Palin by Comparison
In 2000, Sarah Palin, as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, hired a Washington lobbyist to secure federal earmarks for her community. This is not atypical in her state. Alaska's government receives more money per capita in federal earmark money than any other state, despite being the only state in the union with no income tax and no sales tax. They fund their government primarily with petroleum money and recently distributed oil profits to its citizens in the form of rebate checks.
But even in her heavily earmarked state, Palin was the earmark queen. From 2000 to 2003, she secured over $27 million in earmarks, averaging $6.7 million in federal money every year for her town of 6,700 people. Yet when Palin left office in 2002, Wasilla had racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt, or roughly $3,000 of debt per resident.
Asked in 1996, her first year in office, about her ability to "effectively run" the city, Palin claimed: "It's not rocket science. It's $6 million and 53 employees." Only "$6 million and 53 employees" and yet she managed to bury it $20 million in the red in just two terms. How very Bush-like. And she wants us to trust her to be a heartbeat away from the national budget?
City of Good Abode
For the second time in three years, we chose your delightful city as a place of shelter from a looming storm. The people we met were uniquely friendly, even by Southern standards, and we would like to express our gratitude to you all by citing a few examples.
In 2005, Holly and her friendly party pros at Pump It Up showed unprecedented compassion for our plight when they gave us a last-minute 6th birthday party, which Ryley still calls his best birthday to date. Holly also invited our large group to stay with her at her home for the remainder of our refuge from Hurricane Katrina.
Fast forward to 2008: We arrived Sunday morning after an 11-hour overnight drive to Homewood Suites on Hacks Cross Road and were greeted by Giselle and her congenial band of hospitality experts. Despite the chaotic deluge of Gustav evacuees, the staff managed to grant every ridiculous request of their weary and edgy guests.
Wednesday, we stopped at Vineyard Vines in the Regalia Center for a little retail therapy, where we met Amy and some other very nice people. The precise item we sought was not available in the store, so Amy searched the back and, though unsuccessful, emerged with a small cornucopia of complimentary Vineyard Vines goodies for us.
On Thursday, we decided to go to the zoo. The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans is fabulous, but the Memphis Zoo is positively first-class. We arrived happily prepared to pay the entry fee for our foursome, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the rates had been cut in half for Louisiana residents.
We savored toothsome fare at several local restaurants, enjoyed many marvelous attractions, and met more amiable people than can be listed. We were in Memphis for three weeks in 2005 and one week this month, and we didn't have one single unpleasant experience. Having lived in New Orleans for life, we are familiar with traditional Southern hospitality, but we have now been introduced to a brand of geniality that exists on a higher stratum than that to which we were accustomed. You, the people of your fine and gracious city, have delivered irrefutable proof to us that Memphians are truly the friendliest people in the entire world, and we will never forget the treatment we have received in your town. Don't ever change.Charlotte Livingston, Patricia Livingston, Ryley Perez, Bobby Perez
Let the American people hear a debate from both parties on science, engineering, and technology. According to the Sciencedebate2008 website, voters want public policy issues to be based on science, and 85 percent of Americans want presidential candidates to debate science issues.
Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of the environment, health and medicine, and science and technology policy.
This is where we need "straight talk" and a clear "change" from the current state of affairs, not just a debate like the one that took place last month at a Christian church moderated by a pastor.
Chris Stahl, Director
Memphis Freethought Alliance