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Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

A McCain-Palin Roundup

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Wow!  After two long weeks of great reading and poll shifting the dust is finally starting to settle and the facts are beginning to seep into the consciousness of average Americans.  It’s been a wild ride, but the race has only begun. Here’s my two-week roundup of stories and events that caught my attention.  Certainly it isn’t everything over the last two weeks, so updates may follow.  I also will try and exclude topics I’ve already discussed at length in other posts.

There is a great post up at Mudflats right now (actually quite a few great posts) about Sarah Palin from the Alaskan politician’s perspective.  The guest poster, Les Gara, is the kind of politician I wish I could support in my own home district.  His examples are clear and his contentions are substantiated.  The post is well worth the read, as is anything from Mudflats.  Here’s my highlight:

Did I mention the personal attacks against our local public officials only started after Sen. McCain sent his flacks up to our small state on August 29?  They came with a mission to make America believe a Republican-initiated investigation, started with a unanimous committee vote of 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats, was a “partisan” plot.  That’s only a tough sell if people know the facts.

You know there are problems with the economy when even Alan Greenspan says this is the worst economy he’s ever seen. What’s even more striking is that Greenspan goes further to say that America could not afford Senator McCain‘s tax proposals. Unless you’re a complete atomaton, the typical argument that Democrats will “raise your taxes” while Republicans fight for lower taxes will simply not fly this year. McCain has frequently stated he can clean up the budget by cutting earmark spending, but cutting pork alone will not come close to balancing the budget. Eliminating the needless bloodshed and drain of resources that is the Iraq War would certainly be a bigger step toward getting spending under control.  

One of the surprising, yet inspiring, stories from the campaign trail was the turnout at the “Alaska Women Reject Palin” rally in Anchorage, Alaska over the weekend. The photos alone give me hope for our political process.  Many are calling this the largest protest rally in Alaska’s history.  Below is my favorite photo/sign from the rally.

Stories about Sarah Palin’s affinity toward crony hiring practices became evident over the weekend as well. Once elected to public office, she fired professionals and hired former classmates from Wasilla High School. She went a step further to trim down her own duties as Mayor, passing the buck on responsibility while accepting all the credit.  If that alone doesn’t scream of “politics as usual” and a repeat of the Bush-Cheney administration, I don’t know what would actually get that message across.  Willed ignorance seems to run rampant in this country.  

Then there was the barrage of all-out lies from the McCain campaign, beginning with “Thanks, but no thanks” and continuing through a few ads that were only on TV for a short period of time but generated a lot of buzz in the media and blogosphere.  This is not only disheartening, but also disturbing.  The Associated Press and many other trusted news sources have called shenanigans on the McCain lies and admit this is “testing voters”.  I really hope we pass this test, diligence is patriotism.

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri sets the story straight on Sarah Palin’s record with earmarks, pointing out that she asked for nearly $750 million in federal funds in her two years as Governor of Alaska.  To call Gov. Palin an earmark reformer is to call Nick Nolte a model citizen.  Here’s a link to the ThinkProgress story, and the video is below. The argument given by Carly Fiorina is also a far cry from the early arguments that she’s here to eradicate the earmark completely, now she thinks we simply “must ask for less of them.”  And just to put things into perspective in terms of expertise, here’s a reminder of Carly Fiorina’s effectiveness at Hewlett-Packard.

You’ve no doubt heard about the money Palin took from the state to live at home, if not from the news then from Weekend Update on SNL.  What you may not have heard about are the questions surrounding whether or not Gov. Palin actually paid taxes on that income.  It’s interesting to see Republicans try to pose one of the most money-hungry state officials as the leader in reform.  If that’s reform, I’m filthy rich.

Senator McCain keeps repeating how he’s enjoyed introducing Palin to the American people, and how he can’t wait to introduce her to Washington. On the campaign trail, this comment often follows his declaration of a willingness to reach across party lines. It makes me recall the recent grilling McCain faced on The View about exactly how she’ll reform Washington.  McCain said just today at a town hall meeting in Orlando “wait ’til the pork-barrelers and the earmark spenders meet her”.  This was laughable in the sense that most of Washington already knows her well, after she requested (and received) the largest per capita earmark spending in the nation over the last two years. Someone tell Senator McCain that he won’t get to introduce her, he’ll simply be the one scheduling the reunion.

