Saturday, October 11, 2008

Palin defiant after probe jolts McCain campaign.

By Myriam Chaplain-Riou

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AFP) - Vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin denied wrongdoing Saturday after a probe found she had abused voters' trust as Alaska governor, in a new blow to John McCain's trailing White House campaign.

Republican McCain was embroiled in turmoil of his own meanwhile, after he was booed late Friday by supporters and appeared to undercut his own campaign strategy by calling time on personal attacks on Barack Obama.

Alaska Governor Palin rejected the findings of a bipartisan legislative probe which found she violated ethics rules by letting husband Todd pressure top officials for the firing of her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper.

Asked by a reporter in Pennsylvania if the charges were true, Palin replied: "No, and if you read the report you will see that there was nothing unlawful or unethical about it. You have to read the report."

The report said that Palin had "the authority and power to require Mr Palin to cease contacting subordinates, but she failed to act."

But in a phrase seized upon by the McCain camp, the report also said she acted within her "constitutional and statutory authority" in the case.

The probe was the latest blow to Palin, who electrified the Republican Party when she was first picked, but has seen her impact, especially among undecided voters and women diminish amid questions about her qualifications.

The damaging report could make it tougher for the McCain camp to portray Palin as a crusading reformer set to flush out corruption in Washington.

McCain meanwhile took to the campaign trail in Iowa, for the first time after he had to step in at a town hall meeting in Minnesota Friday, when one woman said Obama was an "Arab" and a man said he was "scared" of the Democrat.

Critics say the seething anger seen at McCain rallies, with shouts of "treason" and "kill him" heard from some crowds, has been whipped up by campaign ads which have accused the Democrat of associating with terrorists.

"He's a decent family man (and) citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about," McCain said at the town-hall meeting in Lakeville, Minnesota.

McCain told the man who said he was "scared" to bring his new baby into an America ruled by Obama that the Democrat was a "decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."

McCain's comments drew boos from some of his supporters and appeared to directly undercut the thrust of his aggressive negative ad campaign which has question whether Obama has a character befitting a president.

The campaign has accused Obama of not telling the truth about what he insists is a passing acquaintance with William Ayers, a 1960s radical who is now a college professor.

Palin, who has been cast in the role of attack dog by the campaign, did not repeat her criticisms of Obama over Ayers during an appearance in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

Obama meanwhile acknowledged McCain's attempt to cool things down, but charged his rival with running a negative campaign to try to distract voters from the number one issue -- the tumbling US economy.

"Now, I want to acknowledge that Senator McCain tried to tone down the rhetoric yesterday in his town hall meeting and I appreciate his reminder that we can disagree while still being respectful of each other," Obama said.

"I have said it before and I'll say it again -- Senator McCain has served this country with honor and he deserves our thanks for that," Obama said, as McCain's name was greeted with boos at Obama's rallies in Philadelphia.

But McCain's spokesman Tucker Bounds immediately responded: "The tone of this election is not fueling voter outrage, it's that Americans are frustrated" at Obama's "plans to raise taxes during a down economy."

Just 24 days before the election, time appeared to be fast running out for McCain to change the trajectory of a campaign which has seemed to be slipping away ever since the onset of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.

Obama led McCain 52 percent to 41 percent among registered voters nationwide, according to a new Newsweek survey, which a month ago had the race locked at 46 percent.

As many as 86 percent of voters said they were dissatisfied with the way things were going in the United States, and only 10 percent said they were satisfied -- a grim omen for Republicans.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sarah, Sarah, Why You Buggin' 4?

From the Associated Press:

Alaska panel finds Palin abused power in firing

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Sarah Palin unlawfully abused her power as governor by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, the chief investigator of an Alaska legislative panel concluded Friday. The politically charged inquiry imperiled her reputation as a reformer on John McCain's Republican ticket.

Investigator Stephen Branchflower, in a report by a bipartisan panel that investigated the matter, found Palin in violation of a state ethics law that prohibits public officials from using their office for personal gain.

The inquiry looked into her dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who said he lost his job because he resisted pressure to fire a state trooper involved in a bitter divorce with the governor's sister. Palin says Monegan was fired as part of a legitimate budget dispute.

The report found that Palin let the family grudge influence her decision-making even if it was not the sole reason Monegan was dismissed. "I feel vindicated," Monegan said. "It sounds like they've validated my belief and opinions. And that tells me I'm not totally out in left field."

Branchflower said Palin violated a statute of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.

Palin and McCain's supporters had hoped the inquiry's finding would be delayed until after the presidential election to spare her any embarrassment and to put aside an enduring distraction as she campaigns as McCain's running mate in an uphill contest against Democrat Barack Obama.

But the panel of lawmakers voted to release the report, although not without dissension. There was no immediate vote on whether to endorse its findings.

"I think there are some problems in this report," said Republican state Sen. Gary Stevens, a member of the panel. "I would encourage people to be very cautious, to look at this with a jaundiced eye."

The nearly 300-page report does not recommend sanctions or a criminal investigation.

The investigation revealed that Palin's husband, Todd, has extraordinary access to the governor's office and her closest advisers. He used that access to try to get trooper Mike Wooten fired, the report found.

Branchflower faulted Sarah Palin for taking no action to stop that. He also noted there is evidence the governor herself participated in the effort.

Now It's Personal...

Stay the F@&* out of Cleveland, Palin. The city has been through enough bullshit - it doesn't need you parading your ignorant ass around town. If I still lived there, I would have thrown those empty beer cans at your head (this is not a threat, it was said in jest). This is your last warning, you have 24 hours... (this is also not a threat, as there was no stated ultimatum).

