Friday, September 26, 2008

My next door neighbor is an idiot. That doesn't make me an expert on Sarah Palin

I'm sorry, but what the fuck is she saying??? Sarah Palin isn't speaking English anymore, as far as I can tell.

This is the best bit (or the worst bit, depending on your perspective):

Couric: Explain to me why that [the proximity of Alaska to Russia] enhances your foreign policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbours are foreign countries, they're in the state that I am the Executive of...

Palin: As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where, where do they go? It's Alaska, it's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to, ah, um, to our state. This is worse than the Charlie Gibson interview! In what respect, Charlie?

And This woman is actually less coherent than George W Bush. How is this even possible?

There are some great comments on the CNN Political Ticker about this part of the interview. Here are some of my favourites:

Mary: I don't even know what to say. My husband said, "no wonder they are hiding her".

brian mac: Are you kidding me? Are these her actual comments? It appears that this woman has been coached to such an extent that she can no longer communicate in English.

j.e. browne: If there was EVER any doubt that she is completely unprepared to govern anything, read the transcript of this interview. She can't find an intelligible sentence with a map and three flashlights.

Donna: Please be aware that Palin could not even answer these questions without note cards, to which she repeatedly had to refer. And she continues to duck questions–she was asked if she had engaged in negotiations with Russia and said "we have trade missions." Was she ever involved in them? Did they have anything to do with politics? Sarah Palin is frighteningly unqualified.

whoiswhere: please...please...this is some kind of joke right? oh god!

White person in Virginia: Palin's response sounded like one that a highschool student would give. This woman is scary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Former Alaskan - Current Texan: Did I really just read that pathetic drival from Sarah Palin? Honestly, a high school kid could put together a better statement than that. This woman has NO IDEA, I repeat NO IDEA, what foreign policy experience even is.

Sally from Cali: “It is from Alaska that we send THOSE out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to our state." "Those"? Those what? Spy planes, polar bears, welcome wagons? What?

juniebug: Oh, my goodness! It's Sarah Palin who is Bush II. Like him, she stumbles and is incoherent when she speaks, uses destructive syntax, and tries to obfuscate when she doesn't know what she's talking about. Add to that the fact that she was a mediocre college student, is a governor of an oil-producing state, disavows global warming, favors secrecy, and has the audacity to think she can be second-in-command of our country with so little experience in world affairs. It's Bush all over again.

Peg, Canada: As with the ABC interview I'm left speechless after watching.

Frank: My next door neighbor is an idiot. That doesn't make me an expert on Sarah Palin.

DFoster GA: Who would want this dummy to lead them? I don't want such an idiot close to the White House lawn let alone the oval office. How in the world did she get elected to any office at all? What was she running against in Alaska... a moose? Maybe a dead moose, because if it was breathing, give me the moose.

Minnesota Mom: Wow! Her communication skills are really bad for having majored in Journalism. What exactly is she TRYING to say here?

rm: OMG!!! I actually felt bad for Palin in that interview with Couric. She is way in over her head. McCain should suspend his campaign until November 5th...

Matt: When you believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, when you believe witches are a personal threat to you, and when you believe that being mayor of a small town qualifies you to be president of the United States, I suppose it's not a huge leap to believe that living a thousand miles from an uninhabited corner of Siberia gives you foreign policy expertise.

Danielle: "You know, I've realized that I really need to spend more time being the govenor and caring for my young children, particularly giving much of my attention to baby Trig. So, I've decided to resign from the position of the republican vp." Then you can just fade right back into Alaska, and keep the shred of dignity you have left.

Peachy Keen: Please oh please oh please, just go away. I was raised in Washington State, 80 miles from the Canadian border. I think I'll run for President. After all, I know how to spell the word Canada.

Freddie Wills: I would like to hear from Palin herself and not a spoke person, just because a state border a foregin Country does not mean that the Govner of the State know foregin policy. Palin has the looks of a pretty woman but this is not a pegant this is for the number two spot of the USA. show boating will not blind side me with a vote for Palin and McCain. As a former police office, a miltary vet and a scoocer dad, who are looking to put my child through college, I need more to cast my vote, it look like Obama will get my vote.

NPA: I really understand what Sarah Pallin means. I am from Florida, which is right across from Cuba, the Bahamas, Haiti, The Dominican Republic; plus Florida shares the Golf of Mexico with many other countries. All of these countries are a closer distance to Florida than the distance between Florida and California, or Boston, or Michigan, etc. So, not that i want to be VP or anything, but I have more international experience than Pallin as far as proximity to other countries go. Oh, I forgot Venezuela.

Shay: What an idiot. I've never seen anyone so politically stupid in my life AND for it to be so obvious. No wonder why they're covering her up from the media and reporters. And I thought Bush was stupid... she makes Bush look like a genius.

Sacto Joe: Holy mackerel. And this person is an old, tired, cancer-ridden man's heartbeat from being PRESIDENT???!!!! People, you need to do some serious thinking about supporting the McCain/Palin ticket. Do you REALLY want to role them dice?

dg: By her logic, the governors of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California also have "foreign policy experience".

steve: Reading what this woman says makes my hair hurt.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thoughts on Clay - and being gay...

Clay Aiken 'Yes I'm gay' People magazine cover. Exactly two years ago today I wrote a blog post entitled Is Clay gay or straight? It's none of your business! It's still one of my most-visited posts, and I suspect that won't change any time soon.

It was written with passion and quite a bit of righteous indignation, and I'm happy to say that everything I wrote is as true today as it was then.

Exactly two years ago today I wrote:

If Clay came out next week and told the world that he's gay, I would shrug my shoulders and say "Oh well, good for him, I'm glad he feels that the time is right for him to come out, and I hope he's found a good man who will love and cherish him forever"... and then I'd go back to enjoying his music and admiring his character and integrity.

And if he announced next week that he's fallen in love with a beautiful woman and they're planning to get married and have dozens of babies, I would say "Oh well, good for him, I'm glad he's found the girl of his dreams who will love and cherish him forever - so when's that CD of lullabies going to be released?"... and then I'd go back to enjoying his music and admiring his character and integrity.

I would never have expected that a combination of both those scenarios would turn out to be the case - but then 5 years of being a member of the ClayNation has demonstrated to me that Clay doesn't always take the obvious or easy road! :)

What I do know today is that I'm enormously happy for him, and I'm hugely impressed by the decision he's made to be open about his homosexuality - as a gift to his baby son Parker. Wow. And what a cutie he is! (Parker I mean - though his dad's not bad either!)

Two years ago, Clay said that it was no-one's business whether he was gay or straight. He said he was so sick of people assuming he was lying when he said he wasn't gay, that he had decided to simply stop answering the question at all.

