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Blankley Likens Media to Nazis

By Brendan Nyhan

In a loathsome Washington Times column attacking reporters' treatment of Barack Obama, Tony Blankley likens the mainstream media to the official Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter and to "Goebbels' disciples":

The mainstream media have gone over the line and are now straight out propagandists for the Obama campaign. While they have been liberal and blinkered in their worldview for decades, in 2007-08 for the first time, the major media are consciously covering for one candidate for president and consciously knifing the other. This is no longer journalism -- it is simply propaganda. (The American left-wing version of the Volkischer Beobachter cannot be far behind.) And as a result, we are less than seven weeks away from possibly electing a president who has not been thoroughly and even half way honestly presented to the country by our watchdogs -- the press.

...The mainstream media ruthlessly and endlessly repeats any McCain gaffes, while ignoring Obama gaffes. You have to go to weird little Internet sites to see all the stammering and stuttering that Mr. Obama needs before getting out a sentence fragment or two. But all you see on the networks is an eventual one or two clear sentences from Mr. Obama. Nor do you see Mr. Obama's ludicrous gaffe that Iran is a tiny country and no threat to us. Nor his 57 American states gaffe. Nor his forgetting, if he ever knew, that Russia has a veto in the United Nations. Nor his whining and puerile "come on" when he is being challenged. This is the kind of editing one would expect from Goebbels' disciples, not Cronkite's.

Blankley also engages in one of the most bizarre attempts at guilt by association that I've ever seen:

But worse than all the unfair and distorted reporting and image projecting, is the shocking gaps in Mr. Obama's life that are not reported at all. The major media simply has not reported on Mr. Obama's two years at Columbia University in New York, where, among other things, he lived a mere quarter mile from former terrorist Bill Ayers-- after which they both ended up as neighbors and associates in Chicago. Mr. Obama denies more than a passing relationship with Mr. Ayers. Should the media be curious? In only two weeks the media has focused on all the colleges Mrs. Palin has attended, her husband's driving habits 20 years ago and the close criticism of Mrs. Palin's mayoral political opponents. But in two years they haven't bothered to see how close Mr. Obama was with the terrorist Ayers.

Bill Ayers lived "a mere quarter mile" away when Obama was at Columbia? So did tens of thousands of other people -- it's Manhattan!

Brendan blogs at Brendan-Nyhan.com

Why Postpone the Debate?

By Greg Bobrinskoy

Contrasting arguments can be made about McCain's call to delay tomorrow's first Presidential Debate centered on foreign policy. 

McCain's supporters could argue that after being briefed on the severity of the fiscal crisis by his economic team yesterday, McCain was very concerned about the fate of the bill and the scope of the potential damage if it was not passed.  Because of vocal Republican opposition, McCain might have felt he needed to take action.  As Chris Todd noted on NBC this morning, if Republicans do block this bill and financial chaos ensues, McCain will be hit hard as the current leader of his party.  Furthermore, McCain had no way of knowing how long the bill would take to get passed.  Media reports are now saying Congress and the President are very close to a deal (some believe the Democrats are pushing this as fast as they can to prevent McCain from taking any credit). 

If McCain believed the bill had a chance of not being passed until Friday or after (which may be the case) then it would seem almost harmless (except to the University of Mississippi) to delay the debate until a very important bill trying to prevent the collapse of our financial institutions is passed.  Plus, we do know that Presidential candidates take days before the debates to practice and rehearse (Obama had planned on spending the three days before this debate doing so).  It would thus seem plausible that McCain would like the amount of time generally afforded Presidential candidates to prepare for this debate after the bill is passed.

The second argument made publicly by McCain's critics and Obama himself is that the debate can take place no matter the circumstances.  Obama's response yesterday was that the President should be able to handle two things at once and thus McCain and him can both assist in the bill's negotiations and continue with the debate Friday night anyway.

However, there is a third argument to be made, and one not being made public by the Obama campaign. It says that McCain's campaign had no serious belief that they would be able to significantly alter the fate of the bill.  Instead their decision was purely political. They wanted to halt Obama's recent rise in the polls both nationally and in battleground states during this financial crisis.  McCain would be able to portray himself as the 'Country First' candidate, putting politics aside to pass bipartisan legislation for the good of the nation.

The reason it is hard to believe in the skepticism being aired against McCain's actions is that delaying the debate hardly seems like the most politically advantageous move for McCain.  If McCain's motives were purely political, why would he postpone a debate that itself presents a perfect opportunity to halt Obama's momentum?  Rather than make the controversial decision of halting his campaign and stimulating skepticism among many, McCain could have just used Friday's debate as a way to halt Obama's recent rise.  Friday's debate subject is McCain's bread and butter.  The type of tone and directness required by a Presidential candidate discussing foreign policy favors McCain's certitude over Obama's more vague and irresolute demeanor, something he showed throughout the Democratic Primary debates. 

