Palin on Energy

Sarah 'knows more about energy' Palin has finally unburdened herself of some expertise on the subject for our collective benefit and it's compelling stuff, in the sense it confirms a breathtaking confusion, incoherently delivered, and will no doubt instigate a flurry of debate over coming news cycles.  What she is saying, or attempting to say, is so ambiguous that there is endless opportunity presented for the punditry to finish the puzzle and they can't seem to resist that kind of challenge. (h/t Jed Lewison)

What she said is this:

"Of course, it's a fungible commodity and they don't flag, you know, the molecules, where it's going and where it's not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it's Americans who get stuck holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It's got to flow into our domestic markets first."

hilzoy - Energy Expertise! Obsidian Wings 18 Sep 08

If you're confused, you are not alone.  And if you think that was bad, try watching it:

Didn't get any better, did it?  hilzoy assumes she must have meant something different:

I think, despite her saying that Congress is "not going to allow the export bans", that she is actually recommending such a ban. At any rate, what she says makes a lot more sense on the assumption that either the 'not' or the 'bans' was a slip than it does on the assumption that she thought that lifting nonexistent export bans would keep our oil here at home.

Now admittedly, I haven't done due Google diligence on any of this, but the implications of this statement are staggering.  Sarah Palin sounds for all the world like a freshman college student winging an answer to an unexpected economics question.  And it's not like she hasn't had days to cram for this, either.

The threads are unravelling and after McCain's rather 'broad' assertion recently that she ""knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America" this remark is likely to get the attention it warrants.

According to hilzoy, there are no such 'export bans' and one wonders where this policy notion arose as it is one not widely discussed by the campaigns to date.  Did McCain previously make a statement about 'export bans' on energy?  During the 'drill now' phase of his campaign when he was trying to make speeches from offshore drilling platforms in the Gulf?  Helpful posters might clarify this point.

In any case this is a major fail of a widely anticipated debut for Governor Palin as 'energy Czar.'  An unforced error that doesn't merely lose an inning but causes some fans to wonder if the player doesn't have a career-ending injury.  We'll see, in the current mood of the media this seems like warm blood in the water.  For sheer entertainment value I'm sure nothing will beat the McCain campaign's explanation of these assertions, they have plenty of scope to spin this one just about any way you like.  Sarah Palin's words are like clay in the hands of a real 'spin' artist.

With apologies to Winston Churchill:

At election time, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of spin.

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A 'Reckless' World Awaits Obama

While of dubious domestic political value, in fact perhaps tinged with more controversy than makes such an endorsement welcome, a well known West Bank Rabbi, Menachem Frohman, a founder of the Zionist settler movement and notorious for simple 'grass roots' pleas for peace in the Middle East which sometimes disturb the status quo of Israeli policy, endorses Senator Obama, with a mischievous grin from ear to ear (h/t to Ben Smith of Politico):

That was from the heart, eh?  Community organisers just gotta' hang together, I guess.  Little things like this can make one's day.  It gets even better:

Rabbi Frohman, Chief Rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Takoa, was involved in a 'secular' attempt at a West Bank settlement earlier this year:

Rabbi Menachem Froman of the West Bank settlement of Tekoa has for years been involved in interfaith dialogue toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.

After a series of interfaith meetings, Rabbi Froman and Hamas-allied friend Khaled Amayreh succeded in drafting a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

The two submitted the document, which covers the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, to the cabinet and to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

According to them, Hamas leaders have agreed to the deal's terms, but Israel has rejected them.

W. Bank rabbi, Hamas supporter draft Hamas-Israel truce deal Haaretz 14 Feb 08

Rabbi Frohman sent a letter to the Obama campaign:

With God's Help

To the person who, with God's help, will be the next President of the United States of America:

Dear Senator Barack Obama,

"May the Lord bless you from Zion, and may you gaze upon the goodness of Jerusalem all the days of your life."

