Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why I Have Decided to Help the Brave Women Pioneers

They say that women pioneers inspire women and girls to succeed, but they help men and boys too. It is men who have most of the powerful jobs and it is often men who decide whether to hire a woman VP, CEO, astronaut, etc. Will men use that power for good by hiring a qualified woman or will they continue the patriarchal system by not hiring available qualified women? Female pioneers help men see that women can do the job and once men see that women are capable, they’re more likely to hire women for those jobs. For example, John McCain saw that Gov. Sarah Palin was a great governor who had improved the economy, improved ethics in government, and strengthened our national security by promoting energy independence through drilling and the gas pipeline, so he hired her which greatly benefited women and girls as well as our country.

Kathryn Cullen-Du Pont asked pioneering U.S. astronaut Eileen Collins, “You’ve carried women’s history memorabilia into space. Can you tell me a bit about this and your appreciation of the women who’ve gone before you?”

Collins replied, “Women flew and it wasn’t something that was expected out of women. …Bobbie Trout is a famous aviator from years ago—I flew her pilot’s license on my first flight [into space]…”

After listing memorabilia she flew through space to honor flying women Collins stated, “They made a contribution, all these women did really great jobs, and you know, one barrier after another has fallen as the decades have gone by, and the reason that the barriers have come down is because the system, which is primarily male, would look up and say, “Hey, these women can really do the job, so why would we restrict them.” So I always make it a point to acknowledge the women who flew before me, and were in the military before me, because their contributions have allowed my generation to have the opportunities that we have, and if they had not done the things that they did, I don’t think women would have these opportunities today."

That is why women pioneers are so important. We need their example to convince people to hire us. When you help a woman pioneer you are helping all 3 billion women and girls. They need our support because women and girls are the most oppressed group in the world in terms of numbers and degree of harm inflicted on us by sexism. So they need us and we need them.

Unfortunately, historians, journalists, media, etc. sometimes distort women pioneers' accomplishments, to make it seem they did less. We must see past that curtain they place before our eyes. The first step is to recognize a pioneer. The second step is to help her. And the third step is to enjoy women’s progress!

There are numerous ways we enjoy women’s progress. For example, when Germans voted for Angela Merkel as their first Chancellor they reaped the rewards of a better economy. When the Olympics allowed women to compete, girls became more proud of their country and prouder of being girls. When George Hitchings hired Gertrude Elion at Burroughs-Wellcome pharmaceutical company she invented life-improving and life-saving drugs for men and women. It would be so much better if women had equality with men because we would be a richer society society in the full sense of the word, happier, more peaceful. To be all that we can be as a nation women must have equal power as men. That’s why I help the brave women pioneers.

Soccer, Feminism, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin

I recently saw a documentary about women’s soccer and the movie reminded me of the DNC’s and media’s unfair treatment of women during the 2008 election. The documentary Dare to Dream describes how the U.S. women’s soccer team kicked through glass ceilings just like women have been breaking through glass ceilings politically this year.

I actually thought the DNC superdelegates would vote for Hillary because of her greater swing state support, huge electoral college lead, big state popularity, and popular vote advantage but towards the end of the primary it became obvious that the superdelegates were not treating Hillary fairly. According to a study reported in the Charlotte Observer there was a big difference between how men and women superdelegates voted. Women superdelegates (before the end of the primaries) preferred Hillary but the men preferred Obama. Apparently gender beliefs slant the superdelegate vote. Also, the DNC acted unethically when they decreased Clinton's delegates by selectively punishing the five states that broke the primary schedule rule so that states where Clinton polled the strongest were punished more than the standard punishment while states that favored Obama (at the time) were given waivers. And the DNC pressured the only woman candidate to drop out of the contest in order to favor a male candidate.

Similarly, the women’s soccer team faced discrimination by their organization, the U.S. Soccer Federation. For example, during the 1996 Olympics the federation gave men a bonus for every medal won but women were told they would only get a bonus for the gold. Team captain Julie Foudy tried many times to resolve the issue by contacting the federation but that didn't work just like Hillary Clinton supporters tried constantly to convince the DNC to treat Hillary Clinton fairly yet our complaints were ignored.

