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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.”

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Headzup: Sarah Palin’s Closing Argument

Headzup: Palin In 2012

Headzup: McCain Responds To Obama Infomercial

Headzup: Sarah Palin’s $150,000 Shopping Spree

The Week In Cartoons 10/25/08

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CORRECTION: BARACK OBAMA’S EXPERIENCE:

    *8 years as State Senator for district of over 750,000 people
    :.
    *4 years in Senate representing a state of 13 million
    :.
    *First black President of Harvard Law Review
    :.
    *12 years as Constitutional Law professor
    :.
    *Chairman of Senate’s Health and Human Services committee
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    *Sponsored 136 bills,
    :.
    *Served on Foreign Affairs, Environment & Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees

Keith Olbermann feature:

The original JTP-Obama footage starts about 6:00 mins in :: commentary on JTP-Obama starts about 4:45 mins in :: It shows how McCain and Palin have whipped up a story out of details that were largely not in their favor :: Obama explains how his plan would be better for a small business like the one Joe hoped to own and Joe listened without ever telling Obama that his plan sounds like Socialism, as both Palin and McCain have claimed.

CNN does at times come across as brainless – how can Obama’s restoring the tax rate under the Clinton presidency – and giving a tax cut to the middle class be classed socialism?

Especially now in such hard and uncertain economic times ~ Cindy McCain had earnings of $4.2 million last year ~ what Obama wants to do is to tax this group 3% more – in order to give a tax break to the middle class. Is it any surprise McCain – is having difficulty in understanding how a tax cut for the middle class might help the largest group in society.

For some additional context, here’s the stats on the number of mentions of “socialism” or “socialist” in the same context as “Obama” during first-run broadcasts on the cable networks since Friday as of 11:00 AM Pacific time on Monday:

    All: 251
    CNN: 101
    FOX: 81
    MSNBC: 69

Seems that instead of being “fair and balanced” (i.e., giving the right-wing free rein to lie), CNN perhaps ought to be pursuing “truthful and accurate” reporting.

Source: Daily Kos

Obama takes the ups with the downs.

Obama takes the up with the downs.

It’s amazing how Obama could be called a socialist – when during the Clinton years the same additional 3% tax on higher earnings was in place – and the US economy never grew more than in anytime in history.

The Republican argument is shot – to get a poor working woman to call Obama a ‘socialist’ when she would benefit by seeing her taxes decrease under Obama’s plan. And McCain only wants to lower them for the richest 5%. 

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The Cape Fear BBQ and Chicken Restaurant. Some powerful and at times ugly interaction today.

12:33 p.m. Sen. Barack Obama entered the barbecue joint where an older and majority white clientele of dozens was eating lunch after church services. At the other end of the restaurant, Diane Fanning, 54, who works at a discount club, began yelling: “Socialist, socialist, socialist -– get out of here!”

There was a lot of noise and excitement and positive reception as well and it was unclear whether Obama heard her.

The gentleman next to Fanning, Lenox Bramble, 76, flashed an angry look at her. “Be civil, be courteous,” he admonished her. Another woman, Cecilia Hayslip, 61, yelled back at Fanning (per Reuters), “At least he’s not a warmonger!”

Mr. Bramble told Reuters’ pool reporter that he wasn’t voting for Obama because he didn’t think he had enough experience. Bramble’s wife, Kit, 75, said after meeting Obama, “He was very nice” but added she’d been a conservative Republican since Barry Goldwater’s era and she wouldn’t vote for Obama.

“Socialist, socialist, socialist -– get out of here. “Be civil, be courteous,” he admonished her–Another woman, Cecilia Hayslip, 61, yelled back–“At least he’s not a warmonger!”

Fanning said (after considerable public Colin Powell discussion) that she’d heard Powell had endorsed Obama but…

that “Colin Powell is a RINO, R-I-N-O, Republican In Name Only. This is my one day off,” she muttered.