Obama's debating skills have been far overestimated due to his tremendous ability to give speeches.  Many forget that Hillary Clinton gained significantly from almost every debate she had against Obama, whether it was in front of an all African American audience or just days before she was crashing downward and expected to lose New Hampshire. If McCain's reason for delaying the debate was purely political, the Republican nominee might have been better served to ask for tomorrow's debate to be held sooner than later. 

Greg Bobrinskoy is an Associate Editor at RealClearPolitics

Financial Crisis a Cultural Failure

By Alan Stewart Carl

The more I read on the current financial crisis and the more I think about the ramifications, the more I realize that September 2008 will probably have as much of a lasting effect on our nation as has September 2001. That's because what we've witnessed is not just a political failure and not just a financial failure. This is a cultural failure.

Victor David Hanson has it right when he lays the blame at all our feet. Yes, insufferable Wall Street greed played a major role as did incompetent, ignorant, servile and just plain corrupt Washington politicians. I'd like to lean back in my chair, point fingers and quietly absolve myself and all the rest of us who neither work on Wall Street nor in Washington. But I can't.

A lot of us took part in the credit-shuffling game that was the real estate boom. I was even one the lucky ones who sold a property at a ridiculous profit. I didn't intend for my home to be such a tremendous investment, but I sure as heck didn't care what cultural forces or what financial shenanigans made my windfall possible. I took the money. Gladly.

A lot of other people did too. And many of those who eventually got caught holding the bag were not innocent victims of the system. They were players. They knew they were taking out unsustainable loans but they believed the profits they could make in the market more the justified the risk. They were stupid and wrong. Their banks were stupid and wrong. Our culture that demanded easy credit and high returns was stupid and wrong.

We took the wealth and prosperity part of the American Dream and jettisoned the hard work part. We believed that the house flippers on TV were smarter and more interesting than the people and businesses doing real work and slogging out real, if mundane and small-margined, profit. Even as many of us decried our nation's free-spending, gilded-age ways, we grumbled when our investment accounts fell short of the high returns enjoyed by others.

Blame the Wall Street profiteers. Blame the Washington imbeciles, cowards and thieves. They deserve our scorn and whatever punishment the law allows. But $700 billion is not the indulgence that absolves the rest of us. We have much harder tasks ahead if we really want to get our nation back on track. Now, I don't know how to change a culture. Chances are, it will take much more than a rocky autumn to make most people stop lusting after easy credit and high investment returns. These bailouts might just be postponing the needed reckoning.

But I'd like to think that these last few weeks have at least opened the eyes of enough of us - have made enough of us realize that wealth is not something that can be generated quickly if we want to generate it sustainably. That sounds like commonsense. But, apparently, most of us had, in one way or another, forgotten the realities of markets. The market has shown us our folly. Let's see if enough of us can remember the lesson.

Alan blogs daily at Donklephant.com

Sarah Palin and the John Birch Society?

By Donald Douglas

In 1995, Sarah Palin, as a member of the Wasilla City Council, was photographed reading an publication of the John Birch Society, as Ben Smith reports in, "What's on the Desk?":

Palin John Birch Society

In a picture supplied by Sarah Palin's family to the Associated Press, Palin appears with some rather odd reading matter: The magazine of the ultraconservative John Birch Society.

The picture, dating to 1995, when Palin was a member of the Wasilla City Council, ran beside a profile of Palin in Saturday's New York Times. The magazine, The New American, is sitting on top of her calendar on her desk, unopened.

The current, and then-, president of the group, John McManus, confirmed that the cover fit the description of a 1995 issue of the magazine. The headline, "Con-Con Call," refers to discussion at the time of a constitutional convention. The headline appears above a picture of then-Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, who had floated the notion as a way of returning the balance of power back toward the states. But the author warned that the convention could actually be a devious ploy aimed at increasing government power.

McManus said Palin wouldn't have had to have any connection to the society, or the journal, to have wound up with that issue on her desk."Any attempt to link her to the John Birch Society would be ridiculous," he said of speculation on the liberal blogs that first noticed the magazine.

Let's think about this.

Palin, as a member of the city council, with mayoral aspirations - and perhaps ambitions for higher state office - may have been intrigued by cutting-edge issues in federalism and local government, such as "devolution" and "reinventing government" (which were the rage in public policy the 1990s). Or, perhaps a municipal colleague gave her a copy of the New American to look over. Maybe Palin admired Utah's Governor Leavitt (on the cover), who made his mark in state government leadership issues during Palin's tenure, and was president of the Council of State Governments in 1996...

In other words, Palin might have no more interest in an extreme right ideological 'zine than she might in a copy of Vogue featuring the latest in haute couture.

Or, as the Smith article notes:

 

"This photo from the early to mid 90s shows the Governor having her photo taken in front of a three ring binder of information from local citizens presented regularly to Wasilla council members by the town clerk," said Palin spokesman Michael Goldfarb. "These binders featured material given by members of the public to all council members."

