Tag Archives: Joe Six-pack

Math-Challenged Mommy: Palin Should do Her Best to Wave that Special-Needs Flag

Associate editor/poetry editor of the Wasatch Journal magazine Melissa Bond wrote a poignant op-ed on motherhood with a beautiful special needs baby while sharing her concerns on the readiness of Governor Sarah Palin for the vice presidency of the United States. 

As the mother of a four-month-old boy with Down syndrome, I can relate to Sarah Palin. I mean, really, when she held Trig up after her speech at the Republican National Committee last month, offering him to the television cameras like a piece of prime elk and saying that she understood and that she’d be my boy’s advocate in the White House, I wanted to melt. Look at that kid in his striped jammies, I thought. I wanted to believe her. And honestly, I think that she’d do her best to wave that special-needs flag. I can see her jogging giddily through the White House halls, can even imagine a cheer or two complete with high-kicks, while she and President John McCain jump on the couches in the Oval Office. Go, Trig, go!

The problem isn’t that I think Palin is insincere. It isn’t that I have questions about who’s caring for Trig and giving him the extensive therapy that’s recommended for Down syndrome kids while she’s out playing Gidget Goes to the White House. It isn’t even that this wolf -killing, Miss Alaska runner-up confuses her facts about Obama and her own running mate-Obama has authored several major ethics reforms and McCain is not the prince of regulation. It’s simply that I have a serious question about the governor’s math skills. With the current eye-popping national deficit of more than $9 trillion, with a systemic financial crisis that’s costing taxpayers more than $700 billion (and that’s just for starters), and with a foreign policy that keeps notching its belt with unsupported wars, where does Palin think the money will come from? Medicaid is being pummeled. Social services of all kinds are being pummeled. Rome is burning, and while the Republicans have hedged their bets that this country will eat the American pie narrative about the average-Alaska-supermom-who-makes-it-big, I’m not buying it.

Despite her home-cooked persona, Palin just doesn’t have a good head for numbers. That jet that she claims she sold on eBay? Oops! Good story, but it was sold to an airline broker at nearly a $600,000 loss to taxpayers. And that $15 million hockey arena that was her signature accomplishment as Wasilla’s mayor? Oops again! She broke ground without finalizing the city’s purchase of the land. Taxpayers had to suck up an additional $1.3 million dollars to pay for the fiasco. Bummer. Sorry, guys. And that’s just as mayor of a small town. The thought of Palin as vice prez, drooling over every earmark like a pit bull in the ring, simply terrifies. And even if Palin is a quick study, I just don’t feel great about letting her learn on the job.

I haven’t even mentioned anything about foreign policy. But then again, neither has Palin. Except for Russia, of course. She and Vladimir Putin must blow kisses from across the divide. They’re that close.

Even if Palin boned up on her math skills, there still would be the problem with her rhetorical strategies. She’s almost winning in her repetitive enthusiasm for untruths, but the facts of Troopergate (Alaska’s bipartisan investigative committee on the issue gave her a big thumbs- down for ethics violations) and her terrorist accusations (Obama may be black, but honey, he’s no Arab) will not go away. She’s like the little engine that could, painted lips smiling at the cameras and saying maverick, maverick, maverick while members of the press fold up their note pads and grow tired of asking her to answer straight-up for once. Please. We of the Joe Six-Pack variety can’t follow her barrage of words. We just need her to speak clearly for once, and, for heavens sake, stop long enough on the way to the next campaign stop to answer the questions.

If McCain and Palin actually beat the growing odds against them and make it to the White House, I’ve no doubt Palin will continue to espouse her hockey-mom ministries. And Trig will be the face that will eclipse all doubt. He will draw us to her like maternal moths to the flame. We’ll forget that while she talks tough on the campaign trail about takin’ on the big oil companies, she took nearly half of her contributions while running for governor of Alaska in 2006 from oil and gas company lobbyists ($13,000 of the more than $24,000 from registered lobbyists, according to campaign records). We’ll forget about that stuffy ol’ notion that separates church from state, and we’ll have prayer groups dictate policy.

We’ll put the knowledge that she’s-so-in-over-her-head-it’s-scary away somewhere, and focus on the fact that she wants to keep our gasping consumer paradise alive at any cost. Drill, drill, drill. And, as for my boy? I’m sure she’ll keep him in mind. Maybe she’ll send him a card. Or, save the stamp-they’re getting expensive!- and send an e-mail.

