Friday, October 31, 2008

Good, this should come down

This from The Australian:

The controversial Halloween display of an effigy of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin hanging by a noose outside a home near Los Angeles has been taken down, local authorities said.

The people who hung the figure from the roof of their house "began to realise what they had done caused a little more of a reaction than they had hoped for", said spokesman for the sheriff of Los Angeles Steve Whitmore today.

For the Halloween holiday many Americans decorate their homes with ghoulish displays of monsters, witches and ghosts.

Iowa GOP activist sees Palin's view of rally

(This is crossposted at Iowa

The former Carroll County chairwoman of Rudy Giuliani’s campaign had a prime vantage point for a major Sarah Palin rally in Des Moines.

As Palin, the GOP vice presidential candidate, addressed a crowd estimated at 10,000 at Hy-Vee Hall just days ago, Keeley Sinnard was standing behind the Alaska governor — seeing the event in the same way Palin did.

What Sinnard saw was quite revealing, said the local GOP activist who is now working for U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential effort locally as former New York City Mayor Giuliani’s bid failed to take hold.

“Everybody was just enamored and excited, hanging on her words,” Sinnard said. “Since I was behind her, I could see the reaction of those who were watching her and, wow, is she good. She drew a huge crowd that was energized and ready to get out the vote.”

Sinnard said there is substance behind the media caricature of Palin as something of a Caribou Barbie.

“She got to where she was on her own,” Sinnard said. “She didn’t have a man to get there like Hillary (Clinton).”

What’s more, Sinnard said, Palin’s message will resonate with Iowans.

“I thought her speech was very good,” Sinnard said. “She referenced Joe the farmer and that drew a lot of applause. I catch a lot of everyone’s — Obama, (Sen. Joe) Biden, McCain — speeches via cable TV as I work from home. So, some of the aspects of her speech weren’t new to me, but to those who aren’t as obsessed as I can be with politics, it was very good. She attacked Obama on taxes, spreading the wealth.”

Most independent analysts say Obama’s economic plan would raise taxes on only the relatively small percentage of American families earning more than $250,000 per year.

Sinnard she said was thrilled that Arizonan McCain selected Palin as his running mate.
“I think she has a ton of experience and I think she deserves to be where she is,” Sinnard said, adding, “What has (Barack) Obama run?”

Sinnard, 41, a mother of three children who works for a New York information technology firm virtually from a computer in her Carroll home, said that in spite of recent polls showing Democrat Obama ahead, she senses a tightening race.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Sinnard said. “The polls are getting closer.”

That said, Sinnard is frustrated with the popular image that has been created of Palin. She thinks not-so-thinly veiled sexism is very much at work in the media and Democrats’ portrayal of Palin.

“I think a white female is at the bottom of the totem pole these days,” Sinnard said.

She added, “I don’t even think they would have treated Condoleezza Rice like that.”
Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, was mentioned as both a presidential and vice presidential candidate for the Republicans, but she expressed no interest in those positions this cycle.

If McCain should lose on Tuesday, Sinnard expects Palin to be the immediate front-runner for the Republicans in the 2012 Iowa caucuses.
See PALIN on Page

Harkin: How can Palin not talk about biofuels or ethanol?

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement in response to Governor Palin’s remarks in Ohio earlier this week:

"It is unbelievable to me that Governor Palin spoke on energy today in Ohio and did not once mention biofuels or ethanol. These industries are an important component of Ohio’s economy and make up one of the fastest-growing sectors of Iowa’s economy. The renewable energy industry is creating jobs in Iowa, revitalizing our rural communities and making our nation more energy secure; yet the McCain-Palin ticket would like to turn back the clock on the progress we've made.

“In fact, the McCain-Palin plan of lifting tariffs on imported ethanol and ending subsidies for biofuels producers would be devastating to Iowa’s economy. Importing cheap foreign ethanol and letting Iowa’s farmers wither on the vine is a dramatic step in the wrong direction. Governor Palin’s visit to Ohio was another reminder of how a vote for the Republican ticket would be a vote for four more years of the same failed policies of President Bush.”

Monday, October 6, 2008

The million-dollar hockey mom

Doggone it, Joe Six Pack, this hockey mom and her near kin have assets worth over $1 million, according to tax reports.

