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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What it's like to debate Sarah Palin

By Andrew Halcro

Reporter head shot

Monitor opinion editor Josh Burek talks with former Alaska state representative and gubenatorial candidate Andrew Halcro about Gov. Sarah Palin's debating abilities.

When he faces off against Sarah Palin Thursday night, Joe Biden will have his hands full.

I should know. I've debated Governor Palin more than two dozen times. And she's a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden, or anyone, can do.

On paper, of course, the debate appears to be a mismatch.

In 2000, Palin was the mayor of an Alaskan town of 5,500 people, while Biden was serving his 28th year as a United States senator. Her major public policy concern was building a local ice rink and sports center. His major public policy concern was the State Department's decision to grant an export license to allow sales of heavy-lift helicopters to Turkey, during tense UN-sponsored Cyprus peace talks.

On paper, the difference in experience on both domestic and foreign policy is like the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing a bullet. Unfortunately for Biden, if recent history is an indicator, experience or a grasp of the issues won't matter when it comes to debating Palin.

On April 17, 2006, Palin and I participated in a debate at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks on agriculture issues. The next day, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner published this excerpt:

"Andrew Halcro, a declared independent candidate from Anchorage, came armed with statistics on agricultural productivity. Sarah Palin, a Republican from Wasilla, said the Matanuska Valley provides a positive example for other communities interested in agriculture to study."

On April 18, 2006, Palin and I sat together in a hotel coffee shop comparing campaign trail notes. As we talked about the debates, Palin made a comment that highlights the phenomenon that Biden is up against.

"Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I'm amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, 'Does any of this really matter?' " Palin said.

While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it. During the campaign, Palin's knowledge on public policy issues never matured – because it didn't have to. Her ability to fill the debate halls with her presence and her gift of the glittering generality made it possible for her to rely on populism instead of policy.

Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she's met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges.

In one debate, a moderator asked the candidates to name a bill the legislature had recently passed that we didn't like. I named one. Democratic candidate Tony Knowles named one. But Sarah Palin instead used her allotted time to criticize the incumbent governor, Frank Murkowski. Asked to name a bill we did like, the same pattern emerged: Palin didn't name a bill.

And when she does answer the actual question asked, she has a canny ability to connect with the audience on a personal level. For example, asked to name a major issue that had been ignored during the campaign, I discussed the health of local communities, Mr. Knowles talked about affordable healthcare, and Palin talked about ... the need to protect hunting and fishing rights.

So what does that mean for Biden? With shorter question-and-answer times and limited interaction between the two, he should simply ignore Palin in a respectful manner on the stage and answer the questions as though he were alone. Any attempt to flex his public-policy knowledge and show Palin is not ready for prime time will inevitably cast him in the role of the bully.

On the other side of the stage, if Palin is to be successful, she needs to do what she does best: fill the room with her presence and stick to the scripted sound bites.

Original here

Polls: Obama Leads In Three Critical States

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., steps off the plane at the airport in La Crosse, Wis., Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Recently trailing or tied, Democrat Barack Obama now leads Republican John McCain in a trio of the most critical, vote-rich states five weeks before the election, according to presidential poll results released Wednesday.

The Democrat's support jumped to 50 percent or above in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania in Quinnipiac University surveys taken during the weekend _ after the opening presidential debate and during Monday's dramatic stock market plunge as the House rejected a $700 billion financial bailout plan.

Combined, these states offer 68 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory on Election Day, Nov. 4.

Pollsters attributed Obama's improved standing to the public's general approval of his debate performance, antipathy toward GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and heightened confidence in the Illinois senator's ability to handle the economic crisis.

The fresh polling is the latest troublesome turn for McCain, the Arizona senator who is trying to regain control of the campaign conversation amid increasingly difficult circumstances for Republicans. It comes on the eve of a debate between Palin and her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, and as the financial crisis shapes the presidential race in unpredictable ways.

For now and probably for the next month, the race will be entirely about who can best handle an economy in peril.

The war in Iraq, national security and foreign policy issues _ McCain's strengths _ have largely fallen by the wayside as each campaign tries to chart a course to the presidency in extraordinarily choppy economic waters.

The new surveys show Obama leading McCain in Florida 51 percent to 43 percent, in Ohio 50 percent to 42 percent and in Pennsylvania 54 percent to 39 percent.

