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September 17, 2008

Obeying the Law is for Wimps
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:58 PM * 220 comments

Palin staff won’t comply with subpoenas

Aides to Gov. Sarah Palin won’t comply with subpoenas issued by state lawmakers investigating the firing of Alaska’s former public safety commissioner because Palin “has declined to participate” in the probe, her attorney general says. The chairman of the bipartisan panel behind the probe said the attorney general is breaking a week-old agreement

Yes indeed, friends, dramatic proof that Sarah Palin will be Ready On Day One. It took months for Dick Cheney to start ignoring subpoenas.

The legislature, of course, has the full right to investigate the executive branch. That’s part of the checks and balances that are the foundation of American democracy. Ignoring a subpoena is denying the basis of the rule of law; all by itself it is grounds for impeachment.

Over at McClatchy, there’s a commenter from Anchorage. Here’s what the poster has to say in response to the story Palin fires back in ‘troopergate,’ calls official insubordinate

Submitted by DobermanTracker on September 16, 2008 - 8:42pm.

I live in Anchorage and have observed Trooper-Gate from prior to it’s actual beginning. What follows is a chronology of what Palin’s has stated are the reason(s) for Monegan’s firing. Only a textbook narcassist can lie like this in the face of all prior recorded (newsprint and TV news video) contradictory statements from her own mouth.

Walt Monegan is a standup guy—the kind of law enfocement officer that cares for people and actively promotes programs and funding to help end rape and violence against women in Alaska, which has the highest incidence in both areas over all other states—-his subordinates loved him and respected him.

All of the following statements are supported by Anchorage Daily News articles and TV news videos that reported these facts as they occurred.

  • First she would not tell us (Anchorage, Alaska) why she fired Monegan
  • Then, finally, she said she wanted to take the department in a new direction.
  • Took forever ( week at least) to get her to state what that direction was.
  • Finally she said Monegan was not doing a good job of working on bootlegging in the villages and in recruiting new troopers—-she forgot that 3 weeks prior to this announcement she had stated on TV news that he was doing a great job in both of these departments.
  • She even stated she had offered him a job on the Alcohol Board ( while firing him as commissioner) simply because he was doing such a good job in this area.
  • Then, couple of days ago, she stated, he was not fired at all, that he quit.
  • Now, she is stating he was fired and it was because of “egregious insubordination.”
  • She is asking the Personnel Board—-3 people appointed by Palin—to dismiss the ethics complaint which she filed against herself in order to get it before the Personnel Board—- because some out of context e-mails sent to Monegan prior to his having been (fired/quit)”exonerate the Governor totally and completely, once and for all.”
  • She filed this complaint against herself because she felt the legislative committee investigation (10 Republicans and 4Democrates) is politically motivated even though the investigation was started before McCain selected her.
  • There is another ethics complaint filed against her for “demonizing” Trooper Wooten. A judge —in the child custody case—hard warned Palin’s family that their constant attacks on Wooten were becoming a form of child abuse.
  • During all this, Monegan stated he was pressured to fire Wooten while Palin denied ANY pressure from ANYbody was put on him I.E SHE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF ANYONE CONTACTING MONEGAN ON THIS ISSUE
  • Palin repeats her campaign promises of “open and transparent” governing policy—-while Poll by TV station shows 87% no longer think she is open and transparent—so much for the supposed 80% approval rating !
  • Palin states, “Hold me responsible.” Regarding the legislative investigation, “Bring it on !”
  • Legislature hires independent investigator
  • Palin suddenly has Atty General ( who, it ends up also pressured Monegan) start investigating and immediately finds phone call from her staffer Frank Bailey to Troopers —-Bailey claims it was his idea and govenor had no input. He is put on PAID leave and remains that way today.
  • Seems approximately 24 contacts were made with Monegan, from Todd Palin, Bailey, Attorney General, other staffers and PALIN HERSELF.
  • Despite having previously denied anyone contacted Monegan ( Todd did so in the Governor’s office !) Palin states these contacts did NOT constitute pressure on Monegan.
  • Palin has done nothing but refuse to cooperate with legislative investigation and now states she will not submit to questioning.i.e. she is” totally and completely exonerated” by Monegan’s supposed “egregious insubordination.”
  • While Palin makes public the selected e-mails to Monegan, she illegally witholds other e-mails (there is legal action to obtain them) which may show her direct and intentional participation in the pressuring of Monegan to fire Wooten.

This site is collecting good wishes for Monegan and his family, to be forwarded to him.

Please support this good man and his family.

Contradicting herself. Denying the grade-school-civics level basics of the separation of powers.

Yes, McCain is the pig, Palin is just the lipstick and we shouldn’t get distracted from the main point, but this is part of the main point: McCain selected someone for his vice president who is obviously corrupt.

Comments on Obeying the Law is for Wimps:
#1 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:07 PM:

I live in Anchorage and have observed Trooper-Gate from prior to it’s actual beginning.

Apostrophe issues aside, that's pretty impressive observing.

#2 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:38 PM:

sounds like if they get elected, it will just be the same old same old.

She sounds either dumber or more blindly self-centered than the Shrub. Or maybe both.

Gads. (Barf)

#3 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:38 PM:

She may not be qualified to be vice president, but she's certainly qualified to be in a republican administration. Ethics investigations, ignoring subpeonas, personal official email addresses.

Nothing here is _any_ different than the current white house.

#4 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:54 PM:

Paula Helm Murray writes: "...sounds like if they get elected, it will just be the same old same old."

I'm inclined to think the result will likely be an acceleration of the decline of our élite classes into decadence and the further unraveling of our existing social order. Imagine for a moment what might happen when the Palin administration is faced with the wholesale decoupling of the U.S. dollar from its historic position as the world's reserve currency in the Bretton Woods II monetary system.

Starting warming up your fingers to type the word "Palinvilles" because that's where wed be going.

#5 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:29 PM:

Jim, you say that Monegan is a "good man;" that may be true. Probably it is. Wooten probably isn't. But good man, bad man is irrelevant to the main story: the legislative branch has the right and duty to maintain watch over the executive branch and to question the executive when it appears he/she has exceeded his/her authority. Palin can't just say, this investigation is inconvenient and might make me look bad, therefore I refuse to participate. It's not an option. It's not. It's not.

What I tell you three times is true...

Boy, the karmic blowback, when it finally comes around, is going to be a bitch.

#6 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:56 PM:

Don Boy: I think the writer means he's been looking into it from before it became a scandal, i.e. when it was just the oddities of the dismissal.

#7 ::: ADM ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:02 AM:

eric @ #3 -- whether or not it's different in terms of character, it is different in degree. McCain/Palin are willing to start asserting Bush's 2nd Doctrine (executive privilege trumps all) before they've got the executive!

#8 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:05 AM:

Does this even have the bull$!t legal theory backing it that Bush's now-routine ignoring of supbeonas does? My IANAL understanding of the latter is that the excuse is executive privilege, plus some "separation of powers" argument in some circumstances (a la the Nixon era "the executive can't investigate itself"), along with, of course, the underlying appeal to the bald power politics of 'you don't have the guts to make me'.

But is the Palin refusal simply the last of those? Or is there some state-level version of the former two that she's relying on?

#9 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:11 AM:

...either way, really, it makes me wonder if a Republican executive will ever follow a subpoena again.

I presume that, if (FSM willing) Obama wins, that he'll be subpoenaed -- inevitable if the R's take back a branch of Congress, but likely either way. And he'll obey. And the David Broders of the world will rejoice, and those who ever recognized the problem in the first place will declare it solved.

Then the next Republican will eventually get into office and use the Bush precedent to ignore subpoenas.

Personally I think this will only end when a Republican executive -- preferably a President, but perhaps a Governor would do -- is impeached for ignoring subpoenas. Otherwise they'll all ignore them under the ancient legal writ of IOIYAR.

Perhaps it's worth remembering that that was one of the bills of impeachment that was proceeding against Nixon at the time of his resignation.

(Despite this, I assume that the idea that this will only end with an impeachment of a Republican means that it will never, ever end -- until the country does.)

#10 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:30 AM:

From what I'd heard there is something in the Alaska state constitution allowing something like executive privilege; and it shouldn't apply in this case. IANAL nor an Alaskan.

#11 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:34 AM:

And apparently using a personal Yahoo account for official business...

Which then gets hacked...

#12 ::: martyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:59 AM:

JH Woodyatt @ 4 - leaving aside that it is several decades since the US$ fulfilled any real function as a reserve currency, we won't have to wait for a Palin administration to see the US$ decoupled. What do you think is happening right now?

#13 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:31 AM:

Palin campaigns on the platform of cleaning up the Republican party in Alaska; all I've come up with on my own is she made public some shenanigans that their Oil and Gas Commission had been involved in.

Look, Alaska's an isolated, insular state, think of it as the US' outback. Palin fits the mold; secretive, strong cronyism, little interest in anything outside Alaskan borders, strong family ties, emphasis on religion, etc. McCain has wrapped a blanket around her while she's on the campaign trail for fear of voters finding these kinds of things out about her. While she's technically qualified for the White House, (age minimum, legal citizen of the US, no felony convictions), she's unfit because she's got no experience outside her own state's borders. Not to mention a page's worth of public statements that show her views do not mesh with more than a small minority of voters.

#14 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:41 AM:

j h woodyatt at #4

Palinvilles ?

#15 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:54 AM:

Jörg Raddatz @14:

The reference is to Hoovervilles, a piece of American history we'd rather not see repeated.

#16 ::: Shinydan Howells ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:57 AM:

#14 Jorg

If it's not bad form for me to chip in, it's a reference to Hooverville, the various shanty towns built by the homeless in the years of the Great Depression. These days, of course, I imagine they would be cleared with water cannon.

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:30 AM:

Would somebody remind me which party stands for 'values'?

#18 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:46 AM:

You know, either McCain couldn't find a far right conservative who wasn't also under an ethics investigation, or he decided the ethics investigation wasn't an issue. I don't know which is worse. (Part of me wonders if McCain is deliberately provoking the dog and pony show. He knows he can't win on the issues.)

As with every other case where a candidate's actions blatantly contradict that same candidate's words, I hope this spreads and people realize that this is ultimately not good for the country.

#19 ::: ADM ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 08:29 AM:

Fragano @ #17: They both stand for values -- now, deciding which ones go with each? That's a whole nother question :-)

#20 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 08:48 AM:

j h woodyatt @ 4:

From the Wikipedia article you cited:

In 2005, Roubini and Setser argued that the system is unsustainable:

If the US does not take policy steps to reduce its need for external financing before it exhausts the world’s central banks willingness to keep adding to their dollar reserves – and if the rest of the world does not take steps to reduce its dependence on an unsustainable expansion in US domestic demand to support its own growth – the risk of a hard landing for the US and global economy will grow. The basic outlines of a hard landing are easy to envision: a sharp fall in the value of the US dollar, a rapid increase in US long-term interest rates and a sharp fall in the price of a range of risk assets including equities and housing. The asset price adjustment would lead to a severe slowdown in the US, and the fall in US imports associated with the US slowdown and the dollar’s fall would lead to a global severe economic slowdown, if not an outright recession.

OK, so Bernanke is doing what he can to buck the trend, but he's shouting orders to the tide. Now, what was it you wanted me to imagine again?

#21 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 08:49 AM:

#18 John, "either McCain couldn't find ... who wasn't also under an ethics investigation, or he decided the ethics investigation wasn't an issue. I don't know which is worse."

That suggests that she is a decoy, and the plan is for her to step down at the right time for the real VP choice. Then we'd go into the elections with the new choice still in her honeymoon with the press.

Of course, it could get messy (and quite entertaining) if she decided she didn't want to step down, despite party orders. Does that strike anyone else as likely? How about entertaining?

#22 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:03 AM:

He died over 50 years ago, but somehow Governor Palin puts me in mind of one of Mississippi's more egregious contibutions to the political scene, Theodore Bilbo. When you look at the brief overview, do not be distracted by the racism, because you'll miss the bit about hiding in a barn to duck a subpoena, and the state senate refusing to seat him on the grounds that he was unfit to associate with honest men, and the war with Mississippi's university system, and all the rest.

OK, she's taller, and better looking.

#23 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:11 AM:

Nangleator @21, no, I don't think so. I think John @18 is right: Republicans knew they couldn't possibly win on a fair field, so they are trying to stir up as much dust as they can, to make it as close as possible, and then hope in a new Florida-2000.

#24 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:14 AM:

John @ 18, I've got a third option. McCain and his vetting team are so incompetent he didn't know (or understand) she was under serious investigation.

#25 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:35 AM:

Quoting from rec.humor.funny:

Saddam Hussein's Law Degree (Bill Jefferys)
(topical, original, funny)
ABC's Good Morning America show today interviewed an expert on military history, who said something that I didn't know, namely, that Saddam Hussein actually has a law degree. He went on to point out that the degree was granted under somewhat unusual circumstances: Saddam Hussein was accompanied by two heavily armed guards into the examination room, and apparently it was felt that there was no need to grade the exam.
Upon hearing this, my first thought was that Saddam had cheated. But the expert quickly pointed out that the incident demonstrates that Saddam really has an excellent understanding of Iraqi law.

Palin and McCain have an excellent understanding of current U.S. judicial and administrative practise.

#26 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:36 AM:

Fragano: isn't nepotism a value? I mean, if you can't use the power of your high office to benefit your friends, then obviously you must not be very loyal to them, and why should anyone vote for a politician with such a character flaw?

#27 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:39 AM:

These days, of course, I imagine they would be cleared with water cannon.

So much more efficient than clearing them with cavalry! And they say there's no progress...

#28 ::: MAL ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:03 AM:

This lurker thanks you for writing about this issue. I have a question for anyone with deeper political/legal knowledge than I: is there any other possible explanation, besides being guilty as accused, for Ms. Palin and her staff to refuse to comply with the subpoenas issued? Yes, she complains that the investigation is politically motivated. But wouldn't standing up and providing the evidence that might vindicate her (if such a thing exists) clear up charges and make her look pretty damn good? Is it reasonable of me to assume guilt since she's not willing to do so?

#29 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:24 AM:

Seth #26:

Surely, nepotism is a family value.

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:25 AM:

#28: Is it reasonable of me to assume guilt since she's not willing to do so?