She still just folks like y'all?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sarah Palin flow chart

Palin's forced folksiness falls flat in debate

If both vice presidential candidates fell into comas or some other sensory deprivation situation for the next two months and emerged to meet again, facing the same questions as they faced at Thursday’s debate in St. Louis, it is very likely we would see the same Joe Biden. The Delaware senator’s facile discussion of issues and world players, economic numbers and history, rose from a deep well of experience and a public career marked by curiosity.

For her part, GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin – speaking with the programmed cadence of a GPS navigation system — used forced folksiness to deliver crammed material in the manner of a high schooler looking to score a good grade on a Spanish test. The kid may escape with a B-minus, but he wouldn’t be able to order a cup of coffee in Spain a week later.

The most revealing exchange of the debate came when moderator Gwen Ifill of PBS asked Palin, the Alaska governor, to respond to Biden’s contention that the Bush Administration’s policy in the Middle East has been ineffective.

So is it, governor?

“No, but I’m so encouraged we both love Israel,” Palin said.

This after Biden offered a thorough, fact-filled commentary on the recent history of the players in the region.

With weird winks and homespunisms, Palin worked in several “you betchas” and “darn rights” and even a “shout out” to family in an effort to appeal to just folks.

As a small-town Iowan I didn’t find it genuine at all. She actually talked down to us, figuring that references to hockey moms and the hacknayed phrase “Joe Six Pack” and her self-application of the word “maverick” would hold more sway than a discussion of the issues. Details do matter — something the last two weeks and the current two wars have shown Americans.

On energy policy, one of the more important issues in Iowa, Palin could not explain GOP presidential candidate John McCain’s repeated votes against wind power, ethanol, and the renewable energy that have been so vital to the economy around here. She didn’t even give it the old college try.

Instead, as her party’s chief cheerleader, Palin corrected Biden on the — err… — cheer. It’s not “drill, drill, drill” but “drill, baby, drill,” Palin noted gleefully.

If you’re in the mood to buy it, her argument was essentially this: I’m more like you, and you can trust John McCain more than the other guy. Just go with me on it, she suggests.

Another remarkable part of the debate focused on the genocide in Darfur:

I don’t have the stomach for genocide when it comes to Darfur. We can now impose a no-fly zone. It’s within our capacity. We can lead NATO if we’re willing to take a hard stand. We can, I’ve been in those camps in Chad. I’ve seen the suffering, thousands and tens of thousands have died and are dying. We should rally the world to act and demonstrate it by our own movement to provide the helicopters to get the 21,000 forces of the African Union in there now to stop this genocide.

But as for as Darfur, we can agree on that also, the supported of the no-fly zone, making sure that all options are on the table there also. America is in a position to help. What I’ve done in my position to help, as the governor of a state that’s pretty rich in natural resources, we have a $40 billion investment fund, a savings fund called the Alaska Permanent Fund.When I and others in the legislature found out we had some millions of dollars in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars to make sure we weren’t doing anything that would be seen as condoning the activities there in Darfur.

When asked to name a policy issues on which each candidate had to change course to deal with evolving circumstances, Biden presented a detailed explanation of how he began factoring in ideology with judicial appointments — serious business.

Palin’s best shot was to suggest that maybe, just maybe, she shouldn’t have “quasi-caved” on a budget for the City of Wasilla, Alaska, where she was mayor until just recently.

Both candidates knew their roles were largely as surrogates and went after the opposing party’s presidential candidate. Palin used cliched lines, arguing, for example, that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would wave a white flag in Iraq. At one point, she said, “You walk the walk, you don’t just talk the talk,” but she lacked the requisite depth of knowledge to engage in the sort of exchange that would make such claims stick.

GOP handlers prepped Palin well enough for the initial questions of the night, but the Alaska governor was at a canyon-sized disadvantage when it came to follow-ups. She let Biden get in shot after shot in what was a strategy to line team McCain with the Bush dynasty.

Biden: Look, the maverick — let’s talk about the maverick John McCain is. And, again, I love him. He’s been a maverick on some issues, but he has been no maverick on the things that matter to people’s lives.

He voted four out of five times for George Bush’s budget, which put us a half a trillion dollars in debt this year and over $3 trillion in debt since he’s got there.