Later, Obama came to the long table where Fanning and other members of a local First Presbyterian church were gathered. He held out his hand to her to shake it and asked, “How are you, ma’am?” but she declined to shake.

He spoke at length with many of the other parishioners at the long banquet table, however, and got a much friendlier reception as he spoke about healthcare, taxes and Social Security. Fanning told the pool reporter, “Some of them are just nicer than I am. I know how some of them think.”

But several of her fellow churchgoers said their support was genuine. Betty Waylett, 76, told him, “You’re doing a great job.” She told the pool reporter she is a Republican but will vote for Obama because she likes the way he speaks and his manner.

Waylett, who is white, said Obama’s race was not a factor. “I never thought about it one way or the other.”

He held out his hand to her to shake it and asked, “How are you, ma’am?” but she declined to shake.

Pastor Randal Bremer, also at the table, said Obama told him, “Whether you vote for me or not I’ll need your prayers.” Bremer told the pool reporter, “I’m very impressed by his ability to meet people on a down-to-earth level” and that he would pray for him but that he planned to vote for John McCain, mostly because he prefers smaller government and McCain’s position on the Iraq war.

He thinks there have been important gains in Iraq and “I don’t want to see that damaged by a premature pullout.”

Bloomberg news quotes Mike Long, 33, a furniture salesman who is a first-time voter, said (per Bloomberg) that after talking with Obama about healthcare, he’d gone from less than 50% likely to vote for him to “98%” likely.

Sheila Evans, 39, who is biracial, told Obama, “I’m so proud of you.” She said Obama had chosen a restaurant frequented more by whites, while one a couple of doors down had predominantly African American diners on Sundays.

But some of the other older white diners looked surprised and slightly uncomfortable as Obama stopped at their tables to shake hands. “I’m surprised, but I’m not going to say anything else,” said diner Pat Smith who was joined by her husband.

A group of six retired women said they were mostly Democrats -– but mostly undecided about how to vote. “I have to pray about it, think about what’s best for our country,” said Dorothy Buie, one of the women.

Obama ordered some food to go for himself and aides. They ordered chicken, collard greens, baked beans, cole slaw and wings. The tab was $13.91. The visit lasted about a half hour.

Source: LA Times

 

John McCain and his wife – are in a unique group in America – their wealth means that they fall into the top 1% – 2% income gap. His big idea – is that the wealthiest should have more – in order – to in a father-like fashion – have some of their wealth trickle down – to all the social classes below.

It is with this thought that – John McCain believes that the 3% tax increase that Obama intends to put on earnings/profits over $250,000 – that existed during the Clinton era – the same era that saw the biggest economic expansion in US history – that is tax code is equivalent to socialism, welfare and a government hand out.

Even today as the U.S. Treasury is being pillaged by corporate America, there has been an absence of any significant economic middle class(*) backlash here in America. As the wealth gap between the middle class and upper class has increased more than any time in our history, Americans seem to be mostly helpless in stemming this trend toward inequality.

Will the tide finally turn during an Obama Presidency? After analyzing Obama’s economic positions (including health care, tax policies and budgeting), most economists say “yes!”

After eight years of the Bush Presidency, McCain style deregulation and tax policy that favors the rich, the American middle class has been taken hostage and told they will lose everything (trickle down financial ruin) if they do not bailout the big banks, investment firms and insurance companies. Bush & Cheney have perfected the panic mode wealth transfer that Naomi Klein describes so well in “The Shock Doctrine.” This multi-trillion-dollar parting gift is their payback to the upper class that helped orchestrate their election.

the wealth gap between the middle class and upper class has increased more than any time in our history

The U.S. Treasury gained support for the bailouts by promising stricter rules on grossly excessive executive compensation. But now we find out that financial workers at Wall Street’s top banks — the greedy ones that got us into this mess in the first place — are going to receive payouts worth more than $70 billion and, according to the Guardian, “… a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year – despite plunging the financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash.”

