Blogs

Key Source for Palin's Connection to Alaskan Independence Party Backs Off Account

| Tue Sep. 2, 2008 7:58 PM EDT

In the past few days, during Sarah Palin's rough introduction to the American public, it has been reported (first by ABC News) that Palin, the governor of Alaska tapped by John McCain to be his running mate, was once a member of the Alaska Independence Party (AIP). This minor third party advocates for the secession of Alaska from the United States. It is affiliated with the Constitution Party, which supports the reign of Biblical common law. If Palin has indeed been an AIP true-believer, it would be rather curious: she would be a vice presidential candidate who favored reducing the size of the United States.

But it is getting harder to make that case. The McCain-Palin campaign on Tuesday released voter registration to show she was never registered to vote in Alaska as a member of the party. And a key source for the stories about Palin and the AIP backed off his account in an interview with Mother Jones. Palin's husband has been a long-time AIP member, but ascertaining her true association with the party has been difficult.

In recent press reports, Lynette Clark, the AIP's chairman, has been quoted as saying Palin was at an AIP convention in 1994 and was an official party member at the time. Other sources within the party tell Mother Jones that the only way to become a member of the AIP is to register to vote with the AIP. Yet the state of Alaska released records confirming what the McCain-Palin campaign had maintained: Palin never registered as an AIP member.

What explains the contradiction between Clark's claim and the records? Dexter Clark, husband of Lynette and a vice chairman of the Alaska Independence Party, said that when his wife told reporters that Palin had been an AIP member she was "acting on information from Mark Chryson," the party's regional chair for Wasilla, Palin's hometown. The 1994 convention was held in Wasilla, where Palin was a city councilmember at the time. Chryson "has repeatedly said to me personally and my wife, Lynette, and groups of party members at large, that at that 1994 convention, Sarah and Todd Palin attended and registered as members," Dexter Clark told Mother Jones.

Asked how Palin could have been a member, when state records did not indicate Palin ever registered as an AIP member, Chyrson, in an interview with Mother Jones, backed off his account. "What could have been the confusion—her husband was a member of the party. He was at the convention. She could have been considered—it might have been thought she was a member then." Talking Points Memo has reported that Todd Palin was a member of the AIP from 1995 to 2002, with the exception of a short period in 2000 when he was undeclared.

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Tigh/Roslin Ticket Will Provide Strength and Purpose in Defeating Democrats Cylons

| Tue Sep. 2, 2008 7:21 PM EDT

mojo-photo-caprica.jpgThe presidential campaign has officially headed for outer space. As all of MoJoBlog as well as everyone everywhere is currently discussing, John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin for VP was kind of kooky. But it all makes sense if you're deep in Battlestar Galactica fantasyland: sci-fi blog io9 has a breakdown of the McCain=Colonel Tigh/Palin=President Roslin "meme," as they call it, noting the similarities aren't just physical: Col. Tigh was tortured by the Cylons, and Roslin was Secretary of Education (I guess that equals PTA).

Now we already have a Tigh/Roslin campaign website, which is mostly amusing just for its visual nose-thumb at McCain's site, although the idea of Roslin winning "Most Likely to Airlock a Cylon" in the Miss Caprica beauty pageant is pretty amusing. Unfortunately, io9 says we can't laugh about it any more, since "it took less than five hours for the meme to go from funny to tired." Gods damn it! Can we still be amused by Palin's resemblance to Tina Fey?

Palin Will Indeed Bring The Breast Pump

| Tue Sep. 2, 2008 4:20 PM EDT

Lots of our commenters seem incensed that I questioned whether Sarah Palin will be campaigning with a breast pump in tow. But clearly she doesn't think that's a taboo subject herself. In an interview with People magazine last week, Palin said:

We don't sleep much. Too much to do. What I've had to do, though, is in the middle of the night, put down the BlackBerries and pick up the breast pump.

If Palin really wants to be a trailblazer she should truck that thing out in public, so that at least all TSA screeners will finally be able to distinguish them from bombs. And for those who think pumping breast milk is solely a private matter, you couldn't be more wrong. Legislation is pending in several states (as is litigation), to give women the right to pump on the job. Last year, New Mexico passed a bill that requires employers to give women breaks and a clean, private space in which they can pump breast milk. That bill was signed by Gov. Bill Richardson, a man who happens to be a Democrat, but who in one stroke of a pen seems to have done a lot more for the women and children in his state than Palin has done for hers.

Camouflaged Putin Shoots Tiger, Saves Companions

| Tue Sep. 2, 2008 4:01 PM EDT

If pictures of a shirtless and muscled Vladimir Putin have you hungering for more, wait no longer. While having a gander at conservation efforts in Russia's Far East this week, the Russian president pulled the trigger on an escaped tiger with a tranquilizer gun, "saving" the frightened group of Russian scientists who'd accompanied him. Best of all, Putin's heroism was caught on film. Imagine that.... See Der Spiegel.

Iraq Update

| Tue Sep. 2, 2008 1:58 PM EDT

IRAQ UPDATE....McClatchy's Leila Fadel has good piece today about the state of play in negotiations between Nouri al-Maliki and the Bush administration regarding withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. You really should read the whole thing, but here's the conclusion:

Maliki is now demanding a firm timetable for withdrawal and jurisdiction over American soldiers outside their bases. The second demand has stalled the process and does not seem amenable to compromise.

