Saturday, October 18, 2008

Powell Endorses Obama

Limberballs Says Powell is racist.

Doesn't that just figure?

Anyhoo, I watched this and I must admit that Powell spoke 100% of what I feel. It's too damn bad that BuCheney used this man the way they did. It's even sadder than he allowed them to do so.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced Sunday that he will break with his party and vote for Sen. Barack Obama. "He has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure," Powell said on NBC's Meet the Press.

"I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities -- and you have to take that into account -- as well as his substance -- he has both style and substance," Powell said. "He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president."

Powell noted that McCain has been a good friend for 25 years, but expressed disappointment in the "over the top" negative tone of the GOP campaign, as well as in McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the vice presidential nominee.

"Now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president," Powell said. "And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made."

He also harshly criticized some of McCain's campaign tactics, such as the robocall campaign linking Obama to former 1960s radical Bill Ayers.

"Mr. McCain says that he's a washed up terrorist, but then why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have the robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow Mr. Obama is tainted. What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate. Now, I understand what politics is all about, I know how you can go after one another and that's good. But I think this goes too far, and I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for."

Powell also spoke passionately against the insinuations by some Republicans that Obama is a Muslim.

"Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian," he said. "But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America."

Story continues below

Powell said he does not plan to campaign for Obama.

Following the interview, Powell told reporters outside NBC's Washington studio that McCain "is essentially going to execute the Republican agenda, the orthodoxy of the Republican agenda with a new face and a maverick approach to it, and he'd be quite good at it, but I think we need more than that. I think we need a generational change. I think Senator Obama has captured the feelings of the young people of America and is reaching out in a more diverse, inclusive way across our society."

Powell charged that the Republican focus on William Ayers and Obama's religious affiliations were damaging America's image abroad.

"Those kinds of images going out on al Jazeera are killing us around the world," he said. "And we have got to say to the world, it doesn't make any difference who you are or what you are, if you're an American you're an American. And this business of, for example a congresswoman from Minnesota going around saying let's examine all congressmen to see who is pro America or not pro America, we have got to stop this kind of non-sense and pull ourselves together and remember that our great strength is in our unity and diversity. That really was driving me."

Powell continued, defending Obama against McCain's latest charge that the Democrat's policies are quasi-socialist:

We can't judge our people and hold our elections on that kind of basis. Yes, that kind of negativity troubled me. And the constant shifting of the argument, I was troubled a couple of weeks ago when in the middle of the crisis the campaign said 'we're going to go negative,' and they announced it. 'We're going to go negative and attack his character through Bill Ayers.' Now I guess the message this week is we're going to call him a socialist. Mr. Obama is now a socialist, because he dares to suggest that maybe we ought to look at the tax structure that we have. Taxes are always a redistribution of money. Most of the taxes that are redistributed go back to those who pay them, in roads and airports and hospitals and schools. And taxes are necessary for the common good. And there's nothing wrong with examining what our tax structure is or who should be paying more or who should be paying les, and for us to say that makes you a socialist is an unfortunate characterization that I don't think is accurate.

Asked whether he still considers himself a Republican, Powell responded, "Yes."

Robert Gibbs told reporters that Obama called Powell to thank him for his endorsement and express how honored he was to have it.

Obama "said he looked forward to taking advantage of his advice in the next two weeks and hopefully over the next four years," Gibbs said in an email to the traveling press. "They talked for ten minutes."

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, John McCain said he respectfully disagreed with Powell's decision, but "this doesn't come as a surprise."

In fact, aside from their shared history as Republican military men, Powell's endorsement is significant due to the fact that McCain has repeatedly singled him out for lavish praise. In a July New York Times interview, McCain described the former secretary of state and Joint Chiefs chairman as "a man who I admire as much as any man in the world, person in the world" when answering a question in which Powell was not brought up. Meanwhile, near the same time as that interview, McCain was reportedly considering Powell as a potential running mate.

McCain's high opinion of Powell as one of the "most credible, most respected" men in America is not merely an election-year spasm, either. When asked in 2001 if he would have chosen Powell for a Cabinet position had he succeeded in his first presidential run, McCain said "oh, yes." During two December 2000 appearances on NBC Nightly News, McCain described himself as "exuberant" over Powell's selection as secretary of state, which he predicted would secure "a beneficial effect on the conduct of American foreign policy." McCain added in another TV appearance that President Bush was "blessed" to have Powell working for him. In 2003, when Powell faced criticism from Newt Gingrich over his plan to travel to Syria, it was McCain who rose to the secretary's defense on MSNBC's Hardball, when he said: "I think it's appropriate that Colin Powell is going there."