Math-Challenged Mommy: Palin Should do Her Best to Wave that Special-Needs Flag

Palin Clothes Spending Has Dems Salivating, Republicans Disgusted

Laurie Serino, left, talks about the high food prices with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Barrow, Alaska on Monday, June 30, 2008.

BEFORE the Makeover: Laurie Serino, left, talks about the high food prices with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Barrow, Alaska on Monday, June 30, 2008.

Republicans hammered on Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards’ $400 haircut (which he paid for himself) all during the primaries, yet GOP spokesperson Tracey Schmitt and others on the McCain-Palin campaign think America’s voters aren’t interested to learn about the over $150,000 spent in ONE MONTH on clothes and accessories for the Republican’s everyday “hockey mom” who is the friend of “Joe Six-Packs” around the country and relates to “Joe the Plumber” during these hard economic times? Sam Stein, writing for the Huffington Post, has a great piece on reaction from both Democrats and Republicans alike in this latest blunder by John McCain and the Republican National Committee.

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin at an October 18th rally.

AFTER the Makeover: Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin at an October 18th rally.

Since her selection as John McCain’s running mate, the Republican National Committee spent more than $150,000 on clothing and make-up for Gov. Sarah Palin, her husband, and even her infant son, it was reported on Tuesday evening.

That entertaining scoop — which came by way of Politico — sent almost immediate reverberations through the presidential race. A statement from McCain headquarters released hours after the article bemoaned the triviality of the whole affair.

“With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it’s remarkable that we’re spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses,” said spokesperson Tracey Schmitt. “It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign.”

But even the most timid of Democrats are unlikely to heed this call for civility. For starters, the story has the potential to dampen enthusiasm among GOP activists and donors at a critical point in the presidential race. It also creates a huge PR headache for the McCain ticket as it seeks to make inroads among voters worried about the current economic crisis.

Mainly, however, Democrats (in this scenario) are not prone to forgiveness. After all, it was during this same campaign cycle that Republicans belittled the $400 haircut that former Sen. John Edwards had paid for with his own campaign money (the funds were later reimbursed). And yet, the comparison to that once-dominant news story is hardly close: if Edwards had gotten one of his legendary haircuts every singe week, it would still take him 7.2 years to spend what Palin has spent. Palin has received the equivalent of $2,500 in clothes per day from places such as Saks Fifth Avenue (where RNC expenditures totaled nearly $50,000) and Neiman Marcus (where the governor had a $75,000 spree).

Beyond the political tit-for-tat, however, the revelation of the clothing expenditures offers what some Democrats see as a chance not just to win several news cycles during the campaign’s waning days but to severely damage Palin’s image as a small-town, ‘Joe Six-Pack’ American.

“It shows that Palin ain’t like the rest of us,” Tom Matzzie, a Democratic strategist told the Huffington Post, when asked how the party would or could use the issue. “It can help deflate her cultural populism with the Republican base. The plumber’s wife doesn’t go to Nieman’s or Saks.”

Indeed, the story could not come at a more inopportune time for the McCain campaign. During a week in which the Republican ticket is trying to highlight its connection to the working class — and, by extension, promoting its newest campaign tool, Joe the Plumber — it was revealed that Palin’s fashion budget for several weeks was more than four times the median salary of an American plumber ($37,514). To put it another way: Palin received more valuable clothes in one month than the average American household spends on clothes in 80 years. A Democrat put it in even blunter terms: her clothes were the cost of health care for 15 or so people.

There are, in these cases, legal questions surrounding campaign expenditures. Though, on this front, Palin and the RNC seem to be in the clear.

“I don’t think it’s taxed,” said David Donnelly of Campaign Money Watch. “I don’t think she can keep it. It’s owned by the RNC. They had to use coordinated funds to pay for the clothes.”

And certainly the possibility exists that this issue can be effectively swept under the rug. Palin is not known for taking impromptu questions from the press. Moreover, the media, at this juncture, has other major story lines (see: upcoming election) to grapple with, thus denying the piece the relative vacuum that accompanied the Edwards story. Finally, there is little desire among conservative writers or pundits to litigate the matter, even if they were more than happy to jump on board when a Democrat was in the spotlight.

Several hours after Politico posted its findings, the topic remained nearly untouched by the major right-wing outlets. Though as Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic opined:

“Republicans, RNC donors and at least one RNC staff member have e-mailed me tonight to share their utter (and not-for-attribution) disgust at the expenditures. … The heat for this story will come from Republicans who cannot understand how their party would do something this stupid … particularly (and, it must be said, viewed retroactively) during the collapse of the financial system and the probable beginning of a recession.”