No. In America the accused is innocent until proven guilty.

However: Obstruction of justice is, itself, a crime.

Regardless of the facts in the Troopergate matter, I would like to see an investigation, charges, trials, and jail time (if found guilty) for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, with the name on the top of the indictment being John McCain.

#31 ::: Liz Ditz ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:31 AM:

Please read The Field Negro's guest blogger, Tim Wise, on Sarah Palin and white privilege..

In fact, I'd recommend reading The Field Negro regularly.

#32 ::: Shinydan Howells ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:38 AM:

Chris #27:

Well, horses do have this inconvenient habit of accidentally killing people. Whereas anyone killed with a water cannon will die safe in the knowledge that somebody actually meant it.

#33 ::: Fiji ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:54 AM:

I am delurking but only to question teh patriotism of the people on this board. Are we this quick to condemn someone without knowing if the facts are the facts? I know Palin is a favored whipping horse here but who really knows if sje did what they say?

#34 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:57 AM:

MAL, #28: What you're suggesting is a version of the "only drug users would object to random drug testing" argument. I think you can see the flaw in the reasoning there -- and, as Jim points out, obstruction of justice is a crime in itself.

#35 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:08 AM:

Fiji @33:
I am delurking but only to question teh patriotism of the people on this board.

That sounds much more like driving by than delurking, to be honest, or you'd have a better idea of our patriotism. Most of our regular readers, whether or not they comment, have worked out exactly how much the Americans on this site care about the US and choose our actions to pursue its best interests.

Reading here might even have given you some faint notion of what patriotism is, and is not. Questioning ours because we hold particular views about a candidate in an election, and use our First Amendment rights to express them, isn't really giving much evidence that you do. The point of an election is to test and evaluate candidates, so that only the best are elected, to the greater health of the Republic.

Feel free to question our impartiality, but maybe find something we've done that isn't in pursuit of the best interests of the US (for the American posters here, at least) before you try that one again.

Are we this quick to condemn someone without knowing if the facts are the facts? I know Palin is a favored whipping horse here but who really knows if sje did what they say?

We would very much like to know if she did what they say. Unfortunately, Palin's refusal to co-operate with the investigation is rather an impediment to that.

It is true that she is innocent until proven guilty, as Jim re-emphasizes in comment 30. But absent any such proof, we may certainly condemn her for obstruction of justice.

#36 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:12 AM:

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald:
#28: Is it reasonable of me to assume guilt since she's not willing to do so?

No. In America the accused is innocent until proven guilty.

In the American judicial system, the accused is innocent unless proven guilty.

However, the public can make any guesses that please it.

#37 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:15 AM:

Fiji: That's low. If you've really been lurking here you've not been paying attention.

No one here is saying, ipso facto, she's guilty of the things accused of (not even the person who asked what she was trying to hide).

What is being said (and in keeping with the scurrilous charge you just made) is her actions in saying she, "declines to participate" are prima facie indications she has no respect for the rule of law.

Insisting those elected to office (esp. high office) have such is about as patriotic as it gets.

#38 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:17 AM:

I am delurking but only to question teh patriotism of the people on this board.

Feel free to question my patriotism by all means!

Patriotism is commonly the first resort of dyed-in-the-wool scoundrels who can't come up with any actual arguments to support their position. By responding to allegations of criminal wrongdoing with an appeal to patriotism, you're making it quite clear that you value partisan alliegance above the rule of law.

(Speaking as a non-American.)

#39 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:17 AM:

Fiji @ 33: I will assume that you are genuinely asking, for a moment. Most of the people here are questioning in an attempt to find out what the facts are. Aren't you patriotic enough to think that our system of checks and balances, of legal questions that should be publicly answered rather than ignored, is worth preserving? That someone refusing to comply with a legally issued subpoena is not a fit subject for discussion? Wh d y ht mrc? (Pre-emptively disemvowelled, according to the Bush Doctrine)

#40 ::: Dido ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:20 AM:

@ 33 I didn't realize that a belief in the rule of law was now unpatriotic.

I take Jim and Lee's point that the principal of presumed innocence is hugely important and I like Lee's analogy with random drug testing but I also would like to point out that you are only innocent until proven guilty in LAW.

I don't think it's either unfair or unreasonable (or unpatriotic!) to use your brain to make judgements about people. I have made the judgement that Palin is corrupt, but that doesn't imply that I have any opinion about her guilt or innocence on any legal charge.

#41 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:20 AM:

I will note Fiji has managed to derail the thread somewhat.

So... I wonder why Palin thinks the Republican led committee investigating her won't give her a fair shake? So much does she believe this she would rather publically break some laws, rather than trust the system to vindicate that she didn't break other laws.

#42 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:32 AM:

I should like to note that if she's innocent of wrongdoing in this case, Palin may nevertheless want to evade investigation under the following circumstances:

* She's guilty of something else that she fears will come to light during a thorough investigation

* She's not guilty, but is protecting someone who is

* She's not guilty but believes the folks investigating her are running a witch-hunt that will produce trumped-up evidence (I find it hard to believe that she'd have grounds for this one with members of her own party running the investigation)

#43 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:36 AM:

"Palin has 'declined to participate' in the probe"...this just brings my mind right back to this thread. Since when was denying to "participate" in a government investigation optional? What does she think it is, a dodge-ball game? A sewing circle? An online discussion forum? And how long before we start hearing the argument, "Well, she's refusing to participate, and she has that right" as another "everybody knows" meme?

#44 ::: Fiji ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:42 AM:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

That's the type of patriotism I was speaking about and i dont' want to derail the conversation

we shoudl always question our government but before we do that we should base those questions on what our brains tell us not our headss

#45 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:46 AM:

Fiji, one of the defining characteristics of tyrants is that they consider themselves to be above the law.

Refusing to cooperate with a lawful investigation by a branch of government charged with oversight of their office does indeed look like the action of someone who considers themselves to be above the law.

#46 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:47 AM:

There are more stories about Kenya's Pastor Muthee, who will be speaking at the Wasilla Assemblies of God again this weekend. Go here.

Perhaps a McPln administration would make money available for faith-based organizations to give witch-hunting workshops and Homeland Security will add witch-hunting to its brief.

Pastor Muthee has frequently referred to this witchhunt in his sermons as an example of the power of “spiritual warfare”. In October 2005, he delivered ten sermons at the Wasilla Assembly of God, the audio of which was available on the church’s website until it was removed around the time Mrs Palin’s candidacy was announced. The blog Irregular Times has listings and screen grabs of the sermons.

It was during these sermons that Mrs Palin, who was then preparing for her gubernatorial run, was anointed by Pastor Muthee. His intercession, she says, was “awesome”.

Her June 8 speech was to mark the graduation of students from the Wasilla Assembly of God’s Masters’ Commission, which, as Pastor Ed Kalins
explains, believes Alaska will be the refuge for American evangelicals upon the coming “End of Days”. After her speech, Mrs Palin was presented with an honorary Masters’ Commission diploma.

Reagan was the Overture. The last 8 years the Symphony. Now comes Armageddon.

Love, C.

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:53 AM:

Fiji #44: When last I checked the brain was located in the head.

#48 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:56 AM:

we shoudl always question our government but before we do that we should base those questions on what our brains tell us not our headss

What my head and my brain tell me is that Palin has given a series of somewhat contradictory reasons for firing Monegan, after (it is alleged) having pressured him to fire her former brother-in-law despite the findings of internal state police officials that his actions didn't justify dismissal.

My head and brain also tell me that this kind of vindictiveness, if proven, is not the sort of behavior I would want someone a heartbeat away from the Presidency of the United States to exhibit. Presidents should be bigger than that.

#49 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:10 PM:

fiji @ 44 -
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Be careful what you wish for. You might get it. I have, so far, advocated the reading of another of Mssr. Jefferson's famous documents -

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But there comes a time when evils are no longer sufferable. Beware, and work most assiduously to deter and delay that day - by voting, by arguing, by suing, by every method available. We've been through a "civil" war - and a century and more later, the wounds are still not completely healed, and some are little more than scabbed over.

Make no mistake - the people on this board are as patriotic as any - perhaps moreso, because there are few higher callings than criticizing a government that needs criticizing, and working to bring it back to the path of righteousness.

One last quote -
Ainsley Hayes: I said don't say that. Say they're smug and superior, say their approach to public policy makes you want to tear your hair out. Say they like high taxes and spending your money. Say they want to take your guns and open your borders, but don't call them worthless. At least don't do it in front of me. The people that I have met have been extraordinarily qualified, their intent is good. Their commitment is true, they are righteous, and they are patriots. And I'm their lawyer.

#50 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:13 PM:

"Irrelevant quote to prove I'm better than you."

Feel ashamed that you have attacked someone powerful, and therefore better than you.

Truth is okay, as long as it doesn't interfere with obedience. I feel it in my heart, not in the thumpy thing under my ribs.

#51 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:17 PM:

This very interesting comment from Andrew Sullivan's site suggests another reason why Sarah Palin thinks she can simply refuse to cooperate with a legal investigation. If your belief-system tells you that you are God's instrument, and that the way God communicates his will to you is through your feelings, then when you feel uncomfortable about something, that very discomfort may be God's voice.

I do not intend to hijack this thread into a conversation about the nature of a well-formed conscience, magical thinking, fundamentalism, or any of that. Though I would like to know if Palin believes in the Rapture.

#52 ::: Tim in Albion ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:21 PM:

Obeying the Law is for Wimps
...who hate America. Don't forget that part.

Every day brings fresh evidence that McCain is personally incompetent, and his campaign is utterly corrupt - yet polls indicate the race is even. People aren't changing their minds.

#53 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:27 PM:

McCain shouldn't have selected a VP candidate in the middle of an ethics investigation in the first place. The basic Palin maneuver being attempted is to get the investigation out of the usual channels and have the governor's actions instead handled as a personnel matter. She said earlier on that she wanted openness in the personnel investigation, but there are personnel laws protecting privacy that would make it illegal for the details of such investigation and some or all of its findings to be made public.

Interesting maneuver, but its one that shouldn't work even if the McCain campaign forces things into that direction. (Wouldn't it be cool for politicians if ethics violations were handled that way? Isn't it a truly awful idea?)

#54 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:40 PM:

#33 Fiji

Are YOU a veteran?
Are you inviting me to spit in your eye if you aren't?
I served, Macdonald served, Terry is current National Guard, and there are probably other honorably serving or honorably discharged from the military people in here.

Got any other bogus attacks to make?

#55 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:44 PM:

Lizzy L, I don't know if she believes in the Rapture, but I understand the church(es) she goes to do, and may be actively working to get the rst of the world to Armageddon.

#56 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:50 PM:

#49, Scott Taylor:

If I may, I think it worth quoting the next sentence too:

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Emphasis added.

I've also long thought that "a Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, [who] is unfit to be the ruler of a free people" is the best thumbnail description of George W. Bush I know of.

#57 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:55 PM:

#54 Paul Lieberman:

I get why you wrote this. But it seems to play into a larger disturbing trend of some people in the US taking military service as the only marker of patriotism (which is itself a part of an even larger & even more disturbing trend of our culture's militarism). I don't think that people need to be in the military to prove their patriotism; and I think that citing the former to prove the latter pushes the culture in an undesirable direction.

(...admittedly, I'm probably being oversensitive and/or leaping on my own hobby horse here. Still seems true, though.)

I think the best response to #33 is the one given in various ways above: get a grip and read what people on this board have said in the past. What you're charging is preposterous on its face.

#58 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:03 PM:

On the front page sidebar, the article titled "Sarah Palin's Three Churches..." should be required reading.


That she has NEVER repudiated anything said by her Assembly of God church she attended for over two decades tells me she does believe their crazy utterings, probably to the point that she realizes revealing them would end her aspirations to the White House in a heartbeat.

The woman's as far to the right on the political spectrum that a politician can get, IMO, but she hides it by being "just a hockey mom, like you", until she gets in a position of authority.

Then it is all about feelings, and beliefs, and who is her friend and who isn't, and all those facts and figures, well, they don't matter because those are material things, and she's trying to prepare for the End Times, you know.

#59 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:03 PM:

A bad bounce appeared in the polls
with reminders to join voting rolls
then some clown with a 'tude
made some comments most rude
but still, we should not feed the trolls

#60 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:10 PM:

Fiji: So, because we are saying Gov. Palin is less than qualified to be VP because she sees herself as above the law, we are, so you said @33, Are we this quick to condemn someone without knowing if the facts are the facts? I know Palin is a favored whipping horse here but who really knows if sje did what they say?

From that we are supposed to think you believe us unwilling to shed the blood of tyrants?

Saying we ought to be thinking her innocent seems a pretty strange condemnation of a lack of diligence in the killing of tyrants.

Kathryn Cramer: It gets better. She's requested the personnel committee dismiss the case because of some impropriety in the collection of evidence... if that happens she will (I have no doubt) tout that as being cleared.

Steven Frug: Yes, and I fear, with the cold clammy nightsweats of a thousand fevers, the day it comes to pass I see it my duty to make the pledge at the bottom of that, and gamble my life, my (meagre) fortune and my sacred honor on it.

I don't see a cohesive revolt (insomuch as it was cohesive) such as the last one? Who will be the Tories? Where will fly the Loyalists? How will someplace so large as this one has become recover itself without fracturing to a dozen petty principlalities?

If it comes to open fighting in the streets, there are groups who will not live with each other. The dominionists, and the racists and the rest will say, "No, we will not have it" and they will fight to make it so.

That sort of rupture won't be fixable. It may be some semblance of it will be remade, but it won't be the size, nor the grandeur this iteration had the promise to be.

So I fight for the one, and against the other, with every fiber of my being; though it grind me down from the sysiphean nature of the task.

#61 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:17 PM:

In my experience, people who quote Jefferson on blood very often up...not just declining to help in efforts to reduce the risk of blood shed over civic fundamentals, but actively interfering or at least trying to distract and demoralize those doing the work. Jefferson himself didn't believe in plunging right into revolution (as Scott Taylor's well-chosen quote shows); he appreciated that steps way short of violence are preferable, whenever they can do the job.

