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Stars That Died

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Who is General Benjamin O. Davis Jr.

Who is Benjamin O. Davis, he was an aviation pioneer, he was one of the most famous Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. Davis military career spanned five decades and three wars. He was the first African-American officer in the Army Air Forces, and was a member of the first African-American pilot-training class at Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama.

He was born in December 1912 in Washington, D.C., the son of an Army officer who later became the Army's first African-American brigadier general. Davis was the first African-American to graduate from West Point (Class of 1935) in this century. His four years there were not pleasant. Because he was black, he was officially "silenced" by all cadets--no one spoke to him for four years except on official business; he roomed alone and he had no friends.

He served in the infantry and taught military science at Tuskegee until May 1941 when he transferred to the Air Corps. He earned his wings in March 1942. Because of the war and his ability, promotion followed rapidly. As a lieutenant colonel in 1942, six months shy of his 30th birthday, Davis assumed command of Tuskegee Army Air Base's 99th Fighter Squadron, the oldest and most famous unit of the Tuskegee Airmen, first in North Africa and later to Sicily. He flew P-40s in combat, and came home in October 1943 to take command of the 322nd Fighter Group. Two months later the 322nd were in Italy where his group flew the P-51 Mustang providing escort missions for bombers. In the spring of 1945 Davis led a squadron of fighters on a hazardous mission against airfields in southern Germany and was awarded a Silver Star.

Segregation ended in the services in 1948 with a presidential decree. Davis then attended Air War College, served in the Pentagon, where he gained approval to create the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team. He was sent to Korea in 1953 to command a fighter wing. The following year he received his first star and moved to the Philippines as vice commander of the Thirteenth Air Force.

Davis served two tours in Germany with Twelfth Air Force and at Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe. He returned to the United States and held various staff assignments until he returned to the Philippines as commander of the 13th Air Force, Clark Air Force Base.

His last assignment was at MacDill AFB, Fla., as deputy commander in chief, U.S. Strike Command, with additional duty as commander in chief, Middle-East, Southern Asia and Africa.

He retired from the service Feb. 1, 1970. His military decorations include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters and the Philippine Legion of Honor. He wrote his autobiography, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., American: An Autobiography (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), an account of his experiences at West Point and his commands.

He was advanced to general Dec. 9, 1998 by President Bill Clinton. Davis died July 4, 2002 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington of Alzheimer's disease at age 89.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Who is Barack Hussein Obama

Barack Hussein Obama II Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Obama, Sr., a black Kenyan of Nyang’oma Kogelo, Siaya District, Kenya, and Ann Dunham, a White American from Wichita, Kansas.[2] His parents met while attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father was a foreign student.[3] They separated when he was two years old and later divorced.[4] Obama's father returned to Kenya and saw his son only once more before dying in an automobile accident in 1982.[5] After her divorce, Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, and the family moved to Soetoro's home country of Indonesia in 1967, where Obama attended local schools in Jakarta until he was ten years old. He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents while attending Punahou School from the fifth grade in 1971 until his graduation from high school in 1979.[6] Obama's mother returned to Hawaii in 1972 for several years and then back to Indonesia for her fieldwork. She died of ovarian cancer in 1995.[7] As an adult Obama admitted that during high school he used marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol, which he described at the 2008 Civil Forum on the Presidency as his greatest moral failure.[8][9]
Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at Occidental College for two years.[10] He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.[11] Obama graduated with a B.A. from Columbia in 1983, then worked for a year at the Business International Corporation[12] and then at the New York Public Interest Research Group.[13][14]
After four years in New York City, Obama moved to Chicago, where he was hired as director of Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland (Roseland, West Pullman, and Riverdale) on Chicago's far South Side, and worked there for three years from June 1985 to May 1988.[13][15] During his three years as the DCP's director, its staff grew from one to thirteen and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000, with accomplishments including helping set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization in Altgeld Gardens.[16] Obama also worked as a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, a community organizing institute.[17] In mid-1988, he traveled for the first time to Europe for three weeks and then for five weeks in Kenya, where he met many of his Kenyan relatives for the first time.[18]
Obama entered Harvard Law School in late 1988. At the end of his first year, he was selected, based on his grades and a writing competition, as an editor of the Harvard Law Review.[19] In February 1990, in his second year, he was elected president of the Law Review, a full-time volunteer position functioning as editor-in-chief and supervising the Law Review's staff of eighty editors.[20] Obama's election as the first black president of the Law Review was widely reported and followed by several long, detailed profiles.[20] During his summers, he returned to Chicago where he worked as a summer associate at the law firms of Sidley & Austin in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter in 1990.[21] After graduating with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, he returned to Chicago.[19]
The publicity from his election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review led to a publishing contract and advance for a book about race relations.[22] In an effort to recruit him to their faculty, the University of Chicago Law School provided Obama with a fellowship and an office to work on his book.[22] He originally planned to finish the book in one year, but it took much longer as the book evolved into a personal memoir. In order to work without interruptions, Obama and his wife, Michelle, traveled to Bali where he wrote for several months. The manuscript was finally published in mid-1995 as Dreams from My Father.[22]
Obama directed Illinois' Project Vote from April to October 1992, a voter registration drive with a staff of ten and seven hundred volunteers; it achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African-Americans in the state, and led to Crain's Chicago Business naming Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be.[23][24]
Beginning in 1992, Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years, being first classified as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996, and then as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004.[25]
He also, in 1993, joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a twelve attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to 1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004, with his law license becoming inactive in 2002.[13][26]
Obama was a founding member of the board of directors of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife, Michelle, became the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago in early 1993.[13][27] He served from 1993 to 2002 on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which in 1985 had been the first foundation to fund Obama's DCP, and also from 1994 to 2002 on the board of directors of The Joyce Foundation.[13] Obama served on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge from 1995–2002, as founding president and chairman of the board of directors from 1995–1999.[13] He also served on the board of directors of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Lugenia Burns Hope Center.[13]

