Yes, yes, it's awful that McCain has stooped to McCarthyistic race baiting. The real story here, though, is that the McCain campaign is still flailing wildly. The Joe-the-Plumber / Obama is a socialist / anti-tax message of the last two or three weeks has been the only time since the convention that the Republicans have managed to have a consistent message for more than three hours running. It wasn't the greatest message in the world, but it wasn't bad enough to be worth throwing away for the sake of the latest entry in the evil association of the week club.

I mean, honestly, this isn't rocket science. Every campaign needs a consistent message. Obama has been saying every chance he gets for two years that he represents a change from the failed policies of the Bush Administration. It was always a foregone conclusion that Obama would say that the Republican nominee, whoever it turned out to be, represented more of the same.

Against that, John McCain could have had a similarly simple message. He could have said that after eight years of bungling, America needs an experienced leader. He could then have said that Obama, because of his inexperience, could turn out to be another bungler in chief, just like Bush.

Obviously, that message went out the window once Palin joined the ticket. Arguably, that means that picking Palin represented a strategic error. The really inexcusable mistake, though, wasn't that McCain abandoned his message for the sake of a short term bounce. Rather, it's that the McCain campaign hasn't replaced his old message with anything new. I had thought that Joe the Plumber had helped McCain find his footing, but I guess not.


One minor error

100 % Silk Democrat Presidents Tie

To get your Democrat Presidents tie for your favorite Democrat, Republican, or just yourself, choose your color below. All major credit cards accepted.

Due to manufacturer error the tie features "Teddy Roosevelt" instead of Franklin Roosevelt. |Source|

Yglesias has more.

And also too, it is important to be doin your prognosticatin

There's no question that the preponderance of the polling evidence indicates that Obama is well positioned to cruise to a comfortable victory, and even stands a chance of blowing McCain out of the water.

Which isn't to say that there's no room to think that the race is much closer than it appears. A handful of polls have consistently shown McCain to be within striking distance. Most prominent among these is probably the tracking poll run by the Associated Press, but there are others. How does one decide which polls to trust?

Nate Silver's work at fivethirtyeight.com has shed important light on the question. Surveying the various polls, Silver has been able to demonstrate that the differences between them boil down to differences in their likely voter models. The short story is that polls lean Republican to the extent that they assume that the 2008 electorate will look like the 2004 electorate, and lean Democrat to the extent that they predict higher turnout among African Americans and new voters.

For prognosticatin purposes, what this means is that we've got to ask whether we believe that the Obama campaign is going to be able to get its voters to the polls. I'd say it's a pretty good bet. Speaking anecdotally, it's pretty clear that the voter registration and turnout effort on campus here in Ann Arbor is orders of magnitude beyond what we've seen in other years. You already knew Obama was going to win Michigan, but there are students everywhere. How many student votes will Obama pull out of the research triangle in North Carolina? I'd guess a lot.

What about the more traditional swing states? Here are a couple of data points worth noticing. In Ohio, African American's make up 12% of the population but made up only 10% of the electorate in 2004. In Florida, African Americans make up nearly 16% of the population but were only 12% of the 2004 electorate. Whatever else you believe about Obama's ground game, surely African Americans will vote in higher numbers than in 2004.

Which brings us to the official prognositcations. My optimistic prognostication puts Obama ahead with 371 electoral votes. My worst case gives Obama 278 electoral votes. Between them, I'd bet on wild optimism. What say you all?


How will Liz Lemon vote?

Way back in Spring of 2007, she confessed that:
"I'll probably tell all my friends I'm voting for Obama and then vote for McCain."

This was pretty funny, even though at the time the world was predicting that the race would be between Hillary and Giuliani.

Now, this has come back to haunt me.


Area man leaves work early, "on principle" man says

Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents. | TPM |

I am sure that some of these people will suffer some degree of financial pain as a result. And so I don't want to diminish what they chose to do.

But amongst the writers on this blog, I know that several of us here have worked one (or many more) phone jobs, and I think they would agree with my personal experience: Most days on a telemarketing job, one is looking for any excuse to quit.

"spreading the wealth", etc.

It tells you something about both the Republican Party and the state of our political discourse that Democrats can be roundly accused of committing a gaffe any time they happen to use a turn of phrase which Republicans subsequently choose to manipulate into a dishonest talking point.

Obviously, a dishonest interlocutor can twist your words no matter what you say. The story here is that Republicans would rather confuse the debate by arguing with a straw man than address the issues that people actually care about.

That said, I've been playing around with sort of a grand unified theory of wingnut thinking, and according to my new theory it's not entirely appropriate to evaluate Republican speech using normal standards of rationality.

The key, I think, is to understand that wingnuts are absolutely committed to the idea that some people and some ideas are polluted, and so may not be associated with in any way. According to this line of thinking, the mere act of speaking to a pariah or of uttering a phrase linked to a politically incorrect ideology causes the speaker to become polluted. This pollution stains the speaker, and necessitates that the speaker must either submit to ritual cleansing or else become a pariah.

To see how this differs from the standard, content focused, interpretation of discourse, consider the way that wingnuts deploy their Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers attacks. Merely looking at the formal structure of the wingnut argument, it would appear to be fallacious, since the fact of association with an Ayers or a Wright tells you nothing about Obama's substantive views. Schematically, the conventional interpretation looks like this:

1 - Person A believes that P.
2 - Person B is associated with Person A
3 - Therefore, Person B believes that P.

And this can be seen to be fallacious because the falsity of 3 is entirely compatible with the truth of the conjunction of 1 and 2. On my revised view, the argument is more properly rendered like this:

1' - Person A is polluted.
2' - Person B is associated with Person A
3' - Anyone who associates with a polluted person is polluted in virtue of that association.
4' - Thus, Person B is polluted.

Which, clearly, is perfectly rational.

Now, you might object that it's batshit crazy to think that some people or ideas are polluted and may not be touched by right-thinking folk. Fair enough. But does it really surprise you to learn that the wingnuts are batshit crazy?


So richly deserved

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue." A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out. |CNN|

The story here is, once again, that Palin wasn't vetted. Had she been, McCain would have known that she has a history of stabbing political patrons in the back in order to advance her own career.

Meanwhile, I'd bet dollars to donuts that Palin perjured herself yesterday, and I note that this time around Thomas Van Flein didn't immediately make a copy of the sworn testimony available to the press (as he did with Todd a little while back).


GOP voter suppression efforts swing into high gear in New Mexico

The story starts last week, when several representatives of the New Mexico Republican party, including Rogers, held a press conference to announce that 28 people had voted fraudulently in a Democratic primary in June in Bernalillo county, which contains Albuquerque. The party released the names of ten of these people -- almost all of whom are Hispanic.

The allegations quickly fell apart. ACORN announced that it had contacted the county clerk's office, who had verified that all of the voters were in fact legitimate. The group now says it has independently contacted 8 of these 10 voters to separately verify their validity.
Guadalupe Bojorquez, who works in law enforcement in Albuquerque, told TPMmuckraker today that her mother, Dora Escobedo, was one of the ten voters whose names were released by the GOP.
Nonetheless, Bojorquez said that her mother yesterday received a visit from a man who asked for her personal information, including an ID, in reference to her eligibility to vote. Bojorquez told TPMmuckraker that according to her mother, at one point the man asked what she would do if immigration authorities contacted her.

After Bojorquez's mother, frightened, refused to let him in the door, the man waited outside her house. Eventually, Bojorquez's brother arrived at the house, emboldening Bojorquez's mother to go outside, call Bojorquez, and put her on the phone with the man.

Bojorquez said the man told her he wanted to make sure her mother knew that she shouldn't be voting, and continued to ask for her mother's personal information. |TPM Muckraker|

It's Maddow's America now, Mr. Greenspan



I knew that I wrote this down somewhere on the internet. Here it is again, reprinted on me own blog:
Well, let's talk about "the institutional integrity & deep lineage of a secret ballot."

