Wondering what was discussed during those important, question-free, :30 second photo-ops embarrassingly created by the McCain campaign to display Sarah Palin "meeting" with foreign leaders at the UN, this week? CNN offers some insight...
On entering a room filled with several Pakistani officials this afternoon, Palin was immediately greeted by Sherry Rehman, the country's Information Minister.
"And how does one keep looking that good when one is that busy?," [Pakistani Information Minister Sherry] Rehman asked, drawing friendly laughter from the room when she complimented Palin.
"Oh, thank you," Palin said.
Pakistan's recently-elected president, Asif Ali Zardari, entered the room seconds later. Palin rose to shake his hand, saying she was “honored” to meet him.
Zardari then called her "gorgeous" and said: "Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you."
"You are so nice," Palin said, smiling. "Thank you."
A handler from Zardari's entourage then told the two politicians to keep shaking hands for the cameras.
"Strategists say that Mr. McCain can now count on a more motivated social conservative base to help him in areas like southern Ohio, where the 2004 race was settled."
--The New York Times, Sept. 7, 2008, A1
"In investigating the 2004 election in Ohio--examining pollbooks, talking to pollworkers and election officials, as well as reading local newspaper accounts --we could find no data of a late surge to the polls by born-again Christians. What we did find is certified voting totals in areas favoring Bush that didn't match the number of voters who officially signed-in on the poll sign-in sheets."
--Email from Bob Fitrakis of The Columbus Free Press, Sept. 7, 2008
To understand how Team McCain intends to get away with stealing this election, we must recall how Team Bush got away with it four years ago. (Those aren't two different teams.)
The plan for stealing this contest has everything to do with the ostensibly surprising choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP.
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Greeted by thunderous applause, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin presented herself to the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, and millions of Americans watching from home, as a small-town outsider ready to join John McCain's ticket in waging "a tough fight in this election against confident opponents at a crucial hour for our country."
Largely unknown outside her home state, Palin told the convention: "I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public education better," she said, speaking of her home town of Wasilla, Alaska, with a population of about 6,500.
Before becoming governor, Palin served as mayor of Wasilla, she recounted, adding: "And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."
UPDATE:AP does some fact-checking on Palin's speech and notes that "In some cases" she "stretched the truth." Here's a couple of the examples they offer (similar fact-checks are also offered, at the same link, for Romney and Huckabee's speeches):
PALIN: ''I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere.''
THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a ''bridge to nowhere.''
PALIN: ''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 FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.
The nearly-exhaustive linked list of things we know (so far) about the Alaskan Governor and John McCain's selection of her as his Veep, begins by asking what the choice says about McCain's decision making process. Near the top of the list comes the following admissions from the Arizona Senators' own autobiography, explaining what the blogger describes as McCain's "COLOSSALLY bad judgement" in selecting Palin:
"I make them (decisions) quickly as I can, quicker than the other fellow, if I can," Mr. McCain wrote, with his top adviser Mark Salter, in his 2002 book, "Worth the Fighting For." "Often my haste is a mistake, but I live with the consequences without complaint.
The wealth of material on Sen. John McCain's Veep pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, just keeps getting richer. Apparently the old saying that you can never be too rich or too thin applies to resumes.
Last night, Brad covered a wide-range of recently emerging issues and concerns about Palin --- and McCain's judgment in having chosen her --- and asked whether she can even survive on the ticket through November 4th. Today, the New York Times front pages an Elisabeth Bumiller report revealing that McCain seems to have only begun vetting Palin last week, after his two preferred selections, pro-choice advocates Sen. Joe Lieberman and Gov. Mark Ridge, were nixed by the party's right wing.
So as Republicans scramble to vet their choice far too late, additional revelations continue to emerge (notably, beginning in the blogosphere, long before the MSM finally catches up.) The latest latest comes via Liz Arnett at Daily Kos, and includes videos in which the Alaska governor is seen as a member and supporter of the fringe Alaskan Independence Party (AIP), which aspires to secession from the union.
Steve Benen regards this latest information about Palin's past as perhaps "the most politically detrimental" of all the recently emerging discoveries about the little-known-until-now Governor of Alaska...
It's only Monday. John McCain announced his selection of Sarah Palin as his VP on Friday. Given that we've had a hurricane, the wrap of one convention, the beginning of another, and all of it over a Labor Day weekend, it's amazing how many questions about Palin --- and McCain's judgment in selecting her --- have come to light in just the past four days.
