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It’s official. Tomorrow, former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan will file his paperwork, and throw his hat in the ring as a candidate for the Anchorage mayoral seat about to be vacated by current Mayor Mark Begich.

Begich will head to Washington D.C. as Alaskas Junior Senator and leave the Chair of the Anchorage Assembly, Matt Claman in the role of Acting Mayor until the election in the spring.

Matt Claman has been unwilling to say whether he will run for the seat he will temporarily occupy between January and April, or not. My guess is that he will not. His wishy-washiness to date has been aggravating, and the fact that there are already two strong progressive candidates in Croft and Selkregg means that the addition of Claman and the potential splitting of the vote could feasibly result in Dan Sullivan being elected, which many would consider disastrous.

The mayoral field is crowded. Monegan will be running against Anchorage Assembly member Sheila Selkregg, former legislator Eric Croft, former Assembly member Dan Sullivan, and former police spokesman Paul Honeman.

Monegan has recently spoken at the Bartlett Democratic Club Luncheon, and also at the University of Alaska. The theme for his talks was “ethics in government.” Alaskans are generally not familiar with that term.

And what does he have to say about the ethics of our current Governor?

“I think there could be improvement. Let me put it that way.”

Monegan is not giving details of his campaign until the paperwork is filed tomorrow.

His ouster at the hands of Sarah Palin, and the ensuing ethics investigation which found her guilty of abuse of power had the effect of catapulting Monegan into the national spotlight. His support in Anchorage is widespread both among law enforcement personnel and the public at large. He will be a formidable opponent.

Let the games begin!

Source: Mudflats

The censored version has already been added to OFKR – but for posterity’s sake we had to add this uncut version – of what will be a classic Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin continues to attract huge media interest despite her failed bid to become vice president.

Sarah Palin continues to attract huge media interest despite her failed bid to become vice president.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Oprah wants her, and so do Letterman and Leno. Fresh from her political defeat, Sarah Palin is juggling offers to write books, appear in films and sit on dozens of interview couches at a rate that would be astonishing for most Hollywood stars, let alone a first-term governor.

Sarah Palin continues to attract huge media interest despite her failed bid to become vice president.

The failed Republican vice presidential candidate crunched state budget numbers this week in her 17th-floor office as tumbling oil prices hit Alaska’s revenues. Meanwhile, her staff fielded television requests seeking the 44-year-old for late-night banter and Sunday morning Washington policy.

Agents, including those from the William Morris Agency, have come knocking. There’s even been an offer to host a TV show.

“Tomorrow, Gov. Palin could do an interview with any news media on the planet,” said her spokesman, Bill McAllister. “Tomorrow, she could probably sign any one of a dozen book deals. She could start talking to people about a documentary or a movie on her life. That’s the level we are at here.”

“Barbara Walters called me. George Stephanopoulos called me,” McAllister said. “I’ve had multiple conversations with producers for Oprah, Letterman, Leno and ‘The Daily Show.’ ”

Asked whether Winfrey was pursuing Palin for a sit-down, Michelle McIntyre, a spokeswoman for Winfrey’s Chicago-based Harpo Productions Inc., said she was “unable to confirm any future plans” for the show.

Palin may have emerged from the campaign politically wounded, with questions about her preparedness for higher office and reports of an expensive wardrobe, but she’s returned to Alaska with an expanded, if unofficial, title: international celebrity.

Sen. John McCain plucked Palin out of relative obscurity in late August and put her on the national Republican ticket. Now, she has to decide how and where to spend her time, which could have implications for her political future and her bank account, with possible land mines of legal and ethical rules.

Palin is considering about 800 requests for appearances from December through 2009, with 75 percent coming from out of state. A year ago, just a sprinkle of requests came from beyond Alaska’s borders. They range from invitations to speak at the Chief Executives’ Club of Boston, Massachusetts, and to attend a 5-year-old’s birthday party, from a prayer breakfast in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to a business conference in Britain.

Michael Steele, the former Maryland lieutenant governor who wants to be the next chairman of the Republican National Committee, is seeking face time.

She has invitations to make appearances in 20 foreign countries, typically with all expenses paid, McAllister said. She has more than 200 requests for media interviews, again from around the globe.

“She has to pace herself,” suggested veteran Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman. “She wants a career made in a Crock-Pot, not a microwave.”

In her two months on the national stage, Palin energized the Republican base but turned off moderates and independents, according to some surveys. Flubbed answers in national television interviews raised questions about her competence. She was embarrassed by the disclosure that the RNC spent at least $150,000 for designer clothing, accessories and beauty services for her and her family.

The right book or movie deal could help Palin reintroduce herself to the nation, on terms she could dictate.

Although books and movie deals could be worth millions of dollars, it’s not clear whether Palin would be able to legally earn it. State rules say she cannot accept outside employment for compensation. But there appears to be little in the way of precedent left by former governors to judge if book deals or lucrative speaking appearances amount to “employment.”

Palin has sent unmistakable signals that she is open to running for president in 2012, but to advance her political ambitions, she must stay in the public eye in the lower 48 states.

As with any celebrity, there is the risk of overexposure. At the same time, she’ll be under pressure to attend to governing her home state, which is thousands of miles from the rest of the nation.

“She has to deal with the perception that she bobbled her debut,” said Claremont McKenna College political scientist John Pitney. “She needs to stay home for a while. If she wants a future in national politics, her No. 1 job is doing a good job as governor.”

Just this week, shortly after conducting a string of national TV interviews and skipping a state education conference, she was scolded by the Anchorage Daily News.

“There are … low graduation rates, plummeting North Slope oil prices, proposals to build alternative energy projects, the gas pipeline,” the paper said in an editorial. “It’s time for the governor to refocus on Alaska’s needs.”

Source: CNN
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There is definitely something raw about that lady!!

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A letter with Gov. Sarah Palin’s image is part of a direct mail campaign by the Alaska Travel Industry Association.

Gov. Sarah Palin is personally inviting Americans from all over the country to visit her home state. Well, sort of. Letters bearing her picture, on letterhead that reads “Office of the Governor” and encouraging people to sign up for a free Alaska travel guide, have begun reappearing in mailboxes around the nation as part of an appeal from the Alaska Travel Industry Association.

The tourism campaign started in August, but it was suspended because of Ms. Palin’s candidacy, only to ramp up again after the election. The letters, bearing Ms. Palin’s picture, cannot help but elevate her already high political profile.

“This is nothing new that we’ve been doing,” said Ron Peck, president and chief operating officer of the A.T.I.A., adding that the trade organization has been sending out notes from the state’s governors for 20 years. The direct mail campaign was originally designed and approved in the spring, according to Bill McCalister, Ms. Palin’s communications director.

Nonetheless, that August mailing had a 20 percent higher response rate after Ms. Palin’s nomination, which Mr. Peck said was “absolutely” related to her newly elevated profile. “I believe that’s a big reason,” he said.

But Ms. Palin’s star power isn’t likely to prompt a mass pilgrimage to Alaska, especially given the current economic concerns, Mr. Peck cautioned. “Planning for a trip to Alaska sometimes is a year, two years in advance” process, he said. “So we’re excited about the fact that responses are up, but that doesn’t necessarily relate to travel.”

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In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama’s appearance on CBS’ “Sixty Minutes” on Sunday witnessed the president-elect’s unorthodox verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.

But Mr. Obama’s decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans might find it “alienating” to have a President who speaks English as if it were his first language.

“Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement,” says Mr. Logsdon. “If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist.”

The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, “Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate – we get it, stop showing off.”

The President-elect’s stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

“Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can’t really do there, I think needing to do that isn’t tapping into what Americans are needing also,” she said.

Source: BorowitzReport

Enigma

National Review Cover: Enigma

In a span of 252 days, the National Review lost two Buckleys — one to death, another to resignation — and an election.

Now, thanks to the coarsening effect of the Internet on political discourse, the magazine may have lost something else: its reputation as the cradle for conservative intellectuals and home for erudite and well-mannered debate prized by its founder, the late William F. Buckley Jr.

In the general conservative blogosphere and in The Corner, National Review’s popular blog, the tenor of debate — particularly as it related to the fitness of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska to be vice president — devolved into open nastiness during the campaign season, laying bare debates among conservatives that in a pre-Internet age may have been kept behind closed doors.

National Review, as the most pedigreed voice of conservatives, has often been tainted — unfairly and by association, some argue — by the tone of blogs, reader comments and e-mail messages. “Bill was always very concerned about having a high-minded and thoughtful discourse,” Rich Lowry, the magazine’s editor, said. “If you read the magazine, that’s what it was and that’s what it is.”

In October came the resignation of Mr. Buckley’s son, the writer and satirist Christopher Buckley, after he endorsed Barack Obama for president. He did so on Tina Brown’s blog, The Daily Beast, to avoid any backlash on The Corner.

“I am really and truly frightened by the collapse of support for the Republican Party by the young and the educated,” David Frum said.

Now David Frum, a prominent conservative writer who enmeshed himself in a minor dustup during the campaign by turning negative on Governor Palin, is leaving, too. In an interview, he said he planned to leave the magazine, where he writes a popular blog, to strike out on his own on the Web.

“The answers to the Republican dilemma are not obvious and we need a vibrant discussion,” he said. “I think a little more distance can help everybody do a better job of keeping their temper.”

Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor at National Review and probably has a bigger store of institutional knowledge than anyone, having written his first article, in 1970. “I think the tone of what we do, I’m certainly proud of,” he said. “You can’t be responsible for the world.”

Against the Wind

National Review Cover: Against the Wind

The magazine faces the twin challenges of re-energizing the conservative movement while trying to stay relevant itself amid a shifting media landscape that is challenging the authority of all old-line media institutions.

“There’s a lot of thinking to be done,” said Mr. Lowry, in the magazine’s mostly empty New York offices two days after Mr. Obama won the presidency. Nearly all the staff was getting ready to go to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a postelection fund-raising cruise in which readers, editors and guest speakers mix for a week of conservative conversation, but Mr. Lowry stayed behind to put out the new issue.

“We’ve always had rigorous internal debates,” he said. “But the advent of the blogosphere and e-mail and the rest of it have made it easier to blast out their impassioned instant reactions.

Read more…

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Famous for being famous! This election was amazing in that the things which were first said to hurt Obama – came back in the end to help defeat McCain – for example, Obama’s ability to attract large crowds – would go on to mean he would attract 200,000 plus in Germany – but rather than admit this was a great accomplishment (given Germany’s history) – Republicans chose to deride it – saying that Barack Obama was merely a celebrity – not to be taken seriously. Enter Sarah Palin, who for some really is a celebrity – who literally doesn’t know enough – to put together a concise argument on any number of critical issues – important to those seeking the highest office. Without substance Sarah Palin becomes famous for being famous – a celeb politician – who ‘ain’t in it for naught’.

She failed to save John McCain from presidential election doom, but Sarah Palin, the Republican senator’s controversial running mate, may yet emerge as the saviour of the American publishing industry. Literary agents are queueing up to sign her to a book deal that could earn her up to $7m.

With Barack Obama’s election victory certain to generate dozens of volumes from politicians, strategists and journalists – and with another shelfload of memoirs expected from members of President George W Bush’s administration – Palin’s personal account of her tumultuous introduction to national politics is widely regarded as the book most likely to repay a multi-million-dollar advance.

“She’s poised to make a ton of money,” said Howard Rubenstein, New York’s best-known public relations adviser.

“Every publisher and a lot of literary agents have been going after her,” added Jeff Klein of Folio Literary management.

Palin’s profile showed no sign of diminishing last week, despite McCain’s defeat and embittered Republicans seeking a scapegoat for the party’s collapse.

She now finds herself in a position similar to Obama’s in 2004, when the then mostly unknown Chicago politician delivered a mesmerising speech to the Democratic convention, was elected to the Senate and swiftly wrote a bestselling book – The Audacity of Hope. This proved to be the springboard for his presidential launch.

