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Angry but at what....

Joe Plumber: Angry but at what....

The all-out effort from John McCain’s presidential campaign to scare voters into backing the Republican candidate continued apace on Tuesday as McCain surrogate Joe the Plumber agreed that a Barack Obama presidency would mean the “death of Israel” and end democracy in America.

The Ohio plumber, who has no license and is actually named Samuel Wurzelbacher, spoke at a McCain campaign event in Columbus Monday. A McCain supporter asked if “a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel.” JTP hardly batted an eye.

“I’ll go ahead and agree with you on that,” Wurzelbacher said.

The push-back against Wurzelbacher’s comments began, somewhat unexpectedly, at Fox News.

The network noted that the McCain campaign seemed hesitant to distance itself from Wurzelbacher. Correspondent Carl Cameron said that the McCain campaign was going to put out an ad today criticizing Obama policies on Israel.

“Just a coincidence?” he asked. “We report you decide.”

Later Tuesday afternoon, Shepard Smith pressed Wurzelbacher on his comments, reminding the woefully misinformed McCain backer that Obama has consistently voiced support for Israel. Pressed several times to explain how he could agree with the conclusion that Obama would lead to the death of the Jewish state, Wurzelbacher was unable to come up with any good reasons aside from Obama’s position in favor of negotiating with rogue regimes such as Iran.

“You don’t want my opinion on foreign policy,” Wurzelbacher said. “I know just enough to kind of be dangerous.”

Smith seemed to agree with that assessment, implying that the only source for Wurzelbacher and the supporter’s concern was “hateful things spread on the Internet.” The host clearly worried that Wurzelbacher’s endorsement of such a view might inspire violence against the candidate.

Losing control and loving it !! McCain's swashbuckling camp.

Losing control and loving it !! McCain's swashbuckling camp.

Why, Smith asked, would Wurzelbacher believe Obama was lying when he spoke of the importance of Israel’s relationship with the United States.

Wurzelbacher was flummoxed. All he could offer was an appeal for people to “go out and find their own reasons … go out and get informed.”

If only the “plumber” had bothered to take his own advice before jumping onto the national stage. Smith, for his part, made sure to set his audience straight on the facts.

“I just want to make this 100 percent perfectly clear, Barack Obama has said repeatedly and demonstrated repeatedly that Israel will always be a friend of the United States, no matter what happens once he becomes President of the United States, his words,” Smith said after the interview ended. “The rest of it, man, it just gets frightening sometimes.”

Unvetted Joe the Plumber: Vote for Obama ‘death to Israel’

In Ohio, Wurzelbacher went on to reiterate McCain’s attempts to paint Obama as a socialist, The Associated Press reports.

    “I’m honestly scared for America,” Wurzelbacher said.

    He later said Obama would end the democracy that the U.S. military had defended during wars.

    “I love America. I hope it remains a democracy, not a socialist society. … If you look at spreading the wealth, that’s honestly right out of Karl Marx’s mouth,” Wurzelbacher said.

    “No one can debate that. That’s not my opinion. That’s fact.”

McCain’s campaign has used the “spread the wealth” line to attack Obama ever since the Democratic candidate used it to inartfully describe his tax proposals.

The attempts to compare Obama’s relatively modest restructuring of the progressive tax system to Marxism strikes most reasonable observers as patently absurd, but the attack seems to be all the foundering McCain campaign has left. Obama’s proposal would raise the tax rate on income above $250,000 from 36 to 39 percent and lower taxes for middle-class Americans.

McCain’s campaign also has heavily courted Jewish voters, who will be a crucial voting bloc in Florida and other swing states.

Wurzelbacher’s agreement that Obama would portend the death of Israel, though, seems to go beyond rhetoric the McCain campaign has employed so far. Until Tuesday, that kind of fear-mongering was mostly limited to right-wing blogs.

The McCain campaign said Wurzelbacher and the supporter’s views were there own regarding Israel, but they did not forcefully repudiate the attack, Fox News’s Carl Cameron reported just after the rally.

A Republican National Committee spokesman later gave Fox a longer statement that largely skirted the issue.

“While he’s clearly his own man, so far Joe has offered some penetrating and clear analysis that cuts to the core of many of the concerns that people have with Barack Obama’s statements and policies,” RNC spokesman Jeff Sadosky said. “Whether it is Obama’s willingness to sit down unconditionally with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or his plans to redistribute the paychecks of hardworking Americans, there is good reason to question the judgment that Obama would bring to the Oval Office.”

