Bad Deeds for 9-9-2008

Palin Billed State for Spending Thanksgiving at College Basketball Game, Husband’s Sled Race, and Numerous Nights Spent at Home – 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. Among these events included a college basketball game — and a sled race in which her husband competed. The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions,” the paper added. “And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.


Palin Says the Iraq War and a Natural Gas Pipeline are Part of God’s Plan – In June, Palin addressed graduates of a youth ministry program at the Wasilla Assembly of God, saying the Iraq War and a natural gas pipeline she is trying to build as part of God’s plan.” A video produced by the church proclaims with apocalyptic imagery that “God has a destiny for the state of Alaska!” and in another clip someone from the church affirms, “I believe that Alaska’s one of the refuge states.”


Falsehoods in McCain’s Acceptance Speech – McCain’s speech accepting the Republican nomination contained the following falsehoods:

  • McCain claimed that Obama’s health care plan would “force small businesses to cut jobs” and would put “a bureaucrat … between you and your doctor.” In fact, the plan exempts small businesses, and those who have insurance now could keep the coverage they have.
  • McCain attacked Obama for voting for “corporate welfare” for oil companies. In fact, the bill Obama voted for raised taxes on oil companies by $300 million over 11 years while providing $5.8 billion in subsidies for renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative fuels.
  • McCain said oil imports send “$700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much.” But the U.S. is on track to import a total of only $536 billion worth of oil at current prices, and close to a third of that comes from Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom (only about $178 billion compared to McCain’s claim of $700 billion).
  • McCain promised to increase use of “wind, tide [and] solar” energy, though his actual energy plan contains no new money for renewable energy. He has said elsewhere that renewable sources won’t produce as much as people think.
  • McCain called for “reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs,” but as in the past failed to cite a single program that he would eliminate or reduce.
  • He said Obama would “close” markets to trade. In fact, Obama, though he once said he wanted to “renegotiate” the North American Free Trade Agreement, now says he simply wants to try to strengthen environmental and labor provisions in it.


Gov. Palin Hiding Husband’s Correspondence Related to Trooper Union – Dozens of e-mails exchanged among several government employees and Todd Palin, the husband of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who has no formal role in her administration, are not being turned over in response to an open records request in the state. In June, Andrée McLeod, a self-described independent government watchdog in Alaska, sent an open records act request to the office of Governor Sarah Palin. She requested copies of all the emails that had been sent and received by Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey, two top aides to Palin, from February through April of this year. McLeod, a 53-year-old registered Republican who has held various jobs in state government, suspected that Frye and Bailey had engaged in political activity during official business hours in that period by participating in a Palin-backed effort to oust the state chairman of the Alaska Republican party, Randy Ruedrich.


Endangered Species Act to be Weaken to the Point of Nonexistence Unless You Act Now! – The Endangered Species Act is our primary legal tool for environmental protection. We have until September 15–about a week–to save the Endangered Species Act. Not just some species, but the Act itself! Bush administration officials are proposing redefinitions of terms that would allow conservative appointees in federal agencies to virtually the destroy the Act.

Their goal is to allow proposed projects to proceed even if such projects would kill off endangered species or place them or their habitats in jeopardy.

Causation, within an ecological system, is almost always systemic in nature. That is, there are disparate contributing causes with disparate contributed effects in various places at different times. Direct causation is rare. Direct causation occurs when there is a single act at a given time and place that results in a single effect at that time and place. For example, a species of frog limited to a local wetland could be completely wiped out by a condo development with that wetland filled in. Direct causation.
But frogs around the country are dying out due to a complex combination of factors in different places at different times. Systemic causation.

The present Endangered Species Act is realistic about systemic causation: disparate causes that contribute to disparate future effects count as “causation.” But imagine what would happen if “causation” were redefined to mean only direct causation. Development projects now forbidden because they contribute significantly to future disparate loss of species and species habitat would now be allowed. Lots and lots of disparate projects at disparate places and times would be allowed. Their collective systemic effects could wipe out a great many habitats and species.

This is exactly what is being proposed by the Departments of the Interior and Commerce, as published in the Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 159 / Friday, August 15, 2008 / Proposed Rules. They want to redefine causation so that only direct causation (they call it “an essential cause”) counts as causation that jeopardizes the existence of a species listed under the Endangered Species act, or jeopardizes that species’ critical habitat. The effect is that proposed development projects can contribute significantly to the destruction of habitat and the extinction of species, provided that they do not directly cause the elimination of a species, or directly reduce the population of a species or extent of its habitat–something that rarely happens. The result is that almost all proposed developments that were previously understood as “causes” of habitat destruction or species extinction will no longer be seen as “causes” at all and will be permitted. The reason will be that “cause” itself will have been redefined.
Act Now!

