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Um, was that an endorsement?

Not quite, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger definitely spoke kindly today of Attorney General Jerry Brown‘s qualifications for, and chances of, succeeding him as governor in 2010.

Schwarzenegger took questions for half an hour from Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel (and did some Teutonic bonding, noting stengel is German for “stick” — my dictionary says it’s actually “stalk” or stem”) before an audience of several hundred during the American Magazine Conference at San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis Hotel.

Stengel toward the end asked Schwarzenegger who he thinks will get the 2010 Democratic guberntorial nomination. He said U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein probably would if she enters the race, but he doubts she’ll do so if Barack Obama wins the White House next month; she’d be more likely to leave behind the Senate senority she has built up — including the Rules and Administration Committee‘s chair — if Congress must work with a McCain Administration.

If DiFi’s not in the race, “Jerry Brown has the best shot at becoming governor,” Schwarzenegger said, noting his extensive experience including two terms as governor, two as Oakland’s mayor and his current stint as California’s top cop. Don’t count out Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner on the Republican side, he added — he’s accomplished and ambitious as well — but Brown has a proven ability to reach across party lines. “I think he is the best choice,” it sounded like Schwarzenegger said in closing.

Gotta wonder how Poizner feels about that.

((UPDATE @ 4:15 P.M.: I guess I misheard it. Schwarzenegger press secretary Aaron McLear just sent me a transcript, and here’s the exchange, verbatim:

STENGEL: Who will be the Democratic nominee for governor of California when your term is up?

GOVERNOR: You know, I think the best potential — it depends if Dianne Feinstein comes into the race or not. I think that depends also on who will win the presidency, because if McCain wins the presidency I think that she most likely will leave Washington and will come and run for governor. I think that if Obama wins the presidency she will want to be part of that move and want to stay because of that change, want to stay in Washington, and then Jerry Brown, I think, has the best shot of becoming governor of the great state. And there is Steve Poizner who has also a good shot, who is a Republican and is making his way up right now.

But I think Jerry Brown, because he has been governor twice before in California and he has worked his way back up again from being mayor of Oakland to becoming the Attorney General right now. And he kind of can reach the Republicans and Democrats and bring people together, so I think he has the best shot.))

More from Schwarzenegger’s Q&A, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barack Obama, Elections, General, Jerry Brown, John Kerry, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Steve Poizner | No Comments »

Thoughts on the Biden-Palin debate

Now that I’ve had a couple of days to ruminate on last Thursday’s debate, a couple of thoughts:

(1.) Gov. Sarah Palin said, “And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.” To me, readers, it takes a lot of damned gall to show up for a nationally televised debate and then say up front that she intends to ignore the moderator’s questions if she doesn’t feel like answering them. For the record, the question she was flatly refusing to answer that particular moment was about John McCain’s long history of advocating the kind of Wall Street deregulation that has now brought us to the brink of national disaster.

(2.) Palin, asked about the role of the vice president, said, “No, no. Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that’s not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I’m thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president’s policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are.” … Say what?

(3.) Palin remarked, “Oh, yeah, it’s so obvious I’m a Washington outsider. And someone just not used to the way you guys operate… You’re one who says, as so many politicians do, I was for it before I was against it or vice-versa.” Um, just like you were for the “bridge to nowhere” and only turned against it once Congress had killed its funding, o Washington outsider… or shall I say, unfrozen caveman lawyer?

(4.) Palin, in closing, said “I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they’ve just heard. I’d rather be able to just speak to the American people like we just did.” In her case, apparently, this means “without any accountability if I don’t answer the question.”

I certainly hope everyone in America was listening very carefully.

Posted on Sunday, October 5th, 2008
Under: Elections, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin | No Comments »

Liveblogging the Biden-Palin debate

I’m here in the upper theater of the Parkway Speakeasy Theater on Oakland’s Park Boulevard, where the line to get in still snakes around the corner; hundreds were here by 4:45 p.m., waiting to get in, and the line has continued to lengthen. Pitchers of beer are proliferating, so I’m anticipating a lively evening of audience participation… stay tuned and read it all, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, October 2nd, 2008
Under: Elections, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin | 6 Comments »

Don’t miss tonight’s vice presidential debate!

And because these things are more enjoyable when viewed with others, consider coming out to one of the watch parties.

The San Francisco Young Republicans will be at Jones bar and restaurant, 2400 Lombard St. in San Francisco; they expect it’ll be the biggest GOP gathering in the city.

There’ll be a Democratic gathering at Everett & Jones BBQ, at 126 Broadway in Oakland.

Look here for other Democratic watch parties, and here for other Republican watch parties.