Like Obama, Palin has come from nowhere – in her case, Wasilla, Alaska. She is considered a likely candidate to move to Washington as Alaska’s senator if one of the state’s two seats falls vacant next year. Her book may reach a vast audience fascinated by her journey from the moose-hunting wastes of the Alaskan tundra to a historic battle for the White House.

Undaunted by her poll defeat, Palin was in fighting form last week, inviting cameras into her home, serving visiting interviewers home-cooked moose chilli and haddock and salmon casserole.

She scoffed at untrue reports that she initially thought Africa was a country and that she didn’t know members of the North American Free Trade Agreement. She said much of the criticism levelled at her came from “bloggers in their parents’ basements just talking garbage”.

At a sombre meeting of Republican governors later in the week, Palin’s megawatt celebrity far outshone her more experienced colleagues. Frank Luntz, a prominent Republican consultant, called her a “rock star”, but Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, warned that she would be only “one of the voices” leading the party forward.

Yet there are already signs that conservative Republicans, thrilled by Palin’s right-wing views, are manoeuvring to keep her in the public eye with a view to the 2012 elections and beyond. One group, called Our Country Deserves Better, last week collected tens of thousands of dollars to pay for television advertisements to run over the forthcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The adverts are to thank Palin for her efforts.

Despite polling evidence that Palin failed to make much impact on any of the groups that McCain strategists hoped she might deliver – women, independent voters and suburbanites – her supporters insisted that she should not be blamed for either McCain’s shortcomings or the legacy of the Bush administration’s failures. Palin herself noted that in view of the Bush record, “it’s amazing we did as well as we did”.

Although anonymous McCain aides had variously described her as a “diva” and a “whack job” and Maureen Dowd of The New York Times derided her last week as “Eliza Know-little”, she has earned plaudits from a surprising range of friends and former foes for keeping her cool under fire.

Camille Paglia, the radical feminist, declared that she had “heartily enjoyed [Palin’s] arrival on the national stage”. She had been subjected to “an atrocious and sometimes delusional level of defamation”, Paglia added. “I can see how smart she is and, quite frankly, I think the people who don’t see it are the stupid ones.”

Joanne Bamberger, the liberal author of the popular PunditMom blog, praised Palin for not “fading into the Alaskan woodwork”, and added: “She’s got some serious chutzpah . . . Palin has taken charge of this moment . . . and she’s making the most of the notoriety that was offered her”.

With publishers as nervous as everyone else about next year’s economic prospects, Palin’s popularity has become a boon. “Nobody is waiting for George W Bush’s memoirs,” one New York agent noted.

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Thanks Rachel !!

Thanks Rachel !!

Last night, on her eponymous show on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow took up the cause for a nation of bloggers who are tired of being stereotyped in the sad, stupid, and tired way that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin did whilst shooting her moosemeat infomercial with Fox’s Greta Van Susteren:

    “…sitting there in their parent’s basement wearing their pajamas.”

Le sigh! Suffice it to say, I know bloggers who have written books, bloggers who wear body armor in war zones, bloggers who are immersed in scholarship, and bloggers who can take their experience of driving a taxicab and turn it into a transporting read. I also know a bunch of bloggers who can cook WAY BETTER than Sarah Palin! But more to the point: what the heck is wrong with wearing pajamas? Especially footie pajamas! Especially footie pajamas that you buy yourself, with your own money, instead of the RNC’s! This is Rachel Maddow’s cause.

Source: HP

490px-ted_stevens_109th_pictorial_photo ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Just as Sen. Ted Stevens appeared set to return to Congress, felony conviction and all, his re-election bid has faltered. If he loses, it also closes a possible door into the Senate anytime soon for Gov. Sarah Palin.

As counting of early and absentee ballots continued in Stevens’ race against Democrat Mark Begich, the contest for Alaska’s only House seat was settled Wednesday, with the re-election of Republican incumbent Don Young for his 19th term.

In the Stevens race, Begich jumped to an 814-vote lead, after trailing by 3,200 when the day began. The tally late Wednesday was 132,196 to 131,382, with an estimated 30,000 ballots remaining to be counted, some on Friday and some next week.

“After watching the votes today, I remain cautiously optimistic,” Begich, a two-term Anchorage mayor, said in a news release. “We ran an aggressive campaign, especially when it came to early voting and absentee.”

Stevens’ campaign did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Last month, a federal jury in Washington convicted Stevens of lying on Senate disclosure forms to conceal more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations from an oil field services company.

That might have spelled quick political doom for a lesser figure, but Stevens is revered here for his decades of public service — and especially for scoring the state enormous sums of federal money.

Begich would be the first Democrat to win a Senate race in Alaska since the mid-1970s, and a victory would put his party one step closer to a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the Senate. Democrats are also trying to unseat Republicans in unresolved contests in Georgia and Minnesota.

Fellow senators have called on Stevens to resign if he wins, and he could face expulsion if he declines to step down. In either case a special election would be held to determine his replacement. Palin, fresh from her failed run at the vice presidency, said Wednesday she’d be interested in serving in the Senate.

“My life is in God’s hands,” Palin said. “If he’s got doors open for me, that I believe are in our state’s best interest, the nation’s best interest, I’m going to go through those doors.”

In the House race, The Associated Press declared Young the winner with 50 percent of the vote compared with Democrat Ethan Berkowitz’s 45 percent.

Berkowitz campaign spokesman David Shurtleff said the Democrat was not ready to concede, although he acknowledged dim prospects.

Election officials Wednesday counted 57,000 of the estimated 90,000 outstanding ballots, which include absentee, early, questioned and provisional ballots.

Should the Senate results remain close a recount is possible. In Alaska, the losing candidate or a collection of 10 voters has three days to petition for a recount unless the vote was a tie, in which case it would be automatic.

If the difference between the candidates is within 0.5 percent of the total votes cast, the state pays for the recount, to be started within three days of the recount petition. The state Elections Division has 10 days to complete the recount.

If Stevens holds onto his seat, he might remain in the Senate for some time. As a practical matter, Stevens can’t be expelled by the full Senate until after an Ethics Committee investigation and a majority vote of that panel. That won’t happen until next year at the earliest.

Stevens also plans to appeal his conviction after he’s sentenced, in February at the earliest. The appeal could take months or years.

President George W. Bush could also pardon him.

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After much anticipation from a room full of reporters and other curiosity-seekers, Sarah Palin this morning took four questions from reporters in a press conference that lasted 11 minutes.

Actually, taking away Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s opening statement, the session lasted under 10 minutes.

Palin was on stage with 13 other Republican governors — all men — who received zero attention from the assembled crowd.

After the third question, an RGA aide tried to end the session but Perry interjected and allowed for a fourth question.

Palin sought to deflect attention from herself and talk about the governors as a group, but all the questions centered on her past and future.

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Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska spoke at The Republican Governors Association in Miami on Thursday

MIAMI — Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska did something here on Thursday that she did not do in her entire campaign as the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee: she stood behind a lectern and held a news conference. She was asked what had changed.

“The campaign is over,” she said.

Granted, the question and answer session lasted only four minutes, and for only four questions. As she stood on a stage in a hotel overlooking Biscayne Bay, surrounded by 12 fellow governors, Ms. Palin was asked what message she hoped to get across.

“I’m trying to convey the message that Republican governors are a unique team,” said Ms. Palin, who said she was uninterested in discussing the campaign.

But Ms. Palin did allow herself a look back after the brief news conference ended, as she addressed a session of the Republican Governors Association and told them that she had managed to keep busy since their last conference.

“I had a baby, I did some traveling, I very briefly expanded my wardrobe, I made a few speeches, I met a few VIPS, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey,” she said.

And yes, she spoke again of “Joe the Plumber,” the Ohio man who briefly dominated the McCain-Palin campaign and its talk about taxes.

Ms. Palin thanked the people who attended her rallies, including young women she hopes she has influenced.

“I am going to remember all the young girls who came up to me at rallies to see the first woman having the privilege of carrying our party’s VP nomination,” she said. “We’re going to work harder, we’re going to be stronger, we’re going to do better and one day, one of them will be the president.”

That raised again the question surrounding Ms. Palin since the election ended: will she run in 2012?

“The future is not that 2012 Presidential race, it’s next year and our next budgets,” she said. It is in 2010, she said, that “we’ll have 36 governors positions open.”

Ms. Palin tried to downplay her celebrity (even after a week in which she was featured in interviews on NBC, FOX News and CNN). In her speech, she tried to change the focus from herself to the work that Republican governors must now do, including developing energy resources to health care reform.

“I am not going to assume that the answer is for the federal government to just take it over and try to run America’s health care system,” Ms. Palin said. “Heaven forbid.”

She implored her fellow Republican governors to “show the federal government the way,” while also reforming their own party.

“We are the minority party. Let us resolve not to be the negative party,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us build our case with actions, not just with words.”

Her appearance was the highly anticipated moment of the conference, coming a day after other emerging governors spoke about the direction of the Republican Party. Entering the political wilderness after its losses this month, the group that many consider its future met to talk about what went wrong, and what to do next.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who was very nearly Senator John McCain’s running mate this year, told the decidedly subdued, post-election conference Wednesday about a revelation he had recently while looking into the bathroom mirror at his home in Minnesota.

Mr. Pawlenty said that after wearily returning from the campaign trail, he looked at himself in the mirror and complained about what he saw to his wife, Mary. “I said, ‘Mary, look at me,’ “ he said. “ ‘I mean, my hairline’s receding, these crow’s feet and wrinkles are multiplying on my face by the day, I’ve been on the road eating junk food, I’m getting flabby, these love handles are flopping over the side of my belt.’

“I said, ‘Is there anything you can tell me that would give me some hope, some optimism, some encouragement?’ “ he said. “And she looked at me and she said, ‘Well, there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight.’ “

As his fellow governors laughed, he came to the moral of the story: “If we are going to successfully travel the road to improvement, as Republicans, we need to see clearly, and we need to speak to each other candidly about the state of our party.”

The long, sometimes painful post-mortem of the election — where Republicans were widely repudiated, losing the White House and more seats in Congress — began in earnest here among Republican governors, a group that has traditionally served as a wellspring of new ideas and talent for the party. It was, at times, a bit glum.

Frank Luntz, the communications strategist, gave the Republicans a slideshow describing how Republicans have just endured their worst back-to-back elections since 1930 and 1932. And Mr. Luntz said that the prospect of sharing his polling research with a group of Republicans gave him pause. “I understand how Dr. Kevorkian feels at an AARP convention,” he said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, another rising star in the party who is considered potential presidential fodder, said that the party needed to recapture the high ground on the ethics and good government, and that it could draw lessons from the high-tech campaign that Barack Obama waged.

“We should learn from that,” Mr. Jindal said.

Mr. Pawlenty kicked off the conference with a somewhat gloomy appraisal of where things stand for the Republican Party.

“We cannot be a majority governing party when we essentially cannot compete in the Northeast, we are losing our ability to compete in Great Lakes States, we cannot compete on the West Coast, we are increasingly in danger of competing in the Mid-Atlantic States, and the Democrats are now winning some of the Western States,” he said. “That is not a formula for being a majority governing party in this nation.”

“And similarly we cannot compete, and prevail, as a majority governing party if we have a significant deficit, as we do, with women, where we have a large deficit with Hispanics, where we have a large deficit with African-American voters, where we have a large deficit with people of modest incomes and modest financial circumstances,” he said. “Those are not factors that make up a formula for success going forward.”

“There will be calls, and voices across the country for Republicans to return to traditional conservative approaches in almost all respects,” he said, adding that there would also be calls to modernize the party.

“The good news is both are true, and both can be harmonized in my view,” Mr. Pawlenty said. “We can be both conservative and we can be modern at the same time.”

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Palin told Alaska reporters the Republican ticket could not overcome the headwinds.

Palin told Alaska reporters the Republican ticket could not overcome the headwinds.

