Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What If Bristol Palin Were Black?

Christian-right leaders and conservative stalwarts have praised the decision of Bristol Palin, the daughter of Governor Sarah Palin, to carry her child to term. She is 17 and conceived this child out of wedlock. Now imagine she wasn't the daughter of a prominent Republican politician but an average person. Now imagine she was black.

What do you think conservatives would have to say about her? "Typical, urban youth with no sense of responsibility raised with loose morals who plans to depend on the state to take care of her child." You know it. It's not within dispute. That's exactly what they would say.

Barack Obama has told everyone to lay off this because it is a personal, family matter. Yes, but it also has public policy ramifications. Governor Palin is for abstinence only education. Well, that obviously didn't work.

Has she learned her lesson? Will she now amend her policy position on this matter given her personal record of failure in implementing this ridiculous stance?

Notice I am not blaming Bristol. Quite the opposite. People like me are the ones that defend the Bristols of the world. It is conservatives like James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh and yes, Governor Palin who usually attack people who find themselves in Bristol's situation. They demand a dogmatic adherence to moral strictures and chastise and belittle women who have children out of wedlock. Especially if they are women of color.

Which brings us back to Obama. Do you think the Republicans would lay off of Obama if his 17 year-old daughter had gotten pregnant out of wedlock? You know the answer to that question. Everyone does.

"This is what the permissive liberal attitude gets you. If you allow your children to think everything is acceptable, they have no boundaries. They wind up getting themselves in trouble like this. It's a predictable result of the liberal lifestyle."

And that's before the subtle and not so subtle racial implications are brought into this. There is a constant double-standard of how black and white people and politicians are covered in this country. When a young black girl gets pregnant, she's looking to get money from welfare. When a young white woman gets pregnant, she made an unfortunate mistake and her family is being supportive in trying to help the make the best of it.

Cindy McCain was addicted to drugs and stole from her own charity to feed her addiction. Now what do you think the Republicans would have done if Michelle Obama had done that? How do you think the press would have covered it? You think they would have called it a simple mistake and moved on?

When presented with these examples, no matter who you are, you know in your heart that this double standard exists. All of this is not said to condemn Bristol Palin or Cindy McCain. This is to get you to think twice about your own assumptions about the next time you hear a story of a young African-American woman who got pregnant in the inner city or a minority who got addicted to drugs and committed a crime to feed that addiction.

There but for the grace of God go Bristol Palin and Cindy McCain.

Palin Scrubbing Turns Up an Undeclared Car Wash

In addition to being a mayor and raising four children, Sarah Palin found time for another venture in her Wasilla years -- she was part-owner of an Anchorage car wash.

Palin and husband Todd each held a 20 percent stake in Anchorage Car Wash LLC, according to state corporation records filed in 2004.

A review of Palin's gubernatorial disclosure filings indicates that she failed to report her stake in the company on the form that requires candidates for governor to disclose any interest in a nonpublicly traded company.

The car wash venture was not entirely smooth sailing. State records show the business ran into trouble with Alaska's division of corporations business and professional licensing after Palin became governor of the state in 2006.

A Feb. 11, 2007 letter to the governor's business partner advises that the car wash had "not filed its biennial report and/or paid its biennial fees," which were more than a year overdue.

The warning letter was written on state letterhead, which carried Palin's name at the top, next to the state seal.

On April 3, 2007, the state went further and issued a "certificate of involuntary dissolution" because of the car wash's failure to file its report and pay state licensing fees.

Palin's gubernatorial disclosure filings also reveal her involvement in another failed startup -- a marketing business which was to go by the name Rouge Cou, which evidently is a literal French translation of "red neck." On the 2005 form, Palin describes the firm as one for which she secured a license but did not conduct any business.

Original here

Obama Answers Your Science Questions

America asked Barack Obama about science, and Obama answered.

"This is the first time we know of that a candidate for president has laid out his science policy before the election at this level of detail," said Shawn Otto, CEO of ScienceDebate2008.

A 38,000-member coalition of scientists, engineers and concerned citizens, ScienceDebate2008 pushed presidential candidates to attend to science -- an area that is vital to America's economy and touches on nearly every important political issue, but is generally neglected during elections.

Though unable to convince Obama and John McCain to engage in a full-blown science debate, ScienceDebate2008 winnowed 3,400 member-submitted questions down to 14 key challenges facing candidates and the country. Some, such as clean energy and stem cell research, are familiar from past elections. Others, such as water security and the systematic politicization of science, are new.

