Palin Email ‘Hacker’ Faces 5yrs in Prison

9 10 2008

If prosecutors have their way, David Kernell, the 20 year old son of a Tennessee state representative and prime suspect in the Sarah Palin email hack will make an inmate looking for a young, supple jailhouse bride very happy. He was indicted today by a federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tenn for illegally accessing the account and faces up to 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a three-year term of supervised release. A trial date has not been set, but it is safe to say that things don’t look good.

I’d like to remind people that all he did was get the security question right…  IT’S PARTLY SARAH PALIN’S FAULT SHE DIDN’T USE A MORE DIFFICULT QUESTION.  Her question and answer were MAINSTREAM INFORMATION.

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Palin Aides Reverse Course

5 10 2008

Seven aides to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have reversed course and agreed to testify in an investigation into whether the Republican vice presidential nominee abused her powers by firing a commissioner who refused to dismiss her former brother-in-law.

There is no indication, however, that Palin or her husband will now agree to testify in the legislative inquiry, which has dogged her for the past several months and could hurt John McCain in the final weeks of the presidential race.

Palin, a first-term governor, is the focus of a legislative investigation into her firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan a year after she, her husband and key advisers began questioning him about getting rid of a state trooper who had gone through a nasty divorce with her sister.

Monegan says he was dismissed because he wouldn’t fire the governor’s former brother-in-law, but Palin contends he was dismissed for insubordination. McCain operatives called Monegan a “rogue” who repeatedly tried to work outside normal channels for requesting money.





VP Debate Summary

3 10 2008

Gov. Sarah Palin made it through the vice-presidential debate on Thursday without doing any obvious damage to the Republican presidential ticket. By surviving her encounter with Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. and quelling some of the talk about her basic qualifications for high office, she may even have done Senator John McCain a bit of good, freeing him to focus on the other troubles shadowing his campaign.

It was not a tipping point for the embattled Republican presidential ticket, the bad night that many Republicans had feared. But neither did it constitute the turning point the McCain campaign was looking for after a stretch of several weeks in which Senator Barack Obama seemed to be gaining the upper hand in the race. Even if he no longer has to be on the defensive about Ms. Palin, Mr. McCain still faces a tough environment with barely a month until the election, as he acknowledged hours before the debate by effectively pulling his campaign out of Michigan, a Democratic state where Mr. McCain’s advisers had once been optimistic of victory.

Short of a complete bravura performance that would have been tough for even the most experienced national politician to turn in — or a devastating error by the mistake-prone Mr. Biden, who instead turned in an impressively sharp performance — there might have been little Ms. Palin could have done to help Mr. McCain.

The economic problems on Wall Street have posed a severe problem for Mr. McCain, moving the presidential debate to precisely the ground that favors Democrats, and Mr. Biden sought repeatedly during the debate to lay the problem at the doorstep of the Republican Party. And even if a financial rescue plan is approved by Congress, there is no reason to think that the bad economic news is going to stop: with reports of bleak unemployment numbers, more gyrations of the stock market, and the prospect of bad economic reports on everything from job losses to automobile sales.

“For more than a year, people assumed that if Obama was the Democratic nominee, the campaign would be a referendum on him,” Mr. Harris said. “The economic crisis changed that: the campaign is now a referendum on who can get us out of this mess. One of the challenges for the McCain campaign is going to be turn the race back into an up-or-down referendum on Obama.”

And through this period — easily the worst one Mr. McCain has faced since he was forced to lay off most of his campaign staff more than a year ago when he ran out of money — Mr. McCain has appeared off balance. He has been searching for a message and a way to make a case against Mr. Obama, and often publicly venting his frustration at the way the campaign is going, as he did this week in a contentious meeting with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register.

Ms. Palin can presumably claim two victories, though modest ones. She did not offer a reprise of the unsteady responses that marked her interviews with Katie Couric on CBS News, even if many of her answers were not always responsive to the question, particularly when contrasted with Mr. Biden. Her performance — feisty and spirited — also might have heartened conservatives, many of whom had gone from ecstasy to despair in the period from when she was named until this week.

To quote the New York Times, “She succeeded by not failing in any obvious way.”- (About Palin)





Disturbing Line Tossed by Palin

21 09 2008

In the weeks since John McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his running mate, she has become one of the most famous people in America.

She has been cunningly impersonated on Saturday Night Live by her look-alike Tina Fey, grilled by ABC’s sober anchor Charlie Gibson, and investigated by teams of reporters who by now have hunted down every person in Alaska with a grudge or criticism.

We discovered that her teenage daughter is pregnant and watched as the hockey-playing lad who knocked her up was rapidly betrothed, cleaned up and hauled wide-eyed into the national spotlight with his soon-to-be in-laws – a bracingly modern variation of the old shotgun wedding. We have learned that Palin, like just about every other politician in human history, tends to hire her friends and fire her enemies.

