Friday, September 26, 2008

David Letterman Reacts to John McCain Suspending Campaign

Sarah Palin like a talking points machine gone out of control

The Christian Science Monitor reports on the Couric interview:

[Sarah Palin] on whether the $700 billion bailout of the U.S. financial sector is a good idea.

"That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, we’re ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Helping the—it’s got to be all about job creation too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans and trade—we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as competitive, scary thing, but one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today—we’ve got to look at that as more opportunity."

If you didn’t quite catch the meaning of the above, don’t bother re-reading it. It doesn’t get any clearer. U.S. News and World Report columnist Robert Schlesinger called the statement a “talking points machine gone out of control.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dodd's Plan versus Paulsen's Plan

Compare and contrast:

Bush Administration or Paulsen's Plan

Democratic Senator Chris Dodd's Plan in PDF in HTML

Senator Chris Dodd is my hero

The Bush Admin presented a disingenous proposal that would have given unprecedented powers to the Treasury Secretary. Probably was only Chris Dodd that stood between the Administration's juggernaut and the welfare of Americans, as he stopped it in its tracks. Here are exerpts from his opening statement.

Less than six months ago, our Committee held a hearing in this very room on what at the time seemed an inconceivable event – the government’s 30 billion dollar intervention in the sale of Bear Stearns to JP Morgan. Now – after spending hundreds of billions more to prop up, bail out, and wind down a multitude of institutions – the U.S. government effectively runs, supports, or outright owns vast swaths of the financial sector.


Barely 72 hours ago, Secretary Paulson presented a proposal that he believes is urgently needed to protect our economy. This proposal is stunning and unprecedented in its scope and lack of detail. It would allow him to intervene in the economy by purchasing at least $700 billion of toxic assets. It would allow him to hold onto those assets for years, and to pay millions of dollars to hand-picked firms to manage those assets. It would do nothing to help even a single family save a home. It would do nothing to stop even a single CEO from dumping billions of dollars of toxic assets on the backs of taxpayers – and walking away with a bonus and a golden parachute. And it would allow him to act with utter and absolute impunity – without review by any agency or court of law. After reading this proposal, I can only conclude that it is not just our economy that is at risk, Mr. Secretary, but our Constitution, as well.

Nevertheless, in our efforts to restore financial security to American families and stability to our markets, this Committee has a responsibility to examine this proposal carefully and in a timely manner.

In my view, any plan to address this crisis must embody three principles. First, American taxpayers must have some assurance that their hard-earned money is being used correctly and responsibly. Second, we must put in place proper oversight so that the executors of this plan are accountable and their actions transparent. Finally, we must address the root cause of this crisis by putting an end to the rising number of foreclosures sweeping across the nation.

In the longer term, it is clear that our current economic circumstances demand that we rethink, reform, and modernize supervision of the financial services industry. Certain basic principles should form the foundation for reform.

We need a leader in the White House who will ensure that regulators are strong cops on the beat, and do not turn a blind eye to reckless lending practices.

We need to remove incentives for regulators to compete against each other for bank and thrift “clients” by weakening regulation.

We need to ensure that all institutions that pose a risk to our financial system and taxpayers are carefully and sensibly supervised.

And we need to accept the premise that consumer protection and economic growth are not in conflict, but inextricably linked. If we learn nothing else from this crisis, it is that the failure to protect consumers can cause the collapse of our largest financial institutions, the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, and the draining of hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth from hardworking Americans.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Palin's e-mail secrecy an open secret in Alaska

Palin routinely uses a private Yahoo e-mail account to conduct state business. Others in the governor's office sometimes use personal e-mail accounts, too. The practice raises questions about backdoor secrecy in an administration that vowed during the 2006 campaign to be "open and transparent."

read more | digg story

Palin, Using Personal Email for Government Business, Gets Hacked

The reason Administrations and Governors are supposed to use government email systems for governing is that it is secure. But if they want to do something illegal, they use non-Government accounts. Palin, however, was so backwards that she used unsecure email accounts that were easily hacked. Do we really want this person in control of this country?

read more | digg story

Stiglitz: The Fall of Wall Street Is to Market Fundamentalism What the Fall of the Berlin Wall Was to Communism

A brilliant, important and readable explanation of what caused the Wall Street meltdown and what to do now to get back on our feet."In this sense, the fall of Wall Street is for market fundamentalism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for communism -- it tells the world that this way of economic organization turns out not to be sustainable."

read more | digg story

Woodward's New Book: Bush Worst President EVER

Citing curious absences and an "odd detachment," journalist Bob Woodward argues that President Bush ultimately fell short as commander-in-chief during the Iraq war. Woodward fields questions about this assertion, and about his new book, The War Within.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Unexpected Source, Great Nugget on Anti-Intellectualism

Of all the pundits out there, one of those I disdain the most is David Brooks. But, to my surprise, there is a great nugget out there by him:

Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she'd be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.

The idea that "the people" will take on and destroy "the establishment" is a utopian fantasy that corrupted the left before it corrupted the right. Surely the response to the current crisis of authority is not to throw away standards of experience and prudence, but to select leaders who have those qualities but not the smug condescension that has so marked the reaction to the Palin nomination in the first place.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Alaska Women Reject Palin

Reportedly the biggest political rally in Alaskan history.

Alaska Women Reject Palin

Palin's Great Idea


[Palin] also said she would play a role in an effort to reform government.

"I've got another idea that I think Senator McCain likes. In Alaska, we took the state checkbook and put it online, so everyone can see where their money goes. We're going to bring that kind of openness to Washington," she said.

In fact, there already is a searchable database that allows the public to track federal grants and contracts, and Obama was a principle force behind the 2006 law that created it, along with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

from Palin Spells Out Her Role

What an idiot!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sarah Palin

Saw her speech at the convention tonight. I was surprised with how unpleasant she seemed. Her meanness shined through quite clearly. I felt sorry for her eldest son, Track, when she talked about him going to Iraq next week. Something in his eyes almost bespoke of the terror this woman has represented to him.

Biden should have no trouble trouncing her in the debate...after tonight there is clearly no pressure on him to "be gentle". I'm praying that Biden takes advantage of this moment to stop a very dangerous person in her tracks (slight exaggeration, I hope, but kind of like the what-if scenario where you got to debate Hitler on German "TV" in 1932).

Anway, I'm posting this account of her time in public office, all the more so because I lived in a town of 5,000 population and was involved in the town's politics. Sounds very similar, I can totally imagine what this writer describes.

by Anne Kilkenny
August 31, 2008

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she's like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin's kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative". During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn't even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.

She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the "old boy's club" when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal--loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State's top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla's Police Chief because he "intimidated" her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn't like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the "old boys' club" when she dramatically quit, exposing this man's ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as "anti-pork".

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as "AGIA" that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned "as a private citizen" against a state initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State's lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior's decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there's a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.


* "Hockey mom": true for a few years

* "PTA mom": true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since

* "NRA supporter": absolutely true

* social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconsitutional).

* pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.

* "Pro-life": mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation

* "Experienced": Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.

* political maverick: not at all

* gutsy: absolutely!

* open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.

* has a developed philosophy of public policy: no

* "a Greenie": no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.

* fiscal conservative: not by my definition!

* pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.

* pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents

* pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history.

* pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn't make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.


First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that's life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

CAVEATS I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall -- they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin's selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90's.