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New Washington Post "Expose" on Palin:

You have to read the article carefully to figure this out, but what the story ultimately reveals is that Palin (a) billed the state for most expenses allowed by law, including per diem when she stayed in her own home (her "duty station" was the state capitol of Juneau) in Wasilla; (b) didn't bill the state for other expenses, when she could have done so lawfully, such as per diems for her children; and (c) spent a lot less money on expenses than did her predecessor, especially on travel and by ridding herself of the state's personal chef. [FWIW, she apparently maintained two residences, the governor's mansion in Juneau, which by state law is her official work "base" and where assumedly she didn't get a per diem [update: confirmed here] (but where her predecessor had a personal chef whom she let go), and Wasilla, from where she commuted to Anchorage for work when the legislature wasn't in session. Saintly to take the per diem she was legally entitled to when in the second residence? No. Worthy of the lead headline on Washingtonpost.com? Please! Not illegal, not unethical, and not a scandal.]

Meanwhile, I have to wonder whether the Post has several reporters looking over Joe Biden's expense reports. Does he bill the government for his daily roundtrip to Delaware? How many "fact-finding missions" has he participated in annually during his Senate career? Inquiring minds want to know?

UPDATE: The Post doesn't do the math for us, but the total per diem claimed was $16,951 divided divided by 312 days, or $54.33 per day (the per diem is $60, so there were some partial days).

Also, the article headline, "Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home," and some related content, is very misleading. A glance at the expense report reproduced on the Post's website makes it clear that she requested per diem for her daily expenses, but not for lodging, and that she apparently wrote "lodging--own home" only to explain why she wasn't requesting hotel expenses. One almost wonders whether the author of the story understands what a "per diem" is; the story notes that Palin rarely charged the state for meals when in Wasilla and Anchorage, but of course she didn't, because she instead just asked for the per diem!

The Post also reports:

In the past, per diem claims by Alaska state officials have carried political risks. In 1988, the head of the state Commerce Department was pilloried for collecting a per diem charge of $50 while staying in his Anchorage home, according to local news accounts. The commissioner, the late Tony Smith, resigned amid a series of controversies.

"It was quite the little scandal," said Tony Knowles, the Democratic governor from 1994 to 2000.

It must have been quite a little scandal, because a search of the Anchorage Daily News for "Tony Smith" reveals no per diem controversy, only a controversy over alleged contract-steering that led to Smith's resignation, and an earlier, much smaller controversy about state officials, including Smith, taking foreign trips. There was a contemporaneous (early 1989) controversy over the expenses claimed by state Sen. Paul Fischer, including allegations that he requested a per diem on days when he was not where he claimed to be.

Paul Allen:
Ah another headline not holding its water.
9.9.2008 1:57am
Nate in Alice:
When is the VC going to report on (a) Palin's statements re: Fannie and Freddie Mae and (b) the ridiculous sequestration of someone who could become POTUS within a few months?
9.9.2008 2:01am
Nate in Alice:
When is the VC going to report on (a) Palin's statements re: Fannie and Freddie Mae and (b) the ridiculous sequestration of someone who could become POTUS within a few months?
9.9.2008 2:01am
J. Aldridge:
I can tell you from experience it costs $$$$ to get around in Alaska because lack of roads and high fuel costs. Post was just too lazy to do research.
9.9.2008 2:01am
J. Aldridge:
Nate in Alice: She was speaking of the present... nothing to report.
9.9.2008 2:02am
Gabriel Malor (mail):
Yet another attack on Palin thwarted? Quick, Nate, change the subject!
9.9.2008 2:04am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Even if she wasn't talking about the present, an implicit government guarantee of potentially troublesome debt has an "expected value" that is a real cost to taxpayers in an accounting sense. Fannie and Freddie have indeed been costing taxpayers all this time, the costs are just now becoming explicit.
9.9.2008 2:05am
J. Aldridge:
P.S. How about the costs of Obama's European tour?
9.9.2008 2:08am
AKD:
Straight from wiki:

The FNMA receives no direct federal government aid. However, the corporation and the securities it issues are widely believed to be implicitly backed by the U.S. government. In 1996, the Congressional Budget Office wrote "there have been no federal appropriations for cash payments or guarantee subsidies. But in the place of federal funds the government provides considerable unpriced benefits to the enterprises... Government-sponsored enterprises are costly to the government and taxpayers... the benefit is currently worth $6.5 billion annually.
9.9.2008 2:09am
Nate in Alice:
J. Aldridge:

I'm happy to retract my statement if wrong, but she stated that F&F had " "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers."

Isn't that the past tense? Also, in context, it reads as an explanation of WHY the bailout is occurring.

I don't see what your present vs. past is trying to accomplish, but I'll happily retract if I'm mistaken.
9.9.2008 2:12am
OrinKerr:
Nate in Alice,

Nicely done.
9.9.2008 2:12am
Rod Blaine (mail):
I just cannot see how any thinking person could ever support a Presidential campaign that might see a pro-censorship woman living at Number One Observatory Circle.
9.9.2008 2:15am
RSF677:
This story about Sarah Palin and the GSEs is the equivalent of Barack Obama talking about his Muslim faith. It isn't an actual story. It's just stupid gotcha journalism.
9.9.2008 2:17am
Nate in Alice:
Orin, I love that post.

David's explanation of the alleged Fannie Gaffe makes more sense than J. Aldridge's, but I'm skeptical that this Palin actually understands the ins-and-outs of government assistant and the "implicit" burden this imposes on the taxpayer.

We are, after all, talking about someone who went to 5 colleges in 6 years to ultimate graduate form the U of Idaho with a degree in Communications.

Can anyone--Jim or David in particular--actually vouch for her knowledge of the economy? How about the, uh, robustness of her intellect (or whatever you want to call mental acuity)? Orin, David, Jim, (and probably most commenters posting on VC) have a very good understanding of how complex global finance and our economy is...are you folks really so eager to hand it over to someone who may be a) a dullard and b) uninfomed about even the basics?
9.9.2008 2:20am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
<blockquote>
The state paid for three nights in a $707-a-day hotel room [in NYC].
</blockquote>We already know McCain can't use a computer, but I would expect Palin could find hotels.com. $707!?!
9.9.2008 2:25am
Blar (mail) (www):
Did Joe Biden use his Convention speech to talk about cutting his personal expenses as Senator? If he had, then his personal expenses (like Palin's) would be news. He didn't, so they aren't.
9.9.2008 2:35am
RSF677:
$707 a night doesn't seem that bad in Manhattan. That probably includes taxes which means it has a list of about $550. However, NY Governor David Patterson used to bring his various women to the Days Inn on W.94th St which I imagine is considerably less than Palin spent.
9.9.2008 2:39am
Hedberg:
I don't find it surprising that the governor of Alaska doesn't have a good idea about how Fannie and Freddie operate or what the current situation is. I've been trying over the last severals day to figure out exactly the problem is (not just vague generalizations) and how much these problems might end up costing tax payers. I can't even figure out whether or not these corporations are insolvent, whether the current value of assets are less than current value of liabilities, or if the problem is more along the lines of a cash flow problem. I have read that the government is going to inject capital (i.e. $$$$) presumably to cover current cash flow shortages (mo matter the cause) and that the government will receive paper in exchange. It is conceivable, from what I have read, the the Feds may actually turn a profit on this whole mess. This, I presume, could be the case if the current value of assets is depressed because of a frightened market. So, it appears to me that the government takeover ( "bail out" is a misleading term)is extremely complex and not well understood by almost anybody who is not familiar with the type of accounting involved. Judging from the wild disparity among news accounts and quotes from government people, I'd bet that Biden, Obama, and McCain don't understand very well what is going on and what the likely outcomes are. I don't think Palin should be faulted for her lack of understanding.
9.9.2008 2:47am
Alaska:
Nate:

As someone who lives in Wasilla, Alaska, who knows Sarah's family, and has watched her rise in politics over the last 10 years, I would concede that she probably does not have the knowledge of international markets as someone with a Ph.D. in finance. That being said, though, I would still want her in office as opposed to others for several reasons.

First, she has understood, more than most politicians, that government does not produce. It only erect barriers to economic production. That right there puts her ahead of many persons who may have more formal education on the matter.

Second, her actions as governor demonstrate a commitment, at least as much as a Republican can be committed to such an ideal, to less government regulation of markets. Her first year in office, she used a line item veto to excise roughly 15% of the government budget, even in the Mat-Su Valley, because of her philosophical disagreements with government spending in that area. She cut property taxes while mayor and otherwise reduced regulatory and financial burdens. While governor, she fought to get rid of the certificate of need (CON) requirement for health care providers. She was unsuccessful, but she did more than a lot of other politicians.

In that light, I would trust her gut reaction more than I would someone such as Biden or Obama, who seem to believe that government can play a positive role in the economy.

