Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Justice Report: Politics Led to Attorney Firings

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is gone but not forgotten. As you may remember, the Bush crony from Texas presided over a highly politicized Justice Department, as a new report has found.

Here's the latest Gonzales news, courtesy of the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — An internal Justice Department investigation concluded Monday that political pressure drove the firings of several federal prosecutors in a 2006 purge, but said that the refusal of major players at the White House and the department to cooperate in the year-long inquiry produced significant “gaps” in its understanding of the events.

At the urging of the investigators, who said they did not have enough evidence to justify recommending criminal charges in the case, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey appointed the Acting United States Attorney in Connecticut, Nora Dannehy, to continue the inquiry and determine whether anyone should be prosecuted.

The 356-page report, prepared by the department’s inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility, provides the fullest picture to date of an episode that opened the Bush administration up to charges of politicizing the justice system. The firings of nine federal prosecutors, and the Congressional hearings they generated, ultimately led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last September.

Stay tuned, sports fans. This could get interesting.

Palin Latest: Yet Another Conservative Questions Her Qualifications

The Right is revolting against Gov. Sarah Palin.

As we noted in the previous post, conservative writer David Frum is on record questioning the qualifications of Gov. Palin.

Now it's George Will, a conservative icon. Here, from Sam Stein of The Huffington Post, is the latest news from Will:

Famed conservative columnist George Will told a gathering of Senate aides on Monday that Gov. Sarah Palin is "obviously" not prepared to assume the presidency if necessary, two event attendees told the Huffington Post.

Appearing at a Senate Press Secretaries Association reception at the Cornerstone Government Affairs office, Will offered a harsh assessment of John McCain's running mate.

Palin is "obviously not qualified to be President," he remarked, describing her interview on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric as a "disaster."

Another Conservative Dumps on Palin

David Frum, the speech writer responsible for President Bush's infamous "axis of evil" speech, is the latest conservative pundit to worry publicly about vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Here's the choice Frum quote, courtesy of the New York Times:
“I think she has pretty thoroughly — and probably irretrievably — proven that she is not up to the job of being president of the United States,” David Frum…said in an interview.

Bush Approval Sinks to New Low

George W. Bush was never the smartest or most talented politician. But even by the low expectations of the last eight years, the most recent polling data is bad. Very bad.

Here's a headline we saw today, a fitting summary for the many mistakes of the Bush Administration:
Historic Disapproval: Bush Hits All-Time Low Amid Economic Meltdown

Monday, September 29, 2008

McCain's Leadership Failure, Part 3

The pundits are pouncing, and rightly so, on John McCain's failure to bring the House Republicans around on the bailout package. 

Here's MSNBC's Chris Matthews speaking today: 
McCain said he was going to lead the Republican charge, he was going to make sure that this was a bipartisan success. He called charge, and the Republicans retreated. That's what happened here. 

McCain Plays Politics with the Bailout—and Loses

The New Republic's verdict on the failure of the bailout plan today: McCain loses big. Here's an assessment from the magazine's website:
Well, the bailout plan was rejected in the House of Representative by a vote of 228-205. And, gasp, the markets are tanking.

Prediction: Voting against this thing is not going to be the political winner that some have speculated opposition would be. Already, there is evidence that the plan was becoming more popular. And expect support to rise further now that the economy will be in even more dire straits.

As for McCain, this is very, very bad news. He failed to convert the House GOP, and the stock market is in a tailspin.

A Very Good Question for Sen. McCain

The financial bailout bill failed in the House today, raising this very interesting question for Sen. John McCain: 
After Taking Credit for the Bailout Bill, Is McCain Campaign Willing to Share Responsibility for Its Failure? 
Hat tip to Think Progress

Sunday, September 28, 2008

AP Report: As Mayor, Palin Played Politics as Usual

The thin veneer of reform has worn off the Palin candidacy. The Republican vice presidential nominee turns out to be less a reformer than a typical small town operator, using the post to help herself and her friends.

It's one more nail in the political coffin of a pretend conservative, the unsophisticated and unworthy Sarah Palin.

Here's an extended quote from the AP report, in which the facts speak for themselves:
Though Sarah Palin depicts herself as a pit bull fighting good-old-boy politics, in her years as mayor she and her friends received special benefits more typical of small-town politics as usual, an Associated Press investigation shows.

When Palin needed to sell her house during her last year as Wasilla mayor, she got the city to sign off on a special zoning exception — and did so without keeping a promise to remove a potential fire hazard.

She gladly accepted gifts from merchants: A free "awesome facial" she raved about in a thank-you note to a spa. The "absolutely gorgeous flowers" she received from a welding supply store. Even fresh salmon to take home.

She also stepped in to help friends or neighbors with City Hall dealings. She asked the City Council to add a friend to the list of speakers at a 2002 meeting — and then the friend got up and asked them to give his radio station advertising business.

That year, records show, she tried to help a neighbor and political contributor fighting City Hall over his small lakeside development. Palin wanted the city to refund some of the man's fees, but the city attorney told the mayor she didn't have the authority.

Palin claims she has more executive experience than her opponent and the two presidential candidates, but most of those years were spent running a city with a population of less than 7,000.

Some of her first actions after being elected mayor in 1996 raised possible ethical red flags: She cast the tie-breaking vote to propose a tax exemption on aircraft when her father-in-law owned one, and backed the city's repeal of all taxes a year later on planes, snow machines and other personal property. She also asked the council to consider looser rules for snow machine races. Palin and her husband, Todd, a champion racer, co-owned a snow machine store at the time.

Palin often told the City Council of her personal involvement in such issues, but that didn't stop her from pressing them, according to minutes of council meetings.

