High cost of lipstick

October 24, 2008

Now we know why the McCain campaign has been so sensitive about mentions of lipstick.

At more than $600 a day for what Delbert McClinton would call lipstick, powder and paint, can the U.S. afford Sarah Palin?

Atomic history, nuclear future

October 19, 2008

We’re going to see more nuclear power plants in the U.S., it’s a safe bet.  Both presidential candidates support developing alternatives to oil and coal.  Nuclear power is one of the alternatives.

John McCain kept repeating his comfort words, that ‘storage of wastes is not a problem.’ There is not a lot of evidence to support his claims.  With turmoil in financial markets, however, the nuclear power issue has gotten very little serious attention or scrutiny.  From the push to get compensation for radiation victims of atomic weapons and development in the U.S., I learned that the issue is not really whether wastes and other materials can be safely used and wastes stored. The issues are entirely issues of will.

Advantage to Obama, I think.  He’s not claiming that the storage problems are all solved.  A clear recognition of reality is good to have in a president.

Son Kenny sent a link to a history site, Damn Interesting, and it tells the story of the Techa River in the old Soviet Union — a place condemned for generations by the nuclear excesses of the past.

To make the story briefer, in their rush to produce nuclear weapons, the Soviets did nothing to protect Russia from radioactive waste products until it was much too late.  Efforts to reduce radioactive emissions, by storing them in huge underwater containers, resulted in massive explosions that released more radiation than Chernobyl (What?  You hadn’t heard of that, either?).

It’s a reminder that safety and security with peaceful uses of nuclear power depend on humans doing their part, and thinking through the problems before they arise.

Can we deal with radioactive wastes?  We probably have the technology.  Do we have the will? Ask yourself:  How many years has the U.S. studied Yuccan Mountain to make a case to convince Nevadans to handle the waste?  How many more decades will it take?

How is our history of dealing with nuclear contamination issues?  Not good.

Last spring SMU’s history department sponsored a colloquium on a power generation in the southwest, specifically with regard to coal and uranium mining on the Navajo Reservation.   We’ve been there before.

One of the photos used in one of the lectures, by Colleen O’Neill of Utah State, showed two Navajo miners outside a uranium mine during a previous uranium boom.  Neither one had a lick of protective equipment.  Underground uranium mining exposes miners to heave concentrations of radon gas, and if a miner is unprotected by breathing filters at least, there is a nearly 100% chance the miner will get fatal lung cancers.

Of the 150 Navajo uranium miners who worked at the uranium mine in Shiprock, New Mexico until 1970, 133 died of lung cancer or various forms of fibrosis by 1980 ([Ali, 2003] ).

Our Senate hearings on radiation compensation, in the 1970s, produced dozens of pages of testimony that Atomic Energy Commission officials understood the dangers, but did nothing to protect Navajo miners (or other miners, either).  It is unlikely that anyone depicted in those photos is alive today.

AP Photo  (borrowed from ehponline.org)

"Mine memory - Navajo miners work the Kerr-McGee uranium mine, 7 May 1953. Today, uranium from unremediated abandoned mines contaminates nearby water supplies. image: AP Photo" (borrowed from ehponline.org) This photo is very close to the one used by Prof. O'Neill. It may have been taken at nearly the same time. If you know of any survivors from this photo, please advise.

At a refining facility on the Navajo Reservation, highly radioactive wastewater was stored behind an inadequate earthen dam.  The dam broke, and the wastes flowed through a town and into local rivers.  Contamination was extensive.

Attempts to collect for the injuries to Navajo miners and their families were thrown out of court in 1980, on the grounds that the injuries were covered under workers compensation rules (where injury compensation was also denied, generally).

Navajos organized to protest the power plant. One wonders whether they can win it.

Sen. McCain seems cock sure that radioactive wastes won’t kill thousands of Americans in the future as they have in the past.  The uranium mining and uranium tailings issues occurred in Arizona, the state McCain represents.  Does he know?

We regard ourselves in the U.S. as generally morally superior to “those godless communists.”  Can we demonstrate moral superiority with regard to development of peacetime nuclear power, taking rational steps to protect citizens and others, and rationally, quickly and fairly compensating anyone who is injured?

That hasn’t happened yet.

