Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Benincasa announces her move to Huffington Post's 236

Sara Benincasa announced today, in an American flag-wrap, on her youtube site that she is suspending her Sarah Palin imitations on youtube and she is moving her comedy to the Huffington Post ("HuffPo") comedy site, 23/6.
In a way, this is just as well. While she does a funnier Palin than Fey does --she writes her own material-- possibly the funniest Palin is Palin herself. The only problem is that the thought of Palin's having the nuclear codes is disturbing.
The 23/6 has its first made-for-236 Benincasa as Palin vlog, "Debate Prep."

Fey as Palin -week 2

Let's hope Fey doesn't have four more years of this madness to mimick.

McCain's brazen hypocrisy on gambling, lobbyists

As I noted last week, McCain undertook a ruthless personal vendetta against lobbyist Jack Abramoff. McCain's Senate office produced a 373 page report on Abramoff's supposed misdeeds.

His targeting Abramoff is rank hypocrisy and rather disinenguous. Just look at Sunday, September 28's New York Times article by Jo Becker and Don Van Natta, Jr., "For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling." McCain targeted Abramoff, for other things, allegedly stealing from Native American casinos. Gallingly, McCain (a two-time chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee) himself had thick, intertwined relations with Native American gaming outfits and associated lobbyists. He and his lobbyist allies benefited from the Native Americans. Rick Davis,' McCain's chief strategist, walked away with $100,000 from a tribe in the Abramoff organization.

As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America’s casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country. He has won praise as a champion of economic development and self-governance on reservations.

And, McCain has been swayed by [gambling] special interests, contrary to the maverick myth he and champions in the media have propagated:
Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

When rules being considered by Congress threatened a California tribe’s planned casino in 2005, Mr. McCain helped spare the tribe. Its lobbyist, who had no prior experience in the gambling industry, had a nearly 20-year friendship with Mr. McCain.

And McCain was selective in his investigation. He kept it focused on Abramoff, yet as the Times article reports, he announced that he would not investigate members of Congress, "whom Mr. Abramoff had lavished with tribal donations and golf outings to Scotland."

We are still awaiting greater press and web attention to journalist Gary S. Chafetz's book on Abramoff, McCain, "Perfect Villain: John McCain and the Demonization of Lobbyist Jack Abramoff."

The same issue of the Times reported that McCain received nearly $500,000 from gambling interests since 1990.
As reported in the New York Times, September 28, 2008:
The following is a list of the top ten highest campaign contributors to Senator John McCain since 1992 in the gambling industry, based on analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

1. MGM Mirage

2. Mashantucket Pequot Tribe

3. Wynn Resorts

4. Las Vegas Sands

5. International Game Technology

6. Harrah's Entertainment

7. Station Casinos

8. Mandalay Resort Group

9. (tie) Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona

Stockbridge-Munsee Community

The Democratic National Committee, along with the Barack Obama campaign, issued a 42-second video in the late night hours prior to the newsstand deliver of the Times.
The DNC press release, via the Huffington Post:
The Democratic National Committee today released a new web video highlighting John McCain's history of stacking the deck in favor of his favorite gambling industry lobbyists. The video comes on the heels of a new report outlining McCain's pattern of using his position as the chairman of a key Senate committee to tip the scales in favor of casino lobbyists with connections to his family and campaigns -- even if it meant reversing long held positions.

The video, called "Betting on McCain," shows McCain stacking the deck in favor of friends and former campaign aides who lobbied for the casinos with business before McCain's committee. In return, those casino lobbyists organized gambling trips to casinos for McCain (whose reputation as a high roller is well known), steered hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign, and at least 40 of them went to work for or are helping raise money for McCain's current campaign.

To wear Obama gear to the booth or not ; vote challengers

There are websites offering differing positions on Obama gear.
Do voters face being barred from the voting booth because they are wearing Obama gear?
Some sites alert voters that they will be barred from voting because the shirts and hats will be conflated with electioneering. They cite state laws against electioneering near voting sites.
From The NYCity News Service:

An obscure, seldom-enforced state law bars anyone from wearing political buttons and other campaign paraphernalia within “a 100-foot radial measured from the entrances of the voting booth.”

With the election just over a month away, the law is suddenly gaining notice: an email begging potential Obama voters to “PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE” leave T-shirts and buttons home on Election Day is circulating on the Internet – spurring worried calls and emails to state election officials. The New York Civil Liberties Union plans – for the first time – to include a similar warning in its voter information materials.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders in Pennsylvania are calling on officials to enforce that state’s similar “passive electioneering” law banning campaign paraphernalia at the polls, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sept. 19.

In New York, election officials said they would stick to the law even as they tried to downplay concerns.

Other sites, such as this one by the North Carolina Democratic Party, are dismissing these rumors as "urban legends."
I would err on the side of caution. As Joshing Politics said, the laws against electioneering cannot be changed by election day. The Republicans will be on overdrive this year, challenging voters from every possible angle. Voters cannot risk doing anything that will cause them to lose their voting right on election day. This risk will be great in swing states such as Ohio and Virginia.

PBS' "Now" with David Brancaccio broadcasted a report of Republican individual that aggressively challenged voters' credentials at several sites on one election day.
The vote challenge efforts amount to voter intimidation; this is effectual disenfranchisment. We should oppose their efforts steadfastly. In the meantime, play it safe and hide your Obama gear when in the booth.