This letter from an elder Jewish Rabbi who lives in close proximity to Jerusalem, addressed to the young candidate for President of the United States, may be considered irregular and even reckless. With that said, the Creator of the Universe, blessed be He, granted us, with His grace, the privilege to live in a reckless world. Our grandmothers, from all nations and traditions, used to say that miracles are the fingerprints of the Creator in His creation. The fingers of the Divine hand are outstretched to us in peace. The American Dream that you speak of, about everyone fulfilling all their opportunities, is the manifestation of realizing God's ability to make miracles for everyone in the world.

It is a fact that miracles happen in the world. To attest to that is this very letter that is being sent from a Rabbi, living in proximity to Jerusalem, to the candidate for President in order to discuss the question: Can the greatest miracle of all take place; can Barack Obama be elected President in less than two months time? This letter comes to let you know that I pray and await this very miracle because we need change.

Jerusalem awaits Barack Obama. The Holy land awaits Barack Obama. The Middle East awaits Barack Obama. The whole world awaits Barack Obama. Your being elected will be God's outstretched hand for peace.

Marc Gopin - A Settler Rabbi for Obama? A New Perspective on the Middle East Conflict 18 Sep 08

Not the stuff of massive demographic appeal and likely to stir as much antagonism as usefulness, still, an interesting perception of the impact of American politics on international affairs from one deeply cognisant of the greatest geopolitical challenge awaiting our newly minted administration in coming years.

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Kissinger 'naïve and irresponsible?'

Well, fancy this little footnote to history, pretty much closing the loop on unanimity of opinion for the insight and prescience Senator Obama has shown in his controversial foreign policy positions throughout this long campaign:

ABC News' Rachel Martin Reports: Former U.S.Secretary of State Henry Kissinger today told an audience in Washington, DC that the U.S. should negotiate with Iran "without conditions" and that the next President should begin such negotiations at a high level.

The former Nixon and Ford U.S. Secretary of State early in the year indicated his belief that the U.S. should hold direct talks with Iran when speaking to Bloomberg Television.

Jake Tapper - Kissinger Backs Direct Talks 'Without Conditions' with Iran ABC 15 Sep 08

Naïve and irresponsible?  Empty suit?  Think again, just a year ahead of the curve, that's all.  A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country.

And just for the record:

Kissinger spoke at a CNN sponsored forum at George Washington University along with other former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, James Baker III, Warren Christopher and Colin Powell. The leaders were asked to pinpoint the major challenges the next president will face around the world and to offer advice about how to handle those critical issues. The secretaries named the fight against terrorism, restoring America's reputation abroad , re-building the country's economic power, and global climate change as a top priority.

When asked what specifically should be done to repair America's reputation and standing in the world, Powell, Baker and Albright all immediately said "close Guantanamo," referring to the U.S. detention facility. Powell added, "and I think that's something we all agree on."

Jake Tapper - Kissinger Backs Direct Talks 'Without Conditions' with Iran ABC 15 Sep 08

My, my, how times have changed.

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The McCain Economy

The notion that John McCain is somehow qualified, or genuinely intends, to 'fix' the current credit crisis and the structural problems in the US economy is perhaps the biggest fraud his campaign has tried to perpetrate on the American public, and that's saying quite a bit.  Here's his comment from yesterday on the disastrous day of trading that followed a weekend of crisis among our largest investment banks and which is, quite likely, merely the tip of the iceberg.  Our economy, managed by the 'masters of the universe' these past years in a deregulated market created by almost a decade of Republican ideological meddling, is, of course, the RMS Titanic:

"The fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times and I promise you we will never put America in this position again," McCain told a rally in Jacksonville in the electoral battleground state of Florida.

"We're going to reform the way Wall Street does business and put an end to the greed that has driven our markets into chaos," he told an Orlando rally. "We'll put an end to running Wall Street like a casino."