Exactly two years ago today I wrote:
How would you feel if complete strangers insisted on speculating publicly about your love life, asked you intrusive questions about whether you preferred men or women, and then completely ignored your answer and carried on believing what they believed in the first place, regardless of the answer you'd given?

I believe that everyone has the right to self-identify in terms of their sexuality - and that they also have the right to have that self-identification accepted and supported by those around them. Sadly, Clay has not been afforded that right by many people over the past five years.

No-one has the right to go burrowing into the private life of someone else without asking - and it doesn't matter whether that person is famous or not - in my opinion it's still not OK. Your sexuality, or mine, or Clay's, is nobody's damn business but our own.

It's clear that Clay has reached this point in his journey in his own time, and in his own way. It's not for me to speculate how long he's known that he is gay, and whether or not he was telling the truth two years ago. It's none of my business whether he's been in the closet for years, or in denial, or whether he has arrived at his current definition of his sexuality through a gradual process of self-understanding. That's his business, and the business of those who love him and share his life.

I have many gay friends, some of whom are out and have been for years, others of whom have only come out recently. Some are out in all aspects of their life; others are out with their friends and family, and remain in the closet at work. I know gay people who have come out after years of being in heterosexual relationships, and I know people who have come out after years of marriage.

Some people take years to understand who they truly are (heck - I certainly don't "get" myself half the time!) - and this can include a definition of their sexuality. Each of us is unique, and our paths in life are our own. It shouldn't be this way, but it's true that being openly gay can have some seriously bad repercussions for some people in some situations.

Although all my gay friends are happy with who they are, and who they love, I can't say that it has always been the case for all of them. And I also can't say for sure that I have no "straight" friends who are actually gay but unwilling to come out. Who knows? I do know that I would love every one of them just as much if tomorrow they told me they were gay (and vice versa!)

When Clay said he was straight, the fandom as a whole accepted that, and (mostly) didn't question it. Why? Because it was the right thing to do - the polite and respectful thing to do. Now that he's said he's gay, the fandom accepts that too. And the vast majority of the ClayNation will go on loving Clay just as much as they did yesterday, if not more.

Exactly two years ago today I wrote:
Why would a person's sexual orientation affect the way I feel about them? I have straight friends and I have gay friends - and their private lives have nothing to do with our friendship. I love them all, regardless of whom they choose to make love with. It's the same with the artists, musicians, actors and performers whom I admire - why would the gender of the people they love have any effect on the fact that I love the way they paint/sing/dance/act? I just don't understand why some people might think that it would make a difference to the way I respond to their art.

...and I feel exactly the same way today.

It's a nice synergy that my top three male voices of all time are Freddie Mercury, George Michael, and Clay Aiken. Each has a voice in a million, legions of fans, and each has taken his own journey to self-discovery - which has included, for each of them, a moment when they knew that it was the right time to be open about their sexuality.

I feel a huge amount of respect for Clay. I am incredibly impressed that, deeply private person though he is, he has decided to come out because he doesn't want to bring up baby Parker "to lie or to hide things". That is an incredibly brave decision to make, in my opinion, and I imagine a very emotional one. I'm so happy for him that he's decided to make it - and I know he will find it to be the right one.

This Clay Aiken fan ain't going nowhere - but you knew that already, didn't you?

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fear of retribution - a pattern amongst Alaskans speaking out against Sarah Palin

Protester at anti-Palin rally in Anchorage, Alaska. The sign reads: 'The Sarah I know would have me fired for this!'
The Troopergate investigation stems from the allegation by the head of the Alaskan police service, safety commissioner Walt Monegan, that Sarah Palin fired him (at least partly) because he refused to fire Trooper Mike Wooten.

Wooten is her former brother-in-law, who had been involved in an acrimonious divorce with Palin's sister Molly, and who was subjected to months of harassment by Sarah Palin and her family.

If Walt Monegan's allegations are true, it would be a serious abuse of the power of the governor - suggesting that Palin used her office and the office of many of the state's top functionaries to deal with an issue that was (and that should have remained) purely personal.

Palin and Troopergate: A Primer - Time Magazine, September 11:

...At first with prodding from his union, and then on his own, Monegan began telling people about the persistent pressure he claimed to have felt, in the months leading up to his dismissal, from the governor, her staff and her husband to get rid of a state trooper named Mike Wooten.

Why Walt Monegan got fired: Palin's abuse of power -, July 17:
Walt Monegan got fired for all of the wrong reasons. Walt Monegan got fired because he had the audacity to tell Governor Palin no, when apparently nobody is allowed to say no to Governor Palin.

Beginning in spring of 2005 and for the next ten months, over 25 formal complaints were filed by Palin and Heath family members against Trooper Mike Wooten. From drinking while driving his patrol car to making threats to shooting a moose without a permit...

...In all cases except one, the charges were ruled unfounded after an internal investigation. And the one charge that was valid, Wooten immediately admitted to...

...But it didn't stop there. Threatening phone calls, private detectives that were hired to follow Wooten, notes left on windshields, Todd Palin taking pictures then submitting them to Wooten's supervisor, all designed to intimidate Wooten into backing off from demanding equal child custody rights.

But every time they filed a spurious complaint, the Troopers would bring in an Administrative Investigator who after seeing more than two dozen of these ridiculous and time consuming complaints stated that in all his years he had never seen such a shotgun pattern against one officer.

Revenge and retribution. Abuse of power. These are serious allegations. Might Palin be the type of person to operate in this fashion? Does she have a history of this kind of behaviour?

It occurred to me today that many Alaskans who've given an opinion about Palin have done so off the record, or have asked to remain anonymous. Their reason? Fear of retribution from Sarah Palin.

Here are a few examples. You can see the pattern for yourself:

Fear And Retribution: Palin's Pattern Of Governance - Black Star News, August 31:
Currently under a state ethics investigation for the firing of Alaska state police chief Walt Monegan - a process in which Palin has clearly lied and attempted an extensive administrative cover-up - Palin has a record of controversial dismissals dating back to her days as mayor of Wasilla and for which she faced a political recall. One of those controversies surrounded the firing of Wasilla police chief Irl Stambaugh.

Reached at a remote cabin in Alaska, Stambaugh, 59, a lifelong police officer with a distinguished 30-year career, described Palin's administrative style as being based on "fear and retribution. That's how she operates."

About Sarah Palin: A Letter From Anne Kilkenny - The Presidential Candidates blog, September 3:
She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

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

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

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.


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

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

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

Saradise Lost - Chapter Twenty-Seven -- Fear of Retribution: Why Palin Stories Didn't Break Before the Nomination - Progressive Alaska blog, September 4:
A blogger told me that he needs to back off the more sensitive Palin information because he's afraid of getting shot by some of the more fanatical, hard-core "Palin-bots." I've been told that when media representatives attempted to speak to several members of Palin's former church, one member wouldn't speak out of fear of his/her life and the other declined out of fear of potential treatment by law enforcement who are also members of the church.

