- The Washington Times - Monday, November 16, 2009

Palinmania

Republican 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s highly anticipated book tour kicks off Monday afternoon with the airing of her wide-ranging chat with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey.

After that, the former Alaska governor will make stops with conservative TV and talk radio hosts while barnstorming middle America on a bus tour that begins in Grand Rapids, Mich. — the place where she first threatened to “go rogue” when the McCain campaign started pulling resources out of the Wolverine State.

Although the 418-page best-seller doesn’t come out until Tuesday, the Associated Press already has obtained a copy and assigned 11 reporters to comb through it to publish a pre-emptive “fact check” that has outraged her supporters because several items in it relied more on analysis than black-and-white facts.

For example, one of the “fact check” items criticized Mrs. Palin for writing in the book that she was driven by “purpose” rather than “ambition.” The AP, oddly, concluded the book proves otherwise because it “has all the characteristics of a pre-campaign manifesto, the requisite autobiography of the future candidate.”

Among other things Mrs. Palin will likely be asked about on the media tour are some unexpected “vetting” expenses she said she was saddled with by the McCain campaign. Her legal bills, mostly racked up by frivolous ethics charges levied at her by disgruntled Alaska residents, are well-known and have been said to cost up to $500,000 in personal expenses. The AP initially reported that Mrs. Palin’s book said the McCain campaign stuck her with a $500,000 bill, but later corrected itself to say only $50,000 of that was for vetting.

Newsweek is also getting in the game, previewing its Nov. 23 cover, which quickly reignited the debate of sexism in the media.

Its editors chose a photo of Mrs. Palin taken for “Runner’s World,” showing her wearing athletic shorts that display the avid runner’s toned legs. Although such a photo makes sense for a workout magazine, the connection isn’t obvious with Newsweek’s dismal, political headline: “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah? She’s bad news for the GOP — and for everyone else, too.”

Several photos taken for Runner’s World show Mrs. Palin stretching in various poses, and they’re available on its Web site, but Newsweek chose the one that shows off her legs the most.

Some conservative media watchers have compared the Newsweek cover to others published by Time that featured a conservative with an unflattering photograph and a negative headline. Time’s 1995 cover of Rush Limbaugh puffing a cigar asked, “Is Rush Limbaugh Good for America?” Its more recent cover with Glenn Beck sticking out his tongue asked, “Mad Man: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?”

Medicare waste

A $440 billion government-run health care program created to assist the nation’s elderly has doled out more than $47 billion on questionable claims, according to an early assessment of a forthcoming financial report of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The cost of Medicare, one of the country’s three largest entitlement programs, has skyrocketed over the years, and the amount of waste, fraud and abuse has gone along with that.

Auditors estimate 9.6 percent of claims are improper, representing $18.1 billion in government waste. Using a broader definition of improper payments, which includes the Medicare fee-for-service program, the rate of improper payments balloons to 12.4 percent.

9/11 moms

The ACLU is employing family members of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to make the case for why Guantanamo Bay detainees should be tried on U.S. soil.

Several lawmakers have questioned doing so, citing concerns that once the detainees enter the U.S. they will be entitled to Constitutional rights and would wrongly be able to challenge evidence obtained without a warrant or through harsh interrogation methods, such as waterboarding.

To help their cause, the ACLU posted a video online last week featuring family members who, like their lawyers, support bringing the detainees to the U.S. for trial and awarding them constitutional rights.

“We have a Constitution, we have a Bill of Rights, and it applies to all persons who come within our jurisdiction,” Pat Perry, who lost her police officer son, said in the ACLU video. Adele Welty, who lost her firefighter son, added, “My son gave his life to save those who were trapped in the Twin Towers, and it does not honor him that we violate our Constitution in retaliation for what happened on Sept. 11.”

Detroit jobs

“Billions for state, but where are the jobs?: Majority of stimulus awards have brought little help”

That’s a headline from the Detroit Free Press on Sunday, questioning how effective President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan has been in Michigan, where unemployment reached 15.3 percent in September.

“Seven months into the massive federal stimulus program, the vast majority of government grants, contracts and loans in Michigan so far have created or retained virtually no jobs, a Free Press analysis shows,” the paper said in a story’s lead.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com.

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