To respond to Orin's post, then, about Palin, there are definitely some matters of Palin's politics I do not care for. Before going into that so much, I would point to a good post for separating rumor from fact is here:



Thus, rumors about book banning, etc., do not concern me so much because they are revealed to be incorrect or hoaxes.

I am pro-choice and, while Palin has been decidedly conservative on that point, she has not governed as a socially conservative governor. Our Supreme Court held that, since marriage is defined as including only different-sex couples, the equal protection clause of the state constitution mandated providing employer benefits to same-sex couples of state employees. Palin publicly disagreed with the ruling but went on to do - nothing. She did not seek to stack the court. She did not seek to appoint different judges, amend the constitution or other matters. Rather, she ordered the department of law to implement the decision. That has been her modus operandi so far - follow the rules even if she disagrees with them. Remember that Alaska's state constitutional right to abortion as a part of the right of privacy precedes Roe v. Wade. Yet Palin has not championed to overturn that or impose a rigid pro-life perspective but rather left matters pretty much alone.

For that reason, I am not as concerned with her social conservatism. And while an economics professor would know more about the global economy, her instincts to get government out of the way will solve far more problems than most other politicians. So, while I cannot vouch for her knowledge of the economy, I can vouch for what she has actually done. And based on that, I can say that as a libertarian (actually much closer to an anarchist in the Murray Rothbard/Randy Barnett tradition), I would rather Palin get into office than any of the other candidates with a reasonable chance of winning.
9.9.2008 2:55am
Alaska:
For some reason, it did not want to include the url. So, check out:

http://pajamasmedia.com/ and see the blog on palin-fact versus palin fiction.

Sorry to be inept at posting URLs. I should probably drink less before I post.
9.9.2008 2:56am
theobromophile (www):
Flights topped the list for the most expensive items, and the daughter whose bill was the highest was Piper, 7, whose flights cost nearly $11,000, while Willow, 14, claimed about $6,000 and Bristol, 17, accounted for about $3,400.

In comparison, the maintenance fees on the private jet were approximately $60,000/month (IIRC).

Several years ago, Bostonians discussed whether or not we should have a Governor's mansion. While it certainly seems as if governors should not receive perks on the order of those they would receive in the private sector, high-level government officials do have their own needs. Even in a small state like Massachusetts - which would fit with room to spare between Anchorage and Juneau - the lack of a Boston-based home makes it difficult for would-be public servants who reside outside the 495 belt to hold that office.

This applies even more so in Alaska, when the population around the state capitol is roughly 5% of the state's total population; almost any governor will travel extensively to and from Juneau. In context, what would otherwise seem like executive excess becomes a rational means of not screwing over people who hold office.

Furthermore, the cost to a person for travel and lodging may be lower when the overall costs are higher. Rather than ask people to act against their own rational self-interest (and to take on costs to save the state, or the company, or whomever money), we allow them to bill for the difference in their own costs, and consider it money saved all around. If Gov. Palin were allowed to bill the state for a hotel room in Anchorage when working at that office (cost to her: nothing; cost to state: hotel + meals), she may have preferred to make a 2-hour round-trip commute from Wasilla (cost to her: approx. $20/day in gas, plus wear on her car; cost to state: nothing), and bill the state for the per diem to make up the difference. State saves money, she's breaking even, so it's a winner all around.

Perhaps I only find this amusing because it's late at night, but this line cracked me up:
Leighow said that the governor's staff has tallied the travel expenses charged by Murkowski's wife: $35,675 in 2006, $43,659 in 2005, $13,607 in 2004 and $29,608 in 2003. Associates of Murkowski said the former governor was moose hunting and could not be reached to comment.

That's so going to be my new excuse. "No comments; I'm moose-hunting."
9.9.2008 2:59am
Nate in Alice:
I think the controversial aspect of this WaPo article is that Palin billed the state the per diem charge when she was staying in her own home in Wasilla. That seems unusual, right?


Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a "per diem" allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.
9.9.2008 3:04am
SMatthewStolte (mail):
Here's a story from April 8, 2008 with the headline: Numbers show Palin spends far less on travel.

Whether this is especially relevant, I guess you all can decide.
9.9.2008 3:07am
Nate in Alice:
Alaska,

Thanks for that. I don't buy into the whole "market regulation is bad" hoo-haw, but if I did, that argument would persuade me. Everyone believes too much regulation is bad, and I believe everyone agrees that too little regulation is bad also. The substantive fight is over what regulation is necessary and desirable. In order to engage in this discussion, one must have at least a rudimentary understanding of the finance system. I have far more education than Ms. Palin and yet don't think I'm up to the task of answering these questions, but I prefer an empirical approach to regulation questions and fear that ideology (on both sides) probably produces inefficient results.

Until Palin submits to press scrutiny, we won't have a very good idea of how detailed her knowledge of the economy is. While I would prefer a VP with knowledge over one without, if I disagreed with the knowledgeable VP's core ideology, I'd also opt for the unknowledgeable VP who more closely aligned with my ideological preferences. So I see where you are coming from.
9.9.2008 3:14am
marcystrauss (mail):
Alaska, the fact that Palin did nothing about abortion as alaska governor means nothing. If you are pro-choice, how can you really consider supporting the republican ticket? In the Oval Office, they can have significant impact--there is virtually no doubt that they wil have the opportunity to appoint a supreme court justice. Palin does not support abortion even in cases of rape, incest or when the health of the mom is at issue. How can that not be a large factor for you as a pro-choice individual?
9.9.2008 3:42am
Shane:
In regards to the post, I was under the impression that Biden takes Amtrak every day between DC and Delaware, which seems like pretty much the cheapest available option.

Spending less than one's predecessor isn't really all that commendable when you are widely known as one of the less corrupt politicians in a very corrupt state. And just because it's legal to bill the state per diem for living in your own home doesn't make it ethical.

I say this as an Alaskan resident who is simply embarrassed about the politicians from this state. Palin isn't even that bad, either.
9.9.2008 4:02am
Dan M.:
John McCain has even admitted that he doesn't know much about the economy. I don't expect either one of them to necessarily know much about the economy. It just takes a good team of advisers, good judgment, and a good work ethic.

And I don't see what's so objectionable about asking if certain books are appropriate for the library. I don't remember an adult area in the public libraries when I was growing up, and if there had been adult material, I think the town's would have a genuine concern about what their tax dollars are supporting. So, that's to say, I don't have a problem with taxpayers having oversight on what is carried in a public library. However, I do agree that most of the stuff that ends up on these banned book lists is harmless.
9.9.2008 4:16am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I think the controversial aspect of this WaPo article is that Palin billed the state the per diem charge when she was staying in her own home in Wasilla. That seems unusual, right?
Does seem unusual, but as I recall she commuted to Anchorage much of that time, and it's a lot cheaper to charge the state a per diem for herself than to charge the state for a hotel in Anchorage for her family, plus a per diem for each family member, which she would have been entitled to do because her "duty station" is in Juneau.
9.9.2008 4:25am
one of many:
I read the article thinking DB was reading it too harshly, and I was surprised to say that his assessment of it was accurate.
9.9.2008 4:25am
DavidBernstein (mail):
(which also assumedly means she did not get a per diem for the days she was in Juneau). This may not make her a saint, but it's hardly a scandal, and hardly worthy of a huge headline on washingtonpost.com
9.9.2008 4:26am
Calculated Risk:
Well, you can defend Palin's expense reports all you want Bernstein.

But there is one thing you cannot say. You cannot say that Palin is in anyway qualified or ready to be President of the United States. Shouldn't that be what matters???
9.9.2008 4:35am
Nate in Alice:

but as I recall she commuted to Anchorage much of that time, and it's a lot cheaper to charge the state a per diem for herself than to charge the state for a hotel in Anchorage for her family, plus a per diem for each family member, which she would have been entitled to do because her "duty station" is in Juneau.


Anchorage is an easy commute from Wasilla, right? Wouldn't she rather be at home, than a hotel? I'm not sure I see how that helps out, but frankly--this article is stupid. There is no "there" there, and it only helps muddy the waters when the real discussion should be on how ridiculous of a selection she is and what that portends for a potential McCain administration.
9.9.2008 4:42am
Dan M.:
I don't know why we can't say she is prepared to be VP. I swear, if Obama is prepared to be the P, then Palin is prepared to be the VP. I don't think experience is really an issue. It's values and surrounding yourself with the right people. Sarah Palin stands up for the Constitution, while Constitutional scholar Obama offers up such gems as:

"Even if I want to take them away, I don't have the votes in Congress,'' he said. "This can't be the reason not to vote for me. Can everyone hear me in the back? I see a couple of sportsmen back there. I'm not going to take away your guns.''
9.9.2008 4:52am
eyesay:
Alaska wrote, "she [Gov. Palin] has understood, more than most politicians, that government does not produce. It only erect barriers to economic production."

