Sarah Palin's 9 Most Disturbing Beliefs
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Let's forget for a moment that Sarah Palin likes to kill moose, has lots of children and was once voted the second-prettiest lady in Alaska; that's all part of the gusher of sensationalist, but not particularly substantive, news that has dominated coverage of the Alaska governor's addition to the Republican ticket.
Before the next news cycle brings the shocking information that Palin was actually impregnated by Bigfoot, we need to shift the discussion to what really matters about her in the context of the White House: her dangerous views.
AlterNet has compiled a list of Palin's most shocking beliefs, ranging from her positions on the economy to her views on reproductive rights. This list has nothing to do with her personal life, her looks or her gender. It's the stuff that voters need to know: what Sarah Palin really believes.
1. Despite problems at home, Sarah Palin does not believe in giving teenagers information about sex.
The McCain campaign is spinning Bristol Palin's pregnancy as a neat, shiny example of the unbreakable bonds of family. But while Bristol's actions and choices should not be attacked, teen pregnancy is no cause for celebration, either. To state the very obvious, it is not a good thing when teenagers have unprotected sex. And U.S. teens appear to have unprotected sex a lot: The United States has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, and 1 in 4 American teen girls has an STI.
Like John McCain, Palin's approach to the problems of teen pregnancy and STI transmission is abstinence-only education. In a 2006 questionnaire by the conservative group Eagle Forum, Palin stated: "Explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support." Presumably the programs that do find Palin's support are ones that focus on abstinence and only mention contraceptives to talk about their supposed shortcomings.
But someone already tried that. For eight years the Bush administration has thrown its heft behind Title V, a federal program that provides states with funding for abstinence-based sex education. In 2007 an expansive study proved abstinence-until-marriage education does not delay teen sexual activity.
If Palin is elected, she will continue to throw money at a policy that does little besides ensure that a larger number of sexually active teens lack information about how to avoid pregnancy and STIs.
2. Sarah Palin believes the U.S. Army is on a mission from God.
In June, Palin gave a speech at the Wasilla Assembly of God, her former church, in which she exhorted ministry students to pray for American soldiers in Iraq. "Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," she told them. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."
Palin talked about her son, Track, an infantryman in the U.S. Army:
When he turned 18 right before he enlisted, he had to get his first tattoo. And I'm like -- I don't think that's real cool, son. Until he showed me what it was and I thought, oh he did something right, 'cause on his calf, he has a big ol' Jesus fish!
Holy war, holy warriors.
3. Sarah Palin believes in punishing rape victims.
Palin thinks that rape victims should be forced to bear the child of their rapist. She believes this so strongly that she would oppose abortion even if her own daughter were raped.
The Huffington Post reports: "Granting exceptions only if the mother's life was in danger, Palin said that when it came to her daughter, 'I would choose life.'
At the time, her daughter was 14 years old. Moreover, Alaska's rape rate was an abysmal 2.2 times above the national average, and 25 percent of all rapes resulted in unwanted pregnancies.
If Palin's own daughter was only 14 when she made that statement, does she think any girl of reproductive age is old enough to have a child? Girls are hitting puberty earlier and earlier. What if the rape victim were only 10? 9? 8?
Palin also opposes abortion in cases of incest and would grant an exception only if childbirth would result in the mother's death. She has not made any statements yet about whether she believes a 10-year-old who was raped by her father would be able to actually raise the child once it was born. Perhaps Palin doesn't care.
4. Who's really not in favor of clean water? Sarah Palin.
As The Hill reports, "Governor Palin has ... opposed a crucial clean water initiative."
Alaska's KTUU explains: "It is against the law for the governor to officially advocate for or against a ballot measure; however, Palin took what she calls 'personal privilege' to discuss one of this year's most contentious initiatives."
Palin said, "Let me take my governor's hat off just for a minute here and tell you, personally, Prop. 4 -- I vote no on that." And what is that? A state initiative that would have banned metal mines from discharging pollution into salmon streams.
She also approved legislation that let oil and gas companies nearly triple the amount of toxic waste they can dump into Cook Inlet, an important fishery. It looks like being an avid outdoorsperson doesn't mean Palin really has the health of watersheds, natural resources or our environment at heart.
5. Sarah Palin calls herself a reformer, but on earmarks and the "Bridge to Nowhere," she is a hypocrite.
Palin says she's a "conservative Republican" who is "a firm believer in free market capitalism." She's running as an anti-tax crusader, and she did make deep cuts to Alaska's budget.
So, one would assume she is no borrow-and-spend conservative like George W., right?
