September 12, 2008

But It is Legal

I really had intended not to mention Sarah Palin again. I really didn't plan on it, but after a recent discussion I feel compelled to comment again about her use of the per diem. The background for this is covered below:

This comes from the Washington Post:

ANCHORAGE, Sept. 8 -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a "per diem" allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

...She wrote some form of "Lodging -- own residence" or "Lodging -- Wasilla residence" more than 30 times at the same time she took a per diem, according to the reports. In two dozen undated amendments to the reports, the governor deleted the reference to staying in her home but still charged the per diem. "
Many people have said that this is a non-issue because she is legally entitled to take the per diem allowance. And then they have followed up by saying that she is better than her predecessor.

This line of thought just makes me shake my head. It is flawed logic. Two quick comments.

There are things in life that are legal, but not considered to be particularly moral or ethical. She has been positioned as a reformer and a crusader against pork barrel politics. If that is who she is supposed to be, I would expect that she wouldn't claim the per diem allowance for those nights in which she stayed at home.

And I can't help but wonder if she didn't think about that too. The WaPo article makes it clear that she had reports amended so that it didn't reflect her staying at home. Why would she do this.

In regard to her being better than her predecessor, well that doesn't impress me. Compare two murderers, one is responsible for five deaths and the other for ten. Would you turn around and say that the person who murdered five is better than the other.

It just doesn't make sense.


Leora said...

Why all the focus on Palin(from you, as opposed to other candidates)? And why get your news from the Washington Post?

This post is a direct response to your post:Gateway Pundit on Palin's expenses

There are oh so many more about Palin in general (try or

I know I'm not going to convince you of anything but I don't understand your obsession with her as opposed to the other candidates.

Jack said...


I have stated that I am not a fan of Obama/Biden and that I like McCain.

It would be irresponsible not to vet the VP candidates. They are a heartbeat away from the presidency.

That response from Volokh doesn't hold water with me. Palin presents herself as a reformer, but she is not.

The fact that she spent less than her predecessor doesn't change my opinion. If there was nothing wrong with what she did she wouldn't have amended the reports.

She has no experience and has a history of antics that make me question her judgment.

I don't want her as POTUS and am concerned about the risk.

I am far more open to being convinced that I am wrong than you realize. But thus far no one has come up with a thing that makes sense.

The Misanthrope said...

What I find interesting is that so many people only read or watch what conforms to their views. After watching the Democratic convention I turned to Fox for their take. I read the right wing columnists too. How can you make an informed decision or have an informed opinion without reading both sides. Getting one's news from a rightwing blog is simply silly.

Jewish Atheist said...

In regard to her being better than her predecessor, well that doesn't impress me.

That reminds me of a slogan I thought up for them:

McCain/Palin: We're not as corrupt as the rest of our party!

Jack said...

What I find interesting is that so many people only read or watch what conforms to their views.

Some people draw comfort by blinding themselves to opposing povs.


Sad, but it works. Palin is such a...

Leora said...

Jack, lately I've been reading
No Quarter USA who seem to be Hillary supporters.

I grew up with the Boston Globe, and I believed liberal politics. Then I discovered they do not have my interests at heart. So I find folks who do. I read the New York Times whenever they have one of their "Jew" posts. When you know about the topic, the bias is SO clear.

Alice said...

This is how I see it based on what I know. Part of the pay for being Governor is you get to live in a Governor's mansion. If she chooses to not live in the mansion I think it's perfectly reasonable for her to be compensated.

If my husband goes on a business trip in our car, his work pays him for using our car instead of renting one.

I know I'm always defending her, but it's not because I agree with her- I don't in many ways. I just think that the political process in this country is sick because voters, media, and politicians all focus on the wrong stuff with partial information. It's bad for democracy. (I'm not implying that you are doing anything wrong by the way.)

Jack said...

Palin Politics.

Alice said...

I'm not shocked that the NY Times is doing a hatchet job on her. The article read like a cheap gossip column. I'm shocked it wasn't on the Op Ed page, but that very issue is why I no longer subscribe to the Times. They are activists journalists/editors and I can't stand that. Some of it is laughable, except for the fact that people read it and think it's accurate. Or they just get confused.

Again, back to what I said earlier, our election process is sick in this country in part because journalists/editors have agendas beyond disseminating information to the public so we can make an informed vote. This is a perfect example. No offense.

Jack said...

Some of it is laughable, except for the fact that people read it and think it's accurate. Or they just get confused.

You always need to apply logical thought and critical reason to each article you read.

The thing is that some of this is going to sound bad no matter what they do.

For example:

So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.

What qualifications does Havemeister have for this position. Working as a realtor generally doesn't provide preparation for running the dept. of agriculture.

And that is just one example. When you look at the total picture you find a disturbing trend. There are too many stories too ignore.

More than one thing is rotten in Denmark.

Alice said...

It's a great question. What are the woman's qualifications for the position? (The former realtor.) I don't trust the NY Times to tell me. In fact it wouldn't surprise me at all if they know the woman actually had other qualifications and didn't put it in the article. We would need to see her resume. I won't judge until I see it. It's just too easy to paint sinister pictures of people. I respect that something seems fishy to you and you are just being honest.

Elie said...

Not to get into the larger issue of Palin's (or any candidate's) overall qualifications, but in terms of the per diem, what Alice states is 100% correct. Anyone who works for a company and travels for business knows that this is how it works.

Here's a personal example not unlike Palin's: When most folks at my company travel, they eat at restaurants on the company's tab. Since there are usually no kosher restaurants near the client sites, I bring my own food for the same number of meals, eat in my motel room, and voucher the cost of my food (much lower than eating out would cost!) to the company. It's 100% legitimate, in fact they probably wish everyone did it!

Jack said...

Hi Elie,

I have my own per diem that I have used many times. The issue for me is pretty simple.

She poses as a reformer and a politician who is supposedly against waste.

I think that it is inconsistent to claim that and then charge the state for nights on which she was at home.