Cameron noted the statement “doesn’t say whether or not McCain agrees” with Wurzelbacher and the supporter and said McCain “won’t go too far” to distance himself from the man who’s become a campaign centerpiece.

Source: Raw Story

The Republican National Committee has taken out a $5 million line of credit to help fund last minute efforts to keep Senate Democrats from winning a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority, according to an official with the committee.

Of the $5 million, $2 million is being directly transferred to the National Republican Senatorial Committee while $3 million is being devoted to coordinated expenditures that began over the last week.

“This effort not only helps fortify senators but it’s good for the whole Republican ticket,” said the RNC official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “This is an investment in the entire ticket in addition to an unprecedented get out the vote effort.”

With the White House apparently slipping away and House Republicans looking at losses of 20 or more seats, the Senate is being painted as the last, best chance for Republicans to hold some semblance of power within Congress.

Right now, three states are largely seen as near-certain Democratic pickups: Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado.

The RNC line of credit is almost certain to be spent on a handful of vulnerable Republican incumbents who face varying levels of peril. That list includes North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens among others.

The decision by the RNC to help fund a series of Senate contest shows that national GOP strategists see the Senate as their firewall in next week’s election.

Will it change things? It’s very hard to know with so much volatility in the environment. But, it does show the RNC is willing to do everything it can to hold strong against the onrushing Democratic wave.

Washington Post

Your Daily Politics Video Blog: Most of the attention is on the presidential race. But there’s also that question of whether the Democrats are going to put together that 60 vote majority in the senate. In today’s episode we look at the 12 top senate races that will determine whether the Democrats will go into 2009 with that filibuster-proof majority.

We can’t afford to slip up in the final days. Volunteer this weekend and into Election Day, November 4th, 2008. http://www.barackobama.com/

Before going to the polls, make sure to visit http://www.VoteForChange.com/ to get all the information you need to vote successfully on November 4th, 2008.

Former Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah attends the two-day jirga in Islamabad.

Former Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah attends the two-day jirga in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Afghan and Pakistani tribal leaders have agreed to seek talks with Taliban leaders and other militant groups, so long as they promise to abide by the laws of each country.

The two-day conference, or jirga, ended Tuesday concluding the best way to expedite the process of peace and reconciliation — and end violence — would be by establishing contact with the “opposition,” according to comments at a news conference.

The Afghan representative, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, said the “opposition” includes any group involved in the region’s surging violence. “The door is now wide open,” he said.

Earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States would be prepared to reconcile with the Taliban if the Afghan government pursued talks to end the seven-year conflict in that country. White House spokesman Dana Perino said Tuesday talks with Taliban elements are currently being considered in Washington.

(CNN) – The Virginia State Board of Elections is putting the word out: November 4 is Election Day for everyone in the state, regardless of political party.

The state agency issued a “Rumor Buster” press release this week with the correct date for voting in next week’s election because a fake flyer has been circulating with false information.

The flier said incorrectly that Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters should vote November 4 and that Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents should vote November 5. The flyer claims that the separate dates for voting by party were enacted by the Virginia legislature to ease the strain on the polls during high turnout that is expected.

McCain and Palin rallied together today in Pennsylvania.

HERSHEY, Pa. (CNN) – John McCain unofficially declared this fair city a diva-free zone Tuesday.

In his first joint rally with running mate Sarah Palin since tension between their aides spilled into public view, McCain opened his remarks by declaring, “By the way, when two mavericks get together, you don’t agree on everything – but that’s fun!”

McCain has previously made similar comments at rallies about how he and Palin do not agree on everything, such as drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (McCain opposes, Palin supports).

But this time the comment had particular resonance with a large crowd here in Pennsylvania, coming just days after a McCain adviser privately charged to CNN that Palin is a “diva” who’s not staying on-message, while Palin advisers fired back that McCain aides botched her rollout to the American people.

One of John McCain’s advisers recently called his running mate Sarah Palin a “diva” after she went off-script at a rally, and suggested she was looking after her own political future over the current campaign. Now another adviser ups the ante in a conversation with the Politico’s Playbook, labeling Palin a “whack job.”