The NLRB, and the recognition process it administers, is a product of the Wagner Act of 1935. Prior to the passage of that act, workers got a union by striking or engaging in other direct actions. The Wagner Act represents a compromise meant to protect, on the one hand, the right of workers to organize themselves and form unions, and on the other, the interest of management in maintaining an orderly workplace.

Fast forward to today. The NLRB is bought and paid for by management. Corporations can flaunt the rules without fear of significant penalty, meaning that a worker who takes a stand for an unrecognized union places her job on the line. Polls consistently show that workers would choose union recognition by a 2:1 margin, and yet unions routinely lose elections run by the NLRB.

The reification of the secret ballot misidentifies the right that is at stake here. It is, quite simply, the right of association. For workers, protecting that right means protecting their right to organize and bargain collectively. In the United States today, that right is not protected.

EFCA will help. It isn't a betrayal of the Wagner Act because the Wagner Act isn't about the process of recognition. It's about insuring that forming and joining a union is a live option for every worker.

Everyone's working for the weekend

How bad is the economy?

Collection agents don't have time for me anymore.


OK, but the devil is in the details

Mail to Jonathan Martin:
Re: For the GOP, the cavalry apparently isn t coming.

Yes, there is....ask the Lord.

It is HIS election. Watch Him.

Check your history books.



Sarah Palin, quoted by CNN:
“And it also strengthens my faith because I know at the end of the day putting this in God’s hands, the right thing for America will be done, at the end of the day on Nov. 4.”

I just wanted to get this down on the Blog of Record, so when we look back at what happened, we know whom to blame.

More updates please? Well, okay then:
Dobson says that he and other pastors have been praying to God for his intervention in the election: "We were just asking for, rather boldly asking, for a miracle with regard to the election this year."

The paranoid style in American blogging

A critic commits the genetic fallacy if the critic attempts to discredit or support a claim or an argument because of its origin (genesis) when such an appeal to origins is irrelevant.

Whatever your reasons are for buying that DVD they've got to be ridiculous. You said yourself that you got the idea for buying it from last night's fortune cookie. Cookies can't think!

Fortune cookies are not reliable sources of information about what DVD to buy, but the reasons the person is willing to give are likely to be quite relevant and should be listened to. The speaker is committing the genetic fallacy by paying too much attention to the genesis of the idea rather than to the reasons offered for it. An ad hominem fallacy is one kind of genetic fallacy, but the genetic fallacy in our passage isn't an ad hominem.

If I learn that your plan for building the shopping center next to the Johnson estate originated with Johnson himself, who is likely to profit from the deal, then my pointing out to the planning commission the origin of the deal would be relevant in their assessing your plan. Because not all appeals to origins are irrelevant, it sometimes can be difficult to decide if the fallacy has been committed. For example, if Sigmund Freud shows that the genesis of a person's belief in God is their desire for a strong father figure, then does it follow that their belief in God is misplaced, or does this reasoning commit the genetic fallacy? |source|

The polls are wrong this year, very wrong. I have been saying this for months, and I have backed up my claim with both statistical and anecdotal support. The claims I have made have inspired some, caused others to laugh in derision, and brought others to test their assumptions and revisit the hard data. Along the way, there have been a lot of questions about how and why the polls could be wrong. The most common complaint, is that for all of the polls to be wrong, there would need to be some sort of conspiracy, or else an incredibly stupid decision made across the board. Well, I am not a big believer in conspiracies, but I do think that the polling groups have fallen into a groupthink condition. I wrote earlier about the fact that of the major polling groups handling national and state polls, all of them are based deep in pro-Liberal, anti-Conservative territories.

Here's that list of headquarters again, just to punch in that point again:

Poll Headquarters
ABC News 77 W 66th St, #13, New York City, New York
CBS News 524 W 57th St, New York City, New York
FOX News 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, New York
Gallup 901 F St NW, Washington DC
Hotline 88 Pine St, 32nd floor, New York City, New York
IBD 12655 Beatrice St. Los Angeles, California
The Los Angeles Times 202 W 1st St, Los Angeles California
Marist Institute 3399 North Rd, Poughkeepsie, New Jersey York
Mason-Dixon 1250 Connecticut Ave #200, Washington DC
Newsweek 251 W 57th St, New York City, New York
The New York Times 1 City Hall, New York City, New York
Pew Research Center 1615 L St NW, #700, Washington DC
Quinnipiac 275 Mount Carmel Ave., Hamden Connecticut
Rasmussen 625 Cookman, #2, Asbury Park, New Jersey
Reuters 3 Times Square, New York City, New York
Survey USA 15 Bloomfield Ave., Verona New Jersey
TIPP 690 Kinderkamack Rd, Oradell, New Jersey
Washington Post 1150 15th St NW, Washington DC
Zogby 901 Broad St, Utica, New York

As I wrote then, it needs noting that all of the major polling organizations are based in locations where liberals are strongest and conservatives weakest, where 'democrat' and 'republican' take on meanings wildly different from the rest of the country. The people making the executive decisions at these polls, most likely including the wording and order of polling questions, whether to focus on urban or suburban areas, the weighting of political affiliation, and the definition of 'likely voter', are most likely in regular contact and association with the most liberal factions of politics. It does not mean that they have deliberately skewed their decisions to support Obama, but it is obvious that there is an apparent conflict of interest in their process modality. |Wizbang|


Let's lay out Wizbang's argument schematically:
1. The major polling organizations have their headquarters in the Washington and New York metropolitan areas.

2. Any organization based in those areas is likely to generate work product which is tainted by left leaning partisan bias.

3. Polling questions are work product, so polling questions generated by the major polling organizations will be tainted by left leaning partisan bias.

4. If a polling question is tainted by left leaning partisan bias, then this will be reflected in a left leaning partisan bias in the results of the polls.

5. Thus, the major polling organizations will produce polls with a left leaning partisan results.

Now, there's a lot wrong with this argument but let's keep our focus on the second premise. The key question is, does the premise pick out a fact about the origin of work products which is causally relevant to the content of those products? If we can show that, contra 2, there are organizations based in the New York or Washington metro areas which do not produce left leaning work product, this would tend to show that 2 is an instance of the genetic fallacy.

Here's a list of some organizations based in Washington DC:
  • Republican National Committee, 310 First Street, Washington, D. C. 20003
  • The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachussettes Ave NE, Washington, D. C. 20002
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, 1776 D. St. NW, Washington, D. C. 20006
  • National Association of Manufacturers, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20004
  • National Rifle Association, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H St NW Washington DC 20062
  • Americans for Tax Reform, 1920 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

Those of us who understand introductory logic will see that 2 has been shown to be fallacious. However, others may still wonder whether organizations based in New York City are capable of producing unbiased or, even, conservative work product. Maybe we could ask the folks over at The National Review about that. Their offices are at 215 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10016.

Biden's so-called gaffe

If you haven't heard the story, here's how it goes. A few days ago Joe Biden was speaking to a group of Democratic donors at a closed door fundraiser and he predicted that a U.S. rival would manufacture a crisis early in an Obama administration in order to test Obama's mettle. Someone recorded the comments, they were leaked, the media declared it to be a gaffe, and Sarah Palin went on the attack.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Obama campaign planned this gaffe, but let's think about where the conversation goes. The Republican talking point is basically, "if you elect Obama, he'll have to handle a crisis!" The Democratic response points to the current economic crisis, Obama's presidential behavior throughout, and John McCain's erratic shambling in search of a plan. And also too it keeps the Powell endorsement in the news cycle. How is any of this bad for Obama?

