September 13, 2008
Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s abuse of power scandal in Alaska is centering on her husband, Todd Palin, who it turns out, wields considerable behind-the-scenes power in the state government, even though he has no official job. He’s also the latest to be subpoenaed in the investigation into Sarah Palin’s firing of the state public safety director.
Meanwhile political maneuvering is underway in the state capital to delay the probe until after the Nov. 4 election. Republican state legislators were stymied, however, after GOP state Sen. Charlie Huggins, who represents Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, sided with Democrats. “Let’s just get the facts on the table,” said Huggins, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
Sarah Palin is under investigation for allegedly abusing her power by firing public safety director Walt Monegan, after he refused to fire Mike Wooten, a state trooper who went through a nasty divorce and custody battle with the governor’s sister. Palin claims Monegan was let go because of a budget dispute.
Stephen Branchflower, who is investigating the case, obtained the subpoena for Todd Palin from the state Senate Judiciary Committee. Branchflower also wants to interview the governor but chose to exclude her from the 13-person list of subpoena targets. He called Todd Palin “a central figure” in the scandal.
Palin was portrayed at the Republican National Convention as an affable oil-rig worker and championship snowmachine racer. But news broke this week that he is also a powerful shadow figure in his wife’s administration. Despite holding no government position, he attends official meetings and is copied on e-mails concerning state business, according to the Anchorage newspaper.
The McCain campaign released a statement from Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, blaming Democrats. “I’m disappointed by the complete hijacking of what should be a fair and objective process,” the Republican said, calling the investigation a “smear.”
September 13, 2008
WASILLA, Alaska — Gov. Sarah Palin said Friday that she thinks Sen. Barack Obama probably regrets not picking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate.
“I think he’s regretting not picking her now, I do,” Palin told ABC News anchor Charles Gibson in the third of a series of interviews he conducted with her this week. “What, what determination and grit and even grace through some tough shots that were fired her way — she handled those well.”
Palin began her efforts as Sen. John McCain’s running mate more than two weeks ago by praising Clinton but quickly dropped the line from her stump speech after it received boos from Republican audiences. Before joining the ticket, Palin had been critical of Clinton for complaining — “whining,” in Palin’s words — about sexism during the primaries. “When I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism, or maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, ‘Man, that doesn’t do us any good, women in politics, or women in general, trying to progress in this country,’ ” she said earlier this year.
The McCain campaign is nonetheless trying to use Palin’s selection to lure women voters, especially independents and Democrats who backed Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
Clinton has said little publicly about Palin. Although the senator from New York is stepping up her campaigning for Obama — she has stops in Ohio on his behalf scheduled for this Sunday — Clinton would like to avoid directly engaging the Republican vice presidential nominee, her advisers have said.
But at least one Obama ally took Palin to task for her comments.
“Sarah Palin should spare us the phony sentiment and respect,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said. “John McCain and Sarah Palin represent no meaningful change, just the same failed policies and same divisive, demeaning politics that has devastated the middle class.”
In the same ABC interview, Palin also denied seeking earmarks for Alaska, both as mayor and as governor. She appeared defensive when asked about specific earmarks that were obtained on her watch, such as $3.2 million for researching the genetics of harbor seals — the kind of spending on pet projects that McCain has promised to eliminate. “Those requests, through our research divisions and fish and game and our wildlife departments and our universities, those research requests did come through that system, but wanting it to be in the light of day, not behind closed doors, with lobbyists making deals with Congress to stick things in there under the public radar,” Palin said. “That’s the abuse that we’re going to stop.
September 13, 2008
In a televised interview Friday, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin defended her request for an estimated $200 million in federal projects from Congress – even as earlier in the day her GOP running mate John McCain insisted Palin had never sought money from Congress.
In a second ABC interview with Charlie Gibson, the GOP vice presidential candidate acknowledged that she has supported millions of dollars in congressional money – including the famed “Bridge to Nowhere” – to allow Alaska “to plug into … along with every other state, a share of the federal budget in infrastructure.”
But she said she and McCain would seek to reform that system.
She also told Gibson that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama probably regrets not naming Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to be his running mate – and dismissed as an “old wives’ tale” reports that she had tried to ban books in public libraries.
McCain, for his part, faced an even tougher grilling on the usually friendly daytime show “The View,” where hosts including Barbara Walters, Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg jabbed him on issues like abortion, his “maverick” record, separation of church and state, and his campaign attack ads.
Asked by Walters about Palin’s statements that she would reform Washington, McCain insisted that she would “reform all of Washington, just like she did … in Alaska. Earmark spending, which she vetoed half a billion dollars worth,” said McCain.
