The Marc Steiner Show

Archive for Republicans

Political Roundtable: Iowa Caucus Results

24589983121_74924d1356_nFebruary 2, 2016 – Segment 1

We begin the show with a Political Roundtable on the results of the Iowa Caucus.  Sitting in is  Charles Ellison, political strategist and Host of The Ellison Report on WEAA and Lenny McAllister, Republican strategist, former congressional candidate and host of both Night Talk: Get To The Point on the Pittsburgh cable news channel and Get Right with Lenny McAllister on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA in Pittsburgh. We are also joined by Dr. Mileah Kromer, Director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Goucher College.

National Roundtable: Breaking Down Last Night’s Republican Debate

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore on FlickrOctober 29, 2015 – Segment 1

Today we host a national round table with guest host, Dr. Kimberly Moffitt, an Associate Professor of American Studies at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and co-Editor of Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities.

Dr. Moffitt will moderate a panel of guests that will discuss and analyze the Republican debate. Panelists include Eugene Craig III, grassroots activist and 3rd Vice-Chair of the Maryland Republican State Party; Catalina Byrd, media consultant and political strategist; and Charles Ellison, political strategist and Host of The Ellison Report, new on WEAA 88.9FM.

What Will The Sequestration Mean For The U.S. and Maryland?

President Obama, Congress, and SequestrationFebruary 27, 2013 – Segment 2

We move into a conversation on the upcoming sequestration – across the board cuts in federal spending – that will take place on Friday if President Obama and Congress cannot come to an agreement on the budget. We are joined by:

Then, Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland’s 3rd District explains the impact all of this could have on Maryland.

More Follow-up on Protests and Arrests During RNC by Sonia Silbert

Sonia Silbert, Co-coordinator of the Washington Peace Center, wrote last week with updates on the mass arrests and detentions by police of activists during the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities.  Here are some more reports from her from later in the week.  You can also listen to her interview with us during the RNC on The Marc Steiner Show – click here.

Click here to read more!

In The Jail – treatment and abuse.

Tuesday morning we called the jail and learned that Jonathan and Kari were being held on felony charges, which blew us all away.  There was no way they could have the evidence to back that up, so we were sure the charge would be reduced when they finally saw a judge, but it meant that they would be held another night in jail.

As of Tuesday evening, our friends had been in jail over 24 hours.  Kari, the 20-year old, had managed to call her mom in Pennsylvania, who called the legal line in a panic.  I got her phone number and called her back to reassure her regarding why she got arrested (photographers are scary, I guess), how she would be treated (kept with the protesters, not the general prison population, and I didn’t tell her about the rumors of prisoner abuse that were seeping out of the jail), and what would be the repercussions of this (she’ll be freaked out, but there’s no way she’ll be convicted of a felony…Inshallah).


Wednesday afternoon, I went down to the jail where people had been doing a vigil all day.  Everyone who had been arrested on Monday had to be charged and released by today since it had been 36 hours – it turned into many more hours than that, but they started the process at least at the 36 hr mark.  Our friend Tobin, the minor, had gotten out that morning and his dad had flown him back home.  His police report basically just said that he was recognized at an earlier action and that was all the evidence provided – we were all pissed that the public defender didn’t ask for the charges to be dismissed.  He has a court date back in Minnesota in October.

There were about 100 activists sitting in the grass outside the jail talking, playing guitar, eating, etc.  Needless to say, we were surrounded by riot cops, some on horseback, on all four corners.  They continued to group and regroup throughout the afternoon and evening, letting everyone know we could be raided, detained and arrested at any time.  Our crimes?  Some kind of felony I would guess.  Talking too loud or something.

One by one, arrestees were meeting with public defenders, standing in front of  a judge, getting (most of) their possessions back and then being released.  We went into the court building which was surrounded by wire fencing and guarded by National Guard. 

Our friend Aaron, who is an Iraq vet from Chicago, pointed out that even here you could see a huge difference between city cops and the National Guard.  The RNC had $50 million to spend on policing the Twin Cities and every cop had brand-new full-body riot gear – padding from shoulder to toe, helmets, gas masks, tools and toys bulging out of every pocket so they had a hard time walking too fast.  The Guard, on the other hand, were wearing their camo (so they couldn’t be seen in the city?) and a flak vest without any protection in it.  Even in a case like this, the funding doesn’t go to the members of the military.  Funny, because it sure feels like a military state out here.

Kari finally went in front of a judge and got her charge reduced to a misdemeanor, just like Jonathan.  However, for some reason her judge gave her $300 bail, while Jonathan had none.  Some of the main organizers who had been locked up all week were being held on $70,000 bail, which they negotiated down to $1000 bail.  Apparently bail bondsmen usually only charge 10% (this is information I now know), but for the RNC protesters they were raising their charges a lot.  We were told we’d have to pay $200 to get a bondsman to pay her $300, so the 5 of us from our affinity group went to an ATM and split the amont and pay her bail. 

Hours later, I got a collect call from Ramsey Co. Jail on my cell phone from Kari.  I knew that I’ll only have 45 seconds before they’d cut me off and demand money, so I quickly told her that we had paid her bail and were all waiting outside for her.  She said that the money hadn’t shown up in the system yet and they were transferring her back upstairs to another cell. 

She sounded so scared and sad, as if she was never going to get out.  I felt the same – if they had lost the bail money (which had to be cash and we had been given no receipt) or were just going to take forever to process it, she’d have to spend another night in jail, this time without many of the activists she had been in with all week. 
About half an hour later – about midnight – a group of arrestees are released all at the same time and everyone rushed over to applaud them and see who it is.  We are all kinda glum, knowing it wouldn’t be our friends, when through the crowd I see Lily, Ryan and David grinning the most honest and joyful smiles I’ve ever seen, and I peak over the heads and I see Kari!  She’s been released and has no idea why and is so happy to be out of there. 

Within minutes Jonathan and a group of guys are walking down the fenced walkway and there is a beautiful Hollywood moment when Kari and Jonathan run towards each other and he picks her up and spins her around with one arm while flipping off the jail with the other hand.  It was pretty great.

The riot cops have backed off – perhaps we’re not as scary when everyone is so happy.  At one point, 2 cops weave their way through the celebration and folks start chanting “You’re sexy, you’re cute – take off that riot suit!”

As more people get out, we hear more stories from inside the jail that are pretty awful.  There are two guys who have been beaten up pretty badly by the guards inside – one has been released, one they couldn’t find in the system.  The one they couldn’t find was James, Lisa’s friend and a member of the Pagan Cluster.  Jonathan said the 5 or 6 cops went into his cell with batons and beat him up and then moved him elsewhere.

The one who was released was a 19-yr-old named Elliot.  He later spoke at a press conference detailing what had happened.  He and others had been chanting for medical attention and 5 or 6 cops came into his cell, punched him unconsceiounce, then banged his head against the floor, waking him up.  They took him to a separate cell where they put a hood over his head with a gag and used pain compliance holds on him for about an hour and a half – this included disconnecting his jaw and bending his ankles all the way backwards.  He had bruises and scrapes on his face and was obviously still traumatized. 
A friend of mine who I was watching the press conference with broke down while listening to Elliot’s testimony – he had had similar pain compliance holds used on him by the cops 4 years ago.  I had felt traumatized enough being detained at gunpoint and feeling vulnerable on the streets – this intense torture by government officials is something that I don’t know if you ever recover from.

Watch Elliot’s testimony here.

On The Streets: harrassment and more mass arrests

Police harassment and arrests continued throughout the week even though the main protests that were designed to block the conventioneers were only planned on Monday.  The police presence and abuse throughout the week is hard to overstate.  Veteran activists said they hadn’t been so scared or seen such police activity since Miami in 2003 – the FTAA protests notorious for its brutality.  That mobilization sent many activists I know into support roles because they couldn’t be on the street anymore. 

This kind of police aggression is not the norm for mobilizations – even when “those scary anarchists” are involved.  It’s amazing how quickly it becomes normalized though – just don’t walk alone, take off that black hat, oh, there’s another row of 40 riot cops, let’s cross the street.  People get used to everything, but this was a rapid normalization of an extreme police state.  “Minnesota nice” was out the window.


Tuesday afternoon, there was an all day peace concert at the state capital – Rage Against the Machine was going to make a surprise appearance at the end of it, but the cops wouldn’t let them play for some reason.  So the band stood in front of the stage and passed one bull-horn back and forth and sang some of the crowd’s favorites…  they then led the crowd down to join the Rally for the Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Campaign that was started out further down the hill.  The riot cops were out in force and seemed to be looking for a fight I guess.  In any case, they tear gassed and pepper sprayed the crowd again – the Poor People’s March organizers got out of there as the cops started escalating their tactics.

I was at an action in downtown Minneapolis at a party thrown by the American Petroleum Institute for Republican delegates and lobbyists.  We were doing a parady, dressed up as oil execs and thanking the Republicans for supporting more and more drilling.  Billionaires for Bush have now become Lobbyists for McCain and they came to the celebration.  A lone polar bear also made an appearance and got in a death match with Sarah Palin who, as all have been hearing, is pretty tough in situations such as this.  The bear didn’t fare too well.  While we were greeting party attendees, we also were getting text messages that our friends were getting beat up and tear-gassed in St Paul…  our crew got out okay.  Funnily enough, our cynical chants of “Drill!  Drill!  Drill!” were echoed inside the RNC later in the week, but I guess those folks were serious.

Later that night we found out that the Bedlam Theater, a local music venue in Minneapolis that had a punk show on that night, was also surrounded by riot cops.  I think about 100 people were arrested at that show.  It seemed like the cops were using this week to harass local activists or venues they’d had their eyes on for awhile.


I went to Peace Island, a local peace conference, that was perhaps the stereotype of a peace conference – lots of lovely grey-haired aging hippies.  One of them raised her hand and said that she was outraged at the police brutality and harassment throughout the week and how they were targeting protesters based on their appearance.  She suggested that all the grey-haired folks in the audience put on bandanas and black hoodies and go out in the street and protect the activists!  Everyone applauded, but no one rushed outside. 

I still felt uncomfortable walking around in my own black hoodie, even though the temperature had dipped into the 60’s and it was needed.  The targeting based on appearance was scary and continued all week.  I suppose it’s cliché to say, but it’s an amazing reminder of what I think it’s like to walk around as an African-American young man…


As I was leaving the conference, I got a text that the legal office was being raided and was calling for observers.  By the time I got there, the cops were gone and media cameras were everywhere.  The legal office’s location had been kept pretty secret from the general public – you had to be escorted there by someone who was working there – because the consequences of its being raided would be really awful.  They were in the same building as I Witness Video, which was filming the convention.  At the RNC in NY 4 years ago, I Witness’s footage had proven the innocence of a lot of protesters arrested by NYPD. 

The cops showed up at that building because they claimed they had received a phone call from someone in the building being “held hostage by an anarchist”.  They didn’t have a warrant and weren’t let in, but the building almost evicted the legal office and they were restricted to having only 8 people in there at a time after that.  Given that the phone was ringing off the hook from calls from the street and the jail, there were piles of info from those calls that needed to be entered into the database, and lawyers were operating out of that office to collect statements, challenge the use of force by the cops and work to get folks released, this was a big hinderance. 