Since 1960, no president has been elected without winning two of those three states.

The results are notable because they show Obama in a strong position in the pair of states that put Bush in the White House in 2000 and kept him there four years later _ Florida and Ohio, with 27 and 20 electoral votes, respectively.

Obama has been struggling to break into a comfortable lead in both states; for weeks he had been mostly about even with McCain in Ohio while lagging for months in Florida, even after being the only candidate on the air and spending some $8 million on advertising.

Pennsylvania, with 21 electoral votes, is a different story.

Obama is trying to hang onto the state Democrat John Kerry won four years ago, though McCain has mounted a stiff challenge as he seeks to benefit from his rival's trouble with working-class voters who question his liberal voting record and, perhaps, his race.

The telephone polls, which were taken before and after last week's McCain-Obama debate, have margins of error ranging from plus or minus 2.8 percentage points to plus or minus 3.4 points.

Original here

Report fears potential 'partisan manipulation' in voter purges

It is normal for states to periodically review lists of voters and remove any who have moved, died, or been convicted of felonies. However, with no national standards to control this process, it has become "chaotic," "riddled with inaccuracies," and "vulnerable to manipulation" for partisan purposes.

Those are the conclusions of a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice obtained by CBS News. Brennan Center Executive Director Michael Waldman told CBS, "Officials are making tons of errors, and it's all happening in secret, without public accountability."

One problem that has previously been noted is that some voters are being improperly removed from the rolls because of clerical errors or small mismatches in names or addresses and may not even find out until they show up and attempt to vote.

However, in addition to accidental errors, there is also a possibility of voter purges being used selectively to target minorities or other groups for partisan purposes. "We don't know all the problems, but we know that there's a huge potential for partisan mischief," Waldman stated.

Although exact figures are difficult to obtain, the report notes that one election official in Mississippi was recently found to have purged 10,000 voters "from her home computer." Another 21,000 voters have been purged in Louisiana.

Increasing the concerns, another study cited by CBS has found that "nineteen states are ignoring a federal law banning systematic purges within 90 days of a federal election."

Blogger Brad Friedman comments, "So CBS News has noticed. Where the hell are the Democrats, and why aren't they raising holy hell about all of this stuff everywhere. ... In the meantime, the Republicans are out with phony 'reports' and lawsuits damned near every day --- and not just on Fox 'News' --- declaring 'evidence' of completely non-existant 'voter fraud' by "Democrats". Yet, in the meantime, the Dems continue to bring a knife to a gunfight, and, as we've noted many times of late ... seem to have no clue that they are in a War on Democracy being waged by their GOP opponenents."

CBS News has more details here.

This video is from CBS' Evening News, broadcast September 30, 2008.

Original here

Oregon school says 4 confessed to Obama effigy

NEWBERG, Ore. - A Christian university in Oregon said Tuesday it has punished four students who confessed to hanging a likeness of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama from a tree on campus.

George Fox University broke the news to students and staff Tuesday afternoon at an all-campus meeting. About 1,000 people attended, said Rob Felton, a university spokesman.

A statement from the school said the penalties against the four students were "immediate long-term suspension and public service." The school cited federal privacy rules in not disclosing more about the students or their punishment.

The FBI is investigating whether any civil rights were violated.

"A criminal investigation is much more rigorous than an academic one, obviously," said Beth Anne Steele, an FBI spokeswoman. She couldn't say when the investigation would be complete.

'Act Six reject'
Felton said the university's own investigation led to the four students. "To the best of our knowledge these are the only people involved," he said. "We're not pursuing it any further."

The commercially produced cardboard cutout of Obama was hung from a tree last week with fishing line around the neck.

A message taped to the cutout read, "Act Six reject." That refers to a scholarship and leadership program for minority and low-income student leaders at Christian colleges primarily located in the Northwest.

Felton wouldn't comment on the students' motive. Instead he cited a statement from Brad Lau, the university's vice president of student life.

"Regardless of the students' intent, the image of a black man hung from a tree is one of the most hurtful symbols of racism in American history," Lau said in the statement. "Displays such as this have no place on a campus that is dedicated to living out the teachings of Jesus."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Original here

McCain Repeating Keating Era Mistakes, Regulator Warns

As the stock market recovers from its biggest single-day drop since the crash of 1987, a former federal regulator who had a front-row view of John McCain's role in the Savings and Loan scandal says he is repeating some of the same mistakes.