Even at the end of Powell's somewhat frustrating tenure in George W. Bush's inner circle of policy advisers, McCain praised his overall performance, saying: "When he took the helm at the State Department nearly four years ago, I was confident that Secretary Powell would lead with honor and distinction ... I have not been disappointed." And in a CBS interview during this year's primary race, McCain suggested that one of President Bush's chief failures "was not to listen more to our military leadership, including people like General Colin Powell."

The praise has not only run in one direction, as Powell described McCain the "toughest man I've ever met" last year. But in the end, what sounded like a compliment could have been the beginning of the end. During this summer's conflict between Russia and Georgia, Powell criticized McCain for being, in essence, too mindlessly tough. When asked by CNN's what McCain meant when he said "We are all Georgians now," Powell demurred. "One candidate said that, and I'll let the candidate explain it for himself."

When pressed for further opinion, Powell distanced himself from McCain's staunchly pro-Georgian line. "The fact of the matter is that you have to be very careful in a situation like this not just to leap to one side or the other until you take a good analysis of the whole situation," Powell said, tamping down the rush to herald the rise of a new Soviet threat.

"The Russian Federation is not going to become the Soviet Union again. That movie failed at the box office. But they do have interests. And we have to think carefully about their interests."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

What Bobby Said.....

Robert Kennedy's words recalled

As the 2008 presidential election draws near and the anger and intolerance toward Sen. Barack Obama increases, I am reminded of a couple of things Robert F. Kennedy once said:

"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists, is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents."

And, "But suppose God is black? What if we go to heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?"

Vote for who you feel would the better president, but by all means, be tolerant and respectful. After all, this is America.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

GOP Exploits ACORN Probe

In a replay of a tactic used to help secure President George W. Bush’s second term, Republicans – aided by investigative agencies of the federal government – are making a campaign issue out of voter-registration forms with fake names like “Mickey Mouse.”

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a grassroots group that has registered hundreds of thousands of new voters, is again the target of these Republican attacks despite federal guidelines discouraging voter-fraud investigations right before elections.

Trying to salvage his campaign, John McCain has jumped into the ACORN case, too, citing it at the third presidential debate. He declared ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."

However, the investigations launched against ACORN – now including the reported involvement of the FBI – have raised other concerns, especially that Republicans are flogging this issue in an effort to stir up anger, to revive McCain’s campaign, and to intimidate new voters.

For its part, ACORN has insisted that its own quality control flagged many of the suspicious registration forms before they were submitted to state officials and that state laws often require outside registration groups to submit all forms regardless of obvious problems.

Independent studies also have shown that phony registrations rarely result in illegally cast ballots because there are so many other safeguards built into the system.

For instance, from October 2002 to September 2005, a total of 70 people were convicted for federal election related crimes, according to figures compiled by the New York Times last year. Only 18 of those were for ineligible voting.

In recent years, federal prosecutors reached similar conclusions despite pressure from the Bush administration to lodge “election fraud” charges against ACORN and other groups seen as bringing more Democratic voters into the democratic process.

Some of the Bush administration prosecutors who refused to seek these indictments were then fired in 2006 as part of a purge of nine U.S. Attorneys deemed not “loyal Bushies.”

This “prosecutor-gate” scandal led to the resignations of several senior White House and Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. President Bush then asserted broad executive privilege to block testimony by Karl Rove and other top White House officials.

Media Amnesia

Yet, in the intense press coverage of the current ACORN flap, the major U.S. news media mostly has avoided reference to the “prosecutor-gate” case. Instead, the press focus has been on anecdotes like Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s name showing up on one registration form.

The U.S. press corps also has given little attention to the questionable decisions by state and federal investigators to highlight the ACORN probe in the weeks before a national election.

Federal investigative guidelines strongly discourage election-related probes before ballots are cast because of the likelihood that the inquiries will become politicized and might influence the election outcomes.

“In most cases, voters should not be interviewed, or other voter-related investigation done, until after the election is over,” according to the Justice Department’s guidelines for election offenses as revised in May 2007 during Gonzales’s tenure as Attorney General.

Even though those May 2007 guidelines watered down even stricter language in previous editions, the Gonzales-era rules still cautioned:

“Overt investigative steps may chill legitimate voting activities. They are also likely to be perceived by voters and candidates as an intrusion into the election. Indeed, the fact of a federal criminal investigation may itself become an issue in the election.”

Despite these guidelines, it appears the Bush administration’s Justice Department has plunged ahead with the ACORN case, only three weeks before the presidential election.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press, citing law enforcement officials, reported that the FBI launched a probe into ACORN to examine evidence that the organization committed voter registration fraud around the country.

The reported FBI probe followed a clamor from the right-wing news media and Republican operatives over ACORN’s voter registrations.