On Thursday, most of my affinity group left town, including Jonathan and Kari.  The cops hadn’t returned most of their property, including Kari’s camera, but they had to leave that place.  I agreed and avoided downtown St Paul.  It was the last day of the convention and there was a student anti-war protest.  Apparently they were a little slow on their march and had reached the end of the time on their permit around 5:00 or so and the cops trapped them on a bridge.  My friend who was there said he had never seen so many cops – not this week, not at other protests.  There were lines of riot cops, cops on horses, bicycle cops, and then a row or two of National Guard, plus snow plows and dump trucks to block streets.  The students sat down on the bridge and the cops used tear gas and concussion grenades and arrested about 400 of them.  400!  This included about a dozen journalists, including a Democracy Now!  producer who who had been arrested at Monday’s protests as well.

That night, IVAW member Adam Kokesh and two CODEPINKers got into McCain’s speech and interrupted him.  The CODEPINKers said it was incredibly easy to get into the convention.  There was no way they could’ve gotten into the DNC because the security was so tight, but the RNC was a piece of cake.  All three interrupted McCain’s speech and none were arrested. 

As of Friday, I believe everyone has been bailed out, many though generous donations from allies.


Overall, about 800 people were arrested this week – after seeing the judge, only about 30 of the 130 felony charges are still standing.  There are many civil suits being discussed; I think Amy Goodman and the 30 or 40 or so journalists who were arrested are doing their own suit, and the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild are both planning suits as well.  It’s funny to think back on Friday night and how shocking that original raid of the convergence space was.  It seemed so outrageous and worthy of its own civil suit all by itself.  And then the week began and we realized that was just the beginning. 


Donate to the legal support fund for general arrestees and for the lead organizers who are being charged with pretty serious charges.  Also donate to the Welcoming Committee for organizing all logistics for the weekend.  Links to donate are at

Get some media attention!  The police brutality was barely covered in the mainstream media, even more liberal outlets such as NPR or the NY Times.  Call your local station, write a short letter to the editor, and demand coverage of such extremism. 

Also, hug an independent journalist!  Check out Democracy Now! and your local Indymedia site for the news the other guys don’t want you to hear, then forward all this info on to any other caring folks you know.

Read Sonia Silbert’s blog here.

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Here’s a guest post by Nick Morgan, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for Iraq Vets Against the War (IVAW.)  He was a guest on The Marc Steiner Show while in Minneapolis for the Republican National Convention.  Click here to listen to that show.

As a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), my experience in the Twin Cities was a unique one. With our organization on the list of over 200 groups on a list studied by Minnesota National Guard and various police units, it was still no secret that our message was completely non-violent and direct. Our mission was to march in formation and in uniform to deliver a message to Senator McCain informing him of the issues veterans are facing today. As a fellow veteran, we were presumptuous to assume that the presidential candidate would listen to our simple message.

With a permit for our action on the opening day of the scaled-back RNC, no member of IVAW was arrested during our action (or the rest of the convention). We shared a certain level of lateral respect with the law enforcement at the RNC because we have all been placed in similar predicaments in the name of serving our country and democracy. Not to mention the fact that many of them were veterans as well and could relate to our logical viewpoints. The clear difference here is that these men and women are dealing with American citizens on American soil, hired as mercenaries for the RNC to the tune of a 50 million dollar liability insurance policy for their protection.

I have to say that I haven’t been in an environment so unsafe for average citizens since I left Baghdad in 2005. One notable difference is that the police in Minneapolis have better body armor and protection than American soldiers and Marines do in Iraq. It is a sad day for the United States when a kid on a bicycle is pepper sprayed in the face by a cop just for riding too close when there where no violent protests taking place. What does it say about this country when the police are arresting people with press credentials hanging from their necks just for recording and reporting the interactions between police and American civilians.

I hung out for a period of time with some independent media personnel who understandably added an additional level of anxiety to the air. Pardon my vagueness as I don’t want to divulge too much information about individuals. Many of them were just coming back from jail and were on high alert for near by police activity. At one point, myself and a few of my fellow IVAW members were beginning to loose the battle to subdue our PTSD. We decided it was best that we went on a drive outside of the city to get some fresh air and escape all the violence multiplied by paranoia.

Please take some time to consider the implications of the absolute police state that was enforced in the Twin Cities. When the people making the decisions in this country don’t want to hear the voices of the people they are making the decisions for, I am saddened. When the people’s voices are silenced with clubs, tear gas, rubber bullets, and zip ties, I am appalled.  This concludes my humble testimony of how I experience the RNC.


Nick Morgan
Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator
Iraq Veterans Against the War
OIF II, 458th En. Bn., Ist Cavalry Division

From Lea – Not About the Issues, huh? and “The Mirrored Ceiling”

As I try and recover from the most derisive, hateful and misleading (Rudy Guiliani representing the joys of family values and small town America?) convention I have ever had the non-pleasure to witness, I’m sitting and pondering about the next few weeks and trusting that the actual issues and not I’m-a- hockey-mom-and-you’re-not-you-elitist-rich-non moose-eating Democrats, will make way to discussing our soaring unemployment rate, our bizarro trade deficit, our over 40 million fellow citizens with no health insurance, poverty, HIV-AIDS…shall I continue?

Click READ MORE below!

Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager said this week, “This election is not about issues.” “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” That is unbelievably frightening. Issues don’t matter, huh? The last time we elected a president we wanted to have a beer with, we descended into eight years of hell.

So, I decided to torture myself just a bit more and check out the mainstream media web sites, and as I clicked across net-land, I came across this blog entry by Judith Warner for the New York Times. She brilliantly states my beliefs, and I wanted to share:

The Mirrored Ceiling
by Judith Warner

It turns out there was something more nauseating than the nomination of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate this past week. It was the tone of the acclaim that followed her acceptance speech.

“Drill, baby, drill,” clapped John Dickerson, marveling at Palin’s ability to speak and smile at the same time( as an indication of her unexpected depths and unsuspected strengths. “It was clear Palin was having fun, and it’s hard to have fun if you’re scared or a lightweight,” he wrote in Slate.

The Politico praised her charm and polish as( antidotes to her lack of foreign policy experience: “Palin’s poised and flawless performance evoked roars of applause from delegates who earlier this week might have worried that the surprise pick and newcomer to the national stage may not be up to the job.”
“She had a great night. I thought she had a very skillfully written, and very skillfully delivered speech,” Joe Biden said, shades of “articulate and bright and clean” threatening a reappearance. (For a full roundup of these comments go here:

Thus began the official public launch of our country’s now most-prominent female politician. The condescension – damning with faint praise – was reminiscent of the more overt misogyny of Samuel Johnson.
“A woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hinder legs,” the wit once observed. “It is not done well; but you are surprized to find it done at all.”

Palin sounded, at times, like she was speaking a foreign language as she gave voice to the beautifully crafted words that had been prepared for her on Wednesday night.

But that wasn’t held against her. Thanks to the level of general esteem that greeted her ascent to the podium, it seems we’ve all got to celebrate the fact that America’s Hottest Governor (Princess of the Fur Rendezvous 1983, Miss Wasilla 1984) could speak at all.

Could there be a more thoroughgoing humiliation for America’s women?
You are not, I think, supposed now to say this. Just as, I am sure, you are certainly not supposed to feel that having Sarah Palin put forth as the Republicans’ first female vice presidential candidate is just about as respectful a gesture toward women as was John McCain’s suggestion, last month, that his wife participate in a topless beauty contest.

Such thoughts, we are told, are sexist. And elitist. After all, via Palin, we now hear without cease, the People are speaking. The “real” “authentic,” small-town “Everyday People,” of Hockey Moms and Blue Collar Dads whom even Rudolph Giuliani now invokes as an antidote to the cosmopolite Obamas and their backers in the liberal media. (Remind me please, once again, what was the name of the small town where Rudy grew up?)
Why does this woman – who to some of us seems as fake as they can come, with her delicate infant son hauled out night after night under the klieg lights and her pregnant teenage daughter shamelessly instrumentalized for political purposes — deserve, to a unique extent among political women, to rank as so “real”?

Because the Republicans, very clearly, believe that real people are idiots. This disdain for their smarts shows up in the whole way they’ve cast this race now, turning a contest over economic and foreign policy into a culture war of the Real vs. the Elites. It’s a smoke and mirrors game aimed at diverting attention from the fact that the party’s tax policies have helped create an elite that’s more distant from “the people” than ever before. And from the fact that the party’s dogged allegiance to up-by-your-bootstraps individualism — an individualism exemplified by Palin, the frontierswoman who somehow has managed to “balance” five children and her political career with no need for support — is leading to a culture-wide crack-up.
Real people, the kind of people who will like and identify with Palin, they clearly believe, are smart, but not too smart, and don’t talk too well, dropping their “g”s, for example, and putting tough concepts like “vice president” in quotation marks.

“As for that ‘V.P.’ talk all the time … I tell ya, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me, What is it exactly that the ‘VP’ does every day?” ( )Palin asked host Lawrence Kudlow on CNBC sometime before her nomination. “I’m used to bein’ very productive and workin’ real hard in an administration and we want to make sure that that ‘V.P.’ slot would be a fruitful type of position.”

And, I think, they find her acceptably “real,” because Palin’s not intimidating, and makes it clear that she’s subordinate to a great man.
That’s the worst thing a woman can be in this world, isn’t it? Intimidating, which appears to be synonymous with competent. It’s the kiss of death, personally and politically.

But shouldn’t a woman who is prepared to be commander in chief be intimidating? Because of the intelligence, experience, talent and drive that got her there? If she isn’t, at least on some level, off-putting, if her presence inspires national commentary on breast-pumping and babysitting rather than health care reform and social security, then something is seriously wrong. If she doesn’t elicit at least some degree of awe, then something is missing.

One of the worst poisons of the American political climate right now, the thing that time and again in recent years has led us to disaster, is the need people feel for leaders they can “relate” to. This need isn’t limited to women; it brought us after all, two terms of George W. Bush. And it isn’t new; Americans have always needed to feel that their leaders were, on some level, people like them.

But in the past, it was possible to fill that need through empathetic connection. Few Depression-era voters could “relate” to Franklin Roosevelt’s patrician background, notes historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. “It was his ability to connect to them that made them feel they could connect to him,” she told me in a phone interview.

The age of television, Goodwin believes, has made the demand for connection more immediate and intense. But never before George W. Bush did it quite reach the beer-drinking level of familiarity. “Now it’s all about being able to see your life story in the candidate, rather than the candidate, with empathy, being able to relate to you.”

There’s a fine line between likability and demagoguery. Both thrive upon manipulation and least-common-denominator politics. These days, I fear, this need for direct mirroring — and thus this susceptibility to all sorts of low-level tripe — is particularly acute among women, who are perhaps reaching historic lows in their comfort levels with themselves and their choices.

Just look at how quickly the reaction to Palin devolved into what The Times this week called the ( “Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition.” Much of the talk about Palin (like the emoting about Hillary Clinton before her) ultimately came down to this: is she like me or not like me? If she’s not like me, can I like her? And what kind of child care does she have?

“This election is not about issues,” Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager said this week. “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” That’s a scary thought. For the takeaway is so often base, a reflection more of people’s fears and insecurities than of our hopes and dreams.

We’re not likely to get a worthy female president anytime soon.


Thanks Judith.

Just my opinion folks, and you know what is said about those…


Whatever you sellin’, I ain’t buying, by Guest Blogger Ronnie Djoukeng

It’s the economy stupid! The famous words from Democratic political strategist James Carville flashed in my mind while Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave her speech. The McCain ticket is gambling big time that the trifecta: toughness, Iraq, and military service will pre-occupy voters mind. There’s something Reaganesque about the McCain approach too – it’s tried, true, and tired.