Caren Bohan - McCain, Obama promise Wall Street overhaul 15 Sep 08

Really?  And doesn't 'we will never put America in this position again' sound almost like a subconscious admission of complicity?  It should be.  In any case hard to square that with the unequivocal track record he has of supporting the ideological platform of remorseless deregulation that has enabled this current train wreck.  Even less credible:

McCain also released a new television ad, titled "Crisis," which argues that McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, will clean up Wall Street and impose "tougher rules" without "special interest giveaways."

"Our economy in crisis," the ad says. "Only proven reformers John McCain and Sarah Palin can fix it....Leadership, experience for the change we need."

Robert Barnes and Michael D Shear - McCain: Fundamentals of Economy are 'Strong' but 'Threatened' Washington Post 15 Sep 08

An egregious implied falsehood and a message directly at odds with the long-standing 'free market' narrative which Republicans, including John McCain, have used to bamboozle the US electorate for over a decade.  This is ad hoc campaigning at it's most dishonourable, and one assumes he is hoping that his corporate 'base' forgives him his heresy for the sake of a few points in Ohio.  The very notion that CEO bonuses are in some way the core problem of the credit crisis is laughably superficial and indicates the precarious stance into which the McCain campaign is now forced by the undeniable outcomes of years of Republican deregulatory policy:

John McCain is up with an ad touting his "experience" to deal with the financial crisis. But no specific experience is cited--which is attributable to the fact that McCain has been a happily orthodox Republican when it comes to financial regulation these past 26 years. He's against it. He's against Washington telling you how to run your business. The unseen hand of the market and all that...

This has been the long-standing Republican bait and switch--scaring small businesses with the threat of new regulations if the Democrats win, commiserating with larger businesses about the evils of environmental and plant safety rules, while lifting as many regulations as possible governing the financial titans whose credit should be at the heart of new economic development. But that hasn't been happening: the financial titans have been going for the quick buck rather than the sound one. Money and creativity have been redirected during the Reagan-Bush era away from substantive loans to real businesses into a Ponzi scheme of borrowing by investment bankers, so they could engage in the most irresponsible, if lucrative (for them) speculative lending imaginable...In this sense, the mortgage crisis was a perfect metaphor for Republican financial governance: Investment banks like Lehman--R.I.P.--took loans to invest money in...bad loans. In this case, the loans were bad mortgages. This is called throwing good money after bad.

Joe Klein - Their Brand is Collapse Time 15 Sep 08

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Washington Post 'skeptical' of Palin Choice [Update]

Well the undercurrent of dismay over Sarah Palin's suitability as a serving VP has bubbled over into the editorial columns, this from the otherwise maddeningly neutral Washington Post today:

...the most important question Mr. McCain should have asked himself about Ms. Palin was not whether she could help him win the presidency. It was whether she is qualified and prepared to serve as president should anything prevent him from doing so. This would have been true for any presidential nominee, and it was especially crucial that Mr. McCain -- who turns 72 today -- get this choice right. If he is elected, he will be the oldest man ever to serve a first term in the White House.

In this regard, count us among the puzzled and the skeptical. Not long ago, no less a Republican strategist than Karl Rove belittled Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as a potential running mate for Barack Obama, noting that picking him would appear "intensely political" because Mr. Kaine's experience consisted of only three years as governor preceded by the mayoralty of Richmond, which Mr. Rove called "not a big town."

Using Mr. Rove's criteria, Ms. Palin would not fare well. Her executive experience consists of less than two years as governor of her sparsely populated state, plus six years as mayor of Wasilla (pop. 8,471). Absorbed in Alaska's unique energy and natural resource issues, she has barely been heard from in the broader national debates over economic policy and health care. Above all, she has no record on foreign policy and national security -- including terrorism, which Mr. McCain posits as the top challenge facing America and the world. Once the buzz over Ms. Palin's nomination dies down, the hard questions about her will begin. The answers will reflect on her qualifications -- and on Mr. McCain's judgment as well.

The Editorial Board - Mr. McCain's Choice Washington Post 30 Aug 08

As far as sober, editorial criticism goes that is about as bad as it gets and it is beginning to appear that McCain's 'home-run' could end up being a high foul into the stands.  There are increasing signs Republican and Republican-leaning puditry have their fur up over this issue of McCain's apparent suspension of governing judgement in favour of a high-stakes electoral crap-shoot, the kind of politics for which he is seemingly notorious among his party colleagues.