CLEVELAND (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said more than one person has whispered in her ear in Ohio that John McCain needs "to take the gloves off" in his campaign against Democrat Barack Obama. Before a friendly crowd of Republican fundraisers Friday, the Alaska governor did that herself.

Palin said Obama was exploiting the economic crisis for political gain, "instead of trying to find solutions and work together to deal with it."

She also accused Obama of proposing a trillion dollars in new government spending without explaining where that money will come from.

"Media, don't know why they're not asking him: 'Where is that money gonna come from?'" she said. "He's got to raise taxes."

Obama has said his new spending will be paid for by ending President Bush's tax cuts for the 5 percent of Americans who make more than $250,000 a year, savings from withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq and greater government efficiency. He pledges tax cuts for those making less than $200,000 a year.

Speaking to about 200 supporters in a ballroom at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Cleveland — her second fundraiser of the day in hard-fought Ohio — Palin defended the Republican campaign's effort this week to ask the public and media to take a closer look at Obama and his associations.

"With only 25 days to go, it's not negative and it's not mean-spirited," she said.

Palin led a campaign rally in Wilmington in southwest Ohio on Thursday, and attended a fundraiser Friday morning at a private home in the upscale Cincinnati suburb of Indian Hill.

In Cleveland, she immediately turned folksy, telling the cheering crowd to sit down and keep eating.

"We'll just be a big happy family here, just like my own family," Palin said.

Palin also cited a disputed report, first in the New York Post and in Friday's editions of the Washington Times, that said Obama tried to influence negotiations with Iraqi leaders.

"If it is true, what Barack Obama attempted to do there, it is a stunning example of putting ambition before country," she said to applause.

Obama and the lawmakers who accompanied him to Baghdad have said the reports are not true.

"This ridiculous charge is completely false, and has been disputed by independent fact-checkers and bipartisan members of Congress. Barack Obama's consistent position is simply that any agreement about our long-term troop presence in Iraq must be reviewed by the United States Congress to ensure bipartisan support from the American people," said Obama spokesman Tom Reynolds.

Palin was greeted by protesters at both Friday stops. There were at least 20 when she arrived in Cleveland, with one holding a sign that read, "Like Bush's economy? Hire McCain."

The group chanted "Bush-McCain! More of the same!"

Earlier in Indian Hill, a few neighbors stood along the street to greet Palin with supportive posters and American flags. About a dozen protesters gathered nearby wearing "Joe Six-pack" nametags and holding empty beer cans.

Palin has said she appeals to "Joe Six-pack," meaning everyday people who buy beer.

The Battle Plan II: Sarah "Evita" Palin, the Muse of the Coming Police State

-Naomi Wolf
The Huffington Post

Please understand what you are looking at when you look at Sarah "Evita" Palin. You are looking at the designated muse of the coming American police state.

You have to understand how things work in a closing society in order to understand "Palin Power." A gang or cabal seizes power, usually with an affable, weak figurehead at the fore. Then they will hold elections -- but they will make sure that the election will be corrupted and that the next affable, weak figurehead is entirely in their control. Remember, Russia has Presidents; Russia holds elections. Dictators and gangs of thugs all over the world hold elections. It means nothing. When a cabal has seized power you can have elections and even presidents, but you don't have freedom.

I realized early on with horror what I was seeing in Governor Palin: the continuation of the Rove-Cheney cabal, but this time without restraints. I heard her echo Bush 2000 soundbites ("the heart of America is on display") and realized Bush's speechwriters were writing her -- not McCain's -- speeches. I heard her tell George Bush's lies -- not McCain's -- to the American people, linking 9/11 to Iraq. I heard her make fun of Barack Obama for wanting to prevent the torture of prisoners -- this is Rove-Cheney's enthusiastic S and M, not McCain's, who, though he shamefully colluded in the 2006 Military Tribunals Act, is also a former prisoner of war and wrote an eloquent Newsweek piece in 2005 opposing torture. I saw that she was even styled by the same skillful stylist (neutral lipstick, matte makeup, dark colors) who turned Katharine Harris from a mall rat into a stateswoman and who styles all the women in the Bush orbit --but who does not bother to style Cindy McCain.

Then I saw and heard more. Palin is embracing lawlessness in defying Alaskan Legislature subpoenas --this is what Rove-Cheney, and not McCain, believe in doing. She uses mafia tactics against critics, like the police commissioner who was railroaded for opposing handguns in Alaskan battered women's shelters -- Rove's style, not McCain's. I realized what I was seeing.

Reports confirmed my suspicions: Palin, not McCain, is the FrankenBarbie of the Rove-Cheney cabal. The strategy became clear. Time magazine reported that Rove is "dialed in" to the McCain campaign. Rove's protégé Steve Schmidt is now campaign manager. And Politico reported that Rove was heavily involved in McCain's vice presidential selection. Finally a new report shows that there are dozens of Bush and Rove operatives surrounding Sarah Palin and orchestrating her every move.

What's the plan? It is this. McCain doesn't matter. Reputable dermatologists are discussing the fact that in simply actuarial terms, John McCain has a virulent and life-threatening form of skin cancer. It is the elephant in the room, but we must discuss the health of the candidates: doctors put survival rates for someone his age at two to four years. I believe the Rove-Cheney cabal is using Sarah Palin as a stalking horse, an Evita figure, to put a popular, populist face on the coming police state and be the talk show hostess for the end of elections as we know them. If McCain-Palin get in, this will be the last true American election. She will be working for Halliburton, KBR, Rove and Cheney into the foreseeable future -- for a decade perhaps -- a puppet "president" for the same people who have plundered our treasure, are now holding the US economy hostage and who murdered four thousand brave young men and women in a way of choice and lies.