(CNN) – Sarah Palin told local reporters in Alaska that unhappiness with the Bush administration’s Iraq war policy and spending record were responsible for the GOP ticket’s defeat this year.

“I think the Republican ticket represented too much of the status quo, too much of what had gone on in these last eight years, that Americans were kind of shaking their heads like going, wait a minute, how did we run up a $10 trillion debt in a Republican administration?” Palin told the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska’s KTUU Channel 2.

“How have there been blunders with war strategy under a Republican administration? If we’re talking change, we want to get far away from what it was that the present administration represented and that is to a great degree what the Republican Party at the time had been representing. So people desiring change I think went as far from the administration that is presently seated as they could. It’s amazing that we did as well as we did.”

Palin returned to Alaska last week amid growing speculation about her political future. The Alaska governor is slated to attend the Republican Governors Association’s meeting in Miami this week.

Source: CNN

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ANCHORAGE — Gov. Sarah Palin has returned to Alaska fully recast and amplified.

Adored by many national conservatives, Ms. Palin is a prospect for a presidential run in 2012, supporters say. Caricatured by opponents, she is a candidate for political oblivion, say others.

Regardless, Ms. Palin told reporters the day after Election Day, “This has been all positive for me.”

Alaska, too, has been recast and amplified in the 10 weeks since Ms. Palin soared to national prominence as the Republican nominee for vice president, and the process has not necessarily been all positive.

Oil prices, which provide the bulk of state revenue, were well over $100 a barrel in late August when Ms. Palin left to campaign with Senator John McCain. Now they are slumming south of $60 a barrel, below the level required to balance the state budget. Increased scrutiny of Ms. Palin’s time as governor often painted an unflattering portrait of her administration. Investigative news reports have portrayed Ms. Palin as being consumed with personal matters and vindictiveness, particularly in the controversy over the firing of her public safety commissioner in what has become known as Troopergate.

Many Democrats, her allies in passing key legislation to raise taxes on oil companies and spur development of a natural gas pipeline, are outraged by her partisan attacks on now President-elect Barack Obama and on the tactics of the McCain-Palin campaign here at home.

Within the state’s Republican establishment — never Ms. Palin’s comfort zone — there is tension over the fate of Senator Ted Stevens, who was convicted last month of failing to disclose gifts and free home renovations he received. Ms. Palin called on Mr. Stevens to resign even as state Republicans urged his re-election. A preliminary vote count suggests he could win a seventh full term.

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Even if Mr. Stevens wins, he could still be forced to resign, and Ms. Palin is widely viewed as a strong candidate to win his seat in the special election that would have to be held to replace him.

Ms. Palin has largely dodged questions about her long-term political future, and as she gets back to governing full time, few people know what to expect from her in the immediate future.

“She’s coming back to a whole different world from when she left,” said State Representative John Coghill, a Republican from North Pole who is chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. “If she comes back with a puffed up ego there’s going to be problems. But if she comes back ready to work, that will be better.”

Ms. Palin, in an interview in her office on Friday, said she was ready to work.

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“Now we kick in that fiscal conservativeness that needs to be engaged, and we progress this state with $57-a-barrel oil,” Ms. Palin said. She said the state would have to “be prudent with public dollars and provide services more efficiently than have ever been provided in the state of Alaska before.”

The price and production of oil determines state finances: taxes on oil bring in about 85 percent of state revenue. To balance the budget for the 2008-9 fiscal year, the price of oil needs to average $74 over the 12 months, said Karen J. Rehfeld, director of the state office of management and budget. If it falls below that average, the state could have to make emergency cuts or dip into a reserve account that contains several billion dollars. High prices early in the fiscal year may help keep the average up this year, but next year is another matter.

Ms. Palin, first elected governor in 2006, has governed only in times of budget surpluses, and lawmakers said they had many questions about how she would lead now.

“I just don’t know what kind of philosophy she’s going to have when she comes back,” said State Representative John Harris, a Republican and the departing House speaker.

Noting that his chief of staff, John Bitney, was once the governor’s legislative director, Mr. Harris added, “We were just trying to figure out what kind of policy things the governor may want to address and we were kind of scratching our heads, because we don’t know.”

Mr. Harris was among several lawmakers who questioned whether Ms. Palin would spend the rest of her term, which ends in 2010, positioning herself to run for national office. Would she pursue a socially conservative agenda, promoting bills to restrict abortion or gay rights, issues she largely passed on in her first two years in office because she was trying to win support from Democrats on other issues? Would she move to the center? Would she continue to rail against “the old boy network,” stoking her reformist image at the expense of her fellow Republicans, whose party has been tarnished by corruption scandals, including that of Mr. Stevens?

Ms. Palin rejected the idea that she would be playing to a larger audience.

“My actions will continue to be first and foremost in good service to the state of Alaska,” she said in the interview.

But other than suggesting that cost cuts were to come, Ms. Palin did not hint at a broader agenda.

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The governor is due to submit her 2009-10 budget next month, and neither she nor her aides offered specifics about what it might contain. The McCain-Palin campaign portrayed Ms. Palin as an energy expert, and one top priority Ms. Palin expressed well before she was selected to run for the vice presidency was to improve energy sources for different parts of the state. That includes finding cheaper sources of energy for rural villages, which often rely on inefficient diesel power, as well as for cities like Fairbanks, the state’s second largest, where utilities rely on oil and coal.

The state also faces questions over issues like financing Medicaid, increasing mining in environmentally sensitive areas and spending on transportation projects, as well as the complex negotiations involved in trying to develop the gas pipeline with the cooperation of the same oil companies whose taxes Ms. Palin has raised.

Ms. Palin’s partisanship on the campaign trail may be what most surprised people at home.

“She’s coming back to a divided state, where Democrats had supported her but they watched her for two months call the president-elect of the United States a terrorist sympathizer,” said State Representative Les Gara, Democratic of Anchorage. “She called him a socialist.”

Her partisanship also surprised some conservative Republicans, who were accustomed to feeling ignored while Ms. Palin nurtured alliances with Democrats and moderate Republicans. Now, some Republicans who have been at odds with Ms. Palin in the past are wondering if her partisan tone on the campaign trail might mean they will have her ear more than before.

“It appears that way,” said Mr. Coghill, the Republican from North Pole. Mr. Coghill said Ms. Palin’s emphasis on socially conservative issues on the campaign trail has helped persuade him that now is the time to ask Ms. Palin to actively support a bill that would require minors seeking abortions to notify their parents in advance.

“There are some people in our caucus who are skeptical” that Ms. Palin might ally herself more with Republicans now, Mr. Coghill said. “But they’re willing to take the chance, to step up and play.”

Ms. Palin suggested in the interview that how she ran for vice president would not shape how she governs Alaska.

“If anybody wants to try to criticize and say, ‘Oh, all of a sudden she’s an obsessive partisan,’ they’re wrong,” she said.

But she did allow that she thinks beyond her current role.

“Around every corner is something new,” Ms. Palin said, “so I look forward to seeing what happens next. But for now, it’s great to be back in the governor’s office.”

nyt-logoprinter

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So long as Palin is in Alaska ~ then I’m okay with that! Go Todd!!

The last public event at which Gov. Sarah Palin was accompanied by Secret Service agents during the 2008 campaign was on the day after the election, when she arrived home in Alaska on the McCain-Palin campaign plane. As the governor greeted supporters on the tarmac outside a charter jet hangar, agents formed the usual protective wall around the former vice-presidential candidate.

But that was not, apparently, the last the Palins saw of at least some of the agents.

On Thursday, according to the governor, her husband Todd, a four time champion of the Iron Dog snow machine race, took some of the agents out for a taste of his favorite subarctic sport.

“They were dying to know, ‘Well, what is that all about up there in Alaska?’” Ms. Palin said at the end of a brief interview in her office on Friday. “Well, they escorted us up to Alaska, so Todd took them out on machines. That was a blast.”

Could there have been more to it than just fun? Was the Secret Service thinking ahead, preparing for a possible future administration? Had Ms. Palin become vice president, questions loomed over whether agents would have had to accompany Mr. Palin the next time he competes in the Iron Dog, a 2,000 mile race across the tundra each February. The race is unforgiving, to say the least. This year, Mr. Palin broke his arm when he was thrown from his machine with 400 miles to go, though he got patched up and still came in fourth.

Then again, maybe the Palins just befriended some of the agents. The governor often joked on the campaign trail that her husband, an oil production supervisor on Alaska’s North Slope, “looks like one of the Secret Service guys”

thecaucus75

11-8-2008-9-53-59-pm

That whole anti-American, friend-to-the-terrorists thing about President-elect Barack Obama? Never mind.

Just a few weeks ago, at the height of the campaign, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota told Chris Matthews of MSNBC that, when it came to Mr. Obama, “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.”

But there she was on Wednesday, after narrowly escaping defeat because of those comments, saying she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” Ms. Bachmann, a Republican, called Mr. Obama’s victory, which included her state, “a tremendous signal we sent.”

And it was not too long ago that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, accused Mr. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”

But she took an entirely different tone on Thursday, when she chastised reporters for asking her questions about her war with some staff members in the McCain campaign at such a heady time. “Barack Obama has been elected president,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us, let us — let him — be able to kind of savor this moment, one, and not let the pettiness of maybe internal workings of the campaign erode any of the recognition of this historic moment that we’re in. And God bless Barack Obama and his beautiful family.”

There is a great tradition of paint-peeling political hyperbole during presidential campaign years. And there is an equally great tradition of backing off from it all afterward, though with varying degrees of deftness.

But given the intensity of some of the charges that have been made in the past few months, and the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s election, the exercise this year has been particularly whiplash-inducing, with its extreme before-and-after contrasts.

sarah-palins-momentum-seems-to-be-diminishing

The shift in tone follows the magnanimous concession speech from Mr. McCain, of Arizona, who referred to Mr. Obama’s victory Tuesday night as “a historic election” and hailed the “special pride” it held for African-Americans. That led the vice president-elect, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., to get into the act. During the campaign, Mr. Biden said he no longer recognized Mr. McCain, an old friend. Now, he says, “We’re still friends.” President Bush, in turn, also hailed Mr. Obama’s victory, saying his arrival at the White House would be “a stirring sight.”

Whether it all heralds a new era of cooperation in Washington remains to be seen, and it may be downright doubtful. But for now, at least, it would seem to be part of an apparent rush to join what has emerged as a real moment in American history.

The presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said she was hard-pressed to find a similar moment when the tone had changed so drastically, and so quickly, among so many people of such prominence.

“I don’t think that’s happened very often,” Ms. Goodwin said. “The best answer I can give you is they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, and they recognize how the country saw this election, and how people feel that they’re living in a time of great historic moment.”

Others in the professional political class were not so sure. Some wondered whether simple pragmatism was the explanation.

“My experience is, it’s less an epiphany and more a political reality,” said Chris Lehane, a former Democratic strategist who worked on the presidential campaign of Al Gore. “I’m thinking they will continue in this direction so long as the polls indicate it’s a smart place to be.”

There are notable exceptions: Rush Limbaugh has given no quarter. And while his fellow conservative radio hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have noted the significance of his victory — on Wednesday, Ms. Ingraham said “Obama did make history” and “It’s not the time to vilify him” — they seem to be in line with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Relishing his new role in the opposition camp, Mr. O’Reilly said, “The guy is still a mystery, so our oversight will be intense.”

Some lawmakers also do not appear inclined to give up the fight. Representative John A. Boehner, the House minority leader, has already criticized Mr. Obama’s choice of Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, as his chief of staff.

But other people who opposed Mr. Obama, like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, have good reason to try to make up with the winning ticket. As an ardent backer of Mr. McCain, Mr. Lieberman angered the Democrats, who in 2000 nominated him as their vice-presidential candidate. After losing a Democratic primary challenge in 2006 and then winning as an independent, he still continued to caucus with the Democrats.

Attending an event with Mr. McCain in York, Pa., in August, Mr. Lieberman said the race was “between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.”

