It takes most politicians years to rack up the kinds of scandals, hypocrisies, and inconsistencies that have plagued Sarah Palin's candidacy in the week and a half since she catapulted to national attention. But the disturbing revelations about Palin's record as mayor and governor, and her positions on the issues, inexplicably just keep coming.
AlterNet has compiled a list of the 8 most recent revelations about McCain's VP pick that the public needs to know.
1. Palin paid herself to stay at home.
Sarah Palin is being trumpeted as a fiscal conservative. And it's true to a certain extent. She did cut funding for a program that helps teen moms get back on their feet. But as the Washington Post revealed today, Palin may not be a paragon of fiscal restraint after all. The Post reports that Palin paid herself a per diem allowance (money that's supposed to cover expenses accrued while traveling on state business) for the 312 days she spent in her home in Wasilla during her 19 months in office.
The Post also states that travel expenses for her husband and kids totaled $43,490.
According to former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, this is hardly par for the course in Alaska:
"I gave a direction to all my commissioners if they were ever in their house, whether it was Juneau or elsewhere, they were not to get a per diem because, clearly, it is and it looks like a scam -- you pay yourself to live at home,"
... the policy was not to reimburse for family travel on commercial airlines, because there is no direct public benefit to schlepping kids around the state.
As Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake writes:
Palin and her husband both make six-figure incomes. They don't need to be chiseling the state for this money to live, and she sure isn't entitled to be running on fiscal responsibility when she's pocketing cash in a way that has a history of being regarded in Alaska as a "scam."
2. Next to Palin, even McCain looks like an economic genius.
Over the weekend Palin probably gave economic analysts throughout the land mini-strokes when she made an egregious misstatement about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the lending institutions at the heart of the housing market meltdown. During a speech in Colorado Springs, Palin stated that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers."
While the two companies will soon face a takeover by the Treasury Department, they are currently privately owned. So any burden on taxpayers is in the future, when the government goes about the task of helping the lending giants out of their largely self-made mess.
As the Huffington Post reports, Palin's gaffe does not auger well for her ability to handle the complex economic issues that will dog the next administration:
"You would like to think that someone who is going to be vice president and conceivable president would know what Fannie and Freddie do," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "These are huge institutions and they are absolutely central to our country's mortgage debt. To not have a clue what they do doesn't speak well for her, I'd say."
3. Palin's Wasilla charged rape victims for their sexual assault exams.
When Sarah Palin was Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, the town's police department charged rape victims for their forensic testing.
In a May, 2000 article, the Frontiersman reported:
While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests.
Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon stated:
"In the past we've charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just don't want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer," Fannon said.
Let's be clear: charging a person who has the strength to come forward after being sexually assaulted for their own examination isn't just insensitive, it is monstrous. And for victims to hear the Chief of Police say that he thinks it's right to charge the victim is horrifying.
Now let's talk about Palin's executive responsibility on this issue. As a blogger on BitchPhD points out:
One can only assume that she supported Wasilla's policy of billing rape victims for their own rape kits ... not only because Fannon was her appointee, but also because this was four years into her tenure as mayor and because, let's be honest: in a town of that size, the mayor doesn't get to plead ignorance of policies or public statements of her own chief of police.
Palin was willing to raise taxes to build a sports complex. Her police chief was unwilling to use public funds to investigate rapes.
This shit needs to be in the national news. And Palin and McCain need to answer some hard questions about it.
4. Palin may have rewarded serviceman with promotion for his about-face on her candidacy.
When the McCain campaign first announced that Palin would be joining the Republican ticket, most people thought they had just undercut their best attack against Obama: his supposed lack of experience. The McCain campaign was quick to answer concerns by parading Sarah Palin's position as Commander in Chief of the Alaskan National Guard as an example of executive leadership. But few bought the sale, knowing enough about the National Guard to realize that being Governor doesn't exactly make you a general.
This idea was backed up when the Adjutant General of Alaska's National Guard Major Craig Campbell reportedly told the Boston Globe that the Alaskan governor is not in the chain of command and has no authority over its operations. But Campbell's thoughts on the matter quickly changed, as Brandon Friendman reports for the Huffington Post:
But suddenly -- and strangely -- the commander of the Alaska National Guard, Major General Campbell, changed his story. By the end of the convention, he was praising Palin's experience, talking on TV about how she had taken control of Alaska's National Guard operations and how she was a "great" leader.
Interestingly enough, Palin promoted him with his third star -- to the rank of Lieutenant General -- only three days later.
Essentially, Campbell had been unhelpful to the campaign at the very least. But all of a sudden he became one of Palin's biggest supporters. And he was then promoted to be one of the two highest-ranking state National Guard officials in the country.