New Palin gaffes: dinosaurs; Supreme Court rulings; gotcha questions

The newest Sarah Palin gaffes:
She publicly uttered that humans and dinosaurs coexisted with dinosaurs.
Soon after Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the foothill town of Wasilla, Alaska, she startled a local music teacher by insisting in casual conversation that men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth created 6,000 years ago -- about 65 million years after scientists say most dinosaurs became extinct -- the teacher said.

After conducting a college band and watching Palin deliver a commencement address to a small group of home-schooled students in June 1997, Wasilla resident Philip Munger said, he asked the young mayor about her religious beliefs.

Palin told him that "dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time," Munger said. When he asked her about prehistoric fossils and tracks dating back millions of years, Palin said "she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks," recalled Munger, who teaches music at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and has regularly criticized Palin in recent years on his liberal political blog, called Progressive Alaska.

The idea of a "young Earth" -- that God created the Earth about 6,000 years ago, and dinosaurs and humans coexisted early on -- is a popular strain of creationism.

Though in her race for governor she called for faith-based "intelligent design" to be taught along with evolution in Alaska's schools, Gov. Palin has not sought to require it, state educators say.

So, Palin takes a literalist-fundamentalist reading of scientific history.

There are more big gaffes in Sarah Palin's interview with Couric. The only thing is that these clips have not yet been broadcast. The clips make apparent that Palin knows of no Supreme Court rulings other than Roe v. Wade.
From Jonathan Martin in "The Politico":

Of concern to McCain's campaign, however, is a remaining and still-undisclosed clip from Palin's interview with Couric last week that has the political world buzzing.

The Palin aide, after first noting how "infuriating" it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions.

After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases.

There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.

On most days, Palin makes only one public appearance, if that. Fundraisers have been scrapped. And in the 10 days leading up to Thursday's debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden, she will have made only one major public appearance, which was with McCain.

With these verbal gaffes, is it any wonder that National Public Radio's Nina Tottenberg refers to Palin's campaign as being "sealed in a cocoon."

McCain and Palin made a joint appearance for CBS News' Katie Couric. Couric asked Palin for a clarification of the apparent inconsistency between the pair on cross-border attacks on Pakistan. The controversy originated in a voters' question to Palin about Pakistan. Yet, McCain alternatively called the voters' question a "gotcha journalism" question and claimed that Palin didn't hear the question that clearly. (Incidentally, Couric was now sporting the original Tina Fey heavy frame glasses.)
McCain/Palin are perfecting the Rudy Giuliani let me answer your question by reacting to it technique, but not responding to it:
Katie Couric: Over the weekend, Gov. Palin, you said the U.S. should absolutely launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan to, quote, "stop the terrorists from coming any further in." Now, that's almost the exact position that Barack Obama has taken and that you, Sen. McCain, have criticized as something you do not say out loud. So, Gov. Palin, are you two on the same page on this?

Sarah Palin: We had a great discussion with President Zardari as we talked about what it is that America can and should be doing together to make sure that the terrorists do not cross borders and do not ultimately put themselves in a position of attacking America again or her allies. And we will do what we have to do to secure the United States of America and her allies.

Palin chose to give a long-winded response that she hoped would divert voters' attention from the fact that she did not respond to Couric's query about inconsistencies between she and McCain.
Palin is uncanny with stretching the truth about the location of the question interchange. It was in a pizza parlor, yet Palin recast it as "a question from across an area."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout failure analyzed; the House rollcall

Monday afternoon (2:09 PM) the House of Representatives rejected the $700 bailout mortgage bailout bill. The roll call vote on HR 3997, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, was 228 nays versus 208 ayes.
The partisan breakdown was as follows:
Democrats: 140 for, 95 against
Republican: 65 for, 113 against, one not voting.
This above link, with a misleading bill title, offers a full roll call by last name, for supporters and opponents of the bailout bill.

This opposition to the bailout bill represents two trends. First, the Democratic opposition is composed of left flank Congressmen opposing the bill on economic populist grounds. (Examples of the Democratic opposition include John Conyers (MI) and Dennis Kucinich (OH).) The Democratic opponents see the bill as letting Wall Street figures off the hook for their misdeeds, and they see the bill as making Americans shoulder the weight for a calamity that was produced by Wall Street. The bailout has some economic provisions, such as stipulations that taxpayers will get a share of the mortgage profits. Yet, these provisions were apparently not enough for these Congress members.
Secondly, the Republican opposition is composed by conservative-economic diehards. This must be a terrible time for economic conservative purists. They woke up one day and the American political rules were inverted. The bailout calls for the state (the national government for those not versed in such jargon) to acquire risky mortgages and to --of course-- acquire those profits that the mortgage-holding U.S. government might acquire. The state takeover of financial offerings is a tremendous, unprecedented change from United States policy. It is this diversion from free-market orthodoxy that prompted John McCain to have misgivings in the bailout bill. The following quote indicates his lack of identification with the bill: "I'm confident we will have a deal . . . . How much I had to do with it, I'll let you and others be the judge."

Both factions have taken a big gamble in their stonewalling against the bailout. Stalling on a bailout poses the risk that financial markets (stocks and mortgage-holding institutions) will become shakier in coming weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777 points in reaction to the House defeat of the bailout bill, its greatest one-day fall in history.
Asian markets have continued to have a negative reaction to the anxiety surrounding the U.S. mortgage institutions. The Nikkei stock index (of Japan) fell 4.64 percent in early Tuesday trading, as of 12:16 AM (Eastern US Time).

