$2 Million to Kill Polar Bears, for the Sake of Ignorance

polarbear-stevehillebrand-usfws.jpgMcClatchy has an important fact check on Sarah Palin’s latest interview with Charlie Gibson–noting her, um, fluid views on climate change.

Charles Gibson seemed a little confused about Gov. Sarah Palin’s answers on global warming when he interviewed her this week while strolling beside the trans-Alaska pipeline.

The ABC anchor has plenty of Alaska voters for company. Since entering the governor’s race here two years ago, Palin has shimmied back and forth on the key question of whether warming trends are natural or a byproduct of human activity.

Most interesting, though, is the description of where Palin got the money to sue the Federal government in an attempt to delist the polar bear as an endangered species.

Earlier this year, the state legislature approved $2 million for a conference inviting climate change skeptics here to hash out the causes.

"It is important to remember that climate change is occurring, but then it has occurred continuously for millions of years," wrote the legislature’s Republican leaders, House Speaker John Harris and Senate President Lyda Green. "And, so far, there are too many dissenting opinions to state matter-of-factly that it is being caused by humans."

The project was derided by some as a "conference to nowhere" and now appears unlikely to take place. Much of the money was later diverted to fund a lawsuit by the Palin administration against listing the polar bear as a threatened species. [my emphasis]

The reality-haters in Alaska wanted to host a party for similar reality-haters. But instead, the listing of the polar bear as an endangered species gave them their opportunity to challenge reality on a national scale. With the added bonus for them, of course, that if they won, they could continue to trash the polar bear’s habitat with abandon.

I realize Sarah Palin is suing the government for practical reasons, so, if she won, Alaska could continue to get rich off of selling the Japanese gas and oil, without worrying whether it’ll wipe out polar bears once and for all.

But at some level, isn’t she just going after the polar bears as a propaganda stunt?

Photo credit: Steve Hillebrand / USFWS

The Meddling Husband May Get A Subpoena

One of the, um, creepiest things about Sarah Palin is that her husband lurks around the Governor’s business, sticking his nose in where private citizens should have no involvement. This includes oil and gas negotiations, her emails, and hiring and firing decisions–including that of Walt Monegan. In fact, when I was reading Wevley Shea’s warnings to Palin, I kept thinking: "Wevley, Dude, she can’t get out of this because she can’t fire one of the "aides" most intimately involved in pressuring Monegan: her husband."

Well, now she might wish she had, because in addition to the seven Palin aides who are cooperating in the McCain cover-up (and therefore NOT cooperating in the TrooperGate investigation), the investigator has asked to subpoena Todd Palin.

The committee investigating this has to vote on who will get a subpoena–so Todd Palin does not yet have to bone up on his "spousal privilege" (no, not that kind of privilege–with Republicans it’s about the cover-up, you know). 

But at the very least, this ought to focus some attention on whether it is appropriate for Todd Palin to be making the hiring and firing decisions of Alaska’s public servents.

Update: In a bipartisan 3-2 vote, the committee has approved the subpoenas.

The state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 today to subpoena 13 people — including the husband of Gov. Sarah Palin — in an investigation of whether Palin abused her power in trying to get her former brother-in-law fired.

The legislative probe has taken on new significance since Republican presidential candidate John McCain picked Palin as his running mate.

Retired prosecutor Stephen Branchflower asked the state House and Senate judiciary committees for power to subpoena the 13 witnesses, including Todd Palin, the governor’s husband.

"He’s such a central figure. … I think one should be issued for him," Branchflower said.

The Senate committees granted the request. Voting for were Sens. Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, and two Anchorage Democrats, Hollis French and Bill Wielechowski.

Palin’s Advisor Makes the Comparison to the US Attorney Purge Explicit

If you’ve been watching Sarah Palin’s attempt to cover-up her abuse of power in TrooperGate, it may have reminded you of Bush’s attempt to cover up his US Attorney purge: An executive wants to retaliate against those who have put the rule of law above partisan or personal grudges, so she fires people. And then, when people notice, she starts stone-walling and back-tracking on promises to cooperate.

Kagro X has already made this comparison explicit.

Warning to Democrats Americans: Republicans are fighting this investigation like it was Florida 2000. If you’re harboring any thoughts of taking a hands-off approach, rising above the fray, and then doubling back to investigate it later if she gets elected, think again. At that point we’ll be hearing nothing but how it was "thoroughly investigated" by the Alaska state legislature. The quashing of the subpoenas won’t be mentioned, and all will be forgotten. You know it’s coming.