The timeline that Friedman lays out in his piece shows Campbell's full metamorphosis from a critic to a preacher of Palin's executive experience with the National Guard. Buying off a service-person with a quick promotion in order to get them to change their tune? Maybe the McCain Campaign is right -- maybe Palin does have the chops of an executive after all.
5. Palin isn't big on government transparency.
Sometimes, the public wants to know what its elected officials are doing. That's what Andree McCleod, an "independent government watchdog," tried to find out when she requested internal documents from Palin's office that she suspected linked top-Palin aides to an effort to oust Alaska's Republican Party Secretary. But, as Mother Jones reports, Palin's office withheld 1,100 emails from McCLeod, claiming the correspondence covered confidential policy matters. It didn't. As Mother Jones' David Corn points out:
... the subject lines of some of the withheld emails suggest they were not related to policy matters. Several refer to one of Palin's political foes, others to a well-known Alaskan journalist. Moreover, some of the withhold emails were CC'ed to Todd Palin, the governor's husband. Todd Palin -- a.k.a. the First Dude -- holds no official state position (though he has been a close and influential adviser for Governor Palin). The fact that Palin and her aides shared these emails with a citizen outside the government undercuts the claim that they must be protected under executive privilege.
As McLeod states, "When the finger is pointed at somebody else, she's all for accountability. When it's pointing at her, it's different."
6. Even Ed Koch, who supported President Bush, thinks Palin is "scary."
Former Mayor of New York Ed Koch is a bit of a controversial figure with a long political history. But the last race he got involved with was in 2004 and he endorsed George W. Bush. Koch not only endorsed Bush, but campaigned for him in six states including Florida; so, not exactly a passive endorsement. But now Koch is making it clear that he's endorsing Obama, and he's making his reason for switching sides clear: it's Palin. Ed Koch told Politico's Ben Smith what he thought of the new VP nominee, "She's scary." In his endorsement of Obama, Koch put the sentiment in writing, saying:
If the vice president were ever called on to lead the country, there is no question in my mind that the experience and demonstrated judgment of Joe Biden is superior to that of Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is a plucky, exciting candidate, but when her record is examined, she fails miserably with respect to her views on the domestic issues that are so important to the people of the U.S., and to me. Frankly, it would scare me if she were to succeed John McCain in the presidency.
So a former Mayor who stumped for Bush in six (six!) different states is endorsing Barrack Obama because of Palin. And losing Koch doesn't just mean losing his vote, as Bush can probably tell you. Smith points out that Koch comes with a lot of other votes, especially in the sunshine state:
Koch is a member of a set of secular, swing-voting Jewish Democrats who may have been pushed away by the selection of Palin, and his endorsement may be a marker of an opportunity for Obama to strengthen his campaign among older Jewish voters in Florida.
7. Palin's views are so extremist her own friends may not vote for her.
ABC sent a reporter to Alaska for a hard-hitting interview with those "who know [Palin] best," a group of four women who met Palin in aerobics class. The interview revealed the earth-shattering news that Palin hates cats and likes white chocolate, but amid the fluff, something interesting and telling emerged: Palin's views on abortion are so right-wing that even some of her best friends are hesitant to vote for her. Three of the women stated that they were pro-choice, and two admitted that while they supported her as a friend they were not sure they would support her candidacy for vice-president. One refused to fess up, stating "my vote is between me and the voting booth."
8. Palin and Big Oil's interests: one and the same.
Ok, so let's pretend you're an oil exec. You're looking for a buddy in the White House. Sure, you've had some success in the political world recently with people buying "the drill here, drill now" rhetoric ... but what you really need is a go-to person who's tied up in your interests. McCain's coming around, but let's be honest, your go-to person is Sarah Palin. Because, as James Ridgeway at Mother Jones notes:
... she is an enthusiastic supporter of what the oil giants want most: to extract more oil and gas from Alaska and its adjoining waters. "We Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas," she said last week in her vice presidential acceptance speech. "And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: We've got lots of both."
Yep, there is a lot of oil up there. But what about those damn pesky environmentalists? Aren't a lot of these places off-limits because they're natural treasures or something?
... Palin's elevation to national office would help give the companies a free hand when it comes to extraction, with little concern for environmental impact: This spring, the state of Alaska announced that it would sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service to block the addition to the endangered species list of Alaska's polar bears -- which, if their habitat were protected, might pose an obstacle to the pipeline and other development. She has also opposed protecting beluga whales in waters slated for oil and gas drilling (and she has backed a plan that allows the aerial hunting of bears and wolves). She is a steadfast booster of opening ANWR to drilling (a move that McCain opposes). And she has said that while she is concerned about climate change, "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."
All right! Except most people aren't oil executives who'll profit from Palin being in the White House. Most people are getting screwed at the pump while oil companies make record-breaking profits.
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