In other words, the magazine's just a routine piece of city government literature made available to all council officers.

But don't try and tell that to Dave Neiwert, of course, who's at it again with more of his "pseudo-fascist" smear jobs, "Is Sarah Palin A Closet John Bircher?":

 

The Birchers are best known for their ardent McCarthyism and their long career in promoting cockamamie conspiracy theories about supposed Communist infiltration of government -- not just in the '50s and '60s, but well into the late '80s, until the fall of the Soviet Union. At that point, they simply picked up the same act and transferred it to promoting similar theories about the "New World Order" under Bill Clinton in the 1990s. (Chip Berlet has one of the best disquisitions on the Birch Society's long career.)

These same theories were the raison d'etre of the militia movement -- and indeed, the Birch Society ardently promoted the militias and related "Patriot" activity. I used to see their material on sale at militia gatherings regularly.

One can see where this is going...

Apparently, Sarah Palin, in 1995, was a proto-fascist, white supremacist, separatist extremist, no doubt with supposed ties to anti-government fundamentalist organization such as "The Order" or the "Silent Brotherhood."

The problem, of course, is that the closest anyone can get to substantiating such claims is by noting that Governor Palin attended meetings of the Alaska Independence Party, and her husband, Todd, was briefly a member of the group around the same time, 1995.

That's it ... So why the fuss among the nihilists at Daily Kos and Firedoglake?

Cinnamon Stillwell provides the clues (via GSGF):

 

There's a new affliction sweeping the nation, and it's known as Palin Derangement Syndrome. The phenomenon is similar to Bush Derangement Syndrome, a term coined by political columnist Charles Krauthammer to describe the personal animosity and irrational hatred directed at President Bush by his leftist opponents. But this time, Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, is the object of wrath.

The feeding frenzy began with the news of Palin's selection, but it was her electrifying speech at the Republic National Convention last month that really set it off. In one fell swoop, Palin managed to energize the Republican base, breathe life into the McCain campaign, launch some very effective jabs at Barack Obama, and quite possibly, attract the support of the 18 million Hillary Clinton voters.

The attacks on Palin have ranged from patronizing to vicious to fantastical. She has been caricatured as an inexperienced rube, a baby-making automaton, an uneducated underachiever, a bad mother, trailer-park trash, a rightwing religious fanatic, a sexual fantasy, and of course, a fascist. No subject has been deemed taboo in the effort to take Palin down.

It's true: Absolutely nothing has been considered too low, or too vile, in the weeks-long and completely psychotic campaign of defamation and destruction against Sarah Palin and her family.

As Dr. Rusty Shackleford notes:

 

I just happened to have been forwarded an e-mail to the DU post earlier by a rabid Obama supporter trying to convince me that Sarah Palin is a right-wing lunatic. The original "gotcha" find was posted here and quickly went viral in lefty circles - including several Kos diaries linking it and tying the accusation to false rumors circulating that Sarah Palin belonged to the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party.

Yep, a "right wing lunatic." I guess if the left can conjure up a few more of those, they'll be able to seal a Barack Obama electoral fraud on the American people in November.

That is, if they don't completely alienate "small town" Americans across the country first (the more likley scenario, amazingly).

Donald blogs at American Power

Second-Guessing Plouffe

By Greg Bobrinskoy

Obama's unprecedented success in fundraising, grassroots support and registering new voters during the Democratic Primary may have been the catalyst for an overconfident plan engineered by campaign manager David Plouffe.

It was only a month ago that the Obama campaign was eager to talk about giving the McCain campaign a run for its money in Georgia, as well as other states in the Deep South, orchestrated through greater African American turnout and strong grassroots organization.

Money was sent to Alaska, North Dakota, Indiana, Georgia, Montana and North Carolina as part of an offensive strategy in traditionally red states. But in a talk with McCain's traveling press corps last week in Chicago, Plouffe stated that the campaign has now ceased advertising in the Peach State and is diverting much of those resources to North Carolina (Recent polls coming out of there have not been favorable either).

As the Wall Street Journal noted after Plouffe's talk, "The withdrawal is dramatic considering the amount of resources the Obama campaign dispatched to Georgia and throughout the South." Yet Plouffe made sure to emphasize that the campaign was still going "full steam ahead" in North Dakota, Montana, and Indiana (The RCP Electoral Count now has Montana, North Carolina, and North Dakota as 'Leaning McCain' and Georgia as 'Solid McCain'. Plouffe did not rule out Alaska either, although it is now certainly in McCain's hands).

The Journal took the information session to be "a grudging concession by some Obama campaign operatives that certain states once deemed winnable may be more of a long shot than once thought." In other words, the once vaunted "50-state strategy" is now anything but.