William Black -- a deputy director of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation during the "Keating Five" scandal that nearly ended McCain's political career -- says the Arizona Republican's chief errors at the time were underestimating the importance of regulation and relying too heavily on slanted advice from captains of industry.

"In the S&L crisis, he took his advice from the worst [kind of] criminal. Charles Keating is the person he went to for his policy advice," Black said. "Now, he certainly is getting advice from Phil Gramm, Carly Fiorina, Rick Davis -- the whole group of economic and top political advisers are lobbyist types. He just doesn't seem to get it, ever, that the advice is going to favor their clients. Even if they just stop being lobbyists, you can't just turn that off instantly. It's their mind state that develops. ... The biggest lesson is that, when you deregulate and de-supervise, you create an environment where control fraud emerges. You hyper-inflate bubbles; you get criminalization."

Though McCain's latest TV ads tout the senator's sporadic calls for more government regulation, Black notes with interest that McCain bragged recently that he was "fundamentally a deregulator." Black, who is now an associate professor of law and economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, also said that the deregulation that McCain was until recently proud to have championed effectively took corporate cops off the beat. "Nobody calls the Houston police department and says 'I think there a problem at Enron,'" he remarked.

Black, who has long been critical of McCain's role in the Keating affair, also viewed McCain's Tuesday announcement of his support for increased FDIC insurance rates as something of a sham, calling it "just one of his many contradictions" on economic matters.

In 1991, McCain railed against raising the FDIC insurance limit from $40,000 to its current $100,000 level. "The perversity of Federal deposit insurance is exemplified by the taxpayer bailout of the savings and loan industry," McCain said, while omitting his own role in the scandal that actually precipitated the S&L crisis.

"I think it is generally acknowledged that the failure of the savings and loan industry, to a large degree, can be directly attributed to the unwarranted expansion of deposit insurance," McCain continued. "Basic coverage was increased from $40,000 to $100,000. No longer was deposit insurance for the small depositor. It became the safety blanket for large, sophisticated depositors and freewheeling bankers."

Now, as McCain echoes Barack Obama's call to raise the FDIC insurance level from $100,000 to $250,000, Black believes the idea that FDIC insurance rates ever caused the S&L crisis can finally be put to rest as being "complete bunk."

Yet, despite being a withering McCain critic, Black isn't completely sold on Obama, either. While he notes with some satisfaction that the Illinois Democrat "did at least try to do some stuff on the regulation of subprime [mortgages] a couple of years ago, he wasn't on key committees." Overall, on financial regulatory matters, Black says Obama is "really somewhat untested. I'm not sure exactly what he would do." But Black notes that the "experienced" candidate is the one most likely to be tagged with responsibility for the current mess. "McCain purports to be on the committee that dealt with everything. [Meanwhile], he did nothing on subprime mortgages for years."

Original here

The Worst Sarah Palin Clip Yet

I can't get over this clip of Sarah Palin on CBS with Katie Couric. No, it's not her infamous Russia answer nor her inexplicable financial bailout response. It's not her latest admission that she doesn't really read any newspapers (my God woman, just name your local paper in Alaska! How dumb are you?). It's an overlooked clip from the original Couric interview about Hamas.

This answer should simply disqualify her from the race. Game over. Go home.

This is unacceptable. She has no idea what Hamas is or what their role in the Gaza Strip is. No idea. This person must not be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office. You must tell every voter in every swing state that we cannot make this kind of mistake. The greatest country on earth cannot allow a person this ignorant to be our leader. We have to be better than this.

Can anyone say with a straight face that Sarah Palin is the best and the brightest we have in this country? Would anyone dare insult America like that?

Original here

CNN: Sarah Palin Has Never Seen Russia From Alaska

Just when you thought the whole "I can see Russia from Alaska" thing couldn't get any funnier...CNN's Gary Tuchman delivers the goods: it turns out that Sarah Palin has never seen Russia from Alaska.

Tuchman went up to the part of Alaska from which you can actually see Russia, a remote island called Little Diomede located just 2.4 miles from its Russian twin, Big Diomede.

It turns out Gary Tuchman's trip to Little Diomede sets him apart from Sarah Palin -- because she's never actually been there, nor has she set eyes on its neighbor in Russia.