And yours truly will be liveblogging the debate from the nonpartisan gathering at the Parkway Speakeasy Theater, at 1834 Park Blvd. in Oakland, where the event will be shown on both screens; admission is free for those 18 and over. The Parkway’s sister Cerrito Speakeasy, at 10070 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito, will have it, too.

The debate starts at 6 p.m. Pacific time, but wherever you’re going, get there early as there are sure to be crowds.

Posted on Thursday, October 2nd, 2008
Under: Elections, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin | No Comments »

Right-wing columnists target McCain/Palin

I know John McCain and Sarah Palin have been campaigning as much against the media as against Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but the past two weeks have heard even some very conservative media voices sounding against the GOP ticket.

First it was the New York Times’ David Brooks, last Tuesday, Sept. 16:

Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.

The next day, it was the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen:

What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord. He expressed his message in words, but he packaged it in the McCain story — that man, beaten to a pulp, who chose honor over freedom. This had nothing to do with access. It had to do with integrity.

McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir — the person in whose hands he would leave the country — is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.

The Washington Post’s George F. Will weighed in this past Tuesday:

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

And today it’s the National Review’s Kathleen Parker:

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

[snip]

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

Posted on Friday, September 26th, 2008
Under: Elections, General, John McCain, Media, Sarah Palin | No Comments »

Who’s really politicizing Palin’s ‘Troopergate?’

There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so let’s be clear: Alaksa Gov. Sarah Palin was for cooperating with a bipartisan-backed, independently conducted investigation of her possible abuse of power before she was against it, and all that really happened in between was her Republican vice-presidential nomination.

Palin denies that she fired former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan because he refused to fire a state trooper who was her ex-brother-in-law, involved in a nasty child-custody battle with her sister; although her husband and her staff spoke with Monegan and his staff about the trooper repeatedly, she says Monegan was fired because of insubordination on budget issues and other policy differences.

Alaksa’s Legislative Council, a bipartisan panel of state representatives and senators who tend to legislative business when lawmakers aren’t meeting in regular session, decided an investigation was warranted. This panel of four Democrats and eight Republicans voted 12-0 in late July to spend up to $100,000 to hire an independent investigator “to investigate the circumstances and events surrounding the termination of former Public Safety Commissioner Monegan, and potential abuses of power and/or improper actions by members of the executive branch.”

Sharon Leighow, Palin’s spokeswoman, at the time said, “The governor has said all along that she will fully cooperate with an investigation and her staff will cooperate as well.”

Legislative Council chairman state Sen. Kim Elton days later announced veteran Anchorage prosecutor Stephen Branchflower would conduct the probe; Palin said she welcomed an investigation, although Branchflower’s muscle wasn’t needed. “I know he’s a prosecutor, probably a heavy duty prosecutor, and so that kind of puzzles us why we are going down that road when we are very, very open to answering any questions anybody has of me or administrators.”

But as soon as John McCain announced Palin as his vice-presidential pick Aug. 29, things began to change.

That very same day, Palin’s new lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, wrote a letter to Branchflower requesting a full list of documents, other evidence and witness statements. Van Flein also demanded that the investigation — already almost a month in progress — be handed over to a three-person state personnel board – of which one member was re-appointed by Palin in January, and the other two appointed by previous Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski.

State Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Hollis French responded Sept. 1, noting he’d done so rather than Branchflower because Van Flein had challenged the Legislature’s jurisdiction. French wrote “it would be highly unusual for an investigator to share information with one of the targets of the investigation.”

It was in the context of these sudden, new obstacles that French then told ABC News that McCain’s campaign had never contacted anyone involved in the investigation while vetting Palin. “If they had done their job they never would have picked her. … Now they may have to deal with an October surprise,” he said, referring to the previously scheduled Oct. 31 release of the committee’s final report.

Now Palin won’t talk to Branchflower, and Alaska’s Republican Attorney General has told state employees to ignore subpoenas in the case. And on Tuesday, five Republican state lawmakers — none of whom sit on the council that launched the investigation — filed a lawsuit to delay the probe until after the Nov. 4 general election. The Liberty Legal Institute — a Plano, Tex.-based nonprofit conservative law network that’s helping represent the lawmakers — is part of the Free Market Foundation, where president and chief counsel Kelley Shackelford was a member of the GOP’s Platform Committee this year. Shackelford told a reporter at the Republican National Convention that McCain’s selection of Palin had “resurrected” the party’s social conservative base.

They say the investigation is biased because French and Elton are both Democrats and Barack Obama supporters. But French and Elton aren’t conducting the investigation; Branchflower is.

And that was good enough for Palin until a national election was on the line.

So who’s really politicizing the investigation?

