Friday, October 17, 2008

Questions for The Diane Rehm Show News Roundup, Friday October 17, 2008

Questions for The Diane Rehm Show, News Roundup, October 17, 2008

[Posted, for the first time, at]

I've begun to post the questions I send, separately, in each Friday morning to the most listened-to NPR talk show. Feel free to offer some version of these same questions/comments to other broadcasters and journalists:

1. Yesterday on your show analyzing the debate, no one seemed to know what NPR's economy reporter, Chris Arnold, had just stated on Morning Edition in a segment called "Double-Checking Candidates' Claims in Last Debate". Mr. Arnold first acknowledged that if Joe the Plumber earned $250,000, ABOVE AND BEYOND his expenses and supplies, then "yes, under Obama's plan his taxes would go up."

Then he continued, "But, again, that implication that that represents middle income people is misleading. MIDDLE INCOME AMERICANS WOULD GET THREE TIMES THE INCOME TAX BREAK UNDER OBAMA THAT THEY WOULD GET UNDER MCCAIN."

These days, with excellent fact-checking websites quick responses, shouldn't analysts be discussing the accuracy of tactical accusations?

2. I am deeply concerned about the national focus on voter registration fraud or voter fraud. It is not a threat. Major studies have shown that deliberate fraud is extremely rare, and when it happens, it is even more rare for it to result in any fraudulent votes being cast.

In response to the insignificant nuisance of voter fraud, the Republican Congress passed a law ordering states to verify their voter registration lists. Now we find that in key battleground states, the Republican party is particularly aggressive about widespread purging of the lists and challenging new voters, which is highly intimidating and will be enormously time-consuming and labor-intensive on election day.

Have we already forgotten that the ugly reason behind the U.S. Attorney firings was often Republican anger at their failure to prosecute voter fraud cases just prior to the 2006 election?

Are Americans going to be fooled again by Rovian trickery?

3. Isn't purging voter registration lists to prevent voter fraud akin to treating a cold with chemotherapy?

4. To set the record straight, ACORN is a very legitimate organization, a decades-old advocate for the generally disenfranchised low-to-middle income often-minority population. Its work is irritating the McCain campaign because it is so successful in registering low and middle income voters, and these people are less likely to vote Republican. They have a very large workforce and some employees have been problems, but they are fully cooperative with election officials in finding bad apples and reporting problems. When they are accused of turning in fraudulent registrations, it should be noted that they are required by law to turn in all the registrations they collect, and in most cases, they are already flagged as fraudulent.

What good would it possibly do for ACORN to destroy their own voter registration drive?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Desperately Seeking Qualifications

This morning I received an email from Mark Crispin Miller, the NYU Professor of Media, and Election Protection author/activist, with a letter from Melissa Lammey to MCM, introducing a petition she’d created after watching one of his recent talks on youtube, in which he suggests that Palin was selected to provide an excuse for a surprise election win by Senator McCain, which, in fact, would be the result of election theft.

One way, of course, to blow that Palin excuse is to simply reveal and reveal and reveal all we learn about the Governor, so that her appeal deflates, as well it should, when knowing more about Governor Sarah Palin. Then, as the strange pair, The-Old-Man-Who-Will-Not-Reveal-His-Medical-History-But-Can’t-Stop-Revealing-His-Decreasing-Faculties, and She-Who-Will-Not-Testify-Answer-Read, are in the spotlight, and her supporters can recognize the dangers of such puppets, brought together on this ticket by the RNC Puppetmasters who seek to stay in power, they can choose to stop those who have brought so much lying and destruction over the last eight years.

As I say in my personal info at (initially regarding George W. Bush, but applying, as well, to Sarah Palin):

"I continue to write about the hypocrisies I study, believing that what the Bush administration has done goes far beyond partisan disagreement and should be known. I've learned that it isn't that hard to discover the bit of information that puts the news we see into a much greater perspective. I don't need to bash. I don't even need to convince. I simply need to reveal what is going on behind the tap dancing."

So, in agreement with Melissa Lammey’s "Petition to Alaska Governor Palin to Voluntarily Release Her College Grade Point Average!" I went to the website and signed, adding this personal comment:

If Governor Palin is the right person for this extremely important job that requires full-time character, dedication, wisdom, integrity, intelligence, willingness to learn, humility, patience, honor, compassion, and more...

Then her qualifications will be evident not only in the person we see today, but also throughout the history of her work experience and higher education.

So far, we have learned that in her work experience, she has abused her power. She has, from her very first national appearance at the Republican convention, demonstrated her willingness to lie to the people she wants to vote for her and to continue to spread lies that are already publicly exposed, which is an insult to her supporters and a significant indication of her methodology should she be trusted with power.

She has also demonstrated a Mastery of Disguise. She presents herself with a face value of friendliness, feminist, loving mother and wife, middle-class folksiness, and gutsiness, with executive skills and independence.