Wow. Can you imagine Sarah Palin with full access to all Departments of the Federal Government? Perhaps G.W. Bush wasn't the worst we could do after all.

There may be some Alaskans who are incensed by the deluge of national media into our state, especially Wasilla. However, I am grateful for their help and I offer my assistance to anyone who needs it. After all, what we are all looking for is change and unless for you that means a power-mad, inexperienced, vindictive former Alaska Governor one step away from the Presidency (and the button), we can use all of the research help we can get.

Lucy in Alaska - Librarians Against Palin blog, September 4:
I have worked in Alaskan libraries for 20 years and can assure you that the story about Mary Ellen Emmons is true. After Palin was elected she did her darndest to work with her but the pressure to censor materials got to be too much and Mary Ellen resigned and moved across the state where she rebuilt her life and continues to work in a library. She is reluctant to bring up that part of her past. We all wish she would make a statement to the press, but you forget that Palin is still our Governor and she is one mean, small minded woman and we may need her support for our libraries in the future. There is SB119 waiting for funding right now, which would provide matching funds for new library construction and $$$ for our school libraries, for instance. Once you cross Ms. Sarah, she keeps you on her list for life.

The View From Wasilla - God Help Us if Sarah Palin is Elected - Huffington Post, September 5:
But what really struck me was the picture this author paints of Palin's ruthless, unbridled ambition, and willingness to try and fire or destroy anyone who stands in her way. Even though national reporters are hunkering down in Alaska, the details of Palin's life and political career emerging from her hometown will probably be distorted and whitewashed. Her own neighbors are afraid to speak out about what they've witnessed during her quick rise to power, scared to cross her, fearful of retribution.

If this side of Sarah Palin was more widely known, it would frighten and disgust most of the U.S. voting public. Haven't we had enough of incompetent, crony-driven leadership from George W. Bush over the past eight years? Do we really want someone in national office who believes rabidly partisan, personal political loyalty tests should continue to be the sole qualification for government employment? Someone who keeps enemies lists, and surrounds herself with appointees who are "loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda"?

Alaskans Speak (In A Frightened Whisper): Palin Is "Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean" - LA Progressive, September 5:
It's not easy getting people in the 49th state to speak critically about Palin - especially people in Wasilla, where she was mayor. For one thing, with every journalist in the world calling, phone lines into Alaska have been mostly jammed since Friday; as often as not, a recording told me that "all circuits are busy" or numbers just wouldn't ring. I should think a state that's been made richer than God by oil could afford telephone lines and cell towers for everyone.

On a more practical level, many people in Alaska, and particularly Wasilla, are reluctant to speak or be quoted by name because they're afraid of her as well as the state Republican Party machine. Apparently, the power elite are as mean as the winters.

"The GOP is kind of like organized crime up here," an insurance agent in Anchorage who knows the Palin family, explained. "It's corrupt and arrogant. They're all rich because they do private sweetheart deals with the oil companies, and they can destroy anyone. And they will, if they have to."

"Once Palin became mayor," he continued, "She became part of that inner circle.'

Like most other people interviewed, he didn't want his name used out of fear of retribution.

But when a local reporter dared to suggest that the reformer Empress has no clothes, Palin tried to get her fired.

"She came at me like I was trying to steal her kids," said the targeted reporter, who now works for an oil company in Anchorage. "I heard she had a wild temper and vicious mean streak but it's nothing like you can imagine until she turns it on you."

Sarah Palin and Me - LA Progressive, September 6:
As I've been doing for 40 years, when I'd finish interviewing one source I'd ask them if they knew anyone else I might call. Thus, one source frequently begat a second which, often, begat a third. Thus, a picture of Sarah Palin began to emerge and the result was Alaskans Speak.

Do I wish more people would have spoken to me on the record and for attribution? Absolutely. Do I regret writing a piece that relied upon so many anonymous sources? Not one bit.

Private and Public Infidelities: The Vetting of Sarah Palin - Black Star News, September 7:
Stambaugh said that the recall effort [of Palin as Mayor of Wasilla] eventually dissipated not only because Palin agreed to reinstate Emmons but, more importantly, because of Palin's reputation for political retribution. "People had to worry about their standing in the community," he noted. "They had to worry about their jobs, their businesses, their careers, their families."

Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes - New York Times, September 13:
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.

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."

Protesting Palin - Alaska Dispatch, September 13:

Masked protester with sign at anti-Palin rally in Anchorage, Alaska. The sign reads: 'The Sarah I know would have me fired for this!'
But underlining the protest was a sentiment that couldn't be quipped, that no sign was big enough to contain. It was something that I had been hearing only in snippets for the past two weeks, but until today, I hadn't heard articulated. This was from a state worker, who, for fear of reprisal, didn't want their name used (it wasn't the first state worker who expressed the same fear at the rally - some even wore masks to conceal their State of Alaska identities). This is what this person told me:

"I just feel exploited. I feel like they're using this state like they use products in commercials. It is like, 'OK, what can we sell?' And Alaska and Palin are what they chose. They're selling our state out, and she's allowing it. It almost feels like a violation."

As Mayor of Wasilla, Palin Cut Own Duties, Left Trail of Bad Blood - Washington Post, September 14:
Palin's replacements included a public works director who lacked engineering experience but was married to a top aide to a former Republican governor, and she made a former state GOP lawyer city attorney, according to the Daily News. Langill, the former councilwoman, said the new hires fit Palin's management style.

"Sarah always did and still does surround herself with people she gets along well with," she said. "They protect her, and that's what she needs. She has surrounded herself with people who would not allow others to disagree with Sarah. Either you were in favor of everything Sarah was doing or had a black mark by your name."

'Barbies for War!' - New York Times, September 16:

Masked protester with sign at anti-Palin rally in Anchorage - 'Sarah, please don't put me on your enemies list'.
I covered a boisterous women against Palin rally in Anchorage, where women toted placards such as "Fess up about troopergate," "Keep your vows off my body," "Barbies for war!" "Sarah, please don't put me on your enemies list," and "McCain and Palin = McPain."

A local conservative radio personality, Eddie Burke, who had lambasted the organizers as "a bunch of socialist, baby-killing maggots," was on hand with a sign reading "Alaska is not Frisco."

"We are one Supreme Court justice away from overturning Roe v. Wade," he excitedly told me.

R. D. Levno, a retired school principal, flew in from Fairbanks. "She's a child, inexperienced and simplistic," she said of Sarah. "It's taking us back to junior high school. She's one of the popular girls, but one of the mean girls. She is seductive, but she is invented."

