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September 06, 2008

Comments

Now you;re trying to argue that Alaskans are "inherently" more qualified for higher office than people from the other 49 states

Uh, I was joking. And free associating. Gary said Brooklyn while speaking of Alaska, which brought to mind my trip to Manhattan and the side trip and dinner with friends, which lead to the book I received, which lead to ice . . . you get the idea.

Why do I know they’re true? Because everyone who isn’t aboriginal or Indian in Alaska talks that way.”

I really hope you'll take the effort to become more informed than this. What bunk. And utterly untrue. As I said before, we elected a black mayor. You don't do that in a town with, as Gary points out, such a small African American population if every white person talks about native Alaskans and blacks that way. A bunch of unnamed sources. And you complain about rove.

Gwangung: Holy Cow! Wisconsin only has 11.6% including Asians! 90.0% white.

In all seriousness, good point. The question is has Palin had the sort of experience that would lend to being "socially aware" in the sense we're talking about. One can't simply say she's from Alaska and therefore doesn't have that awareness.

bc: Uh, I was joking. And free associating. Gary said Brooklyn while speaking of Alaska, which brought to mind my trip to Manhattan and the side trip and dinner with friends, which lead to the book I received, which lead to ice . . . you get the idea.

Oh, fair enough. Speaking of books about ice, had you read Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow? Wonderful novel, about Euclid, ice, and Denmark/Greenland.

I wish you'd address the question of scale, though. (I accept you're telling the truth about race/Alaska as you perceive it, but I know from personal experience that a white person is never a good judge of the racism or lack of it in a given culture.)

Uber-liberal Oregon only has 13.5% (and only 1.9% black. Pwned!).

Actually, this points to a granularity problem in assigning a single figure to a state. I choose Oregon because I know a bit about it. Oregon should be, for any number of demographic measures, be divided into Western Oregon and Eastern Oregon. The major city Portland is a 77% white city, and, perhaps most telling, 5% of the people list themselves as being of 2 or more races. And generally, as Portland goes, so goes the state.

Also, there is a strong libertarian streak, such that Oregonians are, while not aligning with traditional left concerns, are more likely to object strongly to the traditional Republican conceits. One place that this can be seen is in gay rights, where Oregon has passed 2 gay rights bills and anti gay rights groups were unable to collect sufficient signatures to challenge the bill within 90 days. The Republican Gordon Smith has made ads featuring him working with Obama.

Also, when you right 'pwned!', you seem to suggest that a place can't be liberal if it is not ethnically diverse. Yet the pattern you see in Oregon is similar to the pattern that you see in places like North Carolina, which may not be so ethnically diverse, but is moving towards a more liberal stance.

On the other hand, Alaska passed an anti-gay marriage amendment in 1998 with little challenge (unlike Hawaii, which passed one the same year, but largely, I believe, because of the intense scrutiny the issue generated there, energizing the anti-gay lobby with little corresponding pushback from the gay community)

It is also the case that some places there may be a large number of African-Americans, but because of any number of factors, it really doesn't contribute to a greater understanding. Talking about another place I know, Mississippi is 37% African-American, yet I wouldn't want to argue that Mississippians are more enlightened in that dimension.

You also mention Wisconsin. But trying to smear Wisconsin by noting the percentage of Asians is misguided, because there is a tipping phenomenon at work as well as issues with the nature of familial patterns. You will find lots and lots of Japanese-Americans who attended big 10 schools because there was less overt racial prejudice, but after getting their degress, they tended to return to the West Coast because it isn't about setting up a new family outpost, but is about returning to the family.

The assumption that various ethnicities all behave the same is at the root of the problem here.

Am I the only person here who finds it odd that Palin, a native Alaskan and avid outdoorswoman, has no problem with drilling in Anwar?

lj:

I don't believe in the numbers for the various reasons you specified. Gary put up the numbers ostensibly to define what "significant" minority population meant, but implicitly to say being Alaskan equates to not having enough experience with minorities to qualify as v.p. My "pwned" comment was just on the numbers, which again, I do not think have anything to do with the equation. A potential v.p. or presidential candidate could just as easily come from any part of Oregon, Delaware, Wisconsin, or any other state in this nation. I wouldn't refer to the numbers in making my determination about which candidate to vote for.

I am not assuming anything from the numbers, and that is my point. I was trying to point out the ludicriousness of using them as such, and my sarcasm failed to translate. Sorry. No offense intended to Wisconsin.