When reminded by Walters that Palin took earmarks in Alaska, McCain said, “Not as governor she didn’t.”
“She took government out of the hands of the special interests,” he said.
Independent analysts and the Web site of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, have both noted that under Palin’s leadership as governor, Alaska has requested 31 earmarks worth nearly $200 million – an amount that taxpayer groups say places Alaska as the per capita leader on such fundraising.
McCain appeared a little riled when Behar aggressively challenged him on his latest campaign ads – one accusing Obama of supporting sex education for kindergartners and another suggesting sexism in the use of the phrase “putting lipstick on a pig.”
“Those ads aren’t true. They’re lies,” said Behar, as Walters noted that McCain himself used the lipstick phrase to describe Clinton’s health care proposal.
“They’re not lies,” McCain said, adding that Obama “chooses his words very carefully … this is a tough campaign. And he shouldn’t have said it.”
The focus on the interviews by the two members of the Republican ticket comes as Obama and his campaign said it is turning a new page – and taking a tougher new tone – in confronting what it says have been lies and misrepresentations from the GOP candidates.
Obama’s campaign said the GOP team’s recent appearances show that the Arizona senator “would rather lose his integrity than lose a campaign.”
And it released two aggressive new ads – one based on a McCain interview in The Chronicle – in which it suggested that McCain is out of touch on issues like technology, and that his campaign is populated by Washington lobbyists.
But Democrats have been increasingly nervous since Palin fired up grassroots Republicans and shot energy into McCain’s campaign when she was named his vice presidential choice. New national polls show that McCain and Palin have erased leads by Obama and his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, especially among white voters. That prompted Obama to reassure Democrats on Friday that he would ramp up aggressive efforts to challenge the Republicans.
“You know, I’m not going to be making up lies about John McCain,” Obama told voters in Dover, N.H., but reprising an old saw, said that, “If you don’t stop lying about me, I’m going to have to start telling the truth about you.”
Meanwhile, Behar appeared to get under the GOP candidate’s skin when she suggested that McCain – who has shifted his positions on offshore oil drilling, making President Bush’s tax cuts permanent and caps on greenhouse gas emissions – has lost his maverick status and is now in lockstep with Bush’s policies.
“What specific area have I, quote, ‘changed?’ ” he said. “Nobody can name it.”
Palin, meanwhile, faced off with Gibson, who noted that the millions of dollars in Alaska earmark requests constitute 22 times the per capita amount of federal earmark dollars for Obama’s home state of Illinois – and included costly projects such as studies on the mating habits of crabs and harbor seals.
“We have dramatically, drastically reduced our earmark requests since I came into office,” said Palin. She said those requests came through “our research divisions” and universities, but they should be made “in the light of day, not behind closed doors,” she said.
September 10, 2008
Source: <a href=”http://gawker.com/5047754/palins-son-a-drug-addict-enquirer-claims”> Gawker</a>
The 2008 presidential election is turning out to be ready-made for the National Enquirer. As if John Edwards’ affair and possible love child weren’t fodder enough for the supermarket tabloid, along came Sarah Palin, at the center of enough wild rumors to make Bill Clinton blush. The Enquirer threw some new gossip into the mix today even as it implicitly admitted its prior scoop on the Republican vice presidential nominee might be total bullshit. The biggest claim: The Palin’s son Track, instant Army hero, was a hardcore OxyContin addict. The Enquirer may well end up squandering its newfound semi-credibility publishing and backtracking on wild rumors like this, but it will probably sell truckloads of extra newsstand copies in the process, particularly with stories depicting Track Palin shooting up like a heroin junkie:
The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively that Sarah’s oldest son, Track, was addicted to the power drug OxyContin for nearly the past two years, snorting it, eating it, smoking it and even injecting it…
“I’ve partied with him (Track) for years,” a source disclosed. “I’ve seen him snort cocaine, snort and smoke OxyContin, drink booze and smoke weed.”
The tabloid also ties Palin to “a notorious local vandalism incident,” which probably refers to the 2005 trashing of 44 school buses by some unnamed youths.
Also, Sarah Palin supposedly threw her pregnant teenaged daughter Bristol out of the house and transferred her to another school in an attempt to cover up her pregnancy.
But it’s hard to take all this too seriously when, in the same online story, the Enquirer refers to its prior allegation that Palin slept with her husband’s business partner as “claims:”
Meanwhile, as members of the Palin family’s war viciously over “Trooper-Gate” and claims of Sarah’s extramarital affair have turned the political race into a chaotic arena of threats, denials and vicious attacks by political black ops, The ENQUIRER has discovered shocking new details about the red-hot affair scandal!
