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 Friday, October 31, 2008

John McCain's Chances Destroyed by Sarah Palin Selection as Vice President Candidate

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A growing number of voters have concluded that Senator John McCain's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, is NOT qualified to be vice president, weighing down the Republican ticket in the last days of the campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month.

Nearly a third of voters polled said the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.

And in a possible indication that the choice of Palin has hurt McCain's image, voters said they had much more confidence in Obama to pick qualified people for his administration than they did in McCain.

After nearly two years of campaigning, a pair of hotly contested nominating battles, a series of debates and an avalanche of advertisements, the nationwide poll found the contours of the race hardening in the last days before the election on Tuesday.

Twelve percent of the voters surveyed said they had already voted. These were among the findings:

* Some perceptions of race are changing, with a marked increase in the number of people who say they believe that white and black people have an equal chance of getting ahead in America today.

* McCain's focus on taxes, including his talk about Joe the Plumber, seems to be having some effect, as a growing number of voters now say McCain would not raise their taxes.

* Eighty-nine percent of people view the economy negatively, and 85 percent think the country is on the wrong track.

* Obama continues to have a significant advantage on key issues like the economy, health care and the war in Iraq.

The survey found that opinions of Obama and McCain had hardened considerably, as 9 out of 10 voters who said they had settled on a candidate said their minds were made up, and a growing number of them called it "extremely important" that their candidate win the election. Roughly half of each candidate's supporters said they were "scared" of what the other candidate would do if elected. Just 4 percent of voters were undecided, and when they were pressed to say whom they leaned toward, the shape of the race remained essentially the same.

Bolstered by the fiscal crisis and deep concerns about the direction of the country, Obama has seemed to solidify the support he has gained in recent months. When likely voters were asked whom they would vote for in an expanded field that included several third-party candidates, Obama got the support of 52 percent of them, McCain 39 percent, Bob Barr 1 percent, and Ralph Nader 2 percent.

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Saturday through Wednesday with 1,439 adults nationwide, including 1,308 registered voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The poll was conducted as a wide range of state polls have shown Obama, of Illinois, ahead or tied in several crucial contested states, including some traditionally Republican states that McCain, of Arizona, must carry to win the election.

The survey suggested that Obama's candidacy — if elected, he would be the first black president — has changed some perceptions of race in America. Nearly two-thirds of those polled said whites and blacks have an equal chance of getting ahead in today's society, up from the half who said they thought so in July. And while 14 percent still said most people they knew would not vote for a black presidential candidate, the number has dropped considerably since the campaign began.

McCain's heavy focus on taxes in the final weeks of the campaign seems to be having some effect, the poll found. Forty-seven percent of voters said McCain would not raise taxes on people like them, up from just 38 percent who said so two weeks ago. (And 50 percent said they thought Obama would raise taxes on people like them, while 44 percent said he would not; both numbers are similar to two weeks ago.)

With just days until Americans choose a new president, the survey found them deeply uneasy about the state of their country. Eight-five percent of respondents said the country was pretty seriously off on the wrong track, near the record high recorded earlier this month. A majority said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. And President George W. Bush's approval rating remains at 22 percent, tied for the lowest presidential approval rating on record (which was President Harry S. Truman's rating, recorded by the Gallup Poll in 1952).

McCain's renewed efforts to cast himself as the candidate of change have apparently faltered. Sixty-four percent of voters polled said Obama would bring about real change if elected, while only 39 percent said McCain would. And despite McCain's increased efforts to distance himself from Bush, a majority still said he would generally continue Bush's policies.

Dixie Cromwell, a 36-year-old cosmetologist from Shelby, North Carolina, who is a Republican, said in a follow-up interview that she had already voted for Obama.

"I generally vote Republican, but this year I voted Democrat," she said. "I just don't feel we can go through any more of the same old thing that we've been going through with the Republican Party."

Obama's policies were seen as much more likely to improve the economy, provide health insurance to more people, and scale back military involvement in Iraq than McCain's were. But McCain enjoyed an advantage when it came to questions about which candidate would make a better commander in chief: 47 percent of voters said McCain was very likely to be an effective commander in chief, compared with 33 percent who said Obama would be.

While a majority viewed Palin as unqualified for the vice presidency, roughly three-quarters of voters saw Obama's running mate, Senator Joseph Biden Jr. of Delaware, as qualified for the job.

The increase in the number of voters who said Palin was not prepared was driven almost entirely by Republicans and independents.

Over all, views of Palin were apparently shaped more by ideology and party than by gender.

Palin was viewed as unprepared for the job by about 6 in 10 men and women alike.

But 8 in 10 Democrats viewed her as unprepared, as well as more than 6 in 10 independents and 3 in 10 Republicans.

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Don't cha know Sarah Palin is annoyin'

  Read here article by Karen Swain

It seems as though this election frenzy is centered around vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
From the Saturday Night Live clips of Tina Fey's impersonations and the Katie Couric interview, it was hard to tell the difference between the comedy and a legitimate interview. Was it all a joke or is Palin seriously stupid?

As a feminist, I have a good idea why Sarah Palin was chosen as John McCain's vice presidential pick. Was it the fact that she was a former beauty pagaent contestant and runner up?

Perhaps her beauty will make up for her lack of experience in the realms of foreign policy and economic theory. A recent poll showed her popularity among male voters and one cannot help but question if her looks have gotten her this far.

I think the answer relies on the fact that McCain believes women in this country are ignorant enough to vote for an obviously incompetent candidate simply because she is a woman.

As a feminist, political science major, and a person who takes the time to research the issues, I find this offensive. After watching her Katie Couric interview, I found it comical that she didn't know what the Bush Doctrine was.

I learned about the Bush Doctrine here at Chabot in my international relations course.

To know that our possible future vice president doesn't know what I learned at community college, is frightening.

According to the latest poll, Sen. John McCain's attempt to appeal to women voters has backfired in his face. A recent poll showed women falling out of favor with McCain 7 percent and Barack Obama comfortably ahead with a 10 percent lead in many battleground states.

McCain's attempt to appeal to disgruntled Hillary Clinton voters is a complete failure.

To compare Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton is ridiculous. Palin represents the anti-Hillary and stands against everything Hillary worked for as a First Lady and senator.

Palin was a governor of Alaska for less than two years and mayor of Wasilla, the meth capital of Alaska. With 41 meth labs found in a single year, I believe her record is nothing to be proud of.

As governor, she also allowed rape victims in Alaska to pay for the forensic analysis of the crime and rape kits which can cost thousands of dollars.

Is she a champion of woman's rights? I think not, in fact she doesn't take any stances on woman's health issues and concerns whereas Senator Barack Obama has enough respect for women in this country to take a stance on woman's issues.

If it weren't for liberal women, Sarah Palin would not have the right to vote, let alone run for vice president.

It was progressively minded women who fought for the women's suffrage movement.

Perhaps Palin should take the time to actually pick up a history book and learn about the history of women in this country.

While she is at it, she should Google "Bush Doctrine." "maverick," and 'idiot.'

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Editorial: The Standard Endorses Obama

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The world stands on the threshold of an historic change as the people of the United States elect a new President in a few days. Tuesday’s election, as this paper pointed out when Democrat Barack Obama secured his party’s nomination, is a major opportunity for change in America’s engagement with the world.

Whether Obama or his main rival, Republican John McCain, triumphs, we and much of the world will be hoping for a departure from the policies of George W Bush to what we called "a more thoughtful superpower, less infatuated with its military might and open to diplomacy’s potential to bring about change".

As many citizens of the world will attest, their countries have experienced from America "the example of its power", to use the words of former US President Bill Clinton.

The Middle East, no doubt, provides the most illuminating signpost of the failures of the Bush administration and its "first-strike doctrine".

The question that lingers, and what the Bush successor shall be compelled to answer, is whether the world is safer than the American President found it. Bush’s eight-year reign ends in domestic failure, epitomised in an economic meltdown that threatens to subsume world economies. That, too, will take years to fix.

The world’s excitement over the US election is further informed by its elevated status as the only superpower - the "indispensable nation". Whether America has displayed its might with responsibility is a question that elicits much debate.

One other factor has the world hypnotised by the US race - the presence of an unusual candidate who reflects America’s broad heritage and has demonstrated passion, thoughtful calm and grace under pressure.

