Sarah Palin at it again

January 10, 2009

Our favorite governor of Alaska just won’t go away will she?

After serving as a lightning rod for both liberals and conservatives last fall,  Sarah Palin seems determined to try and stay in the limelight.

According to Associated Press, Palin is questioning the media’s treatment of Caroline Kennedy in her bid for a New York seat in the U.S. Senate.

In an intereview with conservative radio talk-show host and filmmaker John Ziegler, Palin said, “I’ve been interested to see how Caroline Kennedy will be handled and if she will be handled with kid gloves or if she will be under such a microscope.”

Palin herself suggested class issues could be behind the differences in coverage, saying “… we will perhaps be able to prove that there is a class issue here also that was such a factor in the scrutiny of my candidacy versus, say, the scrutiny of what her candidacy may be.”

In the interview, Palin criticized the news media’s coverage of her and her family, telling Ziegler that CBS News anchor Katie Couric and comic actress Tina Fey had been “exploiting” her. Palin gave Couric a rare interview at the beginning of her campaign for vice president, and Fey frequently impersonated Palin on “Saturday Night Live.”

Palin singled out the Couric interview as condescending, particularly a question about what she reads and, according to the governor, “What do you guys do up there?” In fact, Couric never asked that question but did press, unsuccessfully, for the governor to state specific newspapers she read, which Palin never answered fully.

According to AP, in a news release issued Friday, Palin’s office said the governor was dismayed that her comments in the Ziegler interview were being taken out of context in the media “to create adversarial situations.”

Regarding her remarks about Kennedy, Palin said: “I was not commenting at all on Caroline Kennedy as a prospective U.S. senator, but rather on the seemingly arbitrary ways in which news organizations determine the level and kind of scrutiny given to those who aspire to public office. In fact, I consider Ms. Kennedy qualified and experienced, and she could serve New York well.”

What Palin apparently doesn’t understand is that there’s a world of difference between a presidential campaign and the appointment of a senator. I mean come on? How could you ever compare the two in any real significant way. It’s absurd and ridiculous, once again showing Palin’s lack of intelligence concerninig national politics. There’s no media arbitrariness involved in any of this. Trust me if Caroline Kennedy ever runs for vice president, she will come under the same scrutiny as Palin. And if she does a poor job as Palin did as a candidate, she will be lambasted by the media. Period.

After all Kennedy has already come under criticism for for her use of “you know” and “um,” in her first public appearances. New York news media also have published or broadcast numerous stories containing criticism of Kennedy’s lack of experience in elective office and whether she is the best choice to replace Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been asked to join the Obama administration as secretary of state.

A word to Gov. Palin, please try and stay out of the news for at least a little while…please.


What makes America great?

January 9, 2009

One of the things that really makes America great is how we’re able to transfer power from party to party peacefully without a hint of violence.

That fact came into clear focus this week as President-Elect Barack Obama and President George W. Bush had lunch with former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bll Clinton and George H.W. Bush. It certainly was an image bound to go down in history with every living U.S. president standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the Oval Office.

The meeting was by all accounts very cordial.  Both Bushes deserve a lot of credit for taking part in the meeting and trying to give some advice to Obama, who will surely need all the help he can get. After being blistered by Obama on the campaign trail for the better part of two years, who could have blamed W for not wanting anything to do with his successor.  But instead he turned the other cheek and went out of his way to give Obama a primer on the stresses and problems involved with being the nation’s top chief executive.

According to the Associated Press, both Bush and Obama had warm words for each other.

“This is an extraordinary gathering,” Obama said. All the gentlemen here understand both the pressures and possibilities of this office. And for me to have the opportunity to get advice, good counsel and fellowship with these individuals is extraordinary. And I’m very grateful to all of them.”

“All of us who have served in this office understand that the office transcends the individual,” Bush said as Obama nodded in thanks. “And we wish you all the very best. And so does the country.

“One message that I have, and I think we all share, is that we want you to succeed,” Bush added, a beaming Clinton at his other side. “Whether we’re Democrat or Republican, we care deeply about this country.”\

After all the ugliness of the political campaigns last fall, who could disagree with that?


Obama proving skeptics wrong

January 6, 2009

Remember when all those Republicans and conservatives said Barack Obama would turn us into a socialist country come Jan. 20.

Well, guess what? According to Associate Press, Obama’s actually getting some praise from Republicans and conservatives about his proposed stimulus package, which would provide businesses with billions of dollars in refunds on taxes they paid several years ago.