Debate Poll: Obama Beats McCain

The GOP faithful don't see it, but the public did: Barack Obama was the clear winner of the debate Friday night. Here's a summary of the poll results:

A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows 46% of people who watched Friday night's presidential debate say Democrat Barack Obama did a better job than Republican John McCain; 34% said McCain did better.

Obama scored even better -- 52%-35% -- when debate-watchers were asked which candidate offered the best proposals for change to solve the country’s problems.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Where's Sarah? Palin Hides from the Post-debate Spin Wars

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden was on TV tonight, spinning the post-debate discussion for his man Barack Obama.

Biden's counterpart, Gov. Sarah Palin, was nowhere to be seen. So where's Sarah? For what must be obvious reasons, Palin is being kept on a short leash by the McCain campaign.

As all but the most die-hard Republicans have now acknowledged, Palin remains out of her league and far from presidential. McCain's camp knows this, of course, which explains why Gov. Palin is staying out of sight and far from open microphones.

Here's the Palin post-debate dilemma as described by the New York Times:

Spinning on behalf of the Democrats on Friday night will be Joe Biden, Mr. Obama’s running mate. He is expected to appear live on NBC, CBS, and CNN immediately following the debate, representatives of those networks said on Friday.

Ms. Palin is scheduled to be at a debate-viewing event in Philadelphia, covered by a limited group of reporters, and she is not listed by any networks as a post-debate guest. On NBC and CBS, the former Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani will be commenting on the debate performances. On CNN, the McCain campaign senior advisor Nicolle Wallace will appear.

Palin Latest: New GOP Worries About VP Candidate's Ability

John McCain plucked her from the obscurity of Alaska, but Sarah Palin is not faring so well down in the Lower 48.

Without a script, Plain's performance in recent interviews has been, well, underwhelming. It's what happens when you take an inexperienced and inadequately prepared local politician and put her on the national stage.

And it's not just the Democrats who think so. Here's a new Palin story from the folks at Politico, and it's not what the Republicans need just now.
A growing number of Republicans are expressing concern about Sarah Palin’s uneven — and sometimes downright awkward — performances in her limited media appearances.

Conservative columnists Kathleen Parker, a former Palin supporter, says the vice presidential nominee should step aside. Kathryn Jean Lopez, writing on the conservative National Review, says “that’s not a crazy suggestion” and that “something’s gotta change.”

Tony Fabrizio, a GOP strategist, says Palin’s recent CBS appearance isn’t disqualifying but is certainly alarming. “You can’t continue to have interviews like that and not take on water.”

“I have not been blown away by the interviews from her, but at the same time I haven’t come away from them thinking she doesn’t know s—t,” said Chris Lacivita, a GOP strategist. “But she ain’t Dick Cheney, nor Joe Biden and definitely not Hillary Clinton.”

McCain's Flip-flops Again; Will Attend Debates

John McCain and his campaign are flailing. He goes one direction, then another—all over the map.

Here's a skeptical take on McCain's latest flip-flop, one that makes him look less decisive than ever. The writer is Sam Stein of The Huffington Post:
After days of saying that John McCain would not attend Friday's presidential debate unless an agreement on a bailout package for the markets was "locked-down," the McCain campaign has gone back on its word.

On Friday, it announced that the Senator would head down to Mississippi even though, as they readily admit, much work remained needed on the bailout agreement.

The whole episode left even conservatives admitting that the McCain campaign looked erratic and a bit foolish with no apparent direction or guiding principle.
McCain calls himself a maverick. But it looks more and more like he's simply confused.

Palin Latest: Alaska Governor Has Kept 41 Gifts

The Palin-as-reformer facade has taken another major hit. Here's the latest from the Washington Post:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has made a crackdown on gift-giving to state officials a centerpiece of her ethics reform agenda, has accepted gifts valued at $25,367 from industry executives, municipalities and a cultural center whose board includes officials from some of the largest mining interests in the state, a review of state records shows.

The 41 gifts Palin accepted during her 20 months as governor include honorific tributes, expensive artwork and free travel for a family member. They also include more than $2,500 in personal items from Calista, a large Alaska native corporation with a variety of pending state regulatory and budgetary issues, and a gold-nugget pin valued at $1,200 from the city of Nome, which lobbies on municipal, local and capital budget matters, documents show.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Palin Latest from AP: She Keeps Donations from Corrupt Alaska Politicians

Palin kept donations from tainted politicians

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Sarah Palin felt so strongly about the public corruption indictment of a Republican state senator this summer that she urged him to resign — but not strongly enough to return the $1,000 he gave to help elect her governor.

The donation from John Cowdery was one of two from Alaska legislators who contributed to Palin's 2006 campaign weeks after the FBI raided their offices. The sprawling public corruption scandal that followed became a rallying point for candidate Palin, who was swept into office after promising voters she would rid Alaska's capital of dirty politics.

One of the donors is awaiting trial and Cowdery was indicted in July on two federal bribery counts. Palin, now GOP presidential nominee John McCain's running mate, has not returned their donations, according to campaign finance disclosures reviewed Thursday.

Promoting Fear: With No Agenda, Inhofe Remains Nasty, Negative

It's hard to underestimate the emptiness of the Inhofe campaign. With no ideas and nothing new to say, Tulsa's former mayor and long-time Washington operator has reduced his reelection effort to illogical and angry attacks on his opponent, State Sen. Andrew Rice.

Inhofe's latest smear is to play the fear card—a televised claim that Rice is soft on crime and wants all felons, murders, and rapists to roam the Sooner state in search of new victims. Naturally, the ad features grainy mug shots of evil-looking suspects, as if Rice would invite these folks over to the family every night for cocktails and a game of Scrabble with the kids.