Sarah Palin's wasteful ways - Salon, September 17:
"After all her boasting about her executive experience, what did she do?" asks a longtime borough official, who, like many in local circles, requested anonymity because of Palin's reputation for vengeance. "The borough takes care of most of the planning, the fire, the ambulance, collecting the property taxes. And on top of that she brought in a city manager to actually run the city day to day. So what executive experience did she have as mayor?"

Sarah's Way--or the Highway - The Nation, September 17:
While a majority of Alaskans are thrilled their local beauty queen is center stage, some are horrified.

Her populist persona--the "just plain hockey mom"--is preposterous, her notion of decency defective, her ambition unbridled, her compassion counterfeit, her actions extreme, her intelligence limited and her judgment flawed.

Fearing retribution, only one of the more than twenty elected state and city officials, lawyers, doctors, health administrators, librarians, clergy and just plain residents I interviewed while in Alaska and over the phone agreed to be named.

"It's Sarah's way or the highway," claim many who've worked with her. As one state representative confided to me, "the public doesn't know the real Sarah Palin."

Sarah Palin's dead lake - Salon, September 19:
A city official in nearby Palmer, who has lived in the Mat-Su Valley his whole life, sadly admitted: "Sarah sent the growth into overdrive. And now they're choking on traffic and sprawl, all built on their ignorance and greed.

"I try to avoid driving to Wasilla so I won't get depressed," added the official, who asked for his name to be withheld, to avoid Palin's "wrath."

"You get visually mugged when you drive through there. I take the long way, through the back roads, just to avoid it."

It's interesting to note that John McCain has a reputation for being extremely bad-tempered, abusive, and as one who has been known to hold a grudge for many years:

McCain: A Question of Temperament - Washington Post, April 20:
Since the beginning of McCain's public life, the many witnesses to his temper have had strikingly different reactions to it. Some depict McCain, now the presumptive Republican nominee for president, as an erratic hothead incapable of staying cool in the face of what he views as either disloyalty to him or irrational opposition to his ideas. Others praise a firebrand who is resolute against the forces of greed and gutlessness...

...Former senator Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican, expresses worries about McCain: "His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him."

During a campaign stop at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, [McCain] opened a window on what swirled inside him during his school years...

..."As a young man, I would respond aggressively and sometimes irresponsibly to anyone who I perceived to have questioned my sense of honor and self-respect. Those responses often got me in a fair amount of trouble earlier in life."

"In all candor, as an adult I've been known to forget occasionally the discretion expected of a person of my many years and station when I believe I've been accorded a lack of respect I did not deserve," he said at Episcopal.

Smith admits to not liking McCain, a point he has often made over the years to reporters. "I've witnessed a lot of his temper and outbursts," Smith said. "For me, some of this stuff is relevant. It raises questions about stability. . . . It's more than just temper. It's this need of his to show you that he's above you -- a sneering, condescending attitude. It's hurt his relationships in Congress. . . . I've seen it up-close."

For Johnson, McCain's call raised questions as to whether he bore a lasting animosity against anyone who ever challenged him. "Everyone in [Freestone's] office thought it was all ridiculous . . . and petty," remembers Johnson, a devout Republican conservative who today is an Arizona state senator.

"Senator McCain says he has no recollection of ever making a phone call to block a job for Karen Johnson," Salter said.

During roughly the same period, McCain requested the firing of an aide [Judy Leiby] to Arizona's senior U.S. senator, Dennis DeConcini, according to two top figures in DeConcini's office...

...Episodes such as the Johnson and Leiby incidents, along with McCain's oft-chronicled blowups on Capitol Hill, have led critics to say he has a vindictive streak, that he sees an enemy in anyone who challenges him.

One man's bulldozer is another's bully. "I don't think that he forgets anyone who ever opposed him, that he can ever really respect or trust them again," said Karen Johnson, the targeted secretary-turned-state senator. "That goes for people here and overseas."

McCain's history of hot temper raises concerns - McClatchy Washington Bureau, September 7:
McCain called Cornyn's claim "chicken-s---," according to people familiar with the meeting, and charged that the Texan was looking for an excuse to scuttle the bill. Cornyn grimly told McCain he had a lot of nerve to suddenly show up and inject himself into the sensitive negotiations.

"F--- you," McCain told Cornyn, in front of about 40 witnesses.

It was another instance of the Republican presidential candidate losing his temper, another instance where, as POW-MIA activist Carol Hrdlicka put it, "It's his way or no way."

There's a lengthy list of similar outbursts through the years: McCain pushing a woman in a wheelchair, trying to get an Arizona Republican aide fired from three different jobs, berating a young GOP activist on the night of his own 1986 Senate election and many more.

A Reality Check On 'Change' - Newsweek, September 13:
Part of the problem is McCain's explosive temper. He blows up, then apologizes and is quickly forgiven. The forgiveness is "directly related to an appreciation of what he has suffered [in Vietnam]," says a Democrat who didn't want to be named talking about a colleague. "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Republican Sen. Thad Cochran told The Boston Globe in January. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me." Cochran, a McCain supporter, now says McCain has learned to control his emotions better. But I've spoken to four senators and two former senators in recent weeks who believe Cochran's concerns are widely shared in the Senate. Five of the six think that McCain is temperamentally unsuited to the presidency. None would speak for the record.


So the Republican Presidential candidate has a reputation for having an explosive temper that he finds hard to control. He has been accused of hurling abuse if he doesn't get the respect he feels he deserves from people, and those who have done it know that to speak out against him invites retribution. He is reported to hold a grudge forever, and goes out of his way to get back at anyone he believes has slighted him - even to the extent of trying to have them fired.

Meanwhile the Republican Vice-presidential candidate has a reputation for being mean, vicious and vindictive. She is accused of abusing her power in order to get what she wants, and people are afraid to speak out against her for fear of retribution. She is reported to keep those who cross her on her 'enemies list' forever, and will go out of her way to make life difficult for those on the list. She is currently under investigation for firing the guy who wouldn't fire the guy she (for personal reasons) wanted fired.

No wonder McCain called her his "soulmate".

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

We know - they're fundamentally wrong

Carly Fiorina and Phil Gramm Dine Alone (Oh, Did You Want To Join Them?)

Carly Fiorina and Phil Gramm Dine Alone (Oh, Did You Want To Join Them?)

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

What (some) Republicans are saying about Sarah Palin

I thought I might expand on a reply I gave to "anonymous", who commented on my post Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson, part 1 - EPIC FAIL.

I think it's rather interesting how many Republicans, conservatives and other right-leaning folk are decidedly unenthusiastic about Sarah Palin - and about how this reflects on John McCain's judgement in choosing her as his running mate.

