A Class Act

Governor Palin is a little upset about double standards

"When I heard Barack Obama state in one of his interviews … that his wife was off limits, meaning, his family was off limits, I naively believed that they respected that … that it applied to all of us, but it didn’t apply."

but you know what would have made it easier? If she was a Democrat.

"Is it political? Is it sexism? What is it that drives someone to believe the worst and perpetuate the worst?" Palin continued.

Palin said her party affiliation likely had something to do with it.

"Had I been chosen perhaps to run as a reformer on the Democratic ticket, you would’ve seen an absolutely different, and I think if you will, a much prettier profile of Sarah Palin and the Palin family," she said.

Palin says she wants to wait until she sees how Caroline Kennedy is treated (and I think was can agree that she’s been getting "kid glove" treatment around these parts) before she makes up her mind about whether Democratic women have it easy. Me, I don’t think she has to. Remember this?

During her introduction of Sen. John McCain at a rally Tuesday, his wife Cindy took a shot at controversial comments recently made by another 2008 spouse.

“I am proud of my country. I don’t know about you? If you heard those words earlier, I am very proud of my country,” Mrs. McCain said while revving up the crowd and introducing her husband.

When asked at a media availability afterward if they were responding to Michelle Obama’s comments Monday that this election is the “first time” she was “really proud” of her country, Sen. McCain deferred to his wife–who reiterated her previous words.

“I just wanted to make the statement that I have and always will be proud of my country,” McCain said.

But I’m sure in the morning she felt really bad about it.

The wife of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain stood behind her initial response to Democratic counterpart Michelle Obama’s comment that for the first time she was “really proud” of her country. She told CNN’s John King that her own remark – that she had “always” been proud of her country – had been a spontaneous response, not a planned attack…. 

She repeated her defense of her initial reaction in an interview that aired on ABC News Thursday. "I don’t know why [Obama] said what she said,” said McCain. “All I know is that I have always been proud of my country."

Well, it was spontaneous, after all, and Sarah Palin wasn’t around to draw that line yet. Which she she did right up front in her convention speech, where she explained the difference between small town folks and, um, community organizers:


Kennedy: Tastefully Appointed, or Not


With rumors of Ms. Kennedy’s inevitability having, apparently, been a touch exaggerated , we’re back to gaming Governor Paterson’s senatorial appointment*:

It has been opined on chat shows and blogs, insisted on publicly and whispered privately. It has somehow been concluded — with delight in some quarters and aggravation in others — that Gov. David A. Paterson has little choice but to appoint Caroline Kennedy, she of the royal political lineage, fund-raising prowess and pure star power, to the United States Senate.

“I’ve heard this a hundred times: ‘He has to pick her,’ ” said Erick C. Mullen, a Democratic political consultant who has worked extensively in New York. “Or what? If he doesn’t pick her, what happens?”

That question has not yet received much of an airing during Ms. Kennedy’s audition for the Senate.

Not quite true. Major Kennedy supporter Kevin Sheekey,** Mayor Bloomberg’s Deputy Mayor for Political Aspirations, is loudly airing precisely that question:

"I think New York needs someone who can work with the new president," Sheekey continued. "I think New York needs someone who supported the new president. I think New York desperately shouldn’t appoint someone who opposed the new president. We need someone at this time at this moment in history who can work with new president and delivery for New York."…

Sheekey said the choice of who should replace Clinton shouldn’t be about politics. Instead, he said, it should be about "who is in the most unique position to deliver for New York at this time in history."

"I think that’s Caroline Kennedy based on her relationship with President Obama, on her unique ability to say she supported him during this last year, and, I think, on what I believe is President Obama’s desire to see her succeed and thus New York succeed."

