Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Johnny One Note's Last Refrain
By Steven Pearlstein
If you worked at Saturday Night Live and had to construct a parody of what Republican wing nuts might come up with as a solution to the current financial crisis, you simply couldn't do better than the loopy plan served up by House Republicans this week.
Good thing that John McCain suspended his campaign and rushed back to Washington with a flourish so he could round up Republican votes and pass the bailout. Who knows what might have happened had he not interceded on the bill's behalf and put his own credibility on the line for it. The markets would have tanked, our allies would have lost confidence in us, and...oh, never mind.
Last week Senator McCain looked goofy by coming off the campaign trail and interposing himself into the legislative process over the bailout. Today he looks like a loser -- his credibility and prestige diminished by the bill's failure. And worse -- these wounds are self-inflected. Senator McCain didn't need to own this debacle -- he chose to interpose himself into the process, raising questions about his erratic judgement once again.
Last week I argued that the McCain campaign's strategy of chasing news cycles was a very risky one. Today we see why. The McCain campaign won an initial set of headlines by announcing that the Senator would suspend his campaign and return to Washington to help pass the bailout bill. But there was never really any plan to do so: Senator McCain proposed no measure of his own, sat silently at the White House summit he engineered, and was clearly unable to convince enough conservative House Republicans to go along with the bill.
Senator Obama knew better than to take ownership of a process that he couldn't really control and probably didn't want to. Had Senator McCain been succesful in his efforts he could have claimed a real victory -- instead he is left owning a defeat he could have avoided.
Now we are back to the drawing board. A weakened and ineffective President, unable even to rally his fellow Republicans in the House will work with Congressional leaders on a new plan. You can bet John McCain will be staying far away from Washington while they do so.
By Rebecca Traister
Monday, September 29, 2008
Chris Matthews cuts through the spin and pins the blame squarely where it should be: On House Republicans and John McCain who promised to deliver their vote.
“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 Republican retreated. That’s what happened here. "
Politico’s Mike Allen writes:
McCain takes credit for bill before it loses
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his top aides took credit for building a winning bailout coalition – hours before the vote failed and stocks tanked.
The rush to claim he had engineered a victory now looks like a strategic blunder that will prolong the McCain’s campaign’s difficulty in finding a winning message on the economy.
Think about how bad this is for McCain. He “suspended” his campaign last week and promised to get the House GOP on board. The bill failed today because those very same Republicans bailed once Pelosi hurt their feelings. McCain put his leadership credentials on the line and failed. Not a little fail, but an Epic Fail. And the worst part about it is he and his campaign have been claiming for the past 48 hours that it was McCain’s leadership that got the bill passed.
Marc Ambinder asks the right question:
So if McCain wanted credit for passage, should he share some of the blame for its defeat?
TPM’s Greg Sargent wonders if the failure to pass the bailout with cause McCain’s suspension stunt to backfire:
In political terms, John McCain needed this bailout bill to pass. Now that it’s failed in the House, it’s clear that this could pose a serious blow to his campaign — and that his big campaign suspension gambit could backfire badly.
By Thom Hartmann
"Can Barack Obama, a man of elite education if not elite background, break into the middle class and talk regular? Can he talk to regular people in their kitchens tonight, in their living rooms?
Everybody thinks Barack is too cool. In other words, there he is with the shades, getting on the plane. A little bit too elegant, a little bit too proud of his own bearing. Is that a problem, that he's just too cool for words. In other words, elite."
Chris Matthews is wrong.
America’s love our elites – we love our sports stars, our movie stars, our rock stars and even our political stars.
John Kennedy was an elite. He came from an elite family, had an elite education, and he had the calm demeanor and the good fashion of a man who knew he was part of the intellectual and political elite. Americans didn’t just love him they lionized him callinghis administration Camelot - the story of an elite king in an elite time.
If George W Bush has taught us one lesson, it’s that the god-awful consequences of having the guy you want to have beer with running the most complex, powerful, and massive institution in the world, the US Government, is a terrible mistake.