As a speaker at the Republican National Convention, Mr. Lieberman went further than Democrats expected by criticizing Mr. Obama for “voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground.” (Mr. Obama voted for bills that included plans for withdrawal from Iraq and against others that did not.)

This week Mr. Lieberman, who has been asked by the Democratic Senate leadership to consider giving up his position as the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a statement congratulating Mr. Obama for “his historic and impressive victory.” It continued, “The American people are a people of extraordinary fairness.”

Marshall Wittmann, a spokesman for Mr. Lieberman, said that as far as the senator was concerned, “It’s over, and it’s genuinely time to find unity and move forward behind the new president.”

And what about that whole bit about Mr. Obama not always putting his country first? “He believes that President-elect Obama — and, then, Senator Obama — is a genuine patriot and loves his country,” Mr. Wittmann said. “The only point he was making in his campaign was about partisanship.”

Mr. Obama is apparently ready to bury the hatchet with his new fans. “President-elect Obama has made it clear that he wants to put partisanship behind and work together to solve the many challenges confronting the country,” said Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Obama transition team. “We’re pleased that others do as well.”

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who will help decide Mr. Lieberman’s committee assignment, sounded less ready to forgive, at least when it came Mr. Lieberman’s support for Mr. McCain. “Joe Lieberman has done something that I think was improper, wrong, and I’d like — if we weren’t on television, I’d use a stronger word of describing what he did,” he said on CNN Friday.

nyt-logoprinter

Breaking here

palin-bright-future450

According to Carl Cameron of Fox News – insiders at the Mccain camp stated that Palin wasn’t aware that Africa was a continent, as she believed Africa was a country. Itappears Palin did not know anything about the NAFTA trade agreement – that she would not prepare for interviews like the now famous Katie Couric –

If Palin thought that Africa was a country – then it would make sense that one could get foreign policy experience – by merely being close to – or as she put it being able to see Russia from her state –  

There were some who said that – it wasn’t that Palin simply made mistakes during he interviews – that what was worst is that she didn’t understand the question.

Here a pro-future energy plan – quickly constructed.

In the future we are going to drive vehicles with mechanics which don’t use oil and gas.

Our factories will be powered by an energy source which cost little or nothing – lowering the cost of production.

The amount spent on energy could be shifted to research and development – we could create more if we don’t have to factor in the energy cost.

Once the cost of energy is out of the equation — as with most things there is an energy cost to manufacture it, and another energy cost to deliver it – to the wholesaler – then another energy cost to either deliver it to the consumer or the retail outlet, each time a product has to be moved or made or cooked, then the energy cost is added on to it like a tax.

Once you take that expense out of the system – then you are instantly looking a system where there is more money.

In your own home – if we don’t have to pay for electricity or heating, or gas to power our cars – or if we can significantly reduce these costs in the short term – and say wages stay the same – then you could instantly see how you could have more money in your own household. But if we could take the cost of energy out of the whole system, or significantly reduce it, then we could see how there would be more money for everyone – as sales or demand may go up and prices go down. We become the limiting factor and not energy availability or its cost. How we want to use and recycle materials for use again, becomes the limiting factors, on what we produce.

TOLEDO, Ohio – No blaring country songs. No pink handmade signs. No rousing chants of “Drill, baby, drill.”

Gov. Sarah Palin abandoned the usual flash of her campaign rallies on Wednesday to deliver her second policy speech as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, an address focused on energy security.

Standing on a riser above a concrete floor, under the glare of fluorescent lighting, Ms. Palin addressed fewer than 200 people, mostly employees of Xunlight Corporation, a spin-off from the University of Toledo that manufactures solar energy implements.

She called for greater energy independence, blaming decades of presidents and legislators for failing to achieve it.

“It’s been 30 years’ worth of failed energy policies in Washington, 30 years where we’ve had opportunities to become less reliant on foreign sources, and 30 years of failure in that area,” Ms. Palin said. “We must steer far clear of the errors and false assumptions that have marked the energy policies of nearly 20 Congresses and seven presidents.”

Ms. Palin also laid the blame at the feet of her Democratic counterpart, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has opposed offshore drilling. Mr. Biden was overheard telling a supporter on the campaign trail that he did not support clean-coal technology in the United States.

“He says that clean coal is O.K. for China, but sorry, Ohio, Joe Biden says it’s not for you,” she said. “And that is just nonsense.”

If Senator John McCain is elected, she added, $2 billion a year would be devoted to clean-coal research and development.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland released a response on behalf of the Obama campaign:

    “In a bit of rare straight talk, Sarah Palin attacked her own running mate’s record today by blaming our oil addiction on ‘thirty years of failure’ in Washington,” said Governor Ted Strickland. “John McCain was there for twenty-six of those years, during which he voted against alternative sources of energy and stood with oil industry lobbyists instead. Now he wants to give those oil companies an additional $4 billion in tax breaks, even as he proposes pennies for the kind of renewable energy that can end our dependence on Mideast oil and create new jobs. After decades of John McCain’s failed leadership on energy, we can’t afford four more.”

As a vice-presidential candidate, Ms. Palin has leaned heavily on her record in Alaska challenging the power of oil companies, and as governor, she negotiated a $40 billion pipeline that would deliver natural gas from the North Slope of Alaska to the lower 48 states. But that project, which she described in her speech on Wednesday, is years away from federal approval and will not be built for at least a decade.

Source: NYT



IN PHOTO: Qannik, a 6-year-old beluga whale, swims in a tank at his new home at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash., Monday, June 11, 2007. AP Photo by Ted Warren.

Beluga whales endangered, government declares, contradicting Palin

The beluga whales of Alaska’s Cook Inlet are endangered and require additional protection to survive, the government declared Friday, contradicting Gov. Sarah Palin who has questioned whether the distinctive white whales are actually declining.

It was the Republican vice presidential candidate’s second environmental slap from Washington this year. She has asked federal courts to overturn an Interior Department decision declaring polar bears threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The government on Friday put a portion of the whales on the endangered list, rejecting Palin’s argument that it lacked scientific evidence to do so. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that a decade-long recovery program had failed to ensure the whales’ survival.

“In spite of protections already in place, Cook Inlet beluga whales are not recovering,” said James Balsiger, NOAA acting assistant administrator.*

Source: Chicago Tribune


Pro-American – now Palin gets to decide where and who is pro-American – amazing for someone who has close connections to an Alaskan Secessionist group – the AIP, who recently addressed their convention. It’s more than gall – it’s crossing the line.

It seems she has gotten used to labeling Obama as not being pro-American that she felt comfortable enough to divide the country – into pro-and not so pro-American sections. This is not the words of a uniter.

It’s not clear if rankings exist, but North Carolina would apparently rate high in the estimation of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. John McCain’s running mate declared her appreciation for the Tar Heel State’s “Pro-America” bent Thursday night during a fundraiser in Greensboro.

    “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America,” Ms. Palin said, according to a pool report. “Being here with all of you hard-working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans.”

Ms. Palin’s remarks drew applause for the 500-or-so at the fundraiser, which raised $800,000 for the Republican Party. But some outside North Carolina were left wondering, including a certain Democratic presidential campaign based in Chicago, Ill.

“Just asking,” said Senator Barack Obama’s spokesman Bill Burton in an e-mail to reporters. “What part of the country isn’t pro-America?”

Ms. Palin’s spokesman, Tracey Schmitt, clarified thus: “Governor Palin was reinforcing her message that the best of America can be seen all over the country and isn’t limited to any particular geographic region.”

Update:

    Later on, Governor Palin came back to talk to reporters on the plane and was asked what she meant by pro-America: “Every area, every area across this great country where we’re stopping and where also the other ticket is stopping and getting to speak at these rallies and speak with the good Americans, it’s all pro-America. I was just reinforcing the fact that there, where I was, there’s good patriotic people there in these rallies, so excited about positive change and reform of government that’s coming that they are so appreciative of hearing our message, hearing our plan. Not, not any one area of America is more pro-America patriotically than others.”

Source: NYT

Well as Palin predicted here’s the Russians – though not for war but to take part in building a gas pipeline from Alaska to Canada. And there is even a sprinkle of K.G.B in there to excite McCain. I think these Russians were saying WE COME IN PEACE !! PLEASE DON’T NUKE US !!

MOSCOW — A high-level delegation from the Russian energy company Gazprom met in Anchorage with state officials on Monday to talk about investing in Alaskan energy projects. The meeting came nearly three weeks after Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska talked in a television interview about her expertise in energy matters and took a hard line with Russia.

Senior officials of Gazprom said at a shareholder meeting in Moscow in June that the company was seeking to take part in a consortium that is building a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to Canada. The company is also interested in investing in other energy initiatives in the state, according to a statement released by Gazprom on Tuesday about the meeting in Anchorage.

“Gazprom has accumulated great experience in exploring hydrocarbon deposits, building and using gas pipelines in the far north environment,” the company said in the statement. “Gazprom’s experience will be relevant in realization of similar projects in Alaska.” 

Senior officials of Gazprom said at a shareholder meeting in Moscow in June that the company was seeking to take part in a consortium that is building a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to Canada.

The Russian delegation at the meeting on Monday in Anchorage unexpectedly included several close associates of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin. The executives presented a slide show about the company’s business that lasted about an hour.

Eight senior Gazprom officials attended the session, including the company’s chief executive, Aleksei B. Miller, a longtime Putin ally, and Aleksandr V. Golubyev, a deputy director who, like Mr. Putin, is a veteran of the K.G.B. and who has worked with Mr. Putin for at least 17 years, according to a biography posted on the Gazprom Web site.

“We had thought initially that only one or two people would be coming,” Marty Rutherford, a deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, said in a telephone interview. “But it turned out to be about a dozen.”

Aleksandr V. Golubyev, a deputy director who, like Mr. Putin, is a veteran of the K.G.B. and who has worked with Mr. Putin for at least 17 years

The delegation met with Tom Irwin, the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, who was appointed by Ms. Palin, and with James J. Mulva, the chief executive of ConocoPhillips, a Texas oil company. Gazprom has been in talks with Conoco, which does business in Russia, about joining the Alaskan pipeline consortium.

A Gazprom official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the visit said it was rare for such a large delegation of senior executives to travel together.

Mr. Irwin said in a telephone interview that the Gazprom executives never mentioned Ms. Palin during the meeting. Nor was the company’s desire to join in the natural gas pipeline discussed, said Mr. Rutherford, the deputy commissioner.

State officials often meet with foreign energy companies that are interested in the state’s reserves, Mr. Irwin said. “A lot of companies come to Alaska because of the resources we have here,” he said.

“As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska,”

He characterized the Gazprom presentation as an overview of the company’s global business. “This was a very professional, well-done overview,” he said. The governor’s office was notified of the meeting, he said.

In an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News last month, Ms. Palin, in response to a question about her foreign policy expertise, explained why she thought that Alaska’s proximity to Russia had contributed to her international experience.

“As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska,” she said. A spokesman for Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign said the governor was referring to flights by Russian Air Force planes near the state’s borders.

Gazprom is exceptionally close to the Russian government, and political and energy analysts think its international business activities are closely coordinated with the Kremlin’s foreign policy agenda. The company, the world’s largest gas producer, has been eager to enter the North American market. Earlier this year, Gazprom bought capacity at a planned liquefied-natural-gas plant in Canada.

Gazprom is so close to the Russian government that top officials move seamlessly from the boardroom to the Kremlin and back. When Dmitri A. Medvedev replaced Mr. Putin as president in May, he resigned as chairman of Gazprom. He was replaced at the company’s helm by Viktor A. Zubkov, who stepped down as prime minister. Mr. Putin then became prime minister.

Source: NYT

Maddow stumped as Palin blatantly denies – Troopergate findings.

AP

At a town hall meeting at in Lakeville, Minn., John McCain took back the microphone from Gayle Quinnell when she said she Barack Obama was

John McCain’s campaign is pretty much a shambles right now.

