Entries categorized as ‘Current Facts’

Katie Couric Wins Walter Cronkite Journalism Award for Palin Coverage

April 18, 2009 · Leave a Comment

Last week Katie Couric won the coveted Walter Cronkite award for excellence in journalism for her election coverage last year.

The increasingly wacky-looking right (did you get a load of the Fox-orchestrated “grass roots” tax protests on April 15th, complete with wig-wearing Revolutionary War re-enacters and posters of President Obama as Hitler, and lots of comments about tea-bagging?  Weird) was not content to let this award pass without taking advantage of the opportunity to try to draw attention to themselves.  “Documentarian” and fringe character John Ziegler was on hand, uninvited, blocking access and interfering with the entrance of attendees.  When asked to move he refused and had to be arrested and escorted away.  That’s probably exactly what he wanted so that he can now claim victim-hood.

It’s a sign of how unpracticed at being out of power the Right Wing has become that they have completely fallen apart in the few short months since the election.  Not being able to always get their way, they have been behaving like spoiled infants, whining, crying and throwing temper tantrums.  I’m not sure if it’s actually to their benefit or not, but Fox News has been more than willing to broadcast these temper tantrums regardless of how ridiculous they make the infants and Fox News.

That’s not the way out of the wilderness, guys and girls.  Come up with some principled solutions.  Stand FOR something, not just against something.  And pick better smarter leaders than Rush Limbaugh or Michael Steele, or your days of wandering in the wilderness will be long and lonely.

Categories: Current Facts · Palin · Palintology · Politics
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McCain-Palin Ain't No Mavericks – Say Mavericks

October 7, 2008 · Leave a Comment

It turns out there are real Mavericks out there.  I mean real Mavericks.  The family who still carry the family name in Texas.

Turns out there was an original Maverick – back in the 1600’s.  The problem is that he was progressive.  He got in trouble in Boston for standing up for indentured servants.  So much so that the fled to Texas.

Only he decided not to brand his cattle – he was more interested in the land.  So over time unbranded cattle were called – you guessed it – “mavericks.”

It turns out the family doesn’t much care for the old conservative politics of McCain-Palin.

Turns out the Real Maverick is “That One” Barack Obama.

Oops, McCain-Palin got another talking point wrong.

Don’t try and understand ’em.

Just rope and throw and brand ’em.

Read all about it in Who You Callin’ a Maverick? by John Schwartz in the New York Times.

Categories: Current Facts · McCain · Palin
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Speak Palinly

October 5, 2008 · Leave a Comment

I am equally troubled and amused by the extreme beating administered to the English language by Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Delivered in her now trademark nasal upper Midwest/Alaskan twang, the Governor regularly mauls the language.  For those who’d like to play along at home, I offer the following advice:

  • Drop the last “g” on all words.  So we get “sayin” rather than “saying,” “playin” instead of “playing” and “slaughertin” (as in English) rather than “slaughtering.”
  • Randomly throw in the words “then” and “also” when you get stuck for something to say and lack any decent transition or connection between disparate thoughts.
  • For good measure, join unrelated thoughts with an “and.”  No-one will notice.
  • Interrupt one talking point when you are halfway through, and veer into another talking point, as a form of free association.  Think about the way that Robin Williams used to give a manic performance while all coked up, only the points needn’t be as connected as his were.
  • Throw in some self-deprecating homespun folksiness.
  • While more an assault on reason than on the language, be sure to throw “maverick” into as many sentences as possible when referring to yourself or your running mate.
  • If anyone challenges you on it, call them an elitist, and say that good grammar and crisp sentences are a luxury of the privileged, with their fancy classes and diagrams.

Those who care deeply about language are both horrified and having a field day.  Kitty Burns Florey in “Diagramming Sarah” in Slate has a wonderful article.  She takes this quote from one of the Couric interviews:

It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where—where do they go?

and diagrams it:

It’s not a great day for the English language, but it’s an even worse day for those of us who think that our leaders should think well, speak clearly, and govern wisely.  Or as Kitty Burns Florey diagrams out for us helpfully from Sarah’s comments on the economy, but with wider application:

Categories: Current Facts · Palin · Palintology
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Palin took over $25,000 in gifts while Governor

September 26, 2008 · Leave a Comment

Reform?  Clean Government?

I guess taking big gifts is an Alaskan tradition?!

Big bad Ted Stevens had his house expanded by Veco Corp, and is sitting in court now defending himself against charges of lying about it.  He represents the most established of all of the Alaskan “old boys network.”