Barack Obama, who traces his roots to this country, briefly lived in Indonesia and was raised in Hawaii, represents the best of America and its values. As US newspaper editors endorsing his candidacy have agreed: "He is no lone rider. He is a consensus builder, a leader."

In the country’s sometimes painful history, an empire built on slave labour, its complicated legacy of racism has placed barriers that have proved insurmountable for some. On that account Obama’s presidential run is a milestone in history, a huge first step, according to some, towards the "end of racism."

It has been a long journey and, from those familiar with his story, a hard road to travel, for his track was paved with gravel.

It’s a major source of joy for many African-Americans who reckon that Obama’s personal feat is a culmination of a long process, going generations back, reaping from the labours of committed activists in the civil rights movement. Obama’s eloquence is often equated with that of Martin Luther King, Jnr, who was felled by an assassin’s bullet in 1968. Others see him as the reincarnation of former US President John F Kennedy, who was similarly assassinated in 1963.

That some elements in the American society have been exposed plotting to kill Obama on account of race, call to mind the prophecy of African-American author and thinker WEB Dubois who predicted that the problem of the 20th century would be race. The bright side of this is that Obama’s presidency, if it does materialise, would change race relations significantly. Beyond quashing Afro-pessimism, the hackneyed thesis that presents Africa as a backward, hopeless continent, it would inspire humanity to confirm skin colour has nothing to do with ability.

Fittingly, Obama’s rallying call is hope. Our endorsement of Obama for President, which we present unequivocally, is because we believe he is the right man for the job.

In these troubled times of America’s diminished influence over the world, he presents the best chance to fix the mess that the US has put itself, and in turn, the world.

His character and temperament in the gruelling campaigns have impressed all. As for the ideas and values he articulates, we are proud to have heard first-hand of his support for Press freedoms when he visited the Standard Group’s offices in 2006, not long after an illegal police raid.

Obama’s complex heritage offers him a perspective bereft of the baggage that has burdened and blighted his opponent’s campaign.

Judging from the way he has run for office, Obama has displayed the knowledge and the wisdom that would avert many worries for the world, the sort that Bush has plunged it into.

The Iraq debacle, preceded by the one in Afghanistan, convey the senseless plunder that has made the world poorer, indelibly scarred and increasingly dangerous. Its legacy is a loss in the trust in the US to act responsibly in global affairs.

With uncertainty and crisis spreading across the globe, the return of an America more tolerant and respectful of the international community is keenly awaited. The American people deserve some relief as do the rest of the world.

Still, the most abiding motif that Obama would represent is encapsulated in the Latin expression: ‘Ex Africa semper aliquid novi!’ which means, ‘something new always comes out of Africa’.

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President of Penn State University SNUBBED by McCain/Palin Campaign

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McCain-Palin campaign official snubbed the president of Penn State University who inquired about attending a campus speech Tuesday by Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, university officials told ABCNews.com.

A McCain-Palin campaign official snubbed the president of Penn State University who inquired about attending a campus speech Tuesday by Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, university officials told ABCNews.com."He's a big Democrat. Why would he want to meet Palin?" campaign aide Russ Bermel allegedly asked a school employee who was hoping to make arrangements for president Graham B. Spanier to meet Palin, according to Spanier's office.

The McCain-Palin campaign has been working overtime to become competitive in Pennsylvania, where the Obama-Biden campaign has enjoyed a double-digit lead in the polls.

Some might say that makes it an odd time to snub the president of the state's largest university. The school enrolls 40,000 students and counts a quarter-million alumni living in Pennsylvania alone.

"I welcome eminent visitors to our campus everyday, including lots of Republicans, but [the McCain-Palin campaign] didn't want me to greet her or even attend the event," said Spanier.

Read here for more

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 Thursday, October 30, 2008

Barack Obama's 30-minute Informercial Telecast


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Sarah Palin Too Ambitious for John McCain and the Republican Party's Own Good

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Plenty of Republicans have already given up the ship, conducting premature post mortems and musing about 2012.

But you can generally count on the candidates themselves to put on a brave face -- at least until the polls close.

Apparently Sarah Palin didn't get that memo. She committed a cardinal political sin in an interview with ABC when she played along with questions that began with the premise "If you lose on Tuesday ..."

I generally applaud frankness from politicians. But any candidate who wants to motivate people to vote for her ticket would offer some variation of "Right now, I'm just focused on a McCain-Palin victory on Tuesday ... " and quickly shut down such loser talk. But Palin not only went along with it, she also offered up some ideas about her political future.

She declared that she would not head home to Alaska, as she still wants a spot on the national stage in 2012. "I'm NOT doing this for naught," she added.

Apparently she's not doing this to get John McCain elected, either.

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The Organizational Brilliance of the Obama Campaign: Networking

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With ten million early ballots already cast, the United States seems to be heading for its highest election turnout since the 1960s. If so, it will be because of unprecedented levels of enthusiasm from young people and minorities, who normally stay at home.

This is not down to chance. Headlines may have focused on Barack Obama's fundraising prowess (he has raised well over half a billion dollars), but that was part of a ground-breaking political network that defeated the mighty Clinton machine, and now looks poised to capture the White House.

Mr Obama has amassed an army of volunteers, many of whom have never before been politically active.

He has achieved this by making it easy for supporters to get involved through his http://www.my.barackobama.com website, or MyBO as it has become known. This looks and feels like Facebook, which is unsurprising as one of the social networking site's founders, Chris Hughes, is a senior Obama adviser. Once someone has logged in, they can meet supporters in their area, organise their own fundraising drive, or publish comments and suggestions. As with Facebook, users can invite friends to sign up, so recruitment for the campaign proliferates at local level. Peers recruit peers in their own language.

During the primaries, Mr Obama used a database called the Donkey (a reference to the Democratic Party's symbolic animal and also a nod to the nature of campaigning work) to manage volunteers. The system allows the campaign team to record the preferences and efforts of every regional co-ordinator, field director and individual volunteer. This was extremely effective in identifying and rewarding the most dedicated volunteers.

The first task for Mr Obama's volunteer army was to register new voters from underrepresented groups, such as under-25s or Hispanics. In Virginia - a state no Democrat has won since 1964 - Mr Obama's team vastly exceeded its target of 300,000 new registrations.

The second task is to “get out the vote”. For the past few weekends, supporters have been using sophisticated computer models to identify households where citizens are either swing voters or sporadic Democrats. On election day, national productivity will plummet as thousands of volunteers take the day off work to make sure that these people get to the polls.

This sort of campaigning can be decisive. Research by Donald Green and Alan Gerber, of Yale University, shows that face-to-face contact can increase turnout by 5 to 10 per cent.

In Woodbridge, Virginia, a town of just over 30,000 people, I was part of a small team that knocked on 100 doors and spoke to about 50 people. When we got back to the local headquarters we found that about 7,000 other doors had been knocked on in the area on that day alone. A similar effort was taking place in 40 locations across the state.

To tackle the tricky problem of locating young people who are rarely at home, Mr Obama had a couple of tricks up his sleeve. First volunteers targeted campuses, coffee shops and bars. Then in the weeks before the vice-presidential nomination, supporters were told that if they sent a text message to “Obama” (62262) they would get the news of the nomination before the media.

This appealed to the instant-gratification generation who signed up in their droves. In the end the news leaked out, but the campaign had amassed phone numbers that can be used on election day.

All this may seem daunting to British political parties. But it need not. They do not need to imagine hundreds of thousands of supporters turning up at a rally to hear Gordon Brown or David Cameron to emulate Mr Obama's successes. First, political parties have to learn to let go and follow Mr Obama's lead by trusting the YouTube generation to take control of their own role in the campaign.

Structures that require volunteers to work through local party hierarchies must be consigned to the past; young people will only get involved if they can participate in a manner of their choosing at a time that reflects the hours they keep.

Having run a top-down campaign, Hillary Clinton learnt this after her mini-revival in March and had the better of the remaining contests.

Likewise, British parties must also go beyond the traditional idea that only paid-up party members should be involved in campaigning. E-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers should be collected from all those who interact with a party. They can then be used to develop a deeper relationship with supporters, encouraging participation and activism.

The best political operatives throughout history have known that organisation is the key to power. For Mr Obama, victory in a 21st-century democracy requires a combination of technology and trust. Only by letting go will political parties achieve lasting success.

