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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

NYT Mag Lifts Curtain On Palin Choice, Angst With Schmidt, Worry In McCain Campaign

The New York Times Magazine is set to publish an explosive story this Sunday on the inner workings and combative personalities of what has been a wild few months for the McCain campaign.

The piece, written by Robert Draper and titled "The Making (and Remaking and Remaking) of the Candidate," breaks some new reportorial ground, including a growing weariness within a campaign that seems more interested in tactical victories and the next compelling narratives than an overarching strategy. Draper writes:

"By October, the succession of backfiring narratives would compel some to reappraise not only McCain's chances but also the decisions made by [Chief Strategist Steve] Schmidt, who only a short time ago was hailed as the savior who brought discipline and unrepentant toughness to a listing campaign."

Having interviewed several of the Senator's chief aides, Draper details the process by which McCain ultimately chose his running mate (New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was surprisingly high on the list). And the decision may have been even more impulsive than initially thought. Gov. Sarah Palin, who had never been on the VP shortlist, was advanced at the last minute by Schmidt and Rick Davis, and was picked after a less-than-hour-long chat in with McCain at his ranch in Arizona.

From there, Draper tracks the campaign through Palin's widely praised convention speech, the roaring early campaign events, and then the first glimmer of doubts. There are additional, juicy nuggets that he uncovers earlier and along the way. These include the birth of the Obama-as-celebrity attack line -- the campaign felt it was on the wrong track, its pollster described their situation as "third and nine," and Schmidt "blurted out the epiphany concerning Obama. 'Face it, gentlemen,' he said. 'He's being treated like a celebrity.'"

Then there is Schmidt's -- perhaps fatal -- push for McCain to "go all in," leave the campaign trail and head to Washington to work on the financial bailout package.

"Schmidt evidently saw the financial crisis as a 'true character' moment that would advance his candidate's narrative."

Ultimately, Draper defines the McCain campaign in a series of different narratives: the heroic fighter, the country first deal-maker, team of mavericks, etc. His reporting will undoubtedly spur an early start to the campaign postmortems. Even McCain aides waxed skeptically about their bosses chances.

"Despite their leeriness of being quoted," Draper writes, "McCain's senior advisers remained palpably confident of victory -- at least until very recently."

Original here

AP INVESTIGATION: Alaska funded Palin kids' travel

Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin waves as she AP – Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin waves as she steps on stage to talk before …

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters' 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

Alaska law does not specifically address expenses for a governor's children. The law allows for payment of expenses for anyone conducting official state business.

As governor, Palin justified having the state pay for the travel of her daughters — Bristol, 17; Willow, 14; and Piper, 7 — by noting on travel forms that the girls had been invited to attend or participate in events on the governor's schedule.

But some organizers of these events said they were surprised when the Palin children showed up uninvited, or said they agreed to a request by the governor to allow the children to attend.

Several other organizers said the children merely accompanied their mother and did not participate. The trips enabled Palin, whose main state office is in the capital of Juneau, to spend more time with her children.

"She said any event she can take her kids to is an event she tries to attend," said Jennifer McCarthy, who helped organize the June 2007 Family Day Celebration picnic in Ketchikan that Piper attended with her parents.

State Finance Director Kim Garnero told The Associated Press she has not reviewed the Palins' travel expense forms, so she could not say whether the daughters' travel with their mother would meet the definition of official business.

On Aug. 6, three weeks before Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain chose Palin his running mate, and after Alaska reporters asked for the records, Palin ordered changes to previously filed expense reports for her daughters' travel.

In the amended reports, Palin added phrases such as "First Family attending" and "First Family invited" to explain the girls' attendance.

"The governor said, 'I want the purpose and the reason for this travel to be clear,'" said Linda Perez, state director of administrative services.

When Palin released her family's tax records as part of her vice presidential campaign, some tax experts questioned why she did not report the children's state travel reimbursements as income.

The Palins released a review by a Washington attorney who said state law allows the children's travel expenses to be reimbursed and not taxed when they conduct official state business.

Taylor Griffin, a McCain-Palin campaign spokesman, said Palin followed state policy allowing governors to charge for their children's travel. He said the governor's office has invitations requesting the family to attend some events, but he said he did not have them to provide.

