realthog: (Default)

Sarah Palin was plugging her latest ghostwritten novel on FAUX News's Bill O'Liarly Show the other day. I gather even The Big Loofah himself had difficulty stomaching some of her utterances, and persecuted her Katie Couric-style by requesting she actually answer his questions. And then there was this . . .

O'Reilly: Let me be bold and fresh again. Do you believe you are smart enough, and incisive enough, intellectual enough, to handle the most powerful job in the world?

Palin: I believe that I am because I have common sense, and I have, I believe, the values that are reflective of so many American values. And I believe that what Americans are seeking is not the elitism, the, um, the, ah -- kind of spineless -- a spinelessness that perhaps is made up for that with elite Ivy League education and -- fact resume that's based on anything but hard work and private-sector, free-enterprise principles. Americans could be seeking something like that in positive change in their leadership. I'm not saying that that has to be me.

realthog: (Default)

. . . he probably has difficulty knowing what honesty, truth and integrity actually are, mixing with the kind of people he mixes with. That would perhaps explain the incessant string of lies and smears concerning Barack Obama that has erupted from his mouth every time he's opened it during this campaign. I don't know that this excuses him, but it does at least explain why an elderly codger finds it hard to recognize why others place a certain value on honour.

Take this latest antic by McCain's buddy Rush Limbaugh, for example, as reported today by Media Matters for America. Their summary reads:

Rush Limbaugh played an audio clip "montage" from Charlie Rose's interview of Tom Brokaw, in which Limbaugh asserted that Rose and Brokaw were "trying to figure out who Obama is." In fact, Limbaugh heavily edited the clip, at one point falsely suggesting that Brokaw expressed the opinion that "there's a lot about him [Obama] that we don't know," when in fact Brokaw attributed that assertion to "conservative commentators."

There's lots more crookedness from Limbaugh in his distortion of the interview; the full Media Matters report on it is worth a read.

And I guess these are the standards McCain believes he's supposed to adhere to. No wonder he gets "the truth thing" wrong so repeatedly.

It can't help that he sees so much of Sarah Palin, either.

Q & no A?

Oct. 30th, 2008 06:21 pm
realthog: (Default)

David Cay Johnston has very kindly given me his permission to reproduce these:

1. What are the reasons that you only released your tax returns for 2006 and 2007 -- and not from your years as the paid mayor of Wasilla?

2. How did your family build up more than $1 million in assets, given that as mayor you made $64,000 and your 2006 and 2007 income tax returns show that you and your husband together earned $128,000 in 2006 and $166,000 in 2007?

3. How did you finance the construction of your home, which you value at a half million dollars?

4. Will you show us the invoices from the contractors who built your home and copies of the front and back of the checks with which you paid them?

5. While you were running for state-wide office, your husband told Fox News, he "built" the home with his "contractor buddies." Will you make available your husband's travel records during the campaign?

6. How many hours between the start and completion of construction did your husband spend in physical labor such as pounding nails and fitting pipes while he "built" your home?

7. As governor you charged taxpayers for travel by your children, so as vice president would you also expect their travel expenses to be paid by taxpayers and, if so, what is your rationale?

8. Since you did not report these travel funds on your tax return as income, which a number of tax experts say is required, what is your rationale for this? And have you checked, since the release of your tax returns revealed this, whether you made the proper decision and, if so, with whom did you check? If you did check with a tax advisor will you authorize them to speak about this matter?

9. When elected Wasilla's mayor you announced you were taking a pay cut, from $68,000 to $64,000, and then hired the city's first professional city administrator at $50,000; what are the reasons that you hired a professional to do the work that previous mayors had done?

10. During your term as mayor a Wasilla sales tax was begun and the city went from being nearly debt-free to owing more than $22 million; please explain how this squares with your describing yourself as a fiscal conservative.

Governor Sarah Palin's personal finances, and those of the city and state that she has run, have received little scrutiny from reporters. Obvious issues have not been examined, including two items on her 2006 and 2007 tax returns that suggest the Palins cheated on their federal income taxes.

By merely picking up the telephone, reporter Wayne Barrett discovered that some of the contractors who worked on the Palin home were the same ones who built the City of Wasilla's hockey rink, the biggest municipal building project in that small city's history and one loaded down with at least $1.3 million in legal expenses because construction began before the city had title to the land underneath it. The responses some contractors gave Barrett suggested that they do not have records of invoices and payment, raising the question of whether they built the home so that they would get the hockey rink contracts.