The United Kingdom government nationalized (acquired for the state) the ailing mortgage lender, Bradford & Bingley, on Monday. On the same day, the Belgium, Luxemburg and Netherlands governments (popularly referred to as the Benelux governments or nations) have put 11.2 billion euros into the ailing insurance firm, Fortis.
At the end of last week, the United States saw the largest failure of a bank, Washington Mutual. JP Morgan Chase acquired "WaMu"'s assets for $1.9 billion.

Polls put public support for the bailout at a very low level. John Hockenberry offered a figure of 30 percent for the bill, on "The Takeaway" Tuesday morning. Rasmussen on September 27 put the figure of support at 24 percent favoring the bill.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama passes the Commander-in-Chief test

Ilana Goldenberg, writing last night in Democracy Arsenal, argued that Sen. Barack Obama passed the "Commander in Chief test.
(Did anyone notice how John McCain lacked the manners of a gentleman during the debate? He laughed during Barack Obama's answers. Inherently signs of immaturity and limited self-confidence.)
Debate Wrap Up: Obama Passes Commander in Chief Test
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

So what came out of this debate that John McCain tried to evade? The pressure was on McCain to win and win big. But he didn’t do that. Not at all. Obama won on key issues demonstrating that our foreign policy is more than just about the surge. McCain frequently reverted back to clichés calling his opponent naïve and lacking judgment. But those accusations weren’t actually substantiated by what happened. Obama actually looked more presidential while McCain often sounded condescending or angry.

Moreover, McCain also failed to show how he would be any different than George Bush on any of the key issues: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. It was just more of the same.

1. On Iran McCain continues to try and change the fact that his own advisor Henry Kissinger came out in favor of the Obama approach.

2. On spending McCain promised to cut earmarks of $18 billion and cure our budgetary woes through cutting spending. Unfortunately, his policies including $120 billion a year in Iraq and $175 billion on growing the military dwarf that.

3. On Iraq. McCain continues to obsess about the surge but misses the broader point of strategy over tactics and the need to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan where the greatest threat is from.

4. McCain called Pakistan a failed state prior to 1998. That would have been pretty disturbing if it were true considering Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

5. On Afghanistan and Pakistan it is clear that John McCain has a long record of completely ignoring the war in Afghanistan and the Al Qaeda safehaven in Pakistan that our intelligence community and military leaders believe presents the greatest direct danger to the United States.

6. On Russia McCain touted the wisdom of his own reckless response – a response criticized by five secretaries of state including Henry Kissinger, Jim Baker and Colin Powell.

7. McCain repeatedly claimed that he could work effectively with our allies. But has a long history of alienating them and won’t even talk with Spain

8. McCain had issues with a number of foreign leaders names stumbling over Ahmadinejad’s name and calling the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari by the wrong name

Projected McCain claims in debate

Democracy Arsenal predicted 10claims that John McCain would make in the September 26 debate at Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi).
10 Claims John McCain will make in tonight's debate
Posted by Max Bergmann

Here are ten claims to watch for from John McCain tonight:

Claim 1: McCain will say his foreign policy is different from that of George W. Bush. Reality: On the critical issues, ranging from advocating the invasion of Iraq only days after 9/11 to declaring premature victory in Afghanistan, to saber rattling on Iran and refusing to use tough diplomacy, John McCain's policies are in lock step with those of George W. Bush.

Claim 2: John McCain will tout his judgment, saying he hates war. Reality: John McCain has taken a dangerously aggressive approach to foreign policy advocating attacking six different countries in the last eight years. Moreover, McCain retains many of the same Neocon advisors who pushed for the war in Iraq in the first place.

Claim 3: McCain will say he has long been a critic of the war in Iraq. Reality: McCain was an early supporter of the Iraq War, linking Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction. He supported the Rumsfeld strategy of going with a minimal number of troops and said the war would be "easy." He continued to argue for staying the course until 2006.

Claim 4: McCain will take credit for the "surge" and argue that the troop increase is responsible for the entire decline in violence and that as a result we have succeeded. Reality: Military leaders have acknowledged that there were numerous reasons for the reduction in violence including the Anbar Awakening and political engagement with Muqtada al-Sadr. In fact, McCain confused the sequence of events in Iraq arguing that the troop increase caused the Anbar Awakening, even though the Anbar Awakening came first. Moreover, General Petraeus has warned that it is too early to declare victory as John McCain and his allies are doing.

Claim 5: McCain will say he wants to send more troops to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reality: McCain has continued to make Iraq the number one priority and has not explained how he will keep large troop levels in Iraq while meeting the requirements in Afghanistan and elsewhere laid out by military commander and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He has shown little interest in Afghanistan saying we can just "muddle through" in 2003 and declaring victory in 2005. In fact, McCain had no policy on Afghanistan until July 15, 2008 and Afghanistan did not come up once in all of the major speeches during the Republican National Convention. Meanwhile, Barack Obama and progressives have been sounding the alarm for years.

Claim 6: McCain will say he will get Osama Bin Laden and go after Al Qaeda. Reality: John McCain was a strong early supporter of the Iraq war - a war that resulted in assets and focus being pulled away from the hunt for Bin Laden and Afghanistan. While Obama has supported going after high-value targets in al Qaeda's safe haven in Pakistan, McCain has criticized Obama for a position that has now become official U.S. policy.