Meanwhile, Dana Milbank reports on more signs of division between McCain and his running mate on the stump:

    “Sarah Oh-Twelve!” bellowed a man in field coat and jeans, one of several thousand at the Leesburg rally, when Palin spoke about her tax policies yesterday.

    The oh-twelve message, if mathematically flawed, seemed to capture the crowd’s sentiment. There were “I [Heart] Palin” bumper stickers on cars, “Team Sarah” T-shirts in pink, “Sarah!” pins and countless signs: “You Go Girl.” “You’re in Palin Country.” “Maverick Barracuda.” One of the souvenir vendors said his most popular offering was a pin showing Palin next to a pit bull and the usual “McCain-Palin” logo reversed, with her name first and in larger letters.

    The diva made sure to spend some time on her “own track record” in Alaska, particularly all the taxes she cut. “Sarah! Sarah!” the crowd chanted.

    “So, Virginia, will you hire us?” she asked. “Will you send us to Washington?”

    “Yes, we will! Yes, we will!”

    In 2012, that is.

“Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic,” said another McCain source with direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked. The source said it was probably the “hardest” to get her “up to speed than any candidate in history.” CNN

Source: HP

When asked Schumer said the Democrats wish to deal with the Lieberman issue after the election.

The accusation is that John McCain has had more negative press than Barack Obama – and rightly this has been put into the context that – by far Obama has run a more positive campaign. Some of the McCain attacks have been so over the top that even Karl Rove had to pull back from them. Undoubtedly McCain has brought much of his negative media coverage on himself. Not forgetting all the crazy behavior at the Palin/McCain rallies. With all the remarks about the liberal media (at the GOP Convention and on the stump) – there has been no one who has been more negatively focused – than the one man campaign run by Hannity of the right-wing press – on Barack Obama. And I believe Palin has done at least two interviews with Sean Hannity – a safe place as the rest of the press is seen as being ‘after her’. It is doubtful that a Romney VP pick would have resulted in talk of the press being after him – because he knows what he is doing. He’s informed and Palin isn’t.

 [..] Reporters obsess about personalities and process, about whose staff are jerks or whether they seem like decent folks, about who has a great stump speech or is funnier in person than they come off in public, about whether Michigan is in play or off the table. This is the flip side of the fact of how much we care about the horse race — we don’t care that much about our own opinions of which candidate would do more for world peace or tax cuts.

If that causes skeptics to scoff, perhaps they would find it more satisfying to hear that the reason ideological bias matters so little is that other biases matter so much more.

This is true in any election year. But the 2008 election has had some unique — and personal — phenomena.

One is McCain backlash. The Republican once was the best evidence of how little ideology matters. Even during his “maverick” days, McCain was a consistent social conservative, with views on abortion and other cultural issues that would have been odds with those of most reporters we know. Yet he won swooning coverage for a decade from reporters who liked his accessibility and iconoclasm and supposed commitment to clean politics.

Now he is paying. McCain’s decision to limit media access and align himself with the GOP conservative base was an entirely routine, strategic move for a presidential candidate. But much of the coverage has portrayed this as though it were an unconscionable sellout.

Since then the media often presumes bad faith on McCain’s part. The best evidence of this has been the intense focus on the negative nature of his ads, when it is clear Obama has been similarly negative in spots he airs on radio and in swing states.

It is not our impression that many reporters are rooting for Obama personally. To the contrary, most colleagues on the trail we’ve spoken with seem to find him a distant and undefined figure. But he has benefited from the idea that negative attacks that in a normal campaign would be commonplace in this year would carry an out-of-bounds racial subtext. That’s why Obama’s long association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was basically a nonissue in the general election.

Journalists’ hair-trigger racial sensitivity may have been misplaced, but it was not driven by an ideological tilt.

In addition, Obama has benefited from his ability to minimize internal drama and maximize secrecy — and thus to starve feed the press’ bias for palace intrigue. In this sense, his campaign bears resemblance to the two run by George W. Bush.

Beyond the particular circumstances of McCain v. Obama, there are other factors in any race that almost always matter more than the personal views of reporters.

The strongest of these is the bias in favor of momentum. A candidate who is perceived to be doing well tends to get even more positive coverage (about his or her big crowds or the latest favorable polls or whatever). And a candidate who is perceived to be doing poorly tends to have all events viewed through this prism.