To solve the problem with the federation the women players went on strike and were able to get a compromise deal better than before they went on strike. So that's what people are doing in the Democratic election. Because complaints about unfairness were ignored so long some people decided the only way to get the DNC to listen was by not voting Democratic. I have read many accounts by people who’ve always voted Democratic in previous elections but now have decided to vote for McCain because of the unfair way the DNC treated Hillary Clinton.

Another similarity is journalists’ sexism. The 1996 Olympics hosted by the U.S.A. was the first time women’s soccer was included, yet despite that it was a historical event and a great game with the USA competing and winning the media barely covered the event. Team captain Julie Foudy recounts:

"No one saw it live on television and if they did see it they saw snippets of it." And in a 1996 clip Foudy says: "I think the best avenue to get to fans is through television so it was a little disappointing in the fact that we didn’t get more time..."

It was the advertising media that finally gave the soccer players the media attention they needed by featuring one of the star players, Mia Hamm, in commercials. Quote from the documentary:

The 1996 Olympics was when Mia became the face of women’s soccer. That’s when the phenomenon took off. That’s when all the screaming 12-year-olds first took notice of her.

It's ironic that the much reviled advertising industry helped push women through the glass ceiling and yet the press was blocking our way by deliberately not reporting on a popular and historic women's game.

Three years later the press still was trying to downplay women's soccer. When the U.S. women's soccer team organizers decided to play at bigger stadiums because the team was becoming more popular the press refused to acknowledge the fact that women's soccer was now a phenomenon. They wrote stories falsely portraying women's soccer as very unpopular. For example Jamie Trecker wrote an article titled What if they threw a World Cup and nobody came?

If you are an average America soccer fan, it is likely that you know little or nothing about this year’s biggest FIFA event…if you’re the average soccer fan, anywhere in the world, you almost certainly know next to nothing about this year’s biggest FIFA event.

This is just like the 2008 election when the press was constantly downplaying HRC's primary successes and HRC's and now Palin's qualifications. The women's team had worked hard to sell tickets and four months before the game they had sold 210,000 tickets. At a press conference a male reporter refused to accept that fact:

Foudy: Carla and I as the Captains are sitting up there and I mean just hundreds of people and reporters and the first person was this reporter from the United States. “This is an embarrassment! You’re lying about ticket sales. No one’s gonna come."

Carla Overbeck: You know just hearing that negativity you’re thinking well God…you kind of start to get anxious and maybe you won’t fill it up, maybe you won’t sell it out.

This is the sexism women experience when they try to break the glass ceiling. It's sad that reporters who are supposed to be fair are prejudiced against women.

Unlike what the reporters were saying, the World Cup was successful in selling tickets. Donna DeVarona, Chair of the -99 World Cup Organizing Committee said:

We put more people in the stadium than the Giant’s ever had.

Women's soccer was more popular than any Giants football game! And there is more good news. Finally, the press had to admit that women's soccer was popular:

Greg Overbeck: You go down to the newstand and there’s the New York Times front page, not front page of the sports, front page, big picture, women’s soccer. Washington post, big picture, women’s soccer—on the front page.

This proves that eventually, the press must admit women's success. Also, there's a great clip of the Clinton family meeting with the soccer players after a game. I recommend the documentary Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team (2007) (TV).

All women and girls can identify with the experiences of the soccer players, HRC and Sarah Palin. That’s why it’s wonderful to see women breaking the glass ceiling. When a woman president steps into the Oval office it will be a small step for one woman but a great step for womankind.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brouhaha About Palin's Clothes Is Unnecessary

There's a big brouhaha about the $150,000 spent for campaign outfits for the Palin family, but it was necessary for the seven-member Palin family to update their modest wardrobe for a national campaign and the clothes will eventually go to charity. A candidate should wear appropriate clothes for campaigning. For example, Margaret Thatcher bought a new campaign wardrobe for each election. And by the way, she won every national election she competed in (3 total).

Clothing is a necessary campaign expense. Also, the new clothes are owned by the Republican National Committee (RNC). Jake Tapper at ABC said the clothing belongs to the RNC and will be returned to the RNC ( The McCain campaign is getting public financing, so it seems that the clothes were paid for by private donations to the RNC. But whether they were paid for by private or public financing it is necessary for Palin and her family to be appropriately dressed, especially because TV, internet, and other media are a vital part of campaigning and fashion faux pas will be noted.