John McCain graduated from the Naval Academy in June 1958; he was fifth from the bottom, 894th out of 899. He has no training at law. Sarah Palin attended 5 schools before getting a degree from North Idaho College that qualified her to be a TV sportscaster. North Idaho College takes pride in its “open-door” admissions policy. She also has no training at law.
Most of our great presidents have been trained in law from John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to Lincoln to FDR and Clinton. Bush and Cheney have no legal training and we were told how great the MBA presidency would be.
It’s been a disaster.
Barack Obama got his B.A. from Columbia University in New York and his J.D. from Harvard. While at Harvard he was president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. He was a professor of constitutional low at the University of Chicago. Joe Biden similarly has a JD degree.
It’s time for an Elite presidency. It’s time for the best and the brightest to once again lead this nation.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders and the White House agreed Sunday to a $700 billion rescue of the ailing financial industry after lawmakers insisted on sharing spending controls with the Bush administration. The biggest U.S. bailout in history won the tentative support of both presidential candidates and goes to the House for a vote Monday.
Bailout Bill: Full Text of Plan
WHAT we learned last week is that the man who always puts his “country first” will take the country down with him if that’s what it takes to get to the White House.
Bob Herbert: Palin's Words Raise Red Flags
The country is understandably focused on the financial crisis. But there is another serious issue in front of us that is not getting nearly enough attention, and that’s whether Sarah Palin is qualified to be vice president — or, if the situation were to arise, president of the United States.
Feeling Sorry for Sarah Palin
The mood over Sarah Palin is changing. Her political naysayers used to delight in her floundering her way through interviews (okay, that one interview with Charlie Gibson). They enjoyed pointing out her lack of credentials. But her interview with Katie Couric over the past two nights has elicited a different response — like cringing.
by Dan Amira
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and CARL HULSE
WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders and the Bush administration reached a tentative agreement early Sunday on what may become the largest financial bailout in American history, authorizing the Treasury to purchase $700 billion in troubled debt from ailing firms in an extraordinary intervention to prevent widespread economic collapse.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
by David Corn
No memorable exchanges. No historic zingers. No gotchas. The much-anticipated first face-off between Barack Obama and John McCain resolved little. Neither candidate strayed from their usual briefing books. The talking points were recycled. McCain blasted Obama for being a rookie in the ways of national security. Obama questioned McCain's judgment, notably his initial support for the Iraq war.
New York Times Editorial: The First Debate
The first presidential debate could not have come at a better time. We were afraid that the serious question of picking a new president in a time of peril, at home and abroad, was going to disappear in a fog of sophomoric attack ads, substance-free shouting about change and patriotism, and unrelenting political posturing.
Bob Shrum: We Now Know Who The Next President Will Be
McCain has nowhere to go but stunts, warmed over stump lines, and lying ads -- which pollute his brand more than they hurt Obama, and the ugly hope that backlash may save his feckless campaign. The press will mostly miss the point: Obama met and surpassed the test.
A Calm Obama Weathers a Storm of Sarcasm
By Bill Boyarsky —
Was he too calm? Did he pull his punches in an effort to look presidential? Not really. The viewers got a clear choice: a reasoned and reasonable Obama versus an old-fashioned Cold Warrior who would keep us in Iraq endlessly and extend the boundaries we must defend to Georgia and Ukraine.
Cranky Vs. Cool
McCain sneers and sighs while a calm, presidential Obama holds his own.
by Joan Walsh
Cafferty: Palin fit to be president?
Jack asks: Is Governor Sarah Palin qualified to be president?
Friday, September 26, 2008
by David Edwards
Some of the tactics the McCain campaign has been using seem to come out of the Rove/ Bush playbook. Will using these tactics pay off in November? Rachel Maddow is joined by Mother Jones Magazine's David Corn.
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast September 24, 2008.
by Sam Stein
"Bush is no diplomat," said a Democratic staffer, "but he's Cardinal freaking Richelieu compared to McCain. McCain couldn't negotiate an agreement on dinner among a family of four without making a big drama with himself at the heroic center of it. And then they'd all just leave to make themselves a sandwich."
