Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palin Not Ready for Prime Time?

POST-ELECTION UPDATE, NOVEMBER 5TH: A revealing discussion on Fox. Unbelievable. They would play games of chance with our future.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Lesson in Foreign Policy from Sarah Palin

When Putin raises his head, where does he show up? Why Alaska, of course! That according to foreign policy expert, Sarah Palin. I'm not kidding.
"It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where—where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to—to our state."
As a number of my foreign acquaintances have suggested, America gets the government it deserves.

(I keep expecting to awake from this bizarre dream, but alas...)

Monday, September 22, 2008

A new batch of Motorcycle Safety Foundation "RiderCoaches" are graduated

Over the past few months, I've been working towards certification as a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach. With this certification, I'll be able to coach in MSF's "Basic RiderCourse". Gerard Hopwood, from Northern England (pictured right) guided us through the program. Joining me in the training were (left to right): Matt Perry, Oscar Aguilar, Pat Freedman and Carrie Looney.

I guess I'll have to serve as a better example now when I get out on my bike.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Deception on the Boob Tube? I Can't Believe It!

Just as in 2004, Republicans are at it again; playing to the most ignorant of Americans (their voter-base?) And basically lying. The mission is achieved by creating the headline, no matter how false. When, or if they come, the corrections never carry the same impact, and are usually ignored by viewers who are already succumbing to the next sensational headline. So it goes in a "democracy".

I have the distinct sense that Republicans are simply "running out the clock". The "Sarah Palin Diversion", along with these deceptive ads, place the Obama Campaign on the defensive. They will effectively short-circuit any substantive discussions in which the McCain Campaign talking points might be challenged.

It is imperative that the media, the press, and all Americans hold the Presidential Candidates to a higher standard. After all, this is perhaps the most powerful office in the World. Should we simply accept such dishonesty in our President? Should we condone this as doing what is necessary to "win".

Is this what John McCain considers putting "Nation First"?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Washington Comes to Alaska!

(An Alaska Governor coming to Washington isn't the story. The real story is the horde of Washington lawyers, researchers, reporters and operatives suddenly "surging" into Alaska! I suspect Alaska may not long celebrate being in the spotlight.)
Nominee's ally moves to curb probe of Palin

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Newsweek Web Exclusive
9:36 PM ET September 5, 2008

Key Alaska allies of John McCain are trying to derail a politically charged investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner in order to prevent a so-called "October surprise" that would produce embarrassing information about the vice presidential candidate on the eve of the election.

In a move endorsed by the McCain campaign Friday, John Coghill, the GOP chairman of the state House Rules Committee, wrote a letter seeking a meeting of Alaska's bipartisan Legislative Council in order to remove the Democratic state senator in charge of the so-called "troopergate" investigation. Read more

Coghill charged that the senator, Hollis French, had "politicized" the probe by making a number of public comments in recent days, including telling ABC News that Palin had a "credibility problem" and that the investigation into the firing of public safety commissioner Walter Monegan was "likely to be damaging to the administration" and could be an "October surprise." Wrote Coghill: "The investigation appears to be lacking in fairness, neutrality and due process."

The investigation, authorized by the Legislative Council last July, revolves around charges that Palin abused her power by embroiling the governor's office in a bitter family feud involving her ex-brother in law, a state trooper named Mike Wooten. Specifically, the council is investigating whether Palin fired Monegan when he refused to dismiss Wooten (who at the time was involved in an ugly custody battle with Palin's sister) after getting repeated complaints about him from the governor and her husband, Todd Palin. (Among the allegations that were raised against Wooten by Palin's sister: he had Tasered his ten-year-old stepson and shot a moose without a permit.) Palin has denied wrongdoing; Monegan has said he believes his firing was connected to his refusal to fire Wooten.

French, the Democrat overseeing the probe, has hired a special counsel to determine, in effect, whether Palin "used her public office to settle a private score," he recently said. He has also suggested that the probe may turn up evidence that state laws were violated by Palin's aides because they pulled confidential personnel files on the trooper.

But Coghill, who told NEWSWEEK that he has the backing of Republican Speaker of the House John Harris in his effort to remove French, suggested Friday that the investigation into Palin's firing of Monegan should be shut down entirely. "If this has been botched up the way it has, there's a question as to whether it should continue," Coghill told NEWSWEEK.