But Palin has recently tried to position herself as someone who broke through all that, who stood up to a culture of corruption.  The clean living reformer.  I say recently, because her political history suggests that this positioning is a relatively recent incarnation.  In fact, in her early political career she was coddled and developed by the very network she later railed against.  But now this.

The revelation that Palin took over $25,000 in gifts, some very personal (travel, expensive individual gifts), and often coming from people with specific interests in the outcome of governmental process adds new tarnish to the claims of reform-mindedness made by Palin.

My mother always told me to be careful about announcing myself as too good or pure or honest – or anything, because if you’re going to claim it, you’d better be able to have every little thing you do exceed the claim.

The more I learn the more convinced I am that Palin is simply a horrible pick for McCain and the Republican party.  In every single press interview where she’s asked actual questions (and Fox News has disqualified itself from being considered news – heck, it’s barely entertainment) she stumbles and looks more and more like she is so far out of her league that it is laughable.

Read about Palin’s gift-taking from the Washington Post:  Palin Accepted $25,000 in Gifts, Alaska Records Show

Categories: Current Facts · Finance · McCain · Palin · Palintology · Politics
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No Press as Palin Meets World Leaders?

September 23, 2008 · Leave a Comment

The latest in the McCain campaign’s desperate attempt to shield its Vice Presidential pick Sarah Palin from press scrutiny and possible embarrassment? They tried today to eliminate all press coverage of any of her meetings with world leaders during their visit to the United Nations, including the “pool” television coverage. After the networks threatened to pull all coverage of the day, the campaign relented.

Excuse me, what was that about openness in government?

This would be amusing if it didn’t come on the heels of eight years of a manipulated press – have you EVER seen any images of caskets of brave soldiers arriving the US after the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq or Afghanistan? That’s because the Bush administration forbids it.

So, we have to ask again: What is the McCain camp so afraid of?

See Los Angeles Times article: Sarah Palin’s U.N. meetings begin with media flap.

Update:  Apparently I wasn’t the only one getting frustrated at the lack of press exposure to Palin.  CNN’s Campbell Brown calls out the McCain campaign for restricting press access to Sarah Palin, and calls the treatment sexist:

Categories: Current Facts · Palin
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Sarah Palin Should Scare You. A Lot.

September 23, 2008 · Leave a Comment

Here are just a few of the biggest reasons to worry about Sarah Palin and the McCain-Palin ticket:

* In her first year Palin asked for over $550 million in earmark requests.  Smell pork?  Source:  AP.

* Sarah Palin was for the “bridge to nowhere” until… she was against it.  Source:  CNN.

* The people who have worked with her in city and state government say Sarah is inflexible and a bully.  Source: US Magazine.

* She asked the city librarian about banning books when newly mayor of Wasilla.  Source:  Time Magazine.

* She struck rape kits from the budget of the police, forcing victims to pay for their own rape kits (up to $1200).  Source: US News contributing editor Bonnie Erbe.

* Palin is against abortion even in cases of rape and incest.  Source:  Lifenews.

* She is “proud” of her 17-year old unmarried daughter’s decision to keep her baby, but wants to prevent other women from being able to make that choice.  Source:  CNN.

* She got her first passport last year. Incurious? Provincial? Have to think so.  Source:  New York Times.

* Palin is under investigation in Alaska for abuse of power in “Troopergate” where she tried to get her brother-in-law fired (he was in a bitter divorce and custody dispute with her sister), and when the head of public safety refused, she fired HIM instead. Now she, her husband, and her staff are refusing to cooperate with the investigation or answer subpoenas, claiming “executive privilege.” Sound familiar (see George Bush, Karl Rove, et al).  Source:  ABC News.

* She used personal e-mail for public business, but now is hiding something; claiming that communication is privileged.  Source:  Washington Post.

* Last year Palin charged the state for the per diem travel expense for over 300 nights spent in her own home.  Source:  Washington Post.

* She took a debt-free city and left it with big debt.  Source: Atlantic.com.

* She raised money by creating an oil company windfall profits tax, but now is running on a ticket against such taxes.  Source:  Bloomberg.

* Sarah didn’t know what the Bush doctrine was in her first big interview with Charlie Gibson after her selection by McCain (it says, very ominously for international order and without recent precedent, that a country can engage in a preemptive war, without any aggression or provocation, if it believes that a threat exists and a hostile act might be forthcoming).  Source: Sarah Palin Holds Forth on Bush Doctrine, Pakistan.