Obama's answers were released on Saturday and balance lofty rhetoric with policy-wonk detail -- not only on energy issues, which are a central part of his platform, but relatively esoteric issues as science education, bioterror and genetic privacy.

"I thought they were very substantive for this point in the campaign, and surprisingly detailed," said Otto.

Obama also appears to appreciate the process of science: He promises across-the-board doublings of basic research budgets, and pledges to reverse the ideologically motivated science-skewing that has thrived under the Bush administration.

On the Friday preceding Obama's answers, John McCain announced the vice presidential nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- a global warming skeptic with a poor environmental record and sympathy for public creationism education. According to Otto, McCain has not yet answered.

Below are takeaway quotes from several essential questions. The full version is here.

ScienceDebate2008: What policies will you support to ensure that America remains the world leader in innovation?

Barack Obama: My administration will increase funding for basic research in physical and life sciences, mathematics and engineering at a rate that would double basic research budgets over the next decade.

SD2008: What is your position on the following measures that have been proposed to address global climate change -- a cap-and-trade system, a carbon tax, increased fuel-economy standards or research?

Obama: The U.S. must get off the sidelines and take long-overdue action here at home to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions. We must also take a leadership role in designing technologies that allow us to enjoy a growing, prosperous economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

: What policies would you support to meet demand for energy while ensuring an economically and environmentally sustainable future?

Obama: First, I have proposed programs that, taken together, will increase federal investment in the clean energy research, development and deployment to $150 billion over ten years.... Second, it is essential that we create a strong, predictable market for energy innovations with concrete goals that speed introduction of innovative products and provide a strong incentive for private R&D investment in energy technologies.

SD2008: What is your view of how science and technology can best be used to ensure national security and where should we put our focus?

Obama: My administration will put basic defense research on a path to double and will assure strong funding for investments in DoD’s applied research programs. We will enhance the connections between defense researchers and their war-fighting counterparts. And, we will strengthen defense research management so that our most innovative minds are working on our most pressing defense problems.

SD2008: What is your position on government regulation and funding of stem cell research?

: I believe that the restrictions that President Bush has placed on funding of human embryonic stem cell research have handcuffed our scientists and hindered our ability to compete with other nations. As president, I will lift the current administration’s ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001 through executive order, and I will ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight.

SD2008: How do you see science, research and technology contributing to improved health and quality of life?

Obama: These are difficult problems, and science and technology can solve only some of them. The effectiveness of medical care can be improved, and its costs can be reduced, by greater emphasis on best practices, electronic medical records, hospital safety, preventive strategies and improved public health surveillance.

SD2008: Is it acceptable for elected officials to hold back or alter scientific reports if they conflict with their own views, and how will you balance scientific information with politics and personal beliefs in your decision-making?

Obama: I will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best-available, scientifically valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees. More broadly, I am committed to creating a transparent and connected democracy, using cutting-edge technologies to provide a new level of transparency, accountability, and participation for America’s citizens.

Though it's impossible to know whether Obama will keep his word, the thoroughness of his answers -- the quotes above are just the tip -- is impressive.

"A lot of the scientists I've spoken to are pleased with the level of substance and detail," said Otto.

Infuriated About Tough CNN Interview, McCain Cancels Larry King Appearance

Yesterday, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds appeared on CNN for an interview with Campbell Brown. Brown was tough on Bounds, refusing to let him spout typical campaign talking points. She repeatedly pressed him on Palin’s foreign policy experience and qualifications, asking him to name one decision that she made as commander-in-chief of the Alaskan National Guard. Bounds was unable to do so.

Today, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer revealed that because of that tough interview, the McCain campaign has canceled the senator’s appearance on Larry King Live tonight:

The McCain campaign said it believed that exchange was over the line and as a result the interview scheduled for Larry King Live with Sen. McCain was pulled. CNN does not believe that Campbell’s interview was over the line. We are committed to fair coverage of both sides of this historic election.

CNN also replayed the interview between Brown and Bounds. Watch Blitzer’s announcement and the interview:

The McCain campaign has repeatedly tried to intimidate the press. It is now angry about media coverage of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, calling NBC’s reporting on it “irresponsible journalism.” Campaign staffers “even considered pulling out of one of the three presidential debates because it would be moderated by Tom Brokaw, a former NBC News anchorman.” When Newsweek wrote a cover story in May examining the hardball tactics conservatives might use in the general election, the McCain campaign “threatened to throw the magazine’s reporters off the campaign bus and airplane.”