Click READ MORE below!

Here we are in the 2nd millennium and the Republican National Convention is homogenous and monolithic—it lacked diversity.  The cowboy stance of fighting terrorism isn’t currying favor with Americans or the rest of the world and Republicans couldn’t be more indifferent.  The RNC permitted Guiliani the glib speaker to be a man of contradictions.  In order to elevate Palin, he shot himself in the foot.  In order to contrast Palin and Obama’s political upbringing, Guiliani chose the words cosmopolitan and flashy to describe Barack and Chicago since Palin is from a dull small-town of Wasila with a scant population less  than 10,000. During his speech,  one had to wonder what descriptive language Guiliani would have used to portray  New York City in all of its glory?  If Guiliani was supposed to be selling Palin, it was more akin to window shopping—ogling at the shiny merchandise from the window but never enticed to actually purchase.  And if Palin was supposed to be selling the need for the McCain/Palin ticket, she demonstrated their ticket constitutes a want not a need.

The rhetoric might have felt good last night, but it is unclear what role if any  Palin would play  to ensure  Americans feel this way for the next 4 years?  Palin deliberately chose not to articulate any policy positions. The feel good mainstream references and false aphorisms she spoke will have to resonate with the rest of America and independents before the elections take place.  The most celebrated mainstream axiom of all – “where’s the beef”— fittingly describes Palin’s speech. Palin touched on job creation vis-à-vis her position on energy, but the scope of her detail appeared esoteric to Alaska excluding the steel plant workers of Ohio or motor city assemblymen of Michigan.

It is unclear what direction McCain’s speech will take tonight. If he is trying to sell his patriotism, he doesn’t have too – Americans are aware that he is a decorated veteran.  Although, he should wonder how patriotism will resonate with voters considering his Party dismissed his war record during the 2000 elections. And it was his Party that selected a candidate without a veteran record in the form of George W. Bush. And don’t forget it was his Party that trivialized the patriotism of another war hero’s candidacy for president.  Indeed, Hillary was right last week when she declared – “McCain is more of the same” this is Bush III after all.


Ronnie Djoukeng


Ronnie Djoukeng is a Maryland blogger who can be found at her group blog, .

Marc’s Reflections on the Republican Campaign

Besides the usual tax and big government and vitriolic attacks against their opponents, several themes arose last night that may be the battlegrounds of the next two months.

Remember in 1992 when Clinton campaign chiefs Paul Begala and James Carville coined the phrase "It’s the economy, stupid?" It worked for Clinton. They tapped into the American angst of that moment.


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Now I think it is "It’s your wallet, stupid." The housing crisis and oil prices have people very worried. People are terrified about the high price of gas, the diminishing value of their paychecks, the insecurity of their jobs, fear that oil prices are being controlled by foreign powers. We are worried about the future.

While polls indicate that most Americans want solar, wind and alternative energy for our future, they also put the need for new energy sources ahead of environmental concerns. Over 60% of American support drilling. So, both McCain and Obama have changed their positions on off shore drilling. At one time, they were both opposed, now they are behind the idea.

Even though our own Department of the Energy says we cannot drill our way of this mess, people are more worried about their wallets, their money, the cost of oil and the Democrats have not made their case about how this new Green Economy will work. Americans are comfortable with oil. It is part of the American persona and mythology. We are addicted to it. We know our cars, not mass transit. We are reluctant to give up our lifestyles. If we think that drilling will make gas for our cars, and oil and electricity for our homes, less expensive, as well as keep us secure from our enemies and provide jobs, then that is what we want. People want to keep more money in their wallets and want to know we will not be at the mercy of "foreign devils" that control our oil.

The Democrats have to make their case, and it can’t be complicated. How do we make this transition to the Green Economy? People want it, but want to understand simply how we get there. How will it work? Is it real or fantasy? What about our jobs?

While most Americans think it was a mistake to go into Iraq, polls show the American electorate is divided on whether the surge worked and whether we should pull out now or stay till the job is done. The Republicans are pushing the idea that the surge worked, that we are winning.

The Democrats’ opposition to the war has been tepid, at best. The American people were lied to about why we had to go to war. More and more evidence ties this war to a debatable geopolitical position in the Middle East and to securing Iraq’s oil. Over the last five years the Democrats have not pushed their opposition to the war; they have not demanded investigations of the beginning of the war or the complicity of big oil. Now they have to come up with a plan that stirs as much passion and interest among the people as the Republican message that McCain was right and the surge is working.

So, tonight we hear McCain. We can talk about that tomorrow together, right here.

Fact Checking Palin’s Speech

The following article from the Associated Press takes a look at some of the claims Sarah Palin made in her speech last night.  We grabbed it from Yahoo News.

 Click READ MORE below!




Attacks, praise stretch truth at GOP convention

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press WriterWed Sep 3, 11:48 PM ET

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise on her credentials to be vice president. In some cases, the reproach and the praise stretched the truth.

Some examples:

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.


Associated Press Writer Jim Drinkard in Washington contributed to this report.

The Best Response to Palin’s Speech


No offense to other responses to Palin’s speech at the RNC last night, including all of the great ones on this site, but this one takes the cake.  It’s a "Reasonably Hand-Drawn Facsimile of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s Jet" for sale on eBay, described as follows:

You are bidding on a "reasonably hand-drawn facsimile" of the Westwind II Jet sold by Sarah Palin on eBay in 2007 for $2.1 million.

I look forward to selling my jet on eBay and garnering the same praise and admiration that Sarah Palin received.

ALL the proceeds of this auction will go directly to The Obama/Biden Campaign.

Let’s try to raise more than $2.1 million!

The drawing was crafted with crayon, pencil and marker and measures 8.5" x 11". It is hand-signed and dated by the artist and comes in a wooden frame.

Proof of donation to campaign will be provided.

Happy Bidding!

Marc’s Response to Palin’s Speech

The Republicans really kicked it out last night.      They laid out their battle plan and came out swinging a message that will resonate with that portion of the American public that could go either way in the election.   Their votes could be the ones who will decide who becomes the next President of the United States.

Palin proved herself a combatative, tough, smart and savvy politician last night, and those who spoke before her provided a powerful build up to her speech.     On Tuesday night, I thought well,  these guys are boring and have no spark.   I was surprised knowing how smart, and at times underhanded, their campaign strategists can be.    They have the Karl Rove team in place, after all.

Click READ MORE below!

Well last night they pulled it off.    First, former Md. Lt. Governor Michael Steele spoke and gave the conventioneers a new slogan that caught on like wild fire.    Remember when McCain, in North Carolina I believe, said we have to “Drill now, Drill here?”   Well, Steele came out with a play on that shouting “Drill, Baby, Drill!”  which itself was a play on the sixties slogan, "Burn, Baby, Burn!" that people chanted in the inner city riots of 1965 and 1968.     The delegates ate it up and chanted  this new slogan all night long.   It will be a campaign cheer to whip up the crowds from here on through November 4th.  Ahh, some white folks just get so titillated at hip Black speak.

When former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke, the crowd spontaneously broke out in the cheer "Drill, Baby, Drill!".   First it was clear the Rudy had not listened to the Steele’s speech because he smiled, repeated the phase with an incredulous laugh.   It showed the rallying power of that slogan, but it also showed how no one in power listens to Steele.   He is their symbol with so little real substance.   They don’t have many African American voices so his role is important to them.

In between Steele and Giuliani, former presidential candidate Governor Huckabee of Arkansas spoke.   He was the soft opening.   His was a pleasant kind voice during an evening of non-stop assault on the Democrats.   He spoke of hatred of racism, growing up poor and coming from proud working class roots.  His line of the night was that he decided to work his way out of poverty and not wait for the government to pull him out.

Rudy Giuliani was a pit bull.   He stoked the crowd, belittling Barack Obama and the Democrats in general.    I thought he would never end but he did his job.    He loved being up there, the bad boy New Yorker taking on his Democratic neighbors.

Governor Sarah Palin clearly will be the one who go for the jugular against the Democrats in this campaign.    She told America that she has a loving family with all the foibles and problems of every other family.   She was the every woman of hard working mothers.   Yeah, my baby has Down Syndrome, I love him and I have to keep going and working.   I will be the advocate for Special Needs families in the White House.

One of the central themes of the campaign emerged, as Sarah Palin and the other speakers took the stage. They will argue that McCain’s POW experience, serving America, not bending in front of his evil (and that was one of the word of the night) tormentors at the Hanoi Hilton is the kind of courage and integrity America needs.   They will argue that the Democrats are untested, Palin has a run a state and McCain stands up for what is right and they will take on the Beltway establishment.

Their themes were clear:   

  • McCain was right about the War and the Surge.    He had the courage to fight and we are winning the war in Iraq because of it.  The Democrats are defeatist with no understanding of victory.
  • The Democrats want to raise taxes on small business and on all of us to make government larger, which is not what we need for the economy and the 21st century.
  • America needs to be energy independent, which means drilling for oil, and we will use alternative energy too.   Democrats don’t get it; we can have our own oil and not be dependent on the world.   

They touched that part of America’s soul that is conservative.   They did it deftly with a saber, while belittling the Democrats and their candidates.

The war is on.   Obama may have the lead now, but you can see where the blood will be drawn in the next two months.

McCain’s turn tonight.   We will see what he does and how the Democrats respond.


What did you think?


Lea Gilmore – Sarah Palin Speaks

Sarah Palin speaks. Lets give it to her, she was phenomenal. Her presentation, her engagement, her fiery delivery wowed the Republican base, and a new conservative mega-star was born.

As the loudspeakers played the Sly Stone dance maker “I’m Everyday People,” there was a moment of irony for me. Because unlike the Democratic convention, I didn’t see the rainbow of “everyday” people I know. I saw an overwhelming white audience, oh yes they did find some black Conservatives and Latino delegates to be within camera shot.

Click READ MORE below!

Palin’s speech vehemently energized the Republican base. But will the searing attacks on Obama and so-called liberal ideals speak to Independents? That being said, her role has clearly been defined as the “attack dog.” Joe Biden will have to step lightly when “attacking” back given the obvious dynamics, a fact that I am sure was taken into consideration during the vetting process that produced this unlikely nominee – a 72 year old heartbeat away from being the next leader of the free world.

Palin hit this speech out of the proverbial ball park.

It looks like it is time for Hillary to practice the glowing support she gave Senator Obama last week. By passionately speaking out now, Hillary can end the comparisons and stop the McCain camp in it’s tracks for going after her “18 million supporters.” Silence from her will just be giving permission that those oh so important voters are fair game. Hillary can make it known that just because two powerful, dynamic politicians share the same internal plumbing, women are not interchangeable and to believe so is an insult to us all.

Back to the speech…

Going for Obama and those who have questioned her small town experience Palin stated, "Since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities." Ouch.

Palin delivered a populist message, referring often to her young family. She also touched on the theme of the day – Reform. "Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election," Palin said. "In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."

With her family sitting in the audience, thousands of cameras focused on her 17 year old daughter Bristol and her fiance’, and now with the world focused on Palin, we are being thrown into a campaign of ‘your style versus my style’. I would much rather it be ‘your ideals versus mine’.

I may adore her new shoes, but I fundamentally disagree with most of Palin’s ideology. The former is not how I choose my vote. The issues matter, and the dressing of the messenger doesn’t, and that goes for both political parties.