Really, now. The voters of Oklahoma are supposed to buy the simpleminded notion that Rice, a divinity school graduate, former missionary, young husband and father, actually wants criminals to walk the streets without punishment?

Sorry, Jim, this doesn't pass the smell test. Worse, it doesn't pass the basic decency test, even in a hard-fought political contest. Whatever his faults, Andrew Rice is hardly the criminal-hugging, values-bashing opportunist that Inhofe's ads pretend to represent.

In fact, one can make the case that Rice is the more thoughtful and principled candidate, one who is willing to actually vote his convictions, even when he knows it might cost him some votes.

Jim Inhofe, on the other hand, is willing to say and do whatever it takes to bully his way back into the senate.

Inhofe once stood for something positive and honorable. Not any more.

More from George Will: McCain Lacks Patience

More highlights from conservative writer George Will's spot-on analysis (see previous post) of Sen. John McCain, a candidate whose not having much fun these days:
Conservatives who insist that electing McCain usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.
As we said, McCain isn't having a good week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Conservative George Will Weighs in on McCain: Not a Pretty Picture

Sen. John McCain has lost another prominent conservative.

Pundit and columnist George Will came out this week with a devastating assessment of the Arizona Republican. The issue at hand is McCain's response to the nation's financial crisis.

Here's the opening of Will's column:
Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It's not Barack Obama.
Ouch! This might hurt. But Will continues:
Channeling his inner Queen of Hearts, John McCain furiously, and apparently without even looking around at the facts, said Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be decapitated. This childish reflex provoked The Wall Street Journal to editorialize that "McCain untethered"—disconnected from knowledge and principle—had made a "false and deeply unfair" attack on Cox that was "unpresidential" and "demonstrated that McCain doesn't understand what's happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does."
Wow, a twofer—losing Will and the Wall Street Journal at one moment. There's more in the Will column, originally published by the Washington Post and published today in the Tulsa World.

Will's conclusion: Because of his "boiling moralism," McCain "is not suited to the presidency."

Oklahoman Slams McCain's Debate Tactic

Former Rep. Mickey Edwards, an Oklahoma Republican, has criticized John McCain's suggestion to postpone the Presidential debate scheduled for Friday in Oxford, Mississippi.

Writing at Politico, Edwards was unsparing in criticizing McCain's stunt. Here's a sample:
Sorry, John; it really sounds like you're afraid to debate. This sounds like the sort of ploy we used to use in junior high school elections.
It's more bad news for the Republican hopeful.

Sen. McCain's Economic Switch-A-Roo

From our friends at Talking Points Memo, noting John McCain's amazing reversal on the nation's economic health:

The guy who a week ago said the fundamentals of our economy remain strong suddenly suspends his campaign and wants to cancel the first presidential debate to rush back to Washington to deal with a crisis that his vice presidential candidate now says could lead to another Great Depression if not addressed immediately.

--David Kurtz

Karl Rove Uncertain about a Palin Presidency

Republican strategist and Bush advisor Karl Rove spoke to a Canadian think tank in Toronto last night. Rove was asked if he thought Sarah Palin would make a good president. 

Here is Rove's not-so-ringing endorsement: "I don't know." 

As one Canadian journalist quipped today, If Rove doesn't know, it's time to start worrying. 

Bailout Plan Draws Bipartisan Criticism

The Bush Administration's huge financial bailout plan—to the tune of $700 billion—has run up against a torrent of Congressional criticism.

As many observers have noted, the proposal would give unchecked financial power to the Treasury Secretary, something that seems particularly unwise and certainly undemocratic.

The criticism is bipartisan. Here, from page on of USA Today, are a couple of choice quotes from different political perspectives:
This massive bailout is not a solution. It is financial socialism and it's un-American.
--Sen. Jim Bunting, R-Kentucky
After reading this proposal, I can only conclude that it is not just our economy that is at risk, Mr. Secretary, but our Constitution as well.
--Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, to Secretary Paulson

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NY Times: McCain's Campaign Manager on Freddie Mac Gravy Train, Despite Denials

The McCain campaign is working overtime to tie the nation's financial troubles to Barack Obama.

But the facts point the other direction. McCain has a long and consistent record as a financial deregulator and is closely allied with former Sen. Phil Graham, the Godfather of financial deregulation.

Now we learn that lobbyist Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, has been part of the Freddie Mac lobbying machines to the tune of $15 Big Ones a month. Though he hasn't been paid directly, his firm has been profiting handsomely for months. Here's part of the story from the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain's campaign manager, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

The disclosure undercuts a statement by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the company for the last several years.

Mr. Davis’s firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the people said.

New Poll Results: Obama Makes a Move in Some Key States

Sen. Barack Obama's prospects for victory in November have risen in opinion polls released this week. Here's a summary from Politico.

Riding a wave of worry about the nation's financial health, Sen. Barack Obama has broken into a lead in a national poll and has made slight but notable progress in several crucial battleground states, including Florida and Virginia.

Obama moved decisively ahead of Sen. John McCain in a Washington Post-ABC News Poll. And a new Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll found that respondents thought Obama would do a better job handing the financial crisis than McCain, by 45 percent to 33 percent.

Cheney's Star Falls in House

AltTulsa's nomination for Political Headline of the Day, a sign that the vice president's influence may be waning on Capitol Hill:
GOP House Rises Up Against Cheney

Obama Rises in Colorado as Palin's Popularity Sinks

A poll released today by the Public Policy Polling shows Democrat Barack Obama "expanding his lead in Colorado to 51-44. He was up by just a single point in a similar poll conducted two weeks ago." 

