September 29, 2008

Why This Layman Opposes the Bailout

I'm no economist, but the proposed bailout of Wall Street sounds like a bad idea. Maybe that's why it was defeated in the House of Representatives today. Basic psychology dictates that if you want to change people's behavior, you must punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. The bailout would do the opposite. It would reward bankers, investment bankers, mortgage lenders, and those on Wall Street, many of whom lobbied successfully for looser lending laws with no regulatory oversight and then took advantage of those laws to make risky loans when they knew better (pocketing billions of dollars along the way) with a giant taxpayer dollar party.

I don't get why these malfeasors should be rewarded. Apparently, they used creative financing products to lend money to home buyers who couldn't really afford the loans, and those home buyers have defaulted on their mortgages, sticking the lenders with bad debt. If we bail those lenders out, what's to stop them from going out and driving us into the ditch all over again? We're told that the bailout is about perception, that, somehow, giving the bankers all this money will "calm the credit markets." Those who favor the bailout say that, if banks are too afraid to lend each other money, more banks will fail, businesses will not be able to get loans, the whole economy will be brought to a standstill, and we'll have a recession or even a depression.

First of all, most Americans think that we're in a recession already. Second, we'll have a recession (or a deeper one) next year no matter what. Third, so what if more banks fail? Depositors' money is insured by the federal government via the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. That safeguard was put in place during the Great Depression specifically to avoid another one. If the banks ran their business poorly, let them fail. If you start a business and made bad decisions, would the government bail you out or would it let you fail? Isn't that capitalism?

Moreover, the bailout is the ultimate "top-down" economic stimulus, rewarding Wall Street fat cats who have made millions of dollars. We've already had a nearly trillion dollar top-down stimulus for military contractors, oil companies, and other friends of the Bush Administration. It's called the Iraq War. Now it's time to avoid a depression by a bottom-up stimulus. How about giving money directly to the homeowners who are about to default on their mortgages, so they can negotiate with their lenders to pay the mortgages? Wouldn't that avert the financial crisis all by itself? How about putting the money into our infrastructure, building roads and bridges that are in serious disrepair? That will have the secondary effect of giving people jobs and money that they can spend to help the economy. How about a government program to retrofit homes and buildings to make them more energy efficient? This will create more jobs, help out the building contractors, stimulate the companies involved in efficient energy, and make us less dependent on oil.

There are many ways to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to help our economy. I'm sure I'm being overly simplistic, but my gut tells me that giving the bailout to the fat cats who got us into this very mess is the most unfair and least effective way to do it.

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September 23, 2008

Scopes Monkey Trial -- Sarah Palin and O.J. Simpson Would Fit Right In

The famous 1925 State v. Scopes "monkey" trial was an epic struggle of Science versus the Bible with superstar lawyers, a media frenzy, and a political backdrop. Sound familiar?

In May 1925, Tennessee teacher John Scopes agreed to be indicted in order to test a new Tennessee state law prohibiting the teaching of evolution instead of creationism to public school students. Two months later, Scopes was put on trial. The Scopes trial became a media circus worthy of O.J. Simpson, including the first live radio broadcasting of a trial, and a chimpanzee in the audience. Tennessee hired superlawyer and three-time Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan as chief prosecutor, and megalawyer Clarence Darrow volunteered to defend Scopes.

In this excerpt from the Scopes trial, Darrow puts Bryan himself on the witness stand -- which the judge had moved outside to the courtyard lawn to accommodate the massive audience -- to discuss whether the Bible should be taken literally. To me, the exchange between these two legal titans over perhaps the biggest issue of all time, complete with grandstanding and cheering spectators, as if the trial were a sports event, is about as interesting as a thing can get.

A week later, just days after the trial ended, things got even more interesting as William Jennings Bryan, who in many people's minds Darrow had destroyed on the witness stand, lay down to sleep and died. Or, put another way, he rested.