Claim 7: McCain will cite his response to the crisis in Georgia as evidence of good judgment. Reality: McCain recklessly issued bellicose statements without waiting for all the facts, while Barack Obama, other world leaders, and even President Bush took a more measured approach. McCain then went on to claim that "we are all Georgians." In fact, McCain has had a dangerous policy towards Russia for some time, proposing to kick them out of the G8 - a policy that would preclude any cooperation on critical issues such as nonproliferation.

Claim 8: McCain will say that talking to Iran is weak and naive. Reality: There is a bipartisan consensus on the need to talk to Iran. Five secretaries of state including Henry Kissinger and Jim Baker all agreed recently that we have to talk to them directly. Obama's plan calls for tough direct diplomacy in combination with sanctions and other pressures. McCain's plan of refusing to talk is the same policy that George Bush pursued until very recently - a policy that has failed and that if continued will one day force the U.S. to make a no-win decision between attacking Iran or allowing it to attain a nuclear weapons capability.

Claim 9: McCain will say he can work effectively with our allies. Reality: John McCain has a long history of belligerence and heated rhetoric towards our allies. In the run up to the Iraq War he called France and Germany "vacuous and posturing" and referred to them as our "adversaries." Recently he said he might not meet with Spain's Prime Minister and on top of that he is quite unpopular internationally.

Claim 10: McCain will say he will cut wasteful defense spending. Reality: McCain has been all over the map on defense spending. His plan to add about 200,000 ground troops to the military would cost $25 billion a year. Meanwhile, in his budget plan released in July he promised to cut $160 billion from the budget by opposing the Future Combat System, yet he now criticizes Obama's promise to cut spending on that same program. See the data after the jump.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Networks protest blocked access to Palin; Couric interview explains why access is blocked

The McCain/Palin handlers sequestered Gov. Sarah Palin away from the television networks on the occasion of Palin's visits with international leaders at the United Nations. {{Scroll below for frightening comments Palin made to CBS' Couric.}}
Huffington Post issued a compilation of reports from major media outlets (CBS, AP, ABC). This excerpt from ABC News summed up the situation:
There's a battle going on right now over how the networks will be allowed to cover Sarah Palin's big day of visits in NY with world leaders. Palin is scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai shortly, followed by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and then with McCain advisor, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The networks had arranged for a "pool" camera- one camera to cover the meetings, whose video would be pooled or shared with all networks. Such arrangements are standard when dealing with intimate high-level meetings between leaders and candidates. But typically, along with cameras, there is an editorial presence-- at least one print reporter, one TV reporter and one radio reporter is standard. Today, the McCain campaign had said it would allow only one editorial person inside. Now, the campaign is saying it wants only the camera inside with no editorial presence. All of the networks are objecting. Stay tuned.

P.S.: The networks have just voted to BAN any use of the photographs/video in protest.

* * *
A major CNN female anchor, Campbell Brown, charged the McCain campaign's treatment of Palin as sexist. The writer wondered whether this cloistering away of the VP pick would have happened were the VP nominee a man.
* * *
Sarah Palin's appearance with CBS News' Katie Couric resolved any questions as to why the McCain/Palin handlers have kept the media away from Palin: She can be an unmitigated disaster when she is allowed to speak unscripted. Commentators such as myself have already expressed great discomfort with her comments. Her statements about Russia, Alaska and her fitness to lead in the international stage suggest to this writer naivete, ignorance and a flippant attitude toward the seriousness of having a deep understanding of international relations. Her statements to Couric profoundly underscore this impression, as reported this afternoon in in the Huffington Post:

COURIC: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have with-- Canada. It-- it's funny that a comment like that was-- kind of made to-- cari-- I don't know, you know? Reporters--


PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.

COURIC: Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials.

PALIN: Well, it certainly does because our-- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia--

COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where-- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is-- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to-- to our state.

URL link for above Couric interview.

Click here for a link to CBS News video showing the dizzyingly disorganized melange of cliches that constitutes Palin's thought [in Couric's interview with Palin]. All she does is string together phrases composed of standard economy and foreign policy buzzwords. Her speech does not indicate someone that has a well-conceived conception of policy.

Will he debate? / disingenous suspension of campaign

The empty debate stand
--an awful sight, we have seen it too much in the last quarter century.

Yet, with the change of leadership must months away, and the election a mere 40 days away, Sen. John McCain has bailed out of this week's debate.

Tonight's news has, as its lead story, news of a tentative bipartisan deal on the financial crisis. And, as Sen. Barack Obama has noted, people are able to both vote on the urgent legislation and fly down to Mississippi for a debate. (The trip is only about two and a half or three hours, John.) Yet, McCain still ***has not*** committed to participating in tomorrow night's debate at the University of Mississippi.

Even Mike Huckabee said that McCain made "a huge mistake" by bowing out of the debate.

This so-called suspension of campaign is clearly a weasling out of tomorrow's debate. As noted on Open Left, John McCain hasn't suspended campaigning. Look at how he has made stops on all the major television networks tonight.
And of course, notice how the neo-Rovean-Rick Davis-led McCain campaign continues to run television ads. Is that suspension of campaigning John?

Palin certified as free from witchcraft --in 2005

Just when you thought it was safe to remove your attention from all of the bizarre features of Gov. Sarah Palin's (Alaska) life and politics, news comes of a strange blessing at one Wasilla church.

