Sparky: Lord - it isn't as if I'd camp somewhere the negativity would get to me. I found out about the GOP Love Boat via "Wait Wait — Don't Tell Me" NPR's news quiz. REMEMBER TO VOTE! You all know what the right thing to do is. Let's also praise Apple for ponying up serious cash for a "NO on California Prop 8" vote.
No on Prop 8! October 24, 2008 — Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.
It's not over until the GOP's bad elements flee the US to destabilize Banana Republics this coming Valentine's Day.
I have great love and deep respect for Barry Eisler - go read this blog post of his: Al Qaeda Endorses McCain and then come back. Barry was a covert CIA asset (you know like the one Dick Cheney ordered top traitor Karl Rove to give up in that failed coverup where Novak and Scooter got to fall on their swords akin to old traitor Pointdexter):
“Now that al Qaeda has endorsed John McCain, it'll be fascinating to hear McCain and his allies explain why America's #1 enemy has thrown its support to him. In case you don't remember, back in May McCain argued that Hamas had endorsed Obama, took these "endorsements" at face value, and concluded that McCain was therefore the better candidate. ...”This is why although you can trust the WSJ for financial news it is stupid to trust their political reporting. Seriously now.- Barry Eisler
Just Where/When Has McCain Led in Any Crisis? His Only 2 Speeds are Lame and Impetuous
From Joe Biden's comments, the McCain campaign is launching another effort to convince people that Barack Obama's election will prompt another terrorist attack to "test" him
McCain asserts he has been tested, and thus such a challenge will not occur. Somehow, the notion that John McCain is equipped to lead in a crisis because he has done so before appears blithely to be accepted.
What crisis did he lead in? I understand he was mobilized during the Cuban Missile crisis, sitting in his warplane on the deck of the USS Enterprise. But, unless I am mistaken, warplane pilots are ordered a) when and b) what, to attack. Where's the leadership?
My reading of the history of that event is that it was President John F Kennedy who led the response, in part by keeping direct control over orders to operational forces so that no Admiral or General could send the wrong message to the troops and trigger a war that could have ended civilization. And that Attorney General Robert Kennedy suggested we resolve the crisis by ignoring a threatening message from the Soviet Union and responding only to an earlier, more conciliatory message.
I may have missed it, but I never read of John McCain's leading anything in that crisis. And, thankfully. With his impulsive leadership style, we might not be here writing about it. I cannot imagine McCain paying such close scrutiny to every detail as did President Kennedy.
Subsequently, McCain suffered for 5 years as a POW in Vietnam. He, like 600 others, heroically refused early release in exchange for signing "confessions." That was heroism. Was it leadership in a crisis?
McCain was not promoted to Admiral. Clearly, the top-brass did not think McCain was leadership material.
McCain suffered at least two crises in his personal life. His wife, Cindy, became addicted to drugs. McCain claimed he was unaware. One mark of leadership is pre-awareness of problems when the signals are "soft." He did not notice something going on in his own home when the evidence was clear and unequivocal.
McCain also is/was addicted to gambling. He was unable to "lead himself" out of that morass. Another mark of leadership is self-awareness. He seemed to have none.
A good leader puts the right people in the right jobs doing the right things. Take that definition and match it with Sarah Palin.
The financial meltdown is the only "crisis" in which we have observed McCain operating. One can understand why the top-brass never considered him Admiral material.
Leadership requires a clear view of the road forward, an understanding of what it takes to get there, a rational assessment of whether those match, and an ability to communicate the vision to others whose support is critical.
McCain's behavior during the financial meltdown could be a movie, Clueless in America. On day 1, the fundamentals were, he said, strong. On the morning of day 2 he opposed the AIG takeover; by the late afternoon, it was the right thing to do. On day 3 he proposed a Commission, like the Social Security Commission in the 1980s. On day 4 he suspended his campaign to go to Washington, and declared the coming debate would have to be delayed. On day 5 he went to Washington, solved nothing, and debated on day 6.
But McCain may be right about one aspect. If he were President, our enemies might not feel a need to concoct a crisis.McCain IS the crisis. I believe the electorate has sensed that.
Lieberman On Palin: "Thank God She's Not Gonna Have To Be President From Day One"
Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin greets the crowd during a rally at the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Mo. Friday, Oct. 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Lieberman on Friday skirted a question on whether vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is ready from day one to be president, saying "thank God" she won't have to be.
