Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Presidential Debate, Sen. John McCain vs. Sen. Barack Obama

A transcript and video of the first presidential debate can be found here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

National Review column: Sarah Palin is "Out Of Her League"

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker provides a blistering assessment of Sarah Palin for National Review. This quote pretty much sums up the article: "[Gov. Palin] repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there... If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself."

Why did Wasilla make rape victims pay for their own forensic exams while Palin was mayor?

This from Dorothy Samuels in the New York Times:

"When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, the small town began billing sexual-assault victims for the cost of rape kits and forensic exams....

[T]he main result of billing rape victims is to protect their attackers by discouraging women from reporting sexual assaults.

That’s why when Senator Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, drafted the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, he included provisions to make states ineligible for federal grant money if they charged rape victims for exams and the kits containing the medical supplies needed to conduct them. (Senator John McCain, Ms. Palin’s running mate, voted against Mr. Biden’s initiative, and his name has not been among the long list of co-sponsors each time the act has been renewed.)

That’s also why, when news of Wasilla’s practice of billing rape victims got around, Alaska’s State Legislature approved a bill in 2000 to stop it."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Needless hassle on a California ballot application

I was filling out my absentee ballot application for California and I came across this curiosity: You must fill out on the application form the date the application form is due. To make clear to voters this is an essential aspect of the application, the cut-out form includes a notice right above it stating: "You must enter the date and type of the election, as well as the last day the application must be received by the election official" (emphasis added). Can anyone tell me why this last piece of information is essential on the application? Is there any reason for having it other than disenfranchising and/or irritating voters?

The California Secretary of State website does not list the due date in any obvious location. It does applications are due seven days before Election Day, but this still leaves applicants scrambling for their calendars to try and figure out which date in October this turns out to be.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Missing Introduction: What Should Have Been Said At The Republican National Convention

All apologies for latching on to this story late, but this one is a gem. From the New York Observer, a "Black Comic Introduces John McCain":

"This conference so white, Helen Mirren tried to snort it!


Where the baby daddy at? Where he at?

(crowd noise)

You knocked her up, man? That’s cool. That’s cool.


You know that word ‘abstinence’—you know that mean ‘no fucking,’ right?


I guess they didn’t make that clear at the seminar."

A highly recommended read.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On health care: Obama to increase coverage, McCain to increase taxes

Does anyone remember that there are actual issues at stake in this election? Looking at recent media coverage, the answer isn't clear. One of the biggest looming issues will be the ongoing health care crisis.

Several scholars (including one advising Obama's campaign) have written an article for the Wall Street Journal outlining the differences between the two candidates' health care plans. This article is well worth reading.

Of significance:

"The Obama plan would give individuals and small firms the option of joining large insurance pools. With large patient pools, a few people incurring high medical costs will not topple the entire system, so insurers would no longer need to waste time, money and resources weeding out the healthy from the sick, and businesses and individuals would no longer have to subject themselves to that costly and stressful process."

By way of contrast:

"Sen. McCain, who constantly repeats his no-new-taxes promise on the campaign trail, proposes a big tax hike as the solution to our health-care crisis. His plan would raise taxes on workers who receive health benefits, with the idea of encouraging their employers to drop coverage. A study conducted by University of Michigan economist Tom Buchmueller and colleagues published in the journal Health Affairs suggests that the McCain tax hike will lead employers to drop coverage for over 20 million Americans."

Full column here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Private Vendettas

Of all the stories that have circulated in the press lately about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, perhaps the most frightening ones are related to her actual conduct in office. From contemplated book-banning to obsessive secrecy... is this really a woman we want a heartbeat away from the American presidency? Here's some of the latest from the New York Times:

"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..."

Also: "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."

Palin lied about visits to Iraq and Ireland

From Andrew Sullivan:

I cannot quite keep count at this point of the bald-faced lies that the McCain-Palin campaign has been telling to a pliant, pathetic, useless excuse for an American press corps. But here's the latest. We were all told by the McCain-Palin campaign that Sarah Palin had visited Iraq earlier this year:

Following her selection last month as John McCain's running mate, aides said Palin had traveled to Ireland, Germany, Kuwait, and Iraq to meet with members of the Alaska National Guard. During that trip she was said to have visited a "military outpost" inside Iraq. The campaign has since repeated that Palin's foreign travel included an excursion into the Iraq battle zone.

This was another simple lie. Not a distortion, a lie.

Sullivan's full blog post is here.

Report: Palin never abandoned Nowhere Project

From Pro Publica:

I "told the Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,'" [Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin] said in her speech accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination. "If our state wanted to build a bridge, we were going to build it ourselves."

But Gov. Palin’s administration acknowledges that it is still pursuing a project that would link Ketchikan to its airport -- with the help of as much as $73 million in federal funds earmarked by Congress for the original project.

"What the media isn't reporting is that the project isn't dead," Roger Wetherell, spokesman for Alaska’s Department of Transportation, said.

Full story here.

As Jeremy Villano put it, "This is just fantastic. Gov. Palin's Alaskan administration is STILL pursuing funds for the Bridge to Nowhere. The same project she initially supported, denied supporting it, got called out for lying, denied the lying, and is now still trying to get funds."

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quote of the Day: 'John Bush' is his own man

"Because John Bush, umm, John McCain is his own man." -Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania Governor and and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security

Speaking out of both sides of their arse

Top-of-the-line news archivists at The Daily Show have tracked down a series of video clips showing conservatives like Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly flip-flopping on issues like executive experience and teen pregnancy... a highly entertaining tape.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

McCain's oil-addicted candidacy

"With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil."
-Thomas Friedman in the New York Times

Friedman continues:

"Given the fact that Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries, and given his support for lowering the gasoline tax in a reckless giveaway that would only promote more gasoline consumption and intensify our addiction to oil, and given his desire to make more oil-drilling, not innovation around renewable energy, the centerpiece of his energy policy — in an effort to mislead voters that support for drilling today would translate into lower prices at the pump today — McCain has forfeited any claim to be a green candidate.

David Broder gives us the lowdown on Improv Night at the GOP:

"The trash cartons in every passageway in the Xcel Energy Center here bore the injunction 'Recycle Only,' so it was natural enough that the organizers of the Republican National Convention -- forced to improvise their program because of the hurricane that cost them opening night -- did just that. They decided to treat the delegates and a national television audience to speeches by three of the most familiar and weather-beaten figures in American politics -- recycled into roles they had never been asked to take on."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Associated Press article takes exception with McCain's claims about Obama's experience

The Associated Press has published a list of factual inaccuracies in John McCain's contention that Sarah Palin is as experienced in public service as Barack Obama.

Among the deceptions listed by the AP: Palin was a government official while Obama was a community organizer.

Actual truth: Palin was in college and working as a local sport announcer while Obama was leading a church-based community group.