Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hillary Clinton: "No Palin!" (VIDEO)

"Sen. Hillary Clinton campaigned in Kissimmee today before heading off for a late afternoon event in Tampa. Clinton, talking to about 300 people Osceola County, rolled out a new line we suspect you're going to hear a lot in the coming weeks," the Orlando Sentinel reports.

"To slightly amend my comments in Denver," she said, "no way, no how, no McCain, no Palin."

Clinton said the nation should be proud that the Republicans have a woman on the ticket, but argued that returning Republicans to the White House "is like asking the iceberg to save the Titanic."

Barack Obama needs Clinton's supporters if he hopes to win the November election. She's promised to campaign for him despite their testy relationship during the Democratic primary. In Kissimmee, she began her comments with an appeal to her fans.

"I am here with a very simple message," she said. "We must work as hard as we possibly can to elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States."

Video of Clinton campaigning in Florida below:

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Flashback: In 2006 Debate, Palin Supported ‘Bridge To Nowhere’-Related Earmark

Last night, C-SPAN re-aired the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial debate, in which Sarah Palin expressed her support for an earmark related to the famed “Bridge to Nowhere.”

Congress had already removed earmarked-funding for the Bridge to Nowhere in Ketchikan, Alaska. Despite the fact that the bridge was not going to be built, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski approved the construction of a $24 million gravel “access” road (the Gravina Island Access Highway) that would lead to a nonexistent bridge.

In the 2006 debate, Palin was asked whether she supported this earmark, or whether she would pledge to cancel it as governor. Rather than responding with “thanks but no thanks” to federal funding for this “access” road, Palin said:

I wouldn’t [cancel the project]. I’m not going to stand in the way of progress that our congressional delegation — in the position of strength that they have right now — they’re making those efforts for the state of Alaska to build up our infrastructure. I would not get in the way of progress.

Independent candidate Andrew Halcro responded that he would cancel the project, explaining “this isn’t progress. This is a road to a bridge that will never be built.” Watch it:

In June 2007, Ronald Utt, a fellow at the conservative Heritiage Foundation, offered this recommendation for what Palin should do with the funds:

Gov. Palin could return the money for the gravel “access” road to Washington, perhaps even with a request that the money go to rebuild hurricane-ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi. While Alaska, or any state for that matter, naturally is reluctant to return money to the federal government, doing so is the responsible and ethical thing to do and likely would benefit Alaska in the long run.

Palin did no such thing. To this day, the state of Alaska “is continuing to build a road on Gravina Island to an empty beach where the bridge would have gone — because federal money for the access road, unlike the bridge money, would have otherwise been returned to the federal government.”

Also, CQ notes that there is “a second bridge, more than twice as expensive and just as controversial” as the canceled Bridge to Nowhere in Katchikan. Palin has expressed concern about the project “but hasn’t tried to kill [it] off.”

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Obama Response Ad: WHOA, McCain Ain't No Maverick

Adhering to the 'hit-back' policy that dictates his campaign strategy, Barack Obama released a response ad Monday evening, declaring the Republican ticket a group of wanna-be mavericks.

Titled "No Maverick," the spot replays the Obama camp's go-to "more of the same" message, only this time bringing Sarah Palin into the equation. There is even the obligatory flip-flop charge for the Alaska governor's position on the 'Bridge to Nowhere.'

Earlier in the day, the McCain camp put out a spot of its own declaring its ticket the one that represented change in Washington. The spot was dubious, arguing that Palin was always against the infamous bridge. The Obama campaign has been hitting back repeatedly with news items and press statements. This rebuttal ad, the campaign says, will "air in key battleground states across the country beginning today."

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Sarah Palin's 9 Most Disturbing Beliefs

By AlterNet Staff, AlterNet.

Let's forget for a moment that Sarah Palin likes to kill moose, has lots of children and was once voted the second-prettiest lady in Alaska; that's all part of the gusher of sensationalist, but not particularly substantive, news that has dominated coverage of the Alaska governor's addition to the Republican ticket.

Before the next news cycle brings the shocking information that Palin was actually impregnated by Bigfoot, we need to shift the discussion to what really matters about her in the context of the White House: her dangerous views.