Obama is the href="">junior United States Senator from Illinois and was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, succeeding State Senator Alice Palmer as Senator from Illinois' 13th District, which then spanned Chicago South Side neighborhoods from Hyde Park-Kenwood south to South Shore and west to Chicago Lawn.[28] Once elected, Obama gained bipartisan support for legislation reforming ethics and health care laws.[29] He sponsored a law increasing tax credits for low-income workers, negotiated welfare reform, and promoted increased subsidies for childcare.[30] In 2001, as co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Obama supported Republican Governor Ryan's payday loan regulations and predatory mortgage lending regulations aimed at averting home foreclosures.[31]
Obama was reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998, and again in 2002.[32] In 2000, he lost a Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives to four-term incumbent Bobby Rush by a margin of two to one.[33][34]

Obama is the first African American to be nominated by a major political party for president.[1] A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in January 2003. After a primary victory in March 2004, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He was elected to the Senate in November 2004 with 70% of the vote.
As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he helped create legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. During the 110th Congress, he helped create legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel. After announcing his presidential campaign in February 2007, Obama emphasized withdrawing American troops from Iraq, energy independence, decreasing the influence of lobbyists, and promoting universal health care as top national priorities.

In January 2003, Obama became chairman of the Illinois Senate's Health and Human Services Committee when Democrats, after a decade in the minority, regained a majority.[35] He sponsored and led unanimous, bipartisan passage of legislation to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they detained and legislation making Illinois the first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations.[30][36] During his 2004 general election campaign for U.S. Senate, police representatives credited Obama for his active engagement with police organizations in enacting death penalty reforms.[37] Obama resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the US Senate.[38]
In mid-2002, Obama began considering a run for the U.S. Senate; he enlisted political strategist David Axelrod that fall and formally announced his candidacy in January 2003.[39] Decisions by Republican incumbent Peter Fitzgerald and his Democratic predecessor Carol Moseley Braun not to contest the race launched wide-open Democratic and Republican primary contests involving fifteen candidates.[40] Obama's candidacy was boosted by Axelrod's advertising campaign featuring images of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and an endorsement by the daughter of the late Paul Simon, former U.S. Senator for Illinois.[41] He received over 52% of the vote in the March 2004 primary, emerging 29% ahead of his nearest Democratic rival.[42]
Obama's expected opponent in the general election, Republican primary winner Jack Ryan, withdrew from the race in June 2004 following the release of sensational details from his divorce with actress Jeri Ryan. Obama was already ahead in the polls when the allegations from Ryan's divorce were released and Republican officials admitted that Ryan's replacement would face an uphill battle.[43]
In July 2004, Obama wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.[44] After describing his maternal grandfather's experiences as a World War II veteran and a beneficiary of the New Deal's FHA and G.I. Bill programs, Obama spoke about changing the U.S. government's economic and social priorities. He questioned the Bush administration's management of the Iraq War and highlighted America's obligations to its soldiers. Drawing examples from U.S. history, he criticized heavily partisan views of the electorate and asked Americans to find unity in diversity, saying, "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America."[45] Broadcasts of the speech by major news organizations launched Obama's status as a national political figure and boosted his campaign for U.S. Senate.[46]
In August 2004, two months after Ryan's withdrawal and less than three months before Election Day, Alan Keyes accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination to replace Ryan.[47] A long-time resident of Maryland, Keyes established legal residency in Illinois with the nomination.[48] In the November 2004 general election, Obama received 70% of the vote to Keyes's 27%, the largest victory margin for a statewide race in Illinois history.[49]
Obama was sworn in as a senator on January 4, 2005.[50] Obama was the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history, and the third to have been popularly elected.[51] He is the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus.[52] CQ Weekly, a nonpartisan publication, characterized him as a "loyal Democrat" based on analysis of all Senate votes in 2005–2007, and the National Journal ranked him as the "most liberal" senator based on an assessment of selected votes during 2007. In 2005 he was ranked sixteenth, and in 2006 he was ranked tenth.[53][54] In 2008, he was ranked by as the eleventh most powerful Senator.[55]
See also: List of bills sponsored by Barack Obama in the United States Senate

Senate bill sponsors Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Obama discussing the Coburn–Obama Transparency Act[56]
Obama voted in favor of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and cosponsored the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act.[57] In September 2006, Obama supported a related bill, the Secure Fence Act.[58] Obama introduced two initiatives bearing his name: Lugar–Obama, which expanded the Nunn–Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons,[59] and the Coburn–Obama Transparency Act, which authorized the establishment of, a web search engine on federal spending.[60] On June 3, 2008, Senator Obama, along with Senators Thomas R. Carper, Tom Coburn, and John McCain, introduced follow-up legislation: Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008.[61]
Obama sponsored legislation requiring nuclear plant owners to notify state and local authorities of radioactive leaks.[62] In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act, marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor.[63] In January 2007, Obama and Senator Feingold introduced a corporate jet provision to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which was signed into law in September 2007.[64] He introduced Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal elections.[65] Obama also introduced the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007.[66]