Palin normally doesn’t spend much on her appearance. When she became governor and started working in Anchorage which has upscale salons, she decided to continue visiting her hometown beauty parlor that charges $30 for a haircut (

Palin frequently shops for used clothing for herself and her family. Just before she was offered the VP nomination, Palin went on a family expedition to a secondhand store called Out of the Closet. A saleswoman named Alison said Palin frequently visits the shop and the shop owner Ms. Arvold says Palin has been shopping at Out of the Closet for years and she noticed Palin on TV wearing used clothing from the shop (

Palin told Alaska Magazine that her daughter Bristol bought a $15 dress for a big gala event. This met with Palin’s approval; she told reporter Melissa DeVaughn that there was no need for a $300 gown. When a crew from Vogue arrived to interview and photograph Palin for a story Palin recalled, “In the interview you could tell that the writer was trying to get me to focus on the gender and appearance issues, but I kept talking about energy and national security, and not relying on foreign sources of energy.” The reporter continued to try to change the subject away from politics towards fashion. Palin told DeVaugn, “I don’t know about fashion. It’s bunny boots and fleece and The North Face. So I tried to talk about that, but it’s just not the way I’m wired” ( Even as a teenager Palin was a tomboy and didn't care much about clothes.

When Palin joined the McCain campaign she didn’t have an expensive wardrobe that general election candidates usually have. Therefore, the McCain campaign had to buy a lot of clothes for her to meet the expectations of the public and the press. Also, there are seven people in the Palin family, so the campaign had to buy clothes for seven people. McCain spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said that the clothing will “go to a charitable purpose after the campaign (

The media brouhaha about the Palin family’s new wardrobe seems slanted based on what I’ve read. The media should mention that the Palins didn’t have much national campaign clothing so they needed to buy appropriate clothing, there are seven members of the Palin family so that's a lot of clothes to buy, the clothes were bought by the RNC and will go back to the RNC and then to charity. Furthermore, women candidates are required to wear a greater variety of clothes than men candidates. Few people notice if a male candidate wears the same suit three days of the week on TV, but if a woman wears the same outfit for two days some people watching the TV will consider that inappropriate. So women candidates have to buy more clothes than men candidates. When all those factors are considered, the expense for the Palin family’s campaign wardrobe is not outrageous as some people in the media are implying.

As governor Palin normally chose moderate priced and inexpensive used clothing for herself and her family, but as a VP candidate she wears what the McCain campaign recommends. New clothes were necessary, so new clothes were lent to the Palins and those clothes will be returned to the RNC to be given to charity after the campaign. That is a smart strategy and also charitable, thus helpful to society.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gov. Palin Knows How To Balance the U.S. Budget

The U.S. debt is now $10.2 trillion. It should be reduced and turned into a surplus. Gov. Palin knows how to beat down the debt and create a surplus.

Gov. Palin is not a big spender. In Alaska the public complains most about state spending, so when Palin became governor she cut the capital budget proposed by the legislature from $546 million down to $416 million.

Also to fix the budget, Gov. Palin has focused on cutting waste, fraud and abuse. Gov. Palin has spent less on her personal travel than the previous governor: $93,000 on airfare in 2007, compared with $463,000 spent the year before by her predecessor, Frank Murkowski. As Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission she reported corruption, even giving up her six-figure salary to make sure those responsible were brought to justice. She shattered the corrupt monopoly of oil companies and fought and won a battle against Big Oil to build a job-creating, revenue producing natural gas pipeline.

Alaska has a surplus. But that’s mostly due to temporary high oil prices which will decrease in the future. Palin foresaw this, so she cut corners now to prepare for the future. Gov. Palin vetoed more local projects than any other Alaskan governor. She cut nearly 10% of Alaska's budget this year, saving citizens $268 million. Palin said, “I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending: nearly half a billion dollars in vetoes.”

Gov. Palin knows that balancing the budget is more than cutting corners. She’s always looking for new ways to increase state revenue such as drilling and other energy production. Gov. Palin said, ”Our exports grew more than 12 percent last year, and, for the first time, our annual exports topped $4 billion in 2006. We are helping our economy and economies around the world through trade."