By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Does it really matter which party is in charge when it comes to bailing out the Wall Street hustlers whose shenanigans have bankrupted so many ordinary folks? Not if the Democrats roll over and cede power to the former head of Goldman Sachs, the investment bank at the center of our economic meltdown.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Let’s be clear about why we’re facing a crisis that could pull down the global financial system. The irresponsibility of individuals who bought houses they couldn’t quite afford pales in comparison to the irresponsibility of the financial wizards who built on those shaky mortgages a towering edifice of irrational faith.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The Iraq War is a testament to the great damage a foreign policy based on myths, lies and distortions can do to our nation's security and well-being. As the election draws near, a new set of myths and fallacies as misleading as those that led the Senate to support George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq have become embedded in our foreign policy discourse.
Some skeptics are calling Henry Paulson’s $700 billion rescue plan for the U.S. financial system “cash for trash.” Others are calling the proposed legislation the Authorization for Use of Financial Force, after the Authorization for Use of Military Force, the infamous bill that gave the Bush administration the green light to invade Iraq.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
GOP chairman in New Mexico's Bernalillo County:
"Hispanics consider themselves above blacks. They won't vote for a black president."
McCain (R) 28
by Paul Krugman
OK, a correspondent directs me to John McCain’s article, Better Health Care at Lower Cost for Every American, in the Sept./Oct. issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries. You might want to be seated before reading this.
Here’s what McCain has to say about the wonders of market-based health reform:
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
So McCain, who now poses as the scourge of Wall Street, was praising financial deregulation like 10 seconds ago — and promising that if we marketize health care, it will perform as well as the financial industry!
By Tim Einenkel
In July of 2008, the New York Times ran a story on the Bush Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services plan to place new restrictions on family planning programs. The new laws would redefine abortion by including many types of birth control, including the "morning-after pill." The plan defined abortion as follows:
Has the war on terrorism become the modern equivalent of the Roman Circus, drawing the people’s attention away from the failures of those who rule them? Corporate America is a shambles because deregulation, the mantra of our president and his party, has proved to be a license to steal.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The McCain campaign has continually tried to downplay John McCain's repeated gaffes on foreign policy issues, his supposed strong suit.
So it will be particularly interesting to see how they spin McCain's bizarre interview with a Spanish language reporter in Miami, where McCain didn't know who the Prime Minister of Spain was (it's Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero) and kept confusing Spain with a country in Latin America.
Take a listen. Relevant section starts about three minutes in.
The great majority appear to think the McCain was simply confused and didn't know who Zapatero was -- something you might bone up on if you were about to do an interview with the Spanish press. The assumption seems to be that since he'd already been asked about Castro and Chavez that McCain assumed Zapatero must be some other Latin American bad guy. A small minority though think that McCain is simply committed to an anti-Spanish foreign policy since he's still angry about Spain pulling it's troops out of Iraq. Finally, a few of those who lean toward the first view speculate that McCain may have confused Zapatero with the Zapatista rebel group in Mexico.
Just before getting tripped up on Spain, McCain bragged about his Latin American expertise. "I know the issues, I know the leaders," McCain said. Apparently the same fluency doesn't extend to the other side of the Atlantic.
UPDATE: McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann clarifies this morning that McCain will not commit to a meeting with Zapatero. That seems like a needlessly confrontational and reckless geopolitical posture, given that Spain has the world's 8th largest economy and 780 troops serving in Afghanistan alongside NATO allies. Huffington Post reminds us that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Zapatero last year and said that "the United States and Spain are allies. We're in NATO together; we are serving together in Afghanistan." McCain himself told Spain's El Pais in April that he'd meet with Zapatero. Why the change of heart?
UPDATE II: Blogger Hilzoy makes a great point: "McCain and his campaign are willing to insult a foreign leader and damage an alliance, rather than admit to a moment of confusion
Iwrote a post below about McCain's head knocking style of governance joking that he seems to think he can bully his way into solutions to even the most complicated economic problems. Well, it turns out that he really does:
The way I would fix Social Security is to sit down with Republicans and Democrats together at a table, voicing my opposition to tax increases, and sitting down and negotiating a fix to Social Security, which is the only way that Social Security is going to be fixed. That's my solution to the Social Security system.I'm beginning to think George W. Bush is a deeply nuanced thinker by comparison. And I'm less concerned that Palin might become president if McCain passes on before his term is up. I don't see how she can be any worse than he is. They are pretty much the same person --- proudly ignorant, aggressive egomaniacs. Update: The country may be waking up from its Palin stupor. The Gallup tracking poll shows Obama ticking up as of last night.