Obama and Richard Lugar visit a Russian mobile launch missile dismantling facility[67]
Later in 2007, Obama sponsored an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act adding safeguards for personality disorder military discharges.[68] He sponsored the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act supporting divestment of state pension funds from Iran's oil and gas industry, and co-sponsored legislation to reduce risks of nuclear terrorism.[69][70] Obama also sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program providing one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries.[71]
Obama held assignments on the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works and Veterans' Affairs through December 2006.[72] In January 2007, he left the Environment and Public Works committee and took additional assignments with Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.[73] He also became Chairman of the Senate's subcommittee on European Affairs.[74] As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama has made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.[75][76][77][78]
On February 10, 2007 Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.[79][80] The choice of the announcement site was symbolic since it was also where Abraham Lincoln in 1858 delivered his historic "House Divided" speech.[81] Throughout the campaign Obama has emphasized the issues of ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, and providing universal health care, at one point identifying these as his top three priorities.[82]

Obama's campaign raised $58 million during the first half of 2007, of which "small" donations of less than $200 accounted for $16.4 million. The $58 million set the record for fundraising by a presidential campaign in the first six months of the calendar year before the election.[83] The magnitude of the small donation portion was outstanding from both the absolute and relative perspectives.[84] In January 2008, his campaign set another fundraising record with $36.8 million, the most ever raised in one month by a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries.[85]
Among the January 2008 DNC-sanctioned state contests, Obama tied with Hillary Clinton for delegates in the New Hampshire primary and won more delegates than Clinton in the Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina elections and caucuses. On Super Tuesday, he emerged with 20 more delegates than Clinton.[86] He again broke fundraising records in the first two months of 2008, raising over $90 million for his primary to Clinton's $45 million.[87] After Super Tuesday, Obama won the eleven remaining February primaries and caucuses.[88] Obama and Clinton split delegates and states nearly equally in the March 4 contests of Vermont, Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island; Obama closed the month with victories in Wyoming and Mississippi.[89]
In March 2008, a controversy broke out concerning Obama's former pastor of twenty years, Jeremiah Wright.[90] After ABC News broadcast clips of his racially and politically charged sermons,[90][91] Obama initially responded by defending Wright,[92] but later condemned his remarks and ended Wright's relationship with the campaign.[93] Obama delivered a speech, during the controversy, entitled "A More Perfect Union"[94] that addressed issues of race. Obama subsequently resigned from Trinity United Church "to avoid the impression that he endorsed the entire range of opinions expressed at that church."[95][96][97]

During April, May, and June, Obama won the North Carolina, Oregon, and Montana primaries and remained ahead in the count of pledged delegates, while Clinton won the Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, and South Dakota primaries. During the period, Obama received endorsements from more superdelegates than did Clinton.[98] On May 31, the Democratic National Committee agreed to seat all of the Michigan and Florida delegates at the national convention, each with a half-vote, narrowing Obama's delegate lead while increasing the delegate count needed to win.[99] On June 3, with all states counted, Obama passed the threshold to become the presumptive nominee.[100][101] On that day, he gave a victory speech in St. Paul, Minnesota. Clinton suspended her campaign and endorsed him on June 7.[102] Since then, he has campaigned for the general election race against Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee.
On June 19, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to turn down public financing in the general election since the system was created in 1976, reversing his earlier intention to accept it.[103]
On August 23, 2008, Obama selected Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate.[104] At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, Obama's former rival Hillary Clinton gave a speech in strong support of Obama's candidacy and later was the person that called for Obama to be nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate by acclamation.[105][106] On August 28, Obama delivered a speech in front of 84,000 supporters in Denver and viewed by over 38 million on television. During the speech he accepted his party's nomination and presented details of his policy goals.[107][108]

Obama campaigning in Pennsylvania, October 2008
Obama was an early opponent of the Bush administration's policies on Iraq.[109] On October 2, 2002, the day President Bush and Congress agreed on the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War,[110] Obama addressed the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq War rally in Federal Plaza,[111] speaking out against the war.[112] On March 16, 2003, the day President Bush issued his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq before the U.S. invasion of Iraq,[113] Obama addressed an anti-Iraq War rally and told the crowd that "it's not too late" to stop the war.[114]
Obama stated that if elected he would enact budget cuts in the range of tens of billions of dollars, stop investing in "unproven" missile defense systems, not "weaponize" space, "slow development of Future Combat Systems," and work towards eliminating all nuclear weapons. Obama favors ending development of new nuclear weapons, reducing the current U.S. nuclear stockpile, enacting a global ban on production of fissile material, and seeking negotiations with Russia in order to take ICBMs off high alert status.[115]
In November 2006, Obama called for a "phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq" and an opening of diplomatic dialogue with Syria and Iran.[116] In a March 2007 speech to AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby, he said that the primary way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is through talks and diplomacy, although not ruling out military action.[117] Obama has indicated that he would engage in "direct presidential diplomacy" with Iran without preconditions.[118][119][120] Detailing his strategy for fighting global terrorism in August 2007, Obama said "it was a terrible mistake to fail to act" against a 2005 meeting of al-Qaeda leaders that U.S. intelligence had confirmed to be taking place in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He said that as president he would not miss a similar opportunity, even without the support of the Pakistani government.[121]
In a December 2005, Washington Post opinion column, and at the Save Darfur rally in April 2006, Obama called for more assertive action to oppose genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.[122] He has divested $180,000 in personal holdings of Sudan-related stock, and has urged divestment from companies doing business in Iran.[123] In the July–August 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, Obama called for an outward looking post-Iraq War foreign policy and the renewal of American military, diplomatic, and moral leadership in the world. Saying "we can neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission," he called on Americans to "lead the world, by deed and by example."[124]
In economic affairs, in April 2005, he defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and opposed Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security.[125] In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Obama spoke out against government indifference to growing economic class divisions, calling on both political parties to take action to restore the social safety net for the poor.[126] Shortly before announcing his presidential campaign, Obama said he supports universal healthcare in the United States.[127] Obama proposes to reward teachers for performance from traditional merit pay systems, assuring unions that changes would be pursued through the collective bargaining process.[128]
In September 2007, he blamed special interests for distorting the U.S. tax code.[129] His plan would eliminate taxes for senior citizens with incomes of less than $50,000 a year, repeal income tax cuts for those making over $250,000 as well as the capital gains and dividends tax cut,[130] close corporate tax loopholes, lift the income cap on Social Security taxes, restrict offshore tax havens, and simplify filing of income tax returns by pre-filling wage and bank information already collected by the IRS.[131] Announcing his presidential campaign's energy plan in October 2007, Obama proposed a cap and trade auction system to restrict carbon emissions and a ten year program of investments in new energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil.[132] Obama proposed that all pollution credits must be auctioned, with no grandfathering of credits for oil and gas companies, and the spending of the revenue obtained on energy development and economic transition costs.[133]
Obama has encouraged Democrats to reach out to evangelicals and other religious groups.[134] In December 2006, he joined Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) at the "Global Summit on AIDS and the Church" organized by church leaders Kay and Rick Warren.[135] Together with Warren and Brownback, Obama took an HIV test, as he had done in Kenya less than four months earlier.[136] He encouraged "others in public life to do the same" and not be ashamed of it.[137] Before the conference, eighteen anti-abortion groups published an open letter stating, in reference to Obama's support for legal abortion: "In the strongest possible terms, we oppose Rick Warren's decision to ignore Senator Obama's clear pro-death stance and invite him to Saddleback Church anyway."[138] Addressing over 8,000 United Church of Christ members in June 2007, Obama challenged "so-called leaders of the Christian Right" for being "all too eager to exploit what divides us."[139]
A method that political scientists use for gauging ideology is to compare the annual ratings by the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) with the ratings by the American Conservative Union (ACU).[140] Based on his years in Congress, Obama has a lifetime average conservative rating of 7.67% from the ACU,[141] and a lifetime average liberal rating of 90% from the ADA.[142]

