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September 02, 2008

Comments

As much as I agree with you that the AIP should be a deathblow, I get the feeling that to a lot of GOPers, a secessionist background is a feature, not a bug.

http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=11192>John Cole at Balloon Juice has an interesting bit about how it seems that McCain is just now vetting Palin. That kind of recklessness is frankly scary.

Documents are adduced, footnotes proliferate, there is every appearance of monstrous erudition, and yet the whole thing makes no sense.

it's funny b/c it's true.

also, is there sort-of related point to this "the paranoid style" -- anyone? I mean, this group would fit perfectly in that category.

i do get the sense that there's some blood in the water -- and two day before mccain's big speech at that.

Somerby made a really important point on the Bridge to Nowhere matter today which everyone else seems to have missed. By the time Palin was running for Governeer, the bridge to nowhere earmark had already been removed from the congressional bill. As far as dealing with the Federal Government was concerned, there was nothing for her to "say no thanks" to.

If we had an echo chamber like the Right's famous "Mighty Wurlitzer" - and it may be that we're building one with the blogs and Olbermann - this stuff would be Palin's, and thus McCain's, Jeremiah Wright. More likely it just gets seen as more "Frontier Authenticity".

Hilzoy, with your resources perhaps you could do a rundown on how being Gov. of Alaska is not comparable at all to any other state let alone the entire nation.

The papers up there say their budget is based on 80-90% oil revenues which of course are guaranteed revenue streams. Seems to me the only choices in governance would be where to spend the money rather than the usual executive problems of first establishing, growing or maintaining traditional revenue streams only then to turn to the complicated problems most states have with large, diverse populations.

They also apparently have a very large and steady flow of federal dollars...lots of military up there not to mention all the earmarks for oil.

I don't have the resources to research this and have been able to find very little outside of nebulous references in newspaper articles.

I look forward to your analysis.

When I step back and look at this spectacle, I see people furiously digging for dirt, throwing it in the air, sniffing the reaction, and then going back in for more. It's a dirty business, and I suppose it makes you feel dirty. Does it? But I understand the ends justify the means. Carry on.

G Davis

I know that Hilzoy can do much better, but here are a few lines from a short profile of Alaska's economy that I did a little while back.

"Government plays a large economic role in Alaska, despite the state’s fondness for its frontier spirit of rugged self-sufficiency and individualism. In 2005 the number of civilian government employees was 81,400 or 26.3% of the labour force. When military employees are added to the total, about 32% of the labour force was employed directly by government.

The US federal government is a very important economic player in Alaska, where it spent $8.44 billion in 2004 or $12,700 per Alaskan.

However, despite the large presence of government, Alaskans appear particularly reluctant to pay taxes. Alaska collects no state income taxes on its citizens and there is no state sales tax. Instead, the state relies heavily on resource royalties and taxes on the oil & gas industry to fund its operations. In 2005 the Alaska Department of Revenue reported total revenues of $3.3 billion, of which:
• oil & gas royalties were $1.4 billion;
• corporate income taxes on the petroleum industry were $524 million; and,
• severance taxes on the oil & gas industry were $863 million.

In total, the oil & gas sector directly provided nearly 85% of Alaska’s state revenues in 2005."

dfp21: Do you think belonging to a party that advocates secession is a valid point of discussion re a president/vice-president candidate?

Wanting to run a country that you previously said you wanted to leave doesn't sound like a bonus for a candidate.

BTW, isn't this stuff pretty clearly worse than anything that ever came out on Miers? As I recall there was no actual dirt of any kind on Miers - she just seemed not really all that up to the job, and was a crony of Bush, and, most importantly, was not viewed by the right as trustworthy.

Palin obviously doesn't have the last problem, but she seems to have far more in the way of genuinely embarrassing stuff that the McCain people apparently didn't know anything about. This is starting to look like a disaster.

When I step back and look at this spectacle, I see people furiously digging for dirt, throwing it in the air, sniffing the reaction, and then going back in for more.

Well, as you say, there is dirt to be found.

I think there's very little to found in the matter of her children. But I do think her governing style, any pettitness in retaliation, her relationship with Ted Stevens, her lack of honesty in campaign promises, and so forth are fair areas to be examining.

It may be that there is a certain context that's lacking, but the surest way to find that context is to have multiple eyes from multiple perspectives examine the history.

Hilzoy, your read on the Alaska Independence Party lacks the necessary local perspective. Alaska does not behave like a two-party state. There is almost always a fracture in the Republican primary. Sometimes the centrist Republican wins by peeling off Democratic votes; sometimes the conservative Republican wins by marginalizing the centrist; sometimes the Democrat wins because the Republican vote is split; and the Libertarians are a perpetual wild card.

If the Republican who loses the primary doesn't want to give up, he or she runs again in the general under a different label. Sometimes that label is the AIP. In 1990 Wally Hickel was elected as the AIP's nominee, and nobody thinks for a minute that he favored secession. It's a label of convenience, like when a merchant ship flies a Liberian flag. No one really thinks it's a Liberian ship.

I grew up in Alaska. Everyone who follows state politics knows that Vogler is a nutbag. But he's a player who is willing to deal. Vogler knows that Hickel was just using the AIP, and Hickel knows that Vogler was just using him. Palin was politically aligned with Hickel. I don't know exactly what she had in mind when she was flirting with the AIP, but there's nothing shocking about it, and there's no reason to believe it says anything about her own views on secession.

Will there be as much coverage of this as there was of Jeremiah Wright's anti-American comments?

"If anyone makes it through, please feel free to correct the provisional opinion that follows."

My fast reading skills come into play!