Polarization II

Judgment Day is on its way. We cannot stop it. We don’t know when it will come, but just as surely as the sun rises daily, the Son of Man will come when we least expect.
Judgment Day is on its way. When my time comes, I will be measured by my Savior for the decisions I have made. I will either be acknowledged by Jesus or denied by Him in the presence of our heavenly Father. The question I need to ask myself is this: What kind of witness will I give to Him when I go into the voting booth this election day?
The right of our children to be protected from destruction is greater than my right to a thriving economy. I am living proof of this, since I am here because my parents believed this priority and lived it. My desire for a good economy cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion. My desire to end the war in Iraq cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion. |Source|



"liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God,"

I know I'm stating the obvious, here, but it is very difficult to have a good-faith conversation with a group of people if one thinks that group secretly believes that, and only keep it to themselves (usually) for political reasons. 


More from below the waterline

Even beyond Todd Palin's manly stride into the perjury trap, there's plenty left for Governor Palin to worry about in Troopergate. Mudflats has a good post up exploring the possibility that the Legislative Council might launch an investigation into witness tampering during the cover-up.

And, yeah, there's a primary source (MSWord File!) on all this.

And: As for the worker's compensation business, Andrew Halcro is willing to take Murlene Wilkes at her word and accept Branchflower's finding that no wrongdoing occurred. I don't know. Pretty clearly, Jason Leopold overrreached. On the other hand, Todd Palin did gather information regarding Wooten's worker's comp case, and it is apparent that confidential material in Wooten's personnel file was shared, at the very least, between Todd Palin and Frank Bailey. If you agree with Les Gara that Audie Holloway's allegations of witness tampering are credible, then it seems to me that you have to continue to wonder what exactly happened at Harbor Adjustment services.

Update: Johanna Grasso's comment from Halcro's post:
OK, I'll Bite! Finding Number 3: The claim was handled appropriately at Harbor Adjustment Service because I made sure it was. I worked at Harbor, twice, for a total of 8 years. I left because I received a great opportunity to leave adjusting and become the manager of a property, liability, and workers' compensation claims department. I left in Harbor good standing. I was not told I was inelgible for rehire. I was not disgruntled and not insubordinate. I had returned numerous times to visit staff, including Murlene. I called 3 of the adjusters to say hello over the year since I had left. I had lunch with one adjuster, on a monthly basis, who still works there. We had been friends since 1991 but now she won't speak with me because she believes I lied in some way. Murlene's statement posted here is very false and causes me grave concern about my reputation. Murlene told me in a closed door meeting who Wooten was in relation to the governor. She told me that the Division of Risk Managment was pleased with my claims handling of the Wooten case. She told me the Division of Risk Management heard from someone in the Governor's office that they wanted the claim denied. I indicated that I would not handle his claim differently knowing this and I didn't care if the President wanted it denied; that I would not do it because of WHO the claimant was! I told her I would not deny it without the proper evidence as my license was on the line. I left Murlene's office frustrated that the Governor's long reaching arm was already felt in the few months Palin became Governor. I had to keep adjusting the claim and not think about who I was dealing with. In fact, I vented with others in the office about the Governor's office after that conversation. Murlene did not pressure me to deny the claim. The frustration, for me, was about the Governor's office more than anything else. I called the tipline about 3 weeks before Palin was nominated for VP. When I provided my statement to Branchflower in August 2008, I had NO idea he had already spoken with Murlene. I gave my very short statement and afterward, he said he had already spoken with Murlene and he would have to recontact her. Branchflower is the one who indicated to the legislators in September the Murlene may have lied and may have financial incentive to not say anthing due to her contract with the State of Alaska. I merely gave my statement and left! Yes, the claim was handled appropriately regardless of the information I had about who Wooten was and that the Governor's office wanted it denied for whatever reason. Afterall, when I denied benefits, MY license was the one on the line. |Johanna Grasso|

Todd Palin lied in his sworn statement, cont.

Last week, I documented the contrast between Todd Palin's sworn statement and the statements given by, among others, John Glass. The hanging question, it seemed to me, had to do with why Branchflower hadn't mentioned the lies.

And here's your answer. Branchflower didn't note the lies because he wrote the report before receiving Todd Palin's statement.
While it is true that in the absence of an interview with either Governor Palin or Todd Palin, the specific answers to questions such as these are left unanswered, it is likewise true that their apparent motives can be inferred from the circumstances, their actions, and their comments. |Branchflower Report, p. 67|

Moreover, Branchflower is may not have viewed himself as having authority to accuse Todd Palin of misconduct.
Todd Palin

The terms of my contract with the Legislative Council establish the framework within which I have been required to conduct my investigation and make my findings. Specifically, the "Statement of Work" provision required me to "...investigate the circumstances and events surrounding the termination of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and potential abuses of power and/or improper actions by members of the executive branch." Todd Palin is not an employee of the executive branch, so his conduct is not a violation of AS 39.52.010 -- 39.52.965. Given the terms of the contract, I make no finding as to Mr. Palin's conduct. |Branchflower Report, p. 67-68|

Fair enough. But while we wait for the next investigation, here's a little something to chew on:
MR. BRANCHFLOWER: Do you have an opinion about his level of involvement in the day-to-day affairs of the working of the governor's office?

MR. WHEELER: I -- I think that he -- that he had a significant influence, in that he was always interacting with the -- the employees there. That any time I needed to get information to the governor, I would always go through Todd, because he was the only one I could -- could talk with, either via the cell phone or in person.

He -- I know that he got e-mails and stuff that he was in the loop on -- on activities. Because if -- if the governor was required to leave and go to Juneau or something, that Todd was always the one that would call me and let me know where they were and they they'd be five or ten minutes out.

So he -- yes, he was -- he know a lot of the stuff that was going on.
I would say that the first ladies from the two previous administrations, while they were involved in state business, it was primarily in functions and non -- or -- I can't think of the word right now. Private -- things like breast cancer awareness and, you know, representing the state in these -- in these nonprofit organizations. They all had an organization that they took to heart.

And I never saw that from Mr. Palin. You know, I basically saw where he was involved more with the day-to-day things than -- than going out and attending these specific things, or specific organizations. |Branchflower Report, p. 45-46|

So, basically, you've got Todd Palin acting as a shadow chief of staff with all of the power but none of the oversight (and then also he's a vindictive nutjob with boundary issues). Probably nothing for the grown-ups to be worried about.

What saith you Mr. Clark?

"LittleBigPlanet," described by review Web site IGN.com as an "instant classic," has been pulled from warehouses after it was noticed that one of its music tracks contained words from the Islamic holy text, the Quran.

The move is a blow to the Sony PlayStation game, seen as the console's first launch of an icon to match Nintendo's ubiquitous Mario, in which rag doll character Sackboy negotiates a lavishly designed world of platforms and challenges.

"We're sure that most of you have heard by now that one of the background music tracks that was licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Quran," a statement on the game's Web site said. |CNN|

Item: In virtue of what, exactly, might Muslims be offended? Ignorant Americans like me want to know! Is quoting the Quran blasphemous in the same way that depicting the prophet is blasphemous, or is this more of a robot-armies-attack-while-shouting-allahu-akbar type situation? CNN does not relate.

Predictably: The situation has created a speculative LittleBigPlanet bubble. At least I assume it's speculative. I invite anyone who disagrees to explain the fundamentals of the market to me.

Better than legos; or, More research than CNN saw fit to do:
Yesterday a reader sent us a link to a music file containing the two offending phrases, which can be found here. Hit the jump for the translation of the offending phrases.

The words are:

1- In the 18th second: "كل نفس ذائقة الموت" ("kollo nafsin tha'iqatol mawt", literally: 'Every soul shall have the taste of death').

2- Almost immediately after, in the 27th second: "كل من عليها فان" ("kollo man alaiha fan", literally: 'All that is on earth will perish').|Kotaku"|

A final note regarding our linguistic practices: Can't speak for anyone else, but I like seeing the wikitastic XxxxxYyyyyyNnnnn convention grow in prominence.