When [uranium] mining [on the Navajo Reservation] ceased in the late 1970’s, mining companies walked away from the mines without sealing the tunnel openings, filling the gaping pits, sometimes hundreds of feet deep, or removing the piles of radioactive uranium ore and mine waste. Over 1,000 of these unsealed tunnels, unsealed pits and radioactive waste piles still remain on the Navajo reservation today, with Navajo families living within a hundred feet of the mine sites. The Navajo graze their livestock here, and have used radioactive mine tailings to build their homes. Navajo children play in the mines, and uranium mine tailings have turned up in school playgrounds (103rd Congress, 1994 ).

Think of the story of Techa River as a warning.


What if Obama carried Alaska?

October 6, 2008

Just wondering, after reading the latest news from Mudflats:  “McCain Palin Rally vs. Obama Biden Rally in Anchorage!  The blow by blow.

Governors with broad foreign policy experience? Here’s a short list, Sen. Hutchison

September 14, 2008

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, joined a panel on CBS’s “Face the Nation” this morning, discussing the qualifications to be vice president of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

She said, “Four of the last presidents have been governors, and they have come in, every one of them, without an in-depth foreign policy experience.”  Hutchison suggested that Palin reads the newspapers and knows as much as the average governor about foreign policy, but doesn’t need significant knowledge in foreign affairs.

Hutchison challenged:  “Name one governor who has become president who has had in-depth foreign policy experience.”

It pains me when public officials demonstrate such a vast lack of knowledge about American history.  Because you’re from Texas, Sen. Hutchison, let me give you the facts, so you can avoid gaffes in the future.

1.  Thomas Jefferson, former governor of Virginia, assumed the presidency after having served as the American Ambassador to France, after extensive travels through Europe specifically to study government and foreign affairs, and after having served as both Secretary of State to George Washington, and vice president to John Adams.  If we ignore Jefferson’s service after his governorship, we would note that he read fluently in both Greek and Latin before he was 20, and had read extensively of the histories of Rome, Greece, France, Britain and the rest of Europe.  By the time he assumed the presidency he had added fluent French, passing Italian, and Hebrew to his catalog of languages.

Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican (the first of that party), the party that is today known as the Democratic Party.  Perhaps Sen. Hutchison is party blind.

2.  Theodore Roosevelt — you remember him, the guy with the glasses on Mt. Rushmore? — came to the vice presidency in 1901 from being governor of New York.  Prior to that he had been Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Navy, a post from which he wrote the book on naval power in the new age, for foreign affairs.  When the Spanish American War broke out, Roosevelt thought his desk job as head of the Navy too tame, so he created an elite corps of cavalrymen, recruiting almost equally from his old cowboy friends in the Dakotas and his Harvard friends, and insisted on service in the front lines.  His 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, the “Rough Riders” were deployed to Cuba.  Coming under fire, they stormed San Juan Hill and pushed better-trained, veteran Spanish troops off, thereby winning the battle (Roosevelt was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for this action, though many years after his death).  Among the more interesting facts:  Their horses had not made it to Cuba; Roosevelt led the charge on foot.  He always was impatient.

Roosevelt’s experience came in handy.  He was the guy who pushed the Japanese and Russians to a peace treaty, ending the Russo-Japanese War, in 1906.  Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Prize in Peace for this work (he’s the only person ever to have won the Congressional Medal of Honor and been president, and the only Congressional Medal of Honor winner to win a Nobel Prize, and vice versa.  If we’re making a case that one doesn’t need foreign affairs experience to be vice president, for fairness, we should consider that vice president’s with foreign affairs experience provide great advantages to the nation, and have advanced the cause of peace, and readiness.

New York City, the major city in New York, was in 1900 one of the world’s greatest cities, a major trading center, and one of America’s largest ports (Roosevelt had been police commissioner there, earlier).  The population of the city alone was 3,437,202.  The population of the entire state was 7,268,894.  Alaska’s population today is about 670,000

3.  Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived at the White House after four years as governor of New York. Like his cousin before him, Roosevelt had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, during a period of frequent intervention in Central America and Caribbean nations.  It is reputed that FDR wrote the constitution imposed on Haiti in 1915.  In his Navy post, Roosevelt visited England and France, and made the acquaintance of Winston Churchill.  Roosevelt played a key role in the establishment of the Navy Reserve, and fought to keep the Navy from decommissioning after the end of World War I.  FDR came from a privileged family.  They made frequent trips to Europe, and by the time he was 18 FDR was conversant in both French and German.  A philatelist, his knowledge of the world’s business and trade was rather legendary.