Obama met his wife, Michelle Robinson, in June 1989 when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin.[143] Assigned for three months as Obama's adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at group social functions, but declined his initial offers to date.[144] They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992.[145] The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born in 1998,[146] followed by a second daughter, Natasha ("Sasha"), in 2001.[147]
Applying the proceeds of a book deal,[148] the family moved in 2005 from a Hyde Park, Chicago condominium to their current $1.6 million house in neighboring Kenwood.[149] The purchase of an adjacent lot and sale of part of it to Obama by the wife of developer and friend Tony Rezko attracted media attention because of Rezko's indictment and subsequent conviction on political corruption charges that were unrelated to Obama.[150][151]
In December 2007, Money magazine estimated the Obama family's net worth at $1.3 million.[152] Their 2007 tax return showed a household income of $4.2 million—up from about $1 million in 2006 and $1.6 million in 2005—mostly from sales of his books.[153]

In a 2006 interview, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family. "Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it's like a little mini-United Nations," he said. "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher."[155] Obama has seven half-siblings from his Kenyan father's family, six of them living, and a half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, the daughter of his mother and her Indonesian second husband.[156] Obama's mother is survived by her Kansas-born mother, Madelyn Dunham.[157] In Dreams from My Father, Obama ties his mother's family history to possible Native American ancestors and distant relatives of Jefferson Davis, president of the southern Confederacy during the American Civil War.[158]
Obama is a Christian whose religious views have evolved in his adult life. In The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes that he "was not raised in a religious household." He describes his mother, raised by non-religious parents (whom Obama has specified elsewhere as "non-practicing Methodists and Baptists") to be detached from religion, yet "in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I have ever known." He describes his Kenyan father as "raised a Muslim," but a "confirmed href="">atheist" by the time his parents met, and his Indonesian stepfather as "a man who saw religion as not particularly useful." In the book, Obama explains how, through working with black churches as a community organizer while in his twenties, he came to understand "the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change."[161][162]

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Who is Sarah Palin

Who is Sarah Palin? Sarah Palin is the governor of Alaska. She is also the Republican Party's vice-presidential nominee for the United States presidential election of 2008.

Palin was born February 11, 1964 in Sandpoint, Idaho, the third of four children of Sarah Heath (née Sheeran), a school secretary, and Charles R. Heath, a science teacher and track coach.[6] She is of English, German, and Irish descent. The family moved to Alaska when she was an infant. Palin attended Wasilla High School in Wasilla, located 44 miles north of Anchorage.[8] She was the head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at the school and the point guard and captain of the school's girls' basketball team.[9]
Palin attended several colleges and universities. In 1982, she enrolled at Hawaii Pacific College but left after her first semester. She transferred to North Idaho community college, where she spent two semesters as a general studies major. From there, she transferred to the University of Idaho for two semesters.[10][11] During this time Palin won the Miss Wasilla Pageant,[12][13] then finished third in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant,[14][15] at which she won a college scholarship and the "Miss Congeniality" award.[16] She then attended the Matanuska-Susitna community college in Alaska for one term. The next year she returned to the University of Idaho where she spent three semesters completing her Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism, graduating in 1987.[10][11]

In 1988, Sarah eloped with her childhood sweetheart Todd Palin because, according to her mother, Sarah believed that her parents "couldn't afford a big white wedding."[176] Todd Palin works for the London-based oil company BP as an oil-field production operator and owns a commercial fishing business.[177][20] The Palins have an estimated combined net worth of over $1 million.[178]

