Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain ad strikes new low, even for McCain

At 11:10 this morning, John McCain lamented his disappointment in the "lack of bipartisan good will" in dealing with the financial crisis, and called for everyone to "come together in a bipartisan way" to solve the crisis.

At 11:26, just 16 minutes later, his campaign released an ad blaming the Democrats for the financial melt down -- even though Republicans have been in charge the last 8 years. The ad suggests that McCain, a famous proponent of deregulation, pushed for stronger regulations "while Mr. Obama was notably silent" and the "Democrats blocked the reforms."

One can only imagine the schizophrenia peculating inside the McCain campaign as they attempt to say and do anything necessary to stop the hemorrhaging poll numbers.


McCain's latest ad takes the cake - reveals desperate man

John McCain is at it again - lying about his opponent to try to revive his staggering campaign. Today McCain released a new ad accusing Obama of saying "the fundamentals of the economy are strong", a statement McCain made two weeks ago and has been lambasted for saying.

Just a day after McCain ranted that his running mate, Sarah Palin, was the victim of "gotcha" journalism, the McCain camp sunk to lower depths by actually taking an Obama quote completely out of context to create the ad.

Here is the quote McCain uses in the ad:

"We've got the long term fundamentals that will really make sure this economy grows."

And here is Obama's actual statement, which suggests exactly the opposite of what McCain's ad claims: mainly, that he believes the country must repair the economy's long-term structure.

"[We need] a plan that would extend expiring unemployment benefits. For those Americans who have lost their jobs and have been working hard to find a new one, but haven't found one yet. That's part of the change we need. And then after this immediate problem, we've got the long-term fundamentals that will really make sure this economy grows. Change means tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses that deserve it. As President I am going to eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups."

Here's the script from McCain's deceitful ad:

ANNOUNCER: Who's Barack Obama? First, Obama attacked McCain. Then said: BARACK OBAMA: "We've got the long term fundamentals that will really make sure this economy grows."

ANNOUNCER: Strong fundamentals? Is Obama saying McCain's right? Or is Obama saying his own attacks are shameless? Either way, Obama's a hypocrite.

Actually, McCain is utterly shameless and the world's biggest hypocrite. On Sept. 15, McCain reiterated at a campaign rally in Florida, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong," a comment he has made before. After looking like a complete fool for saying it, after last week's financial melt down, McCain is now actually trying to pin the quote on his opponent. McCain is a deseperate man resorting to desperate tactics.


McCain and Palin attempt to save face with Couric

Last night, John McCain and Sarah Palin hoped to make up lost ground with Katie Couric. After giving a nearly incoherent interview last week, this time Palin was chaperoned by McCain. During the interview, Couric discussed a weekend gaffe Palin made about Pakistan in a rare, unscripted moment with a potential voter. McCain jumped in to save Palin from herself but Couric will have none of it:

Couric: "Over the weekend, Gov. Palin, you said the U.S. should absolutely launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan to, quote, "stop the terrorists from coming any further in." Now, that's almost the exact position that Barack Obama has taken and that you, Sen. McCain, have criticized as something you do not say out loud. So, Gov. Palin, are you two on the same page on this?"

Palin: "We had a great discussion with President Zardari as we talked about what it is that America can and should be doing together to make sure that the terrorists do not cross borders and do not ultimately put themselves in a position of attacking America again or her allies. And we will do what we have to do to secure the United States of America and her allies."

Couric: "Is that something you shouldn't say out loud, Sen. McCain?"

John McCain: "Of course not. But, look, I understand this day and age of "gotcha" journalism. Is that a pizza place? In a conversation with someone who you didn't hear … the question very well, you don't know the context of the conversation, grab a phrase. Gov. Palin and I agree that you don't announce that you're going to attack another country …"

Couric: "Are you sorry you said it?"

McCain: … "and the fact"

Couric: "Governor?"

McCain: "Wait a minute. Before you say, "is she sorry she said it," this was a "gotcha" sound bite that, look" …

Couric: "It wasn't a "gotcha." She was talking to a voter."

McCain: "No, she was in a conversation with a group of people and talking back and forth. And … I'll let Gov. Palin speak for herself." (She wasn't talking back and forth with a group, one voter asked her the question)

Palin: "Well, it … in fact, you're absolutely right on. In the context, this was a voter, a constituent, hollering out a question from across an area asking, "What are you gonna do about Pakistan? You better have an answer to Pakistan." I said we're gonna do what we have to do to protect the United States of America."

Couric: "But you were pretty specific about what you wanted to do, cross-border" …

Palin: "Well, as Sen. McCain is suggesting here, also, never would our administration get out there and show our cards to terrorists, in this case, to enemies and let them know what the game plan was, not when that could ultimately adversely affect a plan to keep America secure."

Couric: "What did you learn from that experience?"

Palin: "That this is all about "gotcha" journalism. A lot of it is. But that's okay, too."

Can this woman be serious? She made a comment about Pakistan that directly conflicted with McCain. To save face, she got a slap on the wrist and was told to blame the whole thing on 'gotcha' journalism. First McCain says it, then in robotic fashion Palin repeats it.

Pretty soon McCain is just going to answer her questions for her while Palin stares with an empty-headed, blank look at the camera. I wonder if McCain will try to share the podium with her during Thursday's debate?


McCain is burned out and burning through his bag of tricks

Today on Fox 'News', John McCain was asked if he would be willing to suspend his campaign again, given how 'successful' his intervention worked last week (just goes to show how utterly shameless the Fox anchor-bots are if they could say that with a straight face). McCain swooped into town last Thursday afternoon to corral the House Republicans, who then promptly bailed on the bailout talks and ultimately voted it down by two-thirds. When discussing whether he would intervene again, a haggard looking McCain said:

"I'll do whatever I can do to make this thing work. As I said, I've had discussions already with the President, I've had discussions with my colleagues. I'll continue to do whatever is necessary. I will put my Presidential campaign on the back burner if necessary and do anything...if we fail the first time, it won't be the first time. We will go back and we will fix this problem."

With help like McCain's, the Congress surely doesn't need enemies. McCain's "help" amounted to a near dismantling of the delicate negotiation process. And here's a news alert for McCain -- you already did fail once. The bailout bill was voted down. The best advice is for you to get back to messing up your campaign instead of messing up the bailout bill renegotiation.


McCain's first forray as leader of GOP fails miserably

When the House Republicans voted against the bailout bill yesterday, it was also a referendum against John McCain and his presumptive leadership of the Party. The Republicans seemed to outright reject McCain's intrusion in the negotiations and his posturing as a legislative leader who could save the day by his mere presence on Capitol Hill. As a result, McCain failed to deliver the votes he arrogantly assumed he could just by showing up.

The McCain campaign made a big deal last week of McCain's decision to 'suspend' his campaign and return to DC to finesse the negotiations. When asked about McCain's role in the process, the campaign went to great lengths to describe his talks with House Republicans claiming he was bringing them together to resolve their uneasiness with the bill. So much for togetherness. The House Republicans immediately pulled out of negotiation talks after McCain's arrival and rejected the bill by a two-thirds vote.

The economy remains the central focus of the campaign, despite McCain's desperate attempts to make the election about the so-called 'victory' in Iraq and the surge he supported. It will be interesting to see what rabbit McCain will pull out of his hat next to try to gain control of his out of control campaign.