In October 2007, Palin brought daughter Bristol along on a trip to New York for a women's leadership conference. Plane tickets from Anchorage to La Guardia Airport for $1,385.11 were billed to the state, records show, and mother and daughter shared a room for four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House hotel, which overlooks Central Park.

The event's organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter.

Alexis Gelber, who organized Newsweek's Third Annual Women & Leadership Conference, said she does not know how Bristol ended up attending. Gelber said invitees usually attend alone, but some ask if they can bring a relative or friend.

Griffin, the campaign spokesman, said he believes someone with the event personally sent an e-mail to Bristol inviting her, but he did not have it to provide. Records show Palin also met with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs representatives and visited the New York Stock Exchange.

In January, the governor, Willow and Piper showed up at the Alaska Symphony of Seafood Buffet, an Anchorage gala to announce winners of an earlier seafood competition.

"She was just there," said James Browning, executive director of Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, which runs the event. Griffin said the governor's office received an invitation that was not specifically addressed to anyone.

When Palin amended her children's expense reports, she listed a role for the two girls at the function — "to draw two separate raffle tickets."

In the original travel form, Palin listed a number of events that her children attended and said they were there "in official capacity helping." She did not identify any specific roles for the girls.

In July, the governor charged the state $2,741.26 to take Bristol and Piper to Philadelphia for a meeting of the National Governors Association. The girls had their own room for five nights at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for $215.46 a night, expense records show.

Expense forms describe the girls' official purpose as "NGA Governor's Youth Programs and family activities." But those programs were activities designed to keep children busy, a service provided by the NGA to accommodate governors and their families, NGA spokeswoman Jodi Omear said.

In addition to the commercial flights, the children have traveled dozens of times with Palin on a state plane. For these flights, the total cost of operating the plane, at $971 an hour, was about $55,000, according to state flight logs. The cost of operating the state plane does not increase when the children join their mother.

The organizer of an American Heart Association luncheon on Feb. 15 in Fairbanks said Palin asked to bring daughter Piper to the event, and the organizer said she was surprised when Palin showed up with daughters Willow and Bristol as well.

The three Palin daughters shared a room separate from their mother at the Princess Lodge in Fairbanks for two nights, at a cost to the state of $129 per night.

The luncheon took place before Palin's husband, Todd, finished fourth in the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race, also in Fairbanks. The family greeted him at the finish line.

When Palin showed up at the luncheon with not just Piper but also Willow and Bristol, organizers had to scramble to make room at the main table, said Janet Bartels, who set up the event.

"When it's the governor, you just make it happen," she said.

The state is already reviewing nearly $17,000 in per diem payments to Palin for more than 300 nights she slept at her own home, 40 miles from her satellite office in Anchorage.

Tony Knowles, a Democratic former governor of Alaska who lost to Palin in a 2006 bid to reclaim the job, said he never charged the state for his three children's commercial flights or claimed their travel as official state business.

Knowles, who was governor from 1994 to 2002, is the only other recent Alaska governor who had school-age children while in office.

"There was no valid reason for the children to be along on state business," said Knowles, a supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. "I cannot recall any instance during my eight years as governor where it would have been appropriate to claim they performed state business."

Knowles said he brought his children to one NGA event while in office but didn't charge the state for their trip.

In February 2007, the three girls flew from Juneau to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines. Palin charged the state for the $519.30 round-trip ticket for each girl, and noted on the expense form that the daughters accompanied her to "open the start of the Iron Dog race."

The children and their mother then watched as Todd Palin and other racers started the competition, which Todd won that year. Palin later had the relevant expense forms changed to describe the girls' business as "First Family official starter for the start of the Iron Dog race."

The Palins began charging the state for commercial flights after the governor kept a 2006 campaign promise to sell a jet bought by her predecessor.

Palin put the jet up for sale on eBay, a move she later trumpeted in her star-making speech at the Republican National Convention, and it was ultimately sold by the state at a loss.

That left only one high-performance aircraft deemed safe enough for her to use — a 1980 twin-engine King Air assigned to the public safety agency but, according to flight logs, out of service for maintenance and repairs about a third of the time Palin has been governor.

Original here

CNN Host "Mystified" By McCain Camp Silencing Muslim Organizer

CNN host Rick Sanchez said he was "mystified" by a last minute decision by the McCain campaign to pull a Muslim grassroots organizer from appearing on his show.