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The Obama Presidency: Getting Up to Speed for the Challenges

  Read here in Financial Times

Washington’s best-kept secret is that Barack Obama has the largest and most disciplined presidential transition team anyone can recall. Headed by John Podesta, former chief of staff in Bill Clinton’s White House, it started work well before the financial meltdown hit in September but has been swamped by its implications ever since.

Transition insiders, who are under strict orders from the Obama campaign not to talk to the media to avoid giving the impression Mr Obama thinks he has won already, contrast it particularly with Mr Clinton’s transition in 1992, which was based in Little Rock, Arkansas, and turned into an extended symposium on every subject under the sun.

Clinton’s transition didn’t really begin until after he’d won the election,” said someone who is helping Mr Obama’s transition and worked on Mr Clinton’s. “But the scale of the challenges facing a potential Obama administration means that it is much, much more important to be prepared this time round than it would have been in 1992.”

One of Mr Obama’s main motivations is to avoid the mistakes attributed to Mr Clinton, whose first 100 days in office turned into a nightmare from which it took years to recover and which helped bring about the Republican landslide in the 1994 mid-term elections.

Mr Clinton spent his first few weeks choosing a diverse cabinet that “looked like America”, which ate up time that could have been spent deciding on legislative priorities and appointing the main White House staff who ensure an administration runs smoothly.

In contrast, Mr Obama, who would instantly be faced with questions about how and whether to interact with the global financial crisis summit that George W. Bush has convened for the week after the election, is focusing on the “nitty gritty” of how things should work, says another person involved with the transition.

The Democratic nominee has already reached an agreement with Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, to speed up the often painstakingly slow Senate confirmation process for the hundreds of appointees who would populate an Obama administration. Many of Mr Clinton’s appointments were still to be confirmed a year after he took office.

Mr Obama has also already had conversations with “blue dog Democrats” – fiscal conservatives – about the potentially painful budgetary decisions he would have to make well before taking office on January 20.

“The level of detail that the Obama transition team is getting into is extraordinary – they are leaving no stone unturned,” said a senior former Clinton administration official who has been consulted. “I have been getting calls that you’d expect in previous transitions to get maybe in December, or never at all.”

Were he to be elected, Mr Obama would face four immediate problems of a magnitude that would put previous transition efforts into the shade. The first is when to push Congress to enact a second fiscal stimulus to shore up the economy, and whether to shoehorn Mr Obama’s promised long-term investments in healthcare, energy, education and infrastructure into that package.

In 1992, the Clinton team was consumed by a battle be­tween Bob Reich, future Labour secretary, who argued for redeeming the campaign’s spending promises, and Bob Rubin, future Treasury secretary, who argued for deficit reduction. Mr Rubin won. A similar debate is now taking place within the large universe of Obama policy advisers. “No decisions have been taken on anything yet,” said one.

The second is how to redeem Mr Obama’s promise of a rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq. This could be complicated by the stalemate in negotiations between Baghdad and Washington over the “status of forces agreement”. Robert Gates, who many believe would be asked by Mr Obama to stay on as Pentagon chief, has sounded the alarm about the negotiations.

“President-elect Obama could be faced with a situation on New Year’s Eve where US troops are not permitted to leave their barracks because there is no legal basis for their presence in Iraq,” says Bill Galston, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, who was involved in Mr Clinton’s transition effort. “To game out all these scenarios – the financial crisis, Iraq, the fiscal stimulus, etc – will require an unprecedented degree of planning for a transition effort.”

The third and fourth decisions would be how to handle the financial meltdown and prepare the first budget, to be launched in February. With a projected budget deficit next year of $900bn, according to the transition team’s internal numbers, the Rubin-Reich battle could be replayed on a far grander scale.

“Even a few weeks ago nobody anticipated how much we would be swamped by the financial crisis,” says another insider. “It trains the mind on what our priorities should be.”

Mr Obama would be expected to announce his top three or four names, including a chief of staff, within days of being elected. “There would be no time for drift,” says Mr Galston.

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The Obama Presidency: Getting Up to Speed for the Challenges

  Read here in Financial Times

Washington’s best-kept secret is that Barack Obama has the largest and most disciplined presidential transition team anyone can recall.

Headed by John Podesta, former chief of staff in Bill Clinton’s White House, it started work well before the financial meltdown hit in September but has been swamped by its implications ever since.

Transition insiders, who are under strict orders from the Obama campaign not to talk to the media to avoid giving the impression Mr Obama thinks he has won already, contrast it particularly with Mr Clinton’s transition in 1992, which was based in Little Rock, Arkansas, and turned into an extended symposium on every subject under the sun.

Clinton’s transition didn’t really begin until after he’d won the election,” said someone who is helping Mr Obama’s transition and worked on Mr Clinton’s. “But the scale of the challenges facing a potential Obama administration means that it is much, much more important to be prepared this time round than it would have been in 1992.”

One of Mr Obama’s main motivations is to avoid the mistakes attributed to Mr Clinton, whose first 100 days in office turned into a nightmare from which it took years to recover and which helped bring about the Republican landslide in the 1994 mid-term elections.

Mr Clinton spent his first few weeks choosing a diverse cabinet that “looked like America”, which ate up time that could have been spent deciding on legislative priorities and appointing the main White House staff who ensure an administration runs smoothly.

In contrast, Mr Obama, who would instantly be faced with questions about how and whether to interact with the global financial crisis summit that George W. Bush has convened for the week after the election, is focusing on the “nitty gritty” of how things should work, says another person involved with the transition.

The Democratic nominee has already reached an agreement with Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, to speed up the often painstakingly slow Senate confirmation process for the hundreds of appointees who would populate an Obama administration. Many of Mr Clinton’s appointments were still to be confirmed a year after he took office.

Mr Obama has also already had conversations with “blue dog Democrats” – fiscal conservatives – about the potentially painful budgetary decisions he would have to make well before taking office on January 20.

The level of detail that the Obama transition team is getting into is extraordinary – they are leaving no stone unturned,” said a senior former Clinton administration official who has been consulted. “I have been getting calls that you’d expect in previous transitions to get maybe in December, or never at all.”

Were he to be elected, Mr Obama would face four immediate problems of a magnitude that would put previous transition efforts into the shade. The first is when to push Congress to enact a second fiscal stimulus to shore up the economy, and whether to shoehorn Mr Obama’s promised long-term investments in healthcare, energy, education and infrastructure into that package.

In 1992, the Clinton team was consumed by a battle be­tween Bob Reich, future Labour secretary, who argued for redeeming the campaign’s spending promises, and Bob Rubin, future Treasury secretary, who argued for deficit reduction. Mr Rubin won. A similar debate is now taking place within the large universe of Obama policy advisers. “No decisions have been taken on anything yet,” said one.

The second is how to redeem Mr Obama’s promise of a rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq. This could be complicated by the stalemate in negotiations between Baghdad and Washington over the “status of forces agreement”. Robert Gates, who many believe would be asked by Mr Obama to stay on as Pentagon chief, has sounded the alarm about the negotiations.

President-elect Obama could be faced with a situation on New Year’s Eve where US troops are not permitted to leave their barracks because there is no legal basis for their presence in Iraq,” says Bill Galston, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, who was involved in Mr Clinton’s transition effort. “To game out all these scenarios – the financial crisis, Iraq, the fiscal stimulus, etc – will require an unprecedented degree of planning for a transition effort.”

The third and fourth decisions would be how to handle the financial meltdown and prepare the first budget, to be launched in February. With a projected budget deficit next year of $900bn, according to the transition team’s internal numbers, the Rubin-Reich battle could be replayed on a far grander scale.

Even a few weeks ago nobody anticipated how much we would be swamped by the financial crisis,” says another insider. “It trains the mind on what our priorities should be.”

Mr Obama would be expected to announce his top three or four names, including a chief of staff, within days of being elected. “There would be no time for drift,” says Mr Galston.

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Obama Ads Question McCain's Choice of Palin

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The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” reads one quote, cited from a Dec. 2007 Boston Globe story. The ad then notes McCain’s comment from a Republican primary debate last November that he “might have to rely on a vice president I selectas a backstop on economic policy.

The screen then flashes to the words “His Choice?” and then cuts to a slow motion image of Palin giving her signature wink to the camera during the vice presidential debate earlier this month.
The 30-second ad will air in battleground states.