Monday, September 29, 2008

McCain's double speak reaches new heights

John McCain is either senile, crazy or both. His Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde performance of last week continued into this week. Last night, McCain discussed the failed bailout bill saying:

"Our leaders failed to act. Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process. Now is not the time to fix the blame, it's time to fix the problem."

He absurdly places blame on Obama and in the very next sentence says it's not time to fix blame. As far as injecting partisanship in the process, I'm pretty sure it was McCain who turned last week's negotiations into a circus, possibly causing the process to derail.

McCain is so desperate to turn around his sliding poll numbers and his association with Bush that he's willing to say or do anything. His erratic, reckless behavior should turn off anyone old enough to vote.


McCain grasping at straws to turn around bad poll numbers

Desperate to reverse his plunging poll numbers, today John McCain acted like a man who was - well - desperate. During a campaign stop in Ohio with running mate Sarah Palin, McCain lashed out against Barack Obama saying the race comes down to a simple question: "Country first or Obama first?"

Actually, it's more like "McCain first". McCain has done everything humanly possible to pander to voters - from choosing a neophyte for his running mate to threatening to cancel the debate so he could pretend he was solving the bailout dilemma.

During McCain's tirade today, he said Obama "will deepen our recession." Considering McCain voted with Bush 98% of the time this year and 90% the rest of the time, I'd place my bet that McCain's policies would deepen the recession. You can't erase your record of the last eight years just because you don't like how it turned out. The old "tax and spend" accusation the Republicans have hurled at Democrats for decades isn't going to work this time -- because it's the Republicans who have presided over the largest deficit and largest increase in the size of government in our country's history.

McCain also stressed his own record of opposing Republicans on key issues, and said, "When it comes time to reach across the aisle and work with members of both parties to get things done for the American people — my opponent can't name a single occasion in which he fought against his party's leadership to get something done for the country. That is not putting the interests of the country first."

The point McCain seems to be missing here is Obama didn't have to fight against his own party because they weren't the ones proposing tax cuts for the wealthiest, deregulating the financial industry, lowering environmental standards and embarking on an illegal war - just to name a few.

During today's rally in Ohio, McCain had Palin safely by his side, so she couldn't make any more disastrous comments to the media. Palin said she is looking forward to this Thursday's debate with Sen. Joe Biden, adding "I've been hearing his speeches since I was in the second grade." If that's supposed to be a dig against the 65-year-old Biden's age, Palin should remember those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Seventy-two year-old McCain, who was born 30 years before Palin, would be the oldest President in history if by some disastrous turn of events he is elected. Palin should keep the old age jokes to herself.


Palin Preps for VP debate

Sarah Palin's first and only VP debate performance with Joe Biden is set for Thursday. McCain's handlers must be working themselves into a frenzy prepping Palin so she doesn't fall as flat on her face as she did with Katie Couric during last week's interview. Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, who advised Cheney during the 2000 and 2004 debates, cautions Palin against playing attack dog. Stevens said:

"She would not be well served going after snarky debating points. Voters know she can tweak Obama with her gleeful combativeness. That kind of thing plays better to Republican audiences than to a national one. She shouldn't be delivering lines to the faithful."

The problem for Palin is the only slightly marginal competence she's displayed so far has been as attack dog. She spent her entire acceptance speech at the convention every campaign stop since insulting her opponents and offering no ideas or insights of her own. When left to her own devices on policy issues, she sounds like a clueless half-wit as she did with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson.

Republican strategist Stevens went on to say:

"In a vice presidential debate, you define the job and then try to convince people that you fit the definition...Her goal should be to not make news. And that means when Biden attacks, or the moderator's questions are detailed, she should not respond at length. Instead, she should focus on her personality. She should want that lead to be: Palin came across as a likable, caring person who believes what she says."

True, she definitely shouldn't respond at length because beyond the first two or three words she gets into dangerous territory. And it's hard to come across as likeable when all you do is denigrate your opponent.

Radio talk show host Ed Schultz reports that Capitol Hill sources have told him that the McCain camp is more than a little concerned about Palin's ability to debate. They describe mock debates as "disastrous."

Thursday's debate should be quite a treat. Unless the McCain camp cooks up some ridiculous excuse why it can't happen -- maybe Palin will need to fly home and monitor the air space over Alaska just in case Putin is flying over head.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

McCain & Palin need to get on the same page

This morning, John McCain had to retract comments Sarah Palin made yesterday when she agreed with Barack Obama that the U.S. should strike against terrorists inside Pakistan if the Pakistanis were unwilling or unable to do it. She was asked about the topic by a bystander during a campaign stop in Philadelpia and responded:

"If that's what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should."

Since McCain promotes the opposite position, and chastized Obama about his stance during the Presidential Debate on Friday, he was forced to cover up his running mate's gaffe. When asked about Palin's comment this morning on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, McCain said:

"She understands and has stated repeatedly that we're not going to do anything except in America's national security interest. In all due respect, people going around and… sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that's—that's a person's position… This is a free country, but I don't think most Americans think that that's a definitve policy statement made by Governor Palin."

Apparently she doesn't understand. It's funny that McCain thinks Palin shouldn't be held accountable for what she says when every other policitian is held accountable. Her comment forced him to back peddle insisting Palin "shares" his view on Pakistan, even though her own words indicate she doesn't. These two need to get their Keystone Kops act together so it at least appears like they are running on the same ticket.


Palin not even competent enough to do post-debate spin

After the first Presidential Debate on Friday, when the spinmiesters hit the airwaves to champion their candidate's performance, Sarah Palin was glaringly absent. She was no where to be found on any network coverage while Biden made the rounds on nearly all of them. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the McCain campaign is keeping Palin in exile after her disastrous performance with Katie Couric last week. They must have decided she's not even competent enough to do 'spin' interviews.

During the actual debate, Palin attended a staged 'debate party' at a pub in Philadelphia. Too bad she didn't spend some time listening to what her running mate said. McCain condescendingly blasted Obama for making "naive" and "dangerous" remarks about pursuing terrorists in Pakistan if the Pakistani government wasn't willing or able to do so. On Saturday during a campaign stop, Palin told a customer at a Philadelphia restaurant that the United States should “absolutely” launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan in the event that it becomes necessary to “stop the terrorists from coming any further in."

Maybe McCain and Palin need to spend a bit more quality time together so they can get their stories straight.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain takes strident stance in first debate

John McCain acknowledged his opponent only twice in last night's debate - in the beginning and at the end when they shook hands. The rest of the time he donned his curmudgeonly old man posture. One expected him to yell at Obama to get off his lawn. McCain stood rigid at the podium with his jaw tightly clenched for most of the 90 minute debate. The only relief from that facial expression was when he gave his maniacal laugh - if you can call it a laugh. Moderator Jim Leher even tried to get him to make eye contact with Obama urging him to look at his opponent and answer his counterpoints.

Besides looking like the quintessential grumpy old man, McCain often sounded way out of touch with references to things like Ronald Reagan’s “S.D.I.” program, something few people under 40 would have understood.

At least McCain actually showed up at the debate after several days of some of the most childish, inane political posturing in recent history. In the middle of the financial melt-down and bailout bill negotiations, McCain used the debate as some sort of bargaining tool. He declared he would only show up if a deal was reached on the bailout. A deal wasn't reached but at the 11th hour, McCain went to the debate anyway.