Another German observation: Antisemitism (and often xenophobia too) is strongest here in areas where there are no Jews (or recognizable foreigners). In some parts people are even strongly antisemitic without knowing what a Jew actually is. Areas where foreigners seem dominant come in second place. Anti-[insert group]-ism seems to be lowest where there is a visible minority that is not strong enough to look theatening. So both lack and "excess" can have a negative effect, if there is a force* present able to spread negative stereotypes.

*extremist politicians etc.

I wish you'd address the question of scale, though.

I think it is relevant but not determinative. I'm sure there are plenty of examples in the business world (in your example) where the type of business was more determinative than size. It seems many here believe size is determinative.

I mean, Tony Knowles was being mentioned as a possible presidential and v.p. candidate in the 2004 (and I think 2000) elections. But he was liberal, so I guess the matters of scale didn't blanketly deny him the consideration.

So there is a valid question about how experience as a governor of a small state translates into the national experience. Clinton was from a state of about 2.5 million when he ran for president. And Cheney is from a state with a population even less than that of Alaska, and look where that got him . . .
*runs and ducks for cover*

(I accept you're telling the truth about race/Alaska as you perceive it, but I know from personal experience that a white person is never a good judge of the racism or lack of it in a given culture.)

Probably mostly true. I'd lose the absolutism, though. Keep an open mind.

So both lack and "excess" can have a negative effect, if there is a force* present able to spread negative stereotypes.

I accept this.

And as for Palin's views on Jews, how many governors have an
Israeli flag
hanging in their office?

You can see the flag (small) in the background when they end up in the governor's office in this urban hike.

I'm not sure what the Jewish population is in Alaska, but the presence is strong. In my hometown, most of the judges were Jewish and it's a very well-respected community.

Why should a governor have an Israeli flag hanging in his or her office? I am fairly certain Israel is not part of the United States, although I have not read a newspaper today.

On the other hand, how many governors know that Freddie and Fannie are not taxpayer-funded institutions? If this is what we can expect from Palin, I cannot WAIT for the VP debates. Assuming her GOP overlords allow her to participate.

In fact, the more I think of it, I'm uncomfortable with US elected officials having the flags of other nations in their official offices. It borders on disloyal.

I think the Israeli flag probably indicates a Christian Zionist outlook. I don't know what governors generally have hanging in their offices, but it seems a bit odd to have the flag of another country in there. But I've never been a governor--maybe some have British, others French, others East Timorese, and what have you.

I'm just imagining how bc might react if Obama had another nation's flag -- any other nation's flag -- in his office. Heck, one of the campaign's local offices had a Che flag and rightwingers went berserk.

Also, having an Israeli flag is not, contra bc, indicative of one's attitudes towards Jews generally, unless one is proceeding from some fatally flawed premises.

So both lack and "excess" can have a negative effect, if there is a force* present able to spread negative stereotypes.

I accept this.

It's the accepting of this, I think, that would tend to make it positive.

To continue on LJ's remarks about granularity (and to stand up for Wisconsin!): bc, what would you say the Alaskan equivalents of 1) Milwaukee (large city with substantial minority population), 2) Madison (large college town) and 3) the great rural north (small-town farmland) are? It's not just the state en masse, it's the local/regional variations within the state. Milwaukee is not equivalent to 2 black people per town; Madison is not equivalent to 2 college people per town; and Rhinelander/Oconomowoc/Tomahawk/etc. are not equivalent to 2 farmers per town. AFAIK those things aren't don't exist in Alaska but, since I know bupkis about Alaska, I'd be interested to hear more.

I'm sure there are plenty of examples in the business world (in your example) where the type of business was more determinative than size.

No. Seriously, bc, just... No.

If you can run a business with 5 employees, that does not mean you know how to run a business with 50-100: you might, but if all you know is how to run 5 employees, you'll fail with 50-100.

If you can run a business with a hundred employees, that does not mean you know how to run a business with 1000 employees.

And knowing how to run a business with a thousand employees won't necessarily fit you for running a business with a hundred thousand.

Scale matters.

So there is a valid question about how experience as a governor of a small state translates into the national experience.

No, that's the wrong question: she hasn't been governor of Alaska for even one full term of office, but she was Mayor of Wasilla for two full terms.

The question is how her experience as Mayor of Wasilla fits her to be President of the US - and we can guess by looking at how successfully she translated her experience as Mayor of Wasilla to be Governor of Alaska.

