Saturday, May 9, 2009

Exxon Begins Drilling in Pt. Thompson

As noted yesterday, this is a major victory for the 'Cuda...


Spur Line or Bullet Line? The Debate Over the In-State Natural Gas Pipeline

The Alaska Journal has an interesting article on the Palin administration's relationship with the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority and the debate over the in-state natural gas pipeline:

Relations are strained between Gov. Sarah Palin and the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority, an independent state corporation formed under a voter initiative in 2002 to bring new gas supplies to Alaska communities.

The state administration froze the authority's money earlier this year, only recently relenting to approve purchase authorizations, and a senior administration official acknowledged during a legislative hearing that a "transition" at the authority was discussed in the governor's office with its chairman, Scott Heyworth, and that executive director Harold Heinze figured into the conversation.

Heinze is a respected former Atlantic Richfield Co. executive who has managed the authority since its inception. Heyworth said later he did not feel pressured at the meeting to take any action.

The gas authority has been working for several years on a plan for a 20-inch or 24-inch spur line that would branch off a large-diameter pipeline built to the Lower 48 through Interior Alaska.

The optimal route for a spur line, the authority believes, is to branch off at Delta, east of Fairbanks, run south to Glennallen parallel to the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, and then along the Glenn Highway to a terminus near Palmer, where it could connect with Enstar's existing Southcentral gas pipeline system.

Assuming a large gas pipeline is built, this route appears to be the cheapest way to get gas to Southcentral Alaska, the authority has maintained. If a liquefied natural gas plant is built someday in Valdez, so much the better, because a separate spur to Valdez should supply gas to the plant and the larger volumes being shipped would lower the cost of shipping gas on to the Anchorage area.

Palin, however, appears to have switched her support from a spur line off the big pipeline to a bullet line proposed to be built between Southcentral Alaska and the North Slope, a project proposed by Enstar Natural Gas Co.

The move seems to indicate the governor's concern that a big pipeline might be delayed or not built, and that some initiative needs to be taken to bring North Slope gas to Southcentral Alaska because gas reserves in producing fields in the region are being depleted.

Be sure to read the rest of the article.

I think it's unfair to suggest that the governor has "switched her support." I think she's covering all her bases. That's what a pragmatic leader would do. No one can predict the future. It makes sense to be prepared for all contingencies.


Chip Thoma: This is Not About Palin, But Her "Notoriety" is the Reason Behind These "Voyeur Tours"

The ADN reports:

Gov. Sarah Palin is clashing with a Juneau activist over what he calls "voyeur" bus tours past the governor's mansion that he asserts ruin the neighborhood to exploit her fame.

Chip Thoma, head of Responsible Cruising in Alaska, has put up signs saying "Stop Local Tours" in the area near the mansion, with active support from at least a handful of residents.

"As Governor Palin spends very little time in Juneau, especially during the summer, these are 'voyeur' tours premised solely on her notoriety," Thoma said in an April 30 letter to Juneau tour operators.

Thoma said in a Friday interview, though, that the tours really aren't any worse than before Palin took office. He said it's not about her, but about impacts on the neighborhoods near Juneau.

The governor said she welcomes tourists and "can't imagine other areas of Alaska looking at having the Governor's house nearby as a degrading irritation that invites voyeurism."

The governor said she offered to meet with Thoma "to ask if I could lessen his burden by keeping a lower profile," but he declined and suggested she work it out with the Juneau mayor instead.

"I wanted to offer him to hide Piper's trampoline further in a corner of the yard ... if it's a matter of not giving anyone anything to look at so they'll go away then I'd ask Piper to not giggle so loudly on her buoy swing or bicycle in the yard," Palin said in a written statement, referring to her 7-year-old daughter.

Palin said she's spent most of her time in Juneau in recent months and finds the complaint ironic, given criticism in the capital city that she runs state government mostly from the Anchorage area.

"We've been slammed if we're not here enough, but now the table's turned and the message is we're creating chaos because we're here too often," Palin said in a written statement.


Thoma, a longtime activist on tourism issues, said he suggested Palin work with the mayor instead of him because local ordinances are at issue.

"I'm trying to do what I can here to help the neighborhood. I don't want to make this personal between the governor and I," he said. "She is obviously coming after me, and I've never met her before."

Thoma said there were four people who lived in the area of the bus tours who talked to him about the problem and he decided to help do something about it. He said this has been an increasing problem over time under every governor.

"It has nothing to do with Sarah Palin, it really doesn't, she just happens to be governor in 2009," Thoma said.


Palin said she loves Juneau and likes to see it shown off to visitors. She said that, if she had her way, there would be a big banner in front of the governor's mansion and the Capitol building that said "Welcome, People! Locals and outside tourists -- we're glad you're here. It's beautiful here -- Enjoy!"

Mr. Thoma, you are in fact a liar. In the beginning of the article you rip Governor Palin because she "attracts voyeurism" based on her "notoriety." At the end of the article you claim that it "has nothing to do with Sarah Palin." Please, spare us the nonsense. Thoma claims that this problem has occurred under every governor. Yes, I am sure that thousands of people were lining up to catch a glimpse of the charismatic Tony Knowles. Just imagine the problems Thoma will have on his hands if Mr. Personality himself, Andrew Halcro, ever gains more than 9% in the governor's election! Millions of people from all over America lining up to see Halcro. Even today, the traffic around his rental car business is horrendous! By the way, did anybody even notice that Halcro shut down his radio program and blog? I am sure that his seven listeners and readers are very disappointed. Although, seven is higher than the number Thoma claims are "fed up" with the Palin children -- a whopping four.

Governor Palin has even offered to meet with Thoma to discuss ways to "lower her profile," which include moving Piper's trampoline to a different part of the governor's mansion grounds. However, Thoma doesn't seem interested in actually discussing the issue with the Governor because he would rather just try to shut down a little girl's lemonade stand. As a "veteran" of Woodstock, Mr. Thoma sure has the experience to take down the "establishment," it is just that this time he would rather go after an eight year old's buoy swing and bicycle.

UPDATE: This quote also sticks out for me:

Cindy Smith, who lives near Cope Park, downhill from the governor's mansion, said the tours are a big problem in the narrow streets and she has been talking to everyone she can about it.

Who is Cindy Smith? Well, she is Hollis French's chief-of-staff.

UPDATE II: (H/T LindaW) Here are the "eyesores":

UPDATE by RAM: Tim Blair provides us with an excellent summary of Chip Thoma's life, titled "The Arc of A Thoma."

UPDATE by Mel: Tweet from the Guv:

As summer approaches the Great Land, so do AK visitors. We welcome you to visit us in the Land of the Midnight Sun!

How much is a glass of Piper's lemonade? I want to make sure I budget for that.


Matt Lewis: The Top 10 Most Annoying Republicans

Here is his list:

Kathleen Parker
Meghan McCain
Chris Buckley
Peggy Noonan
Steve Schmidt
Colin Powell
Sens. Brownback, Voinovich, Grassley, Hatch, Lugar, et al.
Arnold Schwarzenegger
David Brooks and David Frum
Joe the Plumber

For commentary on each selection, please read Mr. Lewis' entire article.


Saturday Open Thread

Reuters: The wheels on the bus go "bump,bump,bump." Who would ever want to work for this guy?

Washington Post: Michelle Obama's "much needed" chief of staff and aides. Do they attend to the garden too?

Reuters: Hey, we will pay your credit debt too.

Los Angeles Times: Those pesky stimulus strings.


Palin Cleared of Accusations in Ethics Complaint

Another Ethics Complaint Against Governor Dismissed

May 8, 2009, Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin has been cleared of accusations that she violated the state ethics act in forming a political action committee and in traveling to Indiana near the end of the legislative session to make a speech to a right-to-life group.