Not coincidentally, this is a bias shared by most of our sources. This is why the bulk of negative stories about McCain are not about his ideology or policy plans — they are about intrigue and turmoil. Think back to the past week of coverage on Politico and elsewhere: Coverage has been dominated by Sarah Palin’s $150,000 handbags and glad rags, by finger-pointing in the McCain camp, and by apparent tensions between the candidate and his running mate.

These stories are driven by the flood of Republicans inside and out of the campaign eager to make themselves look good or others look bad. This always happens when a campaign starts to tank. Indeed, there was a spate of such stories when Obama’s campaign hit turmoil after the GOP convention and the Palin surge.

For better or worse, the most common media instincts all have countervailing pressures. Countering the bias in favor of momentum is the bias against boredom. We’ve seen that several times this cycle — an outlying poll number being pumped to suggest big changes in a race that is basically unchanged. There’s a good chance you’ll see this phenomenon more in the next week.

Then there is the bend-over-backward bias. This is when journalists try so hard to avoid accusations of favoritism that it clouds critical judgment. A good example were stories suggesting Palin held her own or even won her debate against Joe Biden when it seemed obvious she was simply invoking whatever talking points she had at hand, hanging on for dear life.

Finally, one of the biases of journalists is the same one that is potent for almost all people: the one in favor of self-defensiveness. That’s why, even though we think ideological bias is pretty low on the list of journalistic maladies in this election, it is not viable for reporters to dismiss criticism out of hand.

One of the problems with Sarah Palin running in 2012 – is that she runs the risk of a very popular Obama presidency – if you read down – the Palin spokesperson/likely other Republicans are arrogant enough to assume that the Democratic economic policy will fail. But they have forgotten – that once they had finished attacking Clinton on the Lewinski affair – they were faced with the realization that they had no alternate agenda to attack Clinton on – as the economy had never grown as much in the whole of America’s history and the country’s debt was being systematically reduced. There is always going some variation in policy – and given the current economic climate – that the Republicans have left the country in – though on the whole Barack Obama intends adopt the Clinton type economic policies – which means taking things back to the basics.

One of the problems with these plans below – that it is based on the same arrogance and assumptions – that are causing the American people to overwhelmingly reject the Republican Party at this time. Under the Democrats we didn’t need a new debt clock – under both Bush’s the numbers on the debt clocks rise so fast – they have to be replaced each time. Saying that you are fiscally responsible and being fiscally responsible are two different things – over the last few elections the democrats have proven that they are better at this – and better at managing the economy than the Republicans.

So if Sarah Palin is going to run in 2012 against a wall of real change and economic growth, likely few will want to give Sarah Palin the US Presidency. Maybe she should wait until 2016; perhaps she’ll have a better chance, as well as she could show off her experience and knowledge – if she has the good sense to learn something in that time.

Sarah Palin may soon be free. Soon, she may not have the millstone of John McCain around her neck. And she can begin her race for president in 2012.

Some are already talking about it. In careful terms. If John McCain loses next week, Sarah Palin “has absolutely earned a right to run in 2012,” says Greg Mueller, who was a senior aide in the presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes. Mueller says Palin has given conservatives “hope” and “something to believe in.”

And even if the McCain-Palin ticket does win on Nov. 4 — and Mueller says it could — “if McCain decides to serve for just one term, Sarah Palin as the economic populist and traditional American values candidates will be very appealing by the time we get to 2012.”

It is clear that while trying to bond with voters, John McCain and Sarah Palin have not managed to bond with each other. Perhaps we should not be surprised. They barely know one another.

When McCain appeared on the “Late Show With David Letterman” on Oct. 16, McCain praised Palin but went out of his way to point out how little he knew about her before he chose her as his running mate. “I didn’t know her real well,” McCain said. “I knew her reputation. I didn’t know her well at all. I didn’t know her well at all.”

The discomfort between the two can be palpable. Chuck Todd, the NBC News political director, was in the room when Brian Williams interviewed Palin and McCain recently. “There was a tenseness,” Todd said later. “When you see the two of them together, the chemistry is just not there. You do wonder, is John McCain starting to blame her for things? Blaming himself? Is she blaming him?”

I am guessing one and three. John McCain is blaming Palin for demonstrating her inexperience and lack of knowledge. And Palin is blaming McCain for running what she views as a bad campaign — a campaign that did not go after Barack Obama over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and did not exploit Obama’s statement about how small-town people “cling” to guns and religion — and for never picking a clear message that had any traction with voters.