Too bad Clarence Darrow isn't around today to ask Sarah Palin about those humans and dinosaurs living side by side at the creation of the world, just 6,000 short years ago.

(William Jennings Bryan/Clarence Darrow photo credit: CORBIS/Bettmann)

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September 20, 2008

Joining the Supersize Costco Cult

In this lousy economy, I have eschewed the new Whole Foods that opened nearby, and instead accompanied a friend to the equidistant Costco. It was my second attempt to join Costco, after having made a previous scouting mission and being completely overwhelmed by the bigness of it all. This time, however, I joined the Costco cult.

The first thing I noticed upon entering Costco was the large selection of flat-panel televisions to my left. These must be the ultimate impulse items, especially given that Costco's shopping carts can easily fit a large screen tv, with room left over for a Smart Car.

I enjoyed the energy bars and other samples being served throughout the store, although the old hairnetted ladies serving them could have used some speed training. I wonder if they were hired from some "special" group home.

Costco's pharmacy section looks really useful. Their prescription prices seem to be discounted a bit, and over-the-counter items such as Excedrin are well-priced. However, many items, such as shaving cream, come 4 cans to a pack. Does the stuff expire?

Ditto for Costco's beverage section. It has great deals on Pellegrino and Diet Coke, but, with cases of 24 bottles and 32 cans, respectively, one needs a storage warehouse to buy them.

My local Costco has a pretty good selection of books, and the prices are excellent. Bob Woodward's brand-new book, The War Within, was selling for almost 50% off the retail price.

Nearby, some good deals on toys could be had. And yes, there was already a musical Christmas display, when Halloween is still more than a month away.

I was curious as to whether Costco had the XBox 360, and, given Microsoft's recent price reduction on the machine, whether Costco was selling it for some crazy low price. Surprisingly, Costco had the XBox, but at the old, higher price.

Athletic socks! Do you need athletic socks? I wish I did. Costco had lots of them, including white ones and grey ones, for a good price.

My friend kept raving about Costco's food, so I checked it out to see what all the fuss was about. The good news is, Costco does appear to have good quality food, from produce to meats to fish to cheese, as well as a nice selection of cookies and cakes. However, when I picked up what looked like a one-pound package of organic beef, it was attached to two more such packages. Many items were likewise double and triple packed. This is great if one (a) is having a party; (b) sports a large family of typically overweight suburban Americans; or (c) owns a freezer of the type in which axe murderers store dead bodies in suspense movies. For the rest of us, not so good.

Costco is known for their wine selection and prices, and a quick run through the wine section proved the rumor to be true. Even better, you can buy wine in individual, normal-sized bottles. The beer selection and prices were also good, and buying beer by the case does not seem so outlandish.

On the way out, those damn televisions beckoned again. I think Costco has modeled itself after the Las Vegas hotels that make you walk through their casinos no matter where you want to go. Somehow, I was able to avert my gaze and plow forward.

I ended up purchasing a basic Costco membership, and was joined at the counter by several others who apparently were also looking to economize in the current economy. At $50 per year, my Costco membership should pay for itself when I stock up for my next party.

In the meantime, would anyone like to split 24 pairs of athletic socks? They're cushioned and everything.


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September 10, 2008

(Almost) Liveblogging Conference Call With Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of The Daily Kos

When I registered for tonight's conference call with Markos, founder of The Daily Kos, which is being sponsored by the Courage Campaign, I was asked for my name. I blog anonymously, so there was no way I was going to give my real name. Instead, I gave my blog name, "Media Concepts." When I called in a few minutes ago, the operator asked my name. I stated "Media Concepts," but pronounced the first name like "Medea." It's pretty funny to be referred to by a name from Greek mythology. Anyway, here goes:

6:05 p.m. -- Host: Rick Jacobs of Courage Campaign. Over 500 people RSVP'd for the conference call. Kos has changed the way politics is conducted in U.S.

The call is listen-only, but then questions will be allowed.