He has not been a maverick in providing health care for people. He has voted against — he voted including another 3.6 million children in coverage of the existing health care plan, when he voted in the United States Senate.

He’s not been a maverick when it comes to education. He has not supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to send their kids to college.

He’s not been a maverick on the war. He’s not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people really talk about around their kitchen table.

Can we send — can we get Mom’s MRI? Can we send Mary back to school next semester? We can’t — we can’t make it. How are we going to heat the — heat the house this winter?

He voted against even providing for what they call LIHEAP, for assistance to people, with oil prices going through the roof in the winter.

So maverick he is not on the important, critical issues that affect people at that kitchen table.

Palin let that go unanswered because she was obviously not fast enough on her feet. And you can’t blame Ifill for it, because Palin made a point of saying she was going to talk about what she wanted, not what Ifill or Biden were talking about.

While that media-bashing may work with the already-locked-in base, viewers with a fundamental sense of fairness saw the Alaska governor trying play outside of the rules in a debate in which Biden was civil — perhaps too much so. And which of Ifill’s questions in this debate were unfair “gotcha” questions, anyway?

Biden also seized on an opportunity to remind people of the power Dick Cheney has wielded as vice president. He said he thinks the VP’s office has had too much power, and he cast his would-be role in an Obama administration as largely advisory. Palin clearly wants Cheney-like powers. Something to think about.

Remarkably, Biden, thought to be the coldblooded product of two many years in the U.S. Senate, had the most genuine moment of humanity in the debate when he briefly choked up about car accident three decades ago that claimed his first wife and a daughter and left his sons injured.

“The notion that somehow, because I’m a man, I don’t know what it’s like to raise two kids alone, I don’t know what it’s like to have a child you’re not sure is going to — is going to make it — I understand,” Biden said.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palin looks to make sale

Here is The Boston Herald on what Palin faces.

A poll released Wednesday found that just 25 percent of likely voters believe Palin has the right experience to be president. That’s down from 41 percent just after the Republican convention. McCain’s recent slide behind Democratic rival Barack Obama in the polls also has been partly attributed to voters’ doubts over Palin’s readiness.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Palin can't even tell us what she reads

I try to read many newspapers and magazines -- hard copy and online -- each day. But I would never respond "all of them" when asked which ones I read as GOP Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin did on CBS News with Katie Couric.

Come on, she can't even answer this one! I'm guessing she doesn't read any papers other than staff memos that distill the day's news and boil her life down to talking points.

Couric deserves credit for the question but should have pressed further, asking Palin to talk about an article on any subject other than the presidential race which she has read in the last month. Prediction on that: strike out No. 2.

Here is Palin with Couric:

Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?

Palin: I've read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

Couric: What, specifically?

Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.

Couric: Can you name a few?

Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, "Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?" Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

Iowa's First Lady: Palin just not ready for job


Iowa’s First Lady Mari Culver says flatly that GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is woefully unprepared to lead the nation.

What’s more, Culver said, the selection of the first-term Alaska governor, who has been largely cocooned from serious questioning, reveals Republican presidential candidate John McCain to be a risk-taker at a time when the nation needs reason.

“To me, its further evidence of the gambling nature of McCain’s decision-making and his judgment. You’ve got to exercise the type of leadership and good decision-making and sound judgment in the selection of your vice presidential running mate which gives American voters an idea of the decision-making and the judgment you would exercise as president,” Mari Culver said. “I think frankly Senator McCain failed miserably in that regard. I don’t think she’s ready to be vice president. I don’t think she’s ready to be president. That goes without saying.”

Read the rest of the story at Iowa

Photo: Mari Culver taken by Carroll Daily Times Herald's Jeff Storjohann

Thinking about a Palin presidency

By Robert G. Boatright

Ever since John McCain shook up the 2008 presidential election by choosing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, there has been much talk about Palin’s qualifications to serve as Vice President. This sort of talk happens every election year, but given McCain’s age and medical history, the possibility of the president’s death has taken on greater significance in this campaign. Whether or not Sarah Palin is qualified to serve as Vice President or President, there has been little serious discussion of what a Palin presidency might look like. If we are to do this, the best place to start is by looking at previous vice presidents who acceded to the Presidency without having won it in their own right. Of this select group there is a wide variation in background, but there is less variation in their success as President; almost all of them failed.