A visiting pastor from Kenya, Thomas Muthee, blessed Sarah Palin as free from "witchcraft." News reports today indicated today that in 2005 Palin, then aspiring for higher office, accepted an anti-witchcraft blessing at the pentacostal Wasilla Assembly of God church. Muthee's blessing was inherently part of a larger critique of school policies that promote awareness of twenty-first century America's diverse spiritual traditions,
"If we have that in our schools we will not have kids being taught how to worship Buddha, how to worship (Prophet) Mohammed. We will not have in the curriculum, witchcraft and sorcery," Muthee said.

The youtube video of the blessing appears at right on this blog page.

Major Groups Demand Bailout Conditions

From commondreams.org:

Major Groups Demand Bailout Conditions Together
Statement Tells Congress, “Don’t Write President Bush A $700B Blank Check”, Hundreds of Events To Be Held on Thursday Calling For Conditions


A Call for Common Sense

Every man, woman, and child in America is now being told to ante up $2,000 – an estimated $700 billion in all – to bail out Wall Street’s recklessness, or the very people who created this crisis are telling us that they will bring down our entire economy.

The Treasury Department’s proposal that the Secretary be given essentially unlimited authority to spend $700 billion to bail out any financial institution across the world is irresponsible and unacceptable.

We urge the Congress to insist on some basic conditions for any bailout.

1. Public Oversight. This kind of power can never be centralized in a single individual – much less one who did not even stand for election. Any funds must be controlled by an independent entity, with consumers and workers given seats on its board. Congress should be empowered to name independent monitors and to approve all board members.
2. Protect the Taxpayer. The Treasury bill would have taxpayers buying paper that nobody else wants at prices far above its current value. If a firm wants to auction off its toxic paper to the US Government, taxpayers should get equity in that firm equal to any amount paid in excess of the paper’s value. This will deter profitable firms from using the government as a dumpster for their toxic paper. And it will insure that if the bailout works and the firms become profitable, taxpayers, not simply bankers, benefit from the upside.
3. Curb the casino. This crisis was caused because sensible regulations of the banking system that worked for dozens of years were dismantled or went unenforced. No bailout can go forward without requiring the necessary regulation to insure this does not happen again. Any institution, which receives assistance, should agree to come under a microscope going forward in terms of disclosure requirements, and it should have stringent capital requirement imposed upon it.
4. Invest in the real economy. Ending the bankers strike is not sufficient enough to avoid the recession into which we have been driven. Major public investment in new energy and conservation, rebuilding schools and infrastructure, extending unemployment and food stamps, helping states avoid crippling cuts in police and health services – is vital to get the real economy moving and put people back to work. No bailout should proceed without being linked to support for a major public investment plan to get the economy going.
5. Hold CEOs and Boards of Directors Accountable. Wall Street CEOs shouldn’t be pocketing millions while taxpayers are forced to bail them out. Any firm that applies for relief must agree to cancel all stock option programs and CEOs should have stringent limits placed on their compensation until the Company has repaid all taxpayer assistance.
6. Aid the victims, not just the predators. Both bankers and home owners made foolish bets that home prices would keep rising. Many homeowners, however, were misled by predatory lenders into taking mortgages that they didn’t understand and couldn’t afford. It would be simply obscene to help the predators and not those that they preyed upon. No bail out of the banks should take place without measures to help people in trouble stay in their homes. Explicit provisions should ensure use of the full array of financial and legal tools available to the government to stop foreclosures and restructure home mortgage loans for ordinary Americans, including amending the bankruptcy code to allow judges to modify mortgages. Where workouts are not feasible, people should be allowed to stay in their homes as renters.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FLASH: Letterman mocks McCain's temporary bailing out of campaign

Matt Drudge [ugh] revealed: {{See my take below, earlier today, on McCain's campaign suspension.}}

Wed Sep 24 2008 17:41:58 ET

David Letterman tells audience that McCain called him today to tell him he had to rush back to DC to deal with the economy.

Then in the middle of the taping Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, "Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?"

Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, "You don't suspend your campaign. This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves." And he joked: "I think someone's putting something in his Metamucil."

"He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sarah Palin. Where is she?"

"What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"

NIGHT TWO: Letterman still hurt
David Letterman kept up his barrage vs. McCain. He is usually apolitical, but news reports had Letterman still upset. Letterman said that he felt like an "ugly date" because McCain still him up:
The comic was unhappy when McCain sat for an interview with Katie Couric instead of him Wednesday — and even more perturbed to learn that McCain didn't leave New York until Thursday.

He said he felt like a "patriot" to let McCain off his commitment to deal with the economy and "now I'm feeling like an ugly date."

"That's what I feel like, I feel like an ugly date," he said. "I feel used. I feel cheap. I feel sullied."

McCain pulls second surreal campaign maneuver

This is just absurd. I just heard the John McCain statement about suspending the campaign on the Rachel Maddow Show. Initially, I thought that this was a joke, compiled of snippets of his speech.

McCain's move to "suspend his campaign" is crass grandstanding.

What John McCain should have been doing previously has been attending Senate sessions for votes. McCain has not been in the Senate for a vote since April. Admittedly, Obama has been away from Washington, but only since July.

Secondly, what McCain should have been doing was giving serious attention to the economy. Instead, as recently as nine days ago, he said "the fundamentals of the economy are strong." Maybe McCain is exercising damage control, trying to erode the memory of this unfortunate and clumsy assessment of the economy.