Well, alrighty then. Let’s review the bidding: 4.3 million New Yorkers went to the polls and voted for the Obama-Biden ticket – the second largest number behind California, and the same percentage as they got in ticket home states Illinois and Delaware. The third most populous state, New York is one of the top tax revenue generators in the country, yet gets back only 79¢ from every dollar sent to Washington. What Mr. Sheekey*** is saying is that despite all this, unless Ms. Kennedy is appointed, President-elect Obama is going to let New York go under as payback to local officials who didn’t support him in the primaries.****

Not about politics indeed. (more…)

Bush Sold Handshake to “Pardon Guy” Isaac Toussie’s Dad

amd_toussie-bush.jpgThe White House has been saying Bush didn’t know that Robert Toussie, the father of briefly-pardoned real estate scammer Isaac Toussie, was a GOP donor. Unfortunately, the picture of Our Fearless Leader shaking hands with the gentleman now appears to have been taken at the fundraiser Toussie wrote the check for.

The meeting of Robert Toussie and Bush occurred around the time Toussie logged a $28,500 donation to the Republican National Committee.

Bush granted Isaac Toussie a pardon last Tuesday – and rescinded it a day later, after The News reported on the elder Toussie’s donation and how the pardon bypassed normal reviews.

Bush participated in "thousands of photo opportunities this year alone," Siciliano continued. "Mr. Robert Toussie attended one of these events on March 14, 2008, where the photo was taken…. It was at the home of Paul Singer."

That would be Bush Pioneer Paul Singer,* by the way. Also, apparently, in a generous mood that day: Toussie character witness (and former Bear Stearns Director) Robert Steinberg

Word of Bush’s reversal came late in the day as The News was set to report that three Toussie family friends were "affiants" who vouched for him in writing, including GOP donor Robert Steinberg of Greenwich, Conn.

Steinberg was a senior managing director at Bear Stearns before it collapsed in March.

The same page of campaign finance records that lists Robert Toussie’s dona­tion also show a Robert Steinberg giving $30,800 to the RNC and the John McCain campaign on the same day.

Steinberg and his wife, Suzanne, also gave a total of $9,200 to Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

"I don’t know why [the pardon] would be controversial," Steinberg scoffed in a call from his oceanfront winter retreat in Highland Beach, Fla.

Steinberg is a "good friend of the family" and was Robert Toussie’s college roommate, said Isaac Toussie lawyer Henry Mazurek.

I think maybe the White House story is about to evolve again.**

Just a hunch. (more…)

Caroline Kennedy – “I have to work twice as hard”

Candidate sees Senate as personal growth opportunity

In her first sit-down interview since she emerged as a Senate hopeful, the 51-year-old daughter of President John F. Kennedy cited her father’s legacy in explaining her decision to seek to serve alongside her uncle Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy.

"Many people remember that spirit that President Kennedy summoned forth," she said. "Many people look to me as somebody who embodies that sense of possibility… She also credited her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, with giving her the courage to run. "I think my mother … made it clear that you have to live life by your own terms and you have to not worry about what other people think and you have to have the courage to do the unexpected," she said…

She said she realizes she will have to prove herself and "work twice as hard as anybody else." She acknowledged, "I am an unconventional choice," but added: "We’re starting to see there are many ways into public life and public service."

Oh, dear.

Yes, that’s true. There are many ways into public life, and one of them is work. With all due respect to Ms. Kennedy (who I vaguely think well of – I’m not a close follower of clan Kennedy outside of politics), every other candidate for Senator Clinton’s seat has used that path to get where they are, and she has not.* I’m going to work the hardest (just as soon as I start) is not a comforting statement from someone applying to be appointed one of the most powerful people in the country.

I don’t doubt that she is sincerely offering to work hard at the job, insofar as she understands what that means. I’d still like some better reason than her parents’ Q ratings to think that’s going to be enough for a fifty year old woman to become my Senator as her first full-time job, particularly since the job involves voting

Kennedy offered no excuses for why she failed to vote in a number of elections since registering in New York City in 1988, including in 1994 when Daniel Patrick Moynihan was up for re-election for the Senate seat she hopes to take over. She said she was "surprised" and "dismayed" by her voting record, adding: "I’m glad it’s been brought to my attention." 


