Sep 112008

I’ve been trying to see how (or if) the dust would settle around Sarah Palin prior to writing a post about my feelings on the subject. It doesn’t appear the dust is settling, as John McCain hides behind her skirt. So I’m going to offer up my two-cents on the nomination. (Did you think I’d do otherwise?)

I’ve been unable to discern Palin’s motivation for her move into politics, and her acceptance of this nomination, but I’m feeling like she’s a great fit on the Republican ticket. I really do not get the sense that Palin is truly interested in public service, but in having power and taking what she can from it. She has definitely shown herself to be pushy and arrogant when holding public office.

As Mayor of Wasilla, AK, Palin fired the popular town Librarian for refusing to ban books that Palin didn’t like. This clearly shows an abusive side, and anyone wanting to ban books based on their belief system is scary to me. I encourage every person to develop their own set of beliefs, and work to instill those in their children and family, but you’re not entitled, in America, to dictate to me.

Oh, but what was I thinking…that was not America, but Alaska, and Sarah Palin and her husband seemed to be affiliated with a political group advocating the secession of Alaska from the Union. This may be, in fact, one of the more disturbing things that’s been uncovered about Palin. She was a member, never was a member, her husband definitely was, (it’s all being clouded by the Republicans) but she definitely gave a talk, as Governor, welcoming the group to one of their meetings, and invited them to, “keep up the good work.” Now, do I believe that Sarah Palin wants Alaska to secede from the Union? Actually I don’t think so, but that just means her little welcome speech was so much bullshit, meaning she’s prepared to say whatever it takes to score political points.

Palin would never support Alaska pulling out of the Union, because she takes too much money from Washington, by way of earmarks. All this money to a state that has no income taxes, and rebates money to it’s citizens every year. Now some would say that’s how the system works, and a good governor tries to get all the money out of Washington he/she can. I’d say that’s true. The problem is the ad naseum repetition of a stump speech in which Palin claims to be an agent of change, of being against the system of Washington earmarks, and of how she told Congress “no thanks” on that bridge to nowhere. It is now indisputably established that Sarah Palin supported that project, and even campaigned on the issue two years ago. She turned against it only when the Congress was about to cancel the project…and she kept the money. In fact, one of the bridge approaches has been under construction the past two years, even though there are no plans to build the bridge. Again, a person prepared to say anything, even outright lie, for political gain. A good Republican candidate. Don’t lie and say you’re against a system that you so vociferously took advantage of.

Palin has billed the State over $16,000 dollars for food and lodging while she’s at home instead of in the State Capital. She’s charged the state over $43,000 for her daughters to travel between Juneau and her home.

Speaking of fiscal management, here is what a longtime resident of Wascilla who has watched Palin up close for years had to say about her:

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.

Then there is troopergate. Strong evidence indicates that as part of a nasty divorce in her family, Palin ordered the head of the Alaska Highway Patrol to fire her (soon to be ex) brother-in-law. Just like as Mayor, when he refused to do her bidding, she fired him. Much is being made of this, and if we’re lucky, it has some legs.

The Republicans and pundits were all over Barack Obama for things said by his minister that appeared to negatively portray America. Barack wasn’t even at church that day, but Palin sat through a few Pentecostal sermons that were not very patriotic. Senior Pastor Ed Kalnin of Wasilla Assembly of God Church in Wasilla, Alaska, where Governor Palin was a member until 2002, made the following comments about John Kerry back during the 2002 election suggesting that voting for Kerry would result in a person going to hell. “I’m not going tell you who to vote for, but if you vote for this particular person [Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry], I question your salvation. I’m sorry.”

And for those Jewish people thinking they should vote for the McCain-Palin ticket, CNN online writes of her current church, Wasilla Bible Church:

David Brickner, the founder of Jews for Jesus, was a speaker. He told congregants that terrorist attacks on Israel were God’s “judgment” of Jews who haven’t embraced Christianity. Brickner said, “Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. When a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can’t miss it.”

Now, do I believe people should be held accountable for every idiotic thing that streams from the mouth of their preacher…God no! But that didn’t stop the Republicans from being all over Obama for things Jeremiah Wright said, so they set the standard. Where’s the outrage against Palin for these comments?  

In general, Palin’s religiosity frightens me. Like Bush, she seems ascribe messianic meaning to things that happen. She said in her church:

“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.”