Past “acceded vice presidents,” or AVPs, can conveniently be grouped into three overlapping categories. There are those who deviate from the elected president’s policies; these vice presidents tend to be ignored by Congress or to face an openly hostile Congress. Second, there are those who assume a “caretaker” role, content to preside until the end of the term without advancing a new agenda. And third, there are “the enthusiasts,” vice presidents who capitalize upon a temporary outpouring of public sympathy for the deceased president, and use this outpouring to advance legislation in line with what the deceased president would have wanted.

The first group includes John Tyler, who became president in 1841, following the death of William Henry Harrison, and Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President. Both were put on the ticket to create a balance between North and South. Tyler, a southerner, was dubbed “his accidency” by Congress and was generally ignored. Johnson had little support within the Republican Party and was an opponent of reconstruction. Johnson also incurred the enmity of Congress, and was, until Bill Clinton, the only president to be impeached. Millard Fillmore, who became president in 1850 following the death of Zachary Taylor, also falls in this category. Fillmore was unable to bridge competing factions within the party or to advance a unified stance on the slavery question.

The second category, the “caretakers,” includes only Calvin Coolidge, who became president in 1923 following the death of Warren G. Harding. Because allegations of corruption swirled around Harding’s administration, Coolidge was greeted with some relief. Coolidge had little time to advance an agenda of his own during the year before the 1924 election, and his own elected presidency has been seen by many as being devoid of major accomplishments.

The remaining four AVPs were more successful, in part because they were able to frame their proposals as a continuation of their popular predecessor’s legacy. Chester Arthur, who became president upon the assassination of James A. Garfield in 1881, was able to pass the Pendleton Act as President. Lyndon Johnson arguably exerted more political muscle in guiding the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which he cast as an extension of John F. Kennedy’s goals, but the remainder of Johnson’s agenda foundered as the Vietnam War escalated. Harry S. Truman is remembered for ordering the integration of the military and for his role in the rebuilding of Europe, yet most of his actions in his first term were done by executive order.

There is only one indisputably successful AVP, Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt came into office in 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley. He deviated substantially from McKinley’s politics, pushing for a more progressive Republican party, greater regulation of monopolies and an increased emphasis on wilderness conservation. Many of Roosevelt’s major policy initiatives, however, came after 1904, during the term he had won on his own. Roosevelt’s best-known actions in his first term were his involvement in ending the anthracite coal strike and the enactment of the Panama Canal Treaty, both of which he could do with little involvement from Congress.

What does all of this suggest about the prospects for a Palin presidency?

It shows that she is less qualified than most of the prior AVPs (Coolidge may be the closest to her in experience; he served as a Massachusetts state legislator and for two years as Governor of Massachusetts). It also proves that this is not particularly important. Having a friendly Congress to work with matters far more, and vice presidential succession clearly inspires Congress to treat the new president with suspicion.

One must keep in mind that if elected, McCain will certainly face a Democratic Senate, and quite possibly a Democratic House. This does not mean that McCain would be powerless as president – unless he alienates Democrats in Congress through his campaign tactics. McCain is not, however, running on an issue-oriented platform.

Should he die, Palin would likely have a tough time claiming that anything she advocated for would honor his wishes, if only because McCain has not presented a clear policy platform. She would have an even tougher time pushing through her own ideas; she appears to be more conservative than McCain on several social issues, and she has no track record on major domestic or foreign policy issues.

The message here, then, is a mixed one. Palin wouldn’t necessarily be more of a disaster as president that other AVPs. This is hardly a reason why anyone should vote for McCain, however. Despite Palin’s dominant role in recent media coverage, this election is not about her. One has to go back to Lyndon Johnson to find a vice president who made even the slightest difference in the election outcome (LBJ was said to have helped Kennedy win Texas). Palin is likely to be no exception.

Already, favorability polls show a marked increase in the number of voters who view her unfavorably; she currently is only one percentage point more popular than McCain and Obama. Sure, the Republican base rallied after their convention, but we cannot necessarily attribute this to Palin. There is good reason for Democrats and Republicans to hope that Palin does not become president, but this has more to do with the dismal track record of other AVPs and the fact that she would preside over a divided government rather than to her experience, beliefs, or leadership qualities.

Robert G. Boatright is assistant professor of government at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.