The aide, Daniel Zubairi, had been scheduled to appear on Sanchez's mid-day program after he was caught on video talking down an anti-Muslim protester outside a McCain rally in Woodbridge, Virginia. But, even after telling the network that an interview was "good to go," the McCain shop pulled Zubairi at the last minute, leaving Sanchez in limbo on live TV.

"Wouldn't you think they would have wanted him to come on?" the CNN host would later tell the Huffington Post. "What the guy did was courageous. I called him heroic. I'm mystified why they wouldn't embrace him for his actions. Maybe they didn't like the story, but I'll tell you. I thought it was presented it in a very transparent way, if anything I kind of gushed philosophically about how impressive and real his reaction was to the protester's hateful message. It seemed to show some of the best of McCain supporters, didn't it?"

The American News Project captured Zubairi this past weekend intervening when a racist McCain supporter got into a heated exchange with rally attendees over the anti-Muslim literature and message that he was promoting. We don't "endorse that behavior" said Zubairi. The tiff ended with the man walking away from the rally with his pamphlets and bumper stickers in hand.

Noting how the incident went against the prevailing narrative of McCain crowds festering with hateful, occasionally racist speech, Sanchez booked Zubairi for his show. But minutes before the interview was to take place, the McCain campaign wouldn't let him go on air.

"I had instructed our guys before the show to find this guy, vet him and get him to talk," said Sanchez. " I was briefed by one of our producers and told we were good to go. Then just as I went to introduce him, it all changed. I may know more tomorrow. I guess that's a long way of saying I don't know why."

CNN host Rick Sanchez said he was "mystified" by a last minute decision by the McCain campaign to pull a Muslim grassroots organizer from appearing on his show. The aide, Daniel Zubairi, had been sch...
CNN host Rick Sanchez said he was "mystified" by a last minute decision by the McCain campaign to pull a Muslim grassroots organizer from appearing on his show. The aide, Daniel Zubairi, had been sch...


AP: Palin children traveled on state expenses

VP hopeful charged state for children's travel, amended expense reporPalin Family Travel

In this Feb. 11, 2007 file photo, Bristol Palin, left, and her sister Willow, daughters Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, waves the starting flag for their father Todd Palin at the start of the Iron Dog snowmachine race in Big Lake, Alaska. Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports that justified their presence as official business.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters' 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

Alaska law does not specifically address expenses for a governor's children. The law allows for payment of expenses for anyone conducting official state business.

As governor, Palin justified having the state pay for the travel of her daughters — Bristol, 17; Willow, 14; and Piper, 7 — by noting on travel forms that the girls had been invited to attend or participate in events on the governor's schedule.

But some organizers of these events said they were surprised when the Palin children showed up uninvited, or said they agreed to a request by the governor to allow the children to attend.

Several other organizers said the children merely accompanied their mother and did not participate. The trips enabled Palin, whose main state office is in the capital of Juneau, to spend more time with her children.

"She said any event she can take her kids to is an event she tries to attend," said Jennifer McCarthy, who helped organize the June 2007 Family Day Celebration picnic in Ketchikan that Piper attended with her parents.

State Finance Director Kim Garnero told The Associated Press she has not reviewed the Palins' travel expense forms, so she could not say whether the daughters' travel with their mother would meet the definition of official business.

After Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain chose Palin his running mate and reporters asked for the records, Palin ordered changes to previously filed expense reports for her daughters' travel.

In the amended reports, Palin added phrases such as "First Family attending" and "First Family invited" to explain the girls' attendance.

"The governor said, 'I want the purpose and the reason for this travel to be clear,'" said Linda Perez, state director of administrative services.

When Palin released her family's tax records as part of her vice presidential campaign, some tax experts questioned why she did not report the children's state travel reimbursements as income.

The Palins released a review by a Washington attorney who said state law allows the children's travel expenses to be reimbursed and not taxed when they conduct official state business.

Taylor Griffin, a McCain-Palin campaign spokesman, said Palin followed state policy allowing governors to charge for their children's travel. He said the governor's office has invitations requesting the family to attend some events, but he said he did not have them to provide.

In October 2007, Palin brought daughter Bristol along on a trip to New York for a women's leadership conference. Plane tickets from Anchorage to La Guardia Airport for $1,385.11 were billed to the state, records show, and mother and daughter shared a room for four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House hotel, which overlooks Central Park.

The event's organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter.