How, you may ask, can I assert this? How can I argue, as I now do, that there is actually a war being ramped up against US citizens and our democracy and that Sarah Palin is the figurehead and muse for that war?

Look at the RNC. This is supposed to be McCain's America. But you see the unmistakable theatre of Rove's S and M imagery -- and you see stages eight, nine and ten of the steps to a dictatorship as I outlined them in The End of America. Preemptive arrest? Abusive arrest? "Newly released footage, which was buried to avoid confiscation, shows riot cops arresting and abusing a giant group of people for nothing."

Journalists were arrested -- for reporting. Amy Goodman and ABC producers were arrested. Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake and others were forced to lie face down as armed agents tied their hands behind their backs. The riot police wore the black S&M gear of the Rovian fantasy life and carried the four foot batons cops carry in North Korea. All this is not John McCain's imagery or strategy: it is Karl Rove's.

In McCain-Palin's America, citizens who are protesting are being charged as terrorists. This means that a violent war had been declared on American citizens. A well known reporter leaked to me on background that St Paul police had dressed as protesters and, dressed in Black -- shades of the Blackshirts of 1920 -- infiltrated protest groups. There were also phalanxes of men in black wearing balaclavas, linking arms and behaving menacingly -- alleged "anarchists." Let me tell you, I have been on the left for thirty years and you can't get three lefties to wear the same t-shirt to a rally, let alone link arms and wear identical face masks: these are not our guys. Agent Provocateurs framing protesters and calling protest "terrorism" constitutes step ten of a police state:

"In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism... [they] 7 1/2 years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum penalty."

"Paid, confidential informants... infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage airports in St. Paul. Evidence released to date does not corroborate these allegations with physical evidence or provide any other evidence for these allegations than the claims of the informants. Based on past abuses of such informants by law enforcement, the National Lawyers Guild is concerned that such police informants have incentives to lie and exaggerate threats of violence and to also act as provocateurs in raising and urging support for acts of violence."

Under the Palin-Rove police state, you will see escalating infringements on your access to a free internet:

"Sarah Palin was baptized at Wasilla Assembly of God...Last Sunday our research team released a video, a ten-minute mini-documentary, focusing on the Wasilla Assemblies of God and the video seemed on the verge of a massive "viral" breakthrough when YouTube pulled it down, citing 'inappropriate content'. At the point the video was censored by YouTube it had been viewed by almost 160,000 people. The short of it is that YouTube has censored a video documentary that appeared to be close to having an effect on a hard fought and contentious American presidential election..."

Under the coming Palin-Rove police state, you will witness the plans now underway to bring Iraqi troops to patrol the streets of our nation. This is not McCain's fantasy: it is Rove's and Cheney's.

Under the Palin-Rove police state, there will be no further true elections. Mark Crispin Miller has done sensational and under-reported investigating t o establish that -- as I warned -- indeed the GOP staffers on the US Senate Judiciary Committee have been .

The evidence is also buried on the Website of the Majority House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

WASHINGTON -- Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe. >From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications witho ut a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.

-- "Senate panel's GOP staff spied on Democrats" By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | January 22, 2004

Do you think that spying like this will ever end under a Palin-Rove regime? Dream on. If she and McCain are elected, then every single strategy memo and speech and debate prep note from every opposition candidate from now and on into forever will be read by the regime in power while it is still in the computers of the challengers.

Under the Palin-Rove police state, citizens will be targeted with state cyberterrorism. Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda, a former Reagan official, warned me three years ago that the Bush team went after a Republican who had crossed them through cyberstalking: they messed with his email, messed with his phones and I believe messed with his bank account -- he became a cyber-pariah, unemployable and haunted. With modern technology, there really is less place to hide from the state than there was in East Germany in the Cold War era. I remember feeling a chill: of course. That is the wave of the future once we breach the protections around citizens of FISA and the fourth amendment. That way lies the abyss for us all.

Am I trying to scare you? I am. I am trying to scare you to death and ask you to scare your Republican and independent friends most of all. How do you know when it is war on citizens? When there are mass arrests, journalists are jailed, the opposition is infiltrated, rights are stripped and leaders start to ignore the rule of law.

Almost everyone I work with on projects related to this campaign for liberty has been experiencing computer harassment: emails are stripped, messages disappear. That's not all: people's bank accounts are being tampered with: wire transfers to banks vanish in midair. I personally keep opening bank accounts that are quickly corrupted by fraud. Money vanishes. Coworkers of mine have to keep opening new email accounts as old ones become infected. And most disturbingly to me personally is the mail tampering I have both heard of and experienced firsthand. My tax returns vanished from my mailbox. All my larger envelopes arrive ripped straight open apparently by hand. When I show the postman, he says "That's impossible." Horrifyingly to me is the impact on my family. My childrens' report cards are returned again and again though perfectly addressed; their invitations are turned back; and my daughters many letters from camp? Vanished. All of them. Not one arrived. Try explaining that to a smart thirteen year old. Try explaining it in a way that still makes her feel secure and comfortable.