True, the financial system is in a dire condition, but you do not flee from crises during election time. Let's look at past moments of crisis and election campaigns. In 1864, when Abraham Lincoln was facing a formidable challenge from the Copperhead Democrats, he did not suspend his campaign. In the 1930s, in the depths of the depression, did Hoover, Roosevelt or Roosevelt's challengers suspend their campaigns. In World War II, Roosevelt did not suspend his campaign.

McCain's Sarah Palin choice was surreal and an unsettling enough demonstration of his maverick character, this new campaign-suspension maneuver suggests that McCain is impulsive character --not someone you want as a leader in crises. It suggests that he cannot handle multiple crises, as presidents and presidential candidates must be prepared to do. This wild move by McCain provides one more indication that he is not the right person for the job, and is lacking in sound judgment. As David Bender said tonight, filling in for Rachel Maddow, on Air America, panic is not the feeling that one should be spreading in this period. McCain, by this irresponsible move, is acting in a way that lends to panic, and does not lend to public confidence.

Just to offer a speculative consideration (and offering an analysis by one of Binder's radio guests tonight), Sarah Palin is scheduled to debate Joe Biden next week, on October 2. Palin is a disaster, and is unprepared to face Washington veteran Biden in a debate on the issues. Suspension of the campaign offers the chance to sideline Palin out of the scrutiny of an unscripted debate.

This campaign interruption sidelines the (McCain campaign top advisor) Rick Davis disaster. The press on Davis and his hefty lobbying payments from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are a public relations disaster for the McCain campaign. Perhaps McCain was fishing for any move that he imagine would do anything to deflect attention from Davis.

Barack Obama and the Democratic Party should not fall for McCain
responsible, reckless gambit.
The Obama campaign is remaining steadfast for this Friday: "Obama: The Debate is On."

UPDATE: At Truthdig, we have the contributor who writes, "Now McCain Wants to Cancel the VP Debate."
The intro paragraphs of the post,
Was this the plan all along? CNN reports that Team McCain wants the first presidential debate to “take the place of the VP debate, currently scheduled for next Thursday” if there’s no bailout deal by Friday.

Senate Democrats appear to have made a deal with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and President Bush has invited both of the presidential candidates, along with other lawmakers, to the White House on Thursday to discuss the proposed solution to the financial crisis.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fannie & Freddie execs denounce McCain's smears

The John McCain campaign has been running television advertisements accusing Barack Obama of being advised by Franklin Raines, the former chief executive of Fannie Mae.
In reality, this accusation is a bald-faced lie. Both Raines and the Obama campaign deny this charge.
This lie is possibly a maneuver to divert attention from the actual relationship between the McCain campaign's Rick Davis and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Past and current executives for the two companies went public to express their disgust with the McCain campaign's inaccurate ads. They spoke on and off the record, to the "New York Times" as reported this morning in "Loan Titans Paid McCain Adviser Nearly $2 Million," by David D. Kirkpatrick and Charles Duhigg. The executives pointed out that Rick Davis received $30,000 per month from an advocacy organization (Homeownership Alliance) with the mission to represent Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Davis is McCain's campaign manager, and operates by distortion and smear in the mold of Roger Ailes and Karl Rove.
Christy Hardin Smith aptly called Rick Davis the "uber-lobbyist."
Illustrating the Republicans' galling hypocrisy, Davis in turn, helped thwart federal regulations that would have affected the two companies. Underscoring how McCain represents corporate interests instead of the public's interest is this quote:
“The value that he brought to the relationship was the closeness to Senator McCain and the possibility that Senator McCain was going to run for president again,” said Robert McCarson, a former spokesman for Fannie Mae . . . .

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Superb skewering of media double standards against Obama's candidacy and qualifications

As we are in the age of e-mailed political broadsides, here's one for the campaign. It cogently addresses the gross partisan media biases for John McCain / Sarah Palin and against Barack Obama. He has been bearing a cross of double standards and tough scrutiny that is unbalanced in comparison to the media's treatment of his opponents.
The media is uncanny in repeating the positive spin on Palin's quirkier points. This piece deserves broad dissemination in e-mails.

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers: a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
Name your kids Willow, Trig, and Track: you're a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.
Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating: you're well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
If your total resume is: local weatherwoman (sportscaster), 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with fewer than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
If your husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DUI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.
OK, much clearer now.

There you go. Fire away on your email messages.

Book: was Jack Abramoff the fall-guy for Washington's ills?

Anytime there is a huge concentration of blame on one person --almost alone-- for the ills of a corrupt institution, one should exercise some skepticism.

Boston-based freelance investigative reporter Gary S. Chafetz began writing his book on Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff with an eye towards his culpability in corrupt lobbying practices. He concluded his research with quite a different perspective.