For the most part, McCain stuck to his talking points during the debate, often trotting out the same tired lines about being a reformer and a maverick. McCain defended the ridiculous comment he made a couple of weeks ago about the fundamentals of our economy being strong by suggesting he really meant that the workers of America are fundamentally strong --right.
McCain also admitted he would continue Bush's atrocious tax cuts and continued to press his weak argument that cutting Congressional earmarks — which total about $18 billion a year — and reducing waste and abuse would fix the economy.

After the circus of the last week, it's good to have the first debate behind us. Bring on the VP debate on October 2!


Friday, September 26, 2008

The circus comes to town: McCain in Oxford for debate

While John McCain was en route to Oxford, Mississippi for the debate that he said he wasn't going to attend (until the polls showed it would be political suicide), his flunkies were spewing nonsense across the air waves about why he changed his mind. Joe Lieberman, former Democratic Senator and current Chief McCain Flunkie, actually had the gall to say in an interview on MSNBC this afternoon that McCain was forced to ditch the bailout negotiations and go to the debate because "Obama didn't play by the rules" and bow-out of the debate as well.

Uh, whose rules would those be Joe? McCain's lame-brained scheme to cancel the debate and play savior in Washington DC, despite the fact he wasn't invited or welcomed by his own Party? McCain turned the negotiations and the debate into an absolute circus starring himself as the Freak Show.

Here's how a leading Republican Consultant, Craig Shirley, described McCain's ill-conceived ploy to bailout of the debate:

"It just proves his campaign his governed by tactics and not ideology. In the end, he blinked and Obama did not. The "steady hand in the storm" argument looks now to favor Obama, not McCain."

Not only did McCain blink, he appears to have fallen asleep at the wheel of his own campaign, sending it careening wildly out of control. A pool reporter on McCain's flight to Mississippi this afternoon described the atmosphere as "utter confusion."

Is there anyone in the McCain campaign who isn't in a constant state of confusion? Palin can't give a straight answer in an interview; McCain's campaign placed a "McCain Wins Debate" ad online today - before the debate has even taken place; and McCain himself seems dazed, disoriented, and more than a bit senile.


Palin needs to be bailed out after her cringe-inducing comments about the bailout bill

The McCain campaign's glacially slow rollout of Palin to the national media will probably come to a screeching halt after her ridiculous performance on the CBS Evening News. Her cringe-inducing answers to every question Couric posed should be enough to send her to the Siberia of media interview schedules. The best was her answer to a question about her foreign policy credentials. Palin said she's qualified because she lives in a state that borders Canada by land and Russia by sea and when Putin flys to the U.S., he goes over Alaska (she really said it). But another excerpt from Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric has not gotten enough media play. It deals with the bailout bill and it is downright laughable.

COURIC: "Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? … Instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?"

PALIN: "Ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy– Oh, it’s got to be about job creation too. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions."

The bailout has nothing in the world to do with health care reform. A middle-school student could have come up with a more intelligent answer. It proves that Palin has absolutely NO knowledge of the issues on her own. She's been spoon-fed information by McCain advisers for weeks and clearly hasn't been able to retain all the facts swimming in her head. Without a cheat sheet, or notes written on her palm, she clearly can't perform. Anyone who still thinks Palin is capable of being VP, much less President, perhaps needs to have their IQ tested along with Palin.


McCain plays himself for a fool - will attend the debate

John McCain has just played himself as the ultimate fool. His campaign announced late this morning that McCain would attend the Presidential Debate tonight, despite the candidate's declaration on Wednesday that he wouldn't attend until an agreement on the proposed bailout package was "locked down". McCain inserted himself into the ongoing negotiations yesterday and all of a sudden, the process came to a screeching halt. This morning, with no deal reached and mounting public anger over the prospect of a cancelled debate, McCain capitulated.

McCain's decision to attend the debate was no doubt fueled by three things: 1) Obama was about to get 90 minutes of uninterrupted prime time coverage as the sole debate participant 2) A poll released by ABC yesterday showed Obama up by 9% following McCain's stunt on Wednesday 3) And an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll out Friday just before McCain's announcement showed the public overwhelmingly wanted the candidates to debate, 60 percent to 22 percent. And that, "my friends" is the real reason McCain is on a plane to Oxford, Mississippi right now.

McCain's big gamble to look "Presidential" in the face of the financial crisis didn't pay off. He looks like a fool not capable of sticking to his word or setting a clear direction for his campaign. The first fly in McCain's ointment was Obama, who didn't take the bait when McCain proposed cancelling the debate. Obama questioned why McCain couldn't multi-task and participate in the debate and the bailout negotiations in the same day. The second fly was Republican Representatives who refused to play nice or let McCain take the role as the great uniter.

John McCain's erratic, shoot-from-the-hip behavior should scare Americans. If this man can't even decide whether or not he should attend a debate, he shouldn't be allowed to decide the future of the country.


Still debating the first Presidential debate

It's less than 10 hours before the first Presidential Debate is set to kick off at Ole Miss University and McCain is still playing his foolish game of cat and mouse. After unnecessarily inserting himself into the middle of the bailout negotiations, McCain finds the process stalled and the House Republicans (who don't like him) standing firm on their objections.

So what does McCain do with the mess he created? If he leaves to go to the debate, it looks like he cut and run on the negotiations that he implied only he could save. If he stays and can't get the House Republicans to budge, he looks like a failed leader who can't even get his own Party to fall in line. Quite a dilemma.

Meanwhile, down in Mississippi, an army of people who have been working for the last month to pull off this debate are left holding the bag. Not to mention Obama, who will be there with or without McCain. The potential alternative to a debate is to let Obama take questions from the audience and the moderator in a Town Hall style format (McCain's bread and butter). Of course Obama has been prepping for a debate, not a Town Hall meeting, but he will certainly rise to the occasion. As for McCain, he has just proven how out of touch, reckless and irrelevant he really is.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Palin knows good guys from bad guys -- ready to lead!

If you thought Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric on CBS couldn't get any worse, this exchange about Israel shows just how painful it gets when Palin freestyles. During Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson a few weeks ago, he asked if she would support Israel if they attacked Iran. Palin repeated in a parrot-like trance several times that the U.S. shouldn't second guess Israel. Couric pressed the issue again in her interview with Palin tonight:

Couric: "You recently said three times that you would never, quote, "second guess" Israel if that country decided to attack Iran. Why not?"

Palin: "We shouldn't second guess Israel's security efforts because we cannot ever afford to send a message that we would allow a second Holocaust, for one. Israel has got to have the opportunity and the ability to protect itself. They are our closest ally in the Mideast. We need them. They need us. And we shouldn't second guess their efforts."

Couric: "You don't think the United States is within its rights to express its position to Israel? And if that means second-guessing or discussing an option? "

Palin: "No, abso … we need to express our rights and our concerns and …

Couric: "But you said never second guess them."

Palin: "We don't have to second-guess what their efforts would be if they believe … that it is in their country and their allies, including us, all of our best interests to fight against a regime, especially Iran, who would seek to wipe them off the face of the earth. It is obvious to me who the good guys are in this one and who the bad guys are. The bad guys are the ones who say Israel is a stinking corpse and should be wiped off the face of the earth. That's not a good guy who is saying that. Now, one who would seek to protect the good guys in this, the leaders of Israel and her friends, her allies, including the United States, in my world, those are the good guys."

This isn't a children's game of cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians. It's not about good guys and bad guys. It's about dealing with the reality of the world we live in. God only knows what world Palin is living in.