Funny, if it were funny

Yo, pardon me?

So Bush just rescinded a pardon:

President Bush on Wednesday retracted one of the 19 presidential pardons he granted just before the Christmas holiday. 

The White House announced that Isaac Toussie, a Brooklyn developer convicted of fraud and making false statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, should not be granted clemency. 

White House press secretary Dana Perino said the new decision was "based on information that has subsequently come to light," including on the extent and nature of Toussie’s prior criminal offenses. She also said that neither the White House counsel’s office nor the president had been aware of a political contribution by Toussie’s father that "might create an appearance of impropriety."…

The White House decision on Toussie had come without a recommendation from the pardon attorney, Ronald L. Rodgers, as Toussie’s request for a pardon came less than five years after completion of his sentence, so that eliminated another step in the review process…

A story in the New York Daily News said Toussie’s father, Robert, donated $28,500 to the national Republican Party in April. It was his first political donation and came just months before Toussie’s pardon petition, the newspaper said.

I can see that. It would be wildly inappropriate to check if the person you were giving a pardon to was someone who wasn’t cleared for a pardon who’d given you a wad of money when they asked for a pardon. So what was Toussie pardoned for?

Mr. Toussie, now 37, pleaded guilty in May 2001 to using false documents to get mortgages insured by the Department of Housing and Urban Development…

Mr. Toussie admitted that he agreed to help home buyers qualify for HUD loans by lying about their income. But in a civil rights class-action lawsuit brought in United States District Court in Central Islip, home buyers, most of them black and Hispanic, accused a long list of builders, bankers, appraisers and mortgage brokers — including Mr. Toussie and his father, Robert I. Toussie — of selling poorly constructed new homes at inflated prices and deceiving buyers into believing that property taxes would be deferred or reduced.

And why, if you have a sick sense of humor, is that funny? Because Toussie didn’t go, like Dana Perino said he had to, through the Pardon Attorney?

Nah. Because of who Toussie’s lawyer is. (more…)

Justice O’Connor Gets the Gift of Deodorant


Sandra Day O’Connor is getting an ethics award for her commitment to an unpoliticized judiciary

The University of Illinois is giving retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor an award.

O’Connor has been selected as the 2008 recipient of the Paul H. Douglas Ethics in Government Award from the Institute of Government and Public Affairs…

Since her retirement, she has actively spoken out about keeping the judicial branch free from political pressure.

Her activism has, it seems, evolved since before her retirement:

[A]t an election-night party on Nov. 7, surrounded for the most part by friends and familiar acquaintances, [Justice O’Connor] let her guard drop for a moment when she heard the first critical returns shortly before 8 p.m. Sitting in her hostess’s den, staring at a small black-and-white television set, she visibly started when CBS anchor Dan Rather called Florida for Al Gore. "This is terrible," she exclaimed. She explained to another partygoer that Gore’s reported victory in Florida meant that the election was "over," since Gore had already carried two other swing states, Michigan and Illinois.

Moments later, with an air of obvious disgust, she rose to get a plate of food, leaving it to her husband to explain her somewhat uncharacteristic outburst. John O’Connor said his wife was upset because they wanted to retire to Arizona, and a Gore win meant they’d have to wait another four years. O’Connor, the former Republican majority leader of the Arizona State Senate and a 1981 Ronald Reagan appointee, did not want a Democrat to name her successor.

Presumably the award, like Justice O’Connor’s ethics and the decision that is her real legacy, is limited to the present circumstances.

Tonia Thomas: An Unusual Soldier in the War on Christmas

edible-gingerbread-toy-soldier-12-12-06.jpgThe latest highly-publicized suspiciously-well-timed battle in the War on Christmas involves a woman in Florida who says she was fired from her job for saying Merry Christmas:

Tonia Thomas says she was terminated two weeks ago from her job at Counts Oakes Resort Properties in Panama City after balking at the rule because it went against her religion. She is suing for lost wages, she said.

