Saturday, October 18, 2008

Palin's Stump Speech


GOV. PALIN: Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. And Senator Lieberman, thank you for that kind introduction. And it is so good to have all of you here today. As Senator Lieberman just said, he's never seen so many people up so early and we thank you for making that sacrifice. (It's nine AM.)
(Applause.) (Now comes the pander-fest: mention location and sport team.)
Thank you so much for that very, very warm welcome to the state of Florida. You take my breath away. Thank you, Florida.
The flags are beautiful. Thank you for that also. God bless America. You guys get it. Thank you.
It's great to be here in the home of the Tampa Bay Rays, too. (Applause.)
I know that earlier some of the experts this year are kind of tough on the Rays. I've been there. But what a difference a season can make. And now the Rays are in the playoffs for the first time ever. Florida knows a little something about turning an underdog into a victor, and together that's what we can do.
How about it Florida? Let us do that for Senator John McCain.
So the last time that our campaign came to Florida it was up in the villages and it was so much fun. Thousands of people out there. Golf carts everywhere. We got such a kick out of that, that was cool. Thousands of people out there to hear our message of reform and positive change. And they came there like you today because the people of Florida are ready to shake things up in Washington. (What? How long before you actually say something?)
So John McCain and I, we are taking our cause and our case for reform to every voter of every background in every region of America. Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent, (Alaska Independence Party?) maybe you don't belong to any party at all, we're asking for your vote. And it's going to be a hard fought contest. Right here in Florida it's going to be a tough contest. With your support, though, we'll win Florida.
We'll win for you.
(Applause.) (Still waiting for you to say something.)
So, I wanted to come here a couple of days earlier but I had an appointment in St. Louis that just wouldn't wait.
And so on Thursday night I had a little debate with Senator Joe Biden.
Joseph Biden is a decent man, he is. And I enjoyed meeting him for the first time. I was so proud, though, to get to make the case for the next president of the United States, John McCain.
(Applause.) As I explained to Senator Biden, John McCain is the only man in this race who will solve our economic crisis and not exploit it. And he's the only man in this race with a plan that will actually help our working families, and cut your taxes, and get our economy back on track.
(Applause.) (By Mr. McCain's own admission the economy is his weak suit.)
He's the only man in this race who talks about the wars that America is fighting and he isn't afraid to use the word victory. (Our own commanders in the field don't talk about "victory", but about "success".)
Our opponent gives speech after speech about the wars that America is fighting and it sure would be nice if just once he'd say that he wants America to win. (Succeed?)
See our opponent voted to cut off funding for our troops even after saying that he would never do so. (Misleading. Voted against one of two competing bills. Voted for the other, and ultimately, of course, supported the funding. McCain did the same thing, for the other version.)
And he said that our troops in Afghanistan are just quote, "raiding villages and killing civilians."
(Boos.) (Out of context. Was commenting on a specific case. Everyone else also agreed the soldiers in question were in the wrong. It's war, it happens.)
And that's not what our brave men and women in uniform are doing in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is fighting terrorism and protecting us and our values.
And they're building schools for children in Afghanistan so that there is hope and there is opportunity in that country. That is what our troops are doing and they deserve our gratitude and they deserve our support. (Obama supports a major increase in our presence in Afghanistan.)
See, John McCain is a different kind of man. He believes in our troops and their mission. And as the mother of one of those troops that's exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief.
Man, some of your signs just make me want to cry. Thank you so much. I love you guys.
(Applause.) Thank you.
(Applause.) (Sniffle. Now let's see how many times I can say "Florida", and pander to veterans.)
Senator McCain -- Senator McCain served our nation in uniform for 22 years, five and a half years he was a POW. In fact, it was after graduating from the Naval Academy, he was stationed right here in Florida. That's where he learned to do what he does, here in Florida.
And Florida, it was in your skies that he trained to become a naval aviator. And Senator McCain is proud to have been part of Florida's strong tradition of military service. And today, we're proud of all the Floridians who have worn our country's uniform. Your state is home to millions.
Florida is home to millions of our veterans and many of our nation's active duty soldiers and airmen. And they continue to keep our nation strong and secure. And I know that here in the audience there are veterans, there are those who are serving today. Would you do me the honor, raise your hand, let us applaud you? Thank you, guys.
We thank you and we love you guys. Thank you -- and gals, thank you.
(Applause.) ( Hang on. Has she actually said anything yet?)
Florida, in just 29 days it will be the time for choosing in this election. And here's how I look at the choice that we face. In politics there are some candidates who use change to just promote their careers. And then there are those leaders, like John McCain, who use their career to promote change. (The writers worked all night on that one.)
