The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin VI: Gays

When the subject of homosexuality came up, Charles Gibson asked the following question:

GIBSON: Homosexuality, genetic or learned?

PALIN: Oh, I don’t — I don’t know, but I’m not one to judge and, you know, I’m from a family and from a community with many, many members of many diverse backgrounds and I’m not going to judge someone on whether they believe that homosexuality is a choice or genetic. I’m not going to judge them.

In fact, Palin does judge homosexuals in as extreme a fashion as you can imagine:

Gov. Sarah Palin’s church is promoting a conference that promises to convert gays into heterosexuals through the power of prayer. "You’ll be encouraged by the power of God’s love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality," according to the insert in the bulletin of the Wasilla Bible Church, where Palin has worshipped for about six years… She opposes gay marriage and spousal rights for gay couples. Focus on the Family, a national Christian fundamentalist organization, is conducting the "Love Won Out" Conference in Anchorage, about 30 miles from Wasilla.

There is no way that a person who is indifferent to the question of whether homosexuality is a choice or genetic can support a conference of crackpots, psychological renegades and far-right Christianists seeking to "cure" gay people. Palin is on record seeking to strip gay couples of all rights in their relationships, although she was forced by constitutional mandate to grant equal benefits to gay couples who are employees of the state government in Alaska. She supported a non-binding referendum for an Alaskan constitutional amendment to deny state health benefits to same-sex couples:

Ultimately, she said, she supports denying those [health and retirement] benefits through a constitutional amendment, if that’s what the public wants.

The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin V: The Oil Pipeline

One of governor Palin’s very few actually documented achievements in office as governor has been what she has described as a breakthrough in constructing an oil pipeline. Here’s how she put it in her convention address:

“And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence."

And here’s how she put it earlier this year:

When the Legislature ratified the choice of TransCanada this summer, Ms. Palin called a news conference to hail the deal, saying that the state had finally obtained a commitment to build the pipeline.

In fact, the entire pipeline is at this point as reality-based as that "Mission Accomplished" banner:

The pipeline exists only on paper. The first section has yet to be laid, federal approvals are years away and the pipeline will not be completed for at least a decade. In fact, although it is the centerpiece of Ms. Palin’s relatively brief record as governor, the pipeline might never be built, and under a worst-case scenario, the state could lose up to $500 million it committed to defray regulatory and other costs.

And at her news conference declaring a commitment to build the pipeline, she was forced to concede later she had been ahead of herself:

After some of her aides offered a more restrained assessment, she dialed back her exuberance, saying, “We’re not turning dirt yet.” Under the most optimistic circumstances, dirt is not expected to be turned for years. TransCanada’s plan calls for it to file an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by the end of 2011, and to have the pipeline operational by late 2018. The company is not obligated to proceed with the project even if it clears all the financial and regulatory hurdles.

In assessing the state of the project, Mr. Galvin, the state revenue commissioner, avoided the characterization that Ms. Palin employed in her convention speech.

For the record.

The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin IV: Endangered Species

On the question of extending the Endangered Species Act to polar bears, Sarah Palin hews to the Stephen Colbert position. And in her defense, she cited a study by her own state government in an op-ed for the New York Times earlier this year. In that article, she wrote:

I strongly believe that adding [polar bears] to the list is the wrong move at this time. My decision is based on a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts. In fact, there is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct within the foreseeable future — the trigger for protection under the Endangered Species Act. And there is no evidence that polar bears are being mismanaged through existing international agreements and the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Yep: you guessed it. We found out subsequently in the New York Times that the state’s wildlife officials discovered no such thing:

Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears … An administration official told Mr. Steiner that his request would cost $468,784 to process.

When Mr. Steiner finally obtained the e-mail messages — through a federal records request — he discovered that state scientists had in fact agreed that the bears were in danger, records show.

For the record.

The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin III: Firing Stambaugh

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[Cartoon by Tom Toles. His archive here.]