How the Palins handled their income taxes, and how she made use of public funds, are legitimate questions of public interest and have been raised with candidates since before the founding of the republic, yet journalists covering this year's campaign have not filed reports indicating that they examined these issues beyond regurgitating official statements by the Palins and the McCain campaign.

Senator Joseph Biden’s lakeside home on four acres in a Delaware suburb is his largest asset, worth as much as $3 million. During 35 years in the Senate he has taken out or refinanced more than three dozen loans, most using this home as collateral, with banks in Delaware. Reporters have asked virtually no questions about the senator’s involvement with the banking industry, which benefits from federal laws that enhance the value of Delaware’s state laws that heavily favor banks over borrowers.Senator Joseph Biden’s lakeside home on four acres in a Delaware suburb is his largest asset, worth as much as $3 million. During 35 years in the Senate he has taken out or refinanced more than three dozen loans, most using this home as collateral, with banks in Delaware. Reporters have asked virtually no questions about the senator’s involvement with the banking industry, which benefits from federal laws that enhance the value of Delaware’s state laws that heavily favor banks over borrowers.

1. You pay about $38,700 in mortgage interest annually, more than 15 percent of your annual income from the Senate, your teaching position and your wife’s job. Is that prudent, for a man of your age, 66? You’re in the top 2 percent income group. What does it tell us about your ability to handle your own finances that as you grow older your debt level rises significantly? Why have you saved so little despite your substantial income?

2. What does this reliance on borrowing tell us about your views on government debt, which during your years in Washington has grown by a factor of 30 and will soon reach $10 trillion? What does it tell us about your sense of responsibility to future generations of Americans, who will inherit this burden?

3. You bought your former home for $185,000 in 1975 and sold it in 1996 for $1.2 million, a price that your opponents called inflated. Does the fact that the purchaser was an executive of MBNA, the big credit card issuer that relied heavily on subtle changes in law to fuel its growth, give you any concerns about the propriety of this deal, especially given that your brother sold his home for $1.3 million to an executive of the Advanta credit card bank? If not, explain the reasons you do not believe others should question the propriety of this sale (other than the appraisal used to justify the new owner’s mortgage).

4. You’ve
criticized Senator John McCain for rewarding “greedy” banks, while you voted for the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act that gave credit card issuers, notably at the time MBNA, much greater power to pursue collection from Americans who go broke even it was through no fault of their own, such as accident, illness or layoff. How is your conduct different from that which you attribute to Senator McCain?

5. How does the 2005 bankruptcy law fulfill your Constitutional duty to “promote the general welfare,” as it applies to those who through accident, serious illness or layoffs cannot repay their unsecured debts? How does it help resolve the current mortgage crisis?

6. In 2,500 words or more (so we get the full flavor of your reasoning) explain the reasons that you felt that banks needed greater leverage through the 2005 bankruptcy law, and in particular weigh that law’s new provisions against the alternative of regulating lending practices such as sending credit cards to young people as soon as they turn 18 regardless of their income, paying hidden fees to colleges to solicit students as borrowers, or using misleading promotions, teaser rates, and extreme penalty rates (29.99% interest) that countless studies by consumer groups and scholars have all said prey on those with little understanding of debt?

7. Given that there are so many banks competing for business, explain the reasons that you consistently did business with MBNA (a major donor of yours whose credit card practices have been widely criticized), Commerce Bank (involved in corruption scandals with government officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey) and, with what appears to be a single exception, did not borrow from a nonprofit credit union or those banks which, unlike MBNA and Commerce, did not depend heavily on government favors?

8. You and your son, Delaware Attorney General Joseph R. “Beau” Biden, maintained campaign accounts at Commerce Bank, whose fast growth was
linked to government influence peddling. What are the reasons you choose this bank? Can you point to a series of actions which ran contrary to the interests of MBNA and of other credit card issuers?

9. Upon graduating from law school, your son Robert was hired by MBNA, though he later left. Did you discuss with him the appearance of this and its propriety? If so what was said? If not, explain the reasons that, as a lawyer on the Judiciary Committee who has taken others to task for not perceiving that their conduct would appear questionable, you did not apply this standard to yourself and the reasons that you believe voters have no cause to question your relationship with MBNA.

10. In 1978, when you were nearing the end of your first Senate term, the United States Supreme Court effectively repealed the
usury laws because of a conflict between state and federal banking regulations. The Court advised Congress that it needed to enact new laws governing lending rates. What actions did you take to follow the Supreme Court’s advice and protect low-income consumers from loans that are now advertised at rates as high as 99.25% and can be as high as 1,500 percent?