Anybody who watched Mccain speak about the economy these last two days has got to be a little bit concerned.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
By Eugene Robinson —
What kind of person tells a self-aggrandizing lie, gets called on it, admits publicly that the truth is not at all what she originally claimed—and then goes out and starts telling the original lie again without changing a word?
McCain’s Political Games Can’t Compete With an Economic Meltdown
By E.J. Dionne —
Americans don’t mind wealthy and even rapacious capitalists as long as they deliver the goods to everyone else. But when the big boys drag everyone else down, Americans rise up in righteous anger.
The Sexist Two-Step
By Marie Cocco —
The great lipstick-on-a-pig campaign imbroglio, if we are lucky, will mark the moment Republicans jumped the shark with their cries of alleged sexism toward vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Monday, September 15, 2008
2 Wall St. Banks Falter; Markets Shaken
Lehman Will File Bankruptcy; Merrill to Be Sold
By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN
In a reshaping of the landscape of American finance, Lehman Brothers said it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while Merrill Lynch agreed to sell itself to Bank of America.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Unless we make America the country most able to innovate, compete and win in the age of globalization, our leverage in the world will continue to slowly erode.
MAUREEN DOWD Bering Straight Talk
An Arctic blast of action has swept into the 2008 presidential race, making thinking passé. Presidential candidates don’t really need to think; just intimidate.
This may be the best illustration of the cynicism of the Palin pick I've yet seen. In the primary, John McCain claimed Rudy Giuliani didn't have the foreign policy credentials to be president because he was "a mayor for a short period of time," and Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney didn't because each of them was "a governor for a short period of time."
If John McCain ever did interviews or press conferences, he might be asked about this apparent discrepancy.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Report: Palin Did Not Visit Iraq
By Anne E. Kornblut
WASILLA, Alaska -- Aides to Gov. Sarah Palin are scrambling to explain details of her only trip outside North America -- which, according to a new report, did not include Iraq, as the McCain-Palin campaign had initially claimed.
Palin made an official visit to see Alaskan troops in Kuwait in July of 2007. There, she made a stop at a border crossing with Iraq, but did not actually visit the country, according to a new report in the Boston Globe.
Earlier, McCain aides had said that Palin visited Iraq, and expressed indignation at questions about her slim foreign travel.
The campaign also said she had been to Ireland; that turned out to have been a refueling stop.
In her ABC interview, Palin said she had also been to Canada and to Mexico, where her advisers said she went on vacation.
Obama aides described the new revisions to Palin's account as part of a growing pattern of deception. "The McCain campaign said Governor Palin opposed the Bridge to Nowhere, but now we know she supported it. They said she didn't seek earmarks, but now we know she hired a lobbyist to get millions in pork for her town and her state. They said she visited Iraq, but today we learned that she only stopped at the border. Americans are starting to wonder, is there anything the McCain campaign isn't lying about?" Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor asked in a statement e-mailed to reporters.
A short time later, the Obama campaign circulated a new Bloomberg story that questions whether the McCain campaign has been sending out false crowd estimates.
On two occasions since Palin joined the ticket, McCain aides have cited law enforcement sources in claiming enormous crowds -- but law enforcement officials interviewed by Bloomberg denied having given such estimates.
By JO BECKER, PETER S. GOODMAN AND MICHAEL POWELL
This article is by Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman and Michael Powell.
WASILLA, Alaska — Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.
So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as one of her qualifications for running the roughly $2 million agency.
Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.
When Ms. Palin had to cut her first state budget, she avoided the legion of frustrated legislators and mayors. Instead, she huddled with her budget director and her husband, Todd, an oil field worker who is not a state employee, and vetoed millions of dollars of legislative projects.
And four months ago, a Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governor’s career with an astringent eye, answered her phone to hear an assistant to the governor on the line, she said.
