September 29, 2008
The first half of the Katie Couric interview with Sarah Palin did not start off well. It was a complete disaster in fact.
It’s like watching a train wreck, she seems to have no idea what she is talking about.
But hey, people sometimes get off on the wrong foot. It couldn’t get any worse right? She just probably needed to find her rhythm, right?
Well, no. If the first half of the interview was bad, well then the second half of the interview was much, much worse.
From Ryan Powers over at Think Progress:
During the interview, Couric asked Palin why she believes the Wall Street bailout is needed. Palin responded incoherently by claiming that the bailout would “help those who are concerned about health care reform.” Palin then appeared to look down at her notes and said, “Oh, it’s got to be all about job creation”:
COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? … Instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?
PALIN: Ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy- Oh, it’s got to be about job creation too. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions
“She’s not always responsive when she’s asked questions,” Couric said of Palin. “It was a really interesting experience for me to interview her yesterday,” she added.
Well, people make mistakes. But that has to be the worst of it right? Nope, as Steve Benen over at the Washington Monthly reported:
Earlier, I suggested Sarah Palin’s response to Katie Couric’s question on the bailout was a low point in Palin’s brief career as a candidate for national office. I spoke too soon.
As regular readers know, almost immediately after Palin was added to the Republican ticket, a number of conservatives, including McCain himself, argued Alaska’s proximity to Russia necessarily amounts to foreign policy experience. I’ve been having some fun with this, because, well, it’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard.
September 25, 2008
In her interview with Katie Couric to be aired tonight on CBS, Sarah Palin complains that she should not have been mocked for claiming that Alaska’s proximity to Russia gives her insight into foreign policy.
So Couric gently asks Palin to explain again how proximity enhances her foreign policy credentials. Here’s the exchange, verbatim:
PALIN: “It certainly does, because our next-door neighbors are foreign countries there in the state that I am the executive of….”
COURIC: “Have you ever been involved in negotiations, for example, with the Russians?”
PALIN: “We have trade missions back and forth. We do. 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 do they go? It’s Alaska, it’s just right over the border. It’s 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 there next to our state.” (TRANSCRIPT CORRECTED AS OF 4:46)
And so they are.
Palin is living, breathing proof that John McCain lies when he claims to put this country first over politics. She makes Dan Quayle look like Albert Einstein with a better haircut.
Here’s the clip. Go horrify yourself. Seeing it is worse than reading it.
September 24, 2008
NEW YORK – Sarah Palin met her first world leaders Tuesday. It was a tightly controlled crash course on foreign policy for the Republican vice presidential candidate, the mayor-turned-governor who has been outside North America just once.
Palin sat down with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. The conversations were private, the pictures public, meant to build her resume for voters concerned about her lack of experience in world affairs.
“I found her quite a capable woman,” Karzai said later. “She asked the right questions on Afghanistan.”
The self-described “hockey mom” also asked former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for insights on Georgia, Russia, China and Iran, and she’ll see more leaders Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings.
It was shuttle diplomacy, New York-style. At several points, Palin’s motorcade got stuck in traffic and New Yorkers, unimpressed with the flashing lights, sirens and police officers in her group, simply walked between the vehicles to get across the street. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, three hours behind Palin in seeing Karzai, found herself overshadowed for a day as she made her own rounds.
John McCain’s presidential campaign has shielded the first-term Alaska governor for weeks from spontaneous questions from voters and reporters, and went to striking lengths Tuesday to maintain that distance as Palin made her diplomatic debut.
The GOP campaign, applying more restrictive rules on access than even President Bush uses in the White House, banned reporters from the start of the meetings, so as not to risk a question being asked of Palin.
McCain aides relented after news organizations objected and CNN, which was supplying TV footage to a variety of networks, decided to pull its TV crew from Palin’s meeting with Karzai.
Overheard: small talk.
Palin is studying foreign policy ahead of her one debate with Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, a senator with deep credentials on that front. More broadly, the Republican ticket is trying to counter questions exploited by Democrats about her qualifications to serve as vice president and step into the presidency at a moment’s notice if necessary.
There was no chance of putting such questions to rest with photo opportunities Tuesday.
But Palin, who got a passport only last year, no longer has to own up to a blank slate when asked about heads of state she has met.
She also got her first intelligence briefing Tuesday, over two hours.
Karzai generated light laughter when he told an audience at the Asia Society that, in addition to Rice and Norway’s prime minister, he had seen Palin on Tuesday. Thomas Freston, a member of the society’s board, drew loud applause and laughter when he responded: “You’re probably the only person in the room who’s met Gov. Palin.”
Randy Scheunemann, a longtime McCain aide on foreign policy, was close at hand during her meetings. Another adviser, Stephen Biegun, also accompanied her at each meeting and briefed reporters later.
Karzai and Palin discussed security problems in Afghanistan, including cross-border insurgencies. They also talked about the need for more U.S. troops there, which both McCain and Democrat Barack Obama say is necessary, Biegun said.
With both Karzai and Uribe, Palin discussed the importance of energy security. With Uribe, the conversation also touched on the proposed U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement that McCain and Palin support but Obama opposes.
Her meeting with Kissinger, which lasted more than an hour, covered a range of national security and foreign policy issues, specifically Russia, Iran and China, Biegun said.
“Rather than make specific policy prescriptions, she was largely listening, having an exchange of views and also very interested in forming a relationship with people she met with today,” he said.
Before Palin’s first meeting of the day, with Karzai, campaign aides had told reporters in the press pool that followed her they could not go into meetings where photographers and a video camera crew would be let in for pictures.
Bush and members of Congress routinely allow reporters to attend photo opportunities along with photographers, and the reporters sometimes are able to ask questions at the beginning of private meetings before they are ushered out.
At least two news organizations, including AP, objected to the exclusion of reporters and were told that the decision to have a “photo spray” only was not subject to discussion. After aides backed away from that, campaign spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said the reporter ban was a “miscommunication.”
