Bonus Quote of the Day

The words “I fought corruption” should never pass the lips of a charter member of the Keating Five.

Megan McArdle on John McCain’s acceptance speech

Posted in John McCain, Scandals. Tags: . 7 Comments »

Factcheck Debunks More Republican Falsehoods

Another night of a Republican convention and we have another night of Factcheck revealing untrue statements. Many of these were also noted in previous posts debunking last night’s speakers. Factcheck has the following errors in their summary, with further details in the full post:

Sarah Palin’s much-awaited speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night may have shown she could play the role of attack dog, but it also showed her to be short on facts when it came to touting her own record and going after Obama’s.

We found Rudy Giuliani, who introduced her, to be as factually challenged as he sometimes was back when he was in the race. But Mike Huckabee may have laid the biggest egg of all.

  • Palin may have said “Thanks, but no thanks” on the Bridge to Nowhere, though not until Congress had pretty much killed it already. But that was a sharp turnaround from the position she took during her gubernatorial campaign, and the town where she was mayor received lots of earmarks during her tenure.
  • Palin’s accusation that Obama hasn’t authored “a single major law or even a reform” in the U.S. Senate or the Illinois Senate is simply not a fair assessment. Obama has helped push through major ethics reforms in both bodies, for example.
  • The Alaska governor avoided some of McCain’s false claims about Obama’s tax program – but her attacks still failed to give the whole story.
  • Giuliani distorted the time line and substance of Obama’s statements about the conflict between Russia and Georgia. In fact, there was much less difference between his statements and those of McCain than Giuliani would have had us believe.
  • Giuliani also said McCain had been a fighter pilot. Actually, McCain’s plane was the A-4 Skyhawk, a small bomber. It was the only plane he trained in or flew in combat, according to McCain’s own memoir.
  • Finally, Huckabee told conventioneers and TV viewers that Palin got more votes when she ran for mayor of Wasilla than Biden did running for president. Not even close. The tally: Biden, 79,754, despite withdrawing from the race after the Iowa caucuses. Palin, 909 in her 1999 race, 651 in 1996.

Michigan Independents Reject Palin

John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate to shore up his support from the religious right, which has been dominating the Republican Party in recent years. Choosing Palin will help McCain receive the support of the religious right but picking her comes at a tremendous cost. Palin’s extremist views remind voters of how radical the Republican Party has become. The use of dishonest Rove-style campaign tactics, which Palin showed she fully embraces with all the untrue statements in her acceptance speech, further alienates moderate and independent voters. Jake Tapper noted this in reviewing the responses of independents to Palin here in Michigan:

The Detroit Free Press invited a panel of Michigan voters to weigh-in on Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech last night. Their reactions run the gamut, but the independents didn’t seem to care for her very much.

Ilene Beninson, 52, Berkley independent: “Her speech contained few statements about policy or the party platform. … I am not convinced that Palin’s experience as a mayor or governor in Alaska meet the qualifications to be vice president, much less one stroke or heart attack away from being commander in chief.”

Mike Kosh, 38, West Bloomfield independent: “The way it looks to me, she’s the Republican vice presidential nominee for one reason: Because Hillary wasn’t selected.”

George Lentz, 66, Southfield independent: “I was completely underwhelmed. She was a Republican novelty act with a sophomoric script. It was not even a speech I would expect for someone running for the local PTA, much less for vice president.”

Diane Murphy, 42, Sterling Heights independent: “It appears that, once she makes up her mind, that is the end of it. We live in a gray world, not every answer is black and white.”

Jan Wheelock, 58, Royal Oak independent: “Nothing worked for me. I found her barrage of snide remarks and distortions to be a major turnoff. She is not a class act. The most important point she made is that she will be an effective attack dog.”

Update: Tapper has issued an update and removed the first quote from his post writing that she appears to be an anti-war activist and “thus not particularly predisposed to have an open mind about Gov. Palin.” There was also a second anti-war activist who was interviewed by The Detroit Free Press but not quoted by Tapper.

Quote of the Day: Jesus Was a Community Organizer

“Mrs. Palin needs to be reminded that Jesus Christ was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor.”

From email quoted at The Politico

(Of course the biggest problem with this attack from Palin is that it ignores all of Obama’s experience in addition to being a community organizer which gives Obama considerably more experience than Palin.)

Mitt Romney’s Liberal Hash Browns

While the fact checking can go on endlessly due to the number of untrue statements made at the Republican convention as noted in several previous posts, overall impression can be much briefer.