McCain speaks tonight.


Obama Speaks Well, but…by Dr. Eric Durham

Hello America,

This is The GoodDoctor reporting once more….and I have shifted my attention that of the Republicans this week. As we know, their convention got off to a slow start due to Hurricane Gustav. (It seems that God answered their prayers to rain out Obama’s speech one week too late.) But, now it seems they are "ready to go on the attack!"

Click READ MORE below!

…and what’s the favorite attack line this political season? Barack Obama speaks well…but it takes more than speech to be a president. Now, this particular attack irked me when Clinton used it in the primary, and I am still somewhat puzzled by it. What else to politicians do during campaigns besides speak? Everyone who is vying for the White House is speaking. And if we are honest, American history shows that most of their words are LIES anyway. It seems to me that because Bararck Obama speaks better than his adversaries, that now speaking (rhetoric) has now become some sort of malformation. SPEAKING IS WHAT IS REQUIRED AT THIS STAGE OF THE GAME. …and by the way, Obama’s rhetoric seems to be borrowed by several Republican speakers. I’ve just listened to Romney and Huckabee talk about CHANGE in their speeches at the RNC.

All the speakers tonight (9/3/08) mentioned Democrats wanted to raise OUR taxes. Okay, the Democrats are running on taxing corporations that have not shared wealth, and lowering taxing on the middle-class. So, is the middle-class THE AMERICAN PEOPLE or the the corporations? Listening to the Republicans…and considering their POLICIES you would have to assume that CORPORATIONS ARE AMERICA.

Now, to Rudy Giuliani…he was utterly DISRESPECTFUL. His sarcasm intolerable. If anything was made present tonight, it was that the Democratic ticket has A LOT MORE CLASS. He laughed…he snickered…he poked fun at Obama’s role as a community organizer. Rudy, honestly, YOUR PRESIDENT has driven middle-America into the shape that it is in now! Who can be more incompetent than GEORGE BUSH? One point out of many mis-leading points…. "We’re the party that ended slavery." Rudy, the constiuents of your contemporary Republican party were in the Democratic party during the Republican initiatives. They were called "Yellow Dog Democrats" of the Solid South. Rudy, you should know this history. So, I’m assuming you’re being "slick."

My opinion of Sarah Palin is now that she is ready for the taking. It’s time to take out the "guns" because she’s a "Hockey Mom," and by her own words, their "pitbulls with lipstick." Alaska gets more federal assistance than any other state in the nation. So, Alaska is a WELFARE state. I wonder why Mississippi, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, or the Carolinas don’t get that much Federal assistance? Something worth thinking about.

I would also say that the Democrats should put their gloves on…because it is going to take a fight to beat these Republicans. When did CHANGE become the goal that the parties share? Obama has been talking about CHANGE from the beginning. Did you all consult with him on sharing this task, Sarah?

As I assumed, it’s going to be a VERY INTERESTING political season. Bring it On.

-Dr. Eric Durham

Dr. Durham is a Professor of Communications at Morgan State University. He blogs as the Good Doctor at .

Richard Vatz reviews Sarah Palin’s Speech


All I can say is “wow.” And when John McCain ascended the stage after Governor Palin’s speech, he said “wow” too.

What an amazingly auspicious speech for an aspiring Vice President candidate to give. In the Geraldine Ferraro era, all of the rhetoric of a major female candidate had a defensive cast. This speech was a confident, aggressive speech by a female candidate for Vice President who knows what she thinks and knows from what values her assertions come.

Click READ MORE below!

A little lead up, if I may – if I must. Governor Mitt Romney’s speech and Governor Mike Huckabee’s speeches were not bad, although I must say Gov. Huckabee is an acquired taste. Gov. Romney said Washington has changed, and the real change would be a move to conservatism. He also rang some good notes on the Democrats’ love of dependency and aversion to seeing evil when it occurs. Gov. Huckabee took some good shots at the effete quality of Senator Barack Obama and added an effective allegory involving soldiers who teach children what it means to earn something.

Now to the Republican Rhetorical A-team. Rudy Giuliani is a brilliantly convincing and persuasive speaker, and one feared that he would be so compelling that Gov. Palin would pale (no pun intended) by comparison. He emphasized all of the right matters: that Governors as executives must make decisions, while senators are all persuasion with little or no real-world reality testing. He hit on the “surge” issue, as almost all Republican convention speakers have done, with the notation that Democrats in the one visible test of leadership in the past 2 years failed on the decision, failed on the follow-up, and failed to recognize the surge’s success. Sen. Giuliani emphasized Sen. Obama’s contrasting indecision and took a neat shot at one of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s irresponsible remarks, “This war is lost.” If the Republicans ever run out of Reidian dumb mots, they need new and better researchers.

Sarah Palin not only hit her speech out of the park, but she first went through the Democrats’ mitts. Women should be proud that their first presidential or vice-presidential candidate had all of the strength and aggressiveness-without-offensiveness required of candidates for the vice presidency. Gov. Palin was consistent in her praise, but never in awe, of Senator McCain. His impressive war biography, best articulated by Sen. Fred Thompson last night, was mentioned by all speakers tonight.

Gov. Palin’s attacks on Barack Obama were all fair game, in acceptable political taste, some with great humor – and \telling\. She said that while her former job as Mayor was derided by some Democrats, it was sort of like being a “community organizer” (Obaman claim to fame) , but with “actual responsibilities.” This line of argument had several iterations, and she also detailed the devastating list of liberal values that would undermine a president who put America first: negotiating with Iran, terrorists, and ignoring our need to “drill now.”

She used her own Reidism, “I can’t stand John McCain,” to further promote her presidential nominee. Thank God Reid is the poison well that never stops giving.

Gov. Palin detailed her own willingness to curtail financial corruption, whatever the party that commits it. Her prioritizing of honesty and integrity in government came through loud and clear. Her fluency in discussing energy policy was reassuring. The only thing lacking in her speech was evidence of sophistication in dealing with Islamic radicalism, resurgent Russian imperialism, and the complex challenges of China.

I usually rank elocution as the least important variable in a speech, but Gov. Palin’s had to be exquisite, and it was. Surely, the outcome of this powerful, moving address was to erase doubts regarding her viability from many low intensity supporters on the right and on the left.

Richard Vatz is professor of Political Rhetoric at Towson University

Oh No She Didn’t, by Dr. Mary Washington

Believing, as Barack Obama, that “We are not as divided as our politics suggest, that we are one people and One Nation,” has never been more challenging than it was last night. As I listened to Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, I became increasingly despairing of the power, the fear, the hate mongering and the delusional self-congratulatory platitudes that peppered her speech and gave comfort to a culturally and economically insecure public. Her words were cast out to embolden the xenophobia of a frightened country, words that were so irresponsible given the external and internal challenges we face. Clearly, the Republican Party has come out of the closet about their plan to exploit and deepen our traditional differences and create and shine light on ones lying beneath the surface.

Click READ MORE below

On MSNBC Chris Matthews referred to Sarah Palin as a “torpedo that the Republican Party has aimed directly at Barack and Michelle Obama.” Well, it was also aimed at me, my family, my friends and all that I hold dear today and the dreams I have for the future. Obama has warned us for nearly two years that this day would come, that the Republican Party will pull out the stale tactics and rhetorical strategies that have worked before. These ploys worked because the Republican Party’s cooptation of the language of social change feeds into the “cynicism we feel about government.” But I’m afraid their devices also feed into an isolationism and distain for “others” that is reminiscent of the post WWII and the “Eisenhower years” Palin referenced in her speech. The militaristic rhetoric of the extreme right satisfies a desire, a hunger for simple answers and familiar solutions tied up in a pretty bow that has razor-sharp edges. What can you say about a vice presidential candidate that scoffs at the idea of “healing the nation and repairing this world” and exalts the fact that she will send her eldest son to war to protect US interests in oil and gas? What can you say to people that believe as she does? They are indeed strangers to me and they appear formidable. I thought to myself “Oh no, not again and they have even gotten better at it.” By the end of the speech I felt tears but I did not shed them.

So instead, I went online to listen to Barack Obama’s 2004, 2008 DNC and “Yes We Can” speeches. I was especially restored by the “Don’t Tell Me Words Don’t Matter” address the eve of the Wisconsin primary. I listened and watched videos of these and others for about an hour as I wrote this response. I can’t say that the lump in my throat has completely disappeared and that my despair at the prospect of not only a hard but dirty battle has completely dissipated. However, I no longer believe that Palin’s words tonight had the power over me and others that they did two hours ago. And, I will continue to choose to believe that the Republican Party has chosen a wrong path toward a victory and those arrows the they will aim at Barack Obama using Sarah Palin as their quiver will not hit home with the number of Americans that they will need to win a majority of the electoral college. I have hope.

Palin asked this country last night to join the cause of electing John McCain to get us through the next 4 years. But we must counter by saying we are not interested in a lifeboat encircled by oil riggers, we are interested in learning to swim for a century in an ocean of prosperity and peace. So more than believing in the wrongness of John McCain’s message, I believe in the rightness of Barack Obama’s mission that he has asked us to join him in transforming America and make it and the world as it should be. For that I am still able and willing to “hold firm and without waiver” and state again that we are one nation, we are one people and . . . we choose hope over fear, and unity over divisions.” This is Our America. Let’s go get it. Yes We Can. We must.


Dr. Mary Washington is a former candidate for delegate in Maryland. Dr.
Washington received her Ph.D. is sociology from the Johns Hopkins
University. She lives in Baltimore City and works as an Assistant
Director for a Baltimore-based environmental education, stewardship and
community revitalization organization She also helps people buy and
sell their home as an agent for City Life Realty (

Marc on Sarah Palin and the St. Paul Protests

My producer Jessica Phillips just wrote a wonderful and intriguing blog that I agree with completely. It is abhorrent and abominable the way some are treating Sarah Palin. It is both sexist and classist (to coin a phrase). I have a known a lot of families like theirs in the rural worlds I have lived in over my life. She is no different than urban feminists, other than she knows how to shoot and dress a moose or that she drives her kids to hockey games rather than playing tennis and golf and driving kids to soccer games. She is a professional woman married to a working class guy. I think they are actually kind of cool. I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say tonight. I have never heard her speak. I want to see what she has to say for herself.

Click READ MORE below!

I am more concerned about what she stands for politically than what her lifestyle is about. She seems to be a climate change denier who thinks intelligent design should be taught in classrooms and Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Now, those things bother me. While I could tromp through the Alaska tundra with them we would fight all the way about those issues.

Let’s see what happens tonight. Let’s hear what comes out of her mouth during interviews and in her speeches. I could care less about the rest.

On the Streets

What I do find appalling is the behavior of the police in St. Paul. There was a police riot in 1968 in Chicago but in St. Paul the police riot was about preventative detention. They violated hundreds of our citizens’ constitutional rights. It is madness. It was something out of the fiction and reality of totalitarian societies.

I was hoping the Republicans would say something. The Democrats too for that matter.

Homes were raided, people handcuffed, some beaten, many arrested on specious charges. It is hard to believe that no one in officialdom is raising hell about all this. I have a feeling this will have a life beyond the convention. We will certainly keep watch. Some of our local non-violent citizens have been arrested, some charged with felonies. We will find out why and more.

So, far it seems the Democrats put on a grander Broadway production for America. We will see what happens over the next two nights. Both conventions are doing a fine job of revving up their troops.
Now it is our turn, as the American voter to decide who wins in what I think is one of the most crucial elections of my lifetime.