Firstly, here is Karl Rove on Face the Nation, August 10:

Karl Rove argued that if Obama picked Tim Kaine for VP, it would be for purely political reasons and would ignore the responsibilities of the presidency. On the show, Rove said the following -

"I think he's going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice," Rove said. "He's going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he's going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He's not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president...

...With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he's been a governor for three years, he's been able but undistinguished, I don't think people could really name a big, important thing that he's done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America...

...So if he were to pick Governor Kaine, it would be an intensely political choice where he said, 'You know what? I'm really not, first and foremost, concerned with, is this person capable of being president of the United States? What I'm concerned about is, can he bring me the electoral votes of the state of Virginia, the 13 electoral votes in Virginia?'..."

And here he is saying it. Striking how Palin's experience is even less than Tim Kaine's, isn't it?:

Next, here are Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan talking incredulously about the possible nomination of Palin as VP candidate (on the morning the announcement was made, but before the announcement itself):

Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post, August 29 - The Palin Puzzle:
The Palin selection completely undercuts the argument about Obama's inexperience and readiness to lead -- on the theory that because Palin is a maverick and a corruption fighter, she bolsters McCain's claim to be the reformer in this campaign...

...To gratuitously undercut the remarkably successful "Is he ready to lead" line of attack seems near suicidal.

Ramesh Ponnuru in the National Review Online, August 29 - Cold Water on Palin:
Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain's age raised the stakes on this issue...

...Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?

David Frum in the National Review Online, August 29 - Palin:
The longer I think about it, the less well this selection sits with me. And I increasingly doubt that it will prove good politics. The Palin choice looks cynical. The wires are showing...

...Here's I fear the worst harm that may be done by this selection. The McCain campaign's slogan is "country first." It's a good slogan, and it aptly describes John McCain, one of the most self-sacrificing, gallant, and honorable men ever to seek the presidency.

But question: If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?

Mark Ambinder talking about Republican political strategists in The Atlantic, August 29 - GOP Strategists Mixed Reviews:
I cannot overestimate the degree to which Republican political strategists were stunned by the pick...

...A few are cautiously optimistic that it'll turn out OK, but most of the strategists and consultants I've spoken to, e-mailed with, or read/watched are struggling with it. They expect her to have a good week... and then to crash and burn when she hits the campaign trail as scrutiny catches up with her.

Some of these strategists are close to those Republicans who were vetted but not picked, but many of them aren't. "It's like playing poker blind," one strategist said. Another e-mailed: "Obama's lack of readiness was THE only way to win." When these Republicans ask the McCain campaign for guidance, all they hear back is: "She's more experienced than Obama is."

David Frum in the National Post, August 29 - Palin the irresponsible choice?:
Ms. Palin's experience in government makes Barack Obama look like George C. Marshall. She served two terms on the city council of Wasilla, Alaska, population 9,000. She served two terms as mayor. In November, 2006, she was elected governor of the state, a job she has held for a little more than 18 months. She has zero foreign policy experience, and no record on national security issues.

David Frum in the National Review Online, August 30 - My Palin Mailbox - Updating:
Likewise, had Sarah Palin decided in 2005 to run for president in 2008 - had she spent 3 years mastering the issues and explaining her views in public statements - had she one by one recruited leading experts on economic and defense issues to her cause and privately explored the issues of the day with them - then her current background would not be disqualifying. Indeed it would resemble that of many successful presidents.

None of those things happened. She was plucked by John McCain because of an electoral calculus. She could be vice president of the United States in January 2009 - and president at any moment thereafter, abruptly thrust in supreme command of two wars in two different countries. And who knows how she'll do? She does not know what she would do. Yes she might turn out to be a Harry Truman. Or she might be an Andrew Johnson. Wouldn't you wish for some hint in advance of which it might be?

Shannen Coffin in the National Review Online, August 30 - Palin Pick:
But the notion of plucking a governor with less than two years of experience that would count for anything (unless your a fan of movies like Dave) to serve as Vice President to a 72-year old President is troubling, to say the least. The pick comes with enormous risk, both as a matter of politics, and more importantly, governance...

...That lack of experience is a political liability for the very reason that it is a real liability...

...The choice also says a lot about McCain. First, that he is a bit desparate [sic]...

...Second, that he is one arrogant SOB. McCain is essentially telling the world that he doesn't really need a Vice President.

Andrew Sullivan, quoting an email from an unnamed Republican voter in The Daily Dish, August 31 - The Shock Of Palin:
I've voted a straight Republican ticket every year of my life since 1975, when I first came of voting age, but I was stunned and horrified by McCain's choice of Palin. I simply cannot even consider voting for McCain after this choice, which speaks loudly of his own selfishness and fundamental frivolousness...

...While Obama might do a hundred things as President that I believe are bad for the country, I am confident that he would surround himself with experienced, informed, competent advisors and that he would make no world-destroying blunders. I cannot say the same about Palin and, in view of what this choice reveals about McCain's character and judgment, I cannot say the same of him either.

David Brooks in a New York Times Op-Ed, September 1 - What the Palin Pick Says:
So my worries about Palin are not (primarily) about her lack of experience...

...My worry about Palin is that she shares McCain's primary weakness - that she has a tendency to substitute a moral philosophy for a political philosophy...

... If McCain is elected, he will face conditions tailor-made to foster disorder. He will be leading a divided and philosophically exhausted party. There simply aren't enough Republican experts left to staff an administration, so he will have to throw together a hodgepodge with independents and Democrats. He will confront Democratic majorities that will be enraged and recriminatory.

On top of these conditions, he will have his own freewheeling qualities: a restless, thrill-seeking personality, a tendency to personalize issues, a tendency to lead life as a string of virtuous crusades.

He really needs someone to impose a policy structure on his moral intuitions. He needs a very senior person who can organize a vast administration and insist that he tame his lone-pilot tendencies and work through the established corridors - the National Security Council, the Domestic Policy Council. He needs a near-equal who can turn his instincts, which are great, into a doctrine that everybody else can predict and understand.

Rob Portman or Bob Gates wouldn't have been politically exciting, but they are capable of performing those tasks. Palin, for all her gifts, is not. She underlines McCain's strength without compensating for his weaknesses. The real second fiddle job is still unfilled.

Dr Laura (!) in her blog, September 2 - Sarah Palin and Motherhood:
I am extremely disappointed in the choice of Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate of the Republican Party. I will still vote for Senator McCain, because I am very concerned about having a fundamental leftist, especially one who is a marvelous orator, as President...

...I am haunted by the family pictures of the Palins during political photo-ops, showing the eldest daughter, now pregnant with her own child, cuddling the family's newborn. When Mom and Dad both work full-time (no matter how many folks get involved with the children), it becomes a somewhat chaotic situation. Certainly, if a child becomes ill and is rushed to the hospital, and you're on the hotline with both Israel and Iran as nuclear tempers are flaring, where's your attention going to be? Where should your attention be? Well, once you put your hand on the Bible and make that oath, your attention has to be with the government of the United States of America.