"Thank God, she's not gonna have to be president from day one, because McCain's going to be alive and well," Lieberman said in a conference call with reporters.
Lieberman said he was confident that Palin, whose foreign policy background has been questioned by Democrats, could step in and handle the chief executive's job.
"If, God forbid, an accident occurs or something of that kind, she'll be ready," Lieberman said. "She's had executive experience. She's smart and she will have had on-the-job training."
Lieberman added that if Democrat Barack Obama wins the White House, he would support his presidency.
"I hope and pray, and I am working my heart out for McCain to be elected our next president, but if for whatever the reason he is not, I am going to do everything I can to be part of bringing people together across party lines to support the new president so he can succeed," Lieberman said. "What's at stake for our country is just too serious."
Lieberman was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000 and was re-elected to the Senate in 2006 as an independent.
I guess Chinless Joe knows all about not being ready to be President ever, being a damn suckup asshat with a limp wet handshake.
McCain Featured In Iran-Contra Group's Newsletter
A newsletter from 1984 provides more embarrassing evidence of John McCain's relationship with the U.S. Council on World Freedom, a group that was involved in funding militant anti-communists and espoused some anti-Semitic views.
McCain's face graces the front page of the group's "World Freedom Report," published on Dec. 15, 1984, a copy of which was obtained from the research library at the University of Kansas. The front page also features a reprint of an article McCain penned that same month for Reader's Digest.
In the early 1980s, McCain served on the advisory board of the Council on World Freedom, which funded and provided arms to what the Associated Press described as "ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America." The group also "aided rebels trying to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua," which landed it "in the middle of the Iran-Contra affair and in legal trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, which revoked the charitable organization's tax exemption."
When McCain's connection to the council received its first blast of press attention earlier this month, his campaign told Politico that McCain "disassociated himself" from the group in 1984 "when questions were raised about its activities."
But the group's tax filing in 1985, covering the previous year, lists McCain as a member of the advisory board. And in October 1985, a States News Service report placed McCain "at a Washington awards ceremony staged by the council."
Moreover, in 1986, McCain himself told the Phoenix New Times that his reason for leaving the group merely had to do with a lack of time.
Asked by the AP this year about McCain's alleged efforts to distance himself from the council in both 1984 and 1986 (when McCain had to ask to have his name removed from the group's stationary), founder John Singlaub said: "That's a surprise to me. ... I don't ever remember hearing about his resigning."
Though the group's founder also said it was possible that McCain had asked to resign and he hadn't heard about the "housekeeping" details, the Council's unearthed newsletter from late 1984 would seem to support Singlaub's -- and not McCain's -- memory of the events.
OTB Writers Respond to Anti-Muslim, Anti-Arab Slurs
From smear email campaigns and hectoring rally audiences to hateful YouTubes and candidate equivocations, slurs against Muslims and Arabs have become increasingly prevalent this election season. Yet this culturally toxic component of the campaigns has only fully entered the mainstream over the last couple of weeks, being covered at major media outlets and addressed openly by the candidates themselves.
OffTheBus writers have gone out into their communities and interviewed people about how this hate speech has affected them and their view of the candidates. They have asked Muslim Americans and Arab Americans if they feel targeted, and what they would like to see the next administration do to combat this form of bigotry in the U.S.
"Hani Bawardi, a professor at University of Michigan-Dearborn who studies Arab Americans, remains cynical about the impact of the Arab American vote in part because of such divisions. He said Arab Americans also are not well organized, and they tend to engage in local politics rather than in national elections. He added that he does not expect Obama or McCain to publicly seek Arab support on radio or television stations.
'No (presidential candidate) would say that they think Arab Americans are upstanding citizens and that they want their vote,' Bawardi said."
--Arab American Community Shifting to Democrats, Not Targeted by Either Campaign by Jonathan Partridge
"West, who was born into his Islamic faith, says the Arab slur is a cover for their true beliefs.
'It's no longer politically palatable for people to openly admit that they don't favor a candidate because of his skin color. [African Americans] have gone through a long hard battle in this country to win the right of dignity and respect, at least in the public square.'