Alexis Gelber, who organized Newsweek's Third Annual Women & Leadership Conference, said she does not know how Bristol ended up attending. Gelber said invitees usually attend alone, but some ask if they can bring a relative or friend.

Griffin, the campaign spokesman, said he believes someone with the event personally sent an e-mail to Bristol inviting her, but he did not have it to provide. Records show Palin also met with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs representatives and visited the New York Stock Exchange.

In January, the governor, Willow and Piper showed up at the Alaska Symphony of Seafood Buffet, an Anchorage gala to announce winners of an earlier seafood competition.

"She was just there," said James Browning, executive director of Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, which runs the event. Griffin said the governor's office received an invitation that was not specifically addressed to anyone.

When Palin amended her children's expense reports, she listed a role for the two girls at the function — "to draw two separate raffle tickets."

In the original travel form, Palin listed a number of events that her children attended and said they were there "in official capacity helping." She did not identify any specific roles for the girls.

In July, the governor charged the state $2,741.26 to take Bristol and Piper to Philadelphia for a meeting of the National Governors Association. The girls had their own room for five nights at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for $215.46 a night, expense records show.

Expense forms describe the girls' official purpose as "NGA Governor's Youth Programs and family activities." But those programs were activities designed to keep children busy, a service provided by the NGA to accommodate governors and their families, NGA spokeswoman Jodi Omear said.

In addition to the commercial flights, the children have traveled dozens of times with Palin on a state plane. For these flights, the total cost of operating the plane, at $971 an hour, was about $55,000, according to state flight logs. The cost of operating the state plane does not increase when the children join their mother.

The organizer of an American Heart Association luncheon on Feb. 15 in Fairbanks said Palin asked to bring daughter Piper to the event, and the organizer said she was surprised when Palin showed up with daughter Willow and Bristol as well.

The three Palin daughters shared a room separate from their mother at the Princess Lodge in Fairbanks for two nights, at a cost to the state of $129 per night.

The luncheon took place before Palin's husband, Todd, finished fourth in the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race, also in Fairbanks. The family greeted him at the finish line.

When Palin showed up at the luncheon with not just Piper but also Willow and Bristol, organizers had to scramble to make room at the main table, said Janet Bartels, who set up the event.

"When it's the governor, you just make it happen," she said.

The state is already reviewing nearly $17,000 in per diem payments to Palin for more than 300 nights she slept at her own home, 40 miles from her satellite office in Anchorage.

Tony Knowles, a Democratic former governor of Alaska who lost to Palin in a 2006 bid to reclaim the job, said he never charged the state for his three children's commercial flights or claimed their travel as official state business.

Knowles, who was governor from 1994 to 2002, is the only other recent Alaska governor who had school-age children while in office.

"There was no valid reason for the children to be along on state business," said Knowles, a supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. "I cannot recall any instance during my eight years as governor where it would have been appropriate to claim they performed state business."

Knowles said he brought his children to one NGA event while in office but didn't charge the state for their trip.

In February 2007, the three girls flew from Juneau to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines. Palin charged the state for the $519.30 round-trip ticket for each girl, and noted on the expense form that the daughters accompanied her to "open the start of the Iron Dog race."

The children and their mother then watched as Todd Palin and other racers started the competition, which Todd won that year. Palin later had the relevant expense forms changed to describe the girls' business as "First Family official starter for the start of the Iron Dog race."

The Palins began charging the state for commercial flights after the governor kept a 2006 campaign promise to sell a jet bought by her predecessor.

Palin put the jet up for sale on eBay, a move she later trumpeted in her star-making speech at the Republican National Convention, and it was ultimately sold by the state at a loss.

That left only one high-performance aircraft deemed safe enough for her to use — a 1980 twin-engine King Air assigned to the public safety agency but, according to flight logs, out of service for maintenance and repairs about a third of the time Palin has been governor.

Original here









The Internet and the Death of Rovian Politics

Age has finally become an issue for John McCain. But the problem isn't the candidate's 72 years; it's the antediluvian approach of his campaign.

McCain is running a textbook Rovian race: fear-based, smear-based, anything goes. But it isn't working. The glitch in the well-oiled machine? The Internet.

"We are witnessing the end of Rovian politics," Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google told me. And YouTube, which Google bought in 2006 for $1.65 billion, is one of the causes of its demise.