In 1988, she worked as a sports reporter for KTUU-TV and KTVA-TV in Anchorage, Alaska,[17] and for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman as a sports reporter.[18] She also helped in her husband’s commercial fishing family business.[19] Sarah Palin was elected twice to the Wasilla, Alaska city council from 1992 to 1996 and mayor from 1996 to 2002. At the conclusion of Palin's tenure as mayor in 2002, the town had about 6,300 residents.[28] In 1996, Palin defeated three-term incumbent mayor John Stein,[29] on a platform targeting wasteful spending and high taxes,[30] and Stein says that she introduced abortion, gun rights, and term. During her first year in office, Palin kept a jar with the names of Wasilla residents on her desk, and once a week she pulled a name from it and picked up the phone; she would ask: "How's the city doing?"[38] Using income generated by a 2% sales tax that was enacted before she was on the city council,[47] Palin cut property taxes by 75% and eliminated personal property and business inventory taxes.[48][49] Tapping municipal bonds, she made improvements to the roads and sewers, and increased funding to the Police Department.[31] She also oversaw new bike paths and procured funding for storm-water treatment to protect freshwater resources.[49] At the same time, she reduced spending on the town museum and blocked construction of a new library and city hall.[49] Palin ran for re-election against Stein in 1999 and won,[50] with 74% of the vote.[51] Palin was also elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.[52]During her second term as mayor, Palin introduced a ballot measure proposing the construction of a municipal sports center to be financed by a 0.5% sales tax increase.[53] The $14.7 million Wasilla Multi-Use Sports Complex was built on time and under budget, but the city spent an additional $1.3 million because of an eminent domain lawsuit caused by the failure to obtain clear title to the property before beginning construction.[53] The city's long-term debt grew from about $1 million to $25 million through voter-approved indebtedness of $15 million for the sports complex, $5.5 million for street projects, and $3 million for water improvement projects. A city council member defended the spending increases as being caused by the city's growth during that time.[54]In 2002, Palin ran for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, coming in second to Loren Leman in a five-way Republican primary.[58] The Republican ticket of U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski and Leman won the November 2002 election. When Murkowski resigned from his long-held U.S. Senate seat in December 2002 to become governor, he considered appointing Palin to replace him in the Senate, but chose his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, who was then an Alaskan state representative.[59]Governor Murkowski appointed Palin to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.[60] She chaired the Commission beginning in 2003, serving as Ethics Supervisor.[61] Palin resigned in January 2004, protesting what she called the "lack of ethics" of fellow Republican members.[62][63]After resigning, Palin filed a formal complaint against Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioner Randy Ruedrich, also the chair of the state Republican Party,[64] accusing him of doing work for the party on public time and of working closely with a company he was supposed to be regulating. She also joined with Democratic legislator Eric Croft[65] to file a complaint against Gregg Renkes, a former Alaska Attorney General,[66] accusing him of having a financial conflict of interest in negotiating a coal exporting trade agreement,[67] while Renkes was the subject of investigation and after records suggesting a possible conflict of interest had been released to the public.[68] Ruedrich and Renkes both resigned and Ruedrich paid a record $12,000 fine.[61][69]From 2003 to June 2005, Palin served as one of three directors of "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.," a 527 group designed to provide political training for Republican women in Alaska.[70] In 2004, Palin told the Anchorage Daily News that she had decided not to run for the U.S. Senate that year, against the Republican incumbent, Lisa Murkowski, because her teenage son opposed it. Palin said, "How could I be the team mom if I was a U.S. Senator?"[71]. She was elected governor of Alaska in November 2006 by defeating the incumbent governor in the Republican primary and then a former two-term Democratic governor in the general election. She is the first female governor of Alaska, and the youngest person elected to the position. Palin also joined with nearby communities in jointly hiring the Anchorage-based lobbying firm of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh to lobby for federal funds. The firm secured nearly $8 million in earmarked funds for the Wasilla city government, and another $19 million for other public and private entities in the Wasilla valley area.[55] Earmarks included $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project linking Wasilla and the ski resort community of Girdwood.[56] Term limits prevented Palin from running for a third term as mayor in 2002.[57]

Despite being outspent by her Democratic opponent, she won the gubernatorial election in November, defeating former governor Tony Knowles by a margin of 48.3% to 40.9%.[73] Palin became Alaska's first woman governor, and at the age of 42, the youngest governor in Alaskan history.[74] She is the state's first governor to have been born after Alaska achieved U.S. statehood, and the first not to be inaugurated in Juneau; she chose to have the ceremony held in Fairbanks instead. She took office on December 4, 2006, and has been very popular with Alaska voters. Polls taken in 2007 early in her term showed her with a 93% and 89% popularity among all voters,[75] which led some media outlets to call her "the most popular governor in America."[65][75] A poll taken in late September 2008 after Palin was named to the national Republican ticket showed her popularity in Alaska at 68%.[76]

Palin declared that top priorities of her administration would be resource development, education and workforce development, public health and safety, and transportation and infrastructure development.[77] She had championed ethics reform throughout her election campaign. Her first legislative action after taking office was to push for a bipartisan ethics reform bill. She signed the resulting legislation in July 2007, calling it a "first step", and declaring that she remained determined to clean up Alaska politics.[78]

