Palin Continues Cover Up of Her Abuse of Power

Sarah Palin, who was earlier found to have abused power by a nonpartisan investigation requested by the Republican-controlled state legislature, has been found innocent of abuse of powers in a separate sham investigation by the Alaska State Personnel Board. This investigation was conducted by a group hand picked by Palin in order to circumvent the review requested by the state legislature to have the appearance of a report clearing her come out on the eve of the election.

This report in no way changes the fact that Palin has abused her power in office. This further demonstrates the ways in which Palin deceives the public and her lack of respect for rule of law, making her unfit to be vice president.

Palin previously tried to cover up the findings that she is guilty of abuse of power in the Troopergate scandal by lying about the report, claiming it said she was “cleared of any legal wrongdoing” when the report found that she knowingly violated the state Ethics Act.

Barack Obama’s Grandmother Dies

Sad news just coming in from AP:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Barack Obama says his grandmother died Monday

It is a shame she couldn’t at least hold on to see her grandson elected president tomorrow.

Update: I’m seeing the first on line reports on the story here:

Barack Obama suffered a personal tragedy on the eve of the presidential election when his grandmother lost her battle with cancer.

Madelyn Dunham, 85, died just as her grandson was in pole position to make history by becoming America’s first black president.

Just 10 days ago, Mr Obama broke off from his hectic campaign to visit Mrs Dunham at her home in Hawaii.

Her death was announced in a statement from Mr Obama in which he called her ‘the cornerstone of our family.’

He said she ‘encouraged us to take chances’ and has left him with a debt ‘beyond measure.’

The Kansas roots Mr Obama, 47, often mentions come from Mrs Dunham and her husband, Stanley, who died in 1992 and is buried in Hawaii. His mother, Ann, lost her battle with ovarian cancer when she was 52, leaving his grandmother as the maternal figure in his life.

Mr Obama has made regular references to his grandmother on the campaign trail, mentioning that she worked in a bomber assembly plant during World War Two.

Update II, From The Trail:

The day took a tragic turn for Sen. Barack Obama when his ailing grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died today.

Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Dunham died at home late last night in Hawaii, or roughly between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Eastern. Obama learned of the news a little after 8 a.m. in Florida, where his campaign held a morning rally.

The campaign released a statement from Obama and his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng this afternoon:

“It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer.  She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility.  She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances.  She was proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and left this world with the knowledge that her impact on all of us was meaningful and enduring.  Our debt to her is beyond measure.

“Our family wants to thank all of those who sent flowers, cards, well-wishes, and prayers during this difficult time.  It brought our grandmother and us great comfort.  Our grandmother was a private woman, and we will respect her wish for a small private ceremony to be held at a later date.   In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to any worthy organization in search of a cure for cancer.”

John and Cindy McCain issued a statement of condolence after receiving the news. “We offer our deepest condolences to Barack Obama and his family as they grieve the loss of their beloved grandmother,” they said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they remember and celebrate the life of someone who had such a profound impact in their lives.”

Did John McCain Appear on SNL Because He Accepts Defeat?

Having posted again on Saturday Night Live in the previous post brings back the question in my mind when John McCain decided to appear on the show, while Obama decided to spend the time campaigning. Both candidates had an open invitation to appear according to head writer Seth Meyers, but only McCain took them up on the offer.

McCain gave up a chance to campaign in swing states and appeared in sketches which made fun of him (videos and descriptions here). James Fallows sees this as acceptance that he has lost the race:

For a candidate coming from behind, every second of the final week of the campaign is like a second in cardiac-surgery operating theater, with absolutely no room for fooling around or wasting time, money, or effort that could be used to sway that last crucial vote. (Think: the last days of Gore-Bush in 2000.)

For a candidate who thinks he’s ahead, and might actually become president, inevitably there’s a tone of new seriousness right at the end: What we’ve been working for years is within our grasp, let’s not screw this up, and let’s be sobered by how different the world is going to look in a few days.