The GOP’s assault on ACORN appears to be part of a broader strategy to raise questions about Barack Obama’s associations. Though Obama did once represent ACORN as a lawyer in support of a motor-voter registration law, his campaign says it has no connection to ACORN’s current registration efforts.

‘Cottage Industry’

On Thursday, Rep. John Conyers, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, complained to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and FBI Director Robert Mueller about the leak to the AP.

“As an initial matter, it is simply unacceptable that such information would be leaked during the very peak of the election season,” Conyers said.

“I know it has become a right-wing cottage industry to cry wolf over alleged ‘voter fraud’ during an election season (only to have such claims evaporate after the election has concluded).

“One would hope the Justice Department and FBI would more skeptically examine such sensational accusations than some cable news outlets. And this is particularly true where the allegations, even given their fullest reading, simply do not support such alarmist and unreasonable claims.”

The McCain campaign’s attempt to politicize the ACORN investigation in the closing days of Campaign 2008 has striking parallels to the Bush administration’s use of the same issue in 2004 and 2006.

David Iglesias, the former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, was fired in 2006 after he refused to prosecute what turned out to be unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud leveled against ACORN.

In an interview, Iglesias said he was surprised that the FBI would have agreed to investigate ACORN now and that the inquiry must have received a green light from high levels of the Justice Department.

Iglesias said that in September 2004, when he set up an election fraud task force, he met professional resistance from the FBI.

“The FBI in [New Mexico] was skittish when I raised the voter fraud task force that I formed back in 2004 because the SAC [Special Agent in Charge} said the FBI General Counsel said such investigations were discouraged due to the appearance of being too ‘political,’" Iglesias said.

“I had to twist their arms for them to get involved and only after I assured them that no prosecutions would be filed before the election. … I wonder why the FBI went from being skittish back in 2004 to being forward leaning now. Who is pressuring them and why?"

Iglesias said Bush’s Justice Department issued a directive to all U.S. Attorneys to find and prosecute cases of voter fraud in their states during the hotly contested elections in 2002, 2004 and 2006, even though evidence of such abuses was extremely thin or non-existent.

In his book, In Justice: Inside the Scandal that Rocked the Bush Administration, Iglesias said in late summer 2002 he received an e-mail from the Justice Department suggesting "in no uncertain terms" that U.S. Attorneys should immediately begin working with local and state election officials "to offer whatever assistance we could in investigating and prosecuting voter fraud cases."

Targeted for Dismissal

When Iglesias faced similar pressure again in 2006 – and refused to bring cases he considered inappropriate – he found himself on a list of U.S. Attorney’s targeted for dismissal.

According to a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, "Patrick Rogers, the former general counsel to the New Mexico state Republican Party and a party activist, continued [before the 2006 election] to complain about voter fraud issues in New Mexico.

"In a March 2006 e-mail forwarded to [Craig] Donsanto in the [Justice Department's] Public Integrity Section, Rogers complained about voter fraud in New Mexico and added, ‘I have calls in, to the USA [U.S. Attorney] and his main assistant, but they were not much help during the ACORN fraudulent registration debacle last election.”

Donsanto was the author of the updated May 2007 Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses manual that softened the warnings about investigating and prosecuting voter fraud cases before an election.

In June 2006, Rogers sent Iglesias's Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Rumaldo Armijo an e-mail:

“The voter fraud wars continue. Any indictment of the Acorn woman would be appreciated. . . . The ACLU/Wortheim [sic] democrats will turn to the camera and suggest fraud is not an issue, because the USA would have done something by now. Carpe Diem!”

John Wertheim was then chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party.

Iglesias said he now believes GOP claims of voter fraud have been “unique to the Bush administration.”

“If voter fraud is such a problem nationally, why have there only been a handful of prosecutions in the past few years?” he said.

Campaign 2004

The current attacks on ACORN are almost identical to voter fraud allegations raised by Republicans during the final days of Campaign 2004.

In October 2004, Marc Racicot, chairman of the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign, called on Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry to demand that ACORN and other voter registration groups stop engaging in voter registration fraud.

Racicot said these registration efforts would "ultimately paralyze the effective ability of Americans to be able to vote in the next election."

Two weeks before the 2004 presidential election, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett announced the formation of a media campaign to counter what they claimed was voter registration fraud in nine Ohio counties.

“The reports of voter fraud in Ohio are some of the most alarming in the nation,” Gillespie said on Oct. 20, 2004.

Ohio was one of the battleground states in the 2004 election where tens of thousands of voters were purged from the registration rolls and where there were widespread reports that votes intended for Kerry went to Bush.