It's worth noting what the presumption of innocence in law doesn't require. For starters, it doesn't require that anybody refrain from individual judgment - on the part of prosecutors, first off. Investigation of an alleged crime requires someone willing to consider whether suspects may in fact be guilty and then work through what would constitute evidence of that guilt, and then see if they can or can't assemble a case against one or more suspects. Prosecution (including investigation) requires speculating on guilt in advance of anything except some evidence suggesting a connection to the crime, if in fact it turns out there is a crime.

Nor does it require that the rest of us refrain from having an opinion, or refrain from expressing it. There's an obligation not to muddy the pool of public opinion in ways that make it hard to get a fair jury, yes. But Making Light is not at much risk of doing it. We have an obligation to be aware of the limits of our opinions, to be skeptical and self-scrutinizing - all things that McCain and Palin and their movement are very bad at, come to that - but this should never extend so far as to make us afraid to say anything like "As nearly as I can tell..." or "The evidence I've seen points toward..." and then expressing an opinion or even a tentative conclusion with confidence and clarity.

And at the risk of getting too partisan, the Democrats have a particularly proud point of legacy here. During World War II, then Senator Truman led investigations of war profiteering as the war was going on, leading to the punishment of companies who had in fact been supplying war materiel. It undoubtedly made fighting the war harder at some points, but it also improved America's moral standing and its operational justice and efficiency. And while the Roosevelt administration wasn't thrilled, it did cooperate. This is a stark contrast to the cowardly bullying sort of response that this current administration makes in response to any questioning of its authority, competence, honesty, and so on.

We are entirely within our rights to want two things:

Administrations that are in fact run with honesty, competence, and respect for the law, and

Administrations that are shown to be run with etc etc, because they cooperate with investigations and let charges be aired fully and resolved in accordance with good procedures.

This is patriotism in action - having high ideals and seeking to put them into practice, and not settling for tawdry excuses for obvious shortcomings that can and should be fixed.

#62 ::: Fj ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:32 PM:

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#63 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:35 PM:

Stephen #57:

Amen. We aren't the Draka. Joining the military isn't the highest calling to which one can aspire, it's one of a large set of necessary and important things the country needs to continue functioning. We need soldiers, just as we need doctors and engineers and policemen and journalists and lawyers and judges and merchants and writers and inventors and engineers and all kinds of other people.

IMO, the whole meme that only soldiers or veterans are "true" patriots is poisonous as hell.

#64 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:38 PM:

martyn @12: "What do you think is happening right now?"

The decoupling has not happened yet. If the orderly unwinding of the redonkulous leveraging in the American financial industry succeeds, then the decoupling we're talking about might be orderly as well, and in that case, we have "just" the worst recession since the Great Depression. If it isn't orderly, which is what I would expect if McCain/Palin were anywhere in the decision loop in the event of a diplomatic crisis with one or more of our largest current account deficit partners, well— what was that Shinydan Howells @16 said about water cannons?

#65 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:38 PM:

Fiji, out of curiosity, when random strangers insultingly question your patriotism and common decency, how do you react? We see that you certainly get huffy enough when your motives for drive-by sneering are questioned.

Maybe, if you treated others the way you yourself would like to be treated (a practice endorsed by eminent sages throughout the ages), you'd have less reason to feel prickly.

#66 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:42 PM:

Feed ye not the trolls, dear friends.

#67 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:53 PM:

Fiji @62: "all i wanted to do was make an observation and pose a question to this discussion and eveyrone is jumping to conclusions"

Um, what was the question again?

I am delurking but only to question teh patriotism of the people on this board.

Was that your observation or your first question?

I ask because, when you lead off your questions with an observation about the questionability of the patriotism of the people you're addressing, it takes quite a bit of arrogance to then act all shocked and amazed when they start jumping to conclusions about who you might be and what you're trying to accomplish in the discussion.

#68 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:59 PM:

Stephen - there is, really, only one difference, in my mind, between folks who served, and those who didn't, in terms of patriotism (there can be many other differences, especially between combat veterans and those who have been fortunate enough never to face the elephant) -

Those of us who served - however briefly - swore one of the following oaths (first is for enlisted personnel, the second is for commissioned officers* -

I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (So help me God.)


I, [name], do solemnly swear, (or affirm,) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. (So help me God.)

We stood there, in front of our peers, an officer of our service (a Captain took mine, so many years ago), and (if we believe) our God(s), and swore a binding oath of loyalty and service to our Constitution and our Nation - something not required of native citizens of this fair land** (naturalized citizens have to swear an oath of citizenship).

Beyond that - I see no difference. But... you know, I will admit to giving a bit - just a bit - of preference to those who chose to stand there, and swear that oath. Because I know how sobering it is - or at least how sobering it was for me -

this is real. I'm standing here and swearing that I will give my life, if it is demanded of me, for my country. eep.

I never forswore that oath, and was never formally released from it. I hope and pray that I am never called upon to exercise it, beyond bearing witness in full measure and good faith - because, as Terry notes, it's very likely*** that a second American revolution will not - at all - be anything resembling as clean as the Civil War was.

*there is a different version of the commissioned officer's oath for those serving in the National Guard.

**nor, I should add, should it be. Oaths of fealty not entered into with eyes open and voluntarily are pernicious and vile.

***a blitzkrieg-style revolt, where the existing government was pulled down from power and an interim government put in place before anyone else could get up a head of steam might be able to declare a fait accompli and make it stick. But that requires serious organization and training - and the FBI is really good at infiltrating groups in the US.

#69 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:00 PM:

A patriot loves his country always, and his government when it deserves it.

Enough said.

#70 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:08 PM:

cofax said:
My head and brain also tell me that this kind of vindictiveness, if proven, is not the sort of behavior I would want someone a heartbeat away from the Presidency of the United States to exhibit. Presidents should be bigger than that.

I agree, of course, but ...I do have a sneaking admiration for LBJ, who seemingly wallowed in this sort of vindictiveness, and managed to get a lot of cool things done, too.

#71 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:20 PM:

unwonted comedy
ill-written troll postings
beg a retort

patriot spammer post
vowels turned into toast
net sliming budget must
be running short!

#72 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:21 PM:

I'm a huge fan of The Daily Show, but I was very depressed by his interview with C. Theron last night about her part in the movie "Battle in Seattle" (with comments about civil disturbance in Minn. as well).

Both Stewart and Theron talked about the disturbances as if they had been led by and participated in largely by anarchists. I don't want to hide the anarchists' participation (like the nitwits who want to hide the drag queens at Pride [g]), but acting as if these demonstrations are solely the act of anarchists (or Anarchists) makes them seem like they are done by people outside of the mainstream, unlike 'us', the tv viewer/citizen. I found it very disheartening.

And I know it's a comedy show, but we have so few liberal voices on television...

#73 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:27 PM:

Bruce Baugh @ #61 and everyone else, in regard to "moral authority" and aspirations thereto, I recommend heading off to your local library to get a copy of Ron Suskind's latest book, "The Way of the World," in which he argues that the best way to fight the terrorism threat is to regain that authority.

#74 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:37 PM:

Mark #69: A patriot loves his country always, and his government when it deserves it.

"A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government." -- Edward Abbey

#75 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:38 PM:

@ Liz Ditz: thanks for the Field Negro link. Good blog. And I like the side "ads", he he...

#76 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:38 PM:

Scott @68:

I'd gladly swear the love and honor parts, but I draw the line at obeying. I have no lawful superior.

But that tiny bit of preference disturbs me, because that is a seed that has borne much poisonous fruit. Watch that one, please, with great care.

#77 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:39 PM:

Thanks, Linkmeister. I find Suskind a worthwhile read. But for me the great exposition of the concept came from hearing Dith Pran in person, after a screening of The Killing Fields in college. He spoke so quietly and clearly about how the image of America as a place where high ideals are aimed at affects people's responses to the usually uglier realities. I was at the time inclined to be a political cynic, but I thought (and think) that if someone who went through what he did could emerge and insist on the vital importance of idealism, then I could maybe get a clue from him.

#78 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:52 PM:

When in the course of human events....

The civic libraries and librarians in Masschusetts, home of the first public libraries in the United States of America, in rejection of the spirit of the so-called Patriot Act, created a unified policy response of purging all information about patron's book borrowing once the borrowed books were returned. Secret inquiries * by the Department of t/h/e N/i/g/h/t/w/a/t/c/h (I don't know the HTML markers for strikethrough...) Homeland Security demanding records on patron book access, therefore, don't exist to be turned over, beyond the time when the books are actually on loan.

* DHS investigation makes cockroaches scurrying around in the deep dark night look like open access... nobody is legally roadblocking interfering with cockroaches and suppressing their depradations.

Ah, I realize that I'm being oblique.
Connections path:
a) An informed citizenry
b) An informed citizenry is important to maintaining a democracy
c) Palin is a book-banner, and information censorship promulgator. The circumstantial evidence is that one of the books she wanted excised from the Wasilla library was a book by a pastor's non-horrified perspective on homosexuals and homosexuality in society. Palin as censor also applies to sex education and gagging any discussion of contraception except by "abstinence," gag ordering discussion of prevention of transmission of disease by use of barrier methods also usable for contraception, and complete gag order on and banning of mention of *b*rt*n. Palin apparently succeeded in her own household at least of promoting the deliquency of a minor becoming pregnant, by her attitudes....
d) Getting back to public libraries--Palin wanted the content in libraries limited to what she considers appropriate content.
e) DHS secretly snoops into the book reading records for US citizens, and bars the citizens from any access to information that the citizesn are being SPIED on by the US Government
f) This is no limit on DHS covert spying and no way apparently to get public oversight of these Star Chamber Stasi types.
g) Palin seems to have no objection to secret surveillance and Star Chambers, and again, is someone seeking to limit information access--and presumably spy on people and lock them up based on what they read, that she finds offensive.
h) This violated "life, liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness," and multiple items in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
i) Palin, far from uphold and defending the Constiution, is defiling, abusing, and obliterating it.

Patriotism? Palin fits better as a Stalinist or Inquisition or Taliban appartchik, carefully editing and censoring and banning and throwing in jail or liquidating those with the temerity to believe in the freedom to read and write books without (religious) police shoving one back into a burning building to burn to death for noncompliance, or burning or beheading in public.

#79 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:01 PM:

Paula @78:

<strike> </strike>

#80 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:24 PM:

Liz @ 31: Thanks for that excellent link! He is now bookmarked for daily reading.

#81 ::: Fj ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:30 PM:

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#82 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:33 PM:

Fiji: Are you an honest actor? Because I find you claim of lurking to be something less than credible if you think I was in some way out of character.

Steven mentioned revolt. I explained why I dread the thought. You may dislike the fervor of my opinion, but it's not two-bit hackery (and certainly not failed, I think accusing people who value the rile of law of being unpatriotic for expressing that; and then trying to hind behind Jefferson, implying that your abusive comment was in some way calling for the blood of tyrants, well it doesn't quite rise to 2-bit hakery, more like 1-bit).

If you were a regular reader you would know my florid style, and recognise it for what it is, a way to express strong feeling while drawing on the tropes of the national memory.

Thus do I decide you are a troll, and will; hencforth (in all my archaic hackery) ignore you and walk blithely across your bridges in future.

Adapt, or starve.

#83 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:36 PM:

Fiji, no one here has "screamed" that she/he/we are being "repressed."

I think you will be more comfortable once you go back beneath that bridge.

#84 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:37 PM:

Dumb question:

Are there other cases like this, where the executive branch of the state or nation just flat refuses to comply with investigations? What's supposed to stop it from happening?

I mean, it can't really be the case that powerful people can ignore legal orders with impunity. But it seems like in both this case and some of the Bush administration cases, the executive branch pretty much says "you've issued the order, but we're not going to comply with it." What happens next?

It seems like, if this is a workable strategy, nobody under the protection of the president or governor would ever be prosecuted for anything or investigated for anything.

I have a feeling I'm ODing on political coverage lately, because so much of it fits a really uncomfortable, ugly pattern. What happens to the country when the powerful simply realize they don't have to obey the law? Do you get Russia, or Somalia? Does the legislature eventually become powerless in practice? Do you get some kind of destructive power struggle between branches ("Here's the revised budget we've passed for next year, note that the Justice Dept now has zero dollars of funding. We recommend that its employees seek new jobs before the start of the next fiscal year.")

Did the Clinton administration do this stuff? The Reagan and first Bush admins? Maybe it's commonplace, and I just never noticed....

#85 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm a moderator here. I've removed the vowels from your more tiresome and inflammatory comments; it's a local custom that allows us to read what you've written if we choose, but not if we don't.

Let me explain why I've done this, in the unlikely event that this is not the reaction you were expecting. You came in insulting people (denigrating their patriotism). After a brief foray into incomprehensibility, you moved to further personal insults. Now you're complaining that we won't leave your rude and inflammatory remarks up to annoy future readers.

If you would like to come back and post something interesting, with actual content, that furthers the conversation, please feel free. You don't have to agree with other people, but you must treat them with respect, and you must include something that can actually be discussed. Facts are nice, assertions amusing, and opinions should have a certain amount of evidence to back them up.

If all you can do is whine, rant, mutter and grumble, go elsewhere.

#86 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:45 PM:

#84 albatross

There was a town in the USA which had a town bully, whom the Law in the town was doing nothing to protect the townsfolk against.

One day, after years of the town bully's abusiveness, someone or someones killed the town bully, in the town, during daylight hours, when people were up and about.

There were no witnesses, or rather, there was no one person findable as a witness.

#87 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:47 PM:

No, the Clinton Administration most certainly did not do "this stuff."

If you check the records of various Senate and House Committees during those two terms, any time someone in the Clinton Admin was requested or subpoena'd to appear before said committees -- they were there on the appointed day and time.

In fact -- check back through the Bush I and Reagan Admins, and I think you'll find that they did the same as Clinton.

It's George II that seems to think he and his are above the law.

#88 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:49 PM:

re patriotism.

I resist, mightily, the idea that service raises one to some level of more patriotic.

I am a patriot. I an american; can't avoid it (and travel pointed it up to me, in a big way). I love the idea of america, and wish; desperately, we lived up to even 1/2 that ideal (I used to think 3/4s, but the events of the last eight years have disabused me of thinking we are that high at present).

I chose to serve. It wasn't, for all of the above, some act of patriotism. I don't know, anymore, why I did it. I do know that 16 years of doing it has changed my view of it, a lot.