Jessica Phillips with a Young Feminist’s Take on Sarah Palin

Palin, Palin, Palin. The mainstream media is obsessed and the feminist blogosphere has been very interested in the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate. On many feminist blogs you’ll see questions like "Is Sarah Palin a feminist?" or "Can someone who was given a free ride break a glass ceiling?" and an old favorite "Can someone who doesn’t support reproductive choice be a feminist?" The Palin pick may cause a feminist identity crisis just as the Obama-Clinton primary season did.

Click READ MORE below!

The response to the Palin pick from some self-described social liberals and feminists has been appalling. I’ve witnessed some such people decry Palin for choosing to ambitiously go after the second highest office in the land instead of staying in Alaska with her newborn child who has Down’s Syndrome. I’m dismayed at this kind of scrutiny over Palin’s work-life balance. It’s nothing like what we would see if a man with a similar situation was running. And even if a male was questioned on work/family balance issues, as John Edwards was for his decision to campaign after his wife’s was diagnosed with cancer, it would be much less strident and the candidate in question would eventually be seen as some kind of self-sacrificing hero. And while some women are criticizing Palin for not supporting reproductive choice, they’re forgetting that she represents something very rare: a woman who has not only reached high achievement in her professional field, but done so while being a mother to a large and seemingly normal and happy brood who just seem like an average American family. Palin has managed to have a great career and a great family. Is she the evidence that women can, in fact, and after long-last, "have it all?"

I doubt we are quite there yet, and of course Palin’s life isn’t perfect. Some are pointing to her teenage daughter Bristol’s pregnancy as evidence that her family was sacrificed to her ambition, but this is clearly stupid. Plenty of stay-at-home devoted mothers have teenage daughters who become pregnant. Anyway, there is nothing shameful about being a teenage mother. It may have unpleasant outcomes on a woman’s later earning power and as such may be something that career-minded teenagers want to avoid, but there is nothing inherently immoral or shameful about it. Basically, Sarah Palin has seemingly achieved what feminist women say they want to be the reality for all women: not having to choose between having a career and having a family. And that in itself makes her a very interesting figure to young feminists like me, who are keenly aware of the decisions we are going to have to make in the near future and how they are going to affect the rest of our lives. Studies show that spending three years out of the work force results in losing as much as 40% of your earning power. I hate the idea of spending my 20’s building my career only to lose a large chunk of my professional currency if I have a child and for whatever reason do not work for the first few years. For these reasons, the Sarah Palin’s of the world intrigue me.

As for the question of whether a woman can be a feminist while also being against reproductive choice, I personally believe that you can, but with certain conditions. I did not always feel this way. This is a controversial thing to say, but just as I have come to respect (and usually agree with) horrified animal rights activists who believe innocent creatures with an inherent right to life are being tortured and murdered all around them, so have I come to respect (while disagreeing with) those who view abortion as mass murder of innocent creatures who have an inherent right to life and as something that must be stopped. I can understand the world view of people who oppose choice though I vehemently disagree with it because I understand that most of these people are motivated by a kind of love. And if that person also supports the funding of pro-family programs like state and federally funded childcare and health care for children among other programs to help families and women be successful, I think they can oppose reproductive freedom and still call themselves a feminist. And obviously Sarah Palin does not support programs like that, and has a history of cutting such programs during her time as Governor of Alaska, including slashing funding for programs that supported teen mothers (okay, so there is some debate over whether or not what she did counts as slashing funding or not. Regardless, the Republican agenda isn’t promoting the idea of expanding federal funding for these kinds of programs). So my own criteria would seem to count Sarah Palin out as a feminist, though I still find her admirable in many ways.

As a young feminist, the idea of a female vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket seems like the kind of thing I’d be over the moon about. But honestly, it hasn’t excited me in any real way. The Palin pick doesn’t represent an authentic shift in the gender power balance in Washington. It seems to obviously be a purely political choice designed to help McCain win the election. He has picked a running mate instead of someone he would like to have as a partner for the next four years. I made the reverse criticism about Obama, who failed to make the best, most politically shrewd choice for running mate, focusing instead on who would be the best partner once he was elected. I’m not sure which of them made the best choice-I guess the next few months will tell.

But until we find out who made the best choice, I hope the mainstream media and the frenzied blogosphere can both calm down a bit over the Palin pick and try to froth at the mouth a little bit less. (I won’t be holding my breath…)


Former Republican Governor of Maryland Robert Ehrlich

Click the podcast player below to hear former Republican Governor of Maryland Robert Ehrlich’s thoughts on the upcoming elections, including McCain’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, Obama’s current lead in the polls, and more.  Marc and Governor Ehrlich also discuss the Congressional race in Maryland’s first district, where Ehrlich has supported Andy Harris, who beat the incumbent Congressman Wayne Gilchrest in the Republican primary.  Andy Harris is running against Democrat Andy Kratovil in the district that has been one of two in Maryland with a sitting Republican Congressman, while the other six districts are all held by the Democrats.

Updates on Protests and Arrests at RNC by Sonia Silbert

Sonia Silbert is co-coordinator of the Washington Peace Center. She’s at the RNC, organizing and demonstrating for peace. Here are her first-hand accounts of the week so far.

8/30/08 – Cops Raid RNC Protests (already)

I’ve never had a gun pulled on me, and I wasn’t expecting that to happen last night, days ahead of the planned protests against the RNC in Minnesota. But last night the St Paul police department raided the convergence space, guns drawn, bashed down doors and detained everyone in there for hours.

I was at the convergence space with probably about 40 other people. I was sitting in the corner working on a training I’m supposed to put on today when cops burst in, guns pointing to the ground, and demanded everyone lie down on the ground. We demanded to see a warrent and speak to a lawyer – neither of which happened the whole time we were held. We were all hand-cuffed and searched. The cops went upstairs and broke down some locked doors and detained anyone they found up there as well.

The spirit downstairs was good – everyone was scared but also happy that we were all together and tried quickly to work out some solidarity techniques. They were basically taking all our info, searching our bags and releasing us one by one. They claimed they were searching for "things that would be used" at the RNC, but I never figured out what they were actually looking for. Later, someone outside was shown the search warrent, though no one was given a copy as they are legally required to do, and apparently they were looking for things that could be made into weapons – such as jars for molotov cocktails.

We were in a big group downstairs and were worried about people being alone upstairs – we also didn’t like people being released one-by-one without any way to check on the folks being left behind. Some folks agreed not to give their names and info until we were assured about the people upstairs and were released as a group so that anyone they might target wasn’t left alone in there.

I was finally released after about 3 hours of being handcuffed. They searched my belongings and took my photo, writing down info about my tatoo. I asked the last cop who was searching my bag if we were going to be allowed back into the building, and he said no that they were closing the building. He claimed there was a fire code violation and a fire door was blocked so it would be closed down. Correct me if I’m wrong, but usually if there’s a fire code violation the fire department issues a ticket – the cops don’t show up with guns drawn and detain everyone in the building for hours.

When I was released there were over 100 people waiting outside cheering, offering hugs and water, plus legal representatives to take statements and press to give interviews to. A great way to be welcomed!

This morning (Sat), three activist houses were raided – 2 houses of organizers of the RNC Welcoming Committee, 1 house of Food Not Bombs folk. We have four confirmed arrests and believe more will follow. The identities of the four arrestees are known, and we understand that they are being charged with conspiracy to riot, and other conspiracy charges.

We had two days of trainings and meetings planned for today and tomorrow in that space and we are scrambling to find community space to continue with these important events. The cops did this very strategically to disrupt the weekend that was going to build and strengthen the actions this week as well as the movement as a whole.

Dont’ worry though – we won’t let that happen. We’ve found parks to do our trainings and meetings in – there’s a press conference going on right now and then a mass meeting in an hour, with trainings planned after that. Check for more details as the days go by.

Click here for NY Times article re raid

8/31/08 – Update on RNC protests:

We woke up Sat morning to the news that three houses had been raided early in the morning. Two were houses of lead local organizers and one was a house of Food Not Bombs folks – they were all awaken to cops raiding their houses with guns drawn and were all detained while the cops went through the houses. Everyone in the houses was released except for 3 or 4 main local organizers – they were arrested and are being held without bail for "conspiracy to riot", "conspiracy to commit property destruction" and (my favorite) "conspiracy to plan civil disobedience".

Friday night at the convergence space there were two activist parents with their 5 year-old son with them during the raid. He was understandably frightened out of his wits at the sight of all these cops with guns handcuffing his dad and all their friends. Unfortunately, he and his parents were staying at one of the houses that was raided Sat morning, so woke up to the sight, once again, of cops, guns, and parents being handcuffed.

Throughout the day, houses of local organizers continued to be raided by the cops – six houses in all. The cops in the raids were all accompanied by building inspectors who tried to find code violations that would shut down the homes. They got as far as to start boarding up one privately-owned home that they claimed had code violations. Apparently the only person who could talk to them about this plan was the house owner – unfortunately, she was in jail, being held without bail. Activists mobilized quickly to respond to these raids and get neighbors around to witness the cops raid and search. The house that was being boarded up got unboarded and reopened due to community pressure as well as many calls to the City Council members by local allies.

Also throughout the day, individual activists were targeted on the street. 2 more local lead organizers with the RNC Welcoming Committee were snatched walking down the street, arrested and are being held without bail through Tuesday or Wednesday. 6 local organizers are being held in all – 5 were members of the Welcoming Committee and were leads of the actions being planned. Stories continued to flood in of people being pulled over in bikes and cars, being searched, detained and released.

I was helping make props Sat afternoon when my friend Alexis called me from the street – she said she had just turned the corner and saw a bunch of cops who had pulled over a white van and had guns drawn and were making activists in the car walk backwards away from the guns. I gave her the legal hotline number and Sam and I ran down the street to where she was. There were 4 or 5 cop cars with lights flashing surrounding 5 activists kneeling on the sidewalk handcuffed. We got all their names (including an old ally from New Orleans who I haven’t seen in years – funny where you run into people) and called them into the legal hotline and gave them some water and whatever support we could. They said they had been driving and were being followed by an unmarked truck for about 30 min until they were finally surrounded and pulled over at gun point. One of them was separated from the rest and they hadn’t seen him since – it turned out he was in a car being questioned by the cops. Their car was searched and all of them were searched and IDed and released after about 30-45 minutes. There was no explanation given – it’s just pure fear tactics. Everyone is feeling insecure traveling around and making sure we all stay in groups and be smart – especially locals who were lead organizers in this.

The amazing thing is that the infrastructure that the Welcoming Committee and others have put so long into organizing is functioning amazingly well, despite the leads being in jail. Within 10 minutes of our calling in the above incident there were legal observers on the ground, taking pictures and statements. After lots of pressure on the City Council and negotiations, the convergence center was reopened yesterday afternoon and meals continue to be served there. There are still computers and free wireless and they have found more programs and informational handouts for all.

The legal collective has been amazing and very responsive, the communication system is up and running – we all receive text messages of any updates – and the medics are everywhere. At the spokescouncil last night I was amazed at all the affinity groups who stood up with plans prepared, knowing where they were doing actions and with who. Perhaps the saddest thing about all the lead organizers being in jail is not that we need them right now to ensure the success of their actions – their hard work has prepped us for that – but they can’t see that all their incredible efforts are paying off.