Why has Obama moved ahead? The pollsters cite Sarah Palin's drop in popularity in the state. They write: 
A precipitous drop in Sarah Palin's approval may be helping to fuel Obama's gains. Immediately after the convention 41% of Colorado voters said that her selection made them more likely to vote for John McCain, compared to 38% who said it made them less likely to do so. Since then there's been a 12-point drop in her net favorability. Now just 38% say that she makes them more likely to vote for the Republican, with 47% saying their less likely to.
The drop in Palin's popularity is not surprising given her newness on the national political scene. That newness, combined with continuing questions about her record in Alaska, was bound to cause problems for the governor. 

Monday, September 22, 2008

McCain's Media Attack Riddled with Errors

The McCain campaign attacked the media again today, claiming media bias against their candidate. It's a familiar theme on the Right, where (yawn…) almost every national problem can be traced to the Evil Liberal Media.

Too bad, then, that the McCain attack itself was chock full of half-truths and errors. But don't take our word for it.

See the whole sorry performance at the Politico by clicking here.

The Financial Bailout's Catch-22: Paulson Wants Unchecked Authority

We don't have the economic background to debate the finer points of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $700 billion bailout plan for the struggling financial sector.

But we do have the idealism and common sense to raise serious questions about one aspect of the bailout plan. In particular, we're more than a little alarmed by this language in Section 8:
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Yikes! The plain language of this language puts the Secretary of the Treasury above the law, does it not? He gets a blank check to do whatever he likes—with no oversight whatsoever. Even in the best of times, this seems like an exceedingly bad idea, one that gives a single agency far too much power and then limits everyone else's power to review the agency's decision.

We don't think we are being paranoid to point out that this sounds just a wee bit anti-democratic. Given the Bush Administration's checkered record in this area, we have every reason to be worried.

It's time for Democrats and Republicans alike to fight this administration power grab.

Evangelical Leader Hits McCain's Waffling

Republicans in 2004 nailed Sen. John Kerry for his flip-flops. The GOP claimed then that Kerry kept changing his mind, citing Kerry's ill-phrased "I was for it before I was against it" line.

This year, however, the flip-flops are Sen. John McCain's. The Arizona Republican has racked up a long series of statements that make Kerry look like a model of consistency.

All of which brings us Richard Cizik, a prominent evangelical who has had enough from McCain. Here's a news item on Cizik and his criticism of the Republican nominee:

Richard Cizik is one of the country’s most powerful and outspoken Christian evangelical leaders. He happens to be a Republican, and he has known the GOP’s presidential nominee for many years. “I thought John McCain was a principled person,” Cizik says. “But John McCain has backed off, not just on climate change but on torture and a sensible tax policy — in other words, he’s not the John McCain of 2000. … He seems to be waffling on issue after issue.

It’s not illogical for someone to conclude that John McCain is going to be more like George Bush than John McCain is going to be like John McCain in 2000.”

Characterizing the GOP’s presidential nominee as an unprincipled waffler is strong stuff from the man who oversees governmental affairs and is the chief lobbyist of the 30-million-member Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Evangelicals

Headlines We'd Rather Not Read (Again)

The nation's continuing financial crisis pushed oil prices higher today, resulting in headlines like these: 
Oil sets single day record increase
Thanks, George. It's just what the public needed. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Holding Cheney Accountable: Some Good News

AT's nomination for the Cheney Headline of the Day, a decision that may go a long way toward holding the vice president accountable for his actions over the past eight years:
Judge orders Cheney to preserve VP records

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Palin Latest: New Documents Contradict Governor's Troopergate Statements

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been sold to the public as a right-thinking reformer, an inspired and principled politician who is doing good in the world. 

The truth was never so simple. ABC News is reporting today that state documents they have examined contradict Palin's latest explanation for firing the public safety chief in Alaska. 

She says one thing, the evidence says another

For Sarah Palin, the pattern is clear enough: she's hardly the straight-up reformer the McCain campaign says she is. Inexperienced, unprepared, ethically challenged—this is not the person we need one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency. 

Read the ABC story here. 

The Bush Legacy: $700 Billion Bailout

Remember when some folks actually thought George W. Bush knew what he was doing?

True, it's been a while. In the meantime, the economic excesses of the past eight years have caught up to the Bush Administration. The result, as we know all too well, has been the biggest economic shakeup in decades. 

Here's an AP summary filed today. This bailout ought to be one of the final blows to Bush's sagging reputation now and for many, many years to come. 
WASHINGTON--The Bush Administration asked Congress on Saturday for the power to buy $700 billion in toxic assets clogging the financial system and threatening the economy as negotiations began on the largest bailout since the Great Depression. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Palin's Broken Record: Same Speech Every Time

A new Sarah Palin item today from MSNBC, which notes that Palin has nothing new to say. 

Campaigning around the country for the past two weeks, Palin keeps delivering the same speech she made at the Republican convention in St. Paul. 

She's delivered 14 speeches since then, but it's been almost the same speech every time—a speech that the party faithful can hear on YouTube.

It's Palin's "greatest hits" over and over again, including the now-debunked claim that she told Congress "Thanks, but no thanks" to the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. As the fact-checkers have documented, Palin flip-flopped on the bridge, supporting it before she opposed it—and then keeping the money in Alaska for other projects. 

Palin has surely excited the right-wing of the Republican Party, but her lack of depth is becoming increasingly obvious. She has shown herself to be completely unprepared to be vice president, much less president. 

Interior Official Pleads Guilty in Oil Corruption Case

Sex, drugs and oil? 

That's right, Sooner fans, there is a link between these three items over that the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service. 