That's a Republican talking point, but the reality is that effective government can add a great deal to economic production.

The Internet, for example, started out as a government project.

The "Asian Tiger" economies grew rapidly from poverty levels to advanced industrial economies because their governments worked to promote industrial development, as well as investing in the health and education of their own populations.

The conservative mantra that the government only gets in the way is just snake oil.
9.9.2008 4:59am
one of many:
eyesay, perhaps would be better to concede that government does not produce, but that as well as making barriers to production it can facilitate production.
9.9.2008 5:08am
Calculated Risk:
Dan M,

Nice quote taken out of context.

Before he said "Even if" he explicitly said he did not want to take people's guns away. Here is the logic. I would want to do X. But even if I wanted to do X (as some falsely claim) I couldn't do it. Therefore, you should not decide your vote based on concerns that I will do X.

Pretty logical, if you ask me. If you fail to comprehend, that's your issue.

Finally, Palin is not merely running to be VP. She is running to be President if something were to happen to McCain. Which, in the bigger scheme of things is not that unlikely, given the fact that he is 72 years old and has had melanoma.

Oh, and I know that Republicans do not care about their leaders actually being qualified. As long as there heart is supposedly in the right place. And that is precisely why we are in this mess in the first place -- because Republicans would vote for anyone who has an R after their name.

But, let us compare the accomplishments of Obama and the pathetic Palin for a moment.

Obama went to Columbia University and then Harvard Law School, where he was President of the Harvard Law Review. That takes some serious intelligence.

He then went on to work a civil rights lawyer and as a professor of Constitutional Law at the prestigious University of Chicago. Of course, Republicans are not known for caring about the Constitution, so I don't imagine that matters to you. But for those of us who actually care about our founding document, that experience is a big plus.

Listening to Obama speak, it is obvious that he is both very thoughtful and knowledgeable. Listening to Palin speak, you realize that she is clever at insulting people and telling cute little stories, but she doesn't know jack.

Constrast Palin. She got a fluff degree in communication from the rather lowly University of Idaho. Then she worked as a sports reporter for 8 years. Go Palin! All those years as a sports reporter really help qualify you to be President. Oh, then she was mayor of a pathetic town out in the middle of nowhere for 6 years.

She believes in creationism. She asked the librarian if she could ban books. Go Palin! I can't wait to have the most ignorant yahoo possible as President. I really can't wait.

Anyway, the bottom-line is that while Obama is not the most experienced candidate for President, he is qualified. He has more experience than Abraham Lincoln did when he assumed office.

In contrast, Palin is a joke.

All I have to say is this. If the American people are stupid enough to vote for McCain and he dies and we end up with Palin as President, then the American people deserve what they voted for.

I really am in a state of shock that choosing the least qualified person possible has increased John McCain's numbers. But, if that is what a majority of superficial and ignorant individuals want, that is what they deserve. I for one will be nicely happy living a prosperous private life, even as the rest of the country goes straight to hell.
9.9.2008 5:14am
one of many:
lost track in middle of post, dang phone. "making ..." should be changed to "erecting barriers to production can build bridges for production." Got to get a nice rhetorical flourish on it. Same thing as you are saying (except for the concession) but summed up in a nice, easy to remember phrase.
9.9.2008 5:18am
Calculated Risk:

perhaps would be better to concede that government does not produce, but that as well as making barriers to production it can facilitate production.


Call me a cynic, but I think that making obvious and common-sense points that goes against certain quasi-religious points made by right wing fools is a waste of time.

Let's put it this way. If someone were actually amenable to logic and reason and facts, they would not say something that is so obviously historically and empirically false as to assert that the government can only act as an obstacle.

You are not arguing with a rational human being capable of modifying their thoughts in the face of logic, reason, and facts. You are arguing with an irrational ideological animal who has adopted a quasi-religious idea that they will spout out at the slightest provocation.

In other words, do not waste your time. There are people on the right who are worth conversing with. Those who utter simplistic quasi-religious political slogans are not among them.
9.9.2008 5:19am
trad and anon:
Let's put it this way. If someone were actually amenable to logic and reason and facts, they would not say something that is so obviously historically and empirically false as to assert that the government can only act as an obstacle.
Yep. The government is heavily involved in the essence of the market, as with the enforcement of property and contract rights. And all of that involves the government making what are essentially regulatory choices about things like what's required for a valid contract (consideration?), when someone is entitled to enforce a contract (third-party beneficiaries?), and against whom they can be enforced (principals? partners?). Or what sorts of things can be the subjects of property rights (people? species?) and what it takes to acquire property rights in something. (Adverse possession?) Or fabricating entities like corporations out of nothingness. And what all the procedures are for enforcing these rights, standards of proof, and available remedies.

It's not like these rules were handed down by God, folks. With a different set of government-created and government-enforced rules, the market would be completely different.
9.9.2008 5:48am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Calculated Risk:

I agree that government is not necessarily an obstacle to economic development, and in many cases has actually spurred development by doing things that the private sector either can't won't do. However since about 1970, in the US, the government does seem to have become an obstacle, mostly through excessive and irrational regulation. Sarbanes Oxley is one good example. Very few people have read let alone understand this ill-conceived legislation. Note I am a big fan of securities regulation, and I think we need more of it, but not that kind. The decision in the Carter Administration to forbid the reprocessing of nuclear wastes is another. Japan and France reprocess their wastes while we have ended up with the ridiculous Yucca Mountain Project. Some (but not all) environmental regulation has also been excessive and ill-conceived and acts to prevent economic development. For example the Global Warming crusade, (religion masquerading as science) could have serious consequences for the US economy.
9.9.2008 6:07am
rarango (mail):
Sinice the WAPO had a complimentary article on Palin's handling of the pipeline, they can rightly claimed balanced coverage of Governor Palin, although it seems that Gov Palin was abiding by state regulations concerning per diem.

With respect to MSM bias, which is Professor Lindgren's larger point, I will believe there is no bias when the MSM spend 5 miniutes of prime time covering the relationship between Joe Biden's sons lobbying activities on behalf MBNA and Bidens support of a banking bill.

I understand that Gov Palin is a new face and that is driving the MSM to investigate her. Goes with the territory. A good starting point would be the extensive questionnaire she filed when running for governor in 2006. Of course that would be about issues, and very few voter, unfortunately, really care about issues when you get down to basics. There is explicit information about her positions on issues, for the issue freaks among us.

Lindgren's basic thesis is spot on: Bias pure and simple.
9.9.2008 6:28am
tarheel:
Since Prof. Bernstein did not make it clear, and most people will not actually read the article . . . Palin did charge the state for her kids' travels. Her spokesperson said this was valid, but the state finance director said this: "We cover the expenses of anyone who's conducting state business. I can't imagine kids could be doing that."

So while Prof. Bernstein would like you to believe there is no there there based on the opinion of her spokesperson, the article seems quite legit to me.
9.9.2008 7:03am
Hoosier:
Expose' on Palin? With *pictures*?!

The Democrats fear the VPILF. How much clearer could it get?
9.9.2008 7:40am
byomtov (mail):
So the essence of this defense is that St. Sarah the Reformer is fine because she didn't steal as much as she could have, or her predecessor did. And as someone who visits Manhattan, I will tell you that you can in fact get a nice room for less than $707 a night.

It's OK. She's only a small-time crook.
9.9.2008 8:33am
bikeguy (mail):

But there is one thing you cannot say. You cannot say that Palin is in anyway qualified or ready to be President of the United States. Shouldn't that be what matters???

I agree, but she is far more qualified than Obama who has accomplished virtually nothing in his political career except to attract lemmings who value vapid statements over substance.
9.9.2008 9:01am
Fury:
Calculated Risk writes:

She got a fluff degree in communication from the rather lowly University of Idaho.

Really not germane to the discussion and essentially a cheap shot...
9.9.2008 9:08am
Jim Bob (mail):
The point is that most Americans DO NOT get paid to live in their own homes; quite the contrary, in fact. This story is on the front page of the Post because it's helping to expose the lie that Sarah Palin cares one iota about lowering government spending.
9.9.2008 9:28am
Nick Beat:
I agree with tarheel. Bernstein, what do you think about the part about the kids' expenses being reimbursed?
9.9.2008 9:29am
The Ace (mail):
We are, after all, talking about someone who went to 5 colleges in 6 years to ultimate graduate form the U of Idaho with a degree in Communications.

As opposed to an anonomyous liberal commenter who can't understand plain English and who hasn't the slightest clue as to what Fannie Mae actually does. While posting about "the finanical services industry" no less.

Again, the left can no longer be parodied.
9.9.2008 9:54am
The Ace (mail):
Constrast Palin. She got a fluff degree in communication from the rather lowly University of Idaho.