On a slightly different note, I caught the end of the Vets for Peace/Iraq Vets Against the War banquet last night during their national conferences, and they are planning great things over the next few days and year. People should check out IVAW’s great action at the DNC last week, and stay tuned for actions this week.

The latest update is that Bush and Cheney are not coming to the conventions tomorrow – they want to prep for a photo-op in a disaster zone or McCain doesn’t want them around or they’re afraid of the protests – and we are all thinking of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as Gustav approaches. It’s hard to be prepped for one emergency situation while thinking that a major disaster might be about to hit. We’ll see what happens over the next day and where our energies are directed. For now, I’m glad that I’m safe and I’m thinking of my friends at the other end of the Mississippi from us and wishing them safety and health as well.

For my story from Friday night’s raid at the convergence center, go to

9/3/08: Report from Monday’s actions at the RNC

The number of riot cops on the streets of St Paul on Monday was overwhelming. In the quiet neighborhood where I’m staying with a friend, 3 miles from downtown, there were lines of cops in full riot gear – helmets, pads, pepper spray, batons, etc – lined up because the student contingent was marching from nearby Macalaster College. Those students are pretty scary I guess.


I started the morning supporting Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) as they marched to the Excel Center to demand a meeting with McCain’s staff over his awful record supporting veterans issues, health care in particular. About 70 vets marched in uniform and full formation – one representative was escorted inside and was denied a meeting by the McCain staff. Despite being a vet and claiming to "support the troops", McCain has an awful record on vets issues – he votes with the vets on veterans issues only 20% of the time. Obama votes with them 80% of the time – way better but still pretty lousy given how much they all claim to be friends of the veterans.

It was a pretty intense action to watch, and even more so to be a part of it seems. A lot of the vets had emotional reactions to being back in uniform and marching again – some of them said it brought out an anger and arrogance they’ve tried to expunge from themselves when they returned from Iraq. Others were even more upset later on seeing how the cops treated protesters – one said that he had enough experience taking away people’s rights and hated seeing others doing what he had done and now rejected.


Afterwards I formed an affinity group with about 10 people who wanted to provide support for blockades and other direct actions but wanted to avoid risking arrest. We headed into the streets ahead of the large, permitted march that was still rallying behind us. Within three blocks we came across dozens of riot police blocking streets and donning gas masks – one person had been pepper sprayed and was sitting in serious pain being treated by friends. There were no protesters in sight, only a few dozen people (some with children) sitting on grassy lawn watching the cops march back and forth. As we kept walking, the city seemed deserted – the only people out were small bands of protesters and large groups of riot cops dressed all in black and blue groups of bicycle cops. We left the spot where the riot police were and headed to a report of a blockade and arrests a little ways away – as we walked we saw "Funk the War" the protest dance party organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) come towards the cops and realized that that’s who they had been waiting for. This was about 15 minutes after leaving the permitted space and we got the text message that the SDSers had been tear-gassed and pepper sprayed within minutes.

Soon we heard reports that the National Guard was on the street and we saw them soon after – camouflage tanks were rolling down the streets and National Guardsmen (and ladies) were in full camo, with helmets and rubber bullet rifles.

We spent the next few hours going from blockade to blockade, watching the cops search, detain and arrest people. We got to one of the main entrances for delegates right when many were walking and busing in. We had heard there had been a blockade there and would be one again. We met up with the Pagan Cluster, a group of about 20, and what remained of Funk the War, which was two big sound systems on wheels and perhaps 15 dancing folks. All of them walked right into the street in front of the delegate entrance and started dancing and spinning balls of yarn around so that delegates had to maneuver over and under a maze of yarn in order to reach the entrance. The delegates were mostly on foot and weaved through us in order to get in, passing right next to us in an odd opportunity for us to ask them to support our troops and let them come home.

Soon the cops brought out horses and stood around looking tough. Once they realized that the delegates were actually having to interact with the crazy protesters, they shepeared them all together and tried to keep them separate from us, but the dance party would just move to be in front of them. Then, in the weirdest decision, the cops on horses created a V and walked straight through the dance party, pushing all the protesters with the horses and keeping the delegates in the middle of the V up against the horses’ butts. The protesters were all pushed over and scared by the horses, but the delegates were in the middle of this big mess, squeezed by the horses, and looked frightened out of their wits – some of them looked like they were in High School.

The police and horses got more and more confrontational, pushing people around as the dance party continued and the pagans started doing a spiral dance in the middle of the street. We got reports that they were diverting all delegate buses to another entrance on the far side of the Excel Center, and that there were other actions in need of support, so my group headed off.

Throughout the day we heard reports and met people (including journalists) who had been pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed and saw the cops use rubber bullets and concussion grenades.


We came across a mass arrest around 4 pm – arrests were happening on all three street corners. My buddy team stayed with 2 people face down in a parking lot with National Guardsmen standing over them with rubber bullet rifles. I went over and asked if they were okay and if anyone had called Legal yet – they were grinned at me and said they were Legal. They were members of the legal collective and I don’t know why they were arrested – they looked a little too scruffy. When I called in their arrests, I asked the Legal line if anyone had called in the mass arrests across the street yet – There probably 50 riot cops and 30 or so arrestees, as well as 20 or so spectators being held back by the line of cops. The arrestees were handcuffed and sitting in a line in the sun (it’s about 90 degrees) and I can see one guy’s head is bleeding, even from 20 yards away where we’re held. The arrestees start chanting "We need medics! We need medics!" but no medics are allowed in. Within a half hour, I see one of the medics that had asked to provide medical care arrested and handcuffed with the rest of the protesters.

Next thing, we realize that two members of our "non-arrestable" affinity group are being held with the other arrestees as well. Kari had been taking pictures all day and her buddy Jonathan stuck with her and were her eyes while she was in her camera mode. They had gotten swept up in that mass arrest and was taken away. We later found out that they were being charged with felonies – today is Wednesday and they still have not been released. Kari got one quick phone call to her mother who was freaking out. We’re not in touch with her mom and we’re hoping they’ll be arraigned and released today. The felony charges are pretty wild though – they were with the 10 of us all day and hadn’t been near any of the actions, let alone any violence.

My buddy pair stuck together and walked up to find the rest of our group – as we did, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! ran past us – in the 5 minutes it took for us to walk around the block to where Jonathan and Kari were handcuffed, Amy was arrested along with two other producers of DN. The two producers were also charged with felonies. I know Amy is accredited and award-winning and everything, and her arrest was utterly illegal and unacceptable, but Jonathan and Kari are unaccredited journalists in their own right and their arrest while taking photos is just as illegal and unacceptable. Amy and her producers were released later that evening, as well they should’ve been, but our friends are still in jail.

After Jonathan and Kari’s arrest, another buddy pair, David and Tobin, went up to a parking garage across the street to get a better view and see if we knew any other arrestees and could call their names into Legal. They were followed in by a gang of bicycle cops, detained and searched. We went to find them and were threatened with arrest by the cops also and crossed the street. David has short hair, tucked in shirt, etc, and they released him after searching him and his bags. Tobin is 17 years old, has long hair and baggy pants, and the cops claimed they recognized him from actions earlier in the day. Again, Tobin had been running with us all day long and we’d been doing our best to avoid any action that was vaguely arrestable. The cops cuffed Tobin and walked him across the street with the rest of the mass arrest and took him away as well. We didn’t see him again. He’s a juvenile, no record and did nothing wrong except fit a profile. It’s now Wednesday and he too is still not out of jail – two nights spent there. His freaked-out dad took a plane here at 6 am the next morning and is anxiously stalking juvenile jail.

We waited a few hours to watch our friends be booked, photographed and taken away. While handcuffed, Kari managed to get the memory card out of her camera and hide it in a crack in the cement where she was staying. Jonathan then called over to us, in super-secret code language – that his "red car" had a "flat in the back right tire". We waited till all the cops had left, went searching and found the card! Now all we need is Kari and her camera to get released and we’ll get to see documentation of hours of police harassment and illegal activities.


About 280 people were arrested that day and 130 of them were charged with felonies. This is an absurdly high number of felonies – usually their will only be 10 or so felonies in a group that size. If people like Jonathan, Kari and the producers of Democracy Now are being charged with felonies, it’s not wonder the number is that high. I think they are charging us with felonies to justify the excessive amount of riot cops, peppers-spraying and tear-gassing that was going on. It might also be a tactic to get arrestees to plea bargain, and also to make it scarier to risk arrest in the future.

I have to run to a "peace conference" now (remember? we’re here to work for peace!) but will write an update on jail solidarity soon. Suffice to say, most of the arrestees have not been charged or released and many have been denied medical attention. There are reports of one person who wasn’t given water to wipe the pepper spray off here body and now has 1st degree burns and is still not getting medical attention. The men are apparently on hunger strike for medical care as well as to demand that they are either charged or released. Police harrassment, tear gassing and arrests have continued throughout yesterday (Tuesday). I will give more details and and update soon. Check back to


If you want to help, Coldsnap Legal Collective is asking for people to call the jail and the mayor and demand that all arrestees receive proper treatment and access to medical services. Additionally, we demand that all protesters are immediately released and that all charges are dropped.

Ramsey County Jail — 651.266.9350

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman — 651.266.8510

Ramsey County Sheriff’s office — 651.487.5149

Crooks at the Convention? Garrison Keillor thinks so!


Sep. 03, 2008 | The Republicans are meeting down the hill from my house, helicopters are pounding the air, and there are more suits on the streets and big black SUVs and a brownish cloud venting from the hockey arena where the convention is assembled. A large moment for little old St. Paul, which is more accustomed to visitations by conventions of morticians and foundation garment salesmen and the Sons of the Desert, and so we are thrilled. It makes no difference that the city is Democratic. What matters is that, for a few days, TV will show a few pictures of the big bend in the Mississippi, the limestone bluffs, the capitol and cathedral, and a tree-shaded avenue or two, and some of the world will know that we exist.

Click READ MORE below!

Too bad that the Current Occupant and Mr. Cheney canceled their St. Paul appearances so they could focus on hurricane-threatened New Orleans and lend their expertise to rescue operations. As it turned out, they weren’t needed, which has been generally true for a long time. Their reporting for duty now only served to remind everyone of what happened three years ago. And Mr. McCain, as of this writing, seemed torn between coming to St. Paul to address the convention and comforting hurricane victims in Mississippi, if any could be found

Meanwhile, he posed a stark question for voters to ponder: How much would you like to see Sarah Palin of Wasilla, Alaska, as the next president of the United States? And what does the question say about Mr. McCain’s love of the country that she might suddenly need to lead? No need to discuss these things at length, really. The gentleman played his card, a two of hearts. Make of it what you will.

The challenge for Republicans is how to change the subject from the dismal story of Republican triumph the past eight years and get voters to focus on, say, the old man’s war record or Mrs. Palin’s perkiness or the oddity of the skinny guy’s last name. If they can succeed there, they can win this thing.

The Senate race in Minnesota is a good example. The Republican, Norm Coleman, has scored points by whooping up a couple tiny scandalettes — some old jokes that, like a lot of old jokes, aren’t so funny, and a tax snafu by some bookkeeper with dandruff on his shoulders — against Democrat Al Franken, which may yet succeed in distracting voters from Coleman’s important role as whistle-plugger in the $23 billion Iraq scandal.

From 2003 to 2006, Coleman was chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is responsible for investigating, among other things, "fraud, waste, and abuse in government contracting," and on his watch, the subcommittee held no hearings on the disappearance of billions of tax dollars into "reconstruction projects" in Iraq that didn’t seem to reconstruct anything whatsoever. Bundles of newly minted $100 bills on pallets in Baghdad that simply vanished. No-bid contracts lavished on people with connections. What may be the biggest case of war profiteering in the history of buzzardry.

