Although I have lived in Atlanta more years than I like to admit, I am and always will be an Alaskan. Other than being a mother, there is no other group I identify with more than Alaskans. I read the Anchorage Daily News everyday. I keep up to date on all the politics, scandals, bear attacks, festivals, construction and social issues in Alaska, and Anchorage in particular.
So, the day McCain announced Palin as his running mate, I can’t say I was surprised. There has been much speculation in the political blogosphere. I wasn’t surprised, but boy was I shocked and a little outraged. My first thought was about her lack of experience and if McCain had lost his mind. I could go on and on, but I’ll just say this, the argument that she has foreign affairs experience because Alaska is neighbor to Russia (as stated by dozens of GOP folks) is the most ridiculous thing I have heard. It takes a skilled politician to say that with straight face.
All the rumors and social issues are completely irrelevant to me, this is about a person who is not ready to lead this county. She lacks education, experience and knowledge about anything outside of Alaska.
Which brings me to her first interview. She looks and sounds like someone who crammed for a test. She could not have an intelligent conversation, let alone and eloquent debate about national security issues. I can’t wait to see more.
Her supposed expertise in national security is in energy. Alaska supplies oil for 3.5% of America’s energy supply. Doesn’t sound like much, but McCain says she knows more about energy than anyone else. Please.
As an Alaskan woman, I am horrified that she has become THE national icon for Alaska. I have read many of the articles lately about Alaska and our oil based economy. Many make Alaskans sound like a bunch of folksy people living off the taxes of the working class Americans of the Lower 48. In particular, this Time Magazine article was the pretty embarrassing, and the numbers are questionable.
Palin’s ridiculously simple plan to help people with their energy bills, emphasizes that image. Handing out cash is so much simpler than coming up with a real solution like subsidizing rural Alaska’s skyrocketing heating fuel oil (which is significantly more expensive than Anchorage’s natural gas) or investing in infrastructure. I can’t even guess how many communities in Alaska do not have adequate sewer systems, sewage treatment or even landfills. Totally disgusting, but Palin hands out $1200 to every man woman and chid, totaling about 730 million. Millions of which will go back to the Federal government in taxes, instead of staying in Alaska. Surely that money could have been used in a better manner, but it was a quick way to make people happy. Her 80% approval rate is not as impressive when you realize she just handed everyone a big check. Where is the foresight? Where is the leadership?
By the way, the Alaska Permanent Fund check that Alaskans receive is different than the Energy Relief check. It was actually an innovative idea created nearly 30 thirty years ago to plan for the future. The resources of Alaska belong to the people and the State earns various royalties and taxes when these resources are used. At least 25% of all income that comes into the state is put into a savings and investment account. 50% of the interest earned, average over 5 years is pulled out for legislative use and some is sent back to the residents of Alaska. The other 50% stays in the Permanent Fund.
Alaska is a place where no one pays state income tax, most don’t pay property taxes or even sales taxes. Palin’s “maverick” personality, as it is being touted, is baloney. She went after big oil, because that is where the money is at. She took the Bridge to Nowhere money. She, notably, dropped the “Thanks, but no thanks.” line from her stump speech when she gave it in Alaska this week. She has gone after pork barrel money better than most Alaskan mayors. She doesn’t care that Federal money is actually your money. She only changed her behavior recently because it makes her look different from Ted Stevens, who has recently been indicted. No need to be associated with him, if you are about to become the vice presidential nominee. Out with the old, but in with a younger version of the same.
Click here for an interesting review of her interview last night.