This is a moment when principles and political independence matter a lot more than just the party line, as Senator Lieberman just told you. It matters a lot more than just the party line. John McCain is his own man. He doesn't run with the Washington herd. And he and I don't just talk about change, we're the only candidates in this race with a track record of actually making change happen. (Lieberman was McCain's hands down choice for VP. McCain was convinced by hardliners to run with the herd and choose a "base" candidate, Palin.)
As mayor and as a governor, I reminded people that government is not always the answer. In fact, government too often is the problem. So we got back to basics and we put government back on the side of the people.
As mayor, I eliminated taxes on personal property and I eliminated taxes like small business inventory taxes. Those burdens on our small businesses, we got rid of them. Property taxes were too high. Every year that I was in office I reduced that (mill levy ?). (And built a gigantic, publicly funded, sport complex.)
And as governor, I brought the same agenda of positive change on a state level. I came to office promising to control spending, by request if possible, but by veto if necessary. And today, our state budget is under control and we have a surplus. And I put the veto pen to nearly half a billion dollars in wasteful spending. (She actually vetoes the entire budget, then has the Legislature come to her in small groups and lobby for each individual road or school.)
We suspended our state fuel tax and I'm returning a chunk of our surplus money right back to the people of Alaska. It's their money and they can spend it better than government can spend it for them. (Of course Alaskans don't pay state taxes. Its the oil tax money she's spreading around. Redistribution of wealth? Not that I'm complaining.)
Imagine that. Imagine that, having that principle. And that's what we're going to bring on a national level also. That principle of knowing that -- no, the people, our families, our businesses they know best so let them keep more of what they earn and produce and not have this government take trying to quote, "solve" all the problems for our families and our businesses. No, we're not going to do that. (Huh? Hang on, I think she's trying to say something of substance. She just compared giving oil company tax money directly to the people with letting companies keep "more of what they earn" and not expecting government to solve our problems. Oh wait, that doesn't make any sense)
I've always known that I was accountable to the people who hired me. There, it was the people of Alaska. (Which is why she promised to serve out her term just before she accepted the VP nod) And in a McCain-Palin administration I promise you that we will never forget that we'll be there in D.C. to work for you the people of America.
So one mission of a McCain-Palin administration will be to set this nation firmly on a course of energy independence. (Drill, baby, drill! Drill, baby, drill! No? Not yet?)
Across Florida and all across America, high gas prices is making a full tank at the pump seem like a luxury. And the cost of living, of course, is going up. And the cost of groceries is going up. Everything is going up, but the value of your paycheck is going down. (So let's here it for tax cuts for rich people!) And that's because of high energy costs. (Oh. I thought it was because I work at WalMart) So, to meet America's great energy challenge we're going to need an all of the above approach. And that, in a McCain-Palin administration, will mean developing new alternative energy sources. And it will mean requiring to build more nuclear power plants. And in Florida, it means alternative sources of energy like wind and solar. God has so richly blessed you here.
(Applause.) (Drill, baby, dr...not yet?)
Look at these sources of energy here in Florida that are still sitting untapped. And we'll tap into them, along with environmentally friendly off shore production. We do need to drill here and drill now. Now you can chant the drill baby drill.
(Applause.) (Yes! Now, how many time can you say "American"?)
It's as simple as this, Florida. In a McCain-Palin administration we will achieve energy security for our country. It is a matter of national security and economic prosperity. That means American energy resources brought to you by American ingenuity and produced by American workers.
And we're also going to bring tax relief to every (rich)American and cut taxes for businesses so you business owners you can hire more people. That's how jobs are created. (Thanks for clearing that up.)
Here again, John McCain is the real reformer. In this election, he is the real reformer and he can do this and he has a record to prove it. And so do I, as a mayor, as a governor who cut taxes for the people of Alaska. You know, in this campaign, in this election, I think the phoniest claim in a campaign that's been full of them, is that Barack Obama is going to cut your taxes? (That's right its only for ninety five percent of us.)
I mean, think about it. He's built his whole career on doling out tax money, first as a Chicago politician, and then raising taxes as a senator. He's voted 94 times to raise taxes. (McCain voted to spend the money, but borrows from China to get it. We owe over $400,000 per person right now. Painful as it will be we gotta pay for it someday, somehow.)