Consider what could have been a more sober strategy from the start. The campaign could have concentrated its advantage in resources, money and volunteers on the traditional, smaller set of battleground states to absolutely overpower the McCain campaign. Instead, Plouffe has always seemed to revel in the idea of creating as many electoral scenarios as possible for an Obama victory. The campaign has taken the risk of stretching itself too thin and reducing its ability to significantly overpower McCain anywhere. Montana Democrats may ultimately waste money and resources registering voters in a long-shot chance of victory when those resources could otherwise be used to shore up Obama's stronghold in northern Virginia or urban areas in Colorado.

Plouffe may still prove to be a genius for designing this ambitious plan. Obama may be propelled to victory by winning previously red states the Democrats have forfeited in the past. But if this plan backfires, Plouffe will be responsible for blowing one of the biggest opportunities Democrats have had to take the White House in a very long time.

If McCain wins this election by squeaking out victories in traditional battleground states like Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, Colorado, and others; it will be Plouffe's head Democrats will be after for getting greedy and wasting money where they shouldn't have.

Greg Bobrinskoy is an Associate Editor at RealClearPolitics

Sign of the (New York) Times

By Jon Keller

Count me as one of the growing circle who believe every day Democrats spend trying to demonize Sarah Palin - however sincere their belief that she isn't up to being president - is a day of damage done to Obama's chances in November. If Dan Quayle didn't hurt George H.W. Bush's 1988 campaign, Palin certainly won't hurt McCain. And if they're intent on trashing her, editorials masquerading as "news articles" like yesterday's front-page splash in the New York Times are most certainly not going to get the job done.

In the Times' lede, we learn that Governor Palin hired "at least five schoolmates" to help her run Alaska, "often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages." When she "had to cut her first state budget, she avoided the legion of frustrated legislators and mayors. Instead, she huddled with her budget director and her husband, Todd, an oil field worker who is not a state employee, and vetoed millions of dollars of legislative projects." And some months back, the Times reports, a Palin aide called a local blogger critical of the governor and told her to "stop."

Armed with this initial volley of scandal (?), we get to the nut graf: 

"Ms. Palin walks the national stage as a small-town foe of "good old boy" politics and a champion of ethics reform. The charismatic 44-year-old governor draws enthusiastic audiences and high approval ratings. And as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, she points to her management experience while deriding her Democratic rivals, Senators Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr., as speechmakers who never have run anything. But an examination of her swift rise and record as mayor of Wasilla and then governor finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics -- she sometimes calls local opponents "haters" -- contrasts with her carefully crafted public image. Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials."

Oh my! That sounds bad. But right away, you get a feel for what this "news" article really is - a hastily produced attack piece with little meat on the bones.

Before laying our their "case," the Times reporters insert some "balance" in the form of praise for Palin's political instincts and populist appeal from a University of Alaska professor, who also says  "her governing style raises a lot of hard questions." (No specifics provided to support either the praise or the doubts.) And they quote the Alaska lieutenant governor claiming that: "Everything she does is for the ordinary working people of Alaska."

But then we're off to Palin's alleged dark side.

Egregious flaw #1: "Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records." And this is illegal, unethical or unusual....how? 

Flaw #2: "Interviews make clear that the Palins draw few distinctions between the personal and the political." Evidence? "State legislators are investigating accusations that Ms. Palin and her husband pressured officials to fire a state trooper who had gone through a messy divorce with her sister, charges that she denies." No further information is provided by the Times' "investigation." We learn that a Republican legislator (a political ally or enemy of Gov. Palin? The Times provides no context) complains about First Dude Todd Palin calling him to complain about the hiring of someone with whom the Palins had an (unclear) personal beef. "The Palin family gets upset at personal issues," the legislator is quoted as saying. "And at our level, they want to strike back." This is illegal, unethical or unusual...how? No further explanation is forthcoming, and Todd Palin denies the substance of the uncorroborated charge. 

Horrific flaw #3: "After winning the (Wasilla) mayoral election in 1996, Ms. Palin...cleaned out the municipal closet, firing veteran officials to make way for her own team. 'She had an agenda for change and for doing things differently,' said Judy Patrick, a City Council member at the time." Among the casualties, the director of the town's museum, who claims his firing was part of some kind of culture war: "It represented that the town was becoming more progressive, and they didn't want that." An interesting charge left dangling without more context or corroboration. Were the Times reporters unable to find it, or just lazy?

#4: "In 1997, Ms. Palin fired the longtime city attorney, Richard Deuser, after he issued the stop-work order on a home being built by Don Showers, another of her campaign supporters.". Yet again, no serious evidence of wrongdoing is offered, just the insinuation that the firing was unjustified. The flimsy anecdote is a setup for a quote from Deuser about the Palin management style: "Professionals were either forced out or fired." Really? Imagine that? A politician, elected on a pledge of change, dumps the old guard and brings in her own people. That's a problem if the new people turn out to be incompetents or crooks, but if there's any evidence of that in this case, the Times fails to document it.