Posted on Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
Under: Elections, General, John McCain, Sarah Palin | No Comments »

New McCain ad repeats gas-prices claim

The McCain campaign released a new Web ad today entitled “Crisis.”

Let’s focus for now on the ad’s promise of “offshore drilling to reduce gas prices” – a promise that’s really just smoke and mirrors.

A few market observers have opined that expanding oil drilling off America’s coasts could help lower gas prices, but not in the way most people think. You see, it’s not as if oil prospectors will just row a few miles offshore, lower a pipe into the water and start sucking up barrels of crude, causing prices at the pump to tumble. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf will not have a notable impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production before 2030 — and even then, the effect on prices will be “insignificant.”

Got that? No impact for at least 22 years, and even then, not much to show for it.

What the market observers say is that expanded drilling will make people think our nation has a solid, long-term energy plan, and this belief will bring prices down. It’s psychology, not actual production. It’s a means of fooling the market, and right now, a means of fooling voters.

But why try to fool anyone? Why not embrace this desperation we feel every time we fill up our tanks, and mix it with some good old American ingenuity? Why not come up with a long-term plan that inspires confidence because it’s truly sound, both for our energy needs and our environment? (Remember, Sarah Palin — whose state budget relies almost entirely on oil royalties and taxes — acknowledges she doesn’t believe human behavior is responsible for global warming.)

Why not commit to developing better fuel-efficiency standards so our cars need less gas; developing cars that run on little or no gas at all; developing clean, renewable energy sources for the rest of our needs? And while doing that, why risk our shorelines for a short-term perception boost with little or no long-term impact?

A Survey USA poll conducted in June showed 14 percent of Californians believe offshore drilling will result in an immediate drop in gasoline prices, and an additional 46 percent believe oil prices will come down “eventually” through offshore drilling. Almost half said they only recently come to think drilling should be expanded, given the price of gas.

This new McCain ad continues to play on that, putting perception ahead of reality.

Posted on Monday, September 15th, 2008
Under: Elections, General, Global warming, John McCain, Sarah Palin | 1 Comment »

Straight talk on Obama’s and McCain’s tax plans

Gov. Sarah Palin said this of Barack Obama during her vice-presidential nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul:

“Taxes are too high … he wants to raise them. His tax increases are the fine print in his economic plan, and let me be specific.

“The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes … raise payroll taxes … raise investment income taxes … raise the death tax … raise business taxes … and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars.”

The next day, John McCain said during his speech:

“I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them. … My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases will eliminate them.”

And here’s a McCain campaign Web ad from last month:

But the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan joint venture of The Urban Institute and The Brookings Institution, issued a report last month comparing the Obama and McCain tax plans.

Including interest costs, Obama’s tax plan would boost the debt by $3.5 trillion by 2018. McCain’s plan would increase the debt by $5 trillion.

The Obama plan would reduce taxes for low- and moderate-income families, but raise them significantly for high-bracket taxpayers (see Figure 2). By 2012, middle-income taxpayers would see their after-tax income rise by about 5 percent, or nearly $2,200 annually. Those in the top 1 percent would face a $19,000 average tax increase—a 1.5 percent reduction in after-tax income.

McCain would lift after-tax incomes an average of about 3 percent, or $1,400 annually, for middle-income taxpayers by 2012. But, in sharp contrast to Obama, he would cut taxes for those in the top 1% by more than $125,000, raising their after-tax income an average 9.5 percent.

Funny — that worried family in the McCain ad didn’t look like they’re in the top 1 percent of taxpayers.

And what about those newspaper quotations in the McCain ad? As it turns out, all three are from editorials, not news stories.

The Wall Street Journal quote, in context: “Ours is the only industrialized country that taxes its citizens even if they live overseas. That hasn’t been a big problem as long as U.S. tax rates have been relatively low. But with Barack Obama promising to raise rates to French-like levels, this taxman-cometh policy could turn Americans into the world’s foremost fiscal prisoners.”

The Washington Post quote, in context, discussing Obama’s proposal for a windfall-profits tax on oil companies. “That cost would be passed along in forgone investment in new production, lower dividends for pension funds and other shareholders, and higher prices at the pump — thus socking it to the consumers whom the plan is supposed to help.”

And the Las Vegas Review-Journal quote, in context: “He wants to raise the tax rate on the top income bracket from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, nearly double the tax rate on capital gains and dividends, and eliminate all tax breaks for the gas and oil industries and private equity firm managers. Talk about a recipe for economic disaster.”

Posted on Friday, September 12th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, John McCain, Sarah Palin | No Comments »

Is Sarah Palin like ‘Rosie the Riveter?’