* Sarah Palin believes that God is on her side in the war.  Her pentecostal/evangelical beliefs give her great certainty that her positions are sanctioned by God, and that all means are justified in rooting out “evil.”  The Republican handlers got her to claim that her statement was her take on Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote, but any reasoned comparison quickly falls apart.  Source:  Time Magazine.

Categories: Current Facts · Palin · Palintology · Politics · Troopergate
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Iron Dog Todd.

September 22, 2008 · Leave a Comment

Todd Palin.  You’ve seen his handsome smile and athletic build.  His fierce devotion to Sarah.  But how much do we really know about Todd and his role in Sarah’s administration in Alaska, as well as his roles in Troopergate, his affiliation with the Alaskan Independence Party, and his background? For an excellent backgrounder, see the recent Washington Post article ‘First Dude’ Todd Palin Illustrates Alaska’s Blend of Private and Public.

Todd Palin photo from Iron Dog

In Alaska, the two were widely considered to be a pair in governing – “two for the price of one.”  In fact, Todd Palin served as Sarah’s de facto Chief of Staff.  He was often present in the legislature.  He was routinely copied on e-mails detailing state business.  In a small state, as in a small town, the line between the political and the personal is fine, and often transgressed.  See CNN’s ‘First Dude’ or ‘Shadow Governor?’ And the political can quickly become personal, as we have seen with the details available so far on “Troopergate.”

Unfortunately, under the supervision of the McCain campaign, Palin’s promise to cooperate with the investigation into ethical breaches in the Troopergate scandal have fallen by the wayside.  Now Sarah, Todd, and other staff members have refused to cooperate with the investigation, refusing to honor the subpoenas.  Do you suppose that has anything to do with the fact that the final report has long been scheduled to be released on October 31st, just four days before the general election?

Did you know that Todd has been something of an Alaskan celebrity for quite some time?  He’s won the “Iron Dog” snowmobile racing competition, coming in first place four times.  See the Iron Dog website.

Not only is he rough and rugged, he’s a bit of a wild card, with a family that epitomizes the independent Alaskan streak.  Maybe a little too independent.  Todd was a member of the Alaskan Independent Party from 1994 – 2002.  The party is a fringe party, that has vacillated between advocating for secession from the United States, settling to its current position, calling for a popular vote to decide whether Alaska should:

1.  Remain a Territory.

2.  Become a separate and Independent Nation.

3. Accept Commonwealth Status.

4.  Become a State.

See Alaskan Independence Party website.

One of the concerns that I have, is that Todd Palin is thought of in Alaska as Sarah’s “protector and enforcer,” and seems to have a much bigger role in what many see as the abuses of power exercised by her administration, including the Troopergate scandal.  In addition to continuing to vet Sarah Palin, we need to vet Todd Palin, given his apparently fairly involved and unique role in her administration.

The one thing that I’ve seen that I really like about Todd Palin?  It seems his mom might vote for Barrack Obama.  

Categories: Current Facts · McCain · Todd
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Hello, Sarah? Are you there? Can we talk with you?

September 22, 2008 · Leave a Comment

I suppose it should be no surprise that the McCain campaign is afraid to put Palin out in front of the media when it is likely that she would embarrass herself.  A press conference?  Horrors!  Yes, here we are only a few short weeks away from the election, and Palin has not yet held a press conference.

I guess the only way her handlers are comfortable with exposing her is through ghost-written speeches (or should I say speech, since she has hewn so closely to the same speech given at the Republican convention) or closely managed friendly press interviews (like Sean Hannity).  After the initial bruising from Charlie Gibson, I guess it’s clear why.

Is this how participatory democracy is supposed to work?

The fact that McCain chose Palin to be his running mate after meeting her twice, and spending no more than an hour and a half with her continues to boggle my mind.

A friend of mine told me that McCain has a 33% actuarial chance of dying in his first term, but that I shouldn’t worry – the Congress and political establishment wouldn’t actually let her RUN anything.  So he is planning to vote for McCain.  Sorry, but in my book McCain’s poor judgement in choosing Palin disqualifies him for the office of President in my book, and claiming that Palin wouldn’t really be in charge is no salve.  Palin would be Vice President, one heartbeat away from the Presidency.  She’d better be ready to take over.  But she’s simply not, as even my friend would admit.

The stakes are high, the choice is clear.

And Palin is just plain Wrong for America.

Categories: Current Facts · Palin
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