Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another Alaskan's View of Palin

This email is from a regular Alaskan that is the single best analysis of Palin and her record as mayor and governor I've read:
 

Subject: Another Alaskan's View of Palin

I'm forwarding this, received from a friend from her friend, etc. I know
these messages are going all over the internet, but I'm waiting for some of this
analysis and fact-checking to show up in regional newspapers. Perhaps if people
watch her in interviews like the Gibson one last night, which I am told by
friends who saw it was not reassuring (lots of "I don't blink, we shouldn't
blink, we should keep all options on the table, and the Bush doctrine, is that his
world view?) . . . Guess even I will have to turn on the tv at 7pm (EST).

Georgianna
***************

 This from my childhood friend Sally Thomas Huntley who has lived in 
Anchorage since 1978. Thought you should see this...Please feel 
free to forward to anyone you think should read this.
---------------------
You guys,

The following was researched and written by my son's girlfriend's 
parents. It is everything anybody need to know about the woman that 
won't go away! Just take a few minutes to read it and pass it on if 
you want. I know you guys are the ones that don't need this info to 
change your mind....but hopefully if enough people know the facts 
and can engage someone that doesn't in conversation that we can 
start to derail the bizarre Sarah train.
Sally
----------------

Since John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, many of 
you have called or e-mailed us asking what we know about Palin and 
whether we think she is a good choice. The short answer is we know 
quite a bit about her, and no, we don't think she is a good choice. 
Please feel free to forward this e-mail to your friends, but please 
leave our e-mail address off and please don't forward to blogs or 
websites. For those of you who get this and don't know us, we are 
long-time Alaskans. Kristen was born here and both of her parents 
moved up here as young children in the 1930's. Chad has lived here 
for 27 years. Kristen's uncle lived in Wasilla, where Sarah Palin 
was mayor, for 30 years.

First, we'd like to dispel some of the misleading things she and 
others have said about her record as governor.

The Bridge to Nowhere - First, some background on the bridge to 
nowhere. This bridge was to link the City of Ketchikan to its 
airport, which is on Gravina Island. The airport can't be built in 
the city of Ketchikan because of the fjord-like nature of the area 
surrounding Ketchikan. As it stands now, it is pretty difficult to 
get from Ketchikan to the airport; you have to take a ferry. 
Ketchikan has been trying for years to get a bridge built. When 
cruise ships started going to Ketchikan, the cost of the bridge 
skyrocketed because the bridge would have to be high enough to let 
cruise ships pass under it. When Sarah Palin campaigned for 
governor, she told Ketchikan that "they would make a good team as 
we progress that bridge project." After she became governor, the 
bridge received a lot of national attention and became unpopular. In 
her acceptance speech, Sarah said she told Congress "thanks but no 
thanks on that bridge to nowhere" and that if Alaska wanted one we'd 
build it ourselves. Not true. She took the money that was to be used 
for the bridge and then used it for other projects. She has never 
gone back to Ketchikan and explained her reversal. The people of 
Ketchikan are not happy about this.

Energy Issues - During her acceptance speech, Palin claimed that 
under her leadership, a $40 billion dollar gas pipeline project had 
begun in Alaska thanks to her efforts. In fact, construction has not 
begun. The Alaska legislature, on Palin's recommendation, gave $500 
million to a Canadian company as an incentive to obtain permits for 
the pipeline. No construction contracts are in place. Other 
companies are also actively looking into building a pipeline. Her 
recommendation that the Canadian company be given a $500 million 
incentive was quite controversial and it remains to be seen whether 
it was a good decision or a bad one. She is strongly in favor of 
opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. She opposes 
the federal government's recommendation that polar bears and beluga 
whales be protected as endangered species. She doesn't want to 
protect them because that might interfere with oil exploration and 
drilling.

Ethics Reform - Palin also claimed she is a big ethics reformer. 
Virtually all politicians in Alaska now tout ethics reform because 
of all the corruption scandals that have occurred up here. (In the 
last year, three Republican state legislators have been convicted of 
bribery and are in federal prison; another has been indicted and 
more indictments are expected.) Most of the new ethics laws in 
Alaska are the result of work Democrats in the legislature did 
before she took office.