The gist is that the UN Charter, which Truman proclaimed the U.S. adhered to, made the accession to statehood illegal because there wasn't a duly accredited conference of the people of Alaska as they say was called for under General Assembly:

Resolution 67 (1), Regional Conferences of Representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories, recommending that, "...all members having or assuming responsibilities for the administration of non-self-governing territories to convene a conference of representatives of non-self-governing territories ...People chosen, or preferably elected, in such a way that the representative of the people will be ensured to the extent that the particular candidates of the territory concerned permit, in order that effect may be given to the letter and spirit of Chapter XI of the Charter, and that the wishes and aspirations of the non-self-governing peoples may be expressed."
Then the author throws in a ton more detail to attempt to back up this opinion. There's no mention that I notice of any actual attempt to bring this before a court of law. Indignation is substituted, at great length.

As a former P.O.W., I am offended.

I grant points for originality in that usually similar cranks are convinced that there's a massive conspiracy to get the U.S. into One World Government, along with the North American Union, and thus black helicopters, etc.; they don't usually put all their justification in UN General Assembly resolutions as the basis for ultimate law.

There's some fine foaming rhetoric there, though:

[...] Why was the military population built up and then allowed to vote, unless it was designed to insure statehood? Is it conscionable that all this could have transpired without a definite purpose, planned and carried out to admit Alaska into statehood before we would find out about our United Nations status? I have never known or talked to anyone who was aware of our status as a non-self-governing territory. I did not learn of this until several years after statehood, and had to make two extended trips to the United Nations to discover this deception of the Alaskan people by the United States of America. We were a simple, naive people, and they kept us uninformed and ill advised.
But they put forward great leaders.

And no shortage of exclamation points:

[...] Did the forces who were desirous of seeing Alaska become a state then deceive those members of Congress who would have been opposed to this monstrous deception by the President and the others who wished to retain the same area as a federal territory? The Library of Congress could give me no explanation for this variance! The parties who engineered this deception were either very powerful, very clever at deception, or probably, both!
Indeed! I am very offended! Very! Very!!!

But near the conclusion:

[...] Anyone who would believe that this scenario of non-compliance by the United States could have occurred without a vigorous united resistance by Alaskans if they had been aware of our Non-Self-Governing Territorial status is very naive and uninformed.
But, hey, we already know that Alaskans "were a simple, naive people."

So it all makes sense.

I'm always happy to help, Hilzoy.

When I step back and look at this spectacle, I see people furiously digging for dirt, throwing it in the air, sniffing the reaction, and then going back in for more.

You've spoken so obliquely that your meaning is unclear. Are you observing that there's so much varied dirt on Sarah Palin that no one knows where to look first? Or are you implying that the fact that she lied in her first major address to the nation, is under investigation for abuse of power, etc is somehow unimportant?

If you'd like to get your hands dirty and try to defend any of these positions (say, the Bridge to Nowhere lie), by all means, have at it. Alternatively, you can just pretend that it's all in bad taste to examine the actions and statements of politicians, but you'll not likely find much company in that endeavor from your fellow Americans. Something to do with electing the best possible leaders of the country or somesuch.

mdl, and yet probably many, perhaps even most Alaskan politicians didn't find it necessary to join a "nutbag" group, and to say nice things about them years afterwards.

Does this necessarily make her unfit? No. But it adds to the picture of someone a lot less idealistic and competent than she advertises herself.

mdl: Even if the AIP isn't entirely serious in its aims, secession is a pretty big thing to throw in your platform. I'm assuming you mean that most Alaskans don't take that part seriously, but that's not a line that I'd want to be near if I were involved.

So I'd still consider it somewhat damning to be involved with the AIP, even if you don't really subscribe to everything and you jump on for convenience. Couldn't dissatisfied Repubs up there get a less crazy alternate party going?

Gary: Indeed! I am very offended! Very! Very!!!

You should be ashamed of yourself! Nowhere in that quote does the author use 3 exclamation points in a row! Why are you spinning it to make the guy look crazy?

Trilobite beats me to the punch and says it much better. Crafty indeed! ^.^

Does this necessarily make her unfit? No. But it adds to the picture of someone a lot less idealistic and competent than she advertises herself.

But more mavericky......

When Vladimir Putin issues his statement in support of the Alaskan Independence Party, we shall see what she is made of.

As an Alaskan, I kinda somewhat reiterate what mdl said. Yeah, AIP is a bunch of nutters, but conservative pols up here do pretty well by playing up the famed "independence" of being Alaskan (har har).

Much like the Wright thing, the optics are worse than then substance, but good for the goose...

"Why are you spinning it to make the guy look crazy?"

I'm very offended you would ask a former P.O.W. this question. Have you no shame?

mdl: Principles ought to mean something for politicians or would-be politicians. Just because secession was a silly or unserious goal, it isn't onerous to ask of a politician not to join organizations that espouse such silly things, even if there happen to be no practical harmful consequences of belonging, because of the group's impotence.

Hilzoy, while I agree with the gist of your take on this and, especially, on the Palins 'in a family way', I think Wolcott's reasoning makes awfully good sense, especially his citing of a conservative mad at McCranky.

I'm very offended you would ask a former P.O.W. this question.

I, uh, I had no idea! I apologize most profusely for questioning your heroic service. Please don't put me on any enemies lists.

Aren't there a lot of silly things in the Texas Republican Party platform that no one is supposed to pay attention to?

"Of 149 incorporated places in Alaska, just six of them had paid registered lobbyists in 2002, including Wasilla, lobbying records show."

Wasilla, despite having only about 9,000 people, is the actually the fourth most populous "city" in Alaska (having passed Sitka recently). Alaska just doesn't have many people -- not many more in the whole giant state than live inside the boundaries of DC.

Comments about the connection between the AIP and libertarianism underline the fact that, despite the sincerity of some individuals who espouse libertarian principles, the movement is a petri dish that allows all manner of toxicity to emerge. Palin's flitation with the AIP seems to be similar. I can't remember who, but there was one libertarian who, disgusted with the way the movement became a catspaw for conservatives, argued that libertarians had to have a litmus test of first and foremost being for drug legalization before passing go and collecting some sinecure based on the libertarian leanings.