Here's the video of Tuchman's report:

Tuchman says that only 150 people live on Little Diomede, and that the town of Diomede has no streets and no cars. The poverty rate is over 40%, there is no television, and the only practical way to reach it is by helicopter. Anchorage (near Palin's hometown) is 550 miles away.

No Alaskan governor has ever visited Little Diomede, though indicted U.S. Senator Ted Stevens has made the trip. The town's residents barely knew who Palin was, and one of them didn't know she was the VP nominee.

It's going to be fun watching McCain-land spin this one, and it's going to be even more fun watching Tina Fey parody it.

Original here

Bill Clinton Slams Palin, Shows Fire For Obama

Former President Bill Clinton revved up a crowd on behalf of Barack Obama in Florida Wednesday, his first since the Democratic convention. And though he repeated his mantra that Democrats don't have to "say one bad word" about their Republican opponents to win the election, Clinton actually snuck in a dig against Sarah Palin.

"So he's got a better philosophy. He's got better answers. He's got a better understanding, and better advisers on these complex economic matters. He's got a better vice presidential partner," Clinton said to a crescendo of applause.

Any Democratic skeptics who watched the former president's speech for signs of lingering bitterness against Obama should have been pleasantly surprised. Though MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer wrapped up the channel's live coverage of the speech by saying the former president "spent almost as much time" praising Joe Biden as Obama, Clinton actually spent more time praising Obama's positions than talking up his running mate.


Meanwhile, almost all the Biden references were also used to subtly diss Palin in comparison. Toward the end of his remarks, Clinton repeated the Palin dig, saying: "The Obama/Biden ticket, and particularly Senator Obama, have a better philosophy, better answers, better understanding, better advisers, a better vice presidential candidate, and a better plan for Florida. ... This is not close, folks. It is not a close question."

Today's fire tracked with what one former Clinton campaign staffer told the Huffington Post would be a passionate next 35 days for the former president on the stump for Obama. The source added that we might even be treated to a "red-faced, finger pointing" moment on behalf of Obama, in order to lay to rest any remaining doubts regarding Clinton's passion.

"He might have one of those red-faced, finger-pointing moments about Obama in the sense of 'how dare John McCain try to do X to Senator Obama.' It would be a way to show especially the African-American community, 'Look, I'm fighting for your guy,' and doing exactly the kind of thing I did for my wife [in the primary]," the former staffer said, adding: "If I turn on the TV and see Bill Clinton jabbing his finger in someone's face and just going off I would not be surprised."

Another source, a former Clinton fundraiser, agreed that too much has been made of late about Clinton's supposedly too-friendly remarks about John McCain. "Come on," the fundraiser said. "McCain came to his event [the Clinton Global Initiative]. What was he gonna do, slam the guy?" Now that the event has passed and Clinton is scheduled to be on the stump for Obama, the fundraiser said he "fully expect[s] to see some passionate advocacy" on behalf of the Democratic ticket.

Original here

Judge To Hear Arguments In 'Troopergate' Case

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A judge in Alaska is set to hear arguments this week on whether he should halt an abuse-of-power investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin by the Alaska Legislature.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski has scheduled a hearing for Thursday in a lawsuit filed by five Republican lawmakers. They say the investigation has been tainted by partisan politics since Palin has been nominated as the GOP's vice presidential candidate.

The legislators want to block the state Legislative Council's investigation into whether Palin acted improperly when she fired Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan this summer. Palin denies that she pressured Monegan to fire a state trooper who had gone through a bitter divorce with her sister.

Original here

McCain Urges Bush To Spend $1 Trillion On Bailout -- Without Congressional Approval

I'm not making this up. John McCain today urged the Bush Administration -- on more than one occasion -- to immediately and uniliterally spend $1 trillion buying up home mortgages.

I was watching live when he made the proposal this morning, and it seemed like such a staggeringly insane idea that I assumed he couldn't be serious. He couldn't think that Bush should just spend $1 trillion without asking Congress for permission...could he?

But then I saw his economic adviser try to back the idea up, and then I saw McCain make the proposal again during the NBC Nightly newscast. So he's serious. He really thinks that Bush should just spend $1 trillion without talking to Congress, without seeking approval, without building any sort of consensus -- without getting any protections whatsoever for taxpayers.