The PSI is a big hammer. It’s the subcommittee Joe McCarthy used to go after the U.S. Army and Sen. John McClellan used to go after labor racketeers with the young Bobby Kennedy as chief counsel, but as the Coleman subcommittee it went after federal employees who were traveling business class instead of economy, meanwhile money was pouring out of the Treasury for any Republican who could write "Iraq" with fewer than two spelling errors, and an old Bush retainer was appointed special inspector general to oversee the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, but without authority to oversee money spent on reconstruction by the Pentagon, which was where most of the money went. All of this Sen. Coleman watched with a cool eye, and he now calculates that Minnesota voters won’t have the attention span to read a story with a lot of dollar amounts and acronyms like PSI and IRRF and SIG. Maybe, maybe not.

The simple truth is that, while more than 4,000 Americans gave their lives in the war in Iraq, the war was an enormous financial opportunity for neocons and their friends, and Sen. Coleman was a passive observer of one of the biggest heists in history. The cynicism is staggering to the normal person. He was the cop who busted the hot dog vendor for obstructing the sidewalk while the McGurks were cleaning out the bank. This is no joke. A crook is walking around looking for votes. And the truth is marching on.

-Garrison Keillor

Jonah Goldberg on how Sarah Palin got Republicans excited about McCain

From the National Review:


St. Paul, Minn. — The biggest “prize” so far in the quest to destroy Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential candidacy is the “news” that her unmarried daughter is pregnant. I have little to say about that because I don’t think the press should be saying much more about it.

But what is remarkable is how little that or other revelations matter to the GOP rank and file. Simply put: They love Sarah.

Click READ MORE below!


This is my sixth Republican National Convention, and I’ve never seen anything remotely like the excitement Palin has unleashed. Some compare it to the enthusiasm for Ronald Reagan in 1976 or 1980. Even among the cynics and nervous strategists, there’s a kind of giddiness over John McCain’s tactical daring in selecting the little-known Alaskan.

Readers of National Review Online — a reliable bellwether of conservative sentiment — flooded the site with e-mails over Labor Day weekend. The messages ran roughly 20-1 in almost orgiastic excitement about the pick. On Friday, one reader expressed Christmas-morning delight over the gift of Palin, proclaiming that McCain had just “given us our Red Ryder BB gun.”

Hundreds of NRO readers announced that they were finally donating to McCain after months of holding out. Many had hard feelings toward the senator, who too often defined “maverick” as a willingness, even an eagerness, to annoy conservatives. They weren’t kidding: Between the Palin announcement Friday and Monday morning, the McCain camp raised $10 million. This enthusiasm reflects how, although the party wants Barack Obama to lose, it is just now getting excited about a McCain win.

The naysayers argue Palin undermines McCain’s core message so far: “experience” and the necessary foreign-policy expertise for a dangerous world. They say choosing her was a gimmick that runs counter to McCain’s mantra about country before politics, particularly given his age and health record.

If Palin fumbles badly in the next few weeks, the critics will surely be proved right. And one doesn’t have to be obsessive about liberal media bias to recognize the media’s desire to Quayle-ize her.

But what if she doesn’t fumble? What if McCain’s gut was right?

Then, picking Palin just might go down as one of the most brilliant political plays in American history.

The experience theme was not going to carry McCain to victory. This is a change election. Hillary Clinton, after all, ran on experience and got beat by Obama, a former community organizer and state senator. McCain weakened Obama with the “not ready to lead” line, but to win he needed to promise change — i.e. “reform” — too.

But the reform message would have sounded implausible with almost any other VP pick, save perhaps Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal or Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Moreover, although the GOP base generally agrees with McCain’s fiscal conservatism, it doesn’t get excited by his reformer shtick. Palin reinforces the reform theme but, at the same time, reassures the base enough to give McCain maneuvering room to woo moderates and independents.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of attention has been on the fact that she is a woman (though few have noted that the party’s enthusiasm for her runs counter to the caricature of conservatives as irredeemably sexist) and on the supposed effort to sway Clinton voters. That’s been oversold. As much as anything, the Palin pick is a response to the Democrats’ effort to cast themselves as change agents and friends of the middle class.

Last Wednesday in Denver, Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, gave his stemwinder about families huddled around their kitchen tables trying to make ends meet. The next day, McCain settled on Palin, who can actually claim to be part of such a family. Her husband is a member of the United Steelworkers. She got her start as a PTA activist and “hockey mom” who took on the corrupt Alaskan political machine. Unlike Obama, who played ball with the notorious Chicago machine, Palin took dead aim at the bosses of her own party.

The Obama campaign smugly — and foolishly — ridicules Palin’s work as a small-town mayor. But who can better empathize with the plight of working families: Biden, a trial-lawyer-friendly senator since the Jurassic era, or a woman with five kids and a blue-collar spouse? Obama performed badly with working-class rural voters in the primaries. Joe “the Pride of Scranton” Biden is supposed to help on that front. Ridiculing small towns might not help the cause.

Meanwhile, many recently moribund Republicans here are hopeful that the party has successfully rebranded itself with Palin.

The enthusiasm may not last. But for now, she’s the life of the party.

— Jonah Goldberg is the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

Joe Lieberman Takes Center Stage by Lea Gilmore


“What after all is a Democrat like me, doing at a Republican party like this…,” stated Senator Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat and now Independent, opening his speech to the Republican National Convention last night.

Man oh man, what a difference eight years makes.

Just eight years ago, Joe Lieberman, a proud Democrat, was grasping the hand of then Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore as Gore’s choice to be his Vice-Presidential running mate.

Click READ MORE below!

Ready for prime-time and speaking with as much energy that he can muster, Lieberman went on attack. "Sen. Barack Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead," Lieberman said. "But my friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times for America."

Well, isn’t that interesting. Let’s think this through a bit “eloquence is no substitute for a record.” Can these same words not be applied to Governor Sarah Palin? The Republicans, including shadow Republicans like Lieberman, are walking a slippery slope when they attack Obama on the experience issue. Especially taking into consideration a 72 year old presidential candidate who has fought off four occurrences of cancer, Governor Palin is literally a heartbeat away from being the most powerful leader in the known world. I would lay off the experience thing when Palin’s six years at the helm of Wasilla, Alaska population 7,000, combined with her 20 months as governor of Alaska doesn’t actually scream of the potential to negotiate with Putin and the bunch.

Last night, Lieberman either showed political courage, or pandering opportunism – maybe a bit of both. Click here for Lieberman’s speech.

Lieberman continued with an attempt to get those voter’s leaning on the fence, "Tonight, I want to ask you, whether you are an independent, a Reagan Democrat, a Clinton Democrat, or just a plain old Democrat: This year, when you vote for president, vote for the person you believe is best for our country, not for the party you happen to belong to.”

This rhetoric has understandably enraged Democrats.

When Lieberman stated in his speech that "In the Senate, [Obama] has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party." 

A swift reaction was given by Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs calling that a “flat out lie.” According to, Gibbs cited Obama’s work with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists and with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, on the government budget.

My 17 year old son said last night “how does that guy sleep at night?” I’m thinking, quite comfortably. He has placed all of his bets at the McCain/Palin table, and he believes America, no matter how disaffected and angry, just isn’t quite ready for that other team for a myriad of obvious and coded reasons.

If the Democrats win, Lieberman may just find himself in a political no-man’s land, but that’s OK too. Because, he will make millions on the conservative lecture circuit expounding on how he stood up to those “big bad liberals.” Ironically, it seems the “big bad Republicans” didn’t have the same courage he has displayed when he was at the very top of the list to become McCain’s Vice-Presidential running mate.

Tonight – Governor Sarah Palin speaks, and we will be listening.

Oh yeah, by the way I am so sick of hearing the term “maverick” used. It’s like calling Andy Williams “that new teen sensation.” If the term no longer applies, drop it.

Lea Gilmore

Richard Vatz blogs on the RNC’s second night

We’re bringing you another blog post from Towson University Rhetoric professor Richard Vatz, who is currently blogging over at the site Go check it out–lot’s of interesting commentary from Maryland conservatives.

In this post, Vatz blogs about the events at last evening’s Republican National Convention.


Click READ MORE below!

From here:

From the one beloved figure of the Bush leadership team, the utterly sincere Laura Bush, to a tape on Ronald Reagan to former Senator Fred Thompson’s powerful rhetoric to a profoundly convincing address by Senator Joe Lieberman, much of which was aimed at Democrats and Independents, the first night of the Republican National Convention was a memorable one.

In a short speech broadcast to the convention President George W. Bush praised Sen. McCain’s courage as a P.O.W. , his support of the then-unpopular surge and his resulting reputation as one who would rather lose an election than a war. To those who see Sen. McCain as a yes-man to President Bush, the President countered that "I know!" that he is "not afraid to disagree."

Leaving aside the question of “where was this great speechmaker in the 2008 presidential campaign,” Fred Thomson’s speech was the kind of speech that not only solidified support for John McCain, but one which made some surely wonder, “How could a serious American voter not support Senator John McCain over Senator Barack Obama?”

Sen. Thompson said he was not focusing on the vision, but “the man behind the vision.” His praise of Sen. McCain’s judgment, experience, courage and policies was compelling, especially as he contrasted Sen. McCain with Senator Barack Obama, "the most liberal and most inexperienced nominee to run for president," as a man who “doesn’t think protection of the unborn is above his pay grade,” as Sen. Obama demurred in his only debate thus far with Sen. McCain.

Sen. Thompson also contrasted Sen. McCain’s courageous support of the unpopular, but ultimately successful “surge” in Iraq, an issue left virtually unaddressed at the Democratic convention. The “now we’re winning” claim has no opposing argument evident from the Democratic conventions.

Sen. Thompson’s powerful, detailed salutes to John McCain’s character as evidenced in his courageous suffering of torture for five-and-one-half years – including beatings, heat torture and isolation torture, when he could have accepted an offered early release, the refusal of which brought him more torture. As Sen. Thompson pointed out, the torture per se doesn’t qualify him to be president, but it reveals the character we want in our presidents. He also detailed how Sen. McCain’s family walks the walk with 2 sons in — or going to — Iraq

Along the way Sen. Thompson punctured some liberal shibboleths, like the false, misleading dichotomy of taxing individuals or corporations, wherein it is merely a question of whether one wishes to pay taxes directly or indirectly.

Senator Joe Lieberman gave perhaps the most effective “reluctant testimony” speech since Zell Miller at the Republican National Convention in 2004 and beyond. The former Democrat and Vice Presidential nominee just 8 years ago, who still caucuses with the Democrats, even engendered applause for Bill Clinton (!) as he contrasted President Clinton’s willingness to challenge Democratic ideological orthodoxy (e.g. welfare reform), unlike Sen. Obama. Sen. Lieberman too brought up the surge as the representative event that demonstrated Sen. McCain’s political courage which has, the ex-Democrat implied, no counterpart in Sen. Obama’s policies.

To the indisputable fact that Sen. Obama is a powerful and effective speaker, Sen. Lieberman simply said, “Eloquence is no substitute for a record.” The lack of Democratic references to Sen. Obama’s accomplishments, as noted here previously, stands out as an indictment of his inexperience.