Bellman culture watch, weekend whirlwind edition

Friday: Soweto Gospel Choir - The choir was great throughout and performed an especially good version of Amazing Grace, but the show didn't really work for me until after the ushers let the folks who had bused in from the Bethel AME church move up into the unoccupied seats in my section. You just can't appreciate a good choir when you're surrounded by well-behaved people of culture who would not, under any circumstances, clap on the two and four or raise a quivering hand while shouting, "Amen, Jesus, take me Lord!"

Saturday: Milton Nascimento and the Jobim Trio - The first thing to know about the Jobim Trio is that it's a quartet. The first several numbers featured the trio performing Jobim standards. Mellow, except that the drumming of Paolo Braga was out of this world. He would set up a rhythym, maybe on the hi-hat, and then send it orbiting around his kit with just enough retrograde motion in the epicycle to ensure plenty of cow bell. Nascimento took a little while to warm up, but the meat of his set was quite good. I guess the trio needed to have Rodrigo Villa on electric bass in order to give heft to some of Nascimento's pop hits, but I thought that for the most part the bass only served to muddy up the sound of the group.

Sunday: Anne-Sophie Mutter with Camerata Salzburg - Here's some free advice. If you ever have an opportunity to see a virtuoso soloist play the violin, take it. Tartini's Devil's Trill, which I hadn't heard before, was the highlight of the evening and the weekend.


Re: Ayers, Wright, et al.

Guilt by association is a version of the ad hominem fallacy in which a person is said to be guilty of error because of the group he or she associates with.

Secretary of State Dean Acheson is soft on communism as you can see by the fuzzy-headed liberals who come to his White House cocktail parties and the bleeding hearts of his Democratic Party who call for "moderation and constraint" against Soviet terror.

Has any evidence been presented here that Acheson's actions are inappropriate in regards to communism? This sort of reasoning is an example of McCarthyism, the technique of smearing liberal Democrats that was so effectively used by the late Senator Joe McCarthy in the early 1950s. In fact, Acheson was strongly anti-communist and the architect of President Truman's firm policy of containing Soviet power. |source|

This is for America


Palin around

Item: The Alaska Legislative Council has agreed to share the confidential part of the Branchflower Report with Tim Petumenos, the investigator heading up the Personnel Board's investigation.

Item: Palin's Administration is now claiming that it will cost $15 million to comply with a media information request for copies of emails sent from private accounts. For the sake of consistency, the state government seems to be upping the fees it charges for unrelated info requests. The upshot is that Alaska's strong open records laws are now being enforced in a way that prices the public out of the market for public records.

Item: In other Palin email related news, a judge has ruled that Palin may continue to use private accounts for the time being, but has ordered the state to take measures to insure that any emails concerning public business will be preserved.

Item: I'm not quite sure what to make of this kerfluffle. Branchflower found that Colberg did not materially comply with his subpoena, Colberg claims that he did. My guess is that if Colberg provided the requested documents, he did so too late for their contents to be incorporated into Branchflower's report, and that this is the basis of Branchflower's finding. Again, though, I don't know.

Item: Owing to certain welcome distractions, I still haven't read the report all the way through. Maybe this weekend.

Item: As long as we're all meta-bellman here, I'm still using the troopergate tag, but it seems to me that the ongoing scandal regarding Palin's secret email accounts may need it's own gate.

More of this, please

This is just good stuff: A startup company is building an enormous, underground, hydroelectric battery in Maine.
Their plan, which has some impressive backing, is to blast giant caverns out of the bedrock 600 meters below and then, during times of peak electricity demand, divert water from the Black River into the caverns, which would power electric turbines on the way down. When demand is low, meanwhile, excess electricity would be used to operate the turbines in reverse, pumping water back out of the caverns. Because the power generated at a hydroelectric plant is proportional to the height the water travels, and because the Maine project would be twice the height of the tallest hydroelectric dam in the world, this underground hydro plant could generate a huge amount of electricity. It would have a capacity of 1000 megawatts, and could run at full bore for six to eight hours before its storage caverns were full. | TNR |

This is totally awesome for the following reasons:

Reason the first: Based on existing and well understood tech, cost estimates for this project can be very accurate.

Reason the second: It is useful in our current energy climate (where we are evening out the load on the grid using the battery), but is also poised to capitalize on--and lays the groundwork for!--future wind and solar power initiatives. It's agnostic about where the power comes from: It can just store that power relatively cheaply.

Reason the third: All this investment is good for the economy, and gosh, we could use more of it.

I suspect this is going to turn out to be a money maker for BlackRock. Plans for this kind of battery have been on the books for years, but with energy costs going up and wind/solar power coming on strong, I bet their break-even date is a lot sooner than it would have been five years ago.

In the future, I hope we'll see more projects like this, including projects that are even more like water towers: Pump the water up when you've got extra juice, and then on the way back down the water can provide power just like today it provides water pressure.

As we've already been covering, the future is full of win.


Hey Joe

Get a union card you fucking scab.

Occupational licensing is one of the Leviathan State's biggest scams. Heck, in Mississippi you need a license to be a hair braider. Louisiana licenses florists. And this one takes the cake: Maryland licenses fortune tellers. (See this Reason Foundation report by Adam B. Summers.)

Occupational licenses are often sold as instruments of consumer protection, but their real effect is to strangle entrepreneurship through regulation. When Joe is done making his case against higher taxes, maybe he should make a case against occupational licensing. |The Fever Swamp|

Which to me once again raises the issue of whether or not it really serves the public interest to have so many occupational licensing rules. Like most people, if I needed to hire a plumber, I’d probably look for a recommendation. I don’t have any real confidence that these licensing schemes are tracking quality in any meaningful way, just preventing a certain number of people from earning a living and raising the general cost of plumbing services for everyone else. |Yglesias|

Point the first: It is true enough that one thing licensing schemes do is impose a tax on economic activity. Those of us who do not wish to drown the state in our bathtub are, on general principles, okay with this. Everybody else can take a hike for all I care.

Which still leaves open the question of whether this particular sort of tax is so pernicious that it must be abandoned. In light of the apparent abundance of plumbers and hair braiders, I see no reason to think that the licensing schemes in place now tend to "strangle entrepreneurship."

Point the second: At least in the case of plumbers, the licensing scheme may well be an artifact of labor organizing. Plumbing is similar to trades like bricklaying, carpentry, and electrical work in that it is both a learned skill requiring considerable expertise and a skill which is commonly assumed to be well within reach of most people.

First corollary to point the second: Contra Yglesias, licensing is likely to do something to control quality. It will, at the very least, ensure that a minimum standard is met. Also, insofar as licensing serves as a barrier to entry, it will tend to mean that if you call a plumber at random, that plumber is likely to be experienced at plumbing (where I live, for example, there is a five year apprenticeship).

Second corollary to point the second: While limiting the supply of plumbers increases the cost of plumbing work for consumers, it also increases the wage for plumbers. In my county (which has a high cost of living), the prevailing wage for a plumber is $51.42. Pretty good if you can get your forty, but not so expensive that people forgo plumbing or that economic growth has ground to a halt in face of the prohibative cost of pipes.


Oh. My. God. That. Was. Bor. ing.

Consider this your debate reactions thread.

Final debate predictions, a rant

I haven't got much, just this. The conventional wisdom seems to be that John McCain has to do something dramatic tonight in order to have any chance at all. Nobody, though, seems to have any idea of what dramatic thing he might do. About the only suggestion you hear is that he's got to attack so harshly that he throws Obama off balance.

Count me as skeptical that McCain could pull that off. If the last few weeks of agitating for assassination haven't gotten Obama to lose his cool, nothing is going to.

The real questions about this debate have to do less with the coming election than with McCain's legacy. McCain, barring some bizarre and unexpected circumstance, is going to lose the election. The question is, will he continue to align himself with the fascist wing of the GOP?

And, yeah, I said fascist. There is just no other adequate word to describe Palin and her supporters. They have no respect for the rule of law, demonize opponents in ways that seem calculated to lead to political violence, and see it as entirely proper that the apparatus of the state might be used to serve the whims of a charismatic leader.

