Friday, July 10, 2009

God Bless America

The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin: A Round-Up


by Andrew Sullivan

Some readers have asked me to put all the various odd lies of Sarah Palin that the Dish has compiled in one helpful place. So that's what we've done. A couple of months ago, I asked an intern to re-fact-check all of them to make sure new details hadn't emerged that might debunk some. And I also asked to get any subsequent statements by Palin that acknowledged that she had erred in any of these statements that are easily rebuttable by facts in the public record and apologized and corrected. She has not. Since this was a vast project over the last ten months, it's possible there are some nuances or errors that need fixing. Please tell us if you find one and we'll acknowledge and fix. But it has been put through the ringer a few times.

After you have read these, ask yourself: what wouldn't Sarah Palin lie about if she felt she had to?

Palin lied when she said the dismissal of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, had nothing to do with his refusal to fire state trooper Mike Wooten; in fact, the Branchflower Report concluded that she repeatedly abused her power when dealing with both men.

Palin lied when she repeatedly claimed to have said, "Thanks, but no thanks" to the Bridge to Nowhere; in fact, she openly campaigned for the federal project when running for governor.

Palin lied when she denied that Wasilla's police chief and librarian had been fired; in fact, both were given letters of termination the previous day.

Palin lied when she wrote in the NYT that a comprehensive review by Alaska wildlife officials showed that polar bears were not endangered; in fact, email correspondence between those scientists showed the opposite.

Palin lied when she claimed in her convention speech that an oil gas pipeline "began" under her guidance; in fact, the pipeline was years from breaking ground, if at all.

Palin lied when she told Charlie Gibson that she does not pass judgment on gay people; in fact, she opposes all rights between gay spouses and belongs to a church that promotes conversion therapy.

Palin lied when she denied having said that humans do not contribute to climate change; in fact, she had previously proclaimed that human activity was not to blame.

Palin lied when she claimed that Alaska produces 20 percent of the country's domestic energy supply; in fact, the actual figures, based on any interpretation of her words, are much, much lower.

Palin lied when she told voters she improvised her convention speech when her teleprompter stopped working properly; in fact, all reports showed that the machine had functioned perfectly and that her speech had closely followed the script.

Palin lied when she recalled asking her daughters to vote on whether she should accept the VP offer; in fact, her story contradicts details given by her husband, the McCain campaign, and even Palin herself. (She later added another version.)

Palin lied when she claimed to have taken a voluntary pay cut as mayor; in fact, as councilmember she had voted against a raise for the mayor, but subsequent raises had taken effect by the time she was mayor.

Palin lied when she insisted that Wooten's divorce proceedings had caused his confidential records to become public; in fact, court officials confirmed they released no such records.

Palin lied when she suggested to Katie Couric that she was involved in trade missions with Russia; in fact, she has never even met with Russian officials.

Palin lied when she told Shimon Peres that the only flag in her office was the Israeli flag; in fact, she has several flags.

Palin lied when she claimed to have tried to divest government funds from Sudan; in fact, her administration openly opposed a bill that would have done just that.

Palin lied when she repeatedly claimed that troop levels in Iraq were back to pre-surge levels; in fact, even she acknowledged her "misstatements," though she refused to retract or apologize.

Palin lied when she insisted that the Branchflower Report "showed there was no unlawful or unethical activity on my part"; in fact, that report prominently stated, "Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act."

Palin lied when she claimed to have voiced concerns over Wooten fearing he would harm her family; in fact, she actually decreased her security detail during that period.

Palin lied when asked about the $150,000 worth of clothes provided by the RNC; in fact, solid reporting contradicted several parts of her statement.

Palin lied when she suggested that she had offered the media proof of her pregnancy with Trig to "correct the record"; in fact, no reports of her medical records were ever published; and the letter from her doctor testifying to her good health only emerged hours before polling ended on election day, even though there was nothing in it that couldn't have been released two months earlier.

Palin lied when she said that "reported" allegations of her banning Harry Potter as mayor was easily refutable because it had not even been written yet; in fact, the first book in that series was published in 1998 - two years into her first term - and such rumors were never reported by the media, only circulated as emails.

Palin lied when she denied having participated in a clothes audit with campaign lawyers; in fact, the Washington Times later confirmed those details.

Palin lied when asked about Couric's question regarding her reading habits; in fact, Couric's words were not, "What do you read up there in Alaska?" or anything close to condescension.