The move underscored the huge political stakes in the outcome of a legislative investigation that is being closely monitored by both the McCain and Obama campaigns because of its potential impact on the fall election. "How can this possibly be read as anything but a partisan attempt to shut down a legitimate investigation that was approved and funded with bipartisan support?" said one state Democratic legislative aide, who asked not to be identified because of the political sensitivities. Coghill told NEWSWEEK that he decided to write his letter to strip French of his position on his own-without any coaxing by McCain campaign officials.

But a top McCain campaign official acknowledged that the GOP lawyer had given the campaign a "heads up" about his letter and that the McCain campaign approved of the effort to remove French.

"An investigation that was supposed to be non-partisan has become a political circus and has gotten out of control," said Taylor Griffin, a top communications aide dispatched from McCain campaign headquarters to Alaska this week to monitor the investigation and related matters. (Griffin also said that Palin has "nothing to hide" about the Wooten matter.)

As a further sign of the sensitivity of the probe, a lawyer for Palin told NEWSWEEK Friday that Todd Palin, the governor's husband, was in the process of hiring his own separate counsel to represent him in the legislature's probe. Thomas Van Flein, Governor Palin's lawyer, would not identify who is now representing the governor's husband. But he sought to deflect charges that Todd Palin, a commercial fisherman and oil company worker, had improperly intervened in state business by inviting Monegan to the governor's office and asking him to look into Wooten's status on the state police force. (For his part, Wooten has acknowledged that he "made mistakes," but that he was "punished appropriately" when he was suspended from the police force for five days in 2006.)

In an interview on Friday, Van Flein sought to deflect charges that Todd Palin may have acted improperly by talking to the state public safety commissioner about Wooten. Todd was "the governor's husband and a citizen of the state and he has every right to an opinion as [does] everyone else," Van Flein said.

One major reason the probe is so sensitive is that it raises the prospect that Governor Palin's credibility could be called into a question in a major state probe on the eve of the election. When the "troopergate" story broke over the summer, Palin adamantly denied that anybody in her administration exerted any pressure on Monegan to fire Wooten. But only weeks later, a tape recording surfaced in which another one of her top aides, Frank Bailey, was heard telling a police lieutenant, "Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, 'Why on earth hasn't this, why is this guy [Wooten] still representing the department?'"

French today acknowledged that some of his public comments about the ongoing probe may have been out of bounds. "I said some things I shouldn't have said," he told NEWSWEEK. But he insisted he had no intention of stepping down because the investigation was really being conducted by Steve Branchflower, a retired state prosecutor who was hired as the special counsel in the probe. French also said today he had moved up the deadline for Branchflower to produce his report. Although it was originally due Oct. 31, the Friday before the election, it will now be completed Oct. 10-in order to be "as far away from the election" as possible.

In the interview with NEWSWEEK, Van Flein, Governor Palin's lawyer, raised other objections to the troopergate probe. He said the legislative investigation ran counter to the Alaska Constitution because it was being conducted in secret and without strict procedural rules. He said that in the "post-McCarthy era", he would have expected more due process guarantees.

Van Flein also told NEWSWEEK that as part of defense preparations for the investigation, he had taken his own depositions from potential witnesses—including one this week who refused to give testimony to the Legislature's special counsel. That was Frank Bailey, the former senior Palin aide who was recorded mentioning the concerns of Palin and her husband that Wooten was still on the police force.

In the deposition taken by Van Flein, which Palin's lawyer made available to NEWSWEEK, Bailey acknowledged he had "overstepped my boundaries... I should not have spoken for the governor, or Todd, for that matter. I went out on my own on this discussion."

But Bailey also confirmed in the deposition that Palin had herself raised Wooten's name with the state police during her first security briefing after she won election as governor in November 2006. Bailey said he sat in on the briefing with Gary Wheeler, then head of the governor's security detail. Wheeler asked Palin and her husband whether they were aware of any threats against her that the new bodyguards should be concerned about. "They specifically brought up only one person, and that was Mike Wooten," Bailey testified. "There was a serious genuine concern about not only their safety but the safety of their family, their kids, their nieces, nephews, her father, regarding Trooper Wooten." Bailey testified that Sarah Palin never asked him to do anything about Trooper Wooten, but that Todd Palin did talk to him about "issues about Trooper Wooten," and expressed "frustration" that the state police were doing nothing to respond to the Palins' concerns.