As Vice President Palin can be trusted to balance the budget. Her record proves that. She would choose to cut spending, ending corrupt practices that waste taxpayer’s money, and promote business to grow our economy and create revenue to bust the deficit and transform it into a surplus.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gov. Palin Protects U.S. From Foreign Gas Cartel

Russia and Iran seem to be in cahoots to start an OPEC-style gas cartel to control gas markets. Russia uses gas as a political weapon by stopping gas exports to neighbors during political disputes. But Governor Palin’s Trans-Canada Alaska gas line can protect the U.S. from those tactics because, when completed, it would provide vast supplies of natural gas to the U.S. so we won’t be dependent on countries that want to use gas as a weapon against us. Palin said:

That pipeline, when the last section is laid and its valves are opened, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.
With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus, and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers. ge/?url= /articles/2008/09/sarah_palins_address_t o_the_rn.html

Normally, a pipeline cartel would not be powerful like OPEC because oil trades at one price all over the world and can ship almost anywhere, whereas most natural gas sales depend on pipelines and 20- or 30-year delivery contracts for pricing which would make it difficult for a gas cartel to manipulate prices to harm us. However, liquefied natural gas (LNG) can be transported by ship or truck and it’s becoming more popular. On October 14th Investors Business Daily reported:

This week in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad quietly drew up the [cartel] organization's charter and will take it to Moscow next week.

As the U.S. uses more natural gas, Iran's Gas Exporting Countries Forum is taking off. Instead of the tough task of controlling prices right away, the group will first gain control of reserves through state firms in 14 countries, including hostile states such as Venezuela and Bolivia.

The next step will be "cooperative" ventures to strengthen the network. The final goal is to control production.

We need to protect our country from hostile trade sanctions. Gov. Palin’s gas pipeline can help us do that. Gov. Palin saw into the future and understood that the U.S. must increase it’s energy independence to protect our national security. And also energy independence creates a Made-In-America product and jobs and revenue for our country.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hillary Cried, or Why the Public Admires Politicians Who Suffered

The biggest shocker of the 2008 campaign was Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire primary win. Polling numbers said she was about 9 points behind on Monday night, then Tuesday she won. People tried to figure out why she won. Some said the turning point occurred at a women’s meeting in Portsmouth when Hillary was asked how she gets up in the morning every day to campaign. Battling tears Hillary answered, “It’s not easy.” The Wall Street Journal videotaped the scene and suddenly it was all over the news and the Internet. Many mocked Hillary Clinton, but others admired her. At a deep level the public connects with politicians who have suffered. We don’t want our politicians to have an easy life. We want them to confront challenges and rise above them.

Suffering humanizes politicians, making them easier for us to understand and to connect to. This is vital because politicians are far away from the average voter so we need to find a way to connect. Suffering knocks politicians off their high horse making us realize they’re not perfect; they’re like us. Suffering makes us sympathize with them. I’ve often noticed politicians have a defining personal challenge. It may not be the worst thing that happened to them, but for some reason the public focuses on that one challenge.

FDR’s challenge was that he became paralyzed from the waist down when he caught polio. Would he have become president if he hadn’t been paralyzed? FDR was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Rich, handsome, elite, spoiled, private school educated, blessed with the name Roosevelt (of Teddy Roosevelt fame), Roosevelt had had an easy life and a relatively easy time getting elected. When a wheelchair and crutches became a staple of his life, the public saw a man with a crippled body and high spirits. Roosevelt’s crippled body symbolized America crippled by the Great Depression and his positive attitude symbolized America’s spirit which cannot be crushed by any obstacle.

Likewise the public focused on George W. Bush’s battle against alcoholism. They focused on Hillary Clinton’s ability to save her marriage despite her husband’s infidelity which was a giant embarrassment because the press kept repeating “read all about it!” Bill Clinton’s defining challenge was trying to help his mother by confronting a violent step-father who abused his mother.

The Republican and Democratic tickets have four candidates and so far it seems the public has found a defining challenge for three of the candidates. The public has focused on Sarah Palin’s child with down’s syndrome, John McCain’s torture and years as a prisoner of war and Joe Biden’s losing his wife and child in a car accident. I don’t think the public has found a defining challenge for Obama. Perhaps that’s why people keep asking, “Who is Obama?”