Palin lied when she mischaracterized the "$1200 check" given to Alaskans as the permanent fund dividend check; in fact, that fund had yielded $2,069 per person, and she claimed otherwise to obscure the fact that Alaskans also received a $1200 rebate check from a windfall profits tax on oil companies - a tax widely criticized by Republicans.

Palin lied when she claimed to be unaware of a turkey being slaughtered behind her during a filmed interview; in fact, the cameraman said she had picked the spot herself, while the slaughter was underway.

WAY longer list at

The 7 Most Bizarrely Unlucky People Who Ever Lived


We're not saying these are the unluckiest people in history; we realize the world is full of starving children and cancer victims. But sometimes you see people who have weird, one-in-a-million instances of bad luck, often over and over again, and you can't help but wonder if they didn't piss off a Gypsy at some point.

We're talking about people like...

Jason and Jenny Cairns-Lawrence

Unlucky Because:

They've been attacked by terrorists more times than John McClane.

It wasn't just New Yorkers who were traumatized by the September 11th World Trade Center attacks. Tourists from all over the country and the world were in the city at the time, as they would be on any given day. Tourists like the English couple Jason and Jenny Cairns-Lawrence, whose relaxing vacation was interrupted by the worst terrorist attack in history, experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime horror.

Wait, did we say once in a lifetime? Because four years later, on July 7th, 2005, they happened to be in London, during the worst terror attack in their history. A series of bombs exploded across the city's transit system, killing 52 people.

At this point they may have felt cursed or, worse, that they were unknowingly starring in an action film that kept doing shitty sequels. But, you know, New York and London are both massive cities and really, the odds are that at least one family would happen to be in both places on those fateful days. Right?

But it wasn't over. Three years later, they took another vacation. This time, to the exotic Indian city of Mumbai.

There they saw the worst terror attack in that country's history, as shooting and bombing attacks killed and wounded hundreds.

News stories say the couple "refused to cut short their holiday" after the Mumbai attack. It's kind of hard not to imagine them as Clark Griswold, screaming "NO! Not this time! We took this fucking vacation and we're going to enjoy it, damn it."

By the way, if there is a support group for "I'm pretty sure I'm living in a series of horrifying yet increasingly unimaginative sequels", they can join Regina Rohde there. She was a student at Columbine High School during the worst school massacre in history, where 12 people were killed. That record was beaten eight years later, during the shootings of 32 students at Virginia Tech... where Rohde was studying as a grad student.

Violet Jessop

Unlucky Because:

She almost went down with a sinking ship... three times.

Traditionally, sea captains considered it bad luck to have a woman on board when they weighed anchor. Women were said to make the sea angry. On the flip side, the superstition said, if the woman was naked, it would calm the sea. If only Violet Jessop had gone around showing off her hoo-ha, perhaps the Titanic would never have hit the iceberg.

Jessop's story doesn't start on the Titanic, however. It starts on board Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic. In 1911, Jessop was a stewardess aboard the luxury liner, getting her bottom pinched by mustachioed men in long coats who added a "harroomph" to the end of every sentence. Or so we assume.

On September 20, 1911, the Olympic collided with a British warship. No one was hurt in that mishap but Violet Jessop decided to move on, to serve on a much bigger, unsinkable ship: the Titanic.

Look how unsinkable!

There she brought not only the same bad fortune but also the captain of the Olympic, one Edward J. Smith. Then there was an iceberg and, well, you've seen that movie. Now, we know what you're thinking. It's hardly bad luck that she was on two boat accidents when it was the same captain both times. Clearly he was the problem, right?

We're not done.

You see, Jessop made it to one of Titanic's lifeboats and could only watch as the world's largest metaphor slipped under the waves, setting the stage for James Cameron's disappointing follow up to True Lies.

Then in 1916, after a short time away from the sea, Jessop signed up to serve as a nurse aboard the Britannic. Sure enough, it floated into a mine and quickly sunk. This time, Jessop's lifeboat didn't get far enough away from the sinking boat, forcing her to jump into the water. Her head klunked in to the keel of the boat but she survived and, for the third time, made it back onto dry land.

Violet Jessop died of congestive heart failure in 1971. She was buried at sea.

Family, supporters pray at California Capitol for release of journalists jailed in North Korea

Lisa Ling, right, prays for her sister Laura and colleague Euna Lee on Thursday evening at the west steps of the Capitol in Sacramento. Sharron Price, left, was among more than 300 people who sang and prayed for the journalists' release by the North Koreans.