The investigator for the State Personnel Board dismissed the ethics complaint filed by Sondra Tompkins on the basis of the law only, requiring no need for further evidence or a hearing.

The governor’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, noted that of 14 ethics complaints filed against the governor or her staff, nine have now been resolved without any finding that the law was broken. Another five complaints are still pending.

“This one was so clear-cut that all the investigator had to do was read the complaint and compare it to the ethics statute,” Van Flein said. “Ms. Tompkins simply did not allege any facts that constituted a violation of the law.

“Moreover, the investigator states that the governor has a First Amendment right to speak out on issues.”

Tompkins alleged that Governor Palin used her public office for personal gain by establishing SarahPAC. Personnel Board Investigator Thomas Daniel noted that the PAC was lawfully set up under federal campaign regulations.

“It would be ironic to rule that a political figure who plays by the very rules that have been established by Congress to regulate political contributions can, by doing so, be guilty of violating the state ethics act,” Daniel wrote in the report dismissing Tompkins’ complaint.

Daniel also rejected Tompkins’ assertion that the governor’s relationship with SarahPAC amounted to “employment” and said Tompkins offered no explanation why the relationship with the group was incompatible with her duties as governor.

Regarding the trip to Evansville, Indiana, near the end of the legislative session, Daniel concluded that Tompkins was wrong again about the governor using her official position for personal gain. “The governor was not invited to speak at the right-to-life dinner in Indiana because she is governor of Alaska. Rather she was invited because of her national standing, her outspoken opposition to abortion, and her recent personal decision to forego an abortion.”

Daniel also said that there was nothing incompatible between the speech and her official duties and no reason to believe that her brief absence from the state prevented her or staff from communicating with legislators. He pointed out that top executives both in government and industry regularly use electronic communication devices to keep abreast of developments at their home base while traveling.

“It’s staggering that the governor has accumulated more than half a million dollars of personal debt defending herself against a flurry of ethics complaints that have yet to substantiate a single infraction,” said Bill McAllister, the governor’s director of communications. “It’s obvious that these ethics complaints – usually announced with great fanfare, violating the confidentiality provisions of the law – are intended solely for damaging publicity and not for true accountability in government.

Go here to listen to Van Flein discussing the ethics dismissal with Eddie Burke this afternoon.

You can read the Personnel Board Report dismissing the complaint here.

The attorney who wrote the report, Thomas Daniel, twice noted:

...the Ethics Act does not apply to conflicts of "insignificant or conjectural effect." AS 39.52.110(b).

Though I am not a lawyer, it seems to me that the Arctic Cat jacket complaint falls into this category of a conflict of "insignificant or conjectural effect."


Friday, May 8, 2009

Brian Kraft's Frivolous APOC Complaints Against Palin Fail Epically

As we reported earlier, Bristol Bay lodge owner Brian Kraft had launched a frivolous complaint against Governor Palin with the Alaska Public Offices Commission -- the body that enforces Alaskan election law. Kraft had argued that Palin had no right to voice her opinion on a ballot initiative that affected the Pebble Mine.

He later doubled down on his idiocy by filing an additional complaint -- some random political flyer had utilized the Governor's official portrait, and he contended that she should somehow have known about it and stopped it. This was a meme he got straight from ankle-biting leftwing Alaskan bloggers.

APOC has ruled on the case, and it can be summed up in four words...BRIAN KRAFT = EPIC FAIL.

The ruling affirms that a sitting Governor has the same rights to free speech as any other American citizen. (Duh.)

Given that another frivolous ethics complaint has been tossed out today, in addition to this frivolous election law complaint, I think we can cautiously say that the ankle-biting campaign has reached the high-water mark. Before the legislature meets again, we'll have proposed changes ready to go to address the problem of those who violate the confidentiality provisions of the ethics law - and with those who conspire to help them do so.

Even Governor Palin is happy, according to her latest Tweet:

Great day! Another frivolous ethics complaint against me was dismissed! I won against another false allegation, too! More info to follow...

UPDATE: Here's the governor's press release on the APOC decision:

APOC Dismisses Complaint Filed Against Governor

May 8, 2009, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin today welcomed the news that a complaint filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) regarding last year’s Ballot Measure 4 has been dismissed. The complaint, filed by Brian Kraft, alleged comments made by the governor at a press conference against Ballot Measure 4 violated AS 15.13.145, which restricts the use of state money to influence the outcome of an election on a ballot proposition.

APOC did not find Kraft’s argument persuasive because the governor’s spontaneous comment did not require the state to spend any money.

“I appreciate the commission recognizing the constitutional right of free speech and the implications of trying to regulate what a governor can say,” Governor Palin said.

APOC also found the State of Alaska did not authorize the use of the governor’s official portrait in an Anchorage Daily News advertisement against Ballot Measure 4.


Governor Palin Cleared of the Latest Frivolous Ethics Complaint

Gov. Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein, was on the Eddie Burke show this afternoon to announce that the governor has been vindicated in the latest frivolous ethics complaint battle.

The State of Alaska's Personnel Board has thrown out the ethics complaint filed by Sondra Tompkins alleging that the governor had a conflict of interest with SarahPAC and that she abdicated her duty by speaking at a charitable event in Indiana. The Personnel Board found no grounds for any of these absurd allegations. SarahPAC adheres to all federal laws and is in line with state laws, and Gov. Palin has a Constitutional right to free speech.

The Personnel Board's attorney, Thomas Daniel, noted that these are not ethics complaints, but political complaints. Gov. Palin's activities were not unethical. If Alaskans do not like what she is doing, they can express themselves in the voting booth, not by wasting tax dollars with frivolous complaints that make a mockery of the Ethics Act.

UPDATE by RAM: Sean Cockerham with the ADN's Alaska Politics Blog reports:

An attorney hired by the state personnel board has dismissed an ethics complaint claiming that Gov. Sarah Palin’s role in the political action committee SarahPAC poses a conflict with her official duties as governor.

“I find that the complaint does not allege facts which constitute a violation of the Ethics Act. Therefore an investigation is not warranted. Pursuant to my authority…the complaint is hereby dismissed,” independent counsel Thomas Daniel concluded today.

The complaint was brought by Anchorage resident Sondra Tompkins.

The complaint says the governor abdicated her governor duties at a critical time -- the end of the legislative session, when she went to Indiana for two events, a Right to Life banquet and a breakfast for families with Down syndrome children.

"The recent partisan trip to Indiana by the Governor was purely to benefit personal interests, had no benefit for the State of Alaska and was in direct conflict with her official duties," the complaint said.

Daniel, an Anchorage attorney, said that’s a political issue, not an ethical one.

“The governor’s decision to leave the state at the end of the legislative session, may have been unwise. But the voters should express their opinion on that subject at the ballot box – not in an ethics complaint,” he wrote.

Daniel also wrote that “the fact that the Governor traveled to Indiana to attend a dinner (and a breakfast meeting the next morning) did not take significant time, if any, away from the Governor’s duties…the Governor has staff members who interface with the Legislature, and the Governor herself can communicate with members of the Legislature by phone or email, even when she is in another state.”

SarahPAC paid for the travel to Indiana, a spokeswoman for the group has said.

The ethics complaint said Palin essentially has a "contract" with SarahPAC to work for its interests on national issues, even when those interests don't match Alaska's.

Daniel disagreed.

"The real purpose of a leadership PAC is to allow nationally prominent political leaders to solicit funds to pay for the expenses associated with traveling and speaking on national issues. It is not al all clear that this will be incompatible with Governor Palin's normal duties as Governor, which include expressing her opinion on a broad range of issues of concern to Alaskans and the nation," he wrote.