She was Mayor of Wasilla from 1996 to 2002, two full terms in office, so she actually has a record there. (Not a particularly good one, but she did win the second election, so she's got to have something.)

Population of Wasilla: something upwards of 5469 (2000 Census figures.)

Current population of Alaska: 670,053. So Palin's skills as Mayor of Wasilla needed to be scaled up by two orders of magnitude to govern successfully in a state that operates more like Saudi Arabia than any other state in the US.

Now - after a couple of years that were not especially successful ones for the former Mayor of Wasilla trying to scale up her skills - McCain proposes to scale up her responsibilities yet again - from Mayor of Wasilla to President of the United States. Four orders of magntitude up.

This is the direct equivalent of putting someone who ran a small software company six years ago with not a great deal of success (there was that sports center business that left the town far in debt) in charge of Microsoft. From 5 employees to 70000.

McCain may believe he won't really need a VP because he's going to live till he's 90, and besides, if he drops dead his first day in office (we'll hope it doesn't get that far) he doesn't have to care if his VP can cope.

But for everyone else with any sense: this looks like the Peter Principle, now with added Armageddon.

As also noted: candidates for President have to prove themselves (normally) by running a nationwide campaign. McCain's proved he can't even do that successfully - Bush's DOJ will never indict him for breaking the campaign finance laws, of course, but he had to or go broke.

Palin's just had to show up and read a speech that McCain's campaign team wrote for her.

She managed to campaign successfully to be Mayor of Wasilla, twice. She won against Knowles in 2006: I note that while a "close race" was predicted, Diebold voting machines were in use, and Palin won by the familiar Republican margin of 7%.

Pointing out that Bill Clinton governed a state of 2.5 million: yes. He was governor of Arkansas in 1978, lost the 1980 election, won the 1982 election, and governed Arkansas for 10 years until he ran for President. If Palin had a record like that - twelve years as governor of Alaska, 7 gubernational campaigns - you might have a case that she'd proved she could govern a state successfully, albeit one with a population a fifth the size of Arkansas and unique financial circumstances. But you haven't.

Scale matters. So does experience. She proved she could win an election as Mayor of Wasilla: and she proved she could run a small town into huge debt with one major mistake.

"Gary put up the numbers ostensibly to define what "significant" minority population meant, but implicitly to say being Alaskan equates to not having enough experience with minorities to qualify as v.p."

Thanks for the mindreading, but your machine is broken. If I'd wanted to say that, I'd say that, and that's not what I said.

The idea that being from a given state leaves one unqualified for national office is inane, and not something I think.

I put those stats up to answer your query to Russell. Not to imply something I don't think and didn't write. Please don't use imaginary comments. Thanks kindly!

I'm sure there are plenty of examples in the business world (in your example) where the type of business was more determinative than size.

Er. Um. That's certainly not the perspective of the business world.

If you look at the business journals out there (I'm thinking the bizjournals.com chain), there are weekly features and articles about the changes that have to occur when businesses change their nature. Sometimes it's from entrepreneurial to growth, often times it's about scale. Business practices have to be changed.modified when moving from one to another.

Obviously, some people can handle all sorts of organizations, but if it's a topic of concern for typical businesses, then I think it should be a topic of concern for government as well...

"Am I the only person here who finds it odd that Palin, a native Alaskan and avid outdoorswoman, has no problem with drilling in Anwar?"

I don't know what other people think, but it's hardly surprising, given that most Alaskans favor it like they favor mom and apple pie. It means a bigger check to them.

"In fact, the more I think of it, I'm uncomfortable with US elected officials having the flags of other nations in their official offices. It borders on disloyal."

And politicians should never campaign for ethnic votes.

Instead, they should campaign for the votes of ponies, rather than their constitutents.

Campaigning with regard to ethnic communities simply goes against American tradition!

Or: possibly this is slightly out of touch with reality. I'd love to have seen you explain it to Tammany Hall, or in Chicago, though.

(At least I'm not suggesting that it's only sinister if it's that one particular ethnicity, since I know you don't think that -- but a noticeable number of people do.)

"(At least I'm not suggesting that it's only sinister if it's that one particular ethnicity, since I know you don't think that -- but a noticeable number of people do.)"