I’m sorry, but the God I worship doesn’t plan wars, and anyone who thinks so belongs back in time of the crusades. However, this attitude places her squarely in line with George Bush who called the war in Iraq a Crusade, and believes that he was ordained by God to be our ruler. Palin seems to share of those grandiose beliefs…even calling on the congregation to pray for her natural gas pipeline policy. I also have a problem believing God plans for those.

I believe that we all are informed in our beliefs and values by any religious roots we might have. I find nothing particularly wrong with that, but when one uses religion in the service of state ends, it flies in the very face of what Jesus taught, and what the founders of this country intended.

Then there’s the matter of “choice.” I really find it detestable that Sarah Palin denounces and condemns a woman’s right to make choices about her own reproductive health (to the point that a woman should be required to carry to term the child of a rapist), but when her own teenage daughter got “in trouble” (as the old saying goes), they were proud of her because she chose to have the baby. This is classic Republican…”my family gets to choose, your family does not because I think it’s bad for you, and you just aren’t smart enough.” While we’re on the topic of sex (every good political story has to have some sex in it…right?), let’s talk about this abstinence only sex education Palin believes in. Well, it certainly didn’t work out so well for her family, now did it? But her family is not alone. Study after study now clearly concludes that the absence of realistic sex education that also teaches about the use of contraceptives results in higher rates of STDs and teen pregnancy. She has the proof in her own family, yet she clings to this misguided idea because of some religious belief.

I can’t believe the machinations of the Republicans in their attempts to make Palin appear to be experienced. Let me settle this right now. I’m not sure how anyone becomes experienced in running the United States Government. Some people rise to the occasion, but as we’ve seen in some of the items above, Palin has not shown the best attributes of leadership, and tries to rule by intimidation rather than lead. Again, indicating how much like George Bush she really is. Sarah Palin does not have military command experience because she is the Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard. And maybe the most absolutely ridiculous claim I’ve heard is that she has foreign policy experience because Alaska is close to Russia. I’ll bet Putin is laughing his ass off at that one. This is complete and utter bullshit, and if you are stupid enough to believe these talking points….please, help America and stay home on election day.

Further, I’m sure that Wasilla Alaska is a great place. I too come from a small town. Over the years Kings Mountain, my hometown, has had a few pretty good forward thinking Mayors. While other towns in the region are suffering under the drought, and have imposed strict water restrictions, Kings Mountain has plenty of water because of the forward thinking of Mayor John Henry Moss nearly 20 years ago. Kings Mountain is an even bigger town than Wasilla, and John Henry Moss was a good Mayor, but his time as mayor of Kings Mountain never qualified him to be a heart beat away from the Presidency.

OK, so she’s been the Governor for two years. I guess that counts for a little something, but not much. Tampa has a larger population than all of Alaska, so why didn’t McCain pick Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. She’s a good administrator. Frankly, it’s not tough being the Governor of Alaska. As we previously pointed out, rather than having to deal with budget shortfalls, and making hard decisions about programs, Palin’s toughest decision has been about what to do with the state surplus generated because of the rising cost of oil.

I found her disparaging remarks about community organizers extremely disgusting and over the top. It is community organizers that have started the movements that have brought about important changes in America. Community organizers pushed until we got out of Vietnam, community organizers caused the final passage of civil rights legislation. Most of the things that have made America better for it’s citizens have been the result of something someone started as a “community organizer.” Shame on you Sarah Palin for insulting those people that give so freely. Jesus was a community organizer, Pontius Pilot was a Governor.

So why would John McCain pick Sarah Palin as his runningmate? I can’t profess to have any understanding, because it defies logic. The logical side of me would like to think that the man just had a mental meltdown and made a bad decision, and now his staff has to make the best of it. The cynical side thinks it was more calculated. It might have been Plan B (I wonder if Palin would like that assignation?), but he’s using Karl Rove and Rove’s disciples. So far Palin has energized the base, something McCain was not able to do. Additionally, any criticism of Palin gets thrown back in face of the person raising the questions as being sexists. And, after the “lipstick on a pig” comment that Barack Obama used just the other day about John McCain and his policies, they’re even trying to say that any criticism of McCain is sexist criticism of Sarah Palin. So Mr. Hero McCain is now hiding behind the skirt of his running mate.

Call me sexist if you want, but Sarah Palin is nothing more than a distraction put in place by Rove cronies, hoping to distract the people of America from the real issues and Republican failures of the past eight years. It’s also an attempt to politically immunize the McCain ticket from criticism. Will this cynical ploy work? I hope the American people have risen above it, but Rove and his acolytes are masters at manipulation of the message.

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