Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Frankie Goes to Alaska, Will Chavez Follow?

Last month, Gov. Sarah Palin accompanied the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famed pastor Billy Graham, on a relief mission to western Alaska. Franklin Graham is president and CEO of a nondenominational evangelical Christian aid organization, Samaritan's Purse, and it was in that capacity that he distributed 7,700 pounds of food (with almost 40,000 more potentially on the way) to needy people in two southwestern villages, Marshall and Russian Mission. Alaska's governor, a potential 2010 Republican nominee for president, wants to see more such efforts.
"Palin says government is not the answer and we should depend more on public-private partnerships to reach out to people in need," KTUU reported.
But will Palin draw the line on certain partnerships, as some of her constituents have done in the past? Three years ago, Alaskans made headlines for refusing offers of another commodity -- oil -- from the Venezuelan state-subsidized company Citgo, shortly after Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez called then-US President George W. Bush "the devil."
"The Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, a native nonprofit organization that would have handled the heating oil donation on behalf of 291 households in Nelson Lagoon, Atka, St. Paul and St. George, rejected the offer because of the insults Chavez has hurled at Bush," Fox News reported.
Since then, Alaska's gotten a new governor (Frank Murkowski was in charge then), America's gotten a new president ... and conditions among the poor in Alaska seem to have stayed as bad as they were three years ago. "For years, Alaska natives have accused the state and federal governments of sending too little money to their tiny, far-flung communities, where fuel and grocery prices are bloated by the high costs of delivery by plane and barge," Fox noted during the Chavez controversy. And even though Palin and Graham brought food last month, "the village of Marshall says it needs more long-term solutions," KTUU reported. "The high cost of fuel has made it a harsh winter."
We shall see whether the situation gets dire enough for Palin to welcome Chavez to the Last Frontier.

(Hat tip to my Ohio source who mentioned Alaskans' rejection of Chavez.)

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