Since the McCain campaign apparently didn't even bother Googling Sarah Palin before picking her to join the Republican ticket, we've taken it upon ourselves to compile some important -- and terrifying -- revelations about Palin.
Yesterday AlterNet ran a piece titled "Top Ten Most Disturbing Facts and Impressions of Sarah Palin." And in only 24 hours, almost as many exaggerations, misrepresentations and outright lies have reared their ugly heads. If you already read yesterday's piece, here's the next installment:
1: Palin Tried to Ban Books From Local Library
Thanks to Bush, the Republican Party is not strongly associated with intellectualism. But Sarah Palin has apparently taken the conservative derision for book-learnin' to a whole new level: Time reports that as mayor of Wasilla, Palin asked the town librarian how to go about banning books from the local library. News reports from the time show that the librarian, who, strangely enough, was opposed to a tactic commonly employed by totalitarian regimes, had her job threatened for not giving her "full support" to the mayor.
The People for the American Way have issued a statement condemning Palin's actions and demanding an explanation from her:
People can disagree about a lot of things, but censorship is completely beyond the pale. Our democracy was founded on the belief that government shouldn't tell people what kinds of books to read or what kind of beliefs to hold. No one with that kind of history should be anywhere near the White House. Sarah Palin needs to clarify her stance on freedom of speech immediately, and John McCain needs to explain why he chose a running mate with so little regard for the Constitution.
So far the McCain campaign has been quiet about Palin's attempts to legislate what books people should be allowed to read.
2: Palin Apparently Doesn't Put "Country First"
A central and integral part of the McCain campaign's message is "Country First." McCain is a POW who has always put country before personal gain, as he and his handlers have reminded the public time after time after time. So if the vetting process of Palin was as thorough as McCain's people (and McCain himself) have been claiming, how is it that they missed this:
Officials of the Alaskan Independence Party say that Palin was once so independent, she was once a member of their party, which since the 1970s has been pushing for a legal vote for Alaskans to decide whether or not residents of the 49th state can secede from the United States.
And while McCain's motto -- as seen in a new TV ad -- is "Country First," the AIP's motto is the exact opposite -- "Alaska First -- Alaska Always."
Lynette Clark, the chairman of the AIP, tells ABC News that Palin and her husband Todd were members in 1994, even attending the 1994 statewide convention in Wasilla. Clark was AIP secretary at the time.
"We are a state's rights party," Clark -- a self-employed gold miner -- tells ABC News. The AIP has "a plank that challenges the legality of the Alaskan statehood vote as illegal and in violation of United Nations charter and international law."
"Alaska First -- Alaska Always." Huh, I don't suppose there's an unless-you-are-nominated-to-be-vice-president clause, is there? No, probably not.
3: Palin's Love Affair With Earmarks
McCain, when introducing Palin on Friday in Ohio, praised her as a champion for "reform to end the abuses of earmark spending." When it was Palin's turn to speak, she mentioned her claimed opposition to the famous pork barrel project, "the Bridge to Nowhere," as an example of her tough stance on earmarks. Well, we all know now that she was actually for the bridge long before she was against it. Apparently her love affair with earmarks doesn't end there:
… under her leadership, the state of Alaska has requested 31 earmarks worth $197.8 million in next year's federal budget …
But hey, it was her first shot at being governor of Alaska. Maybe things were different when she was mayor?
As mayor of the small city of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin appears to have made use of the system she now decries, hiring a Washington lobbyist, Steven Silver, to represent the town.
After he was hired, the city obtained funding for several projects, including a city bus facility that received an earmark valued at $600,000 in 2002. That year a local water and sewer project received $1.5 million in federal earmarks, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog organization.
Hmmm, Steven Silver, why does that name sound familiar? Talking Points Memo is quick to remind us:
… Silver appears to have additional ties that could further undercut Palin's image as a squeaky-clean reformer. According to Senate lobbying disclosure reports examined by TPMmuckraker, from 2002 to 2004 Silver listed as a client Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig. On Greenberg's behalf, Silver lobbied the federal government on "issues relating to Indian/Native American policy," "exploration for oil and gas" and "legislation relating to gaming issues" -- the very issues that Abramoff headed up for Greenberg at the time. In other words, Silver appears to have been a part of "Team Abramoff.
So this is the breath of fresh air that McCain wants in Washington? Earmarks aplenty and links to the infamous Jack Abramoff? If that's a step in the right direction, I don't want to see the step in the wrong one.
4: Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms
Not many pregnant teens are as privileged as Bristol Palin. And for those who are not, Sarah Palin made things a little harder a few months ago when she used a line-item veto to cut funding for a transitional home for teen moms in Alaska. According to the Washington Post:
After the legislature passed a spending bill in April, Palin went through the measure reducing and eliminating funds for programs she opposed. Inking her initials on the legislation -- "SP" -- Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million. Covenant House is a mix of programs and shelters for troubled youths, including Passage House, which is a transitional home for teenage mothers.
According to Passage House's Web site, its purpose is to provide "young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives" and help teen moms "become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families."