“You should be ashamed!” Ivy Frye, the assistant, told her. “Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now!”
Ms. Palin walks the national stage as a small-town foe of “good old boy” politics and a champion of ethics reform. The charismatic 44-year-old governor draws enthusiastic audiences and high approval ratings. And as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, she points to her management experience while deriding her Democratic rivals, Senators Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr., as speechmakers who never have run anything.
But an examination of her swift rise and record as mayor of Wasilla and then governor finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics — she sometimes calls local opponents “haters” — contrasts with her carefully crafted public image.
Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.
Still, Ms. Palin has many supporters. As a two-term mayor she paved roads and built an ice rink, and as governor she has pushed through higher taxes on the oil companies that dominate one-third of the state’s economy. She stirs deep emotions. In Wasilla, many residents display unflagging affection, cheering “our Sarah” and hissing at her critics.
“She is bright and has unfailing political instincts,” said Steve Haycox, a history professor at the University of Alaska. “She taps very directly into anxieties about the economic future.”
“But,” he added, “her governing style raises a lot of hard questions.”
Ms. Palin declined to grant an interview for this article. The McCain-Palin campaign responded to some questions on her behalf and that of her husband, while referring others to the governor’s spokespeople, who did not respond.
In Wasilla, a builder said he complained to Mayor Palin when the city attorney put a stop-work order on his housing project. She responded, he said, by engineering the attorney’s firing.
Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.
Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that it would cost $468,784 to process his request.
When Mr. Steiner finally obtained the e-mail messages — through a federal records request — he discovered that state scientists had in fact agreed that the bears were in danger, records show.
“Their secrecy is off the charts,” Mr. Steiner said.
State legislators are investigating accusations that Ms. Palin and her husband pressured officials to fire a state trooper who had gone through a messy divorce with her sister, charges that she denies. But interviews make clear that the Palins draw few distinctions between the personal and the political.
Last summer State Representative John Harris, the Republican speaker of the House, picked up his phone and heard Mr. Palin’s voice. The governor’s husband sounded edgy. He said he was unhappy that Mr. Harris had hired John Bitney as his chief of staff, the speaker recalled. Mr. Bitney was a high school classmate of the Palins and had worked for Ms. Palin. But she fired Mr. Bitney after learning that he had fallen in love with another longtime friend.
“I understood from the call that Todd wasn’t happy with me hiring John and he’d like to see him not there,” Mr. Harris said.
“The Palin family gets upset at personal issues,” he added. “And at our level, they want to strike back.”
Laura Chase, the campaign manager during Ms. Palin’s first run for mayor in 1996, recalled the night the two women chatted about her ambitions.
“I said, ‘You know, Sarah, within 10 years you could be governor,’ ” Ms. Chase recalled. “She replied, ‘I want to be president.’ ”
Ms. Palin grew up in Wasilla, an old fur trader’s outpost and now a fast-growing exurb of Anchorage. The town sits in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, edged by jagged mountains and birch forests. In the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration took farmers from the Dust Bowl area and resettled them here; their Democratic allegiances defined the valley for half a century.
In the past three decades, socially conservative Oklahomans and Texans have flocked north to the oil fields of Alaska. They filled evangelical churches around Wasilla and revived the Republican Party. Many of these working-class residents formed the electoral backbone for Ms. Palin, who ran for mayor on a platform of gun rights, opposition to abortion and the ouster of the “complacent” old guard.
After winning the mayoral election in 1996, Ms. Palin presided over a city rapidly outgrowing itself. Septic tanks had begun to pollute lakes, and residential lots were carved willy-nilly out of the woods. She passed a road and sewer bond, cut property taxes but raised the sales tax, and loosened the reins on enforcing zoning laws.
And, her supporters say, she cleaned out the municipal closet, firing veteran officials to make way for her own team. “She had an agenda for change and for doing things differently,” said Judy Patrick, a City Council member at the time.
But careers were turned upside down. The mayor quickly fired the town’s museum director, John Cooper. Later, she sent an aide to the museum to talk to the three remaining employees. “He told us they only wanted two,” recalled Esther West, one of the three, “and we had to pick who was going to be laid off.” The three quit as one.