Were it not for the near-total lock on the media by the right wing, I can't see how she'd possibly make it through another week, much less the General Election. Even with that lock, I still don't see how she ultimately survives at this rate.
(Though Dem partisans might be careful what they wish for, as a second shot at it will almost certainly bring a more sensible, and palatable, pick.)
The most salacious of the concerns (so far) came today, as 1) the admission that Palin's unwed teenage daughter is pregnant and 2) she's now lawyering up in Alaska to fight the "TrooperGate" investigation.
And then there are all the other concerns and questions, becoming legion by the hour. The mountain of revelations has led conservative Andrew Sullivan to declare, in regard to McCain's arguably most important decision of the campaign: "McCain is more incompetent as an executive than Bush."
Obama partisan John Aravosis notes that McCain had six months to the make this decision, "longer to consider that choice than any other presidential candidate in history." Yet tomorrow's New York Times reveals that after McCain's first choices of Lieberman and Ridge were nixed by the wingnuts, he caved to them, and hastily installed Palin with virtually no vetting whatsoever. Add that to what's already known about McCain's flubbed roll-out of Palin (she was in favor of the "Bridge to Nowhere" before she was against it, she raised taxes even though they said she was a tax-cutter, etc.) and this Veep nomination is clearly in trouble
And if all of the above wasn't disaster enough for both Palin, and more importantly, McCain, there are the more routine questions of her actual positions and qualifications. You know, the stuff that's normally important to someone nominated to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
Take a look at this painful drubbing that McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds took from CNN's Campell Brown, of all people (she leans consistently right, and is married to diehard Bush Admin loyalist Dan Senor --- a point the network, to my knowledge, and its continuing shame, rarely, if ever, discloses) on the topic of Palin's foreign affairs experience...or utter lack thereof.
Then there's the more mundane, such as this chestnut, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan again:
Q: Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?
PALIN: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.
The phrase was added in 1954.
How she survives, I can only imagine; it has to be because we live in the media world we live in. But never mind what happens, for the truth of the issue, no matter how it's reported, Sullivan sums it up nicely:
"You know what this pick reminds me of? Invading a country with no plans for what to do once you got there."
On August 10, Karl Rove went on “Face The Nation” to argue that Senator Obama would make an “intensely political choice” for Vice President without regard for the “responsibilities of president.” At the time, Rove believed Obama would choose Tim Kaine, and argued against him by saying this:
With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he’s been a governor for three years, he’s been able but undistinguished. I don’t think people could really name a big, important thing that he’s done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America. And again, with all due respect to Richmond, Virginia, it’s smaller than Chula Vista, California; Aurora, Colorado; Mesa or Gilbert, Arizona; north Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada. It’s not a big town. So if he were to pick Governor Kaine, it would be an intensely political choice where he said, `You know what? I’m really not, first and foremost, concerned with, is this person capable of being president of the United States?
Rove argues that Kaine’s mayorship of Richmond (pop. 200,000+) is insignificant and that his 3 years as Governor of Virginia (pop. 7,712,091, GDP $383 million) has been “indistinguisahable.” If Rove was intellectually consistent, wouldn’t that mean Palin’s mayorship of Wasilla (pop. 8,000+) and 20 months as Alaska governor (pop. 683,478, GDP $44.5 million) makes her even less qualified than Kaine?
So, Karl, who made the “intensely political choice”?
In the clip, you'll see John McCain's pick for vice president, Alaska governor Sarah Palin, interviewed by the nauseatingly unctuous Glenn Beck, which makes the clip NSE (not safe for eating while watching). The interview actually starts at 4:20.
She was on the program to discuss her lawsuit against the Bush administration to stop them from including polar bears on the endangered species list, and reveals herself to be a rabid anti-environmentalist and a strong proponent of global warming, who favors drilling in her state's pristine wildernesses.
She was born in 1964, and is the youngest and first female governor of Alaska
She's a former beauty queen: In 1984, Palin was second-place in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant after winning the Miss Wasilla contest earlier that year, winning a scholarship to help pay her way through college. In the Wasilla pageant, she played the flute and also won Miss Congeniality
She is married to her high school sweetheart, Todd Palin. They have five children, including a son who is serving in Iraq
Her political resume appears to be thin. She was a city councilmember and mayor in Wasilla, ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor of Alaska and then served as the ethics chair of a state energy commission, but later resigned in disgust at the unethical behavior she uncovered. She has been governor since January 2007
She is a former follower of Christian nationalist Pat Buchanan and is a member of Feminists for Life and opposes gay marriage. However, she claims to have gay friends and vetoed a measure that would have withheld benefits for gay state employees
[UPDATE 7:39am PT: NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell has confirmed that McCain has picked Palin.]