But here’s the difference: If McCain loses, he doesn’t get to run again, and Palin does.

All that negative stuff about her? Charging Alaska taxpayers a per diem allowance for 300 nights she spent at home, flying her kids at state expense to events they were not invited to, accepting wildly expensive clothes from the Republican National Committee and, according to one ethics panel, having abused her office as governor?

Not only will all that have faded by the 2012 campaign, Palin already has her defense ready: Some of these accusations are part of a double standard that is applied to women and not to men.

She says Hillary Clinton ran into the same problem.

“I think Hillary Clinton was held to a different standard in her primary race,” Palin told Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune recently. “Do you remember the conversations that took place about her — say, superficial things that they don’t talk about with men, like her wardrobe and her hairstyles, all of that, that’s a bit of that double standard. Certainly there’s a double standard.”

Palin went on: “But I’m not going to complain about it, I’m not going to whine about it, I’m going to plow through that because we are embarking on something greater than that, than allowing that double standard to adversely affect us.”

If she runs in 2012, Palin will run to shatter the glass ceiling. By then, Americans may have shown they are willing to vote for an African-American for president, but how about a woman?

Mueller thinks Palin would make a strong candidate. There certainly will be others jockeying for the job. And Mueller named Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

But Mueller thinks that, while some conservative intellectuals have deserted and derided Sarah Palin, the Republican base likes her and could stick with her.

“She would run in 2012 as the populist, conservative reformer that she was originally introduced to the country as,” Mueller said. “If Obama wins, you will see him moving the country to a sort of Euro-socialism. That will fail, and she can target an economic-populist message to the country.”

Mueller also argues that Palin could run a more convincing campaign on traditional conservative issues in 2012 than McCain has in 2008

“One weakness in McCain’s campaign is not campaigning on strong, pro-life, traditional values issues,” Mueller said. “There has been a certain level of discomfort over the years by McCain over guns, God and life issues.”

Mueller says McCain and Palin could still win next week. But if that happens, Mueller thinks Palin should get a lot of the credit. “A lot of conservatives are not excited by John McCain, even though I think he has been saying some good things,” Mueller said. “If they vote, they will vote for Sarah.”

And if not in 2008, maybe in 2012.

Someone else said that with the money we are spending in Iraq – we could put solar panels on every roof that feed into the grid (those who have had panels hooked up in this way report bills as low as $5/month). It would take a lot of convincing to tell people that the war in Iraq is not for oil – one, there’s a horrible human tragedy just down the road in Darfur – and no one is rushing to restore order in that region. So what we are doing / allowing the few to decide that we are going to go to war for oil (read democracy), so that a few oil companies can continue to make money from a global economy that runs on oil – something that we no longer need to do.

I was very interested in what Barack Obama said about, the inventions sitting in people garages. People are driving around now with prototype magnetic/electric hybrid motors. (If we are not careful Japan is going to so whop our asses on this one!) But we also have these inventors who have working magnetic motors in the States. We now have electric cars which are more powerful than gas guzzlers – accelerating from 0 -112 mph in 11 secs, beating out any Porsche. These ‘top guys’ have made their money of the war and the oil, but let them have it – because the real currency – the currency of the future is in technological advancements – and this is where we are just beginning. Imaging 100 years from now still driving around in one of these inefficient gas guzzling cars – because some one in the oil industry ‘needed’ to continue to make money – their profits would have ‘gone down’ if we were to change technology. It’s the case for the oil lamp vs. the light bulb.

Hello!!

See magnetic and electric cars and bikes here.

McCain and Palin are motioning for a war in Georgia (near Russia ~ that one!), but that’s all about a oil/ gas pipeline. Palin has stated that if they are elected McCain would place her in charge of energy, and she has stated that ‘we can drill our way out of our difficulties’. This is like the brain dead plan for the future – a future without vision. And what’s worst the experts are saying that they have sunk test wells around ANWR – and through technology they are able to check the area within its perimeter – and the findings are not all that were hoped. The oil leaving Alaska through the pipeline has halved in so many years. If elected it is likely that Palin would create an energy policy based on unsubstantiated facts. She would lead us on a wild moose chase.

http://www.whatwecouldhavedonewiththemoney.com/

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When the Sunday morning political pundits began talking last year about the tab for the war in Iraq hitting $1 trillion, Rob Simpson sprang from his sofa in indignation.