Senator Biden’s record on world diplomacy and trying to end genocide in Bosnia are well known, but the national press has published little about the senator’s relationships to the banks, despite his going into ever more debt as he ages. Reporters have done little to examine his reliance on the banking industry for contributions, his actions on their behalf in the 2005 bankruptcy law and other legislation.

The usury law repeal and its significance are explained in my books Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch and in numerous studies.


David Cay Johnston is the author of Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) and Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich -- and Cheat Everybody Else.

Oh, and an unrelated PS: Copy this sentence into your livejournal if you're in a heterosexual marriage, and you don't want it "protected" by the bigots who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.
realthog: (Default)

Sarah Palin knows a scam when she sees one:

Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] You've heard about some of these pet projects, they really don't make a whole lot of sense, and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.

Fruit flies? Gregor Mendel? Ring a bell, anyone?

I came across this new piece of Palin dimwittery at the blog Adaptive Complexity, which linked me to a 2005 paper in Science by Stanley Fields and Mark Johnston, "Whither Model Organism Research?" This starts:

Almost everything we know about the fundamental properties of living cells—how they grow and divide, how they express their genetic information, and how they use and store energy—has come from the study of model organisms. These simple creatures traditionally include the bacterium Escherichia coli and its bacteriophage viruses, bakers’ yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and the mouse Mus musculus, each a representative of the diversity of life.

As one might expect. P.Z. Myers, that waspish champion of rationalism, has something piquant to say on the matter in his Pharyngula blog:

This idiot woman, this blind, shortsighted ignoramus, this pretentious clod, mocks basic research and the international research community. You damn well better believe that there is research going on in animal models — what does she expect, that scientists should mutagenize human mothers and chop up baby brains for this work? — and countries like France and Germany and England and Canada and China and India and others are all respected participants in these efforts.

Yes, scientists work on fruit flies. Some of the most powerful tools in genetics and molecular biology are available in fruit flies, and these are animals that are particularly amenable to experimentation. Molecular genetics has revealed that humans share key molecules, the basic developmental toolkit, with all other animals, thanks to our shared evolutionary heritage (something else the wackaloon from Wasilla denies), and that we can use these other organisms to probe the fundamental mechanisms that underlie core processes in the formation of the nervous system — precisely the phenomena Palin claims are so important.

This is where the Republican party has ended up: supporting an ignorant buffoon who believes in the End Times and speaking in tongues while deriding some of the best and most successful strategies for scientific research. In this next election, we've got to choose between the 21st century rationalism and Dark Age inanity. It ought to be an easy choice.

He's right: it ought to be . . . were it not for the fact that the baying mobs who cheer Palin's every last wink and flirt and call "Off with his head!" at mention of Obama's "Arab" name know even less about basic science than they do about common decency. As I noted elsewhere, McCain, clearly as ignorant as Palin (or dishonestly operating on the principle that his supporters are), is attacking Obama's vote for a "wasteful" $3 million earmark to pay for a planetarium projector. Of course, $3 million could pay for Sarah Palin's campaign wardrobe a whole whopping 20 times over . . . so you really have a choice between educating hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of children (and adults) or buying a mountain of clothing and accoutrements for a narcissist so lacking in said education that she believes humans and dinosaurs coexisted . . . and has obviously never heard of the humble fruit fly's role in the study of genetics.

Or perhaps you have the choice between the $3 million planetarium projector and a tiny fraction of 1 per cent of the cost of one of those stupid weapons of mass destruction McCain himself regards as a perfectly sensible expenditure: after all, who wouldn't think it essential to be able to wreak horrendous carnage on Third World civilian populations on whim?

Me, I'd like to vote for the planetarium, please . . . and the fruit fly research.


realthog: (Default)

Jamison Foser's weekly columns for Media Matters for America are almost without exception essential reading, to the point where I can't recall there ever having been a dud -- Fridays here at Snarl Towers would be significantly poorer without them -- but today's, called "Loose Ends" and (unusually) covering a multiplicity of media imbecilities related to the election campaign rather than just one, should be pinned up in every newsroom in the land.

I'd love to quote the whole thing, but obviously can't (and shouldn't). Here's the first segment, discussing one of the most astonishing hypocrisies of the campaign:

Finally, for the first time this year, a prominent media figure asked John McCain about his relationship with G. Gordon Liddy last night.

The lack of media attention to the Liddy-McCain relationship is one of the clearest double standards in recent political history. McCain and the news media have devoted an extraordinary amount of attention to Barack Obama's ties to Bill Ayers, yet until last night, McCain hadn't been asked a single question* about his ties to Liddy, a convicted felon who has instructed his listeners on how best to shoot law-enforcement agents. Liddy has held a fundraiser for McCain at his home and describes the Arizona senator as an "old friend"; McCain has said he is "proud" of Liddy.