Rick is describing Courage Campaign: California based, and does online organizing, but also gets into national issues. Many of these start in CA.
Markos has a new book out: "Taking On the System -- Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era." Introduces Markos.

6:11 p.m. -- Markos thanks Courage Campaign. CC is fighting "hate amendment" (Proposition 8) that would ban gay marriage. CA is a progressive state but gets stuck with some non-progressive politicians like (ousted CA governor) Gray Davis.

Kos talking about his book. He's been an activist for only 6 years, but has come in on the ground floor of the digital revolution that has transformed politics. Wants to impart lessons he's learned through trial and error.

Internet and technology has led to democracy in allowing us to have a greater say. We all know that, so that won't be his focus.

He's focusing on the change in our culture that has led to acceptance of "amateurs." 500 years ago, people who could do many things (Michelangelo, etc.) were revered. But then, society only put their faith in credentialed professionals, and everyone else was riff raff, hoi polloi.

Now, it's getting back to regular folks who are showing great expertise in politics, are writing about it, and are getting great acclaim. They don't have poli sci degrees, they're just self starters. On the Internet, people respond to quality, no matter who it's from. These stars then get famous on traditional media. Kos is a prime example. He came to U.S. in 1980, fleeing civil war in El Salvador.

This is happening in other areas too -- music (create and sell your own), art, filmmaking, etc. Markos runs a network of sports blogs where many people want to have discussions with non-experts who offer quality content.

This makes traditional elite gatekeepers uncomfortable. They have lost control. Amateurs break the rules. Result is disdain toward bloggers.

We're empowered and have more control over things now. Big advance for our culture. Thanks, and I'll take questions now.

Rick: CA Sen. Diane Feinstein wants to run for governor. Her advisers say she'll win, and no one else should even get in the race.
What is the role of organizers and activists vs. gatekeepers known as campaign consultants? How do we go around them and beat them.

Kos: the game is changing. Outsiders are winning more and more. E.g. Ned Lamont winning Dem primary in CT in 2006. CA has 4 0r 5 Dems who Feinstein would have to beat. Fragmented field opens the way for progressive who on-the-ground activists could back. CC should help i.d. some. No more mishmash, retread, damaged candidates.

Rick: How about you run for CA gov?

Kos: That would be a "horrible fate" for CA. I'd be falling asleep at meetings. I'm better as an outsider. Al Gore is a great example of someone who stepped out of elective politics and has a vital platform now against global warming. Politics would diminish his ability to be a cross-partisan champion of the environment. Kos: I'm a good writer, good explainer, good manager of online community.

Callers can queue up to ask questions. They will also read some that were previously submitted by email (I submitted one about fighting back on defense vs. taking the offense during the presidential campaign).

Question: How can we have effective protests in the digital age?

Kos: Current street protests are ineffective. To build popular support through the media, having a crowd on the street & get covered by the 3 networks is obsolete. Many protesters shout different messages. Media doesn't much care. Today, it's more effective to use protest as exclamation point to a campaign around a specific issue. E.g., protest against unfair immigration laws (that would deny public education to kids of illegal immigrants). Another example is Cindy Sheehan's caravan to Bush ranch in Crawford. Big buildup before she showed up. It bubbled up in blogs and indy media. She had a single message ("I want my son to tell my why my son died in Iraq.") It was a huge catalyst that shifted opinion against the war.

6:33 p.m. listener question: Barack Obama needs to repeat his original message of humility and a redemption story (skinny kid, unlikely candidate, etc.). McCain has a great story (POW) that people i.d. with, Obama needs to do something like this.

Kos: Obama isn't doing as bad as some people say. He's doing well state by state. He's getting a lot of advice lately. McCain has a bump from convention and more popularity among Evangelicals who are GOP base anyway. Thought McCain's convention speech was "horrible."