I don’t know why some politicians have a defining challenge. People don’t get together in groups and ask, “What is this candidate’s defining personal challenge?” I believe the process is spontaneous. The process as I understand it is that each voter feels for a candidate, they have a stronger feeling about one challenge the candidate faced and that challenge, in the voter’s opinion, is the candidate’s defining challenge. When you add up all the voters’ feelings if there is one sympathy feeling that everyone overwhelmingly feels, then that is what the public thinks is the candidate’s defining challenge. What the public sympathizes with most is not necessarily the most difficult challenge the candidate has faced. It’s just that that is how the public feels.

People who face tough challenges are more sympathetic and more admired than people who lived an easy life. That’s why a defining personal challenge makes people like a candidate more. That may not make sense to the mind, but it makes sense to our feelings. We feel connected to those who experience challenges because we are constantly challenged in our own lives. When Hillary Clinton said “It’s not easy” people could instantly feel for her. It wasn’t easy for Hillary to run for president. For over 200 years sexist people have blocked women from becoming president. We have tried again and again yet sexist people have worked against us to block us from breaking the glass ceiling.

A sexist male-dominated media hurled hate speech at Hillary Clinton non-stop in an effort to convince the public not to allow a woman to become president. The sexist media hid damaging information about her male competitors in order to help men beat a woman in order to maintain male dominance. The DNC did virtually nothing to stop the sexist hate speech against Hillary Clinton. The DNC twisted the rules to help a male candidate at the expense of the only female candidate Hillary Clinton.

Women are the most oppressed group in the world in terms of numbers and degree of harm. In this country hate crimes against women and girls happen every day. Sexism motivates people to attack us with hate speech, brutalize us, and kill us. There are much more hate crimes against women and girls than against any other oppressed group in the United States. Hate crimes against us are a national epidemic, therefore it should be a top priority of the government to end male dominance.

So when Hillary Clinton said, “It’s not easy” that sentence clicked in the minds of the voters. In order to understand the sudden public shift towards Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire it is necessary to know about her “It’s not easy” speech. And about why it wasn’t easy for this brave woman whose hard work lifted women higher. Now the next step is to break the presidential (and vice presidential) glass ceilings. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Palin Acted Ethically: Trooper Report is Unethical

Gov. Palin acted ethically in firing Walt Monegan because Monegan was a threat to the citizens of Alaska. He destabilized the government with his repeated insubordination to Gov. Palin. Since his repeated insubordination made the government less efficient and sabotaged the government it was ethical for Gov. Palin to fire him in order to better serve the citizens of Alaska.

There is much evidence of Monegan's insubordination. For example:

12/9/07: Monegan holds a press conference with Hollis French to push his own budget plan.

1/29/08: Palin’s staffers have to rework their procedures to keep Monegan from bypassing normal channels for budget requests.

February 2008: Monegan publicly releases a letter he wrote to Palin supporting a project she vetoed.

June 26, 2008: Monegan bypassed the governor’s office entirely and contacted Alaska’s Congressional delegation to gain funding for a project.

Since Monegan obstructed the government by being openly hostile to the governor and causing disorder he was a danger to the people of Alaska and thus his termination was in the public's interest. Therefore, I disagree with Stephen Branchflower's belief that Gov. Palin acted unethically in firing Monegan. Branch flower alleges that Gov. Palin violated the following code:

The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust-Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a).

Palin did not benefit financially by firing Monegan, so Branchflower has stated that she fired Monegan for personal reasons saying that Monegan's refusal to fire Trooper Wooten "was likely a contributing factor to his termination." Yet it doesn't matter that Monegan refused to fire Wooten (who abused Palin's family) because whether he did or didn't doesn't change the fact that he is guilty of insubordination which is an ethical reason to fire him.

Branchflower is implying that because Gov. Palin might possibly have a personal reason to fire Monegan that it was unethical to fire Monegan for a legitimate reason. That's like saying because a restaurant owner might have a personal reason to remove someone from their restaurant that they don't have a legitimate reason to remove the person if that person gets in a drunken brawl and destroys the restaurant owner's property. Whether or not the restaurant owner has a personal reason to remove the drunken man, that doesn't change the fact that legally they have the right to remove anyone who is causing a disturbance by being drunk and disorderly.