West attributes the veiled use of the word, Arab or Muslim, as a code word for "other" or an even more derogatory word used against Black people.
'It's more convenient and less controversial for someone to call Obama a Muslim then it would be to call him the n-word.' That's how the coding works."
--Slurs Against Muslims a Cover for Racism Against Blacks by Brooke-Sidney Gavins
" 'I am almost sure Obama will get assassinated if he becomes president. What gets to me is that what people think is simply untrue. Oh Gosh. Stupid people, at least know what you are talking about; he is not Muslim neither Arab. Also, being black does not mean he will oppress whites ... So there you have it, the most powerful nation in the world is still full of hatred, injustice, and racism. It was hidden, but now it slowly is coming out. Scary.' "
--Middle Eastern Bloggers Disgusted by Slurs Against Muslims, Arabs and Blacks by Amira Al Hussaini
"The left has cried foul over the use of Obama's full name, while the right has attempted to use it as a fear-inducer. My question is, when are we -- as progressives and liberals -- going to stop pandering to the obvious racism of others and stand up in defense of our candidate's full name? When are we going to feel strong enough in numbers, and fortified enough in our own anti-racist beliefs, to say that there is nothing wrong with the name Hussein, or any name, of any origin? When are we going to be able to say Barack Obama's full name with pride, and not with trepidation?"
--We Should Embrace Obama's Middle Name by Jane Devin
"Obama has on occasion said that it shouldn't matter if he were Muslim or not. But he has not done that enough. Usually, he just denies it, as if being called Muslim were an accusation. Wouldn't someone who wants to run on a mantle of hope and bring this country forward on race relations say over and over again, 'There is nothing wrong with being Muslim. Muslims have the right to run for office. Muslims are not all terrorists.'?"
--Is Muslim The New Queer? by Hanna Ingber Win
"The highly charged rhetoric used by McCain and Palin to tie Obama to terrorism and Islam is once again an affront to all Muslim Americans. We saw this type of fear and backlash just after 9/11. We see it also in the McCarthy-like invocations of Michele Bachmann. I challenge Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin to tell this grieving mother that her son is anti-American because of his faith.
The answer to who is evil is NEVER as neat, clean, and easy as a label. Thank you, Colin Powell, for reminding America that those who serve in our military represent the awesome diversity of faithful and patriotic Americans."
--Powell Honors Fallen Muslim American Soldier by Michelle Gross
" 'I find the growing vitriolic anti-Muslim heckling that has found its way into the presidential campaign deeply troubling. It speaks to efforts by certain right wing elements of society that take advantage of the ignorance of the large segment of the American public that know little of the of Islam except the sensational headlines depicting violence by radicals that act under the guise of the religion, to paint the entire religion with a broad demonic brush.' "
--Anti-Muslim Heckling Deeply Troubling by E. Joyce Moore
There is no difference between an Abortion Clinic Bomber and an Homicide Bomber.
Ari: Sarah Palin Refuses To Answer Whether Or Not Abortion Clinic Bombers Are Terrorists
I just watched some highlights of Brian William's interview with Sarah Palin and John McCain.
This exchange was shocking: (I transcribed this section myself -- sorry about any errors.)
Brian Williams: Back to the notion of terrorists and terrorism, this word has come up in relation to Mr. Ayers -- hanging out with terrorist – domestic terrorists. It is said that it gives it a vaguely post uh 9-11 hint, using that word, that we don’t normally associate with domestic crimes. Are we changing the definition? Are the people who set fire to American cities during the ‘60’s terrorists, under this definition? Is an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist under the definition?
Sarah Palin: There is no question that Bill Ayers via his own admittance was um one who sought to destroy our US Capitol and our Pentagon -- that is a domestic terrorist. There’s no question there. Now others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or um facilities, that uh, it would be unacceptable -- I don’t know if you could use the word terrorist, but its unacceptable and it would not be condoned of course on our watch. I don’t know if what you are asking is if I regret referring to Bill Ayers as an unrepentant domestic terrorist. I don’t regret characterizing him as that.
Brian Williams: I’m just asking what other categories you would put in there. Abortion clinic bombers? Protesters in cities where fires were started, Molotov cocktails, were thrown? People died.
Sarah Palin: I would put in that category of Bill Ayers anyone else who would seek to destroy our United States Capitol and our Pentagon and would seek to destroy innocent Americans.