Governor Palin Hails Drilling at Point Thomson

Governor Hails Drilling at Point Thomson: First Well Drilled There Since 1983

May 8, 2009, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin hailed the commencement of drilling operations today at the Point Thomson oil and gas reservoir. It is the first time a well has been drilled there since 1983. "ExxonMobil informed my administration that, at 2:30 a.m. today, drilling operations began," the governor said. "Today's action shows that our perseverance is paying off. We congratulate ExxonMobil on their successful efforts, and commend them for fulfilling their recent commitments to the state."

ExxonMobil spudded the well on one of the two leases they were allowed to continue to hold under a conditional decision in January by Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin. Development of the state’s resources at Point Thomson has long been a goal for the state.

"Today's action by ExxonMobil is an important milestone in the continuing effort to see production of our state resources at Point Thomson," Irwin said.

Gov. Palin has fulfilled another promise. These are her words from her first State of the State Address in January 2007:

New energy must come from proven reserves, too! And we will aggressively defend the state’s obligations to responsibly develop ours.

A perfect example is Alaska’s Pt. Thomson. Huge reserves up there. “Leases” held by producers are iron-clad contracts – they’re promises to develop the public’s resources for mutual benefit – or give back the leases. There’s a large producer who’s held the lease at Pt. Thomson for roughly 30 years with no development – three decades to develop or step aside. WAREHOUSING Alaska’s resources is not an option anymore. We can’t afford it!

After nearly 30 years, Pt. Thomson is finally being developed because an Alaskan governor had the guts to demand it. Thank you, Sarah Palin.


Gov. Palin Views Flood Zone

Governor Views Flood Zone as Emergency Teams Respond

May 8, 2009, Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin met yesterday with the mayor and deputy mayor of Fort Yukon, as well as the local police, and discussed how the village was preparing for the impending flood waters of the Yukon River. While in town, the governor visited the school and the medical clinic.

“The village of Fort Yukon’s leadership has worked with our state emergency managers to plan for the worst and keep residents safe,” Governor Palin said. “I’m proud of their actions taken, and we will provide additional recovery support as the flood water subsides.”

Governor Palin and John Madden, the director of the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, visited the critical areas of Fort Yukon and saw the predicted flood plain and the buildings and homes that could be affected by the spring flood.

“The local levee was in good shape, but this season’s flood was just too large to be stopped,” Madden said. “The state has a very thorough planning and training system, and we have been working with the villages in the Interior for years to keep people safe and informed about the spring flooding season.”

Multi-agency disaster response teams are in Eagle assessing the damage and working with the community to meet the immediate needs of fresh water, food, and heating fuel. Other teams are in Western Alaska preparing for the potential flooding on the Kuskokwim River and the lower Yukon River.

See previous coverage here, here, and here.

The American Red Cross of Alaska.


IBD Editorial: "Drill, Ivan, Drill"

In the following editorial, Investor's Business Daily cites Gov. Palin's testimony before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar:

Energy Policy: Oil prices have risen to a six-month high on the prospect of economic recovery. Russia plans floating reactors to power Arctic drilling. We plan to do nothing to increase supply.

Oil prices jumped to nearly $58 a barrel Thursday in Singapore in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Benchmark crude for June delivery was up $1.31 at $57.68 on expectations for a global economic recovery by year's end and rising demand for the fossil fuel.

As oil prices rise again, the Guardian reports that Russia is planning a fleet of floating and submersible nuclear reactors to provide power for drilling and exploration for oil and natural gas in Arctic areas that Moscow claims as its own.

There is a triple irony here. The first is that it would be the Russians obeying the law of supply and demand. Then there's their "all of the above" approach to domestic energy needs, building nuclear reactors to power oil and gas rigs, neither of which we seem willing to do.

Environmentalists, of course, are not in love with either source of power and warn of the dangers of nuclear radiation and oil leaks. Not only might polar bears be killed, but they might glow in the dark afterward.

No one considers that the nukes might be considered a "carbon offset" for the oil rigs.

And isn't natural gas environmentally friendly and T. Boone Pickens' favorite energy source when he's not tilting at windmills?

A prototype floating nuclear power station being constructed at the SevMash shipyard in Severodvinsk is due to be completed next year. Four more 70-megawatt plants, each of which would consist of two reactors aboard giant steel platforms, are planned.

The self-propelled vessels would store their own waste and fuel and would need to be serviced only once every 12 to 14 years. Russia's stimulus program for energy includes planned submersible nuclear-powered drilling rigs that could allow eight wells to be drilled at a time.

The U.S. Geological Survey believes the Arctic holds up to 25% of the world's undiscovered oil and gas reserves, leading some experts to call the region the next Saudi Arabia. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin underscored that point at an April 14 Interior Department field hearing in Anchorage chaired by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Palin testified: "The world-class potential of Arctic Alaska was verified in the recently released Circum-Arctic Oil and Gas Assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey, which highlighted that Arctic Alaska was second only to the West Siberian Basin in total Arctic petroleum potential and the highest Arctic potential for oil."

The Russians fully intend to develop the West Siberian Basin and any other Arctic areas their technology can reach. We may someday find ourselves importing Russian oil extracted off the Alaskan coast by Gazprom instead of Exxon or Shell.

As Palin pointed out to Salazar, the USGS assessment "estimates that Arctic Alaska has mean technically recoverable resources of approximately 30 billion barrels of oil, 6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids and 221 trillion cubic feet of conventional natural gas."

Continued Arctic exploration is also necessary for the continued viability of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Production at Prudhoe Bay is in decline. North Slope production is one-third of its peak, and unless we are allowed to produce oil and gas from ANWR and in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Palin said, reduced flow will cause the pipeline to close.

The administration's game plan is to force energy prices to "skyrocket" to make alternative sources of energy more competitive. We don't see the Russians dotting Siberia with wind turbines and solar panels. They recognize the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow.

Alaska's environmentally friendly natural gas, according to the Energy Information Agency in its 2009 Energy Outlook, would lower the cost to consumers by 63 cents per thousand cubic feet in 2002.

The only way we might be able to get at these resources may be to sell Alaska back to the Russians.

In July 2008, Gov. Palin was interviewed by IBD. In addition to discussing resource development, she addressed questions about how she was balancing the cutbacks in federal money with her state's needs. At the time, the state's coffers were flush with oil revenue but the citizens of Alaska were suffering from rising oil prices, which, as many of you know, are higher in Alaska than elsewhere in the country.

You can hear the interview here and read excerpts of it here.

(h/t TommyReport)


Report: Palin Called Prejean to Offer Support

Take it for what it's worth without official confirmation, but Allahpundit at Hot Air is passing along a report from E! that Governor Palin called Carrie Prejean to offer support against the vicious onslaught of the left-wing media she's been facing.

Allahpundit asks:

Is there anyone in American political life better qualified to give tips on coping with a seek-and-destroy campaign by progressive media?

I'm sure most political blogosphere followers already know this, but Prejean, who is Miss California, has been relentlessly attacked by the MSM because she honestly answered a question at the Miss USA pageant about her opinion on gay marriage. It should be noted that her opinion is identical to that of Barack Obama and Joe Biden (and the majority of Californians who voted on Proposition 8).

I heard Mark Steyn guest-hosting Rush's show the other day, and he was asking why Obama and Biden aren't under attack for their opinions on gay marriage. Steyn thinks it's because the left knows that Obama and Biden are lying in order to fool the rubes in the middle. Call me cynical, but I think Steyn is right.