I am not telling you this because it's about my life. I am telling you this because it is about your life -- whoever you are, Conservative or Liberal, independent or evangelical. Your politics will not protect you in a police state. History shows that nothing portects you in a police state. This is not about my fear and anxiety: it is about what awaits you and everyone you love unless you see this for what it is:

Scharansky divided nations into "fear societies" and "free societies." Make no mistake: Sarah "Evita" Palin is Rove and Cheney's cosmetic rebranding of their fascist push: she will help to establish a true and irreversible "fear society" in this once free once proud nation. For God's sake, do not let her; do not let them.

The Colbert Report: David Gergen Tells Sarah Palin to Rein It In

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sarah Palin's Shocking Animal Cruelty

By Michael Markarian, Humane Society Legislative Fund.

If Sarah Palin ran the United States like she has run Alaska, it would indeed be a terrible day for animals.

GOP conventioneers were officially introduced to their vice presidential candidate who is, as Fred Thompson said, "the only nominee in the history of either party who knows how to properly field dress a moose."

But it's not Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's personal love of hunting or appetite for moose venison that should strike fear in the heart of every animal advocate in the nation--it's her retrograde policies on animal welfare and conservation that have led to an all-out war on the state's wolves and other creatures.

Her record is so extreme that she has perhaps done more harm to animals than any other current governor in the United States -- and that's a difficult distinction to achieve among our 22 Republican and 28 Democratic chief executives. Voters of both political parties who care about the humane treatment of animals must unite to make sure that the nation's worst governor doesn't end up just a heartbeat away from the nation's most important job.

Palin is not only a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, but is also a close ally of Safari Club International. These radical groups don't represent rank-and-file hunters, but instead lobby on behalf of their elitist, wealthy members to defend despicable and unsporting practices such as captive trophy hunts, bear baiting, and steel-jawed legold traps -- practices that real hunters agree are inhumane and unacceptable.

And the Palin Administration, in lock-step with these extreme anti-conservationists, has waged an all-out war on Alaska's predators to artificially boost the populations of moose and caribou for trophy hunters. Palin has tried to pass legislation making it easier for state officials to gun down wolves and bears from the sky, and even offered a $150 bounty for the left foreleg of each dead wolf as an economic incentive for pilots and aerial gunners to kill more of the animals.

Leading up to the recent statewide vote on Measure 2 to stop the aerial shooting of wolves and bears, Palin's Board of Game spent $400,000 of public money on brochures and radio ads to influence the election. She not only took an inhumane and unsporting position at odds with the principles of wildlife management and fair chase, but did it in an undemocratic and underhanded way. Palin may have criticized "the old politics as usual" and "the culture of self-dealing" in her speech last night, but that's a pretty good description of her dealings with the NRA and Safari Club.

Since Alaska is not protecting its wolves from aerial hunting, the U.S. Congress has stepped in and is now considering the Protect America's Wildlife (PAW) Act, which would close a loophole in federal law that allows the shooting of animals from airplanes and helicopters. But Gov. Palin has attacked that effort, too, and used her office to criticize the federal legislation. She wrote in a press release that the bill's author "doesn't understand rural Alaska" and "doesn't comprehend wildlife management in the North."

This new video from our friends at the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund reveals shocking images from the brutal practice of aerial hunting, and shows the world just what Gov. Palin has championed at the state and federal levels.


But that's only one part of the story. It's not just wolves, of course, who have been the targets of Palin's outdated policies, but also the Arctic region's iconic polar bears, the 21st Century's canaries in the mineshaft who are teetering on the brink of extinction.

Despite the effects of climate change on the bear's vanishing habitat and shrinking ice floes, Gov. Palin penned an op-ed in The New York Times earlier this year arguing that it was the "wrong move" to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. Later, when the Bush Administration announced its listing of the polar bear as a threatened species, she filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the decision. Environmentalists fired back over Palin's lawsuit and said "her head-in-the-sand approach to global warming only helps oil companies, certainly not Alaska or the polar bear."

For those who don't believe that the number two spot on the ticket matters much at all, consider this: fourteen vice presidents in American history eventually climbed to the top job, eight of them because their predecessors died in office. If Sarah Palin were to be propelled into the presidency and given the opportunity to run the United States like she has run Alaska--controlling the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce, with wide-ranging authority over issues affecting pets, wildlife, farm animals, marine mammals, animals in research, and public lands--it would indeed be a terrible day for animals and for the country.

AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is Palin Trying To Incite Violence Against Obama?

At her last rally in Florida, Sarah Palin told the audience that Barack Obama "palled around with terrorists" adding,"I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America." Upon hearing the Republican VP candidate's concern that Sen. Obama might be a terrorist, a voice in the crowd cried out 'Kill him!'

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank reported an incident at a Palin rally that should open America's eyes to the central role violent rhetoric now plays in the McCain campaign. Milbank describes how Palin told the crowd in Florida that Obama has close associations with a terrorist who sought to bomb the Pentagon and the U.S. Capital, in response to which the crowd responded with a threat on Sen. Obama's life:

"Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers...And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.

"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Palin went on to say that "Obama held one of the first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers's living room, and they've worked together on various projects in Chicago." Here, Palin began to connect the dots. "These are the same guys who think that patriotism is paying higher taxes -- remember that's what Joe Biden had said. "And" -- she paused and sighed -- "I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America, as the greatest force for good in the world. I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as 'imperfect enough' to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country."

Palin's new rhetorical strategy signifies an alarming new development in the 2008 Presidential election, and one that has been not only been documented by such high profile newspapers as the Washington Post, but confirmed by the McCain campaign itself.