“This gives companies an infusion of cash just when they need it,” Dorothy Coleman of the National Association of Manufacturers said of the proposed refunds.

According to AP, Obama’s proposal to stimulate the economy includes tax cuts of up to $300 billion, including more than $100 billion for businesses.

The refund provision would enable some companies posting losses last year to get refunds for taxes paid as far back as five years earlier. The businesses could refile their old tax returns, using the losses suffered last year to offset profits made when times were good.

Under current law, businesses can use losses to offset profits the two previous years.

“I think it’s creative, I think it’s bold,” said said Bruce Wein said, who heads the U.S. tax practice law firm DLA Piper. “It’s going to get a lot of backing from Republicans for the obvious reasons.”

AP said Obama’s tax package also targets individuals, providing a $500 tax cut for most workers and $1,000 for couples, at a cost of about $140 billion to $150 billion over two years. The individual tax cuts may be awarded through withholding less from worker paychecks, effectively making them about $10 larger each week.

Another provision brought to the negotiations by the Obama team would award companies that hire new workers a one-year tax credit at a total cost of $40 billion to $50 billion over two years. Businesses also would get additional incentives to invest in new equipment.

The ability to write off losses and apply them to tax bills retroactively was “at the top of the list from businesses’ viewpoint,” said Bruce Josten, the executive vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Josten said the Obama transition team has held more than a dozen meetings with chamber officials to discuss a number of issues, with several of the meetings devoted to the economic recovery plan. The tax relief package detailed in press reports on Monday “fits the criteria that we’ve outlined,” he said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said tax cuts could help boost the economy “if it’s done right.”

“It’s tricky to make sure the relief is big enough to make a dent in our huge economy and done in a way that stimulates growth,” Grassley said in a statement. “Business tax incentives should be strong enough to spur investment and create jobs.”

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said he is pleased Obama and congressional Democrats “agree with Republicans that tax relief for middle-class families and small businesses has to be a major part of this economic package.”

Hmmm. Not too bad for a supposed socialist Muslim terrorist, huh? Wonder if any of these Republicans would like to retract some of their harsh attacks on Obama from last fall. No, I guess that’s asking too much from Republicans and conservatives to ever admit they were wrong.


Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus

December 23, 2008

This is my all-time favorite editorial. It’s always amazing to me how relevant it is still today even though it was written 110 years ago. That’s really incredible. I think it also says a lot about newspapers and newspaper editors. I just hope that newspapers are around in one form or another 110 years from now. I hate to think of a world without newspaprs and not just because I’m a newspaper editor. There’s so much that newspapers do for communities and I’m afraid people won’t really appreciate them til they’re gone. Well, here’s a very Merry Christmas to everyone who reads my blog and a special thanks to all those who take the time to post to my blog. May everyone find peace and happiness in the coming year ahead.

IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor! I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun it’s so.” Please tell me the truth: Is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon.

115 West Ninety-Fifth Street.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except (what) they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.

There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal life with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world, which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.


