What’s Palin hiding

September 27, 2008

So, what’s she hiding?

That’s the only question that can be drawn from seven of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s top aides defying subpoenas Friday from a legislative hearing examing whether Palin abused her power when she fired her public safety commissioner this summer.

The Legislative Council, in a unanimous bipartisan vote, ordered an investigation into Monegan’s firing, and Palin agreed to cooperate _ until she was named John McCain’s running mate. In fact, Palin had seemed to welcome the investigation as an opportunity to clear the air.

So, what made Palin change her mind? Is she afraid of what the Legislative Council will find? You’d think that if Palin was really as upfront and honest as she claims to be that she would want to be exonerated before the election. But apparently she’s willing to campaign with the cloud over her head. She must figure that her fellow Republicans just don’t care whether’s she’s innocent or not. And she’s also hoping that Republicans can politicize the investigation and claim that Democrats are just out to get her, never mind that five Republicans on the Legislative Council had voted to go ahead with the probe. Good luck with that one. She’s also probably hoping that she can claim the media’s out to get her because she’s a woman. Is she serious in thinking that the American people are dumb enough to believe that?

Either way, you have to figure that Palin lost a lot of credibility with her stand or avoidance of taking the stand.

According to the Associated Press, the whole controversy started after Palin fired Walt Monegan, the public safety commissioner, in July. He claims he was fired for refusing to fire a state trooper who had gone through a nasty divorce from Palin’s sister.

He claims he was pressured by Palin, her husband, Todd, and members of her staff to fire the trooper.

The Republican vice presidential nominee had initially denied that she nor anyone in her administration pressured Monegan, but in August revealed that her director of boards and commissions, Frank Bailey, was recorded questioning a state trooper official about why Palin’s former brother-in-law still had a job.

Bailey was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 19 but returned to work on Thursday, said Palin gubernatorial spokesman Bill McAllister. He declined to discuss Bailey’s return further, saying it was a personnel matter.

Palin claims she never pressured Monegan, and instead fired him over budget disagreements.

State Senate Judiciary Chairman Hollis French, a Democrat, waited 30 minutes Friday before reading a statement that the witnesses could be found in contempt when the full Legislature convenes in January and that the investigation would go on “in a simple search for the truth.”

Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg filed a lawsuit on behalf of the seven state workers Thursday challenging the subpoenas. He claims the committee has no jurisdiction to issue subpoenas in the investigation and questions whether the investigation’s overseeing body, the Legislative Council, had the authority to begin a probe.

“If they were a normal subpoena, we do not believe they would be optional,” Colberg said, never bother explain why these subpoenas were not normal. But then exactly what’s normal in Alaska these days is anyone’s guess.


Mendenhall, Tomlin share hot seat

September 27, 2008

Back when the NFL held its draft last spring, a lot of people questioned the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting running Rashard Mendenhall with their first round pick.

 Although Mendenhall enjoyed a great career at Illinois and many thought he wouldn’t be around by the time the Steelers drafted, it had been a foregone conclusion that the Steelers would draft an offensive lineman in the first round since that was their weakness coming off last season. After all, the Steelers had alllowed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked 47 times last year and they had lost their All-Pro guard Alan Faneca to free agency.

The debate over whether the Steelers should have drafted an offensive lineman or Mendenall has heated up over the first three games of the season as Mendenhall has done little to prove his value as a first-round pick and the offense line hasn’t exactly shined, especially last week when it allowed nine sacks against the blitz-happy Philadelphia Eagles.

But the debate takes front and center stage Monday night when the Steelers host the red-hot Baltimore Ravens as Willie Parker is out with a knee sprain and Mendenhall will be expected to take over for the all-pro running back.

It’s a tall order and the pressure will be on Mendenhall to prove that the Steelers were wise in picking him over an offensive lineman.

Of course, Mendenhall won’t be expected to win the game by himself. It will be important for the offensive line to protect Roethlisberger and provide some holes for Mendenhall. The Steelers defense will also be expected to put pressure on the Ravens offense, especially its rookie quarterback Joe Flacco.

But this game means much more to the Steelers than the Ravens. Lose and suddenly the Steelers will be 2-2 and three games behind Baltimore in the AFC North. They also have tough game at Jacksonville next week before the bye week.  With the tough schedule ahead, the Steelers could be looking at an 8-8 season and possiby out of the playoffs. That will shift the all the attention to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who will be on the hot seat if they don’t make the playoffs.

It will come down to the decisions made by Tomlin, including the pick of Mendenhall over an offensive lineman. Was it a good pick or not? I guess we should be able to answer that question a lot better after Monday night.

