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Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin, Couric; Alaska, Russia

I can't defend some of the things Governor Sarah Palin said in reply to Katie "Nowwww I Get It!" Couric.

Neither can I condemn Palin. She was crammed full of facts and policy planks (some of which I still heartily disagree with) in a crash course by McCain's people, from which most Americans would probably run screaming for the exits over the sheer magnitude of it.

Perhaps those attacking Palin can try studying over a few months' time for a several-hour "test" that covers 18 years worth of even the highlights of all subjects one studies from first grade through Graduate School. That might be comparable to cramming a couple decades' worth of the fundamental knowledge on all subjects from world and American history to political science to economics to law to global finance to international relations.

Let us know how you do. (Obama has had about four years for this education, not four months, by the way.)

I can defend Governor Sarah Palin as one who doesn't lie to us.

I can defend and support Governor Palin as someone who truly gives a damn more about this country than about getting elected and would not ever say or even think "I haven't been putting up with 19 months of airplanes and hotel food and missing my babies and my [spouse] - just to come in second."

While I'm disheartened that McCain didn't prepare Palin better for the cougar Couric or glib Gibson, The Plank's Jason Zengerle report "A Semi-Defense of Sarah Palin" is worth excerpting.

That is, at least for those Democrat and independent voters whose minds haven't already snapped permanently and darkly shut.

Zengerle quotes from The Anchorage Daily News from March 2008:
Russia's resurgent military is again making sporadic, unannounced bomber runs toward Alaska's airspace, leading the Air Force to scramble jets to intercept and identify them, according to the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, Gen. Howie Chandler.

The most recent incident, involving two Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers, occurred Tuesday, Chandler said during a meeting with reporters at Elmendorf Air Force Base on Thursday. Since July [2007], there have been 16 such incidents, according to the Air Force.

The Tuesday intercept occurred
outside U.S. airspace but within the air-control territory known as the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone. The Russian planes stayed within international airspace until they returned to base, the Air Force said.
"[I]n this day and time, you simply can't allow unidentified aircraft to run around in your airspace. So when the Russians do fly where they fly in the Arctic, without filing flight plans and without prior notice, then we have to go see what those aircraft are," [Chandler said].

Russia is sending "mixed signals," he said, challenging the United States at times, cooperating in joint exercises at others.
So here are two more factsets that many in the distant lands known as the Beltway and the liberal eastern half of the country have forgotten (if they ever knew).

Granted, Sarah Palin probably didn't have these facts crammed into her head at the time of Couric's drilling, but then, Palin has had a state to run. Couric's handlers and cartooners do all her work for her.

Go back up to that red map of Russia at top. Note the "Russian Nuclear Forces-SLBM/SSBN port" dot on the tip of the upper rightmost peninsula on the above map.

Note that this dot represents a base for SLBM/SSBNs, close enough to Alaska, near or at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. (SLBM stands for Submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and SSBN translates this way: "the SS means "ship submersible", the B denotes "ballistic missile," and the N denotes "nuclear powered.")

How close to Alaska?

That "dot" on the above map representing the nuclear sub base is shown here (click to enlarge this map) by the red oval near the top right of this map, which shows "the view" upside down, as if from the North Pole. Juneau, Alaska is shown near the black square.

From the SSBN base near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, the straight line flight distance to Juneau, Alaska is 2,523.18 statute miles (2,192.58 nautical miles).

Russian SLBM R-29 missiles, which "can be equipped with nuclear warheads", have ranges between 6500 to 9100 kilometers, or 4,038 miles to 5,655 miles.


28 Russian airbases within range of Alaska

AirfieldMilitary District
Alekseyevka Far Eastern
Artyom - Knevichi Far Eastern
Belogorsk-9 Far Eastern
Chernigovka Far Eastern
Chuguevka - Sokolovka Far Eastern
Dolinsk-Sokol Far Eastern
Galenki Far Eastern
Garovka-2 Far Eastern
Khabarovsk - Bolshoy Far Eastern
Khurba Far Eastern
Klyuchi-20 - Kura Far Eastern
Komsomolsk na Amure - Dzemgi Far Eastern
Korsakov Far Eastern
Kremovo Far Eastern
Mongokhto - Bolshoy Kamen Far Eastern
Nikolayevka - Zolotaya Dolina Far Eastern
Novonezhino Far Eastern
Pristan Far Eastern
Sovetskaya Gavan Far Eastern
Srednebeloye Far Eastern
Tsentralnaya Uglovaya Far Eastern
Ukrainka - Seryshevo Far Eastern
Ussuriysk - Vozdvizhenka Far Eastern
Verino - Pereyaslavka Far Eastern
Vernoye - Orlovka Far Eastern
Vozzhayevka Far Eastern
Yelizovo Far Eastern
Zavitinsk Far Eastern

Never mind the naval bases.

No one is saying that Russia is about to hit Alaska with a nuclear missile.

No one should be saying either, though, given the recent Russian war machine revving up again, that Russia will never again be a threat to the United States.

And I'd bet Palin didn't mean that proximity to Russia equates to international expertise. I fault McCain and his people for not bringing her up to speed better. She knows how to speak on tough issues and handle pressure. She has proven that. But somehow, amazingly, McCain's people didn't prepare her well enough for all the most likely, widely-varying, and even sometimes stupid questions ("What do you read???) that these alleged "journalists" asked during Couric's sessions. (Even Geraldine Ferraro thought Charlie Gibson was a joke.)

But let me ask Katie Couric and all those attacking Palin:

How close have you lived, all your life, to Russia's nuclear missiles, submarines and 28 aircraft bases?

Walk a lifetime in an Alaskan's shoes, or put a muzzle on it.

Palin, Couric; Alaska, Russia. Not a bad analogy, that.
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