Likewise, wether or not Gov. Palin had a personal reason to not want to work with Monegan does not change the fact that he was guilty of insubordination and that insubordination is a legitimate reason for Gov. Palin to fire him. That is why I disagree with Stephen Branchflower's conclusion in his Report To The Legislative Council. I trust that Gov. Palin knows which members of her cabinet are doing their job and which members are not doing their job. She reviewed Monegan's performance, concluded that he did not fulfill his duties, and relieved him of his duties. Because she is a public servant, Gov. Palin has the obligation to hire people who would benefit the public and fire people who harm the public. Monegan's disorderly behavior was a threat to the public, thus Gov. Palin benefited the public by firing him.

I wonder if Branchflower was blinded by sexism. Our society is sexist. Men have much more power than women and sexist people think that men deserve to have more power than women. Thus, people with sexist beliefs try to prevent women from exercising power in order to prevent women from achieving gender equality. Branchflower condemned Gov. Palin for allegedly misusing her power, when in fact she used her power wisely in a way that benefited the public. Although Branchflower had to admit that Gov. Palin's decision to fire Monegan was a "proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads." Nevertheless, he condemned her use of power even though clearly she used that power to benefit the public which is her job duty.

How Governor Palin Won The 30-Year Pipeline Battle

For three decades Alaskan oil companies ignored natural gas that was on their leased property. Alaska has hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and the government wanted to process the gas to create revenue and jobs. A few years ago the government decided to give billions of dollars of tax breaks to the oil companies to encourage them to develop the natural gas. Big Oil took the money but didn’t deliver the gas.

Governor Frank Murkowski arranged a deal behind closed doors with the oil companies to process natural gas, but the public was wary of the deal which favored the oil companies. Gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin promised to block that deal if she got elected governor. She was elected, scrapped the previous deal and immediately began to fix the bureaucratic nonsense that for 30 years had kept Alaska from exporting its gas to the other 48 states.

Governore Palin introduced the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act which creates competition to bid to build a natural gas pipeline. The government would be the driving force behind the bidding and would create inducements for bidding. Gov. Palin invited Alaska’s oil companies to place open bids to build a pipeline but they refused because they didn’t get the terms they wanted. Undeterred, Gov. Palin brought other companies to the table and TransCanada, North America’s largest pipeline builder, made a bid.

Gov. Palin contacted the President and President Bush sent an envoy to Alaska to help get the project going. The approval process was a winding road. Gov. Palin told Fortune she had to navigate "many federal agencies and permitting processes."

Gov. Palin got support for the deal despite opposition from the state's big oil companies such as Exxon Mobil, BP and ConocoPhillips. When the oil companies realized Gov. Palin might bypass them to build the pipeline they finally proposed a pipeline to the Alaska legislature but in order to do that they convinced the legislature that it was economically viable. Senator Kim Elton said that Alaska oil companies, “have endorsed the fact that the economics are there for the pipeline." Once the legislature was convinced the gas pipeline would help the economy they were even more motivated to approve the TransCanada deal. So the oil companies' plan to block TransCanada backfired.

Gov. Palin went to Washington to get Senate and House approval for the 1,750-mile pipeline, the largest infrastructure project in the history of the North American continent. Gov. Palin was able to get bipartisan support. The Senate voted 14-5 to approve the pipeline deal with TransCanada Corp. and the House voted 24-16 to approve it.

map of pipeline

Gov. Palin said:

As governor, I pushed for the largest infrastructure project in North America, the natural gas pipeline that will provide new supply and price relief from Alaska to Americans in the Lower 48. We are maximizing the recovery of resources and minimizing waste, helping lead to less dependence on foreign supplies. Our dependence on foreign energy must end, and Alaska, with all its resources, will play a major role. It’s been great being able to tell that story to America and world leaders who are excited about Alaska’s role in our world.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Governor Palin: Hardworking Pioneer

Someone told me that Palin has had an easy time as Alaska’s governor allegedly because Alaska’s main business is energy and energy prices have dramatically increased. Palin's job has not been easy.

Energy does produce most of Alaska’s revenue. However Palin has worked very hard to accomplish what she has as governor. First, it’s hard to be a woman politician in a macho state. Alaska’s culture has a strong focus on what is considered manly such as hard drinking, hunting and the state sport is dog sled racing. The climate is tough often requiring rugged living associated with machismo. Much of Alaska has extreme temperatures and during winter night lasts approximately 20 hours while during summer days last approximately 20 hours. The economy is focused on male-dominated industries like fishing, forestry and mineral extraction. The federal government is the largest single employer in the state, but most of the jobs are for military installations and defense projects which are also male-dominated. Politics is mostly Republican which has a larger percentage of male supporters than its counterpart the Democratic Party. Thus, culturally, politically and economically Alaska is extremely macho. Yet in this masculinized environment Sarah Palin slowly worked her way to the top through hard work and bravery. It was not easy.

