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From not knowing what a VP does – to wanting to be like Cheney – one of the most powerful (and dangerous) VP’s in history – with Palin I get the sense of the rat that borrows in and quickly finds its way around its new tunnels.

That it is likely Cheney made a lot of money of the country’s energy policy – where he and likely Bush made undisclosed (trusts) amounts off oil – shows that America is as close as it can be to being run like an African dictatorship – where the whole country and its people are used for the leader’s benefit – in this case – the country is being pulled through the narrow opening of oil and wars to get more oil. To prove it everything else has failed or come under stress – besides these two industries.

In all the talk about the vice-presidential debate, there was an issue that did not get much attention but kept nagging at us: Sarah Palin’s description of the role and the responsibilities of the office for which she is running, vice president of the United States.

In Thursday night’s debate, Ms. Palin was asked about the vice president’s role in government. She said she agreed with Dick Cheney that “we have a lot of flexibility in there” under the Constitution. And she declared that she was “thankful that the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president also, if that vice president so chose to exert it.”

It is hard to tell from Ms. Palin’s remarks whether she understands how profoundly Dick Cheney has reshaped the vice presidency — as part of a larger drive to free the executive branch from all checks and balances. Nor did she seem to understand how much damage that has done to American democracy.

Mr. Cheney has shown what can happen when a vice president — a position that is easy to lampoon and overlook — is given free rein by the president and does not care about trampling on the Constitution.

Mr. Cheney has long taken the bizarre view that the lesson of Watergate was that Congress was too powerful and the president not powerful enough. He dedicated himself to expanding President Bush’s authority and arrogating to himself executive, legislative and legal powers that are nowhere in the Constitution.

This isn’t the first time that Ms. Palin was confronted with the issue. In an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, the Alaska governor was asked what she thought was the best and worst about the Cheney vice presidency. Ms. Palin tried to dodge: laughing and joking about the hunting accident in which Mr. Cheney accidentally shot a friend. The only thing she had to add was that Mr. Cheney showed support for the troops in Iraq.

There was not a word about Mr. Cheney’s role in starting the war with Iraq, in misleading Americans about weapons of mass destruction, in leading the charge to create illegal prison camps where detainees are tortured, in illegally wiretapping Americans, in creating an energy policy that favored the oil industry that made him very rich before the administration began.

Ms. Couric asked Joseph Biden, Ms. Palin’s rival, the same question in a separate interview. He had it exactly right when he told her that Mr. Cheney’s theory of the “unitary executive” held that “Congress and the people have no power in a time of war.” And he had it right in the debate when he called Mr. Cheney “the most dangerous vice president we’ve had in American history.”

The Constitution does not state or imply any flexibility in the office of vice president. It gives the vice president no legislative responsibilities other than casting a tie-breaking vote in the Senate when needed and no executive powers at all. The vice president’s constitutional role is to be ready to serve if the president dies or becomes incapacitated.

Any president deserves a vice president who will be a sound adviser and trustworthy supporter. But the American people also deserve and need a vice president who understands and respects the balance of power — and the limits of his or her own power. That is fundamental to our democracy.

So far, Ms. Palin has it exactly, frighteningly wrong.

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See earlier Sarah Palin Vlogs here

Source: 23/6

McCain plans to go after Obama hard in the coming weeks – but what can he say that he has not already said. McCain’s best chance is to make this election about personalities – like – Palin looks great – vote for me !! But with the financial crisis – piled on top of 1 million home foreclosures – and almost 800,000 jobs lost this year alone – McCain is going to have a difficult time stirring this election back round to a personality contest!

Anyway McCain says he plans to let it all out – to remove the gloves – NEXT TUESDAY !!

Set your clocks folks for the Straight Talk Showdown!

Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama’s character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat’s judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said.

With just a month to go until Election Day, McCain’s team has decided that its emphasis on the senator’s biography as a war hero, experienced lawmaker and straight-talking maverick is insufficient to close a growing gap with Obama. The Arizonan’s campaign is also eager to move the conversation away from the economy, an issue that strongly favors Obama and has helped him to a lead in many recent polls.

“We’re going to get a little tougher,” a senior Republican operative said, indicating that a fresh batch of television ads is coming. “We’ve got to question this guy’s associations. Very soon. There’s no question that we have to change the subject here,” said the operative, who was not authorized to discuss strategy and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Being so aggressive has risks for McCain if it angers swing voters, who often say they are looking for candidates who offer a positive message about what they will do. That could be especially true this year, when frustration with Washington politics is acute and a desire for specifics on how to fix the economy and fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is strong.