On Wednesday, McCain and Palin are expected to meet jointly with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko. Palin is then to meet separately with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Palin, 44, has been to neighboring Canada and to Mexico, and made a brief trip to Kuwait and Germany to see Alaska National Guard troops.
September 24, 2008
With today’s kerfuffle over the media being kept away from Sarah Palin’s meetings with foreign leaders — like there was a risk she’d answer their shouted questions? — I’ve been mulling over Colby’s post about the Hannity-Palin “100 percent pure infomercial” interview. I watched both nights, then read the transcripts, and I think the interview hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserved. While I agree with Colby’s assessment that the audience was “treated to a political advertisement aimed at serving the interests of the Republican presidential ticket,” I think the Hannity love-fest offered a valuable look at Palin, perhaps more revealing because she was on such friendly territory. For all the softballs Hannity tossed her way, Palin did not come off very well, in my view. If this was a political commercial, I wasn’t buying the product.
The way she answers questions brings to mind — I have Alaska on the brain, admittedly — the image of a polar bear, jumping from rhetorical ice floe to ice floe, drifting some but eventually managing to get safely to dry land. No flubs, but you get the sense that she could plunge into the icy water at any moment. Palin has an odd tendency to use the same word twice in a sentence, as in, “The people of American realize that inherently all political power is inherent in the people,” or, about John McCain, “He can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this.” Or, combining word repetition with another Palin verbal tic, word dropping, this about the economic meltdown: “Well, you know, first Fannie and Freddie, different because quasi-government agencies there where government had to step in because the adverse impact all across our nation, especially with homeowners, is just too impacting.”
Ok, not everyone is Daniel Webster. Palin isn’t the first politician to dwell in the land of anodyne clichés such as, “We sort of have a do-nothing Senate right now where nobody is really wanting to pick up the ball and run with it.” Yet I always got the sense listening to George W. Bush tying himself up in rhetorical knots that his problem was more in the nature of getting the words to come out of his mouth correctly, not so much that he didn’t know what to say. Palin — I’m not so sure.
An Alaska friend tells me that Palin has always benefited from being underestimated. Maybe I’m doing that. Maybe I’ve been around polished politicians too long to appreciate the unvarnished authenticity that obviously appeals to many voters. But there’s no Palin interview I’ve listened to, before or after her selection, that gave me the sense that she had anything but a millimeter-thin understanding of the issues facing the country she hopes to help lead.
Consider this exchange.
Hannity: What is our role as a country as it relates to national security?
Palin: Yes. That’s a great question, and being an optimist I see our role in the world as one of being a force for good, and one of being the leader of the world when it comes to the values that — it seems that just human kind embraces the values that — encompass life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that’s just — not just in America, that is in our world.
And America is in a position because we care for so many people to be able to lead and to be able to have a strong diplomacy and a strong military also at the same time to defend not only our freedoms, but to help these rising smaller democratic countries that are just — you know, they’re putting themselves on the map right now, and they’re going to be looking to America as that leader.
We being used as a force for good is how I see our country.
Whew. Made it to the other side of that one.
Can’t wait for the debate. I bet it will be impacting.
September 23, 2008
September 22, 2008 (Computerworld) The man who traced the IP address of the hacker who accessed Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s e-mail account last week confirmed today that it belongs to an Illinois company that provides Internet service to the Knoxville, Tenn., apartment complex where the FBI served a search warrant early Sunday.
Gabriel Ramuglia, the webmaster of Ctunnel, an Athens, Ga.-based proxy service used by the hacker to mask his or her identity, acknowledged that the IP address he found in his server logs belongs to Pavlov Media, an Internet service provider based in Champaign, Ill.
According to its Web site, Pavlov Media provides Internet, television and phone services to The Commons at Knoxville, a complex that specializes in apartments for students of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Early Sunday, WBIR, Knoxville’s NBC affiliate, reported that FBI agents had searched the apartment of David Kernell, 20, at The Commons. David Kernell is the son of Mike Kernell, a longtime Democratic state legislator from Memphis.
Last week, David Kernell was linked to the hack of Palin’s e-mail account on blogs and message boards after someone identified only as “Rubico” claimed to have accessed Palin’s account by using Yahoo Inc.’s password reset feature. Others subsequently connected the Rubico handle to the e-mail address email@example.com, which was in turn linked to Kernell through Internet searches that uncovered connections between him, the username and the e-mail address on sites such as YouTube.
Rubico claimed that the online research needed to reset Palin’s password took just 45 minutes.
Ramuglia said Sunday that the IP address he found in the proxy service logs didn’t “look consistent” with reports identifying Kernell. By today, however, he had changed his mind.
“It became clear that the ISP, in addition to serving Illinois, also serves Tennessee, which means that the IP address could actually be consistent with the news reports,” Ramuglia said today.
Ramuglia had been asked by the FBI to save the proxy service’s log — logs are usually purged after seven days — and to search for a specific IP address that authorities provided. The IP address was one in a block assigned to Pavlov Media.
Before the account break-in, Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, had come under fire for using private e-mail accounts to conduct state business. Some critics had accused her and others in her administration of using private accounts rather than state-provided ones to skirt message-retention and public-records laws.
September 23, 2008
Source: PC Mag
How can you prevent a Palin webmail hack from happening to you? The short answer: you can’t.
Yahoo has no immediate plans to overhaul its e-mail security procedures after a hacker last week gained access to Sarah Palin’s private Yahoo Mail account, the company said Monday. Instead, it is reviewing security processes on an industry-wide basis.
Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Hotmail also have existing processes in place to enable password recovery. But those too can be exploited by a hacker patient enough to sniff through personal data that might already be available online.
Yahoo, however, is being forced to reconsider its own security practices.
