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Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 10:47 AM PDT

Vetting Troopergate

by smintheus

As if you needed further evidence that John McCain didn't bother to vet Sarah Palin carefully: McCain's vetters never even spoke to the man at the center of "Troopergate", the former commissioner of public safety whom Palin fired.

No one from the McCain campaign ever contacted him to vet Palin as a candidate, [Walt] Monegan said.

Who did they contact? "We don't talk about the vetting process," said Maria Comella, Palin's vice president campaign press secretary.

Vetting "process"? I think "vetting chaos" would be a better term. It looks like McCain's vetting of "Troopergate" may have begun in earnest only on Saturday. Yes, Saturday, the day after McCain announced his VP choice - at least according to Celtic Diva's source in Alaska.

A very reliable source overheard Republican spokesperson McHugh Pierre state TODAY [i.e. Friday] that he had spoken to the McCain Campaign. They are coming to Alaska tomorrow to check out the "Troopergate" investigation.

McHugh Pierre is an ally of Frank Murkowski so it's possible that he doesn't have the best of intentions toward Palin in this matter. But from what I understand, Pierre's comment was not intended for public dissemination. Certainly the Anchorage Daily News' report quoted above implies that, if McCain vetted "Troopergate" at all, it was done sloppily and with no sense of urgency to get at the truth.

And now the McCain campaign is trying to blame this long running scandal on...you guessed it, Barack Obama. From the ADN report:

"The Governor did nothing wrong and has nothing to hide," the McCain/Palin campaign said in a statement, blaming the issue on the campaign of the Democratic nominee, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. "It’s outrageous that the Obama campaign is trying to attack her over a family issue. As a reformer and a leader on ethics reform, she has been happy to help out in the investigation of this matter, because she was never directly involved."

This is so silly, where to begin? Is McCain saying that Palin would not be willing to help in an investigation of something she is directly involved with?

And how is abuse of power a "family issue"? Is it just second nature for all Republicans to treat elective office as if its powers and perks belong to the family, sort of like an inheritence? Or is McCain actually admitting that Palin's husband was involved in pressuring Monegan to fire their ex-brother-in-law? It's no secret that Todd Palin wields power aggressively in the Governor's office.

In this profile of Sarah Palin's early career I said that she appears to have a temperament much like Dick Cheney's, especially as regards her readiness to abuse power the moment she gets it. By trying to shift the blame for the scandal to Obama, McCain is starting already to make excuses for her malicious behavior. Yet another sign that a McCain victory would mean a third term of Bush/Cheney.

For what it's worth, I suspect what the McCain campaign was really trying to suggest is that Sarah Palin is off limits to criticism because she's a mother. It's an extension of McCain's attempt to inoculate himself against legitimate criticism by crying "POW". From now on, it'll be a double Teflon Shield for the Republican ticket: POW + MOM.

crossposted from unbossed.com

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To put it mildly, John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate raises troubling questions about how far he'll stoop in his quest for the presidency. To begin with, she's virtually unknown outside Alaska. Indeed most Alaskans know little about her because she rose from obscurity to become Governor only 20 months ago. In other words, McCain expects us to embrace his vice presidential choice without our having access to much information about her. He's trying to sell us a pig in a poke.

Furthermore, why would a candidate who has bashed his rival for supposedly insufficient experience on the national stage, select a VP with none at all? Why would a man who praises himself (seemingly alone) for putting his country first, whose physical fitness is in doubt, choose a running mate so dangerously underprepared to take over the presidency? She's arguably the least qualified nominee of a major party, ever. Palin's comments on foreign and domestic policy reveal her to be the lightest of lightweights. Palin makes Dan Quayle look profound by comparison. And to think that in 1972 some people argued that Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm had too little experience to be running for president.

Palin's main political experience, a short tenure as Governor of a small oil-state with a part-time legislature, is quickly turning into a fiasco of scandal after scandal. She's already under investigation for abuse of power in firing a commissioner who refused to fire her brother in law, a police officer. And Palin's earlier career, though murky, doesn't exactly inspire confidence. I've already commented about how she left her small town's finances in terrible shape during her years as mayor of Wasilla, AK. It turns out that her tenure was tumultuous in other ways as well.

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Sarah Palin was had political experience only as a small town mayor until less than two years ago. What we don't know about her could fill a book. Here are a few things we're learning about Palin.