Palin Clothes Spending Has Dems Salivating, Republicans Disgusted

Sarah Palin: The View from Alaska – Amid Troopergate and Other Government Scandals, including Killing Wolf Pups, the Palin Phenomenon Rings Hollow in Alaska

The beauty of nature ... an aurora display near Fairbanks, Alaska

Amid “Troopergate” and other government scandals, including killing wolf pups, Alaskan writer Nick Jans explains why the Palin phenomenon rings hollow in his home state.

I sat on the bank of the Kobuk River in northwest arctic Alaska on a mid-September morning. Upstream somewhere, wolves were howling – their chorus filling the silence, close enough that I could hear the aspiration at the end of each wavering call. Behind me, the slate-gray heave of the Brooks Range spilled off toward the north, the shapes of some peaks so familiar I’ve seen them in my sleep. The nearest highway lay 250 miles away. This is the Alaska where I spent half my life, and the only place that’s ever felt like home – the land of Eskimo villages, waves of migrating caribou and seemingly limitless space.

Though I was beyond the reach of the Internet and cellphones, and life was filled with rutting bull moose, incandescent autumn light and fresh grizzly tracks, I knew that thousands of miles to the south, the rest of the country was getting a crash course on our governor, Sarah Palin – someone who believes that climate change isn’t our fault; is dead set against a woman’s right to choose; has supported creationism in the schools; and was prayed over by a visiting minister at her church to shield her against witchcraft.

How was I to explain to all my lower 48 friends and writing colleagues how such a person could have been elected to lead our state – let alone been chosen to possibly become vice-president? Truth be told, I was as startled as anyone when I heard the news. At first I thought the McCain campaign’s announcement was some sort of bad joke.

In the broadest sense, Palin is a poseur. Alaska is too large and culturally diverse (it’s only a bit smaller than the entire lower 48 east of the Mississippi, and once was divided into four time zones) to be summed up by some abstract, romanticized notion. And even if it could be, it sure wouldn’t be symbolized by Palin. “The typical Alaskan? She couldn’t be farther from it,” says Alaska House Minority Leader Beth Kertulla.

Still, Palin is a genuine Alaskan – of a kind. The kind that flowed north in the wake of the ’70s oil boom, Bible Belt politics and attitudes under arm, and transformed this state from a free-thinking, independent bastion of genuine libertarianism and individuality into a reactionary fundamentalist enclave with dollar signs in its eyes and an all-for-me mentality.

Palin’s Alaska is embodied in Wasilla, a blue-collar, sharp-elbowed town of burgeoning big box stores, suburban subdivisions, evangelical pocket churches and car dealerships morphing across the landscape, outward from Anchorage, the state’s urban epicenter. She has lived in Wasilla practically all her life, and even now resides there, the first Alaska executive to eschew the white-pillared mansion in Juneau, down on the Southeast Panhandle.

Folks in the Mat-Su Valley, as the area is known, overwhelmingly support their favorite daughter’s policies – including a state-sanctioned program where private pilots chase down and kill wolves from small aircraft, and another that favors oil drilling offshore in the arctic sea ice and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. These same voters forage at McDonald’s and Safeway in their hunter camouflage, and make regular wilderness forays up and down the state’s limited highway grid with ATVs, snowmobiles and airboats in tow behind their oversize trucks. Sometimes I imagine I can hear the roar echoing across the state, all the way to the upper Kobuk, where easements for the highways of tomorrow are already staked out across the tundra.

Like many Alaskans, I resent Palin’s claims that she speaks for all of us, and cringe when she tosses off her stump speech line, “Well, up in Alaska, we….” Not only did I not vote for her, she represents the antithesis of the Alaska I love. As mayor, she helped shape Wasilla into the chaotic, poorly planned strip mall that it is; as governor, she’s promoted that same headlong drive toward development and despoilment on a grand scale, while paying lip service to her love of the place.

As for that frontierswoman shtick, take another look at that hairpiece-augmented beehive and those stiletto heels. Coming from a college-educated family, living in a half-million-dollar view home, basking in a net worth of $1.25 million, and having owned 40-some registered motorized vehicles in the past two decades (including 17 snowmobiles and a plane) hardly qualifies Palin and her clan as the quintessential Joe Six-Pack family unit – though the adulation from that quarter shows the Palins must be fulfilling some sort of role-model fantasy.

Palin can claim to know Alaska; the fact is, she’s seen only a minuscule fraction of it – and that doesn’t include Little Diomede Island, the one place in Alaska where you actually can see Russia. So she can ride an ATV and shoot guns. Set her down in the bush on her own and I bet we’d discover she’s about as adept at butchering a moose and building a fire at 40 below zero as she is at discussing Supreme Court decisions. And that mountain-woman act is only the tip of a hollow iceberg.