Thomas offered to use a generic greeting or say "Merry Christmas" to callers instead, but that offer was denied by company President Andy Phillips, according to the Liberty Counsel — the Christian-based legal group representing her.

"She said, ‘That goes against my religious beliefs; I’m participating in secularizing Christmas,’" Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mathew Staver told FOXNews.com. "She asked him for an accommodation … and he refused."

Although actually, it’s not secularism Ms. Thomas has an issue with so much as it’s other religions:

"I hold my core Christian values to a high standard and I absolutely refuse to give in on the basis of values. All I wanted was to be able to say ‘Merry Christmas’ or to acknowledge no holidays," she said Tuesday. "As a Christian, I don’t recognize any other holidays."

Her employers, on the other hand, felt that accommodating Ms. Thomas’ wish to express her disrespect for their religious traditions with customers was an undue hardship on the conduct of their business, so they required her (as many employers do) to use a script: (more…)

Deborah Howell’s Foolish Consistency

Defending “journalism”

Deborah Howell, the ombudsman of the Washington Post, is writing an endless series of valedictory columns to mark her departure after three contentious years on the job. What’s her takeaway? Amazingly, exactly what she thought she knew coming in: the news coverage in the Washington Post just isn’t slanted enough towards conservatives

[the WaPo should] Make a serious effort to cover political and social conservatives and their issues; the paper tends to shy away from those stories, leaving conservatives feeling excluded and alienated from the paper. I’d like those who have canceled their subscriptions to be readers again. Too many Post staff members think alike; more diversity of opinion should be welcomed.

Those lost subscriptions? 900, she says, in late October and early November, "more than 240" of them after the Post endorsed Obama, and she attributes them to a "valid" perception of liberal bias.*

Interesting. Was there something specific that happened over at the Post that particularly pissed conservatives off? Why yes, there was: (more…)

The best New York government money can buy

Thomas Suozzi

Thomas Suozzi

If you don’t follow New York politics, you might think that it’s unusual for the powers that be to try and hand someone high office. Not so much. One of the other candidates for Senator Clinton’s seat, Mr. Suozzi (also the scion of a Democratic dynasty) had a brush with the invisible hand back in ’06, when one of Mr. Giuliani’s top fundraisers supported him against Mr. Spitzer as the Democratic candidate for Governor. 

Mr. Suozzi (and Mr. Langone) also had a friend on the Democratic side of the aisle in their battle against the enormously popular Mr. Spitzer: our own (and the DSCC’s) Senator Schumer

Sen. Charles Schumer is secretly encouraging Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi to challenge Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for the Democratic nomination for governor, insiders have told The Post.

Schumer’s backing of the just-re-elected Suozzi — which includes informal advice on strategy and fund-raising — results from a long-standing rivalry with, and a deep personal dislike for, the high-profile Spitzer, Democratic Party insiders say. (more…)

Laura tells Obama family: no room at the inn

Word association: You would think most folks who are as noisily enthusiastic about Christmas as the departing first family keep telling us they are would hear the phrase "in the manger" around this time of year and think "baby." They seem to have settled instead on "dog"

The Bush administration has denied President-elect Barack Obama’s request to move early into an official guest house across from the White House, citing previously scheduled commitments, a transition official said today.

The Obamas wanted to move into Blair House before Jan. 5, so that daughters Malia and Sasha could start classes on time at Sidwell Friends School in Washington. "

well, nothing pointed about that, right?

[T]here were previously scheduled events and guests that couldn’t be displaced," said a transition spokesperson, who agreed to be quoted only on condition of anonymity…

McDonough, a spokeswoman for first lady Laura Bush, said in a statement that Blair House will be "available to President-elect Obama and his family starting January 15, as is historically the case." Prior to that, McDonough said, "should he need to use it for a meeting or such he can certainly request it and the transition office will check its availability."

Administration officials said there are no foreign dignitaries scheduled to stay there during the first two weeks of January, but some farewell events have been booked for departing Bush administration officials.