Ms. Palin cited budget difficulties for the museum cuts. Mr. Cooper thought differently, saying the museum had become a microcosm of class and cultural conflicts in town. “It represented that the town was becoming more progressive, and they didn’t want that,” he said.
Days later, Mr. Cooper recalled, a vocal conservative, Steve Stoll, sidled up to him. Mr. Stoll had supported Ms. Palin and had a long-running feud with Mr. Cooper. “He said: ‘Gotcha, Cooper,’ ” Mr. Cooper said.
Mr. Stoll did not recall that conversation, although he said he supported Ms. Palin’s campaign and was pleased when she fired Mr. Cooper.
In 1997, Ms. Palin fired the longtime city attorney, Richard Deuser, after he issued the stop-work order on a home being built by Don Showers, another of her campaign supporters.
Your attorney, Mr. Showers told Ms. Palin, is costing me lots of money.
“She told me she’d like to see him fired,” Mr. Showers recalled. “But she couldn’t do it herself because the City Council hires the city attorney.” Ms. Palin told him to write the council members to complain.
Meanwhile, Ms. Palin pushed the issue from the inside. “She started the ball rolling,” said Ms. Patrick, who also favored the firing. Mr. Deuser was soon replaced by Ken Jacobus — then the State Republican Party’s general counsel.
“Professionals were either forced out or fired,” Mr. Deuser said.
Ms. Palin ordered city employees not to talk to the press. And she used city money to buy a white Suburban for the mayor’s use — employees sarcastically called it the mayor-mobile.
The new mayor also tended carefully to her evangelical base. She appointed a pastor to the town planning board. And she began to eye the library. For years, social conservatives had pressed the library director to remove books they considered immoral.
“People would bring books back censored,” recalled former Mayor John Stein, Ms. Palin’s predecessor. “Pages would get marked up or torn out.”
Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.
But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.
“Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,” Ms. Chase said. “It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”
“I’m still proud of Sarah,” she added, “but she scares the bejeebers out of me.”
Restless ambition defined Ms. Palin in the early years of this decade. She raised money for Senator Ted Stevens, a Republican from the state; finished second in the 2002 Republican primary for lieutenant governor; and sought to fill the seat of Senator Frank H. Murkowski when he ran for governor.
Mr. Murkowski appointed his daughter to the seat, but as a consolation prize, he gave Ms. Palin the $125,000-a-year chairmanship of a state commission overseeing oil and gas drilling.
Ms. Palin discovered that the state Republican leader, Randy Ruedrich, a commission member, was conducting party business on state time and favoring regulated companies. When Mr. Murkowski failed to act on her complaints, she quit and went public.
The Republican establishment shunned her. But her break with the gentlemen’s club of oil producers and political power catapulted her into the public eye.
“She was honest and forthright,” said Jay Kerttula, a former Democratic state senator from Palmer.
Ms. Palin entered the 2006 primary for governor as a formidable candidate.
In the middle of the primary, a conservative columnist in the state, Paul Jenkins, unearthed e-mail messages showing that Ms. Palin had conducted campaign business from the mayor’s office. Ms. Palin handled the crisis with a street fighter’s guile.
“I told her it looks like she did the same thing that Randy Ruedrich did,” Mr. Jenkins recalled. “And she said, ‘Yeah, what I did was wrong.’ ”
Mr. Jenkins hung up and decided to forgo writing about it. His phone rang soon after.
Mr. Jenkins said a reporter from Fairbanks, reading from a Palin news release, demanded to know why he was “smearing” her. “Now I look at her and think: ‘Man, you’re slick,’ ” he said.
Ms. Palin won the primary, and in the general election she faced Tony Knowles, the former two-term Democratic governor, and Andrew Halcro, an independent.
Not deeply versed in policy, Ms. Palin skipped some candidate forums; at others, she flipped through hand-written, color-coded index cards strategically placed behind her nameplate.
Before one forum, Mr. Halcro said he saw aides shovel reports at Ms. Palin as she crammed. Her showman’s instincts rarely failed. She put the pile of reports on the lectern. Asked what she would do about health care policy, she patted the stack and said she would find an answer in the pile of solutions.