She could have just said yes. Instead Sarah Palin decided to talk about Bill Ayers. Brian William's even gave her a second chance to answer the question.
Notice in both answers, her wording is VERY specific. She talks about "innocent Americans." But from everything I've read about Palin's religious beliefs and her views on abortion, I doubt she thinks doctors who preform abortions are "innocent." Furthermore I doubt she views abortion clinics as "innocent."
It was a simple question and deserved a simple answer.
Let's break for humor from American Patriot Richard Lewis —
Richard Lewis: And Larry David Thinks He's Frightened?
As usual, Larry's brilliance and humor shines and at its core always the truth. But his essay made me even more frightened and hence I am forced to share my own terror.
Of course I'm like a little child next to the political brain power by almost everyone who writes on this site. Thank God.
I was about to write a piece a few days back after seeing something on TV very early morning West Coast time then realized who cares what I think, especially when I hardly do. I'd prefer to rip the GOPs in my own self-deprecating way as I have for decades in front of millions on TV, radio and in print interviews without posting that much on this incredibly erudite web site.
Plus, most who would read what was scaring me yet again would be read mostly by my own base. I haven't written that many essays this year as not unlike Larry David's recent piece who himself also has been so frightened if Obama would lose, I have felt that writing, especially in the past few years, (and not unlike what Larry said, and I'm paraphrasing), "might hex one of the Dems." Moreover, for me, in my own bleak scenario, I considered the very real chance that my words would give some lunatic, separation of church and state blurring anti-Semitic fringe writer, some great comment to spin and help lose a state and the election for Senator Obama.
That said, this afternoon, I decided to publicly humiliate myself with my good intentions and political naiveté, I can't watch every show or read every article -- few can. I think I'm enlightened enough to see though all the bullshit and clearly realize that the Bush administration has turned this country into the Invasion of the Body Snatchers by our own government.
I'll cut to the chase. There is some folklore in baseball that "the shot heard round the world" home run hit by Giants ball player, Bobby Thompson, was not 100% kosher as he got signs from some Giants coach hiding in center field behind the scoreboard, and alerted Bobby that a curve was coming. That said, hitting a home run is still hard but he did and they beat the Dodgers in one of the most historic games in history.
The GOP easily, poor campaigns run by the Dems aside, stole the elections in 2000 for sure and probably in '04.
Rachel Maddow had RFK Jr.on her show early this week talking about the purging and the suppressing of the votes and the "matches" that make it so hard for people to vote and not surprisingly these concerns (as written in the piece in Rolling Stone) only seem to come from The Democratic side. Duh.
Anyway, I couldn't sleep and for me to watch MSNBC's Morning Joe takes me back to my drug days before 1994, being up at 3 AM, though I do catch some of the shows and go back to sleep. So, at about 9:25-9:30 AM EST I believe on Oct 23rd on CNN, while clicking around the TV, there was a piece about the "touch screens" and voting early. The news of record early turnouts seems like great news but when the piece on West Virginia came on, and at least in this story, 2 counties in that state had been reporting problems I started shaking again. It wasn't like that I don't expect voter shenanigans yet again this year but to see some sweet, 81-year-old man describe how he touched the voting screen four times for Obama and McCain's name came up and then other similar personal stories, my mind went wildly negative thinking of all the votes that will be lost that way and not just with all the other historic ways to make sure the GOP ticket wins as was so articulately discussed by RFK Jr.
I'm writing because as much as I know you know this exists, prior to Nov 4th all the talking heads will spit out their talking points and a huge invisible elephant will most certainly be behind some scoreboard in many counties laughing through his trunk as he changes enough Obama votes to assure this country will go down a path so scary and so right wing that it squeezes almost every ounce of hope in my body that things will ever be what the Founding Fathers wanted us to to be.
I'm rambling and I'm sorry but I guess I am hopeful that the voting machines and the purging and the actual process is big news -- and not finger-pointing as much as "news."
The GOP would spin it faster than those plate spinners on the old Ed Sullivan show that we are paranoid about of losing a tight race while they quietly know they will manipulate their victory. The GOP voter registration "pod" (forget the actual title -- like Elvira in FL in 2000) in West Virginia, when asked how could this happen, said to the reporter with a really scary smile, something like, "I wouldn't know how to make this machine screw up if I wanted to."
