I recently met Cindy Warwick while discussing political advertising. Cindy lives in Oregon and helped open my eyes to another side of Sarah Palin that I was not aware of and which hasn't received much attention during the race - Palin's support and financial encouragement for citizens to kill wolves and bears in Alaska.
Palin doesn't just support hunting, she wants citizens to be able to shoot the animals from small airplanes, then cut their paws off for a hefty reward paid by the state.
I am an animal lover and the more I found out I was enraged.
I decided to let Cindy write a guest column detailing her interactions with Sarah Palin over the past two years in an attempt to stop the mass killings.
I think it's interesting to hear from someone who has followed Palin before the nomination, and has a couple of years of dealing with the Governor's decision making.
My Fight with Sarah Palin
By Cindy Warwick
I have to admit that I was not as engaged in this election up until the moment John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his Vice President candidate.
To lay it out straight, I originally was a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton (changed my designation over from an Independent so I could vote for her in the primary) and had not completely thrown my support behind Barack. I was surprised that Barack had not chosen Hillary as his VP candidate, but knew exactly why he didn't. Having Hillary on the ticket could have been a distraction to the campaign, as well as a constant reminder to women voters that she is in the #2 spot, and being on the ticket could be used as fodder for the Republicans. I get that. I didn't know much about Joe Biden and really hadn't turned my "must pay attention" button on. I watched bits & pieces of the DNC and really liked Michelle Obama. I was proud of Hillary's speech and as a huge supporter of hers, I give her a lot of credit for trying to rally us over to the Obama/Biden ticket.
However, my world changed when the name of Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's VP choice. In the deep recesses of my mind I recognized the name. Hmmmm..Governor of Alaska. It took me about two seconds to remember EXACTLY who Sarah Palin is. This is the Governor that I have been fighting for almost two years via the Defenders of Wildlife to get her to stop the brutal practice of the aerial slaughter of wolves & bears. I signed petition after petition to try and get her to pay attention. She brushed us off and spouted her usual "you're not from Alaska so you don't know what is best for the state". I also found it coincidental that in 2007 she upped the stakes by offering hunters a $150 bounty for the foreleg of a wolf. Now all during this time, she has been receiving a lot of heat for her stance on this practice from folks such as myself and I feel she offered the $150 bounty just to poke a stick at those of us trying to fight her on this issue. It proved to me just what lengths she would go to in order to get her own way. She also approved $400,000 of state funds to be spent on a campaign in order to defeat the measure on the Alaska ballot that would have ended this horrific and inhumane practice. Of course it failed and the practice continues.
In brief, the aerial hunting of wolves & bears takes place in winter when they are completely exposed to hunters that fly low above them in small planes, chasing them until they are completely exhausted and then brutally shot. It has been scientifically proven that Palin's stance, that she is protecting caribou and moose herds from the carnivores, is completely wrong and is only allowing this brutality to continue for the sport of it. The hunters that kill these animals aren't Fish & Wildlife personnel, they are private citizens that keep the hides for personal gain and not for the State of Alaska.
Now, this is all I really knew about the Governor. I had not done extensive research at that time on her because I was focusing my efforts on getting her to just pay attention to the science and listen to our voices. You don't have to live in Alaska in order to care about all creatures we are responsible for. Someone has to stand up for them and of all people, the Governor of the state they reside in should be the first person in line to protect them. However, that Peter Pan idea of mine does not exist in her case.
I was quite surprised that John McCain would choose such an obscure individual out of all of the supremely qualified candidates. Maybe I was missing somethingŠŠWhy her?
I found it insulting that he would think that picking any woman would sway voters. I guess all you had to have were ovaries in order to qualify.
So now, my "must pay attention button" was firmly pressed! When I began to really dig deep on this woman, I didn't have to go too far. With her issues of Troopergate, family issues, her religious associations, her views on abortion and a lot of baggage she was bringing to the ticket, it made me really wonderŠŠŠWHAT ARE THEY THINKING? It became extremely obvious that she had not been properly vetted. They rolled the dice and came up with snake eyes. Hence, they were in it for the long haul and damage control began immediately.
Using her folksy approach is condescending and masks the fact that she is not qualified. I think most of us are on the same page about that one, except for those individuals that attend her rallies or those that blindly follow the "truth" as spoken by McCain/Palin. It's a frightening thing to watch. The aggressive behavior I've seen and heard these past few days is something I find quite distasteful.
As I write I can admit that I am obsessed with this campaign. I am addicted to net surfing my favorite websites to get up to the minute updates on the candidates. Magazines & newspapers cannot keep up with the pace to which we move during this campaign and I love to hear the voices of other people just like me. We are in a new age of connectivity and it's only going to get better. Instant accountability. When Sarah Palin mentioned that she spearheaded the moving of an Alaskan investment fund due to the atrocities in Darfur in order to "do the right thing," I had instant access to learn she flat out lied. That money still supports businesses in the Sudan. Instant accountability.
I am just one little voice in the cosmos who originally just wanted to save the wolves & bears from Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska. Little did I know that our paths would cross again and I would have the opportunity to reach out to millions of people within a larger collective in order to show the American people exactly what kind of person Sarah Palin is and the atrocities she supports in her State. I hope that if anything comes out of all of this, that the nightmare these lovely creatures endure will end. I will have made a difference. I will continue the fight against Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska and will let Sarah Palin, the VP candidate know, via my vote, that she is NOT what's right for America.
Thank you, Cindy.
Alaska practices aerial hunting by exploiting a loophole in Federal Law.
Salon.com covered the issue after Palin was nominated. You'll find the article here.
A brief excerpt:
"Gordon Haber is a wildlife scientist who has studied wolves in Alaska for 43 years. "On wildlife-related issues, whether it is polar bears or predator controls, she has shown no inclination to be objective," he says of Palin. "I cannot find credible scientific data to support their arguments," he adds about the state's rationale for gunning down wolves. "In most cases, there is evidence to the contrary."
"Last year, 172 scientists signed a letter to Palin, expressing concern about the lack of science behind the state's wolf-killing operation..."
Palin's policies sound like a mirror image to Bush and Cheney's.
The Defenders of Wildlife website has more information on the issue.
You can help outlaw aerial hunting by signing California Representative George Miller's petition to pass the Protect America's Wildlife Act (PAWS). PAWS would close the federal loophole and make sure the practice couldn't spread to other places, like Yellowstone National Park.
Defenders of Wildlife also have a video detailing exactly what the aerial hunting is like. It is below, but be warned, it is gruesome and heartbreaking.