KCinDC: Aren't there a lot of silly things in the Texas Republican Party platform that no one is supposed to pay attention to?

Yes.

To Trilobite, MeDrew, and Ara:

Maybe I didn't emphasize it enough because I thought it was already clear: In 1990, Wally Hickel ran on the AIP ticket. He isn't just a former member of the party, he ran as their candidate. And he won. He was governor for four years.

If this is really such a big freaking deal, why isn't everyone jumping up and down about Hickel? That's a rhetorical question; of course I know why: Because smearing Hickel doesn't serve any national partisan purpose.

There are lots of Palin issues, of varying levels of seriousness, but this one is a molehill.

LJ, it looked like the Libertarians might emerge in DC as a local party that might be used for unexpected things, but things seem to have gotten derailed. The plan was to have three candidates on the ballot, with the goal of getting at least 7,500 votes for one of them -- the requirement to become a "major party" and have easier ballot access (though primaries) in the future.

Unfortunately for the plan Bob Barr (the presidential candidate) didn't get the required 3,000 petition signatures to file and Dick Heller (the plaintiff in the recent Supreme Court gun case, who announced his intention to run against Eleanor Holmes Norton for delegate to the House) thought better of running, leaving only Damien Ober, whose campaign for shadow senator is mainly based on bizarre YouTube videos. I wasn't even sure that Ober was a serious candidate rather than a joker, but apparently he was the only one of the three who turned in his 3,000 signatures.

mdl: It doesn't occur to you that perhaps the reason is that Hickel isn't running for VP???

I'm not sure nutpicking a state party's platform is a fair comparison. Sure, you might find some treats (I lived in Washington when the state R platform denounced yoga and witchcraft) but those are incidental and aren't the main purpose of the party. By contrast, the declared reason the AIP even exists is to achieve secession, and denunciation of Alaska's being in the US is integral go that. And Palin held an important party office within the AIP, when she had no need to be a part of it, which is different from a Politician needing to be either a Donkey or an Elephant to be on the ballot with a real chance.

meh.

I'll go with mdl on this one, as the on-the-ground expert. Plenty of other things that are moe red-flag worthy (what about the Ted Stevens connection).

Because smearing Hickel doesn't serve any national partisan purpose.

More important, you can't smear someone you've never heard of. It's all very well to say that something's perfectly normal in Alaska, but that doesn't mean people aren't going to look at it funny when it shows up on the national stage.

I daresay if by some miracle a DC politician were allowed to run for national office there might be some weirdnesses that are accepted locally but wouldn't go over well nationally.

There probably are better issues, though. Palin is considerate to provide so many to choose from, and who knows what the new day will bring?

mdl,
I'd love more information about this, given that Hickel was Nixon's Sec of Interior. Is there a difference between Hickel being offered a place on the AIP ticket and Palin apparently participating in a grassroots way in the AIP or is it viewed 6 of one, half a dozen of the other?

The Wikipedia article on Hickel (and the anecdote about Nixon ordering him to be Sec of the Interior) is interesting, and it says that Hickel never accepted AIP's secessionism. Is the article accurate?

Thanks again for an Alaskan viewpoint, and I hope you will stick around to help us with the various Palin issues that are going to surface.

mdl: If this is really such a big freaking deal, why isn't everyone jumping up and down about Hickel? That's a rhetorical question; of course I know why: Because [Hickel isn't running for Vice President of the United States]

Fixed that for you.

Honestly, how hard is it to understand? Even I get it, and I'm not American! States get to elect their own governor. If a state wants to elect a governor who believes their state ought to secede from the union, that's a matter for the state's voters. (It would become matter for national discussion if the governor actually did secede Alaska from the Union.) So, nationwide, no problem with Hickel getting elected as AIP governor so long as it's clear secession is just talk.

But for the Vice President of the United States to believe that Alaska ought to secede from the United States - that's huge.

What would the coverage be like if Obama were in any way associated with a *secessionist* party?

Wolcott quotes Lawrence Auster at considerable length to make the only actual point in that post. Auster is speaking as an extreme conservative:

[...] Is this really what we want to be dealing with in the middle of a presidential campaign? Are conservatives now to raise as their co-leader and new icon a career mother whose unmarried pregnant teenage daughter is getting married while the mother is running for vice president? McCain has put the conservative base in a position where it has to bend itself out of shape to maintain its support for the Republican ticket.

[...]

As I've already pointed out, the subject here is not the personal situation of Bristol. The subject is that a woman with Bristol's situation in her family should not be running for vice president. A woman with an illegitimately pregnant 17 year old daughter should have kept it private by not running for vice president. Instead, she brings it before the world, requiring all Republicans and conservatives to approve of the situation in order to maintain their support for her.

That's certainly a position for a sexually repressive, sexist, social reactionary to take, but how a liberal could defend it, or advocate it, I have no idea.

"But for the Vice President of the United States to believe that Alaska ought to secede from the United States - that's huge."

I didn't have much original to say, but America Second! is an interesting slogan for the Republicans to campaign on.

Maybe it would make him more popular in the South, Ara.

I've really got to give up noticing how many things McCain has gotten away with that would have killed Obama's campaign dead if he'd done anything similar. I lost count a while back, and it's just increasing my blood pressure uselessly.

If this is really such a big freaking deal, why isn't everyone jumping up and down about Hickel? That's a rhetorical question; of course I know why: Because smearing Hickel doesn't serve any national partisan purpose.

I think that you have to see things from a non-Alaskan perspective. This is entirely new to us. If there were a plank in the AIG calling for only allowing whites to vote, we would be shocked. You, understanding the Alaskan political world, might understand this as a historical anachronism or somesuch, having no meaning. Bear with us.

More importantly, what you're seeing here is how this is going to play out among non-Alaskans across the country. It may not really matter, but the optics suck. The Wright controversy is a great analogy- to someone who doesn't understand black culture at all, it looks scary and weird. Maybe it's not, but you certainly can't expect us to know that offhand, or know who Hinkel is.