Thanks to YouTube -- and blogging and instant fact-checking and viral emails -- it is getting harder and harder to get away with repeating brazen lies without paying a price, or to run under-the-radar smear campaigns without being exposed.

But the McCain campaign hasn't gotten the message, hence the blizzard of racist, alarmist, xenophobic, innuendo-laden accusations being splattered at Obama.

And it seems that the worse McCain is doing in the polls, the more his team is relying on the same gutter tactics. So over the next 15 days, look for the McCain campaign to become even uglier. That's what happens when following Rovian politics is your only strategy -- and Rovian politics isn't working.

McCain has stockpiled his campaign with Rove henchmen, including not one but three of the people responsible for the political mugging inflicted on him in 2000.

Just last week he brought on Warren Tompkins in an "unofficial" capacity to see how receptive North Carolina would be to some Rovian slime. After all, it's right next door to South Carolina, where in 2000 Tomkins and his buddies in the Bush campaign spread race-baiting rumors about McCain having an illegitimate black daughter (referring to McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter Bridget).

And those disgraceful robo-calls that McCain is running? They were done with the help of Jeff Larson and his firm FLS-Connect -- the same firm that created the robo-calls smearing McCain in 2000.

At the time, McCain's reaction to the attacks on him was: "I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like these."

His reaction now? I have a special place in my campaign for people like these!

So the Karl Rove specials keep coming. Obama and Ayers. Obama the Socialist. Obama and ACORN "destroying the fabric of democracy." Palin (herself the manifestation of Rovian decision-making) delineating which parts of "this great nation of ours" are "pro-American." (Interestingly, the sites of the 9/11 attacks didn't make the list.)

And, did you hear, Obama is also... black! And he wants to give your money to all the poor black people! McCain didn't come right out and say that, but it's surely what he insinuated in his radio address this weekend: "Barack Obama's tax plan would convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency." Somewhere, Karl Rove is smiling, Richard Nixon's southern strategy is waxing nostalgic, and John McCain's missing moral compass is getting steamed about John Lewis' evocation of the civil rights struggle.

But there is a diamond amidst all this dung: the lack of traction this Rovian politics is getting. It's as if Rove and his political arsonists keep lighting fires, only to see them doused by the powerful information spray the Internet has made possible.

The Internet has enabled the public to get to know candidates in a much fuller and more intimate way than in the old days (i.e. four years ago), when voters got to know them largely through 30-second campaign ads and quick sound bites chosen by TV news producers.

Compare that to the way over 6 million viewers (on YouTube alone) were able to watch the entirety of Obama's 37-minute speech on race -- or the thousands of other videos posted by the campaign and its supporters.

Back in the Dark Ages of 2004, when YouTube (and HuffPost, for that matter) didn't exist, a campaign could tell a brazen lie, and the media might call them on it. But if they kept repeating the lie again and again and again, the media would eventually let it go (see the Swiftboating of John Kerry). Traditional media like moving on to the next shiny thing. But bloggers love revisiting a story. So when Palin kept repeating her bridge to nowhere lie, bloggers kept calling her on it. Andrew Sullivan, for one, has made a cottage industry of calling Palin on her lies. And eventually, the truth filtered up and cost McCain credibility with his true base: journalists.

The Internet may make it easier to disseminate character smears, but it also makes it much less likely that these smears will stick.

As a result, the McCain campaign's insinuation-laden "Who is Barack Obama?" was rendered more comical than spooky. Who is Barack Obama? The guy we've been watching over and over and over during the last two years. We've seen him. We know him. And we can remind ourselves about him with a quick Google search and a mouse click.

Obama "has shown the same untroubled self-confidence day after day," and "over the past two years, Obama has clearly worn well with voters." Those are the words of David Brooks, who has gotten to know Obama just like the rest of us.

Four years ago, McCain's Rovian race-based appeals to our darker demons might have worked. This year, they are blowing up in McCain's face. And in the face of the entire GOP.

Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama as "a transformational figure" was powerful. But even more powerful was his withering indictment of the state of the Republican Party and the cancer of Rovian politics.

It was similar to the diagnosis of Christopher Buckley following his endorsement of Obama: "To paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan, I haven't left the Republican Party. It left me."

There are many other anti-Rove Republicans abandoning their party. I've had several Republican friends tell me privately what Powell and Buckley told the world publicly: that they're voting for Obama. Most of them not because they like Obama, but because they can't stand what Bush, Rove and now McCain and Palin have done to their party.