Sarah Palin left the finances of her town Wasilla in tatters when she moved on in 2002 (h/t xgz). She wanted a legacy as mayor, it seems, and pushed hard for the town to build a hyper-expensive sports complex. But Palin screwed the process up badly. Instead of buying the land for the complex when it was offered, her administration allowed a developer named Gary Lundgren to snap it up. Then Wasilla tried to seize the land from Lundgren through eminent domain. In the end, what with court costs Wasilla paid at least $ 1.7 million for land it could have bought for less than one tenth that sum - if the purchase had been handled properly. For this incompetence, Wasilla is still paying a steep price: higher taxes and cutbacks in services. In other words Palin is about as efficient as Michael Brown, onetime head of FEMA.

Diarist loyalson, a resident of Wasilla, has more to say about the damage Palin did to his town while she was mayor.

On the single most debated issue of our times, the Iraq war, Sarah Palin similarly was out to lunch until as recently as last spring. Shortly after becoming governor, she was asked her views on the surge (h/t LizzyPop):

Alaska Business Monthly: We've lost a lot of Alaska's military members to the war in Iraq. How do you feel about sending more troops into battle, as President Bush is suggesting?

Palin: I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe. Every life lost is such a tragedy.

John McCain would have us believe that Iraq is the central battle in the war on terror, and yet he selects as his running mate somebody who was paying almost no attention to the Iraq war for 4 long years after the invasion.

So what was Palin focused on?

Alaska Business Monthly: It's extremely early to ask this, but when your tenure as governor is over, what would you like to have accomplished? How would you like to be remembered?

Palin: I want people to remember me as having always conducted the state's business in an upright and honest manner. I want them to understand that I put Alaska first in every decision I made.

Try to square that with the troopergate scandal, in which Palin allegedly misused her power as governor by bringing inappropriate pressure for two employees to be fired. What's perhaps most interesting is that Palin appears to have begun misusing power almost as soon as she got any real power.

Speaking of inconsistencies, earlier this month Palin praised Barack Obama's energy plan (h/t Excelscior1). Here is the cached version of the press release that had been posted at the Governor's website. The original document has been scrubbed sometime during the last day (since Aug. 28). I wonder if that could have anything to do with McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate?

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Less than a week ago John McCain was all broken up because Barack Obama had not selected the runner-up in the primary as his VP.

"She won millions of votes - but isn't on his ticket. Why? For speaking the truth, on his plans."

It's a pretty darned strange argument to make, isn't it? The runner-up in primaries has never had a claim on the vice presidency. Neither party's runners-up got on the tickets in 2000, or 1996, or 1992, or 1988, or 1984.

I wonder if McCain was just projecting his own thinking onto Obama?  Could it be he refused to pick Mitt Romney because he'd spoken the truth about McCain?

"I simply don’t think that the people of Florida are gonna say the nominee of our party ought to be a person who on more than one occasion has expressed lack of understanding of our economy at a time when the economy is the number one issue that people are talking about here in the state of Florida," Romney said.

"I know that there are some people who think, as Sen. McCain did, he said, you know, some jobs are leaving Michigan and they're not coming back. I disagree."

“Some politicians, as I said, are more interested in insults than issues,” Mr. Romney said.

Yes, I think that might well be the reason McCain ignored Romney's millions of voters. No doubt some enterprising reporter will ask McCain why he passed over the runner-up.

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Well that was a truly forgettable speech. We learned that McCain is still aiming to recast himself as the real agent of change, somehow. But there was little in the speech to explain why a Washington insider who's tied himself as closely as anyone to a deeply unpopular president should be considered an agent of change. I'm reminded of a comment my father made in passing back in the 1970s about the philosophy of Republicans:

"Republicans are always in favor of change, just not now."

The other thing we learned is that McCain still believes he can capture some of Hillary Clinton's voters. But Sarah Palin offered nothing in her banal speech that would be attractive to those voters aside from her own gender.

It was a 4th or 5th drawer speech that would have been more appropriate for the state-level chicken-dinner circuit than for the national stage. No wonder John McCain looked so nervous you thought he might have a seizure right on stage.

What didn't we learn? Why Sarah Palin should be considered ready to take over the presidency. We heard nothing about her foreign policy views - if she has any. We learned practically nothing about domestic issues. She said nothing that spoke directly to the interests of voters of Ohio specifically. It was as if she didn't know how to reach out to people outside her own state.

Heck, we didn't even learn how large the crowd was in Dayton. I wonder if the McCain campaign wanted to keep it that way.