In June 2007, Palin signed a record $6.6 billion operating budget into law.[84] At the same time, she used her veto power to make the second-largest cuts of the construction budget in state history. The $237 million in cuts represented over 300 local projects, and reduced the construction budget to $1.6 billion.[85] In 2008, Palin vetoed $286 million, cutting or reducing funding for 350 projects from the FY09 capital budget.[86]
Palin followed through on a campaign promise to sell the Westwind II jet, a purchase made by the Murkowski administration for $2.7 million in 2005 against the wishes of the legislature.[87] In August 2007, the jet was listed on eBay, but the sale fell through, and the plane was later sold for $2.1 million through a private brokerage firm.[88]
Palin lives in Juneau during the legislative session and lives in Wasilla and works out of offices in Anchorage the rest of the year. Since the office in Anchorage is far from Juneau, while she works there, state officials say she is legally entitled to a $58 per diem travel allowance, which she has taken (a total of $16,951), and to reimbursement for hotels, which she has not, choosing instead to drive about 50 miles to her home in Wasilla.[89] She also chose not to use the former governor's private chef.[90] In response to criticism for taking the per diem, and for $43,490 in travel expenses for the times her family accompanied her on state business, the governor's staffers said that these practices were in line with state policy, that Palin's gubernatorial expenses are 80% below those of her predecessor, Frank Murkowski,[91] and that "many of the hundreds of invitations Palin receives include requests for her to bring her family, placing the definition of 'state business' with the party extending the invitation."[89]
In her State of the State Address on January 17, 2008, Palin declared that the people of Alaska "can and must continue to develop our economy, because we cannot and must not rely so heavily on federal government [funding]."[92] Alaska's federal congressional representatives cut back on pork-barrel project requests during Palin's time as governor; as of 2008, Alaska was still the largest per-capita recipient of federal earmarks, requesting nearly $750 million in special federal spending over a period of two years.[93]
While there is no sales tax or income tax in Alaska, state revenues doubled to $10 billion in 2008, For the 2009 budget, Palin gave a list of 31 proposed federal earmarks or requests for funding, totaling $197 million, to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.[94] Palin’s decreasing support for federal funding has been a leading source of friction between herself and the state's congressional delegation; Palin has requested less in federal funding each year than her predecessor Frank Murkowski requested in his last year.[95]
In 2005, before Palin was elected governor, a $442-million earmark for constructing two Alaska bridges was passed in the U.S. Senate as part of an omnibus spending bill. The Gravina Island Bridge was proposed to connect Ketchikan to sparsely populated Gravina Island where an international airport serves over 200,000 passengers per year and the existing ferry carries 400,000 passengers per year.[96] The Knik Arm Bridge (also known as "Don Young's Way" after Alaska's Congressman Don Young) was proposed to provide an alternate link between heavily-populated Anchorage and Wasilla.[97] The Gravina Island Bridge proposal became nicknamed the "Bridge to Nowhere" because of the island's population of 50.[96] More rarely, the term "Bridges to Nowhere" has been applied to both bridge proposals.[98] Critics of the two bridge proposals gave them national attention as symbols of pork-barrel spending, and Congress responded to the intense criticism by stripping the earmark from the bill before final passage in November 2005 and instead giving the $442 million to Alaska as transportation money with no strings attached.[99]
As governor, however, Palin canceled the Gravina Island Bridge in September 2007, saying that Congress had "little interest in spending any more money" due to what she called "inaccurate portrayals of the projects."[102] She opted not to return the $442 million in federal transportation funds.[103] Palin did maintain her support for a controversial highway on the bridgeless Gravina Island, committing $25 million in federal funds to the project saying through her spokesperson that it would open territory for development. Alaska state officials said if the money were not used for the road it would have had to have been returned to the federal government.[104] She also directed state officials to explore other ways to provide access to the island.[102]
Later, as a vice-presidential candidate, emphasizing her efforts to end abuses of "earmark" spending, Palin characterized her position as having told Congress "thanks, but no thanks, on that bridge to nowhere." This angered many Alaskans in Ketchikan who said that the claim was false and a betrayal of Palin's previous support for their community.[105] Meanwhile, some critics complained that this statement was misleading, since she had repeatedly expressed support for the spending project and even kept the Federal money after the project was canceled. [106]
Palin continues to support the Knik Arm project,[97] although in June 2008, she ordered a funding and feasibility review.[107] According to news reports, local residents and officials of Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough, which would be connected by the bridge and causeway, are divided over the matter. Many residents feel a strong need for a more direct and less congested route linking the two areas, but many local officials have recently expressed concern that the bridge and causeway may be too expensive. Officials have discussed a ferry as an alternative, although Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough have disagreed as to the appropriate sites for ferry landings.[108]
In August 2008, Palin signed a bill authorizing the State of Alaska to award TransCanada Pipelines — the sole bidder to meet the state's requirements — a license to build and operate a pipeline to transport natural gas from the North Slope to the Continental United States through Canada.[109] The governor also pledged $500 million in seed money to support the project.[110] It is estimated that the project will cost $26 billion.[109] Newsweek described the project as "the principal achievement of Sarah Palin's term as Alaska's governor,"[111] but it faces legal challenges from Canadian First Nations (aboriginal peoples).[111]