Apparently Sarah Palin’s supporters have begun carrying signs with the Republican vice-presidential nominee’s face superimposed on the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” sign often associated with Richmond’s World War II’s ship-building effort. Last night, Richmond City Councilman Tom Butt e-mailed out a dialogue he had with someone displeased by the image’s use.

—–Original Message—–
From: Lorenzo Mota
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 9:56 PM
To: info@rosietheriveter.org
Cc: Long Beach
Subject: Rosie the Riveter Picture

Today, September 10, 2008, a photo on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, revealed that the McCain campaign is using placards with a picture of Rosie the Riveter with the face of Gov Sarah Palin superimposed on the picture and using the same slogan “We Can Do It” as in the original picture.

I assume your organization has copy rights to Rosie the Riveter material, photos etc. Based on the fact that she was nominated for Vice President, one week ago today, it is unlikely the McCain campaign had authorization from your organization to use the picture? As you are aware, the Rosie the Riveter Trust is the official non-profit partner of the National Park Service for Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park. You are also affiliated with the City of Richmond, CA. In my opinion, I do not believe that it is appropriate and possibly an enfringement of copy rights for the McCain campaign to use your picture for partisan politics?

What a shame to use the historical contributions of women during WWII for political gain by the McCain campaign. Your prompt and timely response to this complaint is appreciated.

Lorenzo Mota

And, Butt’s response:

From: Butt, Tom
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:05 PM
To: ‘Lorenzo Mota’; info@rosietheriveter.org
Cc: Long Beach; RosieTrust; Tam, Katherine; Media
Subject: RE: Rosie the Riveter Picture

Lorenzo,

This graphic has been in the public domain for many years. Thousands of people have used it (or misused it) for every conceivable purpose. Rosie the Riveter Trust has no control whatsoever over its use.

However, thanks for contacting us. Check out our website at www.rosietheriveter.org and consider supporting our organization. Hope to see you at the Home front Festival!

Tom Butt, President
Rosie the Riveter Trust
117 Park Place
Point Richmond, CA 94801
Phone: 510.236.7435
Fax: 510.232.5325
E-mail: tom.butt@intres.com
Rosie the Riveter Trust Website: www.rosietheriveter.org
Rosie the Riveter WW II Home Front National Historical Park Website: www.nps.gov/rori

At least a few feminist bloggers — here, here and here — aren’t happy about Rosie’s re-purposing. But a quick search finds t-shirts, posters, mugs and other items with the image are popping up for sale across the Internet.

Posted on Thursday, September 11th, 2008
Under: Elections, Sarah Palin | 26 Comments »

The big lie about Obama’s ‘lipstick’ comment

I struggled with whether to even write about this, lest I lend a lie undue credence.

Yes, I called it a lie. I know politicians and reporters often avoid the “L-word” when describing false political statements, preferring to call them “spin” or “exaggerations” or “mistruths” or some other euphemism.

But this idea the McCain/Palin campaign is pushing, that Barack Obama was referring to Sarah Palin when he spoke of “putting lipstick on a pig,” is just simply a lie.

If “lie” seems too strong, and you absolutely must have a euphemism, try “tripe,” “bull” or “a load of crap.” Obama clearly was talking about McCain’s policies.

Was it inappropriate for Obama to use the “lipstick on a pig” metaphor at all? John McCain certainly didn’t think it was inappropriate when he was talking about Hillary Clinton’s health-care platform last year.

And yet, because Sarah Palin said the word “lipstick” last week and Obama said the word “lipstick” this week, McCain/Palin churned out this ad so the conservative blogosphere could tremble with outrage that Obama is so “sexist.” I got an e-mail moments ago from Mike Huckabee’s PAC:

“Last night, while on Hannity & Colmes I cut Barack Obama some slack on his reference to ‘lipstick on a pig.’ Now I personally don’t think he was referring to Gov. Palin, but if he was he should apologize immediately.”

Gee, how big of him to “cut Barack Obama some slack.” And how passive-aggressive of him to immediately suggest an apology might be in order.

Moments before Huckabee’s e-mail, I got an e-mail from McCain-Palin looking to raise funds in reaction to “the shameful attacks Senator Obama and his liberal allies have launched against our vice presidential nominee.”

Voters should realize that what’s truly shameful is lying about what was said, and then trying to raise money on the lie.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more items to this blog challenging lies told on the campaign trail. I will try to confine myself to lies told by the campaigns themselves, not their proxies, and I will actively seek those lies on both sides of the aisle; if you have one you think I should address, feel free to tell me.

But I’ll tell you quite frankly, most of the whoppers I’ve seen in this presidential campaign so far have come from McCain/Palin, from matters of policy to political track records to made-up silliness like this “Lipstickgate.” And I will reject any accusations of partisanship leveled against me simply for setting the record straight.

Posted on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin | No Comments »