It really is time for John McCain and the rest of the Republicans to take a hard look at the party and the conservative movement. This isn't about winning elections anymore. It's about stepping away from the brink and turning back toward democracy.

Adding: As per usual, I'm expecting a rocking thread at the OG for those of you who like to spice up the debate watching with a dash of the internet.

Jesus fucking Christ there are some stupid people out there:
“He doesn’t come from the African-American perspective — he’s not of that tradition,” said Kimi Oaks, a prominent community volunteer in the Mobile area, with apparent approval. Ms. Oaks, along with about 15 others, had gathered after Sunday services at Mobile’s leading Methodist church to discuss the presidential campaign. “He’s not a product of any ghetto,” Ms. Oaks added.

At the same time, however, she vigorously rejected the idea that race would be important in the election, a question met with general head-shaking from those assembled; Ms. Oaks said she was “terribly offended,” as a Southerner, at even being asked about this. |NY Times|


Ground game

Since I've been arguing for awhile that the Obama campaign has to be understood first and foremost as an organizing campaign, I guess I've got no choice but to link to this:
Win or lose, "The New Organizers" have already transformed thousands of communities—and revolutionized the way organizing itself will be understood and practiced for at least the next generation. Obama must continue to feed and lead the organization they have built—either as president or in opposition. If he doesn't, then the broader progressive movement needs to figure out how to pick this up, keep it going and spread it to all 50 states. For any of that to happen, the incredible organizing that has taken place this year inside Obama's campaign—and also here and there in Clinton's—needs to be thoroughly understood and celebrated. Toward that end, here are glimpses from several days of observations and interviews in Central and Southwest Ohio. This article focuses on the field program's innovative "neighborhood team" structure and the philosophy of volunteer management underlying it that is best summarized by the field campaign's ubiquitous motto: "Respect. Empower. Include." |Zack Exley|

You know why they call it sneaky Pete

Overall, the more alcohol consumed, the smaller the brain volume, with abstainers having a higher brain volume than former drinkers, light drinkers (one to seven drinks per week), moderate drinkers (eight to 14 drinks per week), and heavy drinkers (14 or more drinks per week).

Men were more likely to be heavy drinkers than women. But the link between brain volume and alcohol wasn't as strong in men. For men, only those who were heavy drinkers had a smaller brain volume than those who consumed little or no alcohol.

In women, even moderate drinkers had a smaller brain volume than abstainers or former drinkers. |CNN|

Frustratingly little is said about the cognitive impact of lower brain volume. Only that, "greater amounts [of shrinkage] in some parts of the brain have been linked to dementia," which manages to raise a lot of questions without actually answering any. This study, by all appearances bona fide, seems to indicate that there is no link between brain shrinkage and cognitive function.

But here's something that google popped out when I tried to investigate the link. Brain shrinkage is also linked to B12 deficiency, and B12 deficiency is something you sometimes see in alcoholics.

Coincidentally, I also have a parrot and an eye patch

Can't stop, won't stop

The state Personnel Board investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of Walt Monegan has broadened to include other ethics complaints against the governor and examination of actions by other state employees, according to the independent counsel handling the case.

The investigator, Tim Petumenos, did not say who else is under scrutiny. But in two recent letters describing his inquiry, he cited the consolidation of complaints and the involvement of other officials as a reason for not going along with Palin's request to make the examination of her activities more public.

Two other ethics complaints involving Palin are known. One, by activist Andree McLeod, alleges that state hiring practices were circumvented for a Palin supporter. The case is not related to Monegan's firing. The other, by the Public Safety Employees Association, alleges that trooper Mike Wooten's personnel file was illegally breached by state officials. |ADN|

Will post links to the Petumenos letters if I find them.

Other news in the story is that Petumenos has requested a copy of the Branchflower report, and the Legislative Council will vote Thursday to decide whether to provide it.

Relatedly, Isikoff reports:
But the board ended up hiring an aggressive Anchorage trial lawyer, Timothy Petumenos, as an independent counsel. McCain aides were chagrined to discover that Petumenos was a Democrat who had contributed to Palin's 2006 opponent for governor, Tony Knowles. Palin is now scheduled to be questioned next week, and the counsel's report could be released soon after. "We took a gamble when we went to the personnel board," said a McCain aide who asked not to be identified discussing strategy. |Newsweek|

Reading the Branchflower Report, or L'etat c'est Todd

In today's edition, I pick a page at random:
Testimony of Deputy Commissioner John D. Glass regarding a conversation in the spring of 2008 with Todd Palin about Trooper Mike Wooten

Deputy Commissioner Glass testified as follows about another conversation he had with Todd Palin about Trooper Mike Wooten:

MR. BRANCHFLOWER: Did there come a time in the spring of 2008 when you spoke to Todd Palin again about Mr. Wooten?

MR. GLASS: Yes, there was.

MR. BRANCHFLOWER: Can you explain what the circumstances were?

MR. GLASS: I was in Juneau working and talking with the Legislature concerning the proposed new State crime lab. As I was going up to or coming out of the third floor, I'm not sure which, but right at the top of the stairway, I ran into Todd Palin. I know the date was after the Iron Dog because I asked him about his injuries that he had received on the Iron Dog and he told me what that was. We started talking about Michael Wooten and that Todd was adamant that Wooten was a very poor example for a trooper and needed to be fired, that he shouldn't be a trooper, and I went through the same exact conversation basically that I had had with Mr. Bailey, in that Wooten had already been penalized for his actions that he had taken. It was two and a half/three years ago, we could not fire him. I had the wrongful discharge. I had the binding arbitration discussion with him, and I also warned him that it was going to cause some extreme amount of discomfort and embarrassment for the Governor if they continued to pursue this and it should never become public. That it would just be not good for the Governor if it continued, and that they needed to cease and desist. He persisted in telling me that Wooten needed to be fired, he should not be a trooper.

MR. BRANCHFLOWER: The conduct for which Trooper Wooten had already been disciplined was, I think, perhaps it was mentioned in either this interview or maybe not, but are we talking about the Tasering, the DWI, the moose hunting incident, and so forth?

MR. GLASS: The alleged DUI, the moose hunt poaching. Actually, it wasn't moose poaching, it was shooting his wife's moose on a permit that she had that she did not want to shoot the moose. His alleged drinking and driving, his Tasering of his 11 year old stepson, and the activity that had been earlier mentioned, yes.

|Branchflower Report, p. 144|

Pretty much speaks for itself. But let's contrast it with something else anyway:
I was not aware of the Grimes Report until July 2008, after Monegan left the government. The DPS never informed me or my wife that Wooten had been disciplined. All we knew is that Trooper Wooten would repeatedly tell Molly that no one would ever punish him because he was a trooper, and that Trooper Wooten continued to be assigned to patrol the neighborhood of my family, even after he had threatened to kill my father-in-law.

|Todd Palin's statement in response to subpoena, p. 3|

As I wrote before, it's hard to see how to read this as anything other than Todd Palin lying under oath.

Addendum: In weird coincidence news, CNN has a story up focused on the same passage. In weirder coincidence news, this was my second try at selecting a random page, because on the first try I came up with the same page Mudflats is talking about.

CNN sheds light on Todd Palin's perjury defense:
"I felt it was more of the same with troopers protecting a 'brother' officer," Todd Palin told Branchflower in written answers provided through his attorney. They were delivered on Wednesday, after he had resisted a subpoena for three weeks, and were not included in Friday's report.