“She was fresh, and she was tomorrow,” said Michael Carey, a former editorial page editor for The Anchorage Daily News. “She just floated along like Mary Poppins.”
Half a century after Alaska became a state, Ms. Palin was inaugurated as governor in Fairbanks and took up the reformer’s sword.
As she assembled her cabinet and made other state appointments, those with insider credentials were now on the outs. But a new pattern became clear. She surrounded herself with people she has known since grade school and members of her church.
Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell praised Ms. Palin’s appointments. “The people she hires are competent, qualified, top-notch people,” he said.
Ms. Palin chose Talis Colberg, a borough assemblyman from the Matanuska valley, as her attorney general, provoking a bewildered question from the legal community: “Who?” Mr. Colberg, who did not return calls, moved from a one-room building in the valley to one of the most powerful offices in the state, supervising some 500 people.
“I called him and asked, ‘Do you know how to supervise people?’ ” said a family friend, Kathy Wells. “He said, ‘No, but I think I’ll get some help.’ ”
The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government. Ms. Palin appointed Mr. Bitney, her former junior high school band-mate, as her legislative director and chose another classmate, Joe Austerman, to manage the economic development office for $82,908 a year. Mr. Austerman had established an Alaska franchise for Mailboxes Etc.
To her supporters — and with an 80 percent approval rating, she has plenty — Ms. Palin has lifted Alaska out of a mire of corruption. She gained the passage of a bill that tightens the rules covering lobbyists. And she rewrote the tax code to capture a greater share of oil and gas sale proceeds.
“Does anybody doubt that she’s a tough negotiator?” said State Representative Carl Gatto, Republican of Palmer.
Yet controversies have marred Ms. Palin’s reform credentials. In addition to the trooper investigation, lawmakers in April accused her of improperly culling thousands of e-mail addresses from a state database for a mass mailing to rally support for a policy initiative.
While Ms. Palin took office promising a more open government, her administration has battled to keep information secret. Her inner circle discussed the benefit of using private e-mail addresses. An assistant told her it appeared that such e-mail messages sent to a private address on a “personal device” like a Blackberry “would be confidential and not subject to subpoena.”
The governor’s office did not respond to questions on the topic.
Ms. Palin and aides use their private e-mail addresses for state business. On Feb. 7, Frank Bailey, a high-level aide, wrote to Ms. Palin’s state e-mail address to discuss appointments. Another aide fired back: “Frank, this is not the governor’s personal account.”
Mr. Bailey responded: “Whoops~!”
Mr. Bailey, a former mid-level manager at Alaska Airlines who worked on Ms. Palin’s campaign, has been placed on paid leave; he has emerged as a central figure in the trooper investigation.
Another confidante of Ms. Palin’s is Ms. Frye, 27. She worked as a receptionist for State Senator Lyda Green before she joined Ms. Palin’s campaign for governor. Now Ms. Frye earns $68,664 as a special assistant to the governor. Her frequent interactions with Ms. Palin’s children have prompted some lawmakers to refer to her as “the babysitter,” a title that Ms. Frye disavows.
Like Mr. Bailey, she is an effusive cheerleader for her boss.
“YOU ARE SO AWESOME!” Ms. Frye typed in an e-mail message to Ms. Palin in March.
Many lawmakers contend that Ms. Palin is overly reliant on a small inner circle that leaves her isolated. Democrats and Republicans alike describe her as often missing in action. Since taking office in 2007, Ms. Palin has spent 312 nights at her Wasilla home, some 600 miles to the north of the governor’s mansion in Juneau, records show.
During the last legislative session, some lawmakers became so frustrated with her absences that they took to wearing “Where’s Sarah?” pins.
Many politicians say they most often learn of her initiatives — and vetoes — from news releases, including her decision to veto $237 million from last year’s budget.
Mayors across the state, from the larger cities to tiny municipalities along the southeastern fiords, are even more frustrated. Often, their letters go unanswered and their pleas ignored, records and interviews show.
