The fact that “Thanks, but no thanks” was the money line for her debut as Vice Presidential candidate, and yet is a total fabrication, makes the mind reel.  Is there no fact checker on McCain’s staff?

Today, Palin called in to a local radio program, and bubbled, “This is so amazeen!”  Then she said that her children and she had only learned of her selection the day before the announcement was made.  I think of the extensive vetting process that the Democratic VP candidates went through.  Evan Bayh said that he was grilled extensively about skeletons in the closet, and even whether any of his kids had a Facebook or MySpace page that might come back to haunt him.

Apparently the Republicans don’t worry about such things.  With all the potential scandals and skeletons about to emerge from the Palin closet, (troopergate, babygate, bridgegate) we in Alaska are sitting here listening to the clock tick and wondering when it will all hit the fan.

But many Alaskans are just giddy over the whole thing.  The local sportscaster, after reporting on the high school basketball scores, said, “You know Sarah Palin used to be a sportscaster….and she’s the Vice Presidential candidate.  So, I think I wanna do that…yeah.” (eyeroll)  And one woman who was interviewed said she was totally in support of Palin because, “This is really going to put Alaska on the map.  Now people are going to find out what we’re really all about.”

Because this is what we’re looking for in the next Vice President.  We want Alaska to be on the map.  And not in that little box in the South Pacific you guys always stuff us in.  This election is about Alaska’s road to legitimacy!  Sar-ah Sar-ah Sar-ah! (banging head on desk and going to bed)

UPDATE:

Looks like the Anchorage Daily News is now reporting this.  Read HERENote to outsiders: the tongue-in-cheek reference Palin makes to herself as “Valley Trash” demonstrates a local ‘regional slur’, as it were.  Former State Senate president Ben Stevens (son of indicted Senator Ted Stevens, and currently under investigation himself) called what he perceived to be the under-educated redneck, rural population of the Mat-Su Valley where Sarah Palin is from, “Valley Trash”.





In the Land of Palin.

30 08 2008

I’m off for the Labor Day weekend.  Little would I have known that my scheduled weekend away, right in the heart of Palin country (known to Alaskans as “The Valley”) would fall on the weekend she became one of our Vice Presidential nominees.  No, it still hasn’t sunk in.  I’ll be passing through Wasilla itself and will post more pictures when I return, and get some local reaction on the “day after”.   I’ll have internet access, though it will be dial-up.  Eek.

*********************************

UPDATE:  Just watched the back-to-back McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden rallies in the “rust belt”.  I was waiting to hear Palin’s second speech, but got the recycled speech from yesterday.  McCain’s intro was the same too.  Palin keeps referencing Alaska, which no doubt endears her more to her fan base here, but I keep asking myself….can people relate to Alaska gas issues?  When she talks about Juneau, do they even know that’s the capitol of Alaska? 

The most remarkable thing?  The McCain camp obviously hoped to endear themselves to the disgruntled Hillary supporters by choosing a female running mate. But when Palin saluted Hillary Clinton saying that she ran her campaign with ‘determination and grace’….there were BoosLots of them.  I’m guessing that any Hillary supporters who had tuned in to check out the McCain/Palin party didn’t feel very welcome.  I doubt that they’ll mention Hillary again on the open road.  They won’t want to risk that again.  Maybe we’ll hear it at the convention where delegates will understand it’s strategically not good to jeer at the candidate whose votes you hope to win.

Then the Obama/Biden appearance.  Looks like they’re being cautious about Palin.  Obama referred to Biden as one of the great statesmen of our times.  They didn’t even have to say Palin for everyone to make that comparison in their minds. Then Obama made reference to the fact that he’d visited every state except Alaska, and that, come to think of it, he ought to visit now.  He’s been saying this for months, but nothing firm yet.  I think it would be great.  Obama got 75% of the votes in the Democratic caucus here, and the caucus site in Anchorage was packed.  People were literally having to park 2 miles away from the caucus site and ran in 5 below zero to make it in on time.  I know many people that couldn’t even make it into the building.  I think a huge rally for Obama would go a long way to show how much support he has in Palin’s home state.

In my trip throgh the Valley today, I didn’t see any McCain signs.  I wasn’t really surprised, as McCain came in a less-than-impressive fourth in the Alaska Republican caucus.  But I’m sure when the name Palin gets added, they will pop up like mushrooms overnight.  I did see a resurrected ‘Sarah Palin for Governor’ sign in front of a store.  The shopkeep said he cried with joy when he heard the news, and that she was a good woman who supported Alaskans.  Then he said that he had given up on all those ‘liberal socialists’ and decided they may as well all be ‘queer’.  I’m hoping that this is one of the more extreme reactions, and I was really glad I took the Obama sign out of my car window before leaving home. 

The only other person I’ve talked to so far is an Independant (over 50% of Alaskan voters are Independant or registered non-partisan) who said she was stunned by the announcement and added, “But she’s not qualified!” She also said that she didn’t remember Palin standing up against the Bridge to Nowhere.

More tomorrow.





Sarah Palin? McCain’s Next Trophy Girl?

29 08 2008

 

Well, this Alaskan is sitting here in disbelief.  This is a total gift to the Obama – Biden ticket.  As the nation scrambles to figure out who Sarah Palin IS, the thinking people of Alaska are simply mystified.  I’ll be posting about this a lot later in the day after I’m awake, (it’s early a.m. here in Alaska) but first impressions:

This woman is going to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency?  2 years ago she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.  For those of you out of state, this is as small, and backwoods as it sounds.  A dark horse candidate for governor, she was elected on the ‘anybody but Frank Murkowski’ ticket.  Our previous governor went down hard in his primary bid for reelection, because basically he was the worst governor, ever.  People questioned whether Sarah Palin was actually qualified to be governor of a state that has 1/2 a million people in it.

McCain obviously is looking for the Hillary vote since apparently he thinks women need no other criteria than a set of ovaries to mark their ballot, right?  I mean women don’t actually make policy decisions, do they?

He’s  also looking for the Evangelical vote.  Palin, a creationist, anti-gay, pro-lifer will appeal to this crowd.  Her fondness for creationism in schools, and the recent birth of a Downs Syndrome child can’t hurt here.

Did I say recent birth of a child?  Why, yes.  Our new Vice Presidential candidate has four children plus an infant son.  She obviously feels caring for her newborn won’t get in the way of her Vice Presidential duties. 

And don’t worry fellas.  There’s plenty for you.  Sarah won second place in the Miss Alaska contest! Didn’t they have a card for that in Monopoly?  And John McCain knows how important it is to have a trophy wife Veep on his arm.

John McCain has just done something that Obama has not been able to do yet – prove to the world unequivocably that McCain doesn’t have the judgement to be President.  He will never ever be able to hold his head up and say that Obama isn’t “ready to lead”.  

The pro-drilling crowd will be pleased too.  Why she’s even sueing the Federal Government for daring to suggest that polar bears should be listed as ‘threatened’.  Can’t have those damned bears interfering with the oil rigs.

And then there’s that annoying little ethics investigation by the Alaska State Legislature…

I think I’ll be chuckling all weekend over this.  More to come later.  There’s just so much fodder here.  Where’s a blogger to start?