Robert Gibbs, a top Obama adviser, dismissed the new McCain strategy. “This isn’t 1988,” he said. “I don’t think the country is going to be distracted by the trivial.” He added that Obama will continue to focus on the economy, saying that Americans will remain concerned about the country’s economic troubles even as the Wall Street crisis eases somewhat.

Moments after the House of Representatives approved a bailout package for Wall Street on Friday afternoon, the McCain campaign released a television ad that challenges Obama’s honesty and asks, “Who is Barack Obama?” The ad alleges that “Senator Obama voted 94 times for higher taxes. Ninety-four times. He’s not truthful on taxes.” The charge that Obama voted 94 times for higher taxes has been called misleading by independent fact-checkers, who have noted that the majority of those votes were on nonbinding budget resolutions.

A senior campaign official called the ad “just the beginning” of commercials that will “strike the new tone” in the campaign’s final days. The official said the “aggressive tone” will center on the question of “whether this guy is ready to be president.”

McCain’s only positive commercial, called “Original Mavericks,” has largely been taken off the air, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ads.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s performance at Thursday night’s debate embodied the new approach, as she used every opportunity to question Obama’s honesty and fitness to serve as president. At one point she said, “Barack Obama voted against funding troops [in Iraq] after promising that he would not do so.”

Palin kept up the attack yesterday, saying in an interview on Fox News that Obama is “reckless” and that some of what he has said, “in my world, disqualifies someone from consideration as the next commander in chief.”

McCain hinted Thursday that a change is imminent, perhaps as soon as next week’s debate. Asked at a Colorado town hall, “When are you going to take the gloves off?” the candidate grinned and replied, “How about Tuesday night?”

Yesterday in Pueblo, Colo., McCain made clear that he intends to press Obama on a variety of familiar GOP themes during the debate, as he accused the Democrat once again of getting ready to raise taxes and increase government spending.

“I guarantee you, you’re going to learn a lot about who’s the liberal and who’s the conservative and who wants to raise your taxes and who wants to lower them,” McCain said.

A senior aide said the campaign will wait until after Tuesday’s debate to decide how and when to release new commercials, adding that McCain and his surrogates will continue to cast Obama as a big spender, a high taxer and someone who talks about working across the aisle but doesn’t deliver.

Two other top Republicans said the new ads are likely to hammer the senator from Illinois on his connections to convicted Chicago developer Antoin “Tony” Rezko and former radical William Ayres, whom the McCain campaign regularly calls a domestic terrorist because of his acts of violence against the U.S. government in the 1960s.

The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. appears to be off limits after McCain condemned the North Carolina Republican Party in April for an ad that linked Obama to his former pastor, saying, “Unfortunately, all I can do is, in as visible a way as possible, disassociate myself from that kind of campaigning.”

McCain advisers said the new approach is in part a reaction to Obama, whose rhetoric on the stump and in commercials has also become far harsher and more aggressive.

They noted that Obama has run television commercials for months linking McCain to lobbyists and hinting at a lack of personal ethics — an allegation that particularly rankles McCain, aides said.

Campaigning in Abington, Pa., yesterday, Obama continued to focus on the economy, even as he lashed out at McCain.

“He’s now going around saying, ‘I’m going to crack down on Wall Street’ . . . but the truth is he’s been saying ‘I’m all for deregulation’ for 26 years,” Obama said. “He hasn’t been getting tough on CEOs. He hasn’t been getting tough on Wall Street. . . . Suddenly a crisis comes and the polls change, and suddenly he’s out there talking like Jesse Jackson.”

Obama highlighted a new report showing a reduction of more than 159,000 jobs last month, and he linked the bad economic news to McCain and Palin.

“Governor Palin said to Joe Biden that our plan to get our economy out of the ditch was somehow a job-killing plan; that’s what she said,” Obama told a crowd of thousands. “I wonder if she turned on the news this morning. . . . When Senator McCain and his running mate talk about job killing, that’s something they know a thing or two about, because the policies they’ve supported and are supporting are killing jobs in America every single day.”

Before the bailout crisis, aides said, McCain was succeeding in focusing attention on Obama’s record and character. Now, they say, he must return to those subjects.

“We are looking for a very aggressive last 30 days,” said Greg Strimple, one of McCain’s top advisers. “We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama’s aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans.”