Do I trust vets more than others? Sometimes. I am more willing to extend a trust to them; just as a mason might to a fellow mason. It's an initial trust, they have to earn more than that, and the bar is higher; because that oath is in the back of my mind.

Do they have to have the same idea of the ideals of the constitution I do? No, not quite. But they must be bearing some faith to the written word. McCain lost that for me in 2006. His failure to support Kerry against the sliming of the Swift Boat Boys hurt him a lot (betrayal of comrades is a big deal... and one of those things which is outside patriotism. It's a tribal deal), but that was personal.

His giving Bush more than he wanted on torture... broke the contract. He lost my last shreds of respect.

He's since given up what dignity he had, with the relentless drumbeat of, "I am a Veteran. I was a POW; that explains everything which looks bad, and forgives it too."

Bullshit. Soldiers are people, we make mistakes. We fail to live up to our potential. Merely being overtly (and at times slavishly) supportive of the nation's actions doesn't make one a patriot. It makes one a jingoist.

Being a Patriot means working to keep the nation as she should be, not merely as she is.

And none of us has a pass to doing that forever, we have to do it every day.

#89 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:56 PM:

Paula Lieberman #86: There were no witnesses, or rather, there was no one person findable as a witness.

That reminds me of a line from the movie Road House: "A polar bear fell on me."

#90 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:58 PM:

You have really got to wonder if Fiji is reading the same board as the rest of us.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand - how does one deal with an executive (which controls the law enforcement) that refuses to submit to legislative subpoeana? I'm more than a little curious since the stand off between Bush and Congress a while back.

#91 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:04 PM:

Trey @90:

Congress's next step: Hauling the villains in by using either the House or Senate"s Sargeant-At-Arms, depending on which entity has subpoena'd them. Yes, they can be arrested and rumor has it that there are cells in the basement of the Capitol building.

There's also a procedure called "inherent contempt" -- that's one that I'm not clear on -- anyone here who can explain it?

#92 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Didn't President Jackson once make a comment that the judicial branch had made their decision, now let them try and enforce it, in response to his forcible relocation of Cherokee Indians?

In reality, though, as long as the legislature and judicial branches act as if their spines had been removed long ago, the executive branch will act, well, as Bush Jr.'s administration has been acting.

Palin's just taking a page from Bush's playbook.

#93 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Trey: Depends on who is doing the issuing. Congress has the authority to compell (contempt of congress), and the means (the House Sgt at Arms; as well the DC Metro Police; I don't know to whom the Capitol Police answer, but I think they answer to the Legislative. Certainly one of those three has the power to get some other agency to assist them in serving a Warrant of Arrest).

The second means is the power of the purse. Nothing bars a legislature from stopping all payments to the Executive until the answer the subpoenas.

What is lacking, is spine.

#94 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Terry @ 88: This seems to be a theme today. You might want to check out this post on the Group News Blog.

Lori @ 90: Thanks. But that seems a little, well, silly in the face of various protective details. Any other options?

#95 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:17 PM:

Damn. Y'all are quick.

John L @ 92 and Terry @ 93: In short, if there is the spine, defund various executive branch projects until the subpoenas are answered, it might work. The legislature may take a PR beating, but that's where careful and judicious reading of budget proposals comes in.

Then there is the option of working through the enforcement means available (and perhaps a sypathetic governor). Though it would be ugly for a stand off between, say, a bunch of state troopers and Cheney's protective detail (which I have seen - for an office not worth a bucket of warm spit, that was intense and impressive).

And I'd love to see some spine from all three branches of government to tell the truth.

#96 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:28 PM:

#95 Trey

Alito and Roberts and Scalia and Thomas have spine.... what they stand up for I usually find heinous, but they do have spine.

I want spine in promulgating and protecting values and ideals I respect rather than deplore.

"So are they all, all honorable men...." -- Marc Anthony, in Julius Caesar, in his funeral oration for Julius Caesar regarding Caesar's murderers.

#97 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:32 PM:

Paula: True that.

#98 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:37 PM:

I saw Fj's first post, and I must say that my disemvowelling sense was tingling.

I'm wondering if there's anyone who's started with anything like that line who hasn't gotten disemvowelled within 5 posts.

#99 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:40 PM:

As I understand it, inherent contempt means that Congress can send out its sergeant-at-arms (with backup from other law-enforcement agencies, but I'm not sure which ones) to arrest/bring in the person(s) in contempt, without going to a court or a DA/USA for authority. Regular contempt has to go through the courts, and the ones that DC falls under are also the ones most under the control of Bush and Cheney.

Some of us have been trying to get Congress to go the route of inherent contempt for, oh, a year or so. First you have to get them to understand they have this tool, and then that they really do have power ....

#100 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:42 PM:

eric @98:
I'm wondering if there's anyone who's started with anything like that line who hasn't gotten disemvowelled within 5 posts.

To be perfectly honest, I've no idea. I try not to fit behavior into pre-existing patterns, but to try each one out on its own merits. Not tracking the patterns themselves is a great help to that endeavor.

I do note that one of our more recent acquisitions recovered from having his first two comments disemvoweled. It can happen. People vary enormously, and never cease to surprise.

Sometimes even in good ways.

#101 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:47 PM:

Lori Coulson @ #91, "rumor has it that there are cells in the basement of the Capitol building."

Those are not rumors. In Ron Suskind's new book, p. 35:

Even after all the astonishing turns of the past hour, Usman can't quite believe there's actually an interrogation room beneath the White House..."

Usman is a Pakistani working for a DC law firm named Barnes Richardson who happened to be walking past the White House during a moment when Bush was leaving town heading for Crawford in July of 2006. He was carrying a backpack and looked suspicious to the Secret Service.

#102 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:49 PM:


Ok, the WH rather than the Capitol, but the concept is the same.

#103 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:11 PM:

Linkmeister: I've not seen them, but I seem to recall they number eight, and they are beneath the House (as befits them being the direct representatives of the people).

#104 ::: Krinn DNZ ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:32 PM:

As long as we're talking about the rule of law and involving the Founders, here's a personal favorite of mine, from Paine:

But where, say some, is the king of America? I'll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king.

Related to that, the phrase "has declined to participate" strikes me as singularly preposterous. Just you try answering the knock on your door with "No, Officer Friendly, you can't come in with that warrant - you see, I decline to participate in this investigation!" and see how far you get.

#105 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Abi et al.: Don't you know? Fiji thinks he's entitled to win the argument. It doesn't matter who he's talking to, what the subject is, or how much he knows; he's still entitled. That's why guys like him turn into such whiny little weenies the minute they run into a forum where people argue like grownups.

It's also why their favorite comeback is to call us hypocrites (which word is practically a genetic marker for internet weenies). What they're actually saying is, "That interaction didn't come out the way I expected, and it's All Your Fault! You violated the Secret Agreement under which I'm entitled to win! UR NOT DOIN IT RIGHT!"

If Mary Sue Whipple were here, we could ask her to have a go at recreating the dialogue Fiji imagined would follow from his initial post; but alas, she has better things to do these days.

#106 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:49 PM:


But Fiji is perfectly entitled to win the argument! I even explained how to do so in the third paragraph of comment 85. It's a surefire recipe for success.

Oh...wait. Win without deserving it. Right.

Bugger that for a game of toy soldiers.

#107 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Isn't this thread about how obeying the rules is for wimps?

#108 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:31 PM:

Describe Sarah Palin?

George Bush in drag.

#109 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:34 PM:

Scorpio 108: No, George Bush in lipstick.

#110 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:54 PM:

#31: Interesting article.

I think about half of that list is genuinely race-related issues (particularly the gun and teen pregnancy ones) and the other half is IOKIYAR. (Should there be an analogous term "conservative privilege"?) Imagining a white Democrat or liberal in the same situation (e.g. Clinton) might be a useful thought experiment to clarify which is which.

Most of the smears leveled at Obama are recycled versions of the same ones used on Kerry and Gore. They didn't have any white privilege to be immune to them. And certainly Clinton (either one, actually) didn't have any privilege on any issue whatsoever.

Of course, there are hardly any black Republicans, so it's hard to use them as a test case.

#111 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:09 PM:

abi #106: Bugger that for a game of toy soldiers.

I can assure you that miniatures gaming requires consistent and enforced rulesets in order to be taken seriously, and IOKIYAR does not trump them.

#112 ::: mdlake ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:39 PM:

> McCain selected someone for his vice president

If my end of the rumor mill is reliable, McCain *wanted* to select Lieberman or Ridge. But, maverick that he is, he let party insiders tell him he couldn't.

#114 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:11 PM:

LizzyL@5: karmic blowback? Are you really expecting it? Nixon died old and honored; that's been the model for everyone since.

Charlie@38: it's about time somebody channeled Ambrose Bierce.

Terry@88: whenever I was inclined to consider McCain worthwhile, I remembered what Paula said about fighter pilots (e.g., observing that the colored lights in Close Encounters of the Third Kind were obviously such).

Paula@96: Thomas? Spine??

108-109: I never thought I'd say this, but I think you're being unfair to Shrub. He's petty, small-minded, and incapable of thinking -- but Palin is all of those things \and/ a vicious example of religious fruitcakery. The Shrub White House didn't treat the Religious Wrong like a tissue to be used and discarded; per documentation, they used the RW over and over again and gave them very little. What we've seen of Palin suggests she'd give them the keys and tell them to have fun.

#115 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:17 PM:

I am vastly amused by this.

Apparently, Palin might be refusing to turn over the contents of her personal e-mail account to investigators, but it only took 4Chan a few minutes of guessing the answers to the password reset questions to gain access to it. (The answers to all the questions were available online as basic biographic information for her. LOL!)

Of course, the e-mail account has now been deleted. Which was probably the wrong response given the investigation into said contents of said e-mail address.

#116 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:30 PM:

James #30: "Presumed innocent unless proven guilty" is a constraint on government treatment of people. Individuals are permitted to make our own judgments.

In this case, Trudeau said it best.

#117 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:39 PM:

CHip at 115: As Martin Luther King Jr said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Nixon was forced to resign. That was good enough for me.

#118 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Lizzy L: I used to think so, but I now think that was mistaken. Nixon's pardon wasn't the end of our long national nightmare, it was just a slight awakening, but the lessons of Nixon weren't learned.

We didn't internalise that presidents need close oversight. When Reagan, and his White House broke the law (the Boland Amendment was written, and passed, specifically to prohibit what Reagan's White House did), we didn't go after them.

We elected one of the participants to the office and let him pardon people who were in a position to testify against him.

Twelve years later that man's son is in the White House and he installs people who were involved in the Nixon mess, and others who were, at least, knee deep in the Reagan shit.

In the middle, we watched a hatchet job on the most popular (and, for all he wasn't all I'd've like, progressive) presidents we've had.

So no, I am not satisfied Nixon was forced to resign, any more than I am going to be satisfied that people think ill of Bush. It turns out we needed Nixon to be tried, convicted and punished. He got away with it, and we are paying the price.

Because nothing is being done to repudiate, much less prevent, the same (or worse) being done by those who come after him.

#119 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:51 AM:

Having heard a few excerpts of Palin speaking by now, I'm wondering if anyone else has the same reactions as mine to her speech patterns and voice inflections:

I keep expecting her to start trying to sell me Amway products.

#120 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:53 AM:

Paula L. @86, the book Broad Daylight, about that case, sitting on a bookshelf in the other room, is one of the great descriptions of the was one truly bad man can make life in an isolated place pretty much hell on earth.

#121 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 02:17 AM:

I think you've got something wrong here. Sarah Palin is just like us, and we're not corrupt, so it's impossible that she is corrupt.

And because she's just like us, she'll fit in nicely with the rest of the family---and we are voting for who'll be the extra members of our family. True, Uncle John will be a bit cranky, but he's a war hero and we'll make allowances...and that other guy, well just wouldn't fit in well. It's not the colour, mind you, we're no bigots, but it's just that he's, you know...different. And kind of aloof, and acts like there might be more to the world than the rest of the family enjoy and like and understand.

And who needs that?

#122 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 07:49 AM:

Terry Karney @ 118:
So no, I am not satisfied Nixon was forced to resign, any more than I am going to be satisfied that people think ill of Bush. It turns out we needed Nixon to be tried, convicted and punished. He got away with it, and we are paying the price.

Sure; but I wonder how to get a jury to convict a former president or someone very high up in an administration. No matter how unpopular a president might become, won't there usually be at least one in twelve people who rather like him, and could be convinced by his defense lawyers (or those of one of his high ranking associates) that the prosecution was "all just a political withhunt" or something like that?

#123 ::: Shinydan Howells ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:11 AM:

#119 Bruce Arthurs:

I keep on expecting her to invade Cuba. It's not rational and I'm sure it's completely indefensible, but Palin reminds me of Margaret Thatcher.

#124 ::: martyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:17 AM:

Constance @ 46 - 'Alaska will be a refuge for American evangelicals upon the coming 'End of Days''

End of Days=Rapture=All good dogs go to heaven. But American evangelicals will go to Alaska.

See. Even God doesn't want them.

#125 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:21 AM:

Concerning punishing the guilty, I recently wrote more-or-less: "It's a bit late to jail half the Senate, including John McCain and his economic adviser Phil Gramm, and impeach Reagan, but it might not be a bad idea anyway. And Greenspan, don't forget Greenspan." It discourages me how poor we are at keeping these people from becoming repeat offenders. "The law doth punish man or woman / Who steals the goose from off the common. / But lets the greater felon lose / Who steals the common from off the goose."

CHip, #114: W. Bush is also a religious fanatic, just a quieter one. Didn't you know?

#126 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:24 AM:

Shinydan Howells, #123: "I keep on expecting her to invade Cuba."

Nah. Greater Diomede Island.

#127 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 09:05 AM:

Bruce - her voice sounds incredibly midwest to my East Coast ears. I'm waiting for her to bust out a big old plate of lutefisk.

#128 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 10:20 AM:

Abi @ 76 -

Terry said basically what I was going to expound upon, and likely better than I could have. Modulo some experiential differences (I haven't been in over 16 years, he's been serving that long...), that's basically what I would have said.

#129 ::: Rosa ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 10:32 AM:

Terry @118 said it perfectly - the lesson that was learned from Nixon was "do what you want, we have a gentlemen's agreement not to punish you."