Rovian politics may or may not end up destroying the GOP. But, thanks to the Internet, with a bit of luck it will no longer have the power to befoul our democracy.

Original here

Palin Claims The Vice President Is ‘In Charge Of The U.S. Senate’

Yesterday, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) sat for an interview with KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Colorado. In response to a question sent to the network by a third grader at a local elementary school about what the Vice President does, Palin erroneously argued that the Vice President is “in charge of the United States Senate“:

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, “What does the Vice President do?”

PALIN: That’s something that Piper would ask me! … [T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

Watch it:

Indeed, while Palin suggests that questions about what the Vice President does is something only her daughter Piper would ask, Palin herself asked this very question on national television in July. Apparently, she still hasn’t learned the correct answer.

Article I of the Constitution establishes an exceptionally limited role for the Vice President — giving the office holder a vote only when the Senate is “equally divided”:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

Moreover, the U.S. Senate website explains that the modern role of Vice Presidents has been to preside over the Senate “only on ceremonial occasions.” ThinkProgress contacted Senior Assistant Paliamentarian Peter Robinson, who also disputed Palin’s characterization of the Vice President’s role:

In modern practice the Vice President doesn’t really control the Senate. … If anyone has a responsibility to try to govern the Senate, it’s the responsibility of the two leaders.

UpdateWe have replaced the original video with a YouTube version.
UpdateThinkProgress obtained the following statement from Jim Manley, spokesman to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):
This comment is all the more puzzling because this is at least the 2nd time she has said this. Gov Palin needs to re-read or perhaps read for the first time the Constitution. While the Vice President presides over the Senate, he or she is not in charge of it. Article 1 says The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate is part of a co-equal branch of the federal government.

Original here

Stop covering Palin until she gives a press conference.

Sarah Palin and Katie Couric. Click image to expand.The new line of the day, taken by many conservative intellectuals, is that criticism of Gov. Sarah Palin is essentially a blend of snobbery and sexism. This, I presume, is intended as a sort of strike against the considerable number of conservative commentators, from David Frum to Christopher Buckley, who have openly said that the woman is not qualified to be vice president. There is, of course, also the question of whether she is qualified to be governor of Alaska. Writing about her when she was first put forward by Sen. John McCain, I rather feebly took the line that one should give her the benefit of the doubt and not be condescending, but it does now begin to look as if most of what she claimed for herself, from the "bridge to nowhere" to the "troopergate" business, was very questionable at best, and much of what her critics said was essentially true.
The emphasis on experience is in many ways the wrong one (rather as it has been when directed at Sen. Barack Obama). The problem with Gov. Palin is not that she lacks experience. It's that she quite plainly lacks intellectual curiosity. It is not snobbish to harbor grave doubts about somebody who seems uninterested in reading for pleasure or recreation and whose only interest in her local public library is sniffing round its shelves for books that ought to be removed for expressing impure ideas.
Nor is it snobbish, let alone sexist, to express doubts about someone who, as late as March 2007, could tell Alaska Business Monthly, "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place." This statement deserves to be called mindless, because, first, it is made up of stale and received and overheard bits and bobs from everyday media babble and, second, because you cannot really coherently say that you support both the administration and an "exit plan." The same vaguely cunning wish to have everything both ways is to be found in her suggestion that both evolution and creationism be taught in our schools. In one way, this seems fair enough—if the Scopes trial is taught in history class, then the views of William Jennings Bryan and those of Clarence Darrow and H.L. Mencken must necessarily be given equal time. But that is not the same as saying that classes in biology or geology be diluted by instruction in what is laughably called "intelligent design." It would be like giving equal time to alchemy and astrology. "You know, don't be afraid of information," as she so winningly phrased it in a gubernatorial debate. "Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."

I would like to ask her whether by this she means that creationism ought to be given equal time in science classes. And I have a follow-up: How many years old does the Republican nominee for the vice presidency of the United States believe the Earth to be? There are several other questions I would like to ask her, as, no doubt, would you. Lots of luck with that, because it seems that the Grand Old Party intends to go all the way to Election Day without exposing the No. 2 person on its ticket—the person who would become chief executive if President John McCain succumbed to illness—to a press conference. I have been as fair as possible in quoting Gov. Palin. I have used only sentences from her that make some sort of grammatical sense. It would have been easy enough—and relevant enough—to cite answers that she gave to Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric that appeared to be uttered in no known language.