Palin Lauds Secretary Salazar’s Decision on Polar Bears

Governor Lauds Secretary Salazar’s Decision to Not Change the Existing Regulations

May 8, 2009, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin was pleased to learn that U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has decided not to change the existing Section 4(d) rule regulations concerning the protection of polar bears under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

This decision will provide for continued monitoring and strong protections for polar bears under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and international treaties. This means that subsistence activities and oil and gas development on the North Slope will not be subject to the consultation requirements of the ESA. Governor Palin and the Alaska congressional delegation argued strongly for retention of the polar bear rule.

The Department of the Interior also announced the continuation of a policy disallowing a link between climate change and decisions made under the ESA. The governor has argued against such a linkage as an inappropriate use of the act.

“This is a clear victory for Alaska,” Governor Palin said. “We all want to preserve and protect the polar bear using the best possible tools, but there is absolutely no need to change the 4(d) rule to accomplish this purpose. I want to thank Secretary Salazar for his careful review of the science and the administrative record that led to this decision.”

UPDATE by RAM: The ADN's Politics Blog has some back story on the polar bears ESA issue.

UPDATE II by RAM: Jim Geraghty at NRO's The Campaign Spot writes:

Attention Mainstream Media: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has decided to keep the Obama administration's position on polar bears in line with that of Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Please calibrate your demonization campaigns accordingly.


Juneau Residents to Tourists: "You're Not Welcome in My Neighborhood"

The Juneau Empire reports on the "Stop Local Tours" movement in Juneau (you know, the people who hate little Piper's lemonade stand):

In the last week or two, a handful of downtown residents put up signs on their properties that say "STOP LOCAL TOURS." The signs popped up at homes on West 12th Street, Irwin Street and Calhoun Avenue, and another clutch along Gold Street and Basin Road.

The common thread that has the residents publicly griping is tour buses on narrow roads creating extra noise, traffic and road safety concerns.

Chip Thoma of the watchdog group Responsible Cruising in Alaska distributed the signs and claimed a minor victory in the matter after the Juneau Assembly's Finance Committee on Wednesday pulled about $45,000 in funding to expand a bus pullout where Fourth Street feeds into Calhoun. The larger pullout would have accommodated full-sized buses alongside the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.

Thoma said the bus turnaround "would've been the death knell" of the cause.

The main item of interest along the 12th and Calhoun route is a glimpse of the governor's mansion, an aside as tourists are en route to their main attractions, such as the Mendenhall Glacier or helicopter excursions that are otherwise accessible via Egan Drive.

"That five seconds ruins a neighborhood," Thoma said. "If the governor's house had historical value and parking and a scheduled tour, I could see it. But since there is no parking in the area, there are no tours ... it's just an inappropriate venue they're using there," Thoma said.

Kirby Day, a spokesman for Princess Cruises and a coordinator of the industry program that seeks to minimize tourism impacts on the community, characterized the museum as a scapegoat.

"Somehow, people got the impression that adding this bus space would increase traffic on 12th and Calhoun. It's absolutely false," Day said.

Museum Director Jane Lindsey said the bus accommodation was unlikely to affect bus traffic in the neighborhood.

He thinks the governor's mansion doesn't have historical value? The governor's mansion is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. I think they're more of an authority on what's "historical" than Mr. Thoma.

Thoma sure seems to have a problem with the tourism industry. When he's not trying to stop tour buses, he's trying to shut down cruise ships. He doesn't seem to realize that tourism (along with state government... you know, like the governor) is the life blood of Juneau. Kirby Day gets it:

Day said the protest signs paint an unpleasant picture of Juneau.

"They put signs up, that's fine, but it sure doesn't portray a welcoming image of the capital city to our visitors," he said. "It's unfortunate."

Who wants to renew that petition to move the state capital to Willow?

In the meantime, I think the Governor and the First Dude should throw a huge party every weekend and invite all the tourists.

"Hey, who wants some more reindeer sausage?"

"Honey, we're almost out of Alaskan Amber."

"Turn up the music, Dad!"


Gov. Palin Visits Interior to View Flood Damage

As we mentioned last night, Gov. Palin visited the Interior yesterday to see first-hand the flooding along the Yukon River, the damage it left in its wake, and the preparations going on in communities downstream:

Gov. Sarah Palin, who on Wednesday declared the Yukon River flooding a disaster, flew into Fort Yukon on Thursday afternoon to talk with village leaders... Palin planned to fly over the villages of Circle and Eagle to survey damage to those villages.

“The purpose of the trip is to get a first-hand look at the destruction and reassure the citizens that the state is doing everything possible to help the region recover as quickly as possible,” said Sharon Leighow, the governor’s deputy communications director.

Video from KTUU:

The American Red Cross of Alaska.


Friday Open Thread

(Edited picture courtesy of reader Cathy Ann)

'Cuda Tweet: Outraged over Obama defense cuts.

Washington Post: Liar, Lair, Pants on Fire.

Boston Herald: Welfare recipients receive free cars.

Amanda Carpenter: Hot Button Issues.

Byron York: Obama could nominate Michael Moore and the Dems would confirm him.

WSJ: Statue of Liberty Crown to Reopen July 4


Joanna Lumley Reduces Labour Minister To A Quivering Jelly

mmmmm....even sweeter than Dan Hannan's speech. I posted this on my own blog but then thought that my friends at C4P would enjoy the thought of a strong woman politely but firmly bending a frightened male politician to her will and making him do the right thing.

Joanna Lumley sensed Gordon Brown's government was back tracking on assurances given about the debt of honour owed to thousands of Nepalese Gurkhas who have fought and died for Britain over two hundred years. She then proceeded in a polite but deadly way to stitch him up and spit him out until all he could do was to nod fearfully as she issued her orders....

Joanna Lumley staged an extraordinary ambush on Gordon Brown's hapless immigration minister over the Gurkhas yesterday.

In a bravura performance, the actress seized the initiative in her battle for soldiers' rights and reduced Phil Woolas to an abject and humiliated figure.

Adopting the air of an angry schoolmistress, she sought him out at Westminster and frogmarched him to a live press conference for a very public dressing down.

In the process, she effectively rewrote Government policy.

More details here.

Watch and enjoy....

Betrayal? (Sorry, it's a bit jerky but worth watching.)



Thursday, May 7, 2009

Juneau Residents Attempts to Close Down Piper Palin's Lemonade Stand

(Juneau, Alaska. Picture courtesy of an ordinary barbarian.)

A Juneau reader, and fan of Governor Palin (a rare breed in Juneau, I'm sure), tells me that Piper Palin has been running a lemonade stand in Juneau. And that a man named Chip Thoma is behind a movement to close it down.

Mr. Thoma leads a group of Juneau residents who are just "sick and tired" of the Palins and the tours that are conducted to the governor's mansion (something that has been occurring in Juneau since the first governor took office). It seems that Governor Palin is so popular with tourists that thousands of people are walking from the docks to the governor's mansion in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the first family. Mr. Thoma feels that this -- along with Piper Palin's lemonade stand, trampoline and buoy swing -- is "bringing down the neighborhood." It seems that Mr. Thoma doesn't enjoy the Palin children very much. Grinch.

The story gets even more bizarre. Mr. Thoma apparently used to spend his time on the docks in Juneau telling tourists to not bother visiting the governor's mansion because Governor Palin was "never in town." Now that Governor Palin is in town, he still has a problem. Go figure.

Mr. Thoma's group has decided to plant "stop tours" signs on the path from the docks to the governor's mansion.

My question to Mr. Thoma is this: Where would Juneau be without tourism and the state government? It seems that the answer is: Nowhere.

They complain when Governor Palin is away from Juneau and now they are complaining because she spends too much time in Juneau. Well, which one is it?

As for Mr. Thoma's attempts to shut down a little girl's lemonade stand... Grow the heck up, please.