Well, there was the time when she served as the mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla, Alaska. According to the Associated Press, "Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million." You'd think that $27 mil in taxpayers' funds would be enough scratch for a town with a population of 8,000, but you'd be wrong. According to Politico, Palin then "racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla -- that amounts to $3,000 per resident."
Then there's her current stint as Alaska governor, during which her appetite for federal pork spending has been on clear display. The Associated Press reported, "In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation." While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "Bridge to Nowhere."
6. Sarah Palin believes creationism should be taught in schools.
Until somebody digs up the remnants of a T. rex with an ill-fated caveman dangling from its jaws, the scientific community, along with most of the American public, will be at peace with the theory of evolution. But this isn't true of everyone. More than 80 years after the Scopes "Monkey" trial, there are people -- and politicians -- who do not believe in evolution and lobby for creationism to be taught in schools.
Palin is one of those politicians. When Palin ran for governor, part of her platform called for teaching schoolchildren creationism alongside evolution. Although she did not push hard for this position after she was elected governor, Palin has let her views on evolution be known on many occasions. According to the Anchorage Daily News , Palin stated, "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."
Palin further argued, "It's OK to let kids know that there are theories out there. They gain information just by being in a discussion."
Not when those "theories" are being presented as valid alternatives to a set of principles that most scientists have ascribed to for more than a century.
7. Sarah Palin supports offshore drilling everywhere, even if it doesn't solve our energy problems.
If McCain was hoping to salvage any part of his credibility with environmentalists, he threw that chance out the window by adding Palin to his ticket. Palin is in favor of offshore drilling and drilling in the ecologically sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Miami Herald reported:
The Alaska governor has said that she has tried to persuade McCain to agree with her on drilling in the wildlife refuge. She also has said that she was happy that he changed his position over the summer and now supports offshore oil drilling.
As if that weren't bad enough, in her speech this week at the Republican National Convention, she said, "Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems -- as if we all didn't know that already." Huh. I guess drilling even when it won't help is better than working on renewable energy sources, as Palin also vetoed money for a wind energy project.
8. Sarah Palin loves oil and nuclear power.
Aside from her "drill here, drill there, drill everywhere" approach to our energy crisis, the only other things we know about Palin's energy policy, especially given her Bush-like love of avoiding the press, comes from her acceptance speech:
Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines, build more nuclear plants, create jobs with clean coal and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal and other alternative sources.
Nuclear power plants. Interesting. As folks look for alternative fuel sources (and again, Palin loves oil first and foremost so her commitment to any alternative energy source is suspect at best), nuclear power is enjoying a return to vogue. But here's the problem: Even the U.S. government's own nuclear agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, thinks an atomic renaissance is a bad idea:
Delivered by one of America's most notoriously docile agencies, the NRC's warning essentially says: that all cost estimates for new nuclear reactors -- and all licensing and construction schedules -- are completely up for grabs and have no reliable basis in fact. Thus any comparisons between future atomic reactors and renewable technologies are moot at best.
Not to mention all the other problems with nuclear energy, such as how to dispose of nuclear waste and the possibility of a catastrophic meltdown, to name a couple. Palin has no background with nuclear energy and shows no evidence of having looked into the science behind it or the dangers that come with it.
Also, it's time for Palin to drop another Bush-like tendency: Governor, the word is pronounced "new-clear."
9. Sarah Palin doesn't think much of community activism; she'd much rather play insider political games.
In her Republican convention speech, Palin slammed Barack Obama's early political work, saying, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except you have actual responsibilities." Palin's put-down of grassroots workers, often unpaid or low-paid, demeaned an American tradition of neighbors helping neighbors, according to Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change. But more revealing is Palin's apparent lack of experience in community change and local volunteer efforts, during her years in Alaska before becoming governor.
Scores of press accounts of her early years as mayor of Wasilla omit any mention of such work. Instead, they note as mayor, and in the intervening years before running for governor, Palin gravitated to those with power, money or influence. She worked to enlarge Wasilla's Wal-Mart and build a sports center (that went over budget in an eminent domain dispute), and she hired a Washington lobbyist, directed a political fundraising committee for the state's senior U.S. senator, Republican Ted Stevens, now under indictment for corruption, and steered $22 million in federal aid to her town. While some of her early community work was undoubtedly centered on her church, perhaps this comment by a blog reader best sums up Palin's political opportunism:
So community organizers (aren't) responsible? Or caring? Or doing anything important. What a terrible insult to the greatest community organizer of all time, Jesus Christ.