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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…

Senior members of the Republican party are in open mutiny against John McCain’s presidential campaign, after a disastrous period which has seen Barack Obama solidify his lead in the opinion polls.

And as disputes raged within the McCain camp yesterday, Democrats took another symbolic step towards healing the party after their bitter primary battles, as Bill and Hillary Clinton made their first joint appearance in support of Mr Obama.

From inside and outside his inner circle, Mr McCain is being told to settle on a coherent economic message and to tone down attacks on his rival which have sometimes whipped up a mob-like atmosphere at Republican rallies.

Two former rivals for the party nomination, Mitt Romney and Tommy Thompson, went on the record over the weekend about the disarray in the Republican camp. And a string of other senior party figures said Mr McCain’s erratic performance risks taking the party down to heavy losses not just in the presidential race but also in contests for Congressional seats. Mr Thompson, a former governor of the swing state of Wisconsin, said he thought Mr McCain, on his present trajectory, would lose the state, and he told a New York Times reporter he was not happy with the campaign. “I don’t know who is,” he added.

Mr McCain’s erratic performance risks taking the party down to heavy losses not just in the presidential race but also in contests for Congressional seats.

Some Republicans seeking election to Congress have begun distancing themselves from Mr McCain. In Nebraska, a Republican representative, Lee Terry, ran a newspaper ad featuring support from a woman who called herself an “Obama-Terry voter”.

The McCain camp was reportedly considering launching a new set of economic policies last night, on top of the plan for government purchases of mortgages which he unveiled in a surprise move at last week’s presidential debate. Possible options include temporary tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. Mr Romney said he should “stand above the tactical alternatives that are being considered and establish an economic vision that is able to convince the American people that he really knows how to strengthen the economy”.

With just over three weeks to go to election day, a new Reuters/Zogby tracking poll showed the Democratic candidate gaining momentum during the past week. From a two-point lead four days ago, the latest reading has Mr Obama up 6 points. A Gallup poll yesterday put him at plus-7 per cent.

The Clintons took to the stage yesterday in Scranton, a down-at-heel Pennsylvania town that has taken on outsize significance in the presidential election. The town, which has become symbolic of the decline of industrial America, was childhood home of Joe Biden, Mr Obama’s vice-presidential running mate, and is where Hillary Clinton’s father grew up and is buried.

“This is an all hands on deck election,” Mrs Clinton declared, adding that only a Democrat could put the interests of struggling working families at the centre of policy. John McCain sees the middle class as “not fundamental, but ornamental,” she said.

“This is an all hands on deck election,” Mrs Clinton declared, adding that only a Democrat could put the interests of struggling working families at the centre of policy. John McCain sees the middle class as “not fundamental, but ornamental,” she said.

Her husband praised Mr Obama as having the best ideas, best instincts and best team for the White House. However, he focused most of his speech on his wife and Mr Biden, and quickly disappeared for a campaign appearance in Virginia, raising eyebrows among those who worry he has still not fully reconciled himself to the Obama candidacy and is still smarting from the bitter reaction against his contributions to the primary race.

McCain campaign staffers lashed out at the media for focusing on a minority of supporters at some rallies in the past week who have gone beyond booing and hissing at Mr Obama’s name, and begun calling out “terrorist” and “kill him”.

Senior Republicans have sharply conflicting views about the direction the McCain campaign should take, with some arguing that their candidate has not hit Mr Obama hard enough on the shady associates from his past. The issue of the Rev Jeremiah Wright, Mr Obama’s former pastor, whose incendiary speeches about white racism almost derailed the Democrat’s primary race, should be brought back on to the table by Mr McCain, many are counselling. Mr McCain, however, has ruled that issue off-limits, for fear of being accused of playing a race card.

The Republican candidate appeared keen to cool the temperature at rallies over the weekend, at one point snatching the microphone from a woman in Minnesota who declared Mr Obama was an “Arab”. He chided her, and another man who said he was “scared” of an Obama presidency, and told a booing crowd to be respectful. “He is a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues,” said Mr McCain.

McCain campaign staffers lashed out at the media for focusing on a minority of supporters at some rallies in the past week who have gone beyond booing and hissing at Mr Obama’s name, and begun calling out “terrorist” and “kill him”.

Reining in the party’s supporters may be harder. A minister delivering the invocation at a rally on Saturday asked Christians to pray for a McCain win. “There are millions of people around this world praying to their god – whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah – that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons,” said Arnold Conrad, the former pastor of Grace Evangelical Free Church in Davenport. Those comments earned a rebuke from a McCain spokesman, and both sides this weekend had to slap down supporters for stirring issues of religion and race.

The Obama campaign disassociated itself from comments by Democratic congressman John Lewis who compared Mr McCain to the late Alabama segregationist George Wallace. “Senator McCain and Governor Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division,” he said. “George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.”

Source: Independent London

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

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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

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.

Those waiting for a peek at Governor Sarah Palin’s personal finances are going to have to wait just a bit longer, under an agreement between the Federal Election Commission and the McCain campaign.

Federal election law requires the vice presidential candidate to file a personal financial disclosure statement within 30 days of their nomination. But, there seemed to be some confusion between the F.E.C. and the McCain campaign over the exact date of her nomination.

The McCain campaign has said that it believes the 30-day deadline ends on Oct. 3, 30 days after her Sept. 4th nomination at the Republican National Convention. The F.E.C. had said that the 30-day period began on August 29th, when Senator John McCain named her as his running mate and changed the name of his campaign fund to the McCain-Palin Compliance Fund. By the F.E.C.’s calculations, the filing was due on Monday, Sept. 29.

So, letters between the campaign and the F.E.C. ensued. Trevor Potter, the McCain campaign’s general counsel, also said that Mrs. Palin needed extra time to prepare since she had never done this before.

“Because Governor Palin has not previously run for federal office, it is clear to us that additional time is required to compile and prepare Govenor Palin’s financial information. As you are well aware, the Executive Branch financial disclosure form is vastly more complex than most state disclosure forms, and requires the assemblage of a quantity and a level of detail far beyond that reported previously by the Governor in Alaska and therefore readily available,’’ said Mr. Potter in his letter.

The F.E.C, in a letter to Mr. Potter, granted an extension until 30-days prior to the general election, or Oct. 5. Since that is a Sunday, the F.E.C. said the campaign would have until Oct. 6 to comply – but that no extension would be granted beyond that date.

Source: NYT

March 2018
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