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A Bridge Too Far?

Having observed the disconcerting willingness of the mainstream media to play along with the McCain campaign's aggressive attempts to undermine Obama's presumed fitness to lead the nation as Commander-in-Chief in recent weeks it seems we may have reached a turning point.  For quite some time the media has agreeably aired tendentious narratives with a very 'Gee whiz' insouciance as to the actual content, not to mention replaying videos purported to be 'campaign ads' which ran in very limited broadcast markets but received millions of dollars of free exposure with cable and broadcast news audiences.  One wondered how long this would continue and now perhaps there is a sign of some reluctance to doltishly play along.

Consider today's piece from Jake Tapper, no Obama loyalist, to say the least, on the McCain campaign's most recent effort (emphasis added throughout):

We, in the media, have given a lot of airtime to the TV ads of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., this week, starring, as they do, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

There's been evidence emerging that McCain's campaign isn't really running these ads anywhere, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group.

"These were basically video press releases," CMAG's Evan Tracey tells the Wall Street Journal.

OK, so that's kind of dishonest of the McCain campaign.

Jake Tapper - Did Obama Say Iran Is a 'Tiny' Country That 'Doesn't Pose a Serious Threat'? ABC 27 Aug 08

OK, there's a self-evident piece of punditry for a start.  Only about eight weeks too late, but never mind.  Second thoughts but no contrition on the part of the national media, but you get that.  But it gets better:

Today's new McCain ad -- "Tiny," which you can watch HERE -- crosses a new line into dishonesty, however, beyond whether or not it's actually airing anywhere.

The script reads: "Iran. Radical Islamic government. Known sponsors of terrorism. Developing nuclear capabilities to 'generate power' but threatening to eliminate Israel.

"Obama says Iran is a 'tiny' country, 'doesn't pose a serious threat,'" the ad continues. "Terrorism, destroying Israel, those aren't 'serious threats'? Obama -- dangerously unprepared to be president."

This is a dishonest representation of Obama's words.

Jake Tapper - Did Obama Say Iran Is a 'Tiny' Country That 'Doesn't Pose a Serious Threat'? ABC 27 Aug 08

Huh?  Did one read that correctly?  You bet.  I wonder if we are turning a little corner here, every little bit helps.  Jake Tapper continues, impressively, with a full quotation of Obama's original comments in his article and provides a video link as well, which you can see here.  Ironically, it's really worth watching.  And his conclusion?:

That is not even close to Obama saying Iran is a "tiny" country that "doesn't pose a serious threat."

Not even close.

Jake Tapper - Did Obama Say Iran Is a 'Tiny' Country That 'Doesn't Pose a Serious Threat'? ABC 27 Aug 08

Wow.  Simple, straightforward and unequivocal demolition of the McCain campaign's 'video press release' at first point-of-contact.  Bet they think twice about trying that again.  And let's hope this is an indication that the 'honeymoon' is over and the media, at least the print media, has woken up to the fact that they are being played like a violin by someone with a tin ear.

Incidentally, one usually includes a feedback link when the media drops a clanger so it seems only fair to provide one when they are actually doing their jobs, and let's hope to see more of the same for many cycles to come.  You may contact ABC here and show your support for genuine journalism.

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What is happening in Georgia?

There has been a lot of virtual ink spilled on the subject of the recent Russian incursion in Georgia, and the domestic political ramifications of same, but rarely so succinctly as this:

For years, the Bush foreign policy team has tilted heavily toward Georgia in its ongoing disputes with Russia, clearly leaving the impression (at least in the minds of Georgians) that the U.S. would come to Georgia's aid if the two nations clashed militarily. Bush told Georgia, during a 2005 visit, that "the path of freedom you have chosen is not easy, but you will not travel it alone." Bush has sent American military advisors to build up the Georgian troops - who reportedly staged a joint exercise last month with 1,000 American soldiers. Bush has also urged bringing Georgia into NATO, a move long supported by McCain. The president has not been successful in fast-tracking membership, but here's the thing: Under the NATO treaty, members are required to defend other members. All for one and one for all. Which means that if Georgia was currently a member of NATO, we'd be warring militarily with Russia.