McCain is the fly in the ointment during bailout talks

John McCain swooped into bailout negotiations today in Washington DC and accomplished absolutely nothing - except possibly stalling the process. Earlier this afternoon, word came out that a tentative deal had been struck. Then Bush convenes a meeting at the White House and the deal is off the table. McCain sat quietly through the meeting, never offered specifics, and spoke only at the end to raise doubts about the rough compromise that was reached earlier.

Sen. Chris Dodd, head of the Banking Committee, described McCain's presence as politically motivated with the potential to derail the negotiation process:

"What this looked like to me was a rescue plan for John McCain for two hours and took us away from the work we are trying to do today. Serious people trying to do serious work to come up with an answer."

McCain's antics of forcing himself into the bailout negotiations show that the only thing he puts first is his campaign.


Palin digs herself in deeper with inane comments about Russia

You would think that Sarah Palin would have learned from her first interview with Charlie Gibson - or that someone would have told her - never repeat that ridiculous line about having foreign policy credentials because you can see Russia from Alaska. But oops, she did it again tonight with Katie Couric.

COURIC: "You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience.
What did you mean by that? "

PALIN: "That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have with-- Canada. It-- it's funny that a comment like that was-- kind of made to-- cari-- I don't know, you know? Reporters--"

COURIC: "Mock? "

PALIN: "Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah."

COURIC: "Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials."

PALIN: "Well, it certainly does because our-- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia--"

COURIC: "Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?"

PALIN: "We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space 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."

Actually, Palin Palin has two trade specialists working for the governor's office. The top countries receiving Alaskan goods are Japan, Korea, China, Canada and Germany, according to 2006 export data, the most recent figures published, with seafood accounting for 50 percent of exports. Sounds like serious foreign policy work...

The McCain camp must be howling in agony over this interview. No wonder McCain wanted to delay his debate and hold it instead of the VP debate. What in the world is Palin babbling about Putin rearing his head in our air space and Russians in the state that she's the executive of? She makes it sound like Alaska is to Russia like New York is to New Jersey. They are not in her backyard. They are separated by an ocean. Palin's pathetic attempt to bolster her creds only continue to destroy them every time she opens her mouth.


A first: Palin takes questions from the media on the campaign trail

For the first time in nearly four weeks on the campaign trail, Sarah Palin (sort of) answered four whole questions from reporters Thursday in New York. After touring several Sept. 11-related sites, she was asked whether she supports the reelection bids of embattled Alaska Republicans Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young. Palin said, "We’ll see where that goes,” and promptly ignored a follow-up question on whether she would vote for Stevens and Young.

Palin was then asked if she would have acted differently than the Bush administration in its war on terror. Palin said,

“I agree with the Bush administration that we take the fight to them. We never again let them come onto our soil and try to destroy not only our democracy but communities like the community of New York. Never again. So, yes, I do agree with taking the fight to the terrorists and stopping them over there.”

She answered a follow-up question about whether she thought the continued U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has inflamed Islamic extremists this way
“I think our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan will lead to further security of our nation, again, because the mission is to take the fight over there. Do not let them come over here and attempt again what they accomplished here, and that was some destruction, terrible destruction on that day. But since Sept. 11, Americans are uniting and rebuilding and committing to never letting that happen again."
Her response indicated her belief that Iraq is somehow responsible for 9/11, when everyone knows it isn't true. It's not the first time she's made that claim. During a speech a couple of weeks ago at an army base in Fairbanks, Alaska, Sarah Palin told the Iraqi-bound soldiers they would be defending "the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans."
This woman really needs to get her facts straight, and quite frankly, stay away from the microphone. With every off-the-cuff statement she makes, she seems to lower her IQ points.


History repeating: Not the first time McCain has cancelled a debate

One day before the first scheduled Presidential Debate the big question remains: Will John McCain will end his political grandstanding and show up? Yesterday, McCain said he would only attend the debate if an agreement was reached on the financial industry bailout bill. A vote is set for Saturday on the tentative deal reached today. So a vote on Saturday, the day after the debate, shouldn't keep McCain from attending yet he still won't commit.

This wouldn't be the first time McCain cut and run on a debate. On March 3, 2000, with polls showing his campaign dead in the water among California Republicans, John McCain pulled out of a long-scheduled debate to be held in Los Angeles with then Texas Gov. George Bush. The CNN-Los Angeles Times debate was the only scheduled head-to-head meeting of the two candidates in California before the primary.

McCain's campaign tried to cover up for the terrible poll numbers and attributed McCain's cancellation on Bush's earlier reluctance to appear at the debate. Sound familiar? Fast forward to this election -- just weeks ago, McCain was blaming the nasty tenor of the campaign on Barack Obama because he wouldn't accept McCain's invitation to appear at Town Hall meetings. Hmmm. Blame the other guy for your shortcomings, good one.

Rewind back to the debate vs. Bush in 2000 -- McCain's campaign confirmed to CNN that he would not appear but McCain and his surrogates wouldn't admit it publicly. The same day they told CNN it was a no-go, the San Francisco Chornicle questioned McCain's communications director, Dan Schnur, about whether McCain would attend. Schnur said, "Thirty- three million Californians are worth that attention . . . and we'll be there, either way.''

So here we are, 8 years later and McCain is up to his old tricks. This week McCain has gotten hammered in the polls for his schizophrenic remarks about the economy. When an opportunity presented itself for him to duck out of the debate, claiming the economy wouldn't survive without his immediate attention, he took it.


Mighty Mouse McCain adds no value to bailout talks

Yesterday, McCain said he was 'suspending' his campaign to fly back to Washington to negotiate the financial markets bailout plan. Senators have been debating the $700-billion bailout bill all week long without any help from McCain so imagine their suprise at his announcement. McCain, who hasn't cast a vote in the Senate since April, isn't a member of the Banking Committee, which is negotiating the deal, and has admitted the economy isn't his strong suit, is swooping in to save the day (or more accurately, try to save himself from declining poll numbers). Here's how Rep. Barney Frank (D. Mass), chairman of the House's Banking Committee, described McCain's involvement;

"He's been irrelevant to the process. He remains to be. I was afraid that his dropping in here, like Andy Kaufman's Mighty Mouse -- 'here I am to save the day' -- I thought that would slow things down. I didn't see any sign of our Republican colleagues paying any attention to him whatsoever."

So what value did McCain add? By all accounts, absolutely none. After McCain's announcement yesterday that he was rushing back to Washington, he actually stayed in New York to do an interview with Katie Couric and then lingered until late this morning to give a speech at Bill Clinton's Global Initiative. McCain flew to Washington and arrived early afternoon to learn that a tentative deal on the bailout had already been reached. Despite the fact that McCain had nothing to do with the agreement, his spokesperson Tucker Bounds (who I'm beginning to think is a half-wit) had the gall to take credit. During an interview today, he said:

"Before John McCain suspended his campaign yesterday, the situation that we're looking at today looked very different then. After he showed leadership and called for bipartisanship, for us to partisanship aside and tackle this solution head on, here we are. And we're going into a debate, I think we're going there strong."

Besides being an outright lie, since the agreement was reached before McCain set foot in the Capitol, Bounds must not have gotten the memo that McCain still hasn't agreed to attend the Presidential debate. The McCain campaign is quickly coming unhinged - thanks mostly to McCain's rash decisions and false bravado.