A hacker gained access to the Republican vice presidential hopeful’s firstname.lastname@example.org account last week after successfully navigating Yahoo’s password recovery feature. That process required the hacker to enter Palin’s login name, date of birth, ZIP code, and to answer the question, “Where did you meet your spouse?”
Palin, who currently serves as governor of Alaska, is now widely known to be a lifetime resident of Wasilla, Alaska, so the ZIP code was easily deciphered. A quick Google search revealed her date of birth, and any of the approximately 40 million people listened to her GOP convention acceptance speech were informed that she met her husband in high school. An amateur who fiddled with the wording a bit – “Wasilla high” being the correct response – had access within minutes.
Yahoo is trying to strike a balance between providing a secure user experience while also ensuring a process for accessing lost account information, according to a source familiar with the situation. The company last week issued a memo to users on how to create more secure passwords, though the Palin hacker did not know her password.
Naturally, a typical user’s personal Webmail accounts are not going to generate as much hacker interest as Palin’s account, but security remains a concern. What is your best option?
When signing up for Yahoo, the company asks for standard personal information – name, gender, date of birth, country, and ZIP code – and then asks users to answer one of nine possible secret questions: where the user met his or her spouse; the first school the user attended; his or her childhood hero, favorite pastime, favorite sports team, father’s middle name, or high school mascot; the name of the user’s first car or bike; or the name of the user’s pet.
Once you select one of these questions, however, you cannot change it. You can also not change your date of birth. Had Palin recovered her own account, hackers could have just as easily gained re-entry given that they had the answer to her secret question. Yahoo does allow users to change their gender and/or location, so switching her ZIP code to a random city might have done the trick.
Microsoft’s Hotmail has a similar set-up situation, asking for personal information, and the answer to one of six secret questions: the user’s mother’s birthplace, the user’s best childhood friend, the name of the user’s first pet, the user’s favorite teacher, favorite historical person, or the occupation of the user’s grandfather.
Unlike Yahoo, Hotmail users can change their secret question once they set up their account. This might have helped Palin if she’d acted fast, but it also means that if the hacker had successfully accessed a Hotmail account, the hacker could have changed the secret question immediately and locked the proper owner out of the account indefinitely.
Microsoft also has no immediate plans to change its Hotmail security processes, according to a spokeswoman.
“Microsoft is always working to strengthen the security of its products and services and is committed to helping consumers have a safe, secure and positive online experience,” she said. “We know our customers’ needs are constantly evolving based on changes in the security landscape and we are always working to meet these new threats and to help protect our customers from them.”
Gmail might have the most secure password recovery process at this point, but it is a potentially lengthy process.
Gmail also requires personally identifiable information, but lets users either create their own question or answer one of four Google-selected questions: primary frequent flyer number, library card number, first phone number, or first teacher’s name.
If a user forgets his or her password, Google will send password reset information to the secondary e-mail address a user provided when signing up. But if the user lost the password to that account, no longer had access to it, or did not provide a second e-mail address, Google requires a waiting period of five days before resetting the password.
“To prevent someone from trying to break into an account you’re actively using, the security question is only used for account recovery after an account has been idle for five days,” according to Google. “The Gmail team cannot waive the five day requirement or access your password under any circumstances.”
The FBI and Secret Service are now investigating the Palin hack. Authorities reportedly searched the home of a 20-year-old University of Tennessee student over the weekend, but no arrests have been made. The hacker could face felony charges for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but could also avoid prosecution thanks to a Department of Justice loophole, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Palin and the now erased Yahoo account have also made headlines over allegations that the governor used her personal account for state business.
September 22, 2008
September 21, 2008
The mystery group, who call themselves Anonymous, posted a number of the Republican vice-presidential candidate’s private emails and family photos on the internet.
The McCain campaign were furious and called it a “shocking invasion of privacy and a violation of law” – and called for those responsible to be prosecuted.
The FBI are now hunting the gang, who bragged about how they were able to obtain Mrs Palin’s password by guessing she had met her husband at high school and knew her date of birth and postal code.
Using the details, one hacker – who uses the online handle Rubico – said he tricked Yahoo into assigning a new password for Mrs Palin’s email account.
Anonymous, who have so far evaded capture by successfully masking their IP addresses, have hit the headlines on many occasions over their twisted antics.
They have been dubbed ‘hackers on steroids’ by the US media and get their kicks by making prank calls, flooding message boards with obscene photos and breaking into people’s social network sites to out them as gay.
In March this year, they flooded an epilepsy website with flashing images, causing some members to suffer migraines and seizures.
The FBI is investigating what may be the first computer attack that physically harmed people.
They also stormed a virtual world known as Habbo by sending in black-skinned avatars with Afro hair to block off the pool to other users, claiming it was infected with AIDS.
They also formed swastika formations.
The group was slated over the suicide of US student Mitchell Henderson, who they claimed had shot himself because he lost his iPod, something he had noted on his MySpace page.
Anonymous seized on a badly written message on his online memorial page and turned the phrase “an hero” into an internet catchphrase.
For more than a year, the sick group carried on the harassment by calling the youngster’s parents, pretending to be his ghost.
September 19, 2008
Source: NY Times
WASILLA, Alaska — Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.
So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.
Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.
When Ms. Palin had to cut her first state budget, she avoided the legion of frustrated legislators and mayors. Instead, she huddled with her budget director and her husband, Todd, an oil field worker who is not a state employee, and vetoed millions of dollars of legislative projects.
And four months ago, a Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governor’s career with an astringent eye, answered her phone to hear an assistant to the governor on the line, she said.
“You should be ashamed!” Ivy Frye, the assistant, told her. “Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now!”
Ms. Palin walks the national stage as a small-town foe of “good old boy” politics and a champion of ethics reform. The charismatic 44-year-old governor draws enthusiastic audiences and high approval ratings. And as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, she points to her management experience while deriding her Democratic rivals, Senators Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr., as speechmakers who never have run anything.
But an examination of her swift rise and record as mayor of Wasilla and then governor finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics — she sometimes calls local opponents “haters” — contrasts with her carefully crafted public image.
Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.
Still, Ms. Palin has many supporters. As a two-term mayor she paved roads and built an ice rink, and as governor she has pushed through higher taxes on the oil companies that dominate one-third of the state’s economy. She stirs deep emotions. In Wasilla, many residents display unflagging affection, cheering “our Sarah” and hissing at her critics.
“She is bright and has unfailing political instincts,” said Steve Haycox, a history professor at the University of Alaska. “She taps very directly into anxieties about the economic future.”
“But,” he added, “her governing style raises a lot of hard questions.”
Ms. Palin declined to grant an interview for this article. The McCain-Palin campaign responded to some questions on her behalf and that of her husband, while referring others to the governor’s spokespeople, who did not respond.
Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell said Ms. Palin had conducted an accessible and effective administration in the public’s interest. “Everything she does is for the ordinary working people of Alaska,” he said.
In Wasilla, a builder said he complained to Mayor Palin when the city attorney put a stop-work order on his housing project. She responded, he said, by engineering the attorney’s firing.
Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.
Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that his request would cost $468,784 to process.
When Mr. Steiner finally obtained the e-mail messages — through a federal records request — he discovered that state scientists had in fact agreed that the bears were in danger, records show.
“Their secrecy is off the charts,” Mr. Steiner said.
State legislators are investigating accusations that Ms. Palin and her husband pressured officials to fire a state trooper who had gone through a messy divorce with her sister, charges that she denies. But interviews make clear that the Palins draw few distinctions between the personal and the political.
Last summer State Representative John Harris, the Republican speaker of the House, picked up his phone and heard Mr. Palin’s voice. The governor’s husband sounded edgy. He said he was unhappy that Mr. Harris had hired John Bitney as his chief of staff, the speaker recalled. Mr. Bitney was a high school classmate of the Palins and had worked for Ms. Palin. But she fired Mr. Bitney after learning that he had fallen in love with another longtime friend.
“I understood from the call that Todd wasn’t happy with me hiring John and he’d like to see him not there,” Mr. Harris said.
“The Palin family gets upset at personal issues,” he added. “And at our level, they want to strike back.”
Through a campaign spokesman, Mr. Palin said he “did not recall” referring to Mr. Bitney in the conversation.
Laura Chase, the campaign manager during Ms. Palin’s first run for mayor in 1996, recalled the night the two women chatted about her ambitions.
“I said, ‘You know, Sarah, within 10 years you could be governor,’ ” Ms. Chase recalled. “She replied, ‘I want to be president.’ ”
Ms. Palin grew up in Wasilla, an old fur trader’s outpost and now a fast-growing exurb of Anchorage. The town sits in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, edged by jagged mountains and birch forests. In the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration took farmers from the Dust Bowl area and resettled them here; their Democratic allegiances defined the valley for half a century.
In the past three decades, socially conservative Oklahomans and Texans have flocked north to the oil fields of Alaska. They filled evangelical churches around Wasilla and revived the Republican Party. Many of these working-class residents formed the electoral backbone for Ms. Palin, who ran for mayor on a platform of gun rights, opposition to abortion and the ouster of the “complacent” old guard.
After winning the mayoral election in 1996, Ms. Palin presided over a city rapidly outgrowing itself. Septic tanks had begun to pollute lakes, and residential lots were carved willy-nilly out of the woods. She passed road and sewer bonds, cut property taxes but raised the sales tax.
And, her supporters say, she cleaned out the municipal closet, firing veteran officials to make way for her own team. “She had an agenda for change and for doing things differently,” said Judy Patrick, a City Council member at the time.
But careers were turned upside down. The mayor quickly fired the town’s museum director, John Cooper. Later, she sent an aide to the museum to talk to the three remaining employees. “He told us they only wanted two,” recalled Esther West, one of the three, “and we had to pick who was going to be laid off.” The three quit as one.
Ms. Palin cited budget difficulties for the museum cuts. Mr. Cooper thought differently, saying the museum had become a microcosm of class and cultural conflicts in town. “It represented that the town was becoming more progressive, and they didn’t want that,” he said.
Days later, Mr. Cooper recalled, a vocal conservative, Steve Stoll, sidled up to him. Mr. Stoll had supported Ms. Palin and had a long-running feud with Mr. Cooper. “He said: ‘Gotcha, Cooper,’ ” Mr. Cooper said.
Mr. Stoll did not recall that conversation, although he said he supported Ms. Palin’s campaign and was pleased when she fired Mr. Cooper.
In 1997, Ms. Palin fired the longtime city attorney, Richard Deuser, after he issued the stop-work order on a home being built by Don Showers, another of her campaign supporters.
Your attorney, Mr. Showers told Ms. Palin, is costing me lots of money.
“She told me she’d like to see him fired,” Mr. Showers recalled. “But she couldn’t do it herself because the City Council hires the city attorney.” Ms. Palin told him to write the council members to complain.
Meanwhile, Ms. Palin pushed the issue from the inside. “She started the ball rolling,” said Ms. Patrick, who also favored the firing. Mr. Deuser was soon replaced by Ken Jacobus, then the State Republican Party’s general counsel.
“Professionals were either forced out or fired,” Mr. Deuser said.
Ms. Palin ordered city employees not to talk to the press. And she used city money to buy a white Suburban for the mayor’s use — employees sarcastically called it the mayor-mobile.
The new mayor also tended carefully to her evangelical base. She appointed a pastor to the town planning board. And she began to eye the library. For years, social conservatives had pressed the library director to remove books they considered immoral.
“People would bring books back censored,” recalled former Mayor John Stein, Ms. Palin’s predecessor. “Pages would get marked up or torn out.”
Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.
But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.
“Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,” Ms. Chase said. “It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”
“I’m still proud of Sarah,” she added, “but she scares the bejeebers out of me.”
