Daily Flog: Birth of a notion opens in St. Paul; oil price plummets, along with GOP veep's rep; everybody's Google-eyed

Running down the press:

Hurricane Gustav didn't exactly spare New Orleans, but Topical Storm Bristol didn't exactly spare St. Paul, either.

Instead of a candidate snagging a berth, we have a birth snagging a candidate.

The news set the GOP's female delegates (left) all atwitter in St. Paul.

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For more on the subject, see, among many examples of course, the flashy and the dull. Or the simply solid, like McClatchy's "Absence of Bush and Cheney cheers Republican delegates."

That's a headline that's eight years too late.

Back to the Sarah Palin beat, where the New York Post splashes: "PALIN TEEN HAS BABY ON BOARD: DADDY A HS HOCKEY KID."

What rhymes with "puck"?

You won't find out in yesterday's sober, but serviceable, New York Times piece, "Palin Daughter’s Pregnancy Interrupts Script."

Don't bother with today's Times story from the poor GOP's point of view by former White House pet Elizabeth Bumiller ("Disclosures on Palin Raise Questions on Vetting Process") and Adam Nagourney's "In Political Realm, ‘Family Problem’ Emerges as Test."

Regarding the former, Bumiller isn't much of an expert on stories about the GOP's vetting, though she's previously covered the topic.

I pointed out her work in December 2004, when the topic had been how the GOP earlier blew its vetting of Bernie Kerik for the job of Homeland Security czar. Referring to AG-nominee-at-the-time Alberto Gonzales's heckuva job on Kerik, I noted:

If you believe the . . . New York Times [in a story written by Bumiller], Bush's nominee as attorney general conducted "hours of confrontational interviews" with Kerik, to make sure none of the little Napoleon's cream filling had spilled into places it shouldn't have.

The Times's Elisabeth Bumiller pins her tale to an unnamed "government official." I hesitate to believe it only because Bumiller also describes the White House as "normally careful." I think she means "normally careful" only in vetting potential nominees, which means that the White House is careful about whom it trusts and picks? Uh-huh.

In her same story, she points out that the White House was careless in dispensing top-security information after 9/11: Kerik, while still the NYPD commissioner, was put on the list even though he neglected to fill out the basic form to start the security-check process. I wouldn't call that "normally careful." If Bumiller means "normally careful" in general — no, she can't mean that.

For God's sakes, she doesn't even mention this previously bad GOP vetting of Kerik in today's story about the GOP's currently bad vetting of Palin.

In the latter piece today in the Times— which is labeled a "news analysis," though that must be an inside joke in the Times newsroom — Nagourney settles this Palin situation for all of us by determining that Unwed Mother is one storm that has already passed, at least for now. He knows that because that's what the GOP delegates say:

For at least the time being, Gov. Sarah Palin appears to have survived the initial test after the disclosure that her unmarried teenage daughter was pregnant. Republican delegates rallied around her on Monday, saying the disclosure would not threaten her hopes of being Senator John McCain’s running mate.

We'll see whether she will continue to be the veep nominee or whether, like her daughter's boyfriend should have, she pulls out. It would be a no-brainer for her to say that she can't campaign because she "needs to be with her family" at a time of crisis.

At this point, Nagourney analyzes, the Palins' unimmaculate birth news is an "unwanted distraction" for the GOP and, despite Hurricane Gustav, the Palin pregnancy "dominated discussion among delegates." I did not know that.

One more bit of unintentional humor from Nagourney:

In many ways, how the country will react to the pregnancy of Ms. Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is more a sociological question than a political one.

Can't wait to read that dissertation.

You're better off going overseas for a better story emblazoned with one of the better headlines. This comes from Melbourne's big daily, The Age: "Republicans take rain check." The Aussie paper's Anne Davis notes in a news story that actually includes analysis:

One political positive is that Mr Bush will no longer speak, saving Senator McCain from a potentially damaging association with the unpopular President. He will also avoid direct comparisons with the Democratic convention last week as the storm means the Republicans have cause for a more sober event.