"It's a dangerous road, but we have no choice," a top McCain strategist recently admitted to the Daily News. "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose."

The 'dangerous road,' however, is not just a generic attack on Sen. Obama's trustworthiness or honesty. Rather, the McCain campaign has chosen to stand before campaign rallies and accuse Sen. Obama of hiding sympathies with domestic terrorists--to accuse their opponent, essentially, of being a terrorist.

With the McCain campaign now using the Palin stump speech to accuse Sen. Obama of hiding a terrorist agenda, the McCain campaign has staked its future on rhetoric that skirts the boundary between character assassination and incitements of actual violence against their opponent.

Meanwhile, while McCain is not yet accusing Obama of terrorism in his own stump speech, the crowds at his rallies are.

In a recent video clip from MSNBC, McCain asked a rally, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" In response to McCain's rhetorical question, a voice from the crowd can be clearly heard to shout in response, "Terrorist!"

Since the start of the election campaign well over a year ago, voters have been subject to ongoing smear campaigns in emails and push polls accusing Sen. Obama of ties to and sympathies with domestic and foreign terrorist groups. No matter how many times these smear campaigns have been exposed, they continued. Now that John McCain and Sarah Palin have echoed these accusations--the idea that Sen. Obama is secretly a terrorist has the stamp of approval of a presidential campaign, but of a multi-term U.S. senator and a U.S. governor.

One wonders at this point how the various agencies charged with the responsibility of protecting the Presidential candidates from violence will respond to this latest tactic from the McCain campaign. If, for example, a McCain supporter threatens the life of Sen. Obama by shouting 'Kill him!' at a Palin rally, should Sen. Obama's Secret Service contingent launch an investigation? Having been accused of terrorist ties by the McCain campaign, will Sen. Obama's name be put on the 'No Fly' list, effectively making it impossible for him to engage in normal airline travel?

An even more basic question, perhaps: Is Gov. Palin trying to incite violence against Sen. Obama as part of an ill-conceived campaign strategy to change the topic from the economy at any cost?

Time will tell how law enforcement will respond, but one thing is already certain: the more Palin and McCain incite calls for violence against Sen. Obama, the more their chances of achieving a victory in November disappear.

-Jeffrey Feldman

Mad Dog Palin "It was like watching Gidget address the Reichstag."

The scariest thing about John McCain's running mate isn't how unqualified she is - it's what her candidacy says about America
I'm standing outside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Sarah Palin has just finished her speech to the Republican National Convention, accepting the party's nomination for vice president. If I hadn't quit my two-packs-a-day habit earlier this year, I'd be chain-smoking now. So the only thing left is to stand mute against th fit-for-a-cheap-dog-kennel crowd-control fencing you see everywhere at these idiotic conventions and gnaw on weird new feelings of shock and anarchist rage as one would a rawhide chew toy.

All around me, a million cops in their absurd post-9/11 space-combat get-ups stand guard as assholes in papier-mâché puppet heads scramble around for one last moment of network face time before the coverage goes dark. Four-chinned delegates from places like Arkansas and Georgia are pouring joyously out the gates in search of bars where they can load up on Zombies and Scorpion Bowls and other "wild" drinks and extramaritally grope their turkey-necked female companions in bathroom stalls as part of the "unbelievable time" they will inevitably report to their pals back home. Only 21st-century Americans can pass through a metal detector six times in an hour and still think they're at a party.

The defining moment for me came shortly after Palin and her family stepped down from the stage to uproarious applause, looking happy enough to throw a whole library full of books into a sewer. In the crush to exit the stadium, a middle-aged woman wearing a cowboy hat, a red-white-and-blue shirt and an obvious eye job gushed to a male colleague — they were both wearing badges identifying them as members of the Colorado delegation — at the Xcel gates.

"She totally reminds me of my cousin!" the delegate screeched. "She's a real woman! The real thing!"

I stared at her open-mouthed. In that moment, the rank cynicism of the whole sorry deal was laid bare. Here's the thing about Americans. You can send their kids off by the thousands to get their balls blown off in foreign lands for no reason at all, saddle them with billions in debt year after congressional year while they spend their winters cheerfully watching game shows and football, pull the rug out from under their mortgages, and leave them living off their credit cards and their Wal-Mart salaries while you move their jobs to China and Bangalore.

And none of it matters, so long as you remember a few months before Election Day to offer them a two-bit caricature culled from some cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne as part of your presidential ticket. And if she's a good enough likeness of a loudmouthed Middle American archetype, as Sarah Palin is, John Q. Public will drop his giant-size bag of Doritos in gratitude, wipe the Sizzlin' Picante dust from his lips and rush to the booth to vote for her. Not because it makes sense, or because it has a chance of improving his life or anyone else's, but simply because it appeals to the low-humming narcissism that substitutes for his personality, because the image on TV reminds him of the mean, brainless slob he sees in the mirror every morning.

Sarah Palin is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the modern United States. As a representative of our political system, she's a new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of puppeteers like Karl Rove. But more than that, she is a horrifying symbol of how little we ask for in return for the total surrender of our political power. Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she's the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV — and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation.

The Palin speech was a political masterpiece, one of the most ingenious pieces of electoral theater this country has ever seen. Never before has a single televised image turned a party's fortunes around faster.