At numerous rallies where the atmosphere has been, shall we say, a little uncivil, Gov. Palin has accused Sen. Obama of accusing our forces in Afghanistan of simply bombing villages. Only a moment's work is required to discover that the words complained of were never uttered in that form and that they occurred in a speech that stressed the need for more ground troops as opposed to more airstrikes (a recommendation, by the way, that begins to look more sapient each week, at least in respect of the airstrikes). Again, I have a question: Did Palin know that she was telling a lie? Or did her handlers simply assume that she would read anything that was put in front of her, however mendacious? And which would be worse? And when will she issue the needful retraction? There seems no way of putting her in a forum where these points could be raised. So, continued media coverage of her appearances is no better than lending a megaphone to a demagogue, the better to amplify her propaganda.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., an honorable man with a high place in the McCain campaign, when asked about Palin's failure to do so much as a Meet the Press appearance, told the Washington Post: "We're asking the American people to pick the next president and vice president, and we do not expect the American people to do so—'Trust me'—blindly. She will have to do what's expected of people in this business. … In countries where that does not happen, I do not want to live." That highly admirable statement was made Sept. 2. Something of McCain's own reputation for honesty and honor is now involved in keeping Sen. Graham's implied promise. If it is not kept, then why should the press and the networks continue to cover a candidate who could, for all we know, be Angela Lansbury?

Original here


Muslim For McCain Not Allowed To Talk To CNN

Daniel Zubairi, a Muslim McCain grassroots organizer who told racist rally attendees in Woodbridge, Virginia that the campaign didn't "endorse that behavior," was for some reason not allowed to talk to CNN about the incident.

Anchor Rick Sanchez said Zubairi was "ready and willing" to talk, but "the McCain camp won't let him do so."


Watch Zubairi confronting intolerant McCain fans at the rally:

Daniel Zubairi, a Muslim McCain grassroots organizer who told racist rally attendees in Woodbridge, Virginia that the campaign didn't "endorse that behavior," was for some reason not allowed to talk t...
Daniel Zubairi, a Muslim McCain grassroots organizer who told racist rally attendees in Woodbridge, Virginia that the campaign didn't "endorse that behavior," was for some reason not allowed to talk t...


NC Early Voters Heckled by McCain Supporters, Tires Slashed

Early voters in North Carolina, most of whom were black, were heckled and mocked by McCain supporters as they their cast their ballots Sunday. According to Washington Times reporter Christina Bellatoni primarily white McCain supporters shouted "terrorist" and complained that "Sundays are for church not voting"

Sen. Barack Obama has set up a massive organization across the country, and especially in North Carolina...An organizer at the rally rattled off the addresses of early vote sites nearby that would be open after the event.

Photographer Joe Eddins and I headed over to the closest one and found a steady line of voters hoping to cast ballots early. Most seemed to be Obama supporters and several had come from the rally. Nearly all the voters were black.

Also at the polling site was a group of loud and angry protesters who shouted and mocked the voters as they walked in. Nearly all were white.

And in Fayettville, NC someone slashed the tires of at least 30 vehicles parked outside the Crown Coliseum on Sunday during a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, authorities said.

Sheriff’s deputies are investigating. The tires were cut while people were inside the Crown Coliseum listening to speeches, said Maj. E. Wright of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. The slashings left women and children stranded as they waited for tow trucks but even though it cost her roughly $120 to get her Dodge Caravan towed and fixed, Obama supporter Lynne Steenstra said :

It hasn’t deterred us one bit. It has only encouraged us more. I just hope whoever did this pays the price.

Original here

Obama Leaving Campaign Trail To Be With His Sick Grandmother


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is canceling nearly all his campaign events Thursday and Friday to fly to Hawaii to visit his suddenly gravely ill 85-year-old grandmother, his communications director said.

Robert Gibbs told reporters aboard Obama's plane that Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, who helped raise him, was released from the hospital late last week. But he said her health had deteriorated "to the point where her situation is very serious."

Events originally planned for Madison, Wis., and Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday will be replaced with one in Indianapolis before he makes the long flight to Hawaii. On Friday, Obama's wife, Michelle, will sub for Obama at rallies in Akron and Columbus, in Ohio, said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki. Obama was expected to resume campaigning on Saturday, at an undecided location in the West, she said.