Even on middle class every day working Americans making $42,000 a year, he voted to raise those taxes. (Not true) And he tried to waste a million dollars a day just on his requested earmarks. (As mayor and Governor, Palin was a fervent fan of earmarks.) And now, he's committed to almost a trillion dollars in new government spending. And yet, he never bothers to explain where all that's going to come from to pay for all of that. (China?) And dog gone it, no one seems to be asking him how is he going to pay for the huge government growth that he wants. No one is asking him. So you all, just do the math. Either do the math or just go with your gut. In either way, you're going to come up with the same conclusion, Barack Obama is going to raise your taxes. (Actually if you do the math Obama will cut your taxes. For our purposes here, better go with your gut.)
So, there's a pattern here of a left-wing agenda that is packaged and prettied up to look like mainstream policies. And everybody knows that this country has got to be put back on the right track. But the problem with our opponent's agenda is that higher taxes and bigger government and activist courts and retreat in war, that's not the right track for our country. That's another dead end. (Let's see, if you borrow from China instead of raise taxes, and recognize that we retreated in Afghanistan to go to Iraq, those are all the Bush policies that McCain still supports.)
We have that plan to put our country back on the right track. Okay now Florida, evidently there's some interest in what I've been reading lately. And I think that this comes from -- it's a result of a probably less than successful interview that I had recently with kind of mainstream media. (Just the kind of clear speaking that served you so well in that interview.)
Yet, you know what, in response to critics after that interview what I should have told them was I was just trying to keep Tina Fey in business, just giving her more information. (True, she gets laughs by quoting you verbatim.)
Job security for SNL characters. All right. Really in that interview I was just getting really impatient because I was so convinced that Americans want to hear about the issues that are so important in your life: how to win the war, how to get the economy back on track, public education, accountability in our schools, more choices for our parents with education. Those things. (It all comes to her, now.)
So, I do have to apologize, though, for being a little bit impatient, a little bit annoyed. But anyways, so one of the questions about well what do I read everyday? (Cereal boxes?) And my answer was sort of flippant, (Actually you could not name a newspaper that you read.) Well, I was reading my copy of the New York Times the other day, okay.
And I knew you guys would react that way, okay. So I'm reading the New York Times, though, and I was really interested to read about Barack's friends from Chicago, as the New York Times (put it ?). (Cue appeal to fear.)
Now it turns out one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers.
And according to the New York Times he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that quote, "launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol."
And then there's even more to the story. Barack Obama says that Ayers was just someone in the neighborhood, but that's less than truthful. His own top adviser said that they were quote, "certainly friendly." In fact, Obama held one of his first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers living room. (Just plain not true.)
And they worked together on various projects in Chicago. (School reform, on a Republican sponsored board.) And, you know, these are the same guys who think that patriotism is paying higher taxes. (We all know patriotism is making your kids pay higher taxes.)
(Boos.) (OK, now let's talk about how afraid we should all be.)
Remember, that's what Joe Biden had said. And I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America, as the greatest source for good in this world.
I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.
(Boos.) (Great! You made it sound like Obama is bombing the Pentagon. I am very afraid. Now throw out a Reagan reference, and bring it home:)
This, ladies and gentlemen, has nothing to do with the kind of change that anyone can believe in, not my kids, not for your kids. What we believe in is what Ronald Reagan believed in, and that is America is an exceptional nation.
(Applause.) (Everybody chant!)
(Chant of USA) Remember Ronald Reagan used to talk about America being that shining city on a hill for all mankind to see and that America is a good and honorable nation. We are not a perfect nation but we learn from our mistakes. And individually, no we are not perfect; but collectively together America represents a perfect ideal. It's freedom. It's tolerance. It's respect for equal rights. It is those things that our military men and women have fought and died for, and freedom is worth fighting for. (Yay! Individually we ain't much, but as a howling mob, we're perfect!)
So look at the contrasts. On November 4th, you'll have that choice, the contrasts. The only man who can take on Washington is Senator John McCain.
Okay, so Florida you know that you're going to have to hang onto your hats because from now until election day it may get kind of rough. (We might for instance start calling Obama a terrorist.) That's all right. You're going to hear our opponents still go on and on about how they're going to fight for you. But since he won't say it on his own behalf, I've had to kind of make it my business to say it for him. (?) There is only one man in this campaign who has ever really fought for you.
He has the courage to go on fighting for you. That man is John McCain so God bless you for supporting John McCain. Thank you, Florida. God bless you and God bless America.
(Applause.) (Um, did she ever really really tell us what they plan to do, if elected? Oh well, I'm stoked. Let's go to a bar and beat up a gay.)
Thank you.
(Torches and pitchforks will be available as you exit.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Senator Stevens Sin: A Fall from Faith in Democracy