It is the first time Obama’s campaign has called into question McCain’s judgment selecting Palin as his vice president in a television ad.

As The Wall Street Journal reports today, Palin will be campaigning in Toledo, Ohio, to give a speech on energy policy.

The McCain-Palin campaign has been dogged in recent days by multiple reports of a growing rift between the staff and the running mates over the campaign’s direction, as well as pointing fingers over who is to blame for recent gaffes including Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe expenses.

Unnamed McCain advisers have referred to Palin as a “diva” to CNN and a “whack job” to Politico.

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 Wednesday, October 29, 2008

John McCain Should Save and Protect His Legacy Than to Win the Election At ALL Costs

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Tension between John McCain and Sarah Palin

Speaking about the Republican campaign at a rally in Pennsylvania he said "when two mavericks join up, we don't agree on everything, but that's a lot of fun".

The presidential candidate gave one of his now trademark awkward grins as he made the remark standing in front of her at a joint appearance.

The comments followed days of proxy war carried out by aides through the media.

Accusations between McCain advisers and those close to Sarah Palin, the vice-presidential nominee, have become very heated.

A senior McCain adviser was quoted as describing Mrs Palin as "a whack job". Others called her a "diva" and complained she had been "going rogue".

Mrs Palin has made clear she believes she was the victim of a botched "roll out" plan in which the McCain campaign initially kept her cosseted from the media.

To the anger of senior McCain staff, she recently went off script to point out that she had not chosen the $150,000 (£95,000) of designer clothes.

She privately blames the Republican National Committee for damaging her down-to-earth image.

Though Mr McCain has in the past talked about their public disagreements on issues such as drilling for oil and gas in the Alaska wilderness, there was no doubting that the comments in Pennsylvania referred to damaging acrimony in the campaign.

Their disagreements have been anything but "fun" for Republicans competing for Congressional seats and looking to the presidential ticket to improve their prospects.

Many senior Republicans now fear a historic landslide by Barack Obama and have begun to adopt a strategy to limit the party's losses.

He added that the internal wrangling between the McCain anItalicd Palin camps sent "a bad message to voters" and lead to an even bigger Republican loss. "The sniping is unforgivable."

Mr Bush's legacyunfinished wars, a tainted reputation for competence, record high spending, a global economic crisis and the effective nationalisation of the financial system — have shaken loose the ideological cement that once bound the Republican party together.

Threatened with open revolt if he picked the independent Democrat Joe Lieberman as his running-mate, Mr McCain hoped to galvanise his party by choosing Sarah Palin.

The result has been a dysfunctional campaign.

Some of his own advisers say that she is more intent on positioning herself for the next presidential race than fighting this one. Her defenders point out that it is she who pulls the crowds, not him, and suggest that Mrs Palin has been ill-served - even betrayed — by Mr McCain's team.

She is increasingly giving voice to the dissent in Republican ranks, criticising the decisions to pull the campaign out of Michigan and to avoid making racially combustible attacks on Barack Obama over his links with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

When she went to Iowa at the weekend, it may well have been significant that she hinted at support for ethanol subsidies which are opposed by Mr McCain but will put her in good stead when the state kicks off the presidential nominating process in 2012.

There is little doubt that as a populist pitbull champion of culturally conservative issues she excites core Republicans in a way that Mr McCain cannot, not least because the party has moved decisively to the Right over the past two decades. Mrs Palin is also coming to symbolise a fresh rift in the party between the base and the Establishment.

The list of Republicans backing Mr Obama
includes not only centrist figures such as General Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State, but also Ken Adelman — a leading neocon who advised Donald Rumsfeld on Iraq and introduced Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, to Paul Wolfowitz, the hawkish former Deputy Defence Secretary.

Mr Adelman admits to being startled at finding himself in Democrat ranks, attributing his defection to doubts about Mr McCain's temperament and his “appalling lack of judgment” in picking Mrs Palin. He told The New Yorker magazine: “I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency.”

Christopher Buckley, whose father helped to found the modern conservative movement, has also swallowed his right-wing principles to back Mr Obama, contrasting the Democrat's “first-class intellect” with Mr McCain's decision to pluck Mrs Palin from the Alaskan wilderness. “What on Earth can he have been thinking?” he asked.

Mrs Palin promises to eschew the traditional hierachy even as she hints at having a very big part in the Republicans' future. “I would love to promote the party ideals if we're going to live out the ideals and maybe allow other American voters to understand what the principles of the party are,” she told The Weekly Standard magazine. “We've got to be assured we have enough people in the party who will live out those ideals and it's not just rhetoric. Otherwise, I'd be wasting my time.”

At one recent rally she said:

“We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, DC. We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.”
Her problem is that with polls suggesting that North Carolina, Virginia and tracts of the Rocky Mountain West are heading into Mr Obama's columns, “real Americamay no longer be big enough to elect a Republican president.

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Political Halloween: McCain's message is "Be afraid of Obama. Be very afraid."

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Who says John McCain doesn't have a tight campaign message?

At his rally here Monday, the message was clear and pithy:

Boo.

In three acts, McCain presented the Obama Horror Show. If Obama is elected, your taxes will go up, you'll be unsafe from foreign threats, and, especially if Congress goes Democratic, you will be forced to endure an era of unchecked liberalism.Obama aides have long argued that their candidate offers hope while McCain offers fear.

Judging by the balance of messages both candidates are giving voters before Election Day, it's hard to disagree.

The minute McCain took the stage at a high-school gymnasium in Dayton, he unspooled the chain of nightmares Obama would unleash after the inauguration.

McCain heralded "Joe the Plumber," as he has for the last two weeks, to make the case that Obama's tax policies were aimed at redistributing wealth.

He also pointed to a 2001 interview in which (so the McCain campaign says) Obama claimed one of the tragedies of the civil rights era was that it failed to redistribute wealth. "That is what change means for Barack the Redistributor," he told a crowd of about 2,000, which didn't fill the gym. "It means taking your money and giving it to someone else."

Since McCain has been labeling Obama a redistributor, it was certainly convenient that Obama used a version of that word in a sentence in an interview seven years ago.

But it's hard to see how the new attack is going to change the bleak political landscape for McCain.

One reason his attacks are not effective is that Obama's remarks are simply not very subversive.

Reading them in context, and trying to keep from napping, it's clear that when Obama talks about redistribution, he's NOT talking about taxing the rich to give handouts—as McCain would have us think.

Obama's talking about the Supreme Court's reluctance to force school districts to spend money to provide equality in schools. Later in the same interview, when Obama again discusses redistribution, he also talks about the complexities of school funding after Brown v. Board of Education.

With so little time left, McCain needs clear and effective critiques.

So far, his tax attacks have been ineffective.

Polls show that, over the last month, voters nationally and in key states like Virginia have come to trust Obama more on the question of taxes.

Making hay of a seven-year-old quote about the civil rights struggles of a previous generation is not going to change the dynamic.

In Dayton, McCain also questioned Obama's readiness to face a foreign crisis, as he did last week, and raised the specter of Democrats controlling the White House and Congress. "Can you imagine an Obama, Reid, Pelosi combination?" he said to scattered boos.

Though the central thrust of McCain's argument is about the danger of an Obama presidency, the McCain pitch is not all negative (just as Obama's "closing argument" of hope for the future uses the McCain-Bush boogeyman).

McCain makes an affirmative case for his policies—promising to cut taxes, reduce spending, and buy up mortgages to keep people in their homes.

His closing oration is a call to restore America's greatness that is generally positive. It's even rousing, especially by McCain standards. When McCain says, "I'm an American, and I choose to fight," it sparks the crowd. He's just got to hope that the mix of fight and fright does enough to help him come from behind.
.

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 Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Acknowledging Obama the Grandson

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by

Bob Geiger

When I heard last week that Barack Obama would be leaving the campaign trail on Thursday and Friday to visit his gravely ill grandmother in Hawaii, I have to admit that my first thoughts were not of Obama and his family, but of the political consequences of the candidate removing himself from the mix while so deep in the homestretch.

I should have thought better.

Like Obama, I was raised for much of my childhood by a strong-willed single mother and had a maternal grandmother who was also a powerful influence on my early development. I've often said that I learned more about being a man from my mother and grandmother than I ever did from any male figures in my life and I suspect Senator Obama may feel much the same way.