"Maybe it's not, but you certainly can't expect us to know that offhand, or know who Hinkel is."

Well, anyone who knows a fair amount about Richard Nixon's Presidency remembers Wally Hickel. Or anyone who lived through it and was a political junkie. But I guess that's not so many people these days, even after Rick Perlstein.

Official talking points here.

"I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

waiting for this to get twisted so that it looks like it came from Obama, then stuffed into a mass-email.

Any guesses as to the number of interviews Palin does between now and the election (interviews with Fox News don't count)? I'm guessing less than 3.

heh.

When was the first time in Sarah Palin's adult life that she was actually proud of America?

I say throw this right back at them. Take the gloves off. Make them eat it.

Alaskans seem to vary on the AIP. Dave Noon over on Lawyers, Guns, and Money, for example, is provides another Alaskan view of this issue. His verdict: "If this is true, my governor is a full-blown lunatic."

Reading through the comments on Balloon Juice, someone half-facetiously suggests that this is all part of some sort of elaborate plan. Writing out the final chapter twist, in which Karl Rove twirls his remaining hair and says "Ah, Democrats, you fell right into my trap..." could keep fanfic writers going for the rest of the season. (Another BJ commenter: "Look what happens when I go take a nap! I'm going to be stuck to the computer for the next 2 months, except for popcorn breaks.")

But put together her summer comment about not knowing exactly what the veep does, and that it would need to be good for Alaska, with her AIP membership, and we've got fanfic number one! Someone call John Clancy.

This is a dark, dark day for everyone involved with the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

Another blow against science by the Republican party.

"I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

We all remember the firestorm that erupted when video surfaced with Reverend Wright saying "god damn America." Can you imagine what would be happening right now if it was revealed that Obama had been affiliated with an organization that advocated for a state's secession?

I think this is all making me perversely grateful for the media's double standard with regard to Democrats. By the time our candidates make it through the punji stakes, ninja assassins, falling boulders etc., they seem to know how to handle themselves. The Republicans just threw in what a Vietnam vet would call an FNG, and she's getting herself shot to pieces.

re: mdl's comments:

Okay, so advocating for "Alaska First" over the US first is okay for governor. But Palin isn't running for governor of Alaska. She is running for Vice President of the United States. All 50 of them. I'm in Virginia and I find it astounding.

Imagine if Obama were a past member of a political party that advocated for the secession of Hawai'i from the rest of the country. Imagine the calls of treason from the hosts of the major political news shows on cable!

As the old saying goes "Marry in haste, repent at leisure".

I think McCain and Palin will both be regretting an overhasty offer, and an overhasty acceptance.

Everyone is getting hot and bothered about the secession issue and has missed that the AIP doesn't believe in the unitary executive.

Re the Alaska Independence Party, I've been wondering why Palin, ready to give birth, was so hot to get on that airplane back to Alaska so she could, in her own words, have the child there. It's not like the kid was going to be born in Mexico or Lithuania, after all. It still would have been American by birth, Texas being, unfortunately, part of the U.S. There ain't no such thing as "Alaskan citizenship", only Alaska residency, which you get by simply living there.

So, interesting fact. In 1990, former Republican governor and Nixon Secretary of the Interior Walter Hickel was actually elected for Governor on the Alaskan Independence Party ticket.

This, however, was apparently pure opportunism on both sides - an unpopular choice had won the Republican primary, and the AIP saw an opportunity to gain some power by helping to elect Hickel, while Hickel obviously got ballot access.

Hickel apparently never supported secession, and was basically not a real AIP member - he rejoined the GOP shortly before his term ended in 1994, but, still, the party has actually elected a governor. Alaska is a weird place.

Okay, so advocating for "Alaska First" over the US first is okay for governor. But Palin isn't running for governor of Alaska. She is running for Vice President of the United States. All 50 of them. I'm in Virginia and I find it astounding.

Another thing with this is that there's enough in Palin's own record to suggest that this isn't just some passing thing, but a real part of her identity. Somebody mentioned the whole bizarre "going back to Alaska to give birth" business, which might make sense in light of this weird Alaskan nationalism. But there's also that weird comment on TV about how she'd need to know what a VP does before she accepts. That was the part that has been getting quoted, but she also said something about how she'd have to know what was in it for Alaska. On first glance, that's already weirdly parochial, but with this stuff, it starts to look a bit sinister.

The US federal government is a very important economic player in Alaska, where it spent $8.44 billion in 2004 or $12,700 per Alaskan.

Alaska has the second highest ratio of federal money spent to federal money collected. Only New Mexico is higher.

Alaska's state constitution claims common heritage rights of ownership of oil and other minerals for the people of the state as a whole.

A quote from the cite above:

due in large part to the citizen dividend payments combined with the happy consequences of no state income or sales taxes, Alaska is the only state in the United States where the wealth gap has decreased in the past decade.

Federal expenditure almost double revenue. Infrastructure and services funded by the income from commonly held oil and mineral rights. A per-capita stipend from that same income stream that levels differences in individual income.

My friends, Palin is indeed a stealth candidate. For the last year and half, she has been governor of the nation's only collectivist/socialist welfare state.

Thanks -

Alaska has the second highest ratio of federal money spent to federal money collected. Only New Mexico is higher.

And at least the people in my parts have the good sense to be economically rational about it. You couldn’t push us out of the Union if you wanted to. If anybody in NM starting talking about secession from Uncle Sugar, they be "abducted by aliens" faster than you can say "Roswell".

Taking back the 17th-18th Spanish Land Grants on behalf of the descendants of the original property owners, now that's another kettle of fish, but still.

You know, I think we've missed the real genius of McCain's pick: not only is he making a play for former Hillary backers, he's making a play for former Ron Paul backers!