There are enough rumors on Palin to keep an entire reporter — heck, an entire team of reporters — busy trying to nail them all down. Now that the Times has abandoned its stodgy discretion on the family lives of politicians, maybe that sort of fact-checking is actually happening.
September 10, 2008
LEBANON, Ohio – John McCain took a risk in picking little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate, but now the campaign’s playing it safer. She’s sticking to a greatest hits version of her convention speech on the campaign trail and steering clear of questions until she’s comfortable enough for a hand-picked interviewer later this week.
More than 40 million people tuned in last week to listen to the speech from Palin, the 44-year-old, first-term governor whom McCain announced as his surprise vice presidential pick just days before. Since then, that basic script is all anyone has heard from her publicly, and her only interaction with the media was a brief conversation with a small group of reporters on her plane Monday — off the record at her handlers’ insistence.
Associated Press reporters were not on the plane, but an aide told the journalists on board that all Palin flights would be off the record unless the media were told otherwise. At least one reporter objected. Two people on the flight said the Palins greeted the media and they chatted about who had been to Alaska, but little else was said.
By comparison, her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, has been campaigning on his own, at times taking questions from audiences. He split off to campaign separately from Barack Obama the day after Obama announced his selection. They reunited at their party’s convention and spent the following weekend campaigning together.
Biden’s appearances have touched on a range of issues — in Florida he talked about U.S. support for Israel, in Pennsylvania it was economics and tax policy. He was interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday
Amid growing sniping from Democrats, the McCain campaign announced that Palin would sit down for her first interview this week, with ABC. It will take place over two days at her home in Alaska.
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis has said Palin will “agree to an interview when we think it’s time and when she feels comfortable doing it.”
“She’s not scared to answer questions,” Davis said on “Fox News Sunday.”
So far, Palin has barely spoken with voters either. Since the convention, she and McCain have breezed through a Wisconsin ice cream shop, a New Mexico restaurant and a Missouri barbecue place, shaking hands with diners but not taking any questions. Photographers and television cameras have been allowed full view while reporters are typically kept too far away to ask questions or hear most of the conversations.
Her public remarks essentially have been excerpts of her convention speech, delivered while introducing McCain at rallies.
Her schedule released Tuesday shows she will attend a “welcome home” rally in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Wednesday evening — her first major campaign appearance without McCain at her side and his advisers hanging in the wings.
To be sure, all candidates running for office give the same remarks over and over — Barack Obama’s stump speech has hardly changed throughout the campaign, and McCain has been telling familiar stories and jokes for months.
But none of the candidates in this race has been so shielded from the media, so protected from any spontaneous situation, and Palin’s unvarying remarks give the impression that she and her message are being tightly controlled. As before her convention speech, McCain’s campaign is briefing Palin for her first TV interview.
After a rally Tuesday in Lancaster, Pa., a group of supporters waiting outside to shake hands with McCain and Palin screamed for her to jump up on an outdoor platform, as McCain had just done, and speak to them.
“Speech! Speech!” they cried. She continued down the line, shaking hands, and then hopped into an SUV.
In her prepared remarks, there are always descriptions of McCain as a “man who’s there to serve his country and not just his party.” He’s someone who’s “not looking for a fight but is not afraid of one either.” He “doesn’t run with the Washington herd.” He’s the only man in this election “who has ever really fought for you.”
And always the same details about herself, how she “stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies and the good ol’ boys network,” as a mayor and then governor in Alaska.
The people in their crowds, many of whom say they’ve heard these lines before, still go wild when she repeats that McCain put everything on the line last year when he said “he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war.”
She can be a little cutting, as well, when it comes to the Democrats.
“In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers,” she says. “And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.”
She delivers the line, like many of her veiled criticisms of Obama, in a disapproving tone that still manages to sound charming to her fans. It is part of what makes her so popular on the campaign trail.
In Lancaster they cheered when she reminded them, as she did in her convention speech, of Obama’s primary-season comment about how some small-town Americans are bitter and cling to guns or religion. She also claimed again that she said “thanks but no thanks” to Alaska’s so-called Bridge to Nowhere, even though her version of the story has been widely debunked.
She voiced support for the bridge during her gubernatorial campaign, and the project was only called off after it had become an embarrassment to the state.
Another crowd favorite in her speech is that story about how she got rid of luxuries in the state Capitol, like a personal driver, chef and luxury jet.
“I put it on eBay,” she says.
Audiences love this part, but what Palin never adds is that the jet didn’t sell on eBay despite numerous attempts. The state eventually hired an aircraft broker to unload it.