Friday, September 05, 2008

"When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose" - Bob Dylan

Not only have Republicans been desperately co-opting the Democrats' slogans, talking points and party planks, they're recycling with a fury; recycling their last Presidential Campaign's "fill-in-the-blank" attacks.

In his acceptance speech at his party's convention last night, John McCain failed to even mention George W. Bush, whom he has solidly supported for the past eight years (after losing to G.W., that is.)

The Republicans CANNOT run on their abysmal record of the past eight years, so what choice do they have? Slander their opponent. Leave it to "Fox News" (now there's an oxymoron) to lead the charge.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"John, do you think Americans are stupid?"

Perhaps you shouldn't answer that.

Tonight's address by Governor Palin was much like a well-rehearsed comedy routine, with Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani doing a great job of breaking the ice at the until-now stuffy Republican National Convention. It's easy to be enamored with the Vice Presidential nominee; she's beautiful, confident, witty (at least her writers are) and has a colorful resume for her 44 years. A breath of fresh air, as they say.

But just for fun, let's get to know Sarah Palin a little better. The article below mentions a few less flattering details she failed to mention at tonight's welcoming party. (And, John, you might want to have a back-up plan.)
Palin Faces Laundry List of Complications

Tuesday 02 September 2008

by: Matt Apuzzo, The Associated Press

Washington - GOP vice presidential pick Sarah Palin accepted at least $4,500 in campaign contributions in the same fundraising scheme at the center of a public corruption scandal that led to the indictment of Sen.
Ted Stevens.
The contributions, made during Palin's failed 2002 bid to become Alaska's lieutenant governor, were not illegal for her to accept. But they show how Palin, a self-proclaimed reformer who has bucked Stevens and his allies, is nonetheless a product of a political system in Alaska now under the cloud of an ongoing FBI investigation.

It's the latest in a string of revelations that have forced John McCain's campaign to defend his choice and the thoroughness of the background check of Palin, 44, a little-known governor who is new to the national stage. Palin stunned delegates at the GOP convention Monday when she announced through the McCain campaign that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant.

With the convention still abuzz, the list of potentially embarrassing details grew Tuesday:
Palin sought pork-barrel projects for her city and state, contrary to her reformist image.

Her husband once belonged to a fringe political group in Alaska with some members supporting secession from the United States.

A private attorney has been authorized to spend $95,000 to defend her against accusations of abuse of power.

She has acknowledged smoking marijuana in the past.
And this: Bristol Palin's boyfriend, Levi Johnston, plans to join the family of the Republican vice presidential candidate at the GOP convention, the boy's mother said. He left Alaska on Tuesday morning to join the Palin family in St. Paul, Minn.

Defending his choice and the team that helped pick her, McCain said Tuesday that "the vetting process was completely thorough." Campaign advisers at the convention in St. Paul, Minn., said Palin filled out a survey with 70 questions, including: Have you ever paid for sex? Have you been faithful in your marriage? Have you ever used or purchased drugs? Have you ever downloaded pornography?

McCain's aides maintained that Palin was a finalist from the start. But a senior Republican familiar with the search, who requested anonymity when speaking without authorization, said Palin had all but fallen from the radar until late in the summer when McCain - apparently unsatisfied with his working list - asked for more alternatives. Suddenly, she was a finalist.

When she was introduced as McCain's running mate last week, Palin portrayed herself as a political maverick in McCain's mold: "I've stood up to the old politics as usual, to the special interests, to the lobbyists, the big oil companies and the 'good old boy' network,"' she said.

But Alaska's first female governor has at times benefited from Alaska's entrenched political system.

As Palin campaigned unsuccessfully in 2002 to become lieutenant governor, she received contributions from executives at VECO Corp., a powerful Alaska oil field services company. Company founder Bill Allen has admitted the company steers its donations through a "special bonus program" in which executives received money and the company instructed them to donate it to favored politicians.

Allen pleaded guilty to bribery and corruption charges. He admitted the program violated federal tax laws and said it was used to keep his political allies flush with cash.

"If they're working with the oil industry, I'd like to help with their campaigns," Allen testified last year in the corruption trial of a former state lawmaker.