The Paulites will love the secessionist angle.

Personally, I'd really like someone to follow up with Palin regarding her position on common, public ownership of mineral rights and other natural resources, and on how the income from those assets should be distributed across the population.

I'd actually like someone to ask that of any of the candidates, actually, but Palin seems closest to the issue, since it's paid her salary for the last year and a half.

Thanks -

"I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

This means absolutely nothing unless it's on video, gets securely attached to Palin, and can be played every hour on the hour on cable for at least a week.

Personally, I'd really like someone to follow up with Palin regarding her position on common, public ownership of mineral rights and other natural resources, and on how the income from those assets should be distributed across the population.

The issue of windfall profits taxing of oil companies would be a good place to start. She either has to support Obama's position, or deal with the question of why it is OK to support the expenditures of the Alaska state govt. with oil taxes, but the rest of us don't get to play.

"Hilzoy, with your resources perhaps you could do a rundown on how being Gov. of Alaska is not comparable at all to any other state let alone the entire nation."


Ed Rollins, who is usually a sobering voice for a GOP operative, suggested last night on Charlie Rose that Palin's experience as a governor will serve McCain well -- citing how governors are basically running the Gustav show.

Not that the other panelists were buying it.


"By the time Palin was running for Governeer, the bridge to nowhere earmark had already been removed from the congressional bill. As far as dealing with the Federal Government was concerned, there was nothing for her to "say no thanks" to."

Kinda like claiming your foreign policy credentials and judgment are primarily shown by disagreeing with going to Iraq when you were a state legislator, eh?

This means absolutely nothing unless it's on video, gets securely attached to Palin, and can be played every hour on the hour on cable for at least a week.

William Ayers isn't on video, and that didn't prevent him from becoming an issue (albeit with less impact than Wright).

If you mean our press won't play up that angle, then yes, you are probably correct. On the other hand, while our supermarket tabloid press is busy working themselves into a frenzy over Babygate, there are signs of extreme displeasure with the Palin pick emerging from the other direction. The Village, aka The Serious People, are not amused. Charles Krauthammer called the Palin pick "near suicidal". Richard Cohen today compared it with Caligula appointing his horse to the Roman Senate.

What this means is that cracks are showing in the solidarity of McCain’s real base (the media) and that could spell big trouble for him in the coming months.

If The Serious People decide that McCain himself is not serious, that will probably impact the election most directly via the moderation at the debates. If the moderators are McCain friendly, then their questions will put Obama at a disadvantage and the net result of the debates will be a rough tie, which will then be spun as a “win” for McCain because of the expectations game.

On the other hand, if the moderators are unfriendly to McCain, Obama may eat him alive, in which case this election will go the way the 1980 election did, with late deciding voters swinging to the anti-incumbent in the wake of the debates.

I grew up in Alaska. Everyone who follows state politics knows that Vogler is a nutbag. But he's a player who is willing to deal.

I grew up in Alaska as well and agree with virtually all of what mdl said. But a few more points:

Many AIP members say that if the federal government stayed within its bounds there would be no need for secession. Not all go for the complete independence thing. In other words, it's a stronger version of libertarianism.

My government teacher (U.S. Government class) in high school used Joe Vogler as an instrument to get us thinking about the Constitution. It really brought a perspective that is lacking in most classrooms today. Most think of the two-party system as "normal" as are national parks, income taxes and withholding, etc. etc. etc. If nothing else, we were taken outside that perspective. It was a memorable class.

Ironically, my teacher was the wife of an Air Force captain who flew A-10s at Eielson AFB, part of that huge military and federal presence in Alaska. The statistics cited by Russell, above, have an entirely different perspective to many Alaskans. It represents not just an income stream, but an amazing amount of control over one state, a degree of control that simply wasn't envisioned by the Founders. Much of the AIP influence is explained by that perspective. As in: "Sure they're crazy, but they have some good points."

IMHO, belonging to AIP, especially during Hickel's run, could simply emphasize one's libertarian leanings and not be considered an abandonment of any core principles. Also, "America First" means what you want it to mean, just like "Yes, We Can." I guess if you want a omnipresent fed. govt. it seems contradictory. If you think state's rights need more emphasis today, it's not.

So the defense of Palin is that she's not a secessionist, but a shifty opportunist who'll say anything to get elected. You know, like that fellow in Nixon's cabinet. Sweet.

Yglesias has this neat catch noting CNN's short interview with Ron Paul, who is staging a counter-convention in Minneapolis, and an earlier quote from Palin concerning Ron Paul. Fun

bc, thanks for explaining the context. I find it interesting and informative.

On the other hand, that sort of mindset is distinctly different from the rest of the country. While the rest of the country has to learn about that and adapt, I think it's also true that she has to learn about the rest country's mindset and values and adapt as well. In other words, it's a two way street.

What would the coverage be like if Obama were in any way associated with a *secessionist* party?

Probably like the coverage of his association with Ayers. It's o.k. to hate the U.S., trample on the flag, etc. just not to secede.

BTW, has anybody actually tracked all those liberal elites who vowed to leave the U.S. if Bush were elected? Where are they today? In the spirit of all those 80's rock band flashback shows on cable, I'd like to know.

It seems like the secession angle would be a positive thing from lefties like Barbara Streisand et al, even Ayers. Why bomb the capitol if you can simple withdraw from the Union? Make peace with Vietnam on your own? Get out of Iraq without even leaving (because you were never there!). The possibilities are endless . . .

In other words, it's a stronger version of libertarianism.

What does "libertarianism" mean when you live someplace where you get virtually all public infrastructure and services for free as a result of common, public ownership of natural resources?

For purposes of this question, I'm deliberately leaving the federal money out of it.

From the point of view of someone who doesn't enjoy public infrastructure funded by collective public ownership of the sources of my state's wealth, Alaskan "libertarianism" seems to have more than a whiff of the dilletante.