No less a source than Fox News says this morning that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is en route to Ohio this morning, and is likely to be John McCain choice to be his running mate.
Fox also reports that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is out of the running. Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told a local radio station this morning that he will not be in Ohio later today when John McCain names his vice presidential running mate.
About Palin, Fox reports that "a charter aircraft from Anchorage had arrived in Dayton, Ohio, where McCain has scheduled a noon ET rally to announce his choice."
Of course, because the source is Fox News, the story about Palin could be disinformation sent out by the McCain campaign
I’m back after a much needed rest and with a freezer re-stocked with fish. Today, in catch-up mode, I am running some of what I think are important items from the last week. In two cases these items come from VotersUnite.
One is a recount of public hearings here in Washington state with regards to an upgraded voting system to count the “Ranked Choice Voting” ballots in one county’s upcoming primary and general elections. We were very pleased with the openness and willingness of state and local election officials to work with us and listen to our concerns, and then to act on those concerns. I would also like to give a plug to a book review done by my associate, Ellen Theisen, for a book called “Cassandra, Chanting.” The book is an excellent piece of fiction and I recommend it to anyone who has any interest in elections and electronic ballots. The author is “Anonymous” but is part of the NIST team so his or her concerns should be all of our concerns. This fiction could easily be fact and we may never know it.
Also please note the call for help from Arizona. Activists there have a ton of data given to them by the courts but they need technical help wading through it.
NOTE FROM BRAD: We interrupt this DVN to note we're happy to have Big John back safely on dry land! Thought you all might enjoy you're once-yearly look at the man who makes it happen every day. Apparently his trip to Alaska wasn't just for the halibut this year. Though this year's champion catch came in at "about 121 lbs.," John tells us, making last year's King Salmon seem downright puny.
"The deckhand [in orange] is the one holding the bigger of the two fish which weighs nearly as much as he does," says Gideon the Giant. Mind you, John is, himself, about 7 foot 13 inches. Both literally, and figuratively...
...And now back to your regularly scheduled Daily Voting News...As usual, notable stories are all linked below...
The state of Alaska which, as avid BRAD BLOG readers will recall, had been fighting tooth and nail to keep from releasing their database of how voters voted back in 2004, is at it again. Now, despite a court order, the state is refusing to release the new 2006 database, according to a press release just issued by the state Democratic Party. (Press release posted in full at the bottom of this item.)
Previously, the outgoing Governor Murkowski went so far as to have his top security man issue a memo saying release of the 2004 database would be a "security risk." The state had argued prior to that that they could not release the database because it was a "company secret" of Diebold's, according to their contract with the Anti-American Voting Company. All of that after Democrats had discovered a 200% voter turnout in some jurisdications across the state.
Murkowski's daughter Lisa, whom Frank had appointed to fill his seat in the Senate when he ascended to Governor, was in a very close race for that seat in 2004. In fact, most polls showed her trailing against her opponent prior to Election Day.
A court eventually forced the state to release the 2004 database but it was found to contain hundreds of edits since the 2004 election, including as late as July of 2006, prior to the release of the data.
Now it appears that Alaska is at it again, fighting to not release the database from the 2006 election in the only state that we know of where the Democratic Party themselves are actually fighting for complete transparency.
Here's the first two grafs from today's Press Release just issued. The complete press release follows below it...
Anchorage - The Alaska Division of Elections is violating the public records law and should immediately release copies of the electronic records of the 2006 election results so they can be examined before the election is certified, Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake Metcalfe said today.
"Once again, the Division of Elections is flaunting the law with excuses and delays by refusing to release critical public records," Metcalfe said. "Judge Joannides has already ordered them to make copies of each version of the 2006 GEMS database, so it is no burden on them to just release those copies that they are already making. Why won't they release the records and give the public access to them as they are required by law to do?" Metcalfe said.
The following shocking information just came in to "Train Wreck Central" from Brad who is on the road, lord knows where. A special hat tip to Thom Hartmann and Rich McClear of KUDO1080, the Air America Radio affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska.