Discuss

Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 06:53 PM PDT

Corinthian columns as a wedge issue

by smintheus

Reader PH points out that several weeks ago Stephen Colbert encouraged Republicans to consider making the Corinthian column a wedge issue in the November election. As always, Colbert has his finger on the pulse of the national GOP.

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Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:23 PM PDT

Mocking Republican mockery

by smintheus

Republican mockery of the neo-classical backdrop built at Invesco Field has revealed one thing clearly: They're a dumb bunch.

 title=They forgot that George Bush accepted the Republican nomination in 2004 on a similar neo-classical set. The columns were less Greek and more Roman Imperial, but that's a stylistic preference for Republicans. You would have thought somebody in the GOP was paying attention that day.

Republican propagandists are likening the Invesco colonade to a Greek temple on Mt. Olympus. In other words, Republicans have no idea what temples are for; there were no temples on Mt. Olympus since temples were built by humans, not gods.

The Boston Globe, under the ironic heading "Political Intelligence", reports on words of wisdom from Tim Pawlenty:

On ABC, Pawlenty said, "This Roman-like facade, a facade with Roman columns, is a perfect metaphor or icon for the point that it's an interesting production, but behind it there's not much there."

Greek, Roman, democracy, empire, who of us on the Republican side of the aisle can tell the difference? It's all just history anyway.

That might explain the McCain campaign's dull-witted press release yesterday:

Today, workers at Invesco Field are putting the final touches on the newest wonder of the modern political world -- The Temple of Obama ("The Barackopolis").

Ahh, er..."Barackopolis" would mean in Greek "the city of Barack". Cities and temples both existed in antiquity (just as merchant ships and entrenching tools did), but that doesn't mean they're identical. But the McCainiacs aren't content just making a few gross errors. It's clear they're aiming to corner the dimwit vote in its entirety:

There may be some confusion among the press about the venue and appropriate dress code for Barack Obama's big speech. To help out, we wanted to provide the following tips on appropriate attire. The toga may have gone out of style centuries ago, but after Obama's temple speech tomorrow night, they’re sure to be flying off the racks.

The toga is of course a Roman, not a Greek, style of dress. The press release adds a helpful illustration of a Roman man who is most definitely not wearing a toga.

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Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 07:25 AM PDT

John McCain, friend of Labor

by smintheus

John McCain owns more homes than he can remember. John McCain pays at least 3 times as much per year for the salaries of household servants as the average American household earns. And John McCain thinks Americans are too lazy to do strenuous work for $50 an hour.

In April 2006, John McCain taunted workers at an AFL-CIO meeting who were concerned that immigration tends to depress wages in the US. Here's a transcript of his comments from an audio tape of the meeting:

John McCain: "I don't think I need to tell you that there are jobs that Americans will not do. I don't think I have to tell you that there are ... the backbone of our economy...

Audience members: "Pay them the right wages."

John McCain: "You know I've heard that statement before. Now, my friends, I'll offer anybody here fifty dollars an hour if you'll go pick lettuce in Yuma this season and pick for the whole season. So, ok, sign up! Ok, when you sign up, you sign up, and you'll be there for the whole season, the whole season, ok, not just one day. Because you can't do it, my friend."

Two days ago a video became available (h/t to PaulVA).

John McCain, scion of a privileged family, has been surrounded by servants his whole life. That's all John McCain really knows.

Discuss

Wed Aug 27, 2008 at 06:04 PM PDT

Dear DNC: Enough of the happy talk

by smintheus

Speaking for myself, I think by now we've had plenty of happy talk at the Democratic National Convention. The American public is not in a good mood; it thinks the country is headed in the wrong direction; and it's fed up to HERE with dysfunctional and corrupt government. Americans probably can tolerate only so much uplift coming from any group of politicians.

No, convention speakers needn't bother to tell us that George Bush has been a godawful president. Everybody gets that who's been awake during any of the last 8 years.

What our friends at the DNC might want to explain, in these few days when they've got our attention, is why the current Republican philosophy of governance led to this mess. There are plenty of Americans who have never given it much thought – why a political party that is hostile to government inevitably undermines good government; why a party that seeks at every turn to privatize government can have no clear idea how to govern; why a party that turns instinctively to divisiveness cannot fail to injure a commonwealth; why a party that hands government over to the powerful to despoil can never be trusted to help the rest of us. They might even want to show the public how John McCain has taken part in the Republican train wreck during the last 8 years.