All the hard questions that libertarianism poses -- how to fund and manage the things that non-libertarian states (i.e., all states) are responsible for -- are solved by throwing public money at them. It doesn't come out of your pocket (in fact, some of it goes into your pocket) but it's public money. It derives from the sale of publicly owned resources.

I'm not sure the "libertarian" argument carries any weight when all of your infrastructure is free. Of course you can be "libertarian". All the hard stuff is already done.

Thanks -

Kinda like claiming your foreign policy credentials and judgment are primarily shown by disagreeing with going to Iraq when you were a state legislator, eh?

Not really. You see, Palin isn't just claiming to have been against the bridge from the beginning. She's claiming to have declined Congress's offer of a bridge. If she was in no position to do so, that'd be like Obama claiming to have led a failed filibuster against the Iraq War resolution before he was a Senator.
Of course, Palin was also lying about being opposed to the bridge at all, but that's another kettle of whale meat.

bc: BTW, has anybody actually tracked all those liberal elites who vowed to leave the U.S. if Bush were elected? Where are they today? In the spirit of all those 80's rock band flashback shows on cable, I'd like to know.

Why? After all, Bush never did manage to get elected.

Gov. Palin: Are you now or were you ever a member of the Alaska Independence Party?

Gov. Palin is fine with "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, but where does she stand with "indivisible"?

An unserious choice. Could John McCain be more irresponsible that even George Bush? Is that possible?

M

Why? After all, Bush never did manage to get elected.

Second time, Jes. I think most of the vows were after the first election. Or do you have a conspiracy theory about the second. . . . I withdraw the question.

Of course, Palin was also lying about being opposed to the bridge at all, but that's another kettle of whale meat.

The bridge/Ketchikan/whale meat vibe made me think of Judge Klienfeld's (9th Circuit) Alaskan example in a reported case analyzing a statute and how a modifier should be applied:

"As I was flying into Ketchikan, I saw a pod of whales,' not 'I saw a pod of whales flying into Ketchikan.' "

Clearly, the bridge would have impeded those flying whales. That's the REAL reason Palin pulled the plug.

When I step back and look at this spectacle, I see people furiously digging for dirt, throwing it in the air, sniffing the reaction, and then going back in for more. It's a dirty business, and I suppose it makes you feel dirty. Does it? But I understand the ends justify the means. Carry on.

dfp21: If McCain had done his job and carried out a professional, thorough and prudent vetting of this candidate, instead of rolling the dice and choosing from his gut, all of this would have been known and a better candidate could have been chosen. It's not like there wasn't quite a list of highly qualified people with established political histories.

But Crapshooter McCain wanted a Big Surprise and he got one. His first real executive decision as a potential POTUS was classic W, only Worse. Exactly the same decision process that led W to go to war in Iraq while trashing his own State Dept's extensive plans for how to manage the occupation; exactly the same decision process that led W to nominate Harriet Miers, not to mention Bernie Kerik, Abu Gonzalez, Brownie and, hey, pretty much his entire staff. McCain = Bush only worse. It couldn't be clearer.

Maybe Bold Craps Roller is the style of decision making you think we need in a time of perilous escalating tensions abroad and severe economic challenges at home. I think 8 years of it are quite enough, thank you very much.

Russell:
Of course you can be "libertarian". All the hard stuff is already done.

Never underestimate the strength and tenacity of Alaskans' grip on the myth of the Last Frontier. Get the government off our backs and don't even think about taxing us!
Even among the one third who work directly for government.

What does "libertarianism" mean when you live someplace where you get virtually all public infrastructure and services for free as a result of common, public ownership of natural resources?

Let me guess. Wait a sec... I know! Venezuela!

Alaska's state constitution claims common heritage rights of ownership of oil and other minerals for the people of the state as a whole.

Isn't that the same reason we sponsored the coup against Hugo Chavez?

What does "libertarianism" mean when you live someplace where you get virtually all public infrastructure and services for free as a result of common, public ownership of natural resources?

Hmm. Not sure what to think about this. True, in Alaska I only had to pay property taxes, which were greater than what I pay in California. California taxes the hell out of me. No question the attitude in Alaska is more libertarian where taxes are concerned.

So your argument is that libertarianism is meaningless where it is easy? I disagree. I'd grant it is easier in Alaska but it has not always been so. The state was looking at an income tax before the current high oil prices saved the day.

And the Hugo Chavez comment is not applicable. If i remember correctly, the state constitutional convention resulted in a constitution that allowed the full transfer of mineral rights but Congress didn't approve. I can't remember exactly how that was dictated (somewhere in the Statehood Compact I presume). But the state constitution also says development to the fullest extent in the public interest. I remember that there is quite a bit about the fish and wildlife being preserved for the public benefit.

The wealth of Alaska, IMHO, was as much to to do with legislative foresight as it was with the sudden wealth that the discovery at Prudhoe Bay represented. Much of the money from those leases was diverted into the Permanent Fund which has in turn grown to $36 billion. The earnings go to provide for state government and (half) directly to the citizens. Novel thought, that, saving billions to pay for government and transferring the savings directly to citizens to spend as they will.

And the primary difference with Chavez is that of private ownership existing along with public ownership. The public ownership provisions only apply to state-owned land (which admittedly is a lot). To pull a Chavez, Palin would have to nationalize all natural resources held in private hands.

And what's the difference on the federal level? We "collectively" own a huge part of Alaska and dictate what happens from Washington. If left to their own devices, Alaskans would probably follow all options: selling (into private ownership), leasing and preserving state land and resources.

Governor Palin is cheap.

So your argument is that libertarianism is meaningless where it is easy?

Not quite.

My argument is that libertarianism is meaningless, in the sense of "doesn't really exist", in a context where all of the public infrastructure is provided through collective public ownership of the primary revenue-generating resource.

It seems to me that what people in Alaska (and also the rural West) mean when they say they are "libertarian" is really just "they want to be left alone", or maybe "they don't want anyone telling them what to do". There's some correlation between those things, but they're not the same thing.