"Senator Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has always been one of the most important people in his life, along with his mother and his grandfather," Gibbs said. "Recently his grandmother has become ill and in the last few weeks her health has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious. It is for that reason that Sen. Obama has decided to change his schedule on Thursday and Friday so that he can see her and spend some time with her."

Citing the family's desire for privacy, Gibbs would not discuss the nature of Dunham's illness. It seemed likely that she was close to death, as Gibbs said that "everyone understands the decision that Sen. Obama is making."

It could be a momentous one in his bid for the White House against Republican John McCain, with Election Day just two weeks away on Nov. 4.

In a campaign ad this year, Obama described his Dunham as the daughter of a Midwest oil company clerk who "taught me values straight from the Kansas heartland" _ things like "accountability and self-reliance. Love of country. Working hard without making excuses. Treating your neighbor as you'd like to be treated."

She's also the "white grandmother" he referred to in a speech on race.

Obama last visited Hawaii in August, when he spent a week on vacation after he had clinched the Democratic presidential nomination.

WATCH: MSNBC's Rachel Maddow discusses the latest news regarding Obama's decision to leave the campaign trail:

___Original here

First Colin Powell, Now…

Ken Adelman is a lifelong conservative Republican. Campaigned for Goldwater, was hired by Rumsfeld at the Office of Economic Opportunity under Nixon, was assistant to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld under Ford, served as Reagan’s director of arms control, and joined the Defense Policy Board for Rumsfeld’s second go-round at the Pentagon, in 2001. Adelman’s friendship with Rumsfeld, Cheney, and their wives goes back to the sixties, and he introduced Cheney to Paul Wolfowitz at a Washington brunch the day Reagan was sworn in.

In recent years, Adelman and his friends Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz fell out over his criticisms of the botching of the Iraq War. Still, he remains a bona-fide hawk (“not really a neo-con but a con-con”) who has never supported a Democrat for President in his life. Two weeks from now that’s going to change: Ken Adelman intends to vote for Barack Obama. He can hardly believe it himself.

Adelman and I exchanged e-mails today about his decision. He asked rhetorically,

Why so, since my views align a lot more with McCain’s than with Obama’s? And since I truly dread the notion of a Democratic president, Democratic House, and hugely Democratic Senate?

Primarily for two reasons, those of temperament and of judgment.

When the economic crisis broke, I found John McCain bouncing all over the place. In those first few crisis days, he was impetuous, inconsistent, and imprudent; ending up just plain weird. Having worked with Ronald Reagan for seven years, and been with him in his critical three summits with Gorbachev, I’ve concluded that that’s no way a president can act under pressure.

Second is judgment. The most important decision John McCain made in his long campaign was deciding on a running mate.

That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office—I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign—Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.

I sure hope Obama is more open, centrist, sensible—dare I say, Clintonesque—than his liberal record indicates, than his cooperation with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid portends. If not, I will be even more startled by my vote than I am now.

Posted by George Packer

Original here

McCain camp hits up Russian envoy

On a day on which McCain campaign manager Rick Davis hinted that Obama was taking foreign money, the Russian Mission to the United Nations has released a standard-issue fundraising letter gone a bit astray: It was addressed to the Russian envoy to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, at the mission's address, but without his title.

As the Russian newswire RIA-Novosti tells it:

Russia's permanent mission to the UN has received a letter from U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain asking for financial support of his election campaign, the mission said in a statement on Monday.

"We have received a letter from Senator John McCain with a request for a financial donation to his presidential election campaign. In this respect we have to reiterate that neither Russia's permanent mission to the UN nor the Russian government or its officials finance political activities in foreign countries," the statement said.

According to Ruslan Bakhtin, press secretary of the Russian mission, the letter dated September 29 and signed by McCain, was addressed to Vitaly Churkin, Russia's envoy to the UN, and arrived on October 16.

The ambassador's title was not included in the letter, and was not clear why the letter had taken over two weeks to arrive.

Enclosed was a request for a donation of up to $5,000 to McCain's election campaign to be returned with a check or permission to withdraw the money from the donor's credit card until October 24.

Bakhtin confirmed the story to Politico, and wouldn't comment on the added oddity of the error coming from the anti-Russian McCain. "We just find it amusing," he said.

By Ben Smith

Original here