Update: Here's video of him making the proposal on three separate occasions Tuesday.

End update.

::: ::: :::

This is the same John McCain who just a couple of days ago was railing on the $1 trillion price tag of the bailout (when it was actually $700 billion).

But just a few days after railing against the unbridled power of government, McCain now seems to envision the presidency as a dictatorship. He now thinks that Bush should just spend $1 trillion without allowing anyone to ask any questions -- and he supports doing it just one day after the House of Representatives voted down a $700 billion bailout.

This won't suprise anyone on the left. The question I have is this: when are conservatives going to wake up and realize that despite all his bluster about being a conservative, the Republican nominee for president has proposed the single largest expenditure in the history of this nation -- and that he's proposed that it be made without the approval of Congress?

Original here

Historic Disapproval: Bush Hits All-Time Low Amid Economic Meltdown

Barack Obama maintains an advantage on the economy, especially economic empathy, and he's cracked majority acceptance on his key challenge, experience. But the political center remains unrooted, keeping John McCain in the race, albeit against headwinds.

bush rating
President Bush after making remarks on the failed bailout, Monday, Sept. 29, 2008, during his meeting with Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko, not shown, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)
More Photos

Movement continues among independents, quintessential swing voters and a highly changeable group this year.

They favored McCain by 10 points immediately after the Republican convention, swung to Obama last week and stand now at a close division between the two -- 48 percent for McCain, 45 percent for Obama in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Click here for a PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

Preference among likely voters overall is 50-46 percent, Obama-McCain, a bit closer (albeit within sampling error) than the 52-43 percent last week.

The race between them is up for grabs as long as movables -- independents and others less rooted in partisan allegiance -- remain unswayed by either candidate.

But fundamental advantages for Obama remain.

McCain's laboring under the Bush legacy. With the current economic situation, a record 70 percent of Americans disapprove of George W. Bush's job performance; a career-low 26 percent approve.

Bush's Disapproval Rating Highest in History

Just two presidents have had lower approval (Richard Nixon and Harry Truman) than President Bush, and none has had higher disapproval in polls since 1938.

McCain's problem: Fifty-three percent of registered voters think he'd lead the country in the same direction as Bush, inching back up over a majority.

Forty-eight percent of registered voters are uncomfortable about McCain's age, a new high. And while Obama has advanced since mid-June in the sense that he's a "safe" choice for president, to 55 percent, McCain has lost ground on this measure; 51 percent now see him as safe, down 6 points.

Obama continues to trounce McCain on enthusiasm. Sixty-one percent of Obama's supporters are very enthusiastic about their choice, vs. 38 percent of McCain's.

For all that, Obama does not have the race in the bag.

Though more registered voters say Obama than McCain won Friday's debate, Obama has not progressed in the sense that he'd make a good commander-in-chief of the military, and remains under 50 percent in this measure.

The number who say he's got the kind of experience it takes to serve effectively as president, while a majority for the first time, is only narrowly so, 52 percent.

President Bush

President Bush, center, listens to Brazilian journalist Gilberto Dimenstein, left, and Vivian Alegria, director, of the Coca-Cola Foundation in Mexico, right, during the White House Conference on the Americas, Monday, July 9, 2007 in Arlington, Va.
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)

Economic Crisis Creates Uncertainty in McCain, Obama Presidential Race

The financial crisis (see separate analysis) introduces an element of uncertainty into the 2008 presidential race.

Obama has a 50-40 percent advantage in trust to handle the situation, much like his lead last week, and a 50-43 percent edge in trust to handle the economy overall, by far the top issue in the election.

But it's now 50-44 percent in McCain's direction in trust to handle an unexpected crisis, with a potential opportunity for him to promote the stability of experience.

Fundamentally the candidates are close on the key issues; the only double-digit leads in this poll are Obama's 10 points on handling the financial crisis, the same on energy policy.

On several personal attributes, meantime, Obama is well in the fore -- a 19-point lead in understanding the economic problems people are having, 55-36 percent; 23 points in having the better personality and temperament for the presidency; and a whopping 28 points, 61-33 percent, in trust to "bring needed change to Washington."

The two are tied, though, on who's the strongest leader and who'd work best with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

And there are the swing voters, groups that -- as noted in last week's ABC News/Washington Post poll -- have been notably changeable as they struggle to decide between two candidates who, for many, are both fundamentally attractive, yet also imperfect.