Until the Alaska governor actually ascended to the podium that night, I was convinced that John McCain had made one of the all-time campaign-season blunders, that he had acted impulsively and out of utter desperation in choosing a cross-eyed political neophyte just two years removed from running a town smaller than the bleacher section at Fenway Park. It even crossed my mind that there was an element of weirdly self-destructive pique in McCain's decision to cave in to his party's right-wing base in this fashion, that perhaps he was responding to being ordered by party elders away from a tepid, ideologically promiscuous hack like Joe Lieberman — reportedly his real preference — by picking the most obviously unqualified, doomed-to-fail joke of a Bible-thumping buffoon. As in: You want me to rally the base? Fine, I'll rally the base. Here, I'll choose this rifle-toting, serially pregnant moose killer who thinks God lobbies for oil pipelines. Happy now?

But watching Palin's speech, I had no doubt that I was witnessing a historic, iconic performance. The candidate sauntered to the lectern with the assurance of a sleepwalker — and immediately launched into a symphony of snorting and sneering remarks, taking time out in between the superior invective to present herself as just a humble gal with a beefcake husband and a brood of healthy, combat-ready spawn who just happened to be the innocent targets of a communist and probably also homosexual media conspiracy. She appeared to be completely without shame and utterly full of shit, awing a room full of hardened reporters with her sickly-sweet line about the high-school-flame-turned-hubby who, "five children later," is "still my guy." It was like watching Gidget address the Reichstag.

Within minutes, Palin had given TV audiences a character infinitely recognizable to virtually every American: the small-town girl with just enough looks and a defiantly incurious mind who thinks the PTA minutes are Holy Writ, and to whom injustice means the woman next door owning a slightly nicer set of drapes or flatware. Or the governorship, as it were.

Right-wingers of the Bush-Rove ilk have had a tough time finding a human face to put on their failed, inhuman, mean-as-hell policies. But it was hard not to recognize the genius of wedding that faltering brand of institutionalized greed to the image of the suburban-American supermom. It's the perfect cover, for there is almost nothing in the world meaner than this species of provincial tyrant.

Palin herself burned this political symbiosis into the pages of history with her seminal crack about the "difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick," blurring once and for all the lines between meanness on the grand political scale as understood by the Roves and Bushes of the world, and meanness of the small-town variety as understood by pretty much anyone who has ever sat around in his ranch-house den dreaming of a fourth plasma-screen TV or an extra set of KC HiLites for his truck, while some ghetto family a few miles away shares a husk of government cheese.

In her speech, Palin presented herself as a raging baby-making furnace of middle-class ambition next to whom the yuppies of the Obama set — who never want anything all that badly except maybe a few afternoons with someone else's wife, or a few kind words in The New York Times Book Review — seem like weak, self-doubting celibates, the kind of people who certainly cannot be trusted to believe in the right God or to defend a nation. We're used to seeing such blatant cultural caricaturing in our politicians. But Sarah Palin is something new. She's all caricature. As the candidate of a party whose positions on individual issues are poll losers almost across the board, her shtick is not even designed to sell a line of policies. It's just designed to sell her. The thing was as much as admitted in the on-air gaffe by former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who was inadvertently caught saying on MSNBC that Palin wasn't the most qualified candidate, that the party "went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives."

The great insight of the Palin VP choice is that huge chunks of American voters no longer even demand that their candidates actually have policy positions; they simply consume them as media entertainment, rooting for or against them according to the reflexive prejudices of their demographic, as they would for reality-show contestants or sitcom characters. Hicks root for hicks, moms for moms, born-agains for born-agains. Sure, there was politics in the Palin speech, but it was all either silly lies or merely incidental fluffery buttressing the theatrical performance. A classic example of what was at work here came when Palin proudly introduced her Down-syndrome baby, Trig, then stared into the camera and somberly promised parents of special-needs kids that they would "have a friend and advocate in the White House." This was about a half-hour before she raised her hands in triumph with McCain, a man who voted against increasing funding for special-needs education.

Palin's charge that "government is too big" and that Obama "wants to grow it" was similarly preposterous. Not only did her party just preside over the largest government expansion since LBJ, but Palin herself has been a typical Bush-era Republican, borrowing and spending beyond her means. Her great legacy as mayor of Wasilla was the construction of a $15 million hockey arena in a city with an annual budget of $20 million; Palin OK'd a bond issue for the project before the land had been secured, leading to a protracted legal mess that ultimately forced taxpayers to pay more than six times the original market price for property the city ended up having to seize from a private citizen using eminent domain. Better yet, Palin ended up paying for the fucking thing with a 25 percent increase in the city sales tax. But in her speech, of course, Palin presented herself as the enemy of tax increases, righteously bemoaning that "taxes are too high" and Obama "wants to raise them."

Palin hasn't been too worried about federal taxes as governor of a state that ranks number one in the nation in federal spending per resident ($13,950), even as it sits just 18th in federal taxes paid per resident ($5,434). That means all us taxpaying non-Alaskans spend $8,500 a year on each and every resident of Palin's paradise of rugged self-sufficiency. Not that this sworn enemy of taxes doesn't collect from her own: Alaska currently collects the most taxes per resident of any state in the nation.

The rest of Palin's speech was the same dog-whistle crap Republicans have been railing about for decades. Palin's crack about a mayor being "like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities" testified to the Republicans' apparent belief that they can win elections till the end of time running against the Sixties. (They're probably right.) The incessant grousing about the media was likewise par for the course, red meat for those tens of millions of patriotic flag-waving Americans whose first instinct when things get rough is to whine like bitches and blame other people — reporters, the French, those ungrateful blacks soaking up tax money eating big prison meals, whomever — for their failures.

