Friday, September 19, 2008

News Roundup (September 19, 2008)

I decided to take a lead from several other blogs that I like and provide the occasional brief news roundup. Most days I come across lots of interesting little bits and pieces but I just don't have the time to write about or comment on all of them at length. So, I will start providing brief notes and links to some of the more interesting articles as I find them.

Let's start with this story from FoxNews:

McCain town hall style meetings are generally open to the public where anyone may wait in line on the day of the event and come in without an advanced invitation.

However, at tonight’s 3,500 person townhall in Grand Rapids, Michigan–the first time Palin is taking questions from the public– only ticketholders are allowed in.

The McCain campaign confirms that tonight’s event was advertised on the McCain/Palin Web site and local newspapers. People had to pick up their tickets at local GOP offices after RSVPing for the event.

The Kent County GOP headquarters gave out about two thousand tickets.

The rest came from GOP offices in Ottowa and Kalamazoo.

UPDATE–McCain campaign officials insist that none of the questions are being pre-screened.

While questions may not have been screened, it seems more than a bit coincidental that the first time that Gov. Palin takes questions from the public (and she's been the nominee for how long now?), that "public" is limited to Republican party faithful. If the Republicans are so worried that Gov. Palin can't handle tough questions posed to her by someone other than a Republican, what does that say about her ability to serve as Vice President or President? It would be hard to pre-screen Vladimir Putin or Hugo Chavez... And don't forget that it has been in open town hall style forums that Sen. McCain has usually excelled with his "straight talk". So, there must be a reason why the campaign is suddenly changing the rules about who gets in and who gets to ask questions. Then again, this isn't really a surprise given how the campaign continues to hide Gov. Palin from the press.

Walter Shapiro has an article for Salon looking at the Rumsfeldian "known knowns," "unknown unknowns," and "known unknowns" of this election. Among his observations:
But rarely has there been as drastic or as cynical an overhaul as the one starring McCain in a docudrama titled "The Remaking of a (Would-Be) President 2008." Who could have imagined that different-drummer McCain would emerge as a press-conference-avoiding, media-baiting, fact-fabricating generic Republican?

More and more observers and commentators are starting to recognize just how desperate Sen. McCain is and how bold (not to mention frequent) his lies are becoming. My question is when will the national media and, more importantly, the voting electorate begin taking note?

I also came across the following comments about Gov. Palin from Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska), one of the most prominent and well-known Republican Senators:

She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials," Hagel said Wednesday in an interview. "You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything."


The McCain campaign has cited the proximity of Alaska to Russia as evidence of her international experience.

Hagel scoffed at that notion.

"I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, 'I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,'" he said. "That kind of thing is insulting to the American people."

Imagine that, someone saying what they really think instead of just reciting the party line or the approved talking points. Of course, this isn't much different than what we've heard Republican strategists say when they didn't think anyone was listening...

Shaun Mullen, a columnist for TMV has some interesting observations in his essay McCain & Palin Peak While Obama & Biden Climb: Why This Week Is The Game Changer:

McCain seems unsteady without Sarah Palin at his side and is drawing smaller crowds now that he is out on his own. Meanwhile, the post-convention bounce and Palin boomlet have ended with a thud and the Alaska governor’s negatives are intersecting with her positives in public-opinion polls.

While Palin’s selection as a running mate was brilliant for its element of surprise, it is likely to go down in political history as an extraordinarily short-sighted move that dragged McCain down, not pulled him up.

Palin has had the unintended effect of making McCain seem ever more the unsteady septuagenarian, is not drawing in disaffected Democratic women in appreciable numbers because of her starkly un-feminist views, her superficiality is apparent in her scripted, cue-card assisted appearances, and the most damning criticism of her has come not from the opposition but McCain surrogate Carly Fiorina, who like “Foreclosure Phil” Gramm has now been thrown under the campaign bus.