From a report on Huffington Post about off-mike comments by Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy, September 3 - Peggy Noonan, Mike Murphy Caught On Tape Disparaging Palin Choice: "Political Bullshit," "Gimmicky":
Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan and former John McCain adviser, Time columnist, and MSNBC contributor Mike Murphy were caught on tape disparaging John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate.

"It's over," Noonan said.

When Chuck Todd asked her if this was the most qualified woman the Republicans could nominate, Noonan responded, "The most qualified? No. I think they went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives. Every time the Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and that's not what they're good at, they blow it."

Murphy characterized the choices as "cynical" and "gimmicky."

Ben Stein, being interviewed on CNN, September 3 at the Republican convention:
I don't think she has said a word in her whole life about the national economy, which contributes to making this one of the oddest choices in the history of presidential politics. I think this may go down as the most peculiar vice-presidential choice there's ever been...

...She should have Henry Kissinger baby-sitting her!

David Frum in the National Review Online, September 11 - Presidential Knowledge:
Somebody who knew President Bush well once remarked to me. "You'll notice he never asks questions."

"Why not?" I said.

"Because he doesn't know what it's okay for him not to know."

Again and again through the ABC interview with Sarah Palin, Gibson asked questions to which an evasive answer would have been perfectly appropriate...

...But Palin never punted. She tried to bluff her way through, pretending to know what she obviously did not know. It's an understandable impulse, and in the context of a single interview, not so very terrible. But is it an impulse that she'd lay aside once in office? Or is it a deeper habit? A lot may turn on the answer to that question.

Kristen Soltis at The Next Right, September 12 - Where's Sarah? The Palin Interview, Night One:
There were oh so many times when I could practically envision the talking points. "We shouldn't second guess Israel. No matter what, they are our ally. We don't second guess Israel." And so it went. "We can't second guess Israel, Charlie."

Whether that's the correct policy or not what I'm debating. What matters is that it didn't seem like it was really her opinion. I can't see inside the mind of Sarah Palin, so I have no place saying if it is ACTUALLY her opinion or not. But the feel of it? It didn't feel genuine. It felt like a repeated talking point. It felt "done".

And if you're going to try not to sound political, of all the things you can't afford to do, it's sound like Bush. Remember - he was the candidate of cowboy authenticity, shoot-em-straightness, of "lets do this thing, lets get them terrorists". No doubt Palin has been prepped by Steve Schmidt (Rove's protege), Nicolle Wallace (former Bush staffer). So maybe that's why I'm so sensitive to Bush-sounding language.

Ross Douthat in The Atlantic, September 12 - Will McCain Ruin Palin, Revisited:
But a vice-presidential run isn't the ideal place to develop that potential in the best of times, and a vice-presidential run under the tutelage of the McCain campaign is likely to produce a lot more of what we saw from Palin in her interview last night: Rigorously memorized, carefully regurgitated talking points, a determination to avoid making enormous gaffes, and not much else.

Ross Douthat in The Atlantic, September 13 - Sarah The Unready:
Now that we've seen the entirety of the Palin-Gibson tete-a-tete, I concur with Rich Lowry and Rod Dreher. The most that can be said in her defense is that she kept her cool and avoided any brutal gaffes; other than that, she seemed about an inch deep on every issue outside her comfort zone.

Rich Lowry in the National Review Online, September 13 - Palin's Performance - Fine, But...:
My take (and I didn't see the bits that aired on 20/20 or Nightline last night, although I read the transcript) was that she survived. That's all she had to do...

...But this was a merely adequate performance. The foreign-policy session was a white-knuckle affair. She barely got through it and showed no knowledge more than an inch deep...

...The fact still remains that she very likely didn't know any of the possible definitions of the Bush doctrine. I can't imagine if Obama had picked Gov. Tim Kaine and he had had a similar moment, conservatives would have rushed to say that the Bush doctrine is just too amorphous and complicated for him to know anything about it. Palin seemed weak on economic and budgetary policy too, talking in the vaguest generalities.

Rod Dreher in Crunchy Con at, September 12 - Latest ABC Palin interview -- not mo' better:
Just saw Palin talking about domestic issues on ABC World News Tonight. Depressing. Programmed, just like last night. Charlie Gibson asked her twice what she and McCain would do about the economy different from Bush. Answer: not much. Here's the Palin economic plan:

Get government out of the way of the private sector. Cut taxes. Control spending. And when Gibson pressed her, she added "reform agency oversight. "

Entitlement spending reform? Pass. They're going to cut spending by rooting out -- wait for it -- waste, fraud and abuse. (This year's GOP buzz word for that hoary phrase: "finding efficiencies.")

To quote the latest McCain commercial about Obama: "That's not change. That's more of the same."


But perhaps you don't believe that these people I've quoted above are "real" conservatives. Here are some details on each of them:

David Brooks - Canadian-American political and cultural commentator. Brooks served as a reporter for the Washington Times, a reporter and later op-ed editor for The New York Times, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard from its inception, a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, and a commentator on NPR and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Brooks, now a conservative, describes himself as being originally a liberal.

Pat Buchanan - former senior adviser to American presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996.

Shannen Coffin - attorney who served as general counsel to Dick Cheney until early November 2007. He was previously at the Department of Justice, where he served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division.

Ross Douthat - a "new-generation conservative" author and blogger. He is a senior editor at The Atlantic, and he has written Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class (Hyperion, 2005) and, with Reihan Salam, Grand New Party (Doubleday, 2008), which David Brooks called "best single roadmap of where the [Republican] party should and is likely to head."

Rod Dreher - Dallas-based writer and editor. He is an editorial writer and columnist for The Dallas Morning News and a contributor to The American Conservative and National Review. Previously, he was a columnist for The New York Post. He also runs a blog called "Crunchy Con" at

David Frum - Canadian-born conservative and journalist active in the both US and Canadian political arenas. A former economic speechwriter for George W. Bush.

Charles Krauthammer - Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist and commentator, generally considered a conservative or neoconservative. He appears regularly as a commentator on Fox News and as a weekly panelist on Inside Washington. His weekly column appears in the The Washington Post and is syndicated in more than 200 newspapers and media outlets. He is a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and The New Republic.

Dr Laura - Laura Catherine Schlessinger, American radio host, author and conservative commentator. Once a professional counselor, Schlessinger offers advice to callers every day on her nationally-syndicated radio show, The Dr. Laura Program, which airs through Premiere Radio Networks.