If you don’t believe me, just listen to John McCain. His chief goal these days is calming down his crowds, not firing them up.

And that is an honorable thing to do. It may not be a winning thing to do. But it is honorable.

The real problem for McCain is that Palin is running a separate — and scary — campaign that does not seem to be under anybody’s control.

Sarah Palin, once seen as a huge plus to the ticket, is now increasingly emerging as a liability.

Forget that an independent legislative panel found Friday that she had abused her power and violated ethics laws as governor of Alaska. Forget that with the possibility of Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency, McCain gives up the argument that his ticket represents experience and a steady hand on the tiller.

The real problem for McCain is that Palin is running a separate — and scary — campaign that does not seem to be under anybody’s control.

She storms around the country saying: “Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

She also says: “This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America.”

Get the drift? Obama is not only different, not only an alien incapable of loving his country, he is an actual friend of terrorists who would attack America.

The great benefit of putting Palin on the ticket, we were told, is that it would excite the Republican base. Maybe it will. But the Republican base has never been smaller. And it is insufficient to carry the McCain-Palin ticket to victory.

To win, the Republican ticket must attract a significant number of independent voters, swing voters and even some Democrats. Do Sarah Palin’s attacks really help achieve that?

Her attacks certainly appeal to some. Cries of “traitor” and “terrorist” and “off with his head” are heard at Republican rallies when Obama’s name is mentioned.

This is scary stuff. And you know who is getting scared by it? John McCain.

And Palin is not the only one who is fear-mongering. Karen Tumulty of Time magazine was invited by the McCain campaign to visit its operations in Virginia on Saturday. So Tumulty was there when Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick “climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden.”

“Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” Frederick said. “That is scary.”

At Tumulty points out, “It is also not exactly true — though that distorted reference to Obama’s controversial association with William Ayers, a former ’60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. ‘And he won’t salute the flag,’ one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, ‘We don’t even know where Sen. Obama was really born.’ Actually, we do; it’s Hawaii.”

(And, actually, John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, a location at least as exotic as Hawaii.)

Sighs and lies. Swift boat. Attack. Just do it.

This is scary stuff. And you know who is getting scared by it? John McCain.

When a crowd member said at a town meeting in Lake­ville, Minn., on Friday that he feared what would happen if Obama were elected, McCain said that Obama is “a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”

The crowd booed.

Why wouldn’t it? McCain says there is nothing to fear from Obama, while McCain’s running mate says Obama pals around with terrorists who target America.

Is there a little confusion here?

At the same event in Minnesota, a woman in the crowd told McCain that she doesn’t trust Obama because “he’s an Arab.”

Taking the microphone from her, McCain said, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

Maybe that is what McCain would like his campaign to be all about. But others are telling him to forget that “fundamental issues” stuff.

The polls stink, they are telling him. The voter registration numbers stink. And Obama may have the most effective ground organization in Democratic history.

There are those whispering in McCain’s ear that if he gets into the gutter, he can get into the White House.

So how can McCain close the gap? There is a playbook that tells him how. It is a playbook that the Republicans have used for a number of cycles now: Promise low taxes, promise to better defend the country against its enemies, and then attack, attack, attack.

Willie Horton. Sighs and lies. Swift boat. Attack. Just do it.

But McCain is hesitating. “If you want a fight, we will fight,” McCain told that crowd in Minnesota. “But we will be respectful.”

The crowd booed again.

“I don’t mean to reduce your ferocity,” McCain said. “I just mean to say you have to be respectful.”

Is that possible? There are those whispering in McCain’s ear that if he gets into the gutter, he can get into the White House. Ads are not enough, they tell him. He must launch the attacks personally and without reservation.

But honor is still an important word to John McCain. He would like to win the presidency and retain his honor.

Some tell him he cannot do both. At this point, however, he is trying.

Source: Politico

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was joined at an appearance on Sunday in Scranton, Pa., by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was joined at an appearance on Sunday in Scranton, Pa., by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

SCRANTON, Pa. — The Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., sharing a stage with Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton for the first time this year, said the campaign of Senator John McCain was stooping to stunts and “ugly inferences” because it was losing and was out of ideas.

Rousing a crowd estimated by the police at 6,000 on an otherwise quiet day on the campaign trail, Mr. Biden said Mr. McCain’s campaign had become erratic, a reference to Mr. McCain’s changing positions on the financial crisis and his decision two weeks ago to suspend his campaign briefly to deal with it.

“Presidents have to supply steady leadership,” Mr. Biden told the friendly crowd in this northeastern Pennsylvania city where he spent the first 10 years of his life. He said Mr. McCain had become increasingly desperate and negative because he saw the presidency “slipping from his grasp.”

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee dismissed Mr. Biden’s remarks as “standard stuff” from the Democratic ticket. He declined to comment further.

The Scranton event drew a larger-than-usual crowd for Mr. Biden because of the presence of the Clintons. Mr. Clinton remains popular in this heavily Democratic, blue-collar city, and Mrs. Clinton’s father grew up and is buried here. The Clintons were in Scranton on Sunday to attend the christening of her brother Tony’s newborn son, Simon Joseph Rodham.

“We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. America will once again rise from the ashes of the Bushes.” Hillary Clinton

In the Democratic primary in April, Mrs. Clinton trounced Senator Barack Obama 74 to 26 percent in Lackawanna County, which includes Scranton. Mr. Obama has deployed Mr. Biden here and in other white working-class enclaves to try to win those voters who preferred Mrs. Clinton by such huge margins.

Mr. Clinton, in brief remarks at the beginning of the program, spoke as much about his wife as about the Obama-Biden ticket. People close to Mr. Clinton say he remains bitter about suggestions by Mr. Obama’s supporters that he incited racial animosity during the primaries in support of his wife’s candidacy.

Mr. Obama has been sparing in his use of the former president as a campaign surrogate, although Mr. Clinton left Scranton immediately after speaking to campaign for Mr. Obama in Virginia, a state, Mr. Clinton noted, that had not gone Democratic in a presidential contest for 40 years.

Mr. Clinton said Mrs. Clinton had already made 50 appearances on behalf of Mr. Obama. “She has not only done more to support him than any runner-up in the Democratic primary process in my lifetime,” he said, “she has done more than all the other runners-up combined.”

He spoke warmly of Mr. Biden, whom he has known for more than two decades. He said the choice of vice president was more crucial this year than in the past because the next president would be consumed by the global financial emergency.

“I hope you know that the next vice president for the first two years will be relatively more important in the larger world than has ever been the case because the president is going to have to close the door to the Oval Office and get this country out of the ditch,” Mr. Clinton said.

But he did say that in their televised debate 10 days ago Ms. Palin said she was not certain that global warming was caused by human activity.

“How in the hell — heck — are you going to change it,” Mr. Biden said, “unless you know what caused it?”

In her remarks, Mrs. Clinton offered an updated version of an applause line from her own campaign, saying: “It took a Democratic president to clean up after the last President Bush. It’s going to take a Democratic president to clean up after this President Bush.” (In the primaries, it was “It took a Clinton …”)

She then added a new coda: “We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. America will once again rise from the ashes of the Bushes.”

Mr. Biden barely mentioned his Republican vice-presidential rival, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. But he did say that in their televised debate 10 days ago Ms. Palin said she was not certain that global warming was caused by human activity.

“How in the hell — heck — are you going to change it,” Mr. Biden said, “unless you know what caused it?”

The Democratic ticket is leading in Pennsylvania, according to recent polls, although the McCain campaign is devoting a significant effort to trying to narrow the gap.

Source: NYT

Alaska planning war with U.S.?

Is Alaska the 49th state, or a rogue state? Sarah Palin’s pals seem to be planning to secede or attack. We can’t tell, but the music makes that old Santa Claus guy appear more chilling than the bailout. Don’t forget, Palin commands an Army, according to her. One quick march through Canada, and they can seize Seattle.

Ever since we “won” in Iraq, the Axis of Evil has been short one member. Perhaps it’s time to add Alaska.

Source: 23/6

Click here to view if not available

That’s why Palin is so hot on the oil and gas – it’s for Alaska – the independent county!! Drill Baby Drill…. She really doesn’t care about those polar bears.

Sarah Palin, John McCain’s running mate, unlawfully abused her power as Alaska’s governor by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, according to an ethics investigation released last night. It deals a significant blow to an already embattled Republican ticket just over three weeks until Election Day.

Two month investigation, found that Mrs Palin was motivated in part by a personal grudge when she fired Walt Monegan, the police chief

The report, released after a two month investigation, found that Mrs Palin was motivated in part by a personal grudge when she fired Walt Monegan, the police chief, after he failed to dismiss her brother-in-law, who had been involved in an ugly divorce from her sister.

The finding will be an unwelcome distraction for Mr McCain at a time when he is struggling to hold ground against his Democratic rival Barack Obama, who has been boosted by the economic crisis, an issue where significantly more voters trust him on.

Mrs Palin has always maintained that she dismissed Mr Monegan over budget disputes, but the investigator hired by a 14-member bipartisan panel of the Alaskan state legislature concluded that a personal grudge influenced her decision – although it was not the sole reason for her motive to fire him.

Mrs Palin has always maintained that she dismissed Mr Monegan over budget disputes

Mr Monegan triggered the enquiry this summer when he alleged he had been fired by Mrs Palin, the Governor of Alaska, because he refused to bow to pressure by her, her husband Todd, and members of her staff to sack Mike Wooten, Mrs Palin’s former brother-in-law.

Mr Wooten, an Alaskan state trooper, was divorced from Mrs Palin’s sister in unseemly circumstances. He has not denied tasering his 10-year-old stepson – although he says the boy requested it – and at the height of intra-family conflict the Palins allege that he threatened to kill Mrs Palin’s father.

The investigation found Mrs Palin in violation of a state ethics law that prohibits public officials from using their office for personal gain.

“I feel vindicated,,“ Mr Monegan said. “It sounds like they’ve validated my belief and opinions. And that tells me I’m not totally out in left field.”

Stephen Blanchflower, the investigator hired by the legislative committee to conduct the investigation, said he found Mrs Palin in violation of a state ethics law that prohibits public officials from using their office for personal gain. He said she violated a statute of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.

The nearly 300-page report does not recommend sanctions or a criminal investigation, but it will inevitably be seized upon by Democrats to undermine both Mrs Palin and Mr McCain, who knew about the ethics investigation before he chose her as his running mate.

The report detailed the unusually high level of access Mrs Palin’s husband, Todd, had to her top aides.

In sworn affidavits released yesterday, the man she calls ‘The First Dude of Alaska’ attempted to shoulder much of the blame for the pressure on Mr Monegan to fire Trooper Wooten.
 

Interviews and documents show that the commissioner and his aides were contacted about Trooper Wooten more than 30 times over 19 months by the governor, her husband and seven administration officials.

He defended his two-year crusade to get his former brother-in-law kicked off the state police force. He said he had been trying to get Mr Wooten fired months before Mrs Palin became governor, and that his efforts intensified after she took office. He also said that at one point she told him to “drop it”.

“I make no apologies for wanting to protect my family and wanting to publicise the injustice of a violent trooper keeping his badge,” said Mr Palin.

Interviews and documents show that the commissioner and his aides were contacted about Trooper Wooten more than 30 times over 19 months by the governor, her husband and seven administration officials. At one point Mr Palin met with Mr Monegan with a file on Mr Wooten put together by a private investigator.

Initially Mrs Palin claimed there had been no pressure on Mr Monegan to fire Mr Wooten, but this summer she was forced to concede that members of her staff made numerous calls to Mr Monegan and other state officials about Mr Wooten.

Mike Wooten divorced Mrs Palin’s sister, Molly McCann, in 2005.

In March 2006 – eight months before Mrs Palin became governor – he was given a 10-day suspension after being accused of killing a moose without a permit, unfairly claiming disability benefit and using a stun gun on his 10-year-old stepson.