AlterNet has compiled a list of Palin's most shocking beliefs, ranging from her positions on the economy to her views on reproductive rights. This list has nothing to do with her personal life, her looks or her gender. It's the stuff that voters need to know: what Sarah Palin really believes.

1. Despite problems at home, Sarah Palin does not believe in giving teenagers information about sex.

The McCain campaign is spinning Bristol Palin's pregnancy as a neat, shiny example of the unbreakable bonds of family. But while Bristol's actions and choices should not be attacked, teen pregnancy is no cause for celebration, either. To state the very obvious, it is not a good thing when teenagers have unprotected sex. And U.S. teens appear to have unprotected sex a lot: The United States has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, and 1 in 4 American teen girls has an STI.

Like John McCain, Palin's approach to the problems of teen pregnancy and STI transmission is abstinence-only education. In a 2006 questionnaire by the conservative group Eagle Forum, Palin stated: "Explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support." Presumably the programs that do find Palin's support are ones that focus on abstinence and only mention contraceptives to talk about their supposed shortcomings.

But someone already tried that. For eight years the Bush administration has thrown its heft behind Title V, a federal program that provides states with funding for abstinence-based sex education. In 2007 an expansive study proved abstinence-until-marriage education does not delay teen sexual activity.

If Palin is elected, she will continue to throw money at a policy that does little besides ensure that a larger number of sexually active teens lack information about how to avoid pregnancy and STIs.

2. Sarah Palin believes the U.S. Army is on a mission from God.

In June, Palin gave a speech at the Wasilla Assembly of God, her former church, in which she exhorted ministry students to pray for American soldiers in Iraq. "Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," she told them. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."

Palin talked about her son, Track, an infantryman in the U.S. Army:

When he turned 18 right before he enlisted, he had to get his first tattoo. And I'm like -- I don't think that's real cool, son. Until he showed me what it was and I thought, oh he did something right, 'cause on his calf, he has a big ol' Jesus fish!

Holy war, holy warriors.

3. Sarah Palin believes in punishing rape victims.

Palin thinks that rape victims should be forced to bear the child of their rapist. She believes this so strongly that she would oppose abortion even if her own daughter were raped.

The Huffington Post reports: "Granting exceptions only if the mother's life was in danger, Palin said that when it came to her daughter, 'I would choose life.'

At the time, her daughter was 14 years old. Moreover, Alaska's rape rate was an abysmal 2.2 times above the national average, and 25 percent of all rapes resulted in unwanted pregnancies.

If Palin's own daughter was only 14 when she made that statement, does she think any girl of reproductive age is old enough to have a child? Girls are hitting puberty earlier and earlier. What if the rape victim were only 10? 9? 8?

Palin also opposes abortion in cases of incest and would grant an exception only if childbirth would result in the mother's death. She has not made any statements yet about whether she believes a 10-year-old who was raped by her father would be able to actually raise the child once it was born. Perhaps Palin doesn't care.

4. Who's really not in favor of clean water? Sarah Palin.

As The Hill reports, "Governor Palin has ... opposed a crucial clean water initiative."

Alaska's KTUU explains: "It is against the law for the governor to officially advocate for or against a ballot measure; however, Palin took what she calls 'personal privilege' to discuss one of this year's most contentious initiatives."

Palin said, "Let me take my governor's hat off just for a minute here and tell you, personally, Prop. 4 -- I vote no on that." And what is that? A state initiative that would have banned metal mines from discharging pollution into salmon streams.

She also approved legislation that let oil and gas companies nearly triple the amount of toxic waste they can dump into Cook Inlet, an important fishery. It looks like being an avid outdoorsperson doesn't mean Palin really has the health of watersheds, natural resources or our environment at heart.

5. Sarah Palin calls herself a reformer, but on earmarks and the "Bridge to Nowhere," she is a hypocrite.

Palin says she's a "conservative Republican" who is "a firm believer in free market capitalism." She's running as an anti-tax crusader, and she did make deep cuts to Alaska's budget.

So, one would assume she is no borrow-and-spend conservative like George W., right?

Well, there was the time when she served as the mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla, Alaska. According to the Associated Press, "Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million." You'd think that $27 mil in taxpayers' funds would be enough scratch for a town with a population of 8,000, but you'd be wrong. According to Politico, Palin then "racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla -- that amounts to $3,000 per resident."