Authoritarian war monger Rudy Giuliani showed once again that he can give an attack speech better than anyone else, and as usual he sounds even better in the original German. Sarah Palin did an excellent job of reading the teleprompter, and certainly did not waste any times with actual discussion of issues between all her lies and baseless attacks. As I suggested last night, Mitt Romeny might be the most ridiculous Republican of them all. Megan McArdle first makes a good point on the general idea of his speech and then hits him on one significant specific point:

Mitt Romney seems to use the word “liberal” in a randomly perjorative fashion.  I half expect him to say “I was eating breakfast this morning, and my hash browns were all liberal.  I sent them back and told the waitress to bring me some good, conservative hash browns.”

He also seems to think that giving American citizens habeas corpus rights is some sort of crazy scheme dreamed up by liberal justices intent on destroying America’s proud tradition of secret trials and warrantless arrests.

Further Fact Checking On the Republican Convention

Continuing the fact checking of the Republican Convention (previously here and here) Mark Kleiman has presented the following:

PALIN: “Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems – as if we all didn’t know that already. But the fact that drilling won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.”


Palin Said She Would Beg to Disagree With Candidate Who Said We Can’t Drill Our Way Out of Our Problem. Asked by Invester’s Business Daily “Some politicians and presidential candidates say we can’t drill our way out of our energy problem and that drilling in ANWR will have no effect. What’s your best guess of the impact on prices?” Palin responded, “I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem or that more supply won’t ultimately affect prices. Of course it will affect prices. Energy being a global market, it’s impossible to venture a guess on (specific) prices.” [Investor’s Business Daily, 7/11/08]

PALIN: “In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere.”


October 2006” Palin Supported Bridge To Nowhere. In 2006, Palin was asked, “Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?” She responded, “Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now–while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.” [Anchorage, 10/22/06, republished 08/29/08]

2006: Palin: Don’t Allow “Spinmeisters” To Turn Bridge To Nowhere Project “Into Something That’s So Negative.” “Part of my agenda is making sure that Southeast is heard. That your projects are important. That we go to bat for Southeast when we’re up against federal
influences that aren’t in the best interest of Southeast.’ She cited the widespread negative attention focused on the Gravina Island crossing project. ‘We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the
spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative,’ Palin said.” [Ketchikan Daily News, 10/2/06]


Palin Refused to Fund Ketchikan Bridge, But Did Not Stop Funding for Knik Arm Bridge.“ Among the earmarks: $449 million for what critics have ridiculed as two ‘bridges to nowhere’ — one in Ketchikan and one across Knik Arm in Anchorage formally named Don Young’s Way. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, also a Republican, last month refused to use any more money for the Ketchikan project, redirecting it for other purposes.” [Anchorage Daily News,11/11/07]

As Recently as June, State Asking for Cost Estimate Proposals for Knik Arm. “An independent party will be called in to look at one of the most elusive aspects of a proposed bridge linking Anchorage and Mat-Su: the price tag. Gordon Keith, regional director for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said his office will be putting the job of estimating the cost of the controversial project out for bids in coming weeks. He said the task of coming up with a price could cost up to $200,000 and take up to 3½ months. ‘The issue keeps swirling around, so we thought it best to go ahead and do an independent estimate,’ he said. The cost to get the estimate is going to be high ‘if you want to do it correctly,’ he said. The cost of a span reaching across Knik Arm from Anchorage to Point MacKenzie has ranged over the years from $450 million to $1 billion, depending on what kind of bridge is envisioned and what starting date is plugged into the formula… Randy Ruaro, a special assistant to Gov. Sarah Palin, said the administration, even in the face of the recent lengthy report from the bridge authority, was having trouble getting an accurate picture of everything that is involved in the project, of the timing of the phases, and of the costs. He said the independent estimate is expected to answer those questions. Mary Ann Pease, spokeswoman for the authority, said she welcomes the effort to get updated costs.” [Anchorage Daily News, 6/22/08]

PALIN: “Senator McCain also promises to use the power of veto in defense of the public interest – and as a chief executive, I can assure you it works.”




AP’s Fact Checking of The Republican Convention

Last night I commented on some of the dishonest statements made at the Republican Convention while watching. Several sources have listed multiple erroneous statements today. AP provides this list:

PALIN: “I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending … and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress ‘thanks but no thanks’ for that Bridge to Nowhere.”

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a “bridge to nowhere.”

PALIN: “There is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform — not even in the state senate.”

THE FACTS: Compared to McCain and his two decades in the Senate, Obama does have a more meager record. But he has worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. The legislation became law last year. To demean that accomplishment would be to also demean the work of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a respected foreign policy voice in the Senate. In Illinois, he was the leader on two big, contentious measures in Illinois: studying racial profiling by police and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

PALIN: “The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars.”

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama’s plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain’s plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

MCCAIN: “She’s been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America’s energy supply … She’s responsible for 20 percent of the nation’s energy supply. I’m entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America,” he said in an interview with ABC News’ Charles Gibson.