As the sun set Thursday over California's Capitol, more than 300 locals implored a capital 5,600 miles away to free jailed journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee from a North Korean prison.

"Bring them home, bring them home," the crowd chanted at several points during the one-hour rally.

The vigil on the Capitol steps had two messages – that the North Korean government should release the women and the U.S. government should do more to intervene.

"She just needs the help of our government," said Lisa Ling, Laura's sister and a fellow journalist. "Only through the government does she have the hope of being released."

Lee, 36, and Laura Ling, 32, reporting for Current TV, were at the border of China and North Korea on March 17 to report on trafficking of women there when they were arrested by North Korean police and propelled into the international spotlight.

Ling and Lee were convicted of illegally crossing into North Korea by that country's highest court last month and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor.

After weeks of hoping that keeping a low profile would help bring the two home, Ling's family has changed strategy in recent days, launching a media offensive.

In addition to Thursday's rally, Lisa Ling has conducted local and national interviews, and supporters have launched a Web site,

Google Drops A Nuclear Bomb On Microsoft. And It’s Made of Chrome.


googlechromelogoWow. So you know all those whispers about a Google desktop operating system that never seem to go away? You thought they might with the launch of Android, Google's mobile OS. But they persisted. And for good reason, because it's real.

In the second half of 2010, Google plans to launch the Google Chrome OS, an operating system designed from the ground up to run the Chrome web browser on netbooks. "It's our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be," Google writes tonight on its blog.

But let's be clear on what this really is. This is Google dropping the mother of bombs on its chief rival, Microsoft. It even says as much in the first paragraph of its post, "However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web." Yeah, who do you think they mean by that?

And it's a genius play. So many people are buying netbooks right now, but are running WIndows XP on them. Windows XP is 8 years old. It was built to run on Pentium IIIs and Pentium 4s. Google Chrome OS is built to run on both x86 architecture chips and ARM chips, like the ones increasingly found in netbooks. It is also working with multiple OEMs to get the new OS up and running next year.

Obviously, this Chrome OS will be lightweight and fast just like the browser itself. But also just like the browser, it will be open-sourced. Think Microsoft will be open-sourcing Windows anytime soon?

As Google writes, "We have a lot of work to do, and we're definitely going to need a lot of help from the open source community to accomplish this vision." They might as well set up enlistment booths on college campuses for their war against Microsoft.

Mountain Madness - Invasion of the Coal Thugs

For 23 years Keepers of the Mountains has held an annual family picnic on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia to bring together supporters of the movement to end mountaintop removal coal mining. This weekend 20 or so drunken coal thugs charged over the ridge and tried to pick a fight with the festival goers. Mind you the video you are about to see has foul language and ugly humans.

Obama’s Single Payer Beat Down

While his supporters and apologists, including some leading media figures, pretend that Obama is actually in favor of single payer insurance, his stance has been clear from the start, and is diametrically opposed to it.


State Sen. Obama (above) in 2003, back when he supported single-payer
healthcare. Obama changed his tune shortly thereafter

By Glen Ford


President Obama is mad, again, at the usual suspects: progressives that insist on speaking out in the people's interest on single-payer healthcare. He picked up the phone last week to warn lefties and unions to watch their mouths and get with his fuzzy program on healthcare – although even White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel doesn't seem to know what that program is. "For Obama to 'win' his debate, the American people must lose."


President Obama has escalated his campaign to suppress single-payer healthcare advocates, hinting darkly that there will be repercussions if unions and activists persist in harassing his fellow center-right Democrats. In a pre-Fourth of July teleconference with Democratic congressional leaders, Obama lectured [1], "We shouldn't be focussing resources on each other. We ought to be focussed on winning this debate."


The president was attempting to shut down paid media messages seeking to pressure corporatist Democrats to support some sort of public healthcare option – an option that Obama claims to favor, although in terms so vague his own chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, framed the issue as "negotiable [2]." The ads have been embarrassing to rightist Democrats who are Obama's true political soulmates and a bridge to Republicans he seeks to woo.


Obama's modus operandi is by now well known. His reflexive instinct is to lash out to his left when frustrated, to demand progressives stand down and await his marching orders – even when, as is the case most of the time, Obama's own direction is unclear, at best.