Restless ambition defined Ms. Palin in the early years of this decade. She raised money for Senator Ted Stevens, a Republican from the state; finished second in the 2002 Republican primary for lieutenant governor; and sought to fill the seat of Senator Frank H. Murkowski when he ran for governor.
Mr. Murkowski appointed his daughter to the seat, but as a consolation prize, he gave Ms. Palin the $125,000-a-year chairmanship of a state commission overseeing oil and gas drilling.
Ms. Palin discovered that the state Republican leader, Randy Ruedrich, a commission member, was conducting party business on state time and favoring regulated companies. When Mr. Murkowski failed to act on her complaints, she quit and went public.
The Republican establishment shunned her. But her break with the gentlemen’s club of oil producers and political power catapulted her into the public eye.
“She was honest and forthright,” said Jay Kerttula, a former Democratic state senator from Palmer.
Ms. Palin entered the 2006 primary for governor as a formidable candidate.
In the middle of the primary, a conservative columnist in the state, Paul Jenkins, unearthed e-mail messages showing that Ms. Palin had conducted campaign business from the mayor’s office. Ms. Palin handled the crisis with a street fighter’s guile.
“I told her it looks like she did the same thing that Randy Ruedrich did,” Mr. Jenkins recalled. “And she said, ‘Yeah, what I did was wrong.’ ”
Mr. Jenkins hung up and decided to forgo writing about it. His phone rang soon after.
Mr. Jenkins said a reporter from Fairbanks, reading from a Palin news release, demanded to know why he was “smearing” her. “Now I look at her and think: ‘Man, you’re slick,’ ” he said.
Ms. Palin won the primary, and in the general election she faced Tony Knowles, the former two-term Democratic governor, and Andrew Halcro, an independent.
Not deeply versed in policy, Ms. Palin skipped some candidate forums; at others, she flipped through hand-written, color-coded index cards strategically placed behind her nameplate.
Before one forum, Mr. Halcro said he saw aides shovel reports at Ms. Palin as she crammed. Her showman’s instincts rarely failed. She put the pile of reports on the lectern. Asked what she would do about health care policy, she patted the stack and said she would find an answer in the pile of solutions.
“She was fresh, and she was tomorrow,” said Michael Carey, a former editorial page editor for The Anchorage Daily News. “She just floated along like Mary Poppins.”
Half a century after Alaska became a state, Ms. Palin was inaugurated as governor in Fairbanks and took up the reformer’s sword.
As she assembled her cabinet and made other state appointments, those with insider credentials were now on the outs. But a new pattern became clear. She surrounded herself with people she has known since grade school and members of her church.
Mr. Parnell, the lieutenant governor, praised Ms. Palin’s appointments. “The people she hires are competent, qualified, top-notch people,” he said.
Ms. Palin chose Talis Colberg, a borough assemblyman from the Matanuska valley, as her attorney general, provoking a bewildered question from the legal community: “Who?” Mr. Colberg, who did not return calls, moved from a one-room building in the valley to one of the most powerful offices in the state, supervising some 500 people.
“I called him and asked, ‘Do you know how to supervise people?’ ” said a family friend, Kathy Wells. “He said, ‘No, but I think I’ll get some help.’ ”
The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government. Ms. Palin appointed Mr. Bitney, her former junior high school band-mate, as her legislative director and chose another classmate, Joe Austerman, to manage the economic development office for $82,908 a year. Mr. Austerman had established an Alaska franchise for Mailboxes Etc.
To her supporters — and with an 80 percent approval rating, she has plenty — Ms. Palin has lifted Alaska out of a mire of corruption. She gained the passage of a bill that tightens the rules covering lobbyists. And she rewrote the tax code to capture a greater share of oil and gas sale proceeds.
“Does anybody doubt that she’s a tough negotiator?” said State Representative Carl Gatto, Republican of Palmer.
Yet recent controversy has marred Ms. Palin’s reform credentials. In addition to the trooper investigation, lawmakers in April accused her of improperly culling thousands of e-mail addresses from a state database for a mass mailing to rally support for a policy initiative.
While Ms. Palin took office promising a more open government, her administration has battled to keep information secret. Her inner circle discussed the benefit of using private e-mail addresses. An assistant told her it appeared that such e-mail messages sent to a private address on a “personal device” like a BlackBerry “would be confidential and not subject to subpoena.”
Ms. Palin and aides use their private e-mail addresses for state business. A campaign spokesman said the governor copied e-mail messages to her state account “when there was significant state business.”
On Feb. 7, Frank Bailey, a high-level aide, wrote to Ms. Palin’s state e-mail address to discuss appointments. Another aide fired back: “Frank, this is not the governor’s personal account.”
Mr. Bailey responded: “Whoops~!”
Mr. Bailey, a former midlevel manager at Alaska Airlines who worked on Ms. Palin’s campaign, has been placed on paid leave; he has emerged as a central figure in the trooper investigation.
Another confidante of Ms. Palin’s is Ms. Frye, 27. She worked as a receptionist for State Senator Lyda Green before she joined Ms. Palin’s campaign for governor. Now Ms. Frye earns $68,664 as a special assistant to the governor. Her frequent interactions with Ms. Palin’s children have prompted some lawmakers to refer to her as “the babysitter,” a title that Ms. Frye disavows.
Like Mr. Bailey, she is an effusive cheerleader for her boss.
“YOU ARE SO AWESOME!” Ms. Frye typed in an e-mail message to Ms. Palin in March.
Many lawmakers contend that Ms. Palin is overly reliant on a small inner circle that leaves her isolated. Democrats and Republicans alike describe her as often missing in action. Since taking office in 2007, Ms. Palin has spent 312 nights at her Wasilla home, some 600 miles to the north of the governor’s mansion in Juneau, records show.
During the last legislative session, some lawmakers became so frustrated with her absences that they took to wearing “Where’s Sarah?” pins.
Many politicians say they typically learn of her initiatives — and vetoes — from news releases.
