Sarah Palin: Pallin’ around with a convicted felon?

Much has been made of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin saying in her stump speech that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was someone apt to “pal around with terrorists.”

I’m curious to see what she’ll say about today’s conviction of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaksa, on seven felony counts of making false statements on Senate financial documents about gifts he received from contractor Bill Allen, oil services company VECO Corp., and others.

After all, Palin from 2003 to 2005 was a director of “Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service Inc.,” a “section 527” independent political committee that could raise unlimited funds from corporate donors and was aimed at serving as a political boot camp for Republican women in Alaska. And Palin and Stevens were expressing their mutual admiration as recently as July:

Does Palin believe Stevens, who until today has been in a tight race with Democratic challenger Mark Begich, should resign from office? If he beats Begich — which seems less likely as today’s news breaks, Stevens could stay in the Senate while appealing his convictions; such appeals would have to be exhausted before the ethics committee would move to expel him.

So, if a candidate’s associations — be they past or present, distant or quite familiar — are on the table in this election as Palin and John McCain have repeatedly insisted, how much of a maverick will Palin be today?

UPDATE @ 4:03 P.M.: Answer — not much. “I’m confident Senator Stevens will do what’s right for the people of Alaska,” Palin said in a statement.

UPDATE @ 5:21 P.M.: Christopher Scott Simmonds, formerly of Oakland and now of Rancho Cordova, called in with the astute, ironic observation that Stevens remains eligible to vote in the Senate, yet as a convicted felon is no longer eligible to vote in this election Nov. 4. But Alaska’s early voting began a week ago; who’ll take the bet that he already cast his ballot?


Disagree, but don’t be hatin’

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin spoke last week in North Carolina about how small towns are the “pro-America areas of this great nation.” She later tried to walk it back.

Then McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer tried to explain on CNN why the growing Democratic stronghold of northern Virginia is different from “real Virginia.”

And Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., last week suggested on MSNBC’s Hardball said she’s concerned Barack Obama might have “anti-American views” and the media should do “a penetrating expose” of whether other members of Congress are “anti-America.”

These kinds of statements are a cancer on American politics, a tumor nurtured and metastized by years of partisan hyperbole spewing from fringe radio talk-show hosts, bloggers and the like. If there’s one thing I can think of that’s truly “anti-American,” it’s believing that anyone who disagrees with you hates America. It’s nothing more than a crutch for the weak-minded who can’t adequately explain and support their own positions. It should be beneath us all.

What ever happened to civil discourse, the free marketplace of ideas, the loyal opposition? Why does patriotism have to include blind, unquestioning adherence to a particular party platform?

Get a grip, folks. Argue the issues, but don’t stoop to this phony, fanatical nationalistic chauvinism. Disagree on the policies, by all means, but don’t be hatin’ lest you become what you describe. Just ask Joe McCarthy.

UPDATE @ 1:20 P.M.: Here’s an example of the insane “agree-with-me-or-you’re-evil” rhetoric of which I spoke: James Pinkerton, a contributing columnist and writer for “The American Conservative” and a Fox News political contributor, had this column yesterday in which he notes that activist/organizer Saul Alinsky — who died in 1972 — once wrote that Lucifer (aka the devil, Satan, Beelzebub, whatever) deserved “an over the shoulder acknowledgement of the very first radical, from all our legends, mythology, and history … the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom.”

Why should we care? Well, Pinkerton goes on to note that The Washington Post in 2007 noted “Obama embraced many of Alinsky’s tactics.” And from there he goes on to talk about “the Obama-Alinsky-Lucifer connection.”

Seriously? Somebody paid this guy to write this drivel, to take our political discourse to this level? What an idiot.


Read the ‘Troopergate’ report on Sarah Palin

Click here to read the “Troopergate” report in all its 263-page glory; Alaska’s bipartisan Legislative Council today unanimously voted 12-0 (that’s four Democrats and eight Republicans, if anyone’s counting) to release it to the public.

The report finds Gov. Sarah Palin violated Alaska’s executive branch ethics act, which says that “each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”


‘Palling around with terrorists’

From the New York Times:

Ms. Palin delivered her scathing attack lines in a cheery but determined voice. She strongly questioned Mr. Obama’s acquaintance with Mr. Ayers and asked what he knew about Mr. Ayers’s past and when.

“He didn’t know he had launched his political career in the living room of an unrepentant domestic terrorist until he did know about it,” she said in a mocking tone, earning uproarious applause.

More “turning a page” from the “Straight Talk Express,” I guess. Too bad this maverick won’t turn such an inquiring eye toward her own house.

After all, Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, for the better part of seven years was a registered member of the Alaskan Independence Party, of which the primary goal is to call a vote on whether Alaska should secede from the United States. Its founder, Joe Vogler, reportedly once said “My government is my worst enemy. I’m going to fight them with any means at hand,” and encouraged federal bureaucrats to wear red so they’d make better targets for the Magnum he carried. From Salon:

Vogler’s greatest moment of glory was to be his 1993 appearance before the United Nations to denounce United States “tyranny” before the entire world and to demand Alaska’s freedom. The Alaska secessionist had persuaded the government of Iran to sponsor his anti-American harangue.

That’s right … Iran. The Islamic dictatorship. The taker of American hostages. The rogue nation that McCain and Palin have excoriated Obama for suggesting we diplomatically engage. That Iran.

(The Iran connection has been reported before, btw.)

But instead Vogler disappeared in May 1993; his remains were found more than a year later in a gravel pit:

The blue tarp and duct tape in which the remains were wrapped, officials said, matched a description given by a convicted thief, Manfred West, who confessed last summer that he had killed Mr. Vogler in a plastic-explosives sale gone bad and had then buried him.

Fighting the U.S. government? Iranian sponsorship? A plastic-explosives deal gone bad? That’s quite a resume for an American political-party founder. And none of it kept Sarah Palin from exhorting the AIP to “keep up the good work” earlier this year:

Hmm. Who’s been “palling around with terrorists who would target their own country?”

And what does this all mean? Not. A. Damned. Thing.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Just as it doesn’t matter that decades after Bill Ayers was part of a radical group that embraced bombing as political discourse, he – by then a renowned education professor – moved in the same liberal Chicago circles as Barack Obama. Ooooooh, hey, Obama was in Ayer’s house once! Oh my gosh, they sat on a nonprofit’s board together! Hold the phone, they tried to improve Chicago’s schools together!

Not. A. Damned. Thing.

But hey, y’know what does matter?

It matters that your 401k may well have lost about a third of its value in recent weeks, as mine has.

It matters that millions of jobs – certainly mine, maybe yours too – are hanging by a thread today, even as uncounted families struggle to hold onto their homes or have lost them already.

It matters that more than 8.1 million American children lack health insurance.

It matters that one candidate’s proposal to toughen fuel-efficiency standards could impact oil consumption 21 times as much as the other candidate’s proposal to “drill, baby, drill” off our shores.

And it matters that we’re still at war, where things aren’t going well and our national reputation has suffered to the point that it’s hard to find help.

Doesn’t all the meaningless mudslinging — at a time when the nation is desperate for smart, strong leadership — just frustrate you, disappoint you, infuriate you?

So, “my friends,” how’s about we put a lid on this rampant campaign-trail hypocrisy, this wild casting of stones from within a very fragile glass house, and get on with the job of setting this struggling country right.

You don’t have to be “in the tank” for Obama to be in the tank for the truth.


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… Continue Reading


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.