Here's the latest report on official misconduct in a federal agency that is supposed to looking after the public's business. Thanks for nothing, fellows.
One of the figures at the core of the sex drug and oil scandal has pleaded guilty to a corruption charge, admitting that he traded favors for friends and former colleagues while a top official inside the beleaguered Minerals Management Service. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

About that Palin Bubble: It's Leaking

Yes, Sarah Palin gave John McCain a bump in the polls following the Republican convention in St. Paul. 

But the energy Palin injected into the GOP campaign was bound to flag, as indeed it has. Thus AT's nomination for the Political Headline of the Day, courtesy of CNN.com: 
Palin excitement levels off as Democrats regain lead

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

News Flash: Tulsa Evangelicals Back Palin

AT was completely underwhelmed yesterday when we read a Tulsa World story (page one, no less) about local evangelicals embracing the candidacy of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Where's the news in this totally expected development?

Despite this no-news report, we want to acknowledge the naivete of certain sources named in the story. One local evangelical leader quoted in the story seems not to spend much time with the media or with folks outside his immediate circle.

"I haven't heard one negative word about her," Bill Rains told the World.

Well, okay. But this is not the same as saying that there are no negative things to say about Gov. Palin, including some things the evangelicals might not appreciate. There's the whole Bridge to Nowhere business, where the record is clear that Palin was for the bridge before she was against it.

So that whole "Thanks, but no thanks" line from Palin's acceptance speech is something of a stretch at best, or, in plain language, a lie. And it's one she keeps repeating, not to her credit.

She says she's against earmarks, yet Alaska gets more earmarks per capita than any state in the union. And this has happened on Palin's watch as governor. So this is a lie too.

Isn't lying a moral failure? Don't lies run counter to Christian behavior?

Then there's business of Palin's cronyism. Contrary to her reform image, Palin has a long and dishonorable record appointing her high school chums to high positions in government. Not exactly a principled record here either.

The evangelical embrace of Palin is based, it seems, not on high moral or political principles but on superficial religious affinities, a vague sense that Palin is somehow acceptable to the Christian Right because of her private religious beliefs, even when those are not fully known or linked in any meaningful way to her political actions.

The bottom line: There's more to Palin's political behavior than her religious views, some of which she seems to jettison whenever it is politically convenient.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Wit & Wisdom of Right-Wing Radio

The AT team is never bored by right-wing radio. The inane rants of the Big Mouths of the Right are always good for a laugh, especially when they fly off into sheer speculation and paranoid political nonsense.

But even in the overheated atmosphere of Talk Radio, Anchorage blabber Eddie Burke crossed the line. In defending Gov. Sarah Palin the other day, Burke wasn't content to argue with her critics. Oh no. Burke decided to unload his venom on the good citizens of Alaska who had the nerve to criticize an elected official (imagine that!).

Burke's exact words: Palin's critics were "socialist, baby-killing maggots."

Such eloquence! Such poetry!

On behalf of all sober and enlightened political critics, AltTulsa wishes to congratulate Alaska radio's Eddie Burke for his rhetorical elevation of the 2008 political debate.

Conservative Brooks: Palin Lacks Experience

Columnist David Brooks, writing in the New York Times today, takes a hard look at Sarah Palin and her qualifications for national office. 

Brooks was not reassured. Read his observations here

Fiorina Update: Palin Not Ready to Run a Major Company

AT blogged yesterday about the very thin skin of Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of HP and current supporter of John McCain (see below). 

Fortunately for us, she's back. Speaking to a St. Louis radio station today, Fiorina told the truth about Sarah Palin: 
Q: Do you think [Sarah Palin] has the experience to run a major company, like Hewlett Packard? 

Fiorina: No, I don't. But you know what? That's not what she's running for. Running a corporation is a different set of things. 
Yes, indeed. Running a company is different from being a politician. But both require a deep knowledge of issues and ideas as well as a grasp of national and international affairs that Palin has never had.

That fact alone is sufficient to disqualify her as a serious candidate for high office. Moreover, the fact that John McCain made Palin his choice is telling evidence of his own lack of judgment. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gov. Palin's Real Legacy in Alaska

Alaska women held an anti-Sarah Palin rally the other day (it's true). About 1,500 folks showed up, a huge crowd in Alaska. One of the signs read: 
Smearing Alaska's Good Name One Scandal @ at Time

U.S. News Writer Slams McCain Campaign's Lies

Talk about some serious "straight talk." 

We came across a damning report today from John A. Farrell of U.S. News & World Report. It documents chapter and verse of McCain's transition from "maverick" to "liar." 

Farrell's column can be found here

Bad Attitude: Carly Fiorina, the Thin-Skinned McCain Advisor

John McCain advisor Carly Fiorina needs to eat her spinach. Or simply toughen up. 

The former Hewlett Packard CEO couldn't handle a Saturday Night Live skit that parodied Sarah Palin. In case you missed it, SNL's former head writer, Tina Fey, did a dead-on impersonation of Palin on Saturday, a skit that poked fun at the Alaska governor's inexperience and lack of knowledge about the national and international issues. 

Fiorina called the skit "totally superficial," "disrespectful in the extreme," and—surprise!—"sexist." 

"I think of course the portrait was very dismissive of the substance of Sarah Palin," Fiorina said. 

Earth to Carly: Where have you been during the last 30 years? SNL has been lampooning presidents (and many others) since the Ford Administration. Since when does an obscure and untested politician from Alaska get a exemption from political satire

And while we're asking questions, Carly, here's another: What exactly is the substance of Sarah Palin? It's certainly not national or international policy or experience, since she has none. It's not even reform, where her record in Alaska is spotty at best. (Alaska kept the "Bridge to Nowhere money, did they not? And how much did she bill the taxpayers for living in her own home?) 