McCain has no good options

September 26, 2008

Well, it looks like Sen. John McCain’s self-portrait as a bold leader willing to set politics aside to save the country came apart at the seams Thursday.

It’s looking more and more like McCain, down in the polls, is getting more desperate each day the campaign goes by.

According to the Associated Press, top Democrats in Congress ridiculed McCain’s claim Wednesday that negotiations were going nowhere, necessitating his hasty return to Washington to intervene while suspending his campaign.

“It was somewhat stunning” to receive McCain’s phone call with that message, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Talks were proceeding fine without him, Reid said.

Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the chief House Democrat on the bill, said, “all of a sudden, now that we are on the verge of making a deal, John McCain airdrops himself to help us make the deal.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters that McCain called her and urged the White House meeting because “nothing was happening and there was no progress being made on all of this.”

“And I said, ‘Well, Senator, I have good news for you.”‘ Pelosi said. “‘Quite a bit has been done.”‘

Even the House’s Republican leader, John Boehner of Ohio, passed up a chance to praise McCain’s leadership powers shortly before the two men met in the Capitol at midday Thursday. Asked by reporters if McCain could help win House Republican votes for the proposed package, Boehner shrugged and said, “Who knows?”

Some Republicans said it was essential that both McCain and his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, back the bailout plan together.

“If McCain and Obama would stand together and take this off the table” as a sharply partisan issue, then wary House Republicans might get on board, said Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.

Framing the issue in those bipartisan terms, however, complicates McCain’s bid to differentiate himself from Obama on leadership issues.

In reality, McCain has faced a no-win situation for days. Opposing the main thrust of Bush’s plan would have opened him to fierce accusations of walking away from a national crisis. And if a congressional impasse triggered more Wall Street catastrophes, as the administration said it would, the criticism would have been still worse.

But to support the bailout or a similar plan puts him at odds with millions of voters and many unreasonable House Republicans at a time his campaign is sliding in the polls.

Rep. Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican who is retiring, said he probably will vote for the bailout legislation that eventually emerges. But the Republican running to replace him, LaHood said, “is running against it. Everyone’s running against it.”

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. called the proposal “a trillion-dollar Band-Aid that does not contain a single item that will stimulate our economy.”

Also, McCain has struggled to distance himself from the unpopular Bush, and embracing the administration’s plan would clearly not help.

Obama has an easier path. No one will accuse him of being a Bush clone even if he ends up siding with the administration on this issue. And Democrats in general are more receptive to government regulation of powerful institutions.

McCain’s only real option was to try and act like a bold leader. But there was little evidence of that Thursday. He met separately with House and Senate Republicans in the Capitol Thursday but reportedly did not attend meetings where the bailout legislation was being hashed out, and some rank-and-file lawmakers saw little impact from his visit.

“What do I know?” said Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., when asked later about the affect of McCain’s detour to Washington.

McCain also is in the same quandry over the debate with Obama scheduled for Friday night. If he reverses course and goes ahead with the debate, he could look confused and bewildered, especially if the congressional deal isn’t completed Friday. But if doesn’t go through with the debate, he will look weak and appear unwilling to go toe-to-toe with his opponent.

All in all, not a good week for the Republican presidential candidate.

Steelers must improve

September 22, 2008

The Steelers can’t possibly be as bad as they looked in their 15-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday.

Or at least we hope not.

But they better learn how to deal with the blitz quick, especially with the suprising Baltimore Ravens and their always-tough defense coming to town next Monday.

One that is becoming increasingly clear, though, is the dominance of the NFC East, which is 8-0 against outside opposition this year. It might not be too far of a stretch to say that the division has the two best teams in the NFL, the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys.

And certainly the Eagles can’t be too far behind, based on their strong showing against the Steelers. The Redskins, a playoff team a year ago, have also shown signs they might even be better this year.

So, what does this all mean for the Steelers. Lots. They still have to play all three other NFC East teams as does everyone else in their division. Thank God for that. The Steelers play the Cowboys and Giants at home while they have to travel to our nation’s capital to take on the Redskins.

All three games will be very difficult and it’s possible they could lose all three. And they also still have to play three teams in the AFC South, including the rejuvenated Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts.

It all adds up to the toughest schedule in the NFL and the Steelers will have to play much better than they did Sunday if they’re goin to up to the challenge.

Palin’s ties to group questioned

September 22, 2008

Maybe it’s time for someone to investigate Sarah Palin’s ties to the Alaskan Independence Party, a fierce states rights party whose founder wanted Alaska to secede from the United States.

True she was never a member of the party, but her husband was a member in 1995 and 2000. And according to Associated Press, Palin did address the Alaskan Independence Party’s state convention by video earlier this year, welcoming the party to Fairbanks.