In Florida, another battleground state in the 2004 presidential election, where President Bush’s brother Jeb was governor, the state’s Department of Law launched a statewide probe into voter registration fraud just two weeks before the presidential election.

A press release issued by the Department of Law cited ACORN, which registered more than 212,000 new voters in the state.

In the two weeks before Election 2004, GOP officials raised similar concerns in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

Documents have since surfaced showing how GOP operatives recognized the value of this strategy.

An e-mail, dated Sept. 30, 2004, and sent to a dozen or so staffers on the Bush-Cheney campaign and the RNC, under the subject line "voter reg fraud strategy conference call," describes how campaign staffers planned to challenge the veracity of votes in a handful of battleground states, such as Ohio, in the event of a Democratic victory.

E-mails – among Ohio Republican Party official Michael Magan; Coddy Johnson, then national field director of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign; and Rove associate Timothy Griffin – reveal the men were given documents that could be used as evidence to justify widespread voter challenges if the Bush campaign needed to contest the election results.

Johnson referred to the documents as a "goldmine." The documents were lists of registered voters who did not return address confirmation forms to the Ohio Board of Elections.

Now, four years later, Republicans again seem to believe they can turn the voter fraud issue to their advantage, especially at a time when African-Americans and young people are registering in record numbers – and are viewed as likely to favor Barack Obama.

Jason Leopold has launched a new Web site, The Public Record, at

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Is John McCain Finished?

I wouldn't count on anything until the last vote is counted....or not counted.
Way too much funny business going on out there....AGAIN!

IT'S OVER. John McCain still hasn't told the country why he should be president.

He has talking points. He is against taxes, earmarks, and pork. But he can't knit what he opposes into a coherent economic philosophy that would inspire voters to get behind him in the final days of this presidential campaign.

He has an inspirational life story. But in this campaign, he never connected his biography to his presidential ambition, and he never told voters how it would shape a McCain administration and make him a better president than his opponent.

McCain has long years of political experience, exactly what Democrat Barack Obama lacks. But McCain is unable to explain why his experience makes him better able to lead the country.

McCain had at least one good line last night: "Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush you should've run four years ago." But one good line isn't a lifeline.

The Arizona senator finally mentioned Bill Ayers and ACORN to his opponent's face. But he can't link Obama to Ayers and domestic terrorism, or to the controversial community group called Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, as tightly as Obama can link McCain to Bush. And that remains one of Obama's biggest advantages in this race.

The Democrat has other advantages, from the economy to his own eloquence. He also has the ability to do what McCain can't do: look and sound presidential.

Enjoying a surge in the polls, Obama was confident, maybe a bit overconfident in this final debate.

Obama grinned; McCain grimaced.

Each knows his destiny. One man is walking to the White House. The other is just a politically dead man walking.

Joan Vennochi can be reached at

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Report from Palin rally: Scary Stuff

I fear for my country!

On second thought, I'm no longer sure this is "my" country, when citizens and the legitimate press are assaulted at republican rallies or simply shut out, as they were in 2004 by the Bush team.

This is not the country I was taught to believe in!

Newspaper stories from Palin's rally from myself and Joe Killian.


Update: Bloggers note: there is editing throughout this post at 10 a.m. or so this morning to clean up grammar and spelling errors committed at the end of a 16 hour day. As well, some fixes have been made with regards to quote marks that did not publish correctly. My apologies to the English teachers in the audience.


There are certain things that get me really concerned when I hear them from someone I'm working with. Joe Killian (who blogs for the paper here and on his own time here) added a new one to my list:

Joe was working with me on a package for tomorrow's newspaper covering Gov. Sarah Palin's visit to Elon and Greensboro.

"Dude," he says when I called to check on him. "Some guy just kicked me in the back of the leg."

Let me just digress for a second. I sometimes supervise people. Much more often, I work in teams with folks. I'm usually the old fart in the group so I feel responsible for them. The last thing I ever want to hear is that one of my people got hurt on assignment. Usually the worry has to do with covering a traffic accident along a highway or a natural disaster like a flood, where conditions are inherently dangerous.

What I don't expect is for some troglodyte at a campaign rally to decide that the proper way to express his frustration with Democrats, Barack Obama or the "left-wing liberal media" is to commit assault on a colleague.

Here's the back-story:

As you probably know, the crowds at McCain-Palin events have gotten, um, saucy as of late. My boss blogs about that here.

Covering Sen. John McCain's appearance in Wilmington Monday, you could definitely sense some of that vibe.

Cut to today, Palin in town. In general, I walked in sensing the crowd had a more positive vibe than the McCain rally.

That changed when I heard a ruckus behind me. A couple folks there for the rally called campaign staff over, complaining about people several rows back chanting "Obama" when the rest of the crowd cheered at Palin's applause lines. Obnoxious? Yes. But I dig me some First Amendment.