In his "The Prefect Villain: John McCain and the Demonization of Lobbyist Jack Abramoff" (published last week by Martin & Lawrence Press), Chafetz asserts that Senator John McCain undertook an unduly vengeful crusade against Abramoff. He claimed that "McCain was retaliating against Abramoff for his role in the infamous 'black baby' smear campaign during the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary," as he summarized in the Huffington Post, on September 16, 2008. Abramoff had unwittingly funded the smear, by raising $3 million on short order for Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition. Without Abramoff's knowledge, Reed and George W. Bush advisor used the money to spread a smear by phone calls and flyers on windshields, to insinuate that McCain had an illegitimate black child by a prostitute. (The child actually is Bridget, whom Cindy McCain adopted from a Mother Teresa-operated orphanage in Bangladesh.)
Not only was Abramoff unfairly accused as producing this smear, Chafetz asserts, McCain produced a 373 page report rife with distortions and falsifications. The ills of lobbying and lobbyists' influence are more than one man; singular attention upon Abramoff was unfair. There is a different scandal within this story: the unrelenting abuse of power by a vengeful politician, Senator John McCain.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Economic blowback: the finanical crisis

I) Of course, the crisis in which mortgage-heavy banks and other lending institutions (e.g., Lehman Brothers, and so on) find themselves stems in huge part by giving loans willy-nilly to people that could not afford the properties -and in turn suffered foreclosures, losing their homes ....
Yet, II) we would be remiss to ignore the financial system's mess as also arising from the [Republican-driven, we should note!] deregulation mania of the 1980s. This crisis is economic blowback for ill-conceived lending practices and ill-conceived regulation "reforms."
Ah, deregulation . . . look at what it has wrought: disaster for the airlines; disaster for banks and other lending institutions.
Here is a good piece of the second factor noted above, namely, David Lightman, "Wall Street crisis is culmination of 28 years of deregulation", September 15, 2008, in McClatchy Newspapers.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

NYT peers into Palin's governing style

People take from school lessons. They can pull from school the importance of popularity; they can absorb the ideals of curiosity and scholarship. Alaska governor Sarah Palin, apparently, focused on the former area. The New York Times published today a revealing look at how she has manipulated people and power, drawing friends and her former classmates into her administration. The Wasilla high school yearbook, The Time's reported, serves as a who's who for the state government's circle of power. On the other hand, she has used her position, first as mayor, then as governor, to dismiss people she disliked or disagreed with.

One can see the logic of Palin's interest in journalism, her major upon graduating from the University of Idaho. She has taken care to manage image and information. She governs by isolating non-allies, and revealing policy to the public and non-ally politicians via press release. Unfortunately, she is extending the philosophy of cliquish-ness from high school into state government. A careful manager of political details and knowledge, she has taken the advise of advisers: they recommended that she and her associates use personal e-mail accounts, instead of government e-mail accounts, to communicate. The theory is that the private accounts would evade the radar of subpoenas.

Read the full article in the September 14, 2008 New York Times, by Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman and Michael Powell, "Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Project Vote Decries GOP plans to disenfranchise African-American voters

From Market Watch: "Project Vote Denounces GOP Plans to Foreclose on the Voting Rights of Low-Income Michigan Residents"

It is terrible to lose one's home to foreclosure. It is additionally terrible to be disenfranchised of one's right to vote by virtue of having one's home foreclosed.

The Macomb County, Michigan Republican Party (or "GOP") revealed that it planned to disenfranchise African-American voters that have lost their homes to foreclosure.
James Carabelli, chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County, Michigan, has announced plans to assign "election challengers" to polling places to question the eligibility of home foreclosure victims based on residency. "We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses," Carabelli told the [Michigan] Messenger . . . .

As the Messenger reports, Macomb County is in the top three-percent of counties in the U.S. hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis -- and African-Americans, as the primary victims of sub-prime lending practices, make up the majority of these cases. African-Americans also tend to vote democratic, which is why it's not surprising that the GOP would target these voters for suppression.

* * *
This is clearly a racist maneuver, and so, it is a violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments. Also, we have full adult suffrage; it is not the 1820s any more. You don't need to own property in order to vote. Democracy-minded voters should denounce the Republicans' plans. Lastly, the government should not permit private, non-governmental groups to assume powers of deciding whom should receive the franchise (the power to vote).

It is fortunate that the chicanery has been uncovered earlier. We must be vigilant against these disenfranchisement maneuvers continuously, through the end of the election. We must mobilize to make sure that people are not prevented from voting as they were in 2000 and 2004.
The September 11, 2008 Market Watch article on the GOP anti-franchise plans and Project Vote's protest.

By the end of September 11, the Michigan GOP withdrew the maneuver disenfranchise voters that had lost homes to foreclosure, but planned other vote-thwarting maneuvers, as this post from "Michigan Messenger" indicates: "Republicans recant plans to foreclose voters but admit other strategies"

FLASH: Todd Palin subpoened in troopergate probe

BREAKING NEWS from "Anchorage Daily News": The Alaska State Senate Judiciary Committee has voted 3 to 2 to subpoena 13 people, including Todd Palin, Gov. Sara Palin's husband, in the inquiry into whether there was abuse of power in the firing of Gov. Palin's ex-husband in law.

The full story in "The Anchorage Daily News."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Former GOP Senator: Palin \'Dangerous for the Future\'

Former GOP Senator: Palin 'Dangerous for the Future'

Posted using ShareThis
(At least some Republicans can see through the hype and mania for Palin; Lincoln Chafee, formerly a Senator of RI, gives his take on Palin.)

Meghan McCain: My Dad Says \'Lipstick on a Pig\'

Meghan McCain: My Dad Says 'Lipstick on a Pig'

Posted using ShareThis

Hilarious pair parodying Sarah Palin

Democratic Underground prominently placed a hilarious series of videos by Sara Benincasa, a New York City-based comedian.

Here is the latest video of Benincasa, with her sidekick, Diana Saez. This pair should be signed up by "Saturday Night Live." It is entitled "Governor Sarah Palin Vlog #8: LIBRARY!", referring to Palin's effort to censor books at Wasilla's public library.