So if McCain really thought he had a chance of catching up, he wouldn’t have wasted time on an audience that might repair his reputation among liberals and journalists but does him no good with the crucial swing votes.   And if he thought he were secretly ahead, he wouldn’t comport himself this way. He would be more like the stiff character we saw in the debates.

As neither of us can read John McCain’s mind, this is all quite speculative. (I can say with one hundred percent certainty that Fallows cannot read his mind as anyone with the ability to read minds would have written the definitive answer as to what was going on in his head when he picked Sarah Palin). I think Fallows is partially correct. John McCain must realize that he is behind and at this point cannot afford the luxury of considering how this would appear should be actually become president. Instead of giving up, I see this as McCain trying to do anything possible to get back into the race.

My guess is that, like the choice  of Sarah Palin, this was a gamble McCain thought was worth taking. McCain probably figured that an appearance on Saturday Night Live would give him a national audience instead of a local audience at a campaign event. Appearing on SNL would also lead to media coverage which might make up for the fact that the audience of SNL is not a good demographic for McCain. Besides, McCain is already having difficulties with attendance at some of his rallies (such as in Tampa), and there is no guarantee an additional event on Saturday night would have brought in many people. Maybe he was even a little jealous of the publicity Sarah Palin received for her appearance on SNL.

Certainly McCain might have preferred to be in skits which portrayed him better, but my bet is that he thought it was worth the gamble. The favorable publicity of showing a sense of humor out weighted any negative effects of the topics of the skits.

I don’t buy the fact that McCain has given up because he does not appear like a candidate who has given up. I watched one of his stump speeches at a rally today. It contained all the same nonsense as before but showed no decrease in intensity. In a campaign which probably started earlier than any previous campaign season, John McCain has even decided to stretch it on longer. He will be campaigning in Colorado and New Mexico on election day, when most candidates usually have finished.

Olbermann Parody on Saturday Night Live

The video of the skit on Keith Olbermann on Saturday Night Live was not available when I posted other videos from the episode (here).It has now been posted and is embedded above.

Final Polls Show Big Leads for Obama

Since my round up of poll results yesterday,additional poll results are in showing the same results. There is little if any evidence of narrowing in the polls, and definitely not enough to change the results.  The final USA Today/Gallup Poll of likely voters (which differs from Gallup’s daily tracking poll) shows Obama leading 53 percent to 42 percent. The final three day Gallup tracking poll came out with similar results. Obama leads in both the traditional and expanded models for likely voters by 53 percent to 42 percent, and leads 53 percent to 40 percent among all registered voters.

The final Marist Poll shows Obama leading 53 percent to 44 percent among likely voters with leaners. This is up from a seven point lead on October 31. Among all registered voters, Obama leads 51 percent to 42 percent.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll does show the race narrowing, but Obama still leads 51 percent to 43 percent among likely voters. While down from a ten point lead last week, this still gives Obama a substantial lead and he remains above fifty percent.

The final Fox News poll shows Obama leading fifty percent to 43 percent among likely voters, up from a three point lead at the end of October.

The state polls also show that McCain will have difficulty in the electoral college. The Reuters/Zogby poll of battleground states includes leads for Obama in Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Rasmussen has Obama leading in Pennsylvania by six. Survey USA shows Obama leading in Ohio with Missouri a toss up. Public Policy Polling also shows Missouri tied and a small lead for Obama in Ohio and Montana. Strategic Vision shows Obama leading in Pennsylvania by seven. Quinippiac’s Swing State Poll shows Obama leading in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The Ohio Poll shows Obama leading 51.5 percent to 45.7 percent. Many of these remain close but Obama has enough electoral votes to win in the states where he has a solid lead and at least narrow leads in many other states to give him many paths to victory just in case a large blue state were to flip to McCain. It is hard to see any reasonable path to victory for McCain when he is this far behind in the polls.