Again, this is "exhibit A" as to why your party can not win an election.

But please don't stop. Continue with this silly arrogance (never before in the history of man has one group, modern liberals, been so ignorant, yet pretended they knew so much).
9.9.2008 9:58am
The Ace (mail):
Anyway, the bottom-line is that while Obama is not the most experienced candidate for President, he is qualified. He has more experience than Abraham Lincoln did when he assumed office.

Obama is clearly not qualified.
Governor Palin has more experience than Obama.

But don't let that stop you.
9.9.2008 10:00am
DavidBernstein (mail):
The point is that most Americans DO NOT get paid to live in their own homes; quite the contrary, in fact. This story is on the front page of the Post because it's helping to expose the lie that Sarah Palin cares one iota about lowering government spending.
Under state law, the governor's "own home" is in Juneau. Americans do get paid for expenses when traveling on business. In theory, Palin probably should pay her own expenses in Wasilla, and get paid for her expenses in Juneau. State law, however, required her to do it the opposite way.

As for the kids' travel, the firs pertinent question is whether she violated state regulations. Given that the governor is exempt from most state regulations according to the article, the answer is most likely "no." The second question is one of ethics. The article states that Piper's airfare has cost around 11K. A rt Juneau to Anchorage, for example, is around 600. So she allegedly took Piper on about 20 roundtrips, or about one per month. Her spokseperson claims that these were "official business," events that it was appropriate for the governor to bring Piper. Offhand, one such event per month doesn't seem especially noteworthy (and, without knowing Alaska travel rules, it doesn't seem to be unreasonable to expect Palin to be permitted bring her young daughter on any trip that lasts more than a day or two).
9.9.2008 10:01am
The Ace (mail):
Of course, Republicans are not known for caring about the Constitution, so I don't imagine that matters to you. But for those of us who actually care about our founding document, that experience is a big plus.

Hysterical.

I bet you could then explain why Obama favored DC's handgun ban (and still favors Chicago's) and after it was struck down said the Supreme Court endorsed his view.

Some "plus" huh?

Listening to Obama speak, it is obvious that he is both very thoughtful and knowledgeable

Really?

What they'll say is, "Well it costs too much money," but you know what? It would cost, about… It -- it -- it would cost about the same as what we would spend… It… Over the course of 10 years it would cost what it would costs us… All right. Okay. We're going to… It… It would cost us about the same as it would cost for about -- hold on one second. I can't hear myself. But I'm glad you're fired up, though. I'm glad.


Here is another incoherent gem:

Obama once again slammed his McCain for supporting the Bush administration's "big strategic blunder" in Iraq and accused him of trying to "snatch defeat from jaws of victory".

"The strange question is why John McCain insists on continuing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victoryObama said.



Oh, and for the record, here is Obama's quote regarding gun confiscation which you seem to be not able to understand;


"Even if I want to take them away, I don't have the votes in Congress," he said. "This can't be the reason not to vote for me. Can everyone hear me in the back? I see a couple of sportsmen back there. I'm not going to take away your guns."


Sounds like a real slick talker to me.
9.9.2008 10:06am
Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
Nobody should raise any question about whether it's ethical for the ethics queen to charge the State to live in her own home! As the Post points out, this is technically legal, so what's the problem?
9.9.2008 10:09am
tarheel:

Offhand, one such event per month doesn't seem especially noteworthy (and, without knowing Alaska travel rules, it doesn't seem to be unreasonable to expect Palin to be permitted bring her young daughter on any trip that lasts more than a day or two).

Just so we're clear, the state finance director, who presumably does know the rules, says they only cover people actually conducting state business. Anyway, my point is not to litigate the ethics issue but rather to highlight the silliness and shallowness of yet another VC media critique.
9.9.2008 10:09am
DudeLooksLikeALady:
CalculatedRisk:
I know that Republicans do not care about their leaders actually being qualified.
Republicans are not known for caring about the Constitution
Palin is a joke

In other words, I will not waste your time. There are people on the left who are worth conversing with. Those who utter simplistic quasi-religious political slogans are not among them.
9.9.2008 10:11am
Nick Beat:
I'm still with tarheel--if the state finance director says it is questionable, and it seems wrong (the kid was not conducting state business, under any reasonable definition), then I'd like a little more explanation.

For all of the Palin haters out there, though, I'm guessing that you will need to confront the fact that Biden probably gets reimbursed for his daily commute to Delaware.
9.9.2008 10:15am
jbart:
I didn't know there were so many experts here on Alaska's policy for crediting a governor's expenses. Personally, I will leave the issue to the state's voters, but critics of Palin on this particular matter are disingenuous at best. She asked for meager travel and food expenses, from what I can see, and sought far less than her predecessor. Further comparison would require knowledge of what other governors expense - or U.S. senators, for that matter.

As for the children, it's easy for male governors to avoid flight expenses for them. Leave them home with ... mom! I suspect it's not quite so easy for women governors to leave the kids home ... with dad!

As a citizen, I have no problem with the state paying for young children to accompany their mother governors - or even their father governors - on state business. Being a governor is not like any ordinary job and it's not like the flight costs will break the state piggybank.

To be sure, children do not need to be taken everywhere, but Alaska is an unusual state with its own peculiar arrangements.

There are reasons for people to oppose the selection of Palin as VP - most here who do would have voted for Obama anyway despite his lack of national experience. Her per-diem expense requests, however, is not a reason that seriously intelligent people would entertain.

And yet, some people who question her intelligence are doing exactly that. Odd, but not surprising. Sometimes the pot does call the kettle black.
9.9.2008 10:27am
Jeffersonian22 (mail):
Good Heavens, this is worthy of a headline?

Of course, we get none of this about Obama because, well, he really hasn't done anything but run for office and spend the few weeks he hasn't done so being a shoeshine boy for Bill Daley and Emil Jones or as Bill Ayers' gopher.

Biden, we don't want to even talk about...
9.9.2008 10:29am
DoDoGuRu:
Nate in Alice:
Orin, I love that post.

David's explanation of the alleged Fannie Gaffe makes more sense than J. Aldridge's, but I'm skeptical that this Palin actually understands the ins-and-outs of government assistant and the "implicit" burden this imposes on the taxpayer.


Sooo, you're suggesting that Palin was basically right, but that you think she's too ignorant to have known what she was saying was right?

Nice. It's going to be a hilarious election if the line of attack is now, "Palin's correct statements highlight that she's a rube!"
9.9.2008 10:37am
byomtov (mail):
I think all those who are defending palin, and talking about how this is inconsquential, etc., need to consider the expression, "Hoist on one's own petard."

The fact is that the GOP has been aggressively building a myth around Palin - aggressive foe of waste, fierce battler against corruption, etc. is just one part of it. Guess what. If you promote her as a saint then she's going to get criticized for unsaintly behavior.

Take one simple thing: the jet sale. Now, what Palin did was perfectly sensible and intelligent. The state didn't need the jet, so she sold it. Good. But they don't want to stop there. Instead there's a tale about how she sold it (yes, they said "put" - what does "is" mean?) on eBay (cute, unconventional!!) and made a profit (shrewd!!). But she didn't sell it on eBay, and she didn't make a profit (ignoring contortions and misrepresentations about depreciation). She sold it for less than the state paid.

So what? If you don't need it then sell it and get whatever you can. Fine. But taking a common-sense decision and spinning a false heroic tale out of it is annoying. You can multiply the exaggerations a lot, and I think that's what accounts for a big part of the hostility Palin arouses in some quarters.
9.9.2008 10:37am
Jeffersonian22 (mail):
Admit it, Byomtov, the geyser of hostility we're seeing on the Left has precisely zero to do with any exaggeration of her virtues on the Right. I listened to a left-wing radio show last night where Palin was excoriated as "white trash" and her admirers as "trailer trash." This is in response to what, exactly?

The rage, anger and vitriol are innate to the Left. Don't blame us mossbacks for your vices.
9.9.2008 10:49am
The Other Ed (mail):
I don't care about the Per Diem, there's a lot of travel involved in the job but what concerns me is why are the taxpayers paying Palin's family also? Most reputable politicians who want to take family members on official trips will reimburse the taxpayer costs out of their own pocket or out of their campaign funds, they don't try and stick the taxpayers with the bill. Hell, if I want to take my wife along on a business trip I have to pay her costs myself, why are the Palins any different than me?
9.9.2008 10:55am
jawbone (mail):
Per diem, wow! And we shouldn't be concerned that Obama is taking a paycheck to represent the people of Illinois yet he does ZERO work in that capacity. I mean, really!
9.9.2008 11:01am
Immolate:
I usually expect to see more fair, logical and even-handed comments here than most of the blogs I read. Not all of the commenters are guilty, but the quality of dialog is shameful and partisan on this post.