And by the way, Mr. Thoma, there is a good chance that you are actually harming Juneau by urging tourists to stop spending their money. "Think Mcfly, think." A "stop local tours" movement in Juneau would be similar to a "close down the boardwalk" movement on the Jersey Shore -- it is just never going to work out.

Our Juneau reader is fed up with this group, and wouldn't be surprised if the the first family said, "Screw Juneau."

Governor Palin was forced to pay taxes because she did not reside in the Juneau mansion when it was under renovation. The governor took a lot of heat because she did not live in Juneau during this time. Now she is taking heat because she spends too much time in Juneau. It seems that some people in Juneau would be much happier if the state capital was moved to a different part of the state. I'm sure that Governor Palin would be more than happy to work out of Wasilla full time. She could even put out a nice welcome mat that says "Welcome to the Governor's Mansion" outside her Wasilla home, and invite all of those tourists over for the grand opening of the new mansion.

(I'm afraid that we are just going to have to shut you girls down.)


Governor Calls Obama's Defense Cuts Outrageous

Governor Calls President’s Budget Cuts ‘Outrageous’

May 7, 2009, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin today expressed great dismay over President Obama’s proposed budget cuts for Fiscal Year 2010.

The president proposes to cut millions from missile defense funding and to reduce spending for the Denali Commission and the Village Safe Water program.

“These budget cuts add up to about half of 1 percent,” Governor Palin said. “But while they do little to put brakes on the exploding federal deficit, they hit Alaska hard. I join our congressional delegation in their determination to see that Alaska’s unique challenges and its key role in national defense are not overlooked.”

The Obama budget would cancel a second missile defense field at Fort Greely and freeze the number of interceptors being deployed there.

“This is an outrageous move at a time when North Korea has shown its willingness to flout international sentiments and conduct missile tests,” Governor Palin said. “America needs a strong missile defense, and Alaska’s strategic location is invaluable in protecting the nation.”

The president’s proposed cuts also would weaken the Village Safe Water program, which has been key in reducing health risks through improved sanitation in some of Alaska’s poorest villages. Similarly, cuts to the Denali Commission eliminate job training programs in some of the most impoverished areas in the United States, eliminate village health clinics, and eliminate clean-up efforts for waste threatening water supplies.

Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell expressed concern about the Obama administration’s proposed reduction in oil and gas exploration incentives. “That would have the effect of maintaining our dependence on foreign sources of energy, which is contrary to the president’s stated objective. The higher energy costs for every citizen amounts to a tax on everyone. I hope the president will reconsider.”


Statutory Change Needed for State to Charge Frivolous Ethics Complaint Filers

Sean Cockerham at the ADN reports:

The state personnel board looked into whether it could charge Alaskans for filing “a frivolous or meritless” ethics complaint against the governor or members of her administration.

It turns out that it can’t.

Andree McLeod, who has filed multiple ethics complaints against Gov. Palin, last week came across the minutes of a personnel board meeting from Oct. 31, during which board member Al Tamagni asked a state attorney if it was possible to charge attorney fees for such complaints (it’s not clear how exactly the state would judge if something is “frivolous”).

Anyway, Assistant Attorney General Dave Jones looked into it and determined “the answer is no, the Personnel Board may not award fees against a person for filing a frivolous or meritless ethics complaint. A statutory change would be necessary.”

Okay, so what do we have to do to get that statutory change?


The Vice-Presidential Campaign Part 2: The Speech

This is part two in a series. For part one, click here.

The 24 hours after the announcement of Gov. Palin as John McCain's running mate were unlike any the McCain campaign had experienced so far. Throughout the country, campaign office phones were ringing off the hook. Politico's Jonathan Martin reported about a contact of his in one such office in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, who told him that "we have four victory centers, and in mine alone in the all-important city of Parma, I had 47 calls between 12:30 and 2 p.m. yesterday, all asking how they could volunteer and how they could get a yard sign." The Washington Post's The Trail reported an enormous increase in donations, with the campaign taking in as much as $7 million in a single day (in the whole month of July, which had been the campaign's best month so far from a fundraising perspective, they had raised £27 million. In other words, a single day, the Palin pick had allowed them to raise more than 25 percent of their best monthly total so far).

The first post-announcement polls were also better than McCain's strategists could have ever imagined. Rasmussen's daily tracking poll showed Obama had received no bounce whatsoever from his convention speech. Though still trailing, the four percent margin was better than anything they could have hoped for just 48 hours ago. The same message came from Zogby, which now called the race a dead heat.


All this good news makes it that much harder to understand why the McCain campaign went completely off the rails in the next 48 hours. Instead of seizing the moment, they went into a strange defensive huddle. And instead of capitalizing on voters' curiosity about the new VP-candidate, they locked her away and settled on a strategy of 'no exposure'. In the end, it would be a full two weeks after her first introduction before Gov. Palin would be allowed to meet any journalists - by which time the MSM had already settled on a number of storylines which could have been (and to an extent probably were) highly damaging to her candidacy. (Since I'm not a qualified psychiatrist, I won't here talk about one particular story line that was first published in the DailyKos diary section, was then removed from the diaries, only to reappear in the rants published by a certain blogger).

One of these story lines was born in the first few hours after the announcement. A USA Today/Gallup poll found that though a plurality of voters thought Gov. Palin would be qualified to serve as president if it became necessary, 33 percent thought she wouldn't be. It gave the Obama campaign a chance to turn the tables on McCain on an issue that was generally perceived to be Obama's main weakness, namely his lack of experience. Calling her a "former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience", Obama spokesman Bill Burton warned that she would be "a heartbeat away from the presidency." It was an insult -Palin was after all not just a former small town mayor but also the current governor of a large, strategically important state - but it was a calculated insult. If the polling data showed that this was Palin's greatest weakness, then their strategy was to talk and talk and talk about it until the media accepted it as gospel truth that the Governor just wasn't ready for the job. On a deeper level, the reference to 'small town mayor' also tapped into a number of prejudices - about the supposed bigotry and small-mindedness of country life, and about women being somehow less qualified for higher office, even being outright stupid - the same prejudices that would later be tapped into by Obama himself when he 'misspoke' in comparing Gov. Palin to a pig, by Tina Fey in her SNL portrayal of the Governor, and by Katie Couric when she asked the Governor which newspapers she read.

A second line of attack was opened not by the Obama campaign, but by those within the conservative camp who had hoped that McCain would lead the party away from the consensus positions on God, guns, and gays, and towards their somewhat more 'enlightened' interpretation of issues surrounding faith and family. The dubious honor of being the first conservative to openly come out against Gov. Palin went to Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald. On the 30th of August, she wrote a scathing piece in which she accused the McCain campaign of playing 'identity politics'. She claimed that conservative "enthusiasm for her is driven in large measure by the fact that the McCain camp has beaten the Democrats at their own game, and in so doing, driven Obama’s moment of glory off the wires." Beyond that, she tore into Palin, whose only experience for the job, she pointed out (in an echo of the Obama campaign talking point), was being "Mayor of Wasilla (population 9,780)". Instead of actually studying Palin's record as governor before jumping to conclusions, MacDonald decided that one look was enough to allow her to weigh Palin and find her wanting. Why? Who knows. It may have been that after eight years of the intellectually uninspiring George W. Bush, she had hoped for a candidate with Obama-like intellectual credentials, someone she could boast about at a cocktail party. Or perhaps it was Palin's outspoken faith that alienated the no less outspoken atheist MacDonald. Whatever the reason, the attack would have a ripple effect in certain parts of the conservative intellectual community.