Obama on Gustav

As a journalist who has covered Obama for 19 months now, I have heard him deliver more speeches than I can count. I know when he’s tired he goes long – like 90 minutes long – rambling through oft-repeated points and stories. I’ve seen him address crowds of 80,000 and rooms of less than 100. And after a while you become immune to his prose and tune in only to new wrinkles.

Obama spent today giving curtailed speeches in respect to Hurricane Gustav. But tonight, in front of a Milwaukee audience of 14,000, invoking both the Bible and Thoreau, he was as good as I’ve ever heard him. He spoke for just over 14 minutes but he left the audience roaring. Here are excerpts of the last five minutes. I will endeavor to post the audio.

Here is the audio.

That spirit of looking out for one another, that core value that says I am my brothers’ keeper, I am my sister’s keeper, that spirit is most evident during times of great tragedy, it’s most evident during times of great hardship, it’s most evident when natural disasters strike because we understand that only God has control and so it takes it out of the realm of politics. We all understand that we have to come together.

But that spirit can’t just be restricted to moments of great catastrophe. Because as I stand here today and look out at the thousands of folks who have gathered here today, I know that there’s some folks that are going through their own quiet storms.


There’re people out there who’ve seen their jobs shipped overseas. There’re people out there who don’t have healthcare, maybe they’ve been trying to pay it on a credit card but mostly they’ve just been putting off trying to see a doctor. There’re seniors out there that don’t know how they’re going to pay their home heating bill this winter. There are folks out there that don’t know how they’re going to fill up the gas tank. There are young people in this audience right now that have graduated from high school, have the grades and want to go to college, but don’t have the money. There are young people being born in the inner cities, right here in Milwaukee, that don’t see any prospects for the future that think the only path available to them is a casket or a jail cell.

All across America there are quiet storms taking place. There are lives of quiet desperation. People who need just a little bit of help. Now, Americans are a self-reliant people, we’re an independent people. We don’t like asking somebody else to do what we can do ourselves but you know what we understand is that every once in a while somebody’s going to get knocked down. Every once in a while somebody’s going to go through some hard times. When we least expect it tragedy may strike. And what has always made this country great is the understanding that we rise and fall as one nation, that values and family, community and neighborhood, they have to express themselves in our government. Those are national values. Those are values that we all subscribe to. And so that the spirit that we extend today and in the days to come as we monitor what happens on the Gulf that’s the spirit that we’ve got to carry with us each and every day. That’s the spirit that we need in our own homes and it’s the spirit that we need in the White House. And that’s why I’m running for president of the United States of America.

Because if there’s a poor child out there, that’s my child. If there’s a senior that’s having trouble, that’s my grandparent. If there’s a guy who’s lost his job, that’s my brother. If there’s a woman out there without healthcare, that’s my sister. Those are the values that built this country. Those are the values we are fighting for.

Palin: The Iron-Fist Mayor?

Earlier today, First Lady Laura Bush urged us to remember Gov. Sarah Palin’s record as mayor of her hometown from 1996-2002 when assessing her experience. I agree.

Driving around this city today, I decided it looks more or less like a string of strip malls, 45 minutes northeast of Anchorage. I couldn’t help but think that being mayor of a place like this would be something akin to running a large neighborhood watch.

The main highway that runs through town is lined with new big-box stores, including a Target and a Wal-Mart. A handful of fast-food chains as well as some local restaurants also sprinkle the main drag. Breathtaking mountains, the peaks still lightly dusted with snow, create a striking backdrop. Despite the chain stores, this small city feels distant from the rest of the world. I’d have guessed Palin would have run the city with a “we’re in this together” theme.

It turns out she had a somewhat different approach. If a small-town mayor ever ruled with an iron fist — it was Palin. Eleven days after taking office in 1996, she mailed letters to each of the city’s top managers requesting that they resign as a test of loyalty.

The Anchorage Daily News at the time reported the strange events: (via Nexis)

Mayor Sarah Palin sent the resignation requests Thursday to Police Chief Irl Stambaugh, public works director Jack Felton, finance director Duane Dvorak and Mary Ellen Emmons, the head of libraries. A fifth director — John Cooper, who oversaw the city museum — resigned earlier this month after Palin eliminated his position.

Cooper initially resisted resigning, but to no avail. Palin also later fired the police chief, saying she knew in her “heart” that he did not support her. She left the head of libraries a letter saying she was out — though Palin later decided to spare the librarian after being convinced that she would tow the line.

The whole saga is unusual — considering Palin prides herself on being independent and seems to enjoy butting heads with her own party. But, this sounds like she requires fierce loyalty of those who work for her.