O.J. a “sweet” guy

December 8, 2008

See, O. J. Simpson isn’t such a bad guy after all.
According to a story written by By Melissa Aresenuik, O.J. bought sweets and snacks inside the Clark County Detention Center where he awaited sentencing for one misdemeanor and 11 felony offenses following a run-in with two memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas Palace Station hotel room last fall.
Yes, what a gem of a guy. A guy who richly deserved what he got last Friday when he was sentenced to 33 years in prison for those charges with no chance of parole for nine years. His attorneys naturally will appeal the decision.
The sentence was cheered by many, including the family of Ron Goldman. Ironically, Simpson’s Oct. 3 conviction of the Las Vegas charges came 13 years to the date that he was cleared of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman.
“Some sort of karma. And good karma,” Fred Goldman said Monday of the conviction on that anniversary. “It is remarkable that, ultimately, now, we have seen him go to jail.”
Ron Goldman’s sister, Kim Goldman, called Simpson’s Las Vegas sentencing a “good day for us. … It’s been a long time coming.”
In a 1997 civil trial, Simpson was found liable for the deaths and ordered to pay a $33.5 million judgment to the victims’ families.
Simpson’s lawyer Gabriel Grasso said his client has been burning through his prisoner expense account buying food and candy for his fellow inmates.
“The jail has what’s known as a commissary where you can actually put in a written order and say, ‘I want two Snickers bars, a couple of ramen noodles, and whatever,’ and they actually will come to you within a day or two and you can actually eat those things and not have to eat the jail food, or not just have to live off of the jail food,” Grasso said.
“O.J. is actually buying stuff for all of these other guys who don’t have anybody on the outside (to buy it for them),” he said. “Candy bars, soup, chocolate, whatever you can buy at the commissary he’s been actually buying it for them, using his money to buy it for them.”
“You can’t buy anything like clothes or TVs,” he clarified.
“It’s basically Snickers bars,” the former NFL star’s other attorney, Yale Galanter, said.
“I was saying, where is all of this money going? How many candy bars can you eat?” Grasso said.
The inmate accounts are financed by felons’ contacts on the outside and are not funded by the state. Simpson has not used any public or tax dollars to buy his new jailhouse friends any treats.
Simpson was painted as a popular personality who makes friends quickly throughout his three-week trial in Las Vegas. Describing the scene at the Palms pool just hours before the infamous confrontation took place on Sept. 13, 2007, several witnesses told the court how strangers gravitated toward the former All-Star running back as the co-conspirators schemed by the pool.
Secretly recorded audio of the poolside planning session was used as evidence against Simpson, 61, and his co-defendant, Clarence “C.J. Stewart, 54, during their joint trial.
The recorded conversation included several interruptions that were caused when passers-by stopped to say hello to the aging star and ask for autographs.
Due in part to Simpson’s resilient charisma, Grasso indicated on Friday that he isn’t overly worried about his client’s safety in prison.
“When he does meet people in jail, when he does have to interact with people, they’re going to treat him well because he treats them well,” Grasso said.
“He’s very adaptable,” Galanter added, “(But) O.J. Simpson certainly carries with him some unique (problems) and we fully expect the officials in Nevada to … make sure that his safety is assured.”
Hmmm, if only Simpson had only assured the safety of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.


Obama surprises many with Cabinet picks

November 26, 2008

Well, much to the surprise of Obama’s critics, he hasn’t so far picked any Muslims or terrorists to join his Cabinet.

In fact, according to Associated Press, he’s “assembled a national security brain trust populated by graybeard establishment figures with decades of combined experience and even a few medals. ”

Consider he’s keeping Robert Gates, the very man running the Iraq and Afghan wars for the current Republican president, as his Secretary of Defense.  According to Associated Press, Obama suggested that a critical era at home and abroad required strong Washington hands, but overseen by a chief executive pressing for change. “What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking. But I understand where the vision for change comes from first, and foremost; it comes from me. That’s my job, is to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure then that my team is implementing.”

“The old ways of thinking and the old ways of acting just won’t do,” Obama said.

Also consider that or the critical inside job of national security adviser, Obama wants retired Marine Gen. James Jones, a respectful critic of some Bush administration war strategy, especially in Afghanistan, and his priorities and world view seem in line with Obama’s. But he’s no lefty. The former NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe was named last year to head an energy initiative for the Republican-friendly Chamber of Commerce, and he also served as a special Mideast peace adviser for the Bush administration.

Consider also his selection of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. No matter what you think of Hillary personally, you have to agree she’s a respected foreign policy wonk who will lend instant credibility to the Obama presidency throughout the world.

Gates and Jones are both career public servants without a strong ideological stamp. Clinton, 61, may carry ideological baggage, but she also brings a record of bipartisan cooperation in the Senate and tested Midwestern stick-to-it-iveness.

According to the Associate Press, Gates was a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and is widely respected by Democrats in Congress, but he retains strong Republican lineage. The 65-year-old climbed the CIA bureaucracy from an entry-level position to become director under President George H.W. Bush. He also served on his National Security Council, as he had for Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

Gates helped lead U.S. efforts to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan in the 1980s while at the CIA and was deputy national security adviser during Operation Desert Storm, the first U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Gates is a close friend of the Bush family. He was interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M and became the university’s president in 2002. The school is home to the elder Bush’s presidential library.

Gates supported the Iraq war and the military buildup there, although he has also endorsed new efforts to draw down forces in Iraq and beef up troop numbers in Afghanistan _ a strategy also voiced by Obama.

Gates has won praise from Democrats for his willingness to work with all sides on Capitol Hill and his moves to swiftly can Pentagon leaders who he believed were not performing. During his brief tenure he has fired the Army and Air Force secretaries as well as the Air Force chief of staff.