#5: Substantial space is devoted to reviewing already-published information about Palin's distaste for library books dealing with honosexuality, including he suggestion that a book she hadn't even read ("Daddy's Roommate") be removed. Why any adult would waste their time on such a matter is beyond me, and Palin's detractors have every right to recoil in horror if they wish. But no evidence is offered of any legal or sustained political effort to censor the library. Instead, the punch line of this passage if a quote from a former Palin campaign aide, who says: "I'm still proud of Sarah, but she scares the bejeebers out of me." What exactly does this mean? If she is truly frightened of Palin's Puritanical instincts, how can she be so proud of her? Does she offer other reasons why she's scared?

I could go on at great length, but my carpal symptoms are starting to flare up. Suffice to say, there is no payoff at all in this long waste of newsprint. To ominously note that Palin followed the longstanding political tradition of hiring longtime friends (especially common among political neophytes like, say, Gov. Deval Patrick, desperate to surround themselves with people they know they can trust), but then fail to provide a shred of evidence that any of these hires are incompetent or unqualified, is a weak reed to hang a page one "news" story on, to say the least.

But then, much of the knee-jerk assault on Palin (not to be confused with the necessary reporting on her background that all candidates at this level are and should be subjected to) is built on a weak reed - the obsessive need among too many news outlets and commentators to nurture their personal biases and grievances at the expense of anything approaching the truth. We've seen it from the right in the often-ludicrous attacks on Barack Obama's patriotism and experience; knee-jerk conservatives, racial bigots, and insiders fearing change have found comfort in building a "case" that Obama is somehow anti-American, a Trojan Horse for cultural and political rot, or too green to be taken seriously. Wrong on all counts. But thanks to the relentless narcissism of the baby-boom political culture, there is no filter - like, say, fairness, or common decency - between their personal quirks and their injection into the discourse.  Likewise, knee-jerk liberals (and even some usually thoughtful ones) have lost it over Palin for personal and partisan reasons that have, as the Times piece illustrates, little connection with fact or truth.

In it's one moment of insight, the Times article leads with this line: "Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal." She's not the only one.

Jon Keller blogs regularly for WBZ-TV Boston at Keller @ Large

Sarah Palin, Neoconservative

By Donald Douglas

I just watched the first installment of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's interview with Charles Gibson, on ABC's World News Tonight.

Palin gave a confident, intelligent interview. She appeared cool, calm, and perfectly comfortable responding to Gibson's line of questioning.

Yet, the emerging meme on the left is that Palin was "stumped" on the Bush Doctrine. Granted, Palin seemed to search for a response, but if that's what Palin's critics want to focus on, so be it.

The greater significance of Palin's talk is the way the Alaska Governor offered a ringing confirmation of the basic, underlying ideals that have guided not just the Bush administration's forward policy of preemptive defense and democracy promotion, but that of America's foreign policy tradition historically. This came at Palin's response on the question of God's will:

I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That, in my world view, is a grand - the grand plan.

This is, in essence, Reaganite neoconservatism. It is an affirmation of the "shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere."

It is, moreover, why the left wants to destroy Governor Palin.

Neoconservatives initially had their biggest successes in American domestic culture and social policy. Neoconservatives, starting with Democrats like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, attacked the debilitating effects of the welfare state on the traditional nuclear family. Neocon big-shots like Daniel Bell, Irving Kristol, and Norman Podhoretz, among others, took aim at New Left orthodoxies, from affirmative action to radical feminism. More than any other strand on the right, neocons built on the moral firmament of the ideology's social model, and then consolidated the concepts of American's international exceptionalism to shape a consistent vision of U.S. leadership and power in the world. In that tradition, Sarah Palin radically repudiates the domestic postmodernist culture, and adds the flourish of moral clarity in foreign policy to boot.

Palin's got what it takes, with or without an academic familiarity with concepts like "anticipatory self-defense." The Alaska Governor, with her frontier conservatism and a doctrine of inalienable rights worldwide, embodies the tradition of robust assertion of might and values that has been a hallmark of the Bush administration's post-9/11 foreign policy, and now John McCain's.

Donald blogs at American Power

Stylin' Sarah: In a flag???

By John Riley

Newsweek2.jpg When we got Newsweek's all-about-Sarah issue this week, the most intriguing part was one of the pictures.

In the old days, you flew the flag, and you respected it. You didn't walk on it, burn it, or dress up in it. Protesters tried to show disrespect in various ways during Vietnam, and conservatives felt especially strongly about it.

So, it was jarring to see this picture of Sarah Palin, wrapped in the flag, posing. It seems to have been taken back when she was mayor of Wasilla. Newsweek didn't comment on it.

We haven't really kept up with shifting views on the flag in pop culture. Are conservatives looser about the flag now? Like, future vice-presidents can use it as a cloak when they pose for pix?

When women say Palin is just like them -- do they dress up in American flags?

Would it be ok for Obama to do that? Or would he be behaving like an unpatriotic celebrity?