There are plenty of Americans, too, who don't really know much about John McCain's temperament – his fits of anger, his impulsiveness, his bellicosity, his mendacity. Some don't realize how profoundly ignorant and misinformed John McCain is about foreign affairs and about domestic issues. Many of the public may be only vaguely aware of how privileged a life John McCain has led, or how out of touch he is from ordinary Americans' experiences. A fair number of people "know" the myth the news media have peddled for years about John McCain, and little else.

You might want to remedy that by giving us less uplift and more actual straight talk about what the next 4 years would hold under Republican governance. Now would be a good time to do that.

Discuss

A big tip of the hat to aspiring VP (and real estate expert) Mitt Romney for pitching in yesterday to help prolong the national discussion about John McCain's four seven eight ten superabundance of homes. Showing the kind of political acumen that made him stand out on the campaign trail this year, Mittens brought his insight about the houses flap straight to reporters.

Speaking to reporters at a lunch sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Romney said that while McCain deserved his houses because of the "hard work" of himself and his family, "Barack Obama got a special deal from a convicted felon."

Nearly all the dozen or so homes were bought by Cindy McCain, who inherited her fortune. Obama by contrast bought his one house from what he earned from the books he wrote; he got a "special deal" on his house from nobody, felon or otherwise.

"I think it was a strange thing for Barack Obama to seize upon," Romney said. "If homes is going to be the topic of discussion that Barack Obama is going to end up on the short end of that one."

It's been working out so poorly for Obama that McCain went on Leno the previous day to explain why he can't remember how many homes he owns (hint: it involves the fact he was once a POW).

"The truth is the first casualty of the new politics practiced by the Obama campaign," Romney added.

No, Mitt, your vice presidential hopes are.

Discuss

Wed Aug 27, 2008 at 06:50 AM PDT

McCain to World: Get off our lawn

by smintheus

In a bold leap forward in his nationalistic rhetoric, John McCain yesterday warned the World to get off America's lawn. Addressing the American Legion Convention in Phoenix, McCain complained about Barack Obama's Berlin speech of last month. Obama had declared that by working together the nations of the world could more effectively address international terrorism and other problems we face in common. You'd have thought that was pretty uncontroversial, but you wouldn't have reckoned with John McCain's slick presidential team. It decided that what Americans want to see is more confrontation with the rest of the globe, in the guise of "leadership". It turns out that America also wants to be reminded yet again that McCain was once a POW.

From McCain's speech:

My opponent had the chance to express such confidence in America, when he delivered a much anticipated address in Berlin. He was the picture of confidence, in some ways. But confidence in oneself and confidence in one's country are not the same. And in that speech, Senator Obama left an important point unclear. He suggested that the end of the Cold War proved that there was, "no challenge too great for a world that stands as one." Now I missed a few years of the Cold War, as the guest of one of our adversaries, but as I recall the world was deeply divided during the Cold War -- between the side of freedom and the side of tyranny. The Cold War ended not because the world stood "as one," but because the great democracies came together, bound together by sustained and decisive American leadership.

Steve Benen wonders "Why would a man running to be Leader of the Free World publicly reject the notion of international cooperation on global challenges?"

McCain seems to have gotten Obama's speech backwards. Obama talked about taking on global challenges -- counter-terrorism, global warming, counter-proliferation, the international drug trade -- and encouraging Europeans to join with the United States because, "No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them."

[...] As Obama described it, encouraging our allies to follow our lead ultimately serves our interests, and the interests of free people around the globe.

McCain perceives this as lacking "confidence in America." I'm afraid today's bizarre criticism says more about McCain's twisted worldview than Obama's faith in American strength.

'Bizarre' is one word for McCain's hyper-nationalistic chest-thumping. He went on in his speech to insist that oppressed people around the world "do not resent or resist America's democratic influence in the world". Nope, no resentment at all - especially not in the neocon proving ground for exporting democracy, Iraq.

Discuss

Tue Aug 26, 2008 at 06:31 PM PDT

Gloria Craven's story

by smintheus

Below the fold is the speech that Gloria Craven just delivered at the Democratic National Convention. It was a speech from the heart by one of the millions of Americans who has been harmed by George Bush's economy. The pundits who inhabit the bubble of Washington DC ought to pay heed to what she has to say. This is why so many ordinary Americans are completely fed up with Republican rule.

Please take the poll at the end. This is the classic question for judging the mood of the electorate in a presidential election year.

Poll

Are you better off now than you were 8 years ago?

24%1793 votes
75%5525 votes

| 7326 votes | Vote | Results

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