Mayors across the state, from the larger cities to tiny municipalities along the southeastern fiords, are even more frustrated. Often, their letters go unanswered and their pleas ignored, records and interviews show.
Last summer, Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage, a Democrat, pressed Ms. Palin to meet with him because the state had failed to deliver money needed to operate city traffic lights. At one point, records show, state officials told him to just turn off a dozen of them. Ms. Palin agreed to meet with Mr. Begich when he threatened to go public with his anger, according to city officials.
At an Alaska Municipal League gathering in Juneau in January, mayors across the political spectrum swapped stories of the governor’s remoteness. How many of you, someone asked, have tried to meet with her? Every hand went up, recalled Mayor Fred Shields of Haines Borough. And how many met with her? Just a few hands rose. Ms. Palin soon walked in, delivered a few remarks and left for an anti-abortion rally.
The administration’s e-mail correspondence reveals a siege-like atmosphere. Top aides keep score, demean enemies and gloat over successes. Even some who helped engineer her rise have felt her wrath.
Dan Fagan, a prominent conservative radio host and longtime friend of Ms. Palin, urged his listeners to vote for her in 2006. But when he took her to task for raising taxes on oil companies, he said, he found himself branded a “hater.”
It is part of a pattern, Mr. Fagan said, in which Ms. Palin characterizes critics as “bad people who are anti-Alaska.”
As Ms. Palin’s star ascends, the McCain campaign, as often happens in national races, is controlling the words of those who know her well. Her mother-in-law, Faye Palin, has been asked not to speak to reporters, and aides sit in on interviews with old friends.
At a recent lunch gathering, an official with the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce asked its members to refer all calls from reporters to the governor’s office. Dianne Woodruff, a city councilwoman, shook her head.
“I was thinking, I don’t remember giving up my First Amendment rights,” Ms. Woodruff said. “Just because you’re not going gaga over Sarah doesn’t mean you can’t speak your mind.”
September 18, 2008
Source: Info Wars
As the slime of the John McCain-Sarah Palin campaign engulfs the world like a tidal wave of sewage, the calculating political manipulators behind the Republican ticket, and their end game, have received scant attention. If recent polls are to be believed, the election (if it is not already stolen) may already be over.
The Turd Blossom’s son
The McCain-Palin dirty tricks campaign is the work of Republican operative Steve Schmidt.
Schmidt is a protégé of Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove. He has elevated several of the most toxic individuals on earth to positions of global power. He is also a counselor to Dick Cheney. It was Schmidt who successfully spearheaded the lobbying efforts behind the confirmations of Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. And it was Schmidt’s manipulation of image, celebrity and popular disgust that installed actor and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger as the do-nothing governor of California.
The Rove filth playbook — media manipulations, intimidation, lurid character attack techniques, corruption, falsification and lying, cynical appeals to the most foul aspects of the American psyche — is something that Schmidt has clearly mastered, and it is being enthusiastically applied to McCain-Palin as part of a long-term extremist agenda.
As described in Paul Alexander’s Machiavelli’s Shadow: “The Rove scorched earth approach to political campaigns is a reflection of a willingness to perform whatever ruthless, unethical acts necessary to transform America into a fascist regime.
“Once he [George W. Bush] reached the White House, as part of his effort to achieve a permanent Republican majority, he would put into place a plan that included a corruption of the state and federal governing systems that bordered on the diabolical, a scheme that went so far to create a sort of government within a government to carry out its actions. But in order to achieve what he wanted he had to win elections, and to win elections, in true Machiavellian style, he would do or say whatever he had to, no matter who got damaged in the process, no matter how badly.”
Alexander quotes longtime Texas Republican strategist Mark Sanders: “[Rove] immediately started putting together a plan for what was essentially the Third Reich of the Republican majority in this country. That was absolutely his plan, a Republican majority domination not just of the US House, the US Senate and the presidency, but also state legislatures across the country. This was not just a pie-in-the-sky dream that Karl had. He wanted to see the Republican Party rule for the next 30 to 40 years.”
Rove’s choreography of George W. Bush’s political career proved that it was possible to elevate a mentally ill and willfully stupid criminal to world power, and, along the way, harness the ignorance of the American masses with a completely manufactured image, appeals to fear, appeals to right-wing evangelical fanatics (via cultural and moral “wedge issues”), and other rude distractions from reality, and from the issues.
To the Rove formula, Schmidt adds insidious new elements that tap even further into the lowest aspects of the modern American mass psyche: the “politics of personality.” The stuff of Hollywood tabloids and gossip rags, and lowbrow reality television programs.
Schmidt secured the governorship of California for Schwarzenegger by projecting the unqualified actor’s Hollywood action hero persona, along with a manufactured aura of being a maverick outsider fighting against an establishment.
McCain-Palin is an Arnold Schwarzenegger sequel, with extreme violence, and a murderous female assassin, as its star.
Sarah Palin: irritant
Far from being the desperate, hasty, unvetted “hail Mary” on the part of John McCain, the selection of Sarah Palin, “Caribou Barbie,” the self-described “pit bull in lipstick” is a diabolical master play on the part of Schmidt and the right wing.
The Palin element has revitalized a dead McCain campaign, while creating anxiety and confusion across Obama-Biden and the Democratic Party. By design, Palin, not McCain, is essentially the head of the ticket, its star, its attack poodle.
She is crass and vindictive, psychotic, willfully stupid, criminal, crass, zealously loyal to more powerful masters, a world-class narcissist, an egomaniac, and a vengeful hatemonger — a female George W. Bush and a perfect Republican tool.
The vast wasteland of her mind, combined with a mean, sadistic and crazed fanaticism (see The Palin theocracy and Sarah Palin’s Ties to the Christian Right) appeals to the right-wing base. But her appeal goes beyond that.