And as I watched Obama get back to work over the weekend and jump right back into his manic schedule of rallies and speeches, I considered how devastated I had been by my grandmother's passing when I was out at sea as a young U.S. Navy man and the deep pain and loss I experienced when I lost my mother to cancer when she was only 57 years old.

So I felt ashamed for letting political calculation be my first thoughts upon hearing that Obama was going to visit his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, on a short trip that may have been the last time he sees the woman who's been so instrumental in his life, before she passes away.

"Without going through the details too much, she's gravely ill. We weren't sure, and I'm still not sure whether she makes it to Election Day," Obama said Friday on ABC's Good Morning America when speaking of his grandmother, who turned 86 on Sunday. "We're all praying and we hope she does, but one of the things I want to make sure of is I had a chance to sit down with her and to talk to her. She's still alert and she's still got all her faculties. And I want to make sure that I don't miss that opportunity."

"She's really been one of the cornerstones of my life -- she's a remarkable woman."

Seeing interviews in which Obama has spoken movingly about his relationship with his grandmother, while also reflecting on my own background, has made me think a lot about the difficulty Obama faces in the coming days and weeks -- not as the charismatic, larger-than-life man we have watched campaign for president for almost two years, but as a human being.

No matter how long Madelyn Dunham's longevity remains in doubt, Barack Obama will ultimately experience a depth of feelings and of loss that will be unique to him and that he will have to handle during a most extraordinarily public time in his life. This intellectual dynamo that so many of us hope will become the next president will need to be temporarily far more to himself, his wife and his family than he is with us as the man on whose shoulders so many of us have placed our hopes for America's future.

He will simply be a man, mourning a deeply-personal loss right when he is hitting the zenith of his potential.

And, as one who has been there with the deaths of a mother and a grandmother so central to my life, I know that when he loses this woman -- of whom he said last week "whatever strength and discipline that I have, it comes from her" -- he will, for whatever moments he allows himself, not be the presidential candidate, the husband or even the father.

He will, in grieving such a profound personal loss, be transported back in time and will be for however many moments, a young boy remembering the encouraging words, the skinned knees fixed, the hot chocolate and cookies made and the warm embraces that helped nurture him to what he has become.

He will grieve at a time when he has so little privacy and in a large way that only he will know. And those of us who look to him for so much may be inclined to forget that as we consider the enormity of this election and the impact it will have on our lives.

"This election isn't about me, it's about you," Obama has so often said in the course of this presidential election cycle and I don't think that for one minute he expects millions of Americans to drop thoughts of the big picture and of deep concerns we each have about our country and our future.

But whenever Madelyn Dunham leaves this world, we should at least take a moment to consider Barack Obama the man -- a human being who will have just absorbed a terrible loss of a woman who he believes shares so much credit for where he is today and who he is today.

And we should give him the same privacy, sympathy and respect we would give to any relative, friend or coworker under the same circumstances.

For if we fail if only for a moment, to consider Barack Obama just one private person with hopes, fears, joy and, yes, pain and grief, we deny him his essential humanity and in doing so, lose just a bit of our own.

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Bill Maher and Guests Discuss Sarah Palin

  BILL MAHER AND GUESTS



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Struggle for soul of Republican Party degenerates into civil war

by

RUPERT CORNWELL

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The election hasn't even been lost yet. But as John McCain slides towards likely defeat, the sniping between Republican factions has degenerated into something close to outright civil war -- one that presages a wrenching struggle for the future of the party.

In the past few days, the feuding has reached to the very top of the campaign, with the McCain camp accusing Sarah Palin, his own vice-presidential running mate, of acting like a "rogue" candidate, going her own way and defying the instructions of her boss' top advisers.

"She's a diva," one unidentified McCain aide told CNN. "She takes no advice from anyone ... she does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else."

Mutual recrimination is the norm in a losing presidential campaign, as aides position themselves for the blame game after defeat. A week before the election, the McCain campaign seems headed in that direction, trailing Barack Obama by between 7 and 10 points in most national polls, and behind in the major swing states that will decide the outcome. But the backbiting this time is of rare ferocity.

"How did we get into this mess?" Newt Gingrich, former House speaker and a driving force behind the Republican dominance for most of the past 20 years, says of the disarray. "It's not where we should be and it's not where we had to be. This was not bad luck."

For the second time this month, William Kristol, a leading voice on the party's conservative wing, used his column in The New York Times Monday to urge the struggling candidate to throw his advisers to the winds. "He might as well muzzle the campaign," Kristol wrote. Senior McCain staffers were now "spending more time criticizing one another than Obama, and more time defending their own reputations than pursuing a McCain-Palin victory."

As Kristol would be the first to admit, 2008 was never going to be easy for Republicans. To win, McCain had to unite and energies the party and, in effect, run against the Republican president of the past eight years, more unpopular over an extended period than any U.S. leader in half a century.

In some ways, the Republican predicament mirrors that of the Tories at the 1997 election -- in power for too long and exhausted of ideas. Complicating matters have been McCain's fragile relations with the social conservative Republican base, with which he has clashed frequently in the past.

Another problem has been his age. At 72, he would be the oldest incoming president in history (a factor that weighs more heavily with voters, pollsters have found, than Obama's skin color). If he loses, McCain will never run for the White House again. The leadership of the party is up for grabs -- not a situation that lends itself to harmony.

Finally, he has been unable to find a consistent message. One moment, strategists complain, he has presented himself as hero and patriot with experience, unlike his untested "celebrity" opponent. Then he metamorphosed into an agent of radical change, in improbable contrast to "insider" Obama.

Next, the man who made a virtue of playing clean politics waded in, low and dirty, against the Illinois senator. Finally, it was a ticket of "two mavericks" to overturn Washington politics. Unfortunately the mavericks -- or their teams -- are criticizing not so much Obama as each other.

The lightning rod is Palin. As initial excitement at her nomination subsided, party elders began to criticize the choice. The Alaska governor was too inexperienced, they complained, her conservative views would alienate independents. As the debacle of her interview with Katie Couric proved, McCain had blundered in picking her. To which the Palin camp responds that the McCain team made a mess of her "roll-out" and had not "let Sarah be Sarah." Now she is increasingly speaking out for herself.

Hence the whispers that she is a "rogue" candidate.

But the dispute also reflects a struggle for the future. Palin is an emblem of the social conservatives, of how that base can be mobilized to win elections, as George W. Bush did in 2004.

"She is playing for her own future," the unnamed McCain aide added, "she sees herself as the next leader of the party."

At his most effective, McCain has taken the opposite tack, as a unifier who appeals across party lines. The battle lines have been drawn.

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Steven Edwards: McCain's Palin problems make Romney look better all the time

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They say rats are the first to leave a sinking ship, and to that we might add a pit bull with lipstick and a $150,000 makeover.

Sarah Palin is in revolt, it’s reported, angry that John McCain’s handlers forced her to wear haute couture; that she’s not been able to be herself before the media; and that Republican campaign strategy -- like the decision to give up on Michigan -- is askew.

Party handlers have shot back, saying they didn’t hear a peep from her when she was being fitted for the designer clothes, and calling her a “diva.”

Anyone who watched Katie Couric’s interview with the vice-presidential candidate could see she had trouble thinking on her feet when confronted with such challenging questions as: “What magazines do you read?”

And while she may have a point about rolling over in Michigan, one of the states hardest hit by the economic downturn, it’s also one that George W. Bush never won, as well as being home to a large African-American population almost universally behind Barack Obama, dire economy or not.

On balance, the Alaska governor’s public performances have rendered her a greater boon to Tina Fey’s career than to McCain’s.

So how is it that Palin, perhaps better known across Canada’s North than in the Lower 48 states and Hawaii until a few weeks ago, can be so brazen as to challenge the man who rocketed her to the national scene?

It's all about the political makeover of the Republican Party’s new great hope.

For many senior Republicans, Obama appears sure to prevail Nov. 4 – and there may even be a serious increase in the Democratic majorities in Congress. Hence, with eyes already fixed on 2012, Palin needs to be distanced from the expected 2008 debacle.

Advice is already incoming: She should at all costs avoid running for Congress, writes Ron Bonjean, former communications director for House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate majority leader Trent Lott.