Great, so the manufacturer can.
And then CNN reported (to make it like it was being evenhanded) that there are ways to clear what you voted if you voted wrong. Gimme a break! How many people would actually check to make sure when they touched Obama's name that McCain's wouldn't come up instead before leaving the booth? I'm sure enough don't double check and will keep that elephant laughing until the "End of Days."
Not to mention, we never hear about a story like that from Republicans who are registering to vote, attempting to vote, perfect match, rigging machines etc... this just doesn't happen. We don't hear that from Republican voters. Never have. Just those who are registered Democrats or likely to be voting Democrat. Period.
I can't imagine that Obama's staff will not be 1000% more proactive on this versus Gore who just basically caved in 2000 under so much pressure and ultimately letting "the Supreme Court from Hell" ruin us. If it happens again... oh my God.
And speaking of Hell, I simply will not tolerate another stolen vote and election, tantamount to a sentence of another four-to-eight years of Hell, because we all haven't been vigilant, on the ball and done our jobs. This time, there is no excuse. We're aware of all of the tactics going on. We're aware that they will do and say anything to win and stop at nothing. How many times can we say we're surprised?
I hope the voting situation is BIG NEWS now on the networks and airwaves to prevent a potential political nightmare for this country and not just all of us crying on Nov 5th, as we stand on our roof tops weeping and trying in a daze to wave to Russia as our country goes down the drain.
AP INVESTIGATION: Palin pipeline terms curbed bids
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Gov. Sarah Palin's signature accomplishment _ a contract to build a 1,715-mile pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska to the Lower 48 _ emerged from a flawed bidding process that narrowed the field to a company with ties to her administration, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Beginning at the Republican National Convention in August, the McCain-Palin ticket has touted the pipeline as an example of how it would help America achieve energy independence.
"We're building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline, which is North America's largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever, to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets," Palin said during the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate.
Despite Palin's boast of a smart and fair bidding process, the AP found that her team crafted terms that favored only a few independent pipeline companies and ultimately benefited the winner, TransCanada Corp.
And contrary to the ballyhoo, there's no guarantee the pipeline will ever be built; at a minimum, any project is years away, as TransCanada must first overcome major financial and regulatory hurdles.
In interviews and a review of records, the AP found:
_Instead of creating a process that would attract many potential builders, Palin slanted the terms away from an important group _ the global energy giants that own the rights to the gas.
_Despite promises and legal guidance not to talk directly with potential bidders, Palin had meetings or phone calls with nearly every major candidate, including TransCanada.
_The leader of Palin's pipeline team had been a partner at a lobbying firm where she worked on behalf of a TransCanada subsidiary. Also, that woman's former business partner at the lobbying firm was TransCanada's lead private lobbyist on the pipeline deal, interacting with legislators in the weeks before the vote to grant TransCanada the contract. Plus, a former TransCanada executive served as an outside consultant to Palin's pipeline team.
_Under a different set of rules four years earlier, TransCanada had offered to build the pipeline without a state subsidy; under Palin, the company could receive a maximum $500 million.
"Governor Palin held firmly to her fundamental belief that Alaska could best serve Alaskans and the nation's interests by pursuing a competitive approach to building a natural gas pipeline," said McCain-Palin spokesman Taylor Griffin. "There was an open and transparent process that subjected the decision to extensive public scrutiny and due diligence."
ONLY ONE VIABLE BIDDER
There were never more than a few players that could execute such a complex undertaking _ at least a million tons of steel stretching across some of Earth's most hostile and remote terrain.
TransCanada estimates it will cost $26 billion; Palin's consultants estimate nearly $40 billion.
The pipeline would run from Alaska's North Slope to Alberta in Canada; secondary supply lines would take the gas to various points in the United States and Canada. The pipeline would carry 4.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily, about 8 percent of the present U.S. market.
Building such a pipeline had been a dream for decades. The rising cost and demand for energy injected new urgency into the proposal.
So too did the depletion of Alaska's long-reliable reserves of oil, which are trapped in the same Arctic Circle reservoirs as clean-burning natural gas. Not only does that oil provide jobs, it pays for an annual dividend check to nearly every Alaska resident. This year's payment was $2,069, 25 percent higher than 2007 _ plus a $1,200 bonus rebate to help offset higher energy costs.