How do you print a picture like this without discussing it?

John Riley blogs regularly at Newsday's Spin Cycle blog

Debunking Palin Rumors

By Justin Gardner

So far, Sarah Palin's record has provided a lot of fodder for gossip and speculation. I've detailed a lot of the hard facts on this blog, but now it's time to address the stuff that isn't true.

This from FactCheck.org:

  • Palin did not cut funding for special needs education in Alaska by 62 percent. She didn't cut it at all. In fact, she tripled per-pupil funding over just three years.
  • She did not demand that books be banned from the Wasilla library. Some of the books on a widely circulated list were not even in print at the time. The librarian has said Palin asked a "What if?" question, but the librarian continued in her job through most of Palin's first term.
  • She was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a group that wants Alaskans to vote on whether they wish to secede from the United States. She's been registered as a Republican since May 1982.
  • Palin never endorsed or supported Pat Buchanan for president. She once wore a Buchanan button as a "courtesty" when he visited Wasilla, but shortly afterward she was appointed to co-chair of the campaign of Steve Forbes in the state.
  • Palin has not pushed for teaching creationism in Alaska's schools. She has said that students should be allowed to "debate both sides" of the evolution question, but she also said creationism "doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

One thing I do want to add to FactCheck's reporting regarding Palin's affiliation with the Alaska Independence Party...Todd Palin has registered twice as a member of the AIP, Sarah attended their 2006 convention, she did record a video greeting for their 2008 convention and one her political mentors, former governor Wally Hickel, is currently a member.

So, while FactCheck's reporting is accurate that she isn't a member of AIP, she's still extremely cozy with a political group that advocates secession.

In any event, does anybody else have any other Palin rumors you want to debunk beyond the obvious ones about her kids?

Justin blogs daily at Donklephant.com

Gail Collins vs. Numbers on Earmarks

By Brendan Nyhan

In her column on Saturday, Gail Collins of the New York Times makes the important point that earmarks aren't a pressing national priority:

McCain hates, hates, hates earmarking -- the Congressional habit of sticking appropriations for special back-home projects in the budget without going through the normal priority-setting process. He talks about it with an enthusiasm that he never manages to summon for the economy, health care or education.

Earmarks are indeed a bad thing. If you ever become a U.S. senator, please dedicate yourself to getting rid of them. But for the chief executive of the country, they're about as critical a problem as the overlong Christmas shopping season.

The problem is that Collins never actually proves her point. Without the relevant data, the statement above is just an assertion. Here's what's missing: the reason earmarks aren't a critical problem is that they are a tiny percentage of total federal spending.

For instance, estimates from watchdog groups of total earmark spending in fiscal 2008 range from $16-18 billion. Current estimated outlays for the federal government in fiscal 2008 are $2.9 trillion (PDF). That's less than one percent.

To put it another way, the current projected deficit is roughly $400 billion. Even if John McCain got rid of every earmark (an impossible task), it would only make a small contribution to deficit reduction. (See Factcheck.org's takedown of McCain's exaggerated claims of how much it can save by reducing earmarks.)

If only Gail Collins could tell her readers these things...

Brendan blogs at Brendan-Nyhan.com

Sarah Palin's 1,100+ Secret Emails

By Justin Gardner

The more you dig, the goofier it gets...

Some background...

In June, Andrée McLeod, a self-described independent government watchdog in Alaska, sent an open records act request to the office of Governor Sarah Palin. She requested copies of all the emails that had been sent and received by Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey, two top aides to Palin, from February through April of this year. McLeod, a 53-year-old registered Republican who has held various jobs in state government, suspected that Frye and Bailey had engaged in political activity during official business hours in that period by participating in a Palin-backed effort to oust the state chairman of the Alaska Republican party, Randy Ruedrich.

I hope you noted that the open records request was made by a registered Republican.

So then, what's so goofy?

Well...here's one potential bombshell...

Several of the emails suggested to her that Palin's office had used its influence to reward a Fairbanks surveyor who was a Palin fundraiser with a state job. In early August, McLeod filed a complaint with the state attorney general against Palin, Bailey, and other Palin aides, claiming they had violated ethics and hiring laws. Palin, now the Republican vice-presidential candidate, told the Alaska Daily News that "there were no favors done for anybody."

And it gets even goofier...

But more intriguing than any email correspondence contained in the four boxes was what was not released: about 1100 emails. [...]

The list of still-secret emails includes a series of messages that circulated on February 1, 2008, among Palin, Bailey, Frye, and Todd Palin "re Andrew Halcro." A former Republican, Halcro ran as an independent against Palin for governor in 2006, collecting only 9 percent of the vote. [...]

The list of confidential emails [also] includes a number of communications related to the Public Safety Employees Association, a union for the state's police officers and state troopers, and the headings refer to PSEA ads and a "PR campaign." Many of these PSEA-related emails were CC'ed to Todd Palin--and were also withheld under the deliberative process and executive privileges.