Trooper Gate - Interestingly, Palin is embroiled in an ethics 
problem of her own up here. A couple of months ago, she fired her 
very popular Public Safety Commissioner without explaining why. 
Everybody was mystified as he seemed to be doing a good job. It soon 
came to light that the Commissioner had been pressured by the Palin 
administration to fire her ex-brother-in-law, a trooper who was 
involved in a nasty divorce with Palin's sister. (She initially 
replaced the Commissioner she fired with a man she knew had been 
reprimanded for sexual harassment. When this caused an uproar, the 
man withdrew his name.) The Alaska legislature has hired a special 
prosecutor to look into allegations of abuse of power by Palin. The 
investigation is on-going and has thus far revealed that more than 
two dozen contacts were made between Palin's staff and family and 
the Commissioner she fired. Palin hired an attorney and is pushing 
to have the investigation stopped or delayed. The Public Employees' 
Union has filed a complaint against her accusing members of her 
administration of going through the ex-brother-in-laws confidential 
personnel and worker's comp files for information to use against him.

Earmarks - Palin now claims she is against earmarks and will help 
McCain eliminate them. In fact, as governor Palin sought and 
obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks for the state. 
As mayor of Wasilla, she hired a lobbyist who used to work for Sen. 
Stevens to steer earmarks Wasilla's way. In the past year, she has 
asked for fewer earmarks, but that is probably due to the fact that 
with the high price of oil, the state is now awash in money rather 
than any kind of philosophical objection to them. Also, shortly 
after Palin took office, Senator Stevens, in a speech to the 
legislature warned that the feds were taking note of the state's 
budget surpluses and that the federal government was unlikely to 
invest in any project that Alaskans were unwilling to invest in. In 
short, the earmark era is coming to an end for the state of Alaska 
and that has little, if anything, to do with Sarah Palin.

Selling the Governor's Jet on E-Bay - Sarah implied in her 
acceptance speech that she was doing away with a long-standing perk 
by selling the governor's jet on e-bay. Alaska's governors haven't 
always had a private jet. It was purchased by our previous 
Republican governor. We don't think it's any exaggeration to say the 
entire state was opposed to his purchase of the jet. All the 
gubernatorial candidates promised to sell the jet. Palin put the jet 
on e-bay initially, but it did not sell on e-bay. It was ultimately 
sold by an aviation broker.

Many people have asked us about her favorable rating as governor up 
here. There are a couple of things going on here. First, the 
previous governor was one of the worst governors ever, at one point 
he had the lowest approval rating of any governor in the U.S. After 
him, anyone is a relief. Second, since her election, the state has 
been awash in oil money. Last year we had a surplus of four billion 
dollars. Palin has not had to make any unpopular budget cuts or 
suggest a state income tax as a means of balancing the budget. 
(Alaska has not had a state income tax since the early 70's.) She 
introduced legislation giving every man, woman and child in Alaska 
$1200 to help with energy costs. It doesn't matter how rich or poor 
you are or where you live. This is in addition to the $2,000+ every 
resident will get this year under the permanent fund dividend 
program.

 

She also raised taxes on oil companies. Like the sale of 
the governor's jet, this one was pretty much a no-brainer. Under 
the old governor, the legislature passed a tax bill that was very 
favorable to the oil companies. Later, it came to light that several 
legislators had been bribed by an oil services company. Any new 
governor who did not support increased taxes on oil companies would 
have been assumed to be in the pocket of the oil industry. Also, our 
state is very small, only 670,000 people; because of our small size 
and wealth, we don't face many of the challenges faced by larger 
states. Although she claims to be a fiscal conservative, state 
operating costs have increased about 15% since 2006. We did not 
vote for Palin, but if we had been asked what kind of a job she was 
doing as governor we would have probably said she was doing OK. That 
certainly does not mean she's qualified to be vice president and our 
view is shared by many in Alaska.