Palin was elected as governor two years ago in part because of her populist appeal. Promising "New Energy for Alaska," she vowed to take on Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips and BP, the multinational energy companies that long dominated the state's biggest industry.
Oil interests were particularly unpopular at that moment: Federal agents had recently raided the offices of six lawmakers in a Justice Department investigation into whether an Alaska oil services company paid bribes in exchange for promoting a new taxing formula that would ultimately further the multinationals' pipeline plans.
Palin ousted fellow Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski, who pushed a pipeline deal he negotiated in secret with the "Big Three" energy companies. That deal went nowhere.
With Alaskans eager for progress and sour on Big Oil, Palin tackled the pipeline issue with gusto, meeting with representatives from all sides and assembling her own team of experts to draw up terms.
Palin invited bidders to submit applications and offered the multimillion-dollar subsidy. Members of Palin's team say that without the incentive, it might not have received any bids for the risky undertaking.
TIES THAT BIND
Palin's team was led by Marty Rutherford, a widely respected energy specialist who entered the upper levels of state government nearly 20 years ago. Rutherford solidified her status when, in 2005, she joined an exodus of Department of Natural Resources staff who felt Murkowski was selling out to the oil giants.
What the Palin administration didn't tell legislators _ and neglected to mention in its announcement of Rutherford's appointment _ was that in 2003, Rutherford left public service and worked for 10 months at the Anchorage-based Jade North lobbying firm. There she did $40,200 worth of work for Foothills Pipe Lines Alaska, Inc., a subsidiary of TransCanada.
Foothills Pipe Lines Alaska Inc. paid Rutherford for expertise on topics including state legislation and funding related to gas commercialization, according to her 2003 lobbyist registration statement.
Palin has said she wasn't bothered by that past work because it had occurred several years before. But Rutherford wouldn't have passed her new boss' own standards: Under ethics reforms the governor pushed through, Rutherford would have had to wait a year to jump from government service to a lobbying firm.
Rutherford also has downplayed her work for Foothills.
"I did a couple of projects for them, small projects," she told a state Senate committee examining the TransCanada bid earlier this year. While a partner, Rutherford said, she "realized that my heart was not in the private sector, it was in the public sector, and I sold out for the same amount of money I bought in for."
At one point, Palin's pipeline team debated Rutherford's role, but concluded there was no problem.
"We were looking at it in terms of is this an actual conflict or is there the appearance of impropriety of Marty's participation," said Pat Galvin, the commissioner of the Revenue Department and another top team member. "It was determined that there was none, and so we moved forward."
Patricia Bielawski, Rutherford's former partner at Jade North, spent last summer in Juneau, the state capital, serving as TransCanada's lead private lobbyist on the pipeline deal. While the Legislature debated _ and ultimately approved _ the TransCanada deal, Bielawski met with lawmakers and sat in on the public proceedings, several legislators said.
Bielawski told AP earlier this month that Rutherford's employment at her firm was irrelevant. She said Rutherford never directly lobbied the Legislature for Foothills, and that Rutherford broke no rules based on 2003 state ethics guidelines.
"There's no statutory or regulatory prohibition that extends to things that many years ago," Bielawski said. "So there's no issue."
But others say it's a legitimate question.
"I'm not saying someone's getting paid off for a sweetheart contract, but it's very hard to ignore that this is your former partner and your former client standing there before you," said Republican Sen. Lyda Green, a Palin critic who in August was among the handful of lawmakers who voted against awarding TransCanada the license. "Every time it was mentioned to the governor or to the commission, it was like, 'How could you question such a wonderful person?'"
Tony Palmer, the TransCanada vice president who leads the company's Alaska gas pipeline effort, rejects the suggestion that his company benefited.
"We have gained clearly no advantage from anything that Ms. Rutherford did for Foothills some five years ago on a very much unrelated topic," he said.
Rutherford did not respond to interview requests made directly to her and through the governor's office. But Griffin, the spokesman for the McCain-Palin campaign, said Rutherford "had no decision-making role or authority," and contended that such matters were handled by others on the Palin pipeline team.