No one better represents, and appeals to, the demise of mainstream American society than Palin. Nobody better embodies the ignorance, stupidity, self-importance, and brash emptiness that appeals to the widest swath of today’s American wasteland.
Palin’s mental illness and crass stupidity were clearly exposed in her ABC interview with Charles Gibson. Palin recited, in robotic fashion, the propaganda talking points she was told to repeat ad nauseum (by Schmidt). Asked by Gibson if nuclear war with Russia was a possibility with a McCain-Palin administration, she happily replied “Perhaps so!”
A nuclear holocaust and all-out world war. Just like that.
She is clearly unqualified, and deeply and openly corrupt. Her activities in Alaska are brimming with scandal, abuses of power, and vicious vendettas. She is a secessionist and a wild-eyed Creationist, who three times asked city librarian Mary Ellen Emmons if she was okay with censoring books, even sending her a letter (later rescinded) that she was going to be fired.
None of this matters, by Steve Schmidt’s calculations. He knows that the America the McCain-Palin machine needs to wrap up doesn’t read, doesn’t know about the world, and doesn’t care about her qualifications; only her “maverick,” “pit bull” image — and her measurements. (There is no question that sex appeal is a factor.) The qualifications of George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t matter, either.
Sarah Palin is someone out of a bad reality television program, a living lampoon. And she’s “hot” — she will get the vote of untold numbers of men, who do not give a damn on this basis alone.
Palin is honey to all of them: the “Wal-Mart” drones, the right-wing Christian Dominionist fringe, the gun-toting white trash survivalists, the militant Hillary Clinton “PUMAs,” the right-wing thugs.
The Chinese war strategist Sun Tzu, another favorite of Rove (and therefore Schmidt), delighted in the use of irritants to confuse, harass and sow disorder among adversaries.
Palin is an irritant, brought in to pester, aggravate, annoy, the victims of her crass, shrill attacks.
Palin’s gender has been used as both a weapon of mass destruction, and as a defensive shield. She can attack Obama and the Democrats, but she has been protected from any sort of counterattack, thanks to the deer-in-headlights mentality of her opponents, as well as a free pass from the media. It doesn’t matter, in the Schmidt-Rove calculation, that Palin is an insult to women, and also an insult to women who identify with Hillary Clinton. All that matters is it’s working.
Palin is not only being used as a distraction. There is “strategery” involved. She has turned an easy and orderly Obama conclusion into a race against the clock. As an unknown, a complete mystery when her out-of-left field selection was announced, the Democrats have been racing against the political clock to gather enough information to even come up with a counter-strategy. So far, there is no evidence of one.
It is not clear at this point if the more mature neocon manipulators behind the larger John McCain machine (Henry Kissinger, William Kristol, Iran-Contra figure Robert McFarlane, Brent Scowcroft, George Shultz, etc.) approve of Palin, or the prospect of having to stage-manage another George W. Bush, should McCain secure the White House and die or become incapacitated before his term ends. But Palin in any office, on any level, is nightmarish.
If there is a rational plan behind the Palin selection, it is the one put forth by Mike Ruppert, author of Crossing the Rubicon. It involves the central question, oil: “The selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be John McCain’s running mate is terrifying. It would be good news if McCain were just out of his mind or desperate. Remember Dan Quayle? Quayle was also a lightweight. But in Quayle’s case there was little to suggest what his influence in Indiana could do for the Bush I administration.
“In Palin’s case what she can do for a McCain administration is all too obvious. She can help turn Alaska into one giant oil field quickly and without any concern for the environment. She can redefine the term ‘fast track.’ She knows the state and can wheel and deal in the places that will most quickly open up protected areas for drilling. Damn the torpedoes … That realization was instantaneous for me. Then came the second epiphany. McCain is acting as if the election is irrelevant and it just may be. The Republicans did steal the last two didn’t they?
“Is this one already so far in the bag that McCain doesn’t care what she does to his national ticket?”
Sarah Palin will be the next president of the United States. If not in the next few years, then at the next opportunity. The world will have Steve Schmidt’s manipulations to thank for it.
The McCain “war hero” lie
John McCain’s tepid presidential effort was falling apart under the management of the (equally unsavory) strategist Charles Black, and appeared doomed in the wake of the Democrat’s euphoric convention.
In recent weeks, going into the successful Republican convention, Schmidt and Co. has united the fractured Republicans (with Palin), while orchestrating a massive Roveian tidal wave of the most transparently outrageous swift boating gutter attacks against Obama and fear-mongering, and sharpening, simplifying, and dumbing down the McCain image to its most basic:
McCain=War Hero and prisoner of war. McCain=Maverick.
Other pithy campaign themes include “Drill, baby, drill,” and regurgitated “war on terror/9-11” slogans.
Both of McCain’s false character labels have served as one-word talking points on the campaign trail, to be repeated endlessly like a blunt instrument on the collective skull of the American population. It is also being used as protective shield, with McCain crying, “You can’t attack me because I was a POW” to all forms of criticism and inquiry.
Schmidt’s stage and media management has successfully silenced discussions about the darkness of McCain: his temperament (irrationality, penchant for rage, bizarre outbursts, etc.), his corruption, and his criminal connections.
Douglas Valentine, a foremost authority on war history, and the author of The Phoenix Program, wrote the most incisive and thorough analysis of John McCain in the following piece:
John McCain: War Hero or North Vietnam’s Go-To Collaborator?
In this thoughtful and on-target expose, Valentine demolishes the “war hero” myth, while exposing the McCain psychology.
Valentine points out the following:
1. McCain is the scion of a family of military elites. His career has been one of privilege.
2. McCain is no war hero, he is a war criminal, who bombed “gooks” on some 22 Navy bombing missions, boasting about himself, and the killing, without remorse, according to a psychologist who interviewed McCain in 1970.
3. McCain was likely a willing collaborator, who quickly and routinely (over three years) offered up specific classified information to his captors. This specific information resulted in key military defeats for the US, and untold American deaths. Two of McCain’s fellow POWs, Ted Guy and Gordon “Swede” Larson have long expressed doubts that McCain was tortured.