However, an event that was too anaemic could undercut Senator McCain's ability to launch his campaign and his running mate. Republican officials were working on ways to turn their planned parties into fund-raisers and capitalise on the convention theme: "Country first".

While the GOP convention curtailed its busy, meaningless business out of fear that the cheers of delegates would seem crass, Republican women pored over new developments about veep nominee Palin's unwed daughter mama, Bristol.

Named after a bay (a too-popular fishing spot, apparently), Bristol not only entered the national scene but also prompted an addition to the U.S. slang lexicon: Some people would call Bristol a "baby mama," but now Republicans can use their own term: "infant's mother by intelligent design."

The feminists for life whom I know would object to the theft of their name by the anti-abortion group Feminists for Life, of which Palin is a member. But she's consistent: The group is opposed to all abortions, including cases of rape, incest, birth defects, and the preservation of a mother's health or life — and, yes, even in the case of a pregnancy of an unwed high school kid whose mother is a Republican vice presidential candidate.

Palin would probably withdraw except that Joe Lieberman would be the natural choice for McCain, and the country is more likely to accept a shockingly inexperienced hockey mom of an unwed mother on the national ticket than an experienced East Coast Jew. (Even most of us Jews wouldn't be ready for Lieberman.)

The really big news, and it is probably more political than sociological, is Google's launch of a browser called Chrome.

Let's hope it batters Internet Explorer but doesn't swamp Firefox.

Considering that Google, unlike Microsoft, is already an web-advertising giant, this is pretty scary news. Chrome will no doubt market the hell out of users, tailoring the links and news that it determines we "need."

In other news more important than crude jokes about the pregnancy of a political candidate's daughter, crude oil is at about $105 a barrel — and people are happy about it. Bloomberg notes:

Crude oil for October delivery fell as low as $105.46 a barrel, down 8.7 percent from the close of Aug. 29 on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the lowest since April 4.

More from Bloomberg:

"The absence of serious structural damage from Gustav when the market was braced for the worst has caused prices to turn decisively downwards," said Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Bache Commodities Ltd. in London. "As technical selling takes hold, it looks likely we'll breach $100."

Memo to Adam Nagourney: Now this guy sounds more like a sociologist than a politician.

Can't resist turning back to Palin. One of the best stories focused on something above the waist: earmarks. In "Palin's Small Alaska Town Secured Big Federal Funds," the Washington Post's Paul Kane reports:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents while she was its mayor, according to an analysis by an independent government watchdog group.

Taking off on stats analyzed by Taxpayers for Common Sense, this reporter apparently went and found the analysis instead of relying on the watchdog's press release on Palin, which I don't think it issued. But he gave the watchdog group credit anyway, which is most un-Times-like. Then Kane puts in the political (unsociological) perspective high in his piece:

In introducing Palin as his running mate on Friday, Sen. John McCain cast her as a compatriot in his battle against wasteful federal spending. McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, hailed Palin as a politician "with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests and entrenched bureaucracies -- someone who has fought against corruption and the failed policies of the past, someone who's stopped government from wasting taxpayers' money."

McCain's crusade against earmarks -- federal spending sought by members of Congress to benefit specific projects -- has been a hallmark of his campaign. He has said earmarks are wasteful and are often inserted into bills with little oversight, sometimes by a single powerful lawmaker.

Followed right on its heels by this:

As mayor of Wasilla, however, Palin oversaw the hiring of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, an Anchorage-based law firm with close ties to Alaska's most senior Republicans: Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens, who was indicted in July on charges of accepting illegal gifts. The Wasilla account was handled by the former chief of staff to Stevens, Steven W. Silver, who is a partner in the firm.

Palin was elected mayor of Wasilla in 1996 on a campaign theme of "a time for change." According to a review of congressional spending by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, Wasilla did not receive any federal earmarks in the first few years of Palin's tenure.

Senate records show that Silver's firm began working for Palin in early 2000, just as federal money began flowing.

Bet you never thought you'd care about what goes on in Wasilla, Alaska. Don't shoot the messengers — although in Alaska you're free to shoot just about anything, as NRA member Palin proudly knows. The question: What happens when people shoot back at her?


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