Thanks to those of you who were mature enough to contribute something to the conversation and avoided going off on a rant to share with us how you feel.
9.9.2008 11:03am
MartyA:
"Does he bill the government for his daily roundtrip to Delaware? "
A good question but not the only question. As I see it, Biden's one way trip has 3 legs, not one. He needs a ride from his office to Union Station (or an alternative stop on the Wilmington line), then Amtrack, then a ride from the Wilmington Station to his home. How are those rides conducted? Does the government maintain limos and drivers at both ends, do lobbyists drive him as a courtesy, or does he take public transportation.
Further (and the media would be checking this if he were a Republican), where does Biden stay when he stays in DC? I assume he has a girlfriend and I guess that he sometime stays in town to accommodate the lobbyists that have paid his son for his influence. Do the lobbyists maintain an apartment for him, does he bunk in with his son, does he stay in a hotel?
And, maybe we will find answer to how dirty Biden is but, if we do, it will not be because the media has decided to do an objective job. It will be because Hussein has decided that Biden is not the guy and needs a triggering incident to get rid of him, i.e., throw Biden under the bus.
9.9.2008 11:16am
MichaelW (mail) (www):
Instead there's a tale about how she sold it (yes, they said "put" - what does "is" mean?) on eBay (cute, unconventional!!) and made a profit (shrewd!!).


Where? What story? Can you provide a link because I've never seen where either Palin or the McCain campaign claims that Palin made a profit off the jet, nor that she actually sold it on EBay.

But there is one thing you cannot say. You cannot say that Palin is in anyway qualified or ready to be President of the United States. Shouldn't that be what matters???


You had the same misgivings regarding John Edwards as Kerry's VP, yes?
9.9.2008 11:16am
guest (mail):
Hey Nate, I'll play. You asked when VC would cover the ridiculous sequestration of someone who could become POTUS within a few months?

If you just scroll up just a tiny bit, you'll see Jim Lindgren's post about months of press complaints about Obama.


Here's Lindgren's conclusion, with which I heartily agree:

UPDATE: If I were working on the McCain campaign, I would turn the access question back on Obama — in essence, working the refs.

In a few days, I would announce that Sarah Palin will hold her first open press conference devoted to questions about her background on the day after Barack Obama holds his first open press conference devoted to questions about his background — his Chicago days, his attempts to reform education, his obtaining grants for developers, his ties to questionable friends, and his earmarking practices in both the Illinois and US Senates. This would have to be an announced press conference where Obama would stay long enough to answer essentially all questions from the traveling press, as well as from investigative reporters from the National Review and the Weekly Standard. The next day Palin would hold her press conference and do essentially the same thing, answering questions about her background.

Even if the McCain campaign does not take this exact approach, if Palin ever does hold a public press conference on her background, she should challenge Obama to do the same. If she has to answer questions from the dozens of news organizations now probing her past, Barack Obama should have to answer questions from the very few news organizations who have bothered to look into his in any depth.

2d UPDATE: The more I think about it, I wouldn't trust the existing press corps to do its job even if given the opportunity — it hasn't so far.

The better offer, which can be made today and fits the anti-press narrative even better, is this: Sarah Palin will sit down for a long interview about her background with an investigative reporter from the NY Times or Washington Post the day after Barack Obama sits down for a long interview about his background with Stanley Kurtz of the National Review.

It seems that Jim Lindgren here at VC did an admirable job of pursuing just that line of inquiry.
9.9.2008 11:30am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

@ Nate in Alice


"We are, after all, talking about someone who went to 5 colleges in 6 years to ultimate graduate form the U of Idaho with a degree in Communications. "


Quick your elitism is showing.

If you'd take the 5 minutes required to Google it you'd find out that she didn't have the *money* to finish out at one college and in a "respectable" amount of time.

Funny thing about middle class white people with lots of bills. It can be tough getting a college education.
9.9.2008 11:31am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

@ Calculated Risk


"Listening to Obama speak, it is obvious that he is both very thoughtful and knowledgeable. Listening to Palin speak, you realize that she is clever at insulting people and telling cute little stories, but she doesn't know jack."


And you've discerned this from what? 3 political campaign rally speeches?

Frankly there are a lot of adjectives I could use right now but your own words condemn you far more effectively.
9.9.2008 11:36am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

@ The Other Ed


"I don't care about the Per Diem, there's a lot of travel involved in the job but what concerns me is why are the taxpayers paying Palin's family also? Most reputable politicians who want to take family members on official trips will reimburse the taxpayer costs out of their own pocket or out of their campaign funds, they don't try and stick the taxpayers with the bill. Hell, if I want to take my wife along on a business trip I have to pay her costs myself, why are the Palins any different than me?"


Really?

We're not talking vacations here or "fact finding" junkets.
9.9.2008 11:39am
josh:
"Meanwhile, I have to wonder whether the Post has several reporters looking over Joe Biden's expense reports. Does he bill the government for his daily roundtrip to Delaware? How many "fact-finding missions" has he participated in annually during his Senate career? Inquiring minds want to know?"

Hear, hear! I call for more articles on Biden's past, right alongside articles giving a full reprise about McCain's role in the Keating Five!!!

Ah, intellectual honesty at the VC ....
9.9.2008 11:40am
tarheel:
MichaelW:

Here's a link. Of course it's the WaPo, so it's probably made up.
9.9.2008 11:44am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

What I find vastly amusing is the vitriol over Palin charging a per diem of less than $60 a day.

As a former contract programmer I used to charge $60 a day for my meal allowance alone. My actual per diem, combined, was somewhere around $150 a day. And that was every day, weekends included, because I would be living near the client in a hotel or corporate apartment.

So the idea that somehow a state governor being some kind of villain for charging less than $60 a day is so fraught with hilarity it boggles the mind.
9.9.2008 11:45am
Hoosier:
ed

Funny thing about middle class white people with lots of bills. It can be tough getting a college education.

Look, why can't the lower-middle class just go to Harvard like everyone else? Everyone there finishes in four years. And they don't seem to be struggling to make ends meet.

So you dip into the capital in your trust fund to pay for it. I mean, it's not like it's a bad investment.
9.9.2008 11:45am
Hoosier:
tarheel: Of course it's the WaPo, so it's probably made up.

Do any of my fellow conservatives on VC agree with my perception that WaPo is a much less partisan paper than the NYT? Their editorials are certainly liberal. But there reporting and choice of stories doesn't seem (to me) anywhere near as blatantly partisan as those of the Times.

I read WaPo (online), and spend more time with it these days than with NYT.
9.9.2008 11:49am
Suzy (mail):
Wow, you guys are really becoming partisan hacks. Is there any depth to which you will refuse to sink, in your relentless efforts to defend Palin? Is it going to be like this straight through to November?
9.9.2008 11:50am
tarheel:
Hoosier:

Probably not one of your fellow conservatives, but I agree that the WaPo is a superior paper. More interesting opinion page, better political reporting. It has been my first stop ever since the TimesSelect fiasco.
9.9.2008 11:55am
Hoosier:
Suzy--

Speak it Sister!

What really frosts my ass is the way that none of the Conspirators has ever posted on the well-known fact that Sarah Palin subsists entirely distilled water and RAW BABIES.

This is why she insisted that Bristol carry to term. And they never mention it.

[I bet they delete this post, too]
9.9.2008 11:58am
Kevin T. Keith (www):
I thought the article and headline are fair, though the writing was so awkward it was hard to straighten out just what was going on.

There are several issues touched on in the article, some of which redound favorably on Palin and some of which are neutral, but the central issues, especially the one noted in the headline, are legitimately questionable.

It's true that Palin cut expenses by selling the state government aircraft, even if she somehow doesn't quite remember the details accurately and overstated the proceeds of the sale. It's true she saves expenses in the capital by not having as large a household staff there (but which is hardly surprising, nor all that much to her credit, given that she doesn't live there). It seems to be true that the travel records are correct, although the article exhibits some confusion on this point. And her total travel expenses are much lower than that of the preceding governor, which is neither here nor there since we don't know where, exactly, either of them traveled, for what purpose, and with what benefits to the state. It appears to me that most of these irrelevancies were actually inserted into the article to give it a positive slant, in an effort to be fair to Palin. But the real focus of the story is on other matters, which are more troubling.

One is that, whether or not her per diem claims are technically legal, they're clearly an example of "gaming the system". The governor is expected to be in the state capital; that's obviously why the per diem stipulates it is for travel away from Juneau, rather than away from home - the per diem regulation implicitly assumes the governor will be working out of Juneau. There is a mansion provided to the governor free of charge for that purpose. Palin chose to live elsewhere and charge the state by the day for living in her own home (while the state was also paying upkeep on the governor's mansion - though not for a cook, I guess). That's clearly not what the per diem regulation was intended for. As Tony Knowles points out, in a line you didn't quote, immediately after the line you did quote: "clearly, it is and it looks like a scam — you pay yourself to live at home."