It gets more complicated. Georgia has long been in conflict with two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia - both of which want independence, both of which are supported by Russia. Georgia has sought to quell the separatist movements in those regions, and apparently assumed that the U.S. would come to its aid in any showdown with Russia. McCain has also fed that impression; last April, he got on the phone with the president of Georgia and expressed his solidarity - after a briefing with top foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann, a neoconservative whose private lobbying firm signed a contract this spring to provide Georgia with strategic advice.

Obama, it must be noted, has also supported NATO membership for Georgia; however, in July he publicly urged Georgia not to launch any military attacks in the breakaway regions. But Georgia, apparently fortified with what it viewed to be sufficient American solidarity, overreached late last week and launched a military attack in South Ossetia. Which in turn triggered the massive Russian response. Which in turn triggered McCain's outrage about "Russian aggression," and his warning of "negative consequences" for Russia (all of which was echoed by Dick Cheney, who warned darkly, "Russian aggression must not go unanswered"). Then, on the radio yesterday, McCain took his statements up a notch, declaring: "I think it's very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian empire." Then, at a fundraising lunch today, McCain (who now says he speaks daily with Georgia's president) warned again that the Russians are thirsting for empire, and said that he is dispatching two of his top campaign surrogates, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman, off to Georgia. 

Rhetorically, at the very least, a certain somebody needs to take a chill pill.

Dick Polman - Toughness and bellicosity Philidelphia Inquirer 13 Aug 08

I'll say.  And those inclined toward a shallow 1938 Munich Agreement 'appeasement' analogy will gladly look no further than the relationship between politically Russian Ossetia and the ethnically German Sudetenland in the Czechoslavokia of 1938, framing Russia as the oppressor and hegemon.  The Western 'allies,' incidentally, were in no position, in 1938, to make any belligerent opposition stick at the time, and their leaders knew it.  A familiar situation perhaps to our current predicament as a consequence of our 'nation building' and alliance damaging exercises already under way.  And the analogists would be wrong as well, Ossetians, a distinct ethnic and linguistic minority, are only slightly less dubious of Russian political suzerainty than Georgian.  It's all about leverage.

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In Defence of the New Yorker [Update]

For all that has been said on the subject of the recent New Yorker cover, and there has been plenty, it seems that an essential point has somehow been missed even though the respective positions have been clearly and repeatedly stated.  As a long time reader and regular subscriber of the New Yorker, and living in Australia that is no mean feat, I find the arguments, never mind the considerable angst and hand-wringing over them, faintly amusing on several counts.  The cover is perfectly in keeping with the it's long-standing editorial role on the New Yorker as a cultural commentary on American infelicities, urban mythology and frivolousness and in some ways it would seem an abrogation of their unstated duty to have shirked from featuring it in all it's unadulterated ridicule.  I expect nothing less of them.

Firstly, the muted outrage from the left seems more reflexive than reflective, which exposes one of the flaws of that faction which the blogosphere has done nothing to temper.  Sure, we are all committed to redoubling our efforts to counter the historically real threat to progressive values represented by the popular calumnies of the Republican Right but seriously folks, doesn't our disapprobation of this incident expose a fear of the Right-wing message which imbues it with just a wee bit too much validity as a substantial threat to our political process?:

What's that they say about repeating a rumor?

Presumably the New Yorker readership is sophisticated enough to get the joke, but still: this is going to upset a lot of people, probably for the same reason it's going to delight a lot of other people, namely those on the right: Because it's got all the scare tactics and misinformation that has so far been used to derail Barack Obama's campaign -- all in one handy illustration. Anyone who's tried to paint Obama as a Muslim, anyone who's tried to portray Michelle as angry or a secret revolutionary out to get Whitey, anyone who has questioned their patriotism -- well, here's your image.