Glass said Sarah Palin had been questioning the loyalty of state police officials before Monegan's firing. But Glass added: "I don't think there's anybody that would really question our loyalty to her, because we have been trying to avoid this whole situation." |CNN|

One thing that's striking here and elsewhere is that the defense of Todd Palin's actions almost always tends to make him look worse. The clear picture here is of an ally making a futile attempt to get Todd Palin to pull back from a dangerously self-destructive course of action. Rather than re-examining his preconceptions, or even understanding that they have been challenged, Todd Palin assumes bad faith on the part of anyone who raises objections and keeps going full stream ahead. Stupid, stubborn, and lacking any kind of ethical compass. Todd Palin sure is a piece of work.


"A financial expert says what?"

"What?" Burn.

Seriously, isn't it time to start replacing our lawyer jokes with financial expert jokes?

But, my friends, this is not the point of my hasty instabellman post. Since before the meltdown started, er, melting, Matthew Yglesias has been pointing out that, for all the money and status we allocate to the wizards of the financial services sector, what we have actually purhcased is our current shit sandwich. 

I think he has a pretty good point. And just so one of these instances is recorded here on the Blog of Record, I give you Matt Yglesias:
I think Fareed Zakaria’s efforts to look on the bright side of the economic crisis probably go too far, but I certainly agree with this point:
The financial industry itself is likely to shrink, and that’s not a bad thing, either. It has ballooned dramatically in size. Curry points out that “30 percent of S&P 500 profits last year were earned by financial firms, and U.S. consumers were spending $800 billion more than they earned every year. As a result, most of our top math Ph.D.s were being pulled into nonproductive financial engineering instead of biotech research and fuel technology. Capital expenditures went into retail construction instead of critical infrastructure.” The crisis will stop the misallocation of human and financial resources and redirect them in more-productive ways. If some of the smart people now on Wall Street end up building better models of energy usage and efficiency, that would be a net gain for the economy.

Indeed. I mean, in principle taking a large proportion of quantitatively skilled people and having them apply their technical chops to the financial markets could be a good thing if doing so ushered in an exciting new era of genuinely superior financial wizardry. But instead, Keynes observation that “The game of professional investment is intolerably boring and over-exacting to anyone who is entirely exempt from the gambling instinct; whilst he who has it must pay to this propensity the appropriate toll” seems just as true today as it was two or eight decades ago. Meanwhile, smart scientists and engineers are still producing useful stuff.


Super duper troopergate timeline

About this timeline: This post will continue to evolve. Suggested additions are welcomed in comments.

And: If you don't know it already, you should know that the Anchorage Daily News is the place to start for information about troopergate.

Bonus Resource: Canary Papers: The Sarah Palin -- Troopergate Timeline: A Sordid Tale of Corruption, Squalor, and Lies

[7/13/08] Palin abruptly fires Monegan, replacing him with Kenai City Police Chief Chuck Kopp, a prominent member of Alaska's Christian conservative community.
[7/18/08] Palin, first beginning to face allegations that the firing was improper, says “We would never prohibit, or be less than enthusiastic about any kind of investigation. Let’s deal in the facts, and you do that via investigation."
[7/22/08] Chuck Kopp, Palin's hand picked successor to Walt Monegan, admits to having been reprimanded for sexual harassment during his tenure as Kenai police chief.
  • Mudflats: Walt Monegan and the Other Ex-Commissioner of Public Safety.

[7/24/08] Despite apparent proof to the contrary, Palin denies having known about Kopp's letter of reprimand.
  • Alaska Pride: Alaska Department Of Public Safety Commissioner Charles Kopp Denies He Is A Sexual Harasser, Claims Hugs Were Just Platonic

[7/25/08] Kopp steps down.

[7/29/08] Palin pledges cooperation after the Legislative Council votes 12-0 to hire independent investigator Stephen Branchflower.

[8/12/09] Despite criticism from both Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature, Palin directs Attorney General Talis Colberg to conduct his own investigation in advance of Branchflower's.

[8/13/08] AG's investigation uncovers tape of close Palin aide Frank Bailey phone call pressuring DPS to fire Wooten.

[8/14/08] Palin admits staff, including Colberg, made at least 20 calls and that "the serial nature of the contacts could be perceived as some kind of pressure, presumably at my direction."

[8/15/08] Branchflower begins work on his investigation.

[8/20/08] Frank Bailey placed on paid leave pending outcome of the investigation.

[8/29/08] Palin tabbed as McCain's pick for VP.

[9/1/08] Because Colberg and the rest of her staff are all subjects of the investigation, Palin hires a private lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, to represent her office.

[9/2/08] Van Flein challenges authority of legislature to conduct investigation, demands move to Palin appointed Personnel Board.

[9/3/08] In an effort to secure jurisdiction for the Personnel Board, Palin files an ethics complaint against herself.

[9/4/08] Citing concerns over jurisdiction, Frank Bailey and other Palin aides cancel previously scheduled appointments to give sworn testimony to Branchflower.

[9/5/08] PSEA files complaint on Wooten's behalf as evidence emerges that Frank Bailey had access to confidential information contained in Wooten's personnel file.

[9/5/08] Representative John Coghill airs first accusations of partisanship, initiates campaign to have Hollis French ousted as manager of the investigation.

[9/9/08] After reviewing Coghill's allegations, Legislative Council Chair Kim Elton refuses to remove French.

[9/9/08] Lt. Governor Barnhill sends a letter to Legislative Council Chair Kim Elton offering administration cooperation with subpoenas in exchange for agreement that administrative employees have right to access confidential employment files.

[9/11/08] Thomas Van Flein alleges that Branchflower is acting unethically, demands that he stop deposing witnesses.

[9/12/08] Responding to Barnhill's offer of 9/9/08, Kim Elton notifies Barnhill that the Legislative Council accepts the administration's interpretation of law regarding personnel files.

[9/13/08] After Branchflower presents evidence that the governor's office attempted to intercede in a Workers Compensation proceeding, the majority Republican Senate Judiciary Committee votes to subpoena 13 witnesses, including Todd Palin and several high ranking members of Palin's administration.
[9/13/08] Barnhill acknowledges Elton's acceptance of the deal, and lays out his plan for scheduling interviews with Branchflower.

[9/16/08] Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reports that the McCain has sent high-powered GOP fixer Edward O'Callaghan to Alaska to coordinate the troopergate cover-up.

[9/16/08] While still claiming executive privilege for all other correspondence, Palin produces emails purporting to show that Monegan was fired for insubordination relating to the budget.

[9/16/08] Palin rescinds pledge to speak to Branchflower.

[9/16/08] Five Republican members of the state legislature file suit seeking an injunction to halt Branchflower's investigation.

[9/16/08] Citing lack of probable cause, Palin submits a filing asking the Personnel Board to dismisss the ethics complaint she filed against herself.

[9/17/08] Attorney General Colberg announces that state employees will not honor subpoenas.

[9/18/08] Todd Palin announces that he will not honor subpoena.

[9/19/08] Todd Palin and two administrative employees fail to comply with subpoenas.

[9/19/08] Murlene Wilkes, the contractor charged with handling workers compensation claims, does appear, changing her statement to indicate that Todd Palin had met with her and instructed her to deny Wooten's worker's compensation claim, under threat of losing her firm's $1.2 million contract.

[9/19/08] ABC News uncovers documents which appear to contradict Palin's account of Monegan's alleged insubordination.

[9/25/08] With no explanation offered, Frank Bailey returns as director of boards and commissions.

[9/25/08] Attorney General Talis Colberg files suit to have the Legislative subpoenas quashed on the grounds that they were improperly issued.

[9/26/08] Palin chief of staff Mike Nizich and six other state employees fail to comply with subpoenas issued by Branchflower.

[10/1/08] McCain campaign releases deceptive ad aimed at discrediting Branchflower investigation.

[10/6/08] Attorney General Talis Colberg announces that each of the seven state employees who had failed to comply with Branchflower's subpoena has, in light of the Alaska Superior Court ruling, decided to cooperate.

[10/8/08] Todd Palin complies with Branchflower's subpoena.
[10/9/08] Alaska Supreme Court denies appeal to stop the Branchflower investigation.

