Thursday, November 13, 2008

Partial Redemption for Alaskans?

The ADN says yesterday's vote counting has erased Ted Stevens' 3000+ lead and now Begich is 814 votes ahead. That was after 60,000 absentee and questioned ballots were counted. There are still 40,000 ballots to go.

When I was poll watching there were about 40 questioned ballots while I was there (7am-4:30pm) out of about 800 votes. They fell into the following categories:
  • People not on the list because they were voting outside their regular polling place.
  • People not on the list who thought they were in their regular polling place (and some of these had spouses with them who were on the list, and some were on my list of people supporting Democrats in that polling place.)
  • People who were on the list, but said they had moved. Even though they were on the list, and in most cases still living in the same area, they had to vote a questioned ballot and to fill out a new registration with their new address. If they hadn't said anything they could have voted regular.

Anyway, does it reflect differently on Alaskans if one more person votes for Begich than Stevens or vice versa? It still means half the people who voted marked a convicted felon.

But, Democrats. What would you have done if your candidate had been convicted and there was a Democratic governor who would get to appoint the next senator and maybe keep the office Democratic? Especially if the governor had suddenly burst onto the national scene and been a big hit with the 'real' Democrats and could appoint himself and thus move back to the national scene?

While I agree that voting for a convicted felon doesn't play well for the rest of the world, I do understand it as a tactic to further one's cause. And I'm not sure given a roughly similar situation, Democrats wouldn't have done the same. A number of people in both parties (yeah, I know there are more than just two) are more than willing to abandon their professed principles if it means they 'win.' I personally believe that our behavior reflects our values more than what we say. So these people really do, in my book, value 'winning' over their other professed values.

The real key is to convince enough voters to vote for the candidate who isn't a felon so the issue becomes moot. If we stop electing candidates with dark clouds hanging over them (you mean there is no one else well qualified?) then parties will stop nominating indicted candidates.

I don't know if the remaining 40,000 votes (if that's an accurate number) are going to split like the 60,000 counted so far. If they do, then it is moot. And Alaska will be in a new era as is the US.

By the way, the NY Times reports today on the 'unnamed McCain campaign figure' who 'leaked' that Palin said Africa was a country. He's a hoax. So, maybe we gain a bit more credibility on that count too. But my question is, did Palin know that Africa was a continent, not a country? Her comments in a press conference later didn't really inspire confidence. She didn't flatly deny she'd said that, rather she made like it really didn't matter.
"If there are allegations based on questions or comments I made in debate prep about NAFTA, about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context..."
In any case, our governor needs to be more careful about her facts - maybe that's why most of her public discussion avoids them - see this latest press conference video. The Anchorage Daily News cover story in Monday's paper quotes her saying:
And banning books. That was a ridiculous thing also that could have so easily been corrected just by a reporter taking an extra step and not basing a report on gossip or speculation. But just looking into the record. It was reported that I tried to ban Harry Potter when it hadn't even been written when I was the mayor.
Well, ok, so I'm just trying to check the record. When was the first Harry Potter book published? Wikipedia says:
Since the 1997 release of the first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was retitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United States, the books have gained immense popularity, critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide.

And when was Palin mayor of Wasilla?

The official bio at the Governor's office site leaves out dates:
Palin served two terms on the Wasilla City Council and two terms as the mayor/manager of Wasilla.

The McCain campaign site doesn't have the dates either.
So, back to Wikipedia:
Palin was a member of the Wasilla, Alaska, city council from 1992 to 1996 and the city's mayor from 1996 to 2002.

But I better double check with other sources to be absolutely certain. Time magazine mentions "the 1996 campaign for mayor of her hometown, Wasilla..." The Anchorage Daily News had a long feature in 2006 which included this:
Previous offices: Wasilla City Council, 1992-1996; Wasilla mayor, 1996-2002; Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 2003-2004.

OK, then,
The way I read things, not only had Harry Potter been written by the time she was mayor, but it had been published. Maybe she meant, "in 1996, when I became mayor, Harry Potter hadn't even been published." But Governor, you have to say what you mean. If you say " it hadn't even been written when I was the mayor" then we're going to assume that is what you mean. Part of being a politician is being able to get your facts right and say what you mean. (Now, if the ADN has falsely quoted you, I apologize profusely on this point.)

When I first saw the bogus list of Palin's books to ban, I immediately knew it was a hoax. It had too many well known and loved books. We certainly would have heard about that - all the way in Anchorage - had she tried to ban that long list of books.

But it wasn't Harry Potter that people were concerned about. People did check their facts - better than the governor seems to check hers - and there was a librarian who told us that she'd been asked about removing books. And I personally had a chance to hear Howard Bess discuss how his book, Pastor, I'm Gay kept disappearing from the library, no matter how often he donated new copies. And that Palin's church was campaigning to get books out of the library.

So, first, people did check facts. Yes, there were scurrilous stories, but also a number that were solid. That goes with the territory. The governor, for example, is still talking about Obama 'palling around' with terrorists.

Second, I understand how someone can forget or misspeak details now and then. It happens to me all too often. I understand being more concerned with the big picture than the details. There is, however, a big BUT that goes here. If you don't have any of the details right, then your big picture is built on falsehoods. If we disregard the hard facts, then every model of the world is equal. Everyone has a right to their opinions, but the rest of us don't have to buy them.

We need politicians who have a broad picture of how the world works that is grounded on a solid base of proven facts. Palin did a pretty good job of this with the AGIA proposal. She had outstanding public administrators backing her up on that. But since the first hints of Troopergate and then the nod from McCain, it's been very heavy on questionable theory and little proven fact.


  1. "The way I read things, not only had Harry Potter been written by the time she was mayor, but it had been published. Maybe she meant, "in 1996, when I became mayor, Harry Potter hadn't even been published." But Governor, you have to say what you mean."

    Your analysis has a MAJOR flaw in it.
    According to the urban legend that was circulating, the date of when this so called proposed book banning of that list of books was supposed to have happened, was placed in the year of 1996. Your post leaves out that particular piece of info.

    Yes, you are correct that Palin is mistaken in stating something like: "it hadn't even been written when I was the mayor". Apparently, she misunderstood the exact minute specifics about the rumor ("Palin tried to ban books, including Harry Potter book in 1996") that was being told about her as well as the defense ("Harry Potter wasn't published yet in 1996")that was also circulating in response to that rumor. Obviously Palin misheard something along the way about this rumor which caused her to make the mistake of saying tjhat Harry Potter wasnt published yet during her term as Mayor, when she should have said they werent published in 1996, (where the phony rumor puts the date of the attempted book banning) during her first year in office.

  2. Steve,
    I liked reading about your poll watching. Thanks, Dianne


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