This is a direct parallel to federal issues playing out as we speak in Washington, with Harriet Miers a no-show once again today on a subpoena that’s now well over a year old.

Turns out, Kagro X isn’t the first one to make such a comparison. One of Sarah Palin’s own personal advisors is.

WSJ broke and CNN did a follow-up story on the warnings Palin’s ethics advisor, Wevley Shea, gave her just as the story that she fired Walt Monegan started to break back in July.

An informal adviser who has counseled Gov. Sarah Palin on ethics issues urged her in July to apologize for her handling of the dismissal of the state’s public safety commissioner and warned that the matter could snowball into a bigger scandal.

He also said, in a letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, that she should fire any aides who had raised concerns with the chief over a state trooper who was involved in a bitter divorce with the governor’s sister.

In an interview with CNN, Shea compares the TrooperGate cover-up (and remember–this is a description coming from one of Palin’s friends!) and the US Attorney purge:

"The problem, in my opinion, is that there has been out-and-out cover-up and misleading statements by staffers in the governor’s office," he said. "And the parallel that I tried to draw is, you know, the problem with the firing or terminating of the U.S. attorneys."

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McCain Makes the Case that Energy State Governors Are Great on National Security

Joe Sudbay is rightthis interview, in which McCain is challenged to explain why Governor Palin is qualified to be a 72-year old heartbeat away from the presidency, is terrible.

But I’m most interested–disturbed, really–by his latest explanation of how Sarah Palin is qualified on the matter that McCain says matters most: national security. 

Reporter: You say you’re sure she has the experience, but I’m just asking for an example. What experience does she have in the field of national security?

McCain: Energy. She knows more about energy than uh probably anyone else in the United States of America. She represe–is a governor of the state that 20% of America’s energy supply comes from there. And you all know that energy is a critical and vital national security issue.

McCain is basically arguing that serving as governor of a state that supplies a lot of America’s energy gives a person great national security credentials.

Hmmm. Governors of states that supply lots of energy … states that supply lots of energy … lets see, those would include Alaska, Louisiana, …

Ut oh.

And Texas.

Now aside from the fact that McCain is wrong about his claim that Alaska provides 20% of our energy supply (it provides 20% of our oil, relatively little–at least thus far–of our natural gas, and insignificant amounts of coal, nuclear, wind, or solar power), he’s basically arguing that a guy like George Bush has the national security qualifications to be President.

And we saw how well that worked out. 

All in all, I’d say, McCain’s making a great case for voting against Sarah Palin.

Now! All New!! One Third the Campaigners

The McCain campaign, noting that by adding a celebrity to their ticket they can actually fill rallies, has announced McCain and Palin will continue to campaign together after she returns from trying to cover up her dirt in Alaska.

The McCain campaign is "very seriously considering" having McCain and Palin campaign together more often than not in the next two months, a senior campaign aide said, adding it could be the most a presidential and vice presidential candidate campaign in tandem in recent history.

The aide said the two have developed a strong chemistry together and will likely utilize it through joint rallies. He likened it to the chemistry Bill Clinton and Al Gore had in 1992, suggesting it was instinctive.

"Sometimes these vice presidential selections, the pairings, work in a magical way," the aide told reporters on the Palin campaign plane, on condition of anonymity.

Though, really, it’s not so much "chemistry" or "magic." It’s necessity. You can’t promise concert-goers Carrie Underwood and then deliver Lawrence Welk–which is what the McCain campaign will be doing until they get their hot celebrity back on the trail. 

In fact, McCain couldn’t even get through his first campaign rally after Palin left, though that appears to have been Democrats capitalizing on really bad advance work from the McCain team.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain cut short his first public appearance without running-mate Sarah Palin after chanting supporters of Democratic rival Barack Obama interrupted his speech.

After lunching with a roundtable of women at Philadelphia’s Down Home Diner, McCain shook hands with supporters and strode up to a podium to deliver a statement. But as he spoke, chants of "Obama, Obama, Obama" filled the room.

Reporters craned forward trying to hear the Arizona senator. Unfortunately for McCain — and possibly overlooked by aides who planned the event — a section of the diner opened up to a market where a crowd had gathered behind a cordon.

A large contingent of Obama supporters showed up, mixed with some who had bumper stickers reading "Democrats for McCain".