Back when she was increasing the long-term debt of the town of Wasilla by 69 percent, Mayor Palin also fired the town’s police chief and librarian, Irl Stambaugh and Mary Ellen Emmons. The accusation was that they were fired because they had supported her opponent in the previous election. Palin denied any political motivation. But whatever the merits of the firing, what is salient is Palin’s reflexive instinct when confronted with the fact. From the Anchorage Daily News:

Reached at her home … Palin said she planned to meet with Stambaugh and Emmons this afternoon. She also disputed whether they had actually been fired. ”There’s been no meeting, no actual terminations,” she said.

You know what’s coming:

Stambaugh’s response was to read part of the letter given to him. ”Although I appreciate your service as police chief, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. I do not feel I have your full support in my efforts to govern the city of Wasilla. Therefore I intend to terminate your employment. . . . ” ”If that’s not a letter of termination, I don’t know what is,” he said.

Your call.

The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin II: The Bridge To Nowhere

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In her speeches, Sarah Palin routinely and repeatedly uses the phrase: "I told the Congress ‘thanks, but no thanks,’ for that Bridge to Nowhere." In the McCain-Palin ads, the claim is that she "stopped the Bridge to Nowhere."

These are, again, demonstrable lies. Again I will cite Wikipedia, since it’s the fairest summary of the facts of the case, and includes all the links for you to see for yourself:

In 2006, Palin ran for governor on a "build-the-bridge" platform,[101] attacking "spinmeisters"[102] for insulting local residents by calling them "nowhere"[101] and urging speed "while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist."[103]

About two years after the introduction of the bridge proposals, a month after the bridge received sharp criticism from John McCain,[104] and nine months into Palin’s term as governor, Palin canceled the Gravina Bridge, blaming Congress for not providing enough funding.[105] Alaska will not return any of the $442 million to the federal government[106] and is spending a portion of the funding, $25 million, on a Gravina Island road to the place where the bridge would have gone, expressly so that none of the money will have to be returned.[101] Palin continues to support funding Don Young’s Way, estimated as more than twice as expensive as the Gravina Bridge would have been.[107]

Your call.

The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin I: Firing Monegan

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This weekend, I’ll be re-posting all the factual untruths that Sarah Palin insists are still actually truths.I’ve updated each item to keep up with the new information that has come out since the original posting. I’m doing this because Sarah Palin’s contribution is to introduce a new level of detachment from reality to our politics. After Bush-Cheney, this would be hard for anyone. But youbetcha she can.

This has been the pattern from the start of her career: a denial of reality combined with an almost unhinged and unlimited ambition. Since the press is barred from questioning her thoroughly, since we will never know how she responds to the long list of untruths she has told – from the smallest biographical detail to the biggest policy – all I can do is remind my readers of the record one more time before November. There are nineteen assertions of factual untruths that I’ve been able to document.

We’ll start at the beginning, and Troopergate.

The key issue is whether she used her state office to pressure the public safety commissioner to fire her ex-brother-in-law. Here’s what she stated on the record in mid-July if this year:

Palin stated on July 17 that Monegan was not pressured to fire Wooten, nor dismissed for not doing so:[114][117] "To allege that I, or any member of my family . . . directed disciplinary action be taken against any employee of the Department of Public Safety, is, quite simply, outrageous."

Here’s Wikipedia’s account of the findings of the Branchflower Report, with links to the original sources:

On October 10, 2008, the Alaska Legislative Council unanimously voted to release, without officially endorsing,[135] the Branchflower Report in which Stephen Branchflower found that firing Monegan "was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority,"[136] and that Palin abused her power as governor by violating the state’s Executive Branch Ethics Act[137] when her office pressured Monegan to fire Wooten. The report stated that "Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit: to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired."[138] The report also said that Palin "permitted Todd Palin to use the Governor’s office […] to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired."[138][139]

The eventual report found that she was within her legal rights to fire Monegan, but that her unethical persecution of her ex brother-in-law was a contributing factor to the firing. The report found her guilty of abuse of power and violation of Alaska’s Ethics Act.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty.)