4.  Jimmy Carter graduated high in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy, where the required curriculum includes extensive instruction in foreign affairs.  He was chosen by Adm. Hyman Rickover for the elite nuclear submarine corps.  As Georgia’s governor, Carter was elected to the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-governmental group whose intention is to create knowledge about foreign relations in the U.S. in order to aid in defense and trade, and the Trilateral Commission, a group founded on the idea that trade between the U.S., Japan and Europe can be a basis for improving international relations and trade.

5. Bill Clinton graduated from Georgetown University with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS), from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.  Phi Beta Kappa, he won a Rhodes Scholarship, designed to pick from the next generation of great leaders, and got a degree in government in his studies at University College, Oxford.  He also traveled Europe during that time.

Hutchison’s point may apply to two Republican governors who won the White House, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.  They brought other gifts, but their lack of foreign policy experience nearly led to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union in Reagan’s first term, and Bush’s lack of foreign policy knowledge probably led to the unfortunate invasion of Iraq, which has led our nation too close to the brink of national calamity.

And for good measure, let’s list this guy at #6:  Bill Richardson, the current governor of New Mexico, has a sound reputation in international relations, as a former Secretary of Energy, and former U.S. Ambassodor to the United Nations.  Among other things, Richardson talked the North Koreans into shutting down their nuclear bomb plans and operations in 1994.  When the Bush administration squirreled that deal, it was Bill Richardson again who stepped in (at the request of the North Koreans — they trust him), and got them to agree to back off the most recent bomb plans and development.  “Richardson has been recognized for negotiating the release of hostages, American servicemen, and political prisoners in North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba.”  In 14 years as a congressman representing New Mexico, Richardson “visited Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, India, North Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Sudan to represent U.S. interests.”  He previously staffed the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate, and worked for Henry Kissinger’s State Department in the Nixon Administration.

Contrary to Hutchison’s claim, of the four “recent” governors to gain the White House, two (both Democrats) had foreign relations education or experience far beyond that of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, and at least three other governors brought extensive foreign relations experience with them; one other has foreign relations experience a Secretary of State might envy.

Those are the facts.

Sen. Hutchison:  Can you earmark about $200,000 for education in foreign affairs for Dallas high schools?  Perhaps you can see, now, that experience and education in foreign affairs is useful for high office.  My students will be seeking those offices sooner than we may expect.

I wouldn’t want them wandering the world thinking lack of knowledge about foreign affairs is a good thing.

Update:  Calvin Coolidge was governor of Massachusetts before being elected to the vice presidency on a ticket with Warren G. Harding.  Coolidge’s foreign relations experience could be said to be lacking.  However, Coolidge’s experience as a mayor and governor differed greatly from Palin’s:

[From Wikipedia’s entry on Coolidge] Instead of vying for another term in the state house, Coolidge returned home to his growing family and ran for mayor of Northampton when the incumbent Democrat retired. He was well-liked in the town, and defeated his challenger by a vote of 1,597 to 1,409.[29] During his first term (1910 to 1911), he increased teachers’ salaries and retired some of the city’s debt while still managing to effect a slight tax decrease.[30] He was renominated in 1911, and defeated the same opponent by a slightly larger margin.[31]

And, later:

Coolidge was unopposed for the Republican nomination for Governor of Massachusetts in 1918. He and his running mate, Channing Cox, a Boston lawyer and Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, ran on the previous administration’s record: fiscal conservatism, a vague opposition to Prohibition, support for women’s suffrage, and support for American involvement in the First World War.[49] The issue of the war proved divisive, especially among Irish– and German-Americans.[50] Coolidge was elected by a margin of 16,773 votes over his opponent, Richard H. Long, in the smallest margin of victory of any of his state-wide campaigns.[51]

*   *   *   *   *   *

By the time Coolidge was inaugurated on January 1, 1919 the First World War had ended, and Coolidge pushed the legislature to give a $100 bonus to Massachusetts veterans. He also signed a bill reducing the work week for women and children from fifty-four hours to forty-eight, saying “we must humanize the industry, or the system will break down.”[65] He signed into law a budget that kept the tax rates the same, while trimming four million dollars from expenditures, thus allowing the state to retire some of its debt.[66]

Update:  Lisa has a series of interesting posts on presidents and their executive experience, at As If You Care.