His words were barely audible. [my emphasis]

Frankly, this state of affairs has a lot of risk for McCain. He is already depending on her to bring out the crowds–which suggests a real dependency which kind of weakens the whole war hero image.

But I’m most interested in what McCain’s reliance on Palin will do for his ability to campaign. Read more

Sarah Palin Has Failed in Her Primary Role as Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska National Guard

Brandon Friedman has a critical picture of how the head of Alaska’s National Guard flip-flopped on his opinion about Sarah Palin just as she was handing him an extra star. Apparently, her most significant act as Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska National Guard, thus far, is buying off a guy who then went on to shill for her.

But there’s actually more to the story–and it shows that, even according to this now-promoted shill, Sarah Palin has failed in the area where he most relies on her help, recruiting new members of the National Guard.

Here’s what Campbell had to say in his interview for the September 3 BoGlo story about Palin’s role in recruiting:

About 75 percent of the Guard’s budget, he said, is the purview of the National Guard Bureau in Washington, which is responsible for ensuring the Guard is prepared to be called up by the president in a time of war. Her primary role, he said, is in recruiting National Guard volunteers.

Campbell said he has met with Palin about once a month, but communicates with her by phone and email more frequently. Earlier this week, he noted, she ordered the Air National Guard to fly a planeload of supplies to hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast

"She is very much engaged in what we are doing and she asks a lot of questions," Campbell said. "Maybe not the most engaged, but definitely engaged.

She is very much involved in ensuring that I am recruiting enough people." [my emphasis]

That is, Sarah Palin’s primary role as Commander-in-Chief is ensuring the Alaska National Guard meets its recruiting targets.

But measured on those terms, Palin is a failure. That’s because Alaska has the worst recruiting record of all 50 states.

The Alaska National Guard, which Republicans are pointing to as an important national-security credential for vice presidential choice Sarah Palin, has personnel shortages that make its aviation units the most poorly staffed in the nation.

Just six months ago, Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, the Alaska Guard’s top officer, warned in an internal memo that "missions are at risk." The lack of qualified airmen, Campbell said, "has reached a crisis level." [my emphasis]

Now, maybe when Campbell spoke of Palin’s great support for recruiting last week, he was describing a big turnaround in the state’s paltry recruiting. Except that, even though recruiting has improved of late, it’s still the worst in the nation. Read more

Secessionist Sarah and Her Stay-at-Home Subsidies

palin_aip2.jpgBy now you’ve heard of Sarah Palin’s brilliant way of easing tensions between family and career: she has billed Alaska for her girls to travel to her official events (Jane hits it here and Christy here).

In separate filings, the state was billed about $25,000 for Palin’s daughters’ expenses and $19,000 for her husband’s.

Flights topped the list for the most expensive items, and the daughter whose bill was the highest was Piper, 7, whose flights cost nearly $11,000, while Willow, 14, claimed about $6,000 and Bristol, 17, accounted for about $3,400.

One event was in New York City in October 2007, when Bristol accompanied the governor to Newsweek’s third annual Women and Leadership Conference, toured the New York Stock Exchange and met local officials and business executives. The state paid for three nights in a $707-a-day hotel room.

Think about it! If women everywhere just billed their employers for lugging their kids on business trips, it would strengthen families and make it easier for women to sustain vibrant careers. And I’m sure the corporations picking up the tab won’t mind about the cost, given the way it would strengthen families …

But that’s not the most interesting aspect of today’s Palin scandal du jour, IMO. I’m more interested in the way that Palin’s actions have effected a policy change that the Alaska Independence Party–those loony secessionists her husband was officially affiliated with not so long ago–has been pushing for some time.

Along with wanting to separate from America, you see, the AIP has long supported efforts to move the state capitol from Juneau to some place more central–some place like the Mat-Su Valley (Palin’s home) or Anchorage. And that’s what Palin has effectively done–at least in her role as Governor.

Palin’s Support for Moving the Capitol

As Governor, Palin’s first purportedly anti-Juneau act came when she took the oath–it in Fairbanks, not Juneau. Then, she told her Commmissioners they didn’t have to live in Juneau.

But overall in the last few months she’s seen less of Palin, who’s moved most of her operations up to Anchorage, the biggest city in Alaska and a place much friendlier to the sort of conservative pro-business pro-drilling stance that’s marked her tenure as governor. “She had started off by telling her Commissioners that none of them had to live in Juneau, which makes Juneauites nervous. We’re always convinced that they’re going to try and move the State Capitol again.”