Add to this the usual lies about Democrats wanting to "forfeit" to our enemies abroad and coddle terrorists, and you had a very run-of-the-mill, almost boring Republican speech from a substance standpoint. What made it exceptional was its utter hypocrisy, its total disregard for reality, its absolute unrelation to the facts of our current political situation. After eight years of unprecedented corruption, incompetence, waste and greed, the party of Karl Rove understood that 50 million Americans would not demand solutions to any of these problems so long as they were given a new, new thing to beat their meat over.

Sarah Palin is that new, new thing, and in the end it won't matter that she's got an unmarried teenage kid with a bun in the oven. Of course, if the daughter of a black candidate like Barack Obama showed up at his convention with a five-month bump and some sideways-cap-wearing, junior-grade Curtis Jackson holding her hand, the defenders of Traditional Morality would be up in arms. But the thing about being in the reality-making business is that you don't need to worry much about vetting; there are no facts in your candidate's bio that cannot be ignored or overcome.

One of the most amusing things about the Palin nomination has been the reaction of horrified progressives. The Internet has been buzzing at full volume as would-be defenders of sanity and reason pore over the governor's record in search of the Damning Facts. My own telephone began ringing off the hook with calls from ex-Alaskans and friends of Alaskans determined to help get the "truth" about Sarah Palin into the major media. Pretty much anyone with an Internet connection knows by now that Palin was originally for the "Bridge to Nowhere" before she opposed it (she actually endorsed the plan in her 2006 gubernatorial campaign), that even after the project was defeated she kept the money, that she didn't actually sell the Alaska governor's state luxury jet on eBay but instead sold it at a $600,000 loss to a campaign contributor (who is reportedly now seeking $50,000 in taxpayer money to pay maintenance costs).

Then there are the salacious tales of Palin's swinging-meat-cleaver management style, many of which seem to have a common thread: In addition to being ensconced in a messy ethics investigation over her firing of the chief of the Alaska state troopers (dismissed after refusing to sack her sister's ex-husband), Palin also fired a key campaign aide who had an affair with a friend's wife. More ominously, as mayor of Wasilla, Palin tried to fire the town librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, who had resisted pressure to censor books Palin found objectionable.

Then there's the God stuff: Palin belongs to a church whose pastor, Ed Kalnins, believes that all criticisms of George Bush "come from hell," and wondered aloud if people who voted for John Kerry could be saved. Kalnins, looming as the answer to Obama's Jeremiah Wright, claims that Alaska is going to be a "refuge state" for Christians in the last days, last days which he sometimes speaks of in the present tense. Palin herself has been captured on video mouthing the inevitable born-again idiocies, such as the idea that a recent oil-pipeline deal was "God's will." She also described the Iraq War as a "task that is from God" and part of a heavenly "plan." She supports teaching creationism and "abstinence only" in public schools, opposes abortion even for victims of rape, has denied the science behind global warming and attends a church that seeks to convert Jews and cure homosexuals.

All of which tells you about what you'd expect from a raise-the-base choice like Palin: She's a puffed-up dimwit with primitive religious beliefs who had to be educated as to the fact that the Constitution did not exactly envision government executives firing librarians. Judging from the importance progressive critics seem to attach to these revelations, you'd think that these were actually negatives in modern American politics. But Americans like politicians who hate books and see the face of Jesus in every tree stump. They like them stupid and mean and ignorant of the rules. Which is why Palin has only seemed to grow in popularity as more and more of these revelations have come out.

The same goes for the most damning aspect of her biography, her total lack of big-game experience. As governor of Alaska, Palin presides over a state whose entire population is barely the size of Memphis. This kind of thing might matter in a country that actually worried about whether its leader was prepared for his job — but not in America. In America, it takes about two weeks in the limelight for the whole country to think you've been around for years. To a certain extent, this is why Obama is getting a pass on the same issue. He's been on TV every day for two years, and according to the standards of our instant-ramen culture, that's a lifetime of hands-on experience.

It is worth noting that the same criticisms of Palin also hold true for two other candidates in this race, John McCain and Barack Obama. As politicians, both men are more narrative than substance, with McCain rising to prominence on the back of his bio as a suffering war hero and Obama mostly playing the part of the long-lost, future-embracing liberal dreamboat not seen on the national stage since Bobby Kennedy died. If your stomach turns to read how Palin's Kawasaki 704 glasses are flying off the shelves in Middle America, you have to accept that Middle America probably feels the same way when it hears that Donatella Versace dedicated her collection to Obama during Milan Fashion Week. Or sees the throwing-panties-onstage-"I love you, Obama!" ritual at the Democratic nominee's town-hall appearances.

So, sure, Barack Obama might be every bit as much a slick piece of imageering as Sarah Palin. The difference is in what the image represents. The Obama image represents tolerance, intelligence, education, patience with the notion of compromise and negotiation, and a willingness to stare ugly facts right in the face, all qualities we're actually going to need in government if we're going to get out of this huge mess we're in.

Here's what Sarah Palin represents: being a fat fucking pig who pins "Country First" buttons on his man titties and chants "U-S-A! U-S-A!" at the top of his lungs while his kids live off credit cards and Saudis buy up all the mortgages in Kansas.

The truly disgusting thing about Sarah Palin isn't that she's totally unqualified, or a religious zealot, or married to a secessionist, or unable to educate her own daughter about sex, or a fake conservative who raised taxes and horked up earmark millions every chance she got. No, the most disgusting thing about her is what she says about us: that you can ram us in the ass for eight solid years, and we'll not only thank you for your trouble, we'll sign you up for eight more years, if only you promise to stroke us in the right spot for a few hours around election time.