More advice for Carly: Get a grip, lady. Even Gov. Palin is on record today about Tina Fey and the skit. Palin said she enjoyed it. 

Without Palin, McCain's Crowds Dwindle

Republican enthusiasm for John McCain is dwindling absent his charismatic but inexperienced running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. 

Press reports today note that McCain drew only 3,000 to a 16,000-seat Jacksonville arena, hardly the kind of numbers the GOP nominee would prefer. 

Meanwhile, Palin appeared to be on the defensive in a recent campaign stop after repeating her statement that she turned down federal funds for the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," a statement that is at odds with her record in Alaska. 

One website, in fact, is keeping count of her "Bridge" denials from the campaign trail. Last time we checked, the count was up to 10—all of which fly in the face of her own previous statements about the bridge funding. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Leno Nails the McCain Paradox

AT's nomination for Political Joke of the Week, courtesy of Jay Leno:
Well, it's a very strange political campaign. I mean, out on the campaign trail, John McCain and Sarah Palin are talking about how they stood up to the Republican party, they fought the Republican establishment, and they battled Republicans. Their message: vote Republican.

Palin Latest: More Bad Reviews

Another review of Charles Gibson's interview with Gov. Sarah Palin, this one from an editor at Bloomberg

The headline tells you a lot: "Clueless Palin Peddles Cliches Under Gibson's Glare." As you can tell, writer Jeremy Gerard was not impressed. Read the whole column here

Oops! Candidate McCain Belittled Mayoral, Governor Experience

John McCain's campaign calls itself the Straight Talk Express. But as more and more people have noticed, the talk is not so straight these days.

The Palin choice for vice president is a perfect example. When questions arose about the governor's lack of national and international experience, McCain and the Republicans touted her time as mayor and governor

Too bad, then, that McCain himself is on record running down exactly that kind of experience. Here's McCain's quote from last year as he was arguing for his own experience against the qualifications of the other Republicans: 
I am prepared. I am prepared. I need no on-the-job training. I wasn't a mayor for a short period of time. I wasn't a governor for a short period of time. 

Duck & Cover: Palin Interview Reveals Policy Ignorance

ABC's Charles Gibson asked the questions, but Gov. Sarah Palin was out of her depth. She didn't know what the Bush Doctrine was (see previous post), so she faked it. She answered national security questions by ignoring the question and claiming energy expertise. 

Here's how Jack Shafer of Slate summed up Palin's first media test: 
Palin can't blame her muddled responses on Gibson, who treats her fairly and conducts himself professionally. Never mind about her not being ready to be president. She wasn't even ready for this interview. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin Flunks the Bush Doctrine Test

Gov. Sarah Palin says she's ready to lead. But in her first network interview, Palin was stumped when ABC's Charles Gibson quizzed her about foreign policy, specifically the Bush Doctrine. Not surprisingly, Palin was clueless.

Here's the transcript, which leaves us wondering: Does John McCain really believe this person has what it takes to be president? If so, it's yet another reason to doubt this judgment.
Charlie: Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?

Palin: In what respect, Charlie?

Charlie: What do you interpret it to be?

Palin: His worldview.

Charlie: No, No, the Bush Doctrine. He enunciated it in September 2002, before the Iraq War.

Palin: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is to rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hellbent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership--and that's the beauty of American elections and democracy--with new leadership comes the opportunity to do things better.

Charlie: The Bush Doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory defense. We have the right to preemptively strike any other country that we believe is going to attack us.

Yikes! Palin Talks Up War with Russia

A scary lowlight from Gov. Sarah Palin's ABC interview to be broadcast tonight: 
CHARLES GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn't we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia? 

GOV. PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help. 

McCain Attack Ad Intentionally Gets It Wrong

Sen. John McCain seems to be an honorable man. He's served his country honorably in war and peace. But his campaign tactics over the past several weeks have been increasingly dishonorable, a fact that reflects poorly on the candidate. 

The latest McCain attack ad is a prime example. It seriously distorts—lies about, would be more accurate—Sen. Obama's position on a sex education bill that came before the Illinois legislature several years ago, making Obama appear to have position on that issue that he does not have. 

Here's part of an article from today's New York Times, which deconstructs the McCain ad and refutes the charges: 

Ad on Sex Education Distorts Obama Policy 

It is a misstatement of the bill's purpose, therefore, to maintain, as the McCain campaign advertisement does, that Mr. Obama favored conventional sex education as a policy for 5-year-olds. Under the Illinois proposal, "medically accurate" education about more complicated topics…would have been reserved for older students in higher grades.

2008: Deadliest Year Yet in Afghanistan

On September 11, it gives us no pleasure to report the following deadly statistic from the Associated Press: 
An insurgent attack on an eastern compound killed a soldier Thursday, bringing the year's death toll to 112 and making 2008 the deadliest for American forces in Afghanistan since the U.S. invaded the country in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Recent Reading: Oklahoman's Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play 'August: Osage County'

AT has a wide range of interests, which is why we sometimes take a break from politics to talk about literature. Today's topic: Tracy Letts and his prize-winning drama, August: Osage County.

That's right, Sooner fans, an Oklahoma writer won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama this year—who woulda thunk it?

Given this development, we wandered over to Steve's Sundries on Harvard and bought a copy of the play, autographed by the author himself, no less.

August: Osage County is a powerful dramatic work, a full-throated family drama that is by turns outrageous, bitter, funny, and touching. We found ourselves agreeing with the jacket blurb written by David Cote of Timeout New York:
A tremendous achievement in American playwriting: a tragicomic populist portrait of a tough land and its tougher people.
Coming from a New York critic, this is high praise indeed; Okies like to think of their state and themselves as tough.