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So I was musing today that someone better keep count of all of Sarah Palin’s lies. And just as I was musing thusly, I learned that ThinkProgress is already keeping track, at least of the lie that even Howie Kurtz calls a whopper, the Bridge to Nowhere lie.

Good thing they jumped on this count: the McCain campaign is already up to 19 different re-tellings of the Bridge to Nowhere lie. These numbers are going to pile up.

Here’s where they’re keeping track–so if you spy the lie, make sure they’ve caught it. It also lists the 9 different times (as of Monday at 6 PM) a neutral source has debunked the lie.

Update: link to TP’s tracking document fixed.


It’s a tough concept, I know, one that Marc Ambinder either can’t–or won’t–understand. But let’s see if you all, in the comments, can help Ambinder out.

What’s the difference between this:

technically true, but functionally false

And this:

repeated, blatant lies

Or this: 

A serial liar

Or this:

A lying liar

Or this:

Completely divorced from reality

Go ahead–explain the difference to Ambinder!

Because Ambinder is cross that Matt Yglesias pointed out that he, Ambinder, has a role in whether people understand that Sarah Palin and John McCain made a claim that was "technically true, but functionally false" or whether they know that McCain has rolled out an entire campaign strategy built on repeated and shameless lies. It’s all just that "a small but significant fraction of the electorate seems astonishingly inured to misleading charges and negative attacks," according to Ambinder, it has nothing to do with the flaccidity of the press, because, after all, "the press has pointed out the Bridge to Nowhere exagerration ever since it was uncovered." No word on whether he finds McCain and Palin’s related claim that Palin–whose own projects McCain once singled out on his objectionable pork lists, whose own state still leads the country in per capita earmarks–is a great opponent of earmarks is just "technically true but functionally false, or whether it’s a cynical lie. No word on whether Palin’s clear fondness for the pork she claims to oppose undercuts the spin that she’s a maverick. No word on when the McCain campaign’s repeated insistence on the Bridge to Nowhere myth–or for that matter, its repeated, documented lies about Obama’s tax plan–becomes a story.

Because at some point, McCain’s cynical strategy to lie his way to victory threatens the entire principle of the objective press. If McCain can tell lies so brazen they’d make even Dick Cheney blush, and if the press does no more than simply correct them, once, quietly, politely, euphemistically, without noting that he and Palin repeat them in spite of all objective evidence, then the whole principle of objective truth has been replaced by the rule that whatever assertion gets repeated the most persistently will become "truth."

Journalists often say their job is to tell the truth. But Marc Ambinder, at least, doesn’t seem phased that Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt have declared open season (no doubt aerial hunting season) on that very principle.

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Oil Wars

alaska-oil-drilling.jpgThe Hill reports that, rather than forcing John McCain and a lot of endangered Republican incumbents to vote againt children’s healthcare again, Democrats in Congress are going to work on an energy bill that will include some allowance for drilling.

House Democrats are ready to propose an expansion of offshore drilling as part of a broader energy bill  they plan to introduce this month, according to a top Democrat.

Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman John Larson (Conn.) said the majority is prepared to back “responsible” offshore drilling through a bill that could be brought to the floor as early as next week.


“We will consider responsibly opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling while demanding that Big Oil companies use the leases they have already been issued or return them to the public,” Larson said Saturday in the Democratic response to the President’s radio address.

Larson said the legislation will also seek to curb excessive oil market speculation and call for a reinvestment of government royalties into alternative energy technology.

This is not actually news. When Obama said he would reluctantly accept more drilling as part of a package that included a lot of other, smarter energy policies, it became clear the party would follow his lead.

And, if it is done well, it might actually be brilliant jujitsu. If the bill were to define "responsible" by requiring that states agree to the drilling and by demanding that the drilling actually look like it would do some good, it would result in very little new drilling at all–because drilling is, from a policy standpoint, not "responsible." And a package could take the Republicans’ most successful (arguably, their only) policy recommendation, drilling, off the table for the election.

Of course, that all assumes this would be done well…

Meanwhile, in Alaska, the Caribou Barbie is trying to pull of her own energy jujitsu, though it’s not yet clear what that jujitsu might entail. Andrew Halcro reports that Governor Palin is trying to get the oil companies onto a conference call this week, but it’s not yet clear why she wants to talk. 

Governor Sarah Palin has requested a conference call this week with the CEO’s of the major oil companies playing a role in the potential development of Alaska’s natural gas pipeline.

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