Imagine for a moment that Barack Obama had said he was "proud" of an "old friend" who urged people to shoot law-enforcement agents in the head. Do you think maybe he would have been asked a question or three about it? Do you think maybe there would have been more than the occasional passing mention in the news of the relationship? Of course there would have been.

Yet McCain hasn't been questioned about Liddy. The media have largely ignored the relationship, even while working themselves into a frenzy about Obama and Ayers. McCain's relationship with Liddy is obviously newsworthy in its own right, but coupled with his attacks on Obama over Ayers, it's a textbook case of hypocrisy -- exactly the sort of thing that political reporters supposedly drool over. But not when it's John McCain. When it's John McCain, the nation's leading news organizations band together in what is, in effect, a blackout of information that could be damaging to their longtime favorite.

Until last night, when McCain was finally asked, point-blank, about his relationship to Liddy and the similarities between that relationship and the Obama-Ayers relationship he has attacked so harshly.

Who finally asked the question? The New York Times? The Washington Post? CNN's "best political team on television"?


David Letterman asked McCain about Liddy, putting the nation's journalists to shame in the process.

For years, political professionals, academics, and media watchdogs have lamented the fact that some Americans get their news from late-night comedians and other entertainment. As it turns out, that might be a good thing.

Unfortunately, after Letterman broke the media's embargo on questioning McCain's relationship with Liddy, reporters quickly pretended it never happened -- or, if they did mention it, downplayed the significance of the relationship. Time's Mark Halperin described Letterman "hound[ing]" McCain over his Ayers attacks, adding, "The late-night host doesn't let up on where the former Weather Underground leader fits into the campaign." But, inexplicably, Halperin didn't so much as mention that Letterman confronted McCain about his relationship with Liddy. Several news reports that did mention the Liddy exchange described him as a Watergate felon -- omitting Liddy's much more recent statements about shooting law enforcement personnel.

But the worst was MSNBC. This morning, the cable channel played a clip of McCain on Letterman -- but not the Liddy exchange. Then, immediately after the clip, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall referenced the McCain attacks on Ayers. At no point did Hall mention Liddy. 

* Or, if he has been asked, it hasn't been reported. Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman did ask McCain's campaign about Liddy back in the spring, but despite what reporters always claim about how open McCain is, Chapman didn't get a response.


realthog: (Default)

Under the headline Troopergate: Not Over Yet, Newsweek has the report of yet another GOP dubious trick backfiring. Here it is in part:

. . . there could be more land mines ahead. Some weeks ago, the McCain team devised a plan to have Palin file an ethics complaint against herself with the State Personnel Board, arguing that it alone was capable of conducting a fair, nonpartisan inquiry into whether she fired Monegan because he refused to fire Wooten . . . Some Democrats ridiculed the move, noting that the personnel board answered to Palin. But the board ended up hiring an aggressive Anchorage trial lawyer, Timothy Petumenos, as an independent counsel. McCain aides were chagrined to discover that Petumenos was a Democrat who had contributed to Palin's 2006 opponent for governor, Tony Knowles. Palin is now scheduled to be questioned next week, and the counsel's report could be released soon after. "We took a gamble when we went to the personnel board," said a McCain aide who asked not to be identified discussing strategy. While the McCain camp still insists Palin "has nothing to hide," it acknowledges a critical finding by Petumenos would be even harder to dismiss.

I wonder if Palin knows what a petard is . . .

realthog: (Default)

Already the usual rightist rentamouths are claiming that the "guilty of abuse of power" conclusion to the Troopergate report is merely a matter of partisan mudslinging geared to derailing Fido's presence on the McCain ticket. Indeed, the McCain campaign itself attempted to pre-empt this idiocy by releasing its own "report", which unsurprisingly found Palin purer than the driven snow and the victim of persecution at the hands of . . .

Damn. I forget who Palin was being persecuted by this time. Katie Couric, at a guess.

Fact: The investigation was instigated by the Alaskan Congress, which has a Republican majority.

Fact: "A violation of the public trust," says a committee of 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats.

Let's repeat that last for those who have difficulty hearing what they do not like to hear:

a committee of 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats

nuff said

Sep. 27th, 2008 08:44 pm
realthog: (leavingfortusa)

Todd Lockwood's been at play in Photoshop, and asks us to spread this far and wide:


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