September 9, 2008
Source: Washington Post
WASHINGTON – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has charged her state a daily allowance, normally used for official travel, for more than 300 nights spent at her home, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
An analysis of travel statements filed by the governor, now John McCain’s Republican running mate, shows she claimed the per diem allowance on 312 occasions when she was home in Wasilla and that she billed taxpayers $43,490 for travel by her husband and children.
Per diem payments are meant for meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business. State officials told The Post her claims — nearly $17,000 over 19 months — were permitted because her “duty station” is Juneau, the capital, and she was in Wasilla 600 miles away. The governor moved to Juneau last year but often stays in Wasilla and works 45 miles away, in a state office in Anchorage.
Palin’s spending and record in office are coming under intense scrutiny as she is presented to the nation as a champion of ethics reform and frugal use of tax dollars — a leader who put the state jet on sale on eBay and drives herself to work.
The Post’s analysis shows her husband Todd and their daughters were reimbursed by taxpayers for many trips between Wasilla and Juneau as well as for a variety of other travel that was also listed as state business. Palin’s aides said travel by Alaska’s first family is part of the job.
But it’s not clear when children’s travel expenses should be covered. State finance director Kim Garnero told the paper the government covers the travel costs of anyone conducting state business and, “I can’t imagine kids could be doing that.”
Palin took her daughter Bristol to New York in October for a conference on women and leadership, a tour of the New York Stock Exchange and various meetings, the analysis shows. Travel costs included three nights in a hotel room costing more than $700 a night.
Overall, Palin’s travel spending pales in comparison with that of predecessor Frank Murkowski, who charged $463,000 for air fare in 2006. Palin charged $93,000 in 2007.
Palin spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said Tuesday that the governor is expected to travel frequently. “This is part of her job and it’s only reasonable her travel expenses — which were reduced dramatically from the previous administration — would be covered,” Schmitt said
September 9, 2008
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Biden said that he’s glad McCain “finally realized the idea that this election is about change,” but said that while the message is new, his plans for the country don’t back it up.
“John must have been the last guy in American politics to know this [election] is about change,” he said. “The only problem is that all John’s changing is the rhetoric. And all he’d change as president of the United States in my view is the name at the top of Bush’s policies. That’s the only change that you’re going to see, and all that would do is keep America shortchanged.”
The Delaware senator argued Republicans don’t understand the anxiety most Americans feel about the economy, and certainly have not explained how they’d ease it.
“I’ve never seen so many Americans get knocked down with so little help, so little recognition from their government, from this administration,” he said. “And apparently there’s not going to be a whole lot more recognition of their plight and concern on the part, based on what’s said so far, from the Republican ticket. Ladies and gentlemen, he and Sarah Palin have said nothing about how they’re going to bring about change.”
Biden’s primary attack line on the GOP ticket has been that they offer only glib attack lines and distortions of Obama’s plans, especially on taxes. Biden told several hundred here in Central Missouri that while the Democrats would give tax cuts to 95 percent of those who take home a paycheck, McCain would leave over 100 million families out of his tax plan, while giving $4 billion in incentives to oil companies.
Politifact debunked Biden’s claim that 100 million families would be left out — that it would be more accurate to say about 100 million people or about 65 million families.
“This isn’t change this is more of the same,” Biden said. “I can hardly wait until we get into the details of our respective tax policies.”
This event was the rare one at which Biden took questions that one of them was not about his counterpart on the Republican ticket, Gov. Sarah Palin. But he did refer to her when one woman asked about how he and Obama would help those with disabilities. In her convention speech, Palin said she’d be a voice for parents with children with special needs, noting her newborn son, Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome.
“I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have … the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability,” said Biden, who’s wife is a teacher. “Well guess what folks? If you care about it, why don’t you support stem cell research?”
Biden’s itinerary today takes him from the heart of Missouri to the Democratic stronghold of St. Louis. He told the audience that he felt good about the campaign, and said the Obama organization here would go a long way to turning the state blue.
September 9, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — More Americans would cast ballots for Republican Sarah Palin than for Democrat Joe Biden if they were able to vote for a vice president independent of their presidential choice, a US poll released Tuesday found.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll of 1,022 adults taken September 5-7 found that if voters were allowed to vote just for president in November, the result would be a statistical tie between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, at 49 and 48 percent respectively. The poll’s margin of error was three percent.
In a hypothetical separate vote just for vice president, Alaska Governor Palin beat Senator Biden, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, by 53 percent to 44 percent, the survey showed.
Obama scoffed at the Republican duo’s claims they are “original mavericks” who would stand up for hard-pressed voters on the MSNBC news channel on Monday.