Palin calls Iraq War a "victory" and attributes Afghanistan debacle to the tricky terrain

Here's a sneak preview of Katie Couric's interview with Sarah Palin which will air on the CBS Evening News tonight. Couric questions Palin about Afghanistan and follows up on Palin's comment that the fight there is more challenging then in Iraq. Palin's muddled, stream-of-consciousness reply is barely intelligible. Her handlers should have given her a better briefing on McCain's cornerstone issues - war and fighting.

Couric: "Why is it much more challenging there? Can you explain that?"

Sarah Palin: "The logistics that we are already suggesting here, not having enough troops in the area right now. The… things like the terrain even in Afghanistan and that border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where, you know, we believe that-- Bin Laden is-- is hiding out right now and… and is still such a leader of this terrorist movement. There… there are many more challenges there. So, again, I believe that… a surge in Afghanistan also will lead us to victory there as it has proven to have done in Iraq. And as I say, Katie, that we cannot afford to retreat, to withdraw in Iraq. That's not gonna get us any better off in Afghanistan either. And as our leaders are telling us in our military, we do need to ramp it up in Afghanistan, counting on our friends and allies to assist with us there because these terrorists who hate America, they hate what we stand for with the… the freedoms, the democracy, the… the women's rights, the tolerance, they hate what it is that we represent and our allies, too, and our friends, what they represent. If we were… were to allow a stronghold to be captured by these terrorists then the world is in even greater peril than it is today. We cannot afford to lose in Afghanistan."

Is Palin completely incapable of stringing together a cohesive thought? It sounds like she just said the reason Afghanistan is a challenge is because of the terrain. I'm beginning to think Palin has a terrain-fetish. First she tells Charlie Gibson that she's equipped to deal with Russia because she can see their land for Alaska. Now she claims the calamity in Afghanistan is terrain-oriented. Someone needs to bring Palin back to earth. And how about her remark that a surge in Afghanistan will lead us to victory there as it has proven to have done in Iraq. Palin and McCain must be the only two people in the world doing a victory dance for Iraq. Earth to Palin!


Palin searching for answers to Couric's questions

Sarah Palin and John McCain are still earnestly peddling their revised version of McCain's record in the Congress. McCain, who has fought for deregulation his entire career (or until this week), is now portraying himself as the great reformer. He's the guy who has been advocating deregulation for 26 years. Remember the Savings & Loan melt down in the 1990s? McCain advocated deregulating that industry (including his buddy Charles Keating's failed banks). It should come as no surprise that Palin tried to tout the party line last night in her interview on CBS, but Katie Couric didn't let her off the hook. Couric challenged Palin in this exchange:

Couric: "But he's been in Congress for 26 years, he's been Chairman of the Commerce Committee and he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more."

Palin: "He's also known as a maverick though, taking shots from his own party and certainly taking shots from the other party trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about, the need to reform government."

Couric: "I'm going to ask you one more time, not to belabor the point, specific examples during his 26 years, of pushing for more regulation."

Palin: (Smirks) "I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to ya."

Couric might be waiting a very long time for those examples because they aren't any. McCain has never favored regulation, he advocates for free markets with no government regulation or oversight. That's why we're in the mess we're in. And shame on McCain's handlers for not giving Palin some more talking points on this one. She clearly doesn't know enough to answer these kinds of questions on her own. Once again, she's caught looking like a complete fool.


Palin's answer is blowin' in the wind

See if you can make sense of this nonsensical exchange between Sarah Palin and Katie Couric during their interview on CBS last night. Couric asked Palin if she supported the $700 billion bailout plan for the financial industry. Seems like a straightforward question. Here is Palin's response:

"I'm ill about the position that American is in and that we have to look at a $700 billion bailout. At the same time, we know that inaction is not an option and as John McCain has said, unless this nearly trillion dollar bailout, which is what it may end up to be, unless there are amendments in (Secretary of the Treasury) Paulson's proposal, really, I don't believe Americans are going to support this and we aren't going to support this. The interesting thing in the last couple of days that I have seen is Americans are waiting to see what John McCain will do on this program. They're not waiting to see what Barack Obama is gonna do. Is he gonna just (Palin licks her finger and wags it in the air) do this and see which way the political wind's blowing? They're waiting to see these amendments implemented in Paulson's proposal."

I'm not sure which Americans Palin is referring to, but I certainly haven't been holding my breath waiting to see what John McCain will do. Considering he said less than two weeks ago that the fundamentals of our economy were strong, he's hardly the expert. The only one blowing with the political wind is McCain.

The polls have Obama up by as much as 12% when it comes to who Americans trust on the economy. Those poll numbers led to McCain's antics yesterday when he announced he was suspending his campaign to deal with the financial crisis. According to McCain, we went from being financially strong to being on the verge of a Great Depression by Monday (yes, he said it) unless he gets involved. I think Palin's wind meter just exploded with hot air.


Palin's second media interview is as unimpressive as her first

Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric on CBS News last night shows just how dangerous things get when Palin has to go off script. The campaign has given her a few key points to recite and she clings to them like a parrot. When Katie Couric asked Palin about Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, and his involvement in Freddie Mac, here's what she said:

"My understanding is that Rick Davis recused himself from the dealings in that firm. Um, I don't know how long ago - a year or two ago, and that he's not benefiting from that. And you know, I would hope that that's the case."

Well, that's not the case Sarah. Davis was paid $15,000 a month by Freddie Mac until the government took them over at the end of August. When Couric pressed Palin again on Davis' involvement and whether it was a conflict of interest, Palin stared at her for five seconds in silence before responding:

"Again, my understanding is that he recused himself from the dealings with Freddie and Fannie and any lobbying efforts on his part there and I would hope that that's the case."

Clearly, the McCain campaign should have given Palin some more coaching to get her past the initial question so she wouldn't look like a deer in the headlights. The fact is Davis didn't recuse himself from his dealings with Freddie Mac until they cut him lose because they went broke. Sarah needs some new talking points, or given her silly performance, this might be the last media interview we see before the election.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain to no-show at debate in ultimate act of political gamesmanship

John McCain tried the ultimate in political gamesmanship today and Obama called his bluff. McCain, who last week said the fundamentals of our economy were strong, today decided the country was in such dire straits that he needed to cancel Friday's first presidential debate to take care of it. In fact, McCain's campaign warned we could be facing another Great Depression by Monday if the bailout isn't addressed. Are they for real - how do you go from fundamentally strong to a depression within a week. The only bailout McCain is really interested in is a bailout of his failing campaign.

Obama didn't take the bait. He smartly responded by rejecting the proposal saying,
"Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time. It is not necessary for us to think we can do only one thing and suspend everything else."

McCain probably didn't expect Obama to call his bluff. His real intention was to take back control of the news cycle because he's been hammered all week long for his erratic comments about the economy. McCain said that he would fire the (Republican) head of the SEC, which the President can't do. He also slammed Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac for their failings and then outright denied the fact that his campaign manager was on Freddie Mac's payroll until their takeover by the government last month.

McCain's bad week was reflected in the latest polls. This morning, the Washington Post reported: "Economic Fears Give Obama Clear Lead Over McCain in Poll." The poll, which showed Obama with a 52-43 lead, found that: "Turmoil in the financial industry and growing pessimism about the economy have altered the shape of the presidential race, giving ...Obama the first clear lead of the general-election campaign... More voters trust Obama to deal with the economy, and he currently has a big edge as the candidate who is more in tune with the economic problems Americans now face."