So: Governor Palin was engaged in a practice that a recent former governor of the same state explicitly refers to as a "scam" - and which that governor had prohibited among his own staff, but which Palin herself collected on over 300 times in about 600 days.

The article also paints a very sketchy picture on the question of family travel. At one point her paid spokesperson says that state law permits reimbursement for family accompaniment on official trips, and that having kids show up a public events is "official business" (a somewhat dubious claim at best), but in another place the state finance director explicitly says "We cover the expenses of anyone who's conducting state business. I can't imagine kids could be doing that." Former governor Knowles points out that under his administration "the policy was not to reimburse for family travel on commercial airlines, because there is no direct public benefit to schlepping kids around the state", although former governor Murkowski apparently got reimbursement for his wife (according to Palin's helpful spokesperson, who just happened to have the exact dollar amounts available for the press). In short, current and former state officials, including governors for both parties, make it clear that travel reimbursement must be justified by benefit to the state, and that family travel is suspect or prohibited; only Palin's own campaign says otherwise. But, with the blessing of her own staffmember, Palin claimed over $20,000 in airline expenses for her minor children, more than half of it for a girl who was 6 years old when the gravy train left the station.

The other family expenses are questionable, too. Apparently she hired her own husband to conduct a fact-finding trip to Canada. (Remember when Joe Wilson was vicously trashed by the right wing for supposedly having been hired by his own wife as a sinecure, after his fact-finding trip to Africa revealed that the administration's claims regarding Iraqi uranium sources were bogus? This despite the fact that he was a former ambassador in Africa and Iraq and an international consultant, was not hired by his wife, and did produce accurate and useful - though humiliating - information. But somehow Todd Palin the oil-slope worker and salmon fisherman is an Alaskan government consultant conducting planning meetings with the Alberta Institute of Technology?) Palin also conveniently scheduled "official" state trips with her whole family to the church the family already attends, which is located in the state capital. (Yes: the governor of Alaska reimbursed herself for traveling to the state capital, where she was expected to be already, in order to give $25,000 in state money to her own church.) It was also necessary, official, state business for the entire family to travel to Iditarod to visit a snowmobile race that Palin's husband just happens to compete in every year.

Whether or not Palin's legitimate state expenses are more or less than those of her predecessor, she's clearly milking the per diem and travel allowance program for perks that have to be regarded as "loopholes" at best. The program was not intended to pay people to live in their own homes, or to take their kids on family vacations and church outings at state expense. Palin's lame excuse is that as governor she is required to get out and meet people, and therefore everything she does in the state is "official business". As Governor Knowles quite properly put it, clearly that is, and looks like, a scam.
9.9.2008 12:02pm
MichaelW (mail) (www):
Thanks, tarheel:

"You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor, and sold it on eBay -- and made a profit!" McCain declared in Wisconsin at a campaign stop Friday.


As tarheel (et al.?) pointed out, that is a lie. It was not sold on EBay, nor was a profit made. I'm not sure how much difference it makes, since the point is to underscore Palin's fiscal responsibility with taxpayer money, but it's the McCain Campaign's fault for bringing it up. So rail away!

Hear, hear! I call for more articles on Biden's past, right alongside articles giving a full reprise about McCain's role in the Keating Five!!!


You mean that investigation where McCain was found to have done nothing wrong, and Democrat Bill Bennett (you know the one, Bill Clinton's attorney) urged the investigators to leave McCain (and John Glenn) out of it? By all means, let's see a reprisal of that scandal.
9.9.2008 12:06pm
B Dubya (mail):
Let's see...Lame Stream Media gangs up on Governor Palin on issues that should be insulting to reasonable people with a modicum of respect for another well meaning human being. At the same time, Barrack Obama has, over more than a decade, engaged in activities that are most probably unethical and corrupt. Since he took his seat in the US Senate, though in attendance for only 150 days, he has apparently continued that program of self promotion and enrichment by delivering earmarks to his wife's employer (the kickback was in the form of her tripled salary) and by the not so well concealed bribe he took from Tony Reszko's puppet master (in the form of his "subsidized" million dollar plus house and lot).
Maybe instead of focusing on the Governor, the MSM and Justice Department should take a hard look at the junior Senator from Illinois, with an eye towards indicting him on Federal corruption charges. Maybe, instaed of running for POTUS, Barrack Obama should be running from the law.
9.9.2008 12:10pm
Kevin T. Keith (www):
Erratum: I mis-stated the Palin family's trip to the church in Juneau, above: Palin reimbursed herself for flying one of her daughters to attend a program at the family church, not Palin herself.

Verdict: Still a crook.
9.9.2008 12:13pm
PaulD (mail):
I am a Palin supporter so maybe my judgment is tainted. But it sure seems that her opponents are spending alot of time "crying wolf" and are progressively losing credibility and ,perhaps, votes. And it is hard for me to imagine that relentless focus on the bottom-half of the McCain ticket is helping O'Bama.
9.9.2008 12:17pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Tony Knowles was defeated by Gov. Palin in 2006.

Maybe his opinions on this matter are a tad supect? Let's ask Allen Keyes or Jack Ryan for his input on Sen. Obama's ethics.

The facts are the facts but using Tony Knowles' opinion adds nothing. Its just an appeal to [dubious] authority.
9.9.2008 12:28pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I certainly don't want to do enough research to become an expert on this, but from what I can tell from reading some stories on "per diems" in the Anchorage paper, what Palin did is exactly what is expected. And it doesn't seem like anyone expects the governor or anyone else to be in Juneau when the legislature isn't in session; you can't get from Juneau to anywhere else except by plane or boat, so it doesn't make any sense to be there unless you have to be.
9.9.2008 1:01pm
tk:
Where is this level of investigation on the Annenburg Challenge?
9.9.2008 1:13pm
emsl (mail):
I think those defending the Post article are missing the bigger picture. If the real gripe is that she does not have the experience or training to be a vice president, then that should be the focus. Pointless articles about this made up scandal or that one distract from this point. As a result, rather than defending the Post Article, they too should be attacking the Post for getting diverted on a total side issue. I am a Palin supporter and disagree with this view of her qualifications, but it annoys me when I wind up talking about how per diems work in Alaska. Because I don't care. In fact, I don't really care how Biden gets to and from the Senate and I think he is a total blowhard.

There is (or may be) a real debate here on qualifications, but you would never know it from the endless sniping and counter-sniping on travel or some off-hand comment about evolution, or the like. On this point, I would note that neither Truman, FDR, Kennedy or even Clinton had Presidential level "experience" before taking on the job. About the only person I can think of in the post WWII era who did was Eisenhower. More generally, I am not sure that there is any experience that really prepares anyone.
9.9.2008 1:18pm
The Ace (mail):
Do any of my fellow conservatives on VC agree with my perception that WaPo is a much less partisan paper than the NYT?

Absolutely.

I'm guesssing they have observed what has happened to the NYT from a financial perspective and understand why and are trying to avoid the same mistakes.
9.9.2008 1:28pm
DaveM43 (mail):
But there is one thing you cannot say. You cannot say that Palin is in anyway qualified or ready to be President of the United States. Shouldn't that be what matters???

Speeches and education opportunities based more on race than intelligence aside, please identify for me even on EXECUTIVE DECISION Barry has ever had to make in his political career. Just one. Even a trivial one.

What's that you say? He has no Executive experience? You don't say!

Remind me again why he's more qualified on paper than Palin is.

Lemme ask you this:. If you were on the board of directors of a company and needed to replace the CEO, would you dip into the pool of talent that had executive decision making experience, or would you randomly pull someone from the assembly line? That seems to be the choice we are being asked to make.
9.9.2008 1:52pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

Frankly I've repeated this before so I'll keep it brief.

The traditional duties and responsibilities of an American VP:

Zzzzzzzzzzzz
9.9.2008 2:24pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

@ DaveM43


"Lemme ask you this:. If you were on the board of directors of a company and needed to replace the CEO, would you dip into the pool of talent that had executive decision making experience, or would you randomly pull someone from the assembly line? That seems to be the choice we are being asked to make."


Really?

Care to explain where and when you've encountered someone from a "assembly line" that was able to make a deal to build a multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline from Alaska, through Canada and to the lower 48, in cooperation with major energy companies?

Go ahead and take your time. I've worked in manufacturing so I know first hand how smart and clever "assembly line" people can be.

Though I am a bit dubious about your chances.
9.9.2008 2:27pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

@ DaveM43

My apologies. I completely mis-read your comment and have no one to blame but myself.

Proving to one and all that being an ass isn't limited either in time, ideology or geography.

