Hungry and cold has become the narrative of many in Western Alaska. Outrageous fuel prices, inflated food costs, low subsistence harvests and low or no incomes aligned to create the perfect storm of a devastating reality.
The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern.
Dennis Zaki, an Alaskan journalist, raised money for food and traveled to several western Alaskan towns several weeks ago and documented their dire straits. CNN picked it up and Sarah Palin had some 'splaining to do. With her cabinet, Sarah's press conference last week was like watching a brainstorming session -- not exactly gale force winds. When asked what she personally had done for her citizens in need, she stumbled and had no answer.
Reverend Franklin Graham is in Alaska with Samaritan's Purse, his not-for-profit charity. Governor Light Sean Parnell and Governor Sarah Palin are escorting him to the villages of Russian Mission and Marshall. Mr. Graham, son of the legendary evangelist Billy Graham, has done some fantastic missions. Wow, actually doing God's work. What a concept. Working to treat AIDS, but not providing condoms because it condones "sin" is one of the controversies surrounding his work. The Samaritan's Purse, unlike the parable of the Good Samaritan has some pretty mighty strings.
So was Reverend Graham watching the CNN coverage of Emonnak and inspired to help? Well, that's unclear...but what is clear is his connection to Greta Van Susteren of Faux News.
Greta's "You gotta see the baby" interview with Bristol Palin was filmed at our local Anchorage library last weekend. The BFF relationship between Van Susteren and Palin is like none other in media. Greta doesn't ask "gotcha questions." Snowmachine rides with Todd, dinners at the Wasilla home, trick-or-treating with Piper on the "Straight Talk Express" are just few of their play dates. Greta has several BFFs other than Sister Sarah including Franklin Graham. Her coverage of Billy Graham's 90th birthday pales in comparison to her trip to North Korea with the Samaritan's Purse Tour. Susteren is featured on Graham's website. Did she pick up her Crackberry and send Franklin an S.O.S. on Palin's behalf?
I shouldn't be so picky about where the food to help the hungry comes from. In truth, I don't care if Osama Bin Laden pulls it out of his pantry. The people of Western Alaska need help. The last church that tried to "help" the First People of Alaska is now bankrupt after paying restitutions to the victims of their sexual predators.
God doesn't need the P.R., but the church does...and so does Sarah Palin.
So why does this matter?
It's the photo op, stupid.
Senator Mark Begich is assessing the situation in Bethel on Friday. His attention to the region has been sincere and unwavering. Begich doesn't come holding a cross or with a self-indulgent film crew documenting how much he loves Jesus. The separation of church and state requires no explanation. People shouldn't have to check a box defining what, if any, god they worship to get food or energy assistance.
With Senator Begich and Governor Palin scheduled to be in western Alaska the same week, Sarah has pulled the political trump card with the celebrity preacher...a postcard to her national base. Unfortunately, Alaskans are paying the postage.