4. McCain was a “professional psywar stooge,” who collaborated in psychological warfare offensives aimed at American servicemen.
5. McCain has persistently lied about his experience, to political advantage across his subsequent civilian career. Meanwhile, his detractors, including fellow POWs who knew him, and other Vietnam veterans critical of his posturing, have been ignored, but not discredited. If there is a man who deserves to be legitimately “swift-boated,” it is McCain.
According to Valentine, “This is the lesson of McCain’s experience as a POW: a true politician, a hollow man, his only allegiance is to power. The Vietnamese, like McCain’s campaign contributors today, protected and promoted him and in return, he danced to their tune.”
Valentine credits strategist Mark Salter for creating the original McCain myth, “casting him as a modern Teddy Roosevelt, ‘the war hero turned domestic reformer.’ In large, the Salter strategy has worked. The American media accepts McCain’s war hero myth as gospel and, in so doing, bolsters the ‘straight talk’ image so essential in politics.” Further, Valentine notes, “it’s not the collaboration that makes John McCain unfit for office; it’s the fact that he has managed to rewrite his collaboration into political capital. ‘He’s a war hero, respect him, or die.’ . . . In his current presidential campaign, he’s cozying up to the hate-mongering Christian right he once criticized. He’s reversed positions on so many issues that his Democratic rivals have assembled his contrasting statements into ‘The Great McCain Versus McCain Debates’ . . . This essential dishonesty, this lie of the soul, is a sign of a larger lack of character . . .
“McCain is not some principled leader, not a maverick cowboy fighting the powerful. He’s a sycophant. He believes in nothing but power and will do anything to attain it. He explodes in anger when challenged because, when a criticism hits too close to home, it goes straight to his deep-seated shame.”
McCain’s political career is full of skeletons, and continuous corruption. Among them, McCain was a member of the infamous Keating Five, a member of Congress who received bribes for covering up the savings and loan scandal, and blocking investigations. The S&L Scandal, a CIA/Mafia operation connected to the Bush faction, looted $2 billion in taxpayer money. McCain was also an Iran-Contra liar, one of Oliver North’s most passionate defenders. An airplaine used by McCain and his lobbyist was used to fly the Saudi royal family out of the US, after 9/11.
There is strong evidence that the conflict in Georgia and South Ossetia was set up by provocateurs, lobbyists working for McCain, sent in by McCain, and the Bush-Cheney administration. Routed Georgian forces were caught crying for McCain’s help.
Steve Schmidt and the rest of the McCain apparatus will make sure that none of this factual history becomes campaign fodder.
Deer in the headlights
Flushed with euphoria from their successful Denver convention, Obama-Biden and the Democrats were promptly kicked repeatedly in the private parts by the McCain-Palin-Schmidt machine and the corporate media that the right wing almost fully controls.
While the swift boating has gone largely unanswered, Obama-Biden have refused to respond to the attacks, while also refusing to criticize the “great American war hero McCain and his great service,” and refusing to go after Palin.
At the same time, Steve Schmidt has stolen, literally ripped, the Obama “change” theme from under Obama-Biden’s feet. Nobody except Obama’s people care that they stole it.
Everything important about McCain and Palin are off the table, just as the impeachment of Bush-Cheney has been kept off the table by the spineless Dem leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid. Joe Biden, presumed to be the feisty fighter on the Obama ticket, has been silent and invisible. He has already promised to be nice to Palin.
At a recent appearance, Obama tried to laugh off the swift boating, saying to the audience, “they must really think you’re that stupid.” What Obama doesn’t seem to grasp is what Schmidt/Rove does: the election will be decided by the genuinely stupid. The people who have no interest in polite, long-winded, rational discussions of nuanced policy.
The playbook that successfully stole the 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections has not changed. (The 2006 contest was ceded to the Democrats; Bush-Cheney bet that the Dems would not successfully challenge them on any major issue, and have won that bet.) Schmidt understands that the Democratic faction still hasn’t learned to win either the rhetorical fight, or prevent the entire charade from being stolen electronically (Republican companies still control elections), and through intimidation, theft of voting rolls, and purges.
Also, in what appears to be another calculated Republican trick, just in time for the election, the Bush-Cheney administration has stolen Obama’s thunder by redeploying forces from Iraq to Afghanistan (as suggested for months by Obama), ramping up the “war on terrorism” in Pakistan (as suggested by Obama). Obama who has now proclaimed that Bush’s Iraq “surge” was “successful beyond his wildest dreams.”
Does Obama-Biden have anything left to talk about, with just two months left?
Past the brink of madness
Should the right-wing successfully secure White House power for the mentally ill, warmongering John McCain, and the demented, willfully stupid, fanatical Sarah Palin, humanity will face a horror even worse than Bush-Cheney.
For all of its brutality and vileness, Bush-Cheney was, at its core, a criminal apparatus charged with a campaign of pillage that it carried out like a team of mafia assassins.
By contrast, McCain and Palin are two irrational individuals with deranged, pathological psyches, backed by a massive and rapidly growing fanatical theocracy with visions of murderous world destruction.
It is not clear at this time if the more seasoned, rational elites have control of this machine, or if a fanatical Rove/Schmidt theocratic faction within the neocon faction is truly on the verge of an unprecendented coup.
It is even less clear if its counterweight, the establishment neoliberal faction behind Obama, with its more obvious Wall Street backing, will even get a sniff at the White House, or survive another stolen election. The battle between the two corporate war factions will pave the way towards a certain horror.
With the world facing an energy crisis, world war over resources, an economic system on the verge of collapse, and other unprecedented catastrophes, is the American empire about to be handed over to typical fist-in-velvet glove neoliberals, or even more openly fascist regime in the eleventh hour, to complete the war and homeland militarization started with Bush-Cheney?