[10/9/08] Alaska Superior Court hears lawsuit seeking to require the State of Alaska to preserve Palin's private emails.

[10/10/08] Branchflower delivers report to the legislature, finding that Palin, in violation of the Alaska Ethics Statute, abused her authority as governor.
[10/10/08] Alaska Superior Court Judge Craig Stowers orders the preservation and retrieval of private account emails concerning state business.
[10/11/08] Palin asserts that she has been exonerated by Branchflower's report, saying to those who doubt her, "You've got to read the report."

[10/14/08] Petumenos expands scope of Personnel Board investigation.

The question is moot! I'm in charge, I'm the host, I get the car.

The lawyers representing both Sarah and Todd Palin issued a three-page attack on the investigative report, including the contention that Ethics Act violations can only involve financial motives and financial "potential gain, or the avoidance of a potential loss."

"Here, there is no accusation, no finding and no facts that money or financial gain to the Governor was involved in the decision to replace Monegan," the lawyers said.

Any abuse of power, they said, was on the part of the Legislative Council members, not the Palins. |CNN|

Let's start by getting the facts straight. Is the Ethics Act limited in the way Palin's representatives are claiming? The scope of the Executive Ethics Act is given at Sec. 39.52.110 where it says that, "each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust." The act goes on at Sec. 39.52.120 to describe misuse of official position, giving a list beginning with "(a) A public officer may not use, or attempt to use, an official position for personal gain, and may not intentionally secure or grant unwarranted benefits or treatment for any person" and also including, "(3) use state time, property, equipment, or other facilities to benefit personal or financial interests" and, "(5) attempt to benefit a personal or financial interest through coercion of a subordinate or require another public officer to perform services for the private benefit of the public officer at any time". Sec. 39.52.140.b prohibits use or disclosure of confidential information: "A current or former public officer may not disclose or use, without appropriate authorization, information acquired in the course of official duties that is confidential by law."

I suppose that you could take all of that together and conclude that phrases like 'personal or financial interest' are always and only talking about dollars and cents. Fair enough. I take you at your word. Please explain Sec. 39.52.225: "Before granting executive clemency to an applicant for executive clemency, the governor shall disclose in writing to the attorney general whether granting the clemency would benefit a personal or financial interest of the governor." My own view is that the ethics act extends beyond mere financial wrongdoing. I think I have the better of the argument.

So those are the facts. But let's unpack the defense. The argument is that (1) Nothing is an abuse of power unless it leads to a financial benefit. (2) Palin did not benefit financially from her actions. Therefore, (3) Palin did nothing wrong.

What on earth is that argument doing in a press release? The Governor used the apparatus of the state to pursue a personal vendetta against a low level state employee, but she didn't gain financially from it, so she did nothing wrong. Please try again.

You know, for kids

I bought two packages of fortune cookies at the store last night. Both are from the same manufacturer, but one is supposed to have "fun messages for kids."

Standard: Being aware of your fears will improve your life.

For Kids: In competition you're a friendly winner and a cheerful loser. Best road is: No smoking, no alcoholic drinks, or no to unlawful drugs.

Standard: Do not let others take advantage of you.

For Kids: The world is brighter because you're in it. Best road is: No smoking, no alcoholic drinks, or no to unlawful drugs.

Standard: Unseen forces are working in your favor.

For Kids: People like you because you're fun to be with. Exercise or sports may help strengthen your body -- keep away from unlawful drugs.

Compare and contrast

It was a stunning rejection of reality. This nation is mired in two wars it does not know how to end. It is struggling to escape the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The federal government is staring at record deficits, with no plausible plan for financing the retirement and health-care needs of a giant generation of retirees. Our transportation and education systems need help, and we are dependent on other countries for the energy we use.

In the face of all this, Obama and McCain are stubbornly repeating promises they made in happier times -- broad tax cuts, new health benefits, big government-financed projects.

To govern is to choose, and next year, the trade-offs will be much tougher than usual because of the mess the Bush administration is leaving behind. At a moment when few Americans can muster much confidence in the leaders in Congress or the White House, McCain and Obama have used two of their three debates -- three hours when they had the attention of millions of voters -- to conceal more than they revealed about their agendas. |Broder|

...you hear all the time from people making an argument against deficits a line about how your family needs to live within its means and so the federal government should, too. Now as it happens, I think there definitely are situations in which deficit reduction is the right policy. But no matter what, that analogy is never right. The United States of America is effectively immortal, it can coerce people into giving it money, it can print currency, and it is in a million other highly relevant ways not remotely analogous to an ordinary family or even an ordinary business enterprise. |Yglesias|

Communist Library Threat



[Origin 1532 - fit of ill feeling from Middle French 'pique' - a prick, sting, irritation, from Old French 'pike'. The verb, in the sense of to excite to anger is attested from 1671.]

tr. v.
To affect with sharp irritation and resentment, especially by some wound to pride.
2. To wound (the pride, vanity, etc.).
3. To excite (interest, curiosity, etc.).
4. To arouse an emotion or provoke to action.
5. [archaic] To pride (oneself) (usually followed by on or upon).

intr. v.
To arouse pique in someone.

A feeling of irritation or resentment, as from a wound to pride or self-esteem: to be in a pique.
8. [obsolete] A state of irritated feeling between persons.
9. Keenly felt desire; a longing.

Being a post in which almost certainly malign jerky interests draw me into their viral scheme

Rhyming in the zone

Josh Marshall.


Can the Daksa be laminated?
No. Any markings applied on the Daksa will disrupt the coherence of the energy field emitted. This holds true for the Bindu also.

Can the Daksa go through a washer/dryer and maintain energy?
Yes. Also, the Bindu applied to a cup or glass will maintain its energy through the dishwasher. However, after a period of time the Daksa and Bindus will need to be replaced as the surface gets worn or damaged.

Will the Daksa effect magnetic strips on credit cards if placed next to them?
Yes. You should avoid putting any of the IMZ products near magnetic cards (i.e. credit cards, hotel room keys…etc.) and other such items as the IMZ products can interfere with the magnetic encoding.

Can the Bindu stickers be placed on top of another to get more energy?
No. Place them side-by-side. If you want more energy, we recommend using a Daksa.

Can a Bindu be used on something you put in a microwave?


The essence of how the In My Zone Quantum Balance Formula (IMZ QBF) works is that quantum effects cause the transfer of energy from one thing to another through resonance, i.e.: vibration. We've all seen one or more of the commercials where an opera singer hitting a high note causes a glass to shatter. The glass shatters because it resonates with the vibration in the singers note and is not strong enough to hold the energy it absorbs from it.

Just as with quantum effects, the opera singer is not made weaker because the glass absorbed the energy, nor is she hurt when the glass breaks. The singer remains the same and is completely unaffected by what has occurred. She can reproduce the effect over and over again whenever she wants. |Source|

The tip of the iceberg?

One thing to keep in mind as first reactions to Branchflower's troopergate report roll in is that the stonewall didn't crumble until the last days before the report was released. This had consequences. From Branchflower's introductory comments:
On October 6, 2008 Attorney General Talis Colberg announced that some of the above employees have decided they wish to honor their subpoenas and provide information about this case to the Legislative Council. Given that last minute decision and in view of the publication date of October 10, 2008 for this report, it has not been possible to include any such information herein. It is anticipated that the additional information will be submitted to the Legislative Council in a separate report prepared by the employees and/or the Attorney General. Their report is separate from and independent of my report.

Out of deference to her position, no subpoena was issued for Governor Sarah Palin. However, she was requested to cooperate with the investigation by providing a sworn statement. She has not done so. Governor Palin's sister Molly McCann was requested by me to give a deposition; she declined through her attorney. |Branchflower Report, p. 5|

The implication is that the Legislative Council will have to commission another investigation in order to complete the inquiry. A crucial question now has to do with the scope of that investigation. The Legislative Council could choose to take the $25,000 Branchflower didn't spend and hire someone off the street to write an appendix. Alternately, the Legislative Council could choose to widen the scope of the investigation. I, for one, would be eager to see hearings focused on Todd Palin's role in Alaska government. And what about those private email accounts? Surely the Legislative Council ought to investigate to determine whether the Palin administration attempted to evade Alaska's open records act.