Last summer, Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage, a Democrat, pressed Ms. Palin to meet with him because the state had failed to deliver money needed to operate city traffic lights. At one point, records show, state officials told him to just turn off a dozen of them. Ms. Palin agreed to meet with Mr. Begich when he threatened to go public with his anger, according to city officials.
At an Alaska Municipal League gathering in Juneau in January, mayors across the political spectrum swapped stories of the governor’s remoteness. How many of you, someone asked, have tried to meet with her? Every hand went up, recalled Mayor Fred Shields of Haines Borough. And how many met with her? Just a few hands rose. Ms. Palin soon walked in, delivered a few remarks and left for an anti-abortion rally.
The administration’s e-mail correspondence reveals a siege-like atmosphere. Top aides keep score, demean enemies and gloat over successes. Even some who helped engineer her rise have felt her wrath.
Dan Fagan, a prominent conservative radio host and longtime friend of Ms. Palin, urged his listeners to vote for her in 2006. But when he took her to task for raising taxes on oil companies, he said, he found himself branded a “hater.”
It is part of a pattern, Mr. Fagan said, in which Ms. Palin characterizes critics as “bad people who are anti-Alaska.”
Mr. Fagan has been inundated with critical calls. “Do you have any idea how much this state hates me right now?” he said.
As Ms. Palin’s star ascends, the McCain campaign, as often happens in national races, is controlling the words of those who know her well. Her mother-in-law, Faye Palin, has been asked not to speak to reporters, and aides sit in on interviews with old friends.
At a recent lunch gathering, an official with the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce asked its members to refer all calls from reporters to the governor’s office. Diane Woodruff, a city councilwoman, shook her head.
“I was thinking, I don’t remember giving up my First Amendment rights,” Ms. Woodruff said. “Just because you’re not going gaga over Sarah doesn’t mean you can’t speak your mind.”
By BOB HERBERT
While watching the Sarah Palin interview with Charlie Gibson Thursday night, and the coverage of the Palin phenomenon in general, I’ve gotten the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Did you hear about how Barack Obama wants to have sex education in kindergarten, and called Sarah Palin a pig? Did you hear about how Ms. Palin told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks” when it wanted to buy Alaska a Bridge to Nowhere?
These stories have two things in common: they’re all claims recently made by the McCain campaign — and they’re all out-and-out lies.
The Two Faces of John McCain
The press needs to accept that the vicious, unprincipled McCain of the 2008 campaign is just as real as the virtuous McCain they admire.
By Joe Conason
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Reported by Deborah
O'Reilly opened Part IV of his interview with Senator Obama with the announcement that OPEC plans to cut oil production to raise prices. Expressing a sudden concern for poor Americans who can't heat their homes this winter, O'Reilly declared that OPEC must be punished. Then when Obama tried to describe his extensive alternative energy plan that would certainly punish OPEC, O'Reilly ridiculed it and started the Republican cry for drilling. Can the man be any more obvious?
Determined to come out of this interview experience looking like the big, bad tough guy who flattened the opposition, O'Reilly needed to rely on performance technique. Barack Obama is just too skillful and well prepared to succumb to his usual tactics. Also O'Reilly realized that Obama has substance to back up his campaign rhetoric which made BOR's job even more difficult.
The portion offered tonight made O'Reilly look very foolish and unprofessional. It seems that trashing wildlife and the environment is considered cool in the Palin obsessed world of the GOP.Fortunately, Obama countered the partisan jibes with a very calm but potent defense of our wilderness areas.
When Obama talked about his plans to get help from Europe, O'Reilly could only offer a wisecrack about using a "magic wand". Then Obama foiled his intentions more with his astute observations about Putin. In reality, the only way O'Reilly could keep Obama from looking good was to keep him from talking and at that task, BOR succeeded quite well.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
By Michael Kinsley
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.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
By E.J. Dionne —
John McCain’s campaign acknowledged this weekend that Sarah Palin is unprepared to be vice president or president of the United States.
McCain's Self-Obsessed Campaign
By Eugene Robinson —
John McCain is no silver-tongued orator, as he proved in St. Paul, but it’s hard not to be stirred when he speaks of wanting only to serve a cause greater than himself—until you take a closer look and see that he’s running one of the most egocentric presidential campaigns in memory.
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