White women are one of the changeable groups.

Among likely voters they've gone from +7 for Obama before the party conventions to +11 for McCain afterward, then to about an even split last week (+2 Obama) – but back to +11 for McCain in this poll. (Married women, likewise, have been unsettled in their allegiance.)

White Catholics are another key swing group -- they've gone with the winner in each of the last eight presidential elections. Preferences in this group are steady from last week, but essentially evenly divided -- 47-46 percent, McCain-Obama. They had tilted heavily to McCain after his convention.

Mainstream or non-evangelical white Protestants have moved this year as well, from sizable McCain leads to much closer divisions and back. So, as noted, have independents.

Split pic graphic image of Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, who are entering the final month of their 2008 presidential election race.

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama are locked in a tight fight for the White House, but Obama holds the edge on issues most important to voters.
(Reuters )

McCain, Obama Locked in Tight Battle for White House

All these are groups that are customarily less solidly aligned with one of the main political parties -- unlike, for example, blacks, core Democrats among whom 95 percent favor Obama; or evangelical white Protestants, core Republicans among whom seven in 10 or more have steadily preferred McCain. (McCain has a 13-point lead among whites overall, 55-42 percent -- almost exactly the average for Republican presidential candidates since 1976.)

There's another group in which Obama has room to improve, McCain to encroach -- Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who'd preferred Hillary Clinton for the nomination.

Obama's winning 72 percent of them in this poll, McCain 20 percent -- roughly where it's been since June.

The movability of the swing groups underscores the still-unsettled nature of the race, even with Obama's underlying advantages.

And more movement remains possible: Nineteen percent of likely voters say they haven't made up their minds for sure, plenty enough to determine the eventual outcome -- and a number that's not gone down lately.

METHODOLOGY:This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 27-29, 2008, among a random sample of 1,271 adults, including an oversample of African Americans (weighted to their correct share of the national population), for a total of 165 black respondents. Results among the 1,070 registered voters and 916 likely voters surveyed have a 3-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, PA.

Original here

Couric Hides Embarrassing Palin Tape in Exchange for Exclusive Interviews

In Monday's column from Washington Post's Media Critic Howard Kurtz about Sarah Palin's disastrous interview with Katie Couric, he mentions more embarrassing footage of Palin was not released by CBS:

"And the worst may be yet to come for Palin; sources say CBS has two more responses on tape that will likely prove embarrassing. "

CBS Evening News insiders say the censoring of the Palin interview was orchestrated by CBS News heads and Couric in an effort to show the McCain campaign that they should choose the struggling nightly news program for their exclusive interviews.

With the McCain campaign's public crusade against NBC and MSNBC, CBS and Couric saw an opening to shore up her last place ratings among the big three nightly news programs. Speculation had swirled for months around Couric's future as a news anchor.

This summer CBS News was caught editing an interview with John McCain to correct his wrong answers to questions posed by Couric over the basic facts of the surge. CBS News also erased McCain's comments characterizing the Iraq war as the first major conflict since 9/11, which totally ignores the Afghanistan War.

This McCain omitted interview incident from July was the first in a series of troubling signs of favoritism by Couric and the CBS Evening News towards the McCain campaign.

The Politico is reporting that one of the embarrassing Palin responses revealed is her inability to name another Supreme Court ruling aside from Roe vs Wade. Palin shockingly somehow graduated from the University of Idaho with a minor in political science!

CBS News was busted covering up McCain blunders and now refuses to air incriminating footage of Palin floundering on simple American political history questions taught to middle school students.

Where is the tape CBS? Why are they hiding it from voters? Why is CBS manipulating their coverage to hide McCain campaign mistakes?
  1. 'Substantive' Press Is Taken for a Spin
  2. The next Palin gaffe
  3. Katie Couric hits another record low in ratings
  4. Katie Couric may leave CBS News, report says
  5. CBS splices McCain interview clip
  6. CBS News omitted a second McCain falsehood
  7. Even while carrying McCain's water, media worry they aren't doing enough for him
UPDATE: CBS releases tape of Palin, oblivious to her running mate's age, making fun of Joe Biden's longevity in the Senate by claiming that she has listened to his speeches since the 2nd grade. (1972)

Watch CBS Videos Online

On a new video snippet, Palin, a journalism graduate, can not name one specific periodical that she purports to read.

