Update ( 9/10/08 3:40 p.m.) Having taken some heat in the comments that somehow I am biased in my analysis of Sarah Palin lying to the American public (or even for the tone of this post or the campaign), I have supplemented some of the links I included in my original post (particularly as to Sarah Palin’s lies), with these additional links that follow immediately below.  The rest of my post remains the same:

http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_stump/archive/2008/09/10/the-best-thing-about-all-the-lipstick-absurdity.aspx

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/10/halperin-on-palin-stop-th_n_125336.html

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2008/09/does_the_truth_matter_anymore.html

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/staff/margaret_talev/story/52169.html

http://www.time-blog.com/swampland/2008/09/apology_not_accepted.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/09/eveningnews/main4433129.shtml?source=mostpop_story

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/09/a-piggish-debat.html

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/09/mccains-integri.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/09/sarah-palin-bridge-to-now_n_125209.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-begala/the-mccain-palin-lies-and_b_125240.html

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5ici5RhMkh6-9V07yckpLBEEjzf6QD932MU100

http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/davidcorn/2008/09/the-campaign-gets-ridiculousan.html

http://www.ajc.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/ajc/bookman/entries/2008/09/09/palin_lies_could_lead_to_bridg.html

http://www.taylormarsh.com/archives_view.php?id=28378

http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2008/09/mccain_plays_dirty_on_obama_se.html

http://www.slate.com/id/2199738/

http://www.politico.com/blogs/jonathanmartin/0908/The_race_descends.html?showall

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2008/09/the_pig_takes_the_cake.html

http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=09&year=2008&base_name=every_four_years_this_is_what

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ari-melber/mccain-plays-gender-card_b_125231.html

As far as I can tell, the good Alaska Governess has appeared in a few Bloggernacle posts:  DKL has a couple of posts over at Mormon Mentality here and here.  He raises some good points, (i.e., she is a “babe”); but, a bit thin on substance (Palin–not DKL’s posts).  Geoff B over at Millennial Star describes her as a phenomenon in a pretty glowing post. Clark posts over at Mormon Metaphysics.   ECS, posts the feminist take over at fMh, and makes some hard hitting points about the irony of the far right’s defense of this woman as the VP nominee.  If I have missed any, please let me know and I’ll link them.

I think I’m closer to ECS’ take on this whole thing.  It’s probably much too simplistic to write her off as a lightweight–having ascended to the Governesship of Alaska; but, her resume for the national stage–actually–the Presidential stage, is certainly in question.  Some thoughts I had, in no particular order after observing her now for a few days:

1.  McCain emasculates his “country first” motto by placing his campaign first in a decision with blatantly political overtones–rather than statesman like overtones.   He’s looking out for John McCain, and what he thinks can elect him as president–giving little or no thought to the “country” he claims to put first, apparently only in campaign slogans.

2.  Active LDS members need to compare and contrast the guidelines in The Family A Proclamation to the World, set forth by the united and unanimous Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency, and the lifestyle choice of Sarah the barracuda Palin to take on the role of second in line in leadership of the free world:

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.

So, does being a pretty and popular political pawn in the renewed cultural wars constitute the “other circumstances” contemplated in the Proclamation?  Or, are the Brethren simply out of touch with modern day Babylon and its customs and practices?  Does the Proclamation actually mean anything, or does it just contain a bunch of words, that don’t apply when it conflicts with our baser political desires?

3.  This is probably a subset of the Proclamation Category, but since the good governor brought up her special needs son, directly as a political ploy to solicit votes from families with similarly situated children–it appears now to be fair political commentary.  See also this excellent New York Times article. Perhaps, just perhaps, the governor’s time would better be spent actually attending to those special needs rather than talking about them and shilling for votes as John McCain’s pit bull (sans the lipstick).

And, what about that unwed teenage daughter–so proudly displayed for the nation front and center at the Republican National Convention?  Not so long ago, but in a different part of this same country, some teenage mothers were actually ripped apart from their babies, and threatened with legal action to keep those mothers and babies apart.  It’s just a sign of a normal American family when the Republican Vice Presidential nominee has an unmarried, pregnant teenage daughter.  We can proudly display her to the world at the Republican National Convention with balloons and confetti all around.  But, if teenage mothers (most if not all of whom were actually married to the babies’ fathers) are members of an unpopular religious group read FLDS, (denigrated as a cult, and ridiculed and scorned in the national media) then, they are the most vile social outcasts imaginable.

3.  Sarah Palin has trouble telling the truth.  As far as I can tell she has consciously and deliberately lied to the American people on the following counts:

a.  Selling the Alaska Executive Jet on e-bay;

b.  Claiming to oppose the bridge to nowhere;

c.  Claiming to be an earmark, pork barrel spending reformer;

d.  Claiming to be cooperative with an ethics investigation by her own legislature.

I’m certain there are more; but, these seem to be the most blatant lies Ms. Palin continues to propagate to the country.  In short, I think there are many troubling aspects to Ms. Palin’s VP candidacy, or many aspects that should be troubling for any voter–but particularly those who are active, believing LDS members.

I’m going to be following the daily reports out of the local media that know Sarah Palin the best.  The most accurate appears to be Anchorage Daily News.  (See also this L.A. Times article–quite good).  I was particularly struck by an email they published by an individual who has known Sarah Palin since the early 1990’s, which you can find here, and which I am going to re-post in its entirety at the end of this post.

It’s certainly a different perspective on Governor Sarah Palin, and one that deserves consideration:

“I have known Sarah since 1992…”

From David Hulen in Anchorage –

The e-mail below has been bouncing around the Internet since Sunday. It was written by Anne Kilkenny of Wasilla – stay-at-home mom, letter-to-the-editor writer and longtime watcher of Valley politics. She’s a registered Democrat. She was one of the delegates to the Conference of Alaskans in Fairbanks back in 2004. Her bio from the conference is here.

She e-mailed this letter over the weekend to family and friends Outside, and (despite her request not to post it) it went viral on the Internet very quickly, showing up on blogs and Web sites all over. Since then, Kilkenny has been inundated with phone calls and e-mails. She said she stayed up until 3 a.m. last night answering e-mails, and found nearly 400 new ones waiting when she logged on this morning.

It’s posted here with her permission.

***

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 . . .

Thanks,
Anne

ABOUT SARAH PALIN

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 the state (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.

CLAIM VS FACT
*”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 unconsitutional).

*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.

WHY AM I WRITING THIS?

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 (Anne Kilkenny + 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.

CAVEATS
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.

Anne Kilkenny
August 31, 2008