THE FACTS: McCain’s phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she’s no more “responsible” for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state — by population.

MCCAIN: “She’s the commander of the Alaska National Guard. … She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities,” he said on ABC.

THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under “federal status,” which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska’s national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin “got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States.”

THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor’s election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: “We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin.”

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.

More to come.

Factcheck Reports: Maverick Misleads

The dishonesty of the McCain/Palin ticket isn’t limited to the dishonest speeches at their convention, as I noted last night and will be writing more on later. Factcheck has repeatedly been releasing reports on the dishonesty of McCain’s ads with today’s report having the title Maverick Misleads. Following is their summary, with more detail in the full post:

McCain’s campaign launched a TV ad touting his running mate, Palin, and offering a comparison to Obama. Some of its claims are off the mark:

  • It says Obama “gave big oil billions in subsidies and giveaways,” citing his votes for a 2005 energy bill. But the bill slightly raised taxes on the oil industry overall.
  • The ad plucked a positive blurb about Palin from an Associated Press article that, in fact, was very much a mixed review. The AP said she “brings an ethical shadow to the [Republican] ticket,” for example.
  • The ad says Obama is the “most liberal” Senator. But the National Journal rated him the 16th most liberal in his first year and the 10th most liberal in his second. It rated his votes “most liberal” only in 2007, when he was busy campaigning and missed one-third of the votes on which the rating is based.

Palin Pick Harms Republican Ticket In The Supermarkets

John McCain, realizing he was behind in the race against Barack Obama, gambled by trying to shake up the race by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate. The good news for McCain is that by making the announcement on the Friday after the Democratic convention, McCain did manage to turn media attention from Obama to his campaign. The bad news is that most of this coverage has been unfavorable as the media reported on both personal scandals and her abuse of power in office. In failing to properly vet his running mate, new questions were also raised about John McCain’s own competence.

I’ve discussed how Sarah Palin is far less qualified for national office than Barack Obama, her dishonesty, her extremism, and some of the scandals in many recent posts. While these issues are far more important, the media has concentrated more on her seventeen-year-old daughter’s pregnancy and upcoming shotgun wedding but has also discussed the more relevant issues. While hits from Google searches on Palin have increased traffic here, the vast majority of voters will not read blog posts on Palin. Far more voters, especially the working class women which the campaign hopes Palin will attract to the Republican ticket, are likely to see the cover of US Weekly at their local supermarket. They will see the cover above, which is far more damaging to the Republicans than any of the facts on Palin I have discussed in recent posts.

The McCain campaign is also taking legal action to prevent The National Enquirer from publishing a story alleging that Palin had an affair with her husband’s business partner. The Enquirer has been both right and wrong on such stories in the past and I have no idea as to which it is in this case but Palin should be given the benefit of the doubt on this one until there is some evidence presented. Curiously it was the McCain’s decision to threaten legal action which resulted in coverage of this story by the mainstream media. I do find it interesting that the conservative blogs which immediately accepted the charges against John Edwards as true, and which ignored John McCain’s adultery, have immediately proclaimed that The National Enquirer is wrong when they accuse Palin of adultery.  The Enquirer is also writing about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and has claimed that Palin went public on the story only because they were planning to expose the pregnancy.

While I believe that the stories on Palin’s family are far less important than Palin’s extremist right wing views, AP does note the contradiction shown in their protests against media coverage of the family:

For two days, the chorus from Republicans on TV news and in the halls of the convention has been resounding: Back off and let the Palin family be. “That’s out of bounds,” said Minnesota’s Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty. “There’s no need to be intrusive and pry into that.”

Yet Wednesday found the following scenes unfolding:

Sarah Palin‘s pregnant, unmarried 17-year-old daughter and probable future son-in-law stood in a nationally televised, politically packaged airport receiving line to meet and greet the Republican candidate for president.

The extremely cute and bubbly Piper Palin, 7, made her debut on her mother’s behalf, appearing in a video on John McCain’s daughter’s blog. “Vote for my mommy and John McCain,” she said, giggling as Meghan McCain grinned.

Bristol Palin and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Levi Johnston, were expected to appear together as part of the GOP political narrative at the convention Wednesday night, according to the young man’s mother.

Huh? The Republican message about the Palin offspring comes across as contradictory: Hey, media, leave those kids alone — so we can use them as we see fit.

If you doubt this scenario, consider this: On Wednesday morning, a teenage boy from Alaska stood in a receiving line on an airport tarmac, being glad-handed by the potential next president of the United States — because he got his girlfriend pregnant. TV cameras were lined up in advance. The mind boggles.

All of this occurred before the Republicans used Palin’s baby as a prop during the television coverage of Palin’s speech.