One of the best things the primary season gave us was the triumphant return of Saturday Night Live to the top of the satire game.  Some of the material provided by the Democratic Primary would hold up against any former cast of SNL, which is something I never thought I’d be able to say again about the show. This Saturday’s show with Michael Phelps hosting did not disappoint and certainly got off to a hot start. This was also the highest-rated premiere of SNL in six years, according to MSNBC. Here’s the clip.

The rumor that was most swiftly debunked about the extent of Sarah Palin’s “list of books to ban”, which did not exist.  We do know now that the book which provoked the conversation with the librarian about removing books from the shelves.  The book is called Daddy’s Roommate and is geared toward helping children with homosexual parents better understand the situation.  Salon.com also has information on a Baptist pastor who was also targeted by Palin’s effort to ban books. After being encouraged to read the book for herself, Palin refused, instead favoring the removal of the book.  The story played out and the librarian ultimately kept her job, but the question itself is scary to anyone who loves the 1st Amendment.

Just as an example of how widespread the criticism is for recent false ads coming out of the McCain campaign, here are some links, and keep in mind the actual firestorm only began over the weekend.  The Turd Blossom, Karl Rove himself says the recent McCain ads have “gone too far”.  FactCheck.org (a non-partisan group) found lies about Senator Obama’s tax plans. Jon Taplin has a video and some audio clips, but Gordon brings the highlight of the post in the comments section — just take a look at the 9th commandment (the 8th if you’re Catholic). Then there’s this week’s Sunday New York Times, which was ultimately a collection of facts correcting the lies of the McCain camp.  

Today, Carly Fiorina spoke with Andrea Mitchell and explained away the lobbyist issue by saying the McCain campaign has the most strict rules for conflicts of interest.  I wonder if those rules were applied as a top McCain adviser was plucked by the Bush Administration to oversee the (now government run) Freddie Mac? I wonder if Randy Scheunemann’s associations with Georgia have been a conflict of interest as the McCain campaign beats the Cold War 2 war drum? Has that conflict of interest been “strictly regulated” when Charlie Black pushes for a Columbian Free Trade Agreement? The same Columbia where simply wanting to unionize will cause your family to make final arrangements. Sounds like one hell of an agreement to me. Later in the same hour Andrea Mitchell called shenanigans on a McCain campaign spokesman who tried to claim the recent McCain ads are “documentedly true”. That’s the kind of think Americans need to see from our journalists, don’t be biased, but don’t be fooled. Andrea has certainly learned something from her time spent near the late great Tim Russert.

Monday morning also brought the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and the buyout of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America. Of course, the campaigns were both asked about the situation, and Senator McCain had to re-state that he thinks the fundamentals of our economy are strong. Chris Matthews pointed out on Hardball today that President Herbert Hoover said the same thing about the economy as we sank into the Great Depression. McCain says that a lack of regulation is to blame. He fails to point out that one of his own campaign advisers, Phil Gramm (of “we’ve become a nation of whiners” fame) helped cause much of the current turmoil in the marketplace. That lack of regulation did not exist just 8 short years ago. Senator Obama makes a great observation, saying that this situation is in year 8 of President Bush’s administration, which has taken a toll on our entire economy. 

Finally I must point out that the McCain campaign is applying pressure on Ron Paul of Texas to support the Republican ticket. Ron Paul has been responsible for much of the mobilization of libertarians and constitutionalists who are fed up with the reckless Bush Administration. It’s no wonder he refuses to support the McCain campaign, which looks to be equal to or worse than Bush-Cheney. I’ll close the post with a couple of questions I (would) have for Senator McCain.

On what specific issues have you bucked your own party, and where do you stand on these issues today?

In your first 100 days in office, what specific reforms would you push and how will they positively affect the American people?

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