In 2007, Palin affirmed support for the 2003 Alaska Department of Fish and Game policy allowing the hunting of wolves from the air as part of a predator control program intended to increase moose and caribou populations for subsistence-food gatherers and other hunters.[112] In March 2007, Palin's office announced that a bounty of $150 per wolf would be paid to the 180 volunteer pilots and gunners, to offset fuel costs. Wildlife activists sued the state, and a state judge declared the bounty illegal on the basis that a bounty would have to be offered by the Board of Game and not by the Department of Fish and Game.[112][113]
Sarah Palin dismissed Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan on July 11, 2008, citing performance-related issues, such as not being "a team player on budgeting issues."[114] Monegan said that he had resisted persistent pressure from the Governor, her husband, and her staff, including State Attorney General Talis Colberg, to fire Palin’s ex-brother-in-law, state trooper Mike Wooten; Wooten was involved in a child custody battle with Palin’s sister that included an alleged death threat against Palin's father.[115][116] Monegan stated he learned an internal investigation had found all but two of the allegations to be unsubstantiated, and Wooten had been disciplined for the others.[116] He told the Palins that there was nothing he could do because the matter was closed.[117] When contacted by the press for comment, Monegan first acknowledged pressure to fire Wooten but said that he could not be certain that his own firing was connected to that issue;[116] he later asserted that the dispute over Wooten was a major reason for his firing.[118] Palin stated on July 17 that Monegan was not pressured to fire Wooten, nor dismissed for not doing so.[114][117] Monegan's replacement resigned on July 25, amid charges of sexual harassment in his previous job.[119]
The Republican-dominated[120] Alaska Legislature hired an investigator, Stephen Branchflower, on August 1 to review the Monegan dismissal; legislators stated that Palin had the legal authority to fire Monegan, but they wanted to know whether her action had been motivated by anger at Monegan for not firing Wooten.[121][122] The atmosphere was bipartisan and Palin pledged to cooperate.[121][122][123] After she ordered her own internal investigation, Palin stated on August 13 that "pressure could have been perceived to exist, although I have only now become aware of it."[124] Palin announced that officials had contacted Monegan or his staff about two dozen times regarding Wooten,[117] that she had only known about some of those contacts, that many of those contacts were appropriate, and that she had not fired Monegan because of Wooten,[125] who remained employed as a state trooper.[126] She placed an aide on paid leave due to one tape-recorded phone conversation that she deemed improper, in which the aide appeared to be acting on her behalf and complained to a trooper that Wooten had not been fired.[127]
Several weeks after the start of what the media referred to as "troopergate", Palin was chosen as John McCain's running mate.[122] In a news story published on September 2, the state senator running the investigation complained that Palin's hiring of private lawyers hampered the investigation, and suggested that the results of the investigation were "likely to be damaging to the Governor's administration."[128] On September 1, Palin asked the legislature to drop its investigation, saying that the state Personnel Board, a three-member panel whose members are gubernatorial appointees, had jurisdiction over ethics issues.[129] Palin also asked the Board to review the matter,[130] and on September 15, filed arguments of "no probable cause" with them.[131][132] On September 19, the Governor's husband and several state employees refused to honor subpoenas, the validity of which were disputed by Talis Colberg, Palin's appointee as Alaska's Attorney General.[133] On October 2, a court rejected Colberg's challenge to the subpoenas,[134] and seven of the witnesses, not including Sarah and Todd Palin, eventually testified.[135]
On October 10, 2008, the Alaska Legislative Council unanimously voted to release, without officially endorsing,[136] the Branchflower Report in which Stephen Branchflower found that firing Monegan "was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority,"[137] and that Palin abused her power as governor by violating the state's Executive Branch Ethics Act[138] 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."[139] 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."[139][140]
On October 11, Palin's attorneys responded, condemning the Branchflower Report as "misleading and wrong on the law";[141] one, Thomas Van Flein, said that it was an attempt to "smear the governor by innuendo."[142] Van Flein further argues that Branchflower's findings are flawed because Palin received "no monetary benefit" from her actions.
Palin said that she was "very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any hint of any kind of unethical activity there".[143] Among the commentators disputing her interpretation was a columnist for The Washington Post:
Whether or not the Branchflower report -- which was launched by a bipartisan committee -- was a partisan smear job is debatable. What is not debatable is that the report clearly states that she violated the State Ethics Act. Palin has reasonable grounds for arguing that the report cleared her of "legal wrongdoing," since she did have the authority to fire Monegan. But it is the reverse of the truth to claim that she was cleared of "any hint of any kind of unethical activity."[142]
Another view from McClatchy's, The Kansas City Star, was:
It’s just Steve Branchflower’s opinion that he thinks Gov. Palin had, at worst, mixed motives for an action that even Branchflower admits she unquestionably had both the complete right to perform and other very good reasons to perform.[144]

On August 29, 2008, in Dayton, Ohio, Republican presidential candidate John McCain announced that he had chosen Palin as his running mate.[145] McCain met Palin in a February National Governors Association, and it is reported that she made a favorable impression on him. He called Palin on August 24 to discuss the possibility of having her join him on the ticket.[146] On August 27, she visited McCain's vacation home near Sedona, Arizona, where she was offered the position of vice-presidential candidate.[147] Palin was the only prospective running mate who had a face-to-face interview with McCain to discuss joining the ticket that week.[146] Nonetheless, Palin's selection was a surprise to many as speculation had centered on other candidates, such as Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, United States Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge.[145]
Palin is the second woman to run on a major U.S. party ticket. The first was Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1984, who ran with former vice-president Walter Mondale.[145] On September 3, 2008, Palin delivered a 40-minute acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention that was well-received and watched by more than 40 million viewers.[148]
Several conservative commentators met Palin in the summer of 2007 when they sailed on cruises that docked in Juneau.[149] Some of them, such as Bill Kristol, urged McCain to pick Palin, arguing that her presence on the ticket would provide a boost in enthusiasm among the religious right wing of the Republican party, while her status as an unknown on the national scene would also be a positive factor for McCain's campaign.[150]
Since Palin was largely unknown outside Alaska before her selection by McCain, her personal life, positions, and political record drew intense media attention and scrutiny.[151] Some Republicans felt that Palin was being subjected to unreasonable media coverage, a sentiment Palin noted in her acceptance speech.[152] A poll taken immediately after the Republican convention found that slightly more than half of Americans believed that the media was "trying to hurt" Palin with negative coverage.[153]