Rich Lowry - editor of National Review and a syndicated columnist. He regularly appears on the Fox News Channel. He has guest-hosted on Hannity and Colmes and Fox & Friends, and is a guest panelist on PBS's "The McLaughlin Group" and Fox News Watch.

Mike Murphy - Republican political consultant. He has advised such nationally prominent Republicans as John McCain, Jeb Bush, John Engler, Tommy Thompson, Christie Whitman, Lamar Alexander, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was, until January 2006, an adviser to Mitt Romney, the Governor of Massachusetts and an about-to-become candidate for the Republican presidential nomination for the 2008 presidential election. He stepped down as a result of his role as chief strategist to Governor Romney as well as Senator McCain, who were both widely expected to be Republican challengers in the primaries of the 2008 Presidential election. Murphy said he had decided to be neutral in a contest between two close clients, although he would advise each informally.

Peggy Noonan - author of seven books on politics, religion and culture, a weekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and was a primary speech writer and Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. She is considered a political conservative.

Ramesh Ponnuru - Washington, DC-based Indian American columnist and a senior editor for National Review magazine. He has also written for several other newspapers and publications, including The Weekly Standard, Policy Review, The New Republic and First Things. A conservative pundit, Ponnuru has appeared in many public affairs and news interview programs. He is perhaps best known for his 2006 book, The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life.

Karl Rove - Deputy Chief of Staff to George W Bush until his resignation on August 31, 2007. He has headed the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison, and the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives. Since leaving the White House, Rove has worked as a political analyst and contributor for Fox News, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal. Rove is an informal advisor to John McCain.

For most of his career prior to his employment at the White House, Rove was a political consultant almost exclusively for Republican candidates. Rove's campaign clients have included Bush, Senator John Ashcroft, Bill Clements, Senator John Cornyn, Governor Rick Perry, and Phil Gramm.

Joe Scarborough - former member of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001 as a Republican from the 1st district of Florida.

Kristen Soltis - Director of Policy Research for The Winston Group, a Republican affiliated public opinion research and strategic consulting firm in Washington, DC.

Ben Stein - American attorney, political figure, and entertainment personality who in his early career served as speechwriter for US presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Recently, he has become an outspoken critic of evolutionary theory, which he describes as "Darwinism," and an advocate for intelligent design.

Andrew Sullivan - prominent blogger, author, and political commentator who considers himself to be a classical libertarian conservative.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lies, lies and more lies - the McCain/Palin campaign

It seems as though, over the last few days, the traditional media has woken up to what the McCain/Palin campaign is doing - and are finally - finally - beginning to call them on it - something that the blogosphere's been doing for weeks. Yup - the media is using the "L" word.

The McCain/Palin campaign are LYING LIARS who are telling LIE after LIE after LIE.

I think it began with Paul Krugman's brilliant op-ed piece a couple of days ago in the New York Times. Entitled Blizzard of Lies, it tackles the McCain campaign's descent into the territory of lies, lies and more lies...

Paul Krugman wrote:

But I can't think of any precedent, at least in America, for the blizzard of lies since the Republican convention. The Bush campaign's lies in 2000 were artful - you needed some grasp of arithmetic to realize that you were being conned. This year, however, the McCain campaign keeps making assertions that anyone with an Internet connection can disprove in a minute, and repeating these assertions over and over again.

The Bridge to Nowhere that Palin was for before she was against - and which she continues to lie about in her stump speech...

Kindergarten sex-ed - in which Obama supported legislation calling for "age and developmentally appropriate education" and which the Repubs have lied about, saying he wants to teach little kids about sex before they can even read...

Palin's dodgy dealings wrt Troopergate, bringing her political power to bear on a personal issue - in which she lied by saying she had no influence on the firing, which has been disproved by a number of emails and phone calls - and who knows what else in the thousand emails she's so far refused to release (Cheney-like Executive Privilege, dontcha know?) and which at least some of which were CC'd to her non-office-holding, non-elected husband Todd...

Lipstick on a pig faux outrage - and faux feminism - and faux cries of "sexism" every time Palin's policies, inexperience or ability to be VP are questioned (not to mention McCain's judgement in picking her)...

Lies about earmarks which she and McCain say they're against, but which she certainly was for as Governor -

The Wall Street Journal - before they scrubbed the bolded bit ad replaced it with something more pro-Palin - wrote:
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 request in the nation.

The list goes on and on and on and on and on. Thank you Paul Krugman for telling it like it is. May the rest of the media continue to follow suit!

Paul Krugman wrote:
Still, how upset should we be about the McCain campaign's lies? I mean, politics ain't beanbag, and all that.

One answer is that the muck being hurled by the McCain campaign is preventing a debate on real issues - on whether the country really wants, for example, to continue the economic policies of the last eight years.

But there's another answer, which may be even more important: how a politician campaigns tells you a lot about how he or she would govern.

Seems like Krugman's comments might just have opened the floodgates - well, maybe made a teeny hole in the dam at least - because now they're all at it:

Making it up as they go along - Robyn E. Blumner in the St Petersburg Times:
The only thing "maverick" about McCain's use of lies to smear his opponent is how breathtakingly blatant they are. If the nation falls for this, the Lying Eyes campaign will have succeeded, and for all of us with eyes that saw through to the truth, there will be tears.

Experience 101 - Dick Cavett in the New York Times:
Back here in the past, when I'm writing this, we have just seen part one of her quizzing by Charles Gibson, with mixed reviews for both. So far I have not seen her confronted with some of the things about which she has been, to put it in that awful Diplomatically Correct phrase, "somewhat less than fully truthful." (Typesetter: If space is scarce, use "lying.") As in claiming "no thanks" to the bridge money while failing to disclose that she kept it.

McCain Barbs Stirring Outcry as Distortions - Michael Cooper and Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times:
In an interview Friday on the NY1 cable news channel, a McCain supporter, Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, called "ridiculous" the implication that Mr. Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comment was a reference to Ms. Palin, whom he also defended as coming under unfair attack.

"The last month, for sure," said Don Sipple, a Republican advertising strategist, "I think the predominance of liberty taken with truth and the facts has been more McCain than Obama."

Indeed, in recent days, Mr. McCain has been increasingly called out by news organizations, editorial boards and independent analysts like The group, which does not judge whether one candidate is more misleading than another, has cried foul on Mr. McCain more than twice as often since the start of the political conventions as it has on Mr. Obama.

McCain fumbles Palin's record on earmark requests - Beth Fouhy at Associated Press:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Friday defended two debunked television ads attacking Democrat Barack Obama and claimed erroneously that running mate Sarah Palin never sought money for lawmakers' pet projects as Alaska governor.

Palin sought $197 million in so-called "earmarks" for 2009. In the previous budget year, she asked for earmarks worth $256 million.