As governor, she has never discussed or seemed to have much interest 
in foreign policy, fiscal policy or health care. Some have pointed 
to Alaska's proximity to Russia as support for Palin's foreign 
policy credentials. Alaska is close to Siberia, but it is not close 
to Moscow. While other Alaskan governors have visited the Russian 
Far East and other Pacific Rim countries on trade and cultural 
missions, Palin never did. Mike Doogan, a democratic legislator and 
former Anchorage Daily News columnist noted, "Except for her high-
profile gas pipeline legislation, she doesn't have much to show for 
her twenty months as governor." He also reflected the feelings of 
many Alaskans when he said, "The long and short of it is we're not 
sure she's a competent governor of Alaska. And yet McCain, who is no 
spring chicken has decided she's the best choice to replace him as 
president if he should win and then falls afoul of the Grim Reaper." 
With respect to her grasp of the issues facing the country, Doogan 
said, "She's going to need a lot of handlers feeding her a lot of 
talking points and she's going to have to hope that the discussion 
only goes yay-deep."

The day after her selection was announced, the Anchorage paper 
interviewed a number of people, politicians and non-politicians, 
about her selection. Here is a sampling of what people said. Lyda 
Green, a state republican senator from Wasilla said, "She's not 
prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice 
president or president." State House Speaker John Harris, a 
Republican, was astonished at the news and didn't want to get into a 
discussion of her qualifications. He simply said "She's old enough. 
She's a U.S. citizen." Democratic state senator Hollis French said 
it was a huge mistake by McCain and "reflects very, very badly on 
his judgment." Mel Gibby, a local resident, was interviewed as he 
was going into a store with his grandchildren. He said, "I like her, 
but she doesn't have the experience to be on the national level." 
Gibby said he was a Clinton supporter and had been leaning toward 
McCain. Now he's not sure, saying, "This is a show of poor judgment. 
I was really shocked." On September 5, a week after her selection 
was announced, the Anchorage paper had 11 letters to the editor 
about Palin. Two were in favor of her selection and nine were 
against it. One letter noted that despite Alaska's wealth, many 
communities live in third-world conditions, lacking running water 
and sewage and facing gasoline costs of $6.25 a gallon. This writer 
said, "How can she lead a nation when she cannot even provide aid to 
the communities under her governorship." Most of the letters 
criticizing her selection noted her lack of experience. One of the 
pro letters was from someone working in Colorado and just stated how 
proud she was; another pro letter simply criticized the paper for 
putting Bristol Palin's pregnancy on the front page. There was 
nothing substantive in either letter.

As most of you have already heard, Palin is a social conservative in 
the George W. Bush mold. She believes that the war in Iraq is a 
"task that is from God." In June of 2007 she asked ministry students 
at her church to pray for a plan to build a gas pipeline in Alaska, 
calling it "God's will." She also told them she would do her part in 
developing resources and building roads, but that "all of that stuff 
doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with 
God." She is a staunch proponent of abstinence-only sex education. 
She is anti-abortion even in cases of rape and incest. She also 
supports teaching creationism in schools and doesn't believe global 
warming is man made. When she was mayor of Wasilla, she tried to 
fire a well-liked City Librarian because the librarian said she 
would not consider removing books Palin wanted removed from the 
library. There was such an uproar that Palin ended up withdrawing 
her termination letter. Kristen's uncle was an iron worker and lived 
in Wasilla for thirty years. He died a year and a half ago. He 
always said "Palin was the worst mayor we ever had and we've had a 
lot of bad ones." Like George Bush, she has a reputation for not 
taking well to criticism or ideas different from her own. Bottom 
line, if you like George W. Bush's position on the war in Iraq and 
social issues, you'll love Sarah Palin. That is probably why her 
acceptance speech was written by one of Bush's former speech writers.

Almost as disturbing as Palin's position on the issues is the 
apparent lack of research done by the McCain team before selecting 
her. Former Republican Alaska State House speaker Gail Phillips said 
she was shocked when she heard the news. She told her husband, "This 
can't be happening because his advance team didn't come to Alaska to 
check her out." Phillips is still active in the Republican party and 
remains in close contact with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski and other 
state republican leaders. She said, "We're not a big state. People I 
talk to would have heard something." Rick Rydell, a local 
conservative radio talk show host said it was a gamble for McCain to 
pick an unknown with what he considered "questionable vetting."

It seems clear to us that McCain's selection of Palin was a last-
minute, cynical attempt to get the support of the right wing of his 
party and women who aren't paying close attention. We believe that 
if he's elected President, Palin's role would be mostly ceremonial. 
That would be fine with us except for the fact that McCain is a 73 
year old three-time cancer survivor. The prospect of Sarah Palin as 
president concerns us and that is why we felt compelled to send this 
e-mail.

 

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