The objects of his ire are advertisements or fundraisers produced by MoveOn, Health Care for America and Democracy for America. MoveOn's advertising plans successfully pressured North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan to endorse the idea of a public health care plan. No matter. Obama demands that the Left – such as it is – stand down and let Obama do his thing, whatever that is.


The president's admonition that progressives focus "on winning this debate" rather than "focussing resources on each other" makes sense only to those operating under the delusion that Obama is in a real fight with corporate healthcare profiteers. In the real world, Obama is in shifting stages of embrace with Healthcare Inc. Debate is permitted only to the Right of his own fuzzy position, while the Left is shushed and hectored.

Barack McNamara Obama

Why Can't Obama See His Wars Are Unwinnable?

by Ted Rall

PORTLAND, OREGON--Robert McNamara, one of the "best and the brightest" technocrats behind the escalation of the Vietnam War, eventually came to regret his actions. But his public contrition, which included a book and a series of interviews for the documentary "The Fog of War," were greeted with derision.

"Mr. McNamara must not escape the lasting moral condemnation of his countrymen," editorialized The New York Times in 1995. "Surely he must in every quiet and prosperous moment hear the ceaseless whispers of those poor boys in the infantry, dying in the tall grass, platoon by platoon, for no purpose. What he took from them cannot be repaid by prime-time apology and stale tears, three decades late."

McNamara's change of heart came 58,000 American and 2,000,000 Vietnamese lives too late. If the dead could speak, surely they would ask: why couldn't you see then what you understand so clearly now? Why didn't you listen to the millions of experts, journalists and ordinary Americans who knew that death and defeat would be the only outcome?

Though Errol Morris' film served as ipso facto indictment, its title was yet a kind of justification. There is no "fog of war." There is only hubris, stubbornness, and the psychological compartmentalization that allows a man to sign papers that will lead others to die before going home to play with his children.

McNamara is dead. Barack Obama is his successor.

Bring terrorists to US? Better than leaving Gitmo open, panel says.

In a letter to Congress Tuesday, 17 terrorism experts said America's super-maximum security prisons can handle detainees from Guantánamo.

By Alexandra Marks

With the deadline to close the Guantánamo Bay prison just six months away, Obama administration lawyers told Congress Tuesday they are still unsure about how they will deal with the remaining detainees there.

But a bipartisan group of leading homeland-security experts criticized congressional efforts to block to the administration from moving the Guantanamo detainees to the US as "unnecessary and harmful to our national security."

Currently, more than 200 detainees remain at the naval prison camp in Cuba. Congress and administration officials are currently debating whether they should be prosecuted in civilian or military courts, as well as where such trials should take place. Some in Congress object to bringing the detainees back to this country to stand trial and have blocked the administration from doing so during the 2009 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

The homeland-security experts sought to undercut this objection, saying in a letter to Congress Tuesday that closing Guantánamo would be a "net benefit to our counterterrorism efforts," and that doing so will require bringing some terrorists here for "trial, detention, or, if appropriate, resettlement."

"Guantánamo is so onerous to us from a foreign-policy standpoint that we've got to get rid of it," says Ronald Marks, a former senior CIA official and senior vice president of Oxford Analytica, an international consulting firm in Washington. He was one of 17 terrorism experts who signed the letter to Congress.

"The logical answer is to bring some of these guys to super-maximum security prisons here and keep them here for the rest of their lives," he says.

Small business owners slam Chamber of Commerce

by Joel Wendland

Charging the US Chamber of Commerce with supporting only the "interests of Fortune 500 companies," small business owners this week sharply criticized the business group for refusing to endorse the Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act, according to a statement released July 8th by the American Small Business League (ASBL).

The act, which has been introduced in the House, would increase oversight of federal contracts designed to go to small business owners. According to the ASBL, billions of dollars worth of federal contracts that are earmarked for small businesses go instead to large corporations, including many named to Fortune's list of the 500 richest companies. The bill, if passed, would remedy the inequity.

More than $100 billion a year in federal contracts, the ASBL charged, flows into the hands of Fortune 500 corporations and other large multinational corporations.

The Chamber of Commerce opposes changing the regulations that allow this situation. In a blog post last month, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director for Small and Mid-market Business Councils Giovanni Coratolo appeared to accuse small business owners who want the rules changed of whining.

"We find it more beneficial for our members to actually work for good policies, not merely rail into the ether on the injustices of the world," Coratolo wrote.