That is my one great hope for an Obama presidency - that they will follow through on investigations and not pardon people. I want Rove to do at least a year before the next Republican president can pardon him (and, God, if we could nail Greenspan for playing the economy for political gain, I might just die of joy.)

And I love this description of how Palin is helping McCain campaign -

She can play weak to his strong and it doesn't make either of them look stupid or fawning.

#130 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 10:41 AM:

If McCain and Palin were to win, I'd say that the biggest real threat to his life would be her people -- willing to do anything to put her in charge, with her finger on The Button.

#131 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 10:47 AM:

#130 Joel

Elizabeth Bathory reincarnated?

#124 martyn
It's an extension of the joke about Hell and Texas? According to a born and raised and not living in Texas sometime participant here, Texas has some of the most extreme religous whackoes in the lower 48 states.

#132 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:03 AM:

It took getting married for me to see how extreme religous beliefs can effect an otherwise friendly human being.

There is no discussion, there is no "I see your side" there is right and wrong. That's it.

It clashes greatly with my view of faith, which is, "I respect your beliefs. Please respect mine. And let's change the subject."

#133 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:28 AM:

JJ 132: It clashes greatly with my view of faith, which is, "I respect your beliefs. Please respect mine. And let's change the subject."

An excellent view, and one more people who would like to consider themselves civilized should adopt.

When one is NOT dealing with a hubristic (what Christians call prideful) wacko, however, the last part of that can be dropped, if one is in the mood for what I consider a fascinating conversation. In other words, if they really will respect my beliefs, at least conversationally, even if they think I'm completely wrong, it can be worthwhile for me to talk to them.

I realize that I'm rather eccentric in this regard, however.

#134 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:44 PM:

JJ Fozz @ 132

That's a refreshingly mature attitude. I rarely discuss religion because I don't believe that organized religion is religion. Religion to me is a personal thing, and mine is idiosyncratic enough that a lot of people don't even get that it's a set of religious beliefs. So discussions tend to spiral into "But what has that got to do with religion?" pretty quickly.

On the other hand, when I find someone who doesn't mis-categorize what I'm saying, it can be a lot of fun to talk about.

#135 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:47 PM:

Paula Leiberman @ 131

Elizabeth Bathory reincarnated?

Well, maybe not exactly. But I bet she'd love to bathe in the blood of moose.

#136 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:51 PM:

Are YOU washed in the blood of the Moose?

Alces Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi...

#137 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:59 PM:

JJ, Xopher, Bruce: I too have fairly eclectic beliefs and I like hearing what others have to say.

#138 ::: karen marie ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 01:16 PM:

please go to and vote on the question "do you think sarah palin is qualified to be the vice president of the united states":

#139 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 01:20 PM:

Xopher: Shouldn't that be Vitula Dei? A young Alces and all...

Dona eis requiem
Dona eis requiem sempiternam

#140 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 01:23 PM:

#136: "Gloria in Ex-Alces Deo," I should think. The moose is dead, correct?

#141 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 01:34 PM:

I agree, conversations about faith and beliefs, with people who have open minds and are will to accept, are some of the best I've ever had.

I credit my feelings about faith to my parents. We were raised Catholic, but our best friends were Jewish, so I grew up knowing that there were other faiths in the world and they were just as important as mine.

#142 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 01:37 PM:

karen $138:

WTF, how can 41% of the people taking that poll actually think Palin's qualified to be VP? Do they think that the VP just sits around and hosts tea parties until the President keels over?

Other than the most basic of qualifications for VP (age, US citizenship, etc), Palin is in no way, shape, form or fashion qualified for that government position.

My rationale for that statement?

Because, since the VP is the backup for the President, IMO they've got to meet the "would you want that person as your President" test just as the actual Presidential candidate does.

Palin does NOT meet that level of qualification. No way. Absolutely NOT.

#143 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 01:52 PM:

"The legislature may take a PR beating, but that's where careful and judicious reading of budget proposals comes in."

One wonders where the budget for the fresh water and the sewer service at 1600 Pennsylvania can be found. Hmm. And Marine One. And the limo fleet. And. And. And. Probably just make more sense to send the Serjeant.

You know why they don't have the spine to send the Serjeant? I don't, but I'm willing to bet it's that they don't want the Secret Service to kill him. That would pretty much let the cat out of the bag, wouldn't it?

#144 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 02:36 PM:

I'm amazed that more people don't make a point that a significant part of her administrative experience is governing a town of 9,000 people. That's _small_. Not much of a challenge, really. Her governorship is over 650,000 people. We're still not up top a decent sized city, yet. She's always played penny ante.

#145 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 02:48 PM:

Anyone else notice the press that Palin's husband has been getting about not cooperating either? What is his excuse for not showing up?

#146 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 02:53 PM:

I'm amazed that more people don't make a point that a significant part of her administrative experience is governing a town of 9,000 people. That's _small_.

As my boyfriend and I observed the other night, the Lord Mayor of Pennsic runs a larger town.

#147 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 03:13 PM:

Grmpf. Some of us live in cities with more people than her entire state.

#148 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 03:17 PM:

On the responses to the Paula L comment: She said the equivalent of "I, and Jim, and Terry, and... have served or are serving. Questioning our patriotism needs a higher barrier of evidence. Plus, if you haven't served, it had better be reliable evidence." The responses were saying "you don't have to serve to be a patriot" - which is a classic false equivalence. (a => b) (unless you have evidence to the contrary, I'm not defending Col. North) !=> (b => a), and I don't think Paula would say that (I could be wrong. RAH certainly did).

That doesn't mean that w dn't hv trll, however. #90 Trey: I think you are incorrect by about seven words. Fiji is entitled to prove me wrong, of course.

"Innocent until proven guilty" is one thing; avoiding the trial is entirely another.

We up North, of course, knew an election was coming when the PM started trying to show his humanity to the people. Of course, he can't campaign on his issues, just denigrating his opponents'; what he can say is "we didn't introduce all these scary things people expect us to want to put in, because we didn't have a majority, and any attempt would have died in flames. That's proof that if you give us a majority, we'll continue not to introduce them, even though there would be no check against us doing it. Really. Trust Us."

#149 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 03:43 PM:

Just to clarify - Alaska does not want the extreme religious nutbars. Sadly, we seem to get them. Like my neighbors down the street that leave me pamphlets telling me I'm going to hell.

And this is so so so petty, but damn it's clever - Progressive Alaska calls her Mooselini. The article is a reprint from The Hill.

Mooselini? *snort*

#150 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 04:02 PM:

Kelly McCullough (24):

I've got a third option. McCain and his vetting team are so incompetent he didn't know (or understand) she was under serious investigation.
I'll take "Arrogance and Bad Vetting" for $600. Their vetting process seems to have only taken a few days, and to have been conducted from Washington and on Google. The centerpiece of it was a long questionnaire they went over with Palin in person.

I take their belief that Palin would self-report any problems as evidence that they didn't know the woman. The same goes for expecting her to know what happened to Thomas Eagleton when he failed to report a lurking problem.

There are multiple reports from people in Alaska, (not a big place), and particularly people in the Alaskan government, who said they'd never been asked anything, and that they didn't know anyone else who'd been asked either. In addition, one of the employees at the Wasilla newspaper (which is only partly available online) let drop that prior to Palin being named the Republican candidate for Vice President, no one had looked at the newspaper's hardcopy archives in months

If you want to set yourself up for unpleasant surprises, that's one way to do it.

For a different and grimmer take on McCain's reasons for selecting Palin, check out Maggie Jochild's John McCain: Dead Man Walking? at Group News Blog. She makes a good case for McCain having terminal cancer, an Après moi, le déluge attitude, and a deal with the Council for National Policy: the fundies give him their support, and he in turn accepts their hand-picked choice of his successor. A couple of quotes:

Last week, when I got the letter from Robert Greenwald talking about John McCain's refusal to release his medical records to fair scrutiny, the fact that there are 1,000 pages of them (I create medical records for a living, 1,000 pages is EXTREME), and the news that he has had malignant melanoma, deep primaries with removal of lymph nodes, my immediate thought was "Then he's dying." If he were to be elected, he'd have an almost 2 out of 3 chance of having a recurrence if he doesn't have one already. This is not the kind of cancer you count on escaping from. This is not Stage II, as it has been reported: Stage II by definition does not have lymph node involvement. By definition, it must be either Stage III or Stage IV.
At the beginning of this one she's quoting Kathy Geier:
"For years, releasing a candidate's complete medical records has been standard practice for major party presidential candidates. The way the McCain has dealt with the medical records issue is highly unusual, to say the least. ...[I]f the medical records really were unproblematic, they wouldn't hesitate to release the whole enchilada to any reporter who asked, with no conditions and no strings attached."
If he is in fact a Dead Man Walking, then the choice of Sarah Palin as Vice President also becomes more than a Hail Mary pass intended to destroy any bounce from the wildly successful Democratic Convention. It becomes reckless in the extreme: Choosing an heir apparent who lies, engages in petty revenge, wants to know how to ban books, faithfully attends a church which believes dinosaurs were around 4000 years ago and Jews are punished by God for not believing in Jesus, has less foreign policy experience than a Delta flight attendant, doesn't know what the Bush Doctrine is, and has less than two years experience governing a state with a population less than that of Wichita, Kansas or Raleigh, North Carolina.

We know that the secret cabal, the Council for National Policy, who hopes to replace American democracy with religious rule (THEIR religion, not yours), are the people who investigated Sarah Palin and "chose" her for McCain as his VP. Since he accepted their decision, fundamentalist organizations have thrown themselves behind his campaign in a way they had not before. It raises the question of a deal: What would a dying man have to offer power brokers in order to have their backing for the U.S. Presidency?

I posted a comment in their thread (as is only polite):
...[I]f McCain were as chock-full of pride, integrity, and truth as he pretends to be, he would never have spoken to Bush again after the South Carolina primaries in 2000. What Bush did there was utterly dishonorable. Instead, McCain sulked for a while, then did a 180 and became the good little toe-the-line Bush supporter he never was before the 2000 race. It's an easy guess that Bush promised to back him for the 2008 race. At this very moment, McCain's organization is full of Bush's old people.
There's always that temptation to refer to them as Bushpeople, but it would be unfair to the real ones.
(If I were really speculating, I'd say the reason the Republicans have had Joe Lieberman on a string all these years was because he was promised the Vice-Presidency under McCain.)

Eight years of going down on his knees for Bush, Cheney, and their cronies must have irked the hell out of McCain. Whatever the truth of the matter, he'd put a lot of work into cultivating the appearance of integrity. Bush spent his reputation as recklessly as he spent Tony Blair's, Colin Powell's, and all the others. I can imagine McCain laboring to suppress his gag reflex while silently repeating his mantra to himself: "Shut up, go along with it, and you'll get to be president."

Then, after all those years of lip service, he discovered he wasn't going to live long enough to collect his payoff. Such irony! Did he accept the news with resignation? Of course not. Are you kidding? McCain's a senator, he's the son and grandson of admirals, and he's married to Arizona's answer to Meadow Soprano. He never takes a fall if he can make someone else take it for him. (In this case, I think it was Joe Lieberman.)

So there it is: McCain thinks he's got the presidency coming to him, and he's damned well going to see that he gets it -- no matter how much ruination it brings on the country he claims to love.

I won't claim I conveyed any great insights, beyond "McCain has turned into something you'd fish out of Dubya's private office wastebasket."

Paula Helm Murray (2):

Sounds like if they get elected, it will just be the same old same old.

She sounds either dumber or more blindly self-centered than the Shrub. Or maybe both.

My instant reaction to the Troopergate chronology was that we're looking at a clinical personality disorder, located somewhere in the immediate vicinity of narcissism. If I'm right, Palin is basically out of control, and unlikely to improve.

Have you ever dealt with a full-blown narcissist? "Self-centered" is too mild a description. They've got a weirdly information-deprived worldview; they can't process criticism, failure, or noncompliance; and they have a constant need for external validation of their grandiose self-images. It can lead them to do amazingly stupid things.

What I immediately noticed was that Palin hasn't bothered to keep track of the stories she tells. It's not that she can't; she's not that stupid. Rather, it hasn't occurred to her to do so. She isn't thinking about other people's reactions. That isn't bad judgement, or an absence of judgement; it's a pathological lack of interest in the subject.

Some comments on the chronology:

* First she would not tell us (Anchorage, Alaska) why she fired Monegan
He was in a high-profile position; he'd already had a middlin'-distinguished career; Palin appointed him in the first place; when she fired him, she offered him another state job; and there just doesn't seem to be much evidence of general dissatisfaction with his work, or of preexisting disagreements between Palin and Monegan that didn't involve Wooten. It was bizarre of Palin to not realize she'd be expected to explain that, or that there might be repercussions. I'd expect a candidate for county dogcatcher to know better than that.
* Then, finally, she said she wanted to take the department in a new direction.
* Took forever (week at least) to get her to state what that direction was.
"Taking the department in a new direction" is not the same thing as "firing for cause." It's one of four unrelated issues Palin has cited as her reason for firing Monagan. She dropped the second one -- that he was not adequately filling state trooper vacancies -- after Monegan pointed out that the police academy was about to graduate its largest class ever. The third, that he wasn't doing enough to fight alcohol abuse problems, is problematical in light of the fact that the state job she offered him at the time of his firing was Executive Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The fourth, that he "did not turn out to be a team player on budgeting issues," could mean anything. (Subsequent, equally meaningless accusations -- viz., "egregious insubordination," "obstructionist conduct" -- are irrelevant to this discussion, since they were cooked up by the legal attack dogs the McCain organization sicced on the case.)

Oh, and Palin also said, early and often, that it had nothing to do with repeatedly pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law, which she never did, and didn't know about either.

Now, the thing about (1.) taking the department in a new direction, (2.) attracting more recruits, (3.) focusing more on alcohol abuse, and (4.) being a team player on budget issues, is that whether or not Monegan mishandled them (evidence: still not in evidence), they shouldn't have come as a complete surprise to him when he first heard about them; i.e., after he was fired.

Those are all policy and structure issues. Any one of them would have required Palin to do a fair amount of talking and memo-exchanging with Monagan before she could even tell they were a problem, much less a problem on whose solution she and Monegan were irreconcilably opposed.