If Palin ran for the Senate, she quickly becomes part of the establishment,” he says, advising her to return to Alaska where she can remain politically active as its chief executive, yet still build on her new-found fame.

He also suggests party chiefs should surround Palin with “the brightest people,” meaning they “cannot be friends or neighbours with questionable qualifications.”

In what would mark a strategic shift in the way the party promotes its 2012 candidate, Bonjean says Palin should lead a recruitment drive among people serving in local, city and state offices who could spread the “Palin Change” message across America.

As for this election, McCain’s folly at not having picked Mitt Romney as his running mate is now all too apparent as the economy dives.

The Republican presidential candidate’s turn southward in the polls mirrored the mid-September shock to the world financial markets, which propelled the economy and its future to the number one concern of U.S. voters.

McCain’s campaign could have used the benefit of Romney’s business experience and acumen to reassure a public daily bombarded with predictions the sky is falling. Indeed, but for America’s insistence on mixing church and politics, the successful investment banker and consultant -- who also saved the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City from financial ruin and ran Massachusetts as governor -- might even have been in McCain’s place as the party nominee.

Though there are no statistics to prove Romney didn’t win because, as a Mormon, he is a member of a controversial church, the fact he had to address the issue during his campaign underlines the level of concern it raised.

How ironic that the U.S. Constitution bans mixing church and state, but religious matters thread through American politics more than they do through the politics of just about any other Western country.

The need for an economic wizard on the current ticket didn’t seem pressing when McCain was casting about for a running mate just before the financial crisis burst into the open. It appeared Palin would address other shortcomings within McCain’s campaign, like the career-long centrism that has long infuriated the party’s conservative wing, allowing him to focus on his specialty: security.

While Palin is a social conservative, Romney could have filled that void. His social values are equally anchored in conservatism, and the fact he masked them to win election in the liberal bastion of Massachusetts only attests to his astuteness in knowing how to play to all constituencies.

The McCain campaign says the Arizona senator will spend the last week before the election focusing on Obama’s statement to the Ohio journeyman “Joe the Plumber” that he believes in “spreading the wealth.” A 2001 radio interview with Obama that emerged over the weekend reveals he believes the goal can be achieved legislatively. There’ll be nothing to stop him if he wins the White House with big Congressional Democratic majorities behind him.

But while McCain is right in saying it’s an inherently un-American concept that will inhibit innovation, his ticket just doesn’t have the economic credibility to make the message sufficiently register in voters’ minds before they go to the polls.

Still uppermost in the public perception is his admission that economics is not his strong point, and his recent lurching from one economic remedy to another.

Both the party base and Palin believe they've seen the writing on the wall and are already bailing.

As former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich remarked on the state of the McCain campaign: "It's not where we should be and it's not where we had to be. This was not bad luck."

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White Supremacists Tried to Assassinate Obama

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Law enforcement arrested two men in Tennessee who had plans to rob a gun dealer to shoot Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and "as many non-Caucasians" as possible, an official said on Monday.

An official from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said police found the men in the Jackson, Tennessee area with a number of guns, including a sawed-off shotgun, in their car.

"They wanted to go to a place where they could shoot as many non-Caucasian as they could," the official said, noting that the men first planned to rob a gun dealer. "They also had a plot to assassinate Sen. Obama."

Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, is leading Republican John McCain in opinion polls ahead of the November 4 election.

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Palin's Alaskan Pal Convicted of Corruption

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Sarah Palin's pal Ted Stevens has been found guilty on all seven counts of failing to report gifts on Senate forms.

Remember the story we were fed about Palin being anti-establishment and going up against her own party in Alaska?

This video shows her this summer making it very clear that she has always respected Ted Stevens, now a convicted felon.



I wonder if she'll answer questions about whether he should continue to serve in the Senate. ... It's easy to understand why she had been reluctant early on.

After all, he is the dean of the old-boys club in Alaska, and, as she has said, she has always respected him.

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How to Watch Out Republican's Dirty Tricks to Steal the Election

  MUST WATCH VIDEO CLIP:

Bill Maher discusses with Allen Raymond
who was convicted for dirty tricks in the 2002 election


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 Monday, October 27, 2008

Sarah Palin: Sarah Palin: the Character Question Should Rule Her Out

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by

Iain Martin

In Christine Toomey's profile of Sarah Palin there is a short passage which gets to the heart of the doubts so many have about the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate.


"There is a high body count of people who have dared to disagree with Sarah Palin, shown a reluctance to do her bidding or, in her eyes, failed to support her wholeheartedly – among them some who say they too have been hunted, carved up and cast aside along her path to power.

These people warn, as do even her closest friends and family, that in Palin’s eyes there are no grey areas, no room for doubt.

There is only right or wrong, black or white, “good or evil”.

Her father Chuck’s word for it is “stubborn”. One of her friends calls her “dogged”.

If Palin believes something to be true, it is – no amount of evidence to the contrary will sway her, and everybody else had better believe it too."

That section - "If Palin believes something to be true, it is – no amount of evidence to the contrary will sway her, and everybody else had better believe it too" - is damning.

All the evidence suggests she lacks any curiosity about ideas, others and the outside world.

In these dislocated times, of economic crisis and multiple threats on the foreign policy front, that is the LAST kind of potential leader America or the West needs.

Margaret Thatcher, to whom some Republicans want to compare Palin, was intellectually curious, otherwise she would not have made the journey from the fairly bland small c conservatism which she advocated in the 1950s, 1960s and first half of the 1970s. She was open to new thinking. She became stubborn, or too dogged, only AFTER she had turned around her country's economy and altered its standing in the world - not before.

In contrast to Palin, one of Barack Obama's most attractive traits, alongside his sense of calm, is his flexibility, his adaptability and his willingness to consider his options and learn.

That's going to be of more use in the difficult years ahead than a politician who cannot be swayed by rational arguments or evidence.

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John McCain-the-Man was Smitten by Sarah Palin-the-Woman under the Sycamore Tree

  By

KATHLEEN PARKER

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A brilliant, 75-year-old scholar and raconteur confessed to me over wine:

“I’m sexually attracted to her (Sarah Palin). I don’t care that she knows nothing.”
Finally, writer Robert Draper closed the file on the Sarah Palin mystery with a devastating article in The New York Times Magazine: “The Making (and Remaking) of McCain.”

McCain didn’t know her. He didn’t vet her. His campaign team had barely an impression.

In a bar one night, Draper asked one of McCain’s senior advisers: “Leaving aside her actual experience, do you know how informed Governor Palin is about the issues of the day?”

The adviser thought a moment and replied: “No, I don’t know.”

Blame the sycamore tree.

McCain had met Palin only once in February, at the governors’ convention in Washington, D.C.— before the day he selected her as his running mate.

The second time was at his Sedona, Ariz., ranch just four days before the GOP convention.

As Draper tells it, McCain took Palin to his favorite coffee-drinking spot down by a creek and a sycamore tree.

They talked for more than an hour, and, as Napoleon whispered to Josephine, “Voila.”

One does not have to be a psychoanalyst to reckon that McCain was smitten.

By no means am I suggesting anything untoward between McCain and his running mate. Palin is a governor, after all. She does have an executive resume, if a thin one. And she’s a natural politician who connects with people.

But there can be no denying that McCain’s selection of her over others FAR MORE qualified — and his mind-boggling lack of attention to details that mattersuggests other factors at work.

McCain's Clouded Judgement to Assess the Future

His judgment may have been clouded by ... WHAT? Science provides clues.

A study in Canada, published in New Scientist in 2003, found that PRETTY women foil MEN's ability to assess the future.Discounting the future,” as the condition is called, means preferring IMMEDIATE, LESSER rewards to greater rewards in the future.

That MEN are at a disadvantage when ATTRACTIVE women are present is a fact upon which women have banked for centuries. Ignoring it now profits only FOOLS.

McCain spokesmen have said that he was attracted to Palin’s maverickness, that she reminded him of himself.

Recognizing oneself in a member of the opposite sex (or the same sex, as the case may be) is a powerful invitation to bonding.

Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in the river, imagining it to be his deceased and beloved sister’s.

In McCain’s case, it doesn’t hurt that his reflection is spiked with feminine approval.

As my husband observed early on, McCain the mortal couldn’t mind having an attractive woman all but singing arias to his greatness.