“Why aren’t people outraged about this? Why aren’t we hearing about it?” Simpson said. And then it came to him: “Nobody knows what a trillion dollars is.”

The amount _ $1,000,000,000,000 _ was just too big to comprehend.

So Simpson, 51, decided to embark “on an unusual but intriguing research project” to put the dollars and cents of the war into perspective. He hired some assistants and spent 12 months immersed in economic data and crunching numbers.

The result: a slim but heavily annotated paperback released, “What We Could Have Done With the Money: 50 Ways to Spend the Trillion Dollars We’ve Spent on Iraq.”

Simpson is no geopolitical, macro-economic, inside-the-Beltway expert. He’s an armchair analyst and creative director for an advertising agency, a former radio announcer and music critic in Ontario and a one-time voiceover actor.

His alternative spending choices reflect his curiosity and wit.

He calculates $1 trillion could pave the entire U.S. interstate highway system with gold _ 23.5-karat gold leaf. It could buy every person on the planet an iPod. It could give every high school student in the United States a free college education. It could pay off every American’s credit card. It could buy a Buick for every senior citizen still driving in the United States.

“As I started exploring, I was really taken aback by some of the things that can be done, both the absurd and the practical,” Simpson said.

America could the double the 663,000 cops on the beat for 32 years. It could buy 16.6 million Habitat for Humanity houses, enough for 43 million Americans.

Now imagine investing that $1 trillion in the stock market _ perhaps a riskier proposition today than when Simpson finished the book _ to make it grow and last longer. He used an accepted long-term return on investment of 9 percent annually, with compounding interest.

The investment approach could pay for 1.9 million additional teachers for America’s classrooms, retrain 4 million workers a year or lay a foundation for paying Social Security benefits in 65 years to every child born in the United States, beginning today.

It’s too recent to make Simpson’s list, but that $1 trillion could also have paid for the Bush administration’s financial bailout plan, with $300 billion to spare. It might not be enough, however, to pay for the war in Iraq. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz has recently upped his estimate of the war’s cost to $3 trillion.

Simpson created a Web site companion to his book that lets you go virtual shopping with a $1 trillion credit card. Choices range from buying sports franchises to theme parks, from helping disabled veterans to polar bears.

Click on Air Force One, the president’s $325 million airplane. The program asks: “Quantity?”

“At one point we couldn’t find anybody who actually stuck with it long enough to spend $1 trillion,” Simpson said. “It will wear you out.”

Source: HP

WASHINGTON — Senator Ted Stevens, Alaska’s dominant political figure for more than four decades, was found guilty on Monday by a jury of violating federal ethics laws for failing to report tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and services he had received from friends.

The jury of District of Columbia residents convicted Mr. Stevens, 84, on all seven felony counts he faced in connection with charges that he knowingly failed to list on Senate disclosure forms the receipt of some $250,000 in gifts and services used to renovate his home in Girdwood, Alaska.

Mr. Stevens, a consistently grim-faced figure, frowned more deeply as the verdict was delivered by the jury foreman, a worker at a drug counseling center. Mr. Stevens’s wife and one of his daughters sat glumly behind him in the courtroom.

In a statement issued after he had left the courthouse, Mr. Stevens was defiant, urging Alaskans to re-elect him to a seventh full term next week.

He blamed what he called repeated misconduct by federal prosecutors for the verdict. “I will fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have,” he said.

“I am innocent. This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial,” he said. “I ask that Alaskans and my Senate colleagues stand with me as I pursue my rights. I remain a candidate for the United States Senate.”

Nonetheless, the verdict is widely expected to write an end to Mr. Stevens’s long political career, which has moved in tandem with his state’s rough-and-tumble journey from a remote territory to an economic powerhouse.

Mr. Stevens was instrumental in promoting statehood for Alaska when he was a young Interior Department official in the Eisenhower administration and then went on to represent the state in the Senate for 40 years. Over that time, he used his steadily accumulated influence over federal spending, notably using his membership on the Appropriations Committee, to steer millions, perhaps billions, of dollars in federal money to his home state.