As Uncle Ted takes the stand today in his own defense he will claim to be so obtuse that he was unaware of the existence or value of gifts laid at his feet. It is red faced grass kicking lie, like that of a boy caught by his mother breaking rules he thinks are stupid. The barely concealed current running through the recorded phone conversations between Stevens and former pal Allen is that the rules are wrong, not them.

Because Stevens is a fallen angel.

His faith in the messy, loud and inaccurate system of government that is a democratic republic has been bleached out of him in his long years wrassling laws in the Senate. He is like the Catholic priest whose long years in a cynical system have made him forget the goodness that still sits in the pews.

His implicit motto is the famous quote from Men In Black:

"A person is smart. People are dumb panicky animals, and you know it."

I can understand this, to a degree. Here in Kodiak our quest to build a new police station has been a study in the inefficiencies of democracy. A City Dictator, conferring with a few of our prominent citizens, could have decreed a new station site despite the howls of the ignorant masses that it is in the wrong place. Could have saved us a couple of million dollars. Of course the station would have gone where the citizens didn't want it. But citizens are like children. They don't know what they really need.

Uncle Ted truly believes that it is better to confer with the Captains of Industry than to sift through the clamor of the masses. This is his true crime--his every action as a Senator is guided, not by the needs and wishes of his electorate, but by a close contingent of confederates and associates that he has come to trust.

Perhaps Mr. Begich will one day be worn down from dealing with the dunderheads of democracy. At that point he should quit, as Uncle Ted should have, long ago. Because swimming in the sea of the citizenry is what a public servant does. It is not a job you can do sipping champagne on the shore with your homeboys.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Senator McScrappy Wrong Skipper for Ship of State

Both candidates for the US Presidency were looking up-all-night haggard as they gave their early morning comments to the press about the cartwheeling stock market on the day of their final debate.

Obama suggested some short term life rings, including letting the cash strapped middle class dip into their retirement money without penalty.

McCain said "I'm a fighter" and flew into a flurry of furious chest beating pro wrestler pronouncements. He would "take on" the profiteers of Wall Street as he had members of his own party in the Senate. This is a central theme of McCain's campaign: the scrappy fighter who will battle on in Iraq, combat spending in Washington, butt heads with Russia and drop veto bombs on the Democrats in Congress. He is the raging bull of this election.

In sharp contrast, Obama's talent is in forceful negotiation. From his days heading the Harvard Law Review to his time in the US Senate he has shown himself adept at bringing combatants to an area of common ground and compelling them to cooperate based on mutual benefit. Lincoln amazed pundits of the time when he kept his fiercest rivals close by giving them high level cabinet posts. Forced into the same room with a man of Lincoln's talents, the men (including Seward, a patron saint of Alaska) became a very effective team at a time in history when we needed it most.

I appreciate McCain's tenacity, and I think I now have a clearer view of the Senator's role as a volatile and passionate spur to that sometimes sluggish body. But his combative nature and admittedly impulsive style of decision making are not what this nation, or this planet, needs right now. We need a skipper with a steady hand.

Because the nature of the skipper determines the culture of the boat.

Some skippers tear around town in their pickups without a plan, quickpatching the equipment, yelling at the crew, leaving the dock at the last minute to arrive on the grounds just in time to overload the boat on the port side and nearly roll over, but you barely get all the fish down without sinking and head back to town where you will do most of the gearwork before the skipper shows up to tell you he wants to change out all the hooks so you'll have to do the gearwork all over again but he just got a tendering contract so you can do that and paint the boat while you pack salmon unless he sells the boat next week. These people are exciting to work with and can even be successful, right up to the moment they sink the boat.

John McCain is that kind of skipper: hot-headed, impulsive, driving without a compass. Early on his campaign squandered its first twenty four million dollars, fired its staff and rolled into New Hampshire listing badly. Since then he has been tearing around the nation in his pickup- without a coherent message, but catching enough votes to make it pay. Straight talk was junked for Bush style win-at-any-cost politics. He has patched together a crazy coalition of independents who used to like him and hardliners who used to hate him (Republicans seem strangely caught between self-loathing and loathing for everyone else.)

In contrast Obama's campaign has been the height of cool efficiency. Again he has attracted a coalition of talented and dedicated people united by their common ground, its bounds so well articulated by Mr. Obama. He is a skipper who inspires confidence, and hard work.