The Meaning of A Democratic Mandate

An op-ed by Douglas E. Schoen in The Wall Street Journal has hit a raw nerve in many liberal bloggers. He writes:

This election is not a mandate for Democratic policies. Rather, it is a wholesale rejection of the policies of George W. Bush, Republicans, and to a lesser extent, John McCain. But it is not, as poll after poll has shown, an embrace of the Democratic Congress, which has approval ratings that are actually lower than that of the president.

The American people are actually seeking a middle route: consensus, conciliation and a results-oriented approach to governance. We need consensus on how to best stimulate our economy, and how to get a deficit that is approaching $1 trillion under control. We have tough choices to make involving entitlement programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

We need consensus on how to provide unemployment relief, mortgage relief and most of all, health care for the 47 million people that are uninsured. And we need a bipartisan energy bill that combines domestic offshore drilling with an increased investment in alternative fuels.

There is some truth to this, along with perhaps a mistaken belief that the Democrats plan a course far more radical than I expect. I have had multiple recent posts, including the previous one, showing support for Obama coming from conservatives, independents, and libertarians. Votes for Obama do not necessarily mean total agreement with any specific liberal agenda, and it is true that rejection of failed Republican policies is driving much of Obama’s support.

A bipartisan approach which considers views from both the left and the right is what is needed, but this is exactly what Obama has been talking about all along. Despite the claims from the far right that Obama is a socialist or far left Democrat, Obama has repeatedly demonstrated moderation and a consideration of conservative views. Whether or not Obama apppoints as many republicans as Schoen recommends, he has signaled plans for an approach modeled after A Team of Rivals.

While Obama’s polices are definitely liberal, polls have repeatedly demonstrated that such polices are supported by a majority of voters, especially when often polarizing labels such as liberal and conservative are not included.  Schoen points out that Obama will not be able to accomplish everything he has spoken about, but Obama has also conceded this point.

Steve Benen is among many liberal bloggers who objected to Schoen’s op-ed. He writes:

I suspect Obama, given what we know of his style and temperament, would make good-faith efforts to encourage Republicans to support his policy goals. But Schoen’s advice seems misguided — if Obama wins, he should scale back on the agenda voters asked him to implement? He should water down his agenda, whether it has the votes to pass or not? He should put “conciliation” at the top of his priority list?

And what, pray tell, does a Democratic majority do if/when Republicans decide they don’t like Democratic ideas, don’t care about popular mandates or polls, and won’t work with Dems on issues that matter? Do Democrats, at that point, simply stop governing, waiting for a mysterious “consensus” to emerge?

This raises a point which goes beyond Schoen’s original op-ed. Who exactly do we include when seeking a consensus? If Republicans in Congress contribute constructively to pass legislation, their views should certainly be considered. Nobody would deny the value of bipartisan legislation when possible.

We have also seen periods in which Republicans obstruct for the sake of obstructionism, insisting that any and all Democratic policies must be stopped. In this case, no, the Democrats do not simply stop governing. This does not mean that they do not consider a wide range of views across the political spectrum. With many conservatives and libertarians backing Obama there are many avenues for considering other viewpoints. It is possible for Democrats to consider the viewpoints of those outside their party in crafting legislation even if the Congressional Republicans are not willing to work with them. The point here is not to please the opposition in Congress but to please the majority of people in the country. The lesson from the loss of Congress in 1994 should not be forgotten.

We are bound to see far more warnings along these lines to the Democrats assuming they do win. If they seek a radical far left agenda then they will be repudiated in two years. However reading further in Steve’s post there is no evidence of a desire to confiscate the wealth of the upper class, nationalize the means of production, or otherwise turn the United States into a Marxist Utopia. The desires from many on the left are far more reasonable:

I don’t doubt that there’s ample data showing Americans approving of the idea of policy makers working together. With that in mind, Schoen believes Americans are “seeking a middle route.” Here’s an alternative read: Americans are seeking policies that work. The nation tried it the conservative Republican way for a while, and it led to disaster and failure. Now the electorate seems open to the idea of a different direction.