Mrs Palin said Mr Monegan was never fired, insisting he had been asked to step down as public safety commissioner and was offered a position on the Alcoholic Beverage Control board, due to his “outright insubordination” and “rogue mentality” when it came to budget and policy issues.

Last week, an Anchorage judge refused to halt proceedings, after five Republican lawmakers sued to block the inquiry. Joined by a sixth legislator, they filed an emergency appeal, which was later rejected by the state high court.

In a pre-emptive attack on today’s report – and in a clear sign of their concern about it – the McCain campaign released its own version of events. Taylor Griffin, a campaign spokesman, said that their report found that the dispute between the governor and her commissioner was an entirely legitimate one, which had been skewed by Democratic bias. The McCain campaign has maintained for over a month that the investigation was politically motivated.

In a pre-emptive attack on today’s report – the McCain campaign released its own version of events.

“The following document will prove Walt Monegan’s dismissal was a result of his insubordination and budgetary clashes with Governor Palin and her administration,” campaign officials wrote. “Trooper Wooten is a separate issue.”

“It is tragic that a false story hatched by a blogger over drinks with Trooper Wooten led the legislature to allocate over $100,000 of public money to be spent in what has become a politically-driven investigation,” it concludes.

In a statement after the report’s findings were released, the McCain campaign added: “Today’s report shows that the Governor acted within her proper and lawful authority in the reassignment of Walt Monegan. The report also illustrates what we’ve known all along: this was a partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters and the Palins were completely justified in their concern regarding Trooper Wooten given his violent and rogue behavior.

“Lacking evidence to support the original Monegan allegation, the Legislative Council seriously overreached, making a tortured argument to find fault without basis in law or fact. The Governor is looking forward to cooperating with the Personnel Board and continuing her conversation with the American people regarding the important issues facing the country.”

Source: TimesOnline London

Imagine if the Obamas had hooked up with a violently anti-American group in league with the government of Iran.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, at a rally in Vienna, Ohio, on Sept. 16, 2008.

Oct. 7, 2008 | “My government is my worst enemy. I’m going to fight them with any means at hand.”

This was former revolutionary terrorist Bill Ayers back in his old Weather Underground days, right? Imagine what Sarah Palin is going to do with this incendiary quote as she tears into Barack Obama this week.

Only one problem. The quote is from Joe Vogler, the raging anti-American who founded the Alaska Independence Party. Inconveniently for Palin, that’s the very same secessionist party that her husband, Todd, belonged to for seven years and that she sent a shout-out to as Alaska governor earlier this year.

(“Keep up the good work,” Palin told AIP members. “And God bless you.”)

Enjoy this story?

AIP chairwoman Lynette Clark told me recently that Sarah Palin is her kind of gal. “She’s Alaskan to the bone … she sounds just like Joe Vogler.”

So who are these America-haters that the Palins are pallin’ around with?

Before his strange murder in 1993, party founder Vogler preached armed insurrection against the United States of America. Vogler, who always carried a Magnum with him, was fond of saying, “When the [federal] bureaucrats come after me, I suggest they wear red coats. They make better targets. In the federal government are the biggest liars in the United States, and I hate them with a passion. They think they own [Alaska]. There comes a time when people will choose to die with honor rather than live with dishonor. That time may be coming here. Our goal is ultimate independence by peaceful means under a minimal government fully responsive to the people. I hope we don’t have to take human life, but if they go on tramping on our property rights, look out, we’re ready to die.”

This quote is from “Coming Into the Country,” by John McPhee, who traipsed around Alaska’s remote gold mining country with Vogler for his 1991 book. The violent-tempered secessionist vowed to McPhee that if any federal official tried to stop him from polluting Alaska’s rivers with his earth-moving equipment, he would “run over him with a Cat and turn mosquitoes loose on him while he dies.”

Vogler wasn’t just a blowhard either. He put his secessionist ideas into action, working to build AIP membership to 20,000 — an impressive figure by Alaska standards — and to elect party member Walter Hickel as governor in 1990.

Vogler’s greatest moment of glory was to be his 1993 appearance before the United Nations to denounce United States “tyranny” before the entire world and to demand Alaska’s freedom. The Alaska secessionist had persuaded the government of Iran to sponsor his anti-American harangue.

That’s right … Iran. The Islamic dictatorship. The taker of American hostages. The rogue nation that McCain and Palin have excoriated Obama for suggesting we diplomatically engage. That Iran.

AIP leaders allege that Vogler, who was murdered that year by a fellow secessionist, was taken out by powerful forces in the U.S. before he could reach his U.N. platform. “The United States government would have been deeply embarrassed,” by Vogler’s U.N. speech, darkly suggests Clark. “And we can’t have that, can we?”

The Republican ticket is working hard this week to make Barack Obama’s tenuous connection to graying, ’60s revolutionary Bill Ayers a major campaign issue. But the Palins’ connection to anti-American extremism is much more central to their political biographies.

Imagine the uproar if Michelle Obama was revealed to have joined a black nationalist party whose founder preached armed secession from the United States and who enlisted the government of Iran in his cause? The Obama campaign would probably not have survived such an explosive revelation. Particularly if Barack Obama himself was videotaped giving the anti-American secessionists his wholehearted support just months ago.

Where’s the outrage, Sarah Palin has been asking this week, in her attacks on Obama’s fuzzy ties to Ayers? The question is more appropriate when applied to her own disturbing associations.

Source: Salon

Does Sarah Palin believe in the Anti-Christ? Does she believe true Christians will be whisked up to heaven sometime in the near future? Does she expect Jesus to come back to earth in our lifetimes and battle the armies of Satan? Would biblical prophecies about Armageddon influence her foreign policy positions on Israel and Russia? These are urgent questions the media have failed to ask. According to Chip Berlet, a leading expert on the Christian right, mainstream reporters tend to view apocalyptic fundamentalists as a “silly little side show” in American political life, when, in fact, one of their own may soon be a heartbeat away from the most powerful office in the world.

Source: ANP

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!

Palin Administration Against Sudan Divestment Before It Was For It, Documents Show

Palin Administration Against Sudan Divestment Before It Was For It, Documents Show

When Palin says something – it’s better to – go and double check!

SHARE Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin fought to protest atrocities in Sudan by dropping assets tied to the country’s brutal regime from the state’s multi-billion-dollar investment fund, she claimed during Thursday’s vice presidential debate.

Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks duringa vice presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008.

Not quite, according to a review of the public record – and according to the recollections of a legislator and others who pushed a measure to divest Alaskan holdings in Sudan-linked investments.

“The [Palin] administration killed our bill,” said Alaska state representative Les Gara, D-Anchorage. Gara and state Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, co-sponsored a resolution early this year to force the Alaska Permanent Fund – a $40 billion investment fund, a portion of whose dividends are distributed annually to state residents – to divest millions of dollars in holdings tied to the Sudanese government.

In Thursday’s debate, Palin said she had advocated the state divest from Sudan. “When I and others in the legislature found out that we had some millions of dollars [of Permanent Fund investments] in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars,” Palin said.

But a search of news clips and transcripts from the time do not turn up an instance in which Palin mentioned the Sudanese crisis or concerns about Alaska’s investments tied to the ruling regime. Moreover, Palin’s administration openly opposed the bill, and stated its opposition in a public hearing on the measure.

“The legislation is well-intended, and the desire to make a difference is noble, but mixing moral and political agendas at the expense of our citizens’ financial security is not a good combination,” testified Brian Andrews, Palin’s deputy treasury commissioner, before a hearing on the Gara-Lynn Sudan divestment bill in February. Minutes from the meeting are posted online by the legislature.

Gara says the lack of support from Palin’s administration helped kill the measure.

“I walked out of that hearing livid,” Gara recalled of the February meeting. Because of the Palin administration’s opposition to the bill, “We could not get a vote in that committee,” he explained. At no point did Palin come out in support of the effort, Gara said.

Gara said that after it was clear the bill had stalled, he and others pressed the administration directly on Sudan divestment.

“We were outraged,” Gara recounted. “We went to the Commissioner of Revenue and said, ‘What the hell are you guys doing? This is genocide. We’re going to keep pushing this until we divest.”

Two months later, at the end of the legislative session, the administration softened its position. Appearing before a Senate committee which was considering a companion measure to Gara’s bill, Palin’s Treasury commissioner, Patrick Galvin, stated the administration supported such a measure, though it hoped to amend the bill to allow for investments held indirectly, for example in index funds.

“At the last minute they showed up” and supported the divestment effort, Gara said. But by then the legislative session was almost over, and there wasn’t enough time to get it passed.

The Alaska Permanent Fund currently holds $22 million in Sudan-linked investments, according to the non-profit Sudan Divestment Task Force. Divestment advocates say the fund does not need an act of the state legislature to divest itself of those holdings.

The McCain-Palin campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been a strong supporter of Sudan divestment efforts, and has urged Americans to liquidate their holdings in companies who do business there. He was criticized for that position when it was revealed in May his wife Cindy held $2 million in investment funds owning shares of Sudan-linked companies. She sold those holdings following a reporter’s inquiries.

Source: ABC

McCain is stuck between a rock and a hard place – his judgment is on the line with Palin – I suppose all he can hope for is that old Palin magic to come through for him – but she can’t always talk out of a teleprompter. McCain at 72 has a job to convince everyone to vote in a fool – and we have already voted in one – and the fireworks of his administration are all around us!

McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, that is simply not true.

Will someone please put Sarah Palin out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, “to spend more time with her family”? Having stayed in purdah for weeks, she finally agreed to a third interview. CBS’s Katie Couric questioned her in her trademark sympathetic style. It didn’t help. When asked how living in the state closest to Russia gave her foreign-policy experience, Palin responded thus:

“It’s very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia 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—to our state.”

There is, of course, the sheer absurdity of the premise. Two weeks ago I flew to Tokyo, crossing over the North Pole. Does that make me an expert on Santa Claus? (Thanks, Jon Stewart.) But even beyond that, read the rest of her response. “It is from Alaska that we send out those …” What does this mean? This is not an isolated example. Palin has been given a set of talking points by campaign advisers, simple ideological mantras that she repeats and repeats as long as she can. (“We mustn’t blink.”) But if forced off those rehearsed lines, what she has to say is often, quite frankly, gibberish.

Couric asked her a smart question about the proposed $700 billion bailout of the American financial sector. It was designed to see if Palin understood that the problem in this crisis is that credit and liquidity in the financial system has dried up, and that that’s why, in the estimation of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, the government needs to step in to buy up Wall Street’s most toxic liabilities. Here’s the entire exchange:

    COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

    PALIN: That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it’s got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

This is nonsense—a vapid emptying out of every catchphrase about economics that came into her head. Some commentators, like CNN’s Campbell Brown, have argued that it’s sexist to keep Sarah Palin under wraps, as if she were a delicate flower who might wilt under the bright lights of the modern media. But the more Palin talks, the more we see that it may not be sexism but common sense that’s causing the McCain campaign to treat her like a time bomb.

Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start. The next administration is going to face a set of challenges unlike any in recent memory. There is an ongoing military operation in Iraq that still costs $10 billion a month, a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is not going well and is not easily fixed. Iran, Russia and Venezuela present tough strategic challenges.

Domestically, the bailout and reform of the financial industry will take years and hundreds of billions of dollars. Health-care costs, unless curtailed, will bankrupt the federal government. Social Security, immigration, collapsing infrastructure and education are all going to get much worse if they are not handled soon.

And the American government is stretched to the limit. Between the Bush tax cuts, homeland-security needs, Iraq, Afghanistan and the bailout, the budget is looking bleak. Plus, within a few years, the retirement of the baby boomers begins with its massive and rising costs (in the trillions).

Obviously these are very serious challenges and constraints. In these times, for John McCain to have chosen this person to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible. McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, it is simply not true.

Will looking good be enough!! Without a teleprompter how will Palin communicate the facts?