Listener question: Has strategy to turn around economy in CA. Make own biofuels like ethanol and live sustainable. Need a biofuel farm. Use manpower from "corrections union" (? I don't follow her question at all).

Kos: says that sustainable living is a successful movement and campaign that barely existed a few years ago. Clear goal. Divide into bite size chunks. Quotes right winger Grover Norquist re tax cuts: In 10 years, you'll see how much not getting everything you want gets you. Kos: Don't demand everything up front.

Rick: Tax cut advocates in CA have similar goals. What issues should CA voters use to tie to national issues and campaigns?

Kos: better to keep it at state level. E.g. target Republicans who espouse the most egregious tax policies, win more Democratic seats. But long term project needed to fix CA budget. Need to build popular support by traditional means (letters to editor, organizing, etc.) First term of president will be dominated by Health Care and Energy.

Question: any advice on what to emphasize in swing states in presidential campaign.

Kos: find what you enjoy the most and focus on that. Kos hates doing phone banking but others love it. Some like going door to door. Professionals such as lawyers can help by giving their professional time. Montana and ND would be unique battleground states to go to (and they're beautiful).

Question: concerned about keeping electronic voting tallies from being rigged. What can citizens to do keep it honest.

Kos: E-voting boxes can be sketchy, but many other types of voting problems. E.g. 2004 election -- many types of disenfranchisement in Ohio (purging from voting rolls, Democrats didn't get absentee ballots, urban districts didn't have enough voting booths, etc.). We need to make sure barriers to voting broken down before people get to the booth. Need to elect Dem secy. of states. We have one new ones now in Ohio and 7 other states, thankfully. Kos likes Oregon model -- vote by mail, has paper trail.

6:49 p.m. Question: what can we in CA do to reach people in swing states to get Obama elected?

Kos: talk to your friends and family in swing states. No one is more influential to a voter than their close friends and family. Make sure they are registered to vote & that they plan to vote. This is the essence of democracy and citizenship.

Question: Civil disobediance is effective when focused. Do you see any relevance for it now?

Kos: Cindy Sheehan example. She set up camp where she wasn't supposed to. But most effective disobediance used media at the time. Ghandi used newsreels that were shown before movies in the theater. Today, media are jaded. Need something new and different.

Question: How can the presidential race be so close, and why do people believe McCain given his record?

Kos: It's a 50-50 country. McCain has effectively portrayed himself as not a
Bush clone. So has Sarah Palin. Our job is to point out that Republicans are Republicans, and the problem is with their ideology that says Government doesn't work. Bush chose Michael Brown, a "horse lord," to run FEMA because if he chose someone competent, people would believe that government does work and they'd buy into the Democratic ideology. GOP is paranoid that government would work.

Question: How can we get corporate software out of elections?

Kos: Repeat previous answer re Democratic secy of state and increased voting by mail. It's allowed in CA.

Question: How can I convince my relatives who are pro-choice but who watch Fox every day to get online for their information?

Kos: Explain to them what matters. Explore why they want to vote a certain way, and try to present facts and info. on your side. Use the source material (New York Times articles, etc.), not just the editorializing on blogs like the Daily Kos. Don't give up, be persistent.

Question: How should Obama handle Sarah Palin?

Kos: I'm better at analyzing decisions than giving advice or reading popular sentiment. We can't leave her alone. We can't let false media narratives to stick (e.g., she opposed Bridge to Nowhere, she's anti-pork, she's not allied with Ted Stevens). Media won't confront those falsities unless Obama does so first. This is starting to work on the Bridge to Nowhere and pork issues. Obama should stick to issues, not personal or family matters, regarding Palin. She's "Dick Cheney redux."

7:07 p.m. call ends.

That was a very worthwhile call for me, although I just realized that, technically, I didn't liveblog the call, since I wrote the post as it was happening, but published the whole post a few minutes later. It's a learning process.