McCain Wraps Distortions Around One Truth - Washington Post:
This John McCain commercial, which contains two significant distortions, is part of a larger effort to rule criticism of his running mate out of bounds and to paint her as the victim of unfair attacks from both Democrats and the media.

Palin won't concede change of heart on bridge - The Seattle Times:
"I told Congress 'thanks but no thanks' on that 'Bridge to Nowhere,'" Palin said repeatedly in her stump speeches, drawing roars of approval. But numerous news organizations found that she supported the bridge until it became a national symbol of excess, and then she turned against it.

In the latest in a series of interviews with Charles Gibson of ABC News, Palin did not concede any change of heart. "We killed that earmark," she said. "We killed that project."

Her comments came after McCain sat for a grilling on ABC's "The View," where he claimed erroneously that his running mate hadn't sought federal money.

McCain wrong on Palin earmarks - Tom Hamburger and Maeve Reston in the Los Angeles Times:
John McCain got it wrong Friday when he asserted that his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, had not requested any earmarks, the spending directives lawmakers insert in spending bills that McCain has vowed to eliminate.

Palin, in fact, requested $198 million in federal earmarks in February, including such expenses as $487,000 to fight obesity in Alaska and $4 million to develop recreational trails.

By day's end, the McCain campaign backed down from the claim the GOP presidential candidate made on the ABC television show "The View."

Palin camp clarifies extent of Iraq trip - Bryan Bender in the Boston Globe:
Sarah Palin's visit to Iraq in 2007 consisted of a brief stop at a border crossing between Iraq and Kuwait, the vice presidential candidate's campaign said yesterday, in the second official revision of her only trip outside North America.

Following her selection last month as John McCain's running mate, aides said Palin had traveled to Ireland, Germany, Kuwait, and Iraq to meet with members of the Alaska National Guard. During that trip she was said to have visited a "military outpost" inside Iraq. The campaign has since repeated that Palin's foreign travel included an excursion into the Iraq battle zone.

But in response to queries about the details of her trip, campaign aides and National Guard officials in Alaska said by telephone yesterday that she did not venture beyond the Kuwait-Iraq border when she visited Khabari Alawazem Crossing, also known as "K-Crossing," on July 25, 2007.

Asked to clarify where she traveled in Iraq, Palin's spokeswoman, Maria Comella, confirmed that "She visited a military outpost on the other side of the Kuwait-Iraq border."

McCain-Palin Crowd-Size Estimates Not Backed by Officials - Lorraine Woellert and Jeff Bliss in
Senator John McCain has drawn some of the biggest crowds of his presidential campaign since adding Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to his ticket on Aug. 29. Now officials say they can't substantiate the figures McCain's aides are claiming.

McCain aide Kimmie Lipscomb told reporters on Sept. 10 that an outdoor rally in Fairfax City, Virginia, drew 23,000 people, attributing the crowd estimate to a fire marshal.

Fairfax City Fire Marshal Andrew Wilson said his office did not supply that number to the campaign and could not confirm it. Wilson, in an interview, said the fire department does not monitor attendance at outdoor events.

Why McCain is going so negative, so often - Jonathan Martin at Politico:
It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely perch for John McCain to be shamed for his increasingly hard-edged and truth-stretching campaign than the middle seat on "The View."

Yet on Friday morning, there sat the Republican nominee - a politician who has built an all but saintly reputation for "straight talk" over the years - caught in a vise between Joy Behar and Barbara Walters and getting a lecture from each on honesty.

"They're lies," Behar said of two recent lines of attack from the McCain campaign.

"By the way, you yourself said the same thing about putting lipstick on a pig," Walters interjected as a defensive McCain struggled to respond.

The two daytime talk show hosts are hardly alone.

McCain's tactics are drawing the scorn of many in the media and organizations tasked with fact-checking the truthfulness of campaigns. In recent weeks, Team McCain has been described as dishonorable, disingenuous and downright cynical.

McCain-Palin Distorts Our Finding - Brooks Jackson from in Newsweek:
With its latest ad, released Sept. 10, the McCain-Palin campaign has altered our message in a fashion we consider less than honest. The ad strives to convey the message that said "completely false" attacks on Sarah Palin had come from Sen. Barack Obama. We said no such thing. We have yet to dispute any claim from the Obama campaign about Palin.

They call the ad "Fact Check." It says "the attacks on Gov. Palin have been called 'completely false' ... 'misleading.' " On screen is a still photo of a grim-faced Obama. Our words are accurately quoted, but they had nothing to do with Obama.

Palin, McCain contradict each other on spending
- Carla Marinucci in the San Franciso Chronicle:
In a televised interview Friday, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin defended her request for an estimated $200 million in federal projects from Congress - even as earlier in the day her GOP running mate John McCain insisted Palin had never sought money from Congress.

Fact check: McCain on Palin and earmarks - Ryan J. Rusak in The Dallas Morning News:
For more on John McCain's incorrect claim that Sarah Palin has sought no earmarks as governor, click here. The Associated Press reports that Ms. Palin "asked for nearly $200 million in targeted spending for the 2009 fiscal year."

Along the same lines, McClatchy declares a new Republican ad "out of bounds" for its claim that Ms. Palin "vetoed nearly half a billion dollars in wasteful spending and cut earmark requests by hundreds of millions of dollars." While technically true, McClatchy says, the ad takes the remark out of context enough that its meaning is distorted.

McCain still peddles Palin mythology - Jay Bookman in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Oh, and for those who ask, I’ll stop writing about it when they stop lying about it. Why?

Because their strategy is to keep restating these lies until people stop bothering to complain about it. And at that point, the lie will become accepted as the truth.

Except it's not the truth. And the truth matters.

Obama's new tack: McCain-Palin 'lying' - Andy Barr in The Hill:
During a campaign stop in Flint, Mich., on Monday, Obama hit Palin over her reversal on the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere," saying "she was for it until everybody started raising a fuss about it and she started running for governor and then suddenly she was against it."

"You can't just make stuff up," Obama added. "You can't just recreate yourself. You can't just reinvent yourself. The American people aren't stupid."

In addition to calling out the GOP for "not telling the truth" about Palin, the Obama campaign is targeting what running mate Sen. Joe Biden (Del.) called Palin’s "very extreme views."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton:
We will take no lectures from John McCain who is cynically running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern Presidential campaign history. His discredited ads with disgusting lies are running all over the country today. He runs a campaign not worthy of the office he is seeking.

I pray that the traditional media continues to call McCain/Palin on their litany of lies (because I think it's clear that the campaign has every intention of continuing them).

I don't know how you fight against a party that has apparently decided that the truth doesn't matter any more - and who have sunk to these depths. How does a person of honour counter this? What can the Democrats do in the face of lie after lie after lie? It hurts my heart....

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