Obvious question #1: Why is Todd Palin being CC'd on ANY email that is official government business?

Obvious question #2: How can Sarah claim executive privilege and keep the emails secret if Todd was included in the correspondence?

Obvious question #3: How did Palin treat McLeod after this records request?

The answer to that last one: not well.

Palin has denounced McLeod's efforts. After McLeod filed the ethics complaint, Palin told the Anchorage Daily News, "This is the same Andrée McLeod that follows us around at public events and camps herself out in our waiting area and hounds us for a job, asking us if there's a way she can...not have to go through the system to get a job with this administration." Palin also called McLeod "the falafel lady," because McLeod once sold falafel.

On his website, Halcro has posted excerpts of emails Palin sent McLeod between 2002 and 2005, in which she praised McLeod. In one of these messages, Palin wrote, "You're all about accountability." In another, Palin said, "Thanks for working to instill the public trust." Palin also wrote her, "I'm proud to know you." And in one email, Palin hailed McLeod: "Holy Moly you are powerful regarding getting the word out to the press about questionable activity."

The more you dig, the goofier it gets...

Justin blogs daily at Donklephant.com

Kos and Andrew: Merchants of Hate

By Donald Douglas

Some time back, when I reported on Daily Kos' vehemently anti-Semitic essay, "Eulogy Before the Inevitability of Self-Destruction: The Decline and Death of Israel," left-wing commenters on my blog argued that the post was "just a diary," and did not reflect the views of Markos Moultisas himself.

I utterly reject that view, of course, and I've shown here repeatedly that Kos indeed welcomes both the diary contributions AND the individual comments found in the threads to his blog's diaries and essays (commenters at Daily Kos aren't just commenters, "They are creators of content").

These facts are relevant to the recent left-wing smear attacks against Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Almost as soon as John McCain announced Palin as his vice-presidential running mate, Daily Kos began spreading rumors that Governor Palin's 17 year-old daughter Bristol was the mother of Palin's son Trig.

In response to the backlash from the McCain campaign and conservatives, Moultisas refused to take down the allegations, telling the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz that the smears were "legitimate" journalism:

The intensity of media inquiries [into Sarah Palin's background] hit a new level after an anonymous blogger on the liberal Web site Daily Kos last weekend charged that McCain's running mate is actually the grandmother of Trig Palin, the 4-month-old baby born with Down syndrome, and that the real mother is her daughter, 17-year-old Bristol Palin. That led to mainstream media inquiries, which prompted the McCain camp to disclose in a statement Monday that Bristol is five months pregnant and plans to have the baby and marry the teenage father.

The site's founder, Markos Moulitsas, said he did not know the contributor's identity but thought that the admittedly "weird" pregnancy questions were a legitimate line of inquiry that he should not suppress.
Keep in mind, that Moultisas has announced that Daily Kos represents the "mainstream" of the Democratic Party, and Moulitsas and Barack Obama openly coordinated on the publication of Obama's certification birth at Daily Kos in June.

Moultisas' key ally in spreading the anti-Palin hate rumors has been Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic, and Sullivan's in fact been the originator of some of the nastiest untruths seeking to destroy the Palin family.

Sullivan's extremism continues this morning. As Darleen Click shows, Sullivan's gone off the deep end with a post attacking Jewish influence in Sarah Palin's foreign policy coaching:

I'm posting a screenshot because I'd rather not link to RAWMUSLGLUTES more than necessary. This morning he is little more than Palin-vulva-phobia spewing. However, in one instance he likes to spread a thin film of anti-Semitism over the PDS like room-temperature cream cheese scraped across a nicely toasted bagel:

Andrew Sullivan Anti-Semitism

Plus, Ace of Spades takes the baton from Dean Barnett to shed additional light on Sullivan's smear merchandising:

Andrew Sullivan is known for many things -- general histrionics, "excitability," intellectual shallowness that requires him to blog about the only things he's marginally capable of discussing (emotion and scandal), unquenchable vanity, a guileless passion for conspiracy theories of all sort, "gobsmacking" outbursts of hypocrisy and inconsistency so laughable he's chiefly read for his inadvertent entertainment, casual antisemtism that was all the rage at British boarding schools but doesn't play as well in America, power glutes, seeking anonymous three-way sex, and an endless stream of insults that sound vaguely "smart" but are really just variations of "fascist" and "hater" tarted-up with a thesaurus and some memories of introductory-level college classes.

And that's just the beginning!

Sullivan's a mainstream journalist as well as a partisan blogger, and nowadays that's getting to be a distinction without a difference. Prominent hard-line leftist blogs and top journalists at previously respectable institutions like the Atlantic, can slime, smear, and slander, while the principle of journalistic objectivity is sacrificed upon the altar of Barack Hussein Obama, aka "The One."

There's no denying these facts.