Let’s see what the Obama critics have to say about these appointments. I’m sure they’ll be quick to point out how Jones, Gates and Clinton are all Muslim terrorists just like Obama.


Race issue debunked in McCain win here

November 24, 2008

When I saw the county-by-county PA election map on one of the local news stations here, I wasn’t surprised or shocked at all. There it was-Fayette blood red, thus showing me once again that many of the voters there allowed racism and prejudice to cloud their judgement. I thought that Fayette was still Democrat- tried and true, but when a black man is the Democratic candidate, the masses there shy away at the polls. Almost makes me ashamed to tell the folks over here that I’m from “good ole boy” Fayette County. Oh well! Guess Rep Murtha was right!”
Mark
Philadephia, Pa.

This comment was one of many similar postings on our Web site about the recent results of the presidential election in Fayette County where Republican John McCain defeated his Democratic Party counterpart Barack Obama by a margin of 215 votes, 26,081 to 25,866.
It all sounds somewhat true, especially since this was the first time a Republican presidential candidate won Fayette County since Richard Nixon beat George McGovern here back in 1972.
But consider this. Four years ago, George W. Bush took 46 percent of the vote here in losing to John Kerry by a margin of 27,321 to 23,403. It was the best showing by a Republican here since Nixon and probably paved the way for McCain’s victory earlier this month.
But more importantly no one mentioned race at all in the aftermath of Bush’s impressive vote tallies. So, why is anyone talking about it now? Clearly, there was much more than race involved in this election.
There was talk back in 2004 that Fayette County was becoming more conservative and Republican as issues concerning guns and abortions were coming to the forefront. Certainly with all the hunters and Catholics here, there was cause for concern among Democratic Party officials that the Republican Party could use those issues to sway local voters to their side.
With McCain, a strong proponent of both gun rights and the pro-life movement, at the head of the ticket was it really that big of a surprise that he won Fayette County? Consider also that McCain, a war hero and an established politician on the national scene for over 20 years, was running against Obama, a relatively unknown candidate to most local residents.
So, to say that people only voted for McCain because of race is a slap in the face to the overwhelming majority of those who backed the GOP candidate. It’s also an insult to Dee John, the new chairwoman of the Fayette County Republican Party, who worked hard to get out the vote for McCain.
Ironically, I think that John Murtha had the best take of anyone on the presidential election in Fayette County. Appearing before our editorial board, Murtha never mentioned racists or rednecks as he did to other media outlets. Hard to say what he was thinking when he made his comments to them, but when we asked Murtha about how Obama would do here, he said about 5 percent of the people in Fayette County would probably never vote for a black president. But overall, he said Obama would do well and would probably win Fayette County.
While, Murtha was wrong on that count, it does seem probable that he was right about the 5 percent of people who wouldn’t vote for a black president, considering that was approximately the difference between Bush and McCain’s vote totals.
I also think of two other factors. Watching MSNBC on election night, commentator Chris Matthews talked about Obama’s change theme and how it probably had little appeal to voters in Pennsylvania, especially those in the southwest.
He noted that people in this area of the state have seen a lot of changes over the years but not many of them have been good. He pointed out that many young people have to go elsewhere for good jobs, breaking up strong families, which were once the lifeblood of the area.
No matter what you think of Matthews, you have to agree he had a point.
I also sensed that even among those Democrats who voted for Obama, most did so more out a sense of loyalty to the Democratic Party rather than any passion for his cause. But I blame at least part of that on the fact Obama never came here to rally the troops as he did in so many other places. And if you figure that the odds of him coming here were pretty slim, what about Hillary Clinton, who did so well here last spring, or Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden, who had some appeal with his Pennsylvania roots? I think it’s possible that a stop by someone of national prominence on Obama’s behalf might have been able to keep Fayette County from going red.
But while we can probably talk all day about why McCain won here, there could be a real upside to his strong showing. For too many years, the Democratic Party has had an overwhelming edge over Republicans in voter registration numbers. It’s been so lopsided that state and national Democratic Party officials took us for granted while their Republican counterparts avoided us like the plague, figuring they had no chance of winning any votes here.
Perhaps this election will change all of that. Maybe now both sides will pay more attention to our wishes and needs. And if that happens we’ll all be winners, no matter our party affiliation.

Mark O’Keefe is the executive editor of the Herald-Standard. O’Keefe can be reached by e-mail at mo’keefe@heraldstandard.com, by regular mail at 8-18 Church St., Uniontown, Pa., 15401 or by phone at 724-439-7569.