For now, Maliki has achieved none of his demands, said Ali al Adeeb, a leading legislator in Maliki's party. The current wording in the agreement is that U.S. soldiers will withdraw to their bases by June 30, 2009, and leave by the summer of 2011 if conditions allow.

"What the Iraqis want is a firm date, and with all the insistence and persistence on our side, all we have is a firm date for restricting the American military to their bases," he said. "There is no overconfidence or arrogance in Maliki's insistence on his position. ... There is a clear indication that the Iraqi forces are now capable of providing the security services required. I think it's enough time, three years is more than enough time."

It really is hard to figure out what's going on here. My guess is that Bush is willing to compromise on the withdrawal language since, as a practical matter, (a) it's going to be conditions-based no matter what the text says, and (b) he's not going to be president when it happens anyway. But surely Maliki must know that Iraqi jurisdiction over U.S. troops is just a flat nonstarter. No American president in his right mind would agree to that, or even to anything close to it. Can he seriously be holding out for something more than language that guarantees "consultation" and "continuing progress toward full command integration"? If he is, he's deluded.

Quote of the Day

| Tue Sep. 2, 2008 1:30 PM EDT

QUOTE OF THE DAY....From David Brooks, commenting on the makeup of a possible John McCain administration:

"There simply aren't enough Republican experts left to staff an administration, so he will have to throw together a hodgepodge with independents and Democrats."

Do I dare ask what's happened to all our Republican experts over the past eight years?

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Forget the Baby. There's Too Much Else!

| Tue Sep. 2, 2008 1:27 PM EDT

Look, let's put Bristol and the baby behind us. There are two new story lines about Sarah Palin currently gaining momentum that are more substantive and potentially more damaging. There is Palin as a ordinary, slimy politician, as articulated by First Read:

On Monday, the papers were full of stories about how Palin was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it. Also yesterday, we found out that Palin worked for a 527 group organized by Ted Stevens, who is now facing trial on corruption charges. Then came the news that she has retained an attorney for that Troopergate ethics investigation. And finally is today'sWashington Post story noting that Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure earmarks -- which are taboo in McCain World -- for Wasilla while she was its mayor. More than any new revelations about her daughter, the bigger drip-drip danger for the McCain campaign could be more signs that Palin begins to look like your average politician.

And then there's this insane secessionist story, which I hope you're familiar with. Reportedly, Sarah Palin and her husband were members of the Alaska Independence Party, which seeks a vote on making Alaska an independent nation, in the mid-1990s. Here's ABC:

And while John MCCain's motto -- as seen in a new TV add -- is "Country First," the AIP's motto is the exact opposite -- "Alaska First -- Alaska Always."

For the record, the McCain campaign denies Palin was ever a member of the AIP, though multiple AIP members say she was and she attended their 1994 convention.

I'm no high-priced political consultant, but I do have a guess as to how to avoid situations like this. Send your vetting team to the VP's home state more than one day before you announce him or her to the nation!

Teh Google

| Tue Sep. 2, 2008 1:13 PM EDT

TEH GOOGLE....Peter Wallsten of the LA Times talks to a GOP strategist about how deeply the McCain campaign vetted Sarah Palin before announcing her to the world last Friday:

According to this Republican, who would discuss internal campaign strategizing only on condition of anonymity, the McCain team used little more than a Google Internet search as part of a rushed effort to review Palin's potential pitfalls. Just over a week ago, Palin was not on McCain's short list of potential running mates, the Republican said.

Noted without comment, because I'm just commented out. This stuff isn't even coming from the gamma quadrant anymore. It's from another galaxy entirely. At this point, I don't think I'd trust McCain to help me shop for a used car, let alone run the country.

Meeting the Press

| Tue Sep. 2, 2008 12:45 PM EDT

MEETING THE PRESS....Yesterday I wondered how long it would be until the McCain campaign was willing to let Sarah Palin out in public to meet with the national press. David Corn doesn't have an answer for us yet on this vital question, but today he moves the ball a few yards down the field:

On Monday night, I encountered Mark Salter, a top McCain adviser, outside the St. Paul Hotel, and I asked him when Palin's first press conference would be. Her did not seem eager to talk about it. "After the convention," he said. Soon after the convention? "After," he repeated. Whenever it occurs, it will be some session.

They definitely don't seem eager to find out what will happen when she sits down with reporters without a briefer present. No surprise there, especially since even McCain himself is none too eager to sit down with the press these days either. Considering the bloodbath that's just waiting to happen when they do, I guess I can't blame him.

The Earmark Queen

| Tue Sep. 2, 2008 12:34 PM EDT

THE EARMARK QUEEN....Dean Baker puts Sarah Palin's prowess in trawling for federal pork into perspective:

As the Washington Post reports this morning, Governor Pallin managed to secure $27 million (as in 27 Woodstock museums) in earmarks for her little town of 6,700 back when she was mayor. That comes to more than $4000 per person.

....If every mayor was as successful at taking in federal largess as Governor Palin was for her little town, the tab would be $1.2 trillion, well over one-third of the federal budget. That is serious cash. (In fairness, Governor Palin collected her haul over several years, so the comparison to single year's budget is not entirely appropriate.)

Well then, let's be appropriate. The lobbying firm Palin hired scored this money over the course of four years, so the appropriate comparison is that if everyone were as dedicated as Palin to collecting pork, the tab would be $300 billion per year. That's about 10% of the entire budget and about one-third of the discretionary budget.

In other words, impressive! Perhaps somebody could do a parody of John McCain's favorite song, ABBA's "Dancing Queen," on this meaty subject?