Life of Riley Index - Retiree Version

By Scott Burns

It requires gobs of money to be a person of independent means when you are young.

But age changes everything.

Once you have achieved geezerhood, your personal fortune can be a small fraction of what a younger person needs, and you'll live just as well.

There are two reasons for this--- Social Security and what might be called the Old Mortality Trick. Let's tackle Social Security first.

While more young people believe in flying saucers than believe in Social Security, the reality is that Social Security is the largest source of retirement income for the vast majority of Americans. According to a recent study by EBRI, the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Social Security provides an average of 38.6 percent of all income for people age 65 and older. That's more than double the 18.6 percent that comes from pension and annuity income or the 15.6 percent that comes from assets.

Even if your income puts you in the top 20 percent of all retirees, Social Security benefits are a big deal. The same EBRI study shows that top-quintile seniors still get 17.2 percent of their income from Social Security.

Impressed? You should be. Every dollar of Social Security income eliminates the need for $20 to $25 of retirement savings. As a consequence, you need a whole lot less in savings to live the Life of Riley as a retiree than you would need as a young playboy or playgirl.

How much is a whole lot less?

Well, last week I showed that you needed $3.1 million to live the sweet life with an income that put you in the top 25 percent of all American households--- an estimated $70,000 a year. Using figures from the Aon Consulting replacement rate studies, retirees can live at the same standard with a mere $490,000 if they will risk a 5 percent withdrawal rate, or $612,500 if they use a more conservative 4 percent withdrawal rate.

That's a whole lot less than $3.1 million.

Oi Vey

Banks' 'courtesy' loans at soaring rates irk consumers

It's called "courtesy overdraft" and has long been used by banks to automatically pay transactions that account holders don't have the money to cover — and then charge them a steep fee. For years, banks have made it easier for customers to overdraw their checking accounts, aided by a cottage industry of consultants who make big money by helping to wring fees out of consumers, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

But what began as a customer service has often become an important revenue driver for banks at the expense of the most vulnerable consumers, according to bank memos reviewed by USA TODAY and interviews with industry insiders.

"This practice has gone awry and needs to be fixed," says Alex Sheshunoff, a key consultant who once advised banks to pay, not return, overdrawn transactions. "This is something everyone should be trying to find a solution to, not fighting."

Today, each of the nation's 10 largest banks allows consumers to overdraw with checks, debit cards or at ATMs, a 2009 USA TODAY survey reveals. Large banks also reserve the right to process large transactions first, triggering more overdraft fees by emptying the account more quickly. Some even charge consumers before they overdraw by deducting a purchase when it's made, rather than when it clears, pushing the account into the red sooner.

President Obama signed legislation in May limiting certain credit card practices — such as rate increases on existing debt — that have pushed consumers deeper into distress in a sliding economy. The government also wants to create a consumer protection agency to supervise loans. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is examining the fairness of certain overdraft practices.

It's unclear whether those efforts will be enough to rein in overdrafts, now the single-largest driver of consumer fee income for banks. In 2009, banks are expected to reap a record $38.5 billion from overdraft fees, nearly twice the $20.5 billion they stand to collect from credit card penalties such as late and over-limit fees.

Bottled Water Regulation is Insufficient, Tap Water May Be Safer: House Investigates While GOP Rolls Eyes

by Meg White

water bottleWhen you think back on it, the commoditization of a resource that humans literally cannot live without happened relatively easily. After a year or two of people laughing off the idea of bottled water, it was accepted as a fact of life, and now has become the way the majority of Americans get their H2O.

Many cite the health and safety benefits of water encased in plastic in defense of bottled water, but there is no guarantee that the product is any different from what comes out of one's tap. That was the subject of Wednesday's hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

Two reports being made public Wednesday spurred the subcommittee to hold a hearing on the subject.

One study on bottled water by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, found "the purity of bottled water cannot be trusted:"

Laboratory tests conducted for EWG at one of the country's leading water quality laboratories found that 10 popular brands of bottled water, purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in 9 states and the District of Columbia, contained 38 chemical pollutants altogether, with an average of 8 contaminants in each brand.

The study found that while Wal-Mart bottled water brand Sam's Choice was no better than tap water, it also contained cancer-causing agents and other contaminants at levels that exceeded state limits. The group reports it is suing the corporation to force them to add a carcinogenic warning label on their water bottles.

Swine Flu Totem