McCain's false show of 'leadership' in the financial crisis is thinly veiled. It's about stopping the hemorraging from his campaign. The fact is, negotiations on the bailout are well underway on Capitol Hill, so McCain's delusion about riding in on a white horse to save the day are laughable. Funnier still is McCain's proposal that Friday's debate be moved to Oct 2, the date of the first VP debate between Palin and Biden, and that the VP debate be postponed or rescheduled for some time in the future (like when, Nov 5?). They must be terrified of Palin's performance. If she can't even talk to the press, how is she going to stand on a stage and answer hard-hitting questions for an hour.

Seeing McCain's political ploy for what it is, Obama said he was committed to holding the debate:

"With respect to the debates it is my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who in roughly 40 days will be responsible for this mess. I think it is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once."

Apparently, McCain can't do two things at once so he's calling for a time-out; maybe he needs nap time too. What's even more troubling than McCain's stunt is that he wasn't the first to suggest a bi-partisan approach to the bailout crisis. Obama campaign spokesperson Bill Burton issued a statement earlier today:

"At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal. At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama's call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details."

McCain then sent out an email at 2:56 PM Wednesday, designed to pre-empt Obama's joint statement, calling for a suspension of the campaigns and cancelling the debate. McCain's Hail Mary pass smacks of desperation. He is frantic to regain control of the news cycle and stop his sliding poll numbers. For all McCain's false bravado about the saving the day on the bailout negotiations, as recently as yesterday, when a reporter asked him about his position on the proposal, McCain said, “I have not had a chance to see it in writing." Originally (until the latest poll numbers), McCain McCain planned to skip the vote on the bailout and continue campaigning.
As it stands now, McCain says he'll only show up for the debate if a deal is reached by Friday on the bailout package. Let's pray that the Congress for once in it's existence can reach a deal quickly and force McCain to make good on his word and show up to debate - something he's clearly not prepared to do. If not, they should let Obama have one hour of uninterrupted air time on national TV.


McCain's campaign manager on Freddie Mac's payroll until this month

John McCain has added a real whopper to the long rap sheet of misleading statements and outright lies he has made during his campaign. The New York Times and Newsweek reported last night that McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, has been getting paid $15,000 a month by Freddie Mac until this month when it was taken over by the government. This news contradicts what McCain said in an interview on Sunday with CNBC and The New York Times. Responding to a question about Mr. Davis's role, McCain insisted his campaign manager ended his work with the company in 2005, adding that Davis "had nothing to do with it since, and I'll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who wants to look at it."

The New York Times now reports: "One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain's campaign manager from the end of 2005 through last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement. The disclosure contradicts a statement Sunday night by Mr. McCain that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had no involvement with the company for the last several years. Mr. Davis's firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street..."

David Donnelly, director of the watchdog group Campaign Money Watch, released this statement in response to the story: "John McCain's campaign manager and Freddie Mac essentially had a secret half a million dollar lay-a-way plan. For almost three years, they made secret, monthly payments of $15,000 to Rick Davis for apparently no other work than for him to provide special access to a future McCain White House in exchange. If McCain knew about this, his presidential campaign should be over. If he didn't know about it, he ought to fire Rick Davis immediately."

McCain's campaign has devolved into a mess of lies, deception and manipulation. Whether it's shielding Sarah Palin from the media to hide her lack of knowledge, keeping McCain away from the mike so he doesn't make any more rambling, incoherent statement, or covering up the campaign manager's role in the housing debacle, the wheels came off this "straight talk express" back in the primaries and the bus is now careening out of control.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Note to the Media: McCain-Palin are you playing you for fools

Sarah Palin gets three notches in her foreign experience belt today for meeting with three international leaders who were attending the United Nation's General Assembly meetings in New York. Too bad the media didn't get to report on any of it.

Palin's first meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai lasted about 30 minutes and the press was barred from covering all but the opening pleasantries (see earlier blog posting for details). At the next two meetings, one with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the other with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, reporters were let in for a few seconds at the start. During her meeting with Kissinger, reporters heard their brief discussion about the situation in Georgia. Kissinger credited French President Nicolas Sarkozy for supporting the Georgian people during the crisis. He told Palin he was going to give a speech and give Sarkozy "a lot of credit for what he did in Georgia." Palin responded, "You're going to give me more insight on that also."

That's not the only thing she needs insight on - given her total lack of foreign policy experience. Filling the gaps in her foreign diplomacy resume is a tall order for anyone to fill, even the legendary Kissinger.

The media only got one other remark from Palin today. As she was being ushered into a waiting SUV in front of Kissinger's Park Avenue office, she jauntily told reporters that the meeting "was great."

So the witness protection-like secrecy surrounding Palin's every move and utterance continues. According to Reuters news, Randy Scheunemann, longtime McCain aide on foreign policy, was close at hand with Palin throughout her meetings today - no doubt to make sure she didn't commit any great gaffes.

Palin spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt offered this lame excuse for why editorial reporters were banned from the meeting with Zarzai: it was a "staff mix-up." Apparently, the mix up didn't get unmixed before the meetings later in the day with Uribe and Kissinger. Reporters were banned again from all but the pre-meeting pleasantries. And naturally, they were allowed to partake of the photo op sessions.

If the media had any gumption at this point, they would stop covering Palin altogether instead of taking the pathetic crumbs the campaign tosses them. Forget the photo ops; get a real interview or find someone else to cover. Palin and McCain are blatantly using the media to serve their own purposes, and so far, the media is letting them get away with it.


The No Talk Express: McCain shuts out the media

The McCain campaign is orchestrating a complete shut-out of the media. Along with keeping the press away from Palin, McCain is actively avoiding the reporters who follow him on the campaign trail. Today, after an appearance in Strongsville, Ohio, McCain blatantly ignored reporters' questions about the proposed plan to bailout the financial industry. In frustration, one journalist screamed out: "Has your bus become the No Talk Express?" In response, McCain smirked and kept walking.

As a candidate for President, McCain should be ready, willing and able to respond to questions about critical issues on the fly.

It's been 40 days since the Senator has taken a question from a national reporter, though word leaked out today that McCain is planning his first press conference since August 13. Palin, meanwhile, has yet to host a press conference or answer questions on the campaign trail.

McCain's unwillingness to talk to the media shows just how panicky the campaign is about McCain and Palin being able to deliver a cohesive statement about anything of substance.


Media revolts against coverage of Palin at United Nations

The national media revolted against the McCain campaign today for manipulating coverage of Palin's meetings at the United Nations. All networks were prepared to ban the use of pictures and video from Palin's meetings in protest against the campaign's restriction on editorial presence (meaning the campaign wouldn't allow audio coverage of the meetings or Q&A, just photos).

In the original plan, CNN would provide a video feed for all the networks and three journalists would provide editorial coverage for print, radio and TV. Earlier today, the McCain campaign said it would allow just one editorial person inside then changed their mind and limited coverage to a camera only. After the networks protested, the campaign reversed course again and allowed a CNN producer and some reporters in to the preliminary part of Palin's meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

After the political wrangling and machinations were over, all the media got from Palin's meeting with Karzai were polite pleasantries. Their conversation, which took place at Karzai's hotel suite, centered around children and the birth of Karzai's first child last year.

Palin: "What is his name?"

Karzai: "Mirwais. Mirwais, which means, 'The Light of the House.'"