On the page, Osage County is a rich and tightly constructed tale packed with memorable Oklahoma characters. In the hands of talented actors, we have no doubt that the play will have Oklahoma audiences glued to their seats, anticipating every line.

UPDATE: Speaking of Tracy Letts, the playwright will be in T-town later this month as part of OSU-Tulsa's Celebration of Books.

Letts will be speaking on Friday, September 26, at the PAC Chapman Music Hall, along with best-selling author Mitch Albom. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased from myticketoffice.com.

Scandal of the Day: Interior Department Rocked by Ethics Scandal

Sad but appallingly true bureaucratic behavior, as the AP is reporting today: 
WASHINGTON—Government officials handling billions of dollars in oil royalties improperly engaged in sex with employees of energy companies they were dealing with and received numerous gifts from them, federal investigators said Wednesday. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

McCain's Pick: She's Still Not Ready

John McCain picked her, but there's increasing evidence that Sarah Palin isn't up to the job. Here's another take on Palin and her knowledge problem from E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post:

John McCain’s campaign acknowledged this weekend that Sarah Palin is unprepared to be vice president or president of the United States.

Of course, McCain’s people said no such thing. But their actions told you all you needed to know.

McCain, Barack Obama and Joe Biden all subjected themselves to tough questioning on the regular Sunday news programs. Palin was the only no-show. And it’s not just the Sunday interviews. She has not opened herself to any serious questioning since McCain picked her to be next in line for the presidency.

McCain’s advisers clearly don’t trust Palin to answer questions about policy, and don’t want her to answer many of the questions that have been raised about her tenure as governor of Alaska.

Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, gave the game away when he said on “Fox News Sunday” that she would not meet with reporters until they showed a willingness to treat her “with some level of respect and deference.”

Deference? That’s a word used in monarchies or aristocracies. Democracies don’t give “deference” to politicians. When have McCain, Obama, Biden or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton asked for deference?

Hannity's Memory Hole: Short, Convenient and Wrong

Sean Hannity, professional blowhard over at Fox News, has an extraordinarily short memory, one that always seems to correspond to his political leanings.

That's why he could claim this week that no one at Fox at ever referred to Barack Obama as a Muslim.

Well, no. Thanks to digital recording technology and the Internet, we have records. And, yes, the record shows five (count 'em: 5) instances of Fox News broadcasters suggesting that Obama was or is a Muslim. Remember the so-called "terrorist fist jab," a bogus Fox News reference to the Obama and his wife, Michelle? 

This is of little concern to the Sean Hannity's of the world, of course, since these folks are more interested in making up the news than actually reporting facts or providing verification.

Time's Kinsley Punctures the Palin Balloon

Saint Sarah of Alaska, the latest savior of the Republican Right, is coming undone.

Less than two weeks after her appearance on the national stage, the actual record of the Alaska governor has been shown to be smoke and mirrors. She's hardly the reformer the McCain campaign claims she is.

Indeed, as political observer Michael Kinlsey notes below, Alaska is a "sponge" state that soaks up tax revenues from the Lower 48.
Sarah Palin thinks she is a better American than you because she comes from a small town, and a superior human being because she isn't a journalist and has never lived in Washington and likes to watch her kids play hockey. Although Palin praised John McCain in her acceptance speech as a man who puts the good of his country ahead of partisan politics, McCain pretty much proved the opposite with his selection of a running mate whose main asset is her ability to reignite the culture wars. So maybe Governor Palin does represent everything that is good and fine about America, as she herself maintains. But spare us, please, any talk about how she is a tough fiscal conservative.

Palin has continued to repeat the already exposed lie that she said "No, thanks" to the famous "bridge to nowhere" (McCain's favorite example of wasteful federal spending). In fact, she said "Yes, please" until the project became a symbol and political albatross.

Back to reality. Of the 50 states, Alaska ranks No. 1 in taxes per resident and No. 1 in spending per resident. Its tax burden per resident is 2 1/2 times the national average; its spending, more than double. The trick is that Alaska's government spends money on its own citizens and taxes the rest of us to pay for it. Although Palin, like McCain, talks about liberating ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, there is no evidence that being dependent on Alaskan oil would be any more pleasant to the pocketbook.

Alaska is, in essence, an adjunct member of OPEC. It has four different taxes on oil, which produce more than 89% of the state's unrestricted revenue. On average, three-quarters of the value of a barrel of oil is taken by the state government before that oil is permitted to leave the state. Alaska residents each get a yearly check for about $2,000 from oil revenues, plus an additional $1,200 pushed through by Palin last year to take advantage of rising oil prices. Any sympathy the governor of Alaska expresses for folks in the lower 48 who are suffering from high gas prices or can't afford to heat their homes is strictly crocodile tears.

As if it couldn't support itself, Alaska also ranks No. 1, year after year, in money it sucks in from Washington. In 2005 (the most recent figures), according to the Tax Foundation, Alaska ranked 18th in federal taxes paid per resident ($5,434) but first in federal spending received per resident ($13,950). Its ratio of federal spending received to federal taxes paid ranks third among the 50 states, and in the absolute amount it receives from Washington over and above the amount it sends to Washington, Alaska ranks No. 1.

With No Ideas and Nothing to Say, Jim Inhofe Plays the Gay Card

The always predictable Sen. Jim Inhofe is out with an attack ad against Andrew Rice. 

According to the ad, Rice is a gay-loving, values-bashing, tax-raising leftist, out to destroy the good folks of Sooner Land. The ad is a sad commentary on Inhofe and an insult to Oklahoma voters.  

Inhofe hasn't had a new idea in, well, 20 years, so he has nothing to offer the people of Oklahoma now but gay-baiting and fear-mongering. 