There’s evidence that the GOP is doing the same elsewhere: Montana GOP challenges voter eligibility

In an escalation of a dispute between the Democratic and Republican parties over voter suppression, a Michigan G.O.P. official, with the backing of the Michigan Republican Party, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Michigan Messenger blog. The suit arises from a September 10 story by the Messenger, titled “Lose Your House, Lose Your Vote”, which quoted the official, James Carabelli, about Republican plans to challenge the voting rights of citizens whose homes were in foreclosure. That story drew national attention and became the basis of a lawsuit brought by several Michigan citizens, the Michigan and national Democratic parties, and the Obama campaign, seeking an injunction against the use of foreclosure lists to disenfranchise voters. (Motions in that earlier lawsuit, one by the Democrats to obtain a preliminary injunction and one by the Republicans to dismiss the lawsuit altogether, are scheduled for October 20.)

The new defamation lawsuit, which according to reports has nominally been brought only by Carabelli in his personal capacity, actually appears to have been brought in collaboration with the state Republican Party. When I spoke this afternoon with Carabelli’s attorney, Matt Davis, he politely apologized for not being able to speak with me but said he had been instructed to direct all media inquiries to his “client” and gave me the contact information for Bill Nowling, communications director for the Michigan Republican Party. (My call to Mr. Nowling was not immediately returned.) Similarly, the TPM Muckraker describes Davis as evading the question of whether Carabelli himself, or the G.O.P., is paying his legal bills:

    Matt Davis, the attorney for the plaintiff in the defamation suit filed against the Michigan Messenger was quite talkative about the particulars of the suit when TPMmuckraker called him this morning, but declined to say who was paying his legal fees.
    “I don’t comment on my clients,” Davis said in answer to inquiries about who was employing him, but directed us to the spokesman for the Michigan Republican party for further questions.

Davis has represented Carabelli and the state party jointly in the past. On September 18, The American Lawyer’s Rachel Breitman reported that Davis had issued a letter on behalf of both Carabelli and the Michigan Republican Party demanding a retraction and threatening to sue the Messenger if one was not received within a week. The Messenger declined to retract its story and continues to assert that its reporter accurately recounted her conversation with Carabelli.

The threat of a defamation lawsuit, if not the lawsuit itself, was a fairly predictable countermeasure from the political and public relations perspectives. As noted above, Davis demanded a retraction and threatened suit back on September 18. On Sept. 20, based on national G.O.P. spokesmen’s harsh statements and predictions of an imminent retraction during a press conference call that morning, I predicted the possibility of such a lawsuit actually being filed to pressure the Messenger to recant its story:

    Shorter RNC conference call: kill the Messenger. Watch for a possible defamation suit against the M.M. next week to help make the RNC’s predictions of a retraction come true.

The threatened lawsuit did not materialize the following week, possibly because, on Monday, September 22, the House Judiciary Committee announced plans to hold a hearing on voter enfranchisement issues, including the “lose your house, lose your vote” story. A retaliatory defamation lawsuit against the Messenger probably would have received extensive unfavorable publicity in that hearing, which occurred on Sept. 24. However, now that an emergency financial bill has been signed into law, Congress has adjourned to allow members can engage in election activities.

The defamation lawsuit against the Messenger faces an uphill battle, because the Supreme Court has ruled in several cases that the press has First Amendment protection against such suits unless there is strong evidence of actual intent to inappropriately injure the plaintiff — the so-called “absence of malice” rule. TPM Muckraker’s report that the parties already are battling over whether or not the Messenger is truly a nonprofit organization or is a partisan one suggests that the Republicans may try to prove that the Messenger is not a legitimate media outlet worthy of First Amendment protection. The Republicans also may be hoping that threats to the Messenger’s favorable tax status may pressure it to recant its story.

The escalation of combat over voters’ rights and public opinion is predictable in some ways, as both parties increase their efforts to manipulate the turnouts of their own and each other’s voters on Election Day. The new developments in Michigan, however, are somewhat surprising given yesterday’s decisions by both the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee to effectively concede the entire state to Democrats and refocus their resources elsewhere. In light of that development, the defamation suit against the Messenger may be an effort to counter negative publicity the “Lose Your House” story received in other states, especially nearby, battleground Ohio; a bargaining chip to pressure Democrats into agreeing to a mutual dismissal of both parties’ lawsuits; or a simple mistake in communication and timing, the defamation suit having been filed just one day before the G.O.P.’s withdrawal from Michigan was announced.

Source: HP

Source: AM 1090

ABC News’ David Wright, Alyssa Litoff and Imtiyaz Delawala report: After significant pressure from the Obama-Biden campaign, the McCain-Palin campaign today finally released the 2006 and 2007 tax returns for Sarah and Todd Palin, along with a public financial disclosure document the candidate recently filed in connection with her bid for the vice presidency.