The third storyline came from the McCain campaign itself. By not allowing Gov. Palin to meet with the media and give a full and frank account of her record as Governor - and as a mayor, a member of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a wife, and a mother of five - they handed the initiative to the other side. Pretty soon, they were forced to deny a number of claims - that they had in fact looked at the Trooper Wooten scandal and that there was nothing to it, and that she did not in fact originally support the bridge to nowhere, nor was she ever a member of the Alaska Independence Party. Most damaging was that what should really have been a non-issue if it had been disclosed at the start. By being forced to confirm the rumors surrounding her daughter's pregnancy, Gov. Palin created the suggestion that she was somehow trying to keep it a secret. This, in turn, gave the MSM the excuse to cover even the most scurrilous bits of rumor mongering on the Internet, while pretending to be agonizing over its decision to do so.

The big storyline that emerged from this was that the McCain campaign had not been fully briefed before it took the decision to pick Palin. The New York Times suggested that Republicans were "worried that Democrats would use the selection of Ms. Palin to question Mr. McCain’s judgment and his ability to make crucial decisions." It quoted "Republicans close to the campaign" saying that "it was increasingly apparent that Ms. Palin had been selected as Mr. McCain’s running mate with more haste than McCain advisers initially described." There were two aspects to this storyline. One was that McCain had shown questionable judgement in picking Gov. Palin without any serious vetting of her candidacy. The other was that the revelations were actually damaging to Palin herself, supposedly showing her to be both a hypocrite (on the issue of the bridge to nowhere and ethics reform) and a liar (on her daughter's pregnancy). The Obama campaign and its allies in the MSM probably made the calculation that if enough mud was thrown, some of it might stick.


Campaigns are all about momentum. Whoever has it, will see his fortunes rise. The Palin pick gave the McCain campaign a rare chance to seize the initiative. Not only did they fail to do that, though, they even managed to hand the initiative straight back to the Obama campaign. By Monday, instead of using the momentum to launch into a successful convention, the campaign was scrambling to fight its way back into the game. Team McCain announced it had decided to send a team of lawyers up to Alaska. "To do what?", the media naturally wanted to know. "The move raises the impression that the McCain campaign didn't know everything about his No. 2 and is now racing to learn what it can while trying to avoid tough questions about the Arizona senator's decision-making process," wrote the LA Times. By Tuesday, things had gotten so bad that people actually started talking about an unlikely early exit for Palin. 'The Eagleton scenario', it was called, after the Missouri senator who was George McGovern's running mate for a brief period before being forced to retire from the race after it emerged he had failed to disclose a history of mental health problems.It was just another political attack of course, but by late afternoon even serious news outlets were discussing the idea as if it was somehow a realistic option. By the morning of the third of September, McCain campaign surrogates like Rudy Giuliani were reduced to pleading with the media to 'give her a chance'. The media's response was to leak an 'open mic' tape of GOP talking heads Chuck Todd and Peggy Noonan dissing the Palin pick.

Just hours before her speech, Hotair's Ed Morrissey wrote a stinging critique of the McCain campaign's handling of the whole Palin VP-candidacy rollout:

[T]he campaign has nowhere to cast the blame but on itself. Instead of rolling out a series of ads extolling her experience and especially her record on reform, the campaign pushed itself into “non-political” mode for Hurricane Gustav. They apparently believed that this would earn them some credit with the media, but obviously they miscalculated. The dead air of the last three days gave the media a vacuum, which they filled with lies and innuendo immediately.

Now they face an uphill struggle to regain the narrative in this campaign. Tonight, Sarah Palin will take the bull by the horns herself. She has the opportunity to relieve all doubts with a dynamic, forceful address that encompasses her fight to reform Alaskan politics, often at risk to her own political career. If she succeeds, then she can turn all of the slurs into weapons back at those who have thrown them at her. If she doesn’t, it will be a long nine weeks to the election.

So did she succeed? Well, yes, I guess you could say she did:


Gov. Palin Surveys Flood Damage in Interior, Won't Travel to East Coast

Governor Palin Surveys Flood Damage in Interior

May 7, 2009, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin traveled to the Interior today to survey areas ravaged by the worst ice jam flooding in decades. The governor was joined by Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director John Madden. Weather permitting, the governor will meet with village leaders at Fort Yukon, and fly over Eagle and Circle.

On Wednesday, Governor Palin declared a disaster for the flooding event in the Interior of Alaska, including the drainages of the Yukon, Kuskokwim and Kobuk rivers. The disaster declaration will allow greater coordination among state agencies and provide easier access to state disaster relief funds. The declaration will also pave the way for receipt of federal funds from a possible federal disaster declaration.

The State Emergency Coordination Center Preparedness Level has been increased to Level 4: The center’s operations occur in response to a major life-threatening or property-damaging event.

Given the severity of the flooding, Governor Palin has decided not to attend several events scheduled on the East Coast.

“Alaska is experiencing the worst ice jam flooding in recent history,” Governor Palin said. “I am committed to do everything I can to help this region recover quickly. I appreciate the efforts of the Division of Homeland Security getting the necessary supplies to those in need.”

Governor Palin had planned to travel to New York City this week to promote Alaska’s Global Food Aid Program. The event promotes the use of Alaska seafood products to help feed millions of hungry people around the world. First Gentleman Todd Palin will attend in the governor’s place.

Governor Palin was also invited to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The First Gentleman will attend that event as well. Governor Palin also postponed numerous state meetings planned in Washington, D.C., including a scheduled gasline meeting.

A copy of the disaster declaration can be found at: [emphasis added]

The American Red Cross of Alaska.

Update by Mel: Tweet from the Guv:

Surveyed extensive flood damage in Interior. DMVA continues to provide aid to AKns in need.

Update by RAM: Another Tweet from the Guv:

Just landed in FBX, touring new terminal. Many thanks to Dep. Com. Klein & all DOT/PF for finishing early & under budget!

(I think the Guv is really digging this Twitter thing.)

Update II by Mel: Video from KTUU:


National Review: Mum on Palin's Right to Life Speech, But Feels the Need to Criticize Bristol Palin

As a devoted National Review reader I was disappointed to discover that the fine folks over at NRO did not cover Governor Palin's amazing Right to Life speech in Evansville, Indiana from April 16th. I didn't feel the need to write about my disappointment at the time because I generally like National Review, but today I will make an exception.

As you know, Kathyrn Jean Lopez of National Review has been a strong advocate for the pro-life cause, which is one of the reasons why I was shocked to discover that she did not take the time to write about Governor Palin's speech.

Today, Ms. Lopez helped write an article that criticizes Bristol Palin's recent decision to become a spokesperson on the issue of teen pregnancy:

Bristol Palin, a young mother now, knows about choices that stay with you. This week, it was announced that she will be a teen-pregnancy prevention “ambassador.” She already is one, and she really doesn’t need this added responsibility. She’s working for the Candie’s Foundation, which has, as the first bullet point in its mission statement, the following: “Be Sexy: It Doesn’t Mean You Have to Have Sex.” This, of course, is not the right message. With hormones running wild, teens do not need to be encouraged to be sexy, with or without abstinence. This is not helpful — probably especially for young Bristol.

Bristol Palin does not need to be an advocate of anything. She’s a girl who has made mistakes that have been that much harder because she was hoisted into the public square as the consequences of those mistakes could not be hidden. She has enough adult responsibilities now. Among them should be taking care of her child, finishing high school, and staying away from the cameras where she says things like abstinence is “not realistic.” Let the girl live in peace and not be a poster girl for anything.

Something tells me that if Mitt Romney had given that speech in Evansville, Indiana on April 16th, Ms. Lopez would have taken the time to write a glowing review of the event.