During the campaign, controversy erupted over alleged differences between Sarah Palin's positions as a gubernatorial candidate and her position as a vice-presidential candidate. While campaigning for vice-president, Palin touted her stance on "the bridge to nowhere" as an example of her opposition to pork barrel spending.[100] In her nomination acceptance speech and on the campaign trail, Palin has often said, "I told the Congress 'thanks, but no thanks,' on that Bridge to Nowhere."[154] Although Palin was originally a main proponent of the Gravina Island Bridge, McCain-Palin television advertisements assert that Palin "stopped the Bridge to Nowhere."[155] These statements have been widely questioned or described as misleading or exaggerations[156] by many media groups in the U.S.[157] Newsweek remarked, "Now she talks as if she always opposed the funding."[158]
In September 2008, a hacker accessed a Yahoo! e-mail account Palin uses, hoping to "derail her campaign", and posted information about her e-mails on the 4chan message board.[159] The FBI and Secret Service investigated.[160] On October 8, 2008, David Kernell, a 20-year-old student at the University of Tennessee, entered a plea of not guilty in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee, the same day prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging him with intentionally accessing Palin's e-mail account without authorization.[161]
McCain chose Palin, in part, due to her potential to rally Christian conservatives behind his campaign.[146]
After announcing Palin as McCain's running mate, McCain's campaign initially restricted press access to Palin, allowing three one-on-one interviews and no press conferences with her.[162] Among the news organizations that criticized the restrictions were Newsweek and Time, but they still put Palin on their magazine covers.[163] Palin's first major interview, with Charles Gibson of ABC News, met with mixed reviews.[164] Her interview five days later with Fox News's Sean Hannity focuses on many of the same questions from Gibson's interview.[165] However, Palin's performance in her third interview, with Katie Couric of CBS News, was widely criticized, prompting a decline in her poll numbers, concern among Republicans that she was becoming a political liability, and calls from some conservative commentators for Palin to resign from the Presidential ticket.[165][166] Other conservatives remain ardent in their support for Palin, accusing the columnists of elitism.[167] Following this interview, some Republicans, including Mitt Romney and Bill Kristol, questioned the McCain campaign's strategy of sheltering Palin from unscripted encounters with the press.[168]
Palin was reported to have prepared intensively for the October 2 vice-presidential debate with Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Joe Biden at Washington University in St. Louis. Some Republicans suggested that Palin's performance in the interviews would improve public perceptions of her debate performance by lowering expectations.[169][165][170] Polling from CNN, Fox and CBS found that while Palin exceeded most voters' expectations, they felt that Biden had won the debate.[171]
Upon returning to the campaign trail after her debate preparation, Palin stepped up her attacks on the Democratic candidate for President, Senator Barack Obama. At a fundraising event, Palin explained her new aggressiveness, saying, "There does come a time when you have to take the gloves off and that time is right now."[172] In a campaign appearance on October 4, Palin accused Obama of regarding America as "so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." The accusation referred to a New York Times article describing Obama's contacts with Bill Ayers, a founder of the 1960s radical group called the Weathermen.[173] The Obama campaign called the allegation a "smear",[174] citing newspaper commentaries critical of Palin's attack. Obama has condemned the Weathermen's violent actions.[175]

Palin describes herself as a hockey mom. The Palins have five children: sons Track (b. 1989)[179] and Trig (b. 2008), and daughters Bristol (b. 1990), Willow (b. 1995), and Piper (b. 2001).[180] Track enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 11, 2007,[181] and was subsequently assigned to an infantry brigade. He and his unit deployed to Iraq in September 2008, for 12 months.[182] On September 1, 2008, Palin announced that Bristol was five months pregnant and that she intends to keep the baby and marry Levi Johnston, the father of the child.[183] Palin's youngest child, Trig, was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome.[184]Palin was born into a Catholic family.[185] Later her family joined the Wasilla Assembly of God, a Pentecostal church.[186] Palin attended the Wasilla Assembly of God until 2002. Palin says she switched to Wasilla Bible Church because she preferred the children's ministries there.[187] When in Juneau, she attends the Juneau Christian Center.[188] Her current home church is the Wasilla Bible Church, an independent congregation.[189] Palin described herself in an interview as a, "Bible-believing Christian."[185] After the Republican National Convention, a spokesperson for the McCain campaign told CNN that Palin "doesn't consider herself Pentecostal" and has "deep religious convictions."[39]

Palin has been a registered Republican since 1982 and has described the Republican Party platform as "the right agenda for America".[190] Palin is a social conservative. A lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), she believes the right to bear arms includes handgun possession, and is against a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons.[191] She has supported gun safety education for youth.[192] She supports capital punishment.[193] In a 2006 gubernatorial debate, responding to a question asking the candidates whether they would support teaching creationism in public schools, Palin stated that she supported teaching both creationism and evolution. Shortly after that debate, however, Palin said in an interview that she had only meant to say she supports allowing the discussion of creationism in public schools, but says it does not have to be part of the curriculum.[194] Palin opposes same-sex marriage and supported a non-binding referendum for an Alaskan constitutional amendment to deny state health benefits to same-sex couples; however, early in her gubernatorial term she vetoed such a bill, citing its current unconstitutionality.[115][195] Palin has called herself "as pro-life as any candidate can be"[195] and has called abortion an "atrocity."[196] Palin has stated that abortion should be banned in nearly all cases, including rape and incest, except if the life of the mother is endangered.[197][198] Palin has stated that she does not support embryonic stem cell research.[191] She supports sex education in public schools that encourages abstinence but also discusses birth control.[196][199]
Palin has promoted oil and natural gas resource exploration in Alaska, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.[80] She brought suit to overturn the listing of polar bears under the federal Endangered Species Act,[200] and also opposed listing the beluga whales in Alaska’s Cook Inlet as an endangered species.[201] The official Alaska press release stated that she had "asked [the National Marine Fisheries Service] to work with the state and other scientists to finalize and implement a conservation plan for the Cook Inlet stock of belugas."[202]
On global warming, Palin said that "a changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."[203] She later said that "man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue" and that "John McCain and I agree that we gotta do something about it."[83][203]

Sarah Palin has held these offices:

Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska1996 – 2002

Chairperson, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission2003 – 2004
Governor of Alaska2006 – present
Party political offices

Republican Party vice presidential candidate2008
Business positions

Who Just Got Busted