Palin: "Oh nice."

Karzai: "He is the only one we have."

That's it - that's all they got. After listening to this inane chit-chat, the journalists were escorted out of the room. Just how inept is Palin when it comes to real conversations with real people about substantive issues? She must be horrifyingly bad since the McCain campaign is taking whatever measures possible to keep her from talking openly to the media and the public.


Sarah's Big Day at the United Nations

Sarah Palin has never met with a single foreign leader, until today. The McCain campaign is trotting her off to the United Nations for a crash course in foreign diplomacy. As the General Assembly convenes, Palin will use the opportunity to bolster her non-existent foreign policy credentials.

Today, Palin is scheduled to meet with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Tomorrow, she will get a foreign policy tutorial from Henry Kissinger before joining McCain and they will speed-date their way through meetings with Iraq's President Jalal Talabani; Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari; Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili; Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko; and ndia's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Besides glad-handing with foreign leaders for photo ops, Palin will not hold a single news conference or speech. The McCain campaign banned reporters from her first meetings with world leaders, allowing access only to photographers and a television crew. CNN, which was providing the television coverage for news organizations, pulled its TV crew, effectively denying Palin the high visibility she had sought.

Hopefully voters will see Palin's field trip to the UN for what it is: a political ploy that is completely without substance.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Palin's TrooperGate scandal becomes a complete soap opera

The more you muddy the waters, the dirtier you get. Sarah Palin must need a piping hot shower right about now. Today, Palin's attorneys met with an investigator for the Alaska Personnel Board to broker her cooperation with their probe of the TrooperGate scandal. Palin herself requested that the Board investigate the scandal and insisted she had nothing to hide. Now Palin's lawyers are negotiating her participation in the investigation she requested. Make sense?

Since becoming the VP nominee, Palin has refused to cooperate with the Republican-led state legislature's version of the investigation with the excuse it had become too "politicized."She argued the three-member Personnel Board -- part of her executive branch -- was the proper venue for the investigation.

In another development today, an internal government document obtained by ABC News seems to contradict Palin's most recent explanation for why she fired Walt Monegan, the Public Safety Commissioner. Palin is claiming that she fired Monegan because he had a "rogue mentality" and was bucking her administration's directives. Her lawyer argued that the "last straw" came when Monegan planned an "unauthorized" trip to Washington, D.C., to seek federal funds for an aggressive anti-sexual-violence program. The project, expected to cost from $10 million to $20 million a year for five years, would have been the first of its kind in Alaska, which leads the nation in reported forcible rape. The only problem with that argument is that Palin's chief of staff, Mike Nizich, authorized the trip, according to an internal travel document from the Department of Public Safety.

Palin's attempts to defy the legislative investigation and limit her participation in the investigation she authorized suggest one thing: Palin has something to hide and is trying to keep things under wrap until after Election Day.


McCain camp ensures Palin's "readiness" is not open for debate

Not only is Sarah Palin not ready to be VP, or God forbid President, but apparently her own campaign doesn't think she's even ready to debate. At the McCain's campaign's insistence, the VP debate on Oct. 2 will have a short Q & A format to limit free-form, direct exchanges between candidates. According to the New York Times, the McCain camp fought for the structured format because they were concerned about Palin's lack of experience as a debater, especially next to her seasoned opponent, Joe Biden.

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which is sponsoring the forums, wanted a less structured format that would allow for unpredictable questions and challenges between the candidates. On Wednesday, the commission unanimously rejected the McCain campaign's proposal to have strict Q & A's, managed by the moderator, with no time for unstructured exchanges. The McCain camp said they wanted Palin to present McCain’s positions, rather than spending time talking about her experience or playing defense.

Palin, who has evaded the national media for nearly a month, with the exception of a disastrous interview with Charlie Gibson and a ridiculous love-fest with Sean Hannity, is now trying to manipulate her appearance at the debate. For someone who claims to have nothing to hide, Palin has done nothing but hide since being tapped for VP. The McCain's campaign desparate attempts to keep her from answering questions or thinking on her feet confirms that the empress has no clothes.


McCain turns campaign over to Bush Flunkies

McCain and Palin, who have lauded themselves as mavericks and agents of change, have abdicated the running of their campaign to Bush operatives. The new McCain campaign team is lead by Steve Schmidt, who advised Bush during his 2004 campaign. Schmidt has assembled a campaign team whose members are deeply entrenched in the Bush Administration.

The team includes: Mark Wallace, a Bush appointee to the United Nations; Tucker Eskew, who ran strategic communications for the Bush White House; Greg Jenkins, deputy assistant to Bush in his first term and executive director of the 2004 inauguration; Nicole Wallace, communications director at the White House and senior-level communications adviser to McCain and Palin; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former chief economist for Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, is now McCain's domestic policy adviser; and Bush speechwriter, Matthew Scully wrote Palin's convention speech.

The McCain campaign's new Bush-era advisers have rarely left Sarah Palin's side. When she returned to Alaska for the first time since becoming the VP nominee, at least half a dozen advisers went with her to conduct briefings, manage her interview with Charlie Gibson and prep her for the VP debate on Oct. 2.

The Bush team has been able to resurrect McCain's stagnent campaign by using the same low-brow tactics that kept Bush afloat. But their mere involvement points to McCain's weakness and inability to manage his own affairs. It also seems to prove the theory that McCain will be an extensive of the Bush years.


McCain's campaign manager worked to deregulate Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

John McCain's hypocrisy has reached new levels. Days after reinventing himself as the regulator and reformer of greedy companies, we learn that McCain's campaign manager and longtime adviser Rick Davis, was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations. What makes this news even more outrageous is just days earlier, McCain ran a false ad claiming former head of Fannie Mae, Franklin Raines, was a top adviser to the Obama campaign. The claim was debunked by Raines, who only met Obama once.

The false ads against Obama also angered some current and former executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They were so incensed they came forward to discuss Rick Davis's role in helping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beat back regulatory challenges. “The value that he brought to the relationship was the closeness to Senator McCain and the possibility that Senator McCain was going to run for president again,” said Robert McCarson, a former spokesman for Fannie Mae.

McCain's campaign tactics have reached the dregs of the gutter. The truth, and his long-standing position on key issues, have become irrelevant as the campaign desperately attempts to grab votes however they can.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Palin stuck in endless replay mode

Here's some advice for Palin enthusiasts: Forget crowding in to town hall meetings in the middle of nowhere to see her, just replay her convention speech and you'll know everything you need to know. That's because Palin, who's been on the campaign trail now for over two weeks, hasn't deviated from the strident insults and folksy remarks she delivered at the Republican Convention.

Imagine the poor reporters that follow her; they must be ready to pull their hair out every time she utters: "And I told Congress thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere" (especially because it's not true).

According to an MSNBC reporter following McCain-Palin on the trail, Palin uses the same tired convention speech lines nearly every time, including: “There's a time for politics and a time for leadership, a time to campaign and a time to put our country first.” And she ends with, “There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you.”

No doubt the McCain campaign is urging her to stay on script because when she free-forms it, things get ugly (reminds me of the painful times when George Bush goes off-the-cuff). For example, last Monday in the midst of the financial crisis that tanked Wall Street, Palin made this brilliant observation, "(the system) needs some shakin’ up and some fixin." Sounds more like a line from a Shake-n-Bake commercial than a response to one of the greatest financial crisis in our history.