She’s clearly good at making up a story or two – perhaps this might be one of her solutions.

But we should all look to getting behind Joe Biden – so far every reporter that Palin has had an interview with has been accused of beating her up – it’s the workman who blames his tools for the Republican spin artists.

Joe Biden when asked how would he deal with Palin – he said “respectful” – what more can she hope for – but this in no way should mean he should give her an easy ride.

The only easy ride she should get is from McCain!!

*

Not since Dan Quayle took the stage in 1988 have debate expectations for a major party candidate been as low as they will be on Thursday for Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

A newcomer to the national scene, Ms. Palin has given little indication that she has been engaged in a serious way in the pressing national and international issues of the day.

But a review of a handful of her debate performances in the race for governor in 2006 shows a somewhat different persona from the one that has emerged since Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, named Ms. Palin as the vice-presidential nominee a month ago.

Ms. Palin, a former mayor who had become a whistle-blower about ethical misconduct in state government, held her own in those debates. (There were almost two dozen in the general election alone; she skipped some, and not all were recorded.)

She staked out a populist stance against oil companies and projected a fresh, down-to-earth face at a time when voters wanted change. That helped her soundly defeat Frank H. Murkowski, the unpopular Republican governor, in the primary and former Gov. Tony Knowles in the general election.

Her debating style was rarely confrontational, and she appeared confident. In contrast to today, when she seems unversed on several important issues, she demonstrated fluency on certain subjects, particularly oil and gas development.

But just as she does now, Ms. Palin often spoke in generalities and showed scant aptitude for developing arguments beyond a talking point or two. Her sentences were distinguished by their repetition of words, by the use of the phrase “here in Alaska” and for gaps. On paper, her sentences would have been difficult to diagram.

John Bitney, the policy director for her campaign for governor and the main person who helped prepare her for debates, said her repetition of words was “her way of running down the clock as her mind searches for where she wants to go.”

These tendencies could fuzz her meaning and lead her into linguistic cul-de-sacs. She often used less than her allotted time and ended her answers abruptly.

When questioned about the nuts and bolts of governing, Ms. Palin tended to avoid specifics and instead fell back on her core values: a broadly conservative philosophy and a can-do spirit.

“My attitude and my approaches towards dealing with the complexities of health care issues,” she said in an AARP debate in October 2006, “is a respectful and responsible approach, and it’s a positive approach. I don’t believe that the sky is falling here in Alaska.”

These patterns could help explain why the McCain campaign negotiated for less time for discussion in her debate Thursday with Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware than the presidential candidates had in their debate last week.

Ms. Palin was not always at her best when questioned by her opponents in the governor’s race.

In the AARP debate, Mr. Knowles and Andrew Halcro, an independent, double-teamed her to press her about how she would pay for health care.

In response to Mr. Knowles, she mentioned “certificates of need” and said they had been inflexible, “creating an environment where a lot of folks are lacking the receiving of their health care that is needed in some of the areas, especially in some of our larger markets.” She added, “The State of Alaska needs to be looking specifically at that inflexibility that exists today in order to fill some of the market needs that are out there in Alaska in our larger markets.”

She then added, “I can’t tell you how much that will reduce monetarily our health care costs, but competition makes everyone better, it makes us work harder, it does allow reduction in costs, so addressing that is going to be a priority.”

Mr. Knowles was nonplussed, saying that he did not understand her answer and that Ms. Palin had missed the point.

Mr. Halcro asked how she would pay for critical health care programs.

“Well, the point there, Andrew,” she said, “is that these are critical, and again it’s a matter of prioritizing and it’s a matter of government understanding its proper role in public safety, is health care, so it’s a matter of priorities.”

Mr. Halcro called her answer “political gibberish.”

But other times, she gave direct answers that appealed directly to her audience. The candidates were asked in a debate on Aug. 17, 2006, by a rural resident via video whether they would restore a longevity bonus for senior citizens, a payment intended to keep them from leaving the state.

“No,” Mr. Murkowski said gruffly. John Binkley, a third candidate, said yes. Ms. Palin’s response was filled with emotion.

“Yes, our precious, precious elders,” she said, looking into the camera. “For those who were prematurely lopped off, I am so sorry that that has happened to you.”

But generally, her voice carried surprisingly little affect.

“In tone, manner and sometimes even language, she treated every issue exactly the same,” Michael Carey, the former editorial page editor of The Anchorage Daily News, wrote in an essay about Ms. Palin. “She gave no suggestion that some issues are of higher priority than others. Her voice was cheerful, up-tempo, optimistic, never off key but always in the same key.”

Perhaps her strength in debating was coming across like an average person who understood the average person’s needs and would not be expected to have detailed policy prescriptions.

She also neutralized some of her conservative social views. She said intelligent design should be taught in schools — along with evolution. She said she favored the teaching of abstinence — along with the teaching of sex education. “Let the kids debate both sides,” she said.

She was not a particularly aggressive debater, and she rarely took an opportunity to challenge her opponents. But when pressed, she could be tough. In a roundtable discussion in October on the “Bob and Mark Show,” Mr. Halcro suggested that Ms. Palin had not attended enough debates.

“It’s been a year today that I’ve been on the campaign trail,” Ms. Palin responded, “attending many, many more forums, more debates, than either one of you, Tony and Andrew, because I had a primary opponent. You know, you got to have the balls to take it on in the early part of a campaign, and not just go right to the big show.”

Source: NYT


Mudflats: I’ve been waiting for this one. One of the witnesses called by Stephen Branchflower (independent investigator of the legitimate Troopergate investigation) put herself in a tricky spot.

Murlene Wilkes, owner of Harbor Adjusting Services, and holder of a $1.2 million/yr. contract with the State of Alaska to handle workers compensation claims, apparently told a big fat fib. When Branchflower asked her if the governor’s office had ever asked her to deny a workers compensation claim for Palin’s ex-brother-in-law Trooper Mike Wooten (the trooper in “Troopergate”), she said no. Never. Really.

Mike Wooten, of course, is involved in a bitter custody dispute with Palin’s sister Molly. The Palins do not like him. Some say they have made a vengeful and personal sport out of ruining his career.

Problem is, that there are actually honest people in the world….and one of them works for Murlene Wilkes at Harbor Investments. This unnamed worker made a little phone call to the tip line that Branchflower set up at the beginning of the investigation. According to the tipster, yes indeed, the governor’s office DID put pressure to deny the claim.

Hard evidence contradicting sworn testimony has a certain effect on people. Murlene Wilkes, faced with this situation, decided to change her testimony according to a report in The Public Record. Now, with the little extra incentive of avoiding perjury charges, she has admitted that she was asked to deny the claim – at the direct request of Sarah and Todd Palin.

*chin hitting desk* (a moment of stunned silence)

  • Wilkes has a $1.2 million contract with the state to handle workers compensation claims. Her contract with the state was up but her firm was recently given a new contract despite the fact that there were others who provided the state with a lower bid than Wilkes’s firm. One of the other applicants who submitted a lower bid has appealed the decision. Wilkes told Branchflower she believed it was impressed upon her from Palin’s office that she would lose the contract if she did not deny the claim, state officials knowledgeable about her testimony said.

    Although Wooten did receive worker’s compensation benefits for about three months, his claim was suddenly denied and he was forced to hire a lawyer and appeal the issue, which dragged on for more than six months. It’s unknown if Wilkes played any role in denying Wooten worker’s compensation benefits.

    According to John Cyr, the executive director of the Public Safety Employees Association, the union that represents Wooten and other state troopers, Wooten was approved for workers compensation benefits in January 2007. He filed for benefits due to a back injury he suffered when he pulled a dead body from a wrecked automobile and slipped on icy pavement.

    The same month Wooten started receiving workers compensation benefits, Todd Palin began following Wooten around “snapping pictures of him,” Cyr said.

    “Frank Bailey was getting people to say that [Wooten] was lying on his worker’s comp form,” Cyr said. “The governor’s family was following Mike around everywhere. They forwarded that information to the worker’s comp division.”

    All this information about Todd stalking Wooten came out when Troopergate first broke, well before Palin’s nomination. But, the press here didn’t follow up much. They preferred to focus on the “Is Wooten a Bad Cop?” angle of the story. That was a lot more exciting…you know…tasers, infidelity, drunk driving, illegal moose hunting…

    Troopergate, much to the dismay of the Palins, refuses to go away, and only gets worse, the longer it goes on. Worker’s compensation claims may not be ’sexy’, but some say this may end up being the final nail in the coffin of Palin’s political career.

    Branchflower’s report is due to be released on October 10th. Let the countdown to truth begin.

  • Source: Mudflats

    Sarah Palin earned a reputation as a strong debater during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign in Alaska, but she has appeared to struggle in one-on-one sessions with nationally known journalists since being named McCain's running mate. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

    Sarah Palin earned a reputation as a strong debater during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign in Alaska, but she has appeared to struggle in one-on-one sessions with nationally known journalists since being named McCain's running mate. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON – She burst onto the American political scene as Sarah “The Barracuda” Palin, a confident, moose-hunting, hockey-mom governor whose razor-sharp attacks on Barack Obama, Washington insiders and the U.S. media “elite” helped revive John McCain’s presidential campaign in early September.

    But as she prepares for her vice-presidential debate Thursday against Senator Joe Biden, Palin is now fighting to dispel perceptions among some conservatives that she’s quickly becoming a political liability for the Republican candidate.

    McCain on Monday dispatched his two most senior aides – campaign manager Rick Davis and strategist Steve Schmidt – to his ranch in Sedona, Ariz., to begin three days of intense coaching with the Alaska governor ahead of her 90-minute showdown with Biden at Washington University in St. Louis.

    The decision came amid widespread criticism in the media and – more distressing for McCain – mounting anxiety among Republicans over Palin’s performance during an extended interview last week with CBS News anchor Katie Couric.

    In its aftermath, Palin’s favourable ratings have fallen and she’s become fodder for withering satire on late-night comedy shows like Saturday Night Live – a fate that has hurt presidential candidates in the past.

    “I think that most people looking at Thursday night’s debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin are nervous, especially Republicans,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “Because 90 minutes is a very long time – and you can only talk about gutting a moose once during that debate.”

    Palin earned a reputation as a strong debater during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign in Alaska, but she has appeared to struggle in one-on-one sessions with nationally known journalists since being named McCain’s running mate.

    In her interview with Couric, Palin offered this explanation of how Alaska’s proximity to Russia enhanced her foreign policy experience.

    “It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as (Russian prime minister Vladimir) Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America,” Palin said. “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.”

    Kathleen Parker, a syndicated conservative commentator, said the interviews showed Palin is “clearly out of her league” and called on her to step aside.

    “I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly,” Parker, an early supporter of the governor, wrote in a post-Couric interview column. “I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.”

    There is a lively debate among Republicans about whether McCain’s own campaign is partially to blame for Palin’s problems. Advisers have largely shielded her from the media since her breakout performance at the Republican convention, placing extraordinary pressure on the governor in her few high-profile interviews.

    (…)

    The stakes for McCain are high. The latest Gallup daily tracking poll of the U.S. presidential race shows Obama with an eight-point advantage – 50-42 per cent – over McCain.

    “I think this debate is more important than most vice-presidential debates usually are because the McCain campaign is swimming upstream,” Jillson said. “They are down in the polls. And if their vice-presidential candidate looks like she is not ready to be president of the United States, should the requirement fall on her, I think people will again look to Obama.”

    Biden faces many potential pitfalls himself, including the possibility he might underestimate Palin.

    The Delaware senator has made several notable gaffes recently, criticizing one of his campaign’s own anti-McCain ads and flubbing a historical reference to the 1929 stock market crash. He has a reputation for talking too extemporaneously and sounding condescending – which could backfire against Palin.

    “If we’re not going to judge Joe by one sound bite, in one interview – which is fair to Joe – and we’re not going to take a mistake that he’s made and say ‘that that’s a death-defying blow,’ let’s don’t do it for her,” Graham said.

