Sarah Palin and Alaskan secessionism

“I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.”
— Joe Vogler, founder of the Alaskan Independence Party,which claims Sarah Palin as a former member. Gov. Palin encouraged delegates to this year’s AIP convention to “keep up the good work.”

“I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.”

That’s from the late Joe Vogler, founder of the Alaskan Independence Party. It’s not dredged up out of old news clips: it’s prominently featured on the AIP website.

Makes you wonder what the Governor of Alaska, who is now running to be understudy to the Chief Executive of those “damned institutions,” was doing encouraging the delegates to this year’s AIP convention to “Keep up the good work.” The party’s fundamental demand is for a plebiscite on whether Alaska should remain a state, become a commonwealth, or secede entirely and become an independent country.

Perhaps you might think that Gov. Palin was merely being polite, and was unaware of what the AIP stands for. But that seems hard to square with the fact &#8212 at least, the claim by the Chair of the AIP &#8212 that Palin was a party member and attended an AIP convention before deciding that if she was going to get elected to anything in Alaska it would have to be as a Republican.

Here’s some of the “good work” Gov. Palin wanted to encourage:

How likely is it that Palin would have to take over?

Add a 7% risk of severe disability to the 15% mortality risk.

Continuing the discussion about how big a risk it is for a 72-year-old President to have a grossly unprepared Vice-President, a reader writes:

About 24 percent of males 70-74 and 31 percent of males 75-79 have severe disabilities.(I have not checked these numbers which are from the University of Buffalo with multiple sources) This is, of course prevalence not incidence.

With regard to Senator McCain, it is more likely that he will become sufficiently disabled to invoke the 25th amendment or limit his ability to conduct the affairs of state resisting the amendment as illustrated by President Wilson’s stroke or might have become evident with President Reagan’s Alzheimer’s disease. The combined probabilities of death or severe disability (not calculated) are sufficiently likely to give one pause, given McCain’s choice of Vice President. I have not seen the problem mentioned.

With regard to the deaths of Presidents, the following notes, again incomplete, are interesting. The expected age of death for White males after they reach the age of 60, about the average age that Presidents take office, has move up slightly from 13-14 years in George Washington’s day to about 21 years for a 60 year-old President elected in 2008. This is not a lot over 200 + years. (From 1850 to now, the expected life at birth increased from 38 to 76). Considering all our Presidents were from the upper classes, their progress has probably been less.

Comparing the actual dates of death for the presidents with their expected dates, the median difference is a negative 2 years. Over the long-run, they lived about as long as expected, which is probably not much different from today; perhaps they had a little shorter time. It is interesting to note that the Presidents ending with Van Buren outdistanced their expected median death dates by about 7 years. In the hundred years between 1850 and 1950, the Presidents fell short of their expected median death dates by about 7 years. Since 1950, Presidents have outdistanced their death dates by 5 years. This is biased downward because we have living Presidents who have exceeded their expected dates.

I find two take-away points here:

(1) The Presidency may be a “man-killer,” but you couldn’t prove it by statistics. Men elected the Presidency are, on average, healthier than normal for their age.

(2) The incidence of severe disability over the next four years of McCain’s life is 31%-24% = 7%. So of the 85% of 72-year-old men who survive four years, 7% (of those not disabled to start with) become disabled. That means that 93% of 85% = 79% get to the four-year mark alive and not disabled. Thus the probability that Palin would have to take over at some point in McCain’s first term is 21%.

Even if, as is likely and as we would all hope, a President McCain managed to serve out his first term in good health, we’d still have a President prepared to take unreasonable risks with the country’s safety for modest political gain.

The gift that keeps on giving

Thank God for Sarah Palin: we needed some comic relief:
1. Her daughter gets a choice; no one else should.
2. She helped run a “527” for Ted Stevens, the corrupt politician she supposedly “took on.” (He supported her campaign for governor in 2006.)
3. Thinks the Founders wrote the Pledge.
4. Getting creamed by Biden in a “poll” on the RNC website.