Rachel Sklar - Yikes! Controversial New Yorker Cover Shows Muslim, Flag-Burning, Osama-Loving, Fist-Bumping Obama Huffington Post 13 July 08

Really?  This is the cultural evidence and rallying point for the whispered campaign of fear-mongering and character assassination emanating from under the rotten woodwork of our political process?  One was hoping vainly it would be so and that at least a few would walk out onto this thin ice when, lo and behold, some Republicans actually embraced it as just such a thing.  And that's the second point, the response from the Right is positively ludicrous, exposing them as the self-parodied caricature we always tended to suspect they were.  No amount of mirth over the original cover can compare with the deliciously ironic humour one enjoys at responses such as this, emphasis added:

"Sum Of Our Fears?" asks one conservative website, approvingly re-printing the controversial New Yorker cover of the Obamas. "I chuckled upon first glance and thought, 'Yup, that about sums up how I feel about the Obamessiah and his ilk.' ...Evidently the artist did the drawing to sum up all 'conservative' fears of this man. The artist is correct. But I don't call them fears.  They are concerns.  The picture shows all things we now [know] to be true about them - except the picture above the fireplace."

Jake Tapper - Obama Opponents Seize New Yorker Cover ABC 14 Jul 08

The 'picture shows all things we now know to be true about them?'  Surely this is an indefensibly ridiculous position which would be laughed off the stage by any remotely sane audience, political affiliation notwithstanding.  A 'bridge too far' for the ideologically challenged Republican noise machine?  One can only assume so.  For Republicans to seize on this as evidence in support of some of their more flabbergastingly ridiculous narratives about a sober nominee for the US presidency and his good wife strikes one as the kind of manoeuvre which precedes a complete and embarrassing collapse of the entire edifice.  We'll see.  I tend to think the editors of the New Yorker have unwittingly set a more tender trap for the most egregious purveyors of this nonsense than they may have originally intended.

My defence of the New Yorker rests on the twin pillars of faith in the good sense of the American public to know the lampooning of an absurd tautology when they see it, and perhaps we tend to underestimate them somewhat with our reflexive and unflinching advocacy, and a belief in the necessity of having some cultural artefacts to inform future archaeologists that, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, we really didn't take seriously some of the more pitifully stupid notions that seem to preoccupy the greater part of our national debates when far greater issues, which are no laughing matter whatsoever, loom ominously before us.

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A Bit of Light Relief

Props to the Jed Report for this one.  Guess who's the lead 'Citizen for McCain' from West Virginia?  Philip 'Icky' Frye.  This is too good to be true, but you get that:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain trumpeted the support of a "prominent" West Virginia Democrat over the weekend - a fringe political candidate best known because former Gov. Bob Wise had an affair with his wife.

Philip "Icky" Frye, a 2004 Democratic candidate for governor, was on a list of 30 people released by "Citizens for McCain," described in a news release as a grass-roots effort to rally people of all political parties to McCain. The group is headed by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.

Frye, the only West Virginian on the list, said the McCain campaign contacted him about a week ago at his home in Hugheston and asked him to join the group.

"My name popped up, probably because I was an ex-gubernatorial candidate," Frye said.

Paul J Nyden - 'Prominent Democrat' Frye on McCain list of backers The Charleston Gazette 17 Jun 08

That's Frye on the right.  And Frye's claim to fame?  Pretty compelling stuff:

Well, he's a TV and VCR repairman who decided to run for governor of West Virginia after discovering that his wife was having an extramarital affair with then-Governor Bob Wise.

Icky said his campaign "was fueled by revenge" and that he "wanted to embarrass Wise," who he called a "little weasel-faced bastard" and a "typical Democrat."