But a bit of Googling reveals a woman who uses her husband to provide the pressure when she doesn't get what she wants, who manipulates the system in every way possible to make the state pay for her family's life, whose management skills as Mayor caused a threat of a recall unless she brought on a functioning administrator to clean up the problems she'd already caused, who has strong ties to anti-American separationists who proudly claim to be above U.S. law, who has been happy to allow permanent irreparable damage to the land, air and water that are the essential elements that support the lives of her own large family, as well as all the people of Alaska, whose understanding of Christian faith clearly lacks its most significant lessons -- the Golden Rule and the Beatitudes, whose recent speeches appear to aim at getting the least intelligent to act on their deepest, ugliest fears, and finally, who has completely sold out her family and the people of Alaska to the Rove/Cheney Neoconservative and Corporate Imperialists who descovered her, all for the sake of appearing to be in Power.

If this isn't true, we need to see the evidence.

It should be there in her college records. I would think that Governor Palin, if she is the right person for this job, would have lots of documented evidence of the qualities of her character and intelligence, starting with her GPA.

I would think she would be delighted to have an opportunity to show off. That is something we do know about her.

I wholeheartedly support the "Petition to Alaska Governor Palin to Voluntarily Release Her College Grade Point Average!"

I also wholeheartedly thank Melissa Lammey for having the courage and follow-through to start this petition based on what she'd learned from paying attention, and Professor Mark Crispin Miller for his dedication to teaching all who are wanting to know more

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Patriotism and truth
Public Forum Letter, The Salt Lake Tribune
October 5, 2008

Sen. John McCain has made patriotism an issue in his campaign for the presidency. Patriotism is indeed a legitimate issue and McCain, shot down, captured and imprisoned for years, suffered greatly. Patriotism, however, must extend beyond military service.
Of the dangers threatening our country today, one of the most subtle has been failing ethics and the erosion of standards of honorable behavior. We have had a president who has lied and supported torture and an enemy combatant ploy in which, at his whim, a citizen can be jailed for years without evidence, without trial, with no appeal and with no explanation of the charges. This is fascism.
The principle focus of patriotism today must be the defense and reaffirmation of the ideas and ideals that made our country great. Surely truthfulness is one of these ideals. How then can we support a candidate for the presidency whose campaign includes many lies - most recently one falsely accusing Barack Obama of proposing sex education for tiny tots?
Yes, this is politics, but should not political attack be limited to the issues? McCain's tactics are to divert attention from them and to focus instead on unrelated nonsense.

Dick Scudder
Chairman of the board
MediaNews Group
Denver, Colo.

Editor's Note: The Salt Lake Tribune is owned by MediaNews Group.


Public Forum Letter, The Salt Lake Tribune

October 11, 2008

"What!?" I grabbed the newspaper that my teenage daughter was reading aloud. That letter, "Patriotism and truth" (Forum, October 5), criticizing John McCain for his false attack ads, then harshly denouncing George Bush's presidency of lying and torture as "fascism." It was by Dick Scudder of MediaNews Group, owner of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Does this mean MediaNews Group now feels betrayed after pushing The Trib to endorse George W. Bush before the 2004 election? That singularly strange Opinion page left editorial page editor Vern Anderson with difficult explaining to do. Straight across from that editorial was Pat Bagley's cartoon portrait of the presidential candidate, stating "The Choice is Simple."

The choice was simple for those who'd searched past the Bush lies, but that required time and dedication, because media owners, indebted to Bush's Federal Communications Commission, were complicit in the propaganda, restricting investigative reporting.

I celebrated Scudder's enlightened letter, but I grieve for those who suffered and died because his MediaNews Group and other large corporate media didn't let the light shine on the truth four years earlier.

Barbara Bellows-TerraNova
Salt Lake City

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Questions for The Diane Rehm Show, October 10, 2008 - News Roundup

1. If Sarah Palin becomes too much of a liability, who do your panelists think McCain will turn to at the last minute?

2. With Lehmann's CEO testifying before Congress on the executive payoffs, did we learn what Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, on its Board of Directors, or his cousin, George Herbert Walker, in charge of Global Investment, walked away with?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

That Last Question: What McCain Doesn't Know. . .Ooooommmmm

Breathe, Senator John McCain, and discover your inner blankness. . .

When Tom Brokaw reached the culminating moment of the Presidential debate he had, um, well, been the "hired hand" for, he sought some kind of meaning that would make the spectacle appear more, well, worthwhile.

And so, moving away from the campaign's legacy of embarrassing spiritual End-of-Timers, Witch-blockers, and America-Damners, Tom Brokaw looked Eastward.

Well, East U.S.A.  New Hampshire, that is.  Amherst.  AAAAAAAAAAAAmmmmmmhhhhhhhhhh - erst.

And he gave, as he called it, "fair warning."  For it would be "Zen-like".