Since Palin's nomination last week, these issues also are raising eyebrows:

In her earlier career as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin hired a lobbyist to help the tiny town secure at least 14 earmarks, worth $27 million between 2000-2003. McCain has touted Palin as a force in his long battle against earmarks.

Her husband, Todd, twice registered as a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a fierce states' rights group that wants to turn all federal lands in Alaska back to the state. Sarah Palin herself never registered as a member of the party, according to state officials, though party members said she attended a 1994 convention with her husband.

The state legislature is investigating whether she had Alaska's public safety commissioner fired after he refused to dismiss a state trooper who had divorced Palin's sister. Lawyer Thomas Van Flein said he is representing Palin both personally and in her official capacity as governor. He can bill the state up to $95,000.

Palin opposed the U.S. government's listing of a variety of animals as endangered, including the polar bear and the beluga whale, both of which inhabit areas also rich in oil and natural gas.

Palin previously acknowledged she smoked marijuana but said in a 2006 interview she no longer used the drug. "I can't claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled," she said.

Palin's management style has come under scrutiny. When taking over as mayor of Wasilla, she asked top officials to submit resignation letters, resulting in several departures, including that of the police chief. The chief claimed it was because he supported her opponent in the mayor's race.

Under her leadership this year, Alaska asked for almost $300 per person in requests for pet projects from Stevens, one of McCain's top adversaries. That's more than any other state received, per person, from Congress.

Palin has had her share of run-ins with Stevens, including a dustup earlier this year in which Stevens accused Palin of not being enthusiastic enough about his efforts to bring federal earmark money to Alaska. She has also called on Stevens' son, Ben, to resign as national committeeman for the state party.

She was among the first Alaska Republicans to urge Stevens to answer questions about the FBI investigation.

In the fundraising corruption probe, VECO founder Allen is cooperating with an FBI investigation that has already sent several state political figures to prison. He is expected to be the Justice Department's star witness at Stevens' trial later this month when he testifies about home renovations and other gifts he provided the longtime senator - gifts Stevens is charged with concealing on Senate documents.

Palin received $500, the maximum amount allowed by law, from Allen and VECO vice president Rick Smith. Several other VECO managers, including Pete Leathard, who came up with the idea for the special bonus program, also donated the maximum. Allen's son, a VECO employee, also donated $500. All the checks were donated the same day, except for Leathard's, which was dated two days after the rest.

John Cramer, one of Palin's treasurers for her 2002 campaign, said he doesn't remember any indications that the money came from a special company program.

The donations aren't evidence of corruption, and Palin is not among the lawmakers under investigation in the VECO case. But they undermine arguments that Palin has broken from Alaska's Republican machine, including Stevens.

"If you can take on Ted Stevens and that crowd in Alaska, you can handle the Russians," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C, told ABC News this week.

But Palin didn't reach the governor's office picking fights with the Senate's longest-serving Republican. She was a director for a nonprofit group Stevens set up to increase the number of Republican women in government. Stevens also campaigned for Palin in 2006 and appeared in a political advertisement for her.

Palin has had her share of run-ins with Stevens, including a dustup earlier this year in which Stevens accused Palin of not being enthusiastic enough about his efforts to bring federal earmark money to Alaska. She has also called on Stevens' son, Ben, to resign as national committeeman for the state party.

She was among the first Alaska Republicans to urge Stevens to answer questions about the FBI investigation. But she did not urge him to resign after his indictment, as she did after a state lawmaker was indicted. She said Stevens "has dedicated his life to the betterment of the state."


Associated Press writers Sharon Theimer contributed to this story from Washington and Ron Fournier contributed from St. Paul, Minn.

The Next Leader of the "Free World"! (At least one of these guys.)

It takes quite a bit to leave "Fox" speechless. Let's hope John does a little better Thursday night.

And also tomorrow night, be sure to watch for the Democratic bogeyman with his oppressive tax increases, government expansion and interference in our lives, cut-and-run Iraq policy, weakening defenses, negotiation with terrorists, undermining of the American family values, taking of innocent infants' lives, off-shoring of American jobs, putting personal ambition above country, elitism, etc., etc. (My god, Satan himself couldn't cover all that territory!)

The New Leader of the Free World?