    To help Biden prepare, Obama’s campaign enlisted Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to act as pre-debate stand-in for Palin.

    “How could you lose a debate with Sarah Palin? By running afoul of the gender issues, making women in particular feel as if Sarah Palin was unfairly treated the way some think Hillary Clinton was unfairly treated,” said Jillson. “He’s got to be respectful.”

    Source: Canwest News Service

    Drill Baby Drill – though there is a big question that keeps coming up – Drill What?

    According to experts even in Palin’s ANWR oasis – over one hundred test wells have been sunk around the area and have yet to produce the dream find that Palin believes the US could be dependent on. Oil leaving the Alaska pipeline is now half the volume of its peak. But while Palin fools herself – she strikes out to convince others of the same.

    By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

    I was water-skiing with my children in a light drizzle off Hyannis, Mass., last month when a sudden, fierce storm plunged us into a melee of towering waves, raking rain, painful hail and midday darkness broken by blinding flashes of lightning. As I hurried to get my children out of the water and back to the dock, I shouted over the roaring wind, “This is some kind of tornado.”

    The fog consolidated and a waterspout hundreds of feet high rose from the white ocean and darted across its surface, landing for a moment on a moored outboard to spin it like a top, moving toward a distant shore where it briefly became a sand funnel, and then diffusing into the atmosphere as it rained down bits of beach on the harbor. For 24 hours, a light show of violent storms illuminated the coastline, accompanied by booming thunder. My dog was so undone by the display that she kept us all awake with her terrified whining. That same day, two waterspouts appeared on Long Island Sound.

    Those odd climatological phenomena led me to reflect on the rapidly changing weather patterns that are altering the way we live. Lightning storms and strikes have tripled just since the beginning of the decade on Cape Cod. In the 1960s, we rarely saw lightning or heard thunder on the Massachusetts coast. I associate electrical storms with McLean, Va., where I spent the school year when I was growing up.

    In Virginia, the weather also has changed dramatically. Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today’s anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don’t own a sled. But neighbors came to our home at Hickory Hill nearly every winter weekend to ride saucers and Flexible Flyers.

    In those days, I recall my uncle, President Kennedy, standing erect as he rode a toboggan in his top coat, never faltering until he slid into the boxwood at the bottom of the hill. Once, my father, Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, brought a delegation of visiting Eskimos home from the Justice Department for lunch at our house. They spent the afternoon building a great igloo in the deep snow in our backyard. My brothers and sisters played in the structure for several weeks before it began to melt. On weekend afternoons, we commonly joined hundreds of Georgetown residents for ice skating on Washington’s C&O Canal, which these days rarely freezes enough to safely skate.

    Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil and its carbon cronies continue to pour money into think tanks whose purpose is to deceive the American public into believing that global warming is a fantasy. In 1998, these companies plotted to deceive American citizens about climate science. Their goal, according to a meeting memo, was to orchestrate information so that “recognition of uncertainties become part of the conventional wisdom” and that “those promoting the Kyoto treaty … appear to be out of touch with reality.”

    Since that meeting, Exxon has funneled $23 million into the climate-denial industry, according to Greenpeace, which combs the company’s annual report each year. Since 2006, Exxon has cut off some of the worst offenders, but 28 climate-denial groups will still get funding this year.

    Corporate America’s media toadies continue to amplify Exxon’s deceptive message. The company can count on its hand puppets — Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, John Stossel and Glenn Beck — to shamelessly mouth skepticism about man-made climate change and give political cover to the oil industry’s indentured servants on Capitol Hill. Oklahoma’s Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe calls global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public.”

    Now John McCain has chosen as his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a diligent student of Big Oil’s crib sheets. She’s something of a flat-earther who shares the current administration’s contempt for science. Palin has expressed skepticism about evolution (which is like not believing in gravity), putting it on par with “creationism,” which posits that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago.

    She used to insist that human activities have nothing to do with climate change. “I’m not one … who would attribute it to being man-made,” she said in August. After she joined the GOP ticket, she magically reversed herself, to a point. “Man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming,” she told Charles Gibson two weeks ago.

    Meanwhile, Alaska is melting before our eyes; entire villages erode as sea ice vanishes, glaciers are disappearing at a frightening clip, and “dancing forests” caused by disappearing permafrost astonish residents and tourists. Palin had to keep her head buried particularly deep in an oil well to ever have denied that humans are causing climate change. But, as Upton Sinclair pointed out, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

    Palin’s enthusiastic embrace of Big Oil’s agenda (if not always Big Oil itself) has been the platform of her hasty rise in Alaskan politics. In that sense she is as much a product of the oil industry as the current president and his vice president. Palin, whose husband is a production operator for BP on Alaska’s North Slope, has sued the federal government over its listing of the polar bear as an endangered species threatened by global warming, and she has fought to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska’s coast to oil drilling.

    When oil profits are at stake, her fantasy world appears to have no boundaries. About American’s deadly oil dependence, she mused recently, “I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem.”

    I guess the only difference between Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney is … lipstick.

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental lawyer and a professor at Pace University Law School.

    Source: latimes

    No witchcraft around here – not that I know of !!

    Raw Video: Palin Saved From ‘Witchcraft’

    Sept. 25 – A video on her hometown church website shows Gov. Sarah Palin being blessed three years ago by a Kenyan pastor who prayed for her protection from ‘witchcraft’ as she prepared to seek higher office.

    AP

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

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

    About a quarter of the entities bestowing gifts on the governor are represented by one of Alaska’s most influential mining lobbyists, who said in an interview that she was not involved in the tributes. The lobbyist, Wendy Chamberlain, has a relationship with the governor’s family through the friendship of their teenage daughters.

    On forms disclosing the gifts, Palin, who is the Republican vice presidential nominee, routinely checked “no” when asked whether she was in a position to “take official action that may affect the person who gave me the gift,” and a spokeswoman for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign said the gifts had no undue influence on her.

    In response to e-mailed questions, Meghan Stapleton, who is based in Alaska for the McCain-Palin campaign, wrote: “Throughout her career Governor Palin has stood for the highest standards of ethics. She spearheaded new ethics reforms in Alaska and took on her own party and entrenched interests to return Alaska’s government to its people.”

    Records show that 23 of the gifts were offered during Palin’s early months in office, when she was pushing the legislature to address a state corruption scandal by passing a package of ethics reforms. She accepted 18 gifts after the law passed in July 2007. Among other provisions, the law forbade executive branch officials from taking gifts from lobbyists or from interests with pending state business.

    Gift rules for elected officials vary among states, with some such as Wisconsin banning all gifts and others with no applicable rules other than anti-bribery statutes. When former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) ran for president this year, he faced questions about his acceptance of more than $150,000 in gifts during a decade in office.

    The Alaska attorney general’s office contends that gifts to a governor must be evaluated on “a case-by-case basis,” Assistant Attorney General Judy Bockman said. Some are offered as “a courtesy,” she said, to newly elected officials and are not considered an ethical issue.

    Palin has noted that passage of the tough ethics law was a proud accomplishment. She took office amid a widespread federal investigation of influence-peddling by Veco, a now-defunct oil pipeline services and construction company, that had led to indictments of prominent state legislators and eventually to charges against Ted Stevens, the state’s senior Republican senator, who is now on trial in Washington.

    Palin forwarded her ethics proposals to the legislature in January 2007, her first month in office. That month, she accepted three gifts from Calista’s chief executive, Matthew Nicolai: a $2,200 ivory puffin mask, a woven grass fan worth $300 and a $150 ivory necklace. Nicolai, who did not return phone calls, runs the large corporation, which profits from a multibillion-dollar gold-mining operation on its land.

    Palin, who holds significant sway over budgetary issues affecting cities, also accepted for “personal use” the gold-nugget pin from Nome. Mayor Denise Michels said the memento was meant to remind the governor that “Nome is a historic mining community.” Palin approved about $6 million in funding this year for a public safety building in the city. “Anything our state can do to help us in capital projects, we’re very grateful,” Michels said.

    Palin has also reported as gifts two fact-finding trips that mining companies sponsored for her husband, Todd. The trips were among several sponsored by mining companies for state officials

    Todd Palin accepted an $805 charter flight from Barrick Gold and a $200 flight from Red Dog Mines. Both companies are clients of Chamberlain, a top lobbyist with Legislative Consultants, which led the state in lobbying income last year.

    Red Dog is the sole taxpayer to the Northwest Arctic Borough, an Alaskan jurisdiction represented by Chamberlain that received $10.9 million from the zinc mine in 2007. The borough gave Palin a whale baleen basket valued at $300.

    Read more

    Source: Washington Post

    Should the intellectually challenged be elected ~ If Palin is to follow Bush what types of foreign and national disasters can we expect

    Should the intellectually challenged be elected ~ If Palin is to follow Bush what types of foreign and national disasters can we expect

    Yes, I Can: Refusing to hesitate isn’t a primordial truth of wise governance

    Let me confess that I was genuinely unnerved by Sarah Palin’s performance at the Republican convention. Given her audience and the needs of the moment, I believe Governor Palin’s speech was the most effective political communication I have ever witnessed. Here, finally, was a performer who—being maternal, wounded, righteous and sexy—could stride past the frontal cortex of every American and plant a three-inch heel directly on that limbic circuit that ceaselessly intones “God and country.” If anyone could make Christian theocracy smell like apple pie, Sarah Palin could.

    Then came Palin’s first television interview with Charles Gibson. I was relieved to discover, as many were, that Palin’s luster can be much diminished by the absence of a teleprompter. Still, the problem she poses to our political process is now much bigger than she is. Her fans seem inclined to forgive her any indiscretion short of cannibalism. However badly she may stumble during the remaining weeks of this campaign, her supporters will focus their outrage upon the journalist who caused her to break stride, upon the camera operator who happened to capture her fall, upon the television network that broadcast the good lady’s misfortune—and, above all, upon the “liberal elites” with their highfalutin assumption that, in the 21st century, only a reasonably well-educated person should be given command of our nuclear arsenal.

    The point to be lamented is not that Sarah Palin comes from outside Washington, or that she has glimpsed so little of the earth’s surface (she didn’t have a passport until last year), or that she’s never met a foreign head of state. The point is that she comes to us, seeking the second most important job in the world, without any intellectual training relevant to the challenges and responsibilities that await her. There is nothing to suggest that she even sees a role for careful analysis or a deep understanding of world events when it comes to deciding the fate of a nation. In her interview with Gibson, Palin managed to turn a joke about seeing Russia from her window into a straight-faced claim that Alaska’s geographical proximity to Russia gave her some essential foreign-policy experience. Palin may be a perfectly wonderful person, a loving mother and a great American success story—but she is a beauty queen/sports reporter who stumbled into small-town politics, and who is now on the verge of stumbling into, or upon, world history.

    The problem, as far as our political process is concerned, is that half the electorate revels in Palin’s lack of intellectual qualifications. When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. “They think they’re better than you!” is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again. “Sarah Palin is an ordinary person!” Yes, all too ordinary.

    We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter’s microphone, saying things like, “I’m voting for Sarah because she’s a mom. She knows what it’s like to be a mom.” Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.

    Palin’s most conspicuous gaffe in her interview with Gibson has been widely discussed. The truth is, I didn’t much care that she did not know the meaning of the phrase “Bush doctrine.” And I am quite sure that her supporters didn’t care, either. Most people view such an ambush as a journalistic gimmick. What I do care about are all the other things Palin is guaranteed not to know—or will be glossing only under the frenzied tutelage of John McCain’s advisers. What doesn’t she know about financial markets, Islam, the history of the Middle East, the cold war, modern weapons systems, medical research, environmental science or emerging technology? Her relative ignorance is guaranteed on these fronts and most others, not because she was put on the spot, or got nervous, or just happened to miss the newspaper on any given morning. Sarah Palin’s ignorance is guaranteed because of how she has spent the past 44 years on earth.

    Source: Newsweek