NEWSFLASH: Benincasa & Saez team have done it again with a new video, Sarah Palin Vlog #9: CHURCH!

Letter from Wasilla acquaintance of Sarah Palin

This is a letter by Anne Kilkenny, whose existence has been confirmed by the new York Times. This letter has come via The Washington Independent.

From: http://www.washingtonindependent.com/3671/the-reform-candidate
Submitted by Michael Wrightson on Sept 1, 2008

Disclaimer re the Kilkenny letter about Palin:
There are few cites given, and I don't personally know Anne Kilkenny
and can't vouch for her identity, but the NY Times has interviewed her.
The letter is a starting point for those exploring the much-published
controversies surrounding Palin but since there are no cites, I've
added an Updates section for additional info and Reference pages.

(UPDATES - relevant articles/reference pages are below the Kilkenny letter. )

A note to all by Anne Kilkenny

Dear friends,

So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .

Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in common: their gender and their good looks. :)

You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .


[ Note by web_admin: This was already posted on Washington Independent
comments area and was meant by the author to be read by many, but
readers need sourcing. The NY Times has talked with Anne since. ]

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby. She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym. She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their
major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters. She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a
multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once. These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.

She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the
Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal--loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated” her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen
contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.
When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the
structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a
gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant
she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and
experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state initiative that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.
However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.

•“Hockey mom”: true for a few years
•“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since
•“NRA supporter”: absolutely true
•social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconstitutional).
•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.
•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation
•“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska.
No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.
•political maverick: not at all
•gutsy: absolutely!
•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.
•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.
•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents
•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla’s history.
•pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall--they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.

Anne Kilkenny
August 31, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

FLASH: NYC's Ed Koch endorses Obama

This is delicious: former New York City mayor Ed Koch has endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president, and he has cited Obama's foreign policy bona fides. For full disclosure, I am not a Koch fan; he's been too centrist in the past, witness his 2004 endorsement of George W. Bush. Yet, this endorsement, if properly disseminated, should aid Obama among undecideds, particularly in the Northeast.

Here are the highlights after Koch segues from his discussion of the 2004 presidential race:
So the issue for me is who will best protect and defend America.

I have concluded that the country is safer in the hands of Barack Obama, leader of the Democratic Party and protector of the philosophy of that party. Protecting and defending the U.S. means more than defending us from foreign attacks. It includes defending the public with respect to their civil rights, civil liberties and other needs, e.g., national health insurance, the right of abortion, the continuation of Social Security, gay rights, other rights of privacy, fair progressive taxation and a host of other needs and rights.

Here's the link to the Koch's complete endorsement statement, "Why I'm Voting for Obama-Biden", published by Real Clear Politics. Of course, he makes a strong case for Senator Joe Biden for vice president also.

Wasilla police billed rape victims for testing kits

Incredibly, Wasilla, Alaska has billed rape victims for the kits that were used to test them after rapes.

Further details are in this story. This news story tells of how Gov. Palin and the Alaska legislature finally outlawed this practice.

Key question: was this also policy under Sarah Palin's leadership of Wasilla, Alaska?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

CBS News' very good story on Palin vetting and selection

CBS TV News made a very good report on the Palin vetting and selection.

Here is the video link, courtesy of openleft.com.

This terrific piece blows away the myth on "the Bridge to Nowhere." Palin supported the bridge at first; the town kept the feds' bridge money after the firestorm. As mayor of Wasilla she hired a lobbying firm to push for pork barrel earmarks for her town of under 9,000.

The Bristol pregnancy in a larger social context

(Bristol Palin is the 17 year old daughter of Alaska governor and presumptive vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.)
Bristol Palin has a fairy tale existence for her pregnancy. Her parents have ample resources to assist in the care and raising of her baby. Her mother is a state governor; her father is a high salary oil industry employee. So, of course, keeping her baby is no problem.

Public health experts in children's health inform us of the great importance of pre-natal and neo-natal care for children and for their mothers. We can only applaud the fact that Bristol will get support from her parents. Yet, what is the situation of those teen mothers that receive shame from their own parents? What of those teen mothers who do not have powerful parents and are quickly abandoned by the men that sired the babies (we can't say father since they fled the mother and baby)?

The mothers in these latter two groups are left all on their own. A moment for joy and celebration is one in which they will have to bear the weight on their own, with limited resources. So, again, pre-natal and neo-natal care is essential for children and their mothers. This care is crucial for the long term physical, social and mental vibrancy of the young children. This is an area in which our government fails young mothers. By contrast, this is an area in which other industrialized countries excel. (Particularly, witness the Scandinavian countries for their health and social policies for lower income mothers.)

Let's look at how Governor Palin has acted in her leadership of Alaska, on funds for teen mothers. In her characteristically Republican penchant for keeping down social services spending, "Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms," as Paul Kane in "The Washington Post" reported. Kane reported on September 2, 2008 that Palin used her line-item veto to reduce funds that Alaska gave to Covenant House by twenty percent. Kane noted that Covenant House's website states that their mission is to
"young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives" and help teen moms "become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families."

We all support families. Let's remember what "supporting families" really entails. Is the Republican Party truly the party of "family values"? -Or is the party merely giving lip service to this ideal? We must note that Palin is insensitive and inconsistent in her support for teen mothers.


Palin also cut funds to a Fairbanks Alaska foodbank for Thanksgiving, 2007. Also, see this source. Here are additional notes on slashing of social service spending in May, 2008.