(It certainly doesn't sound like the teen moms were joyriding in Cadillacs on the government's dime, but you never know.)
In classic "compassionate" conservative fashion, Palin opposes programs that teach girls how not to get pregnant, lobbies against their right to decide whether to have a child, then kills social programs that exist to cushion the impact of those policies. She then has the gall to trot out her own pregnant daughter as a symbol for "family values."
5: Crazy Reverend, Crazy Church
From the age of 12 and for most of her adult life, Sarah Palin attended the Wasilla Assembly of God. Apparently, Sarah Palin's God was a vengeful God -- one that made Himself helpful to the Bush administration from time to time by damning critics of the president, Democrats and other irredeemable sinners. The Huffington Post writes that the church's preacher, Ed Kalinins:
… preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted to heaven; charged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq were part of a war "contending for your faith;" and said that Jesus "operated from that position of war mode."
Kalinins also offered a nuanced view of foreign policy, preaching that 9/11 and the Iraq war were part of a greater struggle over Christianity, with Jesus playing an important role as a very exacting general:
"What you see in Iraq, basically, is a manifestation of what's going on in this unseen world called the spirit world. … We need to think like Jesus thinks. We are in a time and a season of war, and we need to think like that. We need to develop that instinct. We need to develop as believers the instinct that we are at war, and that war is contending for your faith. … Jesus called us to die. You're worried about getting hurt? He's called us to die.
It can't necessarily be assumed that Palin agrees wholeheartedly with her former pastor. But in an address to the church three months ago, Palin also used disconcertingly religious language to frame the conflict in Iraq:
"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending (U.S. soldiers) out on a task that is from God," she exhorted the congregants. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."
Considering how much flak Obama got for the statements of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, this is an issue Palin needs to address.
6: McCain Picking Palin Reeks of Sexism
The McCain campaign is already doing its best to deflect all the negative stories that are coming out about Palin by calling Democrats sexist, and by claiming that they are the party that values women's rights. Of course, Dems had a woman on the presidential ticket in 1984 (Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro), so Republicans aren't breaking glass ceilings here but are actually 24 years late to the party. When it comes to sexism, it seems the party that isn't for equal pay or for a woman's right to choose should take a quick look in the mirror before accusing others of sexism. In fact, McCain's idea that women will vote for the McCain/Palin ticket just because Palin has a vagina is incredibly condescending, as Ann Friedman at the American Prospect writes:
Palin's addition to the ticket takes Republican faux-feminism to a whole new level. As Adam Serwer pointed out on TAPPED, this is in fact a condescending move by the GOP. It plays to the assumption that disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters did not care about her politics -- only her gender. In picking Palin, Republicans are lending credence to the sexist assumption that women voters are too stupid to investigate or care about the issues, and merely want to vote for someone who looks like them. As Serwer noted, it's akin to choosing Alan Keyes in an attempt to compete with Obama for votes from black Americans.
A candidate should be chosen because they are qualified for the job, not because of their gender. Any hardworking woman who has been passed over for a promotion could have told the McCain campaign that.
7: Palin Can't Even Run a Car Wash
Many politicians have a strong background in business: CEOs, executives, business presidents, self-made millionaires, etc. The thinking is that a businessperson is economically savvy, has executive experience, and can make tough calls and quick decisions. Well, Palin has some experience in the private sector: While she was mayor of Wasilla, Palin had time to open up a car wash in Anchorage. Good for her, nothing wrong with a little public service cushioned by some private business while raising a family. But by the time Palin was governor of Alaska, her business had run into trouble, as Matthew Mosk reports for the Washington Post:
State records show the business ran into trouble with Alaska's division of corporations business and professional licensing after Palin became governor of the state in 2006.
A Feb. 11, 2007, letter to the governor's business partner advises that the car wash had "not filed its biennial report and/or paid its biennial fees," which were more than a year overdue.
The warning letter was written on state letterhead, which carried Palin's name at the top, next to the state seal.
On April 3, 2007, the state went further and issued a "certificate of involuntary dissolution" because of the car wash's failure to file its report and pay state licensing fees.
The least you can accuse Palin here is of mismanagement (of a car wash!); at worst, she was abusing her political clout by trying to cut corners. Either way, Palin doesn't come off as the kind of executive you'd want running your business, let along your country.
8: Lied About Foreign Travel
In an attempt to inflate her nonexistent foreign policy credentials, Palin's spokespeople stated shortly after her nomination that she had traveled to Germany, Kuwait and Ireland: you know, the three countries most likely to give rise to catastrophic national security emergencies in the next four years.
But not only is Palin's travel history unimpressive, it was also being blatantly misrepresented. According Jim Aravosis, an Irish blogger has just revealed that Palin was in Ireland for a brief refueling layover.
And as Aravosis argues, Palin's lack of travel experience outside of "duty-free diplomacy" has major implications:
… John McCain, who is 72 and has had 4 bouts of cancer, (has) picked Sarah Palin to replace him as commander in chief should he die or be incapacitated in office.