News Flash

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 12:37 PM EDT

NEWS FLASH....MSNBC's crawl at the moment:

Palin: This is a moment when principals matter

Our nation's educators will be glad to hear it.

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KBR Sued For Human Trafficking

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 12:32 PM EDT


In August 2004, as the insurgency in Iraq gathered force and kidnappings and grisly killings became commonplace, a group of 12 Nepalese contractors were captured by Sunni militants on the road to an American base. Days later, insurgent cameras rolled while they were executed. The men had been employees of Daoud & Partners, a Jordanian subcontractor of Kellog Brown & Root, which specialized in funneling cheap Third World labor to Iraq to staff support positions at US bases.

On Wednesday, the contractors' families filed racketeering charges against Daoud and KBR in federal court, alleging that the men were drawn to Jordan under false pretenses, had their passports confiscated, and were then sent to Iraq, where 12 died. A thirteenth, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, survived the attack, as he was riding in a different vehicle at the time.

More on the suit from the Courthouse News Service:

Will Palin Bring A Breast Pump On The Campaign Trail?

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 12:15 PM EDT

John McCain may think that Alaska governor Sarah Palin will help him pick off the Hillary voters, but the fact that she went back to work in April three days after giving birth to a premature baby with Downs' Syndrome has already got women buzzing on the web with questions about her judgment and priorities. Obviously 2008 is a lot different from 1992, when Hillary, who wasn't even running for office, was heavily criticized for her decision to pursue a career after having a child. But even in these more enlightened times, women on both sides of the political spectrum may frown on Palin's decision to hit the national campaign trail at this particular time of her life. (And of course, we'll all be wondering: will she bring her breast pump?)

Besides, Palin certainly won't be much help to those women trying to nudge the country into embracing more family-friendly workplace policies. John McCain doesn't actually have any work-family policies to speak of anyway, but now, when women argue for the need for paid family leave, the Republicans will only have to trot out Palin to illustrate why women don't really need it.

The First Time Hillary Clinton is Mentioned at the Vice Presidential Debate...

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 11:49 AM EDT

...Joe Biden better have this clip memorized.

More analysis of Sarah Palin in a minute. For now, here's her resume:

1992-1996: City Councilwoman from Wasilla, AK (pop. 8,471).
1996-2002: Mayor of Wasilla, AK (pop. 8,471).
2003-2004: Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
2006-current: Governor of Alaska (pop. 683,478).

Population of Charlotte, North Carolina: 671,588. Somebody tell Mayor Pat McCrory he could have been the pick!

More Sarah

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 11:34 AM EDT

MORE SARAH....As I was driving home from Panera (power is back on! yay!), I was thinking about this Sarah Palin thing. And what I was thinking about was what a bizarrely contrived and calculated choice it is. I mean, aside from six years as mayor of Wasilla (pop. 6,715) — about which I'm sure we'll be hearing much, much more — her political experience consists of 21 months as governor of the fourth smallest state in the union. That's it.

But she's a woman! And pro-life! And opposed to corruption! And maybe all those disaffected Hillary supporters will vote for her! And she won't upstage the old man!

It's hard to think of a more intensely cynical, focus-grouped, poll-driven, base-pandering VP choice in recent memory. Even Dan Quayle isn't in the running. This is ridiculous.

Sarah Palin

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 11:02 AM EDT

SARAH PALIN....The New York Times is reporting that John McCain has chosen Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. That's a pretty pathetic attempt to look "bold," isn't it? I wonder how his campaign gurus are going to continue peddling the experience line after making this move?

But hey, she's pro-life and conservative evangelicals like her. And she's not Mitt Romney. I guess that must have been pretty much the entire checklist.

ADDED BONUS: Isn't Alaska a central front in the new Cold War? That's foreign policy experience right there!

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No Power

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 10:48 AM EDT

NO POWER....The power is out in my neighborhood, so I'm breakfasting and blogging this morning at our local Panera Bakery. Anything going on in the world?

Obama's Game Plan

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 1:29 AM EDT

OBAMA'S GAME PLAN....The always perceptive Mark Schmitt notes that in his speech tonight, Barack Obama unveiled a campaign strategy that depends on attacking John McCain's politics, not his character. This is risky, considering the success that George Bush had with character assassination four years ago:

But there's another lesson in George W. Bush's 2004 victory over Kerry by demolishing Kerry's personal reputation: It left Kerry's agenda untouched. As Bush discovered from the day after his 2005 inauguration, he had no mandate for conservative policies such as Social Security privatization because he had not run on them.

But if it succeeds, it will have the effect of giving the next president exactly what George W. Bush didn't have: A mandate. The voters will have rejected not just McCain, but the entire economic and foreign policy agenda of conservatism. And that's as important as winning the election, perhaps more important.

Absolutely right. Tonight Obama made a start on a campaign that's based not just on talking points (though there will be plenty of those), but on a sustained assault on modern conservatism and a sustained defense of modern liberalism.

But it was only a start. He needs to keep pressing both halves of that game plan, even if it means occasionally saying some hard things. If he takes a few chances and does that, though, he'll not only win, he'll win with a public behind him that's actively sold on a genuinely liberal agenda. This is why conservatives have so far been apoplectic about his speech tonight: if he continues down this road, and wins, they know that he'll leave movement conservatism in tatters. He is, at least potentially, the most dangerous politician they've ever faced.

Obama's Grand Speech: Reason for Hope

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 12:34 AM EDT

It was a historic speech on a historic night--in a remarkable setting. A crowd of tens of thousands of Americans, filling an entire stadium in the middle of the country, waved American flags and signs calling for "Change." Never in the nation's history had more Americans attended such an event. Never before had an African-American accepted the presidential nomination of a major party in the United States. And the speech of Barack Obama matched the moment.

He connected his own history--the history of a not-quite-ordinary American family--to the mythical promise of America. His rhetoric soared--as usual--but it was tethered to reality: in particular, the stark differences between how Obama would approach the challenges the nation now faces and how John McCain would do so. Obama laced his criticism of the Bush years and the possible McCain years with a dose of populism, which gave portions of the speech a sharp edge. And he brought his pitch for hope and change down to the ground with a succinct description of policy ideas he would work for as president.

Obama, as convention dictates, began with a high-minded theme: America is a land of promise, but, he declared, that promise--especially for hardworking Americans--is in jeopardy, placing the nation at a critical juncture. "These challenges are not all of government's making," he said. "But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush. America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this." Given that polls show that at least seven out of ten Americans--maybe more--believe the country is on the wrong track and a similar number of Americans disapprove of Bush, his criticism was not at all radical.

In one of the more important passages, Obama, taking a populist turn, made the case that his opponent does not understand this:

Fox. Is. Amazing.

| Fri Aug. 29, 2008 12:18 AM EDT

What can you do when you see something like this? Just bow in reverence, right?


Update: Rumors on the internets say this is a fake...