“I-have-gall” (not “I got Gaul”) update:  Some clown actually compared Palin to Roosevelt in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, according to Snopes.comSnopes’s response was much kinder, and less flattering to Roosevelt, than I would have been.  WSJ left off the San Juan Hill episode, the Medal of Honor, and the Nobel Peace Prize (though he won that for his actions as president).

Why science matters in the campaign

September 7, 2008

Dr. Art Hunt at The RNA Underworld explains why Obama’s plan to double NIH research funding is a good idea.

Big bang for the buck:  Hunt’s analysis suggests doubling the research budgets might drive as much as a trillion dollar increase in our economy. Sure it’s optimistic — but read what he says.  And then consider:  Which platform offers the greatest hope of cures or treatments for cancers?  Which platform offers the best hope for a cure or treatments for Alzheimer’s disease?

The two industries I mention here – pharma and biotech – are intimately interwoven with the basic biomedical research enterprise, and a significant amount of the innovation that drives these industries originates (or originated) in the NIH-funded biomedical research laboratory. In this respect, the NIH budget is an investment, and a wildly-successful one. Even if we don’t take the face-value numbers I have pulled from Wiki here (that show an annual return of some 1000%, and more than 750,000 high-paying jobs the tax receipts from which would probably pay much of the NIH tab by themselves), and instead factor in that some of these receipts and jobs are not American, it is still easy to see that basic biomedical research returns considerably more than the investment made by the government. (And this doesn’t begin to weigh the intangibles, the ways that the research enterprise gives back to society as a whole.)

Science bloggers have been not so noisy as this issue might need:  The closest John McCain came to supporting science, the driver of our economy, was when he offered to assault education, and that’s the opposite of supporting science. Obama’s mentions are encouraging, but not frequent enough nor strident enough.

Think of just three of the issues that are affected by basic science research, that will be yelled about during the campaign:

The silence on science should make us very, very concerned.

Have you read Obama’s response to the 14 big questions on science policy?  McCain has not answered.

Other reading:

The value of local historians in small-town Alaska

September 2, 2008

A woman who watches and records events in Wasilla, Alaska, notes recent history:

Dear friends,

So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .

Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in common: their gender and their good looks. :)

You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .

[An Alaskan]


I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because
she is a “babe”.

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She’s smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. 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. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later–to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s surplus, borrow for needs.

She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal–loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated” her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects–which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance–but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah’s mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in thestate (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.

•“Hockey mom”: true for a few years
•“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since
•“NRA supporter”: absolutely true
•social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconstitutional).
•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.
•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation
•“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.
•political maverick: not at all
•gutsy: absolutely!
•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.
•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.
•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents
•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla’s history.
•pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.


First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name ([name deleted] + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council  meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can’t recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall–they are swamped. So I can’t verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my “about 5,000”, up to 9,000. The day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was
5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.

[Name withheld from this forum at writer’s request]
[e-mail address masked by MFB]
August 31, 2008

Tip of the old scrub brush to Andrew Sullivan.

Update:  Nice link from P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula, “Palinanity.”  Important video there.

McCain sticks it to the PUMAs

August 29, 2008

Ya gotta feel for the die-hard PUMAs, the people who were so much for Hillary Clinton that they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Obama, so they defected to George Bush’s party and hope to sign on with John McCain. (PUMA is an acronym:  “Party Unity My [mild profanity dealing with gluteal muscles]”)

“That will show Obama he can’t trample a good woman in an election race,” they were muttering until about 11:00 a.m. Central Time today.

Then, John McCain picked one of those classic Republican women office holders, one who is female in gender only, who looks at the good politics and wisdom of genuine feminism and instead does her best to act like Attila the Hun with a streak of intolerance, though occasionally acting rational enough to hold on to the few rational conservatives who vote.  John McCain is so certain of their support that he can spit on their issues and kick dust in their faces. Or worse.

McCains boys and former supporter of Hillary Clinton?

McCain's boys and former supporter of Hillary Clinton?

McCain must figure the PUMAs will only love him more for it.

Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska.  That’s about as far from Hillary Clinton as Vladimir Putin is from Harry Truman.

What will the PUMAs do? Maybe they should follow Hillary’s example, and endorse Obama.

What do you think?

Any McCain defenders out there?

May 19, 2008

Stumbled into this post, “McCain’s YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare.”

To now, I’ve just had policy differences with McCain, and much admiration for his having gone through his prison experiences while maintaining a high degree of balance. The video is damning. Is it accurate?

Any McCain defenders out there who can make the case against what the video seems to say?

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