Markos Moultisas and Andrew Sullivans are hate-filled smear merchants. Those who want to argue that Kos doesn't endorse this stuff, or Sullivan's a "legitimate" reporter, are living in an alternative reality.

Donald blogs at American Power

The New Model for Female Politicians

By Betsy Newmark

Daniel Henninger writes how Sarah Palin is a threat to the traditional model of a female politician. She breaks the old feminist model.
For starters, a lot of women voters don't live in New York, Boston, L.A. or San Francisco. Maybe Sarah Palin from Wasilla is a lot closer to the way many women today see themselves than the standard feminist model. Gloria Steinem, one of the many mothers of that ideal, is 74. Sarah Palin is 44. Times change.

Many younger women didn't learn what it means to be an achieving woman from dormitory feminism. She didn't abandon her hometown for the big city. She stayed home, had babies, helped her snowmobiling husband with his commercial fishing business and with him, tried to assemble a life.

She got into politics in Wasilla with zero connections -- no famous father, no financing husband, no mentor, nothing. She got elected mayor. She got into politics to improve her community, not to launch herself on some career path she had figured out while in college.

Then came the interesting part. Under the standard model, you deploy your superb IQ to maneuver upward around the oppressors. Sarah Jock, learning her self-discipline in such weird pursuits as morning moose-hunts with her dad, ran at the system. Doing something few women and no males would do, she went after the men who run Alaska's inbred politics, the machine. And cleaned their clocks. The people elected her governor.

I asked a number of women this week to account for Sarah Palin's sudden appeal. Here are the common threads.

The angry woman-as-victim drives them nuts. They hate victimology. As one woman said, "The point is that across the ages women have been doing pretty much what Sarah Palin has been doing: bearing children, feeding families, bringing in an income, working to improve their communities."

Another woman said, "Her story reflects a more normal reality" of active women; "the harder you work, the luckier you get." Hillary Clinton still plays the victim card. Sarah Palin gives off no victim vibes. These women mentioned her grit, determination and character.

They also said the Roe v. Wade litmus test has become too knee-jerk. Simply writing off Sarah Palin as "pro-life" caricatures pregnancy and motherhood.

Let's stipulate that not all "liberal" women share the Roe-dominated test of which women in public life get a pass and which are shunned. But this notion of sisterhood as a rules-based club is the public face of the feminist message, and in politics message is all -- until it no longer makes sense.

Sarah Palin looks like the old model's first real political challenge. They will be gunning for her. Good luck with that.
Whether there are enough women of this new model to help McCain is the question. But remember, she doesn't have to win over all the women's vote for McCain. She just has to steal away a few percentage points from Obama's support. And to get those votes in those crucial swing states.
I suspect that lines like this will go a long way to reminding women voters in those states that Obama is the one who just doesn't get it.
Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown.

And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves.

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening.

We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.
And congratulations to Jim Geraghty who suggested the line being played over and over today comparing a small-town mayor to a community organizer except with responsibility.

The media and Democrats will come to regret all the piling on they did with their attacks on Sarah Palin for the past few days. All they did was increase people's interest in hearing her for themselves. And now they have. And that's why the liberals are worried now. Andrew Coyne at Macleans, no conservative organ, finds a parallel that won't comfort the Democrats.

Her critics in the media and in the opposition may regret having piled on quite so enthusiastically, and with so little heed for who they hurt -- or angered. Watching the tumultuous, ecstatic reaction in the hall, I was reminded of the famous words of the Admiral Yamamoto after Pearl Harbour: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant, and fill him with a terrible resolve."

Palin's National Security Credentials

By Donald Douglas

John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as vice-presidential running mate is proving more shrewd by the hour. As Blackfive points out, Governor Palin, as Alaska's chief executive, has shared strategic command of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard:

Photobucket

One area of Sarah Palin's background that may help her is Alaska's unique role in our national security and homeland defense. Several folks have have mentioned this but Tom W. was specific and his info jibes with the record.

Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It's on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.

As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden's.

She's also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security's counterterrorism plans.

Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country's defense. Given Alaska's proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don't even know about.

According to the Washington Post, she first met with McCain in February, but nobody ever found out. This is a woman used to keeping secrets.

She can be entrusted with our national security, because she already is.
This really is too much!

Barack Obama would kill to have had that much access to classified defense information as a member of the U.S. Senate!

Meanwhile, the radical left contingents are mucking themselves up with more sexist allegations and totally unhinged anti-Palin smears.

Of course, both rigorous polling data and home town reactions indicate that the Obama campaign's treading water on the eve of the Republican National convention. Note though, with Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast, the Republicans plan to scale back first-day convention activities. Plus, the Bush adminstration and Senator McCain will focus their attention on protecting people in the storm's path. A successful response to the storm raises the possibility of a boost in public relations, which will help innoculate the GOP from Democratic attacks on Republican incompetence following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The whole episode, handled well, will allow the McCain camp the opportunity to burnish its image of putting people first.

Donald blogs at American Power