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September 08, 2008

Dear IKEA, I Have an IDEA

Shopping in one of your stores yesterday was fun, in a sick way. Here are some suggestions to make IKEA shopping more fun and less sick:

1. If IKEA can design elaborate storage and shelving systems with hundreds of customizable choices, do you think IKEA could lead us to the exits without getting us so lost? I don't even want to think about what would happen if a fire broke out in your store.

2. And speaking of trampling over pregnant women, do you think IKEA could have a designated day either especially for pregnant women, or one designated for everyone else? Then let me know which is which. The last thing I want when pushing my shopping cart full of sharp protruding Plekva shelves is to smack into unborn Junior while rounding the ice cream scooper display.

3. Two words: Swedish Women. Can't IKEA fly some over here as "friendship hostesses," or position them at the information or checkout counters? I guarantee that IKEA will more thank make up for the cost in increased sales. Many of us think that Swedish women are among the world's most stunning. I once walked into a McDonald's in Stockholm, looked behind the counter, and thought the Ford Modeling Agency was doing a location shoot there.

4. More coffee bars. I stumbled into one near the end of our shopping excursion, but my espresso infusion came way too late to do any good. The IKEA Gaze, that disoriented, burnt-brain feeling recognizable by an unfocused stare into the distance and which is similar to the Thousand Yard Stare experienced by many of our brave soldiers in combat, sets in within 60 minutes. I recommend having at least one coffee bar, or even roving employees dispensing the stuff, on each floor of all IKEA stores. That's where those imported Swedish ladies would come in handy.

5. Please eliminate the "Birch" finish from IKEA's furniture products. It's a crappy pine veneer at best, covering compressed particle board. We know that IKEA products are cheap, so why remind us by making them look cheap?

6. Please get rid of the assembled furniture products in the item pickup area. Do you know how ticked off I would be if, after three hours of a head-exploding wild goose chase picking IKEA furniture, determining and writing down all of the necessary parts and bin numbers, I came downstairs to pick up the pieces and saw a different item that I liked better? Pretty ticked off.

Thanks for listening, IKEA. Even if you choose not to follow my suggestions, I'm sure I will return to IKEA sometime soon for some good sick fun.


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September 05, 2008

Sarah Palin's Troopergate Scandal Heats Up

Shortly after John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, we learned that Palin is involved in a "Troopergate" scandal in Alaska. Palin is alleged to have ordered the firing of Alaska state trooper Mike Wooten solely because Wooten was married to Palin's sister and the couple was engaged in a divorce and child custody dispute. According to the allegations, when Palin ordered Alaska's Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, to fire Wooten and Monegan refused to do so, Palin had Monegan fired.

In the past few days, several new developments have emerged in the Palin Troopergate scandal. First, emails from Palin have surfaced which clearly demonstrate that Palin was complaining to Monegan that he had not yet fired Wooten. Then we learned from the head of Alaska's state police union that Palin's aides snooped into the trooper's personnel and worker's files, which are reportedly required to be kept confidential.

From there, it gets worse. Now Palin and her lawyers are reportedly trying to delay the Troopergate investigation until after the November election. Palin's aide refuses to give a deposition to the investigator from the Alaska legislature. Palin refuses to turn over relevant emails, citing "executive privilege." Does that remind you of anyone? And now John McCain has reportedly sent a team of lawyers to Alaska to help stall the Palin Troopergate investigation.

If Palin fired a government employee for personal retaliation, had her aides illegally spy on a state trooper's files in the process, and is now stonewalling the Troopergate investigators, then she, not just McCain, really is a clone of George Bush and Dick Cheney.

I don't mean for this blog to become the Sarah Palin Scandal Blog, but new information about Palin's record just keeps coming and is pretty hard to ignore.


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September 04, 2008

Sarah Palin and the Goblet of Photographic Evidence

The drip drip drip of news stories about Sarah Palin keeps dripping. Today we have a couple of very revealing photos. Not that kind of revealing (although I have seen one of those and I'm sure it's easy for others to find), but the kind that reveal Palin's record, back before Palin decided to run for Vice President and flip it and reverse it.