When you've got a guy who by all-but-one accounts was doing a good job, only you want him to take things in a different direction, the first thing you do is talk to him about taking it in a different direction. Firing him comes a lot later, after flurries of memos plus maybe a few F2F tiffs, tizzies, and scenes. By the time it finally happens, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

Next point: what are the odds of anyone having four different large-scale administrative problems so serious that every one of them warrants firing him on zero notice, yet none of the problems are interrelated? It's improbable, is what it is. Also, what are the odds that someone could be screwing up his job like that without pissing off an underling so badly that they'd be willing to talk about it to a friendly and understanding reporter? Should be news stories. Aren't.

And one more bit about that "taking it in a new direction" thing. Palin replaced Monegan with Chuck Kopp, former police chief and acting city manager of Kenai. Whoops! Turns out Kopp had been suspended, investigated, and given a letter of reprimand by the City of Kenai for sexually harassing an underling. Kopp departed, clutching his $10,000 severance package. (Monegan got no severance.) Palin then appointed Joseph Masters, a former security director for a private petrochemical firm. Asked in an interview whether Gov. Palin had discussed her vision of the department with him before hiring him, Masters said "Gov. Palin didn't give me any guidance or direction or mandates for the department." It appears that Palin's "new direction" is as unfindable as evidence of Monegan's misdeeds.

Oh, who are we kidding? She didn't fire him for cause. She ran out of patience one day with his continuing refusal to proceed illegally against her ex-brother-in-law, fired him, and only afterward realized that people would notice and have opinions about it. Even then, she didn't realize that giving four or five different excuses would present a problem.

Every time I try to imagine Sarah Palin at work, what comes out of her mouth is Glory's dialogue from Season Five of Buffy.

* Finally she said Monegan was not doing a good job of working on bootlegging in the villages and in recruiting new troopers--she forgot that 3 weeks prior to this announcement she had stated on TV news that he was doing a great job in both of these departments.
* She even stated she had offered him a job on the Alcohol Board (while firing him as commissioner) simply because he was doing such a good job in this area.
* Then, couple of days ago, she stated, he was not fired at all, that he quit.
"I did it in self-defense -- and besides, I didn't push him, he jumped. Furthermore, I can prove I was in another city when it happened."

If you stack up too many stories, you eventually reach a point where they all fall over.

* Now, she is stating he was fired and it was because of “egregious insubordination.”
That's one of the accusations cooked up by McCain's people. If you don't buttress it with details, all it means is "He didn't do something I wanted."
* She is asking the Personnel Board - 3 people appointed by Palin - to dismiss the ethics complaint which she filed against herself in order to get it before the Personnel Board - because some out-of-context e-mails sent to Monegan prior to his having been (fired/quit) "exonerate the Governor totally and completely, once and for all."
The story gets complicated. I highly recommend the Wikipedia entry, Alaska Public Safety Commissioner dismissal: a first-rate piece of work that's like a vision of what Wikipedia could be in a better world than this.

(Digression: an interesting subplot: If you read the whole entry, pay attention to how many of the charges and complaints made against Mike Wooten, the ex-brother-in-law, turned out to not amount to much; how few of them are based on testimony from people who aren't close to Sarah Palin; and how much time passes between Wooten's supposedly scary and threatening words and deeds, and the dates on which Sarah Palin and her sister Molly get around to mentioning them to anyone else. I'm not saying Mike Wooten is a suffering saint; I'm saying the case against him shrinks considerably when you examine it. Three under-reported facts: (1.) Part of the basis for Mike Wooten being made an Alaska State Trooper in 2000 was the fulsome character reference provided him by Sarah Palin. (2.) The Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) granted Molly McCann (Palin's sister) at the time she filed for divorce was later quashed because McCann's counsel was unable to produce any evidence of acts of physical or implied violence. In fact, McCann told police at the time of filing that Wooten had never physically abused her. Sarah Palin has since lied about the episode, saying the DVPO was lifted after Wooten's supervisors intervened. Both Palin and the McCain campaign have subsequently cited the DVPO as evidence that Wooten was violent towards Molly McCann. (3.) At the McCann/Wooten divorce trial,

a representative for the Alaska State Trooper's union testified that the union viewed the dozen complaints filed by McCann and her family against Wooten as "not job-related" and "harassment". Judge Suddock repeatedly warned McCann and her family to stop "disparaging" Wooten's reputation or risk the judge granting Wooten custody of the children. At a court hearing in October 2005, Judge Suddock said "disparaging will not be tolerated - it is a form of child abuse … relatives cannot disparage either. If occurs [sic] the parent needs to set boundaries for their relatives.")
(Another interesting subplot: Keep an eye on Todd Palin. The guy isn't a state employee, but he accesses confidential files, sits in on personnel meetings, and generally works Sarah Palin's will. Just yesterday he announced that he was also going to ignore his subpoena. If you think Executive Privilege is a shaky theory, try Executive Privilege by Marriage.)

Back to the main thread: The only reason Troopergate isn't a bigger mess is that McCain sent a legal team to Alaska in order to obstruct justice. Once they were up and running, Palin's words and deeds got a lot less random, ditto candid. Still, the uncontaminated pre-legal-team sample of her behavior is enough to establish that her emotional reactions are way off normal.

I'm going to bring up a touchy subject: the early reports suggesting that Trigg Palin is the son of Bristol rather than Sarah Palin. That was a nasty episode. Whose fault is that? Sarah Palin's, first to last. She didn't give birth to Trigg all alone in a cave. There have to have been multiple witnesses to the labor and birth. None of them could step forward without violating patient privacy. All Sarah Palin had to do was give a couple of them permission to say they'd been there, and that she was the mother.

But she didn't do that. Why not? IMO, because it made her look like an injured party (she obviously enjoyed that, and got loads of mileage out of it), and drew attention away from the rest of her problems. The other consequence of leaving the story in play was that seventeen-year-old Bristol Palin got dragged through a cubic mile of mud, then paraded in front of the RNC on primetime television as a Moral Example. It's fatuous to claim it was Bristol's choice. Even grown men who have the law on their side would think twice before crossing Glorificus Palin; and Bristol is her resourceless minor child.

* She filed this complaint against herself because she felt the legislative committee investigation (10 Republicans and 4Democrates) is politically motivated even though the investigation was started before McCain selected her.
* There is another ethics complaint filed against her for “demonizing” Trooper Wooten. A judge —in the child custody case—hard warned Palin’s family that their constant attacks on Wooten were becoming a form of child abuse.
* During all this, Monegan stated he was pressured to fire Wooten while Palin denied ANY pressure from ANYbody was put on him I.E SHE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF ANYONE CONTACTING MONEGAN ON THIS ISSUE
Yup! All those people on her immediate staff, plus her husband, independently took it upon themselves to try to pressure the Alaska Public Safety Commissioner into firing Palin's former brother-in-law form his job as a state trooper. That was amazingly brave of them, considering that one of the accusations McCain's legal team has cooked up against Monegan is that he failed to get Palin's explicit permission to petition the feds for additional funds for law enforcement.

As of this August, months and months after Troopergate started, Palin finally got around to saying "Pressure could have been perceived to exist, although I have only now become aware of it." So, which is it? Liar, or incapable of running her own staff, much less anything bigger?

* Palin repeats her campaign promises of “open and transparent” governing policy—-while Poll by TV station shows 87% no longer think she is open and transparent—so much for the supposed 80% approval rating!
* Palin states, “Hold me responsible.” Regarding the legislative investigation, “Bring it on!”
A person with a normal sense of potential consequences would be more prudent at every step of the way.
* Legislature hires independent investigator
I believe this is the investigation the majority-Republican voted unanimously to undertake, long before Palin became McCain's running mate.
* Palin suddenly has Atty General ( who, it ends up also pressured Monegan) start investigating and immediately finds phone call from her staffer Frank Bailey to Troopers - Bailey claims it was his idea and govenor had no input. He is put on PAID leave and remains that way today.
And survives to this day with no worse blemish on his honor than being the recipient of Sarah Palin's approval.
* Seems approximately 24 contacts were made with Monegan, from Todd Palin, Bailey, Attorney General, other staffers and PALIN HERSELF.
Consider the implications. Sarah Palin had already fired Monegan on zero notice, denied him severance, publicly traduced him, and hired substandard replacements to fill his position. He had absolutely no reason to cover for her. On top of that, he'd had many years of administrative experience, and he'd been aware for some time before he was fired that Palin and her staff were pressuring him to take improper action in re Mike Wooten. Of course he'd be keeping a record of these contacts.

I take it as further strong evidence of a grandiose and unrealistic worldview, and an abnormal absence of basic human empathy, that Palin didn't expect this story would come out.

* Despite having previously denied anyone contacted Monegan ( Todd did so in the Governor’s office !) Palin states these contacts did NOT constitute pressure on Monegan.
If they weren't intended as pressure, why were they made at all? If Palin and her staff are in the habit of taking completely ineffectual actions, she's too incompetent a manager to hold important positions.
* Palin has done nothing but refuse to cooperate with legislative investigation and now states she will not submit to questioning, i.e. she is "totally and completely exonerated" by Monegan’s supposed "egregious insubordination."
Nope. First, even if she (or rather McCain's legal team) has come up with decisive evidence in her favor, everyone still has to observe the normal legal procedures. Having the evidence may curtail those procedures, but the system still has to establish (to variable levels of precision) what happened, who did what to whom, and which rules (if any) were violated. (Note: this is a very rough description.) Palin's evidence can then be examined in that context. She doesn't get to declare that her evidence is so good that it doesn't have to be looked at. That's like saying you've been dealt such a killer Bridge hand that you should just be awarded maximum points without playing out the round.

Second, as I've already pointed out, "egregious insubordination" is close to meaningless if you don't establish what that insubordination consisted of, the state of understanding between Palin and Monegan, and whether his actions were in fact egregious. This is not going to be established without going through normal or near-normal procedures, and Palin is going to have to be involved.

If she's so incapable of taking responsibility for her actions that she can't even answer for herself at a state-level inquiry, she's not fit for high office. Leaders take responsibility. It's part of the basic spec.

* While Palin makes public the selected e-mails to Monegan, she illegally witholds other e-mails (there is legal action to obtain them) which may show her direct and intentional participation in the pressuring of Monegan to fire Wooten.
After all these successive instances of the story coming out, she still thinks the next part of the story won't come out.

You can't have it both ways. Either the woman is so stupid that Dan Quayle has to phone her long distance to tell her to come in out of the rain, or she's wired wrong for assessing and predicting the consequences of her actions, and how others will react to them.

One more datum and I'll quit for now. This is a parallel story, like Troopergate writ small:

Palin Fired Aide Who Dated Wife of Todd's Friend

The Politico reported Friday that a longtime associate and former gubernatorial aide to Sarah Palin says he was asked to leave the governor's office after the Palins discovered that he was dating the soon-to-be-ex wife of a close friend of Todd Palin.

Let's get this straight. Todd Palin isn't a government employee. He's just the spouse. A buddy of his is being divorced by the buddy's wife. A longtime aide of Sarah Palin's was dating the soon-to-be-ex wife. I assume Todd Palin's buddy felt bad about that. Result: the aide got fired.

This behavior wouldn't pass muster in a junior high school student council.

John Bitney, who grew up in Wasilla with Palin, told the paper cum website:
I wanted to stay with the governor and support the governor -- we're talking about someone who's been a friend for 30 years -- but I understood it, and I have no ax to grind over the whole thing."
He's been her political ally and full-time aide. He's been her friend for thirty years. Now he's out in the cold, and unemployed, because he dated the former main squeeze of a friend of Todd Palin? Yeah, I'll bet he has no hard feelings.

I think we should start keeping track of this kind of unnatural docility in people who've been screwed over by Sarah Palin. I think they're afraid of her.

Today, the Wall Street Journal added more to the story, reporting that seven weeks after publicly praising Bitney, Palin fired him for what her spokeswoman now describes as "poor job performance."
That's not just mean-spirited, vindictive, and mendacious; it's stupid. Any organization is going to generate a few disgruntled ex-employees -- it's inevitable -- but you have to try to keep their number as low as possible, because they can be dangerous to your operation. It's especially important to avoid publicly humiliating them and/or rendering them unemployable, because it leaves them with nothing to lose, and a lot of time to think about it.

When you make a habit of arbitrarily praising your employees one month and firing them another, you also screw up relations with the rest of your staff, because there's no way for them to feel secure. Some will leave. The others will spend more time and energy worrying about where they stand with you than they do on their actual jobs.

During that time, Palin had found out from Scott Richter, a friend of Todd Palin's, that Richter's wife, Debbie, was having a relationship with Bitney.
And what does this have to do with the business of the State of Alaska? Absolutely nothing.
The Journal notes that Palin's office seems to have had trouble keeping its story straight on the reason for Bitney's departure.

At the time, the governor's office cited "personal reasons" for Mr. Bitney's "amicable" departure, according to contemporaneous news reports.

"He wanted to spend more time with his family" is the usual line.
Last week, Sharon Leighow, a spokeswoman for the governor's office, said "John Bitney was dismissed because of his poor job performance." She declined to provide further details.
Months into Troopergate, they still haven't learned to keep their mouths shut.

If you go back to the original story on Politico, things get even weirder:

WASILLA, Alaska — While Sarah Palin’s supporters tout her personal warmth and openness, the newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee can be brusque to allies, advisers and employees who fall from her favor.

Palin has unceremoniously ended relationships with an aide who was dating a family friend’s soon-to-be ex-wife, a campaign adviser whose mother-in-law fought Palin’s legislative agenda, a local political mentor who she felt represented the “old boys' network,” a police chief who she said tried to intimidate her with “stern look[s]” and a state commissioner who refused to fire her sister’s ex-husband.

When she first became Mayor of Wasilla, she fired so many employees that she had trouble getting information on how things had been run:
After upsetting the three-term incumbent Wasilla mayor in 1996, Palin quickly eliminated the position of one city department director and asked five others for a letter of resignation, a résumé and a letter explaining why they should be retained.

Though five of the six department heads had supported her opponent, John Stein, Palin insisted the housecleaning was not politically motivated. Only two directors kept their jobs and one of them — city planner Duane Dvorak — left on his own eight months later.