The goal, however, is not “conciliation,” it’s effective government. As Yglesias concluded, “What Democrats need to do if they want to prosper in 2010 and 2012 is deliver the goods. In other words, return the economy to prosperity, avoid terrible foreign affairs calamities, etc.”

I suspect that a Democratic majority would wind up governing far more along these lines than along the lines being described in the scare stories coming from the right.

Reagan Speech Writer Backs Obama

Jeffrey Hart, a former writer for The National Review and speech writer for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has written that he plans to vote for Barack Obama, calling him the real conservative. He discussed conservative views as related to a few issues, including the Iraq war, and went on to some domestic issues where he prefers Obama’s views:

Social Security has long been considered one of the most successful New Deal programs, working well now for 70 years. Yet in 2005, the Bush plan to establish private accounts that could be invested in the Stock Market got nowhere. McCain, too, has embraced this idea. In 2008 it looks ridiculous. The Stock Market! Again, this is a radical proposal, not a conservative one.

Ever since Roe vs. Wade, abortion has been a salient controversy in our politics. But the availability of abortion is linked to the long advancement of women’s equality. Again, we are dealing with social change, and this requires understanding social change, a Burkean imperative that Obama understands.

On my Dartmouth campus, half the undergraduates are women. They do not want to have their plans derailed by an unwanted pregnancy. In Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the Court ruled that the availability of abortion “enables women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the country.”

Though there is a tragic aspect to abortion, as Obama recognizes, women’s equality means that women have control of their reproductive capability. Men don’t worry about that. The fact is that 83 percent of elective abortions occur during the first trimester, and decline rapidly after that.

Both Obama and McCain support federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, Obama more urgently. The conservative movement publications, following Bush, have been fiercely opposed. Such opposition required a belief that a cluster of cells (the embryo) the size of the period at the end of this sentence is as important (more important?) than a seriously ill human being.

I myself cannot fathom such a mentality.

In fact, embryonic stem cell research is being energetically pursued in the following nations: Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, China cooperating with the EU. Privately funded and state funded laboratories are moving ahead vigorously.

Recently, Harvard announced a program that will be part of a multi-billion dollar science center to be established south of the Charles River, and will be able to supply stem cells to other laboratories. I call that Pro-Life.

This analysis could be extended, but it seems clear to me that Obama is the conservative in the 2008 election.

A couple of nitpicks: I don’t consider the idea of having a portion of Social Security money in the stock market as a radical idea. Bill Clinton even considered this. The real problem is that, since money from current workers is used to finance benefits to current beneficiaries, doing so would have reduced further the money available for the program. Like so many of Bush’s ideas, this was a fiscally irresponsible idea as he did not have a satisfactory plan to account for the decrease in payroll taxes available for benefits. Therefore I agree that this plan was not conservative by traditional definitions, even if for a different reason.

Funding for embryonic stem cell research is an even more important issue where I agree with Hart. A second nitpick is that, although McCain has been more supportive of this than most  conservatives in the past, during this year’s campaign he has hedged on support for embryonic as opposed to adult stem cell research. I fear that he would give in to pressure from the religious right on this issue if elected.

I doubt many conservatives would agree that Obama has the conservative viewpoint on abortion, but Hart does make an important point that most abortions occur in the first term. Later term abortions are rare, and Obama opposes them except for when the health of the mother is at risk. Conservative attacks on Obama based upon infanticide and “partial birth abortions” are total nonsense.

With so many conservatives backing Obama we see once again that Obama’s views are really in the mainstream of both liberalism and conservatism as practiced in this country for the past few decades. The current conservative movement is an extremist, authoritarian philosophy which has little to do with the views of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.