Or (as reported here in a previous post) how about her response to a question about economic equity for women that arose during a town hall meeting in Michigan. A former Hillary Clinton supporter in the crowd asked Palin,“Give us some details and examples of your strategies and plan for economic empowerment for women.” Those holding their breath for a substanitive response from Palin must have turned blue when she responded "...I’ll tell ya, I’m a product of Title IX in our schools, where equal education and equal opportunities in sports really helped propel me into the—I guess into the position that I’m in today where.”

Actually, I think dumb luck, good timing and an irresponsible decision by McCain propelled her into the position she's in today. Like George Bush, Palin is out of her league but has the support of the Republican Party to gussy her up to look like a viable candidate. Don't fall for it twice.


McCain handlers now handling Alaska state business

McCain campaign staffers have invaded the state house in Alaska. Sarah Palin seems to no longer care that she is Governor of the state and must answer to the people that elected her. The campaign's handlers are now handling public and press questions about Palin. So much for Palin's pledge to Alaskans to "hold me accountable... I don't have anything to hide." Even the hometown paper, The Anchorage Daily News, has called her out for hiding behind the campaign's flunkies.

On Thursday, campaign spokesman Ed O'Callaghan made the stunning announcement that Todd Palin won't testify about his role in TrooperGate, despite a subpoena. O'Callaghan also said Sarah Palin would be "unlikely" to cooperate with the Alaska Legislature's investigation into claims that she abused her power when she fired the state's public safety commissioner. ABC News reported that Gov. Palin's press secretary, Bill McAllister, didn't know the McCain staffers were making these announcements.

Palin is keeping McCain's staff busy. Besides pumping her with knowledge about everything from foreign policy to the economy, they are now creating a shield to protect her from the citizens and media in the state that she governs. It's like when Toto the dog pulled back the curtain in Oz and we found out the Great Wizard was really just someone with a lot of smoke and mirrors.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Palin sucker punches Alaska Legislature

Sarah Palin may have more in common with George Bush then even John McCain does. Her go-with-the-gut, slash and burn style of politics is eerily reminiscent of Bush. Palin's record as Governor in Alaska shows her to be a de-unifer; bulldozing through whoever gets in her way. John Britney, Palin's campaign policy direct and first legislative liaison described her this way:

"She tends to . . . create a situation where legislators are cornered -- going against her would be political suicide."

By way of example, consider Palin's actions against her state legislature this past April. Palin was frustrated because the Senate was thwarting a change she wanted to make in business license fees. Three days before the legislature went on recess, Palin's aides went through the Department of Commerce records to get e-mail addresses for nearly 23,000 Alaskan business owners. Palin then sent a mass email with her official portrait and the state seal urging recipients to contact their senator immediately and providing the contact information.

Palin's email infuriated State Senators. They insisted she had misused state records, violated privacy laws and an ethics rule forbidding Alaska's state employees to use information to which they have access for personal or political benefit. Palin insisted she had done nothing wrong and ultimately got her way: the legislature caved in and changed the license fee.

Palin seems to have little interest in working within or across party lines to get things done. Like Bush, she governs from the gut and often leaves those left in her wake feeling nauseous. Along with her bullying style, she seems incapable or unable to understandthe details of public policy. Larry Persily, former associate director of Palin's Washington DC office described her this way:

"She's not known for burning the midnight oil on in-depth policy issues."

Palin's actions as Governor also doesn't match up to the image she's cultivating for herself. Palin the fiscal reformer has actually increased state spending by about one-fifth since taking office. An advocate for public safety, she has been criticised for not providing enough money to the state police and public safety projects. The supposed rejector of the "Bridge to Nowhere" still has the money allocated for the original project, which she supported, and is using it to fund another bridge project. Palin the fiscal conservative spent $26 million federal dollars on a road that would lead to the Bridge to Nowhere.

In true Bush-like style, Palin relies on a very small, loyal group of advisers, which includes her husband. Although he's not employed by the state, Todd Palin's presence in the statehouse is described as unusual for a first spouse. He sits in on news conferences, occasional Cabinet meetings and private sessions with lawmakers.

If 8 years of Bush's go-with-the-gut style of politics hasn't left you with a stomach ache, then then by all means vote for McCain-Palin, they seem to offer more of the same.


Friday, September 19, 2008

McCain's Prescription for Health Care: DEREGULATION

In the wake of one of the worst financial weeks in our history, it bears pointing out that John McCain favors deregulating health care just like he favored deregulating the financial market. McCain "promotes market-based competition" for health care and advocates for the same lack of oversight in that industry that tanked Wall Street this week.

In the Sept/Oct 2008 issue of Contingencies Magazine, a publication for the Amercian Academy of Actuaries, McCain has an article titled "Better Health Care at Lower Cost for Every American." Here's what he says about health care reform:

"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."

McCain is saying if we marketize and deregulate health care, it would yield the same success as the financial market. Given this week's fall-out, I'll bet McCain wishes he could go back and edit the article. Or given McCain's recent penchant for pandering, he'll just reincarnate himself as the great regulator of health care, like he started doing on Tuesday when talking about the economy.


John McBush & Karl Rove -- the legend continues

Just when you thought the McCain campaign couldn't get any seedier, now they're taking cues on how to handle the economic crisis from Karl Rove, mastermind (oxymoron) of the Bush Administration and legendary hatchet man. On Wednesday, Rove appeared on FOX's "Hannity & Colmes" and laid out a plan for McCain to counterattack Obama on the economy. His advice was to artificially link the current financial and housing crisis to the Democrats and invent ties between Obama and Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae. Rove said:

"I do think that McCain and Palin ought to identify that the source of this contagion, the thing that started these dominoes going down was the misbehavior of Fannie and Freddie, who I would remind you are the biggest part of the bailouts."

Rove also specifically brought up former Fannie Mae executive Frank Raines' name to use as a catalyst for the guilt-by-association game:

"Remember in 2003 and 2004, Raines was one of the people at Fannie and Freddie. He was the head who said our financial statements are untrustworthy. These people have not been able to put out trustworthy financial statements for the better part of the decade."

The very next day, McCain released a new attack ad. In it, he said Frank Raines is an Obama housing adviser and cited the mismanagement that occurred at Fannie Mae under Raines' leadership. Never one to let truth get in the way, McCain simply ignored the fact that Raines isn't an Obama adviser. Obama has only briefly met Raines once at an event - which I guess is equal to the number of times McCain met Palin before offering her the VP spot. When Raines caught wind of the ad campaign, he emailed top McCain adviser Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard:

"Carly: Is this true? I am not an adviser to the Obama campaign."

According to Ranies, she didn't respond but The Associated Press was given a copy of the e-mail.

In his desperation to gain traction and defile his opponent, McCain has stooped to flat-out lying with the guidance of none other than Karl Rove. Sometimes when you get too low in the gutter, you can't see your way out -- that's where McCain is now.


Palin attempts to meet with first foreign leader

Sarah Palin, who admitted in an interview with Charlie Gibson last week that she'd never met with a foreign leader, is attempting to put one in the plus column. According to NBC News, Palin has asked to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at next week's meeting of the United Nations' General Assembly.

Palin's invite to Karzai was probably an attempt to counterpunch Joe Biden, who actually is meeting with the new Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. There's no word on whether Karzai accepted Palin's invite. If he does, let's hope she doesn't repeat what she told Gibson about her credentials for dealing with Russia: "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska."

That ought to impress him.