I’m still reporting on Palin’s time as mayor. More to come soon.

McCain in talks with Ron Paul for backing

ST. PAUL, Minn. | The McCain campaign, acting through the Republican National Committee, has been negotiating with Rep. Ron Paul to win his support and acquire the names of his sympathizers among the 4,607 delegates and alternates at the Republican National Convention, according to a senior aide to the Texas congressman.

The aim is to try to win support for the John McCain-Sarah Palin ticket from Paul sympathizers, some of whom formally committed to Mr. Paul during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination and others of whom are closet sympathizers of his libertarian brand of Republicanism.

Sen. McCain and national party strategists worry that Mr. Paul's sympathizers will vote for Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate and former Republican congressman who shares many of Mr. Paul's views.

Mr. Paul has refused to endorse Mr. McCain, and Mr. McCain's operatives have refused to let him address the Republican National Convention.

As a result, Mr. Paul decided to hold a rally of his own Tuesday billed as the "Campaign for Liberty." Initially set to be held at the University of Minnesota's 11,000-seat Williams Arena, it has been moved to the far-larger Target Center in Minneapolis. Mr. Paul said in an interview that he expects to attract up to 18,000 people.

See Ralph Z. Hallow's exclusive interview with Mr. Paul here:

Brightcove Video

Earlier this year, the congressman shocked the party establishment by twice setting single-day fundraising records during his quest for the Republican presidential nomination.

He has a donors list of about 180,000 people that Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said would do the McCain campaign no good because the loyalty of those donors is not transferable.

Mr. Benton said Mr. Paul is negotiating with convention officials - who are in effect McCain campaign representatives - for permission to make the rounds on the convention floor Wednesday in the company of his personal security guard, communications director and political aides.

Mr. Paul has said he will speak respectfully about Mr. McCain in return for the convention granting the entourage access to the floor of the Xcel Energy Center. Mr. Paul, as a member of Congress and a member of the Texas delegation, automatically has floor access for himself.

Earlier negotiations to have Mr. Paul address the convention fell through because the congressman would not change his position on the war in Iraq, which he opposes as needless and self-defeating for the United States.

He also was denied permission to address the Republican Platform Committee last week in Minneapolis, Mr. Benton said. He said Mr. Paul wanted to discuss the foreign-policy planks in the platform, but the McCain forces who controlled the platform proceedings, as well as the Rules Committee and the Credentials Committee, objected.

The McCain campaign is concerned about the impact of Mr. Paul's rally Tuesday, which is expected to attract many young, first-time voters and is being referred to in much of the press as a "counter-convention."

ROD LAMKEY JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES One-time Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has thus far refused to endorse the GOP nominee-to-be. Mr. Paul on Tuesday will host a rally of his own.

Mr. Paul, in an interview with The Washington Times, said he doesn't regard the event as a counter-convention so much as a big-stage training session for future cadres of the party - cadres who see the world Mr. Paul's way.

Asked whether he really thinks he can influence the party to be less hawkish on war, he said, "No, not at the upper level. You know, I'm not going to convert [Vice President] Dick Cheney. He's going to be always a neoconservative. ...

"But what we are also doing here is training thousands of people and encouraging them to be involved in precinct work, and then getting involved in the Republican Party and have an influence that way."

Some conservatives, including several prominent Republicans, privately support Mr. Paul's aim, which they see as taking the party back from its neoconservative wing and restoring it to a tradition of limited-government conservatism.

He was asked why he was holding "training events" - one of which consists mostly of music groups performing - during the convention..

"Because this is where the action is," Mr. Paul said with a smile.

Palin Investigation Stalled By McCain Campaign, State Legislator Says

Is the McCain campaign afraid of an 'October surprise' involving vice-presidential pick Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska?

The Alaska state senator running an investigation of Gov. Palin says the McCain campaign is using stall tactics to prevent him from releasing his final report by Oct. 31, four days before the November election.

"It's likely to be damaging to the Governor," said Senator Hollis French, a Democrat, appointed the project manager for a bi-partisan State Senate Legislative Counsel Committee investigation of claims that Palin abused her office to get the Alaska public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, fired.

An Anchorage Daily News story suggests that Palin's lawyer is helping stall the investigation. He's trying to get the probe into the hands of a governor-appointed board:

The state has hired a private lawyer to represent Gov. Sarah Palin's office in the Legislature's investigation into the firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. The lawyer already has challenged whether lawmakers even have authority to oversee the inquiry.