Democracy doesn't require a whole lot of work of its citizens, but it requires some: It requires taking a good look outside once in a while, and considering the bad news and what it might mean, and making the occasional tough choice, and soberly taking stock of what your real interests are.

This is a very different thing from shopping, which involves passively letting sitcoms melt your brain all day long and then jumping straight into the TV screen to buy a Southern Style Chicken Sandwich because the slob singing "I'm Lovin' It!" during the commercial break looks just like you. The joy of being a consumer is that it doesn't require thought, responsibility, self-awareness or shame: All you have to do is obey the first urge that gurgles up from your stomach. And then obey the next. And the next. And the next.

And when it comes time to vote, all you have to do is put your Country First — just like that lady on TV who reminds you of your cousin. U-S-A, baby. U-S-A! U-S-A!

[From Rolling Stone - Issue 1062 — October 2, 2008]

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sarah, Sarah, Why You Buggin' 3? Maybe 4? I Can't Remember.

From the Times Online:

Shallow, fake... Sarah Palin is beyond parody

The kid-glove treatment of the Republican vice-presidential candidate is an insult to women

By Martin Samuel

There is a time when it is necessary to take the gloves off and that time is right now, said Sarah Palin in Colorado. Interesting that she did not want the gloves off before her vice-presidential debate with Joe Biden. Oh, gloves on then. Headgear, too. Maybe some of those big shoulder pads that quarter-backs wear; and throw cushions for a softer landing. In fact, Palin and her minders could not have demanded a safer arena for debate when the opposition was within striking distance. Biden appeared with his hands tied, his intellect muted, his manner subdued, lest he should seem smarter, better informed or more competent than his opponent, a move which was inexplicably deemed undesirable. This shows how far we have come. Intelligence is now viewed as a threat. Isn't that how Pol Pot operated?

Meanwhile, the Republican lobby put pressure on the debate moderator not to go heavy on foreign policy, perhaps fearing that Palin would repeat her view that experience in this area was linked to proximity to a coastline, and expectations were lowered so that just avoiding intellectual humiliation would be seen as victory. And it worked. She got the name of the Nato commander in Afghanistan wrong and Biden smiled politely. She pronounced nuclear the same way that Homer Simpson does and he had to find it charming. She failed to answer direct questions, while advancing a carefully moulded image as a straight-talking maverick, and it went unquestioned. Now, from a safe distance, Palin wants the gloves off. Of course she does, with no chance of instant scrutiny.

Palin is the queen of misinformation, delivered with faux folksiness as authentic as a three- dollar bill. She is not the pitbull in lipstick of popular myth; she is Deputy Dawg with a forked tongue, engaged in a war against intelligence. Those falling for this act are her collateral damage. Barack Obama did not pal around with terrorists. He did not vote to increase the tax burden on families making $42,000 a year, or vote 94 times to increase taxes. Palin's statements on these subjects are not a reality bulletin from Main Street, Wasilla. Palin's statements are lies. Madeline Albright did not speak of a place in Hell reserved for women who do not support other women. Palin misquoted her. Albright said help, not support. And there is no such place as Hell.

Even so, for those American women who worry that they risk damnation if they don't vote the Republican ticket, it should be explained that eternity with a pitchfork impaled in your rear is still preferable to a vote for a politician who aided her political career by using her Down's syndrome child to cover her daughter's pregnancy bump. And it is at this point that we need to talk to the Democrat women considering joining Palin's ranks and ask: what the hell is wrong with you? People were imprisoned and trampled to death by horses for this? They marched, they demonstrated, and for what? A vote cast on the basis of a Y chromosome?

You go, girl. Go? Go where? Go to college? Go back to that Republican cramming camp to be told what newspapers to say you read and be fed another set of fake statistics where real knowledge and opinions should be? It is easy to parody Sarah Palin, wrote one commentator last week. No, it isn't. It is near impossible because so much of what she says reads like a satirical script anyway. Tina Fey, the finest Palin imitator, was reduced on Saturday Night Live to using Palin's exact words in response to a question about the bailout package last week, because they were beyond imitation.

“That's what I say that I like every American I am speaking with we're ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bailout, but ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, um, helping the, oh, it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and, and putting it back on the right track; so healthcare reform, and reducing taxes and reigning in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans and trade we have we got to see trade as opportunity not as, a, a, competitive, um, scary thing, but one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today we, we've got to look at that as more opportunity, all of those things under the umbrella of job creation, this bailout is a part of that.”

Genuine answer from potentially the second most powerful politician in the free world. How can anybody parody that?

Tina Fey is at least attempting to do the job of nailing Palin's shallowness, her falseness, her studied populism and the way the standards and expectations of public debate have been lowered to accommodate her. Yet if there truly were this liberal media elite to which Palin makes constant reference, it would have bounced her out of the building by now. Anyone who thinks Palin's performances since her catastrophic CBS interview have been adequate must also believe the American public are stupid. By any normal yardstick of political discourse - substance, accuracy, coherence - she is a bust.

Against Biden she was judged a success, not on what she said, but on the connection she is believed to have made with a fictional Joe Six-Pack: so those giving the thumbs-up must also believe Americans to be simple suckers for a wink, a dropped “g” on a verb, and the use of the odd folksy phrase. You betcha. Doggone it. She's a bump on a log. Darn right.