TransCanada also had a connection to the team hired by the Palin administration to analyze the bid. Patrick Anderson, a former TransCanada executive, served as an outside consultant and ultimately helped the state conclude that TransCanada's technical solution for shipping gas through freezing temperatures would work.
NARROW SET OF RULES
In January 2007, Palin spoke the first of at least two times to Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush administration's point person on energy issues, according to calendars obtained by the AP through a public records request. Cheney's staff pressed the Palin administration to draw in the energy companies, said current and former state officials involved in those discussions.
As the governor's approach unfolded in the spring of 2007, there were signs it was skewed in a different direction.
Palin said she saw problems if the firms that own the gas also owned the pipeline. They could manipulate the market or charge prohibitive fees to smaller exploration firms, discouraging competition.
Several important requirements in the legislation were unpalatable to the . In the talks under Murkowski, the firms asked that the rates for the gas production tax and royalties be fixed for 45 years; Palin refused to consider setting rates for that long.
Under the Palin process, the pipeline firms had an advantage because they simply pass along taxes paid by oil and gas producers.
Oil company officials warned lawmakers they wouldn't participate under those terms. Still, in a near unanimous vote, the Legislature passed the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act in May 2007, generally as written by Palin's pipeline team.
Once the state issued its request for proposals on July 2, 2007, the level of communication between the government and potential bidders was supposed to decrease drastically, so that no one would be accused of gaining unfair advantage. State lawyers advised public officials to keep their distance, and bidders were told to submit questions on a Web site where answers could be seen by all.
Several of the state's gas line team members interviewed by AP said they had no contact with possible bidders. But Palin had conversations with executives at most of the major potential bidders during that period, according to her calendars.
While the calendars don't detail what was discussed, the documents indicate that the pipeline was the subject of the discussions, or that the conversations occurred immediately after a briefing with Palin's pipeline team.
When she was in Michigan for a National Governors Association summit in late July 2007, Palin and her team met executives from Williams Co., a pipeline builder that ended up not bidding.
"The purpose of the meeting was to more fully understand the details of the project, which we were still evaluating at the time," company spokeswoman Julie Gentz said in a statement.
TransCanada's Palmer described communication with state officials as nonexistent.
According to the governor's official schedule, however, Palin called TransCanada President and CEO Hal Kvisle on Aug. 8, 2007. Asked about that call, Palmer said it was to clarify the bidding process.
Griffin said that in keeping with legal guidance, Palin never spoke in any of the meetings about the competitive bidding process.
By the Nov. 30 submission deadline, there were five applications. But the state disqualified four for failing to satisfy the bill's requirements.
That left TransCanada.
The Canadian giant had been pursuing an Alaska pipeline since at least 2004, when the company negotiated a deal with Rutherford that the state ended up shelving. While the details remain confidential, six people familiar with the terms told the AP that TransCanada was willing to do the work then without the large state subsidy.
In testimony this July before the state Senate, Rutherford herself confirmed such a willingness, but described the 2004 deal as presenting a different set of trade-offs. A state lawyer warned her not to say more, lest she violate a confidentiality agreement.
Others who reviewed the deal think much of the $500 million will be wasted money.
"Most definitely TransCanada got a sweetheart deal this time," said Republican Sen. Bert Stedman, who voted against the TransCanada license. "Where else could you get a $500 million reimbursement when you don't even have the financing to build the pipeline?"
Associated Press writer Brett J. Blackledge contributed to this report.
Shocking! GOP BIG GRAFT in Alaska. Just saying.
Ron Howard's Call For Obama With Andy Griffith And Henry Winkler
Ron Howard is the latest star to voice his support for Obama, and he did it alongside his old costars Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler in a video for Funny or Die. Watch him strip down, trim his nose hair and don an Opie wig for a black and white call to action before fast-forwarding to "Happy Days."
“ ... A Face in the Crowd (1957) is an epic motion picture starring Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal, and Walter Matthau, and directed by Elia Kazan. The screenplay was written by Budd Schulberg, based on his own short story "Your Arkansas Traveler". The story centers on a "country" comedian, a common thug named Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes (Griffith, in a role starkly different from the amiable "Sheriff Andy Taylor" persona), who is discovered by the producer (Neal) of a small-market radio program in Piggott, Arkansas. ...”
Enjoy your thoughts for the day.