Van Flein said the investigation should be handled by the state Personnel Board, not the Legislature, because it's "statutorily mandated" to handle ethics cases. The three-member Personnel Board is appointed by the governor.

And he's making it difficult for Special Counsel Steve Branchflower to interview Palin:

Branchflower hasn't been able to set up an interview with Palin. French said the state will fly Branchflower to wherever Palin is on the campaign trail if needed.

"Clearly the governor's new political role will make it more challenging for her to make time for this investigation," French wrote. But Palin needs to be interviewed sometime in September, he said.

Van Flein said the investigation is "bad timing" in the middle of a presidential campaign. He said he couldn't guarantee her availability this month.

Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic Sold Out

Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic, a three-day event culminating in a rally on September 2 in at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has sold out. Over 10,000 tickets have been sold for $17.76 each. In response to the heavy demand for seats, The Campaign for Liberty has opened up two side sections and will give these final seats away for free on site at Target Center.

The schedule for tomorrow is as follows:
9:00 am - Media lounge opens for Press
11:00 - 11:30 - Press Conference with Dr. Paul
11:30 - Doors open
12:30 - Intro: Tucker Carlson
12:40 - National Anthem: Matt Colvin
12:50 - Invocation: Barb Davis White
12:55 - Howard Phillips
1:10 - Doug Wead
1:30 - Tom Woods
1:50 - Grover Norquist
2:10 - Lew Rockwell
2:30 - Bill Kauffman
2:50 - Special Guest
3:10 - Bruce Fein
3:35 - Gov. Jesse Ventura
4:05 - John Tate, Campaign for Liberty Presentation
4:25 - Gov. Gary Johnson
5:00 - Rock Music Star Aimee Allen
6:00 - Break
7:00 - Intro: Barry Goldwater Jr.
7:05 - Ron Paul
8:05 - Country Music Superstar Sara Evans
9:30 - End of Program
9:30 - Jimmie Vaughan After Party Parking

Press representatives are responsible for their own parking. Target Center does not have any parking that they control. There are numerous parking garages nearby.
Loading Area
We suggest that any press representative with a light load-in unload at the drop-off zone front of the main lobby doors on the First Avenue side of Target Center and enter through the main lobby.
Once you are unloaded you must move your vehicle. There will be signage and personnel there to direct you to the MEDIA ROOM for registration.
Press with larger gear load-in may unload in the loading dock. The entrance to the loading dock is on Second Ave. close to 6th street. Once any equipment is unloaded the truck must be moved immediately.
There will be a media area on the floor, as well as desks with hard phone lines and internet access in the media lounge. There will also be media riders that can accommodate up to 12 cameras, as well as a pit camera for live feeds. In addition, there will be a bloggers lounge in a luxury box for live blogging and podcasting.
Press must check in and receive press passes. Please come to the MEDIA ROOM (look for the signs) at the Target Center. It opens at 9:00 am on Tuesday, 09/02. The first press event is a short press conference with Dr. Paul at 11:00 am in the Main Hall.
All press members will need to show either official press credentials or RNC press credentials if attending the other convention in town to receive their Campaign for Liberty credentials.

Letter; ‘Campaign for Liberty’ awaits you in Twin Cities

To the Editor:

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s candidacy for president through the Republican Party may be at an end, but the Texas Republican is still a thorn in the side of the Bush administration and the new world order. He’s also a thorn in the side of Barack Obama and John McCain, as his renowned “Rally for the Republic” grows

His rally initially set at the University of Minnesota’s 11,000 seat Williams Arena was changed to accommodate the enlarging crowd to the Target Center. The Target Center Sept. 2 will be the official launching of the “Campaign for Liberty.” This will follow two full days of events. For an agenda see

Shunned for the GOP Convention because he refused to endorse McCain, Paul — with the support of thousands — has prepared this “counter convention” to coincide with the Republican National Convention Sept. 1-4.

Paul is expected to deliver a dynamite speech Sept. 2. “If they expected us to retire quietly ... they’re in for a surprise,” Paul said. He pledges to “shake up the political establishment. This will be the largest organization for peace, freedom, the constitution and sound money in American history.”

In addition, there will be a booth in support of Chuck Baldwin, Baptist Church pastor, running for president through the Constitution Party. (The Constitution Party gave full support to Paul during his campaign.) Paul and Baldwin share a common message for restoration of this once great nation in a time of crisis. Both ask you to help to take back America for the American people: (973) 764-0923 or or

Target seats are filling fast. Advance tickets for the Sept. 2 event from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. can be purchased at the center or Ticket Master.

Del & Charla Kusilek

Cannon Falls