“After all the excitement, I kind of felt like the ax could fall any time and just never felt like the situation warmed up,” said Dvorak, who had worked for Stein for more than two years and is now a planner for the far away Kodiak Island Borough.

Dvorak, who did not back either Stein or Palin, recounted being asked to brief the new mayor and her top aide on a wide variety of topics related to the city and state codes “that really didn’t have a whole lot to do with planning. But because they let everyone else go, they didn’t have anyone else to call on,” he said. “It’s one thing to take the city in a different direction and try to work with the staff that you have and maybe make a few key changes over time, but to just precipitously let people go and then restaff — it didn’t go over well.”

One of Palin's biggest and most expensive snafus as mayor was building a hockey rink on land to which the town didn't fully hold title. If she thought she didn't need the people who knew how things were run, she was wrong.

What kind of crazy do you have to be to start your term as mayor by firing almost everyone who could help you do your job?

See also: The Smartest, Most Talented, All-Around Best Person in the Universe Test, a.k.a. The Narcissistic Vampire Checklist.

#151 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 04:11 PM:

Oops, now my logic is wrong - or at least imprecise.

(a => b) !=> (!a => !b) is what I meant.
(a => b) !=> (b => a) may be relevant to the discussion as well, but not what I meant.

#152 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 04:55 PM:

It's occurred to me that Palin is also starring in her very own Mary Sue. I'd just about bet that it includes McCain dying, dramatically, on the inaugural podium and Palin stepping forward and heroically taking the oath of office in order to save the day. (The story McCain thinks he's starring in is probably quite different from Palin's, and I expect it may involve bombing Teheran, Hanoi, and Moscow, not necessarily in that order.)

The fact that she isn't qualified for that job doesn't faze her a bit. (As Teresa says, something's wrong with Palin's wiring.)

I really don't want her any closer to the presidency than she already is.

#153 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 06:08 PM:

" . . . starring in her very own Mary Sue."

Probably ghost written.

#154 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 06:15 PM:


Elizabeth George's 1997 Detective Lynly-Barbara Havers novel,In the Presence of the Enemy, has as a principal character, a woman who is a politican and a honcho in the ministry of something or other. It's a chilling portrait of how narcissist as politician operates, as a professional and as a mother and as a wife.

I'd read the novel when it was published, but the last couple of weeks have been listening to the audio version while working out. Everytime this character comes in, I think, "This is palin." This time around I recognize this character, whereas when it read it back then, I didn't. I hadn't encountered people like that in real life yet, evidently.

Love, C.

#155 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 06:16 PM:

Pathological narcissists appear charming until you get to know them. Charming isn't perhaps the right word, but I don't think the language has a precise one for it. The closest I can say is that they seem wired to get people they interact with to become emotionally connected to them (in a one-way sense, often without any return of the emotional connection.)

8 years ago, about half the country thought GWB seemed like "a great guy to have a beer with", and so of course he'd work hard to run the country in their interests. As we can all see, that worked out really well.

Unfortunately while the public may learn from experience ("Bush: not so great after all") the public doesn't generalize very well from experience. ("Hey, she seems perky and fun to hang out with!")

I wonder if she has the characteristic rages, too?

#156 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 07:02 PM:

Clifton, maybe you are looking for a word along the lines of enticing.

#157 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 07:24 PM:

Clifton @155 - the reverse actually is quite useful: "charming" becomes an indicator for narcissism checklist.

After more than one too many encounters with the vampire variety, it feels safer that way.

#158 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 07:37 PM:

Teresa #150:

I don't see the motive for McCain, if we assume he knows he's dying. What's in it for him with picking someone likely to keep him from winning, and also likely to make a hash of his country once she's in office, should the Obama/Biden ticket implode somehow. If he's dying, why not choose Lieberman, who he actually wanted as VP?

It's very clear that Palin wasn't vetted in any kind of normal way, right? This ethics complaint would be enough to knock her out, and so would the pregnant teenage daughter/shotgun marriage bit. That's not because either is a permanent black mark. Had she been passed over this time, assuming the ethics complaint didn't find some massive wrongdoing and her daughter was doing okay by 2012, she'd have been a reasonable choice for a VP candidate then.

But choose a VP candidate with an ongoing ethics investigation? That's a pretty-much guaranteed steady stream of unpleasant news stories from now till the election, with some nonzero chance of a campaign-ending disaster, Eagleton style. And the pregnant teenager, okay, it's smarmy to use it as a weapon to attack her. But it's there, it's in the press, and everyone had to know it would be. Maybe, using a mixture of deft spin control tactics and good luck and unwillingness of the MSM and Obama to attack on this issue, you can dodge it. But who the f-ck would take that kind of chance with their presidential campaign? This was an amazingly imprudent decision. One result has been the rather desperate spinning of the media, in which the McCain campaign is destroying a really good relationship with the media.

So what the hell happened? The choices here appear to me to be, either:

a. The people doing the vetting intentionally screwed McCain. (Maybe Soros spends his money well.)

b. The people doing the vetting were massively incompetent, and screwed McCain while meaning well.

c. Nobody did the vetting. (Or, from the stories, the vetting was questions to probe her ideology and beliefs, not checking for hidden landmines in her past. And maybe they believed her answers without checking, because they liked what they heard.)

d. McCain decided to be a maverick and made a crazy, out-of-left-field choice which his staffers gasped, looked horrified, and then spun as best they could.

e. This decision may have been the result of one of those groupthink/organizational clstrfcks, in which the organizational dynamics drive a bunch of competent people to do something so dumb, the janitor might have made a better decision.

My money's on (d).

My, that flaming piano appears to be falling right toward a puppy farm.

#159 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:08 PM:

Every time I try to imagine Sarah Palin at work, what comes out of her mouth is Glory's dialogue from Season Five of Buffy.

OMG, yes! That's who Palin reminds me of!

We're doomed.

#160 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:09 PM:

"When serious allegations such as these are made against the state’s top public officials, Alaskans deserve to know that the law is being followed and that allegations are investigated independently. To do any less undermines Alaskans’ confidence in their government. Alaskans deserve to know the truth. Normally, the attorney general prosecutes the alleged violations by investigating the matter and presenting the evidence to the personnel board for its determination. However the drafters of the Ethics Act recognized that this process would not work when the governor or the attorney general was the subject of the allegation…The Ethics Act specifically recognizes the conflict of interest inherent when the attorney general, the governor, or even an agent of the attorney general or governor attempts to conduct an investigation into the conduct of the attorney general or the governor….neither the attorney general nor the governor [should have] an active participatory role in investigations concerning their own actions. The action taken by the governor in unilaterally hiring an attorney, to gather evidence on this matter does not constitute a truly independent investigation and ignores the clear procedures set out in the Ethics Act for allegations of this kind…Having a lawyer hired by the governor attempt to investigate…is not only not an 'independent' investigation; it presents impossible conflicts of interest in the investigation itself…Because [the attorney] was hired by the Governor, he owes him a duty of loyalty and confidentiality. The current investigation by [the Governor’s attorney] ignores this law and is not truly independent. Alaska deserves better."

--Sarah Palin, December 10th, 2004

#161 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:10 PM:

Palin is looking more and more like Nehemiah Scudder with lipstick.

#162 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:34 PM:

albatross #158: It could be that McCain genuinely wants Palin to be his successor for reasons that would only become clear in the event of his death in office. I don't think so, though. I don't believe McCain is thinking in terms of anything beyond getting elected and using her as a tool to bring the Religious right on board the Bullshit Express.

I have no idea what networks exist within the Republican right that might have brought her to the attention of his staff (or himself) when she was first elected to the governorship of Alaska. Picking her was clearly a flanking manoeuvre around men like Huckabee and Thompson (not to mention Romney). That certainly burnished his, ahem, maverick credentials. And he's been doing a bit of that as well with his constant repetition of 'wait till I introduce her to Washington'.

TNH #150: Thou hast buried the lede. Naughty.

#163 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 10:24 PM:


But if he made the choice to try to win the election, why choose her, given all the negatives?

Assume McCain needed someone who was acceptable to the religious right, and female, with at least the level of qualifications of Palin. I don't have any hard data, but I don't think this is all that small a set of women. Most of those women don't have pregnant teenage daughters[1] or ongoing ethics investigations, or similar kinds of anchors tied around their necks.

Similarly, if he cut a deal in which he let someone else choose his VP in exchange for support, they would have faced the same situation--dozens of women to choose from. Their VP pick only really pays off if McCain wins. Why not try to get someone who doesn't threaten to make the campaign implode?

If the answer isn't incompetence/arrogance, what is it?

The only other thing I can think of is in tinfoil hat territory: Assume you're the guy who got to choose the VP nominee, whether by cutting a deal with McCain or by winning his trust. If your criterion for a VP candidate is a Republican woman acceptable to the religious right, on whom you have blackmail material sufficient to compel her to follow your instructions, that's probably a much smaller set of women. The members of that set probably would have established a pattern of imprudent and scandal-prone behavior, and so might well all be carrying Palin-sized anchors.

[1] This hasn't bitten Palin, and maybe won't. But could you have been sure of it, sure enough to risk your one and only chance in this lifetime of becoming president, before seeing how it played out?

#164 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 10:42 PM:

Sarah Palin has rude rage?

#165 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 10:48 PM:

Please remember that in Palin's own earlier telling of her résumé, she was well traveled (including Ireland and Iraq), and a determined foe of earmarks, yada yada yada; and poor McCain seems to have swallowed her version of events hook, line, and sinker.

Soulmates, yes indeed, and that appears to include some tiny weakness in the veracitability region....

#166 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:09 PM:

Pyle --

The apparent lack of veracity really ties into the syndrome that TNH detailed above, doesn't it?

And I have real jitters about having Palin as VP if McCain's health is as shaky as it seems...

#167 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:17 PM:

All that is young does not glitter,
and some who who wander are lost;
the old and befuddled may wither,
while scandal thaws out from the frost.

From the headlines a fire shall be woken,
informants from corners shall sing;
the reign of the fools shall be broken,
the maverick shall not be king.

#168 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:21 PM:

Jittery? I'm almost panicking. This is an easily-written scenario for global thermonuclear war, starting in just a few months.

I want to take comfort in Jim Macdonald's assurance that it will be a landslide, but I don't follow his reasoning.

#169 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:32 PM:

Nangleator: Consider that the Republicans might not want to steal this election--you've seen the news this week, yes? It's entirely possible that they're going to beetle off now, leaving Obama holding the bag. Clever conmen never stick around once the rubes get wise. (I rather think the result will tell us whether the money-Republicans or the religious-Republicans have won the backroom fight.)

#170 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:32 PM:

I create medical records for a living, 1,000 pages is EXTREME

A friend of mine raised a point: would that include psychiatric records? Given McCain's history, and current behaviour suggestive of PTSD, records of psych evaluations and treatment could fill a lot of pages.

#171 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:33 PM:

Does anyone else have the feeling that Lois McMaster Bujold is writing this part? Usually the good guys win, but they have to make sacrifices...

#172 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:40 PM:

Hmmmm... apparently my father was a narcissist. I wish I knew that earlier.

#173 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:42 PM:

Re: the PBS poll mentioned by karen marie @ 138, as of about two minutes ago, the results stood at 62% yes, 33% no, and 3% undecided.

Not coincidentally, I think, a friend emailed me a copy of an email making the rounds, in which Palin supporters are encouraged to stuff the electronic ballot box--something made easier by the fact that the poll has no mechanism to prevent repeat voting.

I think it's time for the non-Palinites to do a little electronic ballot-box stuffing...

#174 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:01 AM:

TexAnne -
Whomever wins the election, the common talking point from the GOP will be that the economic crisis is all the fault of the Democrats and Those Greedy People.

You know, the ones who lost homes and their jobs
-- you know, the people who were robbed of their pensions when the Smart People convinced companies that it didn't matter that swapping a pension plan for a crapshoot in the stock market called a 401K was the right way to treat employees,
-- you know, the people who *don't* get a 17 million dollar payout for pushing a company over the fiscal cliff.

NagleAtor --

"Shall we play a Game?"
"What game?"
"How about Global Thermonuclear War?"


"Screw this waiting for the Rapture -- lets start the End Times *now

#175 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:13 AM:

After all, John "Keating 5" McCain has said the fault is Obama's, because of what Obama has done in the past four years of his tenure in the Senate, but elect him and the CEO's won't be rewarded for mistakes like these, they'll be indicted.


#176 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:56 AM:

Syd @ 173: I just went and checked and the PBS poll does, indeed, have no mechanism to prevent repeat voting--even repeat voting by someone using the same computer in the space of about 30 seconds.

That's just silly. What are they trying to poll, how excited people can get about responding to meaningless polls?

#177 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 01:08 AM:

Craig R. @ 174

I really don't mind if they have the Rapture now, as long as they're the ones who're going. Being Left Behind by that lot would be a joy.

And I really can't help it, whenever anyone mentions the Rapture I get a mental flash of that opening scene on Six Feet Under with the fundie woman seeing the ascension of the helium-filled sex-dolls, and running after them in front of an oncoming car.

#178 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 05:17 AM:

One thing that doesn't make sense is the "He's not trying to win" idea.

Before Palin was selected for VP, McCain was in the cellar, by a longshot.
After Palin was selected for VP, McCain is in the race, plausibly winning.

I don't want them to win, but Palin was a massively effective choice... vote-gaining-wise

#179 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 07:08 AM:


McCain doesn't seem to have been looking just for "acceptable" to the religious right, he seems to have wanted someone they'd be enthusiastic about.

And Palin probably WAS the most prominent woman who met that criteria.

At least when you add in that it has to be someone that they think they can make appealing to enough of the voters who aren't part of the religious right.

(Basically I think McCain simply didn't do much vetting of Palin before he made the nomination. I think he figured he was losing and needed something to "shake up" the race. And just decided to roll the dice.)

Have to say that Mike Huckabee had one of the best quips on this subject (from his standup routine at a recent charity fundraiser, quoted in the September 12 Washington Post "Reliable Source" column): "I was really hurt, I mean, John McCain didn't even vet me. It's okay, he didn't vet Sarah Palin either."

#180 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 08:13 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 150: "My instant reaction to the Troopergate chronology was that we're looking at a clinical personality disorder, located somewhere in the immediate vicinity of narcissism."