The campaign staff dutifully fetched a couple of police officers who dutifully threw the handful of individuals out. I watched just to make sure ruckus didn't develop into something more. That apparently gave other McCain-Palin supporters license to yell at me.

"Hey! Hey you! The story's up there," yelled one point at the stage. "You don't need to worry about that. The story is up there."

The presence of a barricade, the more pressing need of gathering a story and, well, that whole First Amendment thing just led me to ignore them. They can pop off if they like.

Joe was near a second group of protestors who got tossed. And he got some push back for investigating as well. After the rally wound down, he went to find some Obama folks and see if he could talk to who got put out.

That's when at least one guy from the crowd decided he needed to interject his opinion into the conversation. As Joe tells it:

I sidled up to one of the Obama supporters and asked why they were there, what they were trying to accomplish.

As he was telling me a large, bearded man in full McCain-Palin campaign regalia got in his face to yell at him.

"Hey, hey, " I said. "I'm trying to interview him. Just a minute, okay? "

The man began to say something about how of course I was interviewing the Obama people when suddenly, from behind us, the sound of a pro-Obama rap song came blaring out of the windows of a dorm building. We all turned our heads to see Obama signs in the windows.

This was met with curses, screams and chants of "U.S.A" by McCain-Palin folks who crowded under the windows trying to drown it out and yell at the person playing the stereo.

It was a moment of levity in an otherwise very tense situation and so I let out a gentle chuckle and shook my head.

"Oh, you think that 's funny?! " the large bearded man said. His face was turning red. "Yeah, that 's real funny…" he said.

And then he kicked the back of my leg, buckling my right knee and sending me sprawling onto the ground.

There was no cop or security officer around to report this lug nut to, and Joe resisted the temptation to smack the guy back, which I commend. But let me say this: the guy who attacked Joe is a criminal, no better that the lunk-head who steals your car stereo or snatches a purse.

Do I hold the McCain campaign responsible? Not entirely. No one on their staff said, "Hey, after the event, go smack around a reporter."

Although, I will say that complaints about "the media," "mainstream media," "Eastern media elite," etc... have become a pervasive in Republican talking points, increasingly so as we get closer to the election. I've heard the complaints from folks like U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and certainly both Palin and McCain have used those phrases in their speeches. Then, there are the opening lines of Hank Williams Jr.'s campaign theme song for McCain-Palin: "The left-wing liberal media have always been a real close-knit family, but most of the American people, don't believe them anyway you see."

Fair enough. We're big boys and girls who put ourselves out there and part of the job is tacking flak from both sides. Certainly I have heard complaints from Democrats about "the media" and have been accused of being too conservative. But I have never had the sense that a Democrat was going to get physical in that kind of way. Even though McCain and Palin have taken a kinder gentler tone in their speeches, there was still a real undercurrent of anger at the rallies I covered this week.

After today I'm wondering - and this is just wondering at this point - whether Republicans aren't in some respect giving their supporters license for this sort of crap. If the story you peddle is that your guys are the good guys and all those who stand against them are the bad guys, and the "liberal media" is in that second column, might there be a message there – even if it is one that is misconstrued and carried to a stupid extreme in some cases?

Full disclosure: I'm not real happy with the McCain campaign today. After the Elon event Palin did a fundraiser and I was told the local pool would be able to cover that. It's a major reason I took the pool assignment. I was told mid-way through my day that the fundraiser would be closed. And I just found out that the campaign tossed a one-on-one to an out-of-town competitor rather than to the paper that staffed their pool today.

But that's peanuts, mere whining, an issue of protocol. This other thing with Joe reflects something far more troubling. I just hope it's not a trend.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Keating and Wurzelbacher

Wurzelbacher cannot be a common name. So, is it possible that Joe the Plumber is a plant.

December 13, 1993

Keating Son-in-Law to Serve Prison Term

A son-in-law of the former head of Lincoln Savings, Charles H. Keating Jr., must surrender next year to begin a 40-month prison sentence.

United States District Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer imposed the sentence last week on the son-in-law, Robert M. Wurzelbacher Jr., who had pleaded guilty to three counts of misapplying $14 million from Lincoln, an Irvine, Calif., savings association.

Mr. Wurzelbacher, 39, was an executive with Lincoln's parent, the American Continental Corporation, which Mr. Keating controlled.

Prosecutors asked for a six-year sentence, saying Mr. Wurzelbacher had volunteered little of use to them after making a plea bargain.

Mr. Wurzelbacher's lawyer, Mark Beck, had asked for probation and community service. He said Mr. Wurzelbacher was likely to serve 26 months before parole.