Branchflower's recommendations to the legislature

There are two. They are located in Section VI of the report, 78 pages in.

The first recommendation concerns the statute regulating the release of confidential medical records. The statute as currently constructed does not require government officials obtaining medical records to provide a legitimate reason for doing so. In other words, the Palin administration did not break the law in obtaining Mike Wooten's confidential medical records because the statute is, to quote Branchflower, "inartfully constructed."

To get the flavor of the second recommendation, here is the opening paragraph of Branchflower's discussion of the issue:
In this case, there has been much said about the level of frustration that existed on the part of Sarah Palin's father Chuck Heath who filed the original complaint against Trooper Michael Wooten, and on the part of Sarah and Todd Palin, who attempted to learn the status of the investigation only to be told by Colonel Grimes that the matter was confidential by reason of AS 39.25.080. I believe their frustration was real as was their skepticism about whether their complaints were being zealously investigated. The irony is that the complaints were taken very seriously, and a thorough investigation was underway. However, the law prevented the Troopers from giving them any feedback whatsoever. |Branchflower, p. 80|

God as my witness, Sarah Palin will cite this admission as if it washed her cleaner of sin than a thirty day fast. Well, I don't know. This just brings me back to where I was when I first heard about Palin's actions in this case. Here's what I wrote back in August:
The question is, what is to be done? One idea would be to work to reform law enforcement so that police forces aren't filled with douchebags like Wooten.

That's not what Palin did. On the contrary, her appointment of Kopp to replace Monegan suggests that she had no interest at all in strengthening the mechanisms by which complaints against Division of Public Safety employees are handled.

Instead, Palin, chose to use the power of her office in an arbitrary one-off crusade to set things straight. That's about as serious an ethical slip as it is possible for a governor to make, and it is hauntingly similar to the arrogant disregard that the Bush Administration has shown for the rule of law. |dr|

Obv., if I wrote that today I'd replace 'reform law enforcement' with 'amend AS 39.25.080.'


Troopergate findings

The report is in, and the Legislative Council has agreed to release it. About 1000 pages of supporting documents are to remain confidential.


Finding Number One

For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides

The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.

Finding Number Two

I find that, although Walt Monegan's refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety. In spite of that, Governor Palin's firing of Commissioner Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads.

Finding Number Three

Harbor Adjustment Service of Anchorage, and its owner Ms. Murleen Wilkes, handled Trooper Michael Wooten's workers' compensation claim property and in the normal course of business like any other claim processed by Harbor Adjustment Service and Ms. Wilkes. Further, Trooper Wooten received all the workers' compensation benefits to which he was entitled.

Finding Number Four
The Attorney General's office has failed to substantially comply with my August 6, 2008 written request to Governor Sarah Palin for infomration about the case in the form of emails. |APB|

Follow the link for the full report.

I probably won't read the report tonight, but the two most immediately important findings are One and Three. Finding three clears Palin in the arena where she faced the most serious legal jeopardy. Finding one confirms what has become patently obvious -- Palin failed to respect the proper boundaries of her office.

One last point before signing off for the night. These findings apply specifically to Governor Palin. Questions remain about the behavior of others, most especially Frank Bailey and Todd Palin.

Troopergate report delivered

A legislative panel convened this morning to receive a report on the Troopergate affair and after 25 minutes went into a closed session to question investigator Steve Branchflower.

Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, chairman of the Legislative Council, gave no indication how long the secret session might last or when Branchflower's report might be made public.

But two lawmakers who've stepped out of the meeting briefly say it could be hours.

Senate President Lyda Green, a Wasilla Republican, and Rep. Peggy Wilson of Wrangell said the session is moving slowly.

How slow? Wilson was asked.

"Slooowwww," she said.

Each legislator, meeting at the Legislative Information Office in downtown Anchorage, had two big binders on the table in front of him or her - one green and a larger red one. They contain some 1,000 pages in all. |ADN|

...later reports put the length of the document at 200 pages. And then there's this:
Only a portion of the report is scheduled to be made public after the executive session, said state Sen. Kim Elton, the Legislative Council's chairman. A second part of the report contains "confidential" information and will be kept under wraps, said Elton, a Democrat who has been under fire from Palin's supporters. |CNN|



[c.1340, from M.L. 'curatus', one responsible for the care (of souls) from L. 'curatus', past participle of 'curare', to take care of.]

A person authorized to conduct religious worship.

This post is not about the fact that the stock market has lost 35% of its value so far this year

As expected, the Alaska Supreme Court has affirmed (pdf!) the Superior Court's ruling. The Troopergate investigation will go forward.

Which is good to know, because it's done. The Alaska Legislative Council will receive Branchflower's report tomorrow.


Adding: Busy troopergate day tomorrow:
A lawsuit trying to force the state to hang on to e-mails that Gov. Sarah Palin sent from her private e-mail accounts hits the courtroom tomorrow. |ADN: Alaska Politics|

Obviously: You should be watching Maddow tonight. The troopergate segment begins about 35 minutes in (here on the East coast, and presumably in the central time zone as well, that means you can catch the re-broadcast about 5 minutes into Colbert).

Developing: It looks like Palin has cleared herself of all wrongdoing. Who'da thunk?

None dare call it treason


Reading Todd Palin's statement

It really is quite a document. I'm still working my way through it in fits and starts. As I noted yesterday, it is unmistakeably a political document. As a legal defense, though, the idea seems to be to heap all of the wrongdoing on Todd Palin's head. The theory is clear enough -- he isn't a government employee, and so many of the relevant laws don't apply to him -- but I just can't understand why the Palins think that the picture they're painting, with Todd Palin coming off as a nutjob with all but unrestricted access to the levers of state power, is one that insulates Sarah Palin from criticism. At the very best it makes Sarah Palin seem entirely out of her depth. As Governor.

Here's Todd Palin's answer to the question, "What communications did you have with Frank Bailey regarding Mike Wooten?"
We had a lot of conversations about a guy who threatened my family and verbally assaulted my daughter. We talked about my concerns. We talked about Wooten possibly pulling over one of my kids to frame them, like throwing a bag of dope in the back seat just to frame a Palin. We talked about Wooten's statements or actions against Molly and Wooten being a ticking time bomb mentally [Wooten a ticking time bomb?? -- ed.] and my concern for the safety of my father in-law and the rest of my family. I told Frank about my concerns about Wooten supposedly being disabled but at the same time riding snowmachines or motorcycles. I told him how I could not understand how a person like that could do all these things and still carry a gun and a badge. We communicated about Wooten being on shift but waiting in front of schools for 45 minutes while on duty running his kids around in a patrol car. [Wooten doesn't know the boundary between public and private?? -- ed.] Frank and I discussed Wooten a lot in the last few years, in person and over the phone and by email. I never asked Frank Bailey to call Rodney Dial for me about Wooten, but I repeatedly expressed my frustration to Frank about Wooten and, in my opinion, a flawed system that protected Wooten.

Apologies for the internal notes. I've got to type this stuff in manually, and I just couldn't help myself.

A note about the defense. The one and only defensible reason that Todd Palin or anyone in the Palin administration had for targetting Trooper Wooten would be a sincere belief that Wooten was a continuing threat to the governor or her immediate family. Lots of Todd Palin's answers, including this one, begin with an expression of fear about just such a threat. Regardless of whether those expressions are made in good faith, it's just clear as day that the obsession with Wooten went far beyond that. Todd Palin is here admitting to using the apparatus of the state in a personal vendatta. And by the way, even assuming good faith, his fears don't seem entirely rational to me.
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