Keith Olberman stated on his show Tuesday night that the Palin Supreme Court clip will air on CBS on their Wednesday evening news program. CBS just released text of the Supreme Court question to Palin but were dead silent on her answer.

UPDATE III: Here is Supreme Court Palin answer video that CBS has been holding back. Oh, It's a DOOZY!

Somehow Palin could not remember the Supreme Court case Exxon v Baker only 4 months ago, which she then released this statement against the ruling:
"I am extremely disappointed with today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court," Palin said. "While the decision brings some degree of closure to Alaskans suffering from 19 years of litigation and delay, the court gutted the jury's decision on punitive damages."

Palin's strength is allegedly energy policy too.

Palin's answer about agreeing with a constitutional right to privacy completely contradicts the major ruling basis in Roe v Wade.

Original here

EXCLUSIVE: Pelosi paid husband with PAC funds

Katie Falkenberg/The Washington Times PARTNERSHIP: Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul F. Pelosi, was by her side at a Democratic event in 2006.

Katie Falkenberg/The Washington Times PARTNERSHIP: Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul F. Pelosi, was by her side at a Democratic event in ...


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has directed nearly $100,000 from her political action committee to her husband's real estate and investment firm over the past decade, a practice of paying a spouse with political donations that she supported banning last year.

Financial Leasing Services Inc. (FLS), owned by Paul F. Pelosi, has received $99,000 in rent, utilities and accounting fees from the speaker's "PAC to the Future" over the PAC's nine-year history.

The payments have quadrupled since Mr. Pelosi took over as treasurer of his wife's committee in 2007, Federal Election Commission records show. FLS is on track to take in $48,000 in payments this year alone - eight times as much as it received annually from 2000 to 2005, when the committee was run by another treasurer.

Lawmakers' frequent use of campaign donations to pay relatives emerged as an issue in the 2006 election campaigns, when the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal gave Democrats fodder to criticize Republicans such as former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas and Rep. John T. Doolittle of California for putting their wives on their campaign and PAC payrolls for fundraising work.

Last year, Mrs. Pelosi supported a bill that would have banned members of Congress from putting spouses on their campaign staffs. The bill - which passed the House in a voice vote but did not get out of a Senate committee - banned not only direct payments by congressional campaign committees and PACs to spouses for services including consulting and fundraising, but also "indirect compensation," such as payments to companies that employ spouses.

"Democrats are committed to reforming the way Washington does business," Mrs. Pelosi said in a press release at the time. "Congressman [Adam] Schiff's bill will help us accomplish that goal by increasing transparency in election campaigns and preventing the misuse of funds."

Last week, Mrs. Pelosi's office said the payments to her husband's firm were perfectly legal, insisting she is compensating her husband at fair market value for the work his firm has performed for the PAC. But ethical watchdogs said the arrangement sends the wrong message.

"It's problematic," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit ethics and watchdog group. "From what I understand, Mr. Pelosi doesn't need the money, but this isn't the issue. ... As speaker of the House, it sends the wrong message. She shouldn't be putting family members on the payroll."

A senior adviser to Mrs. Pelosi described the payments to FLS as "business expenses."

"She's followed all the appropriate rules and regulations in terms of records and paperwork," said Brendan Daly, Mrs. Pelosi's spokesman. "When [former treasurer] Leo McCarthy became ill, she thought that it was best that that firm did the accounting and she's paid fair market value in San Francisco."

Between 1999 and 2006, FLS collected $500 per month to cover rent, utilities and equipment for the leadership PAC, according to the FEC records. The PAC's address is listed as a personal mailbox in San Francisco, across the street from FLS's Montgomery Street office building, but the rent payments went to an office space.

In early 2007, the PAC's treasurer, Leo T. McCarthy, former Democratic speaker of the state assembly and lieutenant governor in California, died. Mr. Pelosi took over as treasurer and his company's PAC payouts rose.

At that point, FLS started charging the PAC $24,000 per year for accounting work. In January 2008, the PAC's rent - paid to FLS - also quadrupled from $500 to $2,000 per month.

Katie Falkenberg/The Washington Times PARTNERSHIP: Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul F. Pelosi, was by her side at a Democratic event in 2006.