Then there's her current stint as Alaska governor, during which her appetite for federal pork spending has been on clear display. The Associated Press reported, "In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation." While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "Bridge to Nowhere."

6. Sarah Palin believes creationism should be taught in schools.

Until somebody digs up the remnants of a T. rex with an ill-fated caveman dangling from its jaws, the scientific community, along with most of the American public, will be at peace with the theory of evolution. But this isn't true of everyone. More than 80 years after the Scopes "Monkey" trial, there are people -- and politicians -- who do not believe in evolution and lobby for creationism to be taught in schools.

Palin is one of those politicians. When Palin ran for governor, part of her platform called for teaching schoolchildren creationism alongside evolution. Although she did not push hard for this position after she was elected governor, Palin has let her views on evolution be known on many occasions. According to the Anchorage Daily News, Palin stated, "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."

Palin further argued, "It's OK to let kids know that there are theories out there. They gain information just by being in a discussion."

Not when those "theories" are being presented as valid alternatives to a set of principles that most scientists have ascribed to for more than a century.

7. Sarah Palin supports offshore drilling everywhere, even if it doesn't solve our energy problems.

If McCain was hoping to salvage any part of his credibility with environmentalists, he threw that chance out the window by adding Palin to his ticket. Palin is in favor of offshore drilling and drilling in the ecologically sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Miami Herald reported:

The Alaska governor has said that she has tried to persuade McCain to agree with her on drilling in the wildlife refuge. She also has said that she was happy that he changed his position over the summer and now supports offshore oil drilling.

As if that weren't bad enough, in her speech this week at the Republican National Convention, she said, "Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems -- as if we all didn't know that already." Huh. I guess drilling even when it won't help is better than working on renewable energy sources, as Palin also vetoed money for a wind energy project.

8. Sarah Palin loves oil and nuclear power.

Aside from her "drill here, drill there, drill everywhere" approach to our energy crisis, the only other things we know about Palin's energy policy, especially given her Bush-like love of avoiding the press, comes from her acceptance speech:

Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines, build more nuclear plants, create jobs with clean coal and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal and other alternative sources.

Nuclear power plants. Interesting. As folks look for alternative fuel sources (and again, Palin loves oil first and foremost so her commitment to any alternative energy source is suspect at best), nuclear power is enjoying a return to vogue. But here's the problem: Even the U.S. government's own nuclear agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, thinks an atomic renaissance is a bad idea:

Delivered by one of America's most notoriously docile agencies, the NRC's warning essentially says: that all cost estimates for new nuclear reactors -- and all licensing and construction schedules -- are completely up for grabs and have no reliable basis in fact. Thus any comparisons between future atomic reactors and renewable technologies are moot at best.

Not to mention /www.beyondnuclear.org/nuclearpower.html>all the other problems with nuclear energy, such as how to dispose of nuclear waste and the possibility of a catastrophic meltdown, to name a couple. Palin has no background with nuclear energy and shows no evidence of having looked into the science behind it or the dangers that come with it.

Also, it's time for Palin to drop another Bush-like tendency: Governor, the word is pronounced "new-clear."

9. Sarah Palin doesn't think much of community activism; she'd much rather play insider political games.

In her Republican convention speech, Palin slammed Barack Obama's early political work, saying, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except you have actual responsibilities." Palin's put-down of grassroots workers, often unpaid or low-paid, demeaned an American tradition of neighbors helping neighbors, according to Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change. But more revealing is Palin's apparent lack of experience in community change and local volunteer efforts, during her years in Alaska before becoming governor.

Scores of press accounts of her early years as mayor of Wasilla omit any mention of such work. Instead, they note as mayor, and in the intervening years before running for governor, Palin gravitated to those with power, money or influence. She worked to enlarge Wasilla's Wal-Mart and build a sports center (that went over budget in an eminent domain dispute), and she hired a Washington lobbyist, directed a political fundraising committee for the state's senior U.S. senator, Republican Ted Stevens, now under indictment for corruption, and steered $22 million in federal aid to her town. While some of her early community work was undoubtedly centered on her church, perhaps this comment by a blog reader best sums up Palin's political opportunism:

So community organizers (aren't) responsible? Or caring? Or doing anything important. What a terrible insult to the greatest community organizer of all time, Jesus Christ.