To the Democratic charge of Sen. McCain’s election being tantamount to four more years of Bush, Sen. Lieberman resoundingly emphasized the phrase, “John McCain is his own man.” To those Democrats who detest the Republican Party, Sen. Lieberman urged such voters to go beyond party labels and understand that “country matters more than party.” If the election by-word is “change, both speakers argued, Sen. McCain is the real thing

The only layer of missing confidence, the only discordant note, in the entire evening could be inferred from the praise of Gov. Sarah Palin, whose credentials as Governor, card-carry conservative, reformer and “breath of fresh air” seemed inadequate to compensate for her lack of foreign policy experience. But the emphasis was rightly this night on the top of the ticket, Sen. John McCain.

In rhetoric we look for the “good man speaking well,” which modified for today would be the “good person speaking well.”

Tonight’s political oratory included good people who spoke well and convincingly in praise of the Republican maverick, Sen. John McCain.

Professor Vatz teaches Political Rhetoric at Towson University

Is Bristol Palin Fair Game? from *UPDATED*

My very favorite blog,, is a group blog with many contributors. Two of the writers disagree about whether or not the pregnancy of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s 17 year old daughter Bristol is fair game for discussion.


Click READ MORE below




Megan says Bristol’s pregnancy has no role to play:

In order to rebut the aforementioned rumors, and (more likely) to save her daughter the humiliation of even worse headlines, Sarah Palin today released a statement that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol Palin is five months pregnant and plans to marry her boyfriend. The McCain campaign reportedly knew about the pregnancy but didn’t plan to disclose it to the world or think that it disqualified Sarah Palin (Bristol’s mother) from running for the Vice Presidency. Naturally, this has led many of the same people who spent the weekend trafficking in the rumors about Trig Palin — Sarah’s infant son with Down’s Syndrome — to crow wildly about how Bristol Palin, a fucking seventeen-year-old girl, if you’ve forgotten — is the new anti- poster child for abstinence-only education. Of course those claims are well-researched.

Because, for one, most schools in Alaska do teach comprehensive sex-ed, and the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development offers schools a choice of curricula that include programs focusing on abstinence without endorsing a specific program. In fact, there have even been debates in Alaska since the start of Palin’s tenure whether exempting children from comprehensive sex ed is constitutional. Palin’s statements on abstinence-only education date to one questionnaire from a right-wing group during her campaign in 2006 when asked the following question:

Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?

In answer to that leading question which conflates comprehensive sexual education with condom and Pill distribution, her campaign answered:

   Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.

In the last year and a half, searches of her office’s website and the Guttmacher Institute revealed no abstinence-only initiatives by her administration. Simply put, Sarah Palin is by no means the world’s biggest promoter of abstinence-only education, as some people are claiming.

Is it possible that she supports it (or supported it)? Sure, it’s certainly a Republican initiative. But there’s no evidence that I can find that she yanked Bristol out of sex ed classes or denied her contraceptive education. To make a 17-year-old girl who didn’t likely choose either to be pregnant or to be some political football the new poster child for attacking her mother’s policy positions doesn’t leave any better a taste in my mouth this afternoon than I had this morning.

On a more personal note, though, let those of us who did remain abstinent in high school (and thereafter) and always practiced safe sex throw stones. I lost my virginity at 16 not because I wasn’t exposed to comprehensive sex ed or because my parents were too religious or even too permissive. I chose to have sex with my high school boyfriend because I loved him deeply and because I wanted to. The two of us were honors students, tops of our classes, responsible and reliable and I’ll be damned if I can sit here and swear that we were the safest sex practitioners on God’s green earth. That we didn’t end up pregnant had likely a lot more to do with luck than it did a rigorous adherence to what Ms. H. taught us in health class. And, had we gotten pregnant, I would’ve strongly preferred to get an abortion — but I don’t think he would’ve been quite as enthusiastic about that alternative.

I can only imagine the courage it took for Bristol to go to her parents, pregnant at 17, and lay out one of the most personal aspects of human life — her sexual activities — and the consequences of those activities and that she was choosing to keep the child despite the high probability of political embarrassment that would be laid at her mother’s doorstep. And all of that was before her mother was about to be made VP. She didn’t by any means choose the easy path here, and everyone probably fully expected that this big reveal would happen at some point rather soon. That it has doesn’t make my bile rise any less with every post I read about how, ha-ha, look what happens when you promote abstinence. Once again, even for this great lover of Schandenfreude, my lips are curling in a little disgust with the glee shown by some of my political compatriots at this news.

Yes, we need to have a rational conversation in this country about striking the balance between providing students with age-appropriate sex education and a rational discussion about moral values and their role in making sexual choices. I am a full and complete supporter of comprehensive sex ed — which includes information like "there is no such thing as blue balls" and "no means no" and "saying no to sex can be a sign of respect for both of you." But clapping our hands in joyous rubbernecking over Bristol Palin’s being in the family way is not going to be the start of any discussion. It makes us look as judge-y as we accuse Them of being, it makes us look like abortion-promoters instead of choice-respecters (it does mean both choices, after all) and it makes us look like we think a 17-year-old target is easier to hit than a 44-year-old target. Sex education will be a great topic for discussion and reform in an Obama Administration, and it wouldn’t — and shouldn’t — involve the now rather-public embarrassment or shaming of a 17-year-old girl.



Jessica says the pregnancy is fair game:

When Sarah Palin gave her introductory speech on Friday in Dayton, Ohio, she spent a minute or two thanking the McCains and uttering various pleasantries about her nomination before launching into a several minute spiel about her family — about her snowmobilin’ husband, Todd, and about her oldest son, Track, who enlisted in the army on September 11th and will be deployed to Iraq on the same day this month. After that, she talked about what a great man and patriot John McCain is. In the nearly 20 minute speech, we learned literally nothing about Palin’s policy, except that she "never really set out to be in public affairs," adding,"I was just your average ‘Hockey Mom’ in Alaska." And let’s be honest: were Palin not a woman, and not a mom, she wouldn’t be anywhere near the Republican ticket. Her motherhood is the crux of her public image. Which is why I must respectfully disagree with Megan that Bristol Palin’s pregnancy should be off-limits.

Of course, I agree that Bristol should not be shamed for having sex, nor should she be judged for her choice to keep her baby. However, how can any pundit worth his or her salt not mention this pregnancy when talking about John McCain’s abysmal record with sex education? As CBS News notes, "In 2006, McCain joined fellow Republicans in voting against a Senate Democratic proposal to send $100 million to communities for teen-pregnancy prevention programs that would have included sex education about contraceptives."

One of the few things we know Palin’s stance on is abortion, and as has been noted before, Palin wants to eliminate reproductive choice in this country. Which makes it curious, then, that as Rebecca Traister over on Salon notices, the language of choice still pervades the party’s public statements about Bristol. "According to the New York Times story, ‘Bristol Palin made the decision on her own to keep the baby, McCain aides said.’ That’s just peachy in its presumption that Bristol had a choice about whether or not to continue her pregnancy," Traister writes. "It’s true that in 2008, she certainly does have a legal choice. But she wouldn’t under the proposed administration of her mother and John McCain, both of whom oppose abortion rights and tell us they would work to overturn Roe."

Like it or not, especially in this election, the personal is political: the fact that Palin had a baby with Down syndrome is already being used as a Republican talking point. Timothy Shriver notes in Newsweek, "Trig could be a high-profile example of how wonderful it can be to choose life, even in adversity, even when the conditions aren’t perfect. After all, the conditions are never perfect, but the promise of a newborn baby is that God’s love is. Somehow, despite everything, love is triumphant. The message: Love life. Choose life." And you can be sure as hell that Palin and the Republicans would be happy to use Trig’s existence to push their anti-choice message. How does the logic work then, that while 17-year-old Bristol should be protected, a four-month-old baby boy is fair game?

Also. There is evidence that McCain did not thoroughly vet Palin before offering her the VP spot, and that "top aides were vague on Monday about how and when [McCain] had learned of the pregnancy, and from whom." If Palin was trying to hide Bristol’s pregnancy, who knows what other shady business she has hiding in the bushes. In addition, McCain’s mere cursory vetting of Palin shows that his decision-making on important things is incredibly rash. Do we really want a man in charge of our military who is prone to making such knee jerk choices?

It seems that Obama has already started using this pregnancy to his advantage without explicitly naming Bristol. According to Politico, Obama is already running radio ads hitting McCain on abortion rights. But! At the end of the day, I think Democrats should not use Bristol Palin directly in any way, shape or form, and not because they should be above it, but because it detracts from the real issue at hand: the fact that Palin is entirely inexperienced and has barely any defined stances on any issue. Bristol and baby Trig are just smokescreens. At the end of the day, it will be far more satisfying and fruitful to attack Palin on her entirely wobbly platform than the productiveness of her womb. 



Earlier today, Jessica added this post, which I found thought provoking.

It’s been about 48 hours since Bristol Palin’s pregnancy was announced, and pundits of all stripes have weighed in on the significance of a single, underage, fertile female. In the Washington Post, columnist Courtland Milloy writes, "We are ambivalent about what to do once a girl becomes pregnant. But once that choice is made — and it is a personal choice — what the girl needs most is love and support. If the public can’t offer that to Bristol, the least we can do is leave her alone." No, Courtland. The least the public can do is take Bristol’s mother to task for not supporting teen pregnancies that occur outside her immediate family.

The WaPo is reporting that, as Governor of Alaska, Palin slashed funding for a program that benefited teen moms.According to the WaPo, "Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million. Covenant House is a mix of programs and shelters for troubled youths, including Passage House, which is a transitional home for teenage mothers…[where, according to Passage House’s website] ‘young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives.’"

And since we’re all on board with not prying into the circumstance of Bristol as an individual, let’s take a look at the fate that lies ahead for most other teen mothers, shall we? Linda Hirshman, writing on Slate’s XX Factor blog, runs through what the average American teen mom experiences, and honestly, it’s bleak. "Even controlling for social and economic backgrounds, only 40 percent of teenage girls who bear children before age 18 go on to graduate from high school, compared with the 75 percent of teens who do not give birth until ages 20 or 21" Hirshman notes. "Overall, teenage mothers—and their children—are also far more likely to live in poverty than females who don’t give birth until after age 20. Two-thirds of the families begun by a young unmarried mother are poor. These families are more likely to be on welfare and to require publicly provided health care." And we know what Palin thinks about publicly provided health care: She thinks it shouldn’t exist!

Even Seventeen editor Ann Shoket has something to say about Bristol’s pregnancy and what it means for the American teen. "No matter how you feel about her politics, Sarah Palin is a shining example of the potential and power of women," Shoket notes in the Huffington Post today. "And in one hot moment with her boyfriend, her daughter gave away her power to make the decisions about how she wanted her future to play out."

Pretty harsh words coming from the editor of a usually soft and fluffy teen mag. And here’s the thing. Individually, Bristol Palin will be fine. But despite what her mother’s campaign would have you believe, the Palins are not regular folk. They are a gubernatorial family with the resources and the connections to help support a teen pregnancy. Obviously, a teen pregnancy is not the end of the world, nor is it anything to be ashamed of. However, it is something that should be prevented as much as possible, and considering Palin’s stance on abortion, it seems she’s only concerned about the individual pregnancy of her daughter and not the pregnancies of our nation’s daughters. Linda Hirshman says it better than I can: "For the millions of women each year who do not want to make that choice, and for the parents who do not want that fate for their daughters, the cruelty of the Republican position on abortion rights is now graphically laid bare."



What do you think?