That's my read on Palin too, but it wasn't Troopergate that started me to thinking--it was the "broken teleprompter" incident. Apparently Palin's been telling a story about how the teleprompter stopped working during her big RNC speech, and she was forced to ab lib part of it. Unfortunately for her, there were a lot of people watching the teleprompter during her speech, none of whom saw it break down.

The question that leapt to my mind was why bother lying about something so silly? It's easily disproved, and of trivial benefit at best. All it does is heighten the drama a bit and make her sound just a little more awesome. Only a narcissist would miss how easily her lie would be caught, and think that making herself seem even more noble and heroic was worth the risk. Her reaction has also been straight narcissist: how dare you accuse me of lying!? How dare you?

I'm pretty sure I originally found this site about NPD via Making Light, but it seems an appropriate time to mention it again.

albatross @ 167: That's nice, albatross!

Nagleator @ 168: "I want to take comfort in Jim Macdonald's assurance that it will be a landslide, but I don't follow his reasoning."

Maybe these graphs will cheer you up: the daily Obama/McCain trend line, and P/VP approval rating trends (pay close attention to Palin's).

#181 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:17 AM:

(Checks PBS poll)

Well, what do you know; you CAN vote multiple times!

The results are now 55% yes, 44% no.

(Walks away, whistling and resting my "no" vote finger...)

#182 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 10:32 AM:

Speaking of the End Times, the slacktivist has, after five years, come to the end of his critique of Left Behind.

#183 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:36 AM:

TNH @#150:

Welcome back. (And thanks for that.)

#184 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:55 PM:

albatross #163: The only reason for choosing Palin is that she has a compelling, sellable 'story' as a conservative, Xtian reformer, who's a mother, a woman, attractive, and thus can bring the Xtian right out to vote for McCain. She energises the base. At the same time she's not a serious rival like Huckabee or Hollywood Fred Thompson. Beyond that, I dunno.

It's interesting that she's become the marquee attraction at McCain's rallies, and she knows it.

#185 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 02:08 PM:

We so dodged a bullet with Huckabee. If he'd gotten the nomination, bad things would be happening by now. (Aside from Hillary having a stroke.) As it is, I like our chances a lot.

#186 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 04:58 PM:

#150 Teresa
Acrimonious divorces and/or contentious custody cases, often include child abuse accusations, as tactics....

#159 albatross
I think you missed:
f. The things that the folks here are tending to find heinous about Palin, are issues of complete disinterest to te vetters, or they don't look at those things, the same way you do, I do, Teresa does, etc.

The folks in here tend to have a higher than average of all level of scientific training, scientific sophistication, and -respect- for the scientific method.

Palin appears to a be True Believer godsquadder with an essential disregard and disdain for the scientific method and worldviews which value the scientific method and use it as a basic tool in ordinary every day analysis regarding lifestyle and attitudes and perception.

#187 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:22 PM:

Even better than not obeying the law is writing it so that your Administration is accountable to no one.

(This is the 3-page proposal for transferring $700B of your and my money to Henry Paulson to do with as he wishes.)

#188 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:16 PM:

Randolph@119: I don't think Shrub is just quieter; I think sincerity in religious belief is beyond him, just as it is in everything else. And I certainly don't see any signs that he was attending a mainstream church to stay good with Texas businessmen (the ones who were buying him as a way to get to his daddy), then sneaking off to a church so extreme other extremists reject it (which is a fair description of Palin's).

albatross@158: In case you're not convinced by the previous comments, I can put it in two words: James Dobson. All through the primary season he was first saying he'd stay home rather than vote for McCain, then saying he \might/ not stay home. (How clearly can you say "Heel, boy!"?) As soon as Palin was announced, he was on board, bringing at least a million formerly-sulking whackos along with him. It doesn't matter that Palin is being investigated; all you have to do is scream "Unfair!" and the whackos who believe (however deludedly) that they're being discriminated against[1] will cling to her even more tightly. Meanwhile some portion of self-described "moderate" female voters will play PUMA, and she won't cost enough to matter of the male voters who claim to be Democrats but say Obama is too extreme (because they know that "uppity" isn't even a codeword).

continuing with 163: if the McCain campaign implodes -- well, he was losing anyway, and Lieberman-the-traitor wouldn't have brought him anyone he didn't already have (e.g. the pushpollers Jim was called by and later identified).

Terry@175: It's been really striking how McCain's talk of Obama being inexperienced has vanished now that M thinks O can be blamed for the mess.

[1] cf how they talk about being "under threat" -- when the closest to a threat is that schools insist on teaching observable facts rather than religious fables.

Laying all this out has suddenly reminded me of Schenk's "The Battle of Abaco Reef". He talks about some insufficient decision not-trees leading people to risk not just everything they own but everything they don't in the continued pursuit of "victory" -- even when that can be defined as two of you left alive to one of them. (Brunner also touches on this in Shockwave Rider.) More, I suspect McCain's attitude toward the Republican Party is somewhere between lack of care and active spite; none of them spoke up when Shrub shat on him eight years ago, so now they can all get bent. All that matters to him is winning -- which seems to me a very fighter-pilot attitude, but a horrendous one for a POTUS.

#189 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:25 PM:

CHip @ 114 or Paula Lieberman, generally:

If you don't mind, could one of you explain the following comment (or link back to the original):

"whenever I was inclined to consider McCain worthwhile, I remembered what Paula said about fighter pilots (e.g., observing that the colored lights in Close Encounters of the Third Kind were obviously such"

I am highly intrigued, and cannot parse it from context.

Thank you

#190 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:37 PM:

Marilee, #172: That would go a long way toward explaining how he got your friend to let him into the house despite your explicit instructions not to do so. Narcissist con-man skillz + the "family" magic word makes a killing argument.

#191 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 12:08 AM:

Linkmeister @ #187: that gives me the same sick feeling that I had when they were talking about delaying the elections because of the threat of terrorist attacks. Oh God, PLEASE no. Am I the only person who ever looks at ideas like that and thinks, "What could possibly go wrong?"

#192 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 01:43 AM:

Lila @ #191, I've already communicated my dissatisfaction to my two Senators and to the Obama campaign. If it were up to the Econ bloggers I've seen this thing would get tossed out on first appearance, but I don't know if Senators can grow spines enough not to get panicked and railroaded again (see AUMF c. 2002, FISA c. 2008). That's why I wrote to mine.

#193 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 03:15 AM:

Lee, #190, exactly. And I can think of so many other situations, and his attitudes, that really match narcissism.

#194 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 05:17 AM:

Bailout: Paul Krugman has a moderately thoughtful analysis of the economic implications. I say my original suggestion to an old friend on LJ--arrest half the Senate, including McCain and his economic advisor Gramm, impeach Bush, posthumously impeach Reagan, and get Alan Greenspan--is looking better and better. Then we can pick up the pieces. (And no, that's not serious, except for the impeach Bush part. It's satire.)

More practically, we can only hope to see some leadership from Chris Dodd and Barack Obama on the issue.

#195 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 09:54 AM:

Linkmeister @#192, so have I. Senator Isakson and Rep. Broun don't even have "economy" as one of the subject choices in their drop-down menus. And Senator Chambliss isn't a great bet either. Maybe Obama will listen.

#196 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 11:16 AM:

Lila, #195: is there a "taxes" subject? (I suppose "theft" isn't there!)

#197 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 02:29 PM:

Randolph, Lila: I used "Banking" for the subject for my note to Senator Akaka. I could also have picked "Commerce."

#198 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 03:38 PM:

I think that the current financial bailout should be paid for entirely through confiscation of executive compensation, retroactive for twenty five years. Any money left over could then be used to pay for increased vigilance in regulation of the economy.

#199 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 05:07 PM:

Earl @ #198: if only. Bill Moyers did a quick rundown of the golden parachutes awarded to the heads of Bear Sterns, Fannie & Freddie, and AIG, and it made me physically sick.

#200 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 05:58 PM:

I repeat: The xtian right vetted Palin for what they wanted and she passed with flying colors. I have provided the link to the Nation story that ran on this on Sept. 1 several times.

Rush Limbaugh has wanted her for a long time.

Pentacostals and Born Again xtians will TELL you they place little value upon rational thought and facts.

Rationality and facts make NO difference to them.

Believing in the End Times does.

Love, C.

#201 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Look what Charilie found!

#202 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 08:40 PM:

pedantic peasant: the colored lights in CE3K, presumably intended to be alien scout ships, do all sorts of useless showoff aerobatics that have nothing to do getting in, getting over the target, and getting out; Paula commented that they behaved so stupidly they were obviously fighter pilots. (Around the time this movie came out, there was a report of a Dartmouth AFROTC who slalomed his trainer up the towers of a ski lift, but wasn't tossed because that would have left the program undersubscribed, thus subject to being shut down. No citations, but hardly unbelievable.) Paula spent several years as a USAF electrical engineer, so her observations about fighter pilots and their stunts may have been jaundiced -- but I also figure she got to see plenty of instances of their behavior.

#203 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 09:12 PM:

Thank you, CHip!

#204 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 10:22 PM:

So, does "decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency" mean that the Secretary of the Treasury can take that $700 billion and give $1 billion to 700 Republican cronies, or corner the worldwide angel dust commodities futures market or buy North Korea and declare himself its new Dear Leader for Life or buy 30,796,304,443 Extra-Large Italian Meats Trio Pizzas (while stiffing the delivery person with no tip, of course) or, or, or....?

It sounds just a tiny bit unconstitutional to me....

#205 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 10:26 PM:

EC-III @204: or hire mercenaries to quash riots?

#206 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 10:32 PM:

Earl: That's the way it reads to me. My mental list was something like "erect on Wall Street a solid gold statue of Henry Paulsen with his foot on the necks of kneeling CEOs, buy the Empire State Building for his New York pied-a-terre, and spend the rest on hookers and coke, 'coz consumption is good for the economy!"

#207 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 11:38 PM:

"It is on my orders and for the good of the state that the bearer of this paper has done what he has done." Or something like that.

#208 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 12:00 AM:

The bearer of this document speaks with the Voice of the Crane.

#209 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 12:05 AM:

Viz what the SecTreas can do... In theory he's supposed to report to Congress twice a year, and is subject to the Pres firing him, or the House/Senate impeaching and dismissing him.

But, by and large, he (and the SecHomSec) have some unlimited powers (the SecHomSec is authorised to do whatever the hell he pleases if he says it supports the building of the "Border Fence", the authorisation specifically exempts him from having to obey the law, the fence is more vaugue than shoring up financial markets, and he doesn't have to report to congress. In theory he could draft people, and make them work as slave labor to build it; with summary executions for failure to get enough done in a day).

It's an hideous piece of business, and we can't make enough noise against it.

#210 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 01:45 AM:

Earl @ #204, "It sounds just a tiny bit unconstitutional to me."

Well, yeah. That's why it clearly states "may not be reviewed by any court of law..."; to keep court challenges at bay.

Economists' consensus against this is building, but whether they're listened to is another question.

#211 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 09:07 AM:

CHip @ 202

IIRC there was a case in Italy a few years ago where several civilians in a tramcar on a ski slope were killed by a USAF fighterplane that, at least according to the Italian prosecutor who attempted to try the crewmembers of the plane, was slaloming the tram line in a nape-of-the earth maneuver (below the tramlines) at over 300 knots. The resultant spray of chaff by the AF, the US State Department, and the DOJ ("hey, it's our turf, after all!"} all over the international legal sky was spectacular to behold.

IMO fighter pilots need more adult supervision.

#212 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 10:42 AM:

I have called my congressman and senators, although given the hackitude of Lamar Alexander, and the Blue-Dog status of Jim Cooper and Bob Corker's Republican unctuousness, this may or may not do any good. The points I complained about loudest were the lack of oversight, and the need for regulation in the markets, with emphasis on the return of Glass-Steagall et al.

I did break down and say bad things about Phil Gramm.

#213 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 11:09 AM:

fidelio #212:

I have to admit, I think I'm understanding some of what lots of Americans experienced right after 9/11. I have a sinking feeling in my stomach we're doing crazy dumb horrible things in response to this crisis, but I'm not sure, and I'm not convinced we can sit on our hands and wait the crisis out, and I'm not sure what else would be better. (For a lot of the post-9/11 security stuff, I could see it was crazy dumb horrible stuff, but that's because it's kind of related to my field.)

#214 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 12:34 PM:

albatross: Giving any one person (esp. a political appointee) that sort of unfettered power is a bad thing. There's really no need to be expert in that field to know it (and what leads one to think the people who are being lobbied to vote for it are experts either? And the lobbiests, do we think them experts, and pure of heart?)

Somehow we avoided this sort of collapse in the past, without that sort of aggregated power. What changed? We removed the regulations. It seems the regulations actually regulated something.

The answer to that isn't to put another unregulated, "control" on the market. The answer is to reinstate the things which did work. We can only hope the corrections won't be too severe.

This is a lot more like doubling down after a bad loss at the tables. That system will work for something as simple as blackjack, if you 1: have a house which will stand for it, and 2: enough money to keep making bets until they pay off.

This isn't so simple a problem as blackjack.

#215 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 01:33 PM:

fidelio #212:

I have been impelled to write to lawmakers for the first time in living memory. I doubt anything good will come of the experience. :-)

#216 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:35 PM:

Write your senators:

Write your representative:

DO IT! Do it NOW! It is an ELECTION YEAR and you can damn well remind them of that.

As proposed by the treasury the bailout is the financial equivalent of the PATRIOT act. It MUST be changed.

At the very least, you'll have the solace of NOT HAVING BEEN SILENT.

#217 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:49 PM:

The latest report is that they'll accept oversight. (How much oversight and by whom was not mentioned where I saw it, in a comment at firedoglake.)
Executive compensation (or lack thereof) is still under discussion.

It's heartening to see that the original version of this proposal was getting panned by everyone outside of Paulson and his buddies. (The CNN poll is standing at approve 33%/disapprove 67% as of about ten minutes ago.)

#218 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:51 PM:

If you wish, you can contact your Senators and Representative by phone:

(202) 224-3121

This is the number for the Congressional Switchboard, ask them to transfer your call to the appropriate office.

#219 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 03:50 PM:

P J Evans #217: Executive compensation (or lack thereof) is still under discussion.

Jail time and confiscation of assets should be in the spectrum of allowable executive compensation under this New New Deal.

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