1. The McCain campaign announces that Bristol Palin, pregnant and unmarried at 17, chose to carry the pregnancy to term. No mention of the fact that if John McCain and Sarah Palin’s preferred policies were in place, that choice would not have been hers to make.

[As to the impulse to use the pregnancy to attack “abstinence-only” or to cast aspersions on Sarah Palin’s mothering skills, what Hilzoy said and what Megan said. Let’s try to keep some of our morals, folks.]

2. Remember how Sarah Palin was a “reformer” and “took on Ted Stevens,” proving that she’s tough enough to take on Putin? Not so much; turns out that not only did Palin accept Stevens’s support when she ran for Governor in 2006 she was an official of Stevens’s 527 group. Bonus fun fact: McCain considers 527s “clearly illegal.”

3. From a 2006 Eagle Forum candidate questionnaire (Q11):

Q. Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

Sarah Palin: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.

The Pledge was written in 1892 and officially adopted by Congress in 1942. “Under God” wasn’t added until 1954.

(File this under “If God had intended us to fly, He never would have given us railroads.”)

Update MS-NBC reports that Palin is lawyering up for the Troopergate investigation. Andrea Mitchell reports that Republican lawyers are now headed to Alaska to do a more thorough vetting job; McCain apparently picked Palin only after it was made clear to him that he couldn’t have his first choice, Lieberman.

Second update Jon Stewart is rude:

Five (Relatively) Contrarian Thoughts on Sarah Palin

1. Throughout the blogosphere, the pundits are saying that the Palin nomination is either a disaster for McCain (Blue) or a game-changing work of genius (Red). I suspect it is neither, mainly because voters virtually never change their votes on a Veep: the last one was LBJ in 1960, and that was just in Texas (and maybe no one changed votes–it was just a matter of getting ‘ol Lyndon to stuff to right number of ballot boxes). I actually see Palin playing most effectively at the margins–in particularly, briding the enthusiasm gap that must have the GOP worried. Palin plays well to the base, and that is her primary virtue.

2. That said, to the extent that Palin has a broader value, it is as a stealth candidate. People don’t know that much about her, and the McCain campaign likes it that way. They want most people to focus on what she is–youngish, pretty attractive (although overrated in my book: Jennifer Graniholm is much better-looking, if you’re choosing a governor), a woman, outsider, Mom, yadda yadda. They don’t want anyone to think about what she actually believes in. Outside of the base, Palin’s job is to get low-information voters to give her a look and go for McCain on a change-but-not-the-Black-guy theme.

3. Thus, I suspect we will see Palin spending a great deal of time in megachurches in swing states. I don’t see her doing big rallies or making big speeches for all to hear. She’ll make a nice speech at the convention, and I think hold her own with Biden (using the soft bigotry of low expectations). Then she’ll go back to church.

4. She really is like George W. Bush! Think about it: popular governor (although we’ll see how long that lasts), not from Washington, doesn’t really have to do much in her job, tries to do as little as possible, supposed to be likeable. And now, she is claiming executive privilege in the Troopergate scandal.

5. In defense of her: lay off attacking her for saying a few weeks ago that she doesn’t know what a Vice-President is supposed to do. Guess what? No one does. It is a formless office. No Veep has regularly presided over the Senate in a while, and that’s the Vice President’s only constitutional responsibility. The VP serves on the NSC, but as Amy has demonstrated, the NSC is a pretty moribund and insignificant institution. John Adams said it was the most insignificant office ever conceived of; Daniel Webster refused it, stating that he didn’t want to be buried until he was dead. And we all know about Cactus Jack Garner’s view.

One Republican operative, quoting the great movie Spinal Tap about the choice, said that there is a fine line between clever and stupid. The Politico comments that we’ll see in 67 days which it is. But of course there isn’t a fine line between clever and stupid. And I think that after all the hue and cry, this will be somewhere in the middle.