At the debate McCain wants to fight. Fidgeting and grimacing in his chair, he throws his haymakers-- invoking the "anger" of the public over "redistribution of wealth" and "sitting down with terrorists". Jake LaMotta has his head down and is punching furiously. He's swinging wild. In the end he looks frustrated.

Obama has his head up. He has stepped easily away from McCain's charge. He is looking into the camera. He seems to be looking beyond Mr. McCain. He's talking to us now. Articulating the common ground where we can all meet, and fix this country.

Monday, October 13, 2008

State Paid For Palin's PR Consultant

National Media Blitz Powered By Gas

Did you wonder why Sarah Palin was suddenly in the national spotlight just before John McCain started casting around for a VP?

Give the credit to Marcia Brier, a Massachusetts based public relations expert hired by the state of Alaska to promote the Governor. The state paid $31,000 to Brier, who pushed Palin in prepackaged stories like "Big Oil Under Siege", which painted Palin as a firebrand maverick who singlehandedly defeated the oil companies and drove through the gas pipeline package.

In a story linked below, Washington Post reporter Kimberly Kindy reveals the Alaska Department of Natural Resources hired Brier to sell Palin so she could in turn sell the gas pipeline. Brier hammered the media with prewritten stories, or "pitches" that characterized Palin as the single driving force who backed down the oil companies, tamed the Alaska Legislature and gave birth to the gasline all alone in the Wasilla wilderness.

This would no doubt come as a surprise to the many Alaska statesmen who drew a line in the tundra and refused to buckle down to the old guard and their oily masters--Berkowitz, LeDoux, Ramras, is Alaska's Legislature who has the dirt of the pipeline under its fingernails, and deserves most of the credit. Meanwhile "Where's Sarah?" buttons became common in Juneau as the Guv became increasingly obsessed with courting the media. She had already shown a distinct distaste for the capitol, preferring to rule from Wasilla and collect a per diem for working away from J-town. And for the time she spent meeting privately with executives of ExxonMobil and Marathon Oil in early 2007.

After the Legislature passed the gas pipeline incentive plan the media campaign really took off. Suddenly Brier had takers for her Palin stories. But the media pieces had much less to do with gas than with the selling of Sarah. Stories in People and Fortune magazines, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fox News, 60 Minutes and the Wall Street Journal all focused on Palin's person, not the pipeline.

And the minute she was picked as VP candidate the contract with Brier was terminated.
"We'd achieved our objective with getting the national attention," said Palin staffer Kurt Gibson said. "There was no need anymore to use state money to achieve that."

Uh-Huh. What was that objective again?

Thanks for Ruining Our Governor

Trying to close the Troopergate after the Facts have Escaped

Hubris. Its a disease. A swelling of the ego that blocks all other brain function.

Why did Governor Palin accept the VP nomination? She must have known that there were dozens of GOP politicians better qualified for the job. She must have known that it directly contradicted her promise to serve out her term as governor.

And she definitely knew about Troopergate.

It's outrageous that the McCain campaign spent money trying to quash the Alaska Legislature's report on Troopergate. I remember reading ADN's well reported headline story on Troopergate just after Monegan was fired. We now know officially what we all learned way back then. That the governor had allowed surrogates to lobby for the firing of a trooper who happened to be the guv's ex-brother-in-law. Head Trooper Monegan refused to fiddle with their stonefaced system of review. Head Trooper Monegan got fired.

The trooper sounded like a terrible cop. I think most Alaskans assumed she had good reasons to want the trooper fired. And they realized that she is Monegan's boss. She can fire him if she wants. But it was pretty obvious that she had made a rookie mistake by not reining in those who would act on her behalf, outside the bounds of government. I think most of us figured she would get a meaningless but well-intended investigation into the matter after which the legislature would harrumph about refining the ethics rules and the trooper would be fired quietly in the background. And so it should have ended, the Governor's first scrape with scandal and a lesson learned all around.

Then the VP nod pushed her, and all Alaskans, into the national spotlight. We haven't been doing very well in the spotlight. Governor Palin has been giving speeches laced with fear and fury all across the country, smiling on as roaring crowds yell out "Kill 'im!" and "Terrorist!". Next stop the Munich beer hall circuit. And the topper- having to watch smirking news analysts play footage of her contradicting nearly exactly the findings of our meaningless but well-intended investigation.

Darn it, she was playing her role just fine up here. A kind of Wasilla Ice Queen that the noblemen of the Legislature approached with a sweeping bow and a budget in hand.

You big city folk just had to tempt her with your bright lights and fancy stylists.