:)
9.9.2008 2:30pm
Sigivald (mail):
The palpable desperation is amazing.

If this is the best opposition there is ("University of Idaho! Claimed a per diem for living at home when it wasn't her official residence!"), I guess we should start buying President McCain memorabilia before the rush starts.

(Oh, and Kevin? Joe Wilson's fact-finding trip to Niger? You might want to look at the Robb-Silberman Report where they point out that his report to the CIA said that the Nigeriens themselves thought that the Iraqis had been looking for Uranium. In other words, his report to the CIA backed up the President, in terms of reporting what the Government of Niger actually thought, rather than what Joe Wilson thought.

"He said, however, that in June 1999 he met with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq, which the Prime Minister interpreted as meaning the delegation wanted to discuss yellowcake sales."; Robb-Silberman Report, Nuclear Weapons Finding 4, in Chapter 1.)
9.9.2008 2:34pm
lelectra (mail):
You people are rich. It may have been technically legal but it was unethical, as was flying her kids around for free on what was hardly "state business." So much for her self proclaimed reformer label. As for mocking Biden's "fact-finding missions" here's something perhaps you neophytes don't get. He has been head of the foreign relations committee for years. They actually do travel to other countries for real reasons, you know, sort of like Condaleeza Rice and stuff. Get it? To see situations first hand and talk to heads of state etc.

This PTA hockey Mom moose shooting Polar Bear hating talking in tongues backwoods peckerwood is never going ot be in the same league as Joe Biden, a seasoned and highly respected, and ETHICAL statesman so don't even try it. Your spin is spectacularly hollow.
9.9.2008 3:28pm
ejo:
technically legal but not within the spirit of per diem rules? that will go far towards winning the election. as to family expenses, many states have governor's mansions-to satisfy the newly minted "within the spirit of per diem rule" experts, shouldn't the State charge the family members rent-after all, they aren't the governor.
9.9.2008 3:29pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Amazing you Palin water-carriers will allow her to get away with 100 lies and scandals all because you want to win.
9.9.2008 3:39pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):

jawbone (mail):
Per diem, wow! And we shouldn't be concerned that Obama is taking a paycheck to represent the people of Illinois yet he does ZERO work in that capacity. I mean, really!
9.9.2008 10:01am


That's not the point. Obama never claimed ethical purity. Palin does and she should be held to fire!
9.9.2008 3:41pm
lelectra (mail):
AS for Knowles opinion being highly suspect, so is the Governor's official spokesperson calmouring to her defense.

And Ace, well GOLLEE sure sounds like slick talking to me? I guess it might--he speaks cohesive thoughts--something you apparently are not accustomed to.
9.9.2008 3:44pm
Bad English:
"This PTA hockey Mom moose shooting Polar Bear hating talking in tongues backwoods peckerwood is never going ot be in the same league as Joe Biden, a seasoned and highly respected, and ETHICAL statesman so don't even try it."

John McCain thanks you sincerely for your continuing help with his campaign.
9.9.2008 3:50pm
Bad English:
"Obama never claimed ethical purity. Palin does and she should be held to fire!"

Oh, yeah! Burn her alive! AUTO DA FE TIME!!!

Someone call MSNBC and get the show on the road.
9.9.2008 3:53pm
ejo:
100 lies and scandals-so far, the "lies" and "scandals" have amounted to nothing. she isn't passing off her grandkid as her daughter. it sounds like she did address the State Police for allowing a drunken, death threat delivering in-law to remain on the force, essentially penalty free. she took per diems allowed by the law. she did kill the bridge to nowhere, as credited by no less biased a source than the Alaskan Democratic Party. She stated that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are costing taxpayers money, something that was incredibly stupid per leftist talking point except for the fact it is true.

EIDE-you are precious. John McCain thanks you for keeping the debate substance free.
9.9.2008 4:01pm
Nunzio:
Obama's academic creditentials are more impressive than Palin's.

Joe Biden went to the University of Delaware (whose football helmets and uniform are a rip-off of the Wolverines). Biden also went to Syracuse University law school, where he got caught cheating his first year.

W. went to Yale undergrad and Harvard for his MBA.

Cheney flunked out of Yale and graduated from Wyoming.

Ronald Reagan graduated from a college people in Illinois have never heard of.

Nixon went to a college people in California have never heard of. He then went to Duke Law School.


Do academic credentials equal capabilities?
9.9.2008 4:14pm
Nunzio:
Obama's academic creditentials are more impressive than Palin's.

Joe Biden went to the University of Delaware (whose football helmets and uniform are a rip-off of the Wolverines). Biden also went to Syracuse University law school, where he got caught cheating his first year.

W. went to Yale undergrad and Harvard for his MBA.

Cheney flunked out of Yale and graduated from Wyoming.

Ronald Reagan graduated from a college people in Illinois have never heard of.

Nixon went to a college people in California have never heard of. He then went to Duke Law School.


Do academic credentials equal capabilities?
9.9.2008 4:15pm
calmom:
The headline should be: Palin broke no state laws; flies coach and cut travel expenses to a fraction of those of her predecessor.

This garbage is from the same newspaper that did a long article on Obama's religious beliefs without ever mentioning Reverend Wright.

The bias is patent.
9.9.2008 4:17pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):

Can you provide a link because I've never seen where either Palin or the McCain campaign claims that Palin made a profit off the jet, nor that she actually sold it on EBay.

Look harder. John McCain said it himself, introducing Palin at a campaign rally on September 5.
9.9.2008 4:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dubya:

he has apparently continued that program of self promotion and enrichment by delivering earmarks to his wife's employer


Obama didn't succeed in "delivering earmarks to his wife's employer." His request didn't pass:

among those that had been killed were his request in 2006 for $1 million for an expansion of the University of Chicago Medical Center


Another important fact you seem to not know: also on his list were earmarks for about eight other Chicago hospitals. And most of those other earmarks were larger.

If he really wanted to help his wife's career, he wouldn't be doing so much to support the institutions that compete with her employer. The facts show that he was advocating for health care in general, and not for one hospital.
9.9.2008 4:35pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
sigi:

his report to the CIA backed up the President


A few significant issues with your claim are described here. Some related information here.
9.9.2008 4:35pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ejo:

she did address the State Police for allowing a drunken, death threat delivering in-law to remain on the force


There was no finding that Wooten was ever drunk. The witnesses only claimed they saw him carry an open beer into the patrol car. During this incident, he was in civilian attire. As a member of the state SERT (SWAT) team, he had the privilege of using a marked patrol car for personal use. No one saw him drinking in the car. He was seen carrying an open beer into the car. Then he drove a mile to his house.

The only witnesses to this event are a couple who are very close friends with Palin's father. Therefore the original police investigation considered this allegation to be unfounded. A higher officer decided to overturn that finding, and made this charge part of Wooten's suspension.

As far as I know, Mike Wooten has never been arrested for drunk driving. Unlike Todd Palin, George Bush and Dick Cheney.

As far as the alleged death threat: no one outside the family heard this threat. Sarah didn't report this to the father until a month later, and it wasn't reported to the police until two months later. If the threat was considered serious, why wasn't it reported sooner? Sarah was asked that question. She said it was because "Wooten had no reason to shoot her father." In other words, she admitted she never took the threat seriously. This is apparently why the alleged death threat is not even mentioned in Wooten's letter of suspension.

Palin once described Wooten as "a fine role model for my own children." He was in the Air Force for 10 years.

Anyway, it's not the crime, it's the coverup. Proof that Palin lied is here.
9.9.2008 4:35pm
Dan M.:
Calculated Risk:

I was not taking Obama's quote out of context. I am accusing him of being a pandering liar. Yes, he said that even if he wanted to, he wouldn't have the votes. Evidence abounds that Obama actually would like to ban guns, or all semi-automatic guns, or all guns within 5 miles of a school, or whatever. He clearly wants to lie about that, and then essentially says "But even if I do, I wouldn't have the power! Vote for me you bitter gun-toting rednecks!"

And the funny thing about saying that he wouldn't have the votes is that the Democrats are going to take control of the legislature and he will have the votes to push through AWB II, regulation of ammunition, and any other scheme that he has shown support for that will ultimately drive gun ownership into oblivion or spark a civil war.
9.9.2008 5:40pm
blogs4God (www):
I also have to wonder whether the Post has several reporters looking over Joe Biden's expense reports?

Especially when one considers that the average price of an Acela trip from D.C. to Wilmington is $97 each way - which at 115 days (avg. for Senate), comes to $22,310 a year not including other travel expenses such as driving/parking/transit to/from the train station (though Union Station is within walking distance of the Capitol building).
9.9.2008 5:46pm
daveinboca (mail) (www):
Of course, at the same time the supercilious dismissive elitists in the MSM ponder how Sarah can fulfill her onerous ["pitcher of warm spit"] duties while a mother of five, they also screech &howl that she took per diem on the days off from Juneau to visit her family hundreds of miles away in Anchorage.

