- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bonding over Palin

Lisa Graas and her mother, Betty Baker, didn’t talk about politics much before Sarah Palin came along. Mrs. Baker was a Jimmy Carter-supporting Democrat, and her daughter a tech-savvy Republican activist. But, as Mrs. Baker tells it, Mrs. Palin “built a fire under me,” and the longtime Democrat registered as an independent last year to vote for “Sarah Palin and McCain.”

The mother-daughter team, along with three of Mrs. Graas’ children, road-tripped from Kentucky to Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday to make sure they were near the front of the line to get wristbands that were handed out Sunday to meet Mrs. Palin on a book-signing stop. “It was a good, long trip for us, but we really wanted to get to the hotel and get all set up,” the 73-year-old Mrs. Baker told The Washington Times by phone on Monday, hours before the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential hopeful was to deliver a speech and sign books.

Mrs. Baker said she felt “personally connected” with Mrs. Palin because of her commitment to her family and views on health care. “I’m on Medicare, and have been since I was 62,” she said. “I have two disabled sons, and what’s going to happen with their health care and Medicaid? They are both in nursing homes, and I’m extremely concerned for them. Rationing is a big fear of mine, and the whole thing with Medicare, Medicaid, nursing homes, elderly people and disabled people is my concern. We are getting the short end of the stick, and we don’t know what we are going to end up getting.

“[Mrs. Palin] is concerned about cutbacks and things that are going to take away from the elderly and disabled,” Mrs. Baker said. “Her concerns about that are what my concerns are.”

Ms. Graas says she spends roughly two to three hours a day on the social-networking Web site Twitter promoting pro-Palin articles and blogs under the name “Palintwibe.”

“It’s always there, and it’s always on, and I’m back and forth on it,” she said. Ms. Graas, who says she’s been active in politics for 17 years, including work as co-chairwoman of the Kentucky Right to Life PAC, said, “My job is to build soapboxes.”

“It’s my duty as someone who has been involved in politics for a long time to help the new people become involved and have their voices heard,” she said.

Including her mom.

Stimulus audit

The South Carolina Republican who has gained a reputation for his outspokenness is calling for an official government audit of President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill.

“After several days of reports of stimulus inconsistencies, the administration still hasn’t explained where the money is really being spent,” Rep. Joe Wilson said in a statement. “Their silence on this important issue is deafening.”

He said if a panel is not appointed by Dec. 1, he will call for an independent examination of the “reporting inaccuracies of every stimulus dollar appropriated.”

The main problem is the Obama administration promised that the government Web site, www.recovery.gov, would show exactly where the money was going to “create or save” jobs, but the site is using unreliable data. It improperly allocated more than $6 billion to 440 congressional districts that do not exist. White House officials have attributed the bad data to “human error,” but so far have not offered any estimate when the information can be expected to be corrected.

Hate-crime data

Blacks and Jews are the most likely to be the victims of a hate crime, according to an annual crime report released by the FBI on Monday.

The FBI documented 7,783 different “hate crimes” committed in the United States during 2008, categorized by the bias motivating the crime, such as race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and disability.

More than half of single-bias incidents, 51.3 percent, were motivated by a racial bias, according to the FBI, which also reported that 72.6 percent of the racial hate crimes were anti-black.

The report said 19.5 percent were motivated by a religious bias. More than 65 percent of the religious hate crimes were committed against Jews, with 7.7 percent being described as anti-Islamic.

Of the 2008 hate crimes, 16.7 percent were motivated on the basis of an anti-homosexual or anti-bisexual bias, 11.5 percent by an ethnic bias, mostly directed against Hispanics, and 1 percent involved a bias against a disability, the FBI said.

Most of the crimes, 82.3 percent, were acts against property, in the form of property damage or vandalism. The other 17.7 percent of the crimes included robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

There were seven reports of murder and non-negligent manslaughter and 11 forcible rapes. There were 774 incidents of aggravated assault and 1,503 of simple assault.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com

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