“They are not telling the truth,” he said. “When you have somebody who was for a project being presented as being against it, then that stretches the bounds of spin into new areas.”
Obama was responding to Palin’s boast that she had intervened to kill a controversial federally-funded “bridge to nowhere,” a project she initially supported.
September 9, 2008
BOSTON – In the summer of 2002, a senior aide to President George W. Bush met with a writer whose work had annoyed him to deliver a lesson in how his administration saw its mandate.
“The aide said that guys like me … ‘believe that solutions emerge from … judicious study of discernible reality,'” Ron Suskind wrote, recalling the event two years later. “‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore…,’ [the aide] continued. ‘When we act, we create our own reality.'”
Even in the days before the Bush presidency and Karl Rove, widely believed to be the source of that quote, political campaigns of all stripes have strived to “create their own realities.”
But while reporters have ridiculed Democrat Michael Dukakis for riding in a tank and belittled Barack Obama for the Greek columns at his nomination speech, Republicans have succeeded in turning the manipulation of myth into an art form.
That’s been evident this week as Rove protégé and Sen. John McCain’s adviser Steve Schmidt has steadied the ship of Sarah Palin’s rollout. First, he bullied the news media into submission. Then the campaign pushed an unrelenting portrayal of her as a maverick.
As reporters disclosed that Ms. Palin sought earmarks for her hometown before she opposed them and supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it, the campaign’s message only got more persistent and better packaged. On Monday, it released a new ad titled “Original Mavericks.”
And while the McCain campaign hammered the media for invading Palin’s privacy, it has used every opportunity to idealize her family, even flying in the boyfriend of her pregnant 17-year-old daughter Bristol and parading both on stage behind the governor after she accepted the Republican nomination for vice president. Reality television seemed to trump reality itself as the nomination took on the look of a new daytime soap. Meanwhile, the news media – pushed back by the McCain campaign, then fed this feel-good story line – converted Palin from untested and unvetted to “hockey mom,” a “pit bull with lipstick” ready to bite Obama.
The turnaround has been breathtaking.
Just over a week ago reporters disclosed that Palin is being investigated for allegedly trying to intimidate state officials into firing her estranged state trooper brother-in-law. Commentators raised sharp questions about her inexperience and poor vetting. Airwaves filled with idle – and sexist – speculation over whether a mother of five could handle the vice presidency.
But by Friday, an MSNBC commentator offered the breathy pronouncement that the McCain-Palin ticket “will be ahead in the polls by the end of the week.” And on Sunday a long profile in The Washington Post pivoted on this sentence: “Of the many striking images of Palin – sportswoman, beauty queen, populist – in Alaska the most iconic is working mother, a perfectly coifed professional woman balancing public duties and child-rearing in a charismatic blur of multitasking.”
Meanwhile, reports of Palin’s hard-right credentials (anti-abortion, pro-gun, possibly pro-creationism, and pro-abstinence education) receded rapidly as did news, covered in a blur, that she had attended five colleges over six years before graduating.
The see-saw story of Sarah Palin should give the press pause. Feeding frenzies followed by fawning serve only to confuse. If the public is to make sound decisions, to sort what’s real from what’s manufactured, the media must do their job with greater consistency and greater care.
1. The media should redouble efforts to unearth facts and spend far less time on speculation and titillation. McCain, Palin, Obama, and Joe Biden all have records. It’s the media’s job to expose contradictions in them – and to keep doing so even when campaigns push back. It is not the media’s job to speculate who will be leading next week or whether a candidate can parent and govern simultaneously.
2. The media need to reexamine the meaning of journalistic objectivity. It is not to give equal weight and space to each side of an issue. It is to report fully and fairly, to determine where the facts fall, and to write what’s verifiably true – giving a say, but not equal space, to those who contest the facts without evidence.
Palin, for example, does not believe climate change has a human cause. The scientific consensus says otherwise. Should her views carry equal weight as the campaign grinds on? My journalism professors would have said “no.”
3. The media should regularly explain what reporters do and why. In an era in which reporters are about as popular as $4-a-gallon gasoline, this is imperative. This spring I gave a workshop to some 50 university public information employees. I faced a long silence before anyone could tell me what the First Amendment protects.
Until the news media turn both tougher and fairer, provides contextual truth and not just balance, political operatives will hold the upper hand. And the public will move through election cycles like motorists peering into a thick fog.
“You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time,” Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said.
Only a vigilant media can keep Machiavellian calculations of contemporary campaigns from fooling enough people enough of the time to make such deceit the deciding factor in our elections.