Whether it is sinister or not depends on what sort of stance Palin takes on Israel. She's a Christian Zionist, apparently (link below) and I don't think their viewpoint is one that is in the longterm interests of either Israelis or Palestinians.


link

From that link there is this comment from an Alaskan--

"I think it is very telling that she has a flag of the state of Israel in her office," said Matthews Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. "That was not inspired by domestic politics, since there is a very small Jewish population in Alaska."

So it doesn't really look like she's going after the hordes of Alaskan Jewish votes.

It was a joke, Gary, playing off the constant Republican accusations of people being unpatriotic. Can't think of something less patriotic than flying another nation's flag.

Nonetheless, yeah, I'm sure that that 0.5% of Alaska's population that is Jewish* was crucial to her gubernatorial win. I'd pander for it, too.

Tell me, as an American of Jewish descent, does an Israeli flag make you more likely to vote for a candidate?

*I think there may be more Jews in five square miles around my house than in the entire state of Alaska.

"It was a joke, Gary,"

Thanks for clarifying; I certainly didn't realize that.

"Tell me, as an American of Jewish descent, does an Israeli flag make you more likely to vote for a candidate?"

Nope.

I'd also add that which I'm hesitant to, because of the way it plays into ugly stereotypes, but it's also true that attention to Israel will help you with some Jewish fundraisers, not just with voters.

And, obviously, I'm not big on Christian fundamentalists whose attachment to Israel is because of apocalyptic prophecies in which the Jews perish. See also.

Incidentally, I don't suppose you've put any packages in the mail lately...? :-)

(I'm also sensitive about dual loyalty suggestions towards anyone.)

The package has been slightly delayed, due to my searching for a crucial component. (Unless you have a newer TV with component [Y/Pr/Pb] imputs?) But it will also be coming with some software as a bonus! Let's just say I hope you like shooting Stormtroopers . . .

(The outer space kind, not the Nazi kind.)

bc, well argued re diversity. I'll add that Alaska is no less typical of America than Hawai'i. And that you don't have to live something to 'get it.' No candidate has been exposed to everything he'll encounter as President.

The difference between a state with a surplus from gas-production taxes and federal largesse, and a nation with a horrific deficit, strike me as far more significant. Most of us here remember how hard it was to stick to our first budget as grownups, and perhaps how hard it was to budget between jobs. Palin borrowed money even in a very rich state in boomtime; what would she do in the Oval Office during a recession?

As I said above, I'm also more concerned that nothing in her background suggests she is prepared for or interested in national and global policy. Why does she want this job, other than ambition and party loyalty? And why should she be good at it? Not provably horrible, is not much of a recommendation.

The idea that being from a given state leaves one unqualified for national office is inane, and not something I think.

I'm glad we agree on at least this, then.

Thanks for the mindreading, but your machine is broken.

Although you had no problem mindreading russell. What model do you have?

Russell didn't confirm what constitutes a significant minority population. I am assuming that upon review of the demographics I provided we can agree that Alaska has a significant minority population.

To continue on LJ's remarks about granularity (and to stand up for Wisconsin!): bc, what would you say the Alaskan equivalents of 1) Milwaukee (large city with substantial minority population), 2) Madison (large college town) and 3) the great rural north (small-town farmland) are?

I have only respect for Wisconsin. I was using it simply to point out how ridiculous it is to use demographics as a criteria for higher office. To answer your question:

1) Anchorage. Only truly decent sized metropolitan area. Around 1/3 minority (6.5 African American).

2) Fairbanks. 100k in the surrounding area (FNSB). Houses the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) and the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC), one of the top 40 supercomputing sites in the world last time I checked. Great summer music festival, D-1 Hockey, one of the best mascots around (Nanooks).

3) Matanuska-Susitna Valley (Wasilla is in the MatSu Borough)/southeast and Kodiak Island. Ag started with relocated dustbowl farmers in the 30's. Not sure what is going on there lately. Last I looked the big think in Alaska was seed potatoes that didn't suffer from the typical variety of diseases. Also a fair bit of Ag in the Delta Junction area (grains).

BTW, my family once grew a 26 lb turnip. The winning giant cabbage at the Tanana Valley State Fair is typically 55 lbs.+

The other somewhat equivalent to Ag is the fishing industry (southeast and Kodiak island mainly, but includes other areas like Bristol Bay)

And another dominant character in terms of granulization would be the villages. I've only been to a few (Ruby, Kotzebue, Nome, Tanana, and some others) and the life there is completely different than life in the towns and cities of Alaska.