The documents paint the picture of a well-to-do middle class family with two income earners. Palin is clearly the primary breadwinner, earning more than twice as much as her husband, even though the so-called “First Dude” operates two businesses –- commercial fishing and income from snowmobile racing.

According to the most recent return, Todd Palin’s fishing business grossed less than $50,000 in 2007 for a profit of $15,513. His snow machine racing business grossed $17,000 but home office expenses meant that he claimed a net loss of nearly $10,000.

It is, however, Sarah Palin’s income that is liable to draw the scrutiny of tax authorities. And it is not immediately clear whether the figures detailed in these newly-released forms will resolve questions that have already been raised.

Of particular interest: roughly $17,000 in state-issued per diems for evenings spent in her own home in Wasilla. The Washington Post recently reported that the per diems and associated travel costs from the state capital in Juneau for Palin’s family could mean a tax liability of more than $60,000 for Palin’s first year and a half as governor.

The address listed on the 1040’s is Palin’s family home in Wasilla, which would seem to suggest Palin considers that, not the governor’s mansion in Juneau, her “tax home.” However the McCain-Palin campaign maintains that her “tax home” is technically the governor’s mansion in Juneau.

The point is potentially significant because any per diems and travel reimbursements received in connection with someone’s “tax home” would likely be taxable as income. According to IRS regulations: “If you (and your family) do not live at your tax home (defined earlier), you cannot deduct the cost of traveling between your tax home and your family home. You also cannot deduct the cost of meals and lodging while at your tax home.”

The IRS also strictly forbids deductions for expenses incurred bringing a spouse and kids along on a business trip. Tax authorities say any reimbursement for travel costs for family members would likely incur income taxes.

But Palin’s tax returns indicate she paid no taxes on the disputed per diems and travel expenses.

The McCain-Palin campaign insists Palin did not owe taxes on the per diems because of an understanding reached between the IRS and the Alaska Division of Finance, giving the state broad discretion in determining whether such reimbursements are taxable. (“Income Tax Implications Of Long-Term Per Diem”)

The campaign also issued an advisory letter dated September 30, 2008 by Washington tax attorney Roger M. Olsen stating that: “she is entitled to meal and incidental allowance payments when away from her duty station and tax home performing services for her employer; it is not relevant that she spends the night at her family home rather than in government paid lodging.”

Finally, the campaign insists she saved the state money hundreds of thousands of dollars on her travel costs, compared to previous Alaska governors.

However, a Washington tax attorney who supports Obama disputes that argument.

“She’s using her state office as a means to generate a favorable tax status for herself,” he said. “You and I couldn’t do that.”

There also appears to be a discrepancy between the income Palin reports to the IRS and the income listed on the public financial disclosure reform she recently filed in conjunction with the campaign.

That form lists her income as governor of Alaska as $196,531.50. However that’s greater than the combined income with Todd Palin she reported on her 2007 1040: $151,556. The W-2 form submitted for 2007 lists her wages and other compensation at $107,987.

Which begs the question: what happened to that extra $88,544? According to the McCain-Palin campaign, the additional amount represents the salary Palin earned in 2008, during the period not covered by the 2006 and 2007 tax returns.

Palin makes no separate accounting of travel expenses and reimbursements on the public financial disclosure form. Although the form does include a space for listing reimbursements from any one source over $260, the form simply says, “Not Applicable to candidate.”

Source: ABC

Tax Returns Show a Six-Figure Income Combined With Significant Assets

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, have assets worth up to $2.1 million, and they paid $24,738 in 2007 income taxes on total income of $166,495, which came from her salary as governor of Alaska and money he earned as an oil worker, fisherman and snowmachine racer, documents released by her campaign yesterday show.

The tax returns indicated that Palin paid no taxes on $16,951 in state payments she received as meal and incidental expenses when she stayed at her home in Wasilla instead of at the governor’s mansion in Juneau.

Alaska’s director of finance has already declared that the state does not consider these $60-a-day payments taxable. Accounting experts and some tax courts have differed on the question of whether such compensation is tax-exempt. Yesterday, the McCain campaign issued a legal opinion from Washington lawyer Roger M. Olsen supporting the state’s view that the payments are not taxable.

Palin stayed in her Wasilla home 312 nights, or 54 percent of the time, when she claimed reimbursements from Dec. 4, 2006, through June 30, 2008. Although her staff has said most of her work as governor is performed in Anchorage, 45 miles from Wasilla, Finance Director Kim Garnero said the state capital in Juneau is considered her duty station, making her eligible for the non-taxable meal and expense payments.