We will learn more, but none of the above has done much to alter her image as a refreshingly independent, aggressive, smart, down-to-earth, and surprisingly effective public official. And we all know she can give a good speech.

But it was in that much-heralded speech at the Republican convention that Palin tossed off a line I found more disturbing than anything unearthed about her since. It got a predictably enthusiastic response from the keyed-up partisan crowd.

“Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America,” said Palin, and then, referring to Barack Obama, quipped: “He’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.”

Quite apart from the cheap distortion of Obama’s position, typical of most campaign rhetoric, this is a classic lynch-mob line. It is the taunt of the drunken lout in the cowboy movie who confronts a sheriff barring the prison door – He wants to give ‘im a trial? It is the precise sentiment that Atticus Finch so memorably sets himself against in Harper Lee’s masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird, when he agrees to defend a supposedly indefensible black man charged with rape (falsely, as it turns out).

I wonder if Palin really believes her own position on this. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was just a speechwriter’s idea of a great applause line, perhaps she hasn’t fully thought it through. The sentiment is on the wrong side of a deep principle, one that we have long honored in this country, that has to do with basic fairness, the rule of law, and ultimately with standing up intelligently to terrorism.

Palin’s comments referred to McCain’s condemnation of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer that upheld detainees’ rights to the most basic of legal protections against arrest and imprisonment, a habeas corpus petition. The court ruled that our government cannot just call someone a terrorist, arrest him, and hold him indefinitely without showing some reasonable cause. McCain has called this “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” Obama has praised it.

The court’s decision is just the latest word in an evolving national discussion of what to do with captured “terrorists.” Congress and the White House have been wrestling with this since Sept. 11, 2001, and will continue to do so. Even those who applauded the court’s defense of habeas corpus are not so sure that federal courts are the right place for “enemy combatants” to appeal their detention. And among those who side with the court, few would argue that enemy combatants are owed the full legal protections enjoyed by citizens. But certainly anyone arrested and locked away deserves the chance to challenge their arrest.

Mind you, we are not talking about a trial here, just a hearing to establish that there is enough evidence to lock the suspect away.

Palin’s applause line applied the lynch-mob standard: Because a man has been arrested, he is guilty. End of story.

In 2003, when the first group of prisoners was released from Guantanamo, I traveled to Pakistan to find two of them, Shah Muhammad and Sahibzada Osman Ali. Both hailed from tiny villages in the mountainous region of Pakistan where al-Qaeda and the Taliban have been hiding. As an American, I was nervous traveling in that region, and honestly didn’t know what to expect when I found them.

I was greeted with warmth and elaborate courtesy. Both were men in their early 20s, uneducated, unworldly, and dirt poor. They had been rounded up by entrepreneurial Afghani warlords who were being paid $4,000 a head to capture jihadis for the Americans. Four thousand dollars is a huge payday in Afghanistan, and the warlords were not discriminating. Both apparently hapless young Pakistanis were among the original herds of elaborately restrained detainees in orange jumpsuits delivered to Camp X-Ray, the ones who were all treated like mass murderers. Some of them were. Many, it turns out, were not.

Shah Muhammad and Sahibzada Osman Ali were held for almost two years before the authorities figured out that they did not pose a threat to Western civilization.

Maybe the authorities and I both have it wrong. Perhaps these two are huddling right now with Osama bin Laden himself, but they have stood in my mind ever since as examples of why detainees deserve a hearing of some kind, whether in federal court or before some panel that is seen to be fair and reasonably concerned about basic justice.

We are at war against forces who seek a permanent state of fear, for whom violence is an end in itself. Our side of the fight defends government by consent, and the rule of law. It is why we fight, and what makes our use of violence against our enemies morally defensible. This is why it is critical that we respect individual rights and act lawfully.

That does not mean reading Miranda warnings to enemy combatants, as Palin glibly suggested, or affording them the full battery of rights given criminal defendants in this country. It does mean that even those accused of the most vile crimes have some.

Our Founding Fathers called them “unalienable.”





Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere”

21 09 2008

Alaska may not have a “Bridge to Nowhere,” but it now has a “Road to Nowhere.”

This week, the state completed a $25 million gravel road that was intended to lead up to the bridge linking the city of Ketchikan to its airport on a neighboring island.

The bridge project became the symbol of federal largess, and Congress eventually dropped the earmark for the bridge.

The state still received the money, but last fall, Gov. Sarah Palin killed the project, valued at nearly $400 million.

Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein said the 3.2-mile road now is ideal for road races and hunting and possibly some commercial development. But with no bridge to serve it, that’s probably about it.

The bridge has also become a focal point in the presidential race with Palin, now GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s running mate, repeatedly telling crowds that she told Congress “thanks but no thanks” for that Bridge to Nowhere.