“Your party plays an important role in our state’s politics,” she said in the video, which is posted on the party’s Web site. “I’ve always said that competition is so good, and that applies to political parties as well.”

However, here are some comments attributed to Joseph Vogler, founder of the party. Here’s one that came straight from the party’s Web site.

“The problem with you John Birchers’ is that you are too damn liberal!”

~ Joseph Vogler, Founder Alaskan Independence Party

Now for those of you who are too young to know anything about the John Birch Society, it was formed in the late 1950s with the idea of supposedly fighting communism. But it was also a fierce opponent against the civil rights movement and also anti-Semitic, basically blaming Jews and blacks for all the problems in the world. It was opposed by more mainstream Republicans who were put off by their hate rhetoric So, you have to wonder about a guy who found the John Birch Society “too damn liberal” and a party who would put such comments on their Web site.

The party’s Web site also quotes Vogler as stating “I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.”

In a 1991 interview currently housed at the Oral History Program in the Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Vogler is recorded as saying “The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government. And I won’t be buried under their damn flag. I’ll be buried in Dawson. And when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home.”

So, why would Palin’s husband ever join such a group? And why would Palin ever welcome this group in her official position as governor. Does she share any of the group’s beliefs? As far as I know, Palin has never condemned the group or its beliefs. Sounds like she has some explaining to do.



Poll suggests racism helping McCain

September 20, 2008

Could people be supporting Republican Presidential candidate John McCain just because he’s white?

Well, for some time now, many pundits have observed that Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama should have a bigger lead than he currently enjoys over McCain. President Bush’s unpopularity, the Iraq war and a national sense of economic hard times cut against GOP candidates, as does that fact that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

And now comes word of an AP-Yahoo News poll that, according to Associated Press, found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks _ many calling them “lazy,” “violent” or responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 _ about 2.5 percentage points.

More than a third of all white Democrats and independents agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don’t have such views.

“There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn’t mean there’s only a few bigots,” said Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman who helped analyze the exhaustive survey.

Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren’t voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn’t vote for any Democrat for president _ white, black or brown.

Not all whites are prejudiced. Indeed, more whites say good things about blacks than say bad things, the poll shows. And many whites who see blacks in a negative light are still willing or even eager to vote for Obama.

However, just 59 percent of Clinton’s white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton’s white backers plan to vote for McCain.

Let’s hope these people come to their senses and vote for the best candidate not just McCain because they don’t like blacks. You also have to wonder how many of these people reside in Fayette County, which gave Clinton her highest percentage of the vote in Pennsylvania, last spring.

There’s no doubt that Clinton’s views are much more similar to Obama’s than McCain’s. So, if these people were true Clinton supporters than why in the world would they switch their support to McCain? It’s even more of mystery when you consider the past week when McCain’s economic views about free markets and government regulatioin were so discredited. What do these people like so much about McCain besides the fact that he’s white?


Steelers battle Eagles for bragging rights

September 18, 2008

While the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles don’t really play often enough to be fierce rivals, there’s a always a lot of pride on the line when these two teams battle for bragging rights as the best team in the Keystone state.

The game always means a little extra to the fans of both teams who enjoy claiming gridiron superiority over their fellow Pennsylvanians.

This game could even have an added edge as it’s a crucial early-season test for both teams. The Steelers are 2-0 and with a touch schedule ahead would love to get a big win on the road. After losing to Dallas 41-37 on the road, the Eagles (1-1) will be looking to get back on the winning track.

The game figures to come down to a battle between two star quarterbacks and it could boil down to which one is the healthiest. Despite being bothered by a sore shoulder, Ben Roethlisbeger is the NFL’s highest-rated passer (136.3) after completing 25 of 33 passes for 323 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He showed his grit in completing 12 of 19 passes against the Browns Sunday night in a driving rainstrom, completing numerous clutch passes as has been his forte since he took over the reigns as the Steeler quarterback back in 2004.

Roethlisberger will need to be at his best against the Eagles and their rejuvenated quarterback Donovan McNabb. After being hobbled with injuries over the past several years, McNabb is finally healthy and it shows in his performance so far. McNabb is 46-for-70 for 642 yards, has thrown four touchdowns without an interception. He has a 114.1 passer rating while leading the NFC’s highest-scoring offense (37.5 points per game).

It figures to be an interesting matchup and should be one of the top games this weekend.  If it’s a high-scoring game, the Eagles will probably win. But if it’a low-scoring game, that should favor the Steelers. Keep that in mind while you watch the game.  I think the Steelers will prevail in a thriller 24-21.