Do they ever reflect on how the American people judge them to be hypocritical imbeciles?

And nobody has vetted Obama or Biden, giving Obama ginormous access-passes on Rezko, Ayers, &Rev [God Damn America] Wright---while overlooking Obama's "scheduling conflicts" that prevented him from visiting his mom's deathbed in '96!
9.9.2008 5:51pm
Rathbone (mail):
The document cited by the WaPost clearly shows she did not claim lodging while staying at her Wasilla house.
9.9.2008 5:53pm
ejo:
actually, jbg, the death threat was one of the substantiated allegations. but, I imagine that, as an international expert on law enforcement issues, you will explain in all your wisdom why that doesn't matter and how consensual tasering of 10 years olds is consistent with good public policy (and how pregnant 17 year olds can give birth to kids with down syndrome and still remain pregnant-if, truly, she is actually pregnant and not just borrowing her mother's fat suit).

if she did fire the state police chief for not firing a dirty cop, more power to her. after all, he reports to her and serves at her pleasure. it's not very evangelical of her given that she doesn't assume a subservient role to men, but I'll live with it.
9.9.2008 6:20pm
wfjag:

EIDE-you are precious. John McCain thanks you for keeping the debate substance free off him.


Dick Morris is wonderful to listen to -- especially when he talks about the 1992 election and Republicans attacking Hillary. As he notes, all the time spent attacking Hillary was time not spent attacking Bill. He considered that to be an essential part of Bill's campaign strategy.

For those who like to keep tallies, here's the website: Debunking Sarah Palin rumors: http://sarahpalinrumors.blogspot.com/ As of Sunday, 71 rumors shown to be basic crap. Still, that apparently doesn't stop "reporters" from coming up with more, since the per diem story is a new one.
9.9.2008 6:32pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
(c) spent a lot less money on expenses than did her predecessor, especially on travel and by ridding herself of the state's personal chef.

Which also says a bit about Frank Murkowski.
9.9.2008 6:39pm
josh:
DB:

"I certainly don't want to do enough research to become an expert on this, but from what I can tell from reading some stories on "per diems" in the Anchorage paper, what Palin did is exactly what is expected. And it doesn't seem like anyone expects the governor or anyone else to be in Juneau when the legislature isn't in session; you can't get from Juneau to anywhere else except by plane or boat, so it doesn't make any sense to be there unless you have to be."

I agree. We certainly shouldn't know facts of any story the "media" reports before we bash the media for its reporting!
9.9.2008 7:59pm
jpe (mail):

it's a lot cheaper to charge the state a per diem for herself than to charge the state for a hotel in Anchorage for her family

It's a 40 mile commute. Millions of people do that every day and don't feel entitled to either a hotel or a per diem.
9.9.2008 8:34pm
jpe (mail):
Notably, AK travel policy is that, unsurprisingly, government employees actually have to be traveling (ie, away from their homes) in order to get a per diem. A special exception was made for the governor of AK.

Hey, if I were governor I'd take it, too. It may be unethical but it's free money.
9.9.2008 8:36pm
jpe (mail):

she apparently maintained two residences, the governor's mansion in Juneau, which by state law is her official work "base"

Why would we assume that? The whole analysis falls apart if that assumption - which doesn't seem warranted - is axed.
9.9.2008 9:25pm
Karen A. Wyle (mail) (www):
Why hasn't the McCain/Palin campaign addressed this quickly-spreading story officially -- and put the new "Truth Squad" on it? They need to be vigorously explaining that Gov. Palin did NOT charge for LODGING while staying in her Wasilla home -- that she charged for travel between Wasilla and Juneau and between Wasilla and Anchorage.

"It's legal" isn't good enough to protect Palin's reputation as a reformer. People need to understand that the per diem covered the costs of traveling large distances. It would also be good to have more explanation of why she stayed in Wasilla during these periods.

Some information on what it would have cost to use the Juneau mansion during the same period might be of interest as well.
9.9.2008 10:42pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
A pittance to what we are paying Obama to run for President rather than to act as Senator.
9.9.2008 11:00pm
TDPerkins (mail):
jukeboxgrad

Where in this post is there any evidence Palin put pressure on anyone to fire the trooper?

There evidence she was and anyone should have been terribly dissatisfied with his continued employment, but nothing showing she or anyone else put pressure on his superiors to fire him.

In other words, when you claim she is lying, and then present no evidence of it, aren't you lying yourself? Assuming you aren't deluded.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.10.2008 12:30am
DaveM43 (mail):
ed, no apology necessary. But thanks for proving my point.

But the primary question remains unanswered: What is one executive decision Barry has had to make in his political career? Hell, I'll even take an executive decision he made during his Community Organizer career. Just one. (Deciding to quit because he wouldn't get the notoriety he desired doesn't count)
9.10.2008 2:59am
DaveM43 (mail):
"Obama never claimed ethical purity."

Great! Good to know. So if he wins, does that mean four years of Clinton redux?
9.10.2008 3:09am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmm.

"Do academic credentials equal capabilities?"

*shrug* Abraham Lincoln never went to college at all.

YMMV
9.10.2008 8:12pm
Eric (mail) (www):
Calculated Risk:


She got a fluff degree in communication from the rather lowly University of Idaho.


And so what? Are you suggesting that only people with Ivy League credentials are smart and should be in public office? Maybe a Master's degree from Yale? Like George W?

I happen to have no degree, yet I'm a Vice President of a Fortune 500 company at age 41 (got there when I was 39). How about you? How old are you, what sort of degree do you have, from where, and what have you achieved?

Based on everything I have seen, any one of average intelligence, with the stomach to stick to it, can achieve a degree from a college, provided someone will pay the bills. Degrees, in and of themselves, mean little, really. Even the school you got them from doesn't impress me all that much.

Now, what you have accomplished in your adult life? That impresses me. So, what have you accomplished? Obama, with his fancy degree, he has managed to accomplish being a leech on the body politic for his adult life. Not impressed yet.
9.10.2008 11:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
how consensual tasering of 10 years olds is consistent with good public policy


11, not 10 (there is conflicting information on this, but the reports which claim the boy was 10 are incorrect). And it was not "consistent with good public policy." It was dumb. That's the main reason Wooten was suspended for 5 days. But I hope you and your little straw man are having lots of fun together.

the death threat was one of the substantiated allegations


The letter telling Wooten he is suspended is here (pdf). It's quite detailed (for example, it even mentions various minor infractions, like failing to use turn signals). However, it doesn't mention the alleged death threat, or any other threats. Why?

It's true that the original Memorandum of Findings (pdf) decided to sustain the death-threat allegation, at least as a violation of trooper policy. But Col. Grimes apparently decided to overrule that finding.

This might have something to do with the fact that the threat wasn't reported to the police until two months after it happened. Or the fact that Palin said "Wooten had no reason to shoot her father." The evidence behind the allegation is shaky.

Anyway, the issue is not Wooten's behavior. He had already been investigated and punished, by a prior administration (before Palin became governor and before Palin hired Monegan). It would have been double jeopardy for Wooten to be punished again, for the same bad conduct that had already been punished (especially because there were no new facts). Double jeopardy is a violation of the 5th Amendment. It's a very bad thing that Palin didn't know this, or didn't care.

It's also pretty amazing that a large number of people on a legal blog seem to have no awareness of the concept of double jeopardy.

if she did fire the state police chief for not firing a dirty cop


The term "dirty cop" generally means a cop on the take. There was never any such allegation against Wooten. So you should stop making things up.
9.13.2008 10:21am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
There evidence she was and anyone should have been terribly dissatisfied with his continued employment, but nothing showing she or anyone else put pressure on his superiors to fire him.


You must be joking.

Imagine that C works for B, and B works for A. One day A says the following to B: "I am terribly dissatisfied with C's continued employment."

You are claiming that this does not amount to A putting pressure on B to fire C. Really?

I would just love to see Palin use your 'logic' in an interview, and make a statement like this: 'yes, I told Monegan I was terribly dissatisfied with Wooten's continued employment, but I said nothing that could be perceived as pressuring Monegan to fire Wooten.'
9.13.2008 10:21am
Dick (mail):
It costs the state of Alaska $356,500.00 annually to maintain and staff the Governor's Mansion in Juneau. That is where the governor of Alaska is supposed to live while serving their term. The State Capitol, and legislature, is about a hundred yards down the street. Governor Palin prefers to live at home in Wasilla, over 600 miles away, and collect per diem, while the state continues to pour the money into the empty Governor's Mansion in Juneau. That is not efficient or ethical.

http://www.gov.state.ak.us/omb/09_omb/budget/Gov/comp9.pdf
9.13.2008 5:58pm