What?  Involving a Koan, perhaps? -- those succinct stories or questions Zen masters use to facilitate insight, which, according to Wikipedia, may serve to "confound the habit of discursive thought or shock the mind into awareness."


Whoever you are, Peggy of AAAAAAaaammmmmmmmmhhhhhhh-erst, thank you.

Brokaw speaks:  "What don't you know and how will you learn it?"

And so I, too, in that moment, look Eastward, and take three deep breaths.

Floating in the essence of spirit, I imagine John McCain taking his own three deep breaths, and from his own inner flotation, where he is suddenly centered and whole, brief though that space may be, a sudden truth is born from the emptiness.  He opens his mouth, and the uncensored words spring forth that reveal that which he does not know:

"Who Sarah Palin has selected to be her Vice President.  And I suppose, to find out, I'll have to ask Dick Cheney."

The colorful auras vibrating around McCain fall away as the audience's gasp sucks the atmosphere out of the room.

The badgering voices in his head rise up again, yelling angrily, and he sputters a correction quickly:

"I mean Steve Schmidt!"



Saturday, October 04, 2008

Palin: My, Wasn't She a Fast Talker

A theory on the Handler's solution. . .

* * * * * * *

With Sarah Palin's other recent appearances in mind, my instant reaction to her first response to a question at the Vice Presidential Debate was:

They've put her on SPEED!

Ritalin, that is. Adderall. Methylphenidate.

(Okay now, for those who remember the theme song from The Beverly Hillbillies, reread from "Ritalin" on like "Oil, that is. Black Gold. Texas Tea." Actually, given her drive to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, either lyrics work for Sarah Palin. But I digress...)

Come on. Think about it. Have you ever seen her zoom through her talking points like that? Without notes, without a teleprompter, and without enough pauses for wires to be effective?

And let's review: McCain campaign advisor Steve Schmidt is from the Bush administration (he worked closely with both Rove and Cheney),Bush has shown all the signs of a man on antidepressants, with occasional variations in his twitches appearing to indicate shifts in his medication strengths or combinations. and Mr.

Her handlers must have been desperate -- so needing to yell at her and so aware of what it would mean if she bolted and told the world -- and she just might do that if they pushed too hard...

She certainly had the will and ambition to do the lying, twisting, and sarcastic attacks they needed her to do...

But it was those gaping pauses when her mind hadn't yet found the way to bulldoze the question and move on to her talking points that was the problem.

The media can easily forgive blabbering and illogic and untruths and gibberish. Both the audience and the professionals are used to politicians not making sense.

Given the credibility gap when politicians have to say what is necessary to sell themselves to a majority of voters (to say nothing of the lies everyone knows they must tell to stay true to the deals they've made with big-money donors) . . .

And given the way that the corporate mainstream media, so in debt to the Bush administration, has facilitated the dumbing down of America by conditioning its audience to respond to the quick-and-shiny, and shift focus willingly-- on command--when faced with nuance, complications, hard truths, and deeper examining. . .

And given the hordes of political pundits, some more bought than others: some interested in discovering what may be behind the words that are said and what that will actually look like in that politician's policies, while others are clearly there to emphasize partisan talking points regardless of what was said, there to claim victory above and beyond logic. . .


But they do notice gaps. Fumbling for words. Big pauses. Uhhhhhhhhhh.

And not having an answer. Any answer, dammit! Gobbledygook, for God's sake! Something!!!

Name ANY newspaper or magazine! Can't you think of one dang title? Time? The Anchorage Daily News? Hell, what about Sports Afield! The Oil & Gas Journal!!!!

Sorry boss, but when asked by Katie Couric what newspapers and magazines she used to read "to stay informed and to understand the world", she could not name one.

"I've read most of them. . ." Specifically? "Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years." Name a few? "I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news."

Nope, can't let that happen again, at least not in the debate. Gotta spew out paragraphs full of bla-bla and smile pretty all the while, and never--NO NOT EVER--get caught looking like you can't come up with something--SOMETHING to regurgitate oops--I mean "say".

"Quick!" barked the Handler to his Igor. "Call PHARMA (actually PhRMA, but that's hard to say) and see what'll do the job best! Noooowwwwww!"

As Igor pulled out his Blackberry, the Handler pulled his own bottle of samples out of his pocket and popped two--no, make that three. He was glad there was someone he could still get at--and something he could swallow that would hold him back from yelling at (taking a deep breath) that woman.

Besides, he thought, the speed's right up her alley. Keeps her bikini-worthy. Keeps the men attracted. And Cindy's just gonna have to get used to it.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Questions for The Diane Rehm Show News Roundup, October 3, 2008

On the front page of last Sunday’s New York Times was a huge story on John McCain’s gambling problems, citing both his own personal risky high-rolling gambling habits, as well as his and many of his top campaign staff’s financial ties to the gambling casino industry. It was an extraordinary story. Yet I have heard nothing about it since on NPR.

Has Steve Schmidt managed to muffle the media on this?