Meanwhile, the drip-drip-drip of negative news concerning Palin from Alaska will dog and distract the ticket from here on out, while the record reveals that her reputation as a house-cleaner as small-town mayor and governor is trumped by her penchant for appointing unqualified friends. Case in point: The high school classmate whom she named as Alaska’s agriculture secretary who cites her childhood love of cows as a qualification.

The McCain campaign’s strategy of mud slinging and serial lying — and lying about lying — has had legs, but it has become a story in and of itself and there is now a small army of commentators, including many from the right-of-center, who rue the once principled war horse’s descent into sleaze, another issue that will dog and distract the ticket.

Worse yet, developments on Wall Street have exposed McCain at his most inept. His initial response — to channel Herbert Hoover and declare that the economy is fundamentally sound — was widely-derided. His revised response was plan [sic] scary. And both are political manna for Obama.

There is an opportunity for the Democrat to hammer home the obvious: The economic crisis is a direct result of Republican deregulation efforts led by Gramm, McCain’s erstwhile economic adviser, and enthusiastically endorsed by the candidate himself, whose political career was resurrected after the Keating Five scandal because people believed his vow that he was swearing off lobbyists and going straight. That was smoke and mirrors, of course, and McCain is a poster boy if ever there was one for coddling the rich and shortchanging the middle class and poor.

It is nice to see that not everyone has forgotten Sen. McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal -- part of the last great financial crisis to affect America's banking system. Um, why exactly should we trust Sen. McCain now?

David Talbon, another writer for Salon, has an interesting article about Gov. Palin's time in Wasilla's government and her clashes with Baptist minister Howard Bess. Among the items that struck me in that article:
  • Gov. Palin (then either a city council member or mayor) was among a group of anti-abortion activists protesting in front of a doctor's office.
  • A community activist asked Palin how she could believe in creationism, noting that her father was a science teacher. Palin's response: "We don't have to agree on everything." That activist then pushed her on creationist belief and asked if she really believed that the earth was less than 7,000 years old and that dinosaurs and humans had existed at the same time. Palin's response was "yes" because she had seen images of dinosaur fossils with human footprints in them.

Kind of hard to even respond to that... In addition, the article quotes Rev. Bess:

It's truly frightening that someone like Sarah has risen to the national level," Bess said. "Like all religious fundamentalists -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim -- she is a dualist. They view life as an ongoing struggle to the finish between good and evil. Their mind-set is that you do not do business with evil -- you destroy it. Talking with the enemy is not part of their plan. That puts someone like Obama on the side of evil.

"Forget all this chatter about whether or not she knows what the Bush doctrine is. That's trivial. The real disturbing thing about Sarah is her mind-set. It's her underlying belief system that will influence how she responds in an international crisis, if she's ever in that position, and has the full might of the U.S. military in her hands. She gave some indication of that thinking in her ABC interview, when she suggested how willing she would be to go to war with Russia.

"Alaskans liked that certitude when she was dealing with corrupt politicians and the oil industry -- and there is something admirable about it. But when you're dealing with a complex and dangerous world as commander in chief, that's a different story."

Don't forget that video from Gov. Palin's appearance earlier this summer at her church where she nods her head as the minister talks about how Alaska will be a "refuge" in the upcoming "end of days". Is this really someone that we want to be a heartbeat away from the nuclear trigger? Is this really someone that we even want to be in the same room as those discussing how to respond to an international crisis? Compound that with Sen. McCain's well-known temper...

And in the category of "you just can't make this stuff up", take a look at the article "Palin linked electoral success to prayer of Kenyan witchhunter" which describes Gov. Palin's affinity for an African evangelist known for conducting actual witch hunts and exorcisms in Kenya! Gov. Palin is quoted as talking about his bold prayers for her to become governor. So, just to be clear, Gov. Palin appears to believe that world is less than 7,000 years old, humans and dinosaurs coexisted, and "bold" prayers from evangelising witchdoctors helped her get elected governor of Alaska. Um. OK. And people thought Nancy Reagan's reliance on astrology was nuts...


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