Cameras frequently capture McCain beaming like a gold-starred schoolboy while Palin tells crowds that he is “exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief.

This, notes Draper, “seemed to confer not only valor but virility on a 72-year-old politician who only weeks ago barely registered with the party faithful.”

It is entirely possible that no one could have beaten the political force known as Barack Obama — under any circumstances.

And though it isn’t over yet, it seems clear that McCain made a tragic, if familiar, error under that sycamore tree.

Will he join the pantheon of men who, intoxicated by a woman’s power, made the wrong call?

If McCain, rightful heir to the presidency, loses to Obama, history undoubtedly will note that he was defeated at least in part by his own besotted impulse to discount the future.

If he wins, then he must be credited with having correctly calculated nature’s power to befuddle.

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Globe poll: Obama Has Big Lead in New Hampshire

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By
Lisa Wangsness

Barack Obama has vaulted to a 15-point lead over John McCain in New Hampshire, according to a new Boston Globe poll, a significant gap in a state that McCain considers his second political home and has long been a swing state in the race for the White House.

Financial distress has clearly driven voters from McCain to Obama, who was trailing his Republican rival by 2 percentage points in September - a 17-point swing in just one month.

Nearly half of those surveyed cited the economy and jobs as their top concerns, and they overwhelmingly saw Obama as the candidate best equipped to address them.

"McCain certainly has his back to the wall in New Hampshire," said Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducted the poll. "The economic crisis in September and October has changed the mood of voters in New Hampshire, who are now solidly backing Obama as the candidate best able to deal with economic issues."

The poll also found that the Arizona senator is being dragged down by a deeply troubled Bush administration, an increasingly unpopular running mate, Sarah Palin, and the perceived negativity of his campaign. Three-quarters of those surveyed said Obama has the best chance to win, which Smith said could depress turnout for McCain.

Obama's edge in New Hampshire is fresh evidence that the state is shedding its identity as the last refuge for Yankee conservatives.

The survey of 725 likely voters, conducted from Oct. 18 to Oct. 22, had Obama leading 54 to 39 percent, with 6 percent undecided and a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

In a sign of how all-important the economy has become in this election, Obama has seized a commanding lead even though voters saw McCain as better able to take on terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and Iraq.

When it came to who would be better at handling the economy and the financial system, the Illinois senator trounced his rival.

Harry Nelson, a 79-year-old retired Wall Street money manager who participated in the poll and agreed to speak with a reporter afterward, said the next president will enter the White House under conditions similar to those that faced Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Obama, he said, has "some of the same stuff" as Roosevelt and could be a "transformational leader."

"If you look at the way he runs his campaign, it's been brilliant," said Nelson, an undeclared voter who lives in Hanover. "I don't think he's an economic expert, but he doesn't have to be - he picks good people. . . . That's what management is all about, isn't it?"

Most voters - 66 percent - considered McCain the more experienced of the two candidates.

But, in a sign that McCain has failed to cast himself as a reformer and to dissociate himself from Bush, twice as many respondents said Obama was the candidate most likely to bring change.

While an equal number of voters rated McCain and Obama as the stronger leader, the poll found that Obama has established himself as the candidate voters can most relate to and trust.

A significant majority said Obama has better judgment, and a majority said he is more trustworthy and most reflects their values.

Misty Foote, a 37-year-old independent voter from Rochester, said she decided to vote for Obama in the last couple of weeks.

"I think he's down to earth and he's one of us," said Foote, who is disabled and lives on Social Security. "I just think McCain is going to be just like Bush. He's going to keep everything the same, and that would be fine if we had a good economy, but we don't."

On financial issues, 15 percent said they were "very" or "somewhat" worried about losing their jobs, and a similar number - mostly younger and lower-income voters - were deeply concerned about losing their homes. But more than two-thirds of those polled said they were "very" or "somewhat" worried about a secure retirement, and 42 percent said the same about college costs.

The bailout plan was unpopular in New Hampshire among voters in both parties, according to the poll; 55 percent said they disapproved of it strongly or somewhat.

The poll found widespread support for tax cuts for the middle class; Republicans were more likely to favor cuts for small businesses.

New Hampshire, a battleground state in both of the last two presidential election cycles, has been growing steadily more liberal in recent years because of significant population churn. Smith said nearly one-third of potential voters did not live in the state or were too young to vote in 2000.

Three other factors besides the economy appear to have damaged McCain in the Granite State.

  • By a nearly 3-to-1 margin, voters said McCain's campaign was the most negative, and over the last month, the Republican nominee's favorability ratings have plummeted while Obama's have climbed.

    "The John McCain I see right now is not the John McCain I saw in 2000," said Kevin Clancy, a 47-year-old undeclared voter from Manchester who had considered voting for McCain after Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination. "I just can't stand the lies and the smears that are coming from the Republican Party."

  • McCain is also being dragged down in New Hampshire by a hugely unpopular White House, the poll found. Twenty percent of voters surveyed had a favorable opinion of the president and 71 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him; last month, the numbers were 24 percent and 66 percent, respectively.

  • A third handicap for McCain is Palin. The poll found that more voters now have an unfavorable opinion of her than a favorable one, a reversal of the situation a month ago; Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden's popularity, on the other hand, has steadily grown. Thirty-nine percent this month said they had a favorable opinion of Palin; 48 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of her. Fifty-four percent had a favorable opinion of Biden, 27 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him.

    Linda Comeau, 55, an independent voter from Stratham who supported Clinton in the primary, said she was "very open" to McCain until he picked Palin. "She is not prepared to be vice president," she said. "She is uninformed, she doesn't know what she is saying, she is inexperienced, and compared to Barack Obama her intellect is minimal."

Still, many McCain supporters preferred him for his experience, especially on national security issues.

Betsy Manchester , a 58-year-old school nurse's assistant who lives in Nottingham, said she thought McCain had an edge over Obama on national security issues.

"He is a veteran; he has served his country; he was a POW," she said. "I think he's seen it all and he knows basically what to expect and how to react." On Iraq, she added, McCain is closer to her view that "we've just got to stick it out - unfortunately."

A central question is whether polls accurately reflect the effect of race and racism in a campaign where Obama is the first African-American nominee of a major party.

The Globe poll found that 22 percent of New Hampshire voters said they had heard a friend, family member, or co-worker say they would NOT vote for Obama because he is black, but only 9 percent said they thought many people would not vote for him because of his race, and 6 percent thought many people would support him because of it.

Smith said that together, the results suggest that while some voters have heard chatter about race, it is isolated or coming from people who would be unlikely to vote for Obama anyway.

Geoff Gilbertson, a machinist from Peterborough, said one person he knows wouldn't vote for Obama because of his race, but it was "someone who has absolutely no interest in voting."


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 Sunday, October 26, 2008

LA Times:Palin appointed friends and donors to key posts in Alaska, records show

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By

Charles Piller,
LA Times writer

100-plus jobs went to campaign donors or their relatives, sometimes without apparent regard to qualifications.

Several donors got state-subsidized loans for business ventures of dubious public value.

Reporting from Anchorage:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, plucked from relative obscurity in part for her reform credentials, has been eager to tout them in her vice presidential campaign.
"I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau when I stood up to the special interests and the lobbyists and the big oil companies and the good old boys,"

Palin told the Republican National Convention in her acceptance speech. She said that as a new governor she

"shook things up, and in short order we put the government of our state back on the side of the people."

By midway through her first term, she had signed an ethics reform bill, increased oil profit taxes and tweaked Big Oil again by awarding a gas pipeline contract to a Canadian company.

In some other respects, a Los Angeles Times examination of state records shows, her approach to government was business as usual.

Take, for example, the tradition of patronage.

Some of Palin's most controversial appointments involved donors, records show. Among The Times' findings:


  1. More than 100 appointments to state posts -- nearly 1 in 4 -- went to campaign contributors or their relatives, sometimes without apparent regard to qualifications.

  2. Palin filled 16 state offices with appointees from families that donated $2,000 to $5,600 and were among her top political patrons.

  3. Several of Palin's leading campaign donors received state-subsidized industrial development loans of up to $3.6 million for business ventures of questionable public value.

  4. Palin picked a donor to replace the public safety commissioner she fired. But the new top cop had to resign days later under an ethics cloud.

And Palin drew a formal ethics complaint still pending against her and several aides for allegedly helping another donor and fundraiser land a state job.