During the campaign, Icky told a West Virginia TV station that he didn't have any qualifications to serve as governor but wanted "to be a sheer nuisance to Bob Wise." Icky's campaign slogan ("He'll do his job...not his staff.") was a reference to the affair between his wife, a state employee, and the governor.

Not surprisingly, Icky finished in 7th place of out 8, winning just 1% of the vote.

McCain claims fringe candidate as top Democratic supporter The Jed Report 17 Jun 08

But the McCain campaign, bless 'em, is having none of it.  When questioned on the matter they made their position clear:

The news release from McCain's campaign called Frye and others on the list "prominent Democratic and unaffiliated leaders and activists."

Jeff Sadoski, a spokesman for the national McCain campaign, said Monday, "This is a list of people who are known in different states, as Democrats or independents. They include elected officers and leaders in the Democratic Party. They were prominent Democrats."

Sadowski said Frye was "someone who has run statewide as a Democrat."

Asked how the McCain campaign chose people to put on the list of "prominent" supporters, Sadowski said, "We did research. We reviewed them."

Paul J Nyden - 'Prominent Democrat' Frye on McCain list of backers The Charleston Gazette 17 Jun 08

I'll say.  Hope they do better with their VP pick, and yet, something in me has sympathy for Mr. Frye.  He is not lacking in chutzpah or resolve, that's for sure.  God I love elections.

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US Army Response to Stand-To Anti-Obama Link

Last Friday I posted a diary regarding the linking of the Army Public Affairs web newsletter Stand To to a strongly anti-Obama posting in their 'What's being said in Blogs' section.  This had been originally reported by the Washington Post and Huffington Post linked to it on Friday at around midday regarding a Tuesday edition of Stand To.  The link was gone before midnight.

I posted the email address of Major General Anthony A. Cucolo III, Chief of Public Affairs, US Army and sent an email on the subject which can be found in the original diary.  I received a response from General Cucolo which in the interest of fairness, and with a sense of satisfaction in the integrity of the US Army, it seems appropriate to diarise here:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE


Thank you very much for copying me on your note. Linking to this particular blog entry was a mistake -- as you state, in fact, an embarrassing and damaging oversight by us.

My team does Stand To! is a very important internal communications tool for the Army, with the intent of helping soldiers, Army Civilians and Families stay informed. Last year, I directed my crew that puts that item together to select articles and links -- from US and international sources -- that are both positive and negative about the Army. We believe to stay best informed, we must pay attention to all that others are saying -- even if we don't "like" it. It helps us understand how, what and to whom we should communicate to close the gap between perceptions and reality, part of our duty as Soldiers to keep the public and our Congress well-informed.

However, we must and will remain an apolitical organization. Our loyalty is to defending the ideals of the Constitution of the United States, and not to an individual or a symbol.

By going to that link -- a milblog that we have linked to in the past for other, more topical, content -- we violated our own guidelines.

I offer no excuse and accept full responsibility for this error. I want you to know that we have removed the blog and its archive. For what it is worth, we do post a disclaimer with every Stand To!, a portion of which follows:

"*External Links Disclaimer - The appearance of hyperlinks to external sites does not constitute endorsement by the Department of the U.S. Army of the linked web site or the information, products or services contained therein."

But I want to assure you, the disclaimer is not meant to cover prohibited issues such as partisan political activity (or even the perception of it) -- bottom line, even with the disclaimer, we should not be linking this type of material at all. Again, this is my responsibility, it is inexcusable, and we have taken immediate steps to remove the links and emplace better oversight so it does not happen again.

You and the public must have confidence that the armed forces, especially your Army, remain apolitical in every respect.

Thank you again for your note.

Very respectfully,

Tony Cucolo
Major General, US Army Chief, Army Public Affairs

Thanks, General.  As I said in the original diary, this is a housekeeping issue, no big deal, but it is gratifying to have a response from our military which demonstrates an apparently perfect understanding, at least, of the situation and the problem the link presented.  Good on General Cucolo and the US Army.  A small lesson, perhaps, in the importance of vigilant push-back and also a reason to take some pride in the process we enjoy in these United States.

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