1. There's this photo of a document containing the logo of the Washington Independent and listing $2.5 million in "Wasilla City Projects," with an accompanying note containing the circled intials "SP" and which is purported to be Sarah Palin's handwriting. The note reads: "State funds we are going to receive:" and "Council -- FYI This does not include our $ nearly one million Dollars from the Feds for our Airport Paving Project. We did well!!" (underlined emphasis in original). The handwriting at the bottom of the page reads "Frontiersman" with a date that appears to be "June 1, 1999," a time when Palin was Mayor of Wasilla. The Frontiersman is the local newspaper in Wasilla.

Evidently, Sarah Palin was pretty proud of those earmarks she obtained for Wasilla with the help of lobbyists, before she began running for Vice President. John McCain? Not so much.

2. Then there's this photo of a smiling Sarah Palin proudly holding up a t-shirt that reads "Nowhere 99901." That is the zip code for Ketchikan and Gravina Island, Alaska, where the Bridge to Nowhere was to be built with $223 million in federal taxpayer funds. The photo illustrates what we now know -- that Sarah Palin supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she became John McCain's running mate. Since McCain had repeatedly criticized the Bridge to Nowhere as part of his anti-pork barrel spending persona, Palin's support for the Bridge has become an inconvenient truth.

I suspect that more such inconvenient truths regarding Sarah Palin's record will emerge in the days to come.

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September 03, 2008

Who Is Sarah Palin?

In addition to Sarah Palin's scandals, here are some other interesting things about Palin:

1. Palin loves lobbyists and "earmarks" (local pork-barrel projects that lawmakers, often after receiving money and pressure from lobbyists, insert into the federal budget). Palin hired a lobbying firm, and worked directly with Steven Silver of the firm, who had previously been the chief of staff to now-indicted Senator Ted Stevens, to handle the lobbying for earmarks. The lobbying firm also employed Ted Stevens' son Ben. Then Palin submitted a proposal to Senator Ted Stevens for 31 earmarks totaling $197 million, more per person than any other state. This is exactly the opposite of the reputation that Sarah Palin and John McCain's campaign are trying to claim for Palin, including Palin's own statement the other day that "I've championed reforms to end the abuse of earmark spending by Congress." Palin is the "champion" of "earmarks" all right.

2. Speaking of lobbyists, Palin's lobbyist also worked with Jack Abramoff, the ringleader of one of the biggest corruption scandals in the history of our federal government. In fact, Silver appears to have worked with Abramoff on Indian tribe gambling, the very issue that got Abramoff and others in so much trouble.

3. Palin's views on the God/industrial complex: Sarah showed up at her home town church, and said some whoppers. It's all here on video, so you can watch it for yourself:

-- She wants Alaskans to "pray about" getting a "natural gas pipeline, about a thirty billion dollar project."

--"I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies in getting that gas pipeline built."

--"Our national leaders are sending them [U.S. soldiers] out [to Iraq] on a task from God . . . that plan is God's plan."

In part two of the video, Palin's pastor, standing next to her, says "there are some things that God wants to tap into to be a refuge for the lower 48. And I believe Alaska is one of the refuge states, come on, you guys, in the last days. And hundreds and thousands of people are gonna come to the state to seek refuge, and the church has to be ready to minister to them, amen."

Yikes, talk about having a pastor problem.

4. Palin tried to ban books from Alaska's libraries for religious reasons. According to this Time Magazine article:

"[Former Wasilla, Alaska mayor John] Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. 'She asked the library how she could go about banning books,' he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. 'The librarian was aghast.' That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving 'full support' to the mayor."

Hmm, so much for the McCain campaign's plan to use Sarah Palin to attract Democratic women who supported Hillary Clinton.

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September 02, 2008

Will Scandal-a-Day Sarah Palin Be the Next Tom Eagleton?