Here are some Talking Points:

  • You are against the proposed rule changes because they weaken the Endangered Species Act nearly to the point of nonexistence.
  • Environmental systems mostly work by systemic causation, with many indirect causes, not by “essential causation.” The change to “essential causation” opens the door to an indefinitely large number of projects that can jointly put endangered species in jeopardy.
  • The change in “consultation” rules will de facto eliminate the gathering of information relevant to protecting species.

Here’s how you get your comments read: Go to and use the search terms: “50 CFR Part 402 proposed rule”.

The proposed changes are in Document # EB – 18938
To see the proposed changes, click on “View this document”
Click on “Send a comment or submission” to write your comment.

Note that plain e-mails will not be considered. This is another way public input is being limited.

Write your comments before September 15, 2008.


Sarah Palin Fired Legislative Director Just Seven Weeks After She Praised His Work – Sarah Palin and John Bitney go way back. They were in the same junior-high band class. Mr. Bitney was a key aide in Gov. Palin’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign. When she took office, she gave Mr. Bitney a job as her legislative director, and a few months later stood beside him at a news conference and praised his work.

“Whatever you did, you did it right,” she told Mr. Bitney and his team.
Seven weeks later she fired Mr. Bitney for what her spokeswoman now describes as “poor job performance.”

What happened in between? According to Mr. Bitney, Gov. Palin got a call from another old friend, Scott Richter, informing her that his wife, Debbie Richter, and Mr. Bitney were having an affair. Mr. Bitney had kept that secret from the governor, even as he told her of his divorce, he said.

When Gov. Palin was notified by Mr. Richter in July 2007, she called Mr. Bitney into her office. She already knew he was going through a divorce, and, Mr. Bitney said, he had “led her to believe there weren’t going to be any more surprises.”

Mr. Bitney said the governor “indicated to me that she was hurt, disappointed and upset, and that she didn’t know what she wanted to do.”

A few days later, Gov. Palin’s chief of staff “indicated to me that I needed to leave the governor’s office,” Mr. Bitney said.

While Palin’s office framed the departure as an “amicable” mutual decision, Bitney told Politico that Sarah and Todd Palin “were upset with me about my divorce and who I was dating, and they didn’t want that in the governor’s office.”

More details


More Misrepresentations About Palin and How Alaska Gets Your Money – Palin has continued to repeat the already exposed lie that she said, “No, thanks,” to the famous “bridge to nowhere” (McCain’s favorite example of wasteful federal spending). In fact, she said, “Yes, please,” until this project became a symbol and political albatross.

Back to reality. Of the 50 states, Alaska ranks No. 1 in taxes per resident and No. 1 in spending per resident. Its tax burden per resident is 21/2 times the national average; its spending, more than double. The trick is that Alaska’s government spends money on its own citizens and taxes the rest of us to pay for it. Although Palin, like McCain, talks about liberating ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, there is no evidence that being dependent on Alaskan oil would be any more pleasant to the pocketbook.
Alaska is, in essence, an adjunct member of OPEC. It has four different taxes on oil, which produce more than 89% of the state’s unrestricted revenue. On average, three-quarters of the value of a barrel of oil is taken by the state government before that oil is permitted to leave the state. Alaska residents each get a yearly check for about $2,000 from oil revenues, plus an additional $1,200 pushed through by Palin last year to take advantage of rising oil prices. Any sympathy the governor of Alaska expresses for folks in the lower 48 who are suffering from high gas prices or can’t afford to heat their homes is strictly crocodile tears.

As if it couldn’t support itself, Alaska also ranks No. 1, year after year, in money it sucks in from Washington. In 2005 (the most recent figures), according to the Tax Foundation, Alaska ranked 18th in federal taxes paid per resident ($5,434) but first in federal spending received per resident ($13,950). Its ratio of federal spending received to federal taxes paid ranks third among the 50 states, and in the absolute amount it receives from Washington over and above the amount it sends to Washington, Alaska ranks No. 1.


College Students in Virginia Being Discouraged From Voting – According to this press release from the extremely important battleground state of Virginia, students are being told that they risk losing their scholarship and tax dependency status if they register to vote in their college, as opposed to home, state. And it appears all these warnings are bogus and have one impact and one impact only: to suppress voter turnout among college-aged people, who are overwhelmingly supporting Obama this year.


Will you listen to your hopes or your fears?



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About Jim Vogas

Texas A&M Aggie, Retired aerospace engineer, former union member, Vietnam vet, Demcratic Party organizer, husband and father.

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