In the couple’s 2007 return, which was prepared by H&R Block, Palin described her occupation as “public service” while her husband declared his as “oilfield.” The couple claimed six exemptions, including themselves and their four children.

Total charitable donations came to $3,325, or about 2 percent of total income. These included $2,500 in various non-itemized gifts and an $825 in-kind donation to the Salvation Army.

On a separate financial disclosure form, the Palins valued their home in Wasilla at between $500,000 and $1 million. Their mortgage interest deduction of only $10,203, reported on their tax return, suggests they have substantial equity in the property, according to one tax accountant.

Todd Palin’s commercial fishing business is worth between $50,000 and $100,000 and the couple’s fishing leasehold in Nushagak River, Alaska, is valued at $100,000 to $250,000.

Along with mutual funds and property, their total assets are between $880,000 and $2.1 million, the form indicated.

Much of the 2007 tax return deals with Todd Palin’s varied business activities. Although he won $17,000 in prize money in Alaska’s Iron Dog snowmachine race, he reported a $9,639 business loss after deducting equipment depreciation, repairs, fuel and other costs of racing.

However, he reported a profit of $15,513 on his commercial fishing operation, even after deducting $12,245 paid to his crew as a share of the catch, along with other expenses.

His major income was $43,518 from his job as an oil-field worker for BP. He paid $204 in union dues.

In 2006 and 2007, the Palins filed their returns in August and September, respectively.

[The Associated Press reported that the Palins underpaid their 2007 taxes by $2,017 when filing for an extension, but that the McCain campaign said the balance had since been paid. It was unclear if they might owe penalties or interest.]

In 2006, they paid taxes of $19,951 on total income of $128,005. That year the bulk of the family income came from Todd Palin’s job as an oil worker, which paid him $102,716.

Palin did not take office as governor until Dec. 4, 2006.

A video of Sarah Palin being blessed by a preacher and exorcist appeared on the Internet.

The video was posted on YouTube on Thursday, but the blessing actually happened in May 2005, two days before Palin officially put herself forward as a candidate for Alaska governor. Pastor Thomas Muthee, originally from Kenya, is from the Pentecostal movement, evangelical protestants who interpret the Bible literally. Pentecostal followers believe, for example, that the laying on of hands can heal sick people when other medications have failed.

Sarah Palin’s campaign team immediately denied that she was a Pentecostal. But in another video, filmed in June 2008 (see below), the possible vice president of America explains how Muthee’s prayers helped her to win the Alaska election.

“Thirty to forty per cent of Americans share these beliefs”

Stuart Haugen is vice-chair of Republicans Abroad France.

I don’t see anything shocking about this video, even if there are some things that I don’t agree with. I’d say that 30% to 40% of Americans share these beliefs and wouldn’t find it strange at all. Me, too. When I was a student, I belonged to a similar church. The pastor’s talking about sorcery, but what he means is that there are both good and bad forces in the world. If you believe in God, you also believe in the opposite.

I’d like to make it clear that in the US, religion and politics are quite separate. The video shows Sarah Palin’s personal convictions, that’s all. And a vice president doesn’t decide on the law.

If the intellectuals and the media want to have a crack at Palin, that’s because she scares them. I think she’s already secured two million more votes for McCain. And among them are several hundreds of thousands of people who will travel the country to get even more voters on their side. That’s what they were missing, while Obama had more money and a broader base of volunteers. In the end, McCain is a centrist, he needed Palin to reassure the conservative and evangelical voters. Now he’ll be able to criticise Bush more openly, because he knows that the right-wing side will still follow.”

“Palin and McCain scare Wall Street”

Dana Blankenhorn is a former finance journalist from Atlanta. He supports the Democrats.

Sarah Palin is a nutjob! There’s a relevant saying here: ‘If people find you too racist in Idaho [a state known for being particularly racist in the olden days], they’ll think you’re great in Alaska…’

McCain chose her because she makes up a very involved minority; not because she represents what Americans think. I doubt more than 10% of Americans believe in sorcery. But in an election, there’s a small block who aren’t interesting in anything but tipping the election. The Republicans know it, and that’s how they’ve won in the past.

The Republican Party is supported by three groups: the Wall Street types, the neo-cons and the evangelists. But now, I think that their coalition is breaking up. Palin and McCain scare Wall Street. Especially since McCain ruined the plan to rescue the economy, while the White House and Obama both accepted it. The power always follows Wall Street. I don’t think this video will change the election, but I do think the economic crisis will push a number of Republicans to vote Democrat.”


Source: France 24

I Killed A Moose and I liked it!