Second, the hallmark of Palin’s politics is reform and reforming government is a very difficult job. She could have chosen the easier path of colluding with the oil monopoly which had a power-hold on Alaska’s government, but instead she fought the monopoly and won.

When she chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees the production of petroleum in Alaska, Palin reported conflicts of interest and other ethical violations by another commissioner. She was ignored by Gov. Murkowski’s chief of staff and so she resigned rather than be part of the corruption giving up an $118,000 salary. The commissioner who she found was harming the people, Randy Ruedrich, was also state chairman for the Republican Party. Later that year, Ruedrich paid a $12,000 fine for breaking state ethics laws. In 2005, Palin joined a Democrat to launch an ethics complaint against then state attorney general Gregg Renkes. The governor reprimanded Renkes who soon resigned. Describing her tenure on the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Palin said, “when I found corruption there, I fought it hard and I held the offenders to account.”

When Palin became governor Alaskan oil companies tried to stop her from constructing a gas pipeline. They joined together to boycott the project bid, so Gov. Palin negotiated with Canadian officials and businesses to build the pipeline, got it approved by the House and Senate, and sealed the deal for the largest infrastructure project in the history of North America. Furthermore, the oil companies had been able to keep their taxes unusually low, but Gov. Palin put a stop to that by signing an oil tax increase and gave much of the revenue from the oil tax back to the people to help them pay gas bills by sending each citizen a $1,200 check. Before Palin became governor, the oil company lobbyists were extremely powerful. She decreased their power by enacting legislation requiring politicians to disclose to the public which lobbyists are giving them money. In conclusion, Palin faced fierce opposition from oil companies and broke their monopoly on power and resources in order to help citizens; and in order to do that she had to stand up to the leadership of her own party. It wasn’t easy. Palin said, "Sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power brokers. That's why true reform is so hard to achieve" (GOP Convention, September 3, 2008).

From reading biographical accounts I conclude that Palin was always a hard worker. As a child she played hard. During her childhood the family activities were running, hiking, hunting, fishing and skiing. Sarah’s father says…

I look back on Sarah's perseverance, and whatever she wanted to do, she put her nose to the grindstone, especially in sports, …If she didn't have a certain ability, she worked and worked and worked until she obtained that ability or skill.

While coaching running Sarah’s father observed…

…she was just mediocre in practice…And the first meet, she smoked everyone, and that opened my eyes, and the competitiveness in her really came out that day.

Palin’s parents couldn’t afford to pay for their kids’ college tuition so Sarah worked her way through college. She’s been mocked for being in a beauty pageant, but she entered the pageant to get a college scholarship which she did get. She told her brother “It’s going to help pay my way through college” (Sarah, page 21).

Sarah even decided to not have a wedding ceremony because she didn’t want to be a financial burden on her parents who made a moderate living as a high school teacher (father) and school secretary (mother). So she eloped foregoing the celebration that so many women enjoy as a high point of their lives.

Around that time Palin worked for an Alaskan fishery with friend Shirley Eberle who said, "We'd pick the sticks from the kelp, and then we'd sort. Sarah and I sorted. She was a real hard worker."

So throughout her life Governor Palin has worked hard. She worked hard at sports as a child and teen. She worked hard with her hands at blue-collar jobs. She underwent five pregnancies (always physically grueling) and did the very hard work of childrearing. She worked her way up in politics from grassroots PTA, to 6 years on the city council, then six years of executive office as mayor, then withstood intense pressure against powerful energy giants while Chair of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, then as Governor of Alaska she continued her fight against deeply entrenched corruption and overhauled the ethics legislation and broke the oil company monopoly. It was not easy.

I sense that sexism is a reason why Palin's enormous political bravery and successes are overlooked. She’s a great politician. Gov. Palin deserves credit for that. When Gov. Palin gets credit for her political achievements, ability and bravery it will help all women politicians be taken seriously.