Most new governors install friends and supporters in state jobs.

But Alaska historians say some of Palin's appointees were less qualified than those of her Republican and Democratic predecessors.

University of Alaska historian Steve Haycox said Palin has been a reformer.

But he said she has a penchant for placing supporters, many of them ill-prepared, in high posts. He called it "cronyism" far beyond what previous governors have done and a contradiction of her high-minded philosophy.

Terrence Cole, an Alaska political historian, said Palin had in some cases shown "a disrespect for experience."

Administration officials disputed such criticism. They said campaign contributions were not a factor in state appointments. Frank Bailey, the state's directorof boards and commissions, in speaking for Palin, who was not available to answer inquiries from The Times, said, "We are always seeking the best-qualified folks."

In a little-noted sequel to Palin's controversial dismissal of her public safety commissioner, the governor replaced Walt Monegan with former small-town Police Chief Charles Kopp of Kenai.

The appointment unraveled almost immediately in what Cole called a vetting catastrophe.

A previous sexual harassment complaint came to light and Kopp had to resign two weeks after taking over. Alaska paid him $10,000 in severance.

After another of Palin's campaign donors and fundraisers landed a civil service job with the state department of transportation, GOP activist Andree McLeod filed an ethics complaint against the governor and several aides, alleging that improper pressure was used to help Tom Lamal.

Lamal, a public school teacher in Fairbanks until he retired in 2006, was hired as a right-of-way agent despite reports of internal conflicts over whether he was qualified under state law.

E-mail messages between Palin aides, obtained by McLeod under the state public records act, indicate that the hiring was pushed "through the roadblocks" by a deputy to one of Palin's appointees.

And Palin aide Bailey sent Lamal a congratulatory note saying, in part, "Well now your foot's back in the door and maybe we can tap you for other things."

Lamal declined to be interviewed for this article.

Palin spokesman William McAllister declined to comment because of an ongoing state personnel board inquiry.

Palin told the Anchorage Daily News in August that her office merely worked to fix a "glitch" that prevented Lamal's hiring because of outdated job requirements, and that no favors were given.

In other state appointments, records show that all five Palin selections for the powerful Natural Gas Development Authority, which oversees a proposed gas pipeline project, were DONORS . They included Kathryn Lamal, wife of Tom Lamal.

She appointed Kristan Cole, a school friend and a campaign donor, to the Board of Agriculture and Conservation, a farm regulatory position that by state law must go to people with strong business experience. Cole is a real estate agent.

All three appointees to the Board of Public Accountancy, which oversees the accounting industry, gave to her campaign for governor, as did all three appointees to the Local Boundary Commission, which regulates contentious land annexations by local governments.

Palin reappointed donor Steve Frank to the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., which manages Alaska's $29-billion oil revenue nest egg.

Frank, a former Republican legislator, is married to another leading donor, Linda Anderson, a lobbyist for power and tourism companies, among others.

The Permanent Fund position earns a $400-a-day honorarium. Most other board and commission appointees receive per diem and travel expenses. Regardless of compensation, experts said, such appointments are coveted for their power and prestige, or as a political stepping stone.

Palin spokesman McAllister said that most Cabinet-level officials she appointed were not donors. In every state, he added, people who "apply to serve in a voluntary role are typically supporters of the governor."

Records show that Palin donors obtained state-subsidized business loans from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, or AIDEA, whose mission is to encourage "economic growth and diversification of the state, including expansion of small businesses."

In one case, Jae G. Lee, a former Los Angeles businessman who is the proprietor of Party Time, a rundown grocery store and bottle shop in Anchorage, sought a $2.7-million state loan to buy an aging strip mall in midtown Anchorage. It was on the market because of a glut of similar malls in the area, all of them losing customers to big-box stores.

Lee and his wife, who had contributed $3,000 worth of office space to Palin's 2006 campaign, won the low-interest, state-backed mortgage although it was unclear how the old mall would add jobs. Lee said he did nothing to improve his acquisition, but with the cheap loan his profits have been robust.

Lee said he did not seek Palin's help to obtain the loan.

Two other state-backed loans with favorable terms and questionable development benefits went to Palin contributor and local dentist Scott Laudon and his partners. The investors got $1.2 million to refinance debt on Northern Lights Village -- a gritty collection of shops including massage and tattoo parlors, a secondhand-clothing store and a video arcade. Its neighbors along a 1 1/2 -mile stretch of Northern Lights Boulevard in midtown Anchorage include a dozen strip malls.

Laudon and other partners also received $3.6 million to buy two automated car washes in Anchorage. The benefit to Alaska, according to the approval documents, was the retention of five jobs -- which would have remained without the subsidy. Laudon declined to comment.

The Times requested documentation on the Lee and Laudon loans, including interest rates, from AIDEA on Sept. 25, but the agency has not released the materials and has declined to discuss details.

The agency "probably looked at it this way: 'This is a good loan that will be paid back,' " said Bob Poe, former AIDEA chief. "That helps them produce income to make other loans, much like a bank." As economic development, however, both loans sound questionable, he said.

Three Palin appointees to the AIDEA board also gave to her campaign for governor.

This year the board picked Palin donor Ted Leonard as chief executive of the $1.2-billion agency. His principal credential was having been financial manager of tiny Wasilla, Alaska. Palin appointed him to the city post when she was mayor.

Agency spokesman Karsten Rodvik said that Palin was not directly involved in the selection and that Leonard was the top applicant because of his long and diverse experience in finance and economic development. He also said that AIDEA managers were "not aware" of any influence by Palin or her aides on any loans.

Some of Palin's other appointments have been controversial.

Franci Havemeister, one of several of Palin's childhood friends tapped for leadership jobs, heads the state agriculture division. A former real estate agent, she was ridiculed in Alaska after it was reported that she had cited among her qualifications for the job a childhood love of cows.

And Palin's choice for attorney general, Talis Colberg, stirred considerable puzzlement:
He was virtually unknown beyond her circle near Wasilla. Colberg, who had a solo
law practice and little management experience, now oversees 500 professionals.
Colberg was criticized by both Republican and Democratic legislators for his handling of the recent investigation of Palin's actions in a controversy involving her ex-brother-in-law -- a state trooper -- and Monegan.

A Superior Court judge overruled Colberg's move to quash investigative subpoenas in the case.

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The Anchorage Daily News, Alaska's Biggest Paper Endorses OBAMA

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Alaska's biggest paper, The Anchorage Daily News, has endorsed Barack Obama for president, despite -- or at least partly because of -- its state governor's presence on the opposing ticket.

While praising Palin's energy and bright future, the paper's editorial adds,

"... Yet despite her formidable gifts, FEW who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth.

To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range.

Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time."

The paper has drawn national attention with many hard-hitting probes of the governor's background and tenures in elected office.

Here is an excerpt of the EDITORIAL in the Anchorage Daily News.

"....Alaska's founders were optimistic people, but even the most farsighted might have been stretched to imagine this scenario.

No matter the outcome in November, this election will mark a signal moment in the history of the 49th state. Many Alaskans are proud to see their governor, and their state, so prominent on the national stage.

Gov. Palin's nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency -- but it does not overwhelm all other judgment.

The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation.

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain.

Since his early acknowledgement that economic policy is not his strong suit, Sen. McCain has stumbled and fumbled badly in dealing with the accelerating crisis as it emerged. He declared that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" at 9 a.m. one day and by 11 a.m. was describing an economy in crisis. He is both a longtime advocate of less market regulation and a supporter of the huge taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailout.

His behavior in this crisis -- erratic is a kind description -- shows him to be ill-equipped to lead the essential effort of reining in a runaway financial system and setting an anxious nation on course to economic recovery.

Sen. Obama warned regulators and the nation 19 months ago that the subprime lending crisis was a disaster in the making. Sen. McCain backed tighter rules for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but didn't do much to advance that legislation.

Of the two candidates, Sen. Obama better understands the mortgage meltdown's root causes and has the judgment and intelligence to shape a solution, as well as the leadership to rally the country behind it.

It is easy to look at Sen. Obama and see a return to the smart, bipartisan economic policies of the last Democratic administration in Washington, which left the country with the momentum of growth and a budget surplus that President George Bush has squandered.

On the most important issue of the day, Sen. Obama is a clear choice.


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