I've been getting panicked email and phone calls, and everything else, since a caller to the Thom Hartmann Program yesterday mentioned receiving an Absentee Ballot Request form in the mail from the McCain campaign. Apparently, the caller from Wisconsin was a Democrat, suspected foul play (and not without reason!) and was followed by several other callers and emailers reporting the same in that state and others around the country.
Lee Rayburn, who was guest hosting for Thom, called me just after he got off the air yesterday to let me know what was going on, and to forward some of the emails he had been receiving so I could check them out to figure out what was going on. In fact, I had already received some of those McCain Absentee Ballot Request forms from others in the days preceding yesterday's show.
Well, with panic among Dems (understandably) reaching a fevered pitch by last night, claims of "massive Republican vote caging" going on, as based on these mailings, he asked me to come on today and explain what I was able to learn about the situation. (Audio of interview posted below.)
As discussed during my appearance with Lee on Thom's show this morning, in this case at least, those mailers seem to be generally on the up and up. While it appears to be a massive and very aggressive GOTV effort from the McCain campaign --- even targeting Democrats in places they consider "swing states," like Wisconsin --- there doesn't seem to be anything nefarious going on with these particular mailings. At least so far as I've been able to tell...
Continuing where Bush/Cheney left off in '04, it's clear that the John McCain campaign will say and do anything to "win." Their latest knowing lie, in an attempt to fool America (again): a new campaign video released today. The ad is a complete lie, and of course, they know it. But they don't care. It's politics first, country last for the McCain/Palin ticket.
The ad not only misrepresents Obama's comments about "lipstick on a pig," it also purposely misrepresents comments from Katie Couric on "sexism." Worse still, the shameless McCain/Palin campaign inaccurately displays the text of the ad on their website, furthering the misrepresentation of Couric's comments on sexism in "this election," as the actual ad says, even though the comment is represented as being on "the election" in the campaign's transcript of the ad.
Breaking it down to answer to the several purposeful lies and distortions within, here's the first part of the ad's script as posted this morning on McCain's website...
Last night, we noted the bizarre choice of backdrop that led to the first five minutes, or so, of McCain's acceptance speech being given in front of a classic green screen. For those who watched the speech, they likely realize that the green in close-up was the lawn from a larger backdrop of what appeared to be a mansion.
Our thought: One of McCain's?! Odd choice, that.
Turns out, no, it wasn't one of his houses, it was an even dumber selection from the geniuses what run the GOP, who want you to entrust them to run the country...
John Aravosis explains what that backdrop actually was...
You're gonna love this. ... In fact, the picture was of Walter Reed. No, not Walter Reed Army Medical Center where injured troops are treated - though that was clearly McCain's intent, to use our injured troops as a political prop (just as last night they dared show footage of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, and the towers falling) - no, in fact, McCain posted a photo of Walter Reed Middle School, a school for kids in California that has nothing to do with Walter Reed the military hospital. They actually thought the school was the Army hospital. Apparently McCain just discovered the Google.
With these chuckleheads in charge, little wonder the "war on terror" is going so well. For our money, the hit of the night last night was the courageous American from Iraq Veterans Against the War who managed to get the real message out to the whole wide world, over the pool camera feed during McCain's speech...
(NOTE: We'll be hosting The Randi Rhodes Show on Monday. We've learned it was Adam Kokesh who managed this very successful demonstration and smart use of his First Amendment freedoms last night, and we're going to try to get him on the air with us!)
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."
Tropical storm Gustav is threatening to interrupt or even postpone the Republican national convention next week, when it is expected to sweep into the Gulf of Mexico as a stark reminder of one of the lowest points of the Bush administration.
The administration was accused by both Republicans and Democrats of acting too slowly and inefficiently to protect New Orleans against 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,800 people amid high winds and rain that flooded the city.
FOXNews.com reports: "Mindful of the pitfalls of hosting cocktail parties while Gulf Coast residents are being evacuated, John McCain’s campaign suggested Thursday that Republicans could postpone their upcoming national convention in St. Paul if Tropical Storm Gustav makes landfall over the weekend."
“McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said delaying the start time is a possibility.
"Senator McCain has always been sensitive to national crises — in the 2000 race, he postponed his announcement because of the situation in the Balkans, and we are monitoring the situation very closely,” Bounds said."
Ah, but he partied down with his pal the prez in 2005 as Katrina was drowning a thousand Americans and their pets in their homes.
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
Here's an object lesson in so much that's wrong with the corporate mainstream media.
U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, the Republican from Arizona, showed up at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night. He was mobbed by "reporters" from the corporate media (people with large video cameras and microphones who turn them on, point them towards famous people, and allow them to say whatever they want without ever challenging them in any way) out front of the Pepsi Center in Denver.
I happened to be there as well, with a much smaller video camera rolling, and the willingness to actually try to hold Kyl's feet to the fire.
First he had mentioned John McCain's "experience" in foreign policy that allowed him to deal with situations like the Russia/Georgia conflict in a way that Barack Obama couldn't. The "reporters" asked no follow-ups in response to Kyl's unsupported talking point, so I tried to ask him how McCain could deal with the two parties as an honest broker, given that he has senior campaign staffers who are paid lobbyists for Georgia. Kyle dodged the question and quickly moved onto something else. I tried to follow up, but he ignored me.
Then, when one of the "reporters" asked Kyl a hard-hitting question about whether he had "seen anything this week that made [him] cringe," he referred to Bill Clinton's convention speech, made within the past hour that night. Responding to the compliant, smiling media zombies he charged that Clinton had cited "statistics...that are not accurate." However, the Senator gave no evidence for those allegations, and the zombies didn't press him, so I decided to do so.
Here, then - with my polite pauses, allowing him to ramble on in answer to other inane questions from the zombies, edited out for time --- is what it looked like...
Late night in the Pepsi Center, after almost all of the delegates had cleared out, and only a few folks in the press corps remained, Sen. Joe Biden came out to do a walk-through for tomorrow night's speech. We happened to be there to catch it, along with a phalanx of camera's and Andrea Mitchell who asked the only questions, including the insightfully probing "Senator, what did you think of Hillary's message?"
Surprisingly, Biden didn't say "it really sucked, Andrea. Worst speech I've seen in years." Here's the quick video...
...Later, at the CNN Grill, someone slapped me on the ass and said, "Good game, buddy!" When I turned around, it was an apparently inebriated Charles Barkley.