September 30th, 2008
04:43 PM ET

The Sarah Palin pity party

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/30/art.palin.smile.jpg]
Rebecca Traister

Is this the week that Democrats and Republicans join hands - to heap pity on poor Sarah Palin?

At the moment, all signs point to yes, as some strange bedfellows reveal that they have been feeling sorry for the vice-presidential candidate ever since she stopped speaking without the help of a teleprompter. Conservative women like Kathleen Parker and Kathryn Jean Lopez are shuddering with sympathy as they realize that the candidate who thrilled them, just weeks ago, is not in shape for the big game. They're not alone. The New Republic's Christopher Orr feels that Palin has been misused by the team that tapped her. In the New York Times, Judith Warner feels for Sarah, too! And over at the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates empathizes with intelligence and nuance, making clear that he's not expressing pity. Salon's own Glenn Greenwald watched the Katie Couric interview and "actually felt sorry for Sarah Palin." Even Amy Poehler, impersonating Katie Couric on last week's "Saturday Night Live," makes the joke that Palin's cornered-animal ineptitude makes her "increasingly adorable."

I guess I'm one cold dame, because while Palin provokes many unpleasant emotions in me, I just can't seem to summon pity, affection or remorse.

Don't get me wrong, I'm just like all of the rest of you, part of the bipartisan jumble of viewers that keeps one hand poised above the mute button and the other over my eyes during Palin's disastrous interviews. Like everyone else, I can barely take the waves of embarrassment that come with watching someone do something so badly. Roseanne Barr singing the national anthem, Sofia Coppola acting in "The Godfather: Part III," Sarah Palin talking about Russia - they all create the same level of eyeball-squinching discomfort.

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Filed under: Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
September 30th, 2008
03:51 PM ET

Sorry, your Congressman is unavailable at this time

Editor's note: Have you tried to email your Congressman recently?  Here's a note we received that explains why it's been difficult to get information from House.gov websites this week: 

The Chief Administrative Officer of the House

Availability of House.gov Websites

In order to ensure that constituents can access and view the House.gov website and all websites within the domain, including those of all Members and Committees, House computer engineers have had to implement limits on the unprecedented amount of emails flowing into the system via the Write Your Representative and formproc applications at this time.

During hours of peak demand, some constituents attempting to use the system may receive a message asking them to try back at a later time, when demand is not so extreme. This measure has become temporarily necessary to ensure that Congressional websites are not completely disabled by the millions of emails flowing into the system. Engineers are working diligently to accommodate this enormous traffic flow and we appreciate your patience in this matter.

Here's what we saw when we tried House.gov just after the bailout bill failed to pass:

Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Raw Politics
September 30th, 2008
03:22 PM ET

Don’t be alarmed, says the man in short-shorts

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/30/art.money.jpg]Jack Gray
AC360° Associate Producer

I knew the day would come. I’ve finally been distracted from my campaign against fanny pack-wearing Whole Foods customers who pick fights with the deli counter staff. "I said THINLY sliced. Does that look THINLY sliced to you?!"

As you may have heard, the country is in the grips of a financial crisis. We are being told, of course, not to panic. I don’t know about you, but when a politician tells me not to panic, that’s when I start to panic.

It’s like the time I was on the subway and a guy got on – dressed in short-shorts, with a mullet down to his thighs and calling himself Earth Angel – and announced there was nothing to be alarmed about. I immediately became alarmed.

The trauma of checking my 401k balance has left me nostalgic for simpler times. I lie awake at night longing for the days when Nancy Pelosi’s biggest concern was winning a Mona from “Who’s the Boss?” look-alike contest and John Boehner’s biggest embarrassment was the fits of laughter that erupted whenever someone mispronounced his last name. Indeed, it was a golden age.

I walked by Bill Gates in the hall the other day. Even he looked nervous. But that might have just been because I lunged for his wallet.

The most upsetting part of this is that no one seems to be taking the bull by the proverbial horns. President Bush keeps talking but no one is paying him any attention. It’s kind of like when you visit your Nana and she keeps badgering you about how you don’t stop by often enough. There’s a lot of head nodding and false promises but ultimately you’re just waiting for Wheel of Fortune to come on so you can sneak out of there.

Meantime, as my wallet thins and the folks in Washington do nothing, I find myself envious of the European tourists who stroll around Greenwich Village, flaunting their piles of Euros, wiping gelato from their lips with hundred-dollar U.S. bills and taking pictures of apartment buildings that may or may not have once been occupied by Bob Dylan.

Good for them. Ignorance is bliss. Just be sure to leave the fanny packs at home.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Jack Gray
September 30th, 2008
01:39 PM ET

Should Congress pass a bail-out plan?

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

The stock market is rebounding, because big investors expect Congress will come back to DC Thursday and pass a bailout bill after all.

But that's what so many were expected over the weekend and right through Monday morning - even President Bush and Congressional leaders!

Monday was a slap-in-the-face reminder that even in the face of a global emergency, Congress just can't agree on most things, other than massive spending, and even then there are some hold-outs.

Or, you could say that this only proves that we really are a democracy - that bail-out opponents in Congress voted against it because they were hearing anger and opposition to it from thousands of their constituents.


Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Barclay Palmer • Raw Politics
September 30th, 2008
01:17 PM ET

A Deepening Leadership Crisis

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/30/art.stockmarket.jpg]

David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Yesterday's stunning rejection by the House of Representatives of the financial rescue plan represents one of the clearest signs yet of the deepening leadership problem we are facing as a people.

The pleas of a President, Congressional leadership, the business community, the press - all were ignored and defied by a majority of Members in the House. The opposition was especially intense among House Republicans, even though the most urgent pleas came from fellow Republicans in the executive branch. Those who voting against a rescue, in my judgment, should be held accountable by voters at the polls this November if the country now endures greater hardships.