On Tuesday, Judge Pfaelzer ordered Mr. Wurzelbacher to begin his sentence on Feb. 4. She said she would recommend that he be sent to prison camp at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Mr. Wurzelbacher did not plead guilty to the indictment charging him and others, including Mr. Keating and Mr. Keating's son, with looting Lincoln and swindling investors who lost money buying risky bonds. Instead, he admitted that he helped Lincoln extend loans to a hotel partnership in which he, Mr. Keating and other insiders had interests. He said he knew the loans were unlikely to be repaid.

Lincoln's failure in April 1989 cost taxpayers $3.4 billion, a record.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

OOPS!: Plumbers Union Suppports Obama

McCain is truly a stupid person.

Final presidential debate

US election: Who is 'Joe the Plumber' - aka Joe Wurzelbacher?

Toledo man was star of third and final debate between Barack Obama and John McCain at Hofstra University

Barack Obama and plumber Joe Wurzelbacher

Barack Obama with Joe Wurzelbacher at the debate.Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

Forget John McCain, or Barack Obama. Joe the Plumber - also known as Joe Wurzelbacher - was the real star of Wednesday night's presidential debate.

McCain raised the plumber from Toledo, Ohio, early on in the debate as an example of the kind of people who would suffer under Obama's tax plans. From that point on, it seemed as if the two opponents could barely get enough of him.

Joe's name came up 25 times during the 90-minute debate. The word "economy" got 16 mentions. Iraq came up once, and Afghanistan not at all.

He was even more popular among the Republican spin doctors talking to reporters after the debate. Charlie Black, a senior adviser to McCain, said Joe the plumber was one of the highlights of the encounter. Tucker Bounds, a McCain spokesman, could barely utter two consecutive sentences without mentioning the plumber.

It was clear from the outset that he was part of McCain's secret arsenal on this the last debate encounter before election day.

But Obama quickly got into the spirit of things. When he talked about his healthcare plan, the Democrat made a point of saying there would be coverage for Joe the plumber too. When it transpired that Joe the plumber had fears about Obama's tax plans, the Democrat speculated that was because he was watching McCain's ads.

Joe began as a walk-on part in McCain's story of how Obama's taxes would hurt small business owners.

"Joe wants to buy the business that he has been in for all of these years, worked 10, 12 hours a day. And he wanted to buy the business but he looked at your tax plan and he saw that he was going to pay much higher taxes," McCain started off. "Joe was trying to realise the American dream."

Obama responded that the tax rises would only hit those earning more than $250,000 a year. McCain said this would include Joe Wurzelbacher, whom Obama had met in Ohio, and would prevent him a planned expansion of his business that included taking on two workers.

McCain's team said afterwards the US public will be hearing a lot more about Joe the Plumber in the remaining days of the campaign.

One hiccup for McCain is that the plumbers' union has endorsed Obama. The union said Obama was its choice because "he has always fought for working people throughout his career".

Wurzelbacher, in an interview with FamilySecurityMatters website earlier this year, described his encounter with Obama. He said: "Initially, I started off asking him if he believed in the American dream and he said yes, he does - and then I proceeded to ask him then why he's penalising me for trying to fulfill it"

He defined his American dream as "a house, a dog, a couple rifles, a bass boat".

Wurzelbacher told him he wanted to buy his business: "It's not like I would be rich; I would still just be a working plumber. I work hard for my money, and the fact that he thinks I make a little too much that he just wants to redistribute it to other people." He feared Obama was heading down the socialist road.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

William Buckley's Son Backs Obama

Causing a huge Row at the National Review.

-- Steve Clemons

Christopher Buckley Shown the Door at National Review

Oct 14 2008, 12:37PM

Thee late William F. Buckley's son, the talented writer and thinker -- Christopher Buckley -- surprised many with his brave decision to endorse Barack Obama recently.

His announcement created a storm among National Review editors. According to reports, he offered to resign. And it took a nanosecond for the magazine to accept that resignation.

Some will think that this is good. I don't. It's not wise to have such rigid ideological lines in publications that fair-minded thinking can't be supported, debated, and embraced in process if not in substance.

Bill Buckley opposed George W. Bush's war in Iraq. He was an independent thinker who also would have difficulties with the Republican party that has been recently sculpted.

The father would not have accepted the resignation of the son -- and instead might have debated him in a set of catchy columns.

National Review just made itself less relevant to the future of the nation.

-- Steve Clemons

Posted by Mr.Murder, Oct 14, 1:28PM
He would have him what he called Chomsky. As for the younger Buckley, bravo! If they right wing offend thee, cut it off....... read more

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Bush Defends Government Bank Investment

By Howard Schneider, David Cho and Neil Irwin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 14, 2008; 11:14 AM

President Bush said this morning that the administration's "unprecedented and aggressive" plan to partly nationalize nine major banks was an "essential short-term measure to ensure the viability" of a battered financial system.

