From my latest Salon column. I know it’s not likely, but it she really should…
Alaska received more stimulus dollars per capita than any other state in the nation. For instance, as of August of 2010 (when the bulk of stimulus spending had been dispatched), Alaska had an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent (two points below the national average) but received $3,145 per person in federal stimulus dollars. But Florida, with an unemployment rate at 11.4 percent got just $914 in per capita stimulus spending. And, incidentally, Alaska is not a poor state — with oil revenues that make up 88 percent of the state’s general fund.
Red states generally receive more federal spending than they pay in taxes.
Read the entire essay here. And then send it to a Republican in a red state.
“Palin is a permanently polarized political figure. You either love her or hate her. At this point, short of her rescuing a puppy from a burning building, there’s very little anyone could do to sway entrenched public attitudes about Palin one way or the other.”
Originally written for the Women’s Media Center blog.
Dear Ms. Palin,
I’m a little confused by your recent video calling for an uprising of “Mama Grizzlies”—the label you give to conservative women who allegedly have their conservative undergarments in a bunch over President Obama’s health care reform, financial regulation and environmental conservation, which will undoubtedly make the world a better place for little cubs for generations but are nonetheless cast by you as anti-mom. I’m not confused by your nonsensical ideological narrow-mindedness. That I’ve come to expect. What I am confused by is how you are now casting your nonsensical ideological narrow-mindedness as protecting “Mama Grizzlies.” Aren’t you the one who hunts bears from helicopters?
I’m asking because, lately, you’ve been shellacking yourself with the varnish of feminism. A few months ago, you gave a speech describing yourself as leading an “emerging, conservative, feminist identity.” Now I don’t want to second guess an experienced, political operative such as yourself, but I imagine you’re trying to broaden your base from beer cozy-carrying white men to breast milk-carrying white women. Smart. Especially given that black folks, Latino immigrants and those latte-drinking upper-middle class whites seem rather cold to your aw-shucks-statesmanship and thinly veiled cultural warfare.
But in courting the mommy set, doncha you think that your anti-mom policies—like opposing efforts to guarantee equal pay for equal work, supporting tax cuts for the super rich that will kill funding for public schools the rest of us rely on, objecting to federally subsidized health care and child care—make you, what’s that big word… hypocritical? Like, um, claiming to champion “Mama Grizzlies” while personally owning several dead grizzly bears? Should the fact that, as governor of Alaska, you passed laws to encourage the extinction of bears be seen as a warning? Are you luring America’s women into the same sort of trap?
Just as your “nature” strategies have systematically killed off the bear population in Alaska, the policies you promote have been shown to kill jobs, economic prosperity, the pursuit of higher education and retirement savings—in other words, making the secure and prosperous American family all but extinct. Seems to me you’re about as pro-woman as you are pro-bear.
As a potentially explanatory digression, I understand that sport hunters like yourself mainly target male grizzly bears. If in fact you have some covert agenda to grow the lesbian bear population, killing the male grizzlies in order to create a Sapphic grizzly heaven, then frankly that’s an armed helicopter I might be able to board. You say, “Gay bears!” I say, “Grrrrrreat!”
Or, now that I think of it, perhaps the real trajectory of your strange bedfellows political base-building is to sidle up to gay male bears. I assume you know that, for decades, rotund and hairy men in the gay community have been nicknamed “bears.” Google “gay male bears” and you’ll get a very graphic idea of what I’m talking about. Given the aforementioned unlikelihood of the Republican big tent bending its ideological tent poles enough to welcome blacks and Latinos and the white upper-middle class, I can see the Palinesque logic of where you’re headed.
The inherent alignment between you and the hairy homosexual population is obvious. You both represent extremely fringe but nonetheless influential subcultures. You both have an affinity for animal skins. And, in both cases, your ideal man looks a lot like Todd. It’s a political match made in San Francisco.
But, um, if that’s not where you’re headed well, then, I’m lost. I cannot think of a more anti-woman candidacy than your vice presidential bid in 2008, which suggested that women’s assent to leadership can and should be based solely on cute looks and folksy sweetness rather than serious experience and competence equal to any man. The fact that there are hundreds of women far more qualified than you to be vice president of the United States of America but you emerged from the election as the new figurehead of women in politics undermines the fight of other women to be taken seriously in the public arena.
Even more, your conquest for cultural and political power through co-opting “Mama Grizzlies” is nothing more than a big business, anti-family agenda in drag. You said in an interview that the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would lengthen the period of time for which men and women could sue regarding very overt cases of pay discrimination, would be a “boon to trial lawyers.” Uh, yes, women who had been systematically discriminated against on the basis of their sex and paid less than male colleagues would need to hire lawyers. But the law (which passed despite your objections) is really a boon to fairness and equal opportunity. It only hurts big business that, over the years, has relied on paying women less in order to increase their own margins of profit. You’d think that would be something to growl about…
In a nutshell, Ms. Palin, you are no feminist—and women across the country, whether they’re soccer moms or hockey moms or “Mama Grizzlies” or not even mothers at all, can see through your hypocrisy and easily spot your fangs and claws.
If Sarah Palin were president, there would be more dead miners in America. At a time when Palin, the Tea Partiers and other ultra-conservatives are calling for the destruction of government comes a sad reminder of just how much government is needed and just how out of touch — and irresponsible — their anti-government tirades are.
The current anti-tax agenda is nothing more than new lipstick on the old conservative pig of a plan to kill government by cutting taxes and thus “starving the beast” as Grover Norquist infamously said. Tea Party posters say “Taxed Enough Already” even though our fiscal crises were caused not by too high taxes (which were actually cut for the middle class) but by lowering taxes on the super-rich under Bush. Sarah Palin has absurdly blamed government regulation for causing the Great Depression and suggested the solution to our current crisis — one caused by deregulating the banks — is less regulation not more. Texas Governor Rick Perry said the biggest problem we face as a nation is “Big Daddy government.”
Tell that to the families of the Upper Big Branch mine.
Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship called mine safety regulations “as silly as global warming”. In 2008, Massey paid a $20 million fine to the Environmental Protection Agency, and that same year, a Massey subsidiary, the Aracoma Coal Company, pled guilty to safety violations and agreed to $4.2 million in civil penalties and criminal fines connected to the 2006 deaths of two miners in a fire.
Currently, Massey owes $7.6 million in safety violation fines, of which only $2.3 million has been paid. Last month alone, the Upper Big Branch mine was cited for 53 safety violations by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, many for inadequate ventilation of dust and methane gas and improperly maintained escape passages. Last year, the number of citations against the mine more than doubled, to over 500, from 2008, and the penalties proposed against the mine more than tripled.
Yet the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration was unable to adequately follow-up on enforcing penalties on these existing regulations. Why? Budget cuts.
Sarah Palin and her pals would cut federal funding for safety enforcement even more, driven by their coziness with corrupt big business and an ideological narrow-mindedness that the “free market” should be left as free as possible. That includes free to kill. The S&P reported after the Big Branch explosion that Massey Energy is still a good investment. By Palin and the Tea Party’s calculation, as long as big business wins, it’s worth it.
If Palin’s pro-big business, anti-government agenda were in full force today, how many more miners would have died? Putting profits ahead of American lives doesn’t sound like patriotism to me.
The tragic death of 29 miners at Upper Big Branch was preventable. Massey’s safety violations were known and, with adequate tax funding, the Mine Safety Health Administration could have closed the mine well before it exploded. But to Sarah Palin, investigating safety violations and saving miners’ lives would have been a horrible abuse of “big government”. Something tells me, the grieving families in West Virginia would disagree.
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