Not that any of this is all that similar in scale to Wisconsin. But there you go.

bc, well argued re diversity.

bc,
I agree with Tril, and to expand on Tril's point, I should underline that I am quite interested in your anecdotes on Alaska and pointing us to information about the place. But listing up a bunch of states and saying 'see, Alaska is no different than all these other places' doesn't get at it.

For example, you've cited the Native American population in Alaska. But how does that play out? Is there a lot of intermarriage? Have there been any notable Native American candidates? Has Gov Palin supported any special programs?

As an example, the AIP accusations were quite powerful, but here at ObWi, we had a discussion about the role of the AIP in Alaskan politics. I would admit, I'm still wondering about the party's links to other separatist organizations, but I'm willing to shut up about that because of the information that was presented. And seeing how the AIP has a position in Alaskan politics, it make it easier to evaluate discussions about it.

Anyway, thanks for the info. much appreciated

We cross posted and I didn't see you last comment, so let me say that your last post is exactly the sort of thing I was thinking about, and I'm not demanding more and more info.

I'm sure there are plenty of examples in the business world (in your example) where the type of business was more determinative than size.

Riiiiiiiiiight. That's why the Boards of Directors odf virtually every one of the Fortune 500 are made up of experts in the type of business. Sure they are.

And every CEO is brought in from the same type of comapny. You betcha! You would never find the CEO of one company being hired to direct a totally different type of company. It just doesn't happen!

[/sarcasm]

"Russell didn't confirm what constitutes a significant minority population."

Russell wrote: "Or, in other words, what Gary said."

"I am assuming that upon review of the demographics I provided we can agree that Alaska has a significant minority population."

I'd repeat the point made by others that minorities and their situations are not interchangeable. Asians and Jews, say, are not in similar situations, as groups, as African-Americans, or Native Americans, etc.

But I agree that the overall argument doesn't go very far: every state is different, and none is more or less American than another, and no one is able to perfectly deal with all America because of any given place they have experience with.

In the end, you're proud of Alaska, and well you should be, and I certainly don't think that simply being from Alaska, or any other state, is any kind of negative to be held against any national politician, and I, at least, wouldn't dream of making any such argument.

My point is it is the person, not the place for the most part.

I don't disagree with this, and I'm sure the debate about Palin the person will continue. Good luck to her, I'm not sure she fully understands what she's stepping into.

Look, my point upthread about minority populations was not that only governors from states whose demographics resemble those of the country as a whole need apply. That would exclude, frex, governors from NH, ME, and VT, three of the whitest states in the union.

My point was to offer the demographic mix as ONE AMONG MANY examples of ways in which Alaska is dissimilar to the US as a whole.

I have no problem believing that Alaska has fewer racial issues than the rest of the country. It's small enough, and unique enough, that folks probably identify as Alaskans more than as white, black, or whatever.

That's actually part of my point. The rest of the country faces very large, and very important issues -- very important -- that simply ARE NOT ON THE RADAR for the governor of Alaska.

Maybe Palin is a very quick study and she'll rapidly develop an insightful analysis of the history of racial relations and their possible solutions in the lower 48. From what I've seen of her, I find that doubtful, but I've been wrong before.

But it would require a fairly remarkable performance on her part.

And the same is true for all of the other issues I raised. There is a hell of a lot going on in the rest of the country that Palin has no hands-on experience with, and that she has never publicly addressed in a way that makes me think she's ever thought about them at all, let alone that she has effective solutions to offer.

I do not doubt that she's a popular governor in Alaska. I just don't see substance there on any issue where I would look to the White House for leadership.

Thanks -

bc: Ta, but the Milwaukee one is pretty much what I was getting at...

Anchorage: Population of greater metro area ~360,000, 6.5% African-American in the city proper [and I'm willing to bet a significant proportion strongly self-identify as Alaskan]

Milwaukee: Population of greater metro area ~1.8 million, 39.5% African American in the city proper [and I'm willing to bet very few self-identify as Sconnies]

Compare the demographics of the two, their histories... there's really no comparison whatsoever. And that's ok in itself -- I'm not saying that every state needs a Milwaukee, god forbid -- but on this, as on myriad other indicators -- myriad people, including myself, have noted that the difference between Alaska's and the Lower 48's budgetary dynamics are far more important -- Palin's got zero experience and may bring significant negatives to the table.

[I'd also wager that Fairbanks is not, in any real way, "a large college town", but I don't feel confident enough at this point to argue the assertion.]

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