Unlike the majority of the writers for National Review, Bristol Palin does not live in an ivory tower -- she lives in the real world. She said repeatedly yesterday that abstinence is the best and safest way to avoid teen pregnancy. She has experienced this issue and can advise young women to avoid her mistakes. That makes her an ideal spokesperson. Bristol demonstrated yesterday that she can discuss the issue with poise and confidence. In her interviews yesterday, Bristol Palin stated that she never considered having an abortion and that baby Tripp is a blessing. Bristol Palin chose life, when many others would have chosen another path. Surely Ms. Lopez could have at least praised her on that, right?

Candie's gives this cause a platform that reaches far more people than National Review. The general idea is to get the attention of young people. Something National Review is not very good at.

Give the holier-than-thou Bristol bashing a rest please.

Update: Reader Jimr3 points out the hypocritical nature of Ms. Lopez. It seems that Ms. Lopez has a problem with Bristol's involvement with Candies, but she has no problem bragging that her columns have appeared in Playboy. I guess her columns appear in the "good part" of Playboy.

The National Review also failed to mention the other items that appear in Candie's mission statement:

• Be Smart: Don’t Give Up Your Education
• Be Smart: You Are Too Young to Start
• Not Really the Way You Pictured Your First Crib
• Not What You Had in Mind for Your First Set of Wheels
• You Think Being in School Sucks


Surprise: Dan Fagan Uses New Poll to Bash Palin

Our old friend Dan Fagan is at it again. Today he covered the recent Hays poll that shows Governor Palin with a 54% approval rating among Alaskans. As usual, I will take his "case" point by point:


A new poll confirms what an Alaska Standard poll found back in January: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is by the far the most popular elected official in Alaska.

Dan, we know that the Murkowskis are your personal favorite, but how much scrutiny has Lisa Murkowski been under recently? How about zero, Dan? Can you really compare the approval ratings of a U.S. Senator who receives zero media coverage to Governor Palin? Come on, Dan, clues are located in aisle three -- please pick one up.


A statewide poll conducted by the Anchorage firm Hayes [sic] Research has good news for Murkowski. At the same time, it reveals continued dramatic erosion of Governor Palin’s popularity in Alaska. Murkowski’s favorable rating remains off the chart with an impressive 77 percent approving of the job she is doing. The senior senator’s negative rating is also very low at only 18 percent.

And what exactly is the job she is doing? Bringing home earmarks to Alaska? I have never seen a voting constituency who is not supportive of a politician who brings home the goods. I believe that is how John Murtha gets re-elected every two years. Do you think he is "off the charts" too?

Has Lisa Murkowski had her family slimed through the media for a year? Has Murkowski had to deal with an endless number of ethics complaints by petty political hacks? Has Murkowski had to deal with a petty legislators attacking her all session? How many political appointments has Murkowski made recently?

Dan, do you really think it is intellectually honest to compare Governor Palin and Senator Murkowski's favorables?


Compare that to the Governor’s negatives where close to 42 percent of respondents said they do not approve of the job Palin is doing right now. A Hayes [sic] Research poll one year ago showed Palin with only a 9 percent negative rating, and an unprecedented 86 percent favorable rating. The new Hayes [sic] Research poll shows the governor's favorable rating plummeting a whopping 32 percentage points in just one year- to 54 percent. That’s the governor's lowest approval rating since taking office.

Dan, can you really make the "one year ago" argument without providing context? I know that is something you are not good at doing, but you can just do it for us just one time? What has happened to Governor Palin since she has "taken office?" Please explain, Dan. Okay, I will do it for you.

Governor Palin enjoyed an artificial approval rating in the 80% range last year. This is artificial because approval ratings are not supposed to reach that high, and if they do... they do not last. This is why people can run with the headline that Palin has "lost 30 points." If you recall, President Bush enjoyed an approval rating that hit 90% in late 2001, and I should know because I wrote a paper on the subject. Those ratings do not and will not last.

This is what Governor Palin has had to deal with since "last year:"

- Vice Presidential run where she was smeared and lied about (sound familiar?).
- Countless petty ethics complaints lodged by her political enemies with the intentions of "bringing her down."
- A terrible legislative session where legislators were more concerned with the book she may or may not be writing and the clothing she wears at sporting events than passing legislation.
- The "Borking" of her nominee for Attorney General.
- The political debate surrounding the "stimulus."
- The media continuing to smear her every single day.

Now, every poll since the end of the 2008 campaign shows Governor Palin hovering around the 60% approval rating, except for this one. This poll was taken right after a legislative session that most Alaskans view as a failure. Even if you believe this poll -- it is still only one poll.

Dan, take a break and relax. The Murkoswkis will still love you.

She was elected Governor with 48% of the vote in 2006, which means she has actually gained 6 points. Now, run with that headline, Dan.

And, Dan, the name of the research firm is "Hays" not "Hayes."

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Hays Research Group, this is what you will find in the "about us" section of their website:

Our respected research has been featured in many national publications including:

The New York Times

The Daily Kos

The Washington Post

CBS News

Congressional Quarterly

Talking Points Memo

The Politico

And here is the Hays Research final pre-election poll for Alaska:

McCain/Palin 46.6%
Undecided - Lean McCain/Palin 1.7%
Obama/Biden 43.9%
Undecided - Lean Obama/Biden 0.7%
Other Candidate 2.0%
Don't Know / Refused 5.1%

Actual results:

McCain/Palin 59.8%
Obama/Biden 38%


The GOP's Real Problem: Forgetting Reagan

Mark Tapscott writing for the Washington Examiner:

Excuse me, Jeb Bush, but your daddy and brother already helped push the Republican Party beyond “the good old days” of its Reagan legacy, and we all see how well that’s been working for the GOP since 2006, don’t we.

And excuse me, Gen. Colin Powell, but which election did you win because “Americans are looking for more government in their lives, not less …”?

Forgive me if I seem a bit cranky here, but, being a card-carrying Reaganaut since 1964, it’s hard not to be whenever the national media lectures the GOP on how to regain voters’ trust. Inevitably, the advice involves abandonment of Ronald Reagan and the core conservative principles he advanced.


The former Florida governor got caught up in this all-too-familiar game in the wake of Sen. Arlen Specter’s return to the party of his heart. Bush likely wasn’t thinking specifically about Reagan, but that hardly mattered to media headline writers or legions of talking heads eager to see the GOP forever abandon things like limited government and individual freedom.

That’s why it’s futile to make angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin distinctions between not “living in the past” or not “worshipping the Reagan era,” but applying his values and principles in new ways. You might as well be playing craps with a loaded pair of dice.

The difference with Reagan is that he was the only modern president to reverse Leviathan’s expansion into every facet of everyday American life. Bush I raised taxes and increased spending so he could be “the environment president.”

Bush II, admittedly preoccupied by the aftermath of 9/11, presided over the biggest pre-OBama explosion in federal spending since LBJ. But then at the end of his White House tenure, he launched the federal takeover of the financial system that set the table for Obama's "Gangster Government." (HT to the Examiner's Michael Barone for coining that entirely suitable phrase).


Thanks to Bush I, as soon as Reagan left town, Leviathan resumed the growth path it was on when Reagan arrived. And let's remember why he came (as he explained in his 1982 State of the Union Address): “Our citizens feel they’ve lost control of even the most basic decisions made about the essential services of government, such as schools, welfare, roads, and even garbage collection.”

Republicans win when they promise to restore our citizens’ ability to control their government and their own destinies (remember, we all have a rendezvous with destiny), and then actually deliver on that promise. They lose when they deliver more government instead.

Here’s something else Reagan said, in his first inaugural:

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”

Reagan’s maxim is as true today as it was in 1981, and it will be true across a thousand tomorrows. The crucial question for Republican leaders now is, as always, will they heed or ignore that truth?