As readers of The BRAD BLOG know, Diebold and the State of Alaska have been doing all they can to keep the State Democratic Party from looking at the data from the machines used by the voters to register their choices and by the local officials to tally the votes. The BRAD BLOG has reported that questions began to arise about results from the 2004 election, including the reported revelation that "district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889." The Democrats asked for election data from the Diebold machines and the state has 'flip-flopped' on whether they would release it or not. This resulted in claims by the state that any data they released would be proprietary and would belong to Diebold Elections Systems Inc. (DESI).
The above led the state Democratic party to file a lawsuit to get the data they have been requesting.
The following is from an email from Rich McClear:
The State of Alaska website shows 16 of 40 house districts with more than 200% voter turnout, Also, if you add up the vote totals from each district they come to more than 100,000 votes for state wide candidates than the summary reports show.
More than 7 months ago the Democrats asked for an explanation. The state said it could not release the data files because they were proprietary to Diebold.
Diebold gave the state permission to release the files.
The state still refused. The Democrats went to court, the state asked for extension after extension. Their final extension expired Thursday and they replied to the Court, in a 200 page document, that since it is a month from the primary election, they can't release the database without compromising the primary. There is not enough time to rebuild the central tabulator file if they release the data before the election.
The Democrats have to respond to the court Monday. To respond to a 200 page document would usually require the Democrats to ask for an extension but they are working throughout the weekend to get the filing in Monday. Right now I have the Democratic Spokesperson scheduled for my show Monday Morning.
The State stalled for 7 months and when they ran out the legal clock they claim it is too late to release the information because it is too close to the primary. I find it interesting that this has not been picked up by the local press yet, save KUDO.
So the state and Diebold have stalled, flip-flopped, obfuscated and misled while they kept the Democrats from proving that there were huge problems with the election results in 2004. One can only hope that the court will decide that the stall needs to stop now, but it might be best not to hold your breath.
* * *
UPDATE 11/28/06: Alaska is at it again. They're refusing to release the 2006 election database despite a court order to do so. Details now here...
In what appears to be the only known case of the Democratic Party itself (to our brain-addled knowledge anyway, since we've been on the road for the last several days for last minute super-secret meetings that have left us exhausted for the moment), the Alaska Dems and the DNC Alaska Communications Director have announced a lawsuit is being filed to demand the state release election records from 2004.
Yes, they are still trying to figure out what happened in 2004. And in America 2006, apparently such info can only be obtained (perhaps) by going to court!
The complete press release issued today is posted in full below, but here's a recap on this mind-numbing story up until now:
In December 2005, the Dems asked the state for the election data files from the '04 election. They were told that they couldn't have that information, because the state's contract with Alaska made that information a "company secret" of Diebold's!
After complaints to the state, and the state's consultation with Diebold, the state agreed to release the information, but only after informing the Dems they'd have to cover the cost of (and this is a direct quote from their letter), "manipulating the data" before releasing it!
Finally, before the data could be released --- "manipulated" or otherwise --- the state's top security official announced they would not release the information after all because it was a "security risk."
Oh, how I wish I was making this shit up. But I'm not.
So, now the Dems up there are showing a rare bit of spine and going to court to get at that highly secret and super dangerous information otherwise known as "how American citizens voted in an election two years ago."
Why are they so interested in this info in the first place? Here's a graf or two from the release (which you should read in full below for full impact!):
According to the Division of Elections' vote reports that were produced by the state's Diebold computer system and are posted on the Division's official web site, a far larger number of votes were cast than the official totals reported in the statewide summary. In the case of President George Bush's votes, the district-by-district totals add up to 292,267, but his official total was only 190,889, a difference of 101,378 votes. In the U.S. Senate race, Lisa Murkowski received 226,992 votes in the district-by-district totals, but her official total was only 149,446, a difference of 77,546 votes.
In 20 of the 40 State House Districts, more ballots were cast than there are registered voters in the district, according to information on the state's web site. In 16 election districts, the voter turnout percentage shown is over 200%.
"Alaskans must have an accurate accounting of the 2004 election results. "The accountability of our election system is at stake. Confidence in the integrity of our elections is fundamental to our democracy," [Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake] Metcalfe said.
UPDATE 4/19/06: The entire complaint, filed as #3AN-06-7035 CI, is now available here [PDF]. Coverage from today's Alaska Daily News is here.
The entire press release from the Alaska Dems follows...