Last year, for instance, Merrill Lynch’s chairman Stan O’Neal took a golden parachute deal worth over $160 million, after announcing losses of nearly $8 billion at his firm. Did Mr. O’neal’s labor bankrupting Merrill Lynch really justify $159,935,000 more dollars from society than a teacher or fireman?

The politics of capitalism attempts to fool us into believing in extreme individualism –e.g., that every man is an island. But, the truth (starkly exposed by Mainstreet needing to bailout Wallstreet) is that we are closely interconnected even if worlds apart in wealth and influence. Mr. O’Neal taking $160 million out of the money system to spend on extravagances, does effect the teacher and fireman via the national debt they will incur to bailout Mr. O’Neal / Merrill Lynch.

we find out that financial workers at Wall Street’s top banks — the greedy ones that got us into this mess in the first place — are going to receive payouts worth more than $70 billion

Where did the billions of dollars lost by the banks go? Did the money just evaporate? No. Most of it went to these huge CEO and executive payouts to expand the obscene wealth of the upper class. Someone has to pay for the mega-yachts, extravagant parties, multiple mansions and other extravagances of the rich. If you want to see where your money is going, just tune into “Lifestyles of the Super Rich.”

Once again, responsible hard-working citizens are paying for the lavish lifestyles and reckless financial abandon of the upper class. How ironic that the same institutions that have been feeding off the middle class like leeches for decades (via unreasonable fees, large interest rate spreads, insurance rate hikes, hyped-up investment schemes, etc.), are now begging for more blood money.

The middle class and poor get crumbs from measly “bailouts” such as the lackluster sub-prime mortgage assistance program and a tax rebate check for $600; while the rich get more tangible bailouts to the tune of billions. Capitalism for the middle class, socialism for the rich, indeed! This is what you get when corrupt Republicans and the Corporate sociopathic personality rule the economy. One of the ways to change this dynamic is to remove corporation’s status as a separate entity unbound by individual consequences and place more responsibility on the executives that direct corporate actions.

though the “upper middle class,” “lower middle class,” “working class,” and “lower class,” combine to make up 99% of the United States population, the remaining 1% owns about one third of private wealth.

We need to end the the welfare era for the rich via tax cuts, Halliburton / war “no bid” handouts, oil company gouging and corporate bailouts. Instead, the American government needs to lift the middle class with investments in education, job training, energy independence (from domestic oil companies too!), health care and economic programs such as small business development and tangible mortgage assistance.

The only choice for fiscal conservatives in this election is Obama. By electing Obama POTUS and other fiscally sympathetic representatives, the middle class can then exercise its newfound power over insurance companies, corporations and bankers. You want us to bail you out? Here are some of our demands:

1) Corporations and the rich need to pay higher taxes, period. We are tired of hearing that higher corporate and upper class taxes will increase the jobless rate and slow the economy.

Even Warren Buffet (an Obama supporter) says that our current tax system unfairly puts more of the tax burden on the working class than the rich. The rich pay more taxes as a total collected, but much less of a percentage as the middle class.

Mr. Buffet goes on to say, “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

2) We want tougher consumer regulations on the insurance, credit card and banking industries along with fair mortgage lending practices. It’s time for Wallstreet, insurance company’s and banks to forgo some of the excessive profits we have seen in the past and pass savings along to their clients.

3) Middle class and small business tax cuts. It’s time for some “trickle up” economics.

When Obama becomes President of the United States with a Democratic Congress, the middle class will once again have a strong voice in national politics. If you were advising Obama as he begins his Presidency in 2009, what policies would you suggest he initiate to stimulate and strengthen the economy and middle class (instead of corporate bailouts)?

(*For this (HP) blog’s purpose I’m referring to the “middle class” as everyone who is not in the “upper class.” Even though the “upper middle class,” “lower middle class,” “working class,” and “lower class,” combine to make up 99% of the United States population, the remaining 1% owns about one third of private wealth.)

Source: HP