Mr. McCarthy, the previous treasurer, had done the work as a volunteer, according to FEC documents and Jennifer Crider, a senior adviser to Mrs. Pelosi and spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She said FLS' accounting fees are in line with costs for other PACs.

The jump in rent was an adjustment to reflect San Francisco's pricey real estate market, Miss Crider said. The rent was adjusted to $1,250 per month, with $750 in back rent to reflect that the rent should have been increased in mid-2007. This was the first increase since the PAC was established in mid-1999, records show.

Over the first six months of 2008, FLS was the largest vendor for Mrs. Pelosi's PAC. Brian Wolff, a political consultant, is the second-largest vendor, bringing in $22,500 this year.

FLS' payments represent 11 percent of the $213,900 the PAC raised over the first half of this year, according to the FEC documents.

PACs, which are designed to help politicians contribute to other candidates and build influence with colleagues, operate under lighter restrictions than traditional campaign committees.

Meredith McGehee, policy director at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said putting family members on a PAC payroll is bound to raise questions and, in some cases, allow for abuse.

"The reality is that under the current system, PACs are rife with self-dealing transactions," she said. "The laws and regulations could and should be strengthened.

"There is a point now that you're starting to talk about real money," she said of Mrs. Pelosi's PAC. "This is not just a mom-and-pop operation and any self-dealing transaction by a member of Congress is going to get scrutiny, particularly with large amounts of money and prominent members."

It is illegal for members of Congress to hire family members to work on their official staff, but hiring relatives to work on a campaign or PAC is legal.

To be sure, many political action committees employ or work with family businesses. Last year, CREW found that 19 members of Congress used campaign committees or PACs to purchase services from a family member between 2002 and 2006.

Mrs. Pelosi's PACs have been in trouble before. In 2004, one of her political action committees, Team Majority, was fined $21,000 by the FEC for accepting donations over federal limits. It was one of two PACs she operated at the same time. The Team Majority PAC was closed shortly after the fine was levied.

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Pro-War Group Offering Cash For Frats To Demonstrate At VP Debate

In hopes of organizing a robust demonstration for the vice presidential debate this Thursday in St. Louis, the pro-Iraq War (and ostensibly pro-McCain) organization, Vets for Freedom, is resorting to offering local college fraternities hundreds of dollars if their members come and hold signs.

In an email obtained by the Huffington Post, Vets for Freedom field staffer Laura Meyer offered a fraternity at St. Louis University a "sizable donation" - plus free lunch - if it could use their pledges to demonstrate outside the VP debate.

"I was emailing you today," wrote Meyer, "because I am trying to find people who would be willing to hold up signs for a few hours in the afternoon this Thursday outside the VP debate site. It's only for a few hours and you can gain a lot from it.... first off, lunch for any guys who agree to volunteer will be on me. Secondly, they will get lots of media attention! My organization did a similar thing in Mississippi last week and a ton of them were on TV. Meaning, the guys could wear their [REDACTED] gear while holding up our signs and get attention for their frat. Also, they will get to hang out with a bunch of really cool Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

"Lastly, and here's the kicker.... if you guys can get us at least 20 volunteers for those few hours, my organization will make a sizable donation to your fraternity. If you use pledges you could look at it as 'free money and free publicity'. If this sounds like something you may be willing to help us out with, please let me know ASAP!"

Reached by phone, Meyer said the total amount of cash the frat could earn was between $200 and $250 for organizing 20-plus members. She also noted that the program was a success in generating publicity during last Friday's presidential debate.

Judy Mayka, a spokesperson for the national chapter, said that the practice of paying for demonstrators had been going on without their knowledge and would subsequently end.

"Obviously this was not a direction from national and we have contacted the Missouri staffers and volunteers and told them it is not appropriate in our policy," she said. "And those who choose to attend the vice presidential debate should not be compensated."

As for the payments made for volunteers during the Mississippi presidential debate, Mayka added: "We will be looking into that."

The practice of paying volunteers is perfectly legal, and having scores of rowdy pro-war supporters cheering on the backdrop of TV sets can be an effective way for Vets for Freedom to disseminate its message.

But keep in mind, some of the people demonstrating outside the VP debate had a choice to make: take the money from Vets for Freedom or subject themselves to a night of hazing and binge drinking. On Thursday, we will see how many chose the former.

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