With the government poised to invest $250 billion of taxpayers' money into private banks, Bush and top economic policymakers tried to emphasize in morning remarks that the dramatic proposal was not meant to undermine the country's free market principles. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. called parts of the proposal "objectionable. . . . Today's actions are not what we ever wanted to do."

But given the depth of the crisis and the risk it would spark a broader economic downturn, Bush and his economic team said they felt extraordinary steps were needed -- and it was welcomed by the markets, with the Dow Jones industrial average soaring more than 350 points in the opening minutes of trading, on top of Monday's historic 11 percent leap, before beginning to fall later in the morning. By 11 a.m., the Dow and Standard & Poor's 500-stock index were flat, and the Nasdaq was falling.

"The government's role will be limited and temporary," Bush said from the Rose Garden. "These measures are not intended to take over the free market, but to preserve it."

Paulson and other officials unveiled further details of the plan this morning, including new deposit and bank debt guarantees from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and -- in a nod to the sensitive politics of the situation -- limits on executive compensation that banks must impose if they accept direct government investment.

The U.S. program follows similar steps announced Monday in Europe in what amounted to a coordinated move by the world's major economies to back the global banking system with public funds and confidence-building measures, such as government guarantees of loans between banks.

Bush said this morning that while the new programs might seem "distant" to the lives of everyday people, they will directly affect the ability of small businesses to obtain operating cash and households to finance auto, home and other major purchases.

The government investment will "help healthy banks continue making loans, and this new capital will help struggling banks fill the hole created by losses in the financial crisis," Bush said.

Ultimately, Paulson said, the intent is not for the government to take over banks or own them over the long run, but to rebuild the trust between institutions who have all but stopped lending to one another.

"We regret having to take these actions," Paulson said in a speech this morning delivered alongside Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and others. "There is a lack of confidence in our financial system -- a lack of confidence that must be conquered because it poses an enormous threat."

The government's $250 billion direct investment into banks in essence forces nine of the largest to accept what amounts to a partial nationalization. Other banks will have until Nov. 14 to request a government investment, which will be made in the form of preferred stock equal to between 1 percent and 3 percent the bank's assets. In return, executive pay over $500,000 will not be tax deductible by the company, as well as other limits on the pay of top officers.

The nine banks that have agreed to government investment are: Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, State Street and Wells Fargo.

News that European governments also planned to take stakes in their banks and anticipation of the U.S. measures unleashed a tremendous surge in U.S. stock prices yesterday, with the Dow Jones industrial average soaring to the biggest percentage gain since the 1930s, up 11.1 percent. It ended 936.42 points higher, the largest point gain ever, just days after the Dow had its steepest weekly decline in history.

The rally continued today on Asian and European exchanges. In addition, some key measures of the crisis -- such as the interest rates banks charge each other for short-term loans -- began to ease.

The Treasury Department's decision to take equity stakes in banks represents a significant reversal, coming just weeks after Paulson had opposed the idea. In a momentous meeting yesterday afternoon in Washington, Paulson, flanked by top financial regulators, told the executives of nine leading banks that they needed to participate in the program for the good of the national economy, two industry sources said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The government's initiative, officially announced this morning before the markets opened for New York trading, is part of a wider plan that goes beyond the $700 billion rescue package approved by Congress this month. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced today the launch of an insurance fund to guarantee new issues of bank debt. It will provide unlimited deposit insurance for non-interest-bearing accounts, which are widely used by small businesses for payroll and other purposes.

In pressing the bank executives to accept partial government ownership, Paulson's message was clear: Though officially the program was voluntary, the banks had little choice in the matter. In exchange for giving the Treasury minority stakes, the nine firms would jointly receive an investment worth $125 billion. The government would make another $125 billion available for the next 30 days to thousands of other banks and thrifts across the country.

Federal officials set conditions, telling the banks they could not raise their dividends without government permission and could not offer their executives new retirement packages, though the old packages would remain intact.

Paulson told them the moves would shore up confidence in their own institutions, spark lending throughout the system and send a message to smaller institutions that there is no stigma in accepting federal funding. Though some were reluctant, all of the executives complied.

There is a risk that banks will take the new government capital and use it to bolster their balance sheets but still not resume lending, and the Treasury is not getting any specific contractual guarantee to prevent that from happening. But bank regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, will lean heavily on the firms receiving infusions to use the capital to increase their lending to businesses and consumers.