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Palin Makes Her First Gaffe

Gov. Sarah Palin made her first potentially major gaffe during her time on the national scene while discussing the developments of the perilous housing market this past weekend.

Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." The companies, as McClatchy reported, "aren't taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization."

Economists and analysts pounced on the misstatement, which came before the government had spent funds bailing the two entities out, saying it demonstrated a lack of understanding about one of the key economic issues likely to face the next administration.

"You would like to think that someone who is going to be vice president and conceivable president would know what Fannie and Freddie do," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "These are huge institutions and they are absolutely central to our country's mortgage debt. To not have a clue what they do doesn't speak well for her, I'd say."

Added Andrew Jakabovics, an economic analyst for the progressive think tank, Center for American Progress: "It is somewhat nonsensical because up until yesterday there was sort of no public funding there. Even today they haven't drawn down any of the credit line they have given to Treasury. 'Gotten too big and too expensive' are two separate things. The too big has been a conservative mantra for a while and there is something to be said of that in that they hold about half of the mortgage guarantees that are out there. And in the last year they have been responsible for roughly 80 percent out there. The 'too expensive to tax payers,' I don't know where that comes from."

Even conservative analysts acknowledged that the statement simply did not hold true.

"Heretofore, if the treasury had a balance sheet there would have been a liability but there was never a taxpayer payment before [the bailout]," said Gerald P. O'Driscoll, an economist with the Cato Institute. "[Fannie and Freddie] were not taxpayer funded. They had taxpayer guarantee, which is worth something, especially in the stock market..."

The Palin misstatement comes as Fannie and Freddie are set to be placed under control of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, created by President Bush in late July to help regulate the two housing giants. Both presidential candidates have been critical of Fannie and Freddie but neither is opposed to the government's plans for the companies. The treasury is hoping that the government's role will help stabilize credit markets and incentive more mortgage lending.

"With the takeover they will be taxpayer funded," said O'Driscoll. "As I understand it they get to withdraw funds with permission going forward."

How politically significant a "gaffe" it is remains to be seen. The major concern about Palin's position on the ticket is that she lacks the economic and foreign policy wherewithal to serve as vice president. This certainly doesn't help on that front. At the same time, the remark went almost entirely unnoticed over the weekend and discussions on the developments of the housing market can be difficult to process for even the most attuned voter.

There are varying explanations that could be offered for Palin's defense. As O'Driscoll noted, both Fannie and Freddie "were hybrid institutions because they had private ownership but... an implicit government guarantee which people thought at the end of the day was explicit." Meanwhile, as Baker noted, as of July the two lenders were being offered low market interest rates by the fed again, theoretically, at the taxpayer's expense. But, he added, "I kind of doubt she had any sense of that."

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Historians: Stop Bush/Cheney From Destroying Presidential Records

bushpapers.jpg Thirty-two of the nation’s leading historians have sent letters to congressional leaders calling on them to stregthen the Presidential Records Act (PRA). The effort, led by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and joined by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the National Coalition for History, notes that while the PRA requires the administration to preserve presidential records, “it fails to provide an effective means
of enforcing compliance with that requirement.” (View the letters here and here.)

This effort has taken on increased urgency as the Bush administration prepares to leave office and may be ready to expunge the record on its tenure. Bush has already repeatedly manipulated and rewritten open government laws in order to cover up his wrongdoings:

– The White House is “missing as many as 225 days of e-mail dating back to 2003 and there is little if any likelihood a recovery effort will be completed by the time the Bush administration leaves office.”

– In 2001, President Bush issued an executive order “allowing former presidents to review executive documents before they can be released.” Last year, however, a U.S. District Judge invalidated the order, ruling that former presidents would be able to “indefinitely” keep their documents secret.

– Bush plans to solicit contributions from foreign donors for his $200 million presidential library, but plans on keeping their identities secret.

CAPAF Senior Fellow Mark Agrast told ThinkProgress that although the “prospects for legislative action during the remainder of the 110th Congress are not promising, we felt it was important to lay down a marker for the next Congress and the incoming administration before this Congress adjourns.”