Being left alone to let your personal freak flag fly is pretty easy to arrange in a place where the population density is so low. If folks are hassling you, you can just move a little further away.

I have no problem with any of that, it's just not an approach that is realistic for most folks in the lower 48.

If that's what floats your boat, move to Alaska and live it up. Just don't expect to have the same lifestyle in other places, where there are more folks per square mile, and where folks actually have to pay out of pocket if they want the infrastructure and services. And don't expect the rest of us to do without the infrastructure so you can live your rebel dream.

Thanks -

My argument is that libertarianism is meaningless, in the sense of "doesn't really exist", in a context where all of the public infrastructure is provided through collective public ownership of the primary revenue-generating resource.

Yet libertarians supported the PF and especially the PFD. In fact, I think they came up with the dividend idea, that individuals could spend the $$ better on themselves than the government ever could.

One could argue that the PF and PFD are great examples of libertarianism. The government is completely restrained on spending the PF. It can only spend 1/2 the earnings and no principal. A constitutional amendment is required to change that. The $$ is reserved for the people. Such a serious limit on government spending is, I think, unique. In fact, former Alaska Gov. Jay Hammond and others were advocating for the exact same approach in Iraq to keep the government free from outside influences and to keep the $$ with the people.

So it raises an interesting question. Does libertarianism cease to become such when it achieves its goal (in this limited context) of keeping the government's paws off of a resource simply because the resource is held collectively? Libertarians run the gamut from no gov't to just limited gov't. The extreme strictures on gov't spending that have resulted in a 36 billion large PF are a great example of what happens when you curtail gov't spending.

There is really no reason why each and every state could not set up a similar endowment over time. Isn't that what every college in America is trying to do? Are you saying that California's vast resources, for example, wouldn't be sufficient? My increased tax burden in California is much more than the PFD I received each year in Alaska with the cost of living not that much different.

This is a dark, dark day for everyone involved with the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

Another blow against science by the Republican party.

For me (a submarine fan*) AIP stands for Air Independent Propulsion .
Is it important that the her name contains all three letters: PALIN? And could she be Jewish because of that given name? Well, if Obama's name proves that he is a Muslim, then Sarah Palin must be a Jewish secessionist. ;-)

*rotating just below the ceiling ;-)

AIP also stands for "Afghan Islamic Press". Which could get you on the no-fly list any day of the week.

*pause to make flying joke*
*nothing comes to mind*

It also stands for "Air-Independent Propulsion". (Ah. That's where the flying joke went.)

And "Acute Intermittent Porphyria". But we may feel we've already had the madness of King George.

Well, if Obama's name proves that he is a Muslim, then Sarah Palin must be a Jewish secessionist. ;-)

Or a British comedian operating covertly under an assumed gender on American shores.

Are you saying that California's vast resources, for example, wouldn't be sufficient?

I'm sure they would be. The difference is that California's vast revenue-producing resources are not, AFAIK, considered to be the collective property of the citizens of California. Your taxes would probably be a lot lower if they were.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what's meant by libertarianism. I've always understood it to be a strong bias toward minimal government. Perhaps, again, there is a distinction between "collective public ownership of mineral rights" and government that I am missing. It seems to me that collective public ownership can only occur through the agency of government.

The fact that Alaskans, through their government, have passed laws that strictly control how that money is to be spent is great, and does them credit. But I'm missing the part where that's anything other than government in action.

Please feel free to clue me in.

Thanks -

And btw, I strongly protest against the notorious smear of the honorable senator Incitatus.

One could argue that the PF and PFD are great examples of libertarianism.

They're great examples of having so much money that they can do whatever they want. They can fund all of their infrastructure (very socialist) while simultaneously handing money back to the citizens (very libertarian).
So it isn't at all a good example of libertarian economics functioning in a normal situation. Added to that, the Alaskan citizenry are heavily subsidized by the workers of the lower 48- again, not sure how Alaskans getting refund checks from their state while Californians send them money is 'libertarian' by any stretch of the imagination.

Libertarianism would be having toll roads everywhere, private police services, etc. Tiny govnerment, dedicated to resolving contractual disputes and providing for the common defense. That is, nothing at all like Alaska.

btw bc, are you ever going to explain what you meant about the timeline of Troopergate not making sense? It's from the "Sarah Palin's Children" thread.

just more examples of why Palin Isn't Ready. This is an outrageously pandering move by John McCain.

http://www.palinisntready.com

People are right to point out that in spite of the strong libertarian sentiment in Alaska, the state's economy is highly dependent on government. It is indeed a paradox.

But those like Russell who imply that Alaska is a welfare paradise where “you get virtually all public infrastructure and services for free” and “all the hard stuff is already done” really have no idea what it's like up there. Alaska is a big state. Even after all the government money that’s been thrown at it, there’s a heck of a lot less infrastructure in place than in California or Washington (the other two states I’ve lived in). Even out in the rural parts of CA and WA, a whole lot more of “the hard stuff” is “already done” than in Alaska.

In spite of the net subsidization by government, you still have to do a lot more for yourself as an Alaskan than you do as a Californian. Even in Anchorage, which had excellent city services, I still remember shoveling snow off the public street so that my mom could drive to work. That’s reflected in the attitude. If a tree falls down and blocks the road, the Alaskan’s first impulse is to get out his chainsaw. In other states, most people’s first impulse is to phone someone and report it.

Of course, you could say the same thing about the difference between urban and rural attitudes, and you’d be right. It’s the same idea, but here it extends to the entire state, and to a greater degree.