Taken together, the steps planned by the Treasury, the FDIC and the Federal Reserve amount to a monumental effort to jump-start the business of lending, which all but dried up in recent weeks as banks have lost faith in one another and their customers. Global markets began to melt down. Some emerging nations teetered on the brink of financial collapse.

Over the weekend, global leaders agreed in meetings in Washington to launch a coordinated program of injecting cash into the world's banks and guaranteeing their debt. The action by U.S. officials yesterday represented the U.S. version of those broad principles, and it was matched by similar efforts in Europe yesterday.

As part of the effort to flood the financial system with cash, the Federal Reserve made unlimited funds available early yesterday to other major central banks so they could inject money into banks in their countries and ease the shortage of dollars they face. Previously, the Fed's program of lending dollars to the European Central Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Japan and others had been capped at a total of $380 billion.

Under the rescue legislation signed into law this month, the Treasury is allowed to take equity stakes in banks.

During debates on Capitol Hill, Paulson repeatedly described that measure as a way to shore up ailing financial institutions by buying their troubled mortgage securities and other assets.

Now that Paulson has decided to use the $250 billion installment to pump capital directly into the banking system, Bush sent a letter to Congress this morning asking for a second installment of $100 billion to buy or insure the assets from institutions, according to congressional staff and banking industry executives briefed on the plan.

"When I was talking to members of Congress back then, they believed they were voting to buy up troubled assets, not to make capital infusions in banks," said Alan Blinder, a Princeton economist and a former Fed vice chairman. "If I were a member of Congress, I would be wondering about bait and switch because that was not really discussed."

Among the first to push the idea of injecting money into banks in exchange for an equity stake was Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who proposed the idea at a Sept. 18 night meeting on Capitol Hill that included legislators as well as Paulson and Bernanke.

After Paulson described his plan for the Treasury to buy up mortgage backed securities, Bachus suggested there were certainly other ways to address the crisis. "There has to be alternatives," he recalled telling the group, in an account that is consistent with accounts of others who were present at the meeting. "Why not inject capital into the institutions?"

At the meeting, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) expressed support for the idea, according to people at the meeting.

But Treasury officials "said this is a crisis and that there was no time," Bachus said. Paulson "was very fearful that if we didn't do something immediately, we were going to see terrible things happen."

He said he thought that Paulson had acted with "integrity" but that "I do believe they had this one plan, and they were saying 'This is it.' "

Bachus answered the objection by saying that the government could take a non-voting stake in the institutions. But opponents in the meeting, including Treasury, were unmoved.

"I do think there were some ideological predisposition against capital injections," Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said of the meeting. Also, "their view was that it would take too long because you'd have to do it on a bank-by-bank basis."

Yesterday, few lawmakers took issue with the plan to recapitalize banks. But key Democrats argued that strict executive compensation limits should apply to any institution that accepts government money.

"Restrictions on executive compensation will ensure that taxpayer money is not wasted enriching the same people whose poor decision-making created this crisis," Schumer wrote in a letter to Paulson yesterday. "It is imperative that these restrictions, including limitations on the incentives for executives to take excessive risks and the elimination of golden parachutes, should apply to any capital injection program."

The new insurance program that will be launched by the FDIC to insure non-interest-bearing accounts is aimed mainly at small businesses, which tend to keep the largest balances in bank accounts and therefore are particularly likely to withdraw money if they believe their bank is having financial problems. Because banks are barred by law from paying interest on business accounts, the new guarantee will basically encompass all such accounts.

The extended guarantee matches similar guarantees by European countries, easing a concern that businesses would move money to overseas accounts. But the move also raises questions again about whether the FDIC will have enough money to meet its growing obligations as banks continue to fail.

The FDIC's bank debt guarantee would be open to newly issued bonds and other forms of debt that are issued before June of next year. The government's guarantee would last three years.

Earlier yesterday, while speaking to international bankers, Neel Kashkari, who is temporarily overseeing the government's $700 billion rescue package, laid out some details of the Treasury's efforts on that plan and acknowledged the need to move quickly. Kashkari, who was appointed interim assistant Treasury secretary for financial stability last week, said that key appointments, including a "prime contractor" company to oversee and run the purchase of troubled assets from banks, will be announced as early as today. It has also received "hundreds" of applications from firms seeking to become asset managers for the securities that Treasury will purchase. Other officials added that the department has hired law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and investment consultants Ennis Knupp & Associates to help with the selection of contractors for the program.

Kashkari said the Treasury will be clarifying conflicts of interests among any firms that it hires because "firms with the relevant financial expertise may also hold assets that become eligible for sale."

Staff writers Peter Whoriskey, Binyamin Appelbaum, Zachary A. Goldfarb and Lori Montgomery contributed to this report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.