Jay Ramras Just Can Not Resist Taking Cheapshots

NBA point guard Horrible legislator Jay Ramras had this to say regarding the event at the Alaska House in New York City this weekend:

Ramras said the contingent will be “a nice collection of Alaskans to maybe make a cycle through the New York papers, and a nice way to try and keep Sarah Palin a little honest.”

I will at least recognize that Ramras was able to refrain from using "V words" to describe the governor. Jay, you are growing up so fast! Cheapshots seem to be his specialty -- game winning shots? Not so much.

Exit Question: Is this the man that you want on the court in the closing minutes of a basketball game?

UPDATE By Sinistar: Ah yes, everyone's favorite AK Rep., Jay Ramras (R-Fairbanks), will be in attendance at the nonprofit Alaska House, New York on Friday. I'm sure that his superior people skills will do wonders for promoting Alaska.

Also in attendance will be: Alaska Senate President Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak), Sen. Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel), Sen. Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage), Rep. Bob Herron (D-Bethel), Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Haines) and Rep. John Harris (R-Valdez).

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner article cited above reports that these Alaska legislators will be "traveling to New York City this week to promote the Great Land as guests of the nonprofit Alaska House, New York and to meet with reporters from major national media outlets."

The article does not mention who is paying for the trip.

Update by JR:

Bad: Governor Palin, a great public speaker and crowd getter, goes out of the state to promote Alaska.

Good: State legislators, who nobody outside of Alaska can name or recognize, go out of the state to promote Alaska.

I'm sure ethics charges will be filed against these legislators for their out of state travel.


“Palin Direct” – Searching The Neglected Outlands For The Conservative Underground

OK it’s a Conservative Party vid for elections to the European Parliament and local councils due next month and the clips are very selective. But the audiences were not – they were open meetings and the venues were not all in Conservative territory. There obviously were grumblers and critics and it might have been an idea to show one or two of those to underline the image of “straight talking guy” that was being presented. Nevertheless Cameron looks fairly comfortable Q and A’ing with ordinary Brits which is quite an achievement considering he has been characterised by his many opponents (from the left and the right) as coming from a wealthy background and therefore with little understanding of the difficulties faced by Mr and Mrs Average.

I also like the point he makes on the train about how by doing these meetings he has discovered that although most people are turned off by “politics” they are deeply interested in political ideas – something that we political “junkies” would do well to remember.

Now I am perfectly aware that although such townhall meetings are relatively uncommon here in the UK they seem to be part of the fabric of campaigning in America and they obviously work best when there is a candidate who can connect with ordinary folks. Their value lies not so much in what the candidate says or the answers that are given but the feeling that members of the audience have about the individual. It is much easier to spot a phoney or a blowhard in a room of a hundred people than in a rally of several thousand.

There have been quite a few comments here on C4P about the Governor’s non appearance at the NRA and the dangers of not attending such events if she wishes to have a career in national politics. Well perhaps she might choose not to move into the national arena. But if she does I would suggest that maybe she has less need to feed that part of the base because she has that already. I don’t mean you ignore them or take them for granted but like Cameron you make the odd foray outside the base and do “Palin Direct” townhall meetings with, say, Hispanic, Black and Asian groups.

I am sure Michael Steele could help with this as part of his campaign to tap into a substantial conservative underground within the ethnic electorate. Cameron has managed to do this with the Conservative Party here in the UK with a considerable degree of success – no reason why the Governor should not be able to do this even better than him. After all her appeal is as much to do with the warmth of her personality, her personal values and her “outsider” image as it is to do with her policies. Smaller, more intimate outreach meetings would provide just the right vehicle.

“Reaching out” is a phrase that frightens many on the right because they fear it smacks of compromise. But to me, as a lifelong Conservative, it can also mean venturing forth into neglected outlands to discover and embrace fellow believers and there’s nothing wrong with that. It is effective politics, sound common sense and good for the soul.


Governor Lauds Fed Coordinator Selection

Governor Lauds Deputy Federal Coordinator Selection

May 6, 2009, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin today welcomed the news that U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary Thomas Barrett, a retired U.S. Coast Guard vice admiral, was selected as deputy federal coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects.

Barrett will serve as deputy of the Office of the Federal Coordinator (OFC), an independent agency reporting to the White House on Alaska gas pipeline issues. He will work with OFC Director Drue Pearce to direct the activities and authorities vested in the OFC, and will manage its Alaska office.

“Vice Admiral Barrett’s career has put him in positions to protect Alaska’s people, fisheries, and environment,” Governor Palin said. “We are fortunate to have him watching over the development and construction of the Alaska natural gas pipeline. This appointment demonstrates the federal commitment to this project.”

Barrett lived in Alaska for 14 years and was the commander of the Coast Guard in Alaska from 1999 to 2002. He then served four years as vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and in 2006 was named the first administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. As administrator of the agency responsible for safe transport of natural gas, petroleum, and other hazardous liquids and materials, he worked with the state of Alaska on North Slope pipeline corrosion issues. Barrett became deputy secretary of transportation in 2007.

“We welcome Vice Admiral Barrett back to Alaska,” said Mark Myers, the state’s Alaska Gasline Inducement Act coordinator. “I look forward to working with Federal Coordinator Pearce, Admiral Barrett, and their entire staff. Having this quality of individual involved in moving the Alaska natural gas pipeline project forward is a benefit to Alaska and the entire nation.”


Thursday Morning Open Thread: The Prophetic Wisdom of Thomas Jefferson

Seth Adam Smith provides us with a useful reminder of Thomas Jefferson's prophetic wisdom...


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Eddie Burke vs. Andree McLeod

Eddie cornered the infamous ankle-biter Andree McLeod at a public forum where she was having a conversion with Rick Rydell, a talk show host who is no fan of Sarah Palin. As Eddie later explained on his show, he is attempting to put through a FOIA request to get all the emails that Andree wrote to government officials in pursuit of a state job. Her vendetta against Gov. Palin centers on the fact that she was denied a patronage job by the Palin administration.


Wednesday Night Open Thread

For your listening pleasure: "Stir It Up" by Patti LaBelle. I think the song is appropriate considering the attention that "The Bore in the Woods" video has received.


Governor Palin's "Strong, Kind-Hearted, Independent" Daughter Appeared on Television Today

I would just like to briefly note what an excellent job I think Bristol Palin did today. I was very critical of her interview with Greta Van Susteren. Subsequent reflection, and the very moving speech that Gov. Palin gave at the Evansville Right to Life event, have made me ashamed of my initial condescending attitude. And today, Bristol has proven herself to be a young woman of courage and poise.

When invited to take a shot at the media (and who deserves to take that shot more than she?), she politely declined. When asked to comment on the father of her child, she simply stated that she welcomes having him in her child's life. When asked about her right to comment on an issue that she has failed to live up to in her own life, she said with honesty and sincerity that she wants to help other girls make better decisions.

She appeared in these interviews as the "strong, kind-hearted, independent" daughter that her mother always describes her as.

The media has attempted to tabloidize this decent and sincere family. Epic fail. Once again the Palins proved themselves to be a class act.

Now, of course, the spin will begin. Some will rightly praise Bristol's courage. Some will call her stance on abstinence a "flip-flop," but will ignore her common sense statement that, yes, if you are going to have sex you should use protection, but waiting is the best policy. Perhaps her thinking has evolved on this issue. Perhaps the months of diapers, bottles, late night feedings, and boyfriend troubles have made her reflect. I can see very easily how her opinion could change in only a few months -- how she could look back now and say, "I should have waited. I wish I had." And none of that takes away from her love for her son. She just wishes that he had arrived ten years or even five years later than he did.

She has a tough road to travel, but the young woman we saw on our television screens this morning seems up to the challenge.


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