My point is that, in spite of being subsidized by government, it’s a lot easier to imagine yourself as an individualist in Alaska than in other states, because you really do have to do a lot more for yourself.

mdl,
I dunno, you make it sound like the lower 48 is a suburb of LA and NYC, meeting somewhere in Iowa. if you took a map of the lower 48 and marked the areas where the streets are all plowed when it snows, you'd have a small amount of red on a big dang map. Of course, that's where a lot of the people live.
But a lot of the people live elsewhere; I've twice lived in rural areas in cold climates where many of the roads were never plowed & folks just had 4wds, chains, etc to get around. And yet, we never imagined ourselves to be pioneers or rugged individualists etc. We were just doing what needed to be done.
My point is that, in spite of being subsidized by government, it’s a lot easier to imagine yourself as an individualist in Alaska than in other states...
I think imagination has a lot to do with it, yeah. New Yorkers think they're the center of the universe, Alaskans think they are living on the frontier. Ok, a few folks there are really living something like that, but most aren't roughing it more than they would be in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, Maine, Nevada, etc.

When I was living in that communist haven Hyde Park, we had a blizzard, and my street wasn't plowed for over a week. This was in the nineties when Obama was my state senator. So I guess that makes him a frontiersman too.

We're all frontiersmen, now.

Kinda like claiming your foreign policy credentials and judgment are primarily shown by disagreeing with going to Iraq when you were a state legislator, eh?

When ANYONE, including veterans of the war, were being called traitors for daring to disagree with Bush, yes, it did take some nerve to speak out.

I don't expect anyone spouting this line to remember the foul and disgusting language used by the Republislime around the invasion, though.

It seems to me that collective public ownership can only occur through the agency of government.

I believe the "public trust" concept originated in the common law and lead to such things as public ownership of waterways and such. Under that concept as I understand it, it is inherent in the people before gov't comes into the picture.

The difference is that California's vast revenue-producing resources are not, AFAIK, considered to be the collective property of the citizens of California. Your taxes would probably be a lot lower if they were.

That's probably true. California, like Alaska, owns a lot of land. A lot of it is oil producing, just not on the scope of Alaska. Further, instead of getting mineral rights off of federal lands, California got water rights. I'm not sure how those are managed.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what's meant by libertarianism. I've always understood it to be a strong bias toward minimal government. Perhaps, again, there is a distinction between "collective public ownership of mineral rights" and government that I am missing.

I'm not a libertarian per se, and I understand there is a spectrum of belief there, but here's my response: collective ownership isn't really the issue; size and control is. Even small government is going to own something from rockets to office buildings. Where the property is income producing, I think the issue is whether the gov't uses that income to get bigger or uses it to avoid taxes.

The Libertarian Party platform says the following on government finance and spending:

All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor. We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution. We oppose any legal requirements forcing employers to serve as tax collectors. Government should not incur debt, which burdens future generations without their consent. We support the passage of a "Balanced Budget Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes.

Thus, common ownership, if on a scale such as Alaska's (where the revenue is not sufficient each year to fully fund government) would seem in line with Libertarian principles, although I haven't analyzed whether the revenue would exceed the more limited gov't Libertarians prefer. I'm sure in that situation libertarians would say to sell the state land and distribute the revenue to the people (any libertarians out there?). And maybe they would say that even now about the PF.

The fact that Alaskans, through their government, have passed laws that strictly control how that money is to be spent is great, and does them credit. But I'm missing the part where that's anything other than government in action.

As I said before, Alaskans voted on the constitutional amendment to create the PF. It was not purely or mainly a legislative act. The PFD, which came later, is libertarian in principle by distributing part of the earnings to each Alaskan, regardless of age, income, etc. The thought here was that ordinary citizens know better how to spend money in their interest than the gov't.

Alaskans have resisted an income tax and have thus limited government spending to part of the income from the PF and incoming revenues (mostly taxes on oil and gas companies). It has created an interesting limit on gov't growth, although I haven't followed that aspect much since leaving Alaska.

In short, I see a lot of libertarianism in the PF and PFD rather than socialism. The state is severely limited in what it can do and it provides a workable model for any state coming into excess revenue.

Under that concept as I understand it, it is inherent in the people before gov't comes into the picture.

That sounds a lot to me like medieval theological arguments about whether Jesus came into being at the same time as God or slightly afterwards.

In short, I see a lot of libertarianism in the PF and PFD rather than socialism.

I still have no idea how anyone thinks that state ownership of productive lands & use of profits to fund roads, schools, etc has anything to do with libertarianism- just because there's some left over that gets handed back. Libertarianism is about small government, so I suppose that the Alaskans didn't create their own state-sponsored TV network or socialized medical system means they didn't become democratic socialists, but they are still far from the libertarian ideal.

there might be some weirdnesses that are accepted locally but wouldn't go over well nationally.

Yes. Like that weird idea that residents of a city the size of Alaska ought to have full voting representation in Congress, and control over their own budget.

I still have no idea how anyone thinks that state ownership of productive lands & use of profits to fund roads, schools, etc has anything to do with libertarianism . . .

It started as just a comment that libertarians in Alaska supported the PF and PFD as opposed to the less-libertarian alternative (spend it!!). Matters of degree and all.

btw bc, are you ever going to explain what you meant about the timeline of Troopergate not making sense? It's from the "Sarah Palin's Children" thread


?? I must have missed something. "Ever?"

I was referring to this being long over by the time she was elected. If she were going to abuse her power, it was not clear to me why she didn't start right in on it upon election or at least as soon as Monegan was appointed in Dec. 2006.

However, it looks like the theory is that she did it in 2008 because her sister's case was going back to court. We'll see. But it's hard to trust anything coming from a defeated opponent (Halcro)

I was referring to this being long over by the time she was elected. If she were going to abuse her power, it was not clear to me why she didn't start right in on it upon election or at least as soon as Monegan was appointed in Dec. 2006.

Though you do have to admit she didn't vette her replacements very well....

(Guess that's fitting....)

Nell: If the Palin nomination were to do one good thing, it would be keeping McCain out of the WH. If it were to do two good things, it would be to treat DCers like everyone else in the country.

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