Since being named John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin is averaging a scandal a day. Will she, like Senator Thomas Eagleton in 1972, have to be cut loose from the Republican ticket before the election? Here is what we have recently learned about Palin:

1. Palin lied about her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere. Moments after being introduced as McCain's Vice Presidential pick, Palin stated that "I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that bridge to nowhere [a proposed bridge to only 50 people in a remote part of Alaska that was inserted into the federal budget and became the most celebrated recent example of political pork barrel spending]." It turned out that Palin's statement was patently false, and that Palin strongly supported the Bridge to Nowhere while running for Governor.

2. Palin is embroiled in a "troopergate" corruption scandal. Palin also stated that, while serving in a public post in Alaska, she "found corruption" and "fought it hard." This "fight corruption" meme about Palin has become so prevalent that, during last Sunday's "Meet the Press" television program, host Tom Brokaw and his panelist Doris Kearns Goodwin repeated it no less than four times, with Brokaw even "stipulating" it to be a fact. The problem is, it's false. In fact, Sarah Palin just hired a lawyer because she is involved in a corruption scandal in which she is alleged to have ordered the firing of an Alaska state trooper who was married to Palin's sister, solely because the couple had divorced and was engaged in a custody battle.

3. Palin ran indicted Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens' lobbying group. Far from "fighting corruption" in government, Sarah Palin seems to cozy up to it. In particular, Palin was the director of a lobbying group (the kind that get to raise unlimited funds from corporate donors, in this case oil companies) for Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who earlier this year was indicted on criminal corruption charges.

4. We learned yesterday that Palin's teenage daughter is pregnant. This might not be a big issue, except that Palin always touts "family values," and favors abstinence-only "marriage education" for students as opposed to sex education that would include the subject of contraception. So forget glass ceilings, now the issue is Palin's throwing stones in glass houses.

And all this is after less than a week! Anxious Republicans must be asking themselves, what other shoes are waiting to drop regarding Sarah Palin?

In 1972, presidential candidate and Senator George McGovern chose Senator Tom Eagleton as his running mate. Apparently, McGovern and his staff did a rush job of vetting Eagleton beforehand. It turned out that Eagleton had been hospitalized three times for psychiatric disorders, and had undergone electric shock therapy. Eagleton was soon ditched from the ticket, and McGovern lost the election in a huge landslide.

It's pretty clear what Sarah Palin's scandals say about Palin thus far, but they say much more about McCain. Since the 1972 Presidential election, 24-hour cable news networks and the Internet, including YouTube, have sprung up. A candidate's recent statements and actions are readily accessible to millions of people, often within minutes. Can you say "Macaca?" In picking a Vice Presidential running mate, the Presidential candidate must "first do no harm." In the modern media context, this means fully vetting one's potential running mates to avoid fresh scandals. This is especially true of Sarah Palin, who is almost universally unknown, has not been on the national stage, and thus has never been subject to widespread public scrutiny before. It's even more true when McCain is the oldest Presidential candidate in U.S. history. And the election is only two months away, hardly enough time for the voters to publicly scrutinize Sarah Palin, or for the McCain campaign to adequately respond to any fresh scandals involving Palin.

Yet John McCain, who had zero familiarity with or use of the Internet until just weeks ago, doesn't get it. This was evident when he tried to claim that he had never said that he had little knowledge of the economy, then was confronted by Tim Russert and others with quotes and video footage of him saying exactly that more than once, which made McCain look dishonest and clueless. McCain seems to be stuck in time around 1968, when we were fighting the Soviets in the Cold War and a political candidate's recent controversial statements and actions might more easily be forgotten in a few months.

But this is 2008. Inexplicably, it appears that McCain may have picked Palin after only a minimal amount of vetting and either being unaware of her scandals and controversies, or worse, being aware of them and ignoring them. Unfortunately for McCain, the media and the voters will do neither.

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