The state is considering cheaper designs for a bridge. State lawmakers made a brief attempt at securing funding for a bridge during this year’s legislative session.

The two-bridge project would have connected the town’s airport on Gravina Island to Revillagigedo Island, where most of the 13,000 residents of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough live.

The airport is separated from its users by a quarter-mile-wide channel of water, forcing travelers to catch either a ferry or a water taxi.





Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere”

21 09 2008

Alaska may not have a “Bridge to Nowhere,” but it now has a “Road to Nowhere.”

This week, the state completed a $25 million gravel road that was intended to lead up to the bridge linking the city of Ketchikan to its airport on a neighboring island.

The bridge project became the symbol of federal largess, and Congress eventually dropped the earmark for the bridge.

The state still received the money, but last fall, Gov. Sarah Palin killed the project, valued at nearly $400 million.

Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein said the 3.2-mile road now is ideal for road races and hunting and possibly some commercial development. But with no bridge to serve it, that’s probably about it.

The bridge has also become a focal point in the presidential race with Palin, now GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s running mate, repeatedly telling crowds that she told Congress “thanks but no thanks” for that Bridge to Nowhere.

The state is considering cheaper designs for a bridge. State lawmakers made a brief attempt at securing funding for a bridge during this year’s legislative session.

The two-bridge project would have connected the town’s airport on Gravina Island to Revillagigedo Island, where most of the 13,000 residents of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough live.

The airport is separated from its users by a quarter-mile-wide channel of water, forcing travelers to catch either a ferry or a water taxi.





Untitled

16 09 2008

When John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate late last month, the Alaska governor quickly became a media phenomenon. Largely unknown, she existed at first in something of an information vacuum, and due to the shock of her selection–everyone loves a surprise–the press rushed to fill the void with whatever data was easily available. Mostly this consisted of human interest material; Palin had plenty to go around. Mooseburgers. Float planes. Ice Fishing. Beauty pageants. Teen pregnancy. Et cetera. By the end of her first 15 minutes in the spotlight–which included her speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul–Palin existed mostly as an idea: a frontier supermom who’d triumphed over adversity (the Ol’ Boys Club, the “liberal media”). Palin spent her first week reading from a teleprompter and avoiding questions from the press–and the public–so as not to sully this positive first impression.

The polls reflected the early success of her strategy. In the three days after Palin joined Team McCain–Aug. 29-31–32 percent of voters told the pollsters at Diageo/Hotline that they had a favorable opinion of her; most (48 percent) didn’t know enough to say. (The Diageo/Hotline poll is conducted by Financial Dynamics opinion research; it’s the only daily tracking poll to regularly publish approval ratings.) By Sept. 4, however, 43 percent of Diageo/Hotline respondents approved of Palin with only 25 percent disapproving–an 18-point split. Apparently, voters were liking what they were hearing. Four days later, Palin’s approval rating had climbed to 47 percent (+17), and by Sept. 13 it had hit 52 percent. The gap at that point between her favorable and unfavorable numbers–22 percent–was larger than either McCain’s (+20) or Obama’s (+13)

But then a funny thing happened: Palin seems to have lost some of her luster. Since Sept. 13, Palin’s unfavorables have climbed from 30 percent to 36 percent. Meanwhile, her favorables have slipped from 52 percent to 48 percent. That’s a three-day net swing of -10 points, and it leaves her in the Sept. 15 Diageo/Hotline tracking poll tied for the smallest favorability split (+12)** of any of the Final Four. Over the course of a single weekend, in other words, Palin went from being the most popular White House hopeful to the least.

What happened? *First, it’s important to note that Palin’s approval rating hasn’t tanked. Far from it. And we should hold off on drawing any hard and fast conclusions until more polling comes out.* That said, I suspect that we’re starting to see Palin’s considerable novelty wear off. In part it’s the result of a steady stream of controversial stories: her apparent unfamiliarity with the Bush Doctrine during last Thursday’s interview with Charles Gibson (video above); her refusal to cooperate with the Troopergate investigation; her repeated stretching of the truth on everything from earmarks to the “Bridge to Nowhere” to the amount of energy her state produces. That stuff has a way of inspiring disapproval and eroding one’s support. (Interestingly, Palin’s preparedness numbers–about 50 percent yes, 45 percent no–haven’t budged.) But I’d argue that it’s the start of an inevitable process. Between now and Nov. 4, voters will stop seeing Palin as a fascinating story and starting taking her measure as an actual candidate for office. Some will approve; some won’t. It remains to be seen whether Palin’s recent slide will continue, or hurt John McCain in the polls. But it’s hard to argue that the journey from intriguing new superstar to earthbound politician–a necessary part of the process–doesn’t involve a loss of altitude.

Just ask Barack Obama. 🙂