CREW and several historian organizations are also filing a separate lawsuit today, “asking a federal judge to declare that Cheney’s records are covered by the Presidential Records Act of 1978 and cannot be destroyed, taken or withheld without proper review.”

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Rendell: If I Was Palin You'd Be Calling For My Impeachment

Gov. Ed Rendell decried a double standard in the treatment of Sarah Palin on Monday, saying that if it was he who was at the center of the "troopergate" investigation, the press would be calling for his head.

"She [claims to be] a reformer," said the Pennsylvania Democrat. "And yet she is being investigated on the charge that she used her power as governor to fire someone who was going through a messy divorce with a relative of hers. Could you imagine if I was doing the same thing in Pennsylvania? You would be calling for my impeachment."

The remarks came at the end of a long list of criticisms that Rendell, one of the foremost supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, launched against the Republican vice presidential nominee. Ignoring the directive of the Obama campaign to focus attentions on McCain, Rendell called out Palin on everything from ethics to earmarks.

"[The McCain camp] has tried to again obscure the facts about Gov. Palin. 'She is a reformer and against earmarks.' No she isn't, when she was mayor of that town she hired a lobbyist to get earmarks... 'She was against the bridge to nowhere.' No she wasn't. She was for the bridge to nowhere first... She is a budget balancer. But she left the town in greater debt then when she became mayor, so she is not a budget balancer."

"I like her," Rendell concluded. "She is a good person, she has tremendous potential but in no way shape or form is she ready to be president of the United States."

The Rendell call, organized to preempt a McCain appearance in Pennsylvania, was ostensibly on the topic of how the Arizona Republican has engaged in dirty politics when it came to discussing Obama's tax record. And on this issue, Rendell was again in vintage outspoken form.

"First of all, let me say it should be embarrassing for the Republican ticket that Rick Davis, Sen. McCain's campaign manager, said 'this election is not about issues.' Good lord, with all the challenges facing America it has to be about issues...They don't want to talk about issues because when the truth comes out about issues the American people will favor Sen. Obama tremendously."

The Republicans, he added, "would make the all time all-star team for spiders the way they can spin."

But most questions, as has been the case since the Palin announcement, were focused on the Alaska governor.

Would she siphon of Clinton supporters in Pennsylvania? No, said Rendell, who expected Obama to receive somewhere along the lines of "95,96, or 97 percent of the vote."

Was she qualified to serve as VP? Absolutely not, he bemoaned.

The McCain camp argues that, "Governor Palin, because of her executive experience as a mayor of a small 9,000 person town and governor of Alaska for 20 months, has that experience. Well, I refer you to a McCain camp document they put out when [Virginia] Gov. Kaine was considered to be vice president. They attacked his experience and derided Richmond [where Kaine was formerly mayor] because it was the 105th largest city ... I think Gov. Palin was mayor of the 50,000th [most populated] city in the America... It was fair game to say Gov. Kaine was not qualified because of his credentials. If they are going to be consistent then they believe that Gov. Palin is unqualified to be vice president."

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TPM: Why Palin's Interview With ABC Is Already A Farce

I spent most of the day today traveling and then giving a talk up at Union College a few hours north of New York City. So I was offline most of the day. And though I heard about Charlie Gibson bagging the first interview with Sarah Palin, I was eager to get home and read the details.

Well, now I've read them. And it's pretty clear this farce is going to be close to unwatchable. Set aside that this comes just on the heels of McCain campaign manager Rick Davis saying Palin would not sit for any interviews "until the point in time when she'll be treated with respect and deference." The tell comes high up in the AP story by David Bauder. The second graf reads ...

Palin will sit down for multiple interviews with Gibson in Alaska over two days, most likely Thursday and Friday, said McCain adviser Mark Salter.

Political interviews are never done like this. Because it makes the questioning entirely at the discretion of the person being interviewed and their handlers. The interviewer has to be on their best behavior, at least until the last of the 'multiple interviews' because otherwise the subsequent sittings just won't happen. For a political journalist to agree to such terms amounts to a form of self-gelding. The only interviews that are done this way are lifestyle and celebrity interviews. And it's pretty clear that that is what this will be.

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