The verdict comes a week before a second jury of sorts, the voters of Alaska, will decide whether to return him to the Senate or elect his Democratic opponent, Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage. After Mr. Stevens’s indictment in July, he asked for a quick trial so he might clear his name before Election Day.

If Mr. Stevens loses his seat, the trial’s implications could be felt on a broad political scale, helping Democrats in their drive to win enough seats in the Senate to give them a filibuster-proof majority of at least 60 votes. Within an hour of the verdict’s becoming public, Democrats in Senate races around the country immediately sought to make the conviction an issue for their opponents, demanding that those who had received money from Mr. Stevens, who was generous with contributions to his colleagues, return it.

If Mr. Stevens wins and insists on keeping his seat, his fate will be in the hands of his Senate colleagues. A senator can be expelled only by a two-thirds vote of the entire Senate, so a conviction does not automatically cost a lawmaker his seat. Since 1789, only 15 senators have been expelled, most for supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War, the Senate Web site states.

In 1982, the Senate Ethics Committee recommended that Senator Harrison A. Williams, Democrat of New Jersey, be expelled because of his conviction on bribery, conspiracy and conflict of interest charges in the Abscam scandal, and in 1995 the committee recommended the expulsion of Senator Robert W. Packwood, Republican of Oregon, for sexual misconduct. Both men resigned before the full Senate could vote.

Should Mr. Stevens be expelled or resign on his own, the Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, would most likely have to call a special election to fill the vacancy, according to state legal officials.

Ms. Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, issued a statement late Monday, saying she was “confident that Senator Stevens will do what’s right for the people of Alaska.”

Source: NYT

Oh boy!!

Fox lifts a radio clip of an academic argument on school funding and the civil rights movement from seven years ago as evidence that Obama’s tax cuts for the working middle class and poor are socialist.

In an initial Obama camp statement – they say their crowd sizes haven’t diminished and neither has John McCain seized on the matter. That it really is of interest to few outside of Fox News ~ here Megyn Kelly protests.

WASHINGTON — Two young men who are believers in “white power” have been arrested and charged in Tennessee in what federal officials described as a plan to assassinate Senator Barack Obama and kill black children at a school.

Federal officials said they regarded the scheme as “serious.” It does not appear to have moved to an advanced stage, according to court documents unsealed Monday, but officials said the two men did acquire several rifles and cased a home and a gun store to rob as part of the plan.

Federal officials said that both of the men who were arrested — Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Ark., and Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn. — told interrogators that they had talked of assassinating Mr. Obama. Lawyers for the men could not be reached.

The two men “planned to drive their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows,” according to an affidavit filed in federal court in Jackson, Tenn., by an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Mr. Obama has no plans to be in Tennessee, and the affidavit does not make clear whether the men had picked a location for an attack.

The assassination was to be the culmination of a “killing spree” that would also single out children at an unnamed, predominately black school, federal officials said. The men talked of “killing 88 people and beheading 14 African-Americans,” according to the affidavit.

The two men each had “very strong views” about Aryan white power and “skinhead” ideology, the federal officials said, and the numbers 88 and 14 have special significance in the white power movement. The number 88 is shorthand for “Heil Hitler” — H is the eighth letter in the alphabet —and 14 signifies a 14-word mantra among white supremacists: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

Officials said the two men met via the Internet through a mutual friend.

Concerns about possible plots against Mr. Obama have been acute because of his status as the first black presidential nominee from a major party. He has had Secret Service protection since May 2007, the earliest a candidate was ever assigned protection.

Mr. Cowart and Mr. Schlesselman were each charged with illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a firearms dealer and making threats against a presidential candidate. A detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Memphis.

“We honestly don’t know if they had the capability or the wherewithal to carry out the kind of plan that they talked about,” Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington, said in an interview. “But we take any threat seriously not matter how big or how small it is.”

With nine days left before the presidential election, actor Matt Damon is trying to keep Americans fired up and eager to vote.

Damon is participating in the Florida VoteFest ’08 Sunday and Monday, a statewide initiative to encourage people to vote early.

“I took time off from acting until the end of the year to be with my family and enjoy our new daughter,” Damon told PEOPLE at a jam-packed Barack Obama rally Sunday in West Palm Beach, Fla. “But it is very important for me to do what I can to help the Obama campaign so people will go out and vote. We need change in this country and now is the time to be sure that happens.”

HP

What are the Russians learning from US elections?

Hmm…good question ~ Republicans.

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