It's vintage Inhofe. Vote for me, Inhofe's ad argues, so Rice and those terrible gay people and their tax-hiking allies won't infect all us good and proper Okies. 

News flash, Jim: Oklahoma has plenty of good and proper citizens (including some gay ones), none of whom are likely to be especially threatened by Andrew Rice. Calling Rice a zealot doesn't make him one, no matter how Inhofe's ad tries to manipulate the voters

In fact, there's evidence that someone smart and thoughtful like Rice could be effective in the U.S. Senate, unlike the highly partisan and poisonous politics practiced by one Jim Inhofe. 

Palin & the Bridge: Her Own Words Tell the Tale

Gov. Sarah Palin's own words in August 2006 on the Bridge to Nowhere, from today's Wall Street Journal:
We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that's so negative. 

Makin' Stuff Up: McCain Lies About Obama (Again)

From today's Wall Street Journal:
At a rally today, Sen. McCain again asserted that Sen. Obama has requested nearly a billion in earmarks. In fact, the Illinois senator requested $311 million last year, according to the Associated Press, and none this year. In comparison, Gov. Palin has requested $750 million in her two years as governor—which the AP says is the largest per capita in the nation. 

Latest Palin Problem: Billing Taxpayers for Staying at Home

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has found a sweet deal—charging the taxpayers for nights spent in her own home. 

The Washington Post is reporting the story, which is at odds with Palin's reputation as a reformer and tight-fisted fiscal conservative. 

From the Post
ANCHORAGE--Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a "per diem" allowance intended to cover meals and incidental experses while traveling on state business. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Palin Latest: Mythology, Smoke & Mirrors

Columnist Frank Rich nails Sarah Palin and the Republicans on the trail of lies surrounding the Alaska governor, whose accomplishments do not pass the so-called sniff test. Worse, they don't pass the truth test.

Rich's column, which appeared in yesterday's New York Times, was the paper's most popular piece on its website today. Here's a sample:
We still don’t know a lot about Palin except that she’s better at delivering a speech than McCain and that she defends her own pregnant daughter’s right to privacy even as she would have the government intrude to police the reproductive choices of all other women. Most of the rest of the biography supplied by her and the McCain camp is fiction.

She didn’t say “no thanks” to the “Bridge to Nowhere” until after Congress had already abandoned it but given Alaska a blank check for $223 million in taxpayers’ money anyway. Far from rejecting federal pork, she hired lobbyists to secure her town a disproportionate share of earmarks ($1,000 per resident in 2002, 20 times the per capita average in other states). Though McCain claimed “she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities,” she has never issued a single command as head of the Alaska National Guard. As for her “executive experience” as mayor, she told her hometown paper in Wasilla, Alaska, in 1996, the year of her election: “It’s not rocket science. It’s $6 million and 53 employees.” Her much-advertised crusade against officials abusing their office is now compromised by a bipartisan ethics investigation into charges that she did the same.

Palin Update: 'Pit Bull' to Emerge from Hiding

She's been celebrated as tough, but Alaska Gov. Sarah "Pit Bull" Palin has been hiding from the press for days. Now word comes that Palin will consent to an actual press interview with ABC's Charles Gibson later this week. 

Palin was conspicuously absent from the Sunday morning talk shows yesterday. Her counterpart, Sen. Joe Biden, appeared on television yesterday, as did John McCain and Barack Obama. 

As AltTulsa noted in our previous post, Palin's absence from the national stage underscores her Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time qualifications. Press reports over the weekend indicated that Plain is being tutored in national and international policy, areas where she has no experience whatsoever. 

Saturday, September 6, 2008

'Pit Bull' Palin Hides from the Press, Public

She's feisty, she's tough, she can stand up to the good ole boys—or so they claim.

For someone who claims to be a fighter and a stand-up gal, Palin isn't living up to the hype. If she were, she might hold a press conference or sit down for a Sunday morning political show.

But no. Palin's hiding from the press, mean people who might ask her hard and unfair questions about, say, foreign policy, or John McCain's call for comprehensive immigration reform.

Press reports today say that the new VP nominee will be taking two weeks off to, well, to study the issues so she'll know what she thinks about national and international issues.

Yet Oklahoma Republicans—most of whom knew little or nothing about Palin a few days ago—are embracing an inexperienced and untested Alaska pol who's record is full of flip-flops as the Second Coming of Ronald Reagan.

They wish.

McCain's Strategy: Induce National Amnesia

John McCain is a Washington insider whose political party has controlled the White House for the past eight years. McCain has voted with George W. Bush on issue after issue, despite his claims of being a maverick.

In a post today, Arianna Huffington gets it right:

Listening to McCain, you'd think it was the Democrats who occupied the White House the last seven-plus years and it was time to throw the bastards out.

Given that 82 percent of voters believe we are heading in the wrong direction, it's a logical position to take. But for the American people to buy into the notion that McCain, who has raced to Bush's side on tax cuts, on offshore drilling -- even on torture -- is this campaign's agent of change, it's going to require an incredible suspension of disbelief. Or a serious case of amnesia.

And this is clearly McCain's campaign strategy: inducing amnesia about the past and confusion about the future, attempting to hoodwink the American people about what he has become.

Palin Admits It: She's a Latte-Sippin' Elitist

Remember all those ridiculous (and hypocritical) Republican charges that the Democrats are elitists because they drink gourmet coffee?

Here's Sarah Palin's "damning" admission,
courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:
I guess my biggest pitfall is breakfast. I know it's the most important meal of the day but I still haven't bought into it. I hate to admit it, but a skinny white-chocolate mocha is my staple in the morning.