But we should recognize as well that the reason so many voted against the package was that the public has been against it - and in turn, the public has not been persuaded because it has lost trust in our national leadership. And THAT is a serious problem for a democracy - one that deserves more extensive debate about why the breakdown in trust and what can be done about it.


Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • David Gergen
September 30th, 2008
11:30 AM ET

The Shot: Tina strikes again

Another hilarious Tina Fey spoof of Gov. Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.

Filed under: T1 • The Shot
September 30th, 2008
10:04 AM ET

You CAN see Russia from here!

Program Note: Governor Sarah Palin said you can actually see Russia from an island in Alaska. Our Gary Tuchman went to find this island... Watch his full report tonight on AC360.

Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360 Correspondent

When talking about what she says is her foreign policy experience, Sarah Palin told ABC news "...you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."
That quote made us want to go to that island.

So we did.

The island is called Little Diomede. It looks like a rock plopped into the Bering Strait. Only about 150 Alaskans live on the whole island. And just about two miles away; in full view of every single house on the island is the nation of Russia. Specifically, it is the Russian Island of Big Diomede which sits about 25 miles from the Russian Siberian mainland (which you can also see from the American island.) Most everybody on Little Diomede had relatives who lived on Big Diomede.

But decades ago, the Russian government sent them all to the mainland, and today, Big Diomede is limited to a Russian military presence. It's also a full day in front of Little Diomede because it's on the other side of the International Date Line. Little Diomede is fascinating. It looks like the moon would if you built a lunar settlement. It's full of rocks, dirt, and craters. We were curious if Sarah Palin has ever visited this island. According to the natives, the answer is no.


Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin • TV
September 30th, 2008
10:02 AM ET

Outrage over the bailout

Jessica Yellin | BIO
Congressional Correspondent

One senior republican tells cnn that it was just *in the last 2 days* that members started getting voter calls urging them to support the bill.

(Until then most members were getting constituent calls 90 to 1 urging them to vote AGAINST the bill.)

So just over the weekend they started hearing "from the guy who can't get a loan for his tractor because of the credit crunch".

Republican leaders say – they expect members will get many more outraged calls in support of the bill and when members come back on Thurs they will be in a different frame of mind.

They still think the bill needs to change a bit (give members a fig leaf) but the wall st drop on its own could do the trick.

Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Jessica Yellin
September 30th, 2008
08:03 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Pointing Fingers

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

A key sound bite yesterday had to come from Rep Barney Frank who dismissed the idea that certain members of Congress rejected the bailout bill because they were offended by Nancy Pelosi’s so-called ‘partisan’ speech.

Frank said “And there are 12 Republicans members who are ready to stand up for the economic interests of America but not if anybody insulted them. I'll make an offer. Give me those 12 peoples' names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they'll now think about the country.” I suppose few have to find humor within this mess.

We received many viewer comments from you last night. Many had questions for Suze Orman and Ali Velshi regarding your own purses during this financial crisis. Hopefully we will be able to answer more of your questions tonight.

Congress is technically in recess today for the Jewish Holiday, but it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be any movement on this bailout bill today. President Bush is scheduled to make a statement in the 8amet hour, and we can be sure the Administration as a whole will take this bill up again today. Barack Obama and John McCain also have public events- each will likely pipe in and try to demonstrate leadership.

Sarah Palin and Joe Biden are in ‘debate camp’, prepping for a huge night on Thursday. Neither of them can afford to slip up. And while it’s true that some call Joe Biden ‘loose lips’ and he has been known to make gaffes on the trail, Palin’s recent interviews and statements have left eyebrows raised. (and given Tina Fey material to work with).

For his part, Joe Biden will have to find a way to attack his opponent while not turning voters off. We may have reporter Tom Foreman tonight look at Joe Biden’s balancing act debate night, as last night we brought you a report from Randi Kaye on Sarah Palin’s particular challenges ahead of Thursday.

A great story this evening will come from our own Gary Tuchman. We sent him to the middle of nowhere, literally. All this talk of being able to see Russia from Alaska…Gary became so curious he wanted to know where in Alaska this was possible, and discovered it’s an island called Little Diomede. The only way to get there is by helicopter in the summer and ice plane in the winter. Gary himself got there via a mail helicopter to shoot this story. He found a group of people there who live a difficult life: high prices, few resources and treacherous weather. There is limited contact with the outside world. And guess what? They’ve barely heard of their Governor Sarah Palin, because there is no TV there! This should be a good one tonight.

See you at 10pET!

Filed under: The Buzz
September 30th, 2008
08:00 AM ET

That's not your concern, don't overreact

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/29/art.gfx.wallst.jpg]Ali Velshi | Bio
CNN Senior Business Correspondent

How does this credit freeze affect you?

If you are invested right now, understand that the market can make up 777 points in a matter of days.

That's not your concern, don't overreact to this.

But let me explain to you the credit markets – because that is where the problem is.

You have major investors, and I mean major: countries, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, hedge funds and then you have banks. They send money between each other.

The most direct relationship between you, this bailout and the credit markets is that banks loan you money: auto loans, student loans, home loans, and that's already a problem, that's frozen.

Now – you're trying to sell your house because maybe you're being foreclosed on? Well, those same banks loan other people money, including someone who might have bid on your house. You want to go to contract, but they can't get that loan, and that's the 2nd way this affects you.

The third way – these banks and these major investors loan money to corporations. It is very standard for corporations to borrow money on a short term basis to meet their operating expenses – including salary. Well that affects you right now: if a company can't meet those payments that means that you may not get your salary, or you may get laid off.

These are just three simple ways in which this credit freeze, this credit crisis affects you.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Ali Velshi • Bailout Turmoil • Economy
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