Palin, and by extension, the McCain campaign, has hijacked our state for political purposes, much to the chagrin of the tens of thousands of Alaskans who loathe what she stands for. Her much-touted popularity among residents has eroded over the past six weeks to somewhere in the mid-60s – not exactly what you’d expect in support of a home girl making a White House run.

There are no doubt a variety of reasons for this decline, but many Alaskans are embarrassed – not just by her, but for our state and for ourselves. What’s with the smug posturing, recently adopted fake Minnesota accent, and that gosh-darn-it hockey mom pitch? Maybe it plays well in Peoria (and presumably Duluth), but it’s all an act. “She’s definitely put on a new persona since she’s been a vice-presidential candidate,” says Kertulla, who has worked closely with Palin for the past 18 months. “I don’t even recognize her.”

Affectations aside, there’s plenty about Palin we Alaskans do recognize, and all too well. She’s already proven to us that her promises of transparent government, attendant to the will of the people, are bear pucky. We know about her private e-mail accounts and her systematic obstruction of the Alaska Legislature’s investigation of the so-called Troopergate scandal. But let’s turn to her environmental record, where a similar pattern of obfuscation continues.

Alaskan wolf pup outside of den.

Alaskan wolf pup outside of den.

First, Palin pushed hard, along with sport hunting and guiding interests, to help defeat a ballot initiative that would have stopped the state’s current aerial wolf control program, which had been criticized by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council for flawed science. Now her administration has pointedly refused to respond to repeated public information requests (I’m one of the petitioners, and a potential litigant), regarding the apparently illegal killing of 14 wolf pups at their dens on the Alaska Peninsula this spring by state personnel, including two high-level Department of Fish and Game administrators. A biologist at the scene admitted to an independent wolf scientist that the 6-week-old pups were held down and shot in the head, one by one. This inhumane practice, known as “denning,” has been illegal for 40 years. But a simple request for information on the details of this operation, including to what extent the governor was involved in the decision, has resulted in a typical Palinesque roadblock and a string of untruths.

Our I-love-Alaska governor was also instrumental in defeating a ballot initiative to stop development of a gargantuan open-pit mine incongruously known as Pebble near the headwaters of the most productive salmon watershed in the state, Bristol Bay. The current mine design calls for building the world’s largest earthen dam to hold back an enormous lake of toxic waste – this in a known earthquake zone. Crazy stuff, yet Palin openly opposed the initiative, in lock step with international mining corporations that invested millions of dollars in a misinformation campaign.

But Palin’s certified anti-environmental whopper is her lawsuit against the Bush administration (of all outfits) for listing polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. She claimed Alaska’s own experts had completed a review of the federal data and concluded that the listing was uncalled for. The truth was, state biologists had come to the opposite conclusion. But that report was never released, and her researchers had a gag clamped on them. Palin simply didn’t want anything to get in the way of offshore oil drilling in moving pack ice – where there is no way to contain, let alone clean up, catastrophic spills.

Whenever science or rules get in Palin’s way, she blows them off. Says homesteader Mark Richards, co-founder of the Alaska Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (a moderate conservation group), “Palin, like Governor Murkowski before her, is part and parcel of the good-ol-boy network that says, ‘Alaska is open for business.'”

Want to talk to Sarah? As governor, she has been accessible only on her carefully chosen terms, a trend we’re now witnessing on the national stage. And how about those Katie Couric moments when she drifts just a skosh off a well-rehearsed script? Are those a recent phenomenon, brought on by all this new information, pressure and the liberal-gotcha media? Nah. She’s been spouting “political gibberish” (to quote gubernatorial opponent Andrew Halcro) since she arrived on the Alaska scene. Yet somehow she continues to get away with it.

In the end, Palin’s attempt to cash in on the Eau d’Alaska mystique as she supports its destruction sickens those of us who do love this land, not for what it will be some day, after the roads and mines and pipelines and cities and malls are all in, but for what it is now. What we see before us is the soul of an ambitious, ruthless, Parks Highway hillbilly – a woman who represents the Alaska you probably never want to meet, and the one we wish never existed. That said, we’re all too willing to take her back. The alternative is just too damn frightening.

Writer and photographer Nick Jans has lived in Alaska for 30 years. He is the author of “The Grizzly Maze: Timothy Treadwell’s Fatal Obsession with Alaskan Bears,” a member of USA Today’s board of editorial contributors and a contributing editor of Alaska Magazine.

Sarah Palin: The View from Alaska

Palin’s Positions on Aerial Wolf Hunting, Foreign Trade Negotiations, Putin Over U.S. Airspace, Joe Six-pack Salary, Rape Victims Medical Exams and Gay People

On MSNBC.com today, journalist Carrie Dann explores various contradictory positions of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin ahead of the only vice presidential debate between Gov. Palin and Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden. 

Dead wolf with her pup

Results of Gov. Sarah Palin policies supporting aerial wolf hunting in Alaska: Dead wolf with her pup

That gruesome, anti-Palin Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund ad is being expanded, the group says. “Starting this week, what had been limited to certain markets in Florida, Michigan and Ohio will now air in Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin. It also will air in Missouri in time for Thursday’s vice presidential debate in St. Louis.” What about the facts? “The loaded language aside, the facts of the ad are accurate, although it leaves out the motivation behind the state policy. Palin supports the aerial hunting of wolves as part of a state-sponsored predator-control program intended to increase the number of moose and caribou in several areas of Alaska. Rural residents, who rely on hunting to survive, had complained there wasn’t enough game to hunt and eat.”

Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife

More: “Last year, Palin’s office announced the state would offer cash to kill wolves. Incentives included offering volunteer pilots and aerial gunner teams $150 for turning in the forelegs of freshly killed wolves. The state said the legs could help biologists determine a wolf’s age, while the money helped hunters and aerial teams pay for gas and expenses. A Superior Court judge later blocked the payments after conservation groups argued the money amounted to an illegal bounty.”

Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the only foreign leader to have met with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the only foreign leader to have met with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

“Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who touts her state’s proximity to Russia as part of her foreign policy experience, has not met with Russian leaders or delegations, negotiated any Russian issues or visited the country, according to an Associated Press review of records from the governor’s office. The review showed that the Republican vice presidential candidate has negotiated with only one country, Canada, and until last week had met with the leader of only one other, tiny Iceland.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

How about when Putin rears his head? “The Alaska governor has no command authority over the guardians of U.S. airspace despite her recent suggestion otherwise. ‘She doesn’t have any role in that process,’ Air Force Maj. Allen Herritage, spokesman for the Alaska North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the Daily News. .. Moscow’s bombers have skirted Alaskan airspace 20 times, though they have not violated it, during Palin’s governorship, officials said. When F-15 and F-22 interceptors scrambled from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage in response, John McCain’s running mate was not speed-dialed with the news.”

Sarah Palins home located in Wasilla, Alaska, has an appraised value of $552,100, according to the Matanuska-Susitana Borough real property land details.

Sarah Palins home located in Wasilla, Alaska, has an appraised value of $552,100, according to the Matanuska-Susitana Borough real property land details.

Palin as Joe Six-pack? “Palin said if she and John McCain win, they will ‘put government back on the side of the people of Joe Six-pack like me.'” But, “Palin makes $125,000 yearly as governor, and her husband makes about $90,000 a year combined from his commercial fishing business and his part-time job as a production operator on the North Slope. Palin said her husband’s 401(k) retirement account lost probably $20,000 in the last week as the market dropped. According to the most recent state financial disclosure forms, filed March 10, 2008, the Palins had about $164,699 in a private investment account and $198,102 in a separate retirement account.”

The Boston Globe’s editorial page wants one question answered by Palin at tomorrow’s debate: “[W]hy, during her tenure as mayor of Wasilla, the town started charging rape victims or their insurers for hospital emergency-room rape kits and examinations. … [T]he policy on rape kits may have had less to do with easing the burden on taxpayers and more to do with Palin’s position on abortion. She has said she opposes it even in cases of rape or incest.”

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi

Gay couples like Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi will be so relieved they have Gov. Palin's blessings.

And: “Sarah Palin, the socially conservative GOP veep nominee, is not opposed to gay people. Heck, some of her best friends are gay. ‘I am not going to judge Americans and the decisions that they make in their adult personal relationships,’ Palin told CBS’ Katie Couric Tuesday night when asked about churches, including Palin’s, that promote conferences to convert gays into heterosexuals through prayer. ‘I have one of my absolute best friends for the last 30 years who happens to be gay and I love her dearly,’ Palin said, without mentioning names. ‘And she is not my gay friend, she is one of my best friends who happens to have made a choice that isn’t a choice that I have made.'”

Palin